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lelliott19

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Maryland campaign.JPG

On the occasion of Longstreet's visit to Antietam in 1893, a correspondent of the Washington Post recorded the General's opinions on a number of topics. In this part of the interview, General Longstreet opines on the occasion of Lee's poorest generalship.

.....and then asked him in which of the battles he thought Lee displayed his poorest generalship.

He promptly answered: "Although it is perhaps mere supererogation to express my views, yet I will give them to you for what they are worth. I have always thought the preliminary disposition to capture Harper's Ferry, involving as a corollary, the battles of South Mountain and Antietam, were not only the worst ever made by General Lee, but invited the destruction of the Confederate Army. I was opposed to the movement because his plan and the topography of that vicinity made necessary the division of our army into four parts in the immediate presence of a superior enemy. But chiefly, owing to the timidity if not incapacity of the Federal commander, and somewhat to the prestige we had gained on the Chickahominy and along Bull Run, we captured Harper's Ferry and escaped with a drawn battle. Tactically, as usual, Lee fought a good defensive battle at Sharpsburg with greatly inferior numbers, and withdrew at his leisure across the Potomac without molestation.
Sources: Reprinted from the Washington Post of June 1893, the interview appeared in The Times Dispatch. (Richmond, VA.), November 12, 1911, page 3.
Map: Russell, Robert E. L. Thirty pen and ink maps of the Maryland Campaign,: drawn from descriptive readings and map fragments. Baltimore: Robert E. Lee Russell, 1862. Map. https://www.loc.gov/item/2008622052/

Note: This post is Part 12 of a series on Longstreet's opinions of various Generals, expressed during an interview with a Washington Post corespondent in 1893. Longstreet's opinions on various generals are posted in separate threads so they can be easily located - Bragg, Jackson, A P Hill, Early, Ewell, Pickett, Sheridan, Joe Johnston, Beauregard, Hood, Jeff Davis, Lee, McClellan, and more. Here are the links to Parts 1-11, posted previously:
Part 1 - Intro to the article
Part 2 - Longstreet on Bragg
Part 3 - Longstreet on Jackson
Part 4 - Longstreet on AP Hill
Part 5 - Longstreet on Ewell & Early
Part 6 - Longstreet on Pickett, Sheridan, Five Forks & the Timing of the Surrender
Part 7 - Longstreet on Joe Johnston
Part 8 - Longstreet on Beauregard
Part 9 - Longstreet on Hood
Part 10 - Longstreet on Lee's military attributes
Part 11 -
Lee's Best Battle
<Up next, Longstreet's opinion on the occasion of Lee's greatest weakness as a tactical commander . No surprise on what Longstreet has to say on this. >

@Eleanor Rose @Union_Buff @FarawayFriend @War Horse @novushomus @GELongstreet @LeesWarhorse @Tom Elmore @Coonewah Creek @Yankeedave @Andy Cardinal@PeterT @Zella If you aren't tagged and would like to receive notification when these are posted, let me know and Ill tag you in future ones.
 

ErnieMac

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Longstreet's account as he described the situation in From Manassas to Appomattox:
Riding together [Longstreet & Lee] before we reached Frederick, the sound of artillery fire came from the direction of Point of Rocks and Harper’s Ferry, from which General Lee inferred that the enemy was concentrating his forces from the Valley, for defence at Harper’s Ferry, and proposed to me to organize forces to surround and capture the works and the garrison.

I thought it a venture not worth the game, and suggested, as we were in the enemy’s country and presence,
that he would be advised of any move that we made in a few hours after it was set on foot; that the Union army, though beaten, was not disorganized; that we knew a number of their officers who could put it in order and march against us, if they found us exposed, and make serious trouble before the capture could be accomplished; that our men were worn by very severe and protracted service, and in need of repose; that as long as we had them in hand we were masters of the situation, but dispersed into many fragments, our strength must be greatly reduced. As the subject was not continued, I supposed that it was a mere expression of passing thought, until, the day after we reached Frederick, upon going over to head-quarters, I found the front of the general’s tent closed and tied. Upon inquiring of a member of the staff, I was told that he was inside with General Jackson. As I had not been called, I turned to go away, when General Lee, recognizing my voice, called me in. The plan had been arranged. Jackson, with his three divisions, was to recross the Potomac by the fords above Harper’s Ferry, march via Martinsburg to Bolivar Heights; McLaws’s division by Crampton’s Gap to Maryland Heights; J. G. Walker’s division to recross at Cheek’s Ford and occupy Loudoun Heights, these heights overlooking the positions of the garrison of Harper’s Ferry; D. H. Hill’s division to march by the National road over South Mountain at Turner’s Gap, and halt at the western base, to guard trains, intercept fugitives from Harper’s Ferry, and support the cavalry, if needed; the cavalry to face the enemy and embarrass his movements. I was to march over the mountain by Turner’s Gap to Hagerstown.

