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 Posted: Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 06:37 pm
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Don
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Cleburne,
I don't know about too short a list, I was thinking 15-20 of 'main topics', with subsets under many.

Does physical capacity make the leader more or less great, or simply mean they're around long enough to help their cause in a major way? I'm not sure it directly ties to great leadership. Or are we talking abaout command presence on the battlefield?



 Posted: Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 08:01 pm
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ole
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The physical well-being of a commander has not always helped, but has hindered. AP Hill, for example, was kept from being close to greatness because of his frequent bouts of inability. Even Lee was debilitated now and then.

So maybe physically robust does have a place in your list.

ole



 Posted: Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 08:30 pm
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JoanieReb
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Joanie..
I think it was John Brown Gordon


Oopsies! boy is my face red.  Glad you caught that, Ed.

John Brown is the one whose body lies a' moldr'n in the grave.  Not sure what John Brown Gordon's body is doing, and I don't think I want to know...

Joanie



 Posted: Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 08:39 pm
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Texas Defender
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Joanie-

   John Brown Gordon is lying peacefully in Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta. You might be interested in some of the pictures here.

 

John Brown Gordon (1832 - 1904) - Find A Grave Memorial



 Posted: Mon Mar 24th, 2008 04:13 am
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Dixie Girl
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well Joanie i had to think on it a while and here;s what i came up with. NB Forrest played by his own rules and wasnt afaid to take a risk. I think AUDACITY, TACTITION, PHYSICAL ABILITY, and AGRESSIVENESS all seem to describe Forrest.



____________________
War Means Fighting And Fighting Means Killing - N. B. Forrest When war does come, my advice is to draw the sword and throw away the scabbard." Stonewall Jackson


 Posted: Mon Mar 24th, 2008 11:35 pm
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CleburneFan
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Don wrote: Cleburne,
I don't know about too short a list, I was thinking 15-20 of 'main topics', with subsets under many.

Does physical capacity make the leader more or less great, or simply mean they're around long enough to help their cause in a major way? I'm not sure it directly ties to great leadership. Or are we talking abaout command presence on the battlefield?


This just goes to show the difficulty of choosing a short list of traits of great Civil War leaders. I'm referring to your puzzle with the trait of physical fitness as an example. But then I do still maintain that not every great leader of the CW will have every trait all the time or even maybe none of the time.

Maybe an easier first step would be to decide who were the truly great Civil War leaders and then see what traits we can find in large measure that appeard much of the time in all or most of these men. Maybe to save time, we could simply cannibalize Javal's poll of last year in which we voted for the best generals of the war.

Even that should make for some great heated discussions. I can't wait.:D



 Posted: Tue Mar 25th, 2008 12:19 am
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JoanieReb
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"But then I do still maintain that not every great leader of the CW will have every trait all the time or even maybe none of the time."

A really excellent point.  Oh Dear. 

Why did the phrase, "A camel is horse designed by a committee" just come to my mind?

"we could simply cannibalize Javal's poll of last year in which we voted for the best generals of the war."

But that list was seriously flawed, as I recall - it listed US Grant as first...
=+-

WAIT A MINUTE!!!!  I don't want to screw up this thread with my goofing around.  Ignore that last statement, please.

Last edited on Tue Mar 25th, 2008 12:25 am by JoanieReb



 Posted: Tue Mar 25th, 2008 01:57 am
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ole
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Maybe it would be less complicated to make a list less than ten essential qualities, and make a secondary list of those nice to have?

ole



 Posted: Tue Mar 25th, 2008 02:13 am
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JoanieReb
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A good idea! Perhaps we could even enlist Joe to help us make a poll - a secret vote-type thing, as with the top-ten generals and top ten books lists.  Then, we could debate those, and other, qualities.

It may help Joe recover from his disappointment in us, as expressed in the "dirt-eating" thread. (Haha - that post made me belly-laugh out loud - thanks Joe, I needed that!)

Last edited on Tue Mar 25th, 2008 02:14 am by JoanieReb



 Posted: Tue Mar 25th, 2008 03:17 am
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javal1
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JR,

I can put up a poll, but I'm limited to 10 choices. So whatever it is you want a poll about (not being snarky, just confusing the two similar threads), make sure there are 10 choices or less, then let me know.



 Posted: Tue Mar 25th, 2008 02:40 pm
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younglobo
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I have a trait that a lot of the "great " Generals had  FAITH in God . Think sometimes this could be overlooked , but it does strengthin some of the traits that you all have mentioned. Through Prayer , reading the bible and morals , and just relying on a higher power than thier own.

Several great Generals had this trait ; Jackson, Stuart, Lee, just to name a few.

I know there are a couple of good books on the subject (written by a fellow board member no less).

The Generals that we are discussing lived in a very different time when the subject of religion didnt have the stigma it does now . I would not want to speak for these men but I know my faith would help me alot in the situtatiions they  experienced. Some of the areas on the list that faith would come into play are :

Tenacity : a faith in God will strengthin you resolve to stick to the cause. 

 Motivator: If you are going to inspire men you have to be inspired from somewhere yourself. 

 Decision- making  : I am sure Many of Lee's battle plans were prayed about long before and after they were put on paper.

Calmness , Courage : Jackson rode to the front of the lines often , like he did at Chancelorsville  because his faith told him God had already appointed the time of his death so he need not worry about it.

