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Old November 18th, 2012, 09:22 AM   #491

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Most of the sources I've seen with regard to Lee have generally hailed him as the south's best commander because of his battlefield victories between 1862-1863. The one source I've found that has argued that Lee wasn't was Bevin Alexander's "How the South Could Have Won the Civil War." In that he largely makes the argument for Stonewall Jackson for pushing for a massive attack directly following First Bull Run when the Union Army in the east was essentially in shambles, and then doing to the north what Sherman did to Georgia and the Carolinas later in the war...

After that, Alexander makes the argument that Jackson began to turn to more defensive tactics to try and secure a crushing victory on the same scale as First Bull Run, and from what I could gather from the book, mirroring the Second Bull Run battle. However, Jackson found himself at odds with both Lee, who favored attacking the Union army and Davis who advocated a purely defensive strategy until Britain and/or France came to the South's rescue.

Davis's strategy failed following the Emancipation Proclamation when neither Britain nor France decided to challenge their local abolitionist lobbies (or France wasn't going to act without British support)... and that left the clash between Lee and Jackson, which Lee ultimately won when Jackson was wounded at Chancellorsville.

The book does a good job critiqueing the strategic situation the South was in during the war, but in discussion with other people here, primarily Viperlord, I'd think that Alexander's speculation on what would have happened had Jackson gotten what he wanted after 1st Bull Run would have been tough. The Confederate Army was just as green as the Union army was in that battle, and it's only the good forturne for the South that the Northern army broke first.

But I've never seen anything that would suggest that Jubal Early was better then Lee.
That was kind of my point, if poorly made.
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Old November 18th, 2012, 09:31 AM   #492

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How much of a loss did Lee suffer when Jackson was killed? Do you think that the absence of Jackson contributed to the disaster at Gettysburg?
That's overstated in my view. Jackson clearly had his moments, but to assume that Jackson at Gettysburg would have been the decisive Jackson of the valley or Chancellorsville and not the questionable Jackson of the Seven Days is by no means assured. Moreover, Jackson's replacement (Ewell), also got an undeserved bad rap at the hands of Early for his supposed lack of aggressive spirit at Gettysburg.
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Old November 18th, 2012, 09:34 AM   #493

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I don't particularly like 'what ifs' but I will respond like this.
Based on Stonewall's history I would have to say the first day

he would have owned Cemetery Hill.
Do you mean the Jackson that performed so poorly at the Seven Days?
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Old November 18th, 2012, 09:47 AM   #494

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Do you mean the Jackson that performed so poorly at the Seven Days?
No. I meant these battles.
Chancellorsville, Second Manassas, Shenandoah Valley,
Ceder Mountain, and the first trip to the North, Antietam.
The capture of a 10,000 man army at Harpers Ferry.

A little more than 1 failure.
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Old November 18th, 2012, 10:15 AM   #495

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I don't particularly like 'what ifs' but I will respond like this.
Based on Stonewall's history I would have to say the first day

he would have owned Cemetery Hill.
Jackson certainly had more practice than Ewell in dealing with vague, contradictory orders from Lee, but he also could be singularly unaggressive at times, such as the Seven Days Battles. AP Hill flatly declined to attack the Union position saying "...my own two divisions exhausted by some six hours' hard fighting, prudence led me to be content with what had been gained, and not push forward troops exhausted and necessarily disordered, probably to encounter fresh troops of the enemy."

Lee's official report says "The enemy was driven through Gettysburg with heavy loss, including about 5,000 prisoners and several pieces of artillery. He retired to a high range of hills south and east of the town. The attack was not pressed that afternoon, the enemy's force being unknown, and it being considered advisable to await the arrival of the rest of our troops."
Lee's order to Ewell reflected that uncertainty. Ewell was still willing to to attack if supported by Hill. Hill declined and Lee did not order him to support Ewell.

Ewell's report says "The enemy had fallen back to a commanding position known as Cemetery Hill, south of Gettysburg, and quickly showed a formidable front there. On entering the town, I received a message from the commanding general to attack this hill, if I could do so to advantage. I could not bring artillery to bear on it, and all the troops with me were jaded by twelve hours' marching and fighting, and I was notified that General Johnson's division (the only one of my corps that had not been engaged) was close to the town. " Ewell planned to attack once Johnson's troops arrived, but "Before Johnson got up, the enemy was reported moving to outflank our extreme left, and I could see that seemed to be his skirmishers in that direction. Before this report could be investigated by Lieut. T. T. Turner, aide-de-camp of my staff, and Lieut. Robert D. Early, sent for that purpose, and Johnson placed in position, the night was far advanced."

