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. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by deadkenny View Post
    Nothing wrong with a little disagreement. As long as it doesn’t degenerate into flaming, it can be quite interesting.
    Absolutely right.

    Quote Originally Posted by deadkenny View Post
    Well, let’s look at some figures. Before the Battle of Franklin, Hood’s army numbered approx. 38,000. Total losses from the battle were 6,252 casualties, including 1,750 killed and 3,800 wounded. Some of the wounded would have been able to return to duty. As well, some of the ‘other’ losses would have been ‘missing’ who wandered off or fled and who could also have returned. Admittedly, that was a hell of a beating to take in a single day by the standards of the time, but even after Franklin Hood had a force well in excess of 30,000.
    You're arguing against the combined judgement of every credible civil war historian, as well as many contemporaries that wrote about the impact of the battle. The figures WERE that bad, and what those bare numbers don't adequately express is just how terrible the losses were among the leaders.

    By all accounts but yours, that army was done in at Franklin. Not hurt, not damaged, but destroyed in all but fact.

    Quote Originally Posted by deadkenny View Post
    My point was simply that Hood still had the freedom to move in another direction than fighting the Battle of Nashville.
    True, he did, and the fact that he snuggled up to a lethal enemy, coiled to strike, shows just how poor his judgement had become.

    He COULD have moved away, and probably should have, but the only difference that would've made was WHERE and WHEN his 'army' met its inevitable end. You're not reading what I'm writing: the DECISION was reached at Franklin, and it didn't really matter where Hood went from there; he had ceased to be a factor. There was no more clenched fist, just a couple of mangled fingers.

    Quote Originally Posted by deadkenny View Post
    The result of Franklin may well have made the outcome of Nashville ‘inevitable’, GIVEN THAT IT WAS FOUGHT at all. However, Franklin did not make the fighting at Nashville inevitable.
    But the fighting at Nashville wasn't important! What WAS inevitable is Hood's complete collapse at any subsequent action, no matter where or when it was fought! I already covered that, and it's not like you disagree, it's like you didn't understand me.

    Quote Originally Posted by deadkenny View Post
    But again ‘maneuvered in the field’ to what end? If he wasn’t strong enough to succeed in the objective of this entire campaign, then the ‘decisive’ point was earlier – before the entire campaign started. It’s also important to keep in mind that Hood was in command in the first place because Davis removed Johnson for not being sufficiently ‘aggressive’ during the Atlanta campaign. So Hood would not likely been in command long if he had simply ‘maneuvered in the field’ while Union armies were laying waste to the interior of the CSA and finishing off the ANV.
    I covered this part, too.

    It's like a cop responds to a traffic accident with injuries, but when he rolls up, there is a gunfight going on. He's got a priority: as long as there are Bad Guys firing, he can't treat injuries, and he can't get the cars moved, and finally, when all of THAT is done, he will be able to smooth out traffic flow and sweep up glass.

    As long as Hood is on his feet with a weapon in his hand, the Federal police can't do anything but focus on HIM. The other stuff involved in re-establishing Federal control over the states in rebellion is going to have to wait, and the war is still on. Well, Hood was flat on his back after Franklin and of no threat to Federal war aims; the war in the West was finally OVER, and the cops can start getting traffic moving along the highway again, and sweeping up all of the broken glass. The Federals can divide, march to all points of the compass, and start getting the mail delivered again. You see my point? Just by EXISTING the Army of the Tennessee made it impossible to do anything but look at Hood, orient on Hood, make plans to defend against Hood or attack Hood. It was all about Hood NOT LOSING, not whether the Army of the Tennessee was able to make some miracle happen. THE WAR CONTINUED AS LONG AS THE ARMY WAS IN THE FIELD AND FIGHTING.

    Quote Originally Posted by deadkenny View Post
    Yes, I think that is key – Hood wasn’t facing the incompetent Union commanders from earlier in the war. Nor was he facing the ‘untried’ Union soldiers from earlier in the war.
    Sho' 'nuff. The Federal amies were world-class by mid-1864, and their commanders had had the roughest OJT in the world. Any that couldn't hack it were gone (with exceptions like Butler and Ferraro and Ledlie, of course). Excellent soldiers, equipment and MUCH better leaders meant the South felt the loss of every Stonewall and Cleburne that much more, relatively speaking.

    Quote Originally Posted by deadkenny View Post
    But he was put in command to be more aggressive, and decided to take a shot at ‘reversing’ the fortunes of the CSA, even though those chances were already somewhere between slim and none.
    Well, okay, I'll concede that Hood may not have felt he had any choice but to go over to the attack of anything he thought he could whip, in a long-odds gamble of repeating Stonewall's Valley masterpiece of '62. But even so, there was no reason to do what he then did, which was throw away his whole army. I'm certain that if he'd but listened to the good advice he was given, and if he hadn't been stoned and in massive pain, Franklin wouldn't have happened.

    Quote Originally Posted by deadkenny View Post
    Again, kept his army in the field indefinitely to what end? Once Sherman is loose the Confederacy is going to be ‘gutted’ and Lee crushed no matter what Hood does out west.
    Not necessarily. Read what I wrote earlier, re: Sherman being ordered by Washington to 'do something' about Hood. If Thomas and Schofield can't stop Hood and Forrest, I can EASILY imagine Sherman being detailed off to get 'em both for good, once and for all. And even if they managed to corner and destroy Hood, well, Georgia lives for another six months, and the Carolinas get away scot-free, because Lee was goin' down, no matter what, because the seige of Petersburg was unbreakable and the outcome inevitable. And that's worth Hood's whole army, right there.

