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 Posted: Thu Aug 14th, 2008 04:00 pm
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Texas Defender
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Johan-

  You may say that the CSA was destroyed in the field by Union armies, not politicians. I would answer that this end was achieved through the steadfastness of one politician- Abraham Lincoln.

  In the beginning there was considerable sentiment to: "Let the wayward sisters go." This appeared in some papers before the: "Forward to Richmond" stuff. But Mr. Lincoln used and shaped events and was able to motivate the people of the north to raise a massive army and prosecute a war against the south.

  The war, as most wars are, was longer and more bloody than either side imagined. The question in the north became: "Is this war worth it?" Mr. Lincoln was unwavering throughout, but the question remained.

  I believe that the question wasn't answered until 1864. Thats what the election of 1864 was about. Lincoln in the beginning of the year thought that he would lose the election. Even late in the year he feared that he would lose the election. But by then the fortunes of war had turned sharply in favor of the Union. The northern people answered the question decisively at the ballot box, and the contest was decided. The Confederacy was doomed.

  At the peace conference in February of 1865, Alexander Stephens reportedly asked Mr. Lincoln what conditions were necessary to restore the peace. Mr. Lincoln is said to have passed him a piece of paper that had one word written on it: "Union ! "

"War is merely a continuation of politics." - Carl Phillipp Gottlieb von Clausewitz



 Posted: Thu Aug 14th, 2008 05:13 pm
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ole
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The idea that the mouse was emboldened to attack the lion is a new one for me, but I suppose it could have some truth to it. Civilian resentment was certainly a factor, but I'm kinda wondering if that resentment manifested itself against the effete Confederate government rather than the soldiers who, after all, were doing what soldiers do.

ole



 Posted: Thu Aug 14th, 2008 05:23 pm
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ole
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And here I'll have to take off after my good friend Johan Steele.

Jefferson C. Davis is almost always referred to in Johan's posts as the "Union dirtbag." I figure that's a bit unfair.

If I'm a general with a pontoon bridge upon which I've just crossed a raging Ebenezer Creek, I'm going to take that bridge with me before Wheeler uses it to cross after me.

I'm always amused with Sherman's reply when asked why Davis took up the bridge when he did: "I suppose he wanted it." (Or something like that.)

We don't know how many slaves left behind were killed by Wheeler's men -- or even if any were killed. We can be quite certain that all were trundled back to their masters. And J.C. Davis is the criminal?

Sorry. That dog don't hunt.

ole



 Posted: Thu Aug 14th, 2008 08:43 pm
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You've again captured the essence, Fan. Kilpatrick lookd very much like exactly the kind of "damned fool" Sherman wanted to lead his cavalry. The tea leaves lied.  Kilpatrick was nowhere near what Sherman had in mind. Kilpatrick was a "damned fool" in every sense of the word (words?).  Sherman had in mind a cavalry leader who'd fight every other horseman in sight. He was deceived. Kilpatrick was more concerned with engaging rebel ladies in one-on-one combat. Although Sherman was not exactly a prude, he did hold rather sacred the idea that gentlemen and ladies had a sacrosanct code of conduct.

I don't know when Sherman figured out his great mistake, or even if he did. But when he had finished with messing up Georgia, he was no friend of Kilpatrick. The man was useless and it showed.

Nest post will have something of what I really mean.

ole



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 Posted: Fri Aug 15th, 2008 12:57 pm
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Johan Steele
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TD, to a degree I would agree w/ you. But as a note even if Lincoln had lost by the time the new President would have taken office the CS was a broken wreck due to Shermans march through Georgia. And even if a peace deal of some sort would have been brokered in the Spring of 65... the CS didn't have a whole lot left to bargain with. The CS had been spilt numerous times, it was no longer a continuos country; it had been carved up.

The men in the field won the war, while Lincoln had the steadfastness and intestinal fortitude to keep going forward.



