Lee's Heart Attack.

Luke Freet

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 8, 2018
So, over the semester, I took a course on a certain subject of history, and one of the required readings was the West Point History of the Civil War. Its a fantastic resource, a wonderful summary of the war. And it brought to my attention a certain incident I had not heard about before.

In March of 1863, Lee suffered a heart attack, which many medical experts suggest may have affected his judgement at Gettysburg.

This got me to thinking of something.

Scenario: What if Lee died of a Heart attack in March of 1863 (or simply was so severe he is incapacitated and can not command the Army of Northern Virginia).
Who takes command of the AoNV? I believe Jackson would be promoted to command, for several reasons: 1.) Proximity. He's still with the main army around Fredericksburg, whereas Longstreet is off in the Tidewater trying to retake Suffolk and Norfolk. Joe Johnston is in the West and it will take time for him to transfer. 2.) Reputation. Jackson by this point is 2nd only to Lee in the Confederate public, due to his brilliant actions at 1st Manassas, in the Valley, and at Second Manassas. Promoting him to replace the stricken Lee would be logical to the public at large. Meanwhile, while Longstreet was a good commander in his own right, he was never the darling of the press that Jackson was. As for Joe Johnston, Davis hates his guts, and would be chaffed to allow him to command the Army of Northern Virginia again.
This means that the army would probably be divided into the 3 corps structure a la post-Chancellorsville, with A. P. Hill forming a third Corps with his division and the 2 1st Corps divisions of Anderson and McLaws' at Fredericksburg, and Early or another commander given the remained of Jackson's Corps (Ewell by this time still had not recovered).
This would mean an altered Chancellorsville, a possible rivalry between Jackson and Longstreet (as I am more of an "expert" on the events of 1864, I am not as knowledgable on Longstreet's and Jackson's relationship prior to his death, if it was cordial, strictly professional or what).
I would like to hear people's thought on this, whether Jackson would command or if it should go to another commander,what other effects this change might have on the war effort, how Jackson would do fighting Hooker at Chancellorsville.
 

Joshism

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 30, 2012
Location
Jupiter, FL
Was Stonewall senior to Longstreet?

As much as Lee considered Jackson his right hand man, I think he might have favored Longstreet as his successor. Not as any slight toward Jackson. Longstreet was the more experienced administrator and had a more even personality. Jackson in charge of the entire ANV seems like he would have butted heads with too many people. Jackson may have been the better fighter, but leading an army, especially a large army, takes more than that.

Whether Jackson or Longstreet is the one promoted the corps are surely rearranged as they were after Chancellorsville.

Ewell surely gets a corps under Jackson once he recovers. Probably Early keeps his seat warm in the meantime. Stuart probably gets the third spot over Hill as Stonewall probably still held a grudge from the Maryland Campaign (Jackson had Hill arrested).

Longstreet probably makes different selections than Jackson. Hill maybe. I don't know if he thought as highly of Ewell as Jackson. Lee made Ewell successor to Jackson pretty much at Stonewall's request.
 

drjekyll76

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 18, 2016
Location
South Jersey
I would believe it would have been Jackson cause the men have respect for him and would fight til there is nothing left in their souls. If it was any other person I dont think that it would have the same effect. The only reason why the men fought the way that they did cause they had respect for Lee.
 

Scott1967

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 11, 2016
Location
England
Longstreet was senior to Jackson, and, well, Civil War generals are very touchy on the issue (think Joe Johnston, who probably would have gotten his old job back).

Yep totally agree , Although Davis was not exactly pals with Johnston and seniority never stopped Davis appointing Bragg , But yea Longstreet would have been the best choice by far.
 

Luke Freet

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 8, 2018
Was Stonewall senior to Longstreet?
Good point, but then again there's prescident for junior commanders being promoted over their seniors (same reasoning applies to Hood being put in command of the Army of Tennessee instead of Hardee at Atlanta, though being far senior). Given his reputation, I imagine Bragg would have had him promoted to Full General.
 

Luke Freet

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 8, 2018
As much as Lee considered Jackson his right hand man, I think he might have favored Longstreet as his successor. Not as any slight toward Jackson. Longstreet was the more experienced administrator and had a more even personality. Jackson in charge of the entire ANV seems like he would have butted heads with too many people. Jackson may have been the better fighter, but leading an army, especially a large army, takes more than that.
Point to Longstreet. I imagine Jackson's command style, not letting his subordinates in on the full scope of his plans beyond what he feels they need to know, would not do him well at the head of the army, especially after Lee's tenure. And ESPECIALLY with such a combative Lieutenant as Longstreet.
 