    Quote Originally Posted by deadkenny View Post
    The only ‘chance’ at that point was for Hood to defeat Schofield and Thomas (individually / separately) and then turn back east and try to help Lee fend off Grant and Sherman. The fact that Hood wasn’t anywhere near strong enough to accomplish that simply points to the fact that the real ‘decision’ had been reached earlier.
    Well, if you're taking THAT line, then Ft. Sumter has to be the decisive battle of the war, because of all the events that followed as a direct result.

    No, 'decisive' means THAT event decided things, as in no alternative gives any other result. (And once again, the fact that Nashville marks the grave of the Army of Tennessee is immaterial, because the pore thang was terminal from the lead poisoning it caught at Franklin.)

    Quote Originally Posted by deadkenny View Post
    I’m not sure there was any ‘correct’ choice for Hood to make after Atlanta.
    Again, not the point, as he probably couldn't 'win'. But what he DID do was positively LOSE. I'm not sure there was a 'correct' course-of-action, either. But there was DAM' sure and INCORRECT one, and that's what he chose.

    Quote Originally Posted by deadkenny View Post
    What could he have done to significantly affect the outcome of the war?
    Simple: not kill his army in five hours. Would it have won? No, but he wouldn't have lost it, either.

    Quote Originally Posted by deadkenny View Post
    If he had ‘followed’ Sherman then Schofield and Thomas simply would have ‘mopped up’ the west and eventually closed in behind him.
    NOW you're getting my point: see how you just described the Federal armies reacting to and orienting on Hood? THAT is the point to staying viable. And it ain't a slam-dunk that the Federals simply march to whatever point they choose if Hood yet lives. Washington in all probability would've ordered them to pursue Hood and Forrest no matter where they went.

    Quote Originally Posted by deadkenny View Post
    He’s not strong enough to defeat Schofield and Thomas, unless they make mistakes and he attacks them at the right time and place.
    Again, precisely my point: they've got to remain ready for anything. They can't divide, they can't leave vital areas undefended; they've got to think about HIM, always HIM, and what he's liable to do. That is an effect of just BEING.

    Quote Originally Posted by deadkenny View Post
    If he simply ‘wanders around’ in the west, avoiding any decisive conflict then Grant and Sherman crush Lee and the Confederacy surrenders anyway.
    Sure, but WHEN? WHEN will this or that theater be finally closed down, and a decision reached? You're not focusing on the question of the original post, which was, Which battle was most decisive?' FRANKLIN was, because that's the one that saw the end of all hope in the Confederacy. No other battle so comprehensively spelled the end for the Confederacy, as in, there's no going on from here; it's a done deal, except for the details.

    Quote Originally Posted by deadkenny View Post
    The ‘no win’ position Hood was in pre-Franklin indicates to me that the decisive battle had already taken place earlier.
    No, you're focusing on what Hood could have DONE to WIN. Think instead of what he should NOT have done in order to NOT LOSE. Franklin was a colossal error, was it not? And why was that so? Because he lost a battle? Only partly; what he REALLY lost was an entire theater, and perhaps the m ost vital one to the Confederacy. If not for Franklin, that would not have happened.

    Quote Originally Posted by deadkenny View Post
    Exactly! After Atlanta Hood was in a no win situation.
    Most probably true, but also irrelevant. After Atlanta, there was no inevtiable, irrevocable loss of the entire theater. After Franklin, there WAS. By Hood maintaining a force-in-being, the theater is still in play, and then it's up to the Lee/Grant tableau to play out at Petersburg to end the war. For the thirtieth time...Franklin DECIDED the fate of the theater, and there's where the root of the word 'decisive' come from.

    Focus on what question we're answering. You're too hung up on the unavailable courses-of-action that were open to Hood to somehow salvage his position and win the war.

    Quote Originally Posted by deadkenny View Post
    He wasn’t strong enough to face Sherman head-to-head.
    True, but irrelevant.

    Quote Originally Posted by deadkenny View Post
    If he had stayed in Atlanta, his force would have been cutoff and surrounded, unable to stop the Union anywhere in the Theatre.
    True, but irrelevant.

    Quote Originally Posted by deadkenny View Post
    If he had dispersed, he risked being defeated piecemeal.
    True, but irrelevant.

    Quote Originally Posted by deadkenny View Post
    Once he ‘released’ from Sherman and started his ‘Franklin-Nashville’ campaign against Schofield and Thomas, Sherman was free to devastate the CSA and take Lee ‘in the rear’ while Grant tied him down frontally.
    Also true, but I have a different perspective on this part, to wit:

    After Hood 'released' from Sherman and started his ‘Franklin-Nashville’ campaign against Schofield and Thomas, Sherman MAY have been halted, turned around, and sent in pursuit of a dangerous force of Confederate infantry and cavalry that was rampaging around and threatening multiple points in the Western theater. If Schofield is beaten or Thomas is prevented from linking up with him, they're BOTH in serious trouble, and Lincoln, not wanting any disasters this late in the war, MAY have sent Sherman in pursuit.

    Oh, wait a second, though; Hood just ripped his own army apart. Carry on General Sherman, and call us when you pull into Savannah. You see what I mean? None of what you were describing is inevitable but for the Battle of Franklin going as it did. Sherman set out from Atlanta on 15 November; Franklin was 15 days later. What if it went a different way, or didn't even happen at all? Sherman still marches blithely away, while Thomas and Schofield face Hood? Possibly NOT, and that's an effect RIGHT THERE.

    Quote Originally Posted by deadkenny View Post
    Again, a no-win situation for Hood.
    Which is certainly not the same thing as a 'certainly-lose' situation.

