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?
 
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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.

Begging your pardon, but as you mentioned the question being tangled ...
The way I understand this thread @MikeyB asked for the consequences of Longstreet's absence during the May 1863 Battle of Chancellorsville, while you seem to be referring to late 1863, when Longstreet was sent at his own request to reinforce Braxton Bragg in the Western Theater...
 

trice

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Begging your pardon, but as you mentioned the question being tangled ...
The way I understand this thread @MikeyB asked for the consequences of Longstreet's absence during the May 1863 Battle of Chancellorsville, while you seem to be referring to late 1863, when Longstreet was sent at his own request to reinforce Braxton Bragg in the Western Theater...
Well, you are completely right. It was early in the morning, I'd just been reading Longstreet on Chattanooga, I was doing three things at the same time, and I must have had some sort of brain-short-circuit that transferred one scenario into the other. Sorry about that! :smile:
 

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?
Longstreet had been detached from the ANV after thee Burnside "Mud March". Here is how Longstreet describes the decision and the reasoning for the Suffolk Campaign:
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Well, you are completely right. It was early in the morning, I'd just been reading Longstreet on Chattanooga, I was doing three things at the same time, and I must have had some sort of brain-short-circuit that transferred one scenario into the other. Sorry about that! :smile:
No problem at all!! I have to admit, when I read the opening post of this thread my first thought was Longstreet's time with Bragg also. Only thanks to @War Horse and his knowledgeable reply was I reminded that Longstreet had been absent from the ANV twice! :smile:
 

Pete Longstreet

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By the winter of 62-63, Lee’s army was in dire need of supplies. Food, forage and supplies is what keeps an army going. If an army can not subsist itself, then the war would eventually come to an end. Lee knew how badly he needed supplies, therefore it was a must for him to send a part of his army on a foraging mission.

The mission to gather supplies was a complete success, which I think Longstreet doesn't get the credit deserved. While Jackson was fighting Hooker for the battle, Longstreet was on a mission that may have been more important in some aspects. James Seddon praised Longstreet for his restraint and that his accomplishment in supplying Lee's army was a success.

I don't think it was a tactical error to detach Longstreet. When you think about Lee's options... he had only a few, and as history showed us, he chose correctly.
 

War Horse

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The mission to gather supplies was a complete success,
Lee also told Longstreet to do as much damage to the enemy as possible. Many of the lost causers call this a failure as an independent command. Longstreet was successful in doing damage to the enemy. The siege of Suffolk was a success. Taking the fort was not his mission. It was to heavily protected with the Nansemond river protecting its rear and heavy gunboats protecting it from the river. I’d say he caused the enemy sufficient damage.
 

Belfoured

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By the winter of 62-63, Lee’s army was in dire need of supplies. Food, forage and supplies is what keeps an army going. If an army can not subsist itself, then the war would eventually come to an end. Lee knew how badly he needed supplies, therefore it was a must for him to send a part of his army on a foraging mission.

The mission to gather supplies was a complete success, which I think Longstreet doesn't get the credit deserved. While Jackson was fighting Hooker for the battle, Longstreet was on a mission that may have been more important in some aspects. James Seddon praised Longstreet for his restraint and that his accomplishment in supplying Lee's army was a success.

I don't think it was a tactical error to detach Longstreet. When you think about Lee's options... he had only a few, and as history showed us, he chose correctly.
I tend to agree. Longstreet and his two divisions were dispatched in February and he had multiple important missions - getting food supplies was only one of them. On April 11, while still doing that he commenced another of his missions - operations against the important garrison at Suffolk. It wasn't until April 29 that Lee recalled him after getting wind of Hooker's intentions. Timing is everything. It took Longstreet a few days to pull out and join Lee, but by then the battle had ended. Hard to call all of that a tactical error.
 

Belfoured

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Lee also told Longstreet to do as much damage to the enemy as possible. Many of the lost causers call this a failure as an independent command. Longstreet was successful in doing damage to the enemy. The siege of Suffolk was a success. Taking the fort was not his mission. It was to heavily protected with the Nansemond river protecting its rear and heavy gunboats protecting it from the river. I’d say he caused the enemy sufficient damage.
It also resolved what was one of the concerns that led to his transfer in February - defense of Richmond from Union forces on the Peninsula.
 

Pete Longstreet

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Lee also told Longstreet to do as much damage to the enemy as possible. Many of the lost causers call this a failure as an independent command. Longstreet was successful in doing damage to the enemy. The siege of Suffolk was a success. Taking the fort was not his mission. It was to heavily protected with the Nansemond river protecting its rear and heavy gunboats protecting it from the river. I’d say he caused the enemy sufficient damage.
Good points. Correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't Longstreet's orders to "drive out the garrison at Suffolk if possible" ? Which basically goes along the lines of what you stated regarding the fort not being his primary mission...
 

War Horse

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Good points. Correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't Longstreet's orders to "drive out the garrison at Suffolk if possible" ? Which basically goes along the lines of what you stated regarding the fort not being his primary mission...
Very likely Pete. I’m going from memory here. That said, I could swear his orders were to do as much damage to the enemy as possible. Of course I’ve come to admire your knowledge, so I’ll
acquiesce to your recollection for the time being :smile:
 

rpkennedy

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Good points. Correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't Longstreet's orders to "drive out the garrison at Suffolk if possible" ? Which basically goes along the lines of what you stated regarding the fort not being his primary mission...

They were but it was an unrealistic goal. Longstreet didn't have the men to take and hold Suffolk and wasn't sticking around in any case. As soon as he went back to the AoNV, the Federal troops would move right back in.

Ryan
 
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