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

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

  • General Hooker- assuming retreat

    Votes: 34 63.0%
  • General Sickles- poor recon..

    Votes: 1 1.9%
  • General Devens- ignoring reports

    Votes: 2 3.7%
  • General Von Gilsa- not securing the union flank

    Votes: 3 5.6%
  • Hooker Staff Officers for ignoring and not informing Hooker

    Votes: 5 9.3%
  • Other: There is always another opinion....

    Votes: 9 16.7%

  • Total voters
    54
Joined
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#41
As @Saint Jude puts me in my place... or not...

http://www.civildiscourse-historybl...ing-dutchmen-the-xi-corps-at-chancellorsville

First Deve"s part...
Either way, several XI Corps soldiers report in their memoirs that they reported Jackson’s column to corps headquarters only to be turned away. Colonel John C. Lee of the 55th Ohio claimed that he reported sightings by his pickets to General Devens three times and was turned away each time as simply frightened. Colonel Charles W. Friend of the 75th Ohio claimed that he was laughed away from headquarters, and Colonel William P. Richardson (25th Ohio) and Colonel William H. Noble (17th Connecticut) shared similar experiences.

Here is Howard has three tales...

Once the fleeing men reached corps headquarters, General Devens finally reacted and tried to rally the men. That effort was abruptly halted when Devens was wounded in the foot. With his entire corps in chaos, Howard returned to the scene and tried to stop the stampede. He tucked a United States flag under the stump of his amputated arm and rode into the fray shouting at his men. In that moment, Howard remembered, “I felt…that I wanted to die. It was the only time I ever weakened that way in my life, before or since, but that night I did all in my power to remedy the mistake, and I sought death everywhere I could find an excuse to go on the field.” One Ohio captain remembered Howard as cool and collected, urging his men to reform and slow down, making sure he was the last man off the field. On the contrary, Union soldier Jim Peabody reported that he heard Howard yelling among the fleeing men: “Halt! Halt! I’m ruined, I’m ruined! I’ll shoot if you don’t stop. I’m ruined, I’m ruined!” When Howard saw the Confederates coming, Peabody says he saw Howard leave for the rear and commented: “I thought he was going there to impart the same information to them he had given us; that is, ‘I’m ruined.’ None of us knew or cared where he went.”

Which tale do we want to believe...?




 

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Carronade

1st Lieutenant
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#43
I would also critique Hooker for sending almost all of his cavalry off on a raid instead of integrating it into the army's operations. This left the Confederates with superiority in cavalry in the battle zone and allowed them to scout out the Union positions and identify the vulnerability on the right flank. It also denied the Union commanders solid information about Jackson's march.
 
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#44
There were several other issues that contributed to the poor Union performance at Chancellorsville. Not the least of which is faulty communications. Sears goes into some detail about the deployment of the new and untested Beardsley telegraphs that were used here for the first time. They proved very unreliable and made coordination with the distant units very difficult. This proved quite significant when an order for II Corps to move was delayed. They were to move and take up positions to close XI Corps right flank. Instead they arrived late because the order became garbled and was not corrected for hours. The success of Jackson's attack would certainly be placed in doubt had they been where they were intended in time.
Ultimately, however, Hooker as commander bears the responsibility.
 

christian soldier

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#45
With all great battles, the fruits of victory or the faults of defeat always lie with the commander in charge on the field at the time and in this case the faults begin and end with General Joseph Hooker. David.
 

Carronade

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#47
There were several other issues that contributed to the poor Union performance at Chancellorsville. Not the least of which is faulty communications. Sears goes into some detail about the deployment of the new and untested Beardsley telegraphs that were used here for the first time. They proved very unreliable and made coordination with the distant units very difficult. This proved quite significant when an order for II Corps to move was delayed. They were to move and take up positions to close XI Corps right flank. Instead they arrived late because the order became garbled and was not corrected for hours. The success of Jackson's attack would certainly be placed in doubt had they been where they were intended in time.
Ultimately, however, Hooker as commander bears the responsibility.
Ironic how the dependence on new technology can backfire. If there had been no telegraph, the order would have been sent by courier, and might have arrived in time to make a difference.
 

Andy Cardinal

First Sergeant
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#48
I am far from a student of Chancellorsville, but I did visit the battlefield and have read a few books/articles about it so here is my opinion....

The battle was not won or lost on May 2, although Jackson's flank attack gets most of the attention. Hooker lost the battle at 2 points in time: May 1, when he ordered the withdrawal to Chancellorsville, and May 3 when he did not use the 1st & 5th Corps to counterattack. Meade went to headquarters to request permission to attack and was specifically denied. Reynolds was in favor of attacking too.

chancellorsville_map_3a.jpg


I know Hooker's injury played a part in this, but no matter the reason a great opportunity was lost.
 

