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Old July 6th, 2006, 09:01 PM   #1

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Who were the best/worst Civil War generals?


Just wanting to probe everyones minds for a bit. Who do you think were the best and worst generals who served during the Civil War?

My best are.

Robert E. Lee- His ability to keep an army together AND fighting in the late stages of the war when all was most assuredly lost puts him at the top of my list.

Ulysses S. Grant- His pursuits were what the Union army needed from the word "go". I believe if he had been in command at Manassas the war would have been over by Christmas.

Worst.

Braxton Bragg- His loss at Chickamauga with a highly impregnable defensive position is one of the biggest blunders of the western theater. And yet after the war they name a ****ing :shock: fort after him.

Irvin McDowell- On paper and in camps, his army was the finest in the world. They just had a little problem when it comes to marching, cause you know it's only the biggest mainstay in the friggen army! To prove the point, Manassas Junction was 30 miles from Washington DC. A good army can make the distance in a day and half or less. It took him FOUR DAYS to move 30 miles! Oh but it gets better after they were defeated, the distance that had taken them four days to cover was mad in a retreat back to Washington in a day.
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Old July 7th, 2006, 07:13 AM   #2
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My best are:

Robert E. Lee for obvious reasons.

John Buford - probably one of the most under-rated Union generals of the war. He was the best calvary leader in perhaps the whole war.

The worst person is probably
Ambrose Burnside - Namesake of "Burnside's Bridge" fiasco at Antietam. Architect of futile, murderous assaults at Fredericksburg. Leader of Mud March. Arrested for "seditious sentiments". Failure at Petersburg.
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Old May 11th, 2009, 01:23 PM   #3

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


Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord_Cronus View Post
Just wanting to probe everyones minds for a bit. Who do you think were the best and worst generals who served during the Civil War?

My best are.

Robert E. Lee- His ability to keep an army together AND fighting in the late stages of the war when all was most assuredly lost puts him at the top of my list.

Ulysses S. Grant- His pursuits were what the Union army needed from the word "go". I believe if he had been in command at Manassas the war would have been over by Christmas.

Worst.

Braxton Bragg- His loss at Chickamauga with a highly impregnable defensive position is one of the biggest blunders of the western theater. And yet after the war they name a ****ing :shock: fort after him.

Irvin McDowell- On paper and in camps, his army was the finest in the world. They just had a little problem when it comes to marching, cause you know it's only the biggest mainstay in the friggen army! To prove the point, Manassas Junction was 30 miles from Washington DC. A good army can make the distance in a day and half or less. It took him FOUR DAYS to move 30 miles! Oh but it gets better after they were defeated, the distance that had taken them four days to cover was mad in a retreat back to Washington in a day.
Can't argue about what you said.
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Old May 12th, 2009, 04:01 AM   #4
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Re: Who were the best/worst Civil War generals?


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Originally Posted by kahn View Post
John Buford - probably one of the most under-rated Union generals of the war. He was the best calvary leader in perhaps the whole war.
I don't think Buford's ACW career was long enough to qualify him as the best.
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Old May 12th, 2009, 04:26 AM   #5

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


I'm going to put down two more for "best" category:

- William T. Sherman. Admittedly he wasn't much of a tactician, but he was brilliant at strategy, ranging from the operational to being one of the first people to understand the concept of Total War.

- Nathan Bedford Forrest. By some accounts the guy was a total Son of a B****, but that shouldn't detract from his brilliance. Probably the best cavalry commander in the War.
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Old May 12th, 2009, 10:06 AM   #6

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


As far as the best Jackson, Lee, and Nathan Bedford Forest for the Confederacy and Sherman, Sheridan, and Grant for the Union. Ranking the worst is a bit tougher as there were plenty of useless generals on both sides during the war but I would say Bragg, Hood, Burnsides, and James Ledlie are the bottom-feeders of the group.
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Old May 12th, 2009, 01:12 PM   #7

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


Best. Forrest...Jackson, the Johnstons...Joe and Albert Sydney...Ewell...AP Hill
Worst...Bragg...Longstreet...Stuart...Hood ( while in command Army of Tennessee)
Note: Hood was a capable division commander. But he was not suited to lead an army.