Vision: both sides thought the Lord was on thier side for example at Fredricksburg the Confederates saw the Northern Lights as God celebrating a Confederate victory.

Also a quote from Fredricksuburg

 We will whip the enemy, but gain no fruits of victory


Gen. Stonewall Jackson



Basically IMO Faith in God should be a Characteristic of a great general or at the very least a sublet of many of the above mentioned traits.



 


 

Last edited on Tue Mar 25th, 2008 02:46 pm by younglobo



 Posted: Tue Mar 25th, 2008 06:01 pm
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ashbel
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youngblood

Interesting thesis.  But I don't think this is a quality of a great general.  For certain individuals I believe it helped them tremendously.  But the converse would be you would exclude others who did not have this faith.  I don't think it works in many cases. For example where would you put Grant?

For a great book on this subject read:

"God is Marching On: The Religious World of Civil War Soldiers"

By Steven Woodworth.  I think you would really enjoy it.

 



 Posted: Wed Mar 26th, 2008 12:26 am
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younglobo
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ashbel .. I would agree it wouldnt fit every general, but it did help make men great such as the ones i mentioned and many others that i dont even know of. And by the way the wife grits her teeth and gets the skillet if I buy any more books.



 Posted: Wed Mar 26th, 2008 02:16 am
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CleburneFan
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I think when we try to decide what special traits the most successful generals would be likely to possess, we need to choose traits that few other generals possessed to such an extent. I mean, in short, what qualities did they have that separated them from other generals? Belief in God would be more likely to be a trait they shared in common with other generals.

Belief in God was common to many in the culture at the time, at least at the start of the war. Some of the least successful generals deeply believed in God. For example, Confederate Major General Leonidas Polk was a Bishop.

 

Last edited on Wed Mar 26th, 2008 02:16 am by CleburneFan



 Posted: Wed Mar 26th, 2008 09:43 am
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ashbel
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Younglobo (I apologize for misspelling your name)
It sounds like we need to start a book exchange.  I have the same problem with "the one who must be obeyed."  She seems to think I have too many books.  Actually she thinks they take up too much room.  So our latest deal is that if I buy a book I need to sell a book.  (What she doesn't know is that I have another bookshelf at my office.)



 Posted: Wed Mar 26th, 2008 10:05 am
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ashbel
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It looks like we need someone to start with a top ten.  How about these? (in no particular order)

1. Tenacity - never, ever give up

2. Aggressiveness - audacity, boldness, a war cannot be won from a defensive position

3. Motivator - must be able to inspire men

4. Ability to delegate

5. Flexibility - must be able to adapt to changing conditions including technology

6. Tactician - skill on the battlefield

7. Political skills - be able to get along with civilian leaders

8. Planning/Organization

9. Strategic - must understand how their actions fit into the larger picture

10. Decision making - must be able to make the tough decisions and make them work.



 Posted: Wed Mar 26th, 2008 01:11 pm
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ashbel
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The more I think about this the more I think it boils down to 4 core qualities of great generals:

1. Leadership

2. Strategic

3. Tactical

4. Political

All of the other qualities we have listed fall into these larger groupings and help define their meaning.



 Posted: Wed Mar 26th, 2008 02:42 pm
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ole
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1. Tenacity - never, ever give up.
2. Aggressiveness - audacity, boldness, a war cannot be won from a defensive position.
3. Motivator - must be able to inspire men.
4. Ability to delegate.
5. Flexibility - must be able to adapt to changing conditions including technology.
6. Tactician - skill on the battlefield.
7. Political skills - be able to get along with civilian leaders.
8. Planning/Organization.
9. Strategic - must understand how their actions fit into the larger picture.
10. Decision making - must be able to make the tough decisions and make them work.

I like this longer list. Cutting it to four wider themes leaves too much room for discussing the meaning of each. The longer list eliminates much of the need for definitions.

Perhaps as part of "ability to delegate" might be added, "and to select compatible subordinates." And "political skills" might also be augmented and "subordinates."

I'm looking for a place for "perception -- the ability to see the whole picture on a wide battlefield." Maybe that's in the next 10? Or maybe it belongs in this 10 and something else belongs on the next?

Thanks for helping get the ball rolling.

ole



 Posted: Wed Mar 26th, 2008 03:09 pm
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ashbel
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Ole

I think you are using "perception" the same way that Napoleon used the term "coup d'oeuil" or the ability to view a battlefield and quickly make the right decision on a course of action.

I would put this into the broader "tactics" quality.  Perhaps it should be on its own.

I think politics refers to relations with civilian authorities.  Unfortunately, we saw many instances of politics being fought out within armies.  That was not a good quality.  An army properly motivated and organized with subordinates given responsibility should not have internal politics.  In the case of the great generals internal politics were minimized.

 



 Posted: Wed Mar 26th, 2008 03:53 pm
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ole
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I think politics refers to relations with civilian authorities.  Unfortunately, we saw many instances of politics being fought out within armies.  That was not a good quality.  An army properly motivated and organized with subordinates given responsibility should not have internal politics.  In the case of the great generals internal politics were minimized.

All generals, great and small, were involved with -- militarily, up/down, and civilian.

But here we're honing our definitions to reach a place of agreement, and this might well have been the point of introducing the thread.

I would put this into the broader "tactics" quality.  Perhaps it should be on its own.


I'd vote for "on its own." No one deny that Lee was a tactical genious, but sometimes he lost sight of the big picture. So maybe I've just ruined my argument?

ole



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