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Old July 28th, 2010, 06:35 AM   #41

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


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For best general, judging by the results he achieved, Id say W.T. Sherman. With his movements from Atlanta to North Carolina he showed the population of the south, not just the solders, in a way they could not help but understand that the cause was lost. And this with far less loss of live on both sides than the toe to toe slugging match of Grant vs. Lee.
Sherman was good, no doubts about it, but to me he never quite demonstrated the same grasp of higher levels of grand strategy at which the Civil War only produced two confirmed masters: Lincoln and Grant. Thus it was that Grant was almost certainly the best choice to act as general-in-chief of the army.

Additionally, Sherman lacked Grant's full range of technical ability on the battlefield and in a campaign, combined with the flashes of true insight that characterized the latter's performance at Vicksburg and in the turning movement on Petersburg.

I can certainly give the "American Attila" this however - it would not be going too far to say that he pioneered an entirely new aspect of the art of warfare, and proved himself a master at implementing this new kind of warfare - new at least in the sense of being deployed as a definite theory of war.
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Old August 5th, 2010, 01:44 PM   #42
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Re: Who were the best/worst Civil War generals?


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I'd say there were worse generals while he was slow moving and over cautious in tactics. In 1862 he meticulously rebuilt the Army of the Potomac and deeply cared for his troops. Morale rose dramatically in the ranks he may not have been the best tactician but his men loved him...
McClellan can't be rated the worst, he was great for the army logistically if not strategically.

Worst = Bragggg hands down. Irrational, unrealistic and a horrible communicator.

One of the Best- Thomas 'Stonewall' Jackson- Shenadohna Valley campaign
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Old August 5th, 2010, 04:26 PM   #43

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


I may be mistaken, but I think the reason the north suffered from a greater number of fools as generals is that the majority of the senior commanders in the field were political based appointments, say for instance the governor of Ohio appoints a crony to the colonelship of an Ohio regiment. This guy would through attrition, usually, be promoted upward and well beyond any ability until the incompetence is finally recognized as a result of some disasterous result. While the south did have some of this occurring, most of it's commanders were former regular US army officers, many with abundant combat experience during the Mexican War. And I think you will find that some of the Unions most effective division and corps commanders were actually comrades of a few of these southern officers, serving in the same units during the 1840's.

So, I'm gonna narrow the field of consideration some and say that Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain was the best Union Division commander, O. O. Howard the worst. Cleburne is clearly the South's best, Jubal Early the worst.
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Old August 6th, 2010, 12:31 AM   #44
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Re: Who were the best/worst Civil War generals?


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McClellan can't be rated the worst, he was great for the army logistically if not strategically.
McClellan was a good organizer, but did not have the type of courage necessary in a commander.

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Worst = Bragggg hands down. Irrational, unrealistic and a horrible communicator.
Although certainly not among the best, Bragg's only real failing as a general was that everyone hated his guts. (And for good reason!) John Bell Hood was very reckless and managed to wreck the Army of Tennessee through bad strategy and bad tactics.

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One of the Best- Thomas 'Stonewall' Jackson- Shenadohna Valley campaign
Better was Nathan Bedford Forrest. The "Wizard of the Saddle" at least managed not to be killed by his own troops.
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Old August 6th, 2010, 06:43 AM   #45

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


IMO both NBF and Stonewall Jackson are highly overrated, neither of them qualifying as anywhere the near the "best".

They were good enough in their own fields, but that was about it, and they were highly flawed even in that context.
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Old August 6th, 2010, 07:15 AM   #46

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


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Originally Posted by Spartacuss View Post
I may be mistaken, but I think the reason the north suffered from a greater number of fools as generals is that the majority of the senior commanders in the field were political based appointments, say for instance the governor of Ohio appoints a crony to the colonelship of an Ohio regiment. This guy would through attrition, usually, be promoted upward and well beyond any ability until the incompetence is finally recognized as a result of some disasterous result. While the south did have some of this occurring, most of it's commanders were former regular US army officers, many with abundant combat experience during the Mexican War. And I think you will find that some of the Unions most effective division and corps commanders were actually comrades of a few of these southern officers, serving in the same units during the 1840's.

So, I'm gonna narrow the field of consideration some and say that Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain was the best Union Division commander, O. O. Howard the worst. Cleburne is clearly the South's best, Jubal Early the worst.
Chamberlain never commanded a anything higher than a brigade.
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Old August 6th, 2010, 07:18 AM   #47

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


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IMO both NBF and Stonewall Jackson are highly overrated, neither of them qualifying as anywhere the near the "best".

They were good enough in their own fields, but that was about it, and they were highly flawed even in that context.
I agree on Jackson. The problem is that the weak Jackson of the Seven Days was markedly different than the bold Jackson of C'Ville and the Valley. If you average it out, he was mediocre.
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Old August 6th, 2010, 07:21 AM   #48
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Re: Who were the best/worst Civil War generals?


I'll tell you who made one of the biggest misjudgements of the war: Union General John Sedgwick at the Battle of Spotsylvania in 1864. He tried to calm his troops before battle by telling them, "Don't worry, men, they couldn't hit an elephant at this distance." A minute later he was shot dead by a Confederate soldier.

Oops, huh, General?
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Old August 6th, 2010, 12:20 PM   #49
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Re: Who were the best/worst Civil War generals?


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McClellan was a good organizer, but did not have the type of courage necessary in a commander.



Although certainly not among the best, Bragg's only real failing as a general was that everyone hated his guts. (And for good reason!) John Bell Hood was very reckless and managed to wreck the Army of Tennessee through bad strategy and bad tactics.

Better was Nathan Bedford Forrest. The "Wizard of the Saddle" at least managed not to be killed by his own troops.
Hmmmm, forget about Hood.He really did mangle his own army with his repeated attacks. If not the worst he definitly deserves a high spot on the list.
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Old August 6th, 2010, 12:52 PM   #50

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


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Hmmmm, forget about Hood.He really did mangle his own army with his repeated attacks. If not the worst he definitly deserves a high spot on the list.
As noted earlier, Hood performed well as a divisional commander. He just couldn't handle larger formations.
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