Lee's Psychology--A Fatal Flaw

Carronade

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Aug 4, 2011
Location
Pennsylvania
I found it always hard to explain why Lee swapped sides suddenly - after having expressed some doubts about the secession movement. More than that also his critical stance toward the Union (he had long felt deeply attached to) quite surprised me.

I am currently following just the same idea like you.
I think the loss of Arlington (and it’s turning into a cemetery which made any hope of regaining it illusory)
and especially it‘s impact on Mary Custis had quite an influence on how Lee saw the North - and (consequentially) the Confederacy.
Lee's loyalty was to Virginia. For most of his life, that meant being a patriotic citizen and soldier of the United States.

I'm reminded of Decatur's famous toast: "May she always be in the right, but our country, right or wrong." Virginia was Lee's "country" even when she did something like secession that he disapproved of.
 

Piedone

Corporal
Joined
Oct 8, 2020
Lee's loyalty was to Virginia. For most of his life, that meant being a patriotic citizen and soldier of the United States.

I'm reminded of Decatur's famous toast: "May she always be in the right, but our country, right or wrong." Virginia was Lee's "country" even when she did something like secession that he disapproved of.
Yes, I also do see no other way than to take Lee‘s own justification here at face value.
But I always felt that his attitude towards the Union changed over the time.
He started with „save in defence [of Va.] I hope I will never draw my sword“ but thereafter seems to have developed a certain disapproval of the Union (albeit I am reading that between his lines).
Am I misleaded here?
 

Carronade

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Location
Pennsylvania
Yes, I also do see no other way than to take Lee‘s own justification here at face value.
But I always felt that his attitude towards the Union changed over the time.
He started with „save in defence [of Va.] I hope I will never draw my sword“ but thereafter seems to have developed a certain disapproval of the Union (albeit I am reading that between his lines).
Am I misleaded here?

Lee certainly developed a disapproval of some Yankees like the "miscreant" Pope. Hardening of attitudes is only natural in a prolonged war. At the outset, many people - though I doubt Lee was one - assumed it would all be over after a few glorious battles which of course their side would win. In time, people come to wish it could just be over.....that is, that those other people could just give us what we want..... Lee was not immune to the syndrome, though I would opine that he was less bitter than many on both sides.
 

Jamieva

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Location
Midlothian, VA
I won't even begin to argue with about Antietam and G'burg, but Malvern Hill is different. What was the result of Lee's murderous assaults on the hill. McClelland and the AoP decided to abandon the Peninsula and the attacks on Richmond. What was the result? Instead of the war ending in 62' or early 63', it lasted until 1865. Lee's willingness to accept enormous casualties absolutely convinced Lil Mac that he was facing tremendously superior forces and had to retreat. Remember Lil Mac was firmly convinced that Lee tremendously outnumbered him. I have often wondered why no journalist after the war ever confronted him with the information that he had the numerical advantage every time he faced Lee. It would have lead to an interesting colloquy not least of because it might have lead to a dead journalist!!!

Lee on the other hand knew that given the Union's tremendous advantage is manpower and supplies, given a foothold near Richmond could expand and begin siege operations. Something he could not overcome. Witness the end of the Overland Campaign when Grant got close enough to Petersburg (read that southern Richmond). Once any Union CinC could achieve that position the end of the war with a Union victory as a mathematical certainty.
But there was nothing to suggest that McClellan would change direction and go back towards Richmond if left alone. He had his mind made up to get to Harrison’s landing come he’ll or high water.
 

Jamieva

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Location
Midlothian, VA
Lee certainly developed a disapproval of some Yankees like the "miscreant" Pope. Hardening of attitudes is only natural in a prolonged war. At the outset, many people - though I doubt Lee was one - assumed it would all be over after a few glorious battles which of course their side would win. In time, people come to wish it could just be over.....that is, that those other people could just give us what we want..... Lee was not immune to the syndrome, though I would opine that he was less bitter than many on both sides.
That was totally because of how pope conducted war. Lee did not feel Pope followed the established rules of warfare when it came to civilians
 

OpnCoronet

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Feb 23, 2010
Part of the problem of Lee's generalship, was that it was too Napoleonic . Although his strategic concepts were filtered through his experiences in the Mexican War his study of Winfield Scott's campaign there, he remained true to the Napoleonic single climactic concept of discrete wars fought and won by winning a single campaign by a bold offensive stroke delivered at a time and place of his own choosing, usually by misdirection and by maneuver, achieving overwhelming advantage in numbers at a chosen weakened part of the enemy position.

