How did Longstreet get detached before the Chancellorsville campaign?

MikeyB

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What was the impetus for detaching Longstreet from the ANV so he missed the Chancellorsville campaign? While it worked out for the CSA, would you consider this a major strategic error on the part of the CSA given the huge disparity in numbers?
 

War Horse

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What was the impetus for detaching Longstreet from the ANV so he missed the Chancellorsville campaign? While it worked out for the CSA, would you consider this a major strategic error on the part of the CSA given the huge disparity in numbers?
Longstreet was on a mission to gain supplies. He along with two divisions were foraging during the battle of Chancellorsville. I don’t think you could call it a huge error on the part of the CSA. After all many consider it Lee’s crowning achievement. Extremely out numbered Lee has the audacity to divid his much smaller forces and drives Hooker back across the Rappahannock river. It was really a stunning example of Lee’s as well as Jackson’s aggressive style. One that defies the belief that Lee’s battle style was modeled as Napoleonic.
 

MikeyB

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It certainly worked out, no question.
If we didn't have the benefit of hindsight and were looking at the strategic situation in the spring of 1863.

1) Do I send 1/3 of my army to forage for supplies which will leave me outnumbered 2:1 against an aggressive commander out to prove himself during prime campaigning season? (And before 1/4 of HIS army goes home)
2) Or do I keep the army intact, knowing I'm likely to get hit, particularly before those 2 year enlistments runout?

And that's to me where I wonder if there's some strategic error. Not knowing the outcome, I think #2 sounds more sensible than #1. But perhaps there's another element or fog of war on order of battles I'm missing.
 

War Horse

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It certainly worked out, no question.
If we didn't have the benefit of hindsight and were looking at the strategic situation in the spring of 1863.

1) Do I send 1/3 of my army to forage for supplies which will leave me outnumbered 2:1 against an aggressive commander out to prove himself during prime campaigning season? (And before 1/4 of HIS army goes home)
2) Or do I keep the army intact, knowing I'm likely to get hit, particularly before those 2 year enlistments runout?

And that's to me where I wonder if there's some strategic error. Not knowing the outcome, I think #2 sounds more sensible than #1. But perhaps there's another element or fog of war on order of battles I'm missing.
As I’ve often said. The difference between being haled brilliant or fool is a thin line called victory or defeat.
 

jackt62

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What was the exact date that Lee detached Longstreet? I believe it was sometime in the winter of 1862-63 meaning that the armies were generally in "lockdown" mode for the winter weather. Lee knew he had a window of time during which the new Union commander Hooker, was engaged in preparing his troops for the inevitable spring offensive and would not confront the ANV across the Rappahannock/Rapidan lines. (Burnside's "Mud March" debacle was surely another factor in keeping the northern armies at bay during cold weather.) So Lee made a practical decision to have Longstreet set out for North Carolina to obtain much needed forage while attempting to make inroads against Union held Suffolk. That didn't work out, but I think the foraging expedition was successful.
 

Brenal

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What was the impetus for detaching Longstreet from the ANV so he missed the Chancellorsville campaign? While it worked out for the CSA, would you consider this a major strategic error on the part of the CSA given the huge disparity in numbers?
" Longstreet was given four objectives: 1) to protect Richmond, 2) give support to Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia if and when needed, 3) forage and gather supplies for the Confederate armies, 4) to capture the Union garrison at Suffolk if possible."

https://civilwar.wikia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Suffolk
 

War Horse

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What was the exact date that Lee detached Longstreet? I believe it was sometime in the winter of 1862-63 meaning that the armies were generally in "lockdown" mode for the winter weather. Lee knew he had a window of time during which the new Union commander Hooker, was engaged in preparing his troops for the inevitable spring offensive and would not confront the ANV across the Rappahannock/Rapidan lines. (Burnside's "Mud March" debacle was surely another factor in keeping the northern armies at bay during cold weather.) So Lee made a practical decision to have Longstreet set out for North Carolina to obtain much needed forage while attempting to make inroads against Union held Suffolk. That didn't work out, but I think the foraging expedition was successful.
It was very successful and all to often forgotten in the myth of a failed independent command.
 

War Horse

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War Horse

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Lee was caught by surprise by Hooker's advance and Longstreet could only move as quickly as the supplies would let him. This was something that had been anticipated but the Army of the Potomac's speed forced Lee's hand and he had to fight it out with the troops that he had at hand.

Ryan
So true. Lee was astonished at Jackson’s plan. Somewhat bewildered might be a better phase. As I sit here reflecting on my readings, I remember Lee asking Jackson, once Jackson had proposed his plan to Lee. What will you leave me with? Jackson replied something along the lines of, the shadow of the army Hooker thinks is before him. He (Jackson) knew Hooker would never suspect Lee would divid his forces and used it against him. Old crazy Jack wasn’t so crazy after all.
 

Belfoured

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Longstreet was on a mission to gain supplies. He along with two divisions were foraging during the battle of Chancellorsville. I don’t think you could call it a huge error on the part of the CSA. After all many consider it Lee’s crowning achievement. Extremely out numbered Lee has the audacity to divid his much smaller forces and drives Hooker back across the Rappahannock river. It was really a stunning example of Lee’s as well as Jackson’s aggressive style. One that defies the belief that Lee’s battle style was modeled as Napoleonic.
Fair points but Lee splitting his army while significantly outnumbered easily could have turned out as a disaster against a better opponent. Hooker fumbled away his tactical advantage on May 1; failed (with Howard) to secure his exposed right flank on May 2 or to go after Jackson during his slow march; never used Reynolds's I Corps; failed to get Sedgwick to move efficiently from the east; and (concussed, to be sure) pulled in his horns on May 4. With all that, Lee's audacity almost put his army in a bloodbath on May 4 by attacking Hooker's strong defenses. Only cooler heads in the ANV prevented that.
 

