Bad luck Pemberton.

major bill

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#1
I am ready up a bit on the Vicksburg Campaign in hopes of going this fall to Vicksburg. So I am trying to get a handle on John C. Pemberton.

It seems like Jefferson Davis originally thought well of him. Davis put in charge of Vicksburg. Was Davis mistaken?

Pemberton was a West Point graduate and an experienced officer when the War began. He appeared to be a good engineer and a fair administrator. At least on paper, he appeared to be a good officer.

Being born in the North, some Southerners questioned his loyalty to the Confederacy. A few believed that he intentionally aided the Union.

During the early part of the Vicksburg Campaign he seemed to perform fair. Still after Grant crossed the river Pemberton seemed to be relative and not overly proactive.
 

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major bill

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#2
So my first question would be, if Davis made a mistake putting Pemberton in command at Vicksburg, who should have Davis put in command?

Saying Pemberton performed poorly, brinfs into question if any Confederate commander would have done better with the same resources and same situation.
 

Carronade

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#3
One problem was Davis' insistence that Vicksburg must be held no matter what; that would have been a millstone for any commander.

Pemberton's previous job had been commander of the military district of Georgia and South Carolina, and he had gotten in trouble for saying that he would rather lose a city like Charleston than lose his army. As you say some people questioned his loyalty to the Confederate cause, so he was doubly unlikely to disobey Davis' order even if it cost the Confederacy an army.

Pemberton's Confederate service was mainly administrative; had he ever commanded troops in Civil War combat before being given command of an army in a crucial theater?
 

Eric Calistri

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#4
I am ready up a bit on the Vicksburg Campaign in hopes of going this fall to Vicksburg. So I am trying to get a handle on John C. Pemberton.

It seems like Jefferson Davis originally thought well of him. Davis put in charge of Vicksburg. Was Davis mistaken?

Pemberton was a West Point graduate and an experienced officer when the War began. He appeared to be a good engineer and a fair administrator. At least on paper, he appeared to be a good officer.

Being born in the North, some Southerners questioned his loyalty to the Confederacy. A few believed that he intentionally aided the Union.

During the early part of the Vicksburg Campaign he seemed to perform fair. Still after Grant crossed the river Pemberton seemed to be relative and not overly proactive.

Pemberton was working on a book when he passed away. The unfinished manuscript is available as Compelled To Appear in Print.
This was rediscovered and published only about 20 years ago, and is a really important viewpoint on Vicksburg. JCP really believed he been wronged by Joe Johnston, not just in Narrative of Military operations, but during the crucial phase of the Vicksburg operation. I think many who are familiar with the campaign agree with Pemberton on this. Many of JCP's mistakes were of his own making, but the CSA command structure that Davis created had several fatal flaws that would have severely hampered anyone commanding that department.
 
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#5
I am ready up a bit on the Vicksburg Campaign in hopes of going this fall to Vicksburg. So I am trying to get a handle on John C. Pemberton.

It seems like Jefferson Davis originally thought well of him. Davis put in charge of Vicksburg. Was Davis mistaken?

Pemberton was a West Point graduate and an experienced officer when the War began. He appeared to be a good engineer and a fair administrator. At least on paper, he appeared to be a good officer.

Being born in the North, some Southerners questioned his loyalty to the Confederacy. A few believed that he intentionally aided the Union.

During the early part of the Vicksburg Campaign he seemed to perform fair. Still after Grant crossed the river Pemberton seemed to be relative and not overly proactive.
In previous Vicksburg threads there has been a discussion that Pemperton received conflicting orders. Also some questions about a clear line of communication that Pemperton should of tried to breakout of Vicksburg with his forces but not given a coherent order.
Leftyhunter
 

alan polk

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#7
Pemberton acquitted himself well enough considering he had little to no cavalry with which to gather proper intelligence.

However, the Campaign began to fall apart when Johnston arrived in theater and hastily issued his May 13 order for Pemberton to leave Edwards Depot and to come up on the enemy’s rear at Clinton.

Defeat was made all the more probable when Pemberton became diffident, lacking the confidence to refuse to follow Johnston’s order and remain at Edwards Depot to receive Grant’s attack instead.

Mistakes like that are hard to come back from when facing a bold commander like Grant.
 
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Nytram01

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#12
Pemberton acquitted himself well enough considering he had little to no cavalry with which to gather proper intelligence.

However, the Campaign began to fall apart when Johnston arrived in theater and hastily issued his May 13 order for Pemberton to leave Edwards Depot and to come up on the enemy’s rear at Clinton.

Defeat was made all the more probable when Pemberton became diffident, lacking the confidence to refuse to follow Johnston’s order and remain at Edwards Depot to receive Grant’s attack instead.

Mistakes like that are hard to come back from when facing a bold commander like Grant.
Johnston, partly due to having been reluctant to assert his own authority due to his delicate sense of military ettiquette and partly due to having been focused more on the Army of Tennessee and it's infighting for the early part of the year, was not really up-to-date with events in Mississippi when he was parachuted in above Pemberton's head, and the information he was given as to the state of the campaign by Walker and Gregg - that Sherman was isolated between the two armies - turned out to be inaccurate.

That Johnston ended up being a harmful influence on events cannot really be taken as a surprise. He was coming into a theater mid-campaign and acting on faulty intelligence.

I would still apportion a share of blame to Pemberton for lacking the conviction to stick by his own judgement, and for allowing himself to not only disregard Johnston's orders - initially - but to be talked into abandon his own plans by his subordinates and set off in search of Grant's lines of supply and communication, putting himself in an even worse position to meet Grant when he choose to follow Johnston's second dispatch directing him to Clinton.

It was undeniably a failure in leadership on Pemberton's part, exacerbated by Johnston's council and a Confederate turn-coat, that led to his army being caught unprepared at Champion Hill.
 
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#13

alan polk

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#14
That Johnston ended up being a harmful influence on events cannot really be taken as a surprise. He was coming into a theater mid-campaign and acting on faulty intelligence.
I agree, but Johnston had been given information on May 12 by Pemberton outlining Pemberton’s plan of action. In that report the enemy’s known position was given and the suspected target of that enemy. So even with the faulty information he received from Gregg on the 13th that a “portion” of the enemy was at Clinton, he should have known through mere deduction that the other parts of that “portion,” unaccounted for by Gregg, must be somewhere else, i.e., possibly in the same position described by Pemberton in his May 12 dispatch.

I agree that fault should be found in Pemberton’s unwillingness to disobey the May 13 order. As I wrote in my previous post, he became diffident and allowed himself to be lead astray.
 
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