How could the CSA have won the Atlanta Campaign?

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rbasin

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If Johnston had stayed in command, with perhaps a Longstreet in Corps command, to stall Sherman. Stall him into the fall, and with Grant fumbling around Richmond, could Lincoln have won the election?
 

OldReliable1862

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I'm not suggesting this is the best course of action, and certainly not the likeliest, but how about an offensive into Tennessee in the direction of Nashville*? The problem with this is that the Union has enough men to defend Nashville and move into Georgia at the same time, and the Confederacy really doesn't have the men or supplies to have a good chance at doing either.

I think Uncle Joe was actually quite good as commander of the AoT, if for no other reason than he did wonders for their morale. However, I still wonder if my boy Hardee would have done a good job.

*Yes, I did mostly steal this from Stonewall Goes West.
 
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Luke Freet

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I'm not suggesting this is the best course of action, and certainly not the likeliest, but how about an offensive into Tennessee in the direction of Nashville*? The problem with this is that the Union has enough men to defend Nashville and move into Georgia at the same time, and the Confederacy really doesn't have the men or supplies to have a good chance at doing either.

I think Uncle Joe was actually quite good as commander of the AoT, if for no other reason than he did wonders for their morale. However, I still wonder if my boy Hardee would have done a good job.

*Yes, I did mostly steal this from Stonewall Goes West.
Ive been reading Chastel's Decision in the West. He points out how Davis and Bragg were pressuring Johnston into launching an offensive into Middle Tennessee, but Johnston delayed heavily due to want of supplies for his beleaguered troops. He definitely didnt have the numbers to move against Nashville in a successful operation. And if the goal was to distract Sherman, we see with Hood's Nashville Campaign that Sherman is not one to be baited away so easily.
Could an effective campaign against Sherman's supply lines by the forces of Forrest and Wheeler been made? Maybe; Sherman needed his supplies from Nashville to Chattanooga and Knoxville kept open, for East Tennessee was utterly barren after the campaigning of the previous year.
Another alternative (and this one is a huge stretch) would be to enact Cleburne's memorandum and recruit black troops. This is highly unlikely, as the Confederates still believed they could gain a victory at this point in the war, so sacrificing something so essential to their society would be an appalling proposition
 
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jackt62

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Didn't Forrest try to wreck Sherman's supply lines? Sherman sent forces to attempt to destroy Forrest's movements in successive attempts at Brice's Cross Roads and Tupelo.
 

Stiles/Akin

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First Blocking Tunnel Hill, Second at Cassville or rather above where Johnston may have effectively split up Sherman's troops. Johnston could have fought at Cassville and may have put some wear on the Union troops and also Johnston had more success at Picketts Mill/Hell Hole and Kennesaw Mountain. Allatoona Pass was later in the game. If politics where not involved and Hood and President Davis were not bent on attacking Johnston, Hood could have gotten behind the Union Army and just as one eats an elephant with one bite at a time wore Sherman down before he reached Atlanta. Wheeler and Forrest could have also been a great aggravation. Like everything else whoever timing is key and a lot of what ifs would have come into play. I see part of the problem too where people in general not refereeing or preparing for what was coming. Lee even warned people to no avail. If people had left there would have been no food or silverware to have been taken.
 

OldReliable1862

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Ive been reading Chastel's Decision in the West. He points out how Davis and Bragg were pressuring Johnston into launching an offensive into Middle Tennessee, but Johnston delayed heavily due to want of supplies for his beleaguered troops. He definitely didnt have the numbers to move against Nashville in a successful operation. And if the goal was to distract Sherman, we see with Hood's Nashville Campaign that Sherman is not one to be baited away so easily.
Could an effective campaign against Sherman's supply lines by the forces of Forrest and Wheeler been made? Maybe; Sherman needed his supplies from Nashville to Chattanooga and Knoxville kept open, for East Tennessee was utterly barren after the campaigning of the previous year.
Another alternative (and this one is a huge stretch) would be to enact Cleburne's memorandum and recruit black troops. This is highly unlikely, as the Confederates still believed they could gain a victory at this point in the war, so sacrificing something so essential to their society would be an appalling proposition
Hood managed to get much closer to Nashville than he had should have with his bloodied army only just coming off the battles of Atlanta. The AoT likely wasn't ready for a major offensive in April 1864, but it certainly wasn't in September. Johnston may have been able to do better than Hood, considering the cirmcumstances.

I'd like to see how Francis Shoup and Franklin Gardner (assuming he's exchanged earlier) could do to fortify Atlanta, and hopefully force Sherman into a siege. If Johnston leaves two divisions under Gardner in Atlanta, he still has about 60,000 men (including the cavalry) to go into Tennessee with, and Gardner will have the Georgia militia. Black troops could help fill out the ranks (especially in the Atlanta defenses), but even having blacks fill as many non-combatant roles as they can would be helpful.
 
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Luke Freet

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Hood managed to get much closer to Nashville than he had should have with his bloodied army only just coming off the battles of Atlanta. The AoT likely wasn't ready for a major offensive in April 1864, but it certainly wasn't in September. Johnston may have been able to do better than Hood, considering the cirmcumstances.

I'd like to see how Francis Shoup and Franklin Gardner (assuming he's exchanged earlier) could do to fortify Atlanta, and hopefully force Sherman into a siege. If Johnston leaves two divisions under Gardner in Atlanta, he still has about 60,000 men (including the cavalry) to go into Tennessee with, and Gardner will have the Georgia militia. Black troops could help fill out the ranks (especially in the Atlanta defenses), but even having blacks fill as many non-combatant roles as they can would be helpful.
Hood only faced 2 1/2 Corps during his invasion. Sherman had 7-8, plus cavalry and garrison troops. Thats a much taller order for Johnston to face off against.
The second scenario, leaving 2 divsions plus militia in Atlanta and operate against Sherman's rear, that MIGHT have been feasible.
 

