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What Qualities made a Civil War General great - Other Civil War Talk - Civil War Talk - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
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 Posted: Wed Mar 19th, 2008 02:49 pm
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20th_Mass
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I think that adjusting during battle is important. Burnside learned that at Fredericksburg didn't he.

I always wondered if McClellan wondered that Lee's Lost Order 191 was a trap. If I was a general and I was handed a battle plan from an opposing general my first thought would be that this was too easy.

Coly

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Last edited on Wed Mar 19th, 2008 02:51 pm by 20th_Mass



 Posted: Wed Mar 19th, 2008 03:56 pm
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ole
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I always wondered if McClellan wondered that Lee's Lost Order 191 was a trap. If I was a general and I was handed a battle plan from an opposing general my first thought would be that this was too easy.

Probably, but he had it verified by an officer who was familiar with the handwriting of Lee's adjutant. (Thomas?) He then said something like, "With this paper I can whip Bobby Lee!" Then, in a remarkable burst of speed, he only dawdled.

ole



 Posted: Wed Mar 19th, 2008 04:11 pm
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Rebel Yell
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Actually I think that the "Lost Order" was written by R.H. Chilton, Ass't Adj-Gen...



 Posted: Wed Mar 19th, 2008 04:13 pm
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PvtClewell
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'Then, in a remarkable burst of speed, he only dawdled.'

Bwahahaha. Spectacular, Ole. Thanks for today's smile. :)



 Posted: Wed Mar 19th, 2008 07:53 pm
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ole
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Thank you, Enlisted Man Clewell. Am gratified that you caught the obscure refernce. Not surprised. Gratified.

ole



 Posted: Wed Mar 19th, 2008 11:35 pm
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JoanieReb
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"Grant, Sherman, Lee, Cleburne, Jackson, Forrest immediately come to mind. I might reserve judgment on Longstreet, Meade, Thomas and Sheridan, who I think could be borderline great. That's off the top of my bald head and I'll hate myself later for neglecting others."

Hmmmm....I would like to hear your justification for the Sheridan inclusion.

And, how do you rate JEB Stuart?

Good point about Grant being able to travel expediously and light, forgot how you phrased it, I will give you both points for that.



 Posted: Wed Mar 19th, 2008 11:42 pm
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JoanieReb
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"Today's wars break down into two major areas (according to Cleburne Fan's Theory of Modern Warfare). One type is the massively technological war in which vast superiority in modern weapon systems makes demands for a certain type of leadership unknown in past history.

But in stark contrast, guerrilla warfare (ex: FARK, Colombia and Abu Sayaf, The Phillipines)  and terroristic tactics (ex: Basque seperatists, Spain and Al Queda, various countries) fought anywhere and everywhere demand a totally different kind of leadership philosophy and expertise."


Excellent points, where I am concerned.

I agree with your accessment of Sherman, cain't help but think that he is a general for the ages, would be effective thoughout time, space and circumstance.

Unlike his little buddy, U.S. Grant,=+++.

 



 Posted: Wed Mar 19th, 2008 11:49 pm
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Don
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Albert Sailhorst wrote: Part of what makes a great General are the mistakes made by his adversary.

If McClellan's enemies had made more mistakes, Little Mac would be a great general.

Albert,  I would submit that what a general does with the mistakes made by his adversary help make him a great general.  Jackson has a great Shenandoah Valey campign in 1862 because he capitalizes on the mistakes of his opponents.  McClellan doesn't have a great Antietam campaign because he doesn't capitalize on Lee's.



 Posted: Wed Mar 19th, 2008 11:59 pm
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Don
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When one tries to compare different leaders over time, it's important to remember that they would receive the benefits of the new time as well. Sherman in Iraq, to use an example mentioned, would have access to the same education and assignments that modern leaders have. IMO, that would make him even more likely to be very effective, and I'm not a particular fan or detractor of his.

It seems to me that we may have drifted off the intent of the original question a bit (not that this isn't a fantastic discussion that I've really been enjoying). The issue is supposed to be what qualities or characteristics make a Civil War general great.

So we're really talking about personal qualities. Perhaps we could attempt to come up with a communal list that we can agree on? Maybe take one of the first ones listed (I recall a couple of good ones) and debate whether or not some should be eliminated. I'd suggest that we decide ona cap first, though. More than 20 I would think to be unmanageable. We currently use 16 leadership in the dimensions to evaluate leadership in the Army, but to list those would be cheating! 8^P

There has been great thought put into the ideas posted thus far, and I for one am extremely curious as to where this might lead us.



 Posted: Thu Mar 20th, 2008 12:12 am
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CleburneFan
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Thanks, Joannie Reb.

This discussion spurred me to think of another aspect of leadership that influenced the Civil War that does not play out so much today in the professional, all volunteer army with strict guidelines for how rank is assigned or earned.

What I refer to is the leadership of professionally trained military officers (USMA, VMI) as opposed to "politcal" officers and men such as  Nathan Bedford Forrest who had virtually no military training or Patrick Cleburne who had military training but only as a "lowly" enlisted man in the British army, yet he became so respected that he earned the title "Stonewall of the West." 

 It also plays out in the officer rebellion against Braxton Bragg who might stand out as an example of a poor leader even though he trained at the USMA. His leadership was so inept that Forrest even refused to serve with him though Bragg had a vastly superior education.

Folks who know much more than I do can add additional information to this facet of leadership...what I guess is an innate ability to lead in combat regardless of education or previous experience.  It would be instructive to list the ablest CW generals who had little or no military experience. Of course we have to start off with Nathan Bedford Forrest. Also there is another interesting, but untrained leader, John Singleton Mosby, whose effective partisan raids earned him the title "Gray Ghost."

