Confederate Redux, with Hindsight

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,517
Dispargum
#31
Pemberton and Johnston should have combined and used the tactical advantage of defense to make Grant's army pay dearly for every inch of ground between the Pemberton-Johnston Army and Vicksburg.
The way I envision that campaign would see Grant besiege the small garrison of Vicksburg. Pemberton and Johnston, based on the city of Jackson, would then attack Grant's rear in an attempt to force Grant to abandon the Vicksburg siege. Grant would have to be defeated and driven off or he would just continue or resume his siege operations. That means that Pemberton and Johnston would have to attack.

Why was Joseph Johnson's army in Jackson, Mississippi instead of combining with Pemberton?
Johnston only arrived in Mississippi after Grant had begun his campaign, crossing the Mississippi down stream from Vicksburg. Pemberton had always been in the Vicksburg area. Grant stole a march on Pemberton and got himself between Pemberton and Johnston about the time that Johnston arrived at Jackson. From this point it would have been difficult for Pemberton to unite with Johnston with Grant between them, but it probably could have been done, if Pemberton had the drive, the motivation, and the imagination to do so.

The real problem is that Pemberton had received contradictory orders. President Davis told Pemberton to hold onto Vicksburg and not abandon it. Johnston told Pemberton to abandon Vicksburg and keep his army intact. Pemberton chose to follow Davis' orders and proceded to get himself trapped in Vicksburg.

This plan to unify Pemberton and Johnston still has problems as Grant began the campaign with 44,000 men and would later be reinforced by 30,000 additional men. Johnston and Pemberton combined only had about 36,000 men so they would need reinforcements or a lucky break that let them engage only part of Grant's army. Johnston's force received about 25,000 reinforcements although many probably did not arrive before Grant's reinforcements in early June. Still, it would be a race against time for Johnston to assemble enough troops to outnumber Grant before Grant was reinforced. There were about 10,000 Confederates in Arkansas and Louisiana, but the Union controlled the river. Crossing over to Mississippi would have been difficult.
 
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royal744

Ad Honorem
Jul 2013
9,953
San Antonio, Tx
#32
Chlodio, in my post #11, I should not have said that I know that you think that the Confederacy did not have a chance to win the Civil War. I don't know that you think that the Confederacy had no chance whatsoever to win the Civil War. To me, your first post on my thread "Did the South have a chance to win the Civil War" back in 2016 implied that you don't think that the Confederacy had a chance to win the Civil War, but I've never seen you explicitly and unequivocally state that the Confederacy had no chance to win the Civil War. I'd like to pin down your opinion.
I'm not interested in if the South could have won the Civil War if the South did things differently long before southern secession because it just totally changes the situation. It's not meaningful. If you change the situation at the outset of a war enough, any country that has lost a war could have won any war.
Chlodio, given the situation when the Confederacy was formed in February 1861, and if the Confederacy did all the ideas you posit in the OP, do you think that the Confederacy had any chance to win the Civil War?
Short answer: NO
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
5,887
#33
Lee had good general in Virginia. I don't know if we should blame Lee for sending the bad ones west or blame someone else for giving them other jobs. They needed to do something with inneffective generals other than transferring them to similar commands. The Confederates were rebels and could not afford that. The Union had effective commanders in most key positions late in the war.

A more defensive strategy was appropriate. Lee's invasions of Maryland and Pennsylvania were disasters, and could have been worse disasters. Hood's invasion of Tennessee was much worse. Just retreating and not fighting much like Joseph Johnston was not the answer. Some tactical aggression with an overall defensive approach would have been better.

The Confederacy did many things right and it could have been much worse. It also was possible for the Confederacy to win or atleast acheive independence on some terms. Once the Union started freeing slaves and destroying everything, it was difficult for the Confederacy though.
 
Sep 2013
819
Chattanooga, TN
#34
Confederate General Polk's breaking Kentucky neutrality was another huge Confederate mistake in the Civil War. KY was a good buffer zone between the USA and the CSA before Polk broke KY neutrality. If Polk had not broke KY neutrality, the CSA would not have had to defend so much territory. It would have freed up a lot of Confederate troops to be deployed elsewhere.
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,517
Dispargum
#35
Confederate General Polk's breaking Kentucky neutrality was another huge Confederate mistake in the Civil War. KY was a good buffer zone between the USA and the CSA before Polk broke KY neutrality. If Polk had not broke KY neutrality, the CSA would not have had to defend so much territory. It would have freed up a lot of Confederate troops to be deployed elsewhere.
This is a good one. The Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers were too good of an invasion route for Grant to pass up for long, but Polk could have delayed Grant's invasion of Tennessee by a few months, maybe more, and that would be time to spend improving Fts. Henry and Donelson. So long as there was a Union army gathering north of the Ohio there would have to be a Confederate Army in Tennessee to keep an eye on that Union army, but there was no advantage to be gained by Polk invading Kentucky.
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
5,887
#36
The invasion of Kentucky caused Unionists to win the 1862 elections in Kentucky. You are right, the Union would have invaded anyway, but the Confederate invasion was a clear political mistake.

