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

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

OpnCoronet

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Feb 23, 2010
Messages
10,462
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?




What extended the warin the East, was the singular inability of the main Union army of the East the AoP, to adapt to the kind of war needed to successfully fight in pursuit of a smaller more mobile and aggressive foe, better suited for the exigencies of a war in the restricted confines of the Eastern Theatre.

In the West there was no, or, at least very little, real difference between armies and leadership of either side; there was in the East.
 

jackt62

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Messages
3,410
Location
New York City
Question; With the force that the CSA had and the limited arsenal ,how could the CSA taken on the forces of the Union army esp. when Grant and Lincoln in '64 changed the strategy of the war to one of duration and maturition {who had the more men to lose} from a wasted strategy of capturing capital or of one general area,being Virginia.Then Grant sending Sherman to make a tour of the Deep South.Due to lack of leadership and the forces that faced Sherman gives him no real credit for his achievement .What he did accomplish was to draw the forces that could have been used against Grant and destruction of supplies ,So, take let the Western army take credit for that ,then that was what was required to bring "Ol' Dixie Down"
Wasn't able to respond sooner. Anyway, despite the CSA's limited force and arsenal, the Western leadership made some ill-advised moves in 1861-1862, for which the confederacy was never able to overcome. Polk's takeover of Columbus tilted Kentucky's so-called "neutrality" towards the Union, the flawed siting and engineering of Fort Henry doomed that position, General Pillow's aborted breakout attempt at Fort Donelson ended with the surrender of that garrison, and Beauregard and Johnston's confused battle plan and execution at Shiloh ended hopes of stopping the federal advance southward. As far as the Grant/Sherman offensives in 1864 are concerned, the concentration in time and space was a brilliant strategy which did in fact, ultimately end the war in a northern victory. But by 1864, Lee and the ANV's chances of success were probably nil, in contrast to the confederate eastern successes of 1862-1863.
 

H. B. Woodruff

Private
Joined
May 10, 2019
Messages
42
What extended the warin the East, was the singular inability of the main Union army of the East the AoP, to adapt to the kind of war needed to successfully fight in pursuit of a smaller more mobile and aggressive foe, better suited for the exigencies of a war in the restricted confines of the Eastern Theatre.

In the West there was no, or, at least very little, real difference between armies and leadership of either side; there was in the East.

I think the AOP's inability to adapt was caused by two things.
1st: Washington's micromanaging trying to protect the capital and in day to day strategy.
2nd: Poor leadership. I think a lot of people have worked at jobs that they do not trust their own boss to make good choices. Now imagine if your life depended on the good choices of that said supervisor. Escpecially if that person was appointed for political reasons by Washington.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

scone

Sergeant Major
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Messages
2,065
Location
Tennessee - From the "The City Between The Lakes"
I had family all over direct AOT but a few in the ANV as others in both and the Navy Some north some south all over direct line AOT that is known to me.... Give em hell boys!!…. Im my early years thought it was in east …. then got smacked in the face when I went to Shiloh and Vicksburg, tupelo others that was 40 years ago Respect to both sides and theaters Im more west than east in my knowledge as in info but family there yes … its easy to go to Franklin , Murfreesboro, Nashville, Shiloh, Hartsville , Lebanon, Silver springs, Spring hill so many others few hrs away Vicksburg Port Hudson ,
Chickamauga, Resaca, Dalton etc.
 

Krieger

Private
Joined
Oct 24, 2018
Messages
89
Agreed but he did for Cold harbor!!!
He shares that "credit" with Meade, who had command of the field the whole day and failed to properly coordinate the attacks or order sufficient reconnaissance in advance. Similar thing at the Crater, where it was Meade who pulled the plug on Burnside's plan to send in the USCT who had been trained specifically for that mission and Grant supported Meade's decision because of the politics involved, but even then Burnside screwed it up even more by randomly selecting perhaps the worst division commander possible (James H. Ledlie) for the job. Plenty of credit and blame to go around.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

OpnCoronet

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Feb 23, 2010
Messages
10,462
I think the AOP's inability to adapt was caused by two things.
1st: Washington's micromanaging trying to protect the capital and in day to day strategy.
2nd: Poor leadership. I think a lot of people have worked at jobs that they do not trust their own boss to make good choices. Now imagine if your life depended on the good choices of that said supervisor. Escpecially if that person was appointed for political reasons by Washington.



I can agree that te lack of adaptability of the AoP rests mainly on its leadership. They did not adapt and, as a result, the Army was not adapted, to meet the requirements of meeting the Anv on an equal footing i.e., the leadership of the AoP failed in their duties to prepare the army for its tasks.

However, i think it a mistake to place too much of the burden of leadership on the political administration of the Amy's goals and the parameters undershic the Army was to operate. It was the duty of the Army's leaders to prepare the army for its mission, within the parameters set by their politicl masters, whether they agreed with them or not.

McClellan, et. al., simply to failed to prepare the army to fight the kind of war, that Lee and the ANV, were prepared to fight. Either the AoP(its generals) had to to force the ANV(and its generals) to fight the kind of war they wantedm, or adapt to that of the ANV, in the end they did neither.
 

Florida Rebel

Private
Joined
May 31, 2019
Messages
77
I contend that the Eastern theatre had far more influence and importance than anything in the West. And for good reasons being so close to Wash DC and all the politicians there. Lee knew all of this and more! Plus he knew he'd eventually run out of men, supplies, horses and everything else. Hence he embarked on TWO northern invasions inside one year; one to Maryland in Sept. of '62 and the other to PA in June/July of '63. Lee was all about striking a huge blow to destroy the A of the P and Northern will/resolve to keep fighting.

