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Shek
17 Dec 09,, 03:14
For senior officers from Virginia (excluding Lee) who had graduated from West Point, 50% joined the Confederate Army and 50% served in the Union Army. What if Lee had chosen to maintain his commission in the United States and accepted command of the Army of the Potomac? How would the course of the Civil War have changed?

gunnut
05 Jan 10,, 03:40
War would be over in 2 years instead of 4; Lincoln wouldn't have been re-elected because the war was over so quickly; the Reconstruction wouldn't have been nearly as harsh for the south; we would have fewer Civil War re-enactments.

Disclaimer: I know next to nothing about the Civil War.:tongue:

TopHatter
05 Jan 10,, 04:09
War would be over in 2 years instead of 4; Lincoln wouldn't have been re-elected because the war was over so quickly; the Reconstruction wouldn't have been nearly as harsh for the south; we would have fewer Civil War re-enactments.

Disclaimer: I know next to nothing about the Civil War.:tongue:

Oddly enough, most of that would probably have come true.

Bluesman
05 Jan 10,, 05:48
Given the overwhelming materiel superiority of the US, I don't think the Confederacy would've survived a single campaign by Lee.

Over and out in six months.

I made that case before, but the question then posed was that if Grant had Lee's forces, and Lee had Grant's, AND they switched missions, too (Lee has to subdue the Confederacy; Grant has to inflict losses, defeats and grind away the North's ability to sustain the war), then the war ends quickly. Grant was not Lee's equal. Neither was the Army of Northen Virginia the equal of the Army of the Potomac (especially true in 1864). So, historically, while the better general (Lee) had the 'easier' mission (just keep fighting), he also had the inferior instrument, and, historically, the inferior general (Grant was STILL an ass-kicker with an indomitable will to win) had a tougher mission (attack and destroy the CSA's main field army) and a superior instrument. Stack the deck, though, and give the superior general the superior instrument, and it almost doesn't matter how hard the mission is: a top-notch army led by a first-rate general simply can't be beat.

Bluesman
05 Jan 10,, 05:58
http://www.worldaffairsboard.com/ancient-medieval-early-modern-ages/38336-lee-vs-grant-2.html#post366105

Skywatcher
05 Jan 10,, 09:20
What are the chances of southern guerrilla hold outs causing trouble in a shortened war, and without Lee's gravitas to persuade them to go home?

astralis
05 Jan 10,, 15:15
keith,


a top-notch army led by a first-rate general simply can't be beat.


a certain boney at waterloo would probably be happier if that were the case!

in any case, the lee of 1861 was not the lee of late 1862 or early 1863; neither was the ANV/AoP of 1861 the same as they were a year or two later. i'm not sure even if the AoP won a stunning success in the 1861 battles that the entire south would have turned on its belly and surrendered.

it would need to be a political surrender, because if the 1861 battles were any indication, both armies would have been in a state of chaos whether they won or lost.

Shek
05 Jan 10,, 21:34
Given the overwhelming materiel superiority of the US, I don't think the Confederacy would've survived a single campaign by Lee.

Over and out in six months.

I made that case before, but the question then posed was that if Grant had Lee's forces, and Lee had Grant's, AND they switched missions, too (Lee has to subdue the Confederacy; Grant has to inflict losses, defeats and grind away the North's ability to sustain the war), then the war ends quickly. Grant was not Lee's equal. Neither was the Army of Northen Virginia the equal of the Army of the Potomac (especially true in 1864). So, historically, while the better general (Lee) had the 'easier' mission (just keep fighting), he also had the inferior instrument, and, historically, the inferior general (Grant was STILL an ass-kicker with an indomitable will to win) had a tougher mission (attack and destroy the CSA's main field army) and a superior instrument. Stack the deck, though, and give the superior general the superior instrument, and it almost doesn't matter how hard the mission is: a top-notch army led by a first-rate general simply can't be beat.

Lee's army was bled by the end of 1864 (and before) because of Lee's style of fighting. He was lucky to have not seen defeat in the Wilderness, a defeat that would have been because of his poor sense of operational timing of Longstreet's Corps. Through luck he's able to win the race to Spotsylvania. North Anna demonstrated his poor leadership - he commanded through himself, and because he didn't mentor, he failed to take advantage of a ripe opportunity. Cold Harbor was a near miss because Grant/Meade didn't take advantage of an opportunity, and even the failed attack there that finally occurred is nowhere near the defeat that it's made out to be.

In the end, it took 30 days for Grant to reduce Lee and the ANV down to a force that had to throw a Hail Mary (Early's raid) to try and salvage the strategic situation. During this time, the AoP saw huge changes in organization and turbulence due to expiring enlistments. On the other hand, Lee fought with an organization that he had had months to prepare without the turbulence witnessed by the AoP (except for the impact of the casualties), and an organization that he had owned for two years. He was outgeneraled in almost every case during the Overland Campaign, not just simply ground down by superior numbers.

On the other hand, when you look at Grant (who had to manage all Union armies), you can see his proteges kicking a$$ and taking names, with Sherman and Sheridan playing huge roles in winning the overall war. Furthermore, when you look at the logistical challenges that Grant faced in extending his lines of communication, it makes the Overland and Petersburg Campaigns even that much more remarkable. Lee never accomplishes anything near that on the logistics front.

Bluesman
05 Jan 10,, 22:57
Lee's army was bled by the end of 1864 (and before) because of Lee's style of fighting.
A quibble, if I may:

It wasn't Lee's style of fighting that caused a long casualty roll, but the fact that he almost always was outnumbered. He was forced to take risks, and sometimes the economy-of-force force was beaten badly and took severe casualties. I submit that this wasn't a STYLE thang, but was forced on him by the circumstances he found himself in. And the circumstances were usually mitigated by his masterful generalship.

I know that there is a new point-of-view among revisionist historians to say Lee wasn't all that, but I think they're wrong. Focusing on his casualties (immense) simply doesn't account for the fact that on a battlefield so heavily favoring his enemies, he's naturally going to face big losses. His enemies, with the preponderance of force arrayed against him, should have taken LOWER losses, but they didn't, and I again respectfully submit that's because Lee was overmatching them on the field.


He was lucky to have not seen defeat in the Wilderness, a defeat that would have been because of his poor sense of operational timing of Longstreet's Corps.
I think you must be posting drunk. That may have been one of the greatest military feats in American military history. Unless you mean SECOND Wilderness. And how ANYbody came away from THAT with anything to be called an army is something only us second-guessers can possibly be arrogant enough to criticize.


Through luck he's able to win the race to Spotsylvania.
NO, it wasn't luck. He anticipated the move, sent cavalry to hold on, started a forced march before he was sure about the move, and managed to get there in time. Lucky you may say, but any delay in seeing into the future, and he'd have lost. THAT, to me, is dam' fine generalship.


North Anna demonstrated his poor leadership - he commanded through himself, and because he didn't mentor, he failed to take advantage of a ripe opportunity.
North Anna demonstrated that he was better than Grant, because he laid a trap, Grant fell into it just as Lee supposed he would, and was saved BY LUCK. I'll grant you that because Lee could not personally close the deal, Grant survived, and if he'd done proper staffing, his guys could've taken the fight home. But tell me you think that North Anna proved anything BUT Lee's superiority over Grant, and I'll tell you that you're hanging onto your point out of pride.


Cold Harbor was a near miss because Grant/Meade didn't take advantage of an opportunity, and even the failed attack there that finally occurred is nowhere near the defeat that it's made out to be.
REALLY. Well, Grant himself, after all the times HE was almost defeated, was frustrated and checked, and racked up a huge casualty roll (almost to the point of losing the war to the 'peace' Democrats - considered it the only thing he regretted during the whole war. I'd say that MAKES it a defeat that it's made out to be.


In the end, it took 30 days for Grant to reduce Lee and the ANV down to a force that had to throw a Hail Mary (Early's raid) to try and salvage the strategic situation.

Yeah, and as unqualified to be a general as I am, I bet I could've gotten Lee to that point, too. Now, listen, I take NOTHING away from Grant as a general, but I'd say you're going far too far in saying that he was Lee's equal, and I'm absolutely calling shenanigans on any claim to Grant's superiority.


During this time, the AoP saw huge changes in organization and turbulence due to expiring enlistments. On the other hand, Lee fought with an organization that he had had months to prepare without the turbulence witnessed by the AoP (except for the impact of the casualties), and an organization that he had owned for two years.
And notice: those expiring enlistments weren't a-comin' back. Lee, though, asked for and got a totally-incredible re-up rate from an army that KNEW it was dieing. And you have GOT to be kidding me that the AoNV wasn't undergoing massive upheaval. The leader losses were severe, and the meddling from Richmond was an order of magnitude greater than what his counterpart had to put up with. Note that Early's raid, such as it was, was handled by the AoP HQ. Earlier in the war, Washington took personal charge of field forces to try to stop Jackson and Forrest.)


He was outgeneraled in almost every case during the Overland Campaign, not just simply ground down by superior numbers.

Absolutely not true. I think Lee was besting Grant at every turn of the card and roll of the dice. Grant's signal strength, and it WAS unique among Federal generals, was his absolute stubborn refusal to ever be finally defeated. And my point remains: Lee, with Grant's army and mission, beats Grant with Lee's army and mission EVERY TIME.

Out-generaled? No. WAY.


On the other hand, when you look at Grant (who had to manage all Union armies), you can see his proteges kicking a$$ and taking names, with Sherman and Sheridan playing huge roles in winning the overall war.

You're onto something, here. And if Lee had been General-inChief, I wonder what would have happened with the Army of Tennessee THEN. Bet Bragg would've been finding new employment before he could comprehensively ruin a fine field army.


Furthermore, when you look at the logistical challenges that Grant faced in extending his lines of communication, it makes the Overland and Petersburg Campaigns even that much more remarkable.
The 'logistical challenges' GRANT faced? I'm floored.

When Grant started his campaign, he added as an afterthought 10 spare miles of rail. There wasn't 10 miles of track ANYwhere in the entire Confederacy by that time! That Army was magnificently equipped, provisioned and armed, and the 'logistical challenge' Grant had to deal with was keeping the baggage wagons out of Mosby's hands.

ANY general would have been pleased to be faced with the abundance that Grant took with him, and if he had to move it farther, it was mostly due to the fact that he COULD. Lee? By that time, field batteries were being teamed by MULES, and then, when THOSE were running out, the GUNNERS manned the traces. Grant used the finest horseflesh in Maryland to haul pontoons.


Lee never accomplishes anything near that on the logistics front.
Well, I wonder WHY? SERIOUSLY, man, the fact that the dam' army didn't just up and die is a bloody miracle, and the single, last reason to hang on was because Marse Robert asked 'em to. I will bet you that you're not going to make the case that Grant could have inspired that level of deep personal commitment from and army that may have respected him (I certainly would have), but did not LOVE him.

I think, my friend (we's still buds, right?), that you've fallen victim to the 'new history' ailment. Personally, I accept that conventional wisdom is accepted more because it's more of the latter than the former.

Shek
06 Jan 10,, 05:37
In Lee's place it is unlikely that he would have done much better than Lee; for neither he nor Lee was a true revolutionary general. Yet I much doubt whether in Grant's place Lee would have done half as well as Grant, for his outlook on war was narrow and restricted, and he possessed neither the character nor the personality of a General-in-Chief.