War Horse

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Fair points but Lee splitting his army while significantly outnumbered easily could have turned out as a disaster against a better opponent. Hooker fumbled away his tactical advantage on May 1; failed (with Howard) to secure his exposed right flank on May 2 or to go after Jackson during his slow march; never used Reynolds's I Corps; failed to get Sedgwick to move efficiently from the east; and (concussed, to be sure) pulled in his horns on May 4. With all that, Lee's audacity almost put his army in a bloodbath on May 4 by attacking Hooker's strong defenses. Only cooler heads in the ANV prevented that.
Lee became accustomed to and even counted on the Union commander caving under pressure. So much so it bit him in the rumpus at Gettysburg. Mead failed to make the critical mistake at the critical moment that Lee had grown accustomed to. I.E. Pickett’s Charge!
 
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Belfoured

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Lee became use to and even counted on the Union commander caving under pressure. So much so it bit him in the rumpus at Gettysburg. Mead failed to make the critical mistake at the critical moment that Lee had grown accustomed to. I.E. Pickett’s Charge!
I think that's a legitimate point. A lot of people who have looked at Gettysburg have concluded that Lee's successes - especially Chancellorsville - made him over-confident. Despite the famous quote attributed to him about Meade when he learned Hooker had been replaced, Lee didn't act in a way that suggests he really believed it.
 

War Horse

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I think that's a legitimate point. A lot of people who have looked at Gettysburg have concluded that Lee's successes - especially Chancellorsville - made him over-confident. Despite the famous quote attributed to him about Meade when he learned Hooker had been replaced, Lee didn't act in a way that suggests he really believed it.
Meade a Pennsylvania man. He will be caucus at first. Slow to react!
 

War Horse

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I think that's a legitimate point. A lot of people who have looked at Gettysburg have concluded that Lee's successes - especially Chancellorsville - made him over-confident. Despite the famous quote attributed to him about Meade when he learned Hooker had been replaced, Lee didn't act in a way that suggests he really believed it.
Lee believed in the quality of his men. Why wouldn’t he have. After all they had done the unimaginable up-until Gettysburg. They were simply put, superb.
 
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I wondered if Lee regretted that Longstreet was not present at Chancellorsville. I gather that at first he did, it seems he was sorely missing Longstreet, but then he quickly came over that regret while things developed favorably. Here are the letters that illustrate the situation around the Battle of Chancellorsville in respect of Longstreet being absent:

1627904468243.png

Source:
The War of the Rebellion, series 1, vol. 25, pt. 2, page 758

1627904266907.png

Source:
The War of the Rebellion, series 1, vol. 25, pt. 2, page 760


1627904042909.png

Source:
The War of the Rebellion, series 1, vol. 25, pt. 2, page 763


1627903883185.png

Source:
The War of the Rebellion, series 1, vol. 25, pt. 2, page 765


1627903657537.png



Source:
The War of the Rebellion, series 1, vol. 25, pt. 2, page 783
 

War Horse

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I wondered if Lee regretted that Longstreet was not present at Chancellorsville. I gather that at first he did, it seems he was sorely missing Longstreet, but then he quickly came over that regret while things developed favorably. Here are the letters that illustrate the situation around the Battle of Chancellorsville in respect of Longstreet being absent:

View attachment 409803
Source:
The War of the Rebellion, series 1, vol. 25, pt. 2, page 758

View attachment 409797
Source:
The War of the Rebellion, series 1, vol. 25, pt. 2, page 760


View attachment 409795
Source:
The War of the Rebellion, series 1, vol. 25, pt. 2, page 763


View attachment 409794
Source:
The War of the Rebellion, series 1, vol. 25, pt. 2, page 765


View attachment 409793


Source:
The War of the Rebellion, series 1, vol. 25, pt. 2, page 783
Very nice work in finding these corrospondences.
 
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Very nice work in finding these corrospondences.
I can recommend to have a look at the source. You will immediately grasp the excitement and anxiety preceding the battle. I know you were there,on site, as was I - and to read these dispatches and knowing where Lee was when he received the notes and wrote the replies is just breathtaking. When I read al that, I had the whole scence playing before my inner eye :smile:
I guess you will love it.
 

trice

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What was the impetus for detaching Longstreet from the ANV so he missed the Chancellorsville campaign? While it worked out for the CSA, would you consider this a major strategic error on the part of the CSA given the huge disparity in numbers?
That is a very tangled question to untangle.

One part of the answer is that President Davis wanted Longstreet's troops back in Virginia with Lee for the 1864 campaigns. If they were at Knoxville after a victory, it would be much easier to get them back to Virginia by going north up the Great Valley/Shenandoah, eventually by RR through Danville and Lynchburg. The silly part of that was that Bragg had already sent other troops towards Knoxville to attack Burnside, so sending Longstreet meant recalling them, delaying the entire effort -- and Longstreet had left his trains in Virginia and so was probably the least equipped group to send on such a mission.

Another part is the disaster in the high command under Bragg. Davis was sustaining Bragg in command, and Bragg was looking to get rid of those who had opposed him. Longstreet was someone Bragg wanted gone, I think.

Beyond that, the Knoxville mission could only be worthwhile if Burnside could be defeated and chased north before Grant started breaking the siege of Chattanooga. Since Longstreet was already involved in the fighting when Hooker attacked Brown's Ferry on October 27, followed by Wauhatchie (October 28-29), that seems impossible. IMHO, sending troops away seems a foolish decision.
 
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