Polk was a bad general, but presumably Bragg, Secretary of War Randolph, and Davis must have approved it. I have no idea whose idea it was of who really made the decision, but I doubt Polk was the main person behind it.
 
Sep 2013
819
Chattanooga, TN
#37
Mines are interesting. I haven't given much thought to them. I suspect there may have been technical reasons why the Confederates did not make more of them. They must have used a lot of gunpowder. Considering that one must sow dozens, if not hundreds, of mines just to sink one ship, I don't know if the South had enough gunpowder to make enough mines. I think there were also some problems with getting them to explode, most famously at Mobile Bay.
I researched this today. I am the person who first started using the words mines to describe the underwater explosives used in the Civil War. I had forgotten that they were called torpedoes during the Civil War, so I will be using the word torpedoes to describe them from now on. You say that there were problems getting torpedoes to explode at Mobile Bay. Mobile Bay is probably where the Confederacy had the most success with torpedoes. At the Battle of Mobile Bay, Confederate torpedoes sunk the USS Milwaukee, the USS Osage, the USS Rodolph, the USS Ida, the USS Sciota, and the USS Rose. That's a fair amount of success, IMO. Perhaps the Confederates should have used the torpedoes more frequently during the Civil War.
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,517
Dispargum
#38
I researched this today. I am the person who first started using the words mines to describe the underwater explosives used in the Civil War. I had forgotten that they were called torpedoes during the Civil War, so I will be using the word torpedoes to describe them from now on. You say that there were problems getting torpedoes to explode at Mobile Bay. Mobile Bay is probably where the Confederacy had the most success with torpedoes. At the Battle of Mobile Bay, Confederate torpedoes sunk the USS Milwaukee, the USS Osage, the USS Rodolph, the USS Ida, the USS Sciota, and the USS Rose. That's a fair amount of success, IMO. Perhaps the Confederates should have used the torpedoes more frequently during the Civil War.
Six ships is a lot of success for torpedoes. The only thing I recall about Mobile Bay is that Faragut said, "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!" Then his flagship hit a torpedo that did not explode and everyone seemed to relax after that. If there was only one dud and at least six live ones, then I guess most torpedoes worked.
 
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Sep 2013
819
Chattanooga, TN
#39
Six ships is a lot of success for torpedoes. The only thing I recall about Mobile Bay is that Faragut said, "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!" Then his flagship hit a torpedo that did not explode and everyone seemed to relax after that. If there was only one dud and at least six live ones, then I guess most torpedoes worked.
Yes, I agree that this suggests (without conclusively proving) that most torpedoes worked. I wish I knew how much money the Confederacy spent on torpedoes and how that compares to their expenses on other things such as ironclads, artillery, etc. The Confederacy would have had to have spent quite a lot of money on torpedoes for the expense not to have been worthwhile.

In the Siege of Savannah, the USS Montauk had a torpedo explode underneath her, but the torpedo only damaged the USS Montauk without sinking her.

The USS Patapsco was sunk by a torpedo during the Siege of Savannah.

Counting the USS Cairo, that makes 8 Union ( all ironclad, I believe) ships that we know of that were damaged by Confederate torpedoes, with 7 of the 8 ships sinking.
 
Last edited:
Jan 2009
1,192
#40
At the Battle of Mobile Bay, Confederate torpedoes sunk the USS Milwaukee, the USS Osage, the USS Rodolph, the USS Ida, the USS Sciota, and the USS Rose.
What is your source on that? I am asking since Wikipedia is badly wrong if you are right; it lists only one sunk ship: monitor Tecumseh, which is missing from your list. Also, I don't see ANY of the ships you list in the Union order of battle (for August 5th, 1864):
Mobile Bay order of battle - Wikipedia

USS Sciota was a gunboat, not an ironclad, and while she was destroyed by a torpedo in Mobile Bay, this was in January 1865, not during the Battle. She had been assigned to clear the torpedoes: USS Sciota (1861) - Wikipedia

USS Osage was sunk in the Battle of Spanish Fort in March 29th, 1865 (still Mobile Bay, but a separate battle). She was an ironclad monitor, though: USS Osage (1863) - Wikipedia

I suspect the same is true for the other ships (conflating separate incidents), although I didn't take the time to check them.
 
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