Foreign Observers

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#1
I think that most people have heard of Col. Freemantle, the English officer who was an unofficial observer on Lee’s staff at Gettysburg. I have now discovered that Sir Garnet Wolseley also met with Lee and Longstreet. Does anyone have any American references to this meeting?

What follows is taken from Wikipedia, so I cannot verify its credibility:

In November 1861, Wolseley was one of the special service officers sent to Canada in connection with the Trent incident.[7]

In 1862, shortly after the Battle of Antietam, Wolseley took leave from his military duties and went to investigate the American Civil War. He befriended Southern sympathizers in Maryland, who found him passage into Virginia with a blockade runner across the Potomac River. There he met with the Generals Robert E. Lee, James Longstreet and Stonewall Jackson.[10] He also provided an analysis on Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest. The New Orleans Picayune (10 April 1892) published Wolseley's ten-page portrayal of Forrest, which condensed much of what was written about him by biographers of the time. This work appeared in the Journal of the Southern Historical Society in the same year, and is commonly cited today. Wolseley addressed Forrest's role at the Pillow near Memphis, Tennessee in April, 1864 in which black USCT troops and white officers were alleged by some to have been slaughtered after Fort Pillow had been conquered. Wolseley wrote, "I do not think that the fact that one-half of the small garrison of a place taken by assault was either killed or wounded evinced any very unusual bloodthirstiness on the part of the assailants."


250px-Garnet_Joseph_Wolseley%2C_1874.png


Wolseley in 1874, from the Illustrated London News
 

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James N.

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#2
I believe Wolseley traveled with London Illustrated News artist-correspondent Frank Vizetelly who likely introduced him to various personages and places while also making drawings and sketches that were subsequently published back in England. The time-lines of the two men seem to correspond, to judge by the illustrations.
 

damYankee

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#5
I like this observation
Modern analysis of Scheibert’s categorization concludes that, while essentially correct, he vastly oversimplifies the progression of tactics over the course of the war, and doesn’t account for inconsistencies in his generalizations as represented by specific battles that don’t fit his model. This is almost certainly a result of Scheibert’s lack of full observation—while he was only present in America for seven months in 1863, he attempts to summarize and analyze the entire war in his reports.

Scheibert ascribes his model of the progression of the war to the growth of both sides’ officer corps over time. Compared to the Prussian system, officers in both the Confederate and United States armies had received very little formal training before the war, and especially those at the lower ranks. This resulted in “stiffness in the lines and clumsiness in management and direction of troops” as large divisions of the army fully relied on their higher officers to direct all movement. “The loss of an upper-level commander,” Scheibert states, “Would cripple advance and retard again in battle.” This situation could have been remedied, he believed, with the improvement of training of low-level officers in peacetime to be able to act more independently should the need arise, as the Prussian army trained its own officers. While he concedes that both officers and soldiers in the later parts of the war became battle-tested and intelligent, he characterizes the development of defensive warfare focused upon the “use of shovel and axe, exploiting the skill every American has with these tools” as compensation for the inability for quick-decision making at the officer level. Defensive breastworks and other safeguards, he reasons, gave both troops and officers the time and conditions to think over their advances rather than making poor and risky decisions in the chaos of open battle. It is thus that, while Scheibert does make reference to the unique circumstances present in America not found in Prussia, such as cultural characteristics and much more rugged geography, he ultimately ascribes the differences between the American war and European wars as primarily being based on differences in the quality of training and preparation, a fundamentally elitist point of view which undermines the credibility of the American soldier and military leaders.

Despite this, Scheibert’s fondness for the Southern military leadership and cause as a whole saturates his observations, and quite possibly calls their legitimacy into question. Notably by the third, defensive phase of fighting, Scheibert concludes that Lee led “like Napoleon” and was able to “[shackle] his stronger foe in the chains of perfect tactics” and that his work “must go down in history in nothing less than golden letters.” Scheibert’s awe was mostly directed towards what he explained as Lee’s masterful use of interior lines to keep troops fresh and reinforced, which allowed Confederate soldiers to fight at a level of strength greater than their numbers. Despite these glowing terms, he attributes Union victory to the great unbalance of supplies, industry, and men between the two sides, which effectively allowed the Union to out-produce the Confederate army and defenses. With his cultural preferences on full display, Scheibert finally determines that it was the spirit and values of the Southern soldiers which allowed them to stand toe-to-toe against what he perceived as a morally degenerate Northern army for long so long, despite their disadvantages. Citing an “old truth,” he makes a simple declaration: “Good Christian, good soldier!”

