Why was the American Civil War badly commanded on both sides?

Aug 2016
977
US&A
I have heard some people saying that the civil war was generally badly led. I am curious why that is. It seems like the war was, technologically speaking, more or less a prelude to the conditions of World War 1. I mean in terms of how difficult and bloody attacking was.

If the war was badly fought, how could the generals who fought it have changed their methods?
 
May 2019
180
Salt Lake City, Utah
The Mass of Military application changed because of command and control.

The technology of railroads, telegraphy, weapons, munitions and the Mass of Numbers changed everything.

Commanding a 5,000 man army without all of those changes was one thing.

Commanding armies of 25,000 to 125,000 in the field with all of the new changes was something different than one's grandfather commanding a corps in the Napoleonic Wars.
 
Jun 2017
2,969
Connecticut
I have heard some people saying that the civil war was generally badly led. I am curious why that is. It seems like the war was, technologically speaking, more or less a prelude to the conditions of World War 1. I mean in terms of how difficult and bloody attacking was.

If the war was badly fought, how could the generals who fought it have changed their methods?
It wasn't without the very notable exception of General Hood, the CSA was commanded very well. Might be the only reason the war lasted as well as it did.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,492
The US Army had no real experience in warfare. It was a very small Army. Form it two very large armies were created very quickly. Lacking enough trained officers. Those few officers they had were trained in a very small army with no experience in commanding, organizing , moving let alone fighting very large armies. A army without experience fighting against a technological equivalent enemy, whose hoistory was fighting small scale colonial wars. Add the heavily layer of politics of a civil war,
 
May 2019
180
Salt Lake City, Utah
The CSA took time to come up to speed in the East and never really did, except for Bragg when he was not quarreling with his subordinates, in the West.
 
Sep 2018
25
michigan
As others have said the Union and Confederate armies both had some very capable generals, with Grant being one of the greatest generals of all time(in my opinion). Many of the generals in the Civil war had glaring weaknesses but also had moments of competence and even flashes of insight. The main reasons why the war is seen as so sluggish is that it was one of the first wars fought using modern technology causing considerable learning curves for many leaders, the fact that the South was inclined to hold defensively and hope for foreign assistance early in the war and political change within the North later in the war. The war also got off to a slow start due to some very poor command organization in the war with McClellan never being forced to push and Halleck ( a considerable thorn in Grant's side) dragging their feet as well as internal squabbles over control influencing some fronts on the Northern side. Even later on Grant was saddled with some people due to mostly political reasons. In conclusion the war was not poorly generalled with some great feats being done by both sides, but the fact that the type of war, relative newness of the type of war, obstinacy of the South, and political military consideration elongated the war.