155 Years Ago - Ewell Earns His Spurs At 2nd Winchester

JPK

Jun 2019
67
Chicago Suburbs
After Stonewall Jackson's death at the battle of Chancellorsville R. E. Lee reorganized his army, converting the existing two-corps structure into three corps. He kept James Longstreet in command of the first corps and placed Richard S. Ewell and A. P. Hill in command of the 2nd and 3rd corps respectively. Ewell and Hill had been very good division commanders and Lee's choice of them to command corps was an easy one. Ewell's performance at the 2nd battle of Winchester would seem to validate Lee's selection of him. Here is a Historynet article on 2nd Winchester.

Second Battle of Winchester: Richard Ewell Takes Command

Only a few weeks after this battle, Ewell's and Hill's shortcomings would be revealed in Pennsylvania.
 
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sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,346
Sydney
there were some murmurs that there was a lot of Virginians at the top
Beauregard was certainly worthy of commanding a corps
some mellifluous persuasion might have to be applied in large amount
he was a prima-dona but then again his talents were not given their dues

Heth was good and ended commanding the third corps
Pender was promising

the confederate command was always pretty punctilious about precedence and ranks
while the federals often had ex-commanders under their previous subordinates
 

JPK

Jun 2019
67
Chicago Suburbs
The most senior Confederate generals were not likely to be selected. Beauregard and Joseph E. Johnston were at the top of Jefferson Davis's **** list and Lee knew this. So they were unlikely to be chosen. D. H. Hill was not Lee's favorite person to say the least. Other Confederate division commanders were George Pickett, John Bell Hood, Lafayette McLaws, Jubal Early, Richard Anderson, Robert Rodes and Edward Johnson. Pender and Heth were newly promoted division commanders and would not have been leap-frogged over senior officers.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,346
Sydney
that's that ...Lee would not have given command to Pickett ,
he had some misgiving about hood temper ,
maybe using him as a battering ram like Hill ?
McLaws temper was doubtful for the opposite reason
he was as slow to get going as Longstreet without the subsequent steadiness
Jubal Early was pretty solid so was Anderson
I quite like Magruder ,
he got a bad rap but honestly the peninsula campaign was a botched affairs by pretty much all the confederate commanders
Jackson performance was shocking
 
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JPK

Jun 2019
67
Chicago Suburbs
that's that ...Lee would not have given command to Pickett ,
he had some misgiving about hood temper ,
maybe using him as a battering ram like Hill ?
McLaws temper was doubtful for the opposite reason
he was as slow to get going as Longstreet without the subsequent steadiness
Jubal Early was pretty solid so was Anderson
I quite like Magruder ,
he got a bad rap but honestly the peninsula campaign was a botched affairs by pretty much all the confederate commanders
Jackson performance was shocking
I believe Longstreet, Anderson and Wade Hampton (Cavalry) were the only non-Virginians ever promoted to Lieutenant-General under Lee. And Anderson and Hampton's promotions were late in the war when attrition had taken its toll. Honestly, I don't think Lee had much choice for corps command in June, 1863.
 
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Chlodio

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Aug 2016
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Heth was good and ended commanding the third corps
Heth was an "accidental" commander of Third Corps, only commanding for the last week of the war after AP Hill was killed on April 2, 1865. Lee was long dissatisfied with Hill and would have replaced him if a better officer had been available. Heth was available but not that better officer that Lee was looking for.

Another possibility at the time of Gettysburg was Isaac Trimble but he had health issues, being not yet recovered from an earlier wound. He accompanied Lee's army to Gettysburg anyway and took command of Pender's division after Pender was killed. Trimble was wounded and captured during Pickett's Charge. He was not released until after the war. Trimble was hard to like and probably would not have been promoted to corps command even if healthy.

In May 1863, the only alternatives to AP Hill and Ewell were Early and Dick Anderson. If Lee had promoted Early over Ewell, that would have created problems as Ewell had previously commanded Early. Anderson coming out of First Corps was also less suitable than Hill and Ewell who were familiar to the troops they would command.
 
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Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
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Let me pose a question. Jackson was a notoriously bad teacher at VMI, but a surprising number of his subordinates rose to become corps commanders: AP Hill, DH Hill, Ewell, Early, and Gordon. Robert Rodes was also highly esteemed and may have commanded a corps if he had lived long enough. By comparison, First Corps produced only Hood and Anderson. If we don't count Heth, Third Corps produced no corps commanders at all. Was Jackson a better teacher in the field than in the classroom or is there some other explanation for why Second Corps produced so many good officers?
 
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