Is General John Schofield under rated?

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major bill

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During the civil war General Schofielf held several important positions. For example he helped to keep Missouri in the Union. Commanded the Army of the Ohio.

Schofield was a major voice in the post Civil War Army. He improved West Point as the commandant. He ended up being the commander of the US Army. He helped to improve Army standards. He was helpful in replacing of the Militia Act of 1792 with the Militia Act of 1903.

So is Schofield not appreciated as much as he should?
 

Saint Jude

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IMO, Schofield ended up as commander of the army because he was politically astute, not because he was a great commander during the war. As Superintendent of West Point, he was a complete disaster.
 

Ole Miss

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I believe Schofield's two greatest assets were longevity in the army and the battle he won when Hood kept shoving his face into Schofield's fist at Franklin. Schofiled's career was long and capped off when he was promoted to commanding General of the Army.
It seems he did hold a grudge as evidenced by his alleged attempt to to have General George Thomas replace after Franklin for his own benefit.*
Sounds as if he might have been unsavory but I don't know.
Regards
David
*http://generalthomas.com/Schofield_and_Thomas.htm
 
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DBF

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It seems he did hold a grudge as evidenced by his alleged attempt to to have General George Thomas replace after Franklin for his own benefit.*
Sounds as if he might have been unsavory but I don't know.
Was General John Schofield underrated? I took a look at Schofield’s “Forty-Six Years in the Army” and his interaction with General George Henry Thomas, perhaps proving - “Revenge is a dish best served cold.”

“Time works legitimate "revenge," and makes all things even. When I was a boy at West Point I was court-martialed for tolerating some youthful "deviltry" of my classmates, in which I took no part myself, and was sentenced to be dismissed. Thomas, then already a veteran soldier, was a member of the court, and he and one other were the only ones of thirteen members who declined to recommend that the sentence be remitted.“

He claims he found out this fact out in 1868 as he served as Secretary of War - maybe/maybe not. Now we come to the fall of 1864 after the fall of Atlanta - Sherman is preparing his “March to Sea” while Thomas is headed to Nashville.

“Under Sherman's promise of a month's rest for his army, I had gone back to attend to the business of my department, as General Thomas had also done, and hence was in the rear when Hood made his raid upon Sherman's railroad. Upon reporting to General Sherman near the end of October, I learned for the first time his purpose to march to Savannah, and what troops he had provided for Thomas in Tennessee. I told Sherman, with that perfect candor which he always invited, that in my opinion Thomas's force was much too small; that Hood evidently intended to invade Tennessee; and that he would not be diverted from his purpose by Sherman's march in the opposite direction, but would, on the contrary, be encouraged thereby to pursue his own plan. Hence I requested Sherman to send me back with the Twenty-third Corps to join Thomas. Sherman at first appeared to understand my suggestions as a desire to be left in Tennessee instead of Thomas, the latter to go with Sherman. But I explained to him emphatically that such was not my thought. I took it for granted that Thomas was to command the army in Tennessee, and I wanted only to go back and help him because he would, in my opinion, have to do the fighting while Sherman's march would be unopposed. Sherman then replied that he must have three grand divisions, under Slocum, Howard, and myself, to make his army complete, and that he could not spare me; and he gave no indication of concurrence in my opinion that he ought to send back more troops.”

Two thoughts I take away from this - he requested this assignment and claims to understand that Thomas was in command. He fought his way to Nashville through Franklin, but arrived on December 1, 1864. Now they wait to see what Hood will do. Schofield continues:

“The anxiety felt elsewhere, especially by General Grant, was probably due to some doubt of the wisdom of Sherman's plan of going off with his main army before disposing of Hood, contrary to Grant's first advice; to the discovery of Sherman's error in supposing he had left Thomas in complete condition to cope with Hood; to some misapprehension as to the degree in which the situation in Tennessee had been changed by the battle of Franklin; as well as to lack of confidence in General Thomas on account of his well-known deliberation of thought and action.

