Did any career officers make strong political statements at the beginning of the Civil War?

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
5,500
#1
General Lee publicly stated he would defend his state. General Thomas said he was bound by his oath to stay with the Union. It seems like they were purposefully avoiding discussing which side they favored. Perhaps, there wasn't much strong sentiment for either side in Virginia at the beginning of the war.

Obviously some southern politicians expressed strong secessionist views and became Confederate officers. I wonder if any career officers made strong statements making clear their political views.
 

Kotromanic

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
4,199
Iowa USA
#2
The army was very small, wasn't it?

Aside from R E Lee, which of the most discussed 25 Civil War generals were active duty during Dec '60 - Mar '61?

I believe one answer will be George Pickett. Who else?
 
Jul 2011
5,500
#3
Both Generals Johnston, JEB Stuart, Beauregard, and McDowell were all in the Army at the start of the war. It would be interesting to see what the chain of command looked like in 1860. I think quite a few of the big names were, and also some of the best officers like Scott and Lee were kept on. There may have been a high percentage of southern and Virginia officers in the top ranks before the war.

I guess rather than in the Army at the start of the war, West Point graduates who were not politicians. Did any of them make strong political statements?
 
Dec 2011
4,199
Iowa USA
#4
Both Generals Johnston, JEB Stuart, Beauregard, and McDowell were all in the Army at the start of the war. It would be interesting to see what the chain of command looked like in 1860. I think quite a few of the big names were, and also some of the best officers like Scott and Lee were kept on. There may have been a high percentage of southern and Virginia officers in the top ranks before the war.

I guess rather than in the Army at the start of the war, West Point graduates who were not politicians. Did any of them make strong political statements?
Sherman's prediction that the North would not turn away from the task of winning the war, considering his future role, would be one of the notable statements.
 
Dec 2011
4,199
Iowa USA
#5
Now, George McClellan had separated from the army before 1860, is that right?

Of the above officers I think betgo refers to Sidney Johnston, who had experience fighting on the challenging terrain of the Far West high desert, rather than the Johnston who surrendered in 1865?
 
Aug 2016
3,061
Dispargum
#6
Several Union generals, George McClellan comes to mind, were Democrats and resisted Lincoln's radical policies. They believed the war should not be about slavery. They were willing to fight for union but not abolition. Halleck was another. Sherman was no abolitionist. I'm not sure how vocal they were. Halleck and Sherman may have been smart enough to mostly keep quiet about their views.

On the other hand there were a few Republicans and abolitionists in the general ranks. John C. Fremont tried to expand the war into abolition at a time when Lincoln had to tread carefully. Lincoln ended up overruling and eventually firing Fremont.

Yes, McClellan had left the army circa 1856 but was commissioned a general already in 1861.
 
Likes: Kotromanic
Dec 2011
4,199
Iowa USA
#8
I said both Johnstons were in the Army at the start of the war.
I was confused since the sentence began with the word "both" there, thanks for letting me know that.

Interesting how Meade, Sherman and Grant -- arguably the three most responsible leaders of the winning phase of the war (recalling Meade never resigned as Cmdr of AoP) -- had taken career paths far from their military service, and especially "poor Sam Grant", during the crisis months when secession proceeded?
 
Jul 2011
5,500
#9
I was confused since the sentence began with the word "both" there, thanks for letting me know that.

Interesting how Meade, Sherman and Grant -- arguably the three most responsible leaders of the winning phase of the war (recalling Meade never resigned as Cmdr of AoP) -- had taken career paths far from their military service, and especially "poor Sam Grant", during the crisis months when secession proceeded?

I said "Both Johnstons". I will try to be more clear.

Sherman was superintendent of a military academy. Jackson was teaching military tactics at VMI.

Polk was a West Point graduate and Episcopal bishop. Davis has been criticized for giving him such an important command. However, as pointed out, he was not alone in pursuing another career. It is possible though that he wasn't suited to the military and that is why he went in a different direction.