Discussion If you were a CW general...

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Aug 30, 2018
Apparently Florida.
Sailor r


When Longstreet goes west and orders his formations to attack he sends men to their death, creating wives without husbands and children without fathers. Every General on a battlefield orders men to their death.

I think Longstreet's take on the bigger picture was in error. For a great explanation of this see the book Last Chance for Victory by Bowden and Ward. I believe there are many other sources that elucidate the problems with Longstreet's ideas in this regard but this volume covers them well, in my opinion.

Rushing the guns was done frequently in the Civil War. I think the old saying about breaking eggs to make omelets might apply here. If I remember correctly one of Napoleon's generals said that but I don't remember which one.

Lastly, we have the benefit of 150+ years of hindsight that none of the belligerents had at Gettysburg. As an example, it is my understanding that the D day invasion was not a foregone conclusion. If that attack was repulsed what would history say of Eisenhower.

Thanks again for your comments. I enjoyed hearing from you.

PS. Sadly I could find no reason to use recalcitrant. The best I could come up with was elucidate.

(I have yet to read the aforementioned book. You are studied up on the subject more than I. And I will get chased round with a broom handle by m'wife for buying another civil war book. Thanks!)

I’d like to know if you have the time to explain the revisionist view on Longstreet in a little more depth as this debate is very interesting. People do throw Longstreet under the bus, or wagon. So it’s no surprise another book did.

The commanding general makes decisions on the field. If he took McLaws out of action for as he saw as a failed attack then that was his prerogative.* Firing generals was how it was in that war. On either side. For the Union it was at least once a month.

Yes, every general does send men to their death. Given. It's in the job description and I'm sure it gets you right in your gut too. Being in overall command as Lee was, with an army that was losing men fast, my rational would have been to save as many men as possible. That is a no brainer. People are not pawns. Any general officer knows this. For Lee to come up with that plan was that dumb was out of character for the man.

I can't think of many things worse than telling any general officer, "You're going to advance, slowly, across an open field, you know, so they see your flags and all, take apart a fence in the process and then run smack dab into the middle of the Union lines. It'll be alright. We got this."

He also delegated the job of telling those who were taking their men into a hail of fire to Longstreet. Now that takes courage. He came on to the field when the show was over. "It's all my fault." Or to that extent. Maybe he had calmed himself and was feeling better then. I don't know. I dropped out of med school...

Lee at his best was one of the finest general officers, north or south. Up to that point. When he had a bad plan he need have listened, if even what was said is 150+ years in hindsight. The whole thing to me is really was based on anger at fighting "those people" for two days. It might have been the phyrric victory on both sides at Sharpsburg that lead him to that point.

To say that Lee's temper didn't factor in is wrong IMHO. He wanted it done, over, right there and then. Period. The example of his temper can be pointed out during the battle with dressing down Stewart for riding around the union army. And rightly so. He'd flare up and then return to the gentleman he was.

Lee, on the forensic, side had congestive heart failure with arrhythmia, from what I can tell. I'm no doctor but my father has it. He has some of the outbursts that got a division grated like Parmesan cheese. I certainly wouldn't let my father plan anything. Your brain isn't getting the blood it needs. Clouds your thinking to huge extent. So that is bigger factor than it seems. No cocktail of meds for Lee.

With that malady you have good days and bad. July 3rd. Bad.

Blame Longstreet? OK. Lee was buying his own headlines. That never bodes well for anyone in a position of power.

The debacle in Pennsylvania was 100% stupid & 100% Lee as I see it.

There. I said it. Spoke my mind on that here for the first time!

Feel free to start throwing things.

PS-I liked using phyrric. Makes me seen like I went to the War College.

* Jackson was going to have a courts marshal for Garnett! Also his right as general. Part of Jackson’s crazy? I would venture to say yes.


Jul 20, 2019
sailor russ. I had to curtail my book buying also. Less money and no more room. In regards to the book, or any civil war book, it has been my experience that the inter library loan service is pretty good at finding most titles.

As to the revisionist thing, here is my super simplified take on that. One side sees Long street doing little to help Lee win the battle because Lee is not fighting it Longstreet's way. The other side sees Long street as the hero of the battle because Lee doesn't realize the error of his plans and won't listen to Long street in that regard. As to throwing Long street under the bus, if he can be legitimately criticized for his actions that, in my opinion, is not being thrown under the bus. Longstreet had no problem criticizing Lee publicly. Was he throwing Lee under the bus?
I am sure there are others here who are more knowledgeable than I am in this
regard but this is my take on the matter. As to which side is labeled revisionist, I am not sure.

The plan appears bad in hindsight. There were many aspects to it however, and it did not go off it was intended to.

Lee's health, or lack of it, is the subject of much conjecture. I believe people of his era didn't have the knowledge to determine what ailed them as easily as we do. They would continue to function in their normal capacity as long as they were physically able, as illustrated by the number of one armed generals cavorting around civil war battlefields.

As far as civil war military subjects, it has been my experience that they are almost never as simple as they first appear. Not being the brightest bubble light on the Christmas tree has hampered my efforts in this area for many years.
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