Best Civil War General

Discussion in 'General Military Arms & History Forum' started by Pistolenschutze, Sep 27, 2006.

Best Civil War General

  1. Robert Edward Lee

    31 vote(s)
  2. Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson

    18 vote(s)
  3. Ulysses Simpson Grant

    11 vote(s)
  4. William Tecumseh Sherman

    11 vote(s)
  1. Well, we haven't had a good, controversial Civil War discussion topic for quite a while, and this one should get the juices flowling! I know there must be at least some Civil War buffs on this forum aside from just Polish and me. Hoist the Battle Flag, Rebs! Strike up the Battle Hymm of the Republic, Yanks! Load the cannon with triple grape and fire without sponging!

    I've chosen four of the most prominant Civil War generals for the poll, two Confederates and two damnyankees, er, I meant to say, "Union officers," to be as equitable as possible. Feel free, however, to chime in with any other candidates you feel would be more deserving of the title "best general."

    My own choice? Robert Edward Lee, of course!! :D
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 27, 2006
  2. Ursus

    Ursus Active Member

    Lee. No doubt. If the Confederates would have had the same resources the Union had, plus Lee I think the outcome would had been totally different.

  3. stugacz

    stugacz New Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    If the dog had not stopped to relieve himself he may have caught the rabbit! I vote for the winner since there is no such thing as a fair fight!
  4. Nighthawk

    Nighthawk New Member

    Aug 22, 2006
    South Central Texas
    I voted because couldn't pass up my granddads name sake Stonewall Jackson.:p :D sorry if I messed yall's poll up carry on. :)
  5. Sackett

    Sackett Member

    Nov 29, 2003
    SW Mississippi
    I won't play the 'what if' game either so I'll stick with the winners.
    I picked Grant. He figured out how to take Vicksburg which cut the Confederacy's throat.
    As an extra candidate, I'll choose Gen. John Buford whose actions at Gettysburg held the high ground against the Rebs. I feel that if it weren't for Buford, the South would have won the day.
    Lee gambled all on his run through the North at the risk of Vicksburg and his shear charisma persuaded Davis to agree to the action. He lost both.
  6. You make some very good points, Sackett. Grant's tactics at Vicksburg, and earlier along the Mississippi at Ft. Donalson, were nothing short of brilliant. I would argue, however, that as a field general commanding an army in a tactical sense, Grant definitely had his weaknesses. The most glaring of these became abundantly apparent at Cold Harbor when he sent his troops repeatedly against entrenched Confederate positions and they were literally slaughtered by the thousands, earning him the epithet " The Butcher." Grant's real strength, I believe, lay in his understanding of the war itself and how it must be won ultimately--by prolifigate use of the overwhelming superiority of the Union in terms of men and resources, when necessary, without regard to losses. Grant did not retreat, even when he lost; he just kept on coming. As a Union general, he could afford to; Lee could not; he simply did not have the manpower.

    As for deciding on the "best general" based on which side finally won the war, I think that sidesteps the point of the discussion. The South ultimately lost the war, as history clearly shows, to the overwhelming abundance of manpower and resources possessed by the Union over the Confederacy, not to better Union commanders.
  7. Ursus

    Ursus Active Member

    Right on, Pistol.
  8. Sackett

    Sackett Member

    Nov 29, 2003
    SW Mississippi
    I see your point Pistol. I'm no good at what ifs, but let me ask one anyway.
    What if the South had the manpower and artillery that the North had, do you feel the outcome would have been different?
    Personally, I think yes.
  9. If vote Lee
    BTW The South did not lose the war we thought the North was after our women when we found out they just wanted our slave we said they could have em
  10. polishshooter

    polishshooter Well-Known Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    One of the contributing factors that the South LOST was Robert E. Lee. A stubborn anachronism, fighting a 19th Century "modern" war with 18th Century tactics, always looking for the "mythical" Napoleonic "Decisive Battle" while losing the WAR the entire time and not KNOWING it.

    Couple that with his INSISTANCE on moving the Capitol from Mobile, that COULD have been defended and cost the North a LOT more to take, he instead as a price for his service makes them move it to RICHMOND, 50 miles from Washington! (What price Victory? It NEVER seemed to enter his MIND!) Plus he NEVER grasped that the war would be won or lost in the WEST not the EAST. Grant DID. Which makes what Grant did in the WEST before he was called East to the "headlines," maybe more important overall to the entire war than ANYTHING Lee did! About the ONLY thing he did to help Bragg in the West was send Longstreet AFTER Gettysaburg to Chickamauga....he would have been BETTER to have his WHOLE ARMY there, and not barefoot and extended in Pennsylvania!

    No Lee was a GREAT man, and a GREAT battlefield commander, and the men LOVED him, (Overrated as that was, hell, the Union Troops loved McCLELLAN too....)but as the "George Washington," or even "Dwight Eisenhower," much LESS a Montgomery or MacArthur, of his age, he was a FAILURE as a "Supreme Commander," almost devoid of long term strategic thought!

    There is no contest between Lee and Grant, Grant knew at ALL times his strategic strengths, and USED them, and fought EVERY battle with an eye for TOMORROW, not for the "glory" of TODAY.

