Granny Lee in Western Virginia

War Horse

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What a difference regular army makes over militia. Robert E. Lee commanded militia during his command in Western Virginia. His subordinates were not sophisticated enough to pull off Lee's complicated attack screams. This resulted in failure and retreat. Lee's reputation suffered. Now enter Robert E. Lee with not only regular army but with more than capable subordinates and everything changes. Thomas Jackson, James Longstreet and their commands. Lee was brilliant and it took strong leadership at the core and brigadier levels to allow his brilliance to shine. Amazingly this is the same man coined Granny Lee and the King of Spades. I like the King of Spades because you have to play the cards you were dealt and in round one of the Civil War Lee was dealt a losing hand. I for one don't ever believe it was his leadership. He did not simply evolve into a great leader. He was always a great leader. I wonder how many Great leaders fell victim's to circumstance never to show the world their true capabilities. Can you think of any?

Lee was much criticized in the press because of his defeat in Western Virginia. Called by the press and the soldiers “Granny Lee” and “Evacuating Lee”, he was transferred to South Carolina to supervise construction of coastal fortifications. The remaining forces in Western Virginia were organized into the Army of the Northwest until it was incorporated into the Valley District of the Army of Northern Virginia.[17

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Virginia_Campaign
 
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Very interesting thread, I'm looking forward to reading the replies. Especially I like that Poker analogy, I always thought it just a pun, but yes, it can be thought the way you did.
Also most interesting is the idea that any general is only as good as his subordinates allow him to be. Then Lee indeed was fortunate to have Jackson and Longstreet as second in command.
 

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Very interesting thread, I'm looking forward to reading the replies. Especially I like that Poker analogy, I always thought it just a pun, but yes, it can be thought the way you did.
Also most interesting is the idea that any general is only as good as his subordinates allow him to be. Then Lee indeed was fortunate to have Jackson and Longstreet as second in command.
Yes he was, I guess war is like anything else. It takes the entire team to succeed. No one man can do it by himself. Look at the fame McClellan drew from the action. He was not even present at the battles and the press coined him Little Neapolian. Later in the war Lee was sorry to see him replaced. He stated that sooner or later the Union would appoint a commander that was not so easy to read. Thanks FF!
 
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Yes he was, I guess war is like anything else. It takes the entire team to succeed. No one man can do it by himself. Look at the fame McClellan drew from the action. He was not even present at the battles and the press coined him the Little Neapolitan. Later in the war Lee was sorry to see him replaced. He stated that sooner or later the Union would appoint a commander that was not so easy to read. Thanks FF!
I think you are right in every aspect. But it also works the other way round. Longstreet on his own was not half as successful as under Lee. With the exception of Gettysburg of course.
 

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I think you are right in every aspect. But it also works the other way round. Longstreet on his own was not half as successful as under Lee. With the exception of Gettysburg of course.
Yes the whole CAOT and his conflict with Bragg was an entire debacle. I believe he had aspirations of succeeding Bragg and Bragg knew it. That's why he forced him back east. JMHO Now the Gettysburg thing is something I could go on about for hours. I have yet to read a report where his charge on day two was anything other than stellar. He almost broke the union line. Anderson on day one escapes everyone's attention. His three hour delay to Gettysburg may well have cost the battle. No one seems to ever mention that. Had he have arrived on time the confederates may very well have taken cemetery hill. That's for another thread. I just can't help myself.
 
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I wonder how many Great leaders fell victim's to circumstance never to show the world their true capabilities. Can you think of any?
Well, I think one does not have to look far. With Grant it was close. He had resigned his post at the army because of his problems with alcohol and had there been no Civil War, he would never have been able to show his qualities in leadership.
 

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I really think there is much to be said for the 'band of brothers' of Henry V St Crispin's day speech. Every successful general owes much of his reputation to subordinates, men who can follow orders, who see what their commander sees, who are dedicated and who are willing to curb their own ambitions. Jackson didn't want to be the engineer, he wanted the train to get to its destination! If Lee told him to close his eyes and lead his men off a cliff, he would do that. Bragg is probably the best example of what happens when a general gets unwilling and overly ambitious subordinates. He wasn't all that bad to begin with, although he was definitely a victim of the Peter Principle, but his lieutenants despised him and, as in Polk's case, thought they were far superior. (And Bragg didn't help his cause, either!) Lee had a far different personality than other commanders. He was a born diplomat, the kind of fellow who could very kindly tell you to go to hell in such a way you'd look forward to the trip! He deftly rid himself of Floyd, Loring and Wise - the inept bumblers who caused his failure in West Virginia - and ultimately lost the whole region for the Confederacy. That had miserable repercussions in the west, though - those guys ended up at Ft Donelson and other critical places where they provided unavoidable stumbling blocks for another bright general, A S Johnston. The co-operation between Grant and Sherman was legendary - Sherman, like Jackson, didn't want to run the train and put himself completely at Grant's disposal. Anything Grant wanted that Sherman could give him, he got. Grant was just as deft as Lee at sliding bumblers out from under his feet - he gathered about him a mighty good crew. I think that is a critical point in evaluating commanders who should have been brilliant but were hamstrung by lesser lights.
 
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I really think there is much to be said for the 'band of brothers' of Henry V St Crispin's day speech. Every successful general owes much of his reputation to subordinates, men who can follow orders, who see what their commander sees, who are dedicated and who are willing to curb their own ambitions. Jackson didn't want to be the engineer, he wanted the train to get to its destination! If Lee told him to close his eyes and lead his men off a cliff, he would do that. Bragg is probably the best example of what happens when a general gets unwilling and overly ambitious subordinates. He wasn't all that bad to begin with, although he was definitely a victim of the Peter Principle, but his lieutenants despised him and, as in Polk's case, thought they were far superior. (And Bragg didn't help his cause, either!) Lee had a far different personality than other commanders. He was a born diplomat, the kind of fellow who could very kindly tell you to go to hell in such a way you'd look forward to the trip! He deftly rid himself of Floyd, Loring and Wise - the inept bumblers who caused his failure in West Virginia - and ultimately lost the whole region for the Confederacy. That had miserable repercussions in the west, though - those guys ended up at Ft Donelson and other critical places where they provided unavoidable stumbling blocks for another bright general, A S Johnston. The co-operation between Grant and Sherman was legendary - Sherman, like Jackson, didn't want to run the train and put himself completely at Grant's disposal. Anything Grant wanted that Sherman could give him, he got. Grant was just as deft as Lee at sliding bumblers out from under his feet - he gathered about him a mighty good crew. I think that is a critical point in evaluating commanders who should have been brilliant but were hamstrung by lesser lights.
diane, the Grant/Sherman relationship also came to my mind. I doubt that a Union victory would have been possible without Sherman complementing Grant.
 

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"I stood by him when he was drunk and he by me when I was crazy" Sherman was not afraid to confer with Grant and interject his opinion or even objection ( like boarding transport boats and heading north by sea) He convinced Grant that the overland campaign would be more effective for the cause. Lee, Jackson and Longstreet had the same type of relationships. Commanding Generals who were not above asking opinions or even advise from very competent subordinate Generals. After Jacksons death, Lee and Longstreet met for three straight days in counsel. Both had different ideas of how to proceed. They finally came to agreement and Gettysburg was the result.

Team work and chemistry are rare but when they meet great things are possible.
 


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