--JFC Fuller, 1957, Grant and Lee: A Study in Personality and Generalship, pg. 278

Keith,

The conclusion that Grant is a better general than Lee is not new to modern history, as this half a century old quote from a prominent military historian illustrates. I haven't had a chance to read the whole book, so I can't comment on all his analysis, but I did think it was important to throw it out there to point out that it's not a radical proposition as you would make it out to be.

As to some of the substance of your post (sorry, but it's late and so I can't go point by point), I agree that Chancerlorsville was a Lee victory since it stopped Hooker. However, once again, it came at a proportionately higher cost in casualties, and I'd point out that the concussion that Hooker suffered from the near miss certainly played a part (an element of luck, although you can make your own luck).

You point out that Lee was forced to take high risk gambles because of force ratios; yet, with near parity at Gettysburg, he gambled on Pickett's Charge and decimated his ranks with casualties. You can point to his obstinence at Antietam, gambling with his back to the river and for what strategic gain? It was who Lee was - it was his preferred style of the tactical offense.

As to being outgeneraled during the Overland Campaign, he desperately tried to gain the initiative and was never successful. Grant controlled the operational and strategic initiative throughout the campaign beginning when the first pontoon bridges were laid across the Rapidan. The only time when the initiative could have swung was the initial contact at North Anna, but Lee failed to seize the initiative.

And North Anna brings up a great point - while the Union often had poor maps (all accounts I've read point to Hancock's faulty map as the reason why Petersburg along with its railroad junctions didn't belong to the Union on the night of 15 June), Lee and his troops were fighting on home terrain that they knew very well (e.g., Jackson's use of a bypass during Chancelorsville). We should expect them to do better at using the terrain - for example, North Anna had been scouted out previously by the ANV for use as a defensive position and so Lee should have been able to set up a good position. However, Grant recognized it for what it was once he gained contact with Lee and thus decided not to attack it. Also, because Grant was fighting offensively and Lee was fighting defensive, we shouldn't be surprised at Grant receiving higher casualties. Yet, when you look at relative casualties, you see Grant being successful in attacking the COG of the south and moving towards ultimate victory.

Next, in addressing Spotsylvania, it was luck. According the plan, Anderson's Corps should have arrived five hours later. However, the brush fires started from the fighting in the Wilderness resulted in a movement to daylight that won the race, barely (it barely had the edge as Warren's Corps arrived and deployed immediately into battle). If that corps arrives five hours later, it's facing two Union Corps, one of which is fully prepared and deployed and the other which is probably totally closed.

As to Grant's logistical prowess, he developed and fought a campaign that took advantage of the LOCs he had. He forced the AOP to travel light compared to what it had been and then made sure he had to log to sustain continuous operations. It was a slugfest over extended LOCs, yet, you don't see log being the constraining factor. On the other hand, while the South wasn't as rich in terms of log, it had a terrible supply system that saw a large amount of its food rot and spoil and supplies go unused because they failed to develop their logistics capability (getting is only half the battle - distribution is the other half). Lee could have remedied some of this, and so we cannot overlook the complexity of the Overland Campaign or give a free pass to Lee just because they didn't have plenty. Grant maximized his use of what was available, while Lee failed to optimize what was available.

Lastly, of course there's no hard feelings. Just because you're wrong, I'll forgive ya ;)

JAD_333
04 Dec 11,, 04:39
Too bad this thread ended so quickly.

The debate was left hanging.

Bigfella
04 Dec 11,, 05:41
Yes, it did wander off course a bit. Pity, I think it is an interesting question. I don't know enough about the minutae of first Bull Run to know what difference Lee circa 1861 would have made. I'm going to work on the assumption of a creditable draw rather than a great victory first up. Then what? Without a big scare does the Union Army get someone like McClellan to expand & organize it? Lets assume that this is the aggressive Lee of 1862. Does he directly attack Richmond with a force that we know to be fragile? What happens if he does? Do the Union armies have the strength to overwhelm the Confederates facing them & either take or invest Richmond? I have no doubt that if Lee were given the Army McClellan had in 1862 he would end the war quickly, but does he get that army, or does he make a mistake with the one he has & end up relegated to some minor post in the western theatre?

I don't really feel qualified to answer these questions in detail, but I'd be curious to hear from people who are.

JAD_333
04 Dec 11,, 07:15
Yes, it did wander off course a bit. Pity, I think it is an interesting question. I don't know enough about the minutae of first Bull Run to know what difference Lee circa 1861 would have made.

I can only offer some thoughts. Lee in 1861 accepted command of Virginia forces such as they were, but soon lost his command when Virginia's forces were incorporated into the newly formed Confederate States of America (CSA). Thereafter he served in Richmond on President Jeff Davis' staff. In May 1862 Gen Joseph Johnston commander of CSA forces in Virgina was wounded at the Battle of Seven Pines, a defensive action intended to defend Richmond from the numerically superior forces led by US Maj Gen George McClellan during his Peninsular campaign. Lee assumed command without previous experience commanding an army. He quickly disengaged from the defensive and launched a series of offensive moves over the course of a week that ended with McClellan's army in full retreat.

So, with no experience commanding an army he turns the war around in a matter of weeks. Could he have done the same thing at Bull Run in command of Union forces. I would venture to guess, that he would, for several reasons. One, he had learned from Scott during the US-Mexican war to press the offensive at every opportunity; two, he was a master at taking advantage of terrain to place his troops; three, he was not a micro-manager; he set objectives and suggested courses of action, then let his lieutenants conduct the fighting as they saw fit; fourth, he got rid of generals who were incompetent or wouldn't fight,



I'm going to work on the assumption of a creditable draw rather than a great victory first up.

Fair enough, but considering Union forces almost had the battle won, would a Lee have made the victory complete?


Then what? Without a big scare does the Union Army get someone like McClellan to expand & organize it?

Lee wins Bull Run and possibly a grand army is not needed.


Lets assume that this is the aggressive Lee of 1862. Does he directly attack Richmond with a force that we know to be fragile? What happens if he does? Do the Union armies have the strength to overwhelm the Confederates facing them & either take or invest Richmond?

Given McClellan's superior troop strength and advantage in material during the Peninsula campaign, Lee would have taken Richmond and driven the rebel army south and pursued it doggedly. Remember he'd be up against Joseph Johnston, a general who preferred defensive actions. Lee rolls right over him at Seven Pines. There is no Lee to come to the rescue.


I have no doubt that if Lee were given the Army McClellan had in 1862 he would end the war quickly, but does he get that army, or does he make a mistake with the one he has & end up relegated to some minor post in the western theatre?

If ifs and buts were but candy and nuts, oh, what a Christmas we would have. Short answer: I don't know. :)

I don't really feel qualified to answer these questions in detail, but I'd be curious to hear from people who are.[/QUOTE]

zraver
05 Dec 11,, 07:28
So, with no experience commanding an army he turns the war around in a matter of weeks. Could he have done the same thing at Bull Run in command of Union forces. I would venture to guess, that he would, for several reasons. One, he had learned from Scott during the US-Mexican war to press the offensive at every opportunity;

Not always a good thing...


two, he was a master at taking advantage of terrain to place his troops; three, he was not a micro-manager;

Sometimes he was a micro manager..


he set objectives and suggested courses of action, then let his lieutenants conduct the fighting as they saw fit;

Most of the time...


fourth, he got rid of generals who were incompetent or wouldn't fight,

That leaves him who.... IIRC Hancock and Sherman....

vs PGT Beauregard who has Jackson, Ewell, Longstreet...

I don't think Lee has enough of an edge here to win the war in a single battle.... if he can win the battle at all.

I think a better question would be what if lee went blue and Jackson got the ANV...



Fair enough, but considering Union forces almost had the battle won, would a Lee have made the victory complete?

probably not, the quality of the troops on both sides wasn't up to it, which is why the few good units had commanders rise to fame...



Lee wins Bull Run and possibly a grand army is not needed.

So Lee wins a battle... his abilities on the offense are not inspiring...



Given McClellan's superior troop strength and advantage in material during the Peninsula campaign, Lee would have taken Richmond and driven the rebel army south and pursued it doggedly. Remember he'd be up against Joseph Johnston, a general who preferred defensive actions. Lee rolls right over him at Seven Pines. There is no Lee to come to the rescue.

...... Sherman is recovering, so who is Lee's dog of war in the pursuit?

Albany Rifles
05 Dec 11,, 17:22
Recall that early in the war Lee was of a more defensive mindset. His defense plan for Richmond caused his troops to deride him a Granny Lee & the King of Spades.

That went with his mindset as an engineer. In fact his first attempts at the offensive ended rather ignominiously.

I do not see that he would have had any greater success at 1st Manassas the McDowell.

As for the war ending quickly.....

Wasn't going to happen.

The Union chain of command was in a shambles, the logistics were strained to the limits, the 90 day militia call ups were set to expire and, most importantly, the almost 5,000 casualties on both sides stunned all concerned.

It was a clash of amateurs...and, much like Wilson's Creek, showed regardless of the commanders, thsi was going to be a long and bloody process.

astralis
05 Dec 11,, 17:41
offense is always harder than the defense, too. the federals weren't going to win so big that the Confederates would completely chicken out and throw in the towel.

it'd be interesting, though, if based upon that the Confederates decided that Richmond actually wasn't such a great place for a capital and moved back to Montgomery or even Savannah. it would have forced both sides (but particularly the South) to think in more strategic terms than "take/hold Richmond".

Albany Rifles
05 Dec 11,, 17:49
to think in more strategic terms than "take/hold Richmond".

Or the Union to fixate "On to Richmond!' either.

Took a while to determine the center of gravity...the Confederate field armies...followed by the will of the people.

Geography only counted as a way to influence your startegy against those...and that door swung both ways.

zraver
05 Dec 11,, 18:02
offense is always harder than the defense, too. the federals weren't going to win so big that the Confederates would completely chicken out and throw in the towel.

it'd be interesting, though, if based upon that the Confederates decided that Richmond actually wasn't such a great place for a capital and moved back to Montgomery or even Savannah. it would have forced both sides (but particularly the South) to think in more strategic terms than "take/hold Richmond".

If the Confederates were going to move the capitol to a safer location, Atlanta makes a better choice, the rails links ties to the other parts of the CSA and its isolated from the US Navy.

astralis
05 Dec 11,, 19:09
AR,


Or the Union to fixate "On to Richmond!' either.

Took a while to determine the center of gravity...the Confederate field armies...followed by the will of the people.

Geography only counted as a way to influence your startegy against those...and that door swung both ways.

yup, i don't think any of the union commanders, up until grant, fully grasped this. lincoln did, though.

for that matter, i don't think lee got this until roughly 1863, either, and then he was only concerned with the ANV.

moving the capital down south would have really forced that sea-change in thinking earlier.

Albany Rifles
05 Dec 11,, 19:49
If the Confederates were going to move the capitol to a safer location, Atlanta makes a better choice, the rails links ties to the other parts of the CSA and its isolated from the US Navy.

However, that said, Richmond WAS a vital industrial area. Tredegar, and the associated works, were critical for the Confederate war movement.

