Confederate Redux, with Hindsight

Sep 2013
819
Chattanooga, TN
#41
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.
I just did a google search on it and obtained that information from a multitude of websites. The ships I said that were sunk in the Battle of Mobile Bay were all sunk in Mobile Bay. I just assumed it was during the Battle of Mobile Bay. The point that is germane to this thread is that they were all Union ships sunk by torpedoes. You are probably correct that none of the ships I mentioned was sunk during the actual Battle of Mobile Bay. I was just doing a cursory search

With the addition of the USS Tecumseh, that makes for 9 Union ships that were damaged by Confederate torpedoes during the Civil War, with 8 of the 9 ships sinking.
 
Jan 2009
1,192
#42
I just did a google search on it and obtained that information from a multitude of websites. The ships I said that were sunk in the Battle of Mobile Bay were all sunk in Mobile Bay. I just assumed it was during the Battle of Mobile Bay. The point that is germane to this thread is that they were all Union ships sunk by torpedoes. You are probably correct that none of the ships I mentioned was sunk during the actual Battle of Mobile Bay. I was just doing a cursory search

With the addition of the USS Tecumseh, that makes for 9 Union ships that were damaged by Confederate torpedoes during the Civil War, with 8 of the 9 ships sinking.
Yes, but it changes the context dramatically for the Battle of Mobile Bay: Instead of 1 dud and 6 sinkings, it is 1 sinking and who knows how many duds, with the other 17 ships escaping unscathed.

As for the general efficiency, it is difficult to say since you'd have to look at area denial, the amount of resources spent on making the minefields vs. clearing them, how many ships were sunk by other means and at what cost...

Note that I don't attribute malice on your initial post, but I am quite happy to accept that it was a honest mistake. It happens. :) I just got curious about the absolute slaughter that your initial post claimed, since it didn't match with my memory of what I had read before on Battle of Mobile Bay. So I did some quick Wikipedia checking to see if I really remembered it so wrong, and noticed the discrepancies.
 
Likes: grey fox
Sep 2013
819
Chattanooga, TN
#43
Yes, but it changes the context dramatically for the Battle of Mobile Bay: Instead of 1 dud and 6 sinkings, it is 1 sinking and who knows how many duds, with the other 17 ships escaping unscathed.

As for the general efficiency, it is difficult to say since you'd have to look at area denial, the amount of resources spent on making the minefields vs. clearing them, how many ships were sunk by other means and at what cost...

Note that I don't attribute malice on your initial post, but I am quite happy to accept that it was a honest mistake. It happens. :) I just got curious about the absolute slaughter that your initial post claimed, since it didn't match with my memory of what I had read before on Battle of Mobile Bay. So I did some quick Wikipedia checking to see if I really remembered it so wrong, and noticed the discrepancies.
I agree that your information changes the context dramatically for the Battle of Mobile Bay. Good catch on your part, Whyte.
 
#44
With benefit of hindsight, how could the Confederacy have fought the Civil War more effectively? I think this is a bit of a challenge as the South historically exceeded reasonable expectations IMHO. resources, especially after 1861.

You list many military circumstances, but fundamentally they would have had to outlast the union. Keep the war going for as long as possible, and avoid major military defeats.

Outside of the hardcore abolitionists, the war was far from a popular venture. Indeed, the pressure against Lincoln to end the war with any means was formidable during 1864, and Lincoln actually expected to lose the presidential election on that account.

See for example: https://quod.lib.umich.edu/j/jala/2...ritics-the-copperheads?rgn=main;view=fulltext

Along with some of the measures you’ve mentioned, I suspect that deep strategic withdrawals, guerrilla warfare on the Unions extended supply lines and then striking and possibly encircling the enemy would have been effective.



I don’t know much about confederate espionage, but I suspect the South could also have done more to send intelligence operatives (to the extent that existed then) North in order to fan the flames of dissent.

There were already draft riots in 1863 without much external influence. Imagine if the South had started a campaign of subterfuge among immigrants and other groups likely to be opposed to the war.
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,517
Dispargum
#45
I suspect that deep strategic withdrawals, guerrilla warfare on the Unions extended supply lines and then striking and possibly encircling the enemy would have been effective.

I don’t know much about confederate espionage, but I suspect the South could also have done more to send intelligence operatives (to the extent that existed then) North in order to fan the flames of dissent.

