Did Jefferson Davis Just Lose the War?

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wbull1

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To Rhea Cole's comment that there were no Confederate forces in front of Sherman's march: From History online about what happened after Atlanta (which retreating Confederates partly burned before Sherman go there)

To that end, Sherman’s troops marched south toward Savannah in two wings, about 30 miles apart. On November 22, 3,500 Confederate cavalry started a skirmish with the Union soldiers at Griswoldville, but that ended so badly–650 Confederate soldiers were killed or wounded, compared to 62 Yankee casualties–that Southern troops initiated no more battles. Instead, they fled South ahead of Sherman’s troops, wreaking their own havoc as they went: They wrecked bridges, chopped down trees and burned barns filled with provisions before the Union army could reach them.
 

jackt62

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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.
Good point! Although there is much information about how Sherman reviewed the census records for Georgia counties to determine the amount of food and forage he could anticipate gathering on his march, I haven't come across any information pertaining to his munition supply. To be sure, his force was well provisioned and stocked with sufficient ammo to start, but Sherman was betting that armed resistance would be low (he was right of course). He also knew that Hood was too far away in the opposite direction to do any harm, and the only other forces in his way were the Georgia Militia and Wheeler's Cavalry, neither of which were prepared to pose a serious threat to Sherman's infantry.
 

rbasin

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I don't see a really different story either way, unless Johnston bailed fast and got south of Petersburg. Give Lee an extra 40k of veterans and Grant is in trouble.
 
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leftyhunter

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I don't see a really different story either way, unless Johnston bailed fast and got south of Petersburg. Give Lee an extra 40k of veterans and Grant is in trouble.
That's an interesting senario. The counter argument is that if Johnston high tails it to Petersburg then essentially Sherman's 60k men plus the AoC with approximately 27 k men could size Georgia,North and South Carolina and eventually reach Petersburg. Once Wilmington is seized then there is practical way of feeding the AnV and the people of Richmond.
Leftyhunter
 

Irishtom29

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I don't see a really different story either way, unless Johnston bailed fast and got south of Petersburg. Give Lee an extra 40k of veterans and Grant is in trouble.
Oh, I'd reckon Grant could dig in and hold on until the Great Army of the West arrived, seeing there'd be nothing to stop it. Such a scenario might lead to an earlier crushing of the rebellion.
 
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archieclement

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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
Imagine any outnumbered commander from any war would liked to have had the roles reversed......

Two things outnumbered commanders that had success seem to have, that JJ didnt.......

A Realizing they have to take the initiative to offset the disparity in numbers, they simply cant passively react as JJ did or then your outnumbered and always a step behind....its too late to prevent being flanked if one waits till you are flanked.......

B Realizing they have to make do with what they have......Waiting for more forces when told there are none leads to failure and inaction as well
 

CSA Today

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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.

It wasn't that Lincoln was any less error of judgment prone than Davis. It was that the Union had an advantage of greater numbers and military infrastructure that enabled Lincoln to better recover from a major blunder than Davis.
 

jackt62

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It wasn't that Lincoln was any less error of judgment prone than Davis. It was that the Union had an advantage of greater numbers and military infrastructure that enabled Lincoln to better recover from a major blunder than Davis.
Lincoln erred in trying to be a master strategist and overseer in the first years of the war, despite his lack of military expertise. But after realizing his mistake, he delegated war plans to Grant in 1864, which finally helped bring about the final Union victory. In contrast, Davis, while having greater military experience than Lincoln, persisted in trying to run the war almost to the very end. He would have done better to have let the military professionals like Lee take over sooner.
 
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unionblue

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It wasn't that Lincoln was any less error of judgment prone than Davis. It was that the Union had an advantage of greater numbers and military infrastructure that enabled Lincoln to better recover from a major blunder than Davis.
"On several occasions during the war [Jefferson Davis] came to the relief of the Union army by means of his SUPERIOR military GENIUS. I speak advisedly when I saw Mr. Davis prided himself on his military capacity. He says so himself, virtually, in his answer to the notice of his nomination to the Confederate presidency. Some of his generals have said so in their writings since the downfall of the Confederacy."

--Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant
, vol. 2, 1886.
 

CSA Today

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Lincoln erred in trying to be a master strategist and overseer in the first years of the war, despite his lack of military expertise. But after realizing his mistake, he delegated war plans to Grant in 1864, which finally helped bring about the final Union victory. In contrast, Davis, while having greater military experience than Lincoln, persisted in trying to run the war almost to the very end. He would have done better to have let the military professionals like Lee take over sooner.
I agree that the smartest thing Lincoln did was to appoint Grant general in chief in 1864. On the other hand, he kept the incompetent political general Benjamin F. Butler around until the failed first attack on Fort Fisher in late December 1864.
But yes, Davis had the equally incompetent Braxton Bragg back on the scene at Fort Fisher and at Wyse Fork and Bentonville as late as March 1865. I am not a fan of presidents, or heads of state, past or present personally micromanaging wars. I would have to say though that Napolean Bonaparte did do a pretty good job of it for years.
 

