I've followed your advice and secured a copy of the book by Archer Jones. All I can say is WOW! It is one of the most eye-opening books I've read in a long time. It certainly puts Logistics, Strategy, and Tactics together in a very readable way. It also seems to be much less harsh on the Army of the Potomac than most I have read. Previously, I believe it was easier to generalize that all of their generals bordered on incompetant until Grant came along. It is certainly interesting to know that this may not be the case at all. Candidly, I haven't even gotten to Gettysburg, to see how his review matches to the book by carhart. But I've got a feeling that based on what Jones tends to recommend as the basic use of Calvary during the Civil War I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't give it signficant weight.
With this as a start, I have to say my anticipation on what the second book holds is great! More later.
I have completed the book by Jones, and have completed about 1/4 of the work by Griffith. I stated earlier I was impressed by Jones and suggested it would be difficult for the Griffith book to surpass, but I was wrong. It is exceptional! However, I would like to suggest that they compliment each other as opposed to standing in contrast. While I enjoy the speculation of Jones on the lessons of the West Point and Mexican War Experience on the Generals, and his overiew approach to the strategy of the signficant battles, the descriptive analysis of Griffith which puts context to Jones is invaluable. I suspect that when I finish Griffith I will probably conclude that as a single source it will probably be superior. None the less, without the Jones book to give context to the larger issues, one will not be able to really appreciate the fullness of the exceptional work by Griffith. Stated differently, if both of the two books fell out of the sky in 1862, in the right hands I believe that Griffith's book would be considered an ultimate weapon. I'm not sure the same could be said about Jones beyond the readers appreciation of the players and how they acted. Any thoughts on the subject?
I just joined this board last month. I think that Lee wanted to win a victory in a "strictly" northern abolitionist state. His experience in Maryland the previous fall did not make the statement he wanted it to. I have always felt that RE Lee's political acumen was as skillful as his military ability. A victory at Gettysburg would have made the fall of Vicksburg a few days later a mute point. Meade and his generals made the correct decisions for the most part but like the Army of the Potomac up to that point...failed to grasp the total terrain. Little and big round top empty of siginificant troops the second day? Lee was overly cautious the first day due to Stuart being gone, Ewell is not TJ Jackson(what do you mean his men were tired
? these guys fought two separate armies the same day in the valley campaign). Lee had to stay and win at Gettysburg. I believe he would have retired to Maryland and edged towards Washington. The publicity in Pennsylvania was that of general panic. He had brought the war to the north. The political ramifications would have been disastrous for Lincoln. IMO.
Is it fair to say that General Lee was unusually agressive and that he had been extremely fortunate for a variety of reasons that this had not caught up with him till Gettysburg? My understanding is that in the Pennisular Campaign that he demonstrated it, and that McClellan responded appropriately. That at Fredricksburg that the movement of just two generals from Central to Left Front might have had a material impact on the final result. Then I would raise the question of whether General Hooker was "outgeneraled", or that General Lee was again very lucky? My very limited research on the subject suggests that Agressive General Lee usually subjected the Army of Northern Virginia to very heavy causalties in his admitted many victories. Was then Gettysburg more a case of Lady Luck catching up with him as opposed to him just having a bad hair day? NOTE: THESE ARE ALL POSED AS QUESTIONS!
There is another aspect of RE Lees mind: his previous experience as commandant at West Point years earlier. Many if not most of his opponents were predictable and he could "get into their heads" I think. There is a mentality in the army of the Potomac that Grant picked up on when he arrived in the east in 1864...everyone was trying too hard not to lose instead of win. The soldiers cheered Grant after the Wilderness campaign and his first battle against Lee because he just simply(and immediately) moved south. No three month reprieve for Lee to re-group and recover. Lee even commented to a staff member that (in so many words) their new commander has finally figured it out and only a war of attrition to inflict high casualties could even remotely snatch a victory for the south. There were draft riots in the north. Getting back to Gettysburg, Lee gambled and this time he lost. I must also say that overall George Meade did pretty good for a guy who just got the command of the army days before the battle. The lines of march and methods of concentrating the army, though not flawless, was a masterpiece under the circumstances.
Last edited on Thu Jul 9th, 2009 03:48 pm by MsgRet