Cavalry Raids Destroyed the Confederacy. How & Why Did That Happen?

1NCCAV

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1) I would argue Rogers Rangers was more of a very elite infantry raiding unit; 2) I can't think of a ACW unit on either side that was equivalent to Roger's Rangers.

1) It was; 2) there wasn't.

But that's what I mean by calling Roger's Rangers "foot cavalry." Not just a line unit with a reputation for marching long and fast like the Stonewall Brigade, but a special unit that performs cavalry missions on foot. In other words, raiding and reconnaissance over difficult terrain much further and faster than conventional line infantry would believe possible.
 
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Rhea Cole

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Were there ever any units of infantry that were specifically dedicated to be fast marchers though? Wouldn't it make sense? Units specifically to get to the battle first and harass the enemy?
The Zouave drill was done at the double quick. It involved an almost gymnastic series of actions. It has been a very long time since I read up on that. Somebody probably knows the answer to this, but I think the Zouave’s had a jogging-walking-jogging-walking fast marching routine.
 
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The Zouave drill was done at the double quick. It involved an almost gymnastic series of actions. It has been a very long time since I read up on that. Somebody probably knows the answer to this, but I think the Zouave’s had a jogging-walking-jogging-walking fast marching routine.
Interesting. Did you folksever give this a listen, it's not exactly what I'm talking about, but it's kinda similar.

 

Rhea Cole

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Interesting. Did you folksever give this a listen, it's not exactly what I'm talking about, but it's kinda similar.

Thanks for this posting. This is something I had never heard about. It reminds me of what happened with Rosecrans' Pioneer Brigade. It was a brilliant innovation & did wonders bridging the Tennessee. However, there were management failures on the part of subordinate officers & it never had a chance to mature. At least they weren't wasted in a human wave attack.
 

1NCCAV

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The Atlanta Campaign would have been significantly different if Confederate cavalry had some adult supervision. Who that would possibly have been escapes me.

I've cogitated on this a bit since your post and the only possibility I can come up with is Longstreet. Longstreet as a replacement for Bragg has probably been mentioned several times before on other threads and I've just missed it.

Davis had a shot at removing Bragg and he flubbed it. Had he removed Bragg, would not Longstreet have been the logical replacement? As it was, Davis sided with Bragg when all of Bragg's subordinates were accusing him of incompetence and sent Longstreet back to Virginia.

It's interesting to speculate about what might have been different for the AoT - cavalry operations and otherwise - had Longstreet been in charge.
 
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Rhea Cole

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I think Lee analysed the situation quite well. He knew nothing of the people & they knew nothing of him. He also did not know the terrain or the nature of the opponent. The scale & complexity of the Western Campaigns was hundreds of times larger than what Lee had dealt with. The Department of the Cumberland had 249,000 men, hundreds of miles of railroad & a fleet of gunboats. Longstreet would have had a very steep learning curve.
 

1NCCAV

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Cavalier

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@Rhea Cole Like you I have seen that Zouave regiments were drilled to march and maneuver faster than regular regiments. However have you ever seen a source that remarks on it actually being done on a civil war battlefield?

I have searched for an instance of Zouaves doing this and never found one. Just curious to know if anyone else had.

John
 

leftyhunter

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No doubt. I'm not speculating that the war for the AoT would have ended differently had Longstreet commanded. But I am speculating that the war would have gone somewhat better for the AoT had Longstreet commanded.

Found it. I knew it had to have been covered: https://civilwartalk.com/threads/what-if-longstreet-replaced-bragg.84567/
Also @Rhea Cole ,
All I know about Longstreet has an independent commander in the West was he was defeated by the greatest of all Union generals and of course I am referring to the one and only Ambrose Brice Burnside. Just saying.
Leftyhunter
 

leftyhunter

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@Rhea Cole Like you I have seen that Zouave regiments were drilled to march and maneuver faster than regular regiments. However have you ever seen a source that remarks on it actually being done on a civil war battlefield?

I have searched for an instance of Zouaves doing this and never found one. Just curious to know if anyone else had.

