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 Posted: Wed May 3rd, 2006 12:31 am
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Richard Taylor
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What were the most overrated units of the war? Use whatever definition of overrated you please.

My votes:

1. Iron Brigade

2. Irish Brigade

3. Stonewall Brigade

Lots of publicity but nothing special about their combat records. I don't mean to denigrate them, they were unbelievably brave, but there were plenty of other units just as deserving of attention and some probably with better combat records.



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 Posted: Wed May 3rd, 2006 05:26 am
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Tigerreb
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Richard Taylor wrote: What were the most overrated units of the war? Use whatever definition of overrated you please.

3. Stonewall Brigade

I feel the Stonewall Brigade had an exceptional PR program. It is noted in various books, articles and so forth that it was Stonewall Jackson's Foot Cavalry, but (there is always a but) during the Shenandoah Valley Campaign in 1862 it was Taylor's Louisiana Brigade that was in the lead of the entire army, and keeping up with Mosby's horsemen.

JIMT



 Posted: Wed May 3rd, 2006 02:51 pm
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MAubrecht
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I don't mean to denigrate them, they were unbelievably brave, but there were plenty of other units just as deserving of attention and some probably with better combat records.
Can't say that I understand your post or your logic at all. If you could add why you made these determinations and then compare other "less-known" units (that you refer to) then I think we could discuss it. To me it's a blanket statement with nothing to back it up. Therefore, it's hard to comment on. 

That's like me saying the most overrated units of the war were the ones that wore blue uniforms. ;)



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 Posted: Wed May 3rd, 2006 06:23 pm
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Hamy3
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The performance by the Stonewall Brigade and the Iron Brigade at Second Manassas warrants all the praise that they get.

To that I'd add the Iron Brigade's action at Gettysburg on the first day was about as heroic as you'll find of any unit. After Gettysburg, the Iron Brigade basically ceased to exist due to the losses they suffered. Overrated? Not in my book!!

Doug

Last edited on Wed May 3rd, 2006 06:25 pm by Hamy3



 Posted: Wed May 3rd, 2006 08:19 pm
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Richard Taylor
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Let me clarify a bit, although everyone will have their definition of "overrated".  Some units are fabled ones with comparatively extensive coverage. Most units are nearly forgotten. Do the combat records of the famous units match their coverage and supposed fighting prowess? There's no real way to measure that, it's all subjective. So perhaps the question is better phrased as one of proportionality of fame and coverage.

Let's look at the Stonewall brigade. A fine, solid unit. But did it do anything special? Not really, expect it happened to be associated with Thomas Jackson. One can mention the Stonewall brigade at Brawner Farm, but who remembers the actions of Lawton's or Trimble's brigades at the same fight? Not many, although Lawton's and Trimble's men fought just as hard, and in fact, the 21st GA lost the heaviest proportion of any Confederate regiment in the 2nd Manassas campaign. The same comparison could be made of the Black Hat Brigade. Nobody remembers say, the stand of Stone's brigade at Gettysburg. But they suffered similiar loss rates.

See what I mean? Regarding the Iron and Irish brigades, people tend to convienently forget the serious decline in the fighting abilities of those two brigades in 1864. Both are usually dismissed with a toss away comment something along the lines of "well, they were pretty much killed off at Gettysburg." Not really. They were never the same after Gettysburg, it is true, but they were certainly there in at least some form before the individual regiments finally being shuffled off and consolidated. Not many people care to remember the actions of the 63rd, 69th, and 88th NY at 2nd Deep Bottom, for example. Not exactly the stuff the Irish brigade legend is made of.

I guess my ultimate point is that there are many, many units that should be studied (although I suppose me selecting a few overrated units is just as arbitrary and unfair as only mentioning those few famous units.) There were plenty of units that records matched the famous units. Those famous units just weren't really that...special.

Last edited on Wed May 3rd, 2006 08:20 pm by Richard Taylor



 Posted: Wed May 3rd, 2006 08:49 pm
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MAubrecht
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Richard, thank you for clarifying your earlier post.

Your points are well taken, but I don't think there is a logical reply or really a valid opinion either way. You "could" take a baseball writer's approach (BTW I am a baseball writer) and use a comparative study of statistics to decipher a "win vs. loss ratio" and "victory vs. defeat based upon opposing troop numbers and resulting causalities", and then compare each units "stats", but (to me) that would be demeaning to their memory and their sacrifice.

I think that "ratings" as you refer to them (or historical opinions) are usually biased and based ultimately on geographical locations. Down here in VA, The Stonewall Brigade "walks on water" so to speak - but I am sure that other places up North favor the Irish or Iron Brigades etc. Therefore "overrated" is a very tricky term. "Overrated" by whom?

Personally, when I think about the men who fought in the Civil War (blue or gray) I am attracted to their courage and conviction. The idea of lining up on an open field and marching (in an organized fashion) towards a mile-wide wall of continuous musket fire and multiple batteries of cannon is absolutely insane. The very notion of that task goes far beyond any type of logical behavior or self-preservation. YET they did it. And that my friend is the definition of guts.

That is what makes all soldiers from the War Between the States worthy of our attention, study and preservation. So I say, overrate them all - because they all deserve it.



 Posted: Wed May 3rd, 2006 09:03 pm
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Richard Taylor
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Some good points. "Overrated" is probably not a good word, but rather convienent one. The emphasis probably should be that too many units are ignored, not that a few are overrated. That would be more fair. Certainly all of this talk is very subjective and certainly regionally based.

