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 Posted: Sat Jul 19th, 2008 05:17 pm
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BloodyBob64
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Pretend you are the President of the Confederacy. Who do you put in charge out in the West? ( Only territory on the Eastern side of the Miss.) Albert Sidney Johnston cannot be chosen. Also, you can make the decision based upon what we know now as well, you do not have to put yourself in Jeff Davis's shoes. But remember, you should still try and make a decision that is poltically savvy. For example, Cleburne would probably be an excellent choice, but he was not a Southener nor a West Pointer. Anway I have a hard time trying to decide. My natural inclination is to give it to a soldier like Cleburne but many people would have probably thought me nuts back in the day. I am interested to see who people choose.



 Posted: Sat Jul 19th, 2008 06:41 pm
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ole
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Our hindsight leads to speculation. Davis had a small (really small) circle of friends who tended to get the appointments. Lincoln didn't know anybody and gave generalships liberally to people who could bring troups with them. Lincoln learned. Davis didn't.

There was a handful of minor generals in the Western Theater capable of leading an army. None of them got looked at. Cleburne was one of them. Taylor was another. Maybe (just maybe) Forrest was another.

Lincoln finally figured out that he could pick and choose from generals who generally (pun intended) won more often than not. Davis didn't. Gotta be in the club. Lincoln didn't have a club.

ole



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 Posted: Sat Jul 19th, 2008 08:49 pm
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Scout
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I believe Hardee deserved a chance. A solid corps commander with a wealth of service experience and a well organized hard fighting command, who never really received his shot due to passover by Davis friends.

It would be difficult in trying to operate 'politically savvy' and promote Cleburne over several commanders who had rank and date on his promotion to Maj.G.

This change which should have but didnt occur after Bragg's failed KY campaign, failed battle at Murfreesboro and retreat over 100 miles during the tullahoma campaign w/o a major fight, would place perhaps a dozen generals ahead of PC due to rank and promotion date, and later in the war his controversial plan to conscript slaves to free up backline men for the front would make him a near impossible choice for the inept confederate congress.

As Bama states Longstreet did not do well independently (Suffolk/East TN). Hood (post wounds) and during the '100 days' campaign as corps commander proved the wrong choice. and others SD LEE, A. Stewart, did not reach appropriate rank til the final year. J Johnston was a capable commander and perhaps would've faired much better against Rosecrans than he did Sherman.



 Posted: Sun Jul 20th, 2008 09:52 pm
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BloodyBob64
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I agree with much that has been said. I think Forrest obviously should have had commmand of all the cavalry forces and not Wheeler.(Therefore I don't think Wheeler should have had command of the entire West)But I don't think Forrest's strong suit would have been in administering to a large army. I really think in the end Joseph Johnston should have been given more of a chance in the war, especially in the West. Its interesting, because Lee fought the war with the idea that the Confederacy had to end it as soon as possible due to a dwindling amount of resources. Yet it seemed Johnston fought the war to preserve those precious resources and thus pro-long it as much as possible. Lee obviously had great success with his strategy but in the end he was unable to get that one battle that just wiped out the Army of the Potomac. Johnston meanwhile was never really given a chance to let his defensive ideas develop. He either got hurt or was removed by Davis. I think with guys like Forrest and Morgan, who were the masters of adminstering destruction to the enemy with little damage to themselves, Johnston could have been very successful in the West. Although he was given an opportunity with what he thought was a nominal command, I tend to agree with Johnston in that he should have been given a command in the field. If not Johnston, I probably would have went with Hardee as well. He was experienced in the West and would probably have been a better poltical pick than Taylor or Gordon. However I love the idea of Gordon playing a bigger role in that war.



 Posted: Sun Jul 20th, 2008 11:26 pm
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ole
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Bummer! Just blew through three responses to Bama and none of them took. If this one doesn't take, I'll have a bit of a nap.



 Posted: Sun Jul 20th, 2008 11:34 pm
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ole
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As much as I admire Gen Forrest, I don't agree with your choice...imagine that! Forrest was superb in his role commanding small forces, but I don't think he could have handled overall command of the AOT.. Bragg would have been worse, as would have Polk been...Longstreet did not do well with independent command.. I wonder how Hood... pre wounds.. or even Gordon would have done?... Wheeler maybe?... but I really think the best man would have been Joe Johnston.

Well, that one took. Maybe I'll try again.

Did you mean, Bama, that you do agree? I've long maintained that Forrest's legend is a bit overblown, but he had the 'nads. If anyone of skill and authority had actually tried to bring his talent into real service, he would have been really dangerous. I do have to back off here and note that his performance during the Nashville Campaign was not lacking in brilliance.