Joined
Aug 27, 2020
Location
North Carolina
Good point, but then again there's prescident for junior commanders being promoted over their seniors (same reasoning applies to Hood being put in command of the Army of Tennessee instead of Hardee at Atlanta, though being far senior). Given his reputation, I imagine Bragg would have had him promoted to Full General.
Yes, but there is also a precedent for senior commanders resigning and going home when junior commanders are promoted above them. (I though Hardee was offered the job, and declined. I would need to look that up to be sure.)
 

Luke Freet

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 8, 2018
Yes, but there is also a precedent for senior commanders resigning and going home when junior commanders are promoted above them. (I though Hardee was offered the job, and declined. I would need to look that up to be sure.)
That is true. Reading back in Chastel's history of the Campaign, when Bragg left the army following Missionary Ridge, Hardee was temporary commander of the army. He was offered permanent command, but he declined because the burden of commanded an army just recently realling from its worst disaster was too great for him to handle (Chastel, Decision in the West 28-29).
I believe that had more to do with Hood being chosen than the political intrigue between Bragg and Hood Chastel obsesses over.
 

Stone in the wall

Sergeant Major
Joined
Sep 19, 2017
Location
Blue Ridge Mountains, Jefferson County WV
All depends on how Davis sees it. Jackson had already clashed with Davis at 1st Mannassas, over pressing the army retreating back to Washington. Jackson had gotten red hot about Richmond interfering with his command after Romney. I don't know how well Davis really liked Jackson. Although it's clear Jackson had done more damage to the enemy than anyone else, and prove he could handle himself in a independent command.
 

luinrina

2nd Lieutenant
Silver Patron
Joined
Jul 30, 2018
Location
Germany
Interesting premise. If it came down to what Lee would have wanted, I'm pretty sure Longstreet would get the ANV. But of course, Davis needs to give his official approval, and I'm not sure how well Longstreet stood with Davis.

What about Beauregard as an alternative? He was a full general as well, though junior to Johnston.
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Jackson was explicitly junior to Longstreet; if Lee dies then it's Longstreet who "inherits" command unless someone senior to Longstreet is sent to take over. If Longstreet happens to be away at the time then Jackson's the one who inherits command, though Longstreet returning would cause things to shift back.

This isn't a matter of official approval as the succession of command is clear, and is sort of why date of rank existed; with Longstreet's date of rank one day before Jackson's, there is no legal way to put Jackson over Longstreet.
This was actually held to rigourously by the Confederate army - Lee wanted three corps with commanders Longstreet, Jackson, AP Hill, but because DH Hill was senior to AP Hill he restricted his corps to two (so DH Hill wouldn't get the third). He was even told he couldn't promote AP Hill over DH Hill because DH was senior to AP.

If DH Hill has already left the army when Lee's heart attack takes place, then the natural result is a three-corps Army of Northern Virginia under Longstreet with Jackson, AP Hill and Ewell as the corps commanders, and whether they reorg or not Longstreet is AoNV commander by virtue of seniority until someone else is sent to take over - in fact, for Longstreet to not take command when he's the senior officer is actually dereliction of duty and a courts-martial offence.

Long story short, Longstreet ends up AoNV commander. It helps that he's probably the best choice anyway.
His only really serious issue as a commander is that he doesn't always fully commit to orders he doesn't agree with - as army commander obviously his concepts will be the ones driving events - and in that respect he's actually not as bad as Jackson, who on several occasions pretty much just ignored what Lee was telling him to do.
 

Stone in the wall

Sergeant Major
Joined
Sep 19, 2017
Location
Blue Ridge Mountains, Jefferson County WV
Jackson was explicitly junior to Longstreet; if Lee dies then it's Longstreet who "inherits" command unless someone senior to Longstreet is sent to take over. If Longstreet happens to be away at the time then Jackson's the one who inherits command, though Longstreet returning would cause things to shift back.

This isn't a matter of official approval as the succession of command is clear, and is sort of why date of rank existed; with Longstreet's date of rank one day before Jackson's, there is no legal way to put Jackson over Longstreet.
This was actually held to rigourously by the Confederate army - Lee wanted three corps with commanders Longstreet, Jackson, AP Hill, but because DH Hill was senior to AP Hill he restricted his corps to two (so DH Hill wouldn't get the third). He was even told he couldn't promote AP Hill over DH Hill because DH was senior to AP.

If DH Hill has already left the army when Lee's heart attack takes place, then the natural result is a three-corps Army of Northern Virginia under Longstreet with Jackson, AP Hill and Ewell as the corps commanders, and whether they reorg or not Longstreet is AoNV commander by virtue of seniority until someone else is sent to take over.
Thanks that clears every thing up. I had been wondering if D H Hill was senoir to A P.
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Thanks that clears every thing up. I had been wondering if D H Hill was senoir to A P.
AP Hill was a MG starting on May 26, while DH Hill was already a MG at Yorktown (in the "on or about April 30" army org, which also lists AP Hill as a BG).

