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 Posted: Fri Sep 5th, 2008 02:40 pm
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pamc153PA
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What do you feel is the biggest blunder and/or most "important" missed opportunity in the Civil War, Eastern or Western Theater, particular army, general, etc.? There were many, depending on where your sympathies lie!

For me, a major blunder was when Hooker left the flank of the 153PA in the air at Chencellorsville, just begging Jackson to take the opportunity he used to maximum effect. Close behind that was Hooker's removal of the artillery from Hazel Grove at Chancellorsville, thus making it easier for the Confederates. I know that's a little specific, but I am a little sympathetic to the 153PA.

Any thoughts, folks?

Pam



 Posted: Fri Sep 5th, 2008 04:01 pm
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izzy
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The 1861 lack of Kentucky/Tennessee border defenses by Governor Harris of TN and lack of a Kentucky/Tennessee strategy by the Confederate government and A.S. Johnston.

I know so little about it.  If anybody out there knows of any books that deal with this issue, please post them.  (Thanks to Iron Duke for pointing me toward Connelly's book: Army of the Heartland on another thread.)



 Posted: Fri Sep 5th, 2008 04:18 pm
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ole
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Excellent examples, pam, but assigning too much error to Hooker in that Lee would likely have sent Jackson on that end run in any event. Question: did Lee know that Hooker's right would not be prepared for the flanking movement?

My vote is for McClellan's series of blunders at Antietam/Sharpsburg.

First: He knew that Lee was sending Jackson south and Longstreet north with a minor force in the middle. Although he acted with uncharacteristic speed, he still piddled away enough time for Lee to eventually concentrate.

Second: He fed his troops against Lee piecemeal in three separate thrusts, allowing Lee to use his interior lines to reinforce each in turn. Had that fracas been one battle instead of three, Lee would certainly have been overwhelmed.

Third: His large, unused reserve was kept out as insurance that he wouldn't lose the battle.(Note: not win, but not lose -- a philosopical blunder in that his war aim was to bring the Confederacy to a negotiating table rather than deal a crushing defeat.)

Fourth: Not attacking again on the 18th but contenting himself with Lee's all but liesurely withdrawal across the Potomac.

There may not have been a Chancellorsville if Mac had thumped Lee there; hence, important missed opportunity.

This will be a good thread with the potential for lots of input. (As good as any "pivotal point" thread.)

ole



 Posted: Fri Sep 5th, 2008 04:39 pm
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ole
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The 1861 lack of Kentucky/Tennessee border defenses by Governor Harris of TN and lack of a Kentucky/Tennessee strategy by the Confederate government and A.S. Johnston.

Another excellent observation. Thanks, izzy. Was it Isham's blunder? Or was it the lack of Confederate focus? (Or rather, Confederate focus on Richmond at the expense of the entire west?)

I'm reminded that this is the quandary that sent Sherman into a need for an extended leave to compose himself.

As usual, I know of no book that specifically analyzes the situation you've named. What little I've learned about the situation is from a chapter here and there in this and that book on the war. (Now watch someone come up with a title that deals solely with your concern.)

ole



 Posted: Fri Sep 5th, 2008 04:51 pm
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ArtorBart
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EAST: McClellan not crushing Lee at Sharpsburg

WEST: Leaving Bragg in command too long

ArtorBart



 Posted: Fri Sep 5th, 2008 05:03 pm
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ole
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WEST: Leaving Bragg in command too long

Oooooooh! Love that one! Who ought to have been his replacement after that debacle at Perryville?

Withdraw the question. Off topic.

So this is another Davis blunder? So far we have two blunders attributable to Davis versus one for McClellan. (Or ought Lincoln be assigned a blunder for putting McClellan back in command after Manassas II?)

Just stirring the pot.

ole



 Posted: Fri Sep 5th, 2008 05:20 pm
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David White
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Lincoln explored other options but was shot down, there was a crisis and his hand was forced to stay with Little Mac.



 Posted: Fri Sep 5th, 2008 05:44 pm
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fedreb
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Blundering Burnsides dithering and delaying opposite Fredericksburg, allowing Lee to bring up the AoNV and take up the defensive positions along Maryes Heights and then compounding that by actually attacking those Heights head on and at huge loss.



 Posted: Fri Sep 5th, 2008 06:46 pm
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20th_Mass
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I wonder if the treatment Colonel Charles Stone received after the loss at Ball's Bluff was a blunder. The Union generals had to be thinking "Oh God if I screw up I could end up in jail." This may account for some of the fighting not to lose mentality.



 Posted: Fri Sep 5th, 2008 06:59 pm
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Scout
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"Was it Isham's blunder? Or was it the lack of Confederate focus?"