Polk was a jolk. (A little humor here.)

It seems strange that one of the finest generals to walk the planet hadn't a single lieutenant to move on to independent command. (Can't resist: The other developed the likes of Sherman, Sheridan, Thomas, Logan, McPherson and many others. Something in the water south of the Ohio?)

There simply wasn't a Confederate capable of leading the AoT.

Don't know enough about Taylor or Gordon to comment, but the AoT certainly didn't get what it deserved.

Let's see if this works.

ole



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 Posted: Mon Jul 21st, 2008 02:28 am
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Scout
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I agree with you that the A o T deserved far better. The fact is that when the army is at its strongest and most equal to the A o tC and A o tT in numbers it is at this time being piloted by Bragg (great planner poor reactor) From late '62 until the second retreat from Chattanooga is when the A o T was most potent. and had its most impotent commander.

The two books that first come to mind examining these contrasts are McMurry's "Two Great Rebel Armies" and T.L. Connelly's two part study on the A o T.

That said I do believe any number of men we've mentioned previously could have fared better as commanding General, and would indeed be worthy. Forrest as stated was a cavalry man, whose record stands for itself though somewhat aided by legend. few were more effective considering the disparity in resources. Still, Hardee, Longstreet (had the confidence of A o T corps commanders) Johnston even Cheatam and Cleburne could have been more successful then Bragg. It was too early in the war really to move Taylor from the far west or Gordon (brigade commander at this time) from the east.

I also dont think the comparison of Lee to Grant fair for developing generals. The Confederacy had two main field armies three when including the A o T-M which rarely numbered more than 12-15,000. It was a more rigid system with less opportunity for independent command (outside of raids). The structure of the Federal Armies, particularly in the West allowed for several armies working together under one leader. In the Atlanta Campaign Sherman was at the helm of 3 difft army groups. During Vicksburg, Grant similarly led elements of the A o tT, A o tM, A otO.
In other words a looser command structure allowed to test more generals in independent commands. Later in the war, Lee would do the same with Early, and previously did w/ Jackson (2nd Man. + H.F./Antietam) and Longstreet (Suffolk, Chickamauga). The former proved able, the latter not as much. Point being the southern commands had less to work with and could not spread themselves out over a wider command structure for extended periods of time.



 Posted: Mon Jul 21st, 2008 05:21 am
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ole
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Still in a jocular mood, Ed. Did I say something wrong?

ole



 Posted: Mon Jul 21st, 2008 03:48 pm
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David White
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I like Scout's way of thinking Hardee and Cleburne are the two guys that came to my mind right away, the former making more sense in light of 1861 and the latter with his entire record laid out.

Unfortunately I don't think it matters because the geography in the west kills the Confederacy no matter who is in charge, even Robert E. Lee only on his best days. The only place georgraphy works for the south, was in Virginia. Now fighting an unconventional war the picture changes.



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 Posted: Wed Jul 23rd, 2008 02:03 am
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CleburneFan
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OK, as much as I admire Irish-American Cleburne, he had at least two strikes against him as far as Davis would be concerned. One was that he did not attend USMA. Two, visionary that he was, he dared to propose the arming of slaves to fight, even to the extent of freeing their families if they would fight. That gained him the instant contempt of such potential rivals as Wheeler.

Other strikes against him were that he was  involved in the officer cabal against Bragg. Speaking of which, Davis might take a dim view of any officer who actively worked to discredit Bragg in order to have him removed from command.

Lastly, there were officers who were senior to him, a fact that would be bound to create resentment. That said, I wish he could have had at a chance of at least a corps command. But here we are talking about commander of the Army of Tennessee.

So who is left we haven't mentioned? One is P.G.T.Beauregard. But his health wasn't always dependable for one thing. Davis wasn't that big a fan of his either.  He wasn't well-regarded by some of his fellow officers either. But if he had been given a chance and the numbers of soldiers and resources he needed in the West, he might have achieved more than the controversial  Bragg did and JE Johnston who demonstrated such an exasperating  proclivity to retreat. 



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 Posted: Wed Jul 23rd, 2008 02:20 pm
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Texas Defender
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  In the East, Wade Hampton was Legiondary.    ;)



 Posted: Wed Jul 23rd, 2008 02:29 pm
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susansweet
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Bama I love it .  That is what I have always thought about the Cajun . 

Susan



 Posted: Wed Jul 23rd, 2008 02:37 pm
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javal1
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I've always thought McClellan and PGT were brothers seperated at birth. The exact same personality, and even a slight physical similarity (if you squint real hard).



