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Old August 6th, 2010, 09:22 PM   #51
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Re: Who were the best/worst Civil War generals?


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Originally Posted by diddyriddick View Post
As noted earlier, Hood performed well as a divisional commander. He just couldn't handle larger formations.
Way to agressive against fortifications. The man had never heard of a flanking maneuver.
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Old August 13th, 2010, 06:08 AM   #52
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Re: Who were the best/worst Civil War generals?


The best: Jackson, Sherman and Lee.
The worst: Bragg.
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Old August 21st, 2010, 06:56 PM   #53

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


The best:

1. Ulysses S. Grant. Showed initiative and ability from day one as a general in the Union Army, first at Belmont, then at Forts Henry and Donelson. Although not security conscious enough at Shiloh, he stabilized the line and drove the Confederates back the next day, turning defeat into victory. Although his initial efforts at taking Vicksburg were stymied by frustrating terrain and supply issues, his final successful campaign was a operational masterpiece, his army successful secured a lodgement on the east side of the river, and in 17 days his troops marched 180 miles and won 5 major battles, befuddling and defeating the enemy at every turn, and trapped the Confederates in Vicksburg, soon securing the surrender of the city and the army. Grant then responded promptly to the crisis of the Army of the Cumberland at Chattanooga, taking over and helping bring about the end of the Confederate siege of the city, and the defeat of the Confederate Army of the Tennessee.

Appointed the commanding general of the Union armies, he coordinated numerous offensives against the Confederacy across the nation and personally directed the overall Virginia Campaign which resulted in Robert E. Lee's army being forced into defensive works around Peterburg. Although suffering tactical setbacks at the Wilderness and Cold Harbor, Grant pressed onward, and many of the hard bitten veterans who muttered angrily in between the fighting in the Wilderness cheered him when he led the army onward rather than retreat. After only failing to seize Petersburg by a incredible combination of bad luck and timid subordinates, the stranglehold on the AoNV was tightened, and eventually Lee was forced to evacuate Petersburg, and Grant pursued him to Appomattox, where he received Lee's surrender. Despite gaining a unfair reputation as a "Butcher", Grant lost approximately 155,000 men as casualties throughout the war, whereas Robert E. Lee, still regarded by many as the Civil War's best general who only lost to overwhelming odds, lost over 200,000 men throughout the war, with a command period approximately equivalent to Grant's. In short, I consider Grant's record ample proof of his ability as a general.

2. George Henry Thomas. Although usually a subordinate general, it is fair to say he never truly lost a battle or a movement. I don't have time for more in depth commentary like on Grant, so I'll just suggest googling "Old slow trot", and clicking on the first site that comes up, there should be a brief but fascinating bio of him.

3. William T. Sherman. One of the first relatively modern personalities to understand and apply total war to hasten the end of the Civil War, a brilliant strategist, though a flawed tactician, he directed the successful Georgia and Carolina campaigns, and when Confederate general Joseph E. Johnston heard of the pace Sherman's men were making through the swamps of the Carolinas, he stated "I do not believe there has been a army such as this since the days of Julius Caesar". High praise indeed.

4. Robert E. Lee. Although not exactly facing the first string of Union generals, and benefiting greatly from their mistakes, it must be acknowledged that Lee did a superb job of holding back the numerically superior Union armies in northern Virginia for a long period of time.

5. James Longstreet. A superb general who gave excellent service throughout his career, he rightly earned his title of Lee's Old War Horse, rarely failing to perform well on the battlefield.

(I'll post some of the worst later)
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Old August 22nd, 2010, 12:22 AM   #54

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


^^

Excellent post Viperlord!
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Old August 22nd, 2010, 06:29 AM   #55

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


Thank you Divius. And as promised, time for the worst.

