"Chancellorsville" Who should have fallen on his sword for failure?

"Chancellorsville" One Must Fall on His sword But which?

  • General Hooker- assuming retreat

    Votes: 33 62.3%
  • General Sickles- poor recon..

    Votes: 1 1.9%
  • General Devens- ignoring reports

    Votes: 2 3.8%
  • General Von Gilsa- not securing the union flank

    Votes: 3 5.7%
  • Hooker Staff Officers for ignoring and not informing Hooker

    Votes: 5 9.4%
  • Other: There is always another opinion....

    Votes: 9 17.0%

  • Total voters
    53
Joined
Aug 26, 2007
Messages
6,865
Location
Central Florida
#1
If one looks at Lee's Chancellorsville victory, it is more about what the union leadership did wrong then what Lee did right on the day of Jackson's great flanking move. During Jackson's march around to the union right, he was seen numerous times an the appropriate commanders were informed but nothing was acted on the information. Whom does the fault fall on in the union leadership for not acting on the information about the confederates movement towards the union's right on Day2?

First was General Hooker, whom thought the Jackson movement was the beginning of the Confederate's retreat form Chancellorsville in the face of a superior force. He did have some doubts thou...

Second was General Sickles, if he had led his troops that incepted the end of Jackson line of march. He would have seen that Jackson was not retreating but on an organized focus march.

Third was General Devens, whom was numerously informed that a confederate force was moving before him and choose to ignore it.

Forth was General Von Gilsa, whom did not originally secure the right flank of the union line.

Fifth was Hooker's staff, who turn away numerous officers trying bring Hooker information about confederate movements on his right flank.

Chancellorsville battle should be dissected as Gettysburg as to why the union lost the battle as Gettysburg is on why confederates lost that battle.

Whom should have falling on their sword for failing to act on the information about Jackson's movement towards the union's right flank?

A thought...
 

(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)

Stonewall1982

First Sergeant
Joined
Feb 15, 2010
Messages
1,160
Location
The Bluegrass State
#2
All are good points. I should add that Hooker should have surrendered command after he was shell shocked. The Federal army ws already going into chaos but add no commander at all that makes it an impossible situation. Note to learn, anytime someone says something to the effect "not even God can ______..." it always turns into a disaster. "Not even God can take victory from us", "not even God can sink this ship", etc. Just an observation.
 

prroh

Captain
Honored Fallen Comrade
Joined
Oct 1, 2009
Messages
5,569
Location
Maryland
#3
Hooker for pulling back from Zoan Church where he held terrific ground. Jackson could not take that position and lee would have been forced to the North Anna.

Howard for going sight seeing rather than securing the right flank of the AoP
 
Joined
Aug 26, 2007
Messages
6,865
Location
Central Florida
#5
I just bring up the point that these men or staffs on Day 2 were the main enablers in Lee's greatest victory. They ignored repeated attempts by a merriment of people trying to warn them about Jackson's flanking move. If just one these these men had just follow up on just one warning Chancellorsville may have been Lee's greatest defeat.

I give Hooker a pass on day two because his staff shielded him form the men bringing warnings of the confederate movements to his right flank but I should have put General Howard on the list.

Jackson may have led the greatest flanking move in history but it was these union officers that gave him immortality.....

A thought...
 
Joined
Aug 26, 2007
Messages
6,865
Location
Central Florida
#6
I look it over and General Devens was the one who dropped the ball during Jackson's famed flanking move. He was repeatedly informed about confederates massing before his lines and ignored them all. He may have been the one drinking on duty on Day Two..He was there he could have adjusted his men quickly to meet and stop Jackson form becoming an immortal of history..

A thought...
 
Joined
May 14, 2008
Messages
14,837
Location
California
#7
What Brass Napolean said. But my vote is for Sickles not so much for bad recon as his tactics - he essentially sabotaged XI Corps and to a lesser extent his own by not merely ignoring Lee's actual actions as by his own d--- fool independent mindedness.

http://web.archive.org/web/19990831.../AmericasCivilWar/articles/1998/1198_text.htm

"Sickles clearly had failed to respond properly to the situation at hand when he advanced to create his salient. If he really suspected that Lee was attempting to flank Hooker's line, his proper response would have been to support Howard, not isolate him. He should have realized that Lee was not retreating when Birney was struck by the two enemy brigades at Catherine Furnace. That attack made it clear that there was a strong force of Confederates still massed in force on his left, apart from the marching units--and they were obviously not retreating. Yet Sickles continued to advance, completely disregarding what must have been a flanking column bent on mischief to the west.

By his hasty actions, Sickles succeeded in isolating elements of Hooker's army (his own and Howard's) at a time when a united defense was essential. Had Sickles remained next to Howard, along with Barlow's reserve brigade, he might have been able to bolster that corps and prevent or minimize the ensuing rout. In the end, however, Howard's corps was decimated, the entire army was endangered, and Sickles' own corps narrowly escaped destruction.
"

My italics.
 

Nathanb1

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Retired Moderator
Joined
Dec 31, 2009
Messages
32,909
Location
Smack dab in the heart of Texas
#8
Wondered why Howard wasn't listed. He has to take a good share of the blame. But as Truman said, "The buck stops here." Hooker was the man in charge and he failed to provide much leadership at all, before and after the piece of column whacked him on the head (I can just imagine what Lincoln thought HE'D like to do with the column after the battle)
 

The Iron Duke

First Sergeant
Joined
May 22, 2009
Messages
1,689
Location
Georgia
#9
Howard actually tried to rally his men by riding with an American flag located between his body and his arm stump. But of course, by then the damage had already been done.
 