    Quote Originally Posted by deadkenny View Post
    Keeping his army ‘intact’ in the field doesn’t prevent the Confederacy from being defeated.
    God, I'm getting tired of repeating this: Keeping his army intact means the Western theater isn't a done deal yet. Maybe it would help you understand what I'm trying to say if 1) you focused on the word 'decisive', and 2) looked up what the word ACTUALLY MEANS. I'm not being snarky here, either; I just don't think you 'get' what the question was all about.

    Quote Originally Posted by deadkenny View Post
    That was a done deal once Sherman ‘broke through’ with no one to stop him.
    Nope; there WAS someone to stop him, until all of a sudden there wasn't, which was the state of affairs before and after Franklin, respectively. Could Hood stop Sherman by force? Almost certainly not (but if he'd tried, would Sherman have been able to split his army into a thousand detachments and march across a sixty mile-wide swath?). Could Washington stop Sherman because they're a bunch or nervous-nellie politicians with a poor grasp of strategy and the concept of manuever against centers-of-gravity? You betcha, and how many times did THAT happen in the East? ALL the time, and as long as Hood is dangerous, it's easy for me to imagine it.

    Quote Originally Posted by deadkenny View Post
    Sure, if you assume that Sherman is going to make a mistake and chase after Hood.
    Is that necessarily a mistake? Remember, the armies of the Confederacy were the primary targets of every Federal amy EXCEPT Sherman's.

    Quote Originally Posted by deadkenny View Post
    However, he also had Thomas and Schofield to keep Hood busy while he (Sherman) headed northeast.
    Look at it another way: Hood was keeping Thomas and Schofield busy AS LONG AS HE HAD AN ARMY. 'Old Slow-trot' Thomas wasn't any too energentic, and almost got himself relieved for his inactivity, even AFTER Franklin, when he could step outside his tent and actually SEE Hood. What happens if Hood takes a completely combat-ready army AWAY from Nashville, rippin' the hell out of whatever he comes across that's colored blue?

    Does Sherman still head northesat THEN? MAYBE, I'll grant you. But even if he DOES, Hood STILL is keeping the theater in play.

    Quote Originally Posted by deadkenny View Post
    Hood simply wasn’t strong enough to face all of the forces arrayed against him.
    See above; you're just re-stating the same irrelevant point that Hood had no hope of defeating Schofield, Thomas, Sherman, the Martians and the Romulans. GRANTED, but it doesn't matter, because until HE is defeated (which, I will remind you for the thirty-first time, happened at FRANKLIN), NOTHING HAS BEEN DECIDED. Get me? 'DECISIVE'. FOCUS on that word.

    Quote Originally Posted by deadkenny View Post
    He tried to get Sherman to ‘come after him’ by threatening his LoC – Sherman wasn’t having any of it.
    Do you imagine Sherman was an independent commander, allowed to take his army in whatever direction suited him? He wasn't. It's a dam' Good Thing Franklin occurred two weeks after the March began, or it may have become known as Sherman's March to the Suburbs, followed by Washington's Interfering Order to March to Wherever Hood Went, So That We Don't Have Another 'Stonewall' Beating Up on Our Hapless Divergent Columns.

    Quote Originally Posted by deadkenny View Post
    How do you suggest that Hood could have gotten Sherman to give up on his Carolinas campaign when he had already failed to do so during his entire campaign up to Franklin?
    How do YOU win the War in the West when Hood still contests your control of it?

    Quote Originally Posted by deadkenny View Post
    If Sherman wasn’t biting up to that point, I don’t see how Hood avoiding Franklin would have changed what Sherman was doing.
    Maybe it would've, maybe it wouldn't have, but one thing is for certain: after Franklin, there was absolutely no question of it. DECISIVE. The matter was DECIDED at that battle. In other words, a DECISIVE BATTLE, and in my opinion, THE MOST decisive battle of the war.

    These posts are just getting longer, and I'm losing hope that you're even reading what i'm writing.

    Last post for me.
    Last edited by Bluesman; 25 Apr 07, at 20:31.

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dreadnought View Post
    I voted Gettysburgh, It was pretty much over for the South afterwards and they knew it while marching home.
    Incorrect; the North dam' near lost the war through politics, and then again at North Anna, the greatest 'what-if' that nobody's ever heard of.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluesman View Post
    the North dam' near lost the war through politics, and then again at North Anna, the greatest 'what-if' that nobody's ever heard of.
    Wasn't he a Mexican general Seriously, I've never heard of North Anna.
    "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. #34
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    from the lazy man's encyclopedia.

    Battle of North Anna - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    "For the first time, Grant realized that Lee had outmaneuvered him. His army had been moved forward so quickly that it had broken into three widely separated parts, surrounding the V. A unit moving from one flank to reinforce the other would have to cross the North Anna River twice. Lee could attack in either direction and overwhelm either Hancock or Warren, with the other unable to support him in a timely manner. Then, the Confederates could swing back on internal lines and attack the other side. The most likely candidate for an attack was Hancock's II Corps to the east. However, Lee's illness meant that he was on his back in his tent for much of this time and, given his lack of capable subordinates, was unable to arrange an aggressive attack against either Union corps."

    my thanks to bluesman for drawing this to my attention, altho i have a bit of a different read on it than bluesman has. it occurred on may 23-26, which was in the middle of the overland campaign.

    now all this is my very amateur conjecture, but here goes...

    had lee been at his fullest powers, he could have destroyed 1/3 or even 2/3 of grant's army. my read is that had lee "only" destroyed 1/3, it would have merely delayed grant while he drew reinforcements. in dealing with those prisoners, lee's army would have lost momentum. in other words, a tactical victory.