And the Shenandoah was a critical breadbasket...so there still owuld have bben a need to defend both...but it would not have caused the tenacious, bloddy defense which eventually destroyed the ANV.

zraver
06 Dec 11,, 01:20
However, that said, Richmond WAS a vital industrial area. Tredegar, and the associated works, were critical for the Confederate war movement.

And the Shenandoah was a critical breadbasket...so there still owuld have bben a need to defend both...but it would not have caused the tenacious, bloddy defense which eventually destroyed the ANV.

True, but would a deep vs close capitol have changed Union strategies?

Tanker
06 Dec 11,, 02:57
What if Lee had chosen to maintain his commission in the United States and accepted command of the Army of the Potomac?

We wouldn't have Arlington National Cemetary.

zraver
06 Dec 11,, 04:19
We wouldn't have Arlington National Cemetary.

True, we'd have Arlington Manor or some such like the Hermitage....

Question, Grant commanded the Union armies and went on to be President... President Lee....? Whats the the fate of slavery in the South if Lee commands?

JAD_333
06 Dec 11,, 06:05
True, we'd have Arlington Manor or some such like the Hermitage....

Question, Grant commanded the Union armies and went on to be President... President Lee....? Whats the the fate of slavery in the South if Lee commands?

That's one hell of a question. He didn't like slavery, although he had slaves, which I believed he freed. One died. But he believed the negro race was inherently inferior to the white race and would always need the guiding hand of whites.

But let's make the point moot. The contention here is that Lee remains loyal to the Union. Knowing his devotion to duty, he would probably have accepted emancipation yet maintained a benevolent prejudice much as many in the North did after the war.

Tanker
06 Dec 11,, 06:12
True, we'd have Arlington Manor or some such like the Hermitage....

Question, Grant commanded the Union armies and went on to be President... President Lee....? Whats the the fate of slavery in the South if Lee commands?

Well, he would have to be elected. Grant was a war hero that became president by wooing the very people he hated. On the other hand Lee wouldn't have to do that. After the war his popularity grew all over the US. Grant would have had to win the southern vote while Lee would already have it. Also, while Grant wanted the ex-Confederate soldiers to be barred from elections and freedmen included, Lee wanted all men to be able to vote. But I am not going to debate the politics of the war.

JAD_333
06 Dec 11,, 07:57
Recall that early in the war Lee was of a more defensive mindset. His defense plan for Richmond caused his troops to deride him a Granny Lee & the King of Spades.

The problem with that view is that Lee had been under fire in Mexico and had moved over to the US infantry. He had a talent for soldiering. Scott recognized that.

His defense plan for Richmond was not in response to a specific battle, but rather to protect the new CSA capitol in the event of an attack. He didn't have any troops to lead in battle, at least not after Johnston was out in command of CSA troops in Virginia. The next time you see him going on the defensive in a big way is the siege of Petersburg near the beginning of the end of the war.


That went with his mindset as an engineer. In fact his first attempts at the offensive ended rather ignominiously.

From all indications, e.g. coolness under fire in Mexico, wrapping up John Brown's raid at Harper's Ferry, he had the right stuff to be a leader in the field.

Aborting the Peninsular Campaign and forcing McClellan to retreat from the outskirts of Richmond only weeks after he had replaced Johnston hardly seems ignominious. Granted the some of battles he fought over the "7 days" were messy, but his plan was sound overall, and he won.


I do not see that he would have had any greater success at 1st Manassas the McDowell.

Lee was better suited to lead than McDowell, who was a supply officer and had never been in combat. Lee might have been able to persuade Scott to delay the battle a few weeks so he could reorganize and train his troops. He was a master at that, as he had already proven.



As for the war ending quickly.....

Wasn't going to happen.

The Union chain of command was in a shambles, the logistics were strained to the limits, the 90 day militia call ups were set to expire and, most importantly, the almost 5,000 casualties on both sides stunned all concerned.

I agree on logistics and command structure. But you are assuming Lee would have had a complicated plan like McDowell's. Lee's plan might have proved to be the margin of victory and casualties might have been fewer.

But put Lee in McClellan's place for the Peninsular campaign. He takes Richmond, and the war could well have been over 2 years earlier.


It was a clash of amateurs...and, much like Wilson's Creek, showed regardless of the commanders, thsi was going to be a long and bloody process.

Wilson's Creek came after 1st Manassas, but gets fought nonetheless. Grant takes care of that theater...

JAD_333
06 Dec 11,, 08:41
Well, he would have to be elected. Grant was a war hero that became president by wooing the very people he hated. On the other hand Lee wouldn't have to do that. After the war his popularity grew all over the US. Grant would have had to win the southern vote while Lee would already have it. Also, while Grant wanted the ex-Confederate soldiers to be barred from elections and freedmen included, Lee wanted all men to be able to vote. But I am not going to debate the politics of the war.


Tanker:

Are you sure about your facts? Grant ran as a radical Republican. The radicals enfranchised all the Freedmen and only a small number of Confederate officeholders and sr. military leaders were barred from voting. Grant polled 450,000 black votes, all told.

Agree with you that Lee was spectacularly popular, almost Christ-like, to southerners. Up north he was respected, but not revered. He wouldn't have run for president even if he could. He hated making speeches and only made 2-3 brief ones in his life.:)

Albany Rifles
06 Dec 11,, 15:54
1. Actually, Lee became a cavalry officer. He was commander of the 2d Cavalry Regiment at the outbreak of the war...a normal progression as an engineer. I am not arguing whther he was a good officer or combat leader.

2. He did lead troops early in the war in Western Virginia and lost.

3. McDowell was actually an artillery officer who was brevetted to captain for his service under fire during the battle of Buena Vista. After the war he served on the Adjutant General's staff, a position considered for the best an brightest of the line officers. He was not a supply officer and did not serve in any of the service branch departments. So that said, his service for the Mexican War matched Lee's.

4. Union forces had to attack when they did at Manassas...if McDowell, or anyone, had delayed for more organization and training he would have had no army. the 90 day militia regiment call ups started expiring on 1 AUG. The Union force which fought at Manassas was a use it or lose it force. And I don't care if Napoleon, Alexander or Schwarzkopf was in command they would have influenced the battle as much as McDowell or any commander did. The expression of clash of amateurs also extended through the entire command structure of both armies. Manassas was a brigade fight more than anything....and none of the guys on either side had comamnded a brigade in combat before. And the Union Army ws not capable of carrying out a more aggressive plan.

5. As for Lee versus McClellan, I am not so sure. Lee was never known for his staff work. In fact one of the knocks on Lee was he tried to do too much with too small of a staff all the way through the war. Even Bud Robinson agrees with this. McClellan, on the other hand, was superb at staff work and organizing. He forged the AOP...something I do not think Lee would have been able to do as effectively. McClellan was not a great commander on the battlefield but he is due the rightful credit he deserves.

6. Lee was on the defensive in every battle from Mine Run on.

7. Grant had nothing to do with Wilson's Creek or much else in the Transmississippi. He wouldn't become commander of the Western Theater until NOV 63 and the Transmississippi would not come under him until he bcame General in Chief in Mar 1864.

All that said, Lee staying loyal would not have brought the Union victory at Manassas. Would he have done better? Who knows but the facts in evidence show he would have done a creditable job having mroe resources....but lets remember, his aggressiveness, born out of desperation, destroyed his army in 1863.

Tanker
06 Dec 11,, 18:07
Tanker:

Are you sure about your facts? Grant ran as a radical Republican. The radicals enfranchised all the Freedmen and only a small number of Confederate officeholders and sr. military leaders were barred from voting. Grant polled 450,000 black votes, all told.

Agree with you that Lee was spectacularly popular, almost Christ-like, to southerners. Up north he was respected, but not revered. He wouldn't have run for president even if he could. He hated making speeches and only made 2-3 brief ones in his life.:)

Grant was an anti-semite as were many back then somehow he got many Jewish immigrants to vote for him. The Freedmen of the North took to him like flies on Molasses so that was a given and not part of the question. But like I said, I'm not a debater of politics of the that war because there are way to many people who believe one thing while others believe another.

JAD_333
06 Dec 11,, 19:13
1. Actually, Lee became a cavalry officer. He was commander of the 2d Cavalry Regiment at the outbreak of the war...a normal progression as an engineer. I am not arguing whther he was a good officer or combat leader.

You're right. But my point was that that he was no longer an engineer officer when the war started.


2. He did lead troops early in the war in Western Virginia and lost.

Cheat Mountain? That was a minor action and besides Lee was sent to oversee Loring who wasn't getting the job done. Casualties were less than 200, both sides combined. Lee called it off because of bad weather and poor coordination by his commanders.


3. McDowell was actually an artillery officer who was brevetted to captain for his service under fire during the battle of Buena Vista. After the war he served on the Adjutant General's staff, a position considered for the best an brightest of the line officers. He was not a supply officer and did not serve in any of the service branch departments. So that said, his service for the Mexican War matched Lee's.

He served as aide to Gen Wool at Buena Vista, a hot and valiantly fought battle to be sure, but what did he do that equaled what Lee did at Vera Cruz and Mexico city? I can't find any information. Bright or not, when offered command of the Army before 1st Manassas he tried to beg off, saying he was essentially a supply officer.

"----McDowell was promoted to brigadier general in the regular army on May 14, 1861, and given command of the Army of Northeastern Virginia, despite never having commanded troops in combat. The promotion was partly because of the influence of his mentor, Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase. Although McDowell knew that his troops were inexperienced and unready, and [B]protested that he was a supply officer, not a field commander, pressure from the Washington politicians forced him to launch a premature offensive against Confederate forces in Northern Virginia. His strategy during the First Battle of Bull Run was imaginative but ambitiously complex, and his troops were not experienced enough to carry it out effectively, resulting in an embarrassing rout. Irvin McDowell - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irvin_McDowell)"



4. Union forces had to attack when they did at Manassas...if McDowell, or anyone, had delayed for more organization and training he would have had no army. the 90 day militia regiment call ups started expiring on 1 AUG. The Union force which fought at Manassas was a use it or lose it force. And I don't care if Napoleon, Alexander or Schwarzkopf was in command they would have influenced the battle as much as McDowell or any commander did. The expression of clash of amateurs also extended through the entire command structure of both armies. Manassas was a brigade fight more than anything....and none of the guys on either side had comamnded a brigade in combat before. And the Union Army ws not capable of carrying out a more aggressive plan.

I understand, but we're what-if'ing here and part of my recontruction is that Lee, already acknowledged to be a superior officer and military mind convinces Scott to give him more time to get ready and he prevails on the 90-day militiamen to extend for 30-60 days. All what follows in the war is not yet known...the blood, killing and destruction to come, etc. All we know is that McDowell nearly won, but according to his commanders, he was indecisive, failed to communicate troop dispositions to other commanders and led from the front, all of which probably contributed to his defeat. Lee makes none of these mistakes and win.


5. As for Lee versus McClellan, I am not so sure. Lee was never known for his staff work. In fact one of the knocks on Lee was he tried to do too much with too small of a staff all the way through the war. Even Bud Robinson agrees with this. McClellan, on the other hand, was superb at staff work and organizing. He forged the AOP...something I do not think Lee would have been able to do as effectively. McClellan was not a great commander on the battlefield but he is due the rightful credit he deserves.

