Confederate failure to make Lee commander of all forces

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,081
Republika Srpska
#61
That is continual problem in these discussion: how to quantify and which adjective best reflects the quantification.
Well, in the case of black Confederate soldiers in 1864, the movement that wanted to recruite blacks for the South existed, but it was widely denounced and portrayed as treasonous.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,074
Dispargum
#62
The best argument for a difference in Confederate strategy would be that at least a unified strategy would be better than no strategy at all. Confederates lurched from offense to defense and back again in the west in particular without all that much rhyme or reason.

Yes, I can see that. What would a unified Confederate strategy look like?

Was Lee any different in Virginia, sometimes on defense (Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville at least strategically) and other times on offense (Antietam [strategically], Gettysburg).
 
Jun 2017
2,891
Connecticut
#63
The OP basically asked if the South would have been better off with Lee making all of the military decisions instead of Davis. To which I replied over several posts that given the South's poor strategic position, ie, too few resources for their stated goal, that neither Lee nor anyone else would have done better than Davis, at least as far as coming up with a war winning strategy.

Yes, we did also mention three controversial decisions by Davis in the west: leaving Bragg too long in command after Murfreesboro, finally replacing Bragg with the unaggressive Johnston, and then replacing Johnston with the overly reckless Hood. But would Lee have made better decisions? Leaving Johnston in command would not have saved Atlanta nor would it have prevented Sherman's March to the Sea. (Johnston would have kept his army intact, but to what end? Johnston wasn't using it to any good purpose. In Johnston's defense, I doubt anyone else would have done better.)
1)I just don't understand how this would work and what be different. In his theater didn't Lee make all the decisions. Why would he have been given direct control of a far away place? Grant was switched after Vicksburg, he did not oversea the entire war. Even if I recall that might have been his title, Sherman basically was in charge in the West(or at this point the South East).

2)Seems like you're talking about choosing the generals rather than oversight. In this case I think most anyone wouldn't have sacked Johnston for Hood, the only really important mistake I see there. Keeping Bragg in after Chickamunga looks terrible until you see alternatives, everyone in the West lost, as hard as Lee's situation was, there's was far worse.

(b)Leaving Johnston in command would not have saved Atlanta. Probably, if Sherman made a mistake though Johnston would be the best one to exploit it. At this point though all that could be done was slowing Sherman down. When Johnston got the army back after the Hood saga his force was nominal enough where Sherman was able to pretend he didn't exist. Sherman moved from North East Georgia to Savannah then up to mid North Carolina in like 9 months? Johnston couldn't do anything meaningful to slow him down and while Atlanta falls no matter what, if Johnston remains in command that whole trek becomes much more slow and difficult and that's because any resistance whatsoever would be. Johnston was slowing Sherman down and did win at Kennesaw Mountain before he was sacked. After he came back his army was less of an army and more of a uniformed group observing another uniformed group. Looking at the 1864 election, and how quick the Northern perception of war changed from attrition to inevitable victory buying a few months was absolutely vital and could have altered history(if the election result changed). I mean the CSA mostly lost in the West for the first two years and the Union had just broken out of Tennessee, while the West was a lost cause the whole way it was taking time. After Hood threw away his army, Sherman basically just ran around on a property damage tour. This is not something that people preoccupied with fighting an opposing force have the time to do(as a means to itself anyway). Savannah's pretty far from Atlanta might be close to as far as the Atlanta was from the Kentucky border(if I'm wrong I'm guessing I don't know just looking at a map looks similar).
 

Code Blue

Ad Honorem
Feb 2015
3,980
Caribbean
#64
Code Blue,
Thanks for explaining how the Democrats in '64 put party above country in time of war.
That's what political parties do. They justify with the cliched rhetoric, which I can see you are familiar with, that their philosophy is best, occupy the moral high ground, and how anyone who doesn't agree with them lacks true patriotism.

I've never understood the appeal of arguments that we should apply 18th century political philosophy to 19th, 20th, and 21st century problems. We're just going to have to agree to disagree on that one.
I most certainly didn't post that. Are you sure the political philosophy to which you refer is not in the Old Testament?

So you think the politicians of the 1850s did a good job?
I don't know how you would draw that from my statement. I can't remember the last time I put the words "politician" and "good job" in the same sentence.

I would not label them "incompetent." I meant them - in particular. That leaves out too many other politicians, who are no less deserving and for the same reasons.
 
Last edited:

Viperlord

Ad Honorem
Aug 2010
8,109
VA
#66
Yes, I can see that. What would a unified Confederate strategy look like?