    if lee destroyed 2/3 of grant's army, then we'd be talking about strategic victory. no doubt grant would have gone on defensive, probably withdrawing to the forts around DC. (he probably would have been sacked, too...although an army of the potomac led by either meade or hancock wouldn't have done too badly, i'd think.) however, i would argue that even in such a defeat, it would occupy the ANV. the real killing blow was with sherman, and i can only imagine that had grant been defeated, lincoln would have channeled more and more resources into the one theater which had significant success- the western theater. lincoln did have some eight months to make good santa anna...and sherman probably would have delivered this.

    had lincoln lost, mcclellan would have continued persecuting the war. and even if he didn't, any surviving confederacy would be a rump state, certainly nothing like it was in 1862. a confederacy without kentucky or tennessee means that if the US wanted to duke it out again, it could drive right into the heart of the south, and split it in two. not very strategically viable.

    at least, so says this armchair historian.
    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

  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    from the lazy man's encyclopedia...

    ...my thanks to bluesman for drawing this to my attention, altho i have a bit of a different read on it than bluesman has. it occurred on may 23-26, which was in the middle of the overland campaign.

    now all this is my very amateur conjecture, but here goes...
    Interesting. I hadn't heard of North Anna either, and I was just coming back from Wiki when I saw your post. Anyhow, although clearly it was an opportunity for Lee, I have to agree with you that any victory would only delay the inevitable. Even a smashing, utter rout of Grant is just buying time for the South. Interesting point about Sherman benefiting from such a loss. Of course, I suppose it could also result in a panicked movement of troops from the West eastward to bolster D.C.
    I enjoy being wrong too much to change my mind.

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    armchairgeneral,

    i thought of that too. i'm guessing in the short-term, that would have been true; maybe detach schofield or thomas with either the army of the cumberland or ohio out east. but i don't think it would have significantly influenced sherman's atlanta campaign- sherman outnumbered his opponent 2:1. even knocking down the odds to 1.5:1...i would still bet sherman beating johnston and hood.

    once it becomes clear that lee, even in victory, would have a devil of a hard time going on the offensive once more, they would have shifted troops back out west. DC's defenses were so good by 1864 that i think it would be almost even odds if the ANV could take DC...even without the army of the potomac being there. and lee's tempo of operations were not as high as grant's- he simply could not match northern logistics (and his mentality was different).
    Last edited by astralis; 25 Apr 07, at 22:04.
    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

  7. #37
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    WHY isn't anybody reading my posts?!?

    To cover it again:

    The BIGGEST PART of the hypothetical is IF THE CAMPAIGN HAD CLOSED OUT AT NORTH ANNA. Not MERELY LOSSES, not Grant being MERELY DEFEATED, not even Grant being MERELT DEFEATED WITH HEAVY LOSSES. THE END OF THE CAMPAIGN.

    DAMMIT, y'all, I already stated that once.

    NOW then, if everybody's got THAT straight, let's deal with WHY it could've ended the campaign:

    If Lee blew out a third of Grant's force in a masterful example of trapping and defeating the North's main army with only half as many men, anybody that knows ANYthing about the political situation knows that keeping Grant in command and on the offensive would've been HIGHLY dubious. If it was ANY worse than that - and what Lee planned was WAY worse that that - it would've been the end of Grant AND the campaign.

    Then Grant's champion would've been easily schwacked at the polls in November, before somebody else (probably Hancock) takes over and leads it into Virginia AGAIN.

    As much as Little Mac would've liked to carry the war forward, his party was expressly the 'peace' party (ain't they always?). I have SERIOUS doubts that President McClellan would've been able to continue.

    More to come. I'm cooking steaks for my eldest daughter's 18th birthday dinner, which is tonight.

  8. #38
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    Honey-teriyaki ribeyes, if you must know.

    And a glass of wine for the birthday girl, too.

    (Mac and cheese on the side - she's not TOTALLY grown-up yet, no matter what the state may say... )

  9. #39
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    Oh, and one other quick point:

    Get out your maps of the Battle at North Anna, zoom out to 'campaign scale', and note that if Grant had NOT been able to slip out of Lee's trap like he did (or, far worse, had been defeated with massive loss, as Lee intended), there isn't a way forward. Lee could've gone right back on the defensive, and a crippled Army of the Potomac has no way across the multiple rivers that Lee can defend behind.

    Checkmate.

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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    armchairgeneral,

    i thought of that too. i'm guessing in the short-term, that would have been true; maybe detach schofield or thomas with either the army of the cumberland or ohio out east. but i don't think it would have significantly influenced sherman's atlanta campaign- sherman outnumbered his opponent 2:1. even knocking down the odds to 1.5:1...i would still bet sherman beating johnston and hood.
    Well, I'm fairly certain it WOULD have had an effect on Sherman's campaign plan. Remember Hood's reputation: he literally mauled the hell out of everything he'd ever attacked. It was HIS brigade that blew a hole in McClellan at the 'impregnable' line at Gaine's Mill, and it was his brigade that led the way for Longstreet to utterly shatter Pope; it was HIS division that crushed in III Corps at Gettysburg, and then at Chickamauga he led the way AGAIN, in a devastating assault that stove in the Federal line. He was famous on defense, too: in a brilliant delaying action against overwhelming odds, he stood off most of the Union army on South Mountain long enough for Lee to pull the ANV together, and can anybody else boast that they saved Stonewall Jackson, as Hood did at Antietam?

    It was with this reputation that Hood took command of the Army of the Tennessee, and NObody could've determined at that time that Hood had become perhaps the worst Confederate general whose last name wasn't 'Bragg'. DETACH troops from the Western theater? Unlikely. He terrified 'em, which is why Schofield kept right on goin' to Nashville and Thomas.

