Not sure about the "Stonewall of the West"... but a very good division commander and underrated general. His idea to arm slaves tarnished his reputation within the high command and most likely prevented him from promotion and advancement.
He had topographical skills that allowed him to use the terrain at best effect for his troops, specially in defense stance. Also, he was concerned about the drilling and condition of his men, making his brigade (then his division) one the best disciplined and efficient units in the Confederate Army (if not the best). However, he wasn't invincible and had unexplained small failures through the war (particularly at Chickamauga), which did not blow his fully-justified "hard-fighter" reputation.
If I had to rank him as a divisional commander, he will surely be at the top. In my war/boardgame project, he possess the best tactical values (3 in attack, 3 in defense) with an administration/drilling bonus (allowing faster recovery for subordinate units), and an average value of 3 (out of 4) in initiative (dealing with the number of semi-divisions (2 to 3 brigades) under his command he can activate). No one else achieve such high score at that level (Stonewall Jackson shares the same values, but as a corps commander). So, based on this statement, he deserves his nickname : "Stonewall Jackson of the West".
"Pat" Cleburne is one of my favorite (an Irish-born guy who learned the art of war in the British Army, settled in Arkansas, joined the Confederacy and proposed to arm slaves : at first sounds peculiar).
The first division commander of the war that comes to my mind is Cleburne, the second is Hood, the third is Custer. All were excellent division commanders, eh?
The only time he acted as a Corps Commander was during the Battle of Jonesborough, when Hardee was detached with Lee's Corps and his own (now in Cleburne's hands). Not much was said about his conduct of Hardee's Corps, he didn't show spectacular leadership at that level of command and failed to flank the enemy's right in time (he collided with Union cavalrymen under Kilpatrick) but he managed to avoid heavy losses.A great Brigade and Division commander but would he have made the grade as Corps and Army command? We will never know.
In my mind, Hood is an overrated division commander. He did well at Manassas and Antietam but fell almost at the start at Gettysburg and Chickamauga and the next time that he was in the field, he was a corps commander in the Army of Tennessee. And the fact that Lee was ok with losing Hood says a lot to me.
In fact, what makes Cleburne better than Hood is the casualtie ratio : Hood's tactical moves are very costly while Cleburne can achieve the same result with less casualties. Even at Jonesborough, he barely missed the fight but managed to reduce the losses while S. D. Lee was pushing forward agressively without success.Concerning who's the best between Hood and Cleburne, I think they're equally matched : Cleburne's a defensive hammer, Hood's an agressive anvil (complementary fighters).
In fact, what makes Cleburne better than Hood is the casualtie ratio : Hood's tactical moves are very costly while Cleburne can achieve the same result with less casualties. Even at Jonesborough, he barely missed the fight but managed to reduce the losses while S. D. Lee was pushing forward agressively without success.
I didn't take that into account before but the casualtie ratio is definitely a decisive factor to choose between leaders. It is also linked to the fighting style (agressiveness, caution, etc.).
For a fast-flanking attack on a couple of days = take first Sam Hood and then Cleburne.
For a defensive operation on several months, with evasive movements and ambushes = prefer Pat Cleburne.
Their are a lot of variables to take into consideration when rating Division Commanders its not as clear cut as you make it sound for a start you have to look at the objectives each commander was assigned , Hood was given some hard tasks by Lee fortunately for Hood he has some of the best troops in the ANV which brings me to my second point the quality of the troops , A division commander can only work with the tools he has.
AP Hill stands out for me he was an outstanding division commander so if your ranking CSA division commanders he would be first on my list due to his achievement's in the role in my opinion.
The Army of Northern Virginia was blessed with some really talented division commanders although the fact that Lee got rid of the lesser officers has to play a role in that fact (something that no other army commander in the CSA could do).
I think more to the point is the drastic attrition suffered by the ranks of experienced field grade officers in the Army of Northern Virginia. The single field grade officer who served through the war without a wound, when asked how that happened he said, "It wasn't for lack of trying." That was a talent pool that once drained could not be refilled.I agree Ryan although the purge really started after Gettysburg where i feel Lee thought he was let down especially at brigade level.
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