View single post by Kentucky_Orphan
 Posted: Thu Nov 8th, 2007 04:44 am
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Kentucky_Orphan
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Lee had superb troops, the equal of any in American history I think. But then, so did Johnston, Bragg, etc. Let me get this out of the way- anyone who maintains that the eastern theater troops were superior to those of the west in the confederate armies (or that western theater men were superior to their eastern theater counterparts in the Federal armies) is, frankly, woefully ignorant (like that awfull "Grant comes East" assumption). Like all of the PFI in all armies in the ACW, they killed or died just as well whatever the terrain. 

As for the "defensive" angle, you cannot win a war on the defensive, nor was it even an option really. The Confederacy simply could not defend the amount of territory it had in a purely defensive role. It is not only impractical it is impossible. If an army the size of the AoP masses it forces for an offensive strike, you must mass your forces as well. The enemy will then disengage and manuever or strike at its discretion. This is because, by being only reactive as is the nature of the defensive, the AoP would forever hold the initiative.

Lee made strategic mistakes, to be sure. Yes, his troops were as good as any general could wish for. However, generals probably deserve more credit in this era than they do today because of the more intimate role they played in directing troop movements and battlefield tactical decisions instantaneously (this goes for generals from army commander to brigadier), accessing situations first-hand, etc. Speaking on Generals, let me just add that though  Lee may have lacked corps commander competency at some junctures during the war,  he had marvelous division commanders generally speaking throughout. These men, it can be argued, along with the fine troops they commanded made Lee's job much easier-but an army commander must place them correctly if they are to succeed.

Is Lee overated then? By some, who diefy him, of course (the same as those Generals in the German army of world war 1 vintage who diefied Clausewitz), but generally no, Lee is not overated. He did things, quite frankly, no other general leading forces of that size did (against forces of the size he fought as well)-it can be argued others COULD HAVE, but they didn't have the opportunity to do so and thus never proved irrefutably they could. Does that mean he's the best general of the war? Perhaps, perhaps not, but none can argue there was a better general in the south to lead the AoNV-just as none can argue there was a better suited man to run the AoP than Grant.

There, thats my 10 cents-I am sure old hands like Johan and Ole have heard these arguments before, but why not state them again. Its opinion, and you know what they say about opinions.

Oh well, if my ramblings are incoherent it may be the late hour, and I may wake up in the morning realizing that I just posted twinkie ingredients somewhere, but thats a risk u take at this hour. Preemptive apologies all around if this is the case, etc. etc.

 

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