    And then Sherman leaves whatever remains to march away to Savannah? Again, hard to imagine, unless one uses the hindsight that wasn't available to the Union strategists.

    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    once it becomes clear that lee, even in victory, would have a devil of a hard time going on the offensive once more, they would have shifted troops back out west. DC's defenses were so good by 1864 that i think it would be almost even odds if the ANV could take DC...even without the army of the potomac being there.
    Now, you may disagree with me, but I think there was no need to do that, and I think Lee lost the taste for it, anyway, unless there was a chance for some sort of spoiling attack that would've been just too much to take for the good people of the North. (Remember that they were getting good and fed up with the whole thing by 1864: draft riots, the Molly MacGuires, Copperheads and Democrats (imagine that; there they are AGAIN!) were all trying to get out from under the 'unwinnable' war. (Is Harry Reid THAT OLD?)

    No, repel Grant's offensive, and wait it out through the winter to see if your allies (the Democrats) deliver on their promise of surrender.

    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    and lee's tempo of operations were not as high as grant's- he simply could not match northern logistics (and his mentality was different).
    No argument. By this time in the war, Southern rolling stock and rail maintainence were totally broken, horseflesh was getting critical, and supplies for offensive ops weren't there. BUT, if Lee is defending on interior lines, he's got the support to hold on until the North gets sick of the game and quits. Which I believe they would've done in our scenario.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluesman View Post
    Honey-teriyaki ribeyes, if you must know.

    And a glass of wine for the birthday girl, too.

    (Mac and cheese on the side - she's not TOTALLY grown-up yet, no matter what the state may say... )
    Congrats. Now stop making me drool.
    I enjoy being wrong too much to change my mind.

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    They wuz GOOOOOOD!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluesman View Post
    Oh, and one other quick point:

    Get out your maps of the Battle at North Anna, zoom out to 'campaign scale', and note that if Grant had NOT been able to slip out of Lee's trap like he did (or, far worse, had been defeated with massive loss, as Lee intended), there isn't a way forward. Lee could've gone right back on the defensive, and a crippled Army of the Potomac has no way across the multiple rivers that Lee can defend behind.

    Checkmate.
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    Yep. Grant has to disengage and go back. In the face of a victorious enemy. What Patton calls the most difficult of all military operations.

    It was CLOSE, guys, and if I were inclined to believe in god, I'd say he was looking out for us that day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluesman View Post
    You're arguing against the combined judgement of every credible civil war historian, as well as many contemporaries that wrote about the impact of the battle. The figures WERE that bad, and what those bare numbers don't adequately express is just how terrible the losses were among the leaders.

    By all accounts but yours, that army was done in at Franklin. Not hurt, not damaged, but destroyed in all but fact.
    Not true. There are other perspectives on this, both histories and contemporaries. Hood didn’t believe that his force had been ‘destroyed’ at Franklin. Neither Schofield nor Thomas believed it either. In fact AFTER Franklin he did exactly what you suggest he could no longer do, but could have if he hadn’t fought Franklin, which was to ‘occupy’ the attention of the Union forces in the west and ‘contest’ control of the theatre. If was only after Nashville that he ceased to be able to do so.


    Quote Originally Posted by Bluesman View Post
    True, he did, and the fact that he snuggled up to a lethal enemy, coiled to strike, shows just how poor his judgement had become.

    He COULD have moved away, and probably should have, but the only difference that would've made was WHERE and WHEN his 'army' met its inevitable end. You're not reading what I'm writing: the DECISION was reached at Franklin, and it didn't really matter where Hood went from there; he had ceased to be a factor. There was no more clenched fist, just a couple of mangled fingers.

    But the fighting at Nashville wasn't important! What WAS inevitable is Hood's complete collapse at any subsequent action, no matter where or when it was fought! I already covered that, and it's not like you disagree, it's like you didn't understand me.
    No, I did understand what you stated, I simply don’t agree with it. After Franklin, Hood still had a large force in the field. After Nashville he no longer did. Everything that you’re stating with regard to the situation out west was true after Nashville, but not after Franklin. The result that you’re attributing to Franklin simply was not achieved in fact until after the Battle of Nashville.


    Quote Originally Posted by Bluesman View Post
    I covered this part, too.

    It's like a cop responds to a traffic accident with injuries, but when he rolls up, there is a gunfight going on. He's got a priority: as long as there are Bad Guys firing, he can't treat injuries, and he can't get the cars moved, and finally, when all of THAT is done, he will be able to smooth out traffic flow and sweep up glass.