John
I am kind of curious because the Zouaves of course we're originally French soldiers who fought in Algeria circa 1837. Now Algeria does get a little snow here and there and the winters can be somewhat cold but fast marching in the summer time in a woolen uniform in plus one hundred degree weather would not be fun.
Leftyhunter
 

Pete Longstreet

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Also @Rhea Cole ,
All I know about Longstreet has an independent commander in the West was he was defeated by the greatest of all Union generals and of course I am referring to the one and only Ambrose Brice Burnside. Just saying.
Leftyhunter
Facts are facts. Longstreet for sure lost the Battle of Fort Sanders. Some say it was Fredericksburg in reverse... a little redemption for Burnside...
 

Rhea Cole

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@Rhea Cole Like you I have seen that Zouave regiments were drilled to march and maneuver faster than regular regiments. However have you ever seen a source that remarks on it actually being done on a civil war battlefield?

I have searched for an instance of Zouaves doing this and never found one. Just curious to know if anyone else had.

John
I would have been making a fervent prayer to please not let me get killed wearing this clown suite.
 

leftyhunter

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Facts are facts. Longstreet for sure lost the Battle of Fort Sanders. Some say it was Fredericksburg in reverse... a little redemption for Burnside...
Well certainly not on the same scale as Fredericksburg. Burnside should of been dismissed after Fredericksburg but he was just so darn lovable he got to stay with good and bad results.
I forget but Longstreet commanded some battle in Virginia as an independent commander and that didn't go well either.
Would Longstreet have done better then Bragg as CnC of the AoT of course can't be answered but it's not a slam dunk Longstreet would of done any better .
Leftyhunter
 

Rhea Cole

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The Longstreet v Burnside confrontation at Knoxville should be the subject of a thread of its own. Did you know that Longstreet's artillery was pulled by oxen... His men had to make their shoes out of raw, uncured cow hides... Longstreet found out what it was like to operate in hostile country... Burnside had ample supplies... Fort Sanders & other earthworks are largely intact... Burnside's men poured water onto the dirt walls of the fort, trapping Longstreet's attackers beneath an unclimbable ice wall.... As Longstreet's attacking men were mowed down the defenders chanted, 'Fredericksburg, Fredericksburg, Fredericksburg!'... When Sherman arrived from Chattanooga to reinforce Burnside he was furious to discover him living off the fat of the land from supplies that flowed in from the newly liberated Unionists of East Tennessee?
 
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Pete Longstreet

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Well certainly not on the same scale as Fredericksburg. Burnside should of been dismissed after Fredericksburg but he was just so darn lovable he got to stay with good and bad results.
I forget but Longstreet commanded some battle in Virginia as an independent commander and that didn't go well either.
Would Longstreet have done better then Bragg as CnC of the AoT of course can't be answered but it's not a slam dunk Longstreet would of done any better .
Leftyhunter
True, not to the same scale. I meant the positions were reversed, Burnside on the defensive and Longstreet the attacker. Longstreet had independent command during the Suffolk campaign, which he accomplished his objective defensively, but failed offensively. I agree with you about Longstreet commanding the AoT... it's hard to say because when you move or change any one factor... several things can happen. For example, Longstreet and Jackson under Lee worked. They clicked and for the most part, fired on all cylinders. But switch any of those roles around and it could have been disastrous. Same I believe for Bragg and Longstreet... remove one and insert the other... and it could mean more possible successes or earlier destruction.
 

Pete Longstreet

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The Longstreet v Burnside confrontation at Knoxville should be the subject of a thread of its own. Did you know that Longstreet's artillery was pulled by oxen... His men had to make their shoes out of raw, uncured cow hides... Longstreet found out what it was like to operate in hostile country... Burnside had ample supplies... Fort Saunders & other earthworks are largely intact... Burnside's men poured water onto the dirt walls of the fort, trapping Longstreet's attackers beneath an unclimbable ice wall.... As Longstreet's attacking men were mowed down the defenders chanted, 'Fredericksburg, Fredericksburg, Fredericksburg!'... When Sherman arrived from Chattanooga to reinforce Burnside he was furious to discover him living off the fat of the land from supplies that flowed in from the newly liberated Unionists of East Tennessee?
Good call. That would make for an interesting thread. There are certain details of that battle that I found very interesting, as you mentioned a few of them.
 

jackt62

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I forget but Longstreet commanded some battle in Virginia as an independent commander and that didn't go well either.

That would have to be Longstreet's failure to recapture Suffolk, Virginia in April 1863, when Longstreet and part of his Corps was on detached assignment from the ANV. Aside from that, Longstreet's other successful objectives were to provide food and forage and to protect Richmond's flank.
 