Andy Cardinal

First Sergeant
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#50
New technology is great...until it stops working.

By the way, how bad is Sears' Hooker bias?
I agree, although I must say he made me challenge & reconsider some of my opinions about Fighting Joe. Nevertheless, my overall opinion of Mr. F. J. Hooker remains unchanged -- he was afraid to fight Lee directly.

While I can agree that everyone has a bias, Sears's biases are a real drawback for me in reading his otherwise very good & informative books.
 
Joined
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Georgia
#53
I agree, although I must say he made me challenge & reconsider some of my opinions about Fighting Joe. Nevertheless, my overall opinion of Mr. F. J. Hooker remains unchanged -- he was afraid to fight Lee directly.

While I can agree that everyone has a bias, Sears's biases are a real drawback for me in reading his otherwise very good & informative books.
This may not be a popular thing to say here, but Sears' anti-McClellan bias is pretty obvious.
 

Andy Cardinal

First Sergeant
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Ohio
#55
I am far from a student of Chancellorsville, but I did visit the battlefield and have read a few books/articles about it so here is my opinion....

The battle was not won or lost on May 2, although Jackson's flank attack gets most of the attention. Hooker lost the battle at 2 points in time: May 1, when he ordered the withdrawal to Chancellorsville, and May 3 when he did not use the 1st & 5th Corps to counterattack. Meade went to headquarters to request permission to attack and was specifically denied. Reynolds was in favor of attacking too.

View attachment 293694

I know Hooker's injury played a part in this, but no matter the reason a great opportunity was lost.
Here is Alpheus Williams's assessment of Hooker (by the way, From the Cannon's Mouth is very interesting reading):

"I have said very little in my letters, but enough for you to guess that I had no confidence in Hooker after Chancellorsville. I can say now, that if we had had a commander of even ordinary merit at that place the army of Jackson would have been annihilated. I cannot conceive of greater imbecility and weakness than characterized that campaign from the moment Hooker reached Chancellorsville and took command."
 
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#57
Ironic how the dependence on new technology can backfire. If there had been no telegraph, the order would have been sent by courier, and might have arrived in time to make a difference.
Actually when the message finally reached Butterfield at Falmouth and was transcribed he sent it forward by courier. The messenger got lost in the dark adding to the lateness.
Another incident of new technology causing difficulty in this campaign concerned the engineers while placing bridges at US Ford.

Captain William Folwell explained some of the difficulties he experienced placing the second bridge. Despite the vital importance of the bridges to the overall success of the campaign he was issued a new and untested “Waterman Bridge”. So uncertain was he of the new design that he was “inclined to think that our move to Bank’s Ford will be merely a feint; otherwise they would not have sent us this Waterman Bridge, which we know nothing about and have no time to learn.” What little time they had was put to good use. On April 25th Folwell’s men, under the tutelage of the designer and a twelve man civilian crew, drilled the construction of the bridge. The exercise did little to soothe Folwell’s concerns. Folwell was “satisfied that it will not do. Too fragile in parts and too complicated.” His assignment was further complicated by teams that were “raw and ill-trained, and the drivers all new to them.” Folwell had the teams replaced but was still troubled about the possibility of not meeting the aggressive timeline established in his orders. The overall bridge train commander, Major Ira Spaulding, echoed Folwell’s concerns about the Waterman Bridge. After the train was added to his command Spaulding wrote home that he feared “the ****ed thing may get me in trouble.”
“It is all taken apart for transportation and putting the boats together before putting them into the water will be a rather slow operation.”

Spaulding also feared that the civilian crew would flee if they came under fire leaving his untrained men to fend for themselves. The experienced engineer officer’s assessment of the new bridge proved correct. The assembly of the new bridge was slow and when the available pieces had been used up the span was too short. The remainder was improvised by using the parts left over from the standard pontoon equipment of the first bridge.
Although completion of his bridge was more than three hours behind schedule Folwell thought the bridge the “best looking” although “it takes longer to lay it.” In retrospect introducing new and unproven technology to untrained men on the eve of a major operation seems foolish but the men of the 50th handled the situation about as well as should have been expected under the circumstances.
 
Last edited:
Joined
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#59
I voted other................Who appointed Hooker as commander of the AotP? :smile: Another in a long line of failures who had to be replaced. Someone in authority seemed to, up to that point to
Confed-American Flag - Thumbnail.jpg
always get it wrong.

Respectfully,

William

One Nation,
Two countries
 



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