But, in modern war, which it is often claimed, that the ACW was the First Modern War, it is usually not possible to win a war by a single bold stroke on the battlefield. Lee kept trying to win the war by single stroke of genius, when, war had grown to big and technologically too complex, to achieve victory by the application of outmoded precepts of a military genius.

As shown, I think, by others on this thread, Lee was psychologically unable to adjust to fighting a modern war, because it was a kind of war, that he was not prepared, psychologically or training to fight successfully.
 

Dead Parrott

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 30, 2019
Part of the problem of Lee's generalship, was that it was too Napoleonic . Although his strategic concepts were filtered through his experiences in the Mexican War his study of Winfield Scott's campaign there, he remained true to the Napoleonic single climactic concept of discrete wars fought and won by winning a single campaign by a bold offensive stroke delivered at a time and place of his own choosing, usually by misdirection and by maneuver, achieving overwhelming advantage in numbers at a chosen weakened part of the enemy position.

But, in modern war, which it is often claimed, that the ACW was the First Modern War, it is usually not possible to win a war by a single bold stroke on the battlefield. Lee kept trying to win the war by single stroke of genius, when, war had grown to big and technologically too complex, to achieve victory by the application of outmoded precepts of a military genius.

As shown, I think, by others on this thread, Lee was psychologically unable to adjust to fighting a modern war, because it was a kind of war, that he was not prepared, psychologically or training to fight successfully.

He likely also lacked the resources to win a modern war.

Only allegiance of the Border States, Foreign Intervention or Northern Morale collapse could win the war for the CSA.

Maybe, working with what he had, Lee tried to make one of those things happen, through winning a Big Battle.

Fortunately he went 0-3 in loyal territory.
 

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
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Location
Denver, CO
Part of the problem of Lee's generalship, was that it was too Napoleonic . Although his strategic concepts were filtered through his experiences in the Mexican War his study of Winfield Scott's campaign there, he remained true to the Napoleonic single climactic concept of discrete wars fought and won by winning a single campaign by a bold offensive stroke delivered at a time and place of his own choosing, usually by misdirection and by maneuver, achieving overwhelming advantage in numbers at a chosen weakened part of the enemy position.

But, in modern war, which it is often claimed, that the ACW was the First Modern War, it is usually not possible to win a war by a single bold stroke on the battlefield. Lee kept trying to win the war by single stroke of genius, when, war had grown to big and technologically too complex, to achieve victory by the application of outmoded precepts of a military genius.

As shown, I think, by others on this thread, Lee was psychologically unable to adjust to fighting a modern war, because it was a kind of war, that he was not prepared, psychologically or training to fight successfully.
As Napoleon himself discovered. Defeating a monarch and extracting a treaty from him was something Napoleon was good at. But when Russia rose up against him and declined to surrender after he occupied Moscow, he had no way to feed his army that far from the Russian boundary with western Europe. He had defeated the Czar's army, but the Russian nation fought on.
 
Joined
Jun 27, 2017
Part of the problem of Lee's generalship, was that it was too Napoleonic . Although his strategic concepts were filtered through his experiences in the Mexican War his study of Winfield Scott's campaign there, he remained true to the Napoleonic single climactic concept of discrete wars fought and won by winning a single campaign by a bold offensive stroke delivered at a time and place of his own choosing, usually by misdirection and by maneuver, achieving overwhelming advantage in numbers at a chosen weakened part of the enemy position.

But, in modern war, which it is often claimed, that the ACW was the First Modern War, it is usually not possible to win a war by a single bold stroke on the battlefield. Lee kept trying to win the war by single stroke of genius, when, war had grown to big and technologically too complex, to achieve victory by the application of outmoded precepts of a military genius.

As shown, I think, by others on this thread, Lee was psychologically unable to adjust to fighting a modern war, because it was a kind of war, that he was not prepared, psychologically or training to fight successfully.
The problem is two fold. I know you've seen those guys in inflated suits running at each other and bouncing off. That was essentially the tactics of the CW. They learned the wrong lesson from Waterloo, that the line was superior to the column, because Wellington's line defeated Napoleon's column.