I've read that too about Lee, but Lee kept Davis in the loop, unlike both Johnston and McClellan who kept their own counsel. Also--I don't know if this applies-- Lee rarely issued direct orders. He laid out his plan and 'suggested' ways his commanders could carry it out, but he let them do it their way. Frankly, McClellan's genius at staff work and organization did not seem to extend to completing battles. He turned tail with superior numbers at the end of the Peninsular campaign. He had Lee at Sharpsburg, but let him escape.



6. Lee was on the defensive in every battle from Mine Run on.

I guess he had no choice at Mine Run. His army was half the size of Meade's after his defeat at Gettysburg. But he won or rather Meade failed. I wouldn't call Second Wilderness the following year a defensive battle. But you're basically right, by 1864 he was blocking and shifting


7. Grant had nothing to do with Wilson's Creek or much else in the Transmississippi. He wouldn't become commander of the Western Theater until NOV 63 and the Transmississippi would not come under him until he bcame General in Chief in Mar 1864.

I didn't mean to imply that he did, but he shines and as you point out he eventually becomes theater commander. I meant that Lee was a tougher customer than anyone the CSA fielded in the west.


All that said, Lee staying loyal would not have brought the Union victory at Manassas.

I say he would have done better than McDowell and a bit better than McDowell meant victory.:)


Would he have done better? Who knows but the facts in evidence show he would have done a creditable job having mroe resources....

Agree; that's my contention.


but lets remember, his aggressiveness, born out of desperation, destroyed his army in 1863.

From what I've read, desperation was the reason he lost Gettysburg, not the reason he fought it. He erred in that final attack, but events that led him to it share some blame for his loss: disobeyed orders, Stuart's late arrival, Longstreet's pouting, Ewell's delays, too little ammo for his artillery...

But the reason he took the war to Gettysburg was sound. The south was getting weaker and the north was getting stronger as the war went on. There was a lot of sentiment in the north to end the war and sue for peace. With the imbalance of forces and material favoring the north more and more every day, he reasoned that he had to strike while he still had a sizable force; he hoped one big victory on northern territory would convince the north that the war was futile. If memory serves, his idea was to strike toward Baltimore. The Battle of Gettysburg, although probably unavoidable at that point in time, started on his side against his orders. Was he ready? I'd say not.

Albany Rifles
06 Dec 11,, 19:49
1. "...poor coordination by his commanders." There's that poor staff work again!

2. Scott had no authority to extend the tours of the militia regiments and could not ask for it. The 90 day regiments terms of service started expiring on 1 AUG. That authority did not exist until the passage of the Militia Act of 1862.

3. "..failed to communicate troop dispositions to other commanders and led from the front, all of which contributed his defeat. Lee makes none of these mistakes and win." compare to "He laid out his plan and 'suggested' ways his commanders could carry it out, but he let them do it their way." They both are guilty of the same. And Lee would show that consistently throughout the war. His poor staff work and lack of decisiveness allowed McClellan to esacape on the Peninsula...he essentially leaned on McClellan and McClellan lost his nerve.

In both cases we are talking of both men early in their combat career...and they were both guilty of the same mistakes.

4. Lee's aggressiveness at Malvern Hill coupled with his poor troop handling led to the mauling of Armistead's, Magruder's and DH Hill's forces. He actually was caught off guard by both Ambrose Brunside at Fredericksburg & Chancellorsville. In each case Union dithering allowed him to concentrate forces. He was able to hold the line at Fredericksburg but the cream of his army was gutted at Chancellorsville. And Gettysburg shredded what was left of his operational offensive capabilities.

5. "From what I've read, desperation was the reason he lost Gettysburg, not the reason he fought it. He erred in that final attack, but events that led him to it share some blame for his loss: disobeyed orders, Stuart's late arrival, Longstreet's pouting, Ewell's delays, too little ammo for his artillery..."

He was on a giant raid to gather supplies and try to force the Union to pull pressure off of Vicksburg (the first instance he expressed a startegic view to Davis).

Orders disobeyed...that is arguable, but he had 2 new corps commadners, and did not position himself to provide them the strong guidance they would need on the battlefield.

Stuart's late arrival is well addressed in this article. The blame for that rests as much with Lee as it did with Stuart. http://www.historynet.com/jeb-stuart-battle-of-gettysburg-scapegoat.htm

Lee also had almost 3 brigades of cavalry available to him besides Stuart which was ample for a lot of the work which was left undone.

Longstreet's pouting. This has been overly played out in popular history and has more to do with with Jubal Early's Lost Cause Myth than a true grounding in fact.

Ewell's delay...again, Lee should have been there sticking a boot in his ass.

...too little ammo for his artillery...more shoddy staff work. There was ample supplies avaialable in the ammunition trains...but no one had brought them forward.


So, to the overall question...what if Lee had accepted the position which went to others.

I do poorly on alternative history based on too much study of facts. But to me the facts suggest he would not have built as effective an army as McClellan and he may have gone the way of Hooker... very good combat commander who was aggressive and could handle the tactical fight but started to breakdown at the operational level and was sorely lacking at the strategic level. I think Meade was a better operational commander than Lee and would have been a better choice than most others at the start of the war based on the body of work he displayed.

JAD_333
06 Dec 11,, 19:56
Grant was an anti-semite as were many back then somehow he got many Jewish immigrants to vote for him. The Freedmen of the North took to him like flies on Molasses so that was a given and not part of the question. But like I said, I'm not a debater of politics of the that war because there are way to many people who believe one thing while others believe another.

He sure seemed like a bigot when he banned Jewish merchants from his camps. He was under the mistaken impression that the hoards of profiteers of profiteers who went South to make money were Jews. He was wrong. Perhaps to make up for it he socialized with Jews and put them into major offices when he was president.

Tanker
06 Dec 11,, 20:06
He sure seemed like a bigot when he banned Jewish merchants from his camps. He was under the mistaken impression that the hoards of profiteers of profiteers who went South to make money were Jews. He was wrong. Perhaps to make up for it he socialized with Jews and put them into major offices when he was president.

Well, it is interesting that he he more Jews in his cabinet than any of the previous presidents. One thing I read a while back and I will see if I can find it was that because of the Jewish votes he received he made up for it with cabinet positions. My wife, a southern born and raised educator, confirmed it but I would like to see the text I read.

Albany Rifles
06 Dec 11,, 20:19
He sure seemed like a bigot when he banned Jewish merchants from his camps. He was under the mistaken impression that the hoards of profiteers of profiteers who went South to make money were Jews. He was wrong. Perhaps to make up for it he socialized with Jews and put them into major offices when he was president.

It was very true he tried very hard to overcome the disasterous GO #11. In fact he offered the SEC TREAS to Joseph Seligman, a leading Jewish banker and major financier for the Union during the Civil War.

Grant's attitude matched the attitude of most Americans at the time regarding Jews. Recall also that Catholics were discriminated against, in a large part because they were immigrants.

Remember they were products of a time which saw the rise of the Know Nothings as a political party. Know Nothing - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Know_Nothing)

JAD_333
06 Dec 11,, 20:26
1. [QUOTE]"...poor coordination by his commanders." There's that poor staff work again!

I meant Loring's officers. Lee worked through Loring who was the nominal commander.


2. Scott had no authority to extend the tours of the militia regiments and could not ask for it. The 90 day regiments terms of service started expiring on 1 AUG. That authority did not exist until the passage of the Militia Act of 1862.

You mean they couldn't volunteer? Anyway, I was thinking of Lee making the pitch, not Scott.



3. "..failed to communicate troop dispositions to other commanders and led from the front, all of which contributed his defeat. Lee makes none of these mistakes and win." compare to "He laid out his plan and 'suggested' ways his commanders could carry it out, but he let them do it their way." They both are guilty of the same. And Lee would show that consistently throughout the war. His poor staff work and lack of decisiveness allowed McClellan to esacape on the Peninsula...he essentially leaned on McClellan and McClellan lost his nerve.

His way of suggesting instead of ordering seems to have worked well for the most part. Even a full hand's on commander is going to make mistakes.


In both cases we are talking of both men early in their combat career...and they were both guilty of the same mistakes.

In a sense, all commanders have to rely on their lieutenant's discretion, whether they issue direct orders or not. Lee didn't just turn and walk away; he had to know his commanders intentions and sometimes he suggested changes or pointed out problems. Anyway, no matter their methodology of communicating orders, the plans they devised and their execution are what matters.


4. Lee's aggressiveness at Malvern Hill coupled with his poor troop handling led to the mauling of Armistead's, Magruder's and DH Hill's forces. He actually was caught off guard by both Ambrose Brunside at Fredericksburg & Chancellorsville. In each case Union dithering allowed him to concentrate forces. He was able to hold the line at Fredericksburg but the cream of his army was gutted at Chancellorsville.

Isn't that what we're talking about? The Union forces were badly led. The NVA was better led. McClellan, Burnside, Pope, Hooker were out-generaled by Lee.

Yes, Malvern Hill turned out to be a mistake. But it was just one action of six fought in seven days as part of a master plan. Overall, he got what he wanted: McCellan's retreat. Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't he order pursuit and didn't the pursuit bog down in the rain and then get blocked flood waters?

As for the gutting of his army, gutting is what both sides did, except the North could replace their men easily, whereas the South lacked manpower to make up for attrition. There was no way Lee was going to end the war without sustaining large losses. Same for the North.



And Gettysburg shredded what was left of his operational offensive capabilities.


Without a doubt, but remember the proposition is what would be different if Lee had commanded US forces.

JAD_333
06 Dec 11,, 20:39
It was very true he tried very hard to overcome the disasterous GO #11. In fact he offered the SEC TREAS to Joseph Seligman, a leading Jewish banker and major financier for the Union during the Civil War.

Grant's attitude matched the attitude of most Americans at the time regarding Jews. Recall also that Catholics were discriminated against, in a large part because they were immigrants.

Remember they were products of a time which saw the rise of the Know Nothings as a political party. Know Nothing - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Know_Nothing)


I agree with everything you're saying (wasn't it Secty of Defense:) ). I sometimes have a hard time getting young people, and adults too, to see things from the perspective of people who lived in the 1800s. The tendency is to judge them by today's standards. I am sure a history teacher like yourself runs into that all the time.

Albany Rifles
06 Dec 11,, 20:57
But did the Confederacy have to go on the strategic offensive to win? It made more sense with limited resources to play the startegic defensive with limited offensive movements.

Asking troops to "just volunteer" is not a valid way to run and organize the army. It's kind of like hope being a viable means of contraception! By what authority would militia officers hold their rank once the time was up? How could the Articles of War be enforced with no standing in law? How would they be paid? What is the authority to expend funds from the federal accounts to acquire arms, ammunition and supplies? All fo these issues had to be worked out in the wake of Manassas when Congress authorized the President to raise the 3 year regiments. All of these issues were dealt with in that legislation. It didn't exist at the the time. And Lee make the pitch? Who was Lee to these guys? Just some general. Winfield Scott, Old Fuss And Feathers...The Hero of Mexico City, the man Wellington called the greatest soldier of his time, the Hero of Chippewa, the man who had been a general longer than most of them had been alive!!! If he couldn't get them to volunteer to stay on, given the conditions I mentioned above, what makes you think Lee, a reletive unknown, would could?

Lee ignored his subordinates imploring him to conduct a flank attack at malvern and ordered his troops into Henry Hunt's slaughter pen. Others saw it but Lee didn't.