In as much as Vicksburg fell in the summer of '63, what would have happened had Lee prevailed at Gettysburg and given Meade a beating? Would the North have grown tired of war and quit or would they have continued to fight? To me that's a fascinating topic to keep talking about!
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

scone

Sergeant Major
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Messages
2,065
Location
Tennessee - From the "The City Between The Lakes"
In my very younger days I thought the eastern theater was talked about more … Western Theater not so much. Had family on both sides and theaters … I know more western as more direct descendants … And Feds as well in both mostly distant cousins 3 or 4 times removed … family in navy both sides as trans MS lot to take on I chose to follow direct and follow others when I can and search blessings
 

OldReliable1862

Sergeant
Forum Host
Joined
Jul 2, 2017
Messages
735
Location
Georgia
In my very younger days I thought the eastern theater was talked about more … Western Theater not so much. Had family on both sides and theaters … I know more western as more direct descendants … And Feds as well in both mostly distant cousins 3 or 4 times removed … family in navy both sides as trans MS lot to take on I chose to follow direct and follow others when I can and search blessings
When I first started studying the war in any kind of depth, I mostly focused on the Western theater, and I'm only now trying to look at the war in Virginia. I'd say it's given me an interesting perspective on the war, to say the least.
 

scone

Sergeant Major
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Messages
2,065
Location
Tennessee - From the "The City Between The Lakes"
When I first started studying the war in any kind of depth, I mostly focused on the Western theater, and I'm only now trying to look at the war in Virginia. I'd say it's given me an interesting perspective on the war, to say the least.
Always been a western guy … But was always Gettysburg etc first park was Shiloh then Vicksburg almost 40 yrs ago
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Irishtom29

First Sergeant
Joined
Jul 21, 2008
Messages
1,713
Location
Sturgeon Lake Mn.
In as much as Vicksburg fell in the summer of '63, what would have happened had Lee prevailed at Gettysburg and given Meade a beating? Would the North have grown tired of war and quit or would they have continued to fight? To me that's a fascinating topic to keep talking about!
Why would the United States lose its resolve after a defeat at Gettysburg? After all, in the real event the rebellion didn't lose its resolve after losing there and losing at Vicksburg. And what would the Old Northwest care? The Old Northwest was winning its war and in the event it was the Old Northwest that did the skinning while the East held a leg.
 

Florida Rebel

Private
Joined
May 31, 2019
Messages
77
Didn't the US lose it's resolve in fighting a war in Vietnam? I realize it's two diff era's but people do tire of fighting and death.
 

scone

Sergeant Major
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Messages
2,065
Location
Tennessee - From the "The City Between The Lakes"
Didn't the US lose it's resolve in fighting a war in Vietnam? I realize it's two diff era's but people do tire of fighting and death.
You brought up Nam here is My cousin kia in 68 7 months before I was born he just turned 20 n Feb. of 68... Lloyd A Cone NAVY Seawolves Ha(l) 3 Detachment 7
You Brought up nam so had to to share

1186_1064544328818_4584_n.jpg
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Irishtom29

First Sergeant
Joined
Jul 21, 2008
Messages
1,713
Location
Sturgeon Lake Mn.
Didn't the US lose it's resolve in fighting a war in Vietnam? I realize it's two diff era's but people do tire of fighting and death.
Vietnam wasn't a war for national survival, it was more in the nature of a colonial war with little or no domestic interests at stake, as was shown by our losing that war without missing a beat at home. But losing the rebellion, that would've had profound domestic effects.
 

Florida Rebel

Private
Joined
May 31, 2019
Messages
77
Just sayin', war has a way of making some people weary. If Lee had won another battle, this time on northern soil, in PA, even if he didn't destroy Meade's army, considering the string of wins he and the ANV had had since spring of '62, a lot of northern people may have said "enough" and wanted to give the south their independence. Look what almost happened the next year! Thank you -
 

scone

Sergeant Major
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Messages
2,065
Location
Tennessee - From the "The City Between The Lakes"
Vietnam wasn't a war for national survival, it was more in the nature of a colonial war with little or no domestic interests at stake, as was shown by our losing that war without missing a beat at home. But losing the rebellion, that would've had profound domestic effects.
when the part of the country turned against it usually every 20 years or about things happens... old & young deal God bless them many jumped in others drafted ,, conscripted civil war wise same thing
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

1SGDan

Captain
Joined
Dec 13, 2009
Messages
6,927
Location
New Hampshire
The eastern theater was largely fought in a 100 mile square box. That box contained many rivers and natural obstacles to be overcome. That coupled with a brilliant defensive campaign waged by Lee made progess slow here. Unfortunately for the Confederates it is very difficult to win a war defensively.
 

Florida Rebel

Private
Joined
May 31, 2019
Messages
77
Lee knew the terrain but since so much of the war was fought in VA, so did the North and the host of generals that he went against. He was equally brilliant on both sides of the ball; offense and defense. Wasn't it amazing how he constantly confused and befuddled Grant in '64? Still, this one fact needs to be repeated again and again; Lee just didn't have enough men and supplies to fight effectively more than 2/3 years at most. He and the South needed a quick and decisive victory over the North. It almost happened. Still, as much as people say that Vicksburg and the West was just as important, I would argue that politically it wasn't.
 
Top