There are many others in both  North and South, born leaders, as it were. They didn't need the USMA to draw out their leadership qualities.



 Posted: Thu Mar 20th, 2008 12:13 am
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JoanieReb
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Kudos, Don.

Ah, I see exception organizational skills here.  Also, creativity and the ability to come up with a quick game plan and hone in on an objective.  Might you secretly be a Great General taking time off from his duties?  :):D:D

We currently use 16 leadership in the dimensions to evaluate leadership in the Army, but to list those would be cheating! 8^P

Oh, you tease!  Now you have to share what they are!  Enquiring minds want to know!

Remember the oft told story of the general whom promoted by dividing his potentials into four catagories:  Intelligent, not bright, industrious, and lazy?  He'd promote the intelligent, lazy one first, because he'd get the most done with least red-tape, and the not-bight, industrious last, because he'd cause the most trouble.....

 



 Posted: Thu Mar 20th, 2008 12:14 am
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PvtClewell
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And, how do you rate JEB Stuart?

There, you see. I knew I'd forget somebody. I'd say Stuart was great early in the war, but from the Gettysburg campaign on, fell to borderline great, or less. He just wasn't as effective. Time, desperation and attrition were passing him by.

Sheridan was great chasing Early through the valley in '64 and working with Grant around Petersburg. But you also asked how they'd be considered in other times, and in my mind he falls steeply in his handling of Native Americans in the postwar era. Could also take points away from Sherman for that.


Unlike his little buddy, U.S. Grant,.

You're just egging me on with that one, right?

Last edited on Thu Mar 20th, 2008 01:12 pm by PvtClewell



 Posted: Thu Mar 20th, 2008 12:16 am
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JoanieReb
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"There are many others in both  North and South, born leaders, as it were. They didn't need the USMA to draw out their leadership qualities."

I always think of Joshua Chamberlain and John Gordon Brown as Northern and Southern counterparts in that catagory....they each make very interesting studies.

Last edited on Thu Mar 20th, 2008 12:20 am by JoanieReb



 Posted: Thu Mar 20th, 2008 12:19 am
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JoanieReb
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" He just wasn't as effective."

You know,  I think this was especailly true after he was killed....

"You're just egging me on with that one, right?"

Who, me? (bats eyelashes innocently, then slips on shades)...:cool::cool::cool:

Last edited on Thu Mar 20th, 2008 12:19 am by JoanieReb



 Posted: Thu Mar 20th, 2008 12:32 am
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CleburneFan
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JoanieReb wrote: "There are many others in both  North and South, born leaders, as it were. They didn't need the USMA to draw out their leadership qualities."

I always think of Joshua Chamberlain and John Gordon Brown as Northern and Southern counterparts in that catagory....they each make very interesting studies.


Good choices!



 Posted: Thu Mar 20th, 2008 03:28 am
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JoanieReb
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Shall we spin off a new thread from this one?

Don had what I thought was a pretty cool suggestion:

"It seems to me that we may have drifted off the intent of the original question a bit (not that this isn't a fantastic discussion that I've really been enjoying). The issue is supposed to be what qualities or characteristics make a Civil War general great.

So we're really talking about personal qualities. Perhaps we could attempt to come up with a communal list that we can agree on? Maybe take one of the first ones listed (I recall a couple of good ones) and debate whether or not some should be eliminated. I'd suggest that we decide ona cap first, though. More than 20 I would think to be unmanageable. We currently use 16 leadership in the dimensions to evaluate leadership in the Army, but to list those would be cheating! 8^P

There has been great thought put into the ideas posted thus far, and I for one am extremely curious as to where this might lead us."


Shall we start a "Genenal's qualities #2" thread and follow Don's game plan, while keeping this thread open for general discussion (get the pun, General discussion, hee-hee?  OK, sometimes I'm just a dork.  Actually, I'm just imitating one:cool:....)

If anyone cares to start it, I shall follow....

Last edited on Thu Mar 20th, 2008 03:29 am by JoanieReb



 Posted: Thu Mar 20th, 2008 03:58 am
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ole
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And now, for something totally different: a dork is the phallus of a sperm whale. I will insist that you explain the relevance of your suggestion that you are one.

ole:shock:



 Posted: Thu Mar 20th, 2008 04:07 am
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ole
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Actually I think that the "Lost Order" was written by R.H. Chilton, Ass't Adj-Gen...

Thanks rebel yell. I got the important parts right but couldn't remember all the details.

Appreciate the clarification.

ole:)



 Posted: Thu Mar 20th, 2008 04:37 am
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PvtClewell
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Watch out, Ole. The devil is in the details. :P

Joanie might agree...



 Posted: Thu Mar 20th, 2008 05:31 am
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JoanieReb
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"Watch out, Ole. The devil is in the details. :P

Joanie might agree..."


Yes I do.  Take for example, this statement:

"And now, for something totally different: a dork is the phallus of a sperm whale. I will insist that you explain the relevance of your suggestion that you are one.

ole:shock:"


If you will read CAREFULLY, I said that I was imitating a dork.  This is done by spreading the feet about six inches apart, toes pointed outward, and bowing the legs out, like a ballet plie', and.... oh well, never mind.  The relevance?  In order to better understand the great generals, I was trying to get in touch with my masculine side....

(Are you sure that "dork" doesn't refer to the sperm of the phallus whale?)

Joanie




 

Last edited on Thu Mar 20th, 2008 05:46 am by JoanieReb



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