Did Jefferson Davis Just Lose the War?

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Coonewah Creek

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If Johnston is out numbered two to one although he can utilize the Georgia State Militia (who's actual combat value was questionable at best) then it is unlikely that Johnston could protect Savannah.
While Sherman's men could forage for food and livestock feed when he cut loose from his line of communication and started his "March to the Sea," one thing I've sometimes wondered about is that his army group would have been limited by its munitions logistical resupply. If Johnston (or Hood for that matter), had forced a battle or series of battles that required a large expenditure of ammunition by the Federal forces, how many could Sherman afford before his munitions were exhausted? Maybe he had that contingency covered too since he was very detail oriented with respect to his logistics, but I've always wondered what his options would have been in that case. He certainly wouldn't have gotten a new ammo supply by foraging the countryside...
 

jackt62

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A morale booster? Would depend on the standard one wishes to use in comparison…..In comparison to the morale the AoT exhibited at Missionary ridge, perhaps...… It remains at no point From JJ on did the AoT switch to offensive operations that it exhibited signs of high morale, initiative, or swift movements.
When Hood took command he certainly transitioned to offensive operations and those type of aggressive actions but I don't recall that the morale of the rank and file was dramatically changed because of it.
 

leftyhunter

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While Sherman's men could forage for food and livestock feed when he cut loose from his line of communication and started his "March to the Sea," one thing I've sometimes wondered about is that his army group would have been limited by its munitions logistical resupply. If Johnston (or Hood for that matter), had forced a battle or series of battles that required a large expenditure of ammunition by the Federal forces, how many could Sherman afford before his munitions were exhausted? Maybe he had that contingency covered too since he was very detail oriented with respect to his logistics, but I've always wondered what his options would have been in that case. He certainly wouldn't have gotten a new ammo supply by foraging the countryside...
One possible answer is that since the Confederate Army in the West is more or less tied down somewhere between Atlanta and Savannah the AoC could then renforce Sherman and establish the needed supply lines.
In the biography " Rebel front and rear" William A. Fletcher who was captured in Georgia by Sherman's men noted how surprised he was that Union railroads were so close to Sherman's advance.
Leftyhunter
 
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leftyhunter

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While Sherman's men could forage for food and livestock feed when he cut loose from his line of communication and started his "March to the Sea," one thing I've sometimes wondered about is that his army group would have been limited by its munitions logistical resupply. If Johnston (or Hood for that matter), had forced a battle or series of battles that required a large expenditure of ammunition by the Federal forces, how many could Sherman afford before his munitions were exhausted? Maybe he had that contingency covered too since he was very detail oriented with respect to his logistics, but I've always wondered what his options would have been in that case. He certainly wouldn't have gotten a new ammo supply by foraging the countryside...
On page 147 Fletcher notes that the Union had a rail road from Kingston, Georgia to Chattanooga, Tennessee. I would have to look up how close Kingston is from Atlanta. Fletcher bemoaned the fact that the Confederate Army failed to destroy the rail roads and transportation facilities in Georgia.
On the other hand even if they did so the Union could repair them although I don't know how long.
Leftyhunter
 

Coonewah Creek

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Fletcher bemoaned the fact that the Confederate Army failed to destroy the rail roads and transportation facilities in Georgia.
I think the only Confederate command that might have been able to do some actual damage to the railroads was Forrest. And Davis's stupid Confederate Departmental command system kept his cavalry corps in Mississippi. Johnston, to his credit, wanted Davis to order Forrest to cut Sherman's lines when he was driving on Atlanta, but Davis obliged Sherman by making Forrest use up his command battling diversionary threats coming out of Memphis (Brice's Crossroads and Tupelo).
 

leftyhunter

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While Sherman's men could forage for food and livestock feed when he cut loose from his line of communication and started his "March to the Sea," one thing I've sometimes wondered about is that his army group would have been limited by its munitions logistical resupply. If Johnston (or Hood for that matter), had forced a battle or series of battles that required a large expenditure of ammunition by the Federal forces, how many could Sherman afford before his munitions were exhausted? Maybe he had that contingency covered too since he was very detail oriented with respect to his logistics, but I've always wondered what his options would have been in that case. He certainly wouldn't have gotten a new ammo supply by foraging the countryside...
From Kingston, Georgia to Savannah, Georgia is 304 miles. If I am not mistaken the roadways are fairly flat. It would definitely require a fairly substantial effort to establish way stations so the draft animals can rest and eat since they can not be on the move twenty four seven. The railway can be extended maybe @wausaubob can tell us what period if time it takes to build one mile of rail road tracks.
So yes a supply line is doable but it would take a substantial effort.
Leftyhunter
 