Many of them were over-rated by the hype, such as Lee. After Jackson died, what did Lee win?
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Old May 12th, 2009, 04:38 PM   #8
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Re: Who were the best/worst Civil War generals?


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Originally Posted by Richard Stanbery View Post
Best. Forrest...Jackson, the Johnstons...Joe and Albert Sydney...Ewell...AP Hill
Worst...Bragg...Longstreet...Stuart...Hood ( while in command Army of Tennessee)
Note: Hood was a capable division commander. But he was not suited to lead an army.

Many of them were over-rated by the hype, such as Lee. After Jackson died, what did Lee win?
A.S. Johnston-did he even win a battle? I think Longstreet performed far more consistently than either Hill or Ewell, especially as a subordinate commander.

As far as Lee without Jackson-I would count keeping an Army together for two more years after Jackson died against far more competent Union generals as quite an achievement. And I would say The Wilderness was a victory for Lee-but Grant didn't turn around like previous union generals would have and did.
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Old May 12th, 2009, 05:41 PM   #9

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


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A.S. Johnston-did he even win a battle? I think Longstreet performed far more consistently than either Hill or Ewell, especially as a subordinate commander.

As far as Lee without Jackson-I would count keeping an Army together for two more years after Jackson died against far more competent Union generals as quite an achievement. And I would say The Wilderness was a victory for Lee-but Grant didn't turn around like previous union generals would have and did.
Yeah, the Wilderness was a tough show. I wouldnt call it a well orchestrated battle scheme though. It was more like a street fight than anything. Lee was hoping to repeat the Chancellorsville coup, but without Jackson, it just fell into a slugfest in the woods. (Jackson was present at Chancellorsville, Longstreet was not.) Im thinking that Jackson would have kept better command of his troops.

Your right though, Lee did hold the army together. Didnt he suffer a stroke before Gettysburg? And I think he might have had some angina, but I cant remember where that came from.
Albert Sydney, now there was a man with unrealized potential. Thats about all that we can really say about him. He had the experience to be great, and it was generally recognized that he had a flair of genius, but he was snuffed out too soon to really do the South much good. If he had been given a free hand in the west, I see a lot more good comming from him that Bragg never ammounted to.
As to Longstreet (I have to be careful here) but I think that there was underhanded stuff (treason) associated with his staff( I didnt actually say him directly). Lees Orders and deployments just happened to have been "found" by Federal scouts wrapped in a cigar wrapping just before Antietam makes me wonder (Longstreet smoked cigars). The delay before Picketts charge at Gettysburg that gave the Feds time to prepare to recieve the attack, the disaster at Knoxville when Longstreet was sent to the west in '63 (frontal assaults on a defended fort that produced massive CSA casualties in an attack that never had a chance of succeeding, and a bunch of other little things make me wonder how much loyalty there was in his "staff". He made out unusually well after the war...!?
For that matter, Lee sending him away after Gettysburg to go to the west makes me wonder if Lee suspected anything? But who can say? Im not able to proove anything about Longstreet or his staff, but I do have my wonders about that subject. Its just a hunch, I cant proove anything.
http://ngeorgia.com/ang/James_Longstreet

But, some of the former Confederate generals called him a traitor after the war, accused him of disobeying Lee at Gettysburg, and villified him for joining the republican party and taking Federal positions after the war. He was living large, getting favor and good jobs (minister to Turkey, etc) from the Fed govt while the South starved and suffered the carpet-baggers and scallywags. It looked like he was being rewarded for the treason of the war years that he had been accused of. Who knows?

Last edited by Richard Stanbery; May 12th, 2009 at 06:12 PM.
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Old May 15th, 2009, 10:22 PM   #10

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


I think that I'll speak up for Lee a bit. Yes, he got a lot out of Jackson, but that should not limit his own considerable achievements.
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