Eisenhower on Lee

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cash

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I said I value what President Eisenhower said. How can you disagree with that? I know value conflicts can be hard to resolve, but there are lots of ways to address value conflicts constructively. One of the most appealing resolution strategies for value conflicts is one that seeks a state of coexistence or tolerance. That shouldn't be hard to achieve in this thread if everyone respects each other and the rights of folks to have differing values and/or views. Like the Confederate soldier said in the greatest movie of all time, "I'm fightin' for my rights. All of us here, that's what we're fighting for." :giggle:
What Eisenhower said is interesting for his opinion, but he's being quoted because it's supposed to prove something about Lee which is not warranted by Eisenhower's training, expertise, or experience.

When Ike comments on Lee as a general, then he's within his realm of expertise and his words are authoritative. When he comments on things outside that, then his opinion doesn't matter.
 

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cash

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Let us not discount the influence two years under Fox Conner had on Dwight D. Eisenhower. He referred to this as his most profound period of military education. Fox Conner introduced him to the principles of precise and methodical military staff work and started Eisenhower on an intense military history reading program, instructing him to discuss each book and its lessons for modern warfare in detail.

Among other things, Conner made Eisenhower read about the American Civil War and Carl von Clausewitz’s, On War repeatedly. He sought to expand Eisenhower’s intellectual horizons by introducing him to the works of Plato, Tacitus, Nietzsche, and Shakespeare—who frequently portrayed soldiers in his plays. “In describing these soldiers, their actions, and giving them speech,” Conner told Eisenhower, “Shakespeare undoubtedly was describing soldiers he knew at first hand, identifying them, making them part of his own characters.”

Drawing on his own experiences with coalition warfare during the Great War, Conner impressed upon Eisenhower three important war-fighting lessons:

1. Never fight unless you have to.
2. Never fight alone.
3. Never fight for long.

Fox Conner died on October 13, 1951, a little more than a year before Eisenhower was elected president of the United States. While he never wore more than two stars on his shoulders, three of his understudies accounted for a cumulative total of 14 stars.


Source: September/October 2016 issue of World War II magazine.
None of that supports Eisenhower's ability to authoritatively comment on Lee outside Lee as a general.
 

wausaubob

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If I may respectfully disagree by clarifying my position. I don't think Lee was out-generaled. I think the ANV was out-fought. In my view, the subordinate commanders and their men won that battle.
Sure, it's the commander's responsibility, and Lee was right to assume the responsibility, though in a later letter he sought to escape the responsibility a bit. My point was NOT that Lee didn't do the right thing, but rather my point was that in actuality it wasn't his fault. The commander is always held responsible, but sometimes he loses for reasons outside his control. My point is that's the case with Gettysburg.
You must not fight too often with one enemy, or you will teach him all your art of war. Napoleon Bonaparte
The Confederates may have taught the Army of the Potomac how to fight.
Edited.
 

diane

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If I may respectfully disagree by clarifying my position. I don't think Lee was out-generaled. I think the ANV was out-fought. In my view, the subordinate commanders and their men won that battle.



Sure, it's the commander's responsibility, and Lee was right to assume the responsibility, though in a later letter he sought to escape the responsibility a bit. My point was NOT that Lee didn't do the right thing, but rather my point was that in actuality it wasn't his fault. The commander is always held responsible, but sometimes he loses for reasons outside his control. My point is that's the case with Gettysburg.
I think we may be arguing about what shade of grey Lee was wearing!
 

cash

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I think we may be arguing about what shade of grey Lee was wearing!
I'm just trying to make my position very clear. I think every decision Lee made at Gettysburg, including Pickett's Charge, was a reasonable decision based on what he knew or didn't know at the time. I don't have much of a criticism of his performance. I think trying to blame Gettysburg on Lee, Longstreet, Ewell, Stuart, or anyone else discounts the fact that the Union Army performed magnificently. Meade did well, but I don't see his performance as general as being that much better than Lee's. I think the battle was won below the army command level.
 

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I think if Eisenhower's comments on Lee are compared to his comments on Grant it reveal a perfect reflection of the state of Civil War scholarship in 1960. Both Eisenhower and Kennedy expressed views that they would have modified in light of the Civil Rights movement, had the lived to see it succeed.
 

diane

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I'm just trying to make my position very clear. I think every decision Lee made at Gettysburg, including Pickett's Charge, was a reasonable decision based on what he knew or didn't know at the time. I don't have much of a criticism of his performance. I think trying to blame Gettysburg on Lee, Longstreet, Ewell, Stuart, or anyone else discounts the fact that the Union Army performed magnificently. Meade did well, but I don't see his performance as general as being that much better than Lee's. I think the battle was won below the army command level.
Oh, we need to chat a bit about Meade - I differ in opinion from you about his skill as a commander. But...gots to stick to the OP about Eisenhower's reasons to admire Lee! (And this is coming from somebody with the attention span of a squirrel.)
 

cash

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I think if Eisenhower's comments on Lee are compared to his comments on Grant it reveal a perfect reflection of the state of Civil War scholarship in 1960. Both Eisenhower and Kennedy expressed views that they would have modified in light of the Civil Rights movement, had the lived to see it succeed.
I would put it earlier than that. I'd say Ike's views covered the state of scholarship in the 1920s and 1930s.
 

