Best Civil War General

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

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Best Civil War General

  1. Robert Edward Lee

    31 vote(s)
    43.7%
  2. Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson

    18 vote(s)
    25.4%
  3. Ulysses Simpson Grant

    11 vote(s)
    15.5%
  4. William Tecumseh Sherman

    11 vote(s)
    15.5%
  1. bfld

    bfld New Member

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    I don't mean to be offensive, but I have trouble fitting "Stonewall" into this august group: courageous and charismatic, certainly; but a zealot who whose common sense was a bit lacking.

    Gen. Scott was wise enough to come up with Anaconda, but first he gave poor advice to Buchanan (not that Buchanan would have accepted good advice anyway).
  2. I must disagree, bfld. Jackson more than demonstrated his tactical ability on various occasions. Read about his Valley campaign, and his performance at Chancellorsville. And what about his brilliant success with the capture of the arsenal at Harper's Ferry just before the Battle of Sharpsburg (Antietam Creek)? He was Lee's "right arm" until his death.
  3. Wrong again, Polish. Had such a strategy been followed, Little Mac, or some other equally incompetent Yankee commander, would simply have taken Richmond and the war would have been over. The Army of Northern Virginia HAD to fight . . . real battles against real armies. The ONLY hope the Confederacy had for victory lay with one of three possibilities . . .

    1. A decisive thrust of such magnitude and effect that the Union could not protect Washington, the Army of the Potomac in ruins. This was what Lee hoped to accomplish both in 1862 ending at Sharpsburg, and again in 1863 at Gettysburg. He nearly pulled it off.

    2. Defeat of every thrust the Yankees made against the South in the hope that the Union would grow weary of the war and sue for a negotiated peace which would have given the Confederacy its independence. This nearly happened. Look at the Copperhead movement in the North and the draft riots in New York. Had it not been for Lincoln's steadfast resolve, I believe that is precisely what would have happened.

    3. Full recognition of the Confederacy by Great Britain, France, and Russia and active participation in the Confederate effort by at least Great Britain. This almost happened with the Mason / Slidel incident. Absent some causus belli like that incident, one which would have precipitated war between the Union and Britain, recognition was simply not going to happen. While many in Britain favored the Confederate cause, Britain was not willing to appear as a supporter of slavery. Open recognition was simply not in the cards.
  4. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    PS, you put WAY too much emphasis on the industry around Richmond, Josiah Gorgas had MANY gun makers and foundries in the DEEP south.

    Richmond vs. Mobile WAS a "political" decision, to INSURE that R.E.Lee fought for the SOUTH. There is NO way Virginai does NOT seceed, and Lee told Davis he would NOT fight for the Confederacy, but for Virginia! Davis SHOULD have "grown a pair" and said 'Thanks but NO thanks, enjoy your retirement, thank you for your service, here's my telegraph number IN MOBILE if you change your mind..."


    MOBILE should have stayed the capital, and EVERYTHING should have been put into the defense of it, and the PORT, along Atlanta and Chattanooga.


    Guerrilla warfare WAS practiced SUCCESSFULLY in the AMERICAN REVOLUTION. THAT is to what I refer. IT WORKED, against an invading army with a supply train MUCH less necessary than to an army of 1863! In the SAME terrain and area!

    And TELL me that the Confederates were "too" proud to conduct it...Oh yea, Morgan WAS just a common criminal and scoundrel, wasn't he....



    I'll go one step further, with Old Robert. I PERSONALLY don't think he was REALLY much of a "Battlefied" commander EITHER...


    His ONLY successes were REALLY on the DEFENSIVE, and depended as much on the INEPTITUDE of the Union Commanders ATTACKING him, as well as the SUPERIOR subordinate commanders UNDER him who carried his water....


    But at the ONE time HE is attacking, and in COMPLETE contriol, in the words of some of his CLOSEST friends that were THERE, he was described variously as as "befuddled," "confused," "lacking in ideas" and "morose...."

    His STRATEGY at Gettysburg was uninspired at BEST, almost JUVENILE at worst...LITERALLY it was, "we tried the LEFT Flank on Day one, and failed, we tried the RIGHT flank on day two and failed, so what is there left but the middle?"

    My GOODNESS he made the VERY mediocre at BEST 'Fightin' Joe Hooker look like a tactical and strategic GENIUS....which only shows MORE that what Lee did at Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, et al, just MAY have been easier than you Southern apologists will ever care to admit...

