Most and least effective generals at Gettysburg

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

K Hale

Colonel
Civil War Photo Contest
Annual Winner
Joined
Aug 10, 2009
Messages
16,530
Location
Texas
I think Schimmelpfennig is a good choice. Someone who literally did nothing pretty much has to define the term "ineffective."

(Firefox's spellcheck wants to change Schimmelpfennig to "Schizophrenically.")
 

dvrmte

Major
Joined
Sep 3, 2009
Messages
9,902
Location
South Carolina
most effective for the US: Meade, Hancock, RE Lee

Even though not a General YET, I also give honorable mention to J. Chamberlain.
Shame, shame on you. Taking in the entire campaign Lee inflicted over 31,000 casualties on the AOP. That's hardly anything to be thankful for. How often does the offense inflict more casualties than they sustain?

Lee made some bad decisions and lost the battle but the AOP felt the sting. They were able to drive the invader from their soil, only.

dvrmte
 

DWMack

Cadet
Joined
Dec 1, 2009
Messages
369
Location
Lake Villa, Illinois
Shame, shame on you. Taking in the entire campaign Lee inflicted over 31,000 casualties on the AOP. That's hardly anything to be thankful for. How often does the offense inflict more casualties than they sustain?

Lee made some bad decisions and lost the battle but the AOP felt the sting. They were able to drive the invader from their soil, only.

dvrmte

Quit pickin on me, man! he he he......................yeah I'll give ya that. they felt the sting alright. But the Union Army on the third day had to be saying "theres no f'ing way they're gonna!!!....." But they did
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

dvrmte

Major
Joined
Sep 3, 2009
Messages
9,902
Location
South Carolina
Quit pickin on me, man! he he he......................yeah I'll give ya that. they felt the sting alright. But the Union Army on the third day had to be saying "theres no f'ing way they're gonna!!!....." But they did
I ain't pickin, but I'm grinnin.... I'm sure the AOP looking on as the final assault began knew they could turn it back. If Lee only knew what they knew.

dvrmte
 

Elennsar

Colonel
Joined
May 14, 2008
Messages
14,823
Location
California
Shame, shame on you. Taking in the entire campaign Lee inflicted over 31,000 casualties on the AOP. That's hardly anything to be thankful for. How often does the offense inflict more casualties than they sustain?

Lee made some bad decisions and lost the battle but the AOP felt the sting. They were able to drive the invader from their soil, only.

dvrmte
I'm assuming the campaign begins at Brandy Station (if you're not, please tell me) - but I wouldn't count Second Winchester as a loss to the AotP.

I don't mean this as a nitpick, either. 8th Corps/the Middle Department is easier prey than the AotP, for multiple reasons (inexperienced troops, poor commanders, deployment...)

So that leaves Lee at what, 25-27,000 inflicted to 28,000+ suffered (counting prisoners as casualties)?

Still commendable, I suppose, until you realize that's more than a third of his army versus somewhere less than a third of Meade's.

In my opinion, Lee was not at his best, but he still gave several good blows.

On that note, if we're counting the whole campaign, I nominate Beverly Robertson for ineffective.

One of the five worst cavalry commanders of the war (Kill Cavalry, Ashby, Sheridan, and Tolbert being the other four, if you want the first that come to mind - Ashby simply not being brigade command material. If he had a company, he'd be one of the best. A regiment, maybe he could do it. But a brigade cannot be lead without more organization and discipline.).
 

dvrmte

Major
Joined
Sep 3, 2009
Messages
9,902
Location
South Carolina
I'm assuming the campaign begins at Brandy Station (if you're not, please tell me) - but I wouldn't count Second Winchester as a loss to the AotP.

I don't mean this as a nitpick, either. 8th Corps/the Middle Department is easier prey than the AotP, for multiple reasons (inexperienced troops, poor commanders, deployment...)

So that leaves Lee at what, 25-27,000 inflicted to 28,000+ suffered (counting prisoners as casualties)?

Still commendable, I suppose, until you realize that's more than a third of his army versus somewhere less than a third of Meade's.