The others who were MGs at Seven Pines (in addition to Longstreet, naturally) were Huger, Magruder, GW Smith and McLaws, and I suspect McLaws was being tested for corps command in the Maryland Campaign but did not impress (thus why Lee gave AP Hill the third-priority slot). Huger of course was considered no good at all, and Magruder had done poorly at Savage's Station and (especially) Malvern for an unnecessary and bloody repulse. GW Smith ranked Longstreet but was not at the Seven Days on account of illness, and had commanded the Richmond defences from then until his resignation in Feb 1863.
Ewell was in the Valley area during Seven Pines so that's why he wasn't on that list.
 

Luke Freet

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 8, 2018
This isn't a matter of official approval as the succession of command is clear, and is sort of why date of rank existed; with Longstreet's date of rank one day before Jackson's, there is no legal way to put Jackson over Longstreet.
Could Davis have promoted Jackson to a full General in order to solve that command issue? Or are there hurtles making that too difficult (it obviously wasn't when Davis did it to Hood at Atlanta; but maybe it got more lax due to the severity of the situation).
 

Luke Freet

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 8, 2018
Jackson was explicitly junior to Longstreet; if Lee dies then it's Longstreet who "inherits" command unless someone senior to Longstreet is sent to take over. If Longstreet happens to be away at the time then Jackson's the one who inherits command, though Longstreet returning would cause things to shift back.
At the time, Longstreet was sent to the Tidewater region to push out Union garrisons and gain forage with only 2 divisions of the army, while Jackson was with Lee and the remaining 6 divisions around Fredericksburg. Whether or not Longstreet would immediately move back to take command from Jackson to assert his authority or finish his mission in the Tidewater, I cannot tell.
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Could Davis have promoted Jackson to a full General in order to solve that command issue? Or are there hurtles making that too difficult (it obviously wasn't when Davis did it to Hood at Atlanta; but maybe it got more lax due to the severity of the situation).
It would mean overriding seniority rules, and Davis flat was not willing to do that when Lee asked to promote AP Hill over DH Hill.

The distinction here is not that you can't promote someone, it's that you can't promote someone and reverse an existing seniority arrangement (or at least that's how they seem to have operated at the time).
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
At the time, Longstreet was sent to the Tidewater region to push out Union garrisons and gain forage with only 2 divisions of the army, while Jackson was with Lee and the remaining 6 divisions around Fredericksburg. Whether or not Longstreet would immediately move back to take command from Jackson to assert his authority or finish his mission in the Tidewater, I cannot tell.
I suspect that the loss of Lee and the oncoming campaign season might mean Longstreet would hurry back, if only to ensure the army had a chain of command that wasn't going to change mid-campaign.
 

Luke Freet

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 8, 2018
Long story short, Longstreet ends up AoNV commander. It helps that he's probably the best choice anyway.
His only really serious issue as a commander is that he doesn't always fully commit to orders he doesn't agree with - as army commander obviously his concepts will be the ones driving events - and in that respect he's actually not as bad as Jackson, who on several occasions pretty much just ignored what Lee was telling him to do.
It is a good point. I can see how Jackson would make a rather problematic Army commander, with his style of command going counter to Lee's looser style, this would probably cause friction to commanders like Longstreet and his subordinates who have not served under Jackson before and would not get along well with.
Longstreet's main issues as a commander stem mostly from ego and politicing (not as bad as certain Western commanders, certainly more professional, but the attitude is noted), which I imagine would be softened once he's given command of the army.
 

Luke Freet

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 8, 2018
It would mean overriding seniority rules, and Davis flat was not willing to do that when Lee asked to promote AP Hill over DH Hill.

The distinction here is not that you can't promote someone, it's that you can't promote someone and reverse an existing seniority arrangement (or at least that's how they seem to have operated at the time).
I am not familiar on the Hill situation, whether this was refering to when Lee first took command or after Antietam. If it was the former, it sound more because there wasn't a rank between Major General and full General at the time, so there wasn't a reasonable rank to give A. P. to put him over D. H.
Are there certain factors regarding promotion to Lieutenant and Full General that Davis couldn't (or wouldn't) just wave away to allow for it?
Again, I point to Hood. And it is not just him who this happens with. Earlier in the Atlanta Campaign, when Polk was killed, A. P. Stewart was promoted to Lieutenant General to replace him, despite William Loring, the senior division commander in Polk's corps and its temporary commander, being a year and a half Stewart's senior in rank. Not to mention other commanders like French, Hindman, Stevenson, Cheatham and Cleburne who were also Stewart's senior in rank also serving in the army and getting passed over.
So, simple seniority of prior equal rank means nothing if the commander is promoted to the next grade.
So, why can't Jackson be promoted to Full General from Lieutenant General?
 
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