Interview: Longstreet says Jeff Davis "could not brook criticism of his views nor his favorites"

lelliott19

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#1
Failure due to Davis 2.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, the closing section of the interview, General Longstreet continues his response to the question: "Do you think, General Longstreet, that the Southern cause would have been successful if the administration had been in hands other than those of Mr. Davis?"

"He stuck to his mediocre favorites with surprising tenacity. At the very outset he took it for granted that such men as Albert Sidney Johnston, Pemberton, Bragg, and others, without large experience, were Napoleons. He could not brook criticism of his views nor of his favorites. I fell under his displeasure for saying that Bragg had failed to achieve adequate results after Chickamauga. He ought to have forced Rosecrans out of Chattanooga. This was at an all-day conference between us on Mission Ridge, where the President had come after the battle."​

Interview: Reprinted from the Washington Post of June 1893, the interview appeared in The Times Dispatch. (Richmond, VA.), November 12, 1911, page 3.
Image: wiki/Jefferson_Davis

Note: This post is Part 23 of a series on Longstreet's opinions of various Generals and individuals, expressed during an 1893 interview with a Washington Post corespondent. Longstreet's opinions on various individuals 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, Meade, McClellan, and more. Here are the links to Parts 1-22, 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
Part 12 - Lee's Poorest Generalship
Part 13 - Lee's greatest weakness as tactical commander
Part 14 - Lee's tactical weakness at Gettysburg
Part 15 - Meade's Lost Opportunity
Part 16 - Gettysburg Controversies
Part 17 - Post-Gettysburg Relationship with Lee
Part 18 - Lee's Dangerous Confidence
Part 19 - Longstreet on McClellan Part 1
Part 20 - Longstreet on McClellan Part 2
Part 21 - Three Lucky Shots at Antietam
Part 22 - The Trouble with Jeff Davis

<Up next - Longstreet has more to say about Jeff Davis - to be continued in two more installments of this series.>
@Eleanor Rose @Union_Buff @FarawayFriend @War Horse @novushomus @GELongstreet @LeesWarhorse @Tom Elmore @Coonewah Creek @Yankeedave @Andy Cardinal @PeterT @Zella
 
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bdtex

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#2
I have to delay having an opinion about that until I do more reading and studying. Gen. Longstreet didn't restrict his answer to Pres. Davis. In answering that question,he took the opportunity to pile on a few other individuals.
 

lelliott19

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Thanks for your reply @bdtex He sure had plenty enough criticism to go around. But I think he was perfectly candid in sharing his opinions. It seems like we can know exactly where he stood and what he thought from reading this interview.

Do you or anyone else know the details of the "all-day conference" at "Mission Ridge" -- did anyone record what was discussed? Who agreed with Longstreet and thought that Bragg had failed to achieve adequate results? Did anyone speak up on Bragg's behalf ?
Just two more installments in the series. And the next one is a real doozie! :wavespin:
Possibly the most controversial statement of the entire interview. And, as a special bonus, we get to talk about Howell Cobb again. :thumbsup:
 

bdtex

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Do you or anyone else know the details of the "all-day conference" at "Mission Ridge" -- did anyone record what was discussed? Who agreed with Longstreet and thought that Bragg had failed to achieve adequate results? Did anyone speak up on Bragg's behalf ?
I only recall a short mention of it in one of the books I read before our tour. Not even sure which book. It might've even been in the issue of Blue & Gray Magazine on Chattanooga/Missionary Ridge.
 

uaskme

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#5
Longstreet wasn’t aware of the AOTs position. They couldn’t operate more than 12 miles from the Railroad. They just didn’t have the mobility, wagons and mules to do it. When the AOT burned the RR bridges in Ringgold Gap, it made the distance from Catoosa Landing to Chattanooga about 12 miles. The AOC was entrenched with about 30k men after Chickamauga. Longstreet had discussed his plan with Bragg. Bragg pretty much nodded his head but didn’t really discuss the situation. Longstreet had only been in the area for a few days and the disposition of the AOT was far different from the ANV. This lack of understanding started the Rancor between the 2.

