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Old November 16th, 2012, 06:45 PM   #451

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That is your opinion, and you are welcome to it. How are you today Mike, I haven't conversed with you for a while?
Good thanks for asking...i'm not gonna lie to you though, i'm spending my Friday night in front of my computer
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Old November 16th, 2012, 06:47 PM   #452

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Good thanks for asking...i'm not gonna lie to you though, i'm spending my Friday night in front of my computer
Where in Maryland are you from?
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Old November 16th, 2012, 06:48 PM   #453
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Good thanks for asking...i'm not gonna lie to you though, i'm spending my Friday night in front of my computer
Sorry to hear that Mike. I guess I thought I was the only one who did that sort of thing.
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Old November 16th, 2012, 07:05 PM   #454

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Sorry to hear that Mike. I guess I thought I was the only one who did that sort of thing.
It's a difficult existence.
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Old November 16th, 2012, 07:06 PM   #455

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Where in Maryland are you from?
Western Howard County
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Old November 16th, 2012, 08:43 PM   #456

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Longstreet rules the school!
You might not feel that way after reading Jeffrey Wert's excellent bio.
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Old November 16th, 2012, 09:30 PM   #457

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I wonder if you would furnish a reference to this statement?
I furnished two. I also worded my second sentence poorly. Let's try this again.

Lee inherited slaves from his mother in 1829. In 1857, Lee was required by George Custis' will to free a different group of slaves that had belonged to George Custis no more than 5 years from Custis' death.
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Old November 16th, 2012, 09:34 PM   #458

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That is your opinion, and you are welcome to it. How are you today Mike, I haven't conversed with you for a while?
It is a good opinion though.

Lee's reputation has largely been inflated by the victories that he won between 1862 and 1863 prior to Gettysburg, and even against Grant, Lee managed to hold his army together and do a decent job of holding on.

But, on close inspection, one finds that Lee was largely a good commander against a lineup of incredibly bad generals and that the praise that has been given to Lee ignores the battles in 1861 that he fought in West Virginia, all of which were defeats.

McClellan ran at every opportunity and believed he was outnumbered in every battle he fought. If you look at the Battles of the Seven Days, you'll find that the Union Army inflicted heavier casualties on Lee's army and during the fighting held its ground, yet McClellan thought himself gravely outnumbered and withdrew. And he withdrew south, abandoning the lines of supply he would need to keep his army near Richmond for long. In that sense, Lee won the battles after McClellan's first retreat of the Battles of the Seven Days. And later at Antietam he refused to commit his reserves and allowed what could have been a decisive victory slip into a marginal Union victory at best, and most consider the battle indecisive.

Pope, while more of a fighting general then McClellan, was a very boastful man who rapidly proved incapable of commanding a large army in the field. He took his forces deep into Virginia where he ran into trouble. His supply lines were raided and Jeb Stuart made off with a large sum of money and Pope's dress coat. Eventually Stonewall Jackson cut off his supply lines forcing Pope to retreat to Manasas Junction, where he left one flank of his army exposed to Confederate counter-attack, which Lee had Longstreet do on day 2 of that battle.

Burnside was never fit to command the Army of the Potomac and there are stories of him being grateful to McClellan for getting him the job in the first place. His plan to occupy Fredericksburg and then advance south toward Richmond was a decent one, but when the War Department failed to provide the pontoon boats for a bridge in time, Burnside needed to change or alter his plans. Either get his infantry across and fortify the heights above Fredericksburg and wait to get the artillery across, or cross elsewhere where he could bring everything at once. Instead, Burnside sat in front of Fredericksburg. By the time the pontoon boats arrived, Lee had arrived and fortified the heights. Only a fool would directly assault such a position, and assault it, Burnside did.

Hooker had been supremely confident in his intial planning, but Hooker lost his nerve in the Chancellorsville fight, essentially haulting his own advance and leaving one flank of his army exposed. Lee then had Jackson move off from where Lee's forces were and see if he could find a way to attack that flank. Hooker knew that Lee had divided his army and had sent off Jackson, but he deluded himself into thinking that Jackson was retreating and still refused to at least attack Lee's army in front of him, and had he done so, Lee would have been in trouble. But he didn't and when Jackson struck at Hooker's exposed flank, his position fell apart.

