Can Anyone Explain the Eastern Theater for a Western Theater guy?

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W. Richardson

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Maybe to Grants credit, he got full control of all Union armies. Noone could tell him what to do... not even "old brains"
As far as the war and the ANV, Winfield Scott said that a embargo of the rebellious ports, and a army marching from west to east would win the war. Should all available supplies go to the ANV over the ATenn? Should the ATenn consistently have inferior munitions and supplies? If a northerner saw how to win the war, shouldn't the southern government?

Grant was certainly the best of the best of Union Generals. He had the bulldog approach, and he did sort of put "Old Brains" in his place.
The Army of Northern Virginia was THE army in the east for the Confederates. The Army of Northern Virginia was the objective of Lincoln (Lee's army and not Richmond should be your objective) if it fails, Richmond falls, and Virginia falls, probably so does the Confederacy. So yes the bulk of the supplies has to go to the Army of Northern Virginia in the eyes of the C.S.A. Government. That is not to say the Western Theater was not important, cause it too was vita to the C.S.A.

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William

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Drew

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Correct me if I am wrong, but Lee did not win one bull run II/ chancellorsville style major victory after Jackson died.
You are correct. More to the point, the Union Army never enjoyed a Second Bull Run/Chancellorsville-type victory against General Lee. It never happened, they couldn't pull it off.

I think Lee was a solid general, but I think his subordinates are what helped make him great.
This is true of everyone, Army General, Baker or Candle Stick Maker. Identifying, encouraging and not micro-managing good staff carries the day, always.

A final point here, that always gets me in trouble. U.S. Grant is the only General in Chief of the U.S. Army in American history who gave more of his own boys to his adversary than he took. Union Army casualties were about twice as high as Confederate, at war's end.

I don't think General Washington did that and I know Generals John Pershing, Dwight Eisenhower, William Westmoreland and Norman Schwarzkopf didn't do that.

Only Grant and he's a genius? I don't think so.
 
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H. B. Woodruff

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I do apologize for mis-reading, but if you are speaking of 2nd Manassas (Bull Run) Yes Lee won it and sent Union General John Pope and his headquarters in the saddle out of command of the Union Army of the Potomac.

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William

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I would say he, Pope, really got his butt whooped. Badly. He ignored signs that there were more troops to his left and got crushed for it.
I think Lee's, as a general, genius was really shown at Antietam and North Anna River. Antietam he was well outnumbered and held his own. I consider Antietam a Confederate victory. And North Anna when Lee made the wedge shape with his army to divide the AOP. Though it did not pan out for him, it was a brilliant move.
 

John S. Carter

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When I became interested in learning about the war on a more detailed level, I tended to focus on the Army of Tennessee's campaigns, and am only now venturing into exploring the Army of Northern Virginia. It's a bit of a culture shock, to be honest. Campaigns being confined to such a relatively small area, the Confederate high command working like a well-oiled machine, Union commanders being defeated, frequent large Confederate forays into Union territory - it's quite a bit to wrap one's head around.

Can some of our Eastern theater experts please try to explain the war in that theater for people like me with a definite "Western" perspective?
The historians of the Civil WAR/the Southern Revolution has, until recently,focused on the battles and strategy of the East due to the fact that the Union capital and Confederate capital were with in proximity of each then there were the ports along the Gulf and Atlantic.There was the mythical leaders of the CSA ,Lee ,Jackson,and Longstreet while the North had McClellan,Hocker,and Burnside.Lincoln's objective thought the war was the destruction of the Army of Northern Va. under Lee.Lincoln knew to destroy Lee and his army would cripple the Confederacy.It took a two generals and a army from the West to accomplish this.Then the Eastern press were more influential and wider circulation than the Western papers,they had the famous Matthew Brandy and company of photoghers .Then there was South Carolina the repellous sister that need to be broken finally Hopes this helps,I did give you Westerners credit for bringing the CSA to heal.
 
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When I became interested in learning about the war on a more detailed level, I tended to focus on the Army of Tennessee's campaigns, and am only now venturing into exploring the Army of Northern Virginia. It's a bit of a culture shock, to be honest. Campaigns being confined to such a relatively small area, the Confederate high command working like a well-oiled machine, Union commanders being defeated, frequent large Confederate forays into Union territory - it's quite a bit to wrap one's head around.

