View Poll Results: What battle was the most decisive in the outcome of the American Civil War?

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  • Fredericksburg

    1 1.82%
  • Antietam

    10 18.18%
  • Vicksburg

    8 14.55%
  • Gettysburg

    27 49.09%
  • Atlanta

    3 5.45%
  • Franklin

    5 9.09%
  • Shiloh

    1 1.82%
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Thread: Most Decisive US Civil War Battle

  1. #151
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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    shek,

    yeah, that was my thinking, actually- if lee didn't get fired for antietam, short of a devastating loss, what WOULD he fired for?
    Your argument would be fodder for Buck's nomination of Second Manassas - it revealed the preference for Lee as commander.
    "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

  2. #152
    Global Moderator Defense Professional JAD_333's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Albany Rifles View Post
    You won't get much of a fight from me there....but I was answering Shek's redirected question.
    That's what happens when you only have a couple of minutes to catch up on a thread. My apologies. I take your point on the redirect.

    And as for Jackson as independent commander....who was his opposition? Jackson did well against the second string. And many of his peers and historians have faulted him for his refusal to keep subordinates informed of the overall plan. Lck of understanding of the commander's intent for a battle stifles initiative and flexibility. This caused some fo his issues at the Seven Days and Fredericksburg.
    I've read several explanations for his closed mouthed approach to planning. One, he believed his plans weren't open to discussion. Another that he feared tipping off Union forces (this in the case of his Valley campaign). From a psychological viewpoint, we can look at the example of leaders who tend to fly by the seat of their pants. Laying out a detailed plan ahead of time could thwart moves to take quick advantage of rapidly changing developments. etc.
    To be Truly ignorant, Man requires an Education - Plato

  3. #153
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    Quote Originally Posted by JAD_333 View Post
    From a psychological viewpoint, we can look at the example of leaders who tend to fly by the seat of their pants. Laying out a detailed plan ahead of time could thwart moves to take quick advantage of rapidly changing developments. etc.
    John,
    Grant provides an excellent example of where clearly laying out plans need not contradict with a coping style of battlefield leadership that attempts to take advantage of fleeting opportunities.
    "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

  4. #154
    Global Moderator Defense Professional JAD_333's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shek View Post
    John,
    Grant provides an excellent example of where clearly laying out plans need not contradict with a coping style of battlefield leadership that attempts to take advantage of fleeting opportunities.
    That is very true of Grant, Sherman and other successful generals. I don't know whether you meant that in contrast to Jackson or to refute my thesis. For argument sake, I maintain that some supremely confident and successful leaders play their hand close to their chest because their ego makes it difficult for them later to reveal that they changed their original plan while it was unfolding, or the plan is beyond the pale. That may be the case with Jackson. He drove himself and his men pretty hard, and for that reason, his immediate subordinates might have had reservations which he didn't wish to consider. I read of some of his forced marches in the Valley where he expected 20-30 percent of his men to collapse by the road in exhaustion on the way to wherever he was going. He calculated that they would eventually straggle back to their units, but he would have gotten to where he was going much faster than the Union forces believed possible. Is that a plan you share with your command staff? I don't know.
    To be Truly ignorant, Man requires an Education - Plato

  5. #155
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    Quote Originally Posted by JAD_333 View Post
    That is very true of Grant, Sherman and other successful generals. I don't know whether you meant that in contrast to Jackson or to refute my thesis.
    Only in contrast, not to refute why he did so.
    "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

  6. #156
    Senior Contributor Triple C's Avatar
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    JAD,

    How was Shiloh decisive in securing later victories in the west? Did the Southern losses in that battle and the moral defeat so severe that they were unable to regroup and effectively retake the initiative again ?
    All those who are merciful with the cruel will come to be cruel to the merciful.
    -Talmud Kohelet Rabbah, 7:16.

  7. #157
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    I'll jump in with 2 quick points.

    At Shiloh, A.S. Johnston was killed. The Confederacy lost an excellent combat commander and were left with the likes of Bragg and Beauregard as the primary commanders in the west....and the lethal command team of Grant and Sherman was forged in that battle.

    Not to speak for JAD but that may be his reasoning.