Nathanb1

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Retired Moderator
Joined
Dec 31, 2009
Messages
32,909
Location
Smack dab in the heart of Texas
#10
Howard actually tried to rally his men by riding with an American flag located between his body and his arm stump. But of course, by then the damage had already been done.
I admire his tenacity...but sitting there watching a bunch of animals run through your camp like a scene from Bambi (and not doing anything until the Confederates are literally eating your barbeque off the spit? Howard gets a big goose egg for that one.
 
Joined
May 14, 2008
Messages
14,837
Location
California
#13
Among other battles. Even if Howard thought he would have nothing to do, he should have prepared for being the enemy deciding to drop by and pay an uninvited vist - simple common sense.

When a man's defensive prepartions are worse than Grant's at Shiloh, there are no nice words to describe the process that subsituted for thought.
 

matthew mckeon

Colonel
Retired Moderator
Joined
Oct 3, 2005
Messages
13,326
#14
Among other battles. Even if Howard thought he would have nothing to do, he should have prepared for being the enemy deciding to drop by and pay an uninvited vist - simple common sense.

When a man's defensive prepartions are worse than Grant's at Shiloh, there are no nice words to describe the process that subsituted for thought.

I think the Grant comparsion is telling.

1. Grant would not have stopped in the middle of the Wilderness when confronted by Lee, but pushed on. Hooker lost his nerve, before being wounded, and surrendered the initiative to Lee.

2. As you just wrote, compare Shiloh and Chancellorsville. The Confederates achieve surprise in both cases. At Shiloh a day of bloody and confused fighting, and a lot of Southern success, and a lot of Union troops run away. But Grant keeps his wits and keeps fighting.
Hooker collapses, either from a wound or funk. The most of the Union soldiers fight hard at Chancellorville, but without direction. Hooker then retreats.

Grant wouldn't have been in the situation in the first place. If he had he wouldn't have gone to pieces. If his army was beaten by Lee, he wouldn't have retreated.
 

ole

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Retired Moderator
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Messages
34,458
Location
Near Kankakee
#15
Grant learned, early in the war, to never to never, ever give his opponents time to think, plan or prepare.

And Chancellorsville is slightly different in that Hooker had already engaged the Rebs; he knew they were there and still left his right in the air. One simply can't do that when facing Lee and Jackson.

Ole
 

Nathanb1

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Retired Moderator
Joined
Dec 31, 2009
Messages
32,909
Location
Smack dab in the heart of Texas
#16
I think the Grant comparsion is telling.

1. Grant would not have stopped in the middle of the Wilderness when confronted by Lee, but pushed on. Hooker lost his nerve, before being wounded, and surrendered the initiative to Lee.

2. As you just wrote, compare Shiloh and Chancellorsville. The Confederates achieve surprise in both cases. At Shiloh a day of bloody and confused fighting, and a lot of Southern success, and a lot of Union troops run away. But Grant keeps his wits and keeps fighting.
Hooker collapses, either from a wound or funk. The most of the Union soldiers fight hard at Chancellorville, but without direction. Hooker then retreats.

Grant wouldn't have been in the situation in the first place. If he had he wouldn't have gone to pieces. If his army was beaten by Lee, he wouldn't have retreated.
Matthew, it just occurred to me that Hooker was SOOOOOO lucky to get hit by that piece of flying architecture--otherwise, there would be no excuse AT ALL. Considering the opinion of most about his performance, he might have been in line for a court martial had he not been standing in the "right" place at the "right" time :wink:
 
Joined
Jun 7, 2010
Messages
5
Location
Elgin, Illinois
#17
Number One: Hooker. Rides out early in the day, sees a problem, makes recommendations and does no follow up. Eventually allows Barlow, the XI Corps reserve, to aid Sickles.
Number Two: Howard. (Close to a number one pick) Basically ignores Comstock's recommendations. Does a minimum of defensive prep. Keeps the Corps facing South with only 2 regiments facing West. Decides to join Barlow leaving his other two divisions in the air.
Number Three: Devens. Chooses to ignore solid information and decides instead to nurse his bruised leg. Just a poor excuse for a Division commander!
Number Four: Hooker's Staff. Repeatedly ingnoring warnings
When it came to XI Corps leadership the old saying of if it weren't for bad luck, they wouldn't have any luck at all applies.
 
Joined
Mar 27, 2011
Messages
2,370
Location
Southern Ohio
#18
Matthew, it just occurred to me that Hooker was SOOOOOO lucky to get hit by that piece of flying architecture--otherwise, there would be no excuse AT ALL. Considering the opinion of most about his performance, he might have been in line for a court martial had he not been standing in the "right" place at the "right" time :wink:
There IS another excuse for Hooker's behavior! As I understand it he quit drinking a couple of weeks or so after he got command, I guess to show he was gonna be clean, sober, and dependable. Now, he was know as a hard lifelong boozer. He took his whiskey strong, as his men liked to sing in a song. He was in alcohol withdrawal at Chancellorsville! Yes! Stopping drinking abruptly after years of hittin it hard can mess you up for quite a long time as the body and brain recover. Getting bonked on the head made things worse. If he had had his flask with him he would have taken a few good long pulls after he became aware of the attack and he would have mounted up and rode to the critical area and rallied his men and attempted to lead a charge. Would have been a Union "Hooker to the rear!" and the day would have been saved. Lee would have turned tail and run all the way back to Richmond. (ya, right) He was a brave man and had been a fearless division commander. Wounded at Antietam. Hooker was too SOBER at Chancellorsville. Lacked his whiskey courage. Yup...there you have it.
 

judi

Sergeant
Joined
Mar 15, 2010
Messages
596
Location
East Earl PA
#20
I like many of you feel Howard was at fault. He was warned about the movement of the Confederates and did nothing about it.
Yes he tried to rally the men but it was to little to late.
 



(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)
Top