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leftyhunter

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I think the only Confederate command that might have been able to do some actual damage to the railroads was Forrest. And Davis's stupid Confederate Departmental command system kept his cavalry corps in Mississippi. Johnston, to his credit, wanted Davis to order Forrest to cut Sherman's lines when he was driving on Atlanta, but Davis obliged Sherman by making Forrest use up his command battling diversionary threats coming out of Memphis (Brice's Crossroads and Tupelo).
True and we know unless the attack's are supstained the Union could just use armed civilians to repair the tracks.
Has @Rhea Cole pointed out the Union Army was able to protect its railroads in Tennessee from Confederate guerrillas although not by warm and fuzzy means.
Leftyhunter
 
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leftyhunter

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While Sherman's men could forage for food and livestock feed when he cut loose from his line of communication and started his "March to the Sea," one thing I've sometimes wondered about is that his army group would have been limited by its munitions logistical resupply. If Johnston (or Hood for that matter), had forced a battle or series of battles that required a large expenditure of ammunition by the Federal forces, how many could Sherman afford before his munitions were exhausted? Maybe he had that contingency covered too since he was very detail oriented with respect to his logistics, but I've always wondered what his options would have been in that case. He certainly wouldn't have gotten a new ammo supply by foraging the countryside...
Not an expert on ACW logistics but maybe our experts such has but not limited to @Saphroneth and @wausaubob can help. One average size Union wagon can carry X amount of lps which equals Y amount of musket balls and another wagon would carry X lps of black powder or X amount of ammo rounds for repeating rifles such has the 20th In which used Spencer Rifles to cause the GSM to have a real bad day.
Four horse's to a wagon equal X amount of feed and Y amount of gallons of fresh clean water . Four horse's can travel X amount of miles and require Y amount of rest. Plus hot days most likely will lower the efficiency of the poor horses.
We need X amount of soldiers to protect Y amount of wagon's.
No doubt being a Quarter master is not easy.
Leftyhunter
 

archieclement

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When Hood took command he certainly transitioned to offensive operations and those type of aggressive actions but I don't recall that the morale of the rank and file was dramatically changed because of it.
The smaller force always needs to take offensive operations, its it best chance.

Tactics both pre and post CW have always recognized using mobility to achieve superiority at a specific point and time is the best tactic. Napoleonic tactics called for speedy maneuver to focus combined arms at a specific point.

A smaller force can still do so, it just requires taking the initiative and driving the events, rather then passively reacting to them, and using mobility to focus all its forces at a point against only a part of the larger forces, Why a Lee or Rommel could be successful with the smaller force.
 
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OpnCoronet

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The OP is based, IMO, on a false premise, i.e., that ohnston was ready willing and able to confront Sherman's Army at a right opportunity, known only to Johnston.

Davis replaced Johnston because he could not get a clear answer to whether he would ever fight Shermans Army. If he was, he certainly did not inform Davis of any such ambition.

As noted by others on this thread, Sherman was tired of chasing the AOT to no good end. Part of the rationale for his March to the Sea, was Sherman's stated plan that such a movement would force Johnston(or later Hood) to either leave his entrenchments and meet Sherman in open battle to stop his March or, stay behind to to face Thomas' new Army, being formed to follow the AoT wherever it went, while Sherman marched against Georgia Militia to the Sea, and then to Peterberg.
 

leftyhunter

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The smaller force always needs to take offensive operations, its it best chance.

Tactics both pre and post CW have always recognized using mobility to achieve superiority at a specific point and time is the best tactic. Napoleonic tactics called for speedy maneuver to focus combined arms at a specific point.

A smaller force can still do so, it just requires taking the initiative and driving the events, rather then passively reacting to them, and using mobility to focus all its forces at a point against only a part of the larger forces, Why a Lee or Rommel could be successful with the smaller force.
True but in the long run bigger is better. Two great examples would be Petersburg for Lee and El Alamain for Rommel. We can't know what would of happened if the AoT together with Wheeler's Cavalry and the GSM formed a cohesive force and tried to stay between Sherman and Savannah. We do know they would be outnumbered especially if the AoC moves in from Tennessee.
Leftyhunter
 

leftyhunter

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The OP is based, IMO, on a false premise, i.e., that ohnston was ready willing and able to confront Sherman's Army at a right opportunity, known only to Johnston.

Davis replaced Johnston because he could not get a clear answer to whether he would ever fight Shermans Army. If he was, he certainly did not inform Davis of any such ambition.

As noted by others on this thread, Sherman was tired of chasing the AOT to no good end. Part of the rationale for his March to the Sea, was Sherman's stated plan that such a movement would force Johnston(or later Hood) to either leave his entrenchments and meet Sherman in open battle to stop his March or, stay behind to to face Thomas' new Army, being formed to follow the AoT wherever it went, while Sherman marched against Georgia Militia to the Sea, and then to Peterberg.
To be fair to Mr.Sour Apple Tree not sure if he ever had great military options in the West. Twice Davis had to travel to Tennessee to sort out the personality conflicts between Bragg and his subordinates. Not much to show for Davis's efforts in the long run.
Not sure any Confederate general no matter how brilliant could salvage Confederate fortunes in the West.
Leftyhunter
 
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uaskme

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Davis made some mistakes:

Not removing Bragg earlier.