    If even if only HALF of the resources and men "wasted" in the Campaign in the North would have been sent to BRAGG in the west, and Lee it would have done MUCH more to defend the confederacy, he should have been STRIPPED to the bone and told to dig in, while the REST went to Bragg, who REALLY got a "bum rap" in the war....Now Longstreet WAS sent, and turned the tide at Chickamauga, but THAT battle was fought too LAT, it SHOULD have been fought and won BEFORE Chattanooga fell....because, the war was OVER when the 18th Indiana fired the first surprise Parrot shot from the hills into the center of Chattanooga! Chattanooga was the GATEWAY to EVERYWHERE in the South, the communications and Railroad CENTER, and when it fell, ALL of the South could only wither on the vine, Sherman just HASTENED it a couple of moinths later....




    ADMIT IT, PS, you ROMANTICIZE Losers....and give them "honor" and/or "capabilities" they do not deserve...whether it was the SOUTH, or the NAZIs.....no, I only wish we would have had more WINNERS on the side of the Union earlier, and maybe the "wayward" traitors would have been dealt with FASTER due to their flawed strategy and poor decisions, the whole business WOULD have been settled in a year or so, and saved ALL of us a LOT of heartburn that we STILL face, all because the South THOUGHT they could destroy the greatest Country on earth! If they WOULD have succeeded, you MUST admit we ALL would be a LOT worse off than now....with just two more "Mediocre" 2nd world countries on this continent, EACH about as powerful as CANADA, beholden to either the Brits, Nazis, OR Soviets....

    And deep down you KNOW it...the outcome of the Civil War was NEVER TRULY in doubt, only how much blood would be shed on BOTH sides, and thus, how much ACRIMONY would be carried forward for generations.

    The QUICKER it ended, the better off we all would have been....

    YOUR serve...:cool:
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2006
  5. Kimber Man

    Kimber Man New Member

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    I'm a Yankee.........But what I've learned in histroy and etc. Robert E. Lee was
    and the South would have won the war....if the had more money,better supplies, and more men. They had the top generals in the war.


    a Yankee said that

    The Old Goat
  6. Polish, that is only marginally true. Certainly, there were a few other areas in the old South where some industrial capability existed, but there were not many, nor were they extensive. At the beginning of the Civil War there was only ONE factory in all the Confederacy capable of rolling cannon, and that was at the Tredeger Ironworks in Richmond. Industrial facilities--particularly gunpowder plants--were constructed during the war, but never enough for full support of field armies. Most industrially produced war supplies had to be purchased and imported from Britain and France through the Yankee blockade.

    I strongly disagree. It is certainly true that the Confederacy was happy to obtain the services of Lee--hell, the Union offered him command of its own armies; they knew his worth--but to suggest bribery was the primary reason for locating the capitol in that state is absurd. Richmond was chosen as the capitol because VIRGINIA, as the keystone of the old South, was vital to the Confederacy, not merely to convince Lee to join the cause. While I will concede that much of Lee's motivation to join the Confederacy lay with his desire to defend Virginia, locating the capitol there--or not--does not affect that desire one way or the other.

    I won't disagree with you on that point, Polish, as I conceded in an earlier post. Militarily and strategically, locating the capitol in Alabama would have made far more sense, but political expediency overcame strategic wisdom.

    Once again you stoop to semantics, Polish. Guerrilla warfare in the sense of terrorism was conducted, but not sanctioned, by both sides to some extent during the Civil War. Look at Stan Watie and William Quantrell, or look at the Red Legs in Kansas. However, if you mean guerrilla warfare in the sense of raids conducted by formally sanctioned behind-the-lines raids by military units, the Southerners were masters of the technique. Look, for example, at Stuart's "ride around McClellan," or the so-called "raid for cattle" as well as other operations conducted by John Singleton Mosby. For that matter, consider Jackson's raid on Harper's Ferry in 1862.

    Gotta stop for now. I have a class in ethics to teach in a half hour. Second post on the rest of your argument this afternoon. :D
  7. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    "Guerrilla Warfare" is NOT "terrorism," but "Irregular" attacks in enemy controlled areas, mainly to disrupt his line of communications. (i.e., SUPPLY)

    It was practiced since the very BEGINNING of organized warfare, usually by the weaker side.

    It got it's NAME from the "Guerrillas" who so successfully hounded Napoleon in the Iberian Peninsula, at time when "communications" were MUCH less necessary and indespensible than the mass industrialized armies of 1863...

    And BOTH sides did it in the Civil War, in fact, the smoldering coals of the tie fires, with burnt telegraph wire in the coals and the rails wrapped in knots around nearby trees became the SIGNAL evidence of a "Cavalry raid...."