You seem willing to overlook Lee's failings....I am not.

He was a very good commander...I have conceded that. And I believe he would have been succesful if given overall command...but that is if he could stay in command and sucumb to the enormous pressures which Washington was bringing to bear. I do not think he would have ended the war quickly...his own track record combined with the lack of expertise of his army almost would have meant a protracted fight.

McClellan's organizational abilities built the framework on which the AOP could be built and sustained. I do not think Lee could have matched that.

JAD_333
07 Dec 11,, 00:41
But did the Confederacy have to go on the strategic offensive to win? It made more sense with limited resources to play the startegic defensive with limited offensive movements.

That's a tough question. A military question, even today. I think of McClellan moving relentlessly on Richmond during the Peninsula campaign with superior numbers and Johnston falling back to take up defensive positions. Richmond was in a mini-panic. The government was ready to leave town. Then Johnston is wounded and Lee is rushed to the field, he disengages quietly from Seven Pines and quickly puts together a plan to outflank McClellan in a series of movements over the course of a week. He succeeds; McClellan retreats; Richmond is saved.

Should Lee have stayed on the defensive? I think that is what McClellan wanted so he could blast the rebels with his vast artillery. The defensive is fine in certain situations, but you can't win a war sitting still


Lee ignored his subordinates imploring him to conduct a flank attack at malvern and ordered his troops into Henry Hunt's slaughter pen. Others saw it but Lee didn't.

Malvern was the last of those six movements; and as you say, a costly one for Lee and the CSA.

I read somewhere that the Union army was already in full retreat and that Union troops and artillery had gathered on Malvern Hill to slow Lee so the Union army could get across the James. The night before, Lee got reports they were moving off the hill under darkness and that only a small force remained behind by morning to cover the retreat. To continue his pursuit he has to push those forces off the hill. He attacks, but the reports turn out to wrong. Union troops and artillery are still there in full force. When did he realize it? I can see why he chose at first to go at them with a frontal attack versus a flanking movement. It's quicker and potentially more lucrative. But once he learned the reports were wrong, why didn't he stay in position or change plans? Did he fear McClellan would stop his retreat if he didn't take the hill? Or did he calculate that the only way to take up the pursuit of McClellan was to clear the hill at any cost? The only thing I can say in his defense is that no one knows the outcome of a battle before it begins, but from there somebody else who has more intimate knowledge with the battle and Lee's thinking will have to defend him. I can't.

Supposedly there was some high ground where Lee's artillery could have caused a lot damage to McClellan's army while it retreated down the James, but Stuart got there first with some cavalry and an artillery piece. Stuart opened fire on McClellan boats doing little damage. Realizing the threat of the heights to them, Union troops cleared them before Lee could get there and held them long enough to complete their retreat.




Asking troops to "just volunteer" is not a valid way to run and organize the army. It's kind of like hope being a viable means of contraception! By what authority would militia officers hold their rank once the time was up? How could the Articles of War be enforced with no standing in law? How would they be paid? What is the authority to expend funds from the federal accounts to acquire arms, ammunition and supplies? All fo these issues had to be worked out in the wake of Manassas when Congress authorized the President to raise the 3 year regiments. All of these issues were dealt with in that legislation. It didn't exist at the the time. And Lee make the pitch? Who was Lee to these guys? Just some general. Winfield Scott, Old Fuss And Feathers...The Hero of Mexico City, the man Wellington called the greatest soldier of his time, the Hero of Chippewa, the man who had been a general longer than most of them had been alive!!! If he couldn't get them to volunteer to stay on, given the conditions I mentioned above, what makes you think Lee, a reletive unknown, would could?

Please. You have me in tears. Funds for a simple extension could have been approved by Congress in days. The president also had war powers. Lee was better known than McDowell from his role in the John Brown affair. He also had a commanding presence and charisma. Ok, maybe Scott does the honors. Or maybe neither of them do. Obstacles there were, but no one can be sure today that they were insurmountable at the time. Hypothetically, we can.



You seem willing to overlook Lee's failings....I am not.

That's your side of the debate. I can go either way. Old collegiate debater. I had to do the con one week and pro the next. Can't take yourself too seriously.


He was a very good commander...I have conceded that. And I believe he would have been succesful if given overall command...but that is if he could stay in command and sucumb to the enormous pressures which Washington was bringing to bear. I do not think he would have ended the war quickly...his own track record combined with the lack of expertise of his army almost would have meant a protracted fight.

I think he and Lincoln would have gotten along famously. Scott would have backed him for as long as he could. If he won battles, that together with his unique persona and genuine sense of honor would have made him popular in the North. On the other hand, he was distant to people he didn't know, avoided personal conflict, avoided public speaking, and near the end would suffer poor health. Too many bad carbs.


McClellan's organizational abilities built the framework on which the AOP could be built and sustained. I do not think Lee could have matched that.

Recall that in the very beginning the gov of VA prevailed on Lee to take command of Virginia's practically non-existent army. He moved very fast and was making good progress. Then his entire force was swallowed by the CSA and rolled into the army of Eatern Virginia. Johnston had been senior to him in rank in the old Army and took command. Then he went to work for Davis and became a sort of facilitator and a sometime commander (the Loring episode; the Savannah defenses; etc). So, I think he could have put together an effective fighting force given the same resources McClellan was given. Maybe he wouldn't have been as slick and showy as McClellan, but he would have fought as soon as he could take the field, not dawdled while the CSA built up strength.

McClellan was a good general and a good organizer, but he was soft when he should have been hard. He felt for his men; hated to see them bloodied, and so held back when he should have gone forward. Those sensibilities are a good thing in a person, but not in a general in wartime. His disrespect for Lincoln, the gawky interferer, was uncalled for. He later created political problems for Lincoln by running for president. He was not an Union man.

I figure you'll be delivering the coup de grace pretty soon with your superior historical knowledge, but I've enjoyed the give and take.

astralis
07 Dec 11,, 14:50
JAD,


Should Lee have stayed on the defensive? I think that is what McClellan wanted so he could blast the rebels with his vast artillery. The defensive is fine in certain situations, but you can't win a war sitting still


i think lee had the right idea in the first place: fortifications up the yingyang. fortifications were the only thing that kept the ANV alive from late fall 1864 to spring 1865.

now imagine if they had started doing that in 1861 instead, with far fresher troops.

of course, that might not have been politically possible with Davis breathing down Lee's back, and may have caused a lot of morale problems (Granny Lee/King of Spades).

but i think after the first lopsided battle where the union is slaughtered charging the trenches people would change their tune.

Albany Rifles
07 Dec 11,, 15:54
JAD,

I look at this entire discussion from my experience as a soldier as well as a historian.

As I mentioned, I don't do well on the “what ifs”....

I look at Lee's generalship (and everyone else’s) based on his accomplishments at the tactical, operational & strategic levels...in other words in this battle, in how this battle influences the battles elsewhere in this theater (campaign) and finally how these battles and events work towards a national objective in conjunction with campaigns in other theaters.

Lee did well in the first, passable at the second and was mediocre at the third.

McClellan did mediocre at the first, passable at the second and well at the third.

I understand your fixation on the 7 Days...but was that a campaign that Lee won or McClellan lost? I am not just being argumentative here.

After Oak Grove, McClellan decided to withdraw...he had made up his mind. He, advised by Pinkerton, grossly overestimated the size of Lee's army and underestimated the abilities and tenacity of the AOP. Of the following 6 battles, the Federals actually won 2 of them (Beaver Dam Creek & Malvern Hill), the Confederates 2 of them (Gaines Mills & Savages Station) and the other 2 were a draw at best (Glendale & White Oak Swamp). Despite being on the home turf with a very friendly local populace for guides, Confederate forces regularly were unable to coordinate their movements effectively. That’s a sign of poor staff work.

Union forces did a much better job of coordinating movements despite being the away team.

Lee’s attack at Malvern Hill was poorly managed start to finish. Fitzjohn Porter had set up a deliberate defense anchored on a huge line of artillery. The logical thing to do was to leave it alone and observe. Porter’s mission was to conduct a rear guard so the AOP could move into Harrison’s Landing unopposed. Lee did not need to attack. But just like at Gettysburg, his blood was up due to the failure of his army to destroy the AOP so he decided to attack. And his attack was about as unimaginative as you could come up with…a straight ahead attack into the teeth of a cauldron of artillery. Henry Hunt’s gunners had a field day. There was ample proof that an attack on either flank could have unhinged the position but Lee would not listen to his subordinates.

The overall results of the Seven Days:

Union Casualties
15,855
(1,734 killed
8,066 wounded
6,055 missing/captured)

Confederate Casualties
20,204
(3,494 killed
15,758 wounded
952 missing/captured)

Lee took 33% more casualties and an incredible number of wounded…and a lot of the Union POWs were later exchanged and got back into the fight.

I recommend you read Sears excellent account of the campaign.

Sears, Stephen W. To the Gates of Richmond: The Peninsula Campaign

Okay, all of that said, JAD, you are suffering the typical myopia of most denizens of the Old Dominion. When I say the Confederacy should have fought on a strategic defensive with a deep defense, I consider VA to be the front lines. The Confederate capitol never should have been located that close to Washington. A Confederate national plan, which never really existed, would have placed the capitol in a much more defensible position (Atlanta, Chattanooga, etc) deep within the Confederacy.

And this same Virginia myopia effected Lee and his staff for the entire war. On one occasion Lee actually thought and acted in a strategic manner…when he sent Longstreet’s corps to Georgia in time for Chickamauga. The rest of the war he allowed himself to focus solely on VA.

So, all of that said, Lee was a very good battlefield commander but he was lacking as an administrator (Longstreet was actually much better than Lee in that regard as was Bragg). He would have been effective if he had stayed loyal and fought for his country (See Thomas, George as an example) but he would have still needed a McClellan type to conduct the organization of that army. Lee’s organization of the Virginia state troops was pretty good but much was left to be desired (Bob Krick and Bud Robinson both fault him some on this). McClellan’s organization of the AOP was only matched by the organization and mobilization of the US Army in World War 2…that is how good of a job he did.

As I said, the best of the lot who was senior enough probably would have been Meade…but he was too junior at the outbreak of the war to be considered.


Your turn!:biggrin:

Shek
08 Dec 11,, 02:09
Isn't that what we're talking about? The Union forces were badly led. The NVA was better led.

Holy sh!t . . . this alternate history is starting to get wierd. McDowell vs. Giap?

JAD_333
08 Dec 11,, 05:56
[QUOTE=Albany Rifles;849392]Your turn!:biggrin:

Thank you. It won't be much of a turn since I admit to being far less versed on the subject than you.



As I mentioned, I don't do well on the “what ifs”....

No worse than me. It is not easy to focus only on the talents and abilities of the commanders involved and clear our minds of all else.

Thanks for the book suggestion. I'll try to find a copy.

I agree Malvern Hill was badly fought, but having read a few of the reports on both sides I'm keeping an open mind as to who and what was to blame.

Richmond does seem a poor choice for the capitol. But back in those days the distance from Washington to Richmond must have seemed farther than it does today: 5 days march versus a 1 1/2 hr drive. Also, before transcontinental railroads the eastern half of the US economic sphere ended at Virginia's border.