In my opinion, Lee was not at his best, but he still gave several good blows.

On that note, if we're counting the whole campaign, I nominate Beverly Robertson for ineffective.

One of the five worst cavalry commanders of the war (Kill Cavalry, Ashby, Sheridan, and Tolbert being the other four, if you want the first that come to mind - Ashby simply not being brigade command material. If he had a company, he'd be one of the best. A regiment, maybe he could do it. But a brigade cannot be lead without more organization and discipline.).
I considered prisoners as casualties. I should have said casualties inflicted and not specified the AOP. I consider Second Winchester and the 4,443 casualties part of the campaign.

I started at Brandy Station and stopped at Falling Waters. I left out some of the engagements that number less than 100 casualties and some that didn't have accurate estimates such as 400 combined Union and Confederate. It's fairly close, though.

On the Union side I nominate Meade for not tucking tail and Hancock for his job on day 2 for best performance.

On the Confederate side I reluctantly nominate Longstreet, only for the actual assault on day 2, not on his actions leading up to it though.

For worst performance, I will hold off on that for now. There are just too many to consider.

dvrmte
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Elennsar

Colonel
Joined
May 14, 2008
Messages
14,823
Location
California
I considered prisoners as casualties. I should have said casualties inflicted and not specified the AOP. I consider Second Winchester and the 4,443 casualties part of the campaign.
Agreed, as long as Ewell gets the credit and not Lee (as in, its no sign of generalship on Lee's part at all. Main reason for nitpicking there is that Ewell needs the praise for it more than Lee does.)

I started at Brandy Station and stopped at Falling Waters. I left out some of the engagements that number less than 100 casualties and some that didn't have accurate estimates such as 400 combined Union and Confederate. It's fairly close, though.
Yeah. The ANV gave a very good account for itself.

On the Union side I nominate Meade for not tucking tail and Hancock for his job on day 2 for best performance.

On the Confederate side I reluctantly nominate Longstreet, only for the actual assault on day 2, not on his actions leading up to it though.

For worst performance, I will hold off on that for now. There are just too many to consider.

dvrmte
Well, if we ever have a "Biggest PITA" thread, rest assured Longstreet at Gettysburg is eligible. Even if he was right, he still pushed the limits of a subordinate's right to protest as far as one can go.

Stubborn is the word I would use, and I'm on his side. To quote Moses Johnson the Black Confederate: "What da hell wuzz you thinking, General Lee?"

But Longstreet addressing Lee like that would merit being clapped in irons.

Any "worst performance" guys you would name that haven't been mentioned already you feel would be worth mentioning?

No need to make it a final answer, but I'm wondering if you have anyone in mind that we haven't named yet. Say, Rodes. Or perhaps Slocum.

No rush in picking, though.
 

dvrmte

Major
Joined
Sep 3, 2009
Messages
9,902
Location
South Carolina
Agreed, as long as Ewell gets the credit and not Lee (as in, its no sign of generalship on Lee's part at all. Main reason for nitpicking there is that Ewell needs the praise for it more than Lee does.)
Ewell did an amazing job, I don't know what happened to him once he got to Gettysburg though. My dad's relatives were with him in Gordon's Georgia Brigade. They performed well on day one but due to Jenkins wounding or whatever, they were out of the fight on day 2. Gordon isn't my favorite charactor but he was a hellova fighting general. The two or three brigades that were out of the fight, due to Jenkin's, could have changed the result of day 2.

dvrmte
 

Elennsar

Colonel
Joined
May 14, 2008
Messages
14,823
Location
California
Ewell did an amazing job, I don't know what happened to him once he got to Gettysburg though. My dad's relatives were with him in Gordon's Georgia Brigade. They performed well on day one but due to Jenkins wounding or whatever, they were out of the fight on day 2. Gordon isn't my favorite charactor but he was a hellova fighting general. The two or three brigades that were out of the fight, due to Jenkin's, could have changed the result of day 2.

dvrmte
Well, in fairness on day 1 he did about as well as could be expected right up until he decided to leave his corps where it was. (not attacking being, in my opinion, justifiable). But the instant he decided to leave his corps there, the man who looked like he would be Stonewall's successor became...just a balding old doddering fool.