 Posted: Wed Jul 23rd, 2008 07:31 pm
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ArtorBart
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BloodyBob64...

What time period are you talking about for naming this southern leader in the west? It may limit who we could pick from the eastern theater. For example, William Dorsey Pender was considered a fine leader, but he died at Gettysburg, July 1863. Thomas Cobb left the scene at Fredericksburg Dec.1862. Are you thinking about when Bragg was ousted and Hood inserted? So, instead of Hood, who would we consider in 1864?

Allegedly these guys had personalities that made them human porcupines: Richard Taylor and Edmund Kirby Smith. But all I remember is that they were pretty good organizers, leaders, and fighters. They seemingly were relegated to the Confederate States hinterlands and forgotten only 'til their signatures were needed on the surrender papers.

Why the gulag treatment for these guys? Did they want it that way? More troubles with Jeffn. Finis Davis? I'm not at all familiar with the interplay.

Taylor performed very well with Stonewall in the 1862 Shenandoah Valley campaign, then -- POOF! -- he was gone. Believe he did a good job during the Red River campaign, but since he was fighting against Banks {again}, possibly more could have been done by Taylor's guys against the Union.

Kirby Smith, I believe, did pretty well until his non-cooperation with Bragg in Kain-tuck fall of 1862. His bristly personality eventually became evident and he got ignored, maybe on purpose?

Hardee, it seems, didn't want the responsibility maybe because he still would have had to work under Bragg {who was in Richmond}. That certainly would have cramped Hardee's style {if he had a style!}.

James Longstreet's lethargic/reluctant nature became evident July 1863 and later at Lookout Mtn. and Knoxville. With a larger department to care for, could he have handled all that goes with it? He couldn't even manage what he was given in those two smaller commands. APHill and Ewell I wouldn't want; they were on their last legs as is was. Early would have been kept east to replace one of those two guys.

Somebody mentioned, I believe, John Brown Gordon; not too shabby! Not much corps-level experience when he'd have been needed out west.

John Breckenridge, former US veep {good executive material?}, didn't seem all that capable in the field and may have had temper troubles with Davis, I cannot recall for sure.

Cleburne, like our current-day Obama, didn't have the executive experience needed for a top-slot position.

A.P. Stewart has always intrigued me, but have not read very much at all about him.

I won't even mention Polk...oops, I just did, sorry.

Will have to leaf through my "Generals in Gray" and "More Generals in Gray" tonight.

ArtorBart

Last edited on Wed Jul 23rd, 2008 08:35 pm by ArtorBart



 Posted: Wed Jul 23rd, 2008 11:44 pm
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BloodyBob64
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Well I thought about adding a time frame to my question but then I decided against it. I basically just want to know who you think would have been the most successful general in the West minus Lee or A. Johnston.

A good answer to this question always puzzled me because other than Lee there really wasn't too many commanders in the Confederacy capable of leading a large army to success. The North had Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, Thomas and even Schofield.

But look at the Confederacy: Joseph Johnston and Beauregard had the opportunies and did not succeed. Pemberton and Bragg can be included on that list. Stonewall and Longstreet were questionable with independent commands. Taylor was in charge of a theater with relatively no action. Many of the other generals in the Army of NV such as A.P. Hill, Ewell, and Early struggled when given larger forces.

I think that leaves only a few to choose from: Cleburne, Hardee, Gordon, etc. But they are all unproven with that type of command and the political expediency of those appointments would bring heat on whoever the president was.



 Posted: Fri Jul 25th, 2008 01:43 am
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Granted, D.H. Hill had political struggles with both Lee and Davis, because he earned the hostility of Davis as part of the anti-Bragg cabal. Davis was not inclined to forgive.

All that said, Hill was an aggressive fighter, what the Confederacy desperately needed. Even though Hill was essentially sidelined to lesser commands by Davis, perhaps he could have stepped up and done better than Hood did once J.J. Johnston was pulled out of the Atlanta Campaign.

Some may think I am scraping the bottom of the barrel by suggesting Beauregard and D.H. Hill, but at the critical juncture just north of Atlanta when Johnston exited, would D.H. Hill or Beauregard really have been any worse than Hood became?

Davis had so much to do with which generals did have army command.  Proven capable generals such as Cleburne did not advance because they were on bad terms with the president. They didn't even move up to corps command in some cases.  Yet, less capable generals that curried favor with Davis such as Hood did move up. It seems  counterproductive, but that was the state of military politics in the South, especially in the Western Theater.



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