    As long as Hood is on his feet with a weapon in his hand, the Federal police can't do anything but focus on HIM. The other stuff involved in re-establishing Federal control over the states in rebellion is going to have to wait, and the war is still on. Well, Hood was flat on his back after Franklin and of no threat to Federal war aims; the war in the West was finally OVER, and the cops can start getting traffic moving along the highway again, and sweeping up all of the broken glass. The Federals can divide, march to all points of the compass, and start getting the mail delivered again. You see my point? Just by EXISTING the Army of the Tennessee made it impossible to do anything but look at Hood, orient on Hood, make plans to defend against Hood or attack Hood. It was all about Hood NOT LOSING, not whether the Army of the Tennessee was able to make some miracle happen. THE WAR CONTINUED AS LONG AS THE ARMY WAS IN THE FIELD AND FIGHTING.
    Again, Hood’s army was still ‘in the field and fighting’ after Franklin. Hood could have chosen to, after Franklin, maneuver all over the place, for whatever good that would have done. I see your point, but you obviously don’t see mine. Hood's ultimate objective was to ‘force’ Sherman back out west. The only way for him to do that was to catch Schofield on advantageous terms and defeat him, and then defeat Thomas, or at least threaten to. Of course, he might have hoped that the maneuver alone, based on the threat to Sherman’s LoC, would be sufficient. But it clearly wasn’t. It wasn’t the result of Franklin that ‘freed’ Sherman to move east. Sherman had already been moving east for over 2 weeks before the Battle of Franklin was fought and he had already reached the outskirts of Savannah. Now Sherman didn’t start the Carolinas campaign until after Nashville finished Hood, so if you want to argue that Hood’s final destruction at Nashville ‘freed’ Sherman to move northeast, that argument might have some traction. But there’s nothing to suggest that Franklin alone had any effect on Sherman’s actions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bluesman View Post
    Well, okay, I'll concede that Hood may not have felt he had any choice but to go over to the attack of anything he thought he could whip, in a long-odds gamble of repeating Stonewall's Valley masterpiece of '62. But even so, there was no reason to do what he then did, which was throw away his whole army. I'm certain that if he'd but listened to the good advice he was given, and if he hadn't been stoned and in massive pain, Franklin wouldn't have happened.
    He might have 'thrown away' his army at Nashville, but not at Franklin. Franklin was the 'long-odds gamble' at catching and defeating Schofield before he linked up with Thomas. If if you believe that Hood could not win, and should not have fought Franklin, then Spring Hill was the last chance to catch Schofield on anything like advantageous terms.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bluesman View Post
    Not necessarily. Read what I wrote earlier, re: Sherman being ordered by Washington to 'do something' about Hood. If Thomas and Schofield can't stop Hood and Forrest, I can EASILY imagine Sherman being detailed off to get 'em both for good, once and for all. And even if they managed to corner and destroy Hood, well, Georgia lives for another six months, and the Carolinas get away scot-free, because Lee was goin' down, no matter what, because the seige of Petersburg was unbreakable and the outcome inevitable. And that's worth Hood's whole army, right there.
    If Sherman wasn't ordered to 'do something' about Hood during the entire maneuver from Atlanta to Franklin, then he wasn't going to be, short of a serious defeat of a major Union force. Hood did in fact constitute the effective maneuver force you keep mentioning, the entire time up to Franklin. Sherman's 'reaction' was to move east a full 15 days BEFORE Franklin. So, given Sherman's actual actions under the circumstances, there's no reason to believe that Sherman would have done anything differently if Hood had simply not fought Franklin and instead had 'allowed' Schofield to withdraw to Nashville without fight a battle.


    Quote Originally Posted by Bluesman View Post
    Well, if you're taking THAT line, then Ft. Sumter has to be the decisive battle of the war, because of all the events that followed as a direct result.
    Lol, well I might well say the same thing about your argument that Franklin made Hood’s complete destruction at Nashville ‘inevitable’. Nothing about Franklin ‘compelled’ Hood to advance to Nashville. He did so because that had been his original plan and nothing that happened at Franklin changed his plan.


    Quote Originally Posted by Bluesman View Post
    No, 'decisive' means THAT event decided things, as in no alternative gives any other result. (And once again, the fact that Nashville marks the grave of the Army of Tennessee is immaterial, because the pore thang was terminal from the lead poisoning it caught at Franklin.)
    Once again, Hood's army wasn't 'destroyed' at Franklin. There was nothing about the outcome of Franklin that made Hood's subsequent advance to Nashville 'inevitable'. Nor did it make it 'inevitable' that he would detach Forrest or stay in his positions outside of Nashville until the Union lauched their attack. Hood may very well have moved in another direction after Franklin, and constituted a 'potential threat' and a 'force in being' that could 'contest' control of the area. Conversely, there's nothing to say that if Hood had simply not attacked at Franklin, and allowed Schofield to withdraw to Nashville, that he wouldn't have taken the same actions that he did historically anyway. So we end up in the same place whether or not Franklin was fought.



    Quote Originally Posted by Bluesman View Post
    NOW you're getting my point: see how you just described the Federal armies reacting to and orienting on Hood? THAT is the point to staying viable. And it ain't a slam-dunk that the Federals simply march to whatever point they choose if Hood yet lives. Washington in all probability would've ordered them to pursue Hood and Forrest no matter where they went.
    Thomas and Schofield were still ‘reacting’ to Hood both before and after Franklin. Sherman was not ‘reacting’ to Hood either before or after Franklin. So what did Franklin change in this regard?



    Quote Originally Posted by Bluesman View Post
    Again, precisely my point: they've got to remain ready for anything. They can't divide, they can't leave vital areas undefended; they've got to think about HIM, always HIM, and what he's liable to do. That is an effect of just BEING.
    OK, but that situation still existed after Franklin. Schofield continued his retreat to Nashville. Hood advanced on Nashville and neither Thomas nor Schofield were going anywhere until Hood’s force was ‘dealt with’. So, after Franklin Hood’s force still existed and Thomas and Schofield were still forced to deal with him and Sherman was still ignoring him.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bluesman View Post
    Sure, but WHEN? WHEN will this or that theater be finally closed down, and a decision reached? You're not focusing on the question of the original post, which was, Which battle was most decisive?' FRANKLIN was, because that's the one that saw the end of all hope in the Confederacy. No other battle so comprehensively spelled the end for the Confederacy, as in, there's no going on from here; it's a done deal, except for the details.
    Nope. Nashville was when that happened, not before. AFTER Franklin the Union forces in the west were holed up in Nashville, they obviously didn’t have ‘freedom of action’ until after they had dealt with Hood’s force at the Battle of Nashville.