    It is NOT "Semantics...." but a VIABLE tactic, that had been used MANY times in History back to the GAULS, and SHOULD have been recognized by Lee as the ONLY way to win, but again, he was an ANACHRONISM, a "aristocratic Nobleman" fighting a failed war more appropriate to the 1600s or 1700s, NOT the 1860s!

    If the Union Army was forced to advance over the 500 miles or so of HOSTILE territory to campaign in South Carolina, Georgia or Tennesee BEFORE it saw any significant action, it would have been SO depleted from JUST the forces needed to GUARD it's supply lines, that the "ultimate" battle itself could not have been won, Lee WOULD have had his "Decisive Battle," in which probably the ENTIRE "Army of the Potomac" (Which PROBABLY would have been renamed into someting like the "National Army," or something more grandiose since it WASN'T conveniently campaigning now anywhere NEAR the Potomac....) would have been "bagged," making an even more impact on the USA's psyche...but BESIDES not recognizing this strategy. Lee VIOLATES it by advancing HIS weaker army with even WEAKER supply train through UNION "Hostile" territory to campaign in the NORTH????? One of the BIGGEST blunders of Military History....

    As MUCH as you so wistfully string together the "if only's" or "if they could have's" or "they probably would's" to say how Lee COULD have won the war with a victory at Gettysburg (which I respectfully DISAGREE could have happened,) I ALSO string together a few (not as many, I think) to say THIS was the ONLY scenario in which the SOuth could have gained independence....

    And it is NOT much difference than the SAME strategy followed by WASHINGTON....FORGET territories, FORGET "Capitols," heck, the BRITISH thought the was was OVER when they took New York, then Philadelphia, (and they even TOOK Washington in 1814, so I do NOT think the South "wins" even if they TAKE Washington in July or August '63!) the ARMY was the only thing giving the CSA validity...

    And you cite the "draft riots" in the cities, think what they would have been like if the mothers were NOT sending their children to "defend Washington," but to die or get captured (worse than death???) in say, Disgusta, GEORGIA....???? Heck, the FARM boys from Michigan, Indiana, or Wisconsin might not have volunteered EITHER.....

    And YES it would have taken the diplomacy of a Southern Ben Franklin to get the British, or even Russian (THEY wanted California...) direct support, AND it would have taken an ALL OUT naval concentration JUST to keep Mobile open for foreign aid, BUT the USN at the time could NOT have stood up to the RN AND blockaded the southern ports TOO... and even if they just BUY the stuff they need, it would have been better (which leads to ANOTHER discussion of "The Stupidist things the Rebs DID:p to Lose the War"- like spend so MUCH time and money BEFORE the war getting all that cotton to England "just in case," and then BURNING it to cause a "cotton shortage????")



    But back to Lee...

    It ALWAYS has amazed me, how Lee is so revered, even today...

    Explain for me the DIFFERENCE between what HE did, and Benedict Arnold....

    Benedict Arnold MAY have been the MOST effective American "Battlefield" commander of the Revolution, and WITHOUT the Battle of Saratoga, we don't have France on our side....and the agonizing (AFTER all the political backstabbing) that went into his decision was no DIFFERENT than Lees, that the ONLY way to save America FROM ITSELF was peace now so they could try it AGAIN in 20 years or so...and that YES he took up arms AGAINST his "country" (REALLY not a "Country" yet, just a "cause...")(and NEVER commanded the MAIN force of the British....) and fianlly, Arnold NEVER took (or VIOLATED) an OATH "To protect the US Constitution from all enemies, foreign or DOMESTIC...." Yeah, he accepted MONEY from the enemy, but he was a PROFESSIONAL soldier with little wealth, not an independently wealthy "Aristocrat" like Lee, so he NEEDED it...and HELL he took a DEMOTION to do it too....

    No matter WHAT you say, BOTH are mere TRAITORS, and but for the "Honor and Magnanimity" of GRANT (who even YOU casually refer to as a "Drunk" and a "Butcher") and LINCOLN, SHOULD have been exiled penniless and in shame to some ISLAND somewhere, along with Jeff Davis, and ALL the other CSA "Generals...."