--It was not only Gov Harris, but rather a mindset controlled by what i believe was termed the Mississippi River Bloc.

There was a group of several influential men that meant to protect their property from invasion along that route which resulted in eastern KY and middle TN being very vulnerable, as Island No. 10, Ft Pillow, Columbus, KY, garnered a large share of the west's stretched resources.

Given the vast territory A.S. Johnston was charged with defending....considering other difficulties not the least of which was at the time the Union manuevers began over half the Rebel army is unarmed...

Coupled with falty construction of Ft. Henry, and the failure to fortify Nashville (I recall that the citizens of Edgefield, being very influential) demanded that the engineer construct his works to protect their homes on the northern side of the Cumberland River.


As for my take on worst blunders it would have to be the Kentucky Invasion of 1862. (or like Artor Bart says the failure to remove Bragg then or any other time over the next year.) Kirby-Smith and Bragg could not work together and the failure to either take Louisville or block Buell from reinforcing it and giving the initiative back to the Union ended the Confederate chance to alter the war in the west.



 Posted: Fri Sep 5th, 2008 07:31 pm
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ole
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Kirby-Smith and Bragg could not work together
And herein is a symptom of what?

Why is it that there was so much conflict among Western Confederate Generals? And so little effective conflict among the Western Union Generals?

Which is not to say that jealousies and obstinacy did not exist in the Union west, but it was so much less debilitating to the war itself. Buell, Halleck, Grant, Sherman, Thomas, Rosecrans, Banks, Butler, et alii, had their differences and sometimes open hostility.  Somewhere in there, the personal conflicts were overridden in favor of a common cause. Where did that come from? Lincoln? A common recognition of subservience to cause? Why is it that Bragg's odious personality crippled an otherwise excellent body of fighting men, and the same kind of tension among Union commanders did not?

Just asking for understanding.

ole



 Posted: Fri Sep 5th, 2008 07:35 pm
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ole
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Blundering Burnsides dithering and delaying opposite Fredericksburg, allowing Lee to bring up the AoNV and take up the defensive positions along Maryes Heights and then compounding that by actually attacking those Heights head on and at huge loss.
That has to rank up among the most egregious blunders, fedreb. Book learning triumphs over common sense. (Said while in my recliner here in late 2009.)

ole



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 Posted: Fri Sep 5th, 2008 09:14 pm
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martymtg
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You could make a case for a lot of these being the worst. I think we can agree that McClellan had MORE blunders than anyone else, by far.

Marty



 Posted: Fri Sep 5th, 2008 10:27 pm
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javal1
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Let's not forget the debacle at Spring Hill. What would the history of Nov. '64 read like if not for that.



 Posted: Fri Sep 5th, 2008 11:17 pm
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pamc153PA
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True, Joe. Talk about blowing your last best chance to isolate and finish off the Union Army. But why did Hood attack piecemeal like he did? Isn't that automatically a bad move?

Pam



 Posted: Fri Sep 5th, 2008 11:44 pm
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ole
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Let's not forget the debacle at Spring Hill. What would the history of Nov. '64 read like if not for that.
Debacle? Yes. But at the time, the war was over but for the shouting. Not what I'd call an important reversal.(Blunder? Certainly. So I guess it qualifies.) If Hood had captured or destroyed Schofield's army, he'd still have dashed the AoT against Thomas at Nashville.

ole



 Posted: Sat Sep 6th, 2008 12:04 am
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ole
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True, Joe. Talk about blowing your last best chance to isolate and finish off the Union Army. But why did Hood attack piecemeal like he did? Isn't that automatically a bad move?

With apologies Pam, I must pick a nit or two with you here. Schofield's Army of the (what was it then? Ohio? Cumberland?) was two corps -- somewhere near 38,000 men. Hood assaulted him with two of his three corps, also roughly 37,000 men. And what was piecemeal about it? Hood's entire present force marched down from Winstead Hill, fanned out, overran Wagner's position and primarily fell on the Columbia Pike gap in Schofield's line.

I don't wish to be quarrelsome here -- just to correct an understanding. Whether it is yours or mine that needs correction is of no consequence. We ought to come out of this brief interlude with about the same understanding of what happened.

ole



 Posted: Sat Sep 6th, 2008 12:17 am
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pamc153PA
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ole,

Not offended at all. I am definitely still learning the Western theater, and I'm only going to learn by listening and discussing with those of you who know more about it than me. I appreciate you putting it that way for me--shows me how "book learning" is only one part of the way to understand it! Depends on who wrote the book as to the perspective of piecemeal or not!

Pam



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