Oh, I suspect NBF sustained Longstreet. Forrest climbed the tree on Missionary Ridge. Could see what he though was the AOC retreating, but failed to see the AOC entrenched at Rossville Gap. There was a campaign which lasted a few days. Confederates cleared Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain. Pushed the AOC to the City. Eventually occupying about a half square mile, city center of Chattanooga on the southern bank of the TN River. Rosecrans gave up control of area that he didn’t have troops enough to control. He had confirmation that help was on the way, when he got back to Chattanooga on the 20th. So he knew, eventually, he could get those areas back.

Could get into the rest of it, but would take a spell.
 

uaskme

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I think he is right about Davis and his personnel decisions. He made several trips to the west concerning Bragg and his Staff. He couldn’t recognize his mistakes and adapt. He brought Pemberton out here at one point for a Bragg replacement. Army was about to desert before that, but he found the Army would of layed down their Arms if he had of installed Pemberton. He hoped things would just Blow Over with Polk, Bragg and the rest. Staff Officers repeatedly gave Bragg a vote of no confidence. Davis couldn’t admit he was wrong.

After Chickamauga, Bragg used the Victory to bolster his position. He used that position to purge all his distractors. Even to the point of shuffling Regiments of Tennesseans. All of this pretty much destroyed any cohesiveness of the Army. And was the basis of the events at Missionary Ridge.
 
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#8
I'd just like to point out that the performance of the Army of the Mississippi while Sidney Johnston was in command far exceeded the performance of the Army of Northern Virginia at Seven Pines and the Confederate forces in the Knoxville Campaign.
 
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#9
I'd just like to point out that the performance of the Army of the Mississippi while Sidney Johnston was in command far exceeded the performance of the Army of Northern Virginia at Seven Pines and the Confederate forces in the Knoxville Campaign.
Boy, that's a hard one to defend.

ASJ's command of the Army amounted to massive strategic incompetence, the best example being the disposition of forces which practically handed Henry & Donelson to Grant & Foote.

In time, he might have grown into the role of theater commander, but not unlike any number of other men, he was woefully unprepared for his job.

Unfortunately, men like Lee and Grant got the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and prove their worth while Johnston was killed at Shiloh. I consider the evidence file on him to be simply too incomplete to render a fair judgement.
 
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#10
Boy, that's a hard one to defend.

ASJ's command of the Army amounted to massive strategic incompetence, the best example being the disposition of forces which practically handed Henry & Donelson to Grant & Foote.

In time, he might have grown into the role of theater commander, but not unlike any number of other men, he was woefully unprepared for his job.

Unfortunately, men like Lee and Grant got the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and prove their worth while Johnston was killed at Shiloh. I consider the evidence file on him to be simply too incomplete to render a fair judgement.
At the risk of turning this into an ASJ thread:

I admit making any kind of accurate assessment of ASJ's abilities is nearly impossible, but I will say this in his defense. Johnston had way too much asked of him with the resources at his disposal. Davis said he had no men to send him, while Bragg's troops on the Gulf did nothing (until they were sent to him when it was too late to save the forts). The forts were in a poor location, especially that of Henry, which was on a FLOOD PLAIN. I will fault him for not evacuating the forts or sending his full force there, but going with a terrible middle of the road option.
 
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#11
At the risk of turning this into an ASJ thread:

I admit making any kind of accurate assessment of ASJ's abilities is nearly impossible, but I will say this in his defense. Johnston had way too much asked of him with the resources at his disposal. Davis said he had no men to send him, while Bragg's troops on the Gulf did nothing (until they were sent to him when it was too late to save the forts). The forts were in a poor location, especially that of Henry, which was on a FLOOD PLAIN. I will fault him for not evacuating the forts or sending his full force there, but going with a terrible middle of the road option.
I agree that the last thing we need is another ASJ thread (although in truth another "Jeff Davis was a meddling fool" thread isn't exactly in short supply either) but you're exactly right.

While both Presidents had tunnel vision about their capitals and tended to neglect the west - which, both being men of the west, was odd indeed - Lincoln was able to spare more for Halleck/Grant than Davis ever afforded Johnston until it was way too late.

But anything worth having was worth Lee demanding that he get it for himself.
 


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