    I would have RESPECTED Lee (and several OTHER Southern Generals) more if he simply REFUSES to fight and sits the war OUT....The "Confederates" that deserve MORE of our respect as Americans were those (and there were MANY) who sympathized with the South, and AGONIZED over the questions, BUT whose "Honor" compelled them to HONOR their Word, to fight FOR THEIR COUNTRY. The USA....
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2006
  8. That depends entirely on the purpose and the target of the attacks, Polish. I would argue it most certainly IS terrorism when it is specifically directed at killing noncombatant civilians for purposes of arousing fear and the creation of demoralization, instead of the desruction of militarily useful supplies and hardware. Fortunately, there was very little of that on either side during the Civil War.

    You know, Polish, I find it amazing that you would denegrate and deprecate a war leader like Lee simply because he still understood the meaning of the word "honor" and adhered strictly to basic moral and religious principles in his actions. Indeed, with the exception of a few loose cannon, so did the other military leaders in the Civil War, North and South. Or is it that you are suggesting Lee and the Confederacy lost because they refused to stoop to such reprehensible tactics as wanton and indiscriminate killing of civilians? The fact is, Lee DID use "guerrilla tactics," if you choose to use that term, in the sense of raids against legitimate military targets--Stuart, Mosby, Forrest, and Jackson are obvious examples. So did the Union as witnessed by Stoneman's raid and indeed Sherman's infamous "March to the Sea." It might be argued that a greater use of such raids might have benefited the South, but it must be remembered as well that Confederate forces were stretched to the limit throughout the war. From whence would you suggest the Rebels acquire the necessary cavalry forces needed for more frequent and extensive raids without crippling their field armies? History clearly shows that the Confederacy did use such tactics effectively. Indeed, who authorized Stuarts famous "ride," Abe Lincoln? What about the Union? The Yankees had more than ample resources and manpower for such tactics, but used them relatively little, Phil Sheridan's ride up the Shennandoah Valley being the most notable exception, along with a couple of rather ineffectual other attempts.

    Perhaps, Polish, but you forget that we are dealing with human beings here, not computers merely calculating the odds. If the Iranians invaded New York, would you be tempted to withdraw your forces all the way to Indiana before fighting them simply because it was more militarily expedient to do so? Hmmmm, come to think of it, I might, assuming we put Hillary in charge of the rear guard armed only with a sharp stick and her noted "wit." She would make a dandy Uriah the Hittite. :D You ignore totally here a very basic but highly relevant factor: In the minds of the Southerners, the damnyankees were INVADING them. Retreat and the tactics of hit and run were not truly a viable option within that context. Call it courage or call it "anachronistic" thinking, but it was still a fact of life in the minds of 19th century Confederates, and it is they and their mindset whom we must consider in any criticism.

    You have it reversed, Polish, by your own admission. In order to answer your question, we must first consider our own Revolution. Are we to consider Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, and Henry as "traitors?" They were, you know, by your definition. They rebelled against the motherland, against their own government because they believed their government had betrayed them, as it arguably had indeed. The Confederates were no different. The only reason perception of the Confederacy is negative today among those outside the South is because the Rebels didn't win.

    Hmmm, I can see this conversation is gonna be FUN! :D
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 30, 2006
  9. Sackett

    Sackett New Member

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    I hope this question isn't too far from the theme and I'd like to disregard the slavery or secession issue with it.
    If one had to go to battle, which general would you prefer to serve under and why? Or is this a fair question?
  10. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    PS, we are arguing on a couple of different planes here, not really connecting....;)

    So let's try this a different way, in the way you seem to like...:p

    "(I can't figure out this "Quote" thing so bear with my Copy/Paste!)You ignore totally here a very basic but highly relevant factor: In the minds of the Southerners, the damnyankees were INVADING them. Retreat and the tactics of hit and run were not truly a viable option within that context. Call it courage or call it "anachronistic" thinking, but it was still a fact of life in the minds of 19th century Confederates, and it is they and their mindset whom we must consider in any criticism."


    THAT'S why the South LOST!!!! NOBODY, ESPECIALLY Lee figured this OUT! But IF they did, they MIGHT have won! MY GOODNESS, When WAS it that Sun Tsu said "He who attempts to defend EVERYTHING defends NOTHING? LET the "DamnYankees" invade all the way to GEORGIA, THEN we'll kick their @SS! is EXACTLY how they could have won, incidentally, how the RUSSIANS won in 1812 and again in World War Two!

    But the way THEY chose to fight, with the resources they HAD, the Demographics, the territory, was a losing proposition from the START.

    AGAIN, they had notable successes EARLY, but MAINLY due to the untrained Union Volunteers, and a whole PARADE of incompetent Union field commanders....BUT with experience, and ESPECIALLY the almost 10 to 1 deficit in military aged males, coupled with the MASSIVE industrial strength of the North compared to the South, meant the cause was LOST with the tactics they chose to USE. Ergo, LEE as a Strategist, was a FAILURE because he could not THINK past the anachronistic 18th Century style of WARFARE.