Was Lee any different in Virginia, sometimes on defense (Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville at least strategically) and other times on offense (Antietam [strategically], Gettysburg).
Lee was at least responding somewhat logically to the conditions in the theater at the time. His supply situation after Second Manassas essentially dictated that he either must fall back, shift west, or go forward, and with the Union seemingly reeling, there was probably no better time to go forward. Allowing the raid to become a battle of potential annihilation when the Union responded more quickly than expected was where he went badly wrong. Having his troops live at the expense of the North for some time made some sense after Chancellorsville as well, though once again, and with less excuse this time, the resiliency of the Northern army was badly underestimated.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,074
Dispargum
#67
1)I just don't understand how this would work and what be different. In his theater didn't Lee make all the decisions. Why would he have been given direct control of a far away place? Grant was switched after Vicksburg, he did not oversea the entire war. Even if I recall that might have been his title, Sherman basically was in charge in the West(or at this point the South East).

2)Seems like you're talking about choosing the generals rather than oversight. In this case I think most anyone wouldn't have sacked Johnston for Hood, the only really important mistake I see there. Keeping Bragg in after Chickamunga looks terrible until you see alternatives, everyone in the West lost, as hard as Lee's situation was, there's was far worse.

(b)Leaving Johnston in command would not have saved Atlanta. Probably, if Sherman made a mistake though Johnston would be the best one to exploit it. At this point though all that could be done was slowing Sherman down. When Johnston got the army back after the Hood saga his force was nominal enough where Sherman was able to pretend he didn't exist. Sherman moved from North East Georgia to Savannah then up to mid North Carolina in like 9 months? Johnston couldn't do anything meaningful to slow him down and while Atlanta falls no matter what, if Johnston remains in command that whole trek becomes much more slow and difficult and that's because any resistance whatsoever would be. Johnston was slowing Sherman down and did win at Kennesaw Mountain before he was sacked. After he came back his army was less of an army and more of a uniformed group observing another uniformed group. Looking at the 1864 election, and how quick the Northern perception of war changed from attrition to inevitable victory buying a few months was absolutely vital and could have altered history(if the election result changed). I mean the CSA mostly lost in the West for the first two years and the Union had just broken out of Tennessee, while the West was a lost cause the whole way it was taking time. After Hood threw away his army, Sherman basically just ran around on a property damage tour. This is not something that people preoccupied with fighting an opposing force have the time to do(as a means to itself anyway). Savannah's pretty far from Atlanta might be close to as far as the Atlanta was from the Kentucky border(if I'm wrong I'm guessing I don't know just looking at a map looks similar).

The North always had someone in command of the entire war effort. Initially it was Winfield Scott. When he retired due to old age he was replaced by McClellan. McClellan was replaced by Halleck. Early in 1864 Grant assumed top command although Halleck remained as chief of staff. I don't think anyone in the South had this authority prior to Lee gaining it near the end of the war. Prior to Lee becoming commander in chief, most of these types of command decisions were made by Davis or his various secretaries of war. Grant did supervise Sherman in 1864 and '65. They coordinated their offensives to begin on the same day. Grant approved Sherman's March to the Sea and the Carolinas Campaign. Grant ordered George Thomas be fired just prior to the Battle of Nashville although his order was disobeyed.

Choosing army commanders like Bragg, Johnston, and Hood was an important part of this position we're discussing as was supervising these generals, discussing and approving their plans, listening to and helping them with problems beyond the army commander's realm of control, etc. If the South wasn't producing enough gunpowder or some other supply, then the commander in chief or the president or the secretary of war would have to deal with that. Recruiting, replacements, reinforcements, senior officer assignments - these were all things a commander in chief had to deal with. But probably the biggest influence a commander in chief has is appointing and firing army commanders.
 
Last edited:

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,074
Dispargum
#68
So we can't criticize the politicians of the 1850s for being just as incompetent as the politicians of every other period?


I think the Incompetent Generation Theory singles out those politicians as being especially bad. And I suppose it's not just politicians but also anyone else who saw the growing sectional crisis and did nothing to stop it.
 

Code Blue

Ad Honorem
Feb 2015
3,980
Caribbean
#69
So we can't criticize the politicians of the 1850s for being just as incompetent as the politicians of every other period?
I didn't post that.


think the Incompetent Generation Theory singles out those politicians as being And I suppose it's not just politicians but also anyone else who saw the growing sectional crisis and did nothing to stop it.especially bad.
Are you referring to Lincoln? :)
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,074
Dispargum
#70
You know, if you post something, and I rephrase it, trying to clarify what you're saying, and you respond, "I didn't post that," it still doesn't clarify your original post.
 

Similar History Discussions