As much as I want to criticize Burnside for his repeated murderous (to his own men) assaults, how is that different from Lee at G'burg (Pickett's charge).

Every assault by every general, North or South for the entire war was identical--a frontal assault in line on his opponent.

This mindset prevented all the generals from trying to find a way to maneuver and take his opponent in the flank or finding a way to concentrate his attack on a specific point of his opponent's line. And I include Upton's failed attempt to replicate a columnar attack on Lee. That partial success was only due to Lee having moved his artillery away from the front expecting another attempt to flank him.
 

OpnCoronet

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Joined
Feb 23, 2010
The problem is two fold. I know you've seen those guys in inflated suits running at each other and bouncing off. That was essentially the tactics of the CW. They learned the wrong lesson from Waterloo, that the line was superior to the column, because Wellington's line defeated Napoleon's column.

As much as I want to criticize Burnside for his repeated murderous (to his own men) assaults, how is that different from Lee at G'burg (Pickett's charge).

Every assault by every general, North or South for the entire war was identical--a frontal assault in line on his opponent.

This mindset prevented all the generals from trying to find a way to maneuver and take his opponent in the flank or finding a way to concentrate his attack on a specific point of his opponent's line. And I include Upton's failed attempt to replicate a columnar attack on Lee. That partial success was only due to Lee having moved his artillery away from the front expecting another attempt to flank him.
True enough I think. But, in relation to Lee's generalship, it would seem, to me, that he had learned to adjust his thinking to the realities of modern warfare in the 1860's. He used misdirection to weaken his opponents forces, fixed the opposing general's attention on one part of the field while he attacked another with overwhelming forces and he did this in his very first major battle as commander of the ANV; The Seven Days.

My point was that, although adjusting his tactics, to the realities of the modern concepts of war, psychologically, his strategic concept was fixated on the Napoleonic concept of one sharp hard battle that would, for all intents and purposes end the War.

I think Lee was psychologically wedded to that strategy to almost the very end of the War.
 

OpnCoronet

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Feb 23, 2010
He likely also lacked the resources to win a modern war.

Only allegiance of the Border States, Foreign Intervention or Northern Morale collapse could win the war for the CSA.

Maybe, working with what he had, Lee tried to make one of those things happen, through winning a Big Battle.

Fortunately he went 0-3 in loyal territory.
That is essentially what I am trying to say. That intellectually, Lee might have known that under the circumstances prevailing at the time, the overwhelming and decisive victory over the AoP was just not possible. But, Psychologically, Lee was unable to accept that limitation and thus could not really adjust his generalship to its demand. Perhaps, because if he did accept that limitation it admitted the South probably could not win its war for independence.
 

OpnCoronet

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Joined
Feb 23, 2010
As Napoleon himself discovered. Defeating a monarch and extracting a treaty from him was something Napoleon was good at. But when Russia rose up against him and declined to surrender after he occupied Moscow, he had no way to feed his army that far from the Russian boundary with western Europe. He had defeated the Czar's army, but the Russian nation fought on.
Very true, wars of entire nation states rendered the core concept of winning wars by inspired acts of genius of a single personality obsolete.
 

Piedone

Corporal
Joined
Oct 8, 2020
True enough I think. But, in relation to Lee's generalship, it would seem, to me, that he had learned to adjust his thinking to the realities of modern warfare in the 1860's. He used misdirection to weaken his opponents forces, fixed the opposing general's attention on one part of the field while he attacked another with overwhelming forces and he did this in his very first major battle as commander of the ANV; The Seven Days.

My point was that, although adjusting his tactics, to the realities of the modern concepts of war, psychologically, his strategic concept was fixated on the Napoleonic concept of one sharp hard battle that would, for all intents and purposes end the War.

I think Lee was psychologically wedded to that strategy to almost the very end of the War.
I deem he had no other chance to succeed - regarding a modern war the South generally was not able to lead one - lacking ressources and production capabilities.

There were just two possibilities left:
1) either to delay (hoping that the northern populace grew tired of the war)
2) or to target the public opinion directly and deliver such a spectacular blow that the northern population would be shocked.

As the South also could ill afford to delay - as delay mostoften is favourable to the stronger side (getting even stronger over time) - well....

I fear there just were no other choices than to try to achieve that decisive blow (as improbable as it was) -
and IMO he came really close to achieving it...especially if considering the political situation in the North in 1864 where Lincoln‘s re-election seemed to be in jeopardy for quite some time....