    As per the "HONOR" argument, give me a BREAK! HE BROKE AN OATH. Wherefore "Honor?????" He was NO better, and NO worse, than ANY of his contemporaries in the "honor" department. But you do NOT give GRANT the same benefit of the doubt...you see Grant as a "drunk butcher," BUT he exhibited MORE honor at the END of the war, than Lee exhibited DURING...and Lee WAS as much a "Butcher" as Grant when he sent Pickett's FINE men (that incidentally he could NOT afford to LOSE:mad: ) across that field on July 3rd....


    War IS Hell...MANY Union Officers grasped that concept, Lee never DID...and paid the price....


    No I am NOT denigrating Lee, as a "good" General, or as an honorable man (The OATH thing notwithstanding...).but mainly, as I see it, his BEST attribute was as an OUTSTANDING Leader of men...his men would follow him ANYWHERE, win or lose, even to their death by his flawed strategy....of that there is NO question, (but the same can be said of McCLELLAN...:cool:) I just think he has been placed on WAY too high a "pedestal" than what he deserves, by Historians, by Southern "sympathizers," and by the Romantics, which is disproved by TRULY studying objective FACT...

    Just LIKE the "Nazi Apologists" that "cry" not enough resources, too many tanks, too many planes, they would have won if ONLY.....you have to ADMIT that EVERY "romantic" account of the Civil War, (HELL, we have seen it in this THREAD!!!!)..tells how GREAT Lee was, how GREAT the Rebel Cavalry was, how GREAT the average infantryman was, if ONLY they had more men, resources, whatever, BOO HOO.:mad:

    "If we had some bacon we could have some bacon and eggs if we had some eggs!!!!"

    The TRULY "Great" General (1) Understands his STRENGTHS and WEAKNESSES (2) PICKS HIS BATTLES to best UTILIZE his Strengths and MINIMIZING his weaknesses and (3) devises a STRATEGY that will allow him to WIN the WAR. "Material Resources" and "Manpower" deficiencies CAN and HAVE been compensated for by TRULY Great Generals (and Admirals) throughout History. Some of the GREATEST battles and Wars have been won by the WEAKER side, so I give NO slack to the Whiners who say "If Only...."


    Lee did NONE of these. GRANT (And Thomas and Sherman) did them ALL. So the OUTCOME was NEVER in doubt, as soon as GRANT went East, and left the REALLY important struggle on the WEST to his well trained, like minded SUBORDINATES.


    BRAGG on the other hand has been given the short end of the stick by both Historians and "Southern Sympathizers." But with the MEAGER resources he had, because he was constantly STRIPPED to send stuff to LEE, the Campaign of "Strategic Retreat" until he could make a DECISIVE stand was really BRILLIANT in the West....he was only outflanked ONCE, and that was when the Union made the surprise trek through the "impassable" mountains to take Chattanooga, and he made his stand TOO LATE to save it...Lee sends Longstreet to him at Tullahoma Gap, in time to stop THOMAS there, and the war would have been helped a HELLUVA lot more than by Lee fighting at Gettysburg, which would NOT have happened if he HAD sent Longstreet then....


    SO, Lee "blew" it, BIG TIME....going after the "Pie in the sky" "decisive battle," that almost NEVER has happened in History, outside of the 18th Century...BECAUSE he was anachronistic, and hobbled by a mind that could NOT grasp "modern Warfare...."


    BRAGG therefore was the BETTER Strategist than LEE, but get's almost NO credit for it....in fact he was then and has bee since DENIGRATED as a "Loser" by the very people he fought his DAMNEDEST for....while Lee NEVER was called a Loser, which he WAS as much as ANYBODY....


    So, when GRANT is on a slightly HIGHER pedestal than Lee, with Sherman and Thomas standing NEXT to him, and some OTHER Confederate Generals SHARE Lee's pedestal...then History will be correct.