In the realm of what-ifs, if Lee takes command of the US Army in 1861 and is successful, there is no panoply of failed commanders, no McDowell, McClellan, Pope, Hooker or Burnside. And no Lee leading southern forces. McClellan is perhaps tapped by Lee to create a fighting force and who knows which officers he chooses to command his corps and divisions--Grant, McClellan, Sherman...

We'll never how things would have turned out. Of all the generals who eventually led Union forces in the east, I think Lee in 1861 is the best choice. His resume as of 1861 is credible; Scott thinks he is the best soldier in the army; he's a doer, a problem solver, and man of character.

Over to you.:)

JAD_333
08 Dec 11,, 06:19
JAD,


i think lee had the right idea in the first place: fortifications up the yingyang. fortifications were the only thing that kept the ANV alive from late fall 1864 to spring 1865.

Asty:

Lee built those defenses to protect principal cities, but they had nothing to do with strategy.

I'm no general, but I know you can't win a war sitting behind static defenses.

He was a Scott man; he saw how effective Scott was in seizing the offensive during the US-Mexican war. That is not to say that fighting from a defensive position is wrong per se. By operating on the offensive, Lee was able to keep the enemy off balance and unsure of his next move. His goal was to demoralize the north so that it would throw in the towel. You can't do that from behind a wall of dirt.

astralis
08 Dec 11,, 14:35
JAD,


I'm no general, but I know you can't win a war sitting behind static defenses.


the South was fighting an insurgency-- the North had fairly limited political will. the South merely had to hang on-- the North had to comprehensively beat the South.

which meant that losing large numbers of men at any given engagement was going to be a default win for the North.

thus battles such as Chancellorsville can be seen as tactical, even operational victories for the South-- but strategically, losses.

astralis
08 Dec 11,, 14:37
Holy sh!t . . . this alternate history is starting to get wierd. McDowell vs. Giap?

obviously patton wins!

Albany Rifles
08 Dec 11,, 15:01
Holy sh!t . . . this alternate history is starting to get wierd. McDowell vs. Giap?

I started to bite on that but decided against it....nice shooting, though!:biggrin:

I agree Malvern Hill was badly fought, but having read a few of the reports on both sides I'm keeping an open mind as to who and what was to blame.


I've read enough and walked the ground enough times....I'm sold!


Richmond does seem a poor choice for the capitol. But back in those days the distance from Washington to Richmond must have seemed farther than it does today: 5 days march versus a 1 1/2 hr drive. Also, before transcontinental railroads the eastern half of the US economic sphere ended at Virginia's border.

Richmond was selected for political reasons. It was seen as a way to reinforce Virginia's late entry into the Confederacy; remember, there were those rambunctious western counties that were to soon go their own way. It was also a way to make sure Virginia was all in and stayed all in.

But as for distance? In 1861 the 135 miles was operational depth...it was not strategic depth. A 5 day march ws not considered a great distance in the day. It sat on a river navigable all of the way to the ocean. Richmond stood for as long as it did more from incompetency rather than from any great strategic play on the part of the Confederacy.

The Confederate capitol should have been no farher north than Raleigh and not too close to the Eastern seaboard.

As has been suggested, from a strategic perspective, Atlanta made more sense.

JAD_333
08 Dec 11,, 17:06
I started to bite on that but decided against it....nice shooting, though!:biggrin:

Snickering at the poor fella who just doesn't get it, are we.:tongue:


I agree Malvern Hill was badly fought, but having read a few of the reports on both sides I'm keeping an open mind as to who and what was to blame.

I've read enough and walked the ground enough times....I'm sold!

That's how I'd like to come to an opinion, not that I reject your assessment.



Richmond does seem a poor choice for the capitol. But back in those days the distance from Washington to Richmond must have seemed farther than it does today: 5 days march versus a 1 1/2 hr drive. Also, before transcontinental railroads the eastern half of the US economic sphere ended at Virginia's border.

Richmond was selected for political reasons. It was seen as a way to reinforce Virginia's late entry into the Confederacy; remember, there were those rambunctious western counties that were to soon go their own way. It was also a way to make sure Virginia was all in and stayed all in.

I understand that it was political. I was just throwing in some thoughts on why they didn't think it was particularly vulnerable.


But as for distance? In 1861 the 135 miles was operational depth...it was not strategic depth. A 5 day march ws not considered a great distance in the day. It sat on a river navigable all of the way to the ocean. Richmond stood for as long as it did more from incompetency rather than from any great strategic play on the part of the Confederacy.

Operational vs strategic depth, excellent point, though I admit to not being greatly familiar with those concepts as they applied at the time. I wonder if they thought the river to the sea was a positive rather than a negative, since water transport was more important in the day. In any case, it does seem an odd location for the capitol. Hubris maybe.


The Confederate capitol should have been no farther north than Raleigh and not too close to the Eastern seaboard.

That was my next question.


As has been suggested, from a strategic perspective, Atlanta made more sense.

Was it ever under serious consideration at the time? This old booster editorial cites a number of perceived advantages Richmond offered, but strategic location is never mentioned. Richmond Dispatch, 5/11/1861 (http://www.mdgorman.com/Written_Accounts/Dispatch/1861/richmond_dispatch_5111861.htm)

Regarding the original topic, I never expected there to be any winners and losers among us. Starting in 1861 and putting Lee in command of Union forces, the hypothetical exercise had to begin with eliminating some of what we know actually happened, namely the slate of commanders who actually commanded the Union army from McDowell onward. Then we had to look at Lee's abilities and thinking re war fighting. To do this we had to look ahead in real time at Lee's actual record as a CSA commander in various battles and then judge how that might have affected his performance had he been instead the Union commander. That led to several necessary and unnecessary diversions from the topic. Bottom line, we will never know. But as to the what-if topic, I think his qualities make him a better commander than McDowell and probably McClellan and certainly better than Hooker, Pope and Burnside. As for Grant and Meade, in 1861 they had not yet appeared on the radar of the powers to be.

Anyway, an interesting topic and I learned a lot from it. What's next?

JAD_333
08 Dec 11,, 17:21
JAD,



the South was fighting an insurgency-- the North had fairly limited political will. the South merely had to hang on-- the North had to comprehensively beat the South.

Maybe it doesn't affect your point, but it was not an insurgency in the sense we use the word today.

"Where a revolt takes the form of armed rebellion, it may not be viewed as an insurgency if a state of belligerency exists between one or more sovereign states and rebel forces. For example, during the American Civil War, the Confederate States of America was not recognized as a sovereign state, but it was recognized as a belligerent power, and thus Confederate warships were given the same rights as United States warships in foreign ports.[4][5][6]"

"Hall, Kermit L. The Oxford Guide to United States Supreme Court Decisions, Oxford University Press US, 2001 ISBN 0-19-513924-0, 9780195139242 p. 246 "In supporting Lincoln on this issue, the Supreme Court upheld his theory of the Civil War as an insurrection against the United States government that could be suppressed according to the rules of war. In this way the United States was able to fight the war as if it were an international war, without actually having to recognize the de jure existence of the Confederate government.""




... battles such as Chancellorsville can be seen as tactical, even operational victories for the South-- but strategically, losses.

If the strategy is to defeat the north and subjugate it, you are right. But the strategy was to break the will of the North to continue the war and force it to recognize the CSA. In that context, Lee's actions do conform to a strategy.

Albany Rifles
08 Dec 11,, 17:29
Anyway, an interesting topic and I learned a lot from it. What's next?

I am not sure...but I sure have swept out some cobwebs.

Give me some time to think....but I would bet it won't be the hypothetical kind of topic.

What I am intrigued about now is the current interpretation of Civil War symbols and their cooption.

I am forming a thread...let me mull on it.

JAD_333
09 Dec 11,, 00:11
My uncle owned a hard scrabble farm back in the hills near Hancock, Md. It had an authentic log home and log barn. We'd go out everyday during the summer--I was 13 at the time--to clear pines and saplings from the fields. One day, I was poking around in some woods and came across a little cemetery, 5-6 graves, one had a cast iron cross like the one in the picture below. It's probably still there.

27463

Not far from there my buddy and I found the badly rusted hilt of a broken sabre. I'd put the exact location at 8 miles northeast of Clear Spring.

By the way, a client of mine in Middletown showed me a 5lb coffee can full of stuff his father found when he used to plow the fields where the Battle of Cedar Creek was fought. Mostly bullets, but some pieces of shot, buckles, buttons and even a piece of bone.

Mandala
18 Jun 13,, 01:32
Robert E. Lee owned slaves, but felt guilty about it. He opposed secession. President Lincoln offered Lee command of the Union Army. Lee thought about it for a day, so it was a real possibility. Finally he decided that his loyalty to Virginia was stronger than his loyalty to the United States.

With Lee in charge of the Union Army the Civil War would have ended much sooner with a Union victory. Indeed, it would have ended so soon that the Emancipation Proclamation would never have been issued. During the campaign of 1860, and earlier Lincoln made it clear that he was not in favor of freeing the slaves in states where slavery was legal. He ran against what he called "a second Dred Scott Decision." This would have been a decision by the Supreme Court finding laws against slavery in the free states to be unconstitutional. In addition, Lincoln was opposed to allowing slavery to spread to the territories.

In 1860 abolition was not popular in the North. Most Northerners who opposed slavery in their states and in the territories opposed the spread of slavery because they did not want more Negroes in their states and in the territories. For the same reason they favored the perpetuation of slavery in the South. If slavery was outlawed many ex slaves would more north and compete with whites for factory jobs.

With an early Union victory a chastened South would return to the United States with its "peculiar institution" intact. Slavery would have continued indefinitely into the future.

Albany Rifles
18 Jun 13,, 01:58
So Mandala, what leads you to that conclusion?

Lee blew it at Malvern Hill. His army was savaged at Sharpsburg, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. His greatest successes came from the actions of aggressive subordinates. Historians fault him for his failure to properly consider logistics. He overly favored Virginians and would not discipline subordinates who erred.

So why would be have had victory sooner?

zraver
18 Jun 13,, 03:52
He also had a nasty habit of dividing his forces risking destruction in detail.

Mandala
18 Jun 13,, 15:02
So Mandala, what leads you to that conclusion?

Lee blew it at Malvern Hill. His army was savaged at Sharpsburg, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. His greatest successes came from the actions of aggressive subordinates. Historians fault him for his failure to properly consider logistics. He overly favored Virginians and would not discipline subordinates who erred.

So why would be have had victory sooner?

The Confederacy would have been denied a great general. The Union would have gained one.

Although his judgement failed him at Gettysburg Lee liked to fight defensively in an era when weapons favored defense.

astralis
18 Jun 13,, 15:02
also,

politically speaking


With an early Union victory a chastened South would return to the United States with its "peculiar institution" intact. Slavery would have continued indefinitely into the future.

this wasn't going to happen. even if the war ended in 1861 with a complete confederate collapse at Bulls Run, re-unification would have meant compensated manumission. after the gore of 1862 there was no more talk of compensation.

by 1864 it was clear that the south was going to get the torch, which sherman did with a vengeance.

Officer of Engineers
18 Jun 13,, 15:24
The Confederacy would have been denied a great general. The Union would have gained one.

