Biggest mistake of the war

lurid

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 3, 2019
I agree they thought they could win. I think they counted on the Border States joining them quickly, and the threat of King Cotton causing foreign powers to intervene early. I find the Cornerstone speech to be very informative on this.

Yes, I don't understand when people say that the Confederates knew the best could do is cause a draw. What army enters a war with a goal to cause a draw? That's comical to me...lol
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
I agree they thought they could win. I think they counted on the Border States joining them quickly, and the threat of King Cotton causing foreign powers to intervene early. I find the Cornerstone speech to be very informative on this.
There's an old saying " the best made plans of mice and men often go awry".
Leftyhunter
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
For the North: Not firing McClellan a lot sooner.

For the South: Putting Joe Johnston in command of anything.
Maybe yes maybe no. McCelllan had the best kill ratio of any commander of the AoP. McCelllan,' s men loved him. It's not certain any Confedrate commander would have done any better then Johnston. By the time the Union Army arrives in Georgia it has the numerical and logistical advantage.
Leftyhunter
 

Lost Cause

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Sep 19, 2014
Maybe yes maybe no. McCelllan had the best kill ratio of any commander of the AoP. McCelllan,' s men loved him. It's not certain any Confedrate commander would have done any better then Johnston. By the time the Union Army arrives in Georgia it has the numerical and logistical advantage.
Leftyhunter
An example where the kill ratio did not equate to moving the war any closer to victory.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
An example where the kill ratio did not equate to moving the war any closer to victory.
My point is McCelllan wasn't a bad general. The war started in 1861 and by the summer of 1864 the Confedracy was in a bad way with having anywhere close to enough men in it's ranks so McCelllan did a good job in shortening the war by getting a good kill ratio. That's what wars are all about.
Leftyhunter
 

Lost Cause

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Sep 19, 2014
My point is McCelllan wasn't a bad general. The war started in 1861 and by the summer of 1864 the Confedracy was in a bad way with having anywhere close to enough men in it's ranks so McCelllan did a good job in shortening the war by getting a good kill ratio. That's what wars are all about.
Leftyhunter
I never said he was bad, especially in comparison with other commanding generals who came before and after him. ANV replacement issues became more apparent in 1863 and beyond. Even then, the war was not more in doubt until later 1864.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
An example where the kill ratio did not equate to moving the war any closer to victory.
My point is McCelllan wasn't a bad general. The war started in 1861 and by the summer of 1864 the Confedracy was in a bad way with having anywhere close to enough men in it's ranks so McCelllan did a good job in shortening the war by getting a good kill ratio. That's what wars are all about.
Leftyhunter
I never said he was bad, especially in comparison with other commanding generals who came before and after him. ANV replacement issues became more apparent in 1863 and beyond. Even then, the war was not more in doubt until later 1864.
In 20/20 hindsight both Sherman and Hoston weren't in doubt after Ft.Sumter and they were in the money. The Union was never loosing. As far as public perception goes it's hard to say as scientific polling was a good eighty years away.
Leftyhunter
 

Lost Cause

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Sep 19, 2014
My point is McCelllan wasn't a bad general. The war started in 1861 and by the summer of 1864 the Confedracy was in a bad way with having anywhere close to enough men in it's ranks so McCelllan did a good job in shortening the war by getting a good kill ratio. That's what wars are all about.
Leftyhunter

In 20/20 hindsight both Sherman and Hoston weren't in doubt after Ft.Sumter and they were in the money. The Union was never loosing. As far as public perception goes it's hard to say as scientific polling was a good eighty years away.
Leftyhunter
Agreed, that is 20/20 hindsight. Who is Hoston?
 

Nytram01

First Sergeant
Joined
Sep 13, 2007
Location
Portsmouth, Hampshire, England
For the North: Not firing McClellan a lot sooner.

For the South: Putting Joe Johnston in command of anything.

McClellan was overly cautious but generally competent. He was never going to lose the war, but he wasn't really aggressive enough to win it.

Johnston was a competent and conventional General, but he'd always been an unlucky soldier and was fighting for the wrong side to make the most of his talents.

There were worse Generals in Commanding roles on both sides than either man.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
An example where the kill ratio did not equate to moving the war any closer to victory.
My point is McCelllan wasn't a bad general. The war started in 1861 and by the summer of 1864 the Confedracy was in a bad way with having anywhere close to enough men in it's ranks so McCelllan did a good job in shortening the war by getting a good kill ratio. That's what wars are all about.
Leftyhunter
I never said he was bad, especially in comparison with other commanding generals who came before and after him. ANV replacement issues became more apparent in 1863 and beyond. Even then, the war was not more in doubt until later 1864.
In 20/20 hindsight both Sherman and Hoston weren't in doubt after Ft.Sumter and they were in the money. The Union was never loosing. As far as public perception goes
Agreed, that is 20/20 hindsight. Who is Hoston?
My bad Sam Houston has in the City of Huston is named after him as in the first governor of Texas as an American state.
Leftyhunter
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
We know how Sanctions work in practice because we have decades of case studies although they would be post WWII so we can't really discuss them on this forum. Basically they add costs that the British at the time didn't wish to have. During the ACW the British weren't going to go through with diplomatic recognion of the Confedracy and getting cheap corn was one of the more important reasons. Of course there were others but it boils down to a cost benefit analysis. At the end of the day the benefits if recognizing the Confedracy were not worth the costs.
1) But what we are talking about here is not really on the same level as sanctions. The US only has three choices to keep cheap corn out of the British economy, and all of them involve costs to the US which are very significant.