James N.

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Didn't Forrest try to wreck Sherman's supply lines? Sherman sent forces to attempt to destroy Forrest's movements in successive attempts at Brice's Cross Roads and Tupelo.
You answered your own question - Despite Sturgis' overwhelming defeat and rout losing most of his supply and artillery, and the standoff/defeat at the hands of Smith (who subsequently retreated though inflicting heavier losses on the Confederates) these sideshows were enough to thwart Forrest's attempts until it was too late.
 

OldReliable1862

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Hood only faced 2 1/2 Corps during his invasion. Sherman had 7-8, plus cavalry and garrison troops. Thats a much taller order for Johnston to face off against.
The second scenario, leaving 2 divsions plus militia in Atlanta and operate against Sherman's rear, that MIGHT have been feasible.
As you pointed out before, Sherman would not be easily distracted. However, Sherman could become overconfident in this scenario, as all the Confederate defenders are holed up in Atlanta. He could suffer some grievous losses attacking the fortifications before he settles down for a siege.

If Johnston can get Longstreet's troops, that could allow him to go on the offensive.
 
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WJC

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They would have had a better chance without General Hood leading the charge.
Having decided to replace Johnston, was there a better choice?
"You go to war with the army you have- not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time." - Donald H. Rumsfield.
 

Coonewah Creek

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As long as we're tossing out "what ifs"...why didn't Johnston take advantage of Shoup's fortified Chattahoochie line? He gave it up without a fight. I realize he was outflanked again, but he apparently didn't even try to utilize it. It was said it was designed to be held by 3,000 men against whatever Sherman might want to throw against it. Of course, I realize you can't just let the him go around it if it's going to be effective...
 

mofederal

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So if Johnston was a little too conservative and Hood way too aggressive, who would have a been a better choice as the commander? I should have read closer, I wouldn't have asked the question, but it stands to reason Claiborne may have been a better choice. Who else though.
 
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Once the Confederates fell back across the Etowah River and out of the mountains of North Georgia all hope was really lost. Then Sherman could and did expand his lines to overlap the Confederates and keep pushing south.
Rocky Face, was the best place in my opinion. The gap was presented by Sherman error with McPherson moving away from the main army. Rocky Face had the terrain to hold most any army at bay.
Once the Union army got into open ground, it was just a matter of time. Plus Sherman did not exactly do a very good job of moving his army along the way toward Atlanta.
Johnston fell back at such a rapid pace at rtimes it even wore Sherman's army out trying to catch up to them.
The book "Decision in the West", is one of the best books to read and get a full understanding of what did transpire during this campaign.
 

jackt62

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You answered your own question - Despite Sturgis' overwhelming defeat and rout losing most of his supply and artillery, and the standoff/defeat at the hands of Smith (who subsequently retreated though inflicting heavier losses on the Confederates) these sideshows were enough to thwart Forrest's attempts until it was too late.
So a more vigorous effort to use Forrest and Wheeler that was supported by Davis and the confederate government and military might have been the most effective means of thwarting Sherman's campaign.
 
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JeffBrooks

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Nothing in history is inevitable.

The Confederates could have inflicted immense tactical defeats on Sherman's forces at Cassville, at Peachtree Creek, at the Battle of Atlanta, and probably at a half dozen other places. Any one of these would have fundamentally altered the course of the campaign, and with it the course of the war.
 

Irishtom29

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If they could’a they would’a. I think the future isn’t inevitable but the past by its nature has proved to have been inevitable.
 
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OpnCoronet

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To me, the confederates had very few opportunities to turn the tide on Sherman. A continued defense would only result in Sherman circumventing Confederate defenses. Was there a particular point when the Confederates could have turned the tide? At Reseca? Cassville? New Hope? Kennesaw? The 3 Atlanta battles? Jonesboro?



I am not sure about turning the tide in the West, but, the Atlanta campaign could have been fought better, of course it require Davis and Johnston, to work together for the common good.

Sherman's campaign was dependent upon a single RR line running back to the Ohio. Davis needed to release Bedford Forrest to Johnston's command. to keep the RR line under constant siege and destruction.

Meanwhile, Johnston needed to realize that it was the mountainous terrain of Northern Ga. was more defensible than the flatter land around Atlanta. Which, of course, would require Johnston to be much less passive in his defensive operations. Sherman did not have a sure hand in tactical operations and tended, I think, in overcommitting too many forces in his flanking moves and tried to not send too far from support. More activity on his front or flanks, would keep Sherman thinking of his defenses rather than his offensives.
 

Coonewah Creek

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I am not sure about turning the tide in the West, but, the Atlanta campaign could have been fought better, of course it require Davis and Johnston, to work together for the common good.

Sherman's campaign was dependent upon a single RR line running back to the Ohio. Davis needed to release Bedford Forrest to Johnston's command. to keep the RR line under constant siege and destruction.

Meanwhile, Johnston needed to realize that it was the mountainous terrain of Northern Ga. was more defensible than the flatter land around Atlanta. Which, of course, would require Johnston to be much less passive in his defensive operations. Sherman did not have a sure hand in tactical operations and tended, I think, in overcommitting too many forces in his flanking moves and tried to not send too far from support. More activity on his front or flanks, would keep Sherman thinking of his defenses rather than his offensives.
Forrest showed what he could have done if he'd been turned loose sooner at Johnsonville. Wheeler's troopers were not up to the hard work it takes to really disrupt a railroad. But Forrest could have done it. Too bad they didn't let him.
 
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