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Who would have been the best commander for the army of the potomac? - General Civil War Talk - Civil War Talk - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
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 Posted: Sat Feb 13th, 2010 05:20 am
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csamillerp
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Lets say you were in the position of A. Lincoln, you need to find a commander that will organize and use the federal forces the best. who would you choose?



 Posted: Sat Feb 13th, 2010 05:22 am
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susansweet3
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Grant of course



 Posted: Sat Feb 13th, 2010 05:30 am
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fedreb
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U S Grant



 Posted: Sat Feb 13th, 2010 05:59 am
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csamillerp
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why grant? i would choose hancock, he knew how to inspire his troops and make decisive decisions. his performance in every conflict was amazing. i have always wondered why he was never promoted to army command. at antietam he was promoted from brigadier general to division commander and took on that command very well for the circumstances.



 Posted: Sat Feb 13th, 2010 09:27 pm
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j harold 587
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I would also vote for Hancock. I may be wrong, but I think he turned it down. I am not at home and can not consult my resources. Also remember Vicksburg had not capitulated yet. So Grant had not caputured the press or a lot of recognitation yet.  



 Posted: Sat Feb 13th, 2010 10:06 pm
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fedreb
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Vicksburg had not capitulated when? I can't see a time scale in the question.
Hancock was indeed a great general and corps commander but I don't think he was ever offered command of the AoP although I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong on that.
Grant was a winner simply because he wouldn't ever accept defeat, not after the first day at Shiloh, not after all the setbacks in the Vicksburg campaign or in the Wilderness or the rest of the Overland campaign he just wanted to end it at whatever cost, and I don't deny it was at great cost.



 Posted: Sat Feb 13th, 2010 10:33 pm
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csamillerp
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i think if given the chance Hancock would have  achieved the same things as grant but with less casualties



 Posted: Sun Feb 14th, 2010 01:05 am
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Doc C
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Hancock was a great corps commander, however the war and his Gettysburg wound seemed to dull his fighting spirit. By the end of the overland campaign I believe he had lost some of his edge. Turned down the AOP command the spring of 1863 because Lincoln/Halleck wouldn't give him absolute command.

Doc C



 Posted: Sun Feb 14th, 2010 01:07 am
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Doc C
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In addition, I don't think Hancock would have continued with a flanking move after the wilderness as Grant did.

Doc C



 Posted: Sun Feb 14th, 2010 04:32 am
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csamillerp
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i just love to think about things like that, how different the war may have been if lee had taken the offer to command the federal troops in the beginning of the war... or Hancock taking command before  gettysburg. i would still say he would have been the best commander



 Posted: Sun Feb 14th, 2010 08:51 pm
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Old Blu
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IF, General Couch had been given the AOP after Hooker had his bell rung at Chancellorsville, the Civil War would have been over in 1863 and there wouldn't be a need for any other General after that.



 Posted: Sun Feb 14th, 2010 09:27 pm
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ole
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Couch? I'd like to see some expansion on that proposal.

Ole



 Posted: Sun Feb 14th, 2010 10:55 pm
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Old Blu
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There was a huge Union army on the field with plenty of Generals that wanted to go after Lee and Hooker was in a retreat frame of mind. 

Hooker had relinquished Command to Couch, who was willing to take it, then Hooker gave him another order taking the command of the army back.

All the Corp Generals were trying to get Couch to go ahead and give the orders to advance on Lee and he wouldn't do it.

I believe if there had been a change of command, Lee would have been defeated and I dare say the war would be over.

I draw this conclusion based on the book by Ernest Fergurson's Chancellorsville



 Posted: Sun Feb 14th, 2010 11:42 pm
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Barlow
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George Thomas with Buford second in command and Sheridan in charge of the cavelry



 Posted: Sun Feb 14th, 2010 11:53 pm
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pamc153PA
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Huh, I never thought about Couch, Blu. Makes me want to go back to my copy of Ferguson's Chancellorsville. Don't know that I agree, but it makes for an interesting concept.

I would say Grant, but I am thinking of the Grant after Henry and Donelson, and not right afterwards. He had to prove and build on his reputation in order for Lincoln to hand him the reins. And I think Lincoln had to go through the succession of less effective leaders (don't need to list them--my fingers are already tired) to get to that exact point where he found the right man for the job, that man was ready to take the job, and the war was at the exact right spot for the two things to happen. Now, if you could have the Grant of 1864 at the start of the war, Lincoln would have been a fool to not choose him. Hindsight is always 20/20, though, and we'd have a lot less to discuss here on the board!

I think Hancock was offered the job, j harold, and did turn it down. So did Reynolds, who I would have liked to see take the AoP, but both men wanted to run things themselves using their military experience, not have politics involved a.k.a. Lincoln. Can't say I fault them for it. And I'm not faulting Lincoln for it, either; he had to find the man he knew could do the job reliably. That, as it turns out, was Grant.

Pam



 Posted: Mon Feb 15th, 2010 12:03 am
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ole
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Winging it again, but Couch refused, after Chancellorsville, to ever serve again under Hooker. So he was given the plum assignment of watching over the Pennsylvania district.

Seems he did some good service in the Penninsula Campaign, and in the Maryland Campaign. Other than those, I don't recollect where, other than seniority, he demonstrated any particular ability to run the Army of the Potomac.

Ole



 Posted: Mon Feb 15th, 2010 12:09 am
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csamillerp
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just something to think about but what would have happened if grant would have fought lee in '62 or early '63?  When Grant first took command of the aop Lee was still recovering from Gettysburg and the army's morale. If Grant would have tried in '62 or '63 what he tried at Cold harbor or the wilderness then he would have been hauling butt to washington with his tail between his legs.

Last edited on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 01:25 am by csamillerp



 Posted: Mon Feb 15th, 2010 12:28 am
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ole
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I think Hancock was offered the job, j harold, and did turn it down. So did Reynolds, who I would have liked to see take the AoP, but both men wanted to run things themselves using their military experience, not have politics involved a.k.a. Lincoln.
Few generals since the beginning of recorded history have been pleased to run their wars under political restrictions.

I wasn't aware that Hancock was offered the job. Reynolds I did know about.

'Spect Grant would have liked to have had free rein, but he didn't demand it and worked within the political requirements imposed. Reynolds wanted to step outside. Lord knows what his plans would have been without them



 Posted: Mon Feb 15th, 2010 12:43 am
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pamc153PA
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I don't know as much about Reynolds as I should, I suppose, but from what I do know, I suspect he might have done a decent job given the latitude he desired. Have always had an interest in Reynolds; maybe it's bcause he's practically a hometown boy for me, with Lancaster, PA, about an hour from here. Everytime I go to the Central Market (farmer's market) in downtown Lancaster, I park in a lot directly across the street from Reynold's birthplace. The house is not in good condition, and is, apparently, used as apartments. But there is a historical marker outside, at least.

For me, Reynolds has always been a "what could have been" sort of thing.

Pam



 Posted: Mon Feb 15th, 2010 01:30 am
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csamillerp
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Reynold's i think would have done a pretty good job unrestricted from political obligations. In that case McClellan may have done good, doubt it but he did have the heart of his men.



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