There were already draft riots in 1863 without much external influence. Imagine if the South had started a campaign of subterfuge among immigrants and other groups likely to be opposed to the war.
Care to elaborate on "deep strategic withdrawals?" Where, when, to what aim? When I think of stragtegic withdrawal as a strategy or tactic to turn defeat into victory I think of luring the invader into a trap, like maybe the Russians luring Napoleon deeper and deeper into Russia in 1812. How could the Confederates use withdrawal?

The South did sometimes attack extended Union supply lines, like Beford Forest's and Joe Wheeler's attacks on Sherman's supply line during the Atlanta Campaign. It didn't work then, but maybe it could have worked somewhere else. Do you have a time and place for such an attack on a supply line?

To encircle an enemy usually requires the encircler to have more men than the encircled. Confederate armies rarely outnumbered their Union opponents. One time when the Confederates did have the Union troops cut off was in Chattanooga after Chickamauga. That failed but do you have another opportunity in mind?

Propaganda/subversion is an interesting idea. The South did try to use secret agents in various capacities but the different plans generally didn't work out well.
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
5,887
#46
I don’t know much about confederate espionage, but I suspect the South could also have done more to send intelligence operatives (to the extent that existed then) North in order to fan the flames of dissent.

There were already draft riots in 1863 without much external influence. Imagine if the South had started a campaign of subterfuge among immigrants and other groups likely to be opposed to the war.
What is your basis for assuming that Confederate agents had not much involvement in the NYC and other draft riots at the same time as the Gettysburg Campaign?
 
Sep 2013
819
Chattanooga, TN
#47
I would also like to see statistics and primary sources on the amount of supplies transported across the Mississippi.
You might be able to finally get some statistics and a piece of primary source evidence of this from the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, if you have the attention span to wade through that. I don't have the attention span to plow through the Official Records.

From Terrence Winschel's book Triumph and Defeat: The Vicksburg Campaign Volume 2: "Due to the increased demand for salt caused by the mobilization of troops and the need to feed Confederate armies in the field, the scarcity of this vital commodity quickly grew acute. On December 20, 1862, in a joint address to the Mississippi Legislature, Governor John J. Pettus informed his listeners, who included Jefferson Davis, 'The most pressing want of our people at the present time is the supply of salt.' Less than seven months later, after the fall of Vicksburg, the supply of salt from the mines in Texas and at New Iberia, Louisiana, was cut. (To give you an idea of the quantity of salt that passed through Vicksburg, a single steamer, the T.D. Hine, arrived at the city's docks on January 20, 1863, it carried 248,927 of subsistence stores, of which 107,467 pounds were salt.)….Salt rose dramatically in price and became worth its weight in gold. By 1864, the single largest expenditure of the states of Mississippi and Alabama was for salt to stave off the imminent starvation among the civilian populace. Other states made hefty appropriations for salt, but there was little to be had at any price. Without salt to cure and preserve meat, the beef to feed armies had to be shipped on the hoof. This further taxed the already strained and rapidly deteriorating Confederate transportation system, which ultimately broke under pressure" (pages 172-173 on google books version).

Winschel's source for the entire paragraph I included is the OR Series IV, volume 2 page 250 and volume 24 part 1 page 288.

If one just read the quote from Winschel in parenthesis and nothing else, one could take what Winschel wrote in parenthesis to mean that the steamer T.D. Hines received 107,467 pounds of salt from somewhere east of the Mississippi River. However, based on the context, I'm assuming that Winschel means that the T.D. Hines picked up the 107,467 pounds of salt from somewhere on the west bank of the Mississippi River, and I'm assuming that the 107,467 pounds of salt originally came from salt mines in Texas and Louisiana. I wish that Winschel was more explicit and clear about the origin of the salt on the T.D. Hines.

The ORs are dreadfully boring, and I just cannot bear to read them. However, if you can manage to read through the parts of the OR that I cited, perhaps the ORs mention how much salt the T.D. Hines picked up at Vicksburg and transported to Confederate armies east of the Mississippi RIver.
 