It speaks extremely well of him that he had the humility to accept messing up ("It took a great many mistakes to lose Gettysburg, and I made most of them." or something like that.), but that's of him as a man, not a general.

I'm not sure if Jenkins being wounded kept Gordon's brigade out of the fight (on day 2). It couldn't have helped, but I don't think that specifically did it.

One thing that surprised me when I looked at an OOB listing its strength on entering the battle (about 1800 men) was how many it lost - about a third. So much for the Almighty shielding Gordon's men with "His shield and buckler".

But even at that, it was stronger than the two brigades earlier did commit. I don't get it. Having all three going could have made a difference. Or at least would have been a better idea if you were going to attack at all.

Walker's brigade (the Stonewall Brigade) is the only one I know of that was kept out because of Jenkins. Gordon and Smith may have been held back as an indirect effect of that, but I'm not aware of any specific relationship between Jenkins not being in position and them not joining the assault.

I agree, thusly. Early's full division hitting Ames's (Barlow's) division and Johnson's hitting Greene's brigade ought to have been able to pull off something, dark or not. These are some of the best fighting men in the ANV, after all.

Gordon's Georgians, the Tigers, the Stonewall Brigade...to paraphrase Trimble in regards to two other fine brigades, if you can't win with these men, all of hell won't be enough.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

IrishBrigade

Private
Joined
Jun 3, 2010
Messages
164
Location
Mullingar, Ireland
KHALE, so you think Stuart did a great job? His orders are dated a week before the battle took place. What did he do during that week? I don't have my copy of the killer angels with me today so you'll have to wait till I get home.
 

dvrmte

Major
Joined
Sep 3, 2009
Messages
9,902
Location
South Carolina
One thing that surprised me when I looked at an OOB listing its strength on entering the battle (about 1800 men) was how many it lost - about a third. So much for the Almighty shielding Gordon's men with "His shield and buckler"
http://www.robertmlay.com/index.php?module=pagemaster&PAGE_user_op=view_printable&PAGE_id=3&lay_quiet=1
"In the afternoon the first day's fighting at Gettsyburg, General Gordon led his newly arrived Brigade in a devastating charge that rolled over the right flank of the Union line, causing the collapse of the Union XI Corps. Closely pressing the disintegrating Union forces, Gordon's Brigade killed or wounded nearly 1500 Union troops and captured another 1800, against a loss of approximately 400. After the war, General Richard Ewell recalled that "Gordon's Brigade that evening put hors de combat a greater number of the enemy in proportion to its own numbers than any other command on either side ever did, from the beginning to the end of the war." Gordon was chagrined that his advance was halted and that Ewell later declined his entreaties to attack the confused Federal forces on Cemetary Hill before they could rally and entrench. The Brigade saw little action in the balance of that great battle and served as part of the rear guard in Lee's retreat."

That may be a little over the top but you get the idea that Gordon's attack was successful.

dvrmte
 

Elennsar

Colonel
Joined
May 14, 2008
Messages
14,823
Location
California
http://www.robertmlay.com/index.php?module=pagemaster&PAGE_user_op=view_printable&PAGE_id=3&lay_quiet=1
In the afternoon the first day's fighting at Gettsyburg, General Gordon led his newly arrived Brigade in a devastating charge that rolled over the right flank of the Union line, causing the collapse of the Union XI Corps. Closely pressing the disintegrating Union forces, Gordon's Brigade killed or wounded nearly 1500 Union troops and captured another 1800, against a loss of approximately 400. After the war, General Richard Ewell recalled that "Gordon's Brigade that evening put hors de combat a greater number of the enemy in proportion to its own numbers than any other command on either side ever did, from the beginning to the end of the war." Gordon was chagrined that his advance was halted and that Ewell later declined his entreaties to attack the confused Federal forces on Cemetary Hill before they could rally and entrench. The Brigade saw little action in the balance of that great battle and served as part of the rear guard in Lee's retreat.
Sounds more or less like what I've read.