Giving Bragg any responsibility for tactics or advice about the AOT, after his removal. Bragg failed as a Commander, what was his Counsel worth?

Not giving Johnson more support. Not Moving NBF to hit Sherman‘s supply line. War child couldn’t do it.

Replacing Johnson with JBH, with the advice of Bragg, who shouldn’t be there to begin with.
 
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Dead Parrott

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The OP is based, IMO, on a false premise, i.e., that ohnston was ready willing and able to confront Sherman's Army at a right opportunity, known only to Johnston.

Davis replaced Johnston because he could not get a clear answer to whether he would ever fight Shermans Army. If he was, he certainly did not inform Davis of any such ambition.

As noted by others on this thread, Sherman was tired of chasing the AOT to no good end. Part of the rationale for his March to the Sea, was Sherman's stated plan that such a movement would force Johnston(or later Hood) to either leave his entrenchments and meet Sherman in open battle to stop his March or, stay behind to to face Thomas' new Army, being formed to follow the AoT wherever it went, while Sherman marched against Georgia Militia to the Sea, and then to Peterberg.
See, I'm not so sure that's a false premise - although its impossible to tell for sure. You're right that the Davis\Johnston communication was at best dysfunctional, for which both men deserve some blame. And no one can say for certain where or when Johnston would stand and fight.

Johnston absolutely frustrated Sherman. Johnston absolutely would trade ground for maneuver. And in pure numbers, Sherman was absolutely going to take Atlanta, eventually.

Perhaps the best 'defense' of Davis would be to say that, unless a 'dramatic' generalship move is made, the Sherman\Johnston chess match for Atlanta is already lost. I personally don't agree with this - but I have the benefit of hindsight and the protective coating of mere speculation! Davis did not.
 

wausaubob

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Johnston believed that the Confederacy was going to lose the war, but if the Confederate armies continued to exist, the Confederacy would influence the peace. Lincoln essentially agreed with Johnston.
By December 1864 the US was faced with very large financial problems, which made Grant very impatient that Thomas should smash Hood's force, Butler should stay in NC until Fort Fisher fell to the US, that Sherman should get going. Eventually Schofield and his command are sent to NC to accelerate the end of the war.
 

jackt62

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Perhaps the best thing Davis could have done early on is appoint Lee as General-in-Chief of the Confederate armies (rather than wait until February 1865), by which time it was a useless exercise. The Confederacy suffered from a lack of clear direction as to war plans and was hobbled by the individual fiefdoms of regional commanders such as Lee in Virginia, Bragg in Tennessee, and Johnston everywhere else. The Union also suffered from the same problem of divided commands but at least the Lincoln administration had a clearer set of war plans, and finally understood the necessity for appointing an overall commander (Grant) while there was still time.
 
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Coonewah Creek

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Not giving Johnson more support. Not Moving NBF to hit Sherman‘s supply line. War child couldn’t do it.
Sending Wheeler away to try and harass Sherman's LOC was one of many of Hood's mistakes. The little cavalry he had left with the AoT left him essentially deaf and blind to Sherman's movements. So when Sherman left only XX Corps to guard the Chattahoochee River crossing and cut loose from his LOC to swing south to hit the Macon & Western Railroad at Jonesboro, Hood was confused as to his intentions. By the time he finally realized what Sherman was up to, it was too late. The troops he sent to intercept Sherman at Jonesboro were repulsed during that battle (31 Aug - 1 Sep). Losing the last two railroads rendered Atlanta untenable and the city fell. Wheeler in the meantime inflicted a few "mosquito bites" on Sherman's LOC, but did little else except render his cavalry unfit for further service. Forrest would have at least tried. It is apparent that Wheeler had little stomach for that kind of work.
 

wausaubob

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Perhaps the best thing Davis could have done early on is appoint Lee as General-in-Chief of the Confederate armies (rather than wait until February 1865), by which time it was a useless exercise. The Confederacy suffered from a lack of clear direction as to war plans and was hobbled by the individual fiefdoms of regional commanders such as Lee in Virginia, Bragg in Tennessee, and Johnston everywhere else. The Union also suffered from the same problem of divided commands but at least the Lincoln administration had a clearer set of war plans, and finally understood the necessity for appointing an overall commander (Grant) while there was still time.
The period in which Lincoln and Stanton controlled the US army operations was probably the worst period the war for the US. And Henry Halleck offered no independent strategic value.
For the US, once Grant had control of the Vicksburg operation, it succeeded. Then Grant had overall control of the western theater and the Chattanooga situation improved rapidly. Then Grant was given overall command. The first five months were terrible and five months later the Confederacy collapsed. Grant was not so special, but the US had to pick a military man and stick with him.
Davis thought he was a military man. But his experience was in a vastly different sort of war.
 
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