    Of a secondary nature it also showed the new soldiers of the Army of the Tennessee that a fight lost is not a battle lost. Those Union regiments learned a valuable lesson....as did the new majors, colonels and brigadier generals.
    “We had been hopelessly labouring to plough waste lands; to make nationality grow in a place full of the certainty of God… Among the tribes our creed could be only like the desert grass – a beautiful swift seeming of spring; which, after a day’s heat, fell dusty.”
    ― T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph

  8. #158
    Global Moderator Defense Professional JAD_333's Avatar
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    Albany makes good points. The overarching significance of the battle is that Confederacy failed to check the North's momentum in carrying out its grand strategy, aka the Anaconda plan, which was set in motion by Gen Winfield Scott, who was commander in chief at the start of the war. The plan called for squeezing the South's ability to replenish war materials. In the west that meant gaining control of New Orleans and the major rivers, particularly the Mississippi. If that could be achieved it would close important Confederate trade routes from the west and give Union forces a base of operations deep in Confederate territory. The Confederates were well aware of the plan. At Shiloh the Confederates hoped to prevent Grant's Army of the Tennessee from linking up with Buell's Army of the Ohio because together they would significantly outnumber Confederate forces in the region. They failed. From that point on, although a lot of hard fighting was still ahead for Grant, particularly at Vicksburg, the Union had the momentum, and as we know eventually gained control of the Mississippi. The squeeze was on and it proved to be decisive in wearing down the South's ability to wage war. Of course, superlatives such as "most" in describing battles does not diminish the importance of subsequent battles. But had Grant's army been defeated at Shiloh, it would have retreated and left the South with its western supply routes--at least for a time, and who knows but that time might have led to a different outcome in the war.
    To be Truly ignorant, Man requires an Education - Plato

  9. #159
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    Having just read "Bloody Roads South" by Trudeau, I can see where if that's the only book that one has read (Foote may also describe it similarly) then one might think that North Anna was a "trap" left unsprung. However, his account makes no attempt to analyze the topography or the need to leave the earthworks to assault with a multi-Corps assault in an extremely small window before it would have been an assault against earthworks - I'm not sure that would have even been enough time to mass, form, and assault in that small window of opportunity. Bottomline, Trudeau assumes that bad for offense for Grant = good for offense for Lee if only did didn't have the sh!ts, which is off the mark.
    "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

  10. #160
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    At the risk of the accusation of necromania, since we've just passed the 152nd anniversary of Antietam and today saw anniversary of the largest fruits of victory from Antietam, the release of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, I figured it'd be a good time to revisit the question. I'm still thinking that Antietam was a major turning point in the war. It didn't put Confederate independence out of the question, but it certainly was a game changer by settling the question of foreign intervention (no!) once and for all.
    "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

  11. #161
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    Shek,

    No necromancy...after all.

    It's history!

    Knowing your background and how you earn your "king's shilling"...

    There is no doubt that Antietam changed the tenor of the war...both domestically and internationally. Any chance of a balance between King Cotton & Prince Wheat had the scales tip in the balance of Prince Wheat after this. The populations of GB & France would not stand for openly supporting a slave republic when both populations were strongly abolitionist.
    “We had been hopelessly labouring to plough waste lands; to make nationality grow in a place full of the certainty of God… Among the tribes our creed could be only like the desert grass – a beautiful swift seeming of spring; which, after a day’s heat, fell dusty.”
    ― T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph

  12. #162
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    The elites of both countries, on the other hand, tended to be pro-Confederacy, both by inclination (association with the great landowning slaveowners) and policy (weakening a potential Great Power). They also looked forward to dominating the new CSA as well.

    Palmerston was on the edge of recognizing the Confederacy in conjunction with Nappy the third when news of Antietam reached him.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

  13. #163
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    Asty, absolutely agree. Most of the established powers were hostile to the US and were hoping to see a divided continent. The one European power which backed the Union, and strongly so, was Imperial Russia.
    “We had been hopelessly labouring to plough waste lands; to make nationality grow in a place full of the certainty of God… Among the tribes our creed could be only like the desert grass – a beautiful swift seeming of spring; which, after a day’s heat, fell dusty.”
    ― T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph

  14. #164
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    True, I just doubt that Russia would have lifted a finger if Palmerston and Napoleon recognized the Confederacy. Had that happened Lincoln would probably have surrendered prior to the inevitable Union financial collapse.

    It's amazing, the difference between 1862 and 1863. Even a major Union defeat at Gettysburg wouldn't have had the implications that a minor Union defeat at Antietam would have had.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

  15. #165
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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    True, I just doubt that Russia would have lifted a finger if Palmerston and Napoleon recognized the Confederacy. Had that happened Lincoln would probably have surrendered prior to the inevitable Union financial collapse.

    It's amazing, the difference between 1862 and 1863. Even a major Union defeat at Gettysburg wouldn't have had the implications that a minor Union defeat at Antietam would have had.
    100% concur.

    And I didn't mean to suggest that Imperial Russia was much of help vis a vis UK/France. It was kind of a way to show that we had no friends OCONUS. Hell, even the Ottomans pulled for the CSA!
    “We had been hopelessly labouring to plough waste lands; to make nationality grow in a place full of the certainty of God… Among the tribes our creed could be only like the desert grass – a beautiful swift seeming of spring; which, after a day’s heat, fell dusty.”
    ― T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph

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