According to Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage, Gordon lost 537 men as casualties out of a starting strength of 1813.

XI Corps lost a total of about 3,800 men. Sadly this is not broken down by day, but that account (if fully accurate) would mean Gordon inflicted 87% of the corps's losses.

All I can say is: What about Hays? What about Avery? What about the artillery? What about Doles and anyone else who pitched in? What about what happened on day 2 (well, the evening of the same)? There has to be more than 500 men lost to divide up amongst those.

Gordon's brigade was splendid, however. Not sure how much of that was Gordon personally (not to say he doesn't deserve credit, just wondering how much his subordinates were also talented men who got the most out of their men), but even half the figures you quote is a very credible performance. No one could ask for more.

Except maybe Stonewall Jackson. Maybe.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

dvrmte

Major
Joined
Sep 3, 2009
Messages
9,902
Location
South Carolina
Sounds more or less like what I've read.

According to Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage, Gordon lost 537 men as casualties out of a starting strength of 1813.

XI Corps lost a total of about 3,800 men. Sadly this is not broken down by day, but that account (if fully accurate) would mean Gordon inflicted 87% of the corps's losses.

All I can say is: What about Hays? What about Avery? What about the artillery? What about Doles and anyone else who pitched in? What about what happened on day 2 (well, the evening of the same)? There has to be more than 500 men lost to divide up amongst those.

Gordon's brigade was splendid, however. Not sure how much of that was Gordon personally (not to say he doesn't deserve credit, just wondering how much his subordinates were also talented men who got the most out of their men), but even half the figures you quote is a very credible performance. No one could ask for more.

Except maybe Stonewall Jackson. Maybe.
The Georgia Brigade performed the same under Lawton, Gordon and Evans. They joined Stonewall just after his Valley Campaign and saw action first at Gaine's Mill.

At Third Winchester they were routed, however. I believe they were caught on their flanks, IIRC.

dvrmte
 

Elennsar

Colonel
Joined
May 14, 2008
Messages
14,823
Location
California
The Georgia Brigade performed the same under Lawton, Gordon and Evans. They joined Stonewall just after his Valley Campaign and saw action first at Gaine's Mill.

At Third Winchester they were routed, however. I believe they were caught on their flanks, IIRC.

dvrmte
Can't add anything but a suggestion of a toast for those Georgians.

I think you're right on 3rd Winchester, but I'm not sure (not a battle I'm familiar enough with to say).

Going back to Gettysburg...

If he hasn't been named already, I name Henry Hunt for "most effective".
 

Rob9641

Captain
Civil War Photo Contest
Annual Winner
Joined
Jun 7, 2010
Messages
5,957
Location
Maryland
I nominate Armistead as both most AND least effective - got his men over the Angle, a miracle in leadership IMO, but that pretty much destroyed his brigade. He did his job, tho.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Elennsar

Colonel
Joined
May 14, 2008
Messages
14,823
Location
California
I nominate Armistead as both most AND least effective - got his men over the Angle, a miracle in leadership IMO, but that pretty much destroyed his brigade. He did his job, tho.
1,057 lost out of 2,188 men (48.3%).

For Garnett: 905/1,851 (48.8%)

For Kemper: 678/1,781 (38%)

Proportionally, Pettigrew's brigade (admitedly engaged on both the 1st and 3rd, but nonetheless) suffered the worst for the Confederates: 1,450/2,581 (56.1%)

The Iron Brigade suffered the worst: 1,153/1,829 (63%).

I'm not sure that Armistead's casualties were entirely his fault - he didn't choose to put his men in the position that lead to them falling like that.
 