Scheibert shows notably less bias in discussing technological developments used in the war, such as the role played by railroads and displays of new designs of artillery, in fact going so far as to declare the age of modern artillery as having begun at the siege of Charleston Harbor, which he bore witness to. He does not, however, suggest that much can be learned from the war for adoption in Europe, as most of what he saw was either believed to be inferior to contemporary European methods or a result of uniquely American circumstances. With a retrospective view, it becomes clear that the Prussians as a whole were ultimately disinterested in the war, both out of a sense of European elitism and their own preoccupation with European military affairs. Thus, for all of Scheibert’s passions and interest in the war as an honorary rebel, Prussia, and soon Germany, was not strongly impacted by the military developments of the Civil War.

Sources:

Luvaas, Jay. The Military Legacy of the Civil War: The European Inheritance. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1959.

Scheibert, Justus. Seven Months in the Rebel States. Tuscaloosa, Alabama: The Confederate Publishing Company, Inc., 1958.

Trautman, Federic, trans. A Prussian Observes the American Civil War: The Military Studies of Justus Scheibert. Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 2001.

8d0db8fc8817192d4db7f11940ee0c6b?s=98&d=identicon&r=g.jpg
Author Civil War InstitutePosted on January 5, 2015Categories A Look at the PastTags Germany, International Relations, Ryan Nadeau, Technology
https://gettysburgcompiler.org/2015/01/05/a-prussian-observes-the-american-civil-war/
 

WJC

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#6
I think that most people have heard of Col. Freemantle, the English officer who was an unofficial observer on Lee’s staff at Gettysburg. I have now discovered that Sir Garnet Wolseley also met with Lee and Longstreet. Does anyone have any American references to this meeting?

What follows is taken from Wikipedia, so I cannot verify its credibility:

In November 1861, Wolseley was one of the special service officers sent to Canada in connection with the Trent incident.[7]

In 1862, shortly after the Battle of Antietam, Wolseley took leave from his military duties and went to investigate the American Civil War. He befriended Southern sympathizers in Maryland, who found him passage into Virginia with a blockade runner across the Potomac River. There he met with the Generals Robert E. Lee, James Longstreet and Stonewall Jackson.[10] He also provided an analysis on Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest. The New Orleans Picayune (10 April 1892) published Wolseley's ten-page portrayal of Forrest, which condensed much of what was written about him by biographers of the time. This work appeared in the Journal of the Southern Historical Society in the same year, and is commonly cited today. Wolseley addressed Forrest's role at the Pillow near Memphis, Tennessee in April, 1864 in which black USCT troops and white officers were alleged by some to have been slaughtered after Fort Pillow had been conquered. Wolseley wrote, "I do not think that the fact that one-half of the small garrison of a place taken by assault was either killed or wounded evinced any very unusual bloodthirstiness on the part of the assailants."


250px-Garnet_Joseph_Wolseley%2C_1874.png


Wolseley in 1874, from the Illustrated London News
Thanks for posting this. Although his recollections are very interesting, it seems to me that Freemantle is overrated. He was simply a tourist and adventurer who happened to have a military background.
Wolseley, on the other hand, was an accomplished, highly respected soldier and military planner.
 
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#7
Scheibrt apparently overlooked the fact that the superior Confederate soldier deserted in great numbers and often defected to the Union Army. Scheibert apparently didnt mention that the Union Army did from time to time defeat numerically superior Confederate forces .
Schreiber apparently didn't know what General Thomas learned that in no way was the Confederate soldier superior to black soldiers.
Leftyhunter
 

damYankee

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#8
For a guy who spent seven months fawning over Lee, he sure knew a lot about the entire war, and the people who fought it.
Though he licked Lee’s boots and compared him to Napoleon, it was Grant who while visiting Europe was cheered and introduced by nobels as the “New Colossus”
 