But from then on, the war rapidly turned against Lee. Lee had won by managing to capitalize on his opponent's mistakes, and there were plethora of them, but at Gettysburg, it would be Lee who would make the mistakes against Meade. I believe Viperlord has posted a quote from Lee on Meade in a couple of threads that essentially amounted to, "Meade will do a decent and largely "mistake" free job. And if I make a mistake, he will capitalize on it."...

And Gettysburg was that mistake. He got involved in a major battle with now adequate recon of the terrain. For all Lee knew all 7 Union corps could have been dug in and waiting for him at Gettysburg, and yet he attacked. He lucked out on day one, but knew that he was then caught in tough position. By the end of Day one, he knew the Union was reinforcing and occupied at least Culps and Cemetary Hill in the north. Lee's best course of action would have been to either move back to Cashtown, Pennsylvania, ground he knew better, or to disengage and move south and east, and find high ground between Meade and Lincoln, forcing Meade to potentially make a disastrous mistake.

But he did not. He stayed at Gettysburg and attacked both of Meade's flanks, but the attacks were not simoultaneous and units from Culps Hill to reinforce the southern part of Cemetary Ridge and Little Round Top. The result of this were two heroic actions by Union regiments on either flank. On Little Round Top, Chamberlain's 20th Maine fought off Confederate attacks and managed to hold the line there. In the north, on Culps Hill, a few New York regiments under the command of George Greene. Greene's men managed to hold their positions as well, which could be considered just as big as Chamberlain's actions in the south, given that most of the units intended to help hold Culps Hill were sent south. Lee's last mistake at Gettysburg was Pickett's Charge. After the failed attack, he even admitted it his men, saying, "it is all my fault."

Lee did relatively well against Grant in 1864, but he didn't really ever repeat any of his pre-Gettysburg performances. Cold Harbor was a victory, but it didn't persuad Grant to run back to Washington DC. In addition, Grant took full advantage of the North's superiority in men and manpower and fought his battles in rapid succession. Lee had suffered heavy casualties in his battles, even in his victories, but earlier he was generally given a few months to reconstitute his army. Grant didn't give him that time. And following Lee's misjuding Grant's intentions after Cold Harbor, the Union Army began to lay siege to Peterberg, Virginia. And from there the death of the Army of Northern Virginia began. At that point, the only thing Lee could have done to save his army would be to abandon Richomond and retreat west and hope to find a route south into North Carolina that Grant wouldn't have blocked.

As such, calling Lee the best general of the war and the near "godlike" status that the Lost Cause gave him is wrong. Lee was excellent at winning individual battles. However, Lee's strategy was not particularly careful with the lives of his soldiers because more often then not, he tried attack the Union army. And these actions got men killed and forced him to drain other parts of the Confederacy to keep the Army of Northern Virginia in shape, which isn't the thing you want to have to do against an enemy that outnumbers you, but it happened. And in that since, Lee's strategies won battles, but lost the war.
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Old November 16th, 2012, 09:38 PM   #459

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You might not feel that way after reading Jeffrey Wert's excellent bio.
"General James Longstreet: the South's Most Controversial Soldier"?
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Old November 17th, 2012, 02:36 AM   #460

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Originally Posted by Sam-Nary View Post
It is a good opinion though.

Lee's reputation has largely been inflated by the victories that he won between 1862 and 1863 prior to Gettysburg, and even against Grant, Lee managed to hold his army together and do a decent job of holding on.

But, on close inspection, one finds that Lee was largely a good commander against a lineup of incredibly bad generals and that the praise that has been given to Lee ignores the battles in 1861 that he fought in West Virginia, all of which were defeats.

McClellan ran at every opportunity and believed he was outnumbered in every battle he fought. If you look at the Battles of the Seven Days, you'll find that the Union Army inflicted heavier casualties on Lee's army and during the fighting held its ground, yet McClellan thought himself gravely outnumbered and withdrew. And he withdrew south, abandoning the lines of supply he would need to keep his army near Richmond for long. In that sense, Lee won the battles after McClellan's first retreat of the Battles of the Seven Days. And later at Antietam he refused to commit his reserves and allowed what could have been a decisive victory slip into a marginal Union victory at best, and most consider the battle indecisive.

