I've just been thumbing through Jay Winik's April 1865 again, and was caught on the section where Winik mentions the fact that Jefferson Davis was inclined to want to fight on at the end of the war using guerilla tactics. He says that Lee, in an effort to help the South "get back into the Union and to peace," wrote a last letter to Davis, knowing that the contents would get out to Joe Johnston and the others still in the field, rejecting guerilla warfare and seeking peace.
What would have happened had Lee not written to Davis? Or what if Davis had not listened to Lee (or did he really hold Lee in such esteem as to listen to him blindly?)? Did this letter from Lee really "end" the war? I noted that Lee didn't mention "let's quit now because we have no chance, " simply that he suggested union and peace.
If Lee hadn't written that letter, I really don't see him or Joe Johnston or any of the other major Confederate generals advocating guerrilla warfare. I think it was Fitzhugh Lee at Appomattox who advocated guerrilla attacks but then realized it was a pointless endeavor.
Personally, if the Confederates had switched to guerrilla warfare I see it ending up like the Boer War. Yeah they may have prolonged the war and pulled off some dazzling raids but eventually they would have lost their sources of supply.
____________________ "Cleburne is here!" meant that all was well. -Daniel Harvey Hill
It was General Edward Porter Alexander who suggested to General Lee that guerrilla warfare was the only option he had left. General Lee chose instead to give up the fight and devote his remaining years to promoting the healing of the nation.
He says that Lee, in an effort to help the South "get back into the Union and to peace," wrote a last letter to Davis, knowing that the contents would get out to Joe Johnston and the others still in the field, rejecting guerilla warfare and seeking peace.
I'd question how he knew that the contents would get out to others in the field. The easiest thing in the world for Davis to do -- if he really wanted to fight until the last man -- would be to sit on the letter.
Guerilla War w/out external support... I think Genl Lee knew how well that had worked for the Native American.
Guerilla War against Federal troops would have been many, many times worse than the bushwhacking going on already. Sheridan would have been riding through Virginia and the Carolinas, and Wilson and others would have been riding through the rest of the Confederate States. If you think Sherman and Sheridan were excessively rough, you ain't seen nothin' yet.