|View single post by PvtClewell|
|Posted: Thu Nov 8th, 2007 08:26 pm||
Best answer yet. Simple. Concise. Eloquent. To the point.
Mostly agree with what you say. I hope you understand that I'm not trying to deify Lee or support Lost Cause mythology, but rather, trying to throw in a little perspective here. Clearly, I don't think Lee is overrated, either.
Not sure why my post drew a salvo about western vs. eastern troops, although I will say I am woefully ignorant on western campaigns. Quality of troops in any theater was never the issue.
Sometimes a defensive war does work. There's still the 38th parallel in Korea. And why is the US no longer in Vietnam? Imagine if the Confederacy had gone guerilla. Even in traditional setpiece warfare, I think the Confederacy, if it had adopted a defensive grand strategy, gives itself a chance if it can frustrate the northern will to continue the fight. It nearly happened that way anyhow.
(It was pointed out to me that Lee would never have accepted guerilla warfare as it was not part of his fibre. I agree. And this might be yet another reason to respect Lee. If he'd gone guerilla, we might still be fighting the war.)
Three other generals did have an opportunity to command the Confederate army before Lee got the job. PGT Beauregard was the commander on the field at First Manassas. Joe Johnston was seriously wounded at Fair Oaks after mediocre performance, and Gustavus Smith, Johnston's replacement, was in command for two days before the burden of responsibility virtually shattered his nerves. Then Lee takes command and, I guess, surprises everybody. Lee then shapes his men, and his men shape him, which is the real point I'm trying to make.
This is interesting about the demerit system at West Point. Pryor notes that when Freeman was writing 'R.E. Lee,' historians at West Point told Freeman they doubted anybody could have gone through four years without getting a demerit. Demerits could be erased for good behavior or by working them off. Is that how Lee kept his slate clean? We can only guess.
Lee finished second in his class of 1829, behind Charles Mason. Mason also graduated without demerits on his Record of Delinquencies, and later became a federal judge. He also wrote about Lee in his diary in 1864: 'General Lee is winning great renown as a great captain...Some of the English writers place him next to Napoleon and Wellington. I once excelled him and might have been his equal yet perhaps if I had remained in the army as he did. I sometimes regard his fame as a reproach to myself..."
In other news, I still can't shake that lingering image of Lincoln. Worse, I'm now thinking of Washington, Jefferson, Lee, et al, in that way, ad nauseum. Really.
Last edited on Thu Nov 8th, 2007 09:00 pm by PvtClewell