Little was known of this state of anxiety by me, or, I believe, by the corps commanders, until December 9, when General Thomas, calling us together at his headquarters, informed us that he was ordered to attack Hood at once or surrender his command (not saying to whom), and asked our advice as to what he ought to do. One of the officers present asked General Thomas to show us the order, which he declined to do. This confirmed the belief which I had at first formed that the successor named by General Grant could be no other than myself—a belief formed from the fact that I was, next to General Thomas, the highest officer in rank on the ground where immediate action was demanded, and from my knowledge of General Grant's confidence, which belief has since been fully justified by the record. This, as I conceived, imposed upon me the duty of responding at once to General Thomas's request for advice, without waiting for the junior members of the council, according to the usual military custom. Hence I immediately replied: "General Thomas, I will sustain you in your determination not to fight until you are fully ready." All the other commanders then promptly expressed their concurrence."

December 9 - Schofield acknowledges that he believes he will soon be in command and Thomas is out.

“I do not know whether or not my declaration of purpose to sustain General Thomas was made known to General Grant, or to any one in Washington, either then or afterward. I have never made any inquiry on that subject. Of course such information must have been conveyed confidentially and indirectly, if at all, and hence would probably not appear in the official records, though despatches and letters marked "confidential" are sometimes published as official. I have only conjectured that some knowledge of my opinion and decision may, perhaps, have influenced General Grant's final determination to go to Nashville himself. If some officer must go there to fight a battle, Grant could get there about as soon as any other he could well select. The records now published seem to verify the belief then (December 9, 1864) existing in my mind, that I had only to withhold my support from General Thomas in his determination to delay, and the chief command would have fallen to my fortune, where I believed brilliant victory was as nearly certain as anything in war can be. But I never had the remotest idea of superseding General Thomas. As I explained to General Sherman, I volunteered to go back to Tennessee, not to supersede Thomas, but to help him. I knew him and his subordinates well, as I did also the antagonist, my West Point classmate, whom they would have to meet. I appreciated Thomas's high qualities, his distinguished services, and, above all, the profound affection and confidence of his troops—an element of strength in a commander far greater than is generally understood, even by military men, some of whom appear to be altogether ignorant of its value as a factor in war. A doubt of our complete success under his leadership, after our troops were united, never entered my mind, much less a desire to diminish or dim the laurels he might win.”

We all know that there was a Union victory at Nashville and by December 27, 1864 - General Schofield is already petitioning General Grant to march back east.

To General Grant:

"It may not be practicable now for me to join General Sherman, but it would not be difficult to transfer my command to Virginia.

I am aware that General Thomas contemplates a 'spring campaign' into Alabama or Mississippi, with the Tennessee River as a base, and believe he considers my command a necessary part of the operating force. Without reference to the latter point, permit me to express the opinion that such a campaign would not be an economical or advantageous use of so many troops.

If aggressive operations are to be continued in the Gulf States, it appears to me it would be much better to take Mobile and operate from that point, thus striking vital points, if there are any such, of rebel territory by much shorter lines.

But it appears to me that Lee's army is virtually all that is left of the rebellion. If we can concentrate force enough to destroy that, we will destroy with it the rebel government, and the occupation of the whole South will then be but a matter of a few weeks' time.

Excuse, General, the liberty I have taken in expressing my views thus freely and unsolicited. I have no other motive than a desire for the nation's good, and a personal wish to serve where my little command can do the most.

The change I suggest would of course deprive me of my department command, but this would be a small loss to me or to the service. The present arrangement is an unsatisfactory one at best. Nominally I command both a department and an army in the field; but in fact I do neither. I am, General, very respectfully, your obedient servant."


As they say the rest is history. There is no doubt that General Thomas had hit a nerve with General Schofield. Chapter XV of his memoirs is dedicated to his brief Civil War relationship with Thomas and goes into great detail of his interpretation of events. His memoirs were written/published in 1897 so he had the final say.

Was General Schofield underrated? A reading of his memoirs would suggest that he certainly believed he was. Unsavory - I agree.

http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/21417/pg21417.html
 
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