2) No, getting cheap corn was not one of the more important reasons. If it was, the Cabinet (who had the actual power to make these decisions) would have mentioned it in their discussions; they did not.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
For the North: Not firing McClellan a lot sooner.
For what it's worth, I think the problem with the idea of firing McClellan sooner being in any way beneficial is a simple question of who and what the alternative courses of action were.


Basically:

1) The men who were considered to replace McClellan were not exactly men who set the world on fire themselves, and indeed both of the men who actually did replace McClellan at different times (Pope and Burnside, depending on how defined) pretty quickly committed a major error - one resulting in a major defeat - which would not have happened under McClellan.

2) Given McClellan's generalized methods through his time in command, and the challenges he faced, then to replace McClellan with someone else (at any point in the war) and produce a significantly improved outcome requires at least one of these to be true:
- The Overland campaign produces quick, decisive results within a few months despite facing an enemy of comparable total strength.
- Richmond could have been easily taken by the Peninsula campaign with only the resources actually assigned to that campaign, but McClellan did not take an opportunity that actually existed.
- The Maryland Campaign offered a significant chance to destroy Lee's army and Lee did not notice this risk.
- Attacking straight at the Confederate army without manoeuvring for advantage can defeat it decisively.


Now, obviously, if firing McClellan replaces him with a general who is able to perform better with the same level of resources relative to his opponent, this obviously means the outcome is better. But I don't think there's any general in the war on the Union side who has that ability in any proven way.

By that I don't mean that McClellan was the best general, instead I mean that no other Union general does anything while commanding that makes them clearly superior. There are others who do well under less trying conditions, but none I can think of who face an equal challenge and come up better than McClellan did.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
1) But what we are talking about here is not really on the same level as sanctions. The US only has three choices to keep cheap corn out of the British economy, and all of them involve costs to the US which are very significant.

2) No, getting cheap corn was not one of the more important reasons. If it was, the Cabinet (who had the actual power to make these decisions) would have mentioned it in their discussions; they did not.
The UK needed cheap corn and wasn't going to make waves with the US over it. The UK could of recognized the Confedracy they choose not to and has I have a whole previous thread about this issue the British choose corn over cotton. The British always concluded that when push comes to shove trade with the Union is far more important then trade with the Confedracy.
Leftyhunter
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
The UK needed cheap corn and wasn't going to make waves with the US over it. The UK could of recognized the Confedracy they choose not to and has I have a whole previous thread about this issue the British choose corn over cotton. The British always concluded that when push comes to shove trade with the Union is far more important then trade with the Confedracy.
Leftyhunter

"Needed" is a strong term, and likely an exaggeration. Without US wheat there would have been a large increase in wheat prices, but not one outside of the normal variation.
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
I would argue that removing McClellan was a terrible mistake, based on the fact that in the East the US war effort went backwards with it, and didn't start going forwards again for another 18 months. If McClellan was bad, then his successors were worse.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
The UK needed cheap corn and wasn't going to make waves with the US over it. The UK could of recognized the Confedracy they choose not to and has I have a whole previous thread about this issue the British choose corn over cotton. The British always concluded that when push comes to shove trade with the Union is far more important then trade with the Confedracy.
Then please show an example of this actually being the discussion that took place. Otherwise you are concluding from the result (no recognition) to assume the motive (corn).
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
1) But what we are talking about here is not really on the same level as sanctions. The US only has three choices to keep cheap corn out of the British economy, and all of them involve costs to the US which are very significant.

2) No, getting cheap corn was not one of the more important reasons. If it was, the Cabinet (who had the actual power to make these decisions) would have mentioned it in their discussions; they did not.
The UK needed cheap corn and wasn't going to make waves with the US over it. The UK could of recognized the Confedracy they choose not to and has I have a whole previous thread about this issue the British choose corn over cotton. The British always concluded that when push comes to shove trade
Then please show an example of this actually being the discussion that took place. Otherwise you are concluding from the result (no recognition) to assume the motive (corn).
I already in the aforementioned thread cited that British imports of corn exceeded imports if cotton during the ACW. There was a shortage of grain in Great Britain. US imports helped ease the crisis. I don't have the minute's of the meeting but obviously the UK didn't recognize the Confedracy and traded freely with the US. If the UK wanted to recognize the Confedracy they would have but they didn't that's not an accident.
Leftyhunter
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
I already in the aforementioned thread cited that British imports of corn exceeded imports if cotton during the ACW. There was a shortage of grain in Great Britain. US imports helped ease the crisis. I don't have the minute's of the meeting but obviously the UK didn't recognize the Confedracy and traded freely with the US. If the UK wanted to recognize the Confedracy they would have but they didn't that's not an accident.
As it happens, academics have looked into whether the cabinet actually discussed US grain during the Civil War, and found that they did not.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
As it happens, academics have looked into whether the cabinet actually discussed US grain during the Civil War, and found that they did not.
Maybe they didn't but the UK bought a lot of American grain more grain the cotton and the British had Mason on his proverbial hands and knees begging for Confedrate recognition and all he got in reply was" best of luck old boy". So we can put two and two together.
Leftyhunter
 
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