    PS, I KNOW you have "Southern Blood" in you, which MAY account for the "blind" loyalty. In this I have an advantage, since MY anscestors came here in 1880, so "I Have no Dog in the Fight," and CAN be objective.;)

    But I ALSO know that IF they came 20 years earlier, what they would have fought for. As recently "freed" peasants, no way in HELL would they fight for ANYTHING but Freedom, for ALL....AMERICANS.
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2006
  11. southernshooter

    southernshooter New Member

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    I would serve under Lee, I would rather die a Southerner then live as a Yankee
  12. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    Do soldiers GET the chance to PICK under who they serve?;)

    I would think MOST soldiers not blinded by ideology,(and MOST soldiers after the first BATTLE no longer CARE as much about ideology!) would rather pick the General that when serving (1) they had a better chance of getting enough FOOD, CLOTHING, SUPPLIES and MEDICAL CARE during their service and (2) had the best chance of WINNING the war so they could go HOME the fastest....:cool:



    Anyway, that is EXACTLY the sentiment that has caused Lee to get such a wholly undeserved reputation!

    Wouldn't you rather have fought for a General that MAY have had a chance of WINNING and advancing your cause?

    Or MAYBE under a General that KNOWS when it's over, and surrenders BEFORE so much bloodshed happens, so that thinly disguised hatred just MAYBE doesn't get so hardened...





    Southern, I KNOW what "Die a Southerner" means, we all know it happened WAY TOO much in the war, but just EXACTLY what do you mean when you say "Than Live as a Yankee?"


    I'm curious....


    There is a REASON for my question, too.....:cool:
  13. For me it would be Lee in a heartbeat, Sackett. Whatever his detractors may say, Lee was brilliant and a man worthy of loyalty.
  14. Sackett

    Sackett New Member

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    I suppose I would have like to have been in a cavalry unit. Under which general, I don't know.
    It seems as if the cavalry were better equipped and I would certainly prefer the more modern weaponry considering the tactics I saw on the battlefield among the foot soldiers.
  15. Polish, time out for a second. Let's put up the truce flag and recover the wounded from the battlefield. :D

    Use of the the quote function is really quite easy. Here is how I do it, step by step.

    1. First decide what portion of a post you want to quote.
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    7. You have now made a temporary copy of the text to be copied in your computer's memory.
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    (OK, I don't mean to seem pedantic, and I know you've done cutting and pasting before, but I'm just making sure you have all the steps. Obviously, just cutting and pasting won't produce the neat quotes the TFF system will display. Here is how that part is done:)

    12. The coding that is needed to produce quotes in the TFF style consists of two basic codes one at each end of the text material you want to quote. The one that goes at the beginning of the quote is,
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 30, 2006
  16. The wounded have now been gathered in and the bodies of the fallen have been respectfully interred. On with the battle! :eek: :D ;) :p Watch your flank, Polish, Jackson's "foot cavalry" might just be making an end round like at Chancellorsville and you might end up sacked by Lincoln just like that Yankee pimp Joe Hooker. :p ;)

    Yes, Polish, we are approaching this issue differently, which is interesting in itself. You seem to be viewing it in terms of a more modern mindset and tactical approach (and I don't really disagree with what you are suggesting; it might well have worked), while I am trying to view what happened as it actually existed and within the omnipresent psychological constraints of that time. These men were what they were. Lee was not a Schwarzkopf, and Grant was not an Eisenhower, and neither, most assuredly, was a Patton! :D

    You argue that because Lee did not subscribe to the tactics you suggest, that makes him a failed commander. I simply cannot see the logic of that assessment. Neither side employed modern tactics during the war, with the possible exception of Sherman and Grant right at the end when the South was already effectively beaten. You've conceded the overwhelming power of the Union vis-a-vis the South, so a salient question is why the hell did they not win MUCH sooner? Approximately 620,000 men died in that war, Polish, nearly as many as all other wars the U.S. ever fought put together. Virtually every time a Union army faced Lee--usually with twice his numbers and many times his materiel resources--that Union army was decimated. You single out Lee as an incompetent, anachronistic, over-glorified field commander when he managed to keep the hounds of the Union at bay for nearly four years, and inflicted massive casualties on their forces at every turn. That is hardly the record of an "incompetent" commander. I would argue that Lee WAS innovative, and he was certainly willing to take calculated risks to compensate for the shortfall in manpower and resources with which he had to fight. Yes, he failed to achieve victory in both of his attempted invasions of the Union, both of which were calculated to bring about a decisive end to the war before the South was simply overwhelmed by the lopsided order of battle. Yet Sharpsburg and Gettysburg were very near run engagements, and I would argue Sharpsburg was actually a Rebel victory, not a defeat. If it is an example of incompetence you are looking for, look to that damn fool McClellen, to Hooker, Pope, or Meade.
  17. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    Indiana
    You answered your own question, with what I have been SAYING...