As their minds were settled firmly upon the enterprise, I offered no opposition further than to ask that the order be so modified as to allow me to send R. H. Anderson’s division with McLaws and to halt my own column near the point designated for bivouac of General D. H. Hill's command. These suggestions were accepted, and the order so framed was issued.​
 
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Rebforever

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Longstreet's account as he described the situation in From Manassas to Appomattox:
Riding together [Longstreet & Lee] before we reached Frederick, the sound of artillery fire came from the direction of Point of Rocks and Harper’s Ferry, from which General Lee inferred that the enemy was concentrating his forces from the Valley, for defence at Harper’s Ferry, and proposed to me to organize forces to surround and capture the works and the garrison.

I thought it a venture not worth the game, and suggested, as we were in the enemy’s country and presence,
that he would be advised of any move that we made in a few hours after it was set on foot; that the Union army, though beaten, was not disorganized; that we knew a number of their officers who could put it in order and march against us, if they found us exposed, and make serious trouble before the capture could be accomplished; that our men were worn by very severe and protracted service, and in need of repose; that as long as we had them in hand we were masters of the situation, but dispersed into many fragments, our strength must be greatly reduced. As the subject was not continued, I supposed that it was a mere expression of passing thought, until, the day after we reached Frederick, upon going over to head-quarters, I found the front of the general’s tent closed and tied. Upon inquiring of a member of the staff, I was told that he was inside with General Jackson. As I had not been called, I turned to go away, when General Lee, recognizing my voice, called me in. The plan had been arranged. Jackson, with his three divisions, was to recross the Potomac by the fords above Harper’s Ferry, march via Martinsburg to Bolivar Heights; McLaws’s division by Crampton’s Gap to Maryland Heights; J. G. Walker’s division to recross at Cheek’s Ford and occupy Loudoun Heights, these heights overlooking the positions of the garrison of Harper’s Ferry; D. H. Hill’s division to march by the National road over South Mountain at Turner’s Gap, and halt at the western base, to guard trains, intercept fugitives from Harper’s Ferry, and support the cavalry, if needed; the cavalry to face the enemy and embarrass his movements. I was to march over the mountain by Turner’s Gap to Hagerstown.

As their minds were settled firmly upon the enterprise, I offered no opposition further than to ask that the order be so modified as to allow me to send R. H. Anderson’s division with McLaws and to halt my own column near the point designated for bivouac of General D. H. Hill's command. These suggestions were accepted, and the order so framed was issued.​
Just one of many times, he argues with General Lee to get out of an order.
 
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nc native

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That was not what I expected Longstreet to say although it was a very risky move to divide
a smaller army up in enemy territory to achieve multiple strategic objectives. If it hadn't
been for the lost order, Lee's gamble may have paid off and his army would have been
reunited and stronger at Antietam when McClellan finally attacked.

I was almost certain Longstreet would have said Gettysburg where his corps and a good
part of the Confederate army was wrecked engaging in a series of attacks that Longstreet
wanted no part of against superior defensive positions. I know the the fighting on the
third day was something Longstreet was totally against the way it played out. The Pickett/
Pettigrew/Trimble charge had almost no hope of success and that is why Longstreet could
not even give the verbal order for his corps to begin their advance. Malvern Hill almost
a year to the day before should have shown the futility of attacking over open ground
against massed artillery and superior defensive positions on high ground.
 
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WJC

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Again, Longstreet seems to 'get it right' Although Harper's Ferry is often cited as Jackson's greatest victory, it was a risky, unnecessary sideshow that did little to advance the objective of the campaign. It was fortunate for Lee that it was a success. One wonders what would have happened had Lee simply bypassed Harper's ferry as he did a year later.
 

Rebforever

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Again, Longstreet seems to 'get it right' Although Harper's Ferry is often cited as Jackson's greatest victory, it was a risky, unnecessary sideshow that did little to advance the objective of the campaign. It was fortunate for Lee that it was a success. One wonders what would have happened had Lee simply bypassed Harper's ferry as he did a year later.
General Lee did not want an army behind him. He was not sure where he was going to fight.
Because General Lee new the Union Army at Harpers ferry were ordered to remain there at all cost.
 