1. Gideon Pillow. His bungling of the defense of Fort Donelson is well known, and Grant's haste to assault the fort was based off of Grant's knowledge of Pillow, as Grant knew him in Mexico. After Pillow fled, Grant met with a old friend, Confederate general Simon Buckner, and when Buckner informed Grant that Pillow had expressed concern that his capture would be a blow to the Confederate cause, Grant replied "Oh, if I had got him, I'd have let him go again. He will do us more good commanding you fellows." During the battle of Stones' River, while commanding a brigade in John C. Breckinridge's division, Breckinridge was infuriated to find him hiding behind a tree while his men made a desperate frontal attack on Union positions. He was wisely given no more combat assignments.

2. Benjamin Butler. He literally never won a battle, and massively bungled practically every assignment given to him during the war. Big Bethel was a humiliating defeat early in the war for the Union, and his later command of the Union Army of the James was a disaster, as he was bottled up and trapped by a greatly inferior force under Beauregard. In a final straw for his military career, he horrendously bungled the first Fort Fisher expedition.

3. Braxton Bragg. This is almost self-explanatory, as his poor treatment of his men and many of his officers is well known, as is his utter tactical incompetence. In fairness to him, he wasn't a horrendous strategist and actually had a flash of competence when maneuvering Union forces back into Kentucky in 1862, but he was prompt in throwing all that away at Perryville. He bungled a opportunity at Stones' River to crush the flank of the Union army, was horrendously outmaneuvered in William Rosecran's brilliant Tullahoma campaign, and conducted the battle of Chickamagua poorly overall, greatly benefiting from the poorly worded order of one of Rosecran's straff and petulant interpretation of general Thomas Wood. He horrendously bungled the siege of Chattanooga, and was finally relieved from command of the AoT. He wasn't done yet however, as he went on to screw up the defense of Fort Fisher as well.

4. George McClellan. A absolutely horrendous field general who was presented with multiple opportunities to end the war with a decisive thrust, but spurned all of them. He started out half-decently by doing a good job organizing the Army of the Potomac, but was effectively held in check in northern Virginia for some time by fortifications with Quaker guns manned by a horrendously outnumbered force. His conception of the Peninsula campaign wasn't bad, but he was effectively decoyed by Confederate general John Magruder at Yorktown with only five thousand men, compared to close to 100,000 for McClellan. When Yorktown was reinforced, McClellan demonstrated his usual inflexibility by slowly bringing up a ponderous siege train and bombarding the defenders gradually until they withdrew, and he allowed their escape. His drive continued up the Peninsula at a snail's pace until he finally arrived outside of Richmond, where he effectively sat outside the Confederate fortifications doing nothing to threaten them, and dangerously isolating one of his Corps from the rest with the Chickahominy river. During the Seven Days battles, Lee's aggression caused McClellan to immediately initiate a desperate retreat, despite only tactically losing one battle, and allowing isolated parts of his forces to be attacked in detail. Only Stonewall Jackson's lethargy during the campaign prevented a possible Cannae being performed on two of his Corps at Glendale and White Oak Swamp. Malvern Hill was a Confederate disaster, but McClellan refused to make any effort to exploit it, effectively ending fighting on the Peninsula. Much of this stemmed from his ceaseless conviction that he was greatly outnumbered.

During the Second Manassas campaign, McClellan demonstrated his usual sloth in leaving the Peninsula and reinforcing General John Pope, only managing to dispatch one of his Corps to aid him, and digging in his heels about sending anything else. It was a commonly accepted belief in Washington at the time that he had wanted Pope to fail. After Robert E. Lee invaded Maryland, McClellan moved out from Washington at a snail's pace, moving around 8 miles per day through friendly territory, when he even moved at all. (A stark contrast to Sherman's men making 15 miles a day through swampy sharpshooter infested areas in the Carolinas). When the Lost Order was found, McClellan declared that he know knew what to do, and then failed to take any action for 18 hours. When he finally moved it was not a very aggressive movement, and based on a inflexible adherence to the increasingly outdated Lost Order. I and IX Corps successfully drove the Confederates off South Mountain, but McClellan chose to make no serious pursuit, and arrived outside Sharpsburg on the 15th to find Lee preparing for battle with probably no more than 15,000 men at his immediate command, compared to close to 50,000 for McClellan. Yet McClellan made no attack that day or on the 16th, simply watching Lee for that period of time, and he issued no plan of battle or held a council of war with his generals. His attack on the 17th was piecemeal and poorly coordinated, and even with the VI Corps forces that had forced Crampton's Gap to the south arriving all day, he kept both them and V Corps in reserve (Plus the recently arrived division of Andrew Humphreys), effectively having nearly 30,000 men who never fired a shot, and he failed on multiple occasions to exploit breaches in the Confederate line.