This was a false alarm, but without cavalry to screen his flanks, Ewell was further delayed investigating it. The next delay came from Lee himself. Ewell reported "I received orders soon after dark to draw my corps to the right, in case it could not be used to advantage where it was; that the commanding general thought from the nature of the ground that the position for attack was a good one on that side. I represented to the commanding general that the hill above referred to was unoccupied by the enemy, as reported by Lieutenants Turner and Early, who had gone upon it, and that it commanded their position and made it untenable, so far as I could judge. He decided to let me remain, and on my return to my headquarters, after 12 o'clock at night, I sent orders to Johnson by Lieut. T. T. Turner, aide-de-camp, to take possession of this hill, if he had not already done so."

Ewell seems to have placed far more importance on taking the hill than Lee did.
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Old November 18th, 2012, 10:54 AM   #496

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Dunno......Sounds like a conflict of interest at best. To be clear, I do believe that Longtreet got a raw deal at the hands of Jubal Early and the Lost Causers, but I won't lie-this event is troubling to me.

As to serving under Grant, I don't think the info came out until Wert uncovered it 150 years later.
I would have thought that a lot of that would have been more "out there" given that Early and Lost Causers attacked Longstreet for it... in addition to the charges that he wasn't "enthusiastic" about Lee's strategies at Gettysburg.

Which I ultimately find as odd. The Lost Causers attack Longstreet for reconciling with the North after the Civil War and glorify Lee... yet one could argue that Lee did almost as much to reconcile the North and South, the very thing that they attacked Longstreet for.
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Old November 18th, 2012, 11:35 AM   #497

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No. I meant these battles.
Chancellorsville, Second Manassas, Shenandoah Valley,
Ceder Mountain, and the first trip to the North, Antietam.
The capture of a 10,000 man army at Harpers Ferry.

A little more than 1 failure.
But it's a significant failure. The point is that Jackson was inconsistent. You can not assume that he would have been "on" at Gettysburg. Moreover, if you look at Jackson's greatest victories they were victories of movement. There was no significant movement at Gettysburg. It was an old-fashioned meat-grinder. Having Jackson would not have been decisive for Lee at Gettysburg.
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Old November 18th, 2012, 11:41 AM   #498

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I would have thought that a lot of that would have been more "out there" given that Early and Lost Causers attacked Longstreet for it... in addition to the charges that he wasn't "enthusiastic" about Lee's strategies at Gettysburg.

Which I ultimately find as odd. The Lost Causers attack Longstreet for reconciling with the North after the Civil War and glorify Lee... yet one could argue that Lee did almost as much to reconcile the North and South, the very thing that they attacked Longstreet for.
Longstreet wasn't the only one who was a target of the Lost Causers. Both Ewell and Stuart took largely undeserved flak, after the war. If the Lost Causers don't have a demi-god in the form of Marse Robert, their whole position is dramatically eroded.
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Old November 18th, 2012, 11:49 AM   #499

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Which I ultimately find as odd. The Lost Causers attack Longstreet for reconciling with the North after the Civil War and glorify Lee... yet one could argue that Lee did almost as much to reconcile the North and South, the very thing that they attacked Longstreet for.
I think Lee did a lot more to reconcile the North and South than Longstreet did. The difference is that unlike Lee, Longstreet became a Republican, and that didn't go over well with the Confederate crowd at all. Lee did the almost impossible tightrope walk of promoting reconciliation without being percieved as "selling out". I shudder to think where our country might be today if he hadn't.

Last edited by Rongo; November 18th, 2012 at 11:54 AM.
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Old November 18th, 2012, 12:05 PM   #500

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But it's a significant failure. The point is that Jackson was inconsistent. You can not assume that he would have been "on" at Gettysburg. Moreover, if you look at Jackson's greatest victories they were victories of movement. There was no significant movement at Gettysburg. It was an old-fashioned meat-grinder. Having Jackson would not have been decisive for Lee at Gettysburg.
In addition, once at Manasas Junction at Second Bull Run/Mansas Jackson's fight was entirely defensive. The movement there was done by Longstreet. Following the Second Manasas strategy would have required Meade to attack Lee, which didn't happen at Gettysburg and gave the Union the advantage in the "meat grinder" fight.

To follw the Second Bull Run/Manasas strategy would have required the South to disengage, which Lee was determined not to do at Gettysburg. Most sources I've seen make the mention that Longstreet argued extensively with Lee to adopt that sort of strategy and disengage from Meade and move elsewhere... but Lee was firm, and Longstreet ultimately caved and carried out Lee's orders.
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