    Quote Originally Posted by Bluesman View Post
    No, you're focusing on what Hood could have DONE to WIN. Think instead of what he should NOT have done in order to NOT LOSE. Franklin was a colossal error, was it not? And why was that so? Because he lost a battle? Only partly; what he REALLY lost was an entire theater, and perhaps the most vital one to the Confederacy. If not for Franklin, that would not have happened.
    The only reason I got into what Hood could have done to ‘win’ was that you raised the prospect of Sherman having to give up his Carolinas campaign. The only way that was going to happen was if Hood had ‘won’ to some extent. The pre-Franklin maneuvering was sufficient to ‘prove’ that Sherman was willing leave Schofield and Thomas to ‘handle’ Hood while he (Sherman) destroyed the Confederacy in the east.



    Quote Originally Posted by Bluesman View Post
    Most probably true, but also irrelevant. After Atlanta, there was no inevtiable, irrevocable loss of the entire theater. After Franklin, there WAS. By Hood maintaining a force-in-being, the theater is still in play, and then it's up to the Lee/Grant tableau to play out at Petersburg to end the war. For the thirtieth time...Franklin DECIDED the fate of the theater, and there's where the root of the word 'decisive' come from.
    After Franklin, no. After Nashville, yes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bluesman View Post
    Focus on what question we're answering. You're too hung up on the unavailable courses-of-action that were open to Hood to somehow salvage his position and win the war.
    I am focused on the question, which is what battle was decisive in determining the outcome of the war (i.e. defeat of the Confederacy). In order for a battle to be ‘decisive’, the situation prior to the battle must have been in some reasonable doubt, but after the battle there must have been little or no doubt. As far as I’m concerned, once Sherman broke through and was free to destroy the heart of the Confederacy and ultimately head north and finish Lee (if necessary) the outcome was inevitable. That is the basis for my choice of Chatannooga as the decisive battle. Does Franklin meet that threshold? Well, one would have to believe that Hood’s objective was possible before Franklin, but impossible after it in order for Franklin to legitimately be considered the decisive battle. That’s why I got into what Hood could have done to ‘win’ and the extent to which Franklin significantly changed those chances. If you’re arguing that simply by Hood’s force ‘existing’ and maneuvering in the field the issue was in doubt, then those conditions still existed after Franklin. In that case the decisive battle would correctly be considered Nashville. However, in terms of Hood’s objective, which was to catch and destroy Schofield before he linked up with Thomas, I believe the last realistic chance was Spring Hill. That’s still a pretty huge ‘what if’, but one might argue that had Hood caught and fought the bulk of Schofield’s forces on advantageous terms, and decisively defeated them, that then he might have posed such a threat to the Union in the west that Sherman would have had to head back west. So, although they are not my choices, I would consider both Spring Hill and Nashville as better candidates for consideration as decisive battles than Franklin.





    Quote Originally Posted by Bluesman View Post
    Also true, but I have a different perspective on this part, to wit:

    After Hood 'released' from Sherman and started his ‘Franklin-Nashville’ campaign against Schofield and Thomas, Sherman MAY have been halted, turned around, and sent in pursuit of a dangerous force of Confederate infantry and cavalry that was rampaging around and threatening multiple points in the Western theater. If Schofield is beaten or Thomas is prevented from linking up with him, they're BOTH in serious trouble, and Lincoln, not wanting any disasters this late in the war, MAY have sent Sherman in pursuit.

    Oh, wait a second, though; Hood just ripped his own army apart. Carry on General Sherman, and call us when you pull into Savannah. You see what I mean? None of what you were describing is inevitable but for the Battle of Franklin going as it did. Sherman set out from Atlanta on 15 November; Franklin was 15 days later. What if it went a different way, or didn't even happen at all? Sherman still marches blithely away, while Thomas and Schofield face Hood? Possibly NOT, and that's an effect RIGHT THERE.
    As I stated, Sherman was moving east 15 days BEFORE Franklin. Sherman started the Carolinas campaign AFTER NASHVILLE. So there’s nothing to indicate that the outcome of Franklin affected Sherman’s actions one way or the other. I agree that things might have been different if Schofield had been caught and defeated by Hood. But that chance was missed at Spring Hill. My reading of your opinion previously was that Hood made a serious mistake in fighting at Franklin and he had no chance at all against Schofield in the fortified position at Franklin. So, if you believe that Hood had no real chance of defeating Schofield at Franklin, and that the only possible outcome of that battle was heavy losses for Hood, then it didn’t really decide anything. Only if you believe that Hood had a real chance to defeat Schofield at Franklin, but failed to do so, can Franklin then be considered ‘decisive’ in any sense.




    Quote Originally Posted by Bluesman View Post
    God, I'm getting tired of repeating this: Keeping his army intact means the Western theater isn't a done deal yet. Maybe it would help you understand what I'm trying to say if 1) you focused on the word 'decisive', and 2) looked up what the word ACTUALLY MEANS. I'm not being snarky here, either; I just don't think you 'get' what the question was all about.
    I understand the question, and what you’re saying. I simply don’t agree with your position on Franklin. Hood’s ability to ‘maneuver’ and ‘dispute’ the western theatre still existed after Franklin. The major Union forces in the area (Thomas and Schofield) were holed up in Nashville, facing Hood. They weren’t in a position to do anything else until Hood was finally dealt with, which he was in the Battle of Nashville.