Although his judgement failed him at Gettysburg Lee liked to fight defensively in an era when weapons favored defense.Stop. Just stop. Grant and Sherman were manuver Generals who put Napolean to shame.

Mandala
18 Jun 13,, 15:40
Stop. Just stop. Grant and Sherman were manuver Generals who put Napolean to shame.

Grant attacked heavily fortified positions and took heavier casualties than he needed to.

I am not saying that Grant should not have been a general. My point is that Lee was a great general. Denying him to the Confederacy and giving him to the Union would have helped the Union and shortened the War.

Officer of Engineers
18 Jun 13,, 16:34
Grant attacked heavily fortified positions and took heavier casualties than he needed to.

I am not saying that Grant should not have been a general. My point is that Lee was a great general. Denying him to the Confederacy and giving him to the Union would have helped the Union and shortened the War.So you're telling me that Lee would have made mince meat of Longstreet and Stuart.

astralis
18 Jun 13,, 18:15
mandala,


Although his judgement failed him at Gettysburg Lee liked to fight defensively in an era when weapons favored defense.

this is just patently wrong.

JAD_333
18 Jun 13,, 18:40
With Lee in charge of the Union Army the Civil War would have ended much sooner with a Union victory.

Can't it be tested. You ought to know better than to create a fact from speculation.

The rest of your post is in the same mold.

Except...


With an early Union victory a chastened South would return to the United States with its "peculiar institution" intact. Slavery would have continued indefinitely into the future.

A reasonable view. Saving the Union was Lincoln's initial goal, not freeing the slaves.

astralis
18 Jun 13,, 19:12
JAD,


A reasonable view. Saving the Union was Lincoln's initial goal, not freeing the slaves.

not after the South tried secession and lost. the North, and not just the abolitionists of the Republican Party, would have had Lincoln's head if he accepted status quo antebellum.

Mandala
18 Jun 13,, 23:42
Can't it be tested. You ought to know better than to create a fact from speculation.

The rest of your post is in the same mold.



This entire thread is speculation.

The Union did win the Civil War. Gen. Lee is considered to have been one of the best generals of that war. If he had served the Union rather than the Confederacy the war would have ended sooner with a Union victory. That is all I am saying. I can't give an exact date of when the Confederacy would have surrendered to the Union with Gen. Lee in the Union Army.

Officer of Engineers
18 Jun 13,, 23:58
Again, are you stating that Lee would have made mince meat out of Longstreet and Stuart?

Mandala
19 Jun 13,, 00:17
Again, are you stating that Lee would have made mince meat out of Longstreet and Stuart?

My point, which I have made several times, is that if Robert E. Lee had been a Union general it would have been good for the Union, and bad for the Confederacy.

gunnut
19 Jun 13,, 00:24
My point, which I have made several times, is that if Robert E. Lee had been a Union general it would have been good for the Union, and bad for the Confederacy.

Maybe the Union should have let the Confederacy go. Afterall, deaths should be avoided, right? Wars should be avoided, right? If only cooler heads had prevailed...

Officer of Engineers
19 Jun 13,, 01:41
My point, which I have made several times, is that if Robert E. Lee had been a Union general it would have been good for the Union, and bad for the Confederacy.You are either being stupid or trolling or don't know a single thing. I'm betting you don't know a single thing.

The reason why Lee was so great was because of Longstreet and Stuart.

zraver
19 Jun 13,, 02:24
My point, which I have made several times, is that if Robert E. Lee had been a Union general it would have been good for the Union, and bad for the Confederacy.

Your point is wrong. Lee has a great reputation among John Q Public, not so much among military historians ie the people who are trying to set you straight.

Albany Rifles
19 Jun 13,, 03:03
Lee was adequate.

He was good on some occasions, great on others, and failed spectacularly in other occasions.

BTW that is the evaluation of Bud Robertson and Bob Krick. I am paraphrasing.

astralis
19 Jun 13,, 04:22
"adequate" is a bit harsh, IMHO. he -was- a good general, whom looked great because for the first three years he was fighting a bunch of generals that ranged from wildly incompetent to merely decent.

then when he faced a general whom was his superior strategically, and -at least- every bit his equal operationally/tactically...to paraphrase Shek from earlier, inside of 30 days the ANV went from being one or two major victories from potentially ending the war to becoming incapable of doing much more than surviving.

JAD_333
19 Jun 13,, 17:29
This entire thread is speculation.

The Union did win the Civil War. Gen. Lee is considered to have been one of the best generals of that war. If he had served the Union rather than the Confederacy the war would have ended sooner with a Union victory. That is all I am saying. I can't give an exact date of when the Confederacy would have surrendered to the Union with Gen. Lee in the Union Army.


Mandela:

My apologies. I didn't see we were in the 'what if' thread. I thought we were in one of Albany's other Civil War threads. It is fair game to make all the declarative statements you wish in this one and suffer same from others.

JAD_333
19 Jun 13,, 17:32
JAD,



not after the South tried secession and lost. the North, and not just the abolitionists of the Republican Party, would have had Lincoln's head if he accepted status quo antebellum.

asty:

I think you missed my point. I was speaking of Lincoln's mindset in the beginning. He said--I paraphrase—if the only way to save the Union was to allow slavery, I would do it. But if I could save the Union and end slavery I would do that too.

He wasn't afraid of the abolitionists. With victory on the horizon in 1864, he rejected the South's last attempt at a peace settlement. By then
he saw that he could have his cake and eat it too.

astralis
19 Jun 13,, 18:04
JAD,


He said--I paraphrase—if the only way to save the Union was to allow slavery, I would do it. But if I could save the Union and end slavery I would do that too.


sure, that was Lincoln's mindset at the beginning (of course, the Union was in considerably desperate straits when he said that-- the British PM was within an inch of recognizing the Confederacy then).

but had the Confederacy surrendered in 1861-- even if the surrender involved some sort of face-saving measure, like graduated, compensated manumission-- everyone understood that once the south resorted to arms to press their case, they just made an all-or-nothing gamble. and that's the only way either side would have negotiated, in terms of a surrender, not as a negotiated re-entry into the Union.

it would at the minimum announce to everyone that the balance of power between the northern and the southern states had decisively shifted (the exact fear of which prompted the South to secede in the first place).

so slavery would certainly not have continued indefinitely. Lincoln was not so stupid as to invite the South to try again after another generation.

JAD_333
19 Jun 13,, 19:36
JAD,



sure, that was Lincoln's mindset at the beginning (of course, the Union was in considerably desperate straits when he said that--the British PM was within an inch of recognizing the Confederacy then).

asty:

That was my point and I think it had, at least for Lincoln, much more meaning than merely a bow toward the political and international considerations of the day. He spoke of the union in almost mystical terms, but in practical terms as well. He saw willful dissolution of the union as the destruction of democracy for future generations; if any state could secede from the union at will, the union would remain weak and forever be in danger of disintegrating into petty states; therefore, a strong union had no choice but to crush secession by whatever means it had at its disposal.




but had the Confederacy surrendered in 1861-- even if the surrender involved some sort of face-saving measure, like graduated, compensated manumission-- everyone understood that once the south resorted to arms to press their case, they just made an all-or-nothing gamble. and that's the only way either side would have negotiated, in terms of a surrender, not as a negotiated re-entry into the Union.

Some might have seen it that way, but many in the North favored letting the South go its way, and as late as 1864, there were strong support in the North urging Lincoln to negotiate a peace and he did meet with a Confederate peace commission. The southern representatives wanted to reenter the Union with practically no change in their former status; take up their seats on Congress and keep their slaves. Lincoln realized that with the southern congressmen back in Congress, it would be almost impossible to get the 75% vote needed to pass an amendment to the Constitution banning slavery. The calculus was simple: the Union was winning the war; it had the advantage of greater manpower and unlimited war supplies. Lincoln could take the alternative route he saw at the beginning--if he could win the war and abolish slavery, he would, and he did.

astralis
19 Jun 13,, 20:04
JAD,


He saw willful dissolution of the union as the destruction of democracy for future generations; if any state could secede from the union at will, the union would remain weak and forever be in danger of disintegrating into petty states; therefore, a strong union had no choice but to crush secession by whatever means it had at its disposal.


i completely agree. that's why i can't see lincoln taking a confederate offer, even in 1861, of just getting back into the union as if nothing had happened. even more importantly, i can't see the -north- standing for it. declaring war and seizing US military installations and fighting has consequences.

letting the confederates come back without so much as a slap on the wrist would merely encourage others to do the same, because the costs for doing so would be negligible.


The southern representatives wanted to reenter the Union with practically no change in their former status; take up their seats on Congress and keep their slaves. Lincoln realized that with the southern congressmen back in Congress, it would be almost impossible to get the 75% vote needed to pass an amendment to the Constitution banning slavery. The calculus was simple: the Union was winning the war; it had the advantage of greater manpower and unlimited war supplies. Lincoln could take the alternative route he saw at the beginning--if he could win the war and abolish slavery, he would, and he did.

AFAIK the Confederates never wanted to re-enter the Union. as late as Feb 1865 at the Hampton Roads conference, the Confederate representatives insisted on CSA independence, while holding out the "carrot" of temporarily shelving the conflict aside to jointly invade Mexico.

JAD_333
19 Jun 13,, 21:30
JAD,


AFAIK the Confederates never wanted to re-enter the Union. as late as Feb 1865 at the Hampton Roads conference, the Confederate representatives insisted on CSA independence, while holding out the "carrot" of temporarily shelving the conflict aside to jointly invade Mexico.

The record of that conference is pretty scanty. If the WIKI source is right, the joint invasion of Mexico was the brainchild of Francis Blair, not the southern delegation, but wasn't discussed at the meeting. It also states the southern delegation wanted independence, as you mentioned. Of course, each side in any negotiation is expected to shoot for the moon as an opening gambit.

Whether the south would have continued to insist on independence at a second conference, is anyone's guess, as no further conferences were held. However, the fact that the conference lasted several hours would lead one to suspect that other possibilities beside full independence were discussed.

astralis
19 Jun 13,, 22:54
well if you believe the movie Lincoln, he had his reasons for sending someone to the conference...:biggrin:

Shek
20 Jun 13,, 11:19
Grant attacked heavily fortified positions and took heavier casualties than he needed to.

I am not saying that Grant should not have been a general. My point is that Lee was a great general. Denying him to the Confederacy and giving him to the Union would have helped the Union and shortened the War.

Grant is the greatest general to come out of the American Civil War. He was the supreme operational artist and strategic artist.

Lee was not a great general. His grasp of the operational art and strategic art was demonstrably not the same as Grant. He was an inspirational leader, and the culture of the counterattack and fostering initiative were his greatest strengths. However, when he promoted and then maintained those leaders who didn't have the same independence/initiative as Jackson/Longstreet/Stuart, Lee's weaknesses in his generalship were exposed. Additionally, the fact that Lee was anything but a defensive general created a mismatch - time was on the side of the Confederates if they could sustain some form of success. However, Lee bled the ANV white with his tactical, operational, and strategic approach - he removed time from the Richmond clock by amassing a huge body count that far exceeded Grant. Also, unlike Grant, who learned from innovation of field fortifications that emerged as a staple of warfare in the East in 1864, Lee never learned from his frontal assaults, using them time and time again.

Since you make the case that Grant took heavier casualties than needed, what would be your operational and tactical approaches to the 1864 campaign?