    It is EXPONENTIALLY easier for a General to "Defend." than "Attack." Not only are there even TABLEs for the amount of superiority needed at the point of attack, it is necessary to be in COMPLETE control , have good communitcations, and have subordinates that will DO what you tell them or die trying...in return, the subordinates MUST have confidence you will have the OTHER flanks or arms doing what was planned, and that your plan is sound....

    But on the OTHER hand it is EXPONENTIALLY easier to DEFEND....as long as dispositions are essentially sound, it is simply moving chess peices around REACTING to the enemy's initiative....granted, Lee sometimes ANTICIPATED his opponents actions, which allowed him some "brilliant" counterstroke that a lesser General may have missed, BUT that just makes him "Good!" (I'll show you why in a BIT...;) )

    YES, all the Union General's up until Grant were LACKING in the ability to conduct an offensive campaign, and we QUICKLY chalk it up to "incompetence..." and Lee's "brilliance...."


    In the case of Burnside, and McClellan, I will GIVE you incompetence at least on the attack...(well, Burnside, all-around!:p )

    BUT....and here's the rub...


    Against the SAME generals he BEAT before when attacking HIM, Lee FAILED against when he attacked THEM...AT Antietem and Gettysburg!

    Hooker and Meade were able to anticipate LEE'S moves, and make "brilliant" counter moves against HIM.

    SO. keeping in mind the tenet that it is ALWAYS easier to defend than attack, and Lee only won when DEFENDING, by definition he is NOT a "Great" General!

    And why do we not consider Meade and Hooker to be "Brilliant," because of their victories WHEN DEFENDING and Lee "incompetent" because of what happened when HE attacked????

    Great Generals have to do it ALL, attack, AND defend....

    So there it is, SOME (a FEW) Union Generals WERE incompetent, but on the whole, many were pretty average to Good, guys that may not WIN big, but also wouldn't LOSE big...

    Hooker, Meade. Lee, ALL were about average to Good at BEST...Lee was NOT the "military mastermind" he has been made out to be, and Hooker and Meade, were NOT as "incompetent" as advertised.


    GRANT on the other hand WAS a "Brilliant" General...he won when ATTACKING, yes with casualties, but that is why you need the 5 to one advantage at the point of attack!

    And he KNEW even if he lost 5 to 1, (he DIDN'T), it would hurt him LESS than Lee....THAT is "Masterful...."


    But I will explain WHY Lee has been built up to Myth status...it happens EVERY time to the LOSER....psychologically there HAS to be something to assuage the feelings of inadequacy that comes from defeat, along with the need to KNOW your friends and family didn't die in vain....SOMETHING that the defeated have to grasp....so the SOuth NEEDED a Hero, and BADLY, right after the war.

    WHo else WAS there? Bragg had ALREADY been labeled unfairly a "loser" by the Confederate Press, and everyone else was essentially DEAD. And Davis did NOTHING inspiring at all....


    But the NORTH needed him a hero TOO. Just as you said, HOW do you justify all the death and destruction when the war SHOULD have been over in a year?

    Easier to agree Lee was "Brilliant," than point to all the failures on YOUR side, the biggest one being NOT immeidately implementing Scott's Anaconda Plan in 1861!


    Oh, and thanks for the truce, I needed to take some canteens to the crick (Bull Run?) for some water...;)
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2006
  18. southernshooter

    southernshooter New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2006
    Messages:
    5,956
    Location:
    Deep South Mississippi

    I would rateher fight as a Confederates Soldier and die than Fight for the Union and live:cool:
  19. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2001
    Messages:
    8,078
    Location:
    Indiana
    Thanks, Southern... I've heard that before, but I never quite understood what people think Yankees ARE to hate them so much!:p

    I tell, you though, I've traveled far and wide, and the "divide" isn't North/South anymore, and I really wonder if it ever WAS.

    You put a Dairy Farmer from Western New York in a Denny's with a hog Farmer from Indiana, and a cattle farmer from Tennessee, and a rancher from Texas, and throw in a guy who runs an orchard from Gerogia....and after they get done laughing at how each other TALKS and ribbing each other over the grits, they are going to find out they have a HELLUVA lot more in common with each OTHER, the way they THINK, VOTE, Raise their kids, just about everything but the CLIMATE, than they do with people from their OWN states, who live in New York City, Indianapolis, Nashville, Dallas, or Atlanta...you REALLY understand this Red/Blue thing then....

    I wonder just EXACTLY what kind of "South" the rank and file farmer boy soldier in Lee's Army was fighting for....I bet you it wasn't EXACTLY the "South " LEE was fighting for...