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Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,517
Dispargum
#48
^ That's interesting, but I think all of the various supplies listed in those OR references (I checked both references in the OR) were for Pemberton's army and were not intended to be transported to the eastern theater or anywhere else far removed from the Vicksburg area. I still maintain that Lee's army in Virigina and Johnston's army in Georgia in 1864 did not suffer from being cut off from sources of supply west of the Mississippi. Both of those armies drew their supplies from sources in the eastern Confederate states. The lack of railroads in the Confederacy (and the lack of a standard guage) made it impossible to ship significant quantities of supplies from Texas or Louisianna to Georgia or Virginia. Almost all of the supplies produced in the Trans Mississippi Confederate states were consumed by Confederate armies west of the Mississippi. The one major exception was that Pemberton's army at Vicksburg drew supplies from west of the river until Pemberton was surrounded and cut off by Grant.
 
Likes: grey fox
Sep 2013
819
Chattanooga, TN
#49
^ That's interesting, but I think all of the various supplies listed in those OR references (I checked both references in the OR) were for Pemberton's army and were not intended to be transported to the eastern theater or anywhere else far removed from the Vicksburg area.
Okay.

I still maintain that Lee's army in Virigina and Johnston's army in Georgia in 1864 did not suffer from being cut off from sources of supply west of the Mississippi. Both of those armies drew their supplies from sources in the eastern Confederate states.
So far, it appears you are correct about that.


The lack of railroads in the Confederacy (and the lack of a standard guage) made it impossible to ship significant quantities of supplies from Texas or Louisianna to Georgia or Virginia.
I disagree. I think that the lack of railroads in the Confederacy (and the lack of a standard gaugae) made it difficult (but not impossible) to ship significant quantities of supplies from Texas or Louisiana to GA or VA. They had covered wagons back then. Covered wagons were the semi-trucks of the antebellum South. Antebellum southerners shipped significant quantities of cotton to port via covered wagons. Covered wagons could have been used to ship significant quantites of supplies from Vicksburg to VA, GA, or SC.


Almost all of the supplies produced in the Trans Mississippi Confederate states were consumed by Confederate armies west of the Mississippi. The one major exception was that Pemberton's army at Vicksburg drew supplies from west of the river until Pemberton was surrounded and cut off by Grant.
Well, there's something for the "Trans-Mississippi Region supplies Confederate armies east of the Mississippi River" crowd. That's the only concession we can make to that crowd at this point.

I still am interesting in seeing if I can find any other primary sources that indicate that the Army of TN, the Army of Northern VA, or the Confederate troops in the Confederate Army Department of SC, GA, and FL (think Fort Wagner, Fort Moultrie, James Island, etc.) received significant supplies from west of the Mississippi River.
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,517
Dispargum
#50
I disagree. I think that the lack of railroads in the Confederacy (and the lack of a standard gaugae) made it difficult (but not impossible) to ship significant quantities of supplies from Texas or Louisiana to GA or VA. They had covered wagons back then. Covered wagons were the semi-trucks of the antebellum South. Antebellum southerners shipped significant quantities of cotton to port via covered wagons. Covered wagons could have been used to ship significant quantites of supplies from Vicksburg to VA, GA, or SC.
It's slightly apt that you compare covered wagons to semi-trucks. Then, as now, railroads were much more efficient at moving heavier loads greater distances. This source on page 172 says that an army wagon could carry 10 days of human rations and 10 days of horse rations: https://transportation.army.mil/History/PDF/Peninsula Campaign/Rodney Lackey Article_1.pdf
Actually, the army found mules more efficient than horses. Since the animals ate more than a person, the wagons had to be more than half filled with fodder rather than payload. Maximum speed for an army wagon was about 20 miles per day in flat terrain, less in hilly country. Since the wagons had to carry fodder for a round trip, out and back, that meant that supplies could only be hauled about 100 miles.

The alternative is that the wagons only carry payload and find fodder along the way. That would be a complex system to manage over a thousand miles. Each station along the way, every 20 miles or so, would have to have fodder or the horses would go hungry. If any station along the way ran out of feed the transportation system could break down. I know wagon trains grazed their way across the Great Plains, but they used oxen, not horses or mules. Oxen are slower, only about 10 miles per day, and are not as strong, so they hauled lighter loads. One could be confident of finding grass on the Great Plains. One does not always find a lot of grass in the forests of the east. Armies don't ship supplies in single wagons. They send out trains of dozens, if not hundreds, of wagons. That's a lot of grass to find by the side of the road. I've never read of wagons hauling army supplies much more than 100 miles - usually less.

I have no problem with a plantation sending cotton to market by wagon. The plantation was only a few miles or a few dozen miles from market. It much more difficult to move large bulk cargos over longer distances.
 
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