 Posted: Fri Aug 15th, 2008 01:14 pm
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Ole, I call Jeff Davis (the Union one) a dirtbag for a variety o reasons. Not the least of which was his pulling of those pontoons. THe Union soldiers who pulled the pontoons did so knowing full well Wheelers men were right behind the "contrabands," they could see them. Every man in the Army knew full well what it meant to be captured by Wheelers men. Could runaway slaves expect better than US soldiers? They watched it happened to Southern Civilians after those bridges were pulled.

To paraphrase a US officer who witnessed it. Wheelers men never charged US soldiers half so well as those people at Ebeneezer. Thousands jumped into that creek trying to escape and large number drowned. Initially, at least, Wheelers men charged in w/ sabres flying and guns blazing... into unarmed civilians which included large numbers of women and children. US troops from the oter side of the creek provided what covering fire they could with some very real effect unhorsing several of Wheelers men. But they were ordered to move on, by Davis. We'll probably never know the extent of the dead there as it wouldn't be something the Lost Cause would be proud of (actually it would, but never to be admitted out loud) and it certainly wouldn't be something the US would be proud of either. Over the years I've seen research that would say as few as 20 to over 2000 black people died. My hero Battalion says none, that they were all rounded up and returned to slavery... I think the truth sits somewhere in between. I don't know, but I've read of men seeing the creek "choked" with the dead after the "fight" there and their bodies forming a damn.

I blame Davis for letting those people face such a fate. Because he knew what was going to happen when those pontoons were pulled. Was it the militarily correct thing to do? I don't know. But Ebeneezer is just one more incident that makes me call Jeff Davis (the US one) a real dirtbag.



 Posted: Fri Aug 15th, 2008 01:26 pm
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Johan-

  Okay- we agree to some degree. We agree that, militarily, the Confederacy was defeated by late 1864. But the Confederates were still fighting. The most important factor at that point was the national will of the United States Government and populace.

  First of all, I would maintain that if it was not for the fact that Abraham Lincoln was elected in 1860, the Federal armies probably would not have been in the field in 1861 to begin with, or pursued their military objectives as continually as they did. The democrats certainly should have won in 1860, but they chose to split their party, thus allowing Mr. Lincoln to win with less than 40% of the vote. If a democrat had been elected instead of Mr. Lincoln, the whole affair would have been different.

  As for 1864- if Mr. Lincoln had lost the election, it would have indicated that the northern people had a different mindset than the one they actually had. What a President McClellan would have done can only be speculated on, but a look at the Democratic Platform in 1864 indicates that it called for an immediate ceasefire.

Democratic Party Platform, 1864   (See Paragraph 2)

  The Platform assails the war as a failure and destroyer of the Constitution. It calls for a convention of the states in order to achieve unity. How that might have played out is anyone's guess.

  My argument is that if the northern people were of the attitude to buy that in 1864, and a ceasefire had taken place, then ultimately it might not have mattered that the Confederacy was defeated militarily. But the people in the north by that time were not willing to accept that. A small majority of civilians, 53%, voted for Mr. Lincoln. More significantly, 78% of Union soldiers voted for him. There was only one way that they wanted the conflict to end. Many of them would have said that it was politicians who got them into that mess, and they weren't going to leave it to politicians to mess it up again in the end.



 Posted: Fri Aug 15th, 2008 05:58 pm
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Not to mention that Davis is the general that got away with murdering his commander.



 Posted: Fri Aug 15th, 2008 06:42 pm
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THe Union soldiers who pulled the pontoons did so knowing full well Wheelers men were right behind the "contrabands," they could see them.
Yup. But militarily, it was a proper decision. Wheeler's boys could have crossed the bridge as easily as the contrabands, set up a beach-head, and taken a number of Davis's boys to the same place the contrabands were headed.

And yes, it was a horrible decision to have to make. Trading a dozen or so soldier lives for a hundred or so civilian impediments would make more sense today, but I'd hold a Corps Commander in very low esteem for bringing on a battle when there was nothing to be gained by it.

The accounts bear up the fact that Wheeler's boys did a little killing. We may never know how much killing there was and how much dying by being forced into the Creek or desperately leaping into it.

