Who was the greatest general of the American Civil War? Who do you admire most as a general, and who do you admire most overall?

Oct 2015
736
Virginia
#2
Grant. He destroyed/captured three enemy armies (Ft Donelson, Vicksburg, Appomatox). As a military commander, only Bonaparte was greater; and Moltke, Wellesley, Thomas and Lee (maybe Winfield Scott?) were comparable in the entire 19th century.

Lee matched Grant in operational skill and exceeded him leadership, but limited strength prevented Lee from destroying opposing armies (which, after all, is the function of an army commander) at Seven Days, Second Manassas, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. Though that was always his objective. I think Nelson said "Only numbers can annihilate."
 
Last edited:
Oct 2017
79
South Australia
#3
Grant. He destroyed/captured three enemy armies (Ft Donelson, Vicksburg, Appomatox). As a military commander, only Bonaparte was greater; and Moltke, Wellesley, Thomas and Lee (maybe Winfield Scott?) were comparable in the entire 19th century.

Lee matched Grant in operational skill and exceeded him leadership, but limited strength prevented Lee from destroying opposing armies (which, after all, is the function of an army commander) at Seven Days, Second Manassas, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. Though that was always his objective. I think Nelson said "Only numbers can annihilate."
Pretty fair argument. What are your thoughts on Stonewall Jackson, and Sherman?
 
Oct 2015
736
Virginia
#5
Jackson carried out several spectacular maneuvers (Shenendoah Valley, Second Manassas, Chancellorsville). These made him the most famous soldier on the continent. He never was driven from a position he was defending, and struck a powerful blow at Chancellorsville. But he was apparently not a particularly skilled tactician (Cedar Mtn et al) and what happened to him in the Seven Days campaign?

Sherman was an able commander I guess, but he didn't like to fight battles. He preferred marching thru the country tearing up railroads and taking geographic objectives (Meridian, Atlanta, Savannah). Which was just as well because he was not very successful in the battles he did fight (Chickasaw Bluffs, Chattanooga(!), Kennesaw, Pickett's Mill) and left others to his subordinates (Bald Hill, Peachtree Creek, Ezra Church, Jonesboro). (My humble opinion!) Most praise him for the Atlanta Campaign, the March to the Sea, and the winter march thru the Carolinas..ok, they were remarkable marches, but do raids win wars? He either didn't see or ignored several golden opportunities to "break up" the rebel army of Tennessee from Snake Creek Gap to Jonesboro...which was what he had been ordered to do. Instead, he ignored Thomas' advice, got restless and set out for salt water, leaving the job of "breaking up" Hood's army to Thomas.

For my money (and for what it's worth) Thomas was third in ability after Grant and Lee. He crushed two rebel armies (Mill Creek, Nashville), saved the Army of the Cumberland twice (Chickamauga, Stones River), and rescued Grant's reputation at Chattanooga. He may have seemed "slow" but when he hit he hit hard and when and where it counted.
 
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Oct 2016
1,079
Merryland
#7
Robert E. Lee. did more with less
Thomas J. 'Stonewall' Jackson.
U.S. Grant. highly underrated as a tactician.
Sherman, Thomas and Meade all won battles and did well.
Beauregard and Joseph Johnston also did well for the rebels.
 
Jan 2018
182
San Antonio
#8
Grant. Then Sherman. Sherman was an able department commander who brought energy and drive to the job and could afford his missteps.

As army commanders go I rate Thomas, Sheridan, Meade, Ord and Howard highly. And Lee.

Corps commanders? I think Longstreet was the best. Sherman, McPherson, Thomas, Logan and Blair were excellent corps commanders as was the last bunch in the east after Grant, Sheridan and Ord finally had things tuned up—Humphreys, Parke, Wright, Griffin, Gibbon and Weitzel.
 

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