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How does scholarship change the nature of a man's character? I find this confusing. It may change the nature of perspectives on the war, but Lee's character was defined before the war. Does he become a different person because he fights for the Confederacy? No. He chooses a side, but remains the same in character. I think the terms here are not very well defined.
 

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I would put it earlier than that. I'd say Ike's views covered the state of scholarship in the 1920s and 1930s.
Hard to argue with that, sadly.
No one who compares Grant's second inaugural address with what happened in the 20th century can seriously doubt that he saw what a hierarchy of races combined with unbridled nationalism could lead to.
Eisenhower was unaware that it had all been thought out previously.
 

cash

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How does scholarship change the nature of a man's character? I find this confusing. It may change the nature of perspectives on the war, but Lee's character was defined before the war. Does he become a different person because he fights for the Confederacy? No. He chooses a side, but remains the same in character. I think the terms here are not very well defined.
It uncovers more information about the man, his views, and his actions, and provides a new perspective on him. It also corrects mistaken information.
 

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How is that a study of Lee's private writings or the writings of those who knew him?
A' Ones public writings and statements are as valid as ones private ones................

B. What is the point of a historians interpretation, if it too is to be thrown away? You yourself conceded Eisenhower read works of historians, and more then likely also studied Lee at West Point......Seems your now saying historians are about as worthless as teats on a boar..............If one cant form an opinion from reading multiple works of historians in conjunction with ones own expertise in the field...................And honestly, Eisenhower had more experience with military science.....the actual application of it, and of actual service then most if not all academics...............which does give him an unique and I would think very relevant perspective.......

Still trying to understand if having multiple perspectives is a good thing, why would one not want to consider one who did read on the subject, and also had immense knowledge and experience in the same field as who he is commenting on?
 

cash

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A' Ones public writings and statements are as valid as ones private ones................
Obviously not.

B. What is the point of a historians interpretation, if it too is to be thrown away? You yourself conceded Eisenhower read works of historians, and more then likely also studied Lee at West Point......Seems your now saying historians are about as worthless as Teats on a boar..............If one cant form an opinion from reading multiple works of historians in conjunction with ones own expertise in the field...................And honestly Eisenhower had more experience with military science.....the actual application of it, and of actual service then most if not all academics...............which does give him an unique and I would think very relevant perspective.......
New historical evidence is uncovered as time goes on, and many times that new evidence invalidates previous interpretations.

There's no evidence Eisenhower read multiple works of multiple historians.

Still trying to understand if having multiple perspectives is a good thing, why would one not want to consider one who did read on the subject, and also had immense knowledge and experience in the same field as who he is commenting on?
I suggest reading about what historians do. That may resolve the quandry.
 

archieclement

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Obviously not.



New historical evidence is uncovered as time goes on, and many times that new evidence invalidates previous interpretations.

There's no evidence Eisenhower read multiple works of multiple historians.



I suggest reading about what historians do. That may resolve the quandry.
Obviously it does, sometimes people do state things publicly at face value, not everything is some vast conspiracy........

I used Cash as a source......should knew it wasn't reliable......"Most probably Douglas S. Freeman's hagiography of Lee combined with other works influenced by Jubal Early. " which would be multiple works.......................Which BTW if one has get inside Lees mind.......Early actually sat in rooms with and had personal discussions with Lee.......not aware of any today that have.........

Once again used Cash as source he defined historians work as "That's what historians do. They might not say, "This is my speculation," but they use words and phrases like "must have ..." or "might have ..." or "probably ... " or similar phrases and words. When they write saying what happened, it's because they have sources that say it's what happened. Usually they will have corroborating evidence before they get definitive like that." and " A lot more of history depends on interpretation because we will always be missing huge chunks of evidence. Therefore, it's valuable to look at the evidence from a variety of perspectives. "

Quite frankly hate to burst your bubble, but one doesn't need a college degree to espouse interpretations based on speculation as you have defined a historians work.........
 
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cash

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Obviously it does, sometimes people do state things publicly at face value, not everything is some vast conspiracy........
"Sometimes" is not what you claimed.

I used Cash as a source......should knew it wasn't reliable......"Most probably Douglas S. Freeman's hagiography of Lee combined with other works influenced by Jubal Early. " which would be multiple works.......................

Once again used Cash as source he defined historians work as "That's what historians do. They might not say, "This is my speculation," but they use words and phrases like "must have ..." or "might have ..." or "probably ... " or similar phrases and words. When they write saying what happened, it's because they have sources that say it's what happened. Usually they will have corroborating evidence before they get definitive like that." and " A lot more of history depends on interpretation because we will always be missing huge chunks of evidence. Therefore, it's valuable to look at the evidence from a variety of perspectives. "

Quite frankly hate to burst your bubble, but one doesn't need a college degree to espouse interpretations based on speculation as you have defined a historians work.........
The nice thing about having a degree is that one has been trained and understands historians' interpretations aren't based on speculations.
Edited.
 

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A reminder: this thread concerns the opinions of a major American military figure- Eisenhower- on another major American military figure- Lee.
Please stay focused on those opinions and not on the qualifications or politics of Mr. Eisenhower.
 
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