Did Arkansas' General Holmes Lose Vicksburg?

peteanddelmar

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#1
He refused to leave Arkansas and co-operate with the Confederate plans to fight Grant.
He said it would lose Arkansas.
Johnston wanted to be put over a Tennessee and Arkansas command instead of Tennessee and Mississippi because he saw how much closer the Arkansas troops all were to help in this fight.

Maybe Pemberton wasn't the only one to blame for Vicksburg?

How much did General Holmes view change the war in this arena?
 

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#4
He refused to leave Arkansas and co-operate with the Confederate plans to fight Grant.
He said it would lose Arkansas.
Johnston wanted to be put over a Tennessee and Arkansas command instead of Tennessee and Mississippi because he saw how much closer the Arkansas troops all were to help in this fight.

Maybe Pemberton wasn't the only one to blame for Vicksburg?

How much did General Holmes view change the war in this arena?
One thing I wonder is whether Holmes could have done something more effective in Arkansas and Louisiana between January and June 1863. A lot of Grant's forces were along the west side of the river.
 

peteanddelmar

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#5
I dunno... he didn't accomplish much when he finally attacked Helena.
I would love for the "hardcore southern posters" to comment more on commands and battles and personalities.
The "Union" posters usually don't know much in depth about non-famous southern topics.
That's not to say I don't like your opinion because I do. And you aren't petty. Or arrogant. And the Navy is cool.
 

peteanddelmar

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#6
Most Trans-Miss men had joined the army to defend their states and homes. In their view, crossing the Mississippi would prevent them from doing what they joined to do, so there was strong opposition from the troops throughout the war.
I've read that Arkansas was almost a wild territory. Local authority was just about all their was any allegiance accorded.
How could so many people be barefooted and live healthily? Is it exaggerated I wonder?
 

peteanddelmar

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#7
One thing I wonder is whether Holmes could have done something more effective in Arkansas and Louisiana between January and June 1863. A lot of Grant's forces were along the west side of the river.
Maybe he was too old? Was he older than Lee? Was it a bad appointment by Davis? Would a local man have got more co-operation from the militias?
 

E_just_E

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#8
Jeff Davis lost Vicksburg the moment he strategically decided to focus his army to defending Richmond and letting all Mississippi go, thus cutting off the Confederacy in half leaving it biggest state (TX) on the wrong side... That bad decision making started with moving the capital of the CSA from Montgomery to Richmond that is 100 miles away from Washington...
 
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#9
Davis didn't focus his army on defending Richmond and letting all of Mississippi go. Why do you think there are troops sent from Bragg and Beauregard in Mississippi in 1863?

You could say "but none from Lee", but there's a very wide gulf between not dropping everything else for a relief effort and abandoning it.

I'm not going to say whether or not Davis's decision was best in this thread, but I will point here (which talks about sending Lee's men west): http://civilwartalk.com/threads/confederate-strategy-in-may-june-1863-the-what-ifs.10013/

Most of it is about sending troops to Tennessee rather than Mississippi directly, I fear, but its still relevant to the problems with trying to do something about Vicksburg in '63.

As for Holmes's role, I defer to the people more familiar with his record - I'm not impressed by it, but I don't know if what he had to work with would have been successful. His career has always struck me as south of mediocre without having any specific blunder to clearly define. Just disappointment and excuses.

I can't judge how reasonable the expectations on him were, so I won't try to say if he was incompetent or simply overwhelmed by a big task here. The Confederacy does not have enough troops to go around.
 
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peteanddelmar

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#10
Davis didn't focus his army on defending Richmond and letting all of Mississippi go. Why do you think there are troops sent from Bragg and Beauregard in Mississippi in 1863?

You could say "but none from Lee", but there's a very wide gulf between not dropping everything else for a relief effort and abandoning it.

I'm not going to say whether or not Davis's decision was best in this thread, but I will point here (which talks about sending Lee's men west): http://civilwartalk.com/threads/confederate-strategy-in-may-june-1863-the-what-ifs.10013/

Most of it is about sending troops to Tennessee rather than Mississippi directly, I fear, but its still relevant to the problems with trying to do something about Vicksburg in '63.

As for Holmes's role, I defer to the people more familiar with his record - I'm not impressed by it, but I don't know if what he had to work with would have been successful. His career has always struck me as south of mediocre without having any specific blunder to clearly define. Just disappointment and excuses.