But the main point remains. A few units receive a lot of coverage. Do they really deserve it more than most units? I don't think so. But before the imbalance in coverage can be rectified, it must be realized that the ultra famous units didn't really do anything unusual. Most units of the war put in just as many good performances in equally trying circumstances. Let's give them some attention.



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 Posted: Thu May 4th, 2006 01:57 pm
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calcav
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So I guess the real topic is who are the unsung underrated units? Which regiments and brigades gave their all and never made the headlines?

I would submit the brigade of Brigadier General John Creed Moore of Dabney Maury's Division. The 42nd Alabama, 15th Arkansas, 23rd Arkansas, 35th Mississippi and the 2nd Texas. This unit began the Battle of Corinth with 1,892 men. Within 48 hours the brigade simply ceased to exist.

On the 3rd of October this brigade broke through a gap in the Union entrenchments on Oliver Hill and flanked Brig. Gen. John McArthur's brigades out of their position. He attacked McArthur's second position and drove back a brutal counter attack. They pushed on to Battery F and forced Marcellus Crocker's Iowa brigade from the field. The next morning Moore's men led the doomed attack on Battery Robinett, charging that bastion three times while the 15th and 23rd Arkansas swung around Stanley's line and entered the city all the way to the railroad crossing. Few made it back out. The next day at Davis Bridge the remnants of the brigade, 350 men, joined the 1st Texas Legion to halt the advance of a fresh Union division arriving from Tennessee. Less than 100 made it safely back across the bridge.

I would put this brigade alongside any of the more famous eastern units. They earned it. But who has ever heard of them?



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 Posted: Thu May 4th, 2006 03:17 pm
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MAubrecht
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That being said, couldn't we say that Stonewall Jackson is overrated? That's not to say he wasn't great, but in some circles, it seems he's reached God-like status.

What!!!!! :shock:

Actually here in the South, most of our Generals are held in VERY high regards. Lee, Stuart, Jackson are all revered in the manner you mention. Rightfully so (in my opinion). BUT I can see your point - as someone not living here. To many tourists, our area may seem peculiar with all of the monuments and tributes to them. To the locals, it's perfectly natural.



 

Last edited on Thu May 4th, 2006 03:20 pm by MAubrecht



 Posted: Thu May 4th, 2006 04:18 pm
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Richard Taylor
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I agree that "overrated" was a poor word choice on my part. I still believe that some units get more coverage than they really should, so that might be a better way to phrase "overrated". Someone mentioned Jackson being god-like, which is very true. I think the same applies to some units like the Stonewall or Iron brigades. They are almost "god like". But I guess there isn't really any harm in that as long as the "underrated" get their due as well.

I agree 100% with the choice of J.C. Moore's brigade, but I am biased. My great-great-great grandfather fought and died in the 15th Arkansas, so obviously I have an affinity for that brigade. Bowen's division (which the 15th was in during the Vicksburg campaign) really deserves more coverage. Green's and Cockrell's brigades were excellent fighters and put in some remarkable performances. Alas, the relative obscurity of anything not related to the ANV/AOP prevents them from being well known, although I always feel some pride that Ed Bearss talks about Bowen's division in such glowing terms.



 Posted: Thu May 4th, 2006 04:23 pm
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David White
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I won't quibble with the overrated tag and will assign it to the 20th Maine (thanks Michael, John and Joshua)

I'll also satisfy the underrated crowd by mentioning Jo Shelby's brigade.



 Posted: Thu May 4th, 2006 04:28 pm
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Richard Taylor
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I would label the 20th Maine as too extensively covered at the expense of others. (that's better than "overrated", isn't it?)

The 20th ME was a fine regiment but well...it wasn't really special. Most regiments weren't all that special. I guess that's my point. It's not fair that the 20th ME is govered in glory while say, the 9th ME is totally forgetten. You can't really take down the 20th ME image and maybe it wouldn't be fair to do so. So again, the best thing is to bring up the image of the other outfits.



 Posted: Fri May 5th, 2006 11:41 am
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Hamy3
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I seems to me that the units that have received the most coverage over the years are the ones that have had the most extensive writting done about them and their deeds. I submit they have the best publicists, who knowingly or not have raised their status to what one poster as called "God-like". It's not that other units were any less heroic or their deeds lacking in any way, simply they've gotten less press over the years.

Maybe we should be asking which units deserve more press than they've gotten.

Doug



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 Posted: Mon May 8th, 2006 04:46 pm
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HankC
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Not sure of overrated or underrated, but my 2 cents is that to say that any given 2000-man brigade is no better or worser than any other 2000-man brigade of Virginians, or Ohioans or Pennsylvanian or Georgians. All had their heroes and their sad sacks, strengths and weaknesses.

The biggest difference is the leaders. Looking at the resume of a very good leader, one sees a good brigade somewhere in their command history. Many brigade excell under one commander and later waver under another, less able, commander.

I cannot think of any particular brigade that did not show tremendous grit. After a couple weeks of campaigning all had seen enough blood, mud, heat, lousy food, dumb orders, destruction, cold and dust to be the best. There is not a soldier, doughboy, dogface or grunt that cannot claim to be in the best brigade...

 

HankC

Last edited on Mon May 8th, 2006 04:47 pm by HankC



 Posted: Mon May 8th, 2006 06:05 pm
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Richard Taylor
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That jives exactly with my ultimate point: all units deserve to be remembered and the super-famous few really didn't do anything that others didn't. I don't think anyone would disagree with that. But so far that sentiment hasn't really been put into practice. We need more regimental or brigade histories. And even when they're written, they are often sloppily edited since no large publisher would publish obscure topics like that.

 



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