M E Wolf

Colonel
Retired Moderator
Joined
Feb 9, 2008
Messages
17,463
Location
Virginia
In my opinion:

Most Effective Union Generals:
Brig. General John Buford - U.S. Cavalry - Held the position until Infantry could support and hold.
Maj. General John F. Reynolds - U.S. Infantry - First to arrive on General Buford's call for support and held until the rest of the Army could rendezvous. [killed]
Maj. General Gouverneur K. Warren - U.S. Chief of Engineers - spotting the Confederate advance to the Big & Little Round Tops as General Sickles was too far forward - Deploying Col. Vincent and General Weed to the Big & Little Round Tops in time.
Brig. General Stephen H. Weed - commanded 3rd Bde/2nd Divn/V Corps at Gettysburg in defense of Little Round Top. [killed]
Maj. General Winfield S. Hancock - Went forward to take command after General Reynold's death and relieved General Doubleday.
Brig. General Henry J. Hunt -Chief of Artillery - Effective deployment of batteries to direct fire into the approach and side fire into the flanks.
Brig. General Alexander Webb - 2nd Corps, 2nd Division, 2nd Brigade - Held fast the brunt of Pickett's charge; included with Lieutenant A. Cushing's Battery.
Brig. General John Gibbons - 2nd Corps, 2nd Division; 2nd Corps commanding officer when Hancock was deployed forward, and after Hancock's wounding--placed General Webb and directed the fresh troops in support when the point of attack was recognized.

Least Effective Union General:
Maj. General Daniel Sickles -
Maj. General Abner Doubleday -
Maj. General Oliver O. Howard -

Most Effective Confederate General -
Lt. General James Longstreet - 1 Corps Commander
Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett - Could have had a successful charge had he more men, artillery support not sabotaged by Pendleton, and Cavalry distractions worked effectively.
Brig. General Lewis A. Armistead - Effectively charged into the Union Lines [killed]
Maj. General John B. Hood - Under Lee's restraints did manage to take some ground but, failed to capture the Round Tops.
Maj. General R. E. Rodes -Did good service.
Brig. General James J. Archer - Did good service.
Maj. General William D. Pender - [killed]

Least Effective Confederate General:
Brig. General W. B. Pendleton - By removing Col E. P. Alexander's artillery train, supplies and pieces in prelude to Pickett's Charge; sabotaged the entire charge that Longstreet, Alexander and Pickett; with supporting Brigades from Hill's Corps created the disaster; all done without permission or knowledge of Longstreet, Pickett, Alexander or Lee.
Lt. General Richard Ewell - failure to take the Round Tops.
Maj. General Jubal Early - failure to remain in a designated spot to rendezvous with General J.E.B. Stuart, which caused lost time, energy and services to General Lee.
Lt. General A. P. Hill - Not recognizing the difference between mounted militia verses General Buford's cavalry, leading into Heth's Division entering into a conflict.
Maj. General J.E.B. Stuart - failure to keep in communication with Lee's Army; and lack-luster efforts in checking the Union Cavalry during Pickett's Charge. Most likely due to the exhausted nature of the Cavalry in general.
 

Rob9641

Captain
Civil War Photo Contest
Annual Winner
Joined
Jun 7, 2010
Messages
5,957
Location
Maryland
In my opinion:

Least Effective Confederate General:
Lt. General Richard Ewell - failure to take the Round Tops.
Oops. Wrong hills. Cemetery and Culps were on Ewell's end of the field, and I disagree. Ewell really couldn't have taken either one - didn't have the forces and/or the back-up. There's a good article in the current Civil War Times.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Rob9641

Captain
Civil War Photo Contest
Annual Winner
Joined
Jun 7, 2010
Messages
5,957
Location
Maryland
I'm not sure that Armistead's casualties were entirely his fault - he didn't choose to put his men in the position that lead to them falling like that.
I suppose we could argue that he could have pulled back when he saw how few would make it (IF he saw how few would make it - probably not likely in all that smoke) but that wasn't his job, and Armistead never was one to pull back easily. He performed his job with the last full measure of devotion, not to mention flare.
 

Elennsar

Colonel
Joined
May 14, 2008
Messages
14,823
Location
California
I suppose we could argue that he could have pulled back when he saw how few would make it (IF he saw how few would make it - probably not likely in all that smoke) but that wasn't his job, and Armistead never was one to pull back easily. He performed his job with the last full measure of devotion, not to mention flare.
Indeed. Hard to ask for more than that when it comes to leadership. Tactics, maybe, maybe not. But not leadership.
 
Top