Can some of our Eastern theater experts please try to explain the war in that theater for people like me with a definite "Western" perspective?
There's no easy answer.

Think of the European and Pacific theaters of World War II.

Common enemy, but basically apples & oranges.

Plus, the ANV was MUCH better commanded and supplied than was the AOT in the West.

But again, while that's an over simplification . . . that's it in a nutshell.

IMHO.
 
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H. B. Woodruff

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You are correct. More to the point, the Union Army never enjoyed a Second Bull Run/Chancellorsville-type victory against General Lee. It never happened, they couldn't pull it off.
Some very good points, but how many times in general were "large" armies totally routed from the field. I can only think of the bull runs, chancellorsville, chattanooga, and maybe Hunter in the shenendoah valley. But I would not say that that is a large army.
 

wausaubob

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Virginia and the area around Richmond was the best place for the Confederates to fight. The United States did the Confederates a favor by fighting there. However by the time Richmond was trying to support a 65,000 man army, with all the horses and mules required, and the swollen population of Richmond, approximately 65,000 more people, the logistical situation was terrible.
Sooner or later someone was going to start attacking Richmond's railroads. They would either occupy the roads in the Shenandoah Valley or destroy the agricultural resources, but probably both.
Common sense dictated the tactics, for someone like Grant who was willing to use common sense.
 
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OldReliable1862

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The historians of the Civil WAR/the Southern Revolution has, until recently,focused on the battles and strategy of the East due to the fact that the Union capital and Confederate capital were with in proximity of each then there were the ports along the Gulf and Atlantic.There was the mythical leaders of the CSA ,Lee ,Jackson,and Longstreet while the North had McClellan,Hocker,and Burnside.Lincoln's objective thought the war was the destruction of the Army of Northern Va. under Lee.Lincoln knew to destroy Lee and his army would cripple the Confederacy.It took a two generals and a army from the West to accomplish this.Then the Eastern press were more influential and wider circulation than the Western papers,they had the famous Matthew Brandy and company of photoghers .Then there was South Carolina the repellous sister that need to be broken finally Hopes this helps,I did give you Westerners credit for bringing the CSA to heal.
Thank you, though I'm afraid you could hardly call a Georgian such as myself a "Westerner"!
 

ErnieMac

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Add to all this the rivers in Virginia running mostly west to east made it more difficult for the Union, compared to the west
As you note the rivers ran east and west. Access by boat was a relatively short distance inland, Fredericksburg, West Point and Richmond on the Rappahannock, York and James Rivers respectively. The peninsulas between those rivers were narrow and defensible. Overland access was along the routes of the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac RR, the Orange & Alexandria RR and the Shenandoah Valley. The latter two actually lead away from Richmond. The Allegheny Mountains to the west considerably narrowed the combat theater. As a result the primary armies of both sides fought in a constricted theater of operations.
 
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Will Carry

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What about the terrain? The Western states that the Army of Tennessee and Army of the Cumberland had to travel on was often wilderness with terrible roads. West of the Mississippi was even worse. Missouri and Arkansas were so rugged that large forces could not be used. My vision of Virginia is one of a "civilized" region with better roads and more food. I may be wrong though.
 

wausaubob

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What about the terrain? The Western states that the Army of Tennessee and Army of the Cumberland had to travel on was often wilderness with terrible roads. West of the Mississippi was even worse. Missouri and Arkansas were so rugged that large forces could not be used. My vision of Virginia is one of a "civilized" region with better roads and more food. I may be wrong though.
Not civilized up to European standards, but better than any place else in the south.
 
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To sum it up, the Confederacy could have won the ACW in the east, but lost it in the west.
I couldn't agree moore !

And while I don't wish to start another debate about Joe Johnston at Vicksburg . . .

I'll leave it at that !

General Pemberton made some very bad decisions during the entire Vicksburg Campaign, but at least that man chose to fight !


As usual . . . Joe Johnston . . . not so much.