CSA Today

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"On several occasions during the war [Jefferson Davis] came to the relief of the Union army by means of his SUPERIOR military GENIUS. I speak advisedly when I saw Mr. Davis prided himself on his military capacity. He says so himself, virtually, in his answer to the notice of his nomination to the Confederate presidency. Some of his generals have said so in their writings since the downfall of the Confederacy."

--Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant, vol. 2, 1886.
Unfortunately, he saw military genius in Braxton Bragg during the Mexican war. :frown:
 
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leftyhunter

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Imagine any outnumbered commander from any war would liked to have had the roles reversed......

Two things outnumbered commanders that had success seem to have, that JJ didnt.......

A Realizing they have to take the initiative to offset the disparity in numbers, they simply cant passively react as JJ did or then your outnumbered and always a step behind....its too late to prevent being flanked if one waits till you are flanked.......

B Realizing they have to make do with what they have......Waiting for more forces when told there are none leads to failure and inaction as well
All of the above is true. Eventually as in the case of Gettysburg for Lee and El Alamain for Rommel tactical brilliance can only take an outnumbered army so far before they are defeated.
Leftyhunter
 

leftyhunter

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It wasn't that Lincoln was any less error of judgment prone than Davis. It was that the Union had an advantage of greater numbers and military infrastructure that enabled Lincoln to better recover from a major blunder than Davis.
True plus Lincoln didn't have forty percent of his population that was more then willing to fight and or work for the other side. Lincoln didn't have at least ten percent of the young white males from Northern states enlisting in the Confederate Army.
Leftyhunter
 
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CSA Today

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True plus Lincoln didn't have forty percent of his population that was more then willing to fight and or work for the other side. Lincoln didn't have at least ten percent of the young white males from Northern states enlisting in the Confederate Army.
Leftyhunter
Even after dismissing tens of thousands of black Confederates and exaggerated claims for numbers of whites fighting in the enemy's army the CSA was no question at a decided manpower disadvantage. Certainly, any claim that the US army only outnumbered the CS army by 1.68 to 1 is nonsense.
 

leftyhunter

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Even after dismissing tens of thousands of black Confederates and exaggerated claims for numbers of whites fighting in the enemy's army the CSA was no question at a decided manpower disadvantage. Certainly, any claim that the US army only outnumbered the CS army by 1.68 to 1 is nonsense.
I have shown you the exact post many times. If one averages all the major battle's then the Union Army manpower superiority ratio is only 1.86 to one .
That figure does not include Union troops engaged in counterinsurgency, logistics,medical or engineering .
Leftyhunter
 

byron ed

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...exaggerated claims for numbers of whites fighting in the enemy's army
What an odd statement. As if it was the "whites of the enemy army" that defeated the Confederacy, and as if the numbers of "whites of the enemy army" have been exaggerated by anybody ever.

The USCTs; the "blacks of the enemy army"; were irreplaceably significant in the defeat of the Confederacy.
 
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CSA Today

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I have shown you the exact post many times. If one averages all the major battle's then the Union Army manpower superiority ratio is only 1.86 to one .
That figure does not include Union troops engaged in counterinsurgency, logistics,medical or engineering .
Leftyhunter
And I have shown you many times that your ratio was possible only by the CS leaving vast areas thinly defended or undefended opening up opportunities for the US army to open new fronts all over the place. Keep in mind that during the latter stages of the Overland Campaign and Petersburg Siege Lee was forced to send a corps to the Shenandoah Valley and two additional divisions of his smaller army to the Carolinas to meet threats.

It is important to keep in mind the 1860 population of the two regions and their capability to raise troops.
http://www.civil-war.net/pages/1860_census.html
http://www.civil-war.net/pages/troops_furnished_losses.html
 

Coonewah Creek

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Clausewitz said that war is politics by other means and he was right. Thus the war leader not only has the political goals of his war but political necessities to achieve those goals. Such as keeping guys like Ben Butler around.
It's also why Jefferson Davis's only real strategic option, from a political standpoint, was a "cordon" defense. None of the Confederate state's governors on the periphery of the Confederacy would have ever accepted the concept of trading space for time...giving up their territorial integrity temporarily to give the Confederate forces time and space to concentrate to conduct an effective counter punch. You could say "State's Rights" beat Jefferson Davis and the Confederacy as much as any one primary factor.
 
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