    And PS, I will have General Hunt unmask the batteries one more time before I "Retire....";)



    Can you name for me ANY other General in HISTORY, who not only surrendered his Army, but also surrendered his entire Country and cause...and not only in AMERICAN History, in all of RECORDED History....



    ....who is treated by Historians and Sympathizers as "a Great and Brilliant General" like Lee has been since the Civil War ended, and is still treated as such today....?


    And with that, Sir, I rest my case....:cool:
  20. Polish, I must say, you definitely need to partake of a tonic to treat this dread disease you seem afflicted with. It's called "Rebophobia." It's very rare and unusual; in fact, I just invented it. :D Might I suggest a nice 18-year-old single malt scotch as the appropriate remedy? ;) As that old reprobate Alf Landon often said, "Let's look at the record." Well . . . let's!

    I will not argue against the position that Lee's greatest strength was on the defensive; that is self-evident from the chronicle of his engagements, yet to suggest, as you do, he was powerless on the offensive is sheer hyperbole. You mention both Sharpsburg and Gettysburg. Let's take them one at a time, and "look at the record."

    At Sharpsburg, Lee was forced to fight a defensive battle in the end, not because of any tactical offensive error on his part, but because one of his officers (we shall likely never know whom) lost a copy of Lee's complete general orders wraped around three cigars. Those orders were promptly found by a blue belly soldier and (sans cigars!) forwarded to McClellen's headquarters. Thus "Little Mac" KNEW EXACTLY what Lee's planned moves were to be over the subsequent several days. Yet, even with this critical information, the inept McClellen was not able to pull off a victory against Lee. Yes, I know, the Union CLAIMED a victory, in fact, Lincoln used that thin excuse to issue his Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, but in reality, McClellen bungled. Even with a vastly superior force and a blueprint of Lee's planned moves, he couldn't pull it off despite suffering massive casualties. He refused, because of his timidity, to commit his reserves when he had the chance. McClellen's loses were ultimately equal to Lee's and LEE'S ARMY WAS ALLOWED TO ESCAPE, fully intact and capable, along with all the military supplies Jackson had capured during in his raid on Harper's Ferry! McClellen bungled the first real chance the Union had to crush the rebellion and end the war. Mclellen should have been sacked immediately, and Lincoln knew it, but Lincoln needed at least the illusion of victory to publish his Proclamation. If Lee's plans had been fulfilled, and he had capured Harrisburg as intended, Washington itself would have been wide open to attack while McClellen bumbled around trying to figure out what to do next. "When in worry or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout" was McClellen's motto. I might add here, that Lee's plan was highly OFFENSIVE and indeed innovative in nature; it was neither defensive nor conservative. Forced to fight a defensive battle through no fault of his own, Lee performed brilliantly. Indeed, many historians consider it Lee's finest battle.

    How can you mention that pimp Hooker in the same tactical breath as Lee? At Chancellorsville, Lee split his much smaller army into three segments, against all conventional wisdom, and made Hooker out to be what he was, an utter fool. To use the phrase "brilliant counter moves" in conjunction with Meade is equally oxymoronic. Yes, Lee lost the gamble at Gettysburg, and some of the fault for that failure must rest with Lee. I've always felt that Lee would have been better advised to maneuver his army after the first day at Gettysburg as Longstreet suggested, and seek better ground. Yet, whom should we ultimately blame for the failure of Lee's original plan of operations? The truly bad decisions rested with two men: General Jubal Early on the first day when he categorically refused to take the heights at Culp's hill when he could have done so with two platoons of VMI cadets armed with penknives, and General James Longstreet on the second day of the battle when he delayed Lee's ordered attack until mid-afternoon. I do believe that Lee was wrong on the third day in his decision to attack the Union center. By the time the attack was launched, the center had been so heavily reinforced that breaking through was highly unlikely. I could argue, however, that Pickett might have succeeded if the massive artillery barrage that preceeded the attack had actually been on target.

    Now, as for George Meade . . . he blew it utterly, Polish, and Lincoln ended up demoting him for that failure!!!! By any reasonable tactical military thinking, the War of Northern Aggression should have ended on July 4, 1863. Lee was in full retreat, the river blocking his retreat was swollen and uncrossable due to intense rain placing him in an untenable position. An attack--which Lee fully expected would be launched--would very likely have been successful and Lee's army destroyed. Yet, Meade sat on his duff, like a bump on a pickel all green and slimy, while the river fell and the Army of Northern Virginia retreated in good order and escaped, once again, intact. That sort of thinking is "brilliant," Polish? I hardly think so.
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