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#10
Only yesterday I was reading Wolseley's autobiography about his visit to Lee:

https://archive.org/stream/storysoldierslif02wols#page/136/mode/2up:
Wolseley does write an interesting account of Lee however not an accurate one. Lee neglected to add as Sears and others would document much latter that many Confederate troops refused to invade Maryland.
Lee somehow believed with an extra five thousand men his exsisted 35 thousand men could defeat 70 thousand Union soldiers is an interesting thought ;perhaps not an accurate thought.
Leftyhunter
 

67th Tigers

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#11
Wolseley does write an interesting account of Lee however not an accurate one. Lee neglected to add as Sears and others would document much latter that many Confederate troops refused to invade Maryland.
As Harsh points out, the evidence for this is so thin as to be non-existent. To copy-paste:

A. THE IMPORTANCE OF CONSCIENTIOUS STRAGGLING IN THE MARYLAND CAMPAIGN

It is asserted in Taken at the Flood (chap. 2) that there was but negligible impact on the strength of the Army of Northern Virginia from objections in the ranks to an “invasion.” This conclusion is reached in spite of the fact that the two recent histories of the Maryland campaign have given some weight to the notion that Lee’s decision to enter Maryland did hurt the morale of his army and did cost him a significant number of soldiers. The evidence uncovered thus far is slight and unconvincing. Stephen Sears and James Murfin both rely on a passage from Garland Ferguson’s history of the 25th North Carolina Infantry, first cited by Douglas Freeman. 1 Ferguson wrote:

"When it was first made known to the men by General Lee’s order that the army was to cross the Potomac there was a considerable murmur of disappointment in ranks. The men said they had volunteered to resist invasion and not to invade, some did not believe it right to invade Northern territory, others thought that the same cause that brought the Southern army to the front would increase the Northern army, still others thought the war should be carried into the North; thus the men thought, talked and disagreed."

Note that there is not one word about refusing to participate or dropping from the ranks. In fact, Ferguson’s next sentence strongly implies the opposite: “This was the first dissension among the men of the regiment, but all were united in their confidence and love for Lee.” It should be noted that Freeman limited himself to the following cautious speculation: “Those of extreme conscience may have found opportunity of leaving the ranks for the duration of the Maryland expedition.” 2

The only other evidence cited by both Sears and Murfin is a letter of September 30, 1862, from Rev. Joseph Clay Stiles, who was traveling as a civilian with the army: 3 “There were two opinions in the army as to the propriety of the move. A minority believed that as a matter of prudence at least we should not leave our own soil; that it looked a little like invasion. The consequence was a large number hung back and would not cross the river— while others were willing to retire from the fight sooner than they would have done on our own soil.”

Not only is it questionable how the minister could have been in a position to make such a sweeping assertion, but his reference to fainthearted fighting casts doubt on the whole statement. It scarcely seems applicable to any of Lee’s units at either South Mountain or Sharpsburg.

Murfin cites a story related by Capt. Charles Walcott in the history of the 21st Massachusetts. After South Mountain, Walcott spoke to the dying lieutenant colonel of the 3d South Carolina Battalion, George W James, who claimed that Col. William DeSaussure of the 15th South Carolina had refused to cross the Potomac, because “the regiment had enlisted to defend the South and not to invade the North.” Allegedly, James had to shame DeSaussure into entering Maryland. 4 However, the fact is DeSaussure was present to command the 15th at Sharpsburg and would even cross the Potomac a second time to be killed in action at Gettysburg.

Finally, two similar stories might be noted. Lt. Col. Franklin Gaillard of the 2d South Carolina wrote home that an invasion of the North was “simply ridiculous,” but the historian of the regiment found no evidence that “any of its members refused to cross the Potomac.” 5 Also, when Isaac Hirsch of the 30th Virginia of Walker’s division heard on September 5 that the army was entering Maryland, he recorded in his diary: “I dont like the idea as I dont like to invade anybodys Country.” He did not consider dropping out of ranks on that account, however, nor does he relate that any of his colleagues did. 6

- Harsh, Joseph L. Sounding the Shallows: A Confederate Compendium for the Maryland Campaign of 1862 (Kindle Locations 4527-4560). Kent State Univ Pr. Kindle Edition.
 

Saphroneth

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#12
It's worth remembering that Maryland in particular was felt by Confederates to be Confederate - certainly the Union kept Maryland's government under control at the time for fear of official secession.
 

