View single post by PvtClewell
 Posted: Sun Feb 10th, 2008 04:51 am
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Joined: Wed Jun 13th, 2007
Location: North Carolina USA
Posts: 420

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Sorry guys, I've been in wireless-free land most of the day and only now can I reply.

Before we hammer the final nail, Joanie asks this:

Will someone please tell me where it says that asking for a truce to collect the dead and wounded is the equivalent of losing the field?

I was basing much of my argument on the previously annotated segment from Shelby Foote, quoting a Federal staff colonel: 'An impression prevails in the popular mind (I interpret 'popular mind' to mean custom), and with some reason perhaps, that a commander who sends a flag of truce asking permission to bury his dead and bring in his wounded has lost the field of battle. Hence the resistance upon our part to ask a flag of truce.'

Joanie originally asked about a week ago (so it seems) what kind of man was Grant to be so callous. The above was the best answer I could find and appears to explain his reasoning.

I've stated on two other occasions that this issue is an argument I'm not really comfortable making and feel like I'm mostly on shaky ground at best. But the implication is that Grant was exceedingly uncaring about his men, which I cannot accept. We've learned that the Union waited at least two days after Fredericksburg to call for such a truce, yet Burnside/Franklin are not castigated for it. So why is Grant for Cold Harbor? Lee is still on the field the fourth day of Gettysburg waiting for a counterattack, but the only truce he calls for (that I know of, anyway) is for an exchange of prisoners (Coddington). From everybody's contributing research here (which I appreciate), it seems truces were not all that common in the war, at least at the command level. I suspect there are plenty of instances where casualties were left on the field for days on end — on both sides — that aren't documented. So why is it Grant alone draws this kind of ire?

I also found this, which comes from the post-war diary of Cpl. M. Harrison Strong of the 72nd Illinois. Strong fought under Grant at Donelson, Shiloh and Vicksburg, but never made close contact with Grant until he became an acting adjutant on Grant's staff: 'Another thing that makes me want to hit someone is this notion of Grant the butcher. Nothing could be further from his character. It was exactly the opposite of what he was inside. His goodness was extreme. But he was always alone, totally alone and seemingly lonesome. He bore a terrific, awful responsibility all by himself.'

Not all of Grant's men thought he was bad.

Give me the hammer. I'll be more than happy to drive in that final nail in this episode.

On to other matters:

Rhea’s statement is misleading.

Rhea's statement is factual. The purpose of the battle is to continue to pressure Lee. The purpose of the campaign is to force Lee's surrender. Maneuvering is one way to do that. Anyway, it was originally asked if Grant might have thought his plan wasn't working and clearly, he never thought that.

Lee and the ANV are fighting a war for their homes and families. It is a war, as they view it, against an invading army. While these losses are sad, these men died in defense against invaders.

Grant is fighting to preserve the Union. Invasion? What invasion? Grant was trying to quell a rebellion. (This one could lead to about 100 different threads, 50 of them by Joanie alone).

Lincoln’s reelection lies not with Grant/Meade, but with Sherman. Had Atlanta not fallen, what chances does Lincoln have?

I know that and made reference to that in a previous post. But it was mentioned that the losses at Cold Harbor damaged the Northern war effort, and I don't see how. I mentioned the support the AofP gave Lincoln to illustrate that even though the army suffered horrendous casualties, it still voted overwhelmingly to keep the present administration and thus continue its war aims. I don't see that as damage to the war effort.

Ah, but it is not Lee that stops Mac. It is Joe Johnston. After Johnston attacks Mac at Seven Pines, Mac stops his advance. It is Lee who pushed Mac back down the Peninsula.

Technically, that's correct. But I'll argue that it was Lil' Mac who stopped Lil' Mac. The Lil' Turd spent most of the battle in bed and supplied no leadership at all. Johnston, meanwhile, screws up an opportunity to destroy the Federal left wing and then tries to blame Benjamin Huger for it. Now there's leadership for you. Lee was the best thing that happened to the Confederacy. Or the worst, if you want to consider his war-long casualty rate, which, if I remember correctly, also included a futile frontal assault somewhere in Pennsylvania.

...but if I go get more ANV/Virginia stuff off the shelf, my wife is going to cut my internet line.

Don't I know it, brother. It's aggravating how often I have to surrender the 'puter to QVC research. :(

Last edited on Sun Feb 10th, 2008 06:02 am by PvtClewell

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