Finally, "choked" with bodies is higly emotional and subjective. I give it the same credence I give to tales of the thousands of rapes and beastly destruction during Sherman's romp.

ole



 Posted: Fri Aug 15th, 2008 06:52 pm
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My argument is that if the northern people were of the attitude to buy that in 1864, and a ceasefire had taken place, then ultimately it might not have mattered that the Confederacy was defeated militarily.
I believe Johan is focusing on the time that must elapse between the election and when the new president takes his seat. It would have been an interesting 4 months. Lincoln is still CnC and the war machine takes its orders from him.

Congress still has to pass funding bills, but did the '64 election put both houses in a telling majority?

ole



 Posted: Fri Aug 15th, 2008 08:20 pm
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ole-

  The Republican party had a hard time in the 1862 mid term elections, but they gained strongly in 1864. So, yes, the Republicans has a huge majority after the 1864 elections.

United States House of Representatives elections, 1864 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  This does not change my argument about what would have happened if the northern people had rejected Mr. Lincoln in the 1864 election. I would maintain that in that case, the huge Republican majority would not have been elected either. :)



 Posted: Sat Aug 16th, 2008 12:26 am
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Nor does it change my argument that Lincoln would still have been CnC until March.

ole



 Posted: Sat Aug 16th, 2008 12:51 am
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ole-

  I don't see anyone arguing that Mr. Lincoln, if he had lost the election in 1864 would not have been president until March of 1865. I'm sure that it would have been : "an interesting four months." To imagine what might have happened then is a speculation on top of a speculation. My guess is that President Lincoln could not have accomplished anything that a President McClellan could not have undone.



 Posted: Sat Aug 16th, 2008 02:00 pm
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My guess is that President Lincoln could not have accomplished anything that a President McClellan could not have undone.

That would all depend on the congress.

True, Mac semi-repudiated his party's platform: the negotiated-peace part but, upon Mac's inauguration, Lee is trapped and starving in Petersburg, Sherman is working on trapping JEJ, and Wilson is troubling Alabama. It would take a majority of oblivious doves to negotiate when an slam-dunk victory was so close at hand.

Even if the Democrats had been in power, there's still a nation who had given their sons, fathers, brothers, and extended families in the four-year effort to win. I simply don't see that voting public as wimping out at the last moment. That would be like expecting a fighter, after having beaten his opponent until he can't raise his arms, to declare the fight a tie in the 12th round.

Just a thought.

ole

Last edited on Sat Aug 16th, 2008 02:03 pm by ole



 Posted: Sat Aug 16th, 2008 02:32 pm
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ole-

  We're discussing something that might have happened IF the northern people had had a different mindset than the one it actually had.

  To me, the Democratic Platform (semi-repudiated by McClellan) clearly advocated wimping out. While Lincoln won the election easily, McClellan still got 45 % of the vote. That seems to indicate that a substantial segment of the populace wanted the war ended, whether by total victory or not.

  My view is that IF a majority of civilians and soldiers had voted against Mr. Lincoln, it would have limited his chances of ending the war outright by March 4th. If a President McClellan had chosen to follow his party's official position, then there might have been a different outcome in the end.

  Winning on the battlefield isn't always enough to achieve one's national objectives if the political will to see the thing through isn't there. We've seen this in our own history in the 20th century.

  Having said that, the whole situation being discussed is meaningless, since the majority of the northerm people were in NO mood to quit without a decisive ending. There was more of a feeling then that a project begun should be carried through to a satisfactory conclusion. We would never have become the greatest nation in the world if we had been a nation of wimps.

Last edited on Sat Aug 16th, 2008 02:37 pm by Texas Defender



 Posted: Sat Aug 16th, 2008 11:09 pm
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My view is that IF a majority of civilians and soldiers had voted against Mr. Lincoln, it would have limited his chances of ending the war outright by March 4th.
It would have given him some problems, but until Mac took office, he was even more powerless than Lincoln. 

If a President McClellan had chosen to follow his party's official position, then there might have been a different outcome in the end.


"Might have been" seems to pile suppositions on suppositions.

Somewhere in there we seem to be agreeing, but we just haven't gotten the words right.

ole



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