 

Krieger

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You are correct. More to the point, the Union Army never enjoyed a Second Bull Run/Chancellorsville-type victory against General Lee. It never happened, they couldn't pull it off.



This is true of everyone, Army General, Baker or Candle Stick Maker. Identifying, encouraging and not micro-managing good staff carries the day, always.

A final point here, that always gets me in trouble. U.S. Grant is the only General in Chief of the U.S. Army in American history who gave more of his own boys to his adversary than he took. Union Army casualties were about twice as high as Confederate, at war's end.

I don't think General Washington did that and I know Generals John Pershing, Dwight Eisenhower, William Westmoreland and Norman Schwarzkopf didn't do that.

Only Grant and he's a genius? I don't think so.
This old argument will go on forever, I think. :wink: Although setting aside unreliable numbers for Confederate losses, if you count the total loss of Lee's army in April 1865 (approximately 55-58,000 men I believe prior to Five Forks, the majority being captured or surrendered by Lee rather than killed or wounded) then the total losses between the armies is probably pretty comparable. Heck if you only go by the usual accepted figures/estimates for USA/CSA losses during the Overland/Petersburg/Appomattox campaigns (55,000/42,000/10,800 USA, 33,600/28,000/55-58,000 CSA) then CSA losses were higher overall, though obviously more Union soldiers were killed and far more Confederates were captured, and God only knows the numbers of men lost to disease and from desertion, which was almost certainly worse for Lee's army.

But in spite of everything I've never heard anyone who denigrates Grant for the heavy losses suffered by Meade's army then go on to explain what Grant should have done differently to inflict maximum losses on Lee's army and minimum losses on Meade's, even with all of the advantages of 20/20 hindsight. Considering Grant would have preferred to encircle Lee by invading North Carolina first (very reminiscent of the Vicksburg campaign) but was overruled by the administration for political reasons, I'd say Grant was still a genius when it came to modern war. Weaponizing logistics to cripple the enemy's ability to wage war at all rather than focusing on killing enemy soldiers. That doesn't change just because that campaign never happened. He only did what was commanded of him in pursuing the obviously more perilous overland route, where he would be certain to face not only entrenchments at every turn but also terrain that favored Lee and which Lee and his men knew like the backs of their hands with an army that had an unfortunate inferiority complex and many of whose enlistments were about to expire and thus fought half-heartedly against an enemy that had no choice but to fight to the bitter end. Even with the overland route, his supporting armies had major roles that could have put Lee in a vice in a matter of weeks had they succeeded, but Grant couldn't replace the worthless Sigel and Butler beforehand no matter how much he would have loved to. Sometimes it's enough just to have better subordinates than your opponent.

It's fair to criticize Grant for using the AotP in an aggressive style that they were neither prepared for nor had much experience with, even though in Grant's mind it was also important to force the Confederates to concentrate as heavily as possible on supplying Lee's army at the expense of other Confederate armies so that the other Union armies might have more success, but far more factors play into the results of these campaigns than the typical amateurish "Who's the better tactician?" sort of analysis.
 

redbob

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I used this illustration yesterday for another topic, but to me it explains things in a nutshell. Both Governments (but more Confederacy) saw the East as being where the War would be won or lost and went to great pains to keep the best of everything close to their capitals even though if you captured either Washington DC or Richmond, what would prevent you from just picking up and going somewhere else? The real power lies in where the manufacturing centers are. It was only too late that the Confederacy realized how important the West was and then it was too late. In my opinion the War was won or lost in the West.
21200576_1420417654678942_3471245651574627301_o.jpg
 
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Krieger

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I used this illustration yesterday for another topic, but to me it explains things in a nutshell. Both Governments (but more Confederacy) saw the East as being where the War would be won or lost and went to great pains to keep the best of everything close to their capitals even though if you captured either Washington DC or Richmond, what would prevent you from just picking up and going somewhere else? The real power lies in where the manufacturing centers are. It was only too late that the Confederacy realized how important the West was and then it was too late. In my opinion the War was won or lost in the West.View attachment 310441
I almost laughed my backside off at just how accurate that picture is.
 
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