NH Civil War Gal

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#13
Can anyone tell me what Observers actually do and what their point is? Freemantle seems to have spent a great deal of time paling around and dining around and spent part of Gettysburg in a tree watching the battle. But what is/was the point? What lessons were they supposed to bring home from this?
 

Saphroneth

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#14
Can anyone tell me what Observers actually do and what their point is? Freemantle seems to have spent a great deal of time paling around and dining around and spent part of Gettysburg in a tree watching the battle. But what is/was the point? What lessons were they supposed to bring home from this?
Essentially, there's several things it offers.

1) For the observers personally, it can be good personal growth (trip in a foreign country) and helps them stand out (as they've done something rare and interesting).
2) It offers the opportunity to observe the armed forces of another power from very close and on their side of the line, so you can see if they do anything useful.
3) It also lets you see if any new tricks have been developed in the war, or if any old practices are no longer worthwhile.

Of course, a lot of this is dependent on the observations of the actual observer, as they can get things wrong, and on something useful to be seen. One example I like is that a Royal Engineers officer came back with the valuable information that the Washington forts - for all the news about them - were not actually very formidable by contemporary standards, which offered the British as a whole a useful yardstick for evaluating the war:



These works are not particularly well placed, nor is the design of much good. Many are too small to be of any real service, and although manned by some 80,000 men, I believe good troops would very shortly force them. The Confederates are not, however, good enough for this… several portions of their lines could be taken not only by good infantry, but by a sudden dash of well mounted cavalry. However, there is good excuse for this for a great portion of the works were hurriedly thrown up by civilians- I could not help pointing this out to the chief of the staff, and at last he acknowledged I was right especially after I had ridden one of his own cavalry man’s horses (I think the worst saddle for any real riding) clear over the ditch, and parapet [and] charged in amongst his men who were absolutely aghast at the idea of cavalry charging even the slightest obstacle.
 
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#15
Can anyone tell me what Observers actually do and what their point is? Freemantle seems to have spent a great deal of time paling around and dining around and spent part of Gettysburg in a tree watching the battle. But what is/was the point? What lessons were they supposed to bring home from this?
Just like professional and top university sport teams send scouts to watch their rivals games to report on strength and weakness of their rivals militaries do also send observers. Arguably foreign militaries gain useful knowledge for future conflicts. You can PM me for modern examples.
Leftyhunter
 
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#16
It's worth remembering that Maryland in particular was felt by Confederates to be Confederate - certainly the Union kept Maryland's government under control at the time for fear of official secession.
Lee found put that the above assertion was not very accurate. Far more men from Maryland fought for the Union. There was no pro Confederate guerrilla operations in Maryland.
Leftyhunter
 

damYankee

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#17
Can anyone tell me what Observers actually do and what their point is? Freemantle seems to have spent a great deal of time paling around and dining around and spent part of Gettysburg in a tree watching the battle. But what is/was the point? What lessons were they supposed to bring home from this?
To enhance the self importance of their host,.
 

WJC

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#18
Just like professional and top university sport teams send scouts to watch their rivals games to report on strength and weakness of their rivals militaries do also send observers. Arguably foreign militaries gain useful knowledge for future conflicts. You can PM me for modern examples.
Leftyhunter
Except, at least in the case of Freemantle, he was not authorized. He was literally a 'tourist'. Too often he is assumed to be representing, in some fashion, the British government.
 
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#19
Can anyone tell me what Observers actually do and what their point is? Freemantle seems to have spent a great deal of time paling around and dining around and spent part of Gettysburg in a tree watching the battle. But what is/was the point? What lessons were they supposed to bring home from this?
Recent scientific studies show that drinking alchoal is not unknown in the military. Science has shown that buying someone's drinks most definitely produces conversation.
Leftyhunter
 
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#20
Except, at least in the case of Freemantle, he was not authorized. He was literally a 'tourist'. Too often he is assumed to be representing, in some fashion, the British government.
Fremantle very well may of been an official "unofficial" observer for the British government. Fremantle saw quite a bit of the Confederacy and takes in depth to its top political and military leaders. Most likely he was extensively debreifed upon his arrival in London.
Leftyhunter
 

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