    Quote Originally Posted by Bluesman View Post
    Nope; there WAS someone to stop him, until all of a sudden there wasn't, which was the state of affairs before and after Franklin, respectively. Could Hood stop Sherman by force? Almost certainly not (but if he'd tried, would Sherman have been able to split his army into a thousand detachments and march across a sixty mile-wide swath?). Could Washington stop Sherman because they're a bunch or nervous-nellie politicians with a poor grasp of strategy and the concept of manuever against centers-of-gravity? You betcha, and how many times did THAT happen in the East? ALL the time, and as long as Hood is dangerous, it's easy for me to imagine it.
    Incorrect. There was no one stopping Sherman well before Franklin. As mentioned, Sherman started moving east 15 days BEFORE Franklin, and was on the outskirts of Savannah by the time Franklin was fought. After Franklin, Schofield and Thomas were just as concerned with Hood as they had been before. Sherman was just as unconcerned about Hood. It was only after Nashville that Hood ceased to be a concern.



    Quote Originally Posted by Bluesman View Post
    Is that necessarily a mistake? Remember, the armies of the Confederacy were the primary targets of every Federal army EXCEPT Sherman's.
    Exactly! Sherman was not reacting to Hood, and he would not have unless / until Hood had managed to actually defeat one or both of Schofield and / or Thomas.



    Quote Originally Posted by Bluesman View Post
    Look at it another way: Hood was keeping Thomas and Schofield busy AS LONG AS HE HAD AN ARMY. 'Old Slow-trot' Thomas wasn't any too energetic, and almost got himself relieved for his inactivity, even AFTER Franklin, when he could step outside his tent and actually SEE Hood. What happens if Hood takes a completely combat-ready army AWAY from Nashville, rippin' the hell out of whatever he comes across that's colored blue?

    Does Sherman still head northeast THEN? MAYBE, I'll grant you. But even if he DOES, Hood STILL is keeping the theater in play.
    Here you’re having to denigrate Thomas in order to support the theory that Hood was finished at Franklin. The fact is that Hood wasn’t ‘finished’ or ‘destroyed’ after Franklin. He was still occupying the ‘attention’ of the Union forces in the area. Thomas felt he needed a couple weeks to prepare for the offensive which was designed to finish Hood – which was the Battle of Nashville. Now none of Hood, Thomas or Schofield felt that Hood’s army was ‘finished’ after Franklin. I would rank the views of the commanders on the spot much more highly than what ‘Washington’ thought at the time. As for Sherman, of course he would have continued his campaign. If he didn’t change his course the entire time that Hood was ‘maneuvering’ up to Franklin, and then Nashville, there clearly wasn’t anything that Hood was going to do, short of actually defeating Schofield and / or Thomas, that was going to change what Sherman was doing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bluesman View Post
    See above; you're just re-stating the same irrelevant point that Hood had no hope of defeating Schofield, Thomas, Sherman, the Martians and the Romulans. GRANTED, but it doesn't matter, because until HE is defeated (which, I will remind you for the thirty-first time, happened at FRANKLIN), NOTHING HAS BEEN DECIDED. Get me? 'DECISIVE'. FOCUS on that word.

    Do you imagine Sherman was an independent commander, allowed to take his army in whatever direction suited him? He wasn't. It's a dam' Good Thing Franklin occurred two weeks after the March began, or it may have become known as Sherman's March to the Suburbs, followed by Washington's Interfering Order to March to Wherever Hood Went, So That We Don't Have Another 'Stonewall' Beating Up on Our Hapless Divergent Columns.
    Well, ‘Martians’ and ‘Romulans’ aside, it is relevant because YOU raised the prospect of Sherman having to give up on his Carolinas campaign to go out west. That simply wasn’t going to happen UNLESS Hood had actually managed to DEFEAT a significant Union force in BATTLE. Hood did a hell of a lot of ‘maneuvering’ between Atlanta and Franklin (check a map of the campaign, it was a hell of a ‘maneuver’). During that time, Schofield was in theory at some risk of getting ‘caught’ before he could link up with Thomas. In the meantime, Sherman was marching in the OPPOSITE direction. By the time of the Battle of Franklin, Sherman was already on the outskirts of Savannah. So, let’s say Hood advances to Franklin, takes a look at the Union defenses and says, as you suggested ‘too strong, forget it’. So the Battle isn’t fought and Schofield retreats to Nashville to link up with Thomas. So what do you suggest would possibly happen next that Thomas’ and Schofield’s united forces couldn’t handle that would necessitate Sherman to drop his Carolinas campaign and rush all the way out west, when the entire interior of the Confederacy was at his mercy?


    Quote Originally Posted by Bluesman View Post
    How do YOU win the War in the West when Hood still contests your control of it?
    It had already been won when Sherman broke through with no one left to stop him from ripping out the heart of the Confederacy and then turning north and finishing off Lee in a giant Grant-Sherman vice. Hood continuing to ‘wander’ around out west ‘contesting’ absolute Union control of ‘wilderness’ isn’t going to substantially change the outcome of the war. The only thing that could possibly ‘save’ the situation for the rebs at that point was if Hood could have caught and defeated a major Union force.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bluesman View Post
    Maybe it would've, maybe it wouldn't have, but one thing is for certain: after Franklin, there was absolutely no question of it. DECISIVE. The matter was DECIDED at that battle. In other words, a DECISIVE BATTLE, and in my opinion, THE MOST decisive battle of the war.
    Again, not at Franklin. Hood’s army still existed after Franklin. It was ‘destroyed’ at Nashville.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bluesman View Post
    These posts are just getting longer, and I'm losing hope that you're even reading what I'm writing.
    Yes, I’m reading your posts. I just don’t agree with most of your arguments.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bluesman View Post
    Last post for me.
    That is of course your choice.
    Last edited by deadkenny; 26 Apr 07, at 15:33.

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