Pope, while more of a fighting general then McClellan, was a very boastful man who rapidly proved incapable of commanding a large army in the field. He took his forces deep into Virginia where he ran into trouble. His supply lines were raided and Jeb Stuart made off with a large sum of money and Pope's dress coat. Eventually Stonewall Jackson cut off his supply lines forcing Pope to retreat to Manasas Junction, where he left one flank of his army exposed to Confederate counter-attack, which Lee had Longstreet do on day 2 of that battle.

Burnside was never fit to command the Army of the Potomac and there are stories of him being grateful to McClellan for getting him the job in the first place. His plan to occupy Fredericksburg and then advance south toward Richmond was a decent one, but when the War Department failed to provide the pontoon boats for a bridge in time, Burnside needed to change or alter his plans. Either get his infantry across and fortify the heights above Fredericksburg and wait to get the artillery across, or cross elsewhere where he could bring everything at once. Instead, Burnside sat in front of Fredericksburg. By the time the pontoon boats arrived, Lee had arrived and fortified the heights. Only a fool would directly assault such a position, and assault it, Burnside did.

Hooker had been supremely confident in his intial planning, but Hooker lost his nerve in the Chancellorsville fight, essentially haulting his own advance and leaving one flank of his army exposed. Lee then had Jackson move off from where Lee's forces were and see if he could find a way to attack that flank. Hooker knew that Lee had divided his army and had sent off Jackson, but he deluded himself into thinking that Jackson was retreating and still refused to at least attack Lee's army in front of him, and had he done so, Lee would have been in trouble. But he didn't and when Jackson struck at Hooker's exposed flank, his position fell apart.

But from then on, the war rapidly turned against Lee. Lee had won by managing to capitalize on his opponent's mistakes, and there were plethora of them, but at Gettysburg, it would be Lee who would make the mistakes against Meade. I believe Viperlord has posted a quote from Lee on Meade in a couple of threads that essentially amounted to, "Meade will do a decent and largely "mistake" free job. And if I make a mistake, he will capitalize on it."...

And Gettysburg was that mistake. He got involved in a major battle with now adequate recon of the terrain. For all Lee knew all 7 Union corps could have been dug in and waiting for him at Gettysburg, and yet he attacked. He lucked out on day one, but knew that he was then caught in tough position. By the end of Day one, he knew the Union was reinforcing and occupied at least Culps and Cemetary Hill in the north. Lee's best course of action would have been to either move back to Cashtown, Pennsylvania, ground he knew better, or to disengage and move south and east, and find high ground between Meade and Lincoln, forcing Meade to potentially make a disastrous mistake.

But he did not. He stayed at Gettysburg and attacked both of Meade's flanks, but the attacks were not simoultaneous and units from Culps Hill to reinforce the southern part of Cemetary Ridge and Little Round Top. The result of this were two heroic actions by Union regiments on either flank. On Little Round Top, Chamberlain's 20th Maine fought off Confederate attacks and managed to hold the line there. In the north, on Culps Hill, a few New York regiments under the command of George Greene. Greene's men managed to hold their positions as well, which could be considered just as big as Chamberlain's actions in the south, given that most of the units intended to help hold Culps Hill were sent south. Lee's last mistake at Gettysburg was Pickett's Charge. After the failed attack, he even admitted it his men, saying, "it is all my fault."

Lee did relatively well against Grant in 1864, but he didn't really ever repeat any of his pre-Gettysburg performances. Cold Harbor was a victory, but it didn't persuad Grant to run back to Washington DC. In addition, Grant took full advantage of the North's superiority in men and manpower and fought his battles in rapid succession. Lee had suffered heavy casualties in his battles, even in his victories, but earlier he was generally given a few months to reconstitute his army. Grant didn't give him that time. And following Lee's misjuding Grant's intentions after Cold Harbor, the Union Army began to lay siege to Peterberg, Virginia. And from there the death of the Army of Northern Virginia began. At that point, the only thing Lee could have done to save his army would be to abandon Richomond and retreat west and hope to find a route south into North Carolina that Grant wouldn't have blocked.

As such, calling Lee the best general of the war and the near "godlike" status that the Lost Cause gave him is wrong. Lee was excellent at winning individual battles. However, Lee's strategy was not particularly careful with the lives of his soldiers because more often then not, he tried attack the Union army. And these actions got men killed and forced him to drain other parts of the Confederacy to keep the Army of Northern Virginia in shape, which isn't the thing you want to have to do against an enemy that outnumbers you, but it happened. And in that since, Lee's strategies won battles, but lost the war.
Nice post.
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