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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: Thu Mar 20th, 2008 06:27 am
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Texas Defender
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Joanie-

  I read somewhere that the greatest Confederate general in the war was Abraham Buford.

  I think that the greatest Civil War general had to have been Winfield Scott. What made him so great was probably eating terrapins.  ;)



 Posted: Thu Mar 20th, 2008 07:12 am
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JoanieReb
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Ah, TD, thank you.

You have irrevokably proven my suspicion that US Grant was in "No Way, Shape, or Form" a great general.  It can clearly be shown now that he was not - especially not in shape and form.  He were just a little dor...er, ah, twerp..

And, I thought Private Clewell's idea that Longstreet was only borderline great might be questionable, but by your very substantial criteria, so it is the case...he was a great, tall man, but not an extremely stout one, ergo, borderline.

Hmmmm, this simplifies the cap on the list that Don was talking about, just one now: weigh 'em and rank 'em, Boys and Girls!

Last edited on Thu Mar 20th, 2008 07:14 am by JoanieReb



 Posted: Thu Mar 20th, 2008 07:24 am
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Texas Defender
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Joanie-

  I wasn't planning on joining this discussion, but when ole brought up the subject of: "whales," I just couldn't resist.       ;) 



 Posted: Thu Mar 20th, 2008 07:28 am
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JoanieReb
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Ah, TD, I'm glad you finally jumped on-board.  I was missing you!  But I knew you waiting for just the right moment.  Glad the whaling expedition afforded it.  See, Ole is good for something!=+-

Last edited on Thu Mar 20th, 2008 07:35 am by JoanieReb



 Posted: Thu Mar 20th, 2008 01:05 pm
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PvtClewell
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I read somewhere that the greatest Confederate general in the war was Abraham Buford.

Hey, TD!

I think I remember reading that, too. Wasn't it written by Mrs. Buford? :)



 Posted: Thu Mar 20th, 2008 01:31 pm
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CleburneFan
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PvtClewell wrote: I read somewhere that the greatest Confederate general in the war was Abraham Buford.

Hey, TD!

I think I remember reading that, too. Wasn't it written by Mrs. Buford? :)

If we use that critieria, that of a wife campaigning for her husband's greatness, then the greatest general of the Civil War was George Armstrong Custer.:)



 Posted: Thu Mar 20th, 2008 03:17 pm
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susansweet
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If we use the criteria of the wife , then John C. Fremont would have to be ranked up there with Custer .  Jessie also would outrank Libbie as Jessie was a senator's daughter.

Susan



 Posted: Thu Mar 20th, 2008 04:13 pm
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CleburneFan
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Good call, Susan. I didn't even think of Fremont, but then I seldom do.:D



 Posted: Thu Mar 20th, 2008 04:23 pm
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CleburneFan
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One trait of great generals in the Civil War could arguably be the willingness to be ruthless when "military necessity" demanded it. The Civil War provides fertile ground of examples of ruthless behavior both against civilians, against the enemy and even one's own men in the cause of trying to achieve a victory.

Is there an example of a truly great Civil War general on either side who can never have been said to be ruthless?  Is there a general who declined to accept the "victory at all costs" philosophy and left an important battle or declined to implement a tactic or strategy because the cost of doing so "at all hazards" would be too great?

 



 Posted: Thu Mar 20th, 2008 04:24 pm
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Only reason I think of Fremont is he is all over California .  Things are named for him everywhere.  He sort of "got lost" leaving and wandered around .  Good thing he had Kit Carson with him.   Then too he was in just the right place when the Bear Flag Revolt started . 

Susan



 Posted: Thu Mar 20th, 2008 04:45 pm
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ashbel
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I hate to be redundant but I can't see how if you look at the total picture of a great general including strategy, tactics and politics that you would not put Grant and Lee at the top.  No revelation there.

But let me throw out a name that could be at the top of the list if you just look at strategy and tactics - George Thomas - "the Rock of Chickamauga."  He never had the political backing to make it to the top but if you look at his performance throughout the war, one would be hard pressed to find anyone who was more consistently excellent than Thomas.  He excelled at being a Corps commander witnessed by Chickamauga and Chattanooga and was also capable in his own command as seen at Nashville.

 



 Posted: Thu Mar 20th, 2008 05:11 pm
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HankC
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Thomas falls short in the areas of initiative and risk management. He had to be prodded to do about everything, including at Nashville where his subordinates started their own charges rather than waiting around.

Tullohoma showed he *could* be agile, but that was pretty much a one-time occurence.

His tendency was to react rather than be imaginative.


HankC



 Posted: Thu Mar 20th, 2008 05:12 pm
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ole
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Is there an example of a truly great Civil War general on either side who can never have been said to be ruthless?  Is there a general who declined to accept the "victory at all costs" philosophy and left an important battle or declined to implement a tactic or strategy because the cost of doing so "at all hazards" would be too great? 

Now I'm struck dumb, Fan. I doubt anyone, ever, could have said that better!

My humble thanks.

ole
 



 Posted: Thu Mar 20th, 2008 05:17 pm
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Much obliged, Ole. Don't you just love discussions like this! They really get one to thinking about the Civil War in different ways and with different perspectives.



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 Posted: Thu Mar 20th, 2008 05:24 pm
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ole
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Ashbel, I must pitch in on HankC's take. Thomas was much more than adequate. He was very, very good. But I don't think he falls into the category of great. There is a spark within the term "great." Thomas didn't have it. Sherman didn't have it. Sheridan didn't have it. Davis didn't have it. Grant and Lee and Lincoln did have it.

I don't know where to go from here. It was just there.

ole



 Posted: Thu Mar 20th, 2008 05:25 pm
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susansweet wrote: Only reason I think of Fremont is he is all over California .  Things are named for him everywhere.  He sort of "got lost" leaving and wandered around .  Good thing he had Kit Carson with him.   Then too he was in just the right place when the Bear Flag Revolt started . 

Susan


Fremont also lends his name to one of the main drags in Las Vegas, NV...Fremont Street. I guess he was pretty much all over the place in the mountain west region.

True confession here. I tend to follow more closely the generals, campaigns and battles that impacted areas where I have lived or visited. That's why I haven't read so much about Fremont. It is mostly a lack of time to do him justice. It certainly isn't because I don't think he is worth my time. As you know, Susan, so many books--so little time.:D



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 Posted: Thu Mar 20th, 2008 05:26 pm
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Texas Defender
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ashbel-

  Since you are a new member of this board( and you've shown an interest in General Thomas), you might not have seen a discussion of George Thomas that took place on this board some time ago.

  A number of people gave their opinions, and we didn't always stay on topic. Still, you might be interested to read it.

 

General George H. Thomas - The People of the Civil War - Civil War Talk - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board



 Posted: Thu Mar 20th, 2008 08:25 pm
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HankC
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Texas Defender wrote: ashbel-

  Since you are a new member of this board( and you've shown an interest in General Thomas), you might not have seen a discussion of George Thomas that took place on this board some time ago.

  A number of people gave their opinions, and we didn't always stay on topic. Still, you might be interested to read it.

 

General George H. Thomas - The People of the Civil War - Civil War Talk - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board


whew...glad to see my opinion is consistent over the years ;)
 
 
HankC



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