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Most underrated cavalry commander - Federal or Confederate - General Civil War Talk - Civil War Talk - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
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 Posted: Fri Aug 15th, 2008 10:25 pm
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mikenoirot
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Who is the most underrated cavalry commander, either Federal or Confederate?  I have given this a lot of thought.  I have read many histories/biographies on Nathan Bedford Forrest and Phil Sheridan.  While both were great commanders, they were not underrated - they were considered great.  However, there were some awesome cavalry commanders, that could handle independent commands and achieve their tactical objectives within the scope of the overall strategy set forth by their commanding general and/or civilian authority. 

Who is your pick, and why?  Inquiring minds want to know.  :)

Michael Noirot
Saint Louis, Missouri



 Posted: Fri Aug 15th, 2008 11:00 pm
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javal1
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I always thought John Wilder never got the credit he deserved.  IIRC - excellent work at Tullahoma and Chickamauga. Had to retire before the end of the war, I've always been curious what his rep would be if he had lasted the whole war.



 Posted: Sat Aug 16th, 2008 01:25 am
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CleburneFan
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John Singleton Mosby, the Gray Ghost, a Confederate partisan ranger. Lee did not like partisan rangers, but Mosby perpetrated a great amount of mischief and damage against Union forces in Virginia. Perhaps if he had been given an "official" command within the Army of North Virginia, he might have been able to contribute even more.

As it was, because his cavalry were considered to be partisan, they were informally permitted to share the spoils of battles and raids, a luxury not condoned by CSA high command in the ANV, even though it did happen.

He was not a USMA grad, however, so I don't know how far he could have risen in the ANV. He was, however, a lawyer.  After the war, he became a Republican, believing it would help the South. He even campaigned for US Grant's presidency. 



 Posted: Sat Aug 16th, 2008 01:26 am
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The Iron Duke
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Although he never gained a generalship I would nominate Robert Minty of the Army of the Cumberland. A former cavalryman in the British army he lead one of the few successful saber charges of the war at Shelbyville.

For the Confederates I choose Joe Wheeler.  I don't think he's ever given enough credit for the way he whipped up on the Federal cavalry during the Atlanta Campaign.

Last edited on Sat Aug 16th, 2008 01:47 am by The Iron Duke



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 Posted: Sat Aug 16th, 2008 01:55 am
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mikenoirot
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Javal1,

John Wilder is an interesting choice.  Technically, he was a colonel of an infantry brigade - the Lightning Brigade.  He provided his troops Spencer repeating carbines, and scoured Tennessee for horses, making his brigade mounted infantry.  Wilder's performance with Rosecrans' Army of the Cumberland, during the Tullahoma, and Chickamauga campaign was second to none.  However, his reputation was stained by his performance against Bragg's army at Munfordville, KY - D.C. Buell did not believe he should have given up such a strong fortification without a fight.



 Posted: Sat Aug 16th, 2008 02:01 am
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javal1
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mike -

Yea, I know he wasn't technically a cavalry commander. Was gonna get into that, but on my first night off in weeks, didn't want to make a long post...;)

As for Buell's opinions - - well, just never ask my opinion of fool buell :shock:



 Posted: Sat Aug 16th, 2008 02:06 am
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CleburneFan
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A couple months back I read a really interesting and informative book about Joe Wheeler. A Soldier to the Last: Maj. Gen. Joseph Wheeler in Blue and Gray  by Edward G Longacre.  You can buy it new or used at Amazon.  Wheeler did lead a very impressive life.

  



 Posted: Sat Aug 16th, 2008 02:12 am
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mikenoirot
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I totally agree with your assessment of Buell.  He was probably the weakest major general of the war. 

Regarding Wilder, I really think he never got the credit he deserved for being a great soldier - and leader.  I read the book, Blue Lightning recently, and it was really a great read.  Wilder, besides being an entrepeneur, was willing to put his money on the line, for the Union - purchasing the Spencer carbines with a personal loan.  I am amazed that he never received a brigadier general's commission - he deserved it.  I believe he was brevetted, after Chickamauga, but was never approved by the Senate.  The best testament to his leadership qualities is the Wilder Monument, at Chickamauga.  If you have never seen it, I have a lot of pictures of it on my website: http://www.BattefieldPortraits.com/



 Posted: Sat Aug 16th, 2008 02:21 am
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javal1
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mike, I think we have (or had) an article somewhere on the site called "The Rook of Chickamauga" (named of course after the shape of the monument at Chick). Maybe it's one of those that dissapeared, I'll have to look into it when I have the chance.



 Posted: Sat Aug 16th, 2008 01:13 pm
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Captain Crow
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Maybe it's because of my recent interest in the Vicksburg campaign but I must put forth Col. Benjamin Henry Grierson, whose extended raid through Mississippi contributed extensively to Pemberton's confusion and consternation at a crucial time in the war. In fact it was so successful that Sherman called it "the most brilliant expedition of the war." General Grant delivered more high praise proclaiming "Grierson has knocked the heart out of the state." A most excellent albeit brief contextual recounting of this action may be found in "Triumph and Defeat: the Vicksburg campaign" by Terrance J. Winschel.



 Posted: Sat Aug 16th, 2008 01:40 pm
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mikenoirot
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Benjamin Grierson is also my choice.  His contribution to the campaign in the west, specifically during the Vicksburg campaign, was instrumental in the Federal success.  He operated independently, successfully completing his objectives.  Grierson would continue his military career, after the Civil War, reaching the rank of brigadier general, regular army, and retired in 1890.



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