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Old July 10th, 2009, 11:13 AM   #21

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Re: Who were the best/worst Civil War generals?


I'm not sure how I feel about best or worst. Without Ulysses S. Grant's determination, I think the war would have dragged on - even into more years. He was the most determined to succeed quickly so he is the best?

George McClellan was probably the worst when it came to fighting. He frequently misjudged situations and pursued the absolute wrong course of action. If he had been left in charge, the war might not have ever ended. He almost(?) appeared to be a coward.
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Old July 10th, 2009, 11:21 AM   #22

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Re: Who were the best/worst Civil War generals?


One gaping ommision from this list and perhaps the best general of the lot is the highly underated Patrick Cleburne.
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Old July 10th, 2009, 11:53 AM   #23

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Re: Who were the best/worst Civil War generals?


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Originally Posted by Toltec View Post
One gaping ommision from this list and perhaps the best general of the lot is the highly underated Patrick Cleburne.
I brought up Cleburne about a page back and I agree completely the Confederacy lost one of It's best generals when he was killed in 1864 at the battle of Franklin.
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Old July 10th, 2009, 12:50 PM   #24

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Re: Who were the best/worst Civil War generals?


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I brought up Cleburne about a page back
Just noticed, I just presumed no-one had, because we've had posts like this before and I've made the same comment.
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Old July 10th, 2009, 12:55 PM   #25

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Re: Who were the best/worst Civil War generals?


"Lil Mac" faced a much more powerful Confederate Army in 1862 (compared to his own) than Grant did in 1864-65. Lil Mac did do one thing, and that was that he bumbled and cowwerded along, but in the while, he kept his Army together while it killed a lot of the South's best fighters.

Grant was able to build upon the bumbling and ineffective efforts of Maclellan and the rest of the Yankee warlords. But even in that, it was something that had to be.

I mean, if MaClellan had been able to outmaneuver Lee in 1862 and win a kind of "points Victory", then what would be the outcome of the peace? There would be none, even if the North had won the war in the early years. Evan after the surrender, there would have been too many Southern fighting men who would trudge back home, much like the German Army of 1919. Here, we see trouble.

I hate to say it like this, as I am myself a Southerner, but there could be no peace until so many Southern troops had been killed or maimed that there were not enough of them left to cause serious trouble after the war.

And so, it worked out the way that it had to. MaClellan and his inept leadership actually worked out perfectly to shape the peace after the war.

And, we must remember that Lil Mac was able to regroup the Union army time after time following serious defeats that might have shattered a European army of the day. So, Lil Mac wasnt all bad?
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Old July 10th, 2009, 01:04 PM   #26

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Re: Who were the best/worst Civil War generals?


Quote:
By the end of the war, Sherman was the best general in the field.
Sherman was a brilliant strategist certainly, but he was rather lacking as a tactician.
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Old May 16th, 2010, 03:55 PM   #27

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Re: Who were the best/worst Civil War generals?


There's a lot of candidates for both "best" and "worst", most of which have already been named in this thread. But IMO T. J. Jackson was the best; McClellan the worst. I have mixed feelings on Lee.

I once read a story about McClellan. President Lincoln was visiting the Army of the Potomac, and at the time was highly frustrated with McClellan's indecisiveness. He happened to see a couple soldiers digging a latrine for McClellan to use.

Lincoln asked the soldiers: "is it a one-holer or a two-holer?" The soldiers replied "a one-holer, Mr. President".

"Good" said Lincoln, "for if it was a two-holer, by the time the General decides which to use he will have be**** himself!"
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Old May 16th, 2010, 05:11 PM   #28
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Re: Who were the best/worst Civil War generals?


It seems we have been already here and I still can't see why should I change my original choice for the "best": Robert E Lee. His merits and limitations had been extensively debated all along several threads.

The "worst" is simply unanswerable; just too many candidates.
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Old May 16th, 2010, 05:15 PM   #29

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Re: Who were the best/worst Civil War generals?


I don't know about best/worst, but the more I read, the more I'm convinced that Jackson was the most overrated. The wild card was whether you got the brilliant Stonewall of the valley, or Chancellorsville, or whether you got the indifferent Stonewall of the Seven Days.
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Old May 16th, 2010, 11:43 PM   #30

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Re: Who were the best/worst Civil War generals?


My firm opinion at the moment:

Best:

1: Ulysses S. Grant
2: William T. Sherman
3: Robert E. Lee

In that order.

Worst: George B. McClellan still takes it out for me by a long shot. The irony is that he was actually quite an intelligent man with an excellent understanding of the military system and a charismatic brand of leadership that inspired his soldiers with a great sense of loyalty to him (which did not however prevent them from voting overwhelmingly in favor of Lincoln in 1864). The problem was the he was temperamentally (some even theorize psychologically) unsuited to actually do anything constructive with the army that he built, and he was terrible at working with equals or superiors, especially civilian ones.

The statement that he did more damage to the Union cause than even Robert E. Lee might be something of an exagerration. But not much of an exagerration.
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