And maybe it should be added that it could be hoped for that to the northern populace a victory over the South was not an existential need (making it probable to induce some war-weariness) - somehow I feel that a lot of people there could have accepted somehow even a dissolution of the Union - or am I wrong here?
 

thomas aagaard

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Location
Denmark
But, in modern war, which it is often claimed, that the ACW was the First Modern War, it is usually not possible to win a war by a single bold stroke on the battlefield. Lee kept trying to win the war by single stroke of genius, when, war had grown to big and technologically too complex, to achieve victory by the application of outmoded precepts of a military genius.

As shown, I think, by others on this thread, Lee was psychologically unable to adjust to fighting a modern war, because it was a kind of war, that he was not prepared, psychologically or training to fight successfully.
If that define modern war, then the 2nd Punic war was a modern war... so was the 100 year war, the 30 year war, the Napoleonic wars and a lot of other wars.
Arguably most wars in history would be modern wars, by that definition.

The exception would be some of the individual wars fought against Napoleon since he did manage to end a few wars by one or two decisive victories. (the 1815 campaign and the 1866 war would be other examples of one battlefield victory being decisive)
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
I know we've all read about Lee, the man of impeccable honor. In fact all too often we've come across authors who seem unable to distinguish between Lee and Jesus.

Well let pose a supposition. Go back to Lee's childhood. What was the single greatest impact on his young life? And I believe on his entire life as well. Undoubtedly the shame of his father's imprisonment for debt and his flight to the Caribbean. Lee in fact never saw his father after he absconded. So for almost his entire life he was essentially fatherless. I believe that as a result his entire life was dedicated to never being criticized for any impropriety, any failure at all even.

Secondly he as well as almost any military man in the Western World of the day was thoroughly and intimately familiar with Napoleon's campaigns. The great Bonaparte, being the greatest general of all time would be the measure to compare himself with.

At the time the general conception was that Napoleon was able to engage with his opponent, find a weakness which he could exploit and shatter the enemy sending them in headlong flight and essentially ending the campaign/war with one fell stroke.

Looking at his early career in the CW, I believe that he felt his victories were 2nd rate or achieved on the cheap. The 7 Days battles just managed to shove his opponent off the Peninsula away from Richmond. 2nd Bull Run was not much better. Likewise Fredericksburg. Even the great accomplishment at Chancellorsville left his opponent temporarily checked but still able to resume the offensive.

You notice I've left out two battles--Antietam and G'burg. We all know that those 2 battles are where Lee has been most roundly criticized. To me they have one thing in common. Neither HAD to be fought to achieve his strategic goal. At Antietam suppose he had made every obvious preparation to fight but at the first sign of an attack had simply slipped back across the Potomac. Similarly at G'burg given the inevitability of Day one or even Day Two, having failed to take Cemetery Ridge he had simply disengaged. In both cases he could have swung around his opponent's flank rampaging through Union territory seemingly at will. Especially after Antietam and possibly in both the failure of the Union to defend its own territory could well have presaged British and French intervention to recognize the South and dictate and end to the conflict.

It seems to me that Lee's failure to recognize this obvious fact leads to the conclusion that his preference of the offensive and his seeming bloody mindedness was an attempt to live up to the Napoleonic model. His attempt to create a "Napoleonic" victory.
In offensive conventional warfare it's not that easy to win decisively without a three to one manpower advantage. Lee never had that at best in the Seven Days Lee had slightly better then a one to one advantage. We can't know hypothetical questions such has the UK and France would of recognized the Confedracy if the Confedracy would of won at Antietam. Even if Lee won at Antietam there's still the USN to deal with and the UK and France would have to risk a naval war over cotton which might not be worth the bother.
Leftyhunter
 

OpnCoronet

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Feb 23, 2010
I deem he had no other chance to succeed - regarding a modern war the South generally was not able to lead one - lacking ressources and production capabilities.

There were just two possibilities left:
1) either to delay (hoping that the northern populace grew tired of the war)
2) or to target the public opinion directly and deliver such a spectacular blow that the northern population would be shocked.

As the South also could ill afford to delay - as delay mostoften is favourable to the stronger side (getting even stronger over time) - well....

I fear there just were no other choices than to try to achieve that decisive blow (as improbable as it was) -
and IMO he came really close to achieving it...especially if considering the political situation in the North in 1864 where Lincoln‘s re-election seemed to be in jeopardy for quite some time....

