Appomattox Campaign, any real chance of Confederate success?

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major bill

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General Lee's had few other options, but did the Appomattox Campaign have a real chance of success? The Union Army did a good job of running down Lee's Army. Still could have Lee made it to North Carolina with most of his army intact? For example, I am not sure they had the horses and the feed for the horses to get all the artillery away. Once they left Richmond desertion could have reduced Lee's Army as it moved towards North Carolina. Just getting enough rations for his men would have been an issue. The Union Army would make foraging on the way very dangerous and trying to do so would slow the march to North Carolina.
 

Tailor Pete

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I honestly think the attempt to 'regroup' with Johnson's Army was little more than a fool's errand. As @major bill pointed out, there would have been scant rations for artillery stock, let alone cavalry!

Furthermore, there was the Great Dismal Swamp, a stretch of desolate, soggy, almost impassable quagmire. Sure, Lee might have managed to stall the Federal advance through this region, but the condition of his Army would have made their own traverse of the swamp virtually impossible.

"No Virginia, there is no victory here."
 

Northern Light

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Lee himself was aware that a siege atany point in the Overland campaign meant the end on the Confederate Army. After Petersburg, he was pretty sure tha his war was over, uless he could meet up with Johnston, but I think he was well aware that that was not going to happen. His army was so hungry and tired and desertion was getting worse by the day, so that it was unlike that he could do anything but surrender. He made sure that Davis et al had escaped from Richmond,and then stalled for terms, until he ran out of time. If Lee had been able to feed his army, things might have played out differently, at least for a while, with yet more death and destruction, but he knew that the writing was on the wall. Just my thoughts.
 
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JeffBrooks

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If the rations had arrived at Amelia Court House as planned, then there would have been a chance (albeit not a very good one) that Lee could have gotten down into North Carolina and linked up with Johnston. Even if he had done that, however, I don't think the war would have been lengthened for more than a few weeks. Lots of more men would have gotten killed, however, since we would likely have seen one last big battle on the 1863 or 1864 scales to knock Lee and Johnston out.
 

Irishtom29

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If the rations had arrived at Amelia Court House as planned, then there would have been a chance (albeit not a very good one) that Lee could have gotten down into North Carolina and linked up with Johnston. Even if he had done that, however, I don't think the war would have been lengthened for more than a few weeks. Lots of more men would have gotten killed, however, since we would likely have seen one last big battle on the 1863 or 1864 scales to knock Lee and Johnston out.

This possibility has me wondering if in a great final battle the Federals would refuse to grant quarter and instead end the rebellion in a great slaughter. During the war between Caesar and Pompey in one battle Caesar’s men refused quarter to Pompeans they’d previously defeated and spared; Caesar’s men had determined to never fight those men again.
 
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JeffBrooks

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This possibility has me wondering if in a great final battle the Federals would refuse to grant quarter and instead end the rebellion in a great slaughter. During the war between Caesar and Pompey in one battle Caesar’s men refused quarter to Pompeans they’d previously defeated and spared; Caesar’s men had determined to never fight those men again.
Absolutely not. First of all, they showed no inclination to do that in any other battle, so why would they start now? Second, Grant and Sherman were in full agreement with Lincoln's views on how to bring the South back into the Union, which had been perfectly articulated to them at the conference on board the River Queen on March 28.
 
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Absolutely not. First of all, they showed no inclination to do that in any other battle, so why would they start now? Second, Grant and Sherman were in full agreement with Lincoln's views on how to bring the South back into the Union, which had been perfectly articulated to them at the conference on board the River Queen on March 28.
But would this have held true in a post-assassination meeting of the consolidated armies? Lincoln's views on ending the war may have been superseded by the thirst for revenge in the North; Stanton would likely have called for them to 'crush' the remaining rebel armies.

Against this backdrop, what would Lee and Johnston do? IIRC, when Johnston learned from Sherman of the assassination, his reaction was to deny any involvement whatsoever (maybe with some fear of the Union response as well?). Would the two armies link and hope to continue a fight against an enraged enemy? Would they fight to the death, fearing worse if captured? Would they seek to prevent a battle- perhaps an armistice, or negotiated surrender in hopes of being treated as military prisoners rather than criminals or traitors?
 
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Carronade

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Johnston denied involvement in the assassination plot because he wasn't involved. He and Sherman negotiated surrender terms knowing all about Lincoln's murder, terms similar to those Grant granted Lee before the assassination.
 
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Johnston denied involvement in the assassination plot because he wasn't involved. He and Sherman negotiated surrender terms knowing all about Lincoln's murder, terms similar to those Grant granted Lee before the assassination.
Right- I was responding to JeffBrooks' response to IrishTom's query about 'what if' a final battle took place. Would Johnston have attempted to negotiate a surrender as POWs on the condition they not be prosecuted as traitors? Or would he and Lee have elected to fight to the finish, knowing the civilian authorities would likely call for blood?
 

JeffBrooks

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Right- I was responding to JeffBrooks' response to IrishTom's query about 'what if' a final battle took place. Would Johnston have attempted to negotiate a surrender as POWs on the condition they not be prosecuted as traitors? Or would he and Lee have elected to fight to the finish, knowing the civilian authorities would likely call for blood?
Johnston knew the game was up after Bentonville. He was looking for a way to surrender in such a manner as to save the lives of his men.

Incidentally, Secretary of War Breckinridge had decided from the moment he took over in the War Department in January of 1865 that the cause was hopeless and that the war needed to be brought to an end as swiftly as possible.
 
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