I can't judge how reasonable the expectations on him were, so I won't try to say if he was incompetent or simply overwhelmed by a big task here. The Confederacy does not have enough troops to go around.
Boy this thread went nowhere quick!
 
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#11
Boy this thread went nowhere quick!
Diversions to Davis tend to.

I genuinely don't know the answer to your question, I wish I did - the best I can offer is that I don't think he could have done a lot and I'm not sure he was the one to do the most with what there was to work with.
 
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#13
Ned, what do you think made him a bad appointment? I'm not arguing, but I ceded that I'm too ignorant to speak of his record in anything but generalities and want to fix that ignorance.
 
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#14
Ned, what do you think made him a bad appointment? I'm not arguing, but I ceded that I'm too ignorant to speak of his record in anything but generalities and want to fix that ignorance.
There's a reason why Lee got rid of him.

In all seriousness, he was fairly deaf and was old even for his age. He simply could not be as active as a field commander should be.

And that doesn't mention the nincompoops he was saddled with.

R
 

peteanddelmar

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#15
There's a reason why Lee got rid of him.

In all seriousness, he was fairly deaf and was old even for his age. He simply could not be as active as a field commander should be.

And that doesn't mention the nincompoops he was saddled with.

R
I wonder if they ever tried to get Price from Missouri to command that area? He might not have been well enough connected. Davis knew Holmes.
 

ErnieMac

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#16
The following link from the online Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture gives a synopsis of Holmes' Trans-Mississippi command. http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=1673
My personal opinion is:
  1. Holmes was in over his head.
  2. Holmes was placed in an impossible situation.
Like many "Old Army" commanders Holmes had never commanded any unit larger than a company in battle. Nothing in his record prior to assignment to the Trans-Mississippi in July, 1862, suggests he was an aggressive commander. The Battle of Helena was the only combat operation Holmes planned and executed. As 1SGDan notes in his post about the Battle of Helena (http://civilwartalk.com/threads/the-battle-of-helena.95353/) Holmes orders were simple and straightforward, but left each of the four commands to work out the details of their advance and coordinate with each other. The result was a fiasco.

As the commander in Arkansas Holmes' faced a situation in which he had few men and those he had were ill supplied. He had nothing to counter the Federal navy on the Mississippi and was facing Union attacks along the river and from the northwest. Thomas Hindman, commanding in the northwest, lost the Battle of Prairie Grove, requested a transfer out of the theater and left Holmes to take the blame for the defeat. The loss at Arkansas Post in January, 1863, followed shortly thereafter and resulted in Holmes being superseded by Kirby Smith shortly afterward.
 

peteanddelmar

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#17
The following link from the online Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture gives a synopsis of Holmes' Trans-Mississippi command. http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=1673
My personal opinion is:
  1. Holmes was in over his head.
  2. Holmes was placed in an impossible situation.
Like many "Old Army" commanders Holmes had never commanded any unit larger than a company in battle. Nothing in his record prior to assignment to the Trans-Mississippi in July, 1862, suggests he was an aggressive commander. The Battle of Helena was the only combat operation Holmes planned and executed. As 1SGDan notes in his post about the Battle of Helena (http://civilwartalk.com/threads/the-battle-of-helena.95353/) Holmes orders were simple and straightforward, but left each of the four commands to work out the details of their advance and coordinate with each other. The result was a fiasco.

As the commander in Arkansas Holmes' faced a situation in which he had few men and those he had were ill supplied. He had nothing to counter the Federal navy on the Mississippi and was facing Union attacks along the river and from the northwest. Thomas Hindman, commanding in the northwest, lost the Battle of Prairie Grove, requested a transfer out of the theater and left Holmes to take the blame for the defeat. The loss at Arkansas Post in January, 1863, followed shortly thereafter and resulted in Holmes being superseded by Kirby Smith shortly afterward.
So Holmes was Regular Army? Or at least had been? I think even Price would have been better. Price was at least aggressive. Maybe he wouldn't have crossed the river either.
 
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#19
Ned, what do you think made him a bad appointment? I'm not arguing, but I ceded that I'm too ignorant to speak of his record in anything but generalities and want to fix that ignorance.
In his late 50s, he came across as much older. It was said that he lacked energy, was hard of hearing, and had memory problems.
 



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