And maybe it should be added that it could be hoped for that to the northern populace a victory over the South was not an existential need (making it probable to induce some war-weariness) - somehow I feel that a lot of people there could have accepted somehow even a dissolution of the Union - or am I wrong here?
Almost any hypothetical is possible, but, what are the odds? The record says Lee performs poorly away from his homeland of the Virginia Tidewaters, even if his Union opponent performs just as poorly.

Lincoln, I think showed his political expertise, if not genius, in the running of his reelection campaign and I see no evidence of it not being as effective even by a reverse in Pa.

Vicksburg still falls, freeing up Grant and his army to reinforce Rosecrans in Chattanooga. What defeat in Pa. will almost certainly do, is bring Grant East a lot sooner than he did in fact. There seems to have been no permanent decrease in Pa. Unionism and it think unlikely that the North would react any differently to a confederate invasion than the South did to Union invasion, i.e it only hardens resistance. It is just as likely to harden Unionist resolve, as to weaken it.

It is all academic, because in the end, the history of the ACW held true, Lee could not win outside his beloved Va. Tidewater, and the confederate war effort in the West continues its steady collapse, even with belated help from the ANV, and Grant continues his invincible march East.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
I know we've all read about Lee, the man of impeccable honor. In fact all too often we've come across authors who seem unable to distinguish between Lee and Jesus.

Well let pose a supposition. Go back to Lee's childhood. What was the single greatest impact on his young life? And I believe on his entire life as well. Undoubtedly the shame of his father's imprisonment for debt and his flight to the Caribbean. Lee in fact never saw his father after he absconded. So for almost his entire life he was essentially fatherless. I believe that as a result his entire life was dedicated to never being criticized for any impropriety, any failure at all even.

Secondly he as well as almost any military man in the Western World of the day was thoroughly and intimately familiar with Napoleon's campaigns. The great Bonaparte, being the greatest general of all time would be the measure to compare himself with.

At the time the general conception was that Napoleon was able to engage with his opponent, find a weakness which he could exploit and shatter the enemy sending them in headlong flight and essentially ending the campaign/war with one fell stroke.

Looking at his early career in the CW, I believe that he felt his victories were 2nd rate or achieved on the cheap. The 7 Days battles just managed to shove his opponent off the Peninsula away from Richmond. 2nd Bull Run was not much better. Likewise Fredericksburg. Even the great accomplishment at Chancellorsville left his opponent temporarily checked but still able to resume the offensive.

You notice I've left out two battles--Antietam and G'burg. We all know that those 2 battles are where Lee has been most roundly criticized. To me they have one thing in common. Neither HAD to be fought to achieve his strategic goal. At Antietam suppose he had made every obvious preparation to fight but at the first sign of an attack had simply slipped back across the Potomac. Similarly at G'burg given the inevitability of Day one or even Day Two, having failed to take Cemetery Ridge he had simply disengaged. In both cases he could have swung around his opponent's flank rampaging through Union territory seemingly at will. Especially after Antietam and possibly in both the failure of the Union to defend its own territory could well have presaged British and French intervention to recognize the South and dictate and end to the conflict.

It seems to me that Lee's failure to recognize this obvious fact leads to the conclusion that his preference of the offensive and his seeming bloody mindedness was an attempt to live up to the Napoleonic model. His attempt to create a "Napoleonic" victory.
In offensive conventional warfare it's not that easy to win decisively without a three to one manpower advantage. Lee never had that at best in the Seven Days Lee had slightly better then a one to one advantage. We can't know hypothetical questions such has the UK and France would of recognized the Confedracy if the Confedracy would of won at Antietam. Even if Lee won at Antietam there's still the USN to deal with and the UK and France
Almost any hypothetical is possible, but, what are the odds? The record says Lee performs poorly away from his homeland of the Virginia Tidewaters, even if his Union opponent performs just as poorly.

Lincoln, I think showed his political expertise, if not genius, in the running of his reelection campaign and I see no evidence of it not being as effective even by a reverse in Pa.

Vicksburg still falls, freeing up Grant and his army to reinforce Rosecrans in Chattanooga. What defeat in Pa. will almost certainly do, is bring Grant East a lot sooner than he did in fact. There seems to have been no permanent decrease in Pa. Unionism and it think unlikely that the North would react any differently to a confederate invasion than the South did to Union invasion, i.e it only hardens resistance. It is just as likely to harden Unionist resolve, as to weaken it.