Despite his fresh troops and the utter exhaustion and raggedness of Lee's army, McClellan did not open battle again, and allowed Lee to withdraw unmolested. He refused to initiate any aggressive action in the near future, complaining of numerous issues. (His complaint about fatigued horses prompted Lincoln to inquire what the AoP's horses had done since the battle that fatigued anything). He was further embarrassed by another of JEB Stuart's cavalry raids, and when finally attempting a offensive movement was easily outpaced and outmaneuvered by Lee once again, ending his combat service.

5. Oliver Otis Howard. His inattention to his orders and general laziness as a Corps Commander got his corps smashed at Chancellorsville. Through the unfortunate death of the able John Reynolds, Howard became the senior officer on field during the first day of Gettysburg, and promptly allowed a division of his own Corps to overextend itself, and he refused to allow the battered and tired I Corps to withdraw to a safer position from their current dangerous one. His Corps was smashed yet again, by a Confederate division, while I Corps conducted itself well in a able fighting retreat. Howard, when general Hancock arrived to take over, lied and told Hancock that I Corps broke first, showing what a truly little man he was. He was later sent west, and performed semi-competently on occasion, but once again demonstrated his ineptitude at the battle of Pickett's Mill.Ironically, he rose to command the Army of Tennessee in Sherman's army after the death of McPherson, due to bias against non-west pointer John Logan.
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Old August 22nd, 2010, 06:46 AM   #56

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


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Originally Posted by Viperlord View Post
Thank you Divius. And as promised, time for the worst.

1. Gideon Pillow. His bungling of the defense of Fort Donelson is well known, and Grant's haste to assault the fort was based off of Grant's knowledge of Pillow, as Grant knew him in Mexico. After Pillow fled, Grant met with a old friend, Confederate general Simon Buckner, and when Buckner informed Grant that Pillow had expressed concern that his capture would be a blow to the Confederate cause, Grant replied "Oh, if I had got him, I'd have let him go again. He will do us more good commanding you fellows." During the battle of Stones' River, while commanding a brigade in John C. Breckinridge's division, Breckinridge was infuriated to find him hiding behind a tree while his men made a desperate frontal attack on Union positions. He was wisely given no more combat assignments.
This guy usually slides by under everyone's radar. He had the audacity to name a fort after himself which after falling into Union hands became the scene of one of the most vilified engagements of the war as the "Fort Pillow Massacre".

So, Viperlord, it seems you have done your homework, good job.
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Old August 22nd, 2010, 11:57 PM   #57

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


^^

Here, here.
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Old August 23rd, 2010, 06:47 AM   #58

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


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Way to agressive against fortifications. The man had never heard of a flanking maneuver.
Actually he had. On the second day of Gettysburg, he begged Longstreet to allow him to try to flank the Union Right. He was overruled.
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Old August 23rd, 2010, 06:49 AM   #59

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


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So, Viperlord, it seems you have done your homework, good job.
Agreed! Wow!
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Old August 24th, 2010, 05:45 AM   #60

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


Aw shucks, thanks everyone.

Quote:
Actually he had. On the second day of Gettysburg, he begged Longstreet to allow him to try to flank the Union Right. He was overruled.
[nitpick]It was the Union Left, Confederate Right. :P (Ironically since his proposed flanking maneuver would take him out of contact with the rest of Longstreet's men and run him smack into the Union Fifth and Sixth Corps his maneuver would have been every bit as suicidal as his later frontal attacks)[/nitpick]
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