Rhea Cole

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The Battle of Fort Sanders was the critical event of Longstreet's 18 day siege of Knoxville TN. From November 17 to December 4, 1863 the veterans of the Army of the Potomac under Burnside & the Army of Northern Virginia faced off in a reverse of fortunes. It was the AoP that was on friendly ground surrounded by the Unionists of East Tennessee. The AoNV was the invader forced to attack a defender standing behind well prepared defenses. Longstreet surrounded & cut Knoxville off from supplies from outside. Like all besiegers, time was not on his side. Forced to forage from the sparse mountainous country & suffer the brutal cold of an El Niño winter, there was a real limit to how long his corps could stay in place.

Battle of FT Sanders Lib. Cong..jpeg

Assault on Fort Sanders. Library of Congress​

The weakest link in Burnside's defenses was Fort Sanders, a recycled Confederate earthwork. On the night of November 28, Maj. Gen. Lafayette McLaws' proud veterans drove in the picket line in front of Fort Sanders. Alerted to their peril, the garrison prepared for what was intended to be a surprise assault on the 29th. McLaws men rushed forward, rebel yell echoing off the surrounding hills. Their yipping turned to shouts of a very different kind when they discovered a telegraph wire obstruction. The front line tripped & were trampled by following lines that became entangled in a grid pattern of ankle high wires stretched between wooden stakes. The lay of the land forced the attackers to funnel into a narrow approach to the deceptively weak walls of Fort Sanders.

The glacis of the fort hid a ditch 8 feet deep in places. (A glacis is a wide wedge of earth in front of the wall of an earthwork designed to absorb or glance incoming cannon balls over the wall.) During a frigid day of preparation, Burnside's men had poured water onto the earthen walls & it pooled in the ditch between the glacis & the wall. Professionally cited artillery & infantry positions poured a concentrated crossfire into McLaws' men.

In a scene right out of a medieval siege, the defenders hurled axes, lighted shells lengths of split wood down on the attackers packed against the frozen face of the fort. A small forlorn hope did manage to penetrate the defenses, but was immediately overwhelmed. From start to finish, the attack lasted 20 minutes. Faced with the prospect of retracing their steps through the wire obstruction under withering fire, McLaws veterans who were still alive accepted their fate & gave up. 813, 1/4 of whom were prisoners, were lost in the assault. Five dead & eight wounded was the butcher's bill for the defenders. The triumphant veterans of Burnside's disaster in Virginia chanted a taunting, 'Fredericksburg, Fredericksburg, Fredericksburg!" When Longstreet heard that Sherman was advancing up the valley from Chattanooga, he ordered the siege lifted & withdrew into upper East Tennessee & went into winter quarters. In the spring, after what my friend who studies this campaign calls the "Valley Forge of the AoNV," Lee ordered Longstreet back to Virginia.

Note:

The earthworks of Fort Sanders are largely intact amid a neighborhood in Knoxville. Confederate earthworks have also been preserved.
<visitknoxville.com> Civil War Driving Tour online or call (800) 727-8045.

Bleak House / Confederate Memorial Hall is a restored antebellum Classical Revival style house that should be included on any tour of the Knoxville area. It was Longstreet's HQ during the siege of Knoxville. Regular tours are Wed.-Friday 1 to 4:00 PM March through December. It is operated. by Chapter 89 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

I have a curious personal connection with Bleak House. In my youthful stash of Civil War reading materials, including a comic book like history filled with extremely gory full color illustrations, there was a booklet or brochure about Bleak House printed by the UDC. It was a prime example of Lost Cause puffery. It was only during a college trip to the Smoky Mountains that I learned that Knoxville was a disastrous defeat for the noble Virginians under Longstreet. It was a head shaking what the... revelation. It was a major crack in the crust of Lost Cause disinformation that had to be shattered before I could begin a lifelong quest to understand what brought on the war & how it was fought.

Also on a personal level, the print I used to illustrate this posting is a typical piece of Lost Cause puffery. The noble Virginians are depicted as charing manfully & pouring over the wall of the fort in apparent victory. With the exception of the man in the lower right corner, who apparently is a reenacter cannoneer with his hand on his ear, everybody is bullet proof. In fact, the scene should depict bodies piled one atop another & men fleeing in confusion. It is images like this that I bought into as a young person & had to unlearn as an adult. I think it is very important that those of us who study the Civil War to debunk romanticization & misinformation.
 
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