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WJC

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General Lee did not want an army behind him. He was not sure where he was going to fight.
Because General Lee new the Union Army at Harpers ferry were ordered to remain there at all cost.
Thanks for your response.
No doubt about his rationale, but dividing his forces was a high-risk move.
 

lelliott19

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That was not what I expected Longstreet to say
I was almost certain Longstreet would have said Gettysburg where his corps and a good
part of the Confederate army was wrecked engaging in a series of attacks that Longstreet
wanted no part of against superior defensive positions.
He does address that in another part of the interview Ill post later. :wink:
Stay tuned. :D
 
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treebie2000

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View attachment 209243
On the occasion of Longstreet's visit to Antietam in 1893, a correspondent of the Washington Post recorded the General's opinions on a number of topics. In this part of the interview, General Longstreet opines on the occasion of Lee's poorest generalship.

.....and then asked him in which of the battles he thought Lee displayed his poorest generalship.

He promptly answered: "Although it is perhaps mere supererogation to express my views, yet I will give them to you for what they are worth. I have always thought the preliminary disposition to capture Harper's Ferry, involving as a corollary, the battles of South Mountain and Antietam, were not only the worst ever made by General Lee, but invited the destruction of the Confederate Army. I was opposed to the movement because his plan and the topography of that vicinity made necessary the division of our army into four parts in the immediate presence of a superior enemy. But chiefly, owing to the timidity if not incapacity of the Federal commander, and somewhat to the prestige we had gained on the Chickahominy and along Bull Run, we captured Harper's Ferry and escaped with a drawn battle. Tactically, as usual, Lee fought a good defensive battle at Sharpsburg with greatly inferior numbers, and withdrew at his leisure across the Potomac without molestation.
Sources: Reprinted from the Washington Post of June 1893, the interview appeared in The Times Dispatch. (Richmond, VA.), November 12, 1911, page 3.
Map: Russell, Robert E. L. Thirty pen and ink maps of the Maryland Campaign,: drawn from descriptive readings and map fragments. Baltimore: Robert E. Lee Russell, 1862. Map. https://www.loc.gov/item/2008622052/

Note: This post is Part 12 of a series on Longstreet's opinions of various Generals, expressed during an interview with a Washington Post corespondent in 1893. Longstreet's opinions on various generals are posted in separate threads so they can be easily located - Bragg, Jackson, A P Hill, Early, Ewell, Pickett, Sheridan, Joe Johnston, Beauregard, Hood, Jeff Davis, Lee, McClellan, and more. Here are the links to Parts 1-11, posted previously:
Part 1 - Intro to the article
Part 2 - Longstreet on Bragg
Part 3 - Longstreet on Jackson
Part 4 - Longstreet on AP Hill
Part 5 - Longstreet on Ewell & Early
Part 6 - Longstreet on Pickett, Sheridan, Five Forks & the Timing of the Surrender
Part 7 - Longstreet on Joe Johnston
Part 8 - Longstreet on Beauregard
Part 9 - Longstreet on Hood
Part 10 - Longstreet on Lee's military attributes
Part 11 -
Lee's Best Battle
<Up next, Longstreet's opinion on the occasion of Lee's greatest weakness as a tactical commander . No surprise on what Longstreet has to say on this. >

@Eleanor Rose @Union_Buff @FarawayFriend @War Horse @novushomus @GELongstreet @LeesWarhorse @Tom Elmore @Coonewah Creek @Yankeedave @Andy Cardinal@PeterT @Zella If you aren't tagged and would like to receive notification when these are posted, let me know and Ill tag you in future ones.
I have really enjoyed reading these excerpts from this article.
Thanks for bringing them here.
 

WJC

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All wars are risky. It would be no different for General Lee.
Thanks for your response.
And Lee was, throughout his military career, a risk-taker. His proponents might argue that taking big risks was the only way the rebels could win. His detractors might argue that both of his high-risk incursions into the northern states simply depleted the strength of his army.
 
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Rebforever

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Thanks for your response.
And Lee was, throughout his military career, a risk-taker. His proponents might argue that taking big risks was the only way the rebels could win. His detractors might argue that both of his high-risk incursions into the northern states simply depleted the strength of his army.
Opinions and supposition.
 
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