Albany Rifles
20 Jun 13,, 13:27
What Shek said.

Mandala
20 Jun 13,, 15:27
Grant is the greatest general to come out of the American Civil War. He was the supreme operational artist and strategic artist.

Lee was not a great general. His grasp of the operational art and strategic art was demonstrably not the same as Grant. He was an inspirational leader, and the culture of the counterattack and fostering initiative were his greatest strengths. However, when he promoted and then maintained those leaders who didn't have the same independence/initiative as Jackson/Longstreet/Stuart, Lee's weaknesses in his generalship were exposed. Additionally, the fact that Lee was anything but a defensive general created a mismatch - time was on the side of the Confederates if they could sustain some form of success. However, Lee bled the ANV white with his tactical, operational, and strategic approach - he removed time from the Richmond clock by amassing a huge body count that far exceeded Grant. Also, unlike Grant, who learned from innovation of field fortifications that emerged as a staple of warfare in the East in 1864, Lee never learned from his frontal assaults, using them time and time again.

Since you make the case that Grant took heavier casualties than needed, what would be your operational and tactical approaches to the 1864 campaign?

Thank you for that information. I joined the World Affairs Board to learn, and I am. My initial point was simply that if Lee had taken Lincoln's offer to lead the Union Army it would have been good for the Union, bad for the Confederacy, and would probably have resulted in a Union victory before abolition became a popular issue in the Union.

As is always the case in this kind of speculation, we can't go back in time, convince Lee to take Lincoln's offer, and measure different results.

Chogy
20 Jun 13,, 15:31
I am no CW historian, but the impression I got was that Lee was extremely charismatic, and his men loved him.

Unfortunately, charisma and camaraderie doesn't equate to automatic battlefield success. Being loved by his men doesn't keep their bellies full, rifles loaded, and doesn't overcome maneuver, solid LOC's, and Union material superiority.

Officer of Engineers
20 Jun 13,, 15:40
Thank you for that information. I joined the World Affairs Board to learn, and I am. My initial point was simply that if Lee had taken Lincoln's offer to lead the Union Army it would have been good for the Union, bad for the Confederacy, and would probably have resulted in a Union victory before abolition became a popular issue in the Union.You still don't get it. What made Lee great was Jackson, Stuart, and Longstreet. Those three Generals would still fight for the Confederacy. I can tell you one thing for certain. Picket's charge would not have had happened under Longstreet. That's a division right there that would have been saved for another battle ... and delaying the war that you think would have been shortened.

Albany Rifles
20 Jun 13,, 17:49
I am no CW historian, but the impression I got was that Lee was extremely charismatic, and his men loved him.

Unfortunately, charisma and camaraderie doesn't equate to automatic battlefield success. Being loved by his men doesn't keep their bellies full, rifles loaded, and doesn't overcome maneuver, solid LOC's, and Union material superiority.

So was McClellan. His soldiers loved him but he also was a brilliant administrator. He took his organizational skills for railroad operations and applied them to the building and training of an Army. In that he performed brilliantly.

He built the AOP out of whole cloth in less than 6 months. Lee did not build the ANV...Joe Johnston did. Lee took over only after Johnston's wounding at Seven Pines. The resulting Seven Days campaign was less of Lee beating McClellan as McClellan losing his nerve.

The Union actually went 2-1-3 in that campaign. In the opening battle Lee's execution was marred by poor staff planning and execution and resulted in frontal assaults which caused hime to take 12% casualties out of a force of 15,000. At Gaine's Mills he again conducted frontal assaults and was finally succesful...at the cost of almost 15% casualties. At Malvern Hill he assaulted a prepared defense line and was repulsed. DH Hill should have told Pickett what to expect a year later. Lee's great vistory was a series of one bludgeoning battle ofter another.

That Lee was not a better administrator considering his background. He had been an engineer, responsible for the construction of many projects along the Eastern seaboard, efforts he managed very well. That skill did not seem to extend to the organization of large field armies.

And to add to what the colonel said, Lee also owed much of his success to besides the three he mentioned. The ANV was inordinately blessed with some of the best division and brigade commanders of the war.

Shek
20 Jun 13,, 20:43
Thank you for that information. I joined the World Affairs Board to learn, and I am. My initial point was simply that if Lee had taken Lincoln's offer to lead the Union Army it would have been good for the Union, bad for the Confederacy, and would probably have resulted in a Union victory before abolition became a popular issue in the Union.

As is always the case in this kind of speculation, we can't go back in time, convince Lee to take Lincoln's offer, and measure different results.

We can't go back in time, but we can extrapolate from actual performance to make plausible arguments, and you've yet to extrapolate using evidence. If you don't have the evidence to bring, then repeating the same assertion doesn't add any more weight to it. The more I read about Lee, the less impressed I become. He had some strengths - the line of thought I'd make in support of your case is that he'd bring a fighting spirit that McClellan didn't possess, and with the more plentiful resources, the North could have absorbed his bloody warfare. The question is whether he could have raised the Army that McClellan did and could have sustained (administrative and logistic support) the necessary campaigns required to compel the South to surrender. I'm not sure about that and would have to dwell on the question longer.

gunnut
20 Jun 13,, 20:54
We can't go back in time, but we can extrapolate from actual performance to make plausible arguments, and you've yet to extrapolate using evidence. If you don't have the evidence to bring, then repeating the same assertion doesn't add any more weight to it. The more I read about Lee, the less impressed I become. He had some strengths - the line of thought I'd make in support of your case is that he'd bring a fighting spirit that McClellan didn't possess, and with the more plentiful resources, the North could have absorbed his bloody warfare. The question is whether he could have raised the Army that McClellan did and could have sustained (administrative and logistic support) the necessary campaigns required to compel the South to surrender. I'm not sure about that and would have to dwell on the question longer.

SHEK!!!

Question for you, was Lee a good tactician? It seemed like he was not very good at a strategic level, analyzing the war from a nation-state level.

Lee reminds me of Rommel. The public holds Rommel in very high esteem, but those who study warfare only regard Rommel as a good divisional commander. He was not very good at planning the war from a larger perspective. Is that an adequate description?

JAD_333
21 Jun 13,, 02:53
In his memoirs, Grant downplays Lee's greatness.



"Lee was of a slow, conservative, cautious nature, without imagination or humor, always the same, with grave dignity. I never could see in his achievements what justifies his reputation."

Speaking of public attitudes, Grant offers this explanation for Lee's vaunted reputation.


"The natural disposition of most people, is to clothe a commander of a large army whom they do not know with almost superhuman abilities. A large part of the National army, for instance, and most of the press of the country, clothed General Lee with just such qualities; but I had known him personally and knew that he was mortal; and it was just as well that I felt this...

In fact, nowhere after the battle of Wilderness did Lee show any disposition to leave his defenses far behind him."

We cannot know what Lee thought of this assessment since he was dead when Grant's memoirs were published.

For his part, Lee said that in all of history he could not find a greater general than Grant. Some have suggested that Lee was elevating Grant's prowess to justify his own defeat, but that is out of character for Lee. On the other hand, Lee wrote his son during the last days of the war that Grant's "talent and strategy" lies in superior numbers.

Lee was a great general, but Grant was greater. The question of whether the Union would have won the war early on if Lee had assumed command of Union forces is not about their relative greatness. Had Lee taken command he would have faced the same problems that beset the Union at the outset: A small, poorly equipped regular army 12,000 strong and 75,000 hastily recruited volunteers signed on for only 3 months service. Furthermore, Lee's only war experience was as Chief of Staff for General Scott during the US-Mexican war. He had much to learn. Given the early shortcomings of the Union army, it is not likely Lee would have wrapped up the war quickly.

Albany Rifles
21 Jun 13,, 03:04
As usual you nailed it.

Minskaya
21 Jun 13,, 08:02
Although Lee was the indispensable icon, Grant was the genuine tactician.

Shek
26 Jun 13,, 00:27
SHEK!!!

Question for you, was Lee a good tactician? It seemed like he was not very good at a strategic level, analyzing the war from a nation-state level.

Lee reminds me of Rommel. The public holds Rommel in very high esteem, but those who study warfare only regard Rommel as a good divisional commander. He was not very good at planning the war from a larger perspective. Is that an adequate description?

I don't focus my readings at the tactical level, so this is a little bit outside of my wheelhouse. I do know that Lee has been criticized on several accounts: tactical schemes that were too complex to be executable, too hands off at times on tactical dispositions, and for ordering several frontal assaults. To be fair, the rise of entrenchments along with the adoption of the rifle (to a lesser extent) created a tactical problem that wouldn't be solved for years during World War I. While I'm sure that there are others, the tactical genius that I've come across from the American Civil War is Emory Upton.

Shek
26 Jun 13,, 00:30
Although Lee was the indispensable icon, Grant was the genuine tactician.

I'm not so sure that I'd place Grant as "the genuine tactician." He had some very sound deductive reasoning about the use of tactical assaults, but he was not necessarily that innovative. He was willing to experiment using subordinates' ideas, but I'd offer that his strengths were elsewhere, specifically at the operational and strategic level as well as leveraging Union maritime power, whether it was using Union gunboats in the West or using Union supply ships to extend his operational reach in the East.

Albany Rifles
26 Jun 13,, 15:43
To riff off of LTC Shek's answer.

Lee was very much a manager of the battle. He maneuvered his forces to the fight and let his corps commanders conduct the fight. While that worked well with Jackson and Longstreet, it broke down when it was Longstreet, Ewell & Hill. Ewell and Hill needed much more supervision. And it suffered further when he Lee had Anderson, Gordon and Early as his corps comamnders. Of the 3 only Early was an effective corps comamnder. Gordon was passable and to say Anderson was adequate is to be kind. Lee was never able to overcome the loss of Jackson & Longstreet.

As for the Cavalry I would argue the command and control of the Confedrate cavalry actually got better with the death of Stuart and the rise of Hampton. I believe Hampton was a better commander.

A lot of these guys were excellent division commanders but corps comamnd was beyond them.

Meade & Grant had different issues.

At sundown on 3 July 63 Meade had a problem on his hands. His best corps commander was dead...Reynolds. His next best 2 were wounded...Hancock and Sickles (yes, I think Sickles was a better commander than he is often given credit for). That left him with Howard (who I believe has been scapegoated and actually performed admirably at Gettysburg....he was smart enough to have his artillery reserve employ on Cemetary Hill. This gave an anchor for I & XI Corps troops to fall back to on the afternoon of 1 JUL.), Slocum, Sedgwick & Sykes. John Newton (who?) had the I Corps, William Hays had II Corps (replaced by Warren in mid-August....how'd that work out for them?) and French took command of III Corps once his division arrived from Harpers Ferry.

Ugh.

What helped the AOP was it had strong division commanders (if you overlook IX Corps) which is what Meade and Grant could depend on.

Of course they had to deal with the entire ending of enlistments but thats for a different thread.

Officer of Engineers
26 Jun 13,, 16:16
To riff off of LTC Shek's answer.Shek got his LCol?

Albany Rifles
26 Jun 13,, 16:22
Shek got his LCol?

Yes sir.

Not sure when.

I follow his Facebook page and his DA info shows LTC.

Officer of Engineers
26 Jun 13,, 17:14
Welcome to my world, Colonel.