It is all academic, because in the end, the history of the ACW held true, Lee could not win outside his beloved Va. Tidewater, and the confederate war effort in the West continues its steady collapse, even with belated help from the ANV, and Grant continues his invincible march East.
In order to win a conventional best the winning side must seize and hold territory. In order to seize and hold territory the army on the offensive is going to require at least a two to one manpower superiority ratio and very comprehensive logistical support. Neither factors Lee would ever enjoy.
Leftyhunter
 

OpnCoronet

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Feb 23, 2010
If that define modern war, then the 2nd Punic war was a modern war... so was the 100 year war, the 30 year war, the Napoleonic wars and a lot of other wars.
Arguably most wars in history would be modern wars, by that definition.

The exception would be some of the individual wars fought against Napoleon since he did manage to end a few wars by one or two decisive victories. (the 1815 campaign and the 1866 war would be other examples of one battlefield victory being decisive)
I do not want to argue definitions, on this particular thread. But, simply restate my position. My comparison with the Napoleonic war and the ACW, was simply the comparison in which growing complexity of technological advances in the science of warfare witnessed through the centuries, seem to increasingly dictate strategies and tactics of relevant armies and their leader and seem to decrease the chances of military success (ie., winning their wars) simply by a stroke off individual brilliance

In other words I think due to the lower level of technology(in relation to later wars, Napoleon could view a much larger area of the battlefield and the opposing armies and could better assess the effects of the battle by personal observation in real time. In 1804 Napoleon had large masses of tactical specific cavalry to turn large breakthrough in the opposing army lines and turn them into uncontrollable routs., something not possible on the
modern battle fields of the ACW, due to the technologically superior weapons.. What a Napoleon(or even an Alexander, IMO) did in their greatest victories, could not be done in the ACW.
 

thomas aagaard

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Location
Denmark
I do not want to argue definitions, on this particular thread. But, simply restate my position. My comparison with the Napoleonic war and the ACW, was simply the comparison in which growing complexity of technological advances in the science of warfare witnessed through the centuries, seem to increasingly dictate strategies and tactics of relevant armies and their leader and seem to decrease the chances of military success (ie., winning their wars) simply by a stroke off individual brilliance
If more modern technology make it harder to win wars quickly, then why did the Prussians Beat the Austrians in a few weeks in 1866?
And French also pretty quickly in 1870?

I will argue that the size of the armies matter...
If there are more than one field army, destroying one do not end the war. And that is one of the big issues in the west in 1914.

And why the armies are fighting.
In some wars you can beat the one enemy field army and rout it... and that is basically the end of the war.

This is common in wars that are limited where the political issue is a matter that only really matter to the political leadership and maybe the middle class.
1866 is a good example of this. The Austrians Lost the main battle and then they accepted that they where no longer part of Germany... and that was it.

But in wars that are (close to) total wars, then you pretty much need to take control of the entire enemy country with garrisons across the country... and they will still fight you.
Spain during the later part of the Napoleonic wars are an example of this. The French was fighting much of the Spanish population.
And I would say that from 1812 in Russia and to the end its the same in north and central Europe.
By 1813 the war had become a peoples war between the French vs. the Germans and Russians.
Defeating a field army in no longer something that win wars for Napoleon.

The franco-prussian war show both types. The Prussians pretty much destroy all French field armies and expected the French to ask for terms.
But they do not... and it change from a limited war between two states* over an perceived insult to a war between two nations that drag on for much longer than expected. And basically result in a French civil war.

And cavalry. What was the issue in 1861-65 was the lack of proper trained and equipped cavalry...
It took 2-3 years to train a regiment of cavalry. That is why we don't see federal cavalry do proper saber charges until late in the war. And when they start to do so, they are usually very effective.
And the other issue is the terrain. The typical civil war battlefield was simply less open than a typical European battlefield. So even if the cavalry had been there, it would have been harder at most battles to use it like Napoleon or Blücher would.

The rifle musket is irrelevant. Throwing cavalry at infantry in good order was a bad idea in 1805. (and in 1400 for that matter)
and it still was in 1861.
And throwing them at disordered infantry or even better infantry retreating was a good idea in both...
 
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