    But the TRUE genius was Sherman, he was truly the FIRST great "Mobile Force" Commanader, like Patton or Rommel, who UNDERSTOOD what it meant to break into the enemy's REAR and destroy his ability and MEANS to fight, if not his causing MAXIMUM havoc with the means at hand...and keep MOVING....
  11. That, my friend, is one of the most interesting "what ifs" that can be posed with regard to the Civil War. Yes, I agree with you on that issue. If the South had possessed anywhere close to the resources of the Union, the war would have been over within the first two years. It took the Union that long to get its act together militarily. In the first two years of the war, the Confederacy clearly had the edge in terms of trained military leadership, many of whom were professional soldiers and had indeed been trained at West Point. I think it is pertinent to note also, that for the South to win, it only had to draw, to force the Union to allow the Confederacy to go its own way. Greater resources would have allowed the Confederates to take the war to the Union instead of fighting the defensive war they were essentially forced to fight.
  12. BALDERDASH! :D Polish, when Stuart's cavalry rides through Indiana and steals your socks, don't say I didn't warn ya! ;) Somehow I just knew you would respond that way, which is, of course, a primary reason for setting up this thread in the first place! :p :D

    Lee was forced to fight what was essentially a defensive war, which was, admitedly, something he was particularly good at. However, Lee was also a highly trained and experienced commander, and was indeed offered full command of the Army of the Potomic before his decision to go South. Yes, Lee was a gambler, but what successful commander is not? Lee was also experienced and astute enough to realize the overwhelming advantage in manpower and materiel the Union possessed. In short, the South--and Lee--had no viable alternative but to gamble on the "big win" if the South had any real chance at all to win. He had to force a conclusion quickly, before the Confederacy was destroyed by "overwhelming numbers and resources," as he later phrased it in General Order No. 9. It was a near fought thing as it was. If Ewell had gotten off his duff on the first day at Gettysburg and taken the heights, or if Longstreet had not piddled along until mid-afternoon to launch his attack on the second day, Lee might well have been dictating terms to Lincoln in the White House.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 28, 2006
  13. 358 winchester

    358 winchester *TFF Admin Staff*

    Apr 25, 2004
    Pensacola Fl. area
    With my name being R.E.Lee how else could I vote:D
  14. bfld

    bfld New Member

    Sep 13, 2006
    I knew how I was going to vote 'til I started reading everyone else, now I'm ambivalent; Thanks A Lot!

    Still will go with Grant. I'm looking for a CIC, not a field general (otherwise I'd take Sherman). Lee certainly muffed some of the more political aspects of his job (e.g. Richmond as capitol), but I don't hold that against him because Grant was spared those tasks by Lincoln. Lee certainly did amazing things, but he had the advantage of being a defensively oriented general at a time when defense was at a higher advantage than it normally is (nasty Mini balls). But Grant was the only one whose mind was flexible enough to understand how to apply all the resources of the North and what it would take to truly defeat the South. While in hindsight it is hard to understand why no other Northern general could grasp these two things, the difficulty of it is shown by how many tried and failed.
  15. polishshooter

    polishshooter Well-Known Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    PS, I understand you and all of your Southern Sympathizer Friends (In Indiana, we called them the "Damm COPPERHEADS":cool: ) have this emotional attachment and need to canonize Ol' Marse Robert as a SAINT (Patron Saint of Lost Causes, maybe?;) ) but you REALLY need to step back and look at what you are saying...

    Lee COULD have had his "Decisive Battle," in 62 or 63, in TENNESSEE, or GEORGIA, or SOUTH CAROLINA, after a Union force with a LOT less power, AND probably commanded by a Burnside or a McClellan, i.e, NOT a Grant, at the end of a LONG and tenuous supply line stretching through HUNDREDS of miles of "hostile" territory with partisans, and new "Swamp Foxes" and the South'ren "Cavalry Geniuses" making his railways and roads a living hell, that MAY have accomplished all the "wishful thinking" and fantastic twisted logic you ascribe to what MIGHT have happened if Lee had WON at Gettysburg

    INSTEAD, he squanders the GREATEST assets of the Confederacy, interior lines, manpower, and wealth, defending an "artificial" capitol 50 miles from his enemy's STRENGTH???? That was only MADE the capitol to "buy" his LOYALTY???? And then goes on the OFFENSIVE????

    No, the ONLY thing that would have insured Sainthood for Sir Robert, Earl of Virginny, would be if he would have STUDIED AMERICAN HISTORY....WASHINGTON won our independence by not LOSING the "Big Battle," winning the occasional "skirmish" that would give his army great experience, and keep the enemy off balance, keeping an "Army in Being," letting Lee and Marion conduct "Guerrilla" warfare when the British tried an "expedition" through the SAME areas the Union forces would have to try in 1863, all the while seeking and GETTING foreign recognition and support....

    HE grasped NONE of this. SO, Lee was a FAILURE to the Confederacy.

    DON'T allow the heartrending picture in your mind's eye of all those great, hardened and honorable Confederate veterans SOBBING when their "Great Leader" rode out on his magnificent white horse (while they were EATING theirs:cool: ) to meet Grant at Appomattox, cloud your ACCEPTANCE of the TRUTH, that Lee was the main reason they were THERE, starving, forsaken, out of powder and ball, barefoot, bedraggled, bloody,and BEATEN.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2006
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