Most Unfortunate Personalities of the Civil War

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#1
I think the obvious or self-evident answer to the question of unfortunate personalities of the Civil War would be those individuals who perished on either side (or civilians for that matter).

The discussion I think would be centered on those individuals who survived the war. The criteria I'm looking towards is individuals who either (i) had a stroke of bad luck; (ii) never got the credit they deserved, (iii) or any other criteria that a member feels I have neglected and wants to include.

As a relative amateur to many people here I will get it started with several obvious ones:

George Meade- He was caught in the shadow of Ulysses S. Grant from 1864-1865 and if I remember correctly there were individuals who sought to discredit him for his activities at Gettysburg.

Richard S. Ewell- Could he ever be better than Stonewall Jackson?

XI Corps- They just happened to be the ones on the flank that day.
 

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kel1985

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#3
I think Doubleday got a bum rap for Gettysburg thanks to Howard protecting his own name.
He (Doubleday) took over the 1st Corps when Reynolds was killed, and did a heck of a job holding the line until the 11th Corps folded up on his right.
 

ExNavyPilot

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#4
Gen Leonidas Polk, CSA, the "Fighting Bishop." Polk was unfortunate in two ways: 1) he was a poor field commander who didn't recognize his weaknesses, and 2) he ran up against a Union gunner with very good aim. The Confederacy was unfortunate in that Polk stayed in command despite his lack of skill and helped to make the Army of Tennessee's leadership disfunctional.

Leonidas Polk graduated from West Point in 1827 and immediately resigned his commission to attend seminary. Despite his lack of military experience over the 34 years between West Point and the start of the Civil War, he was commissioned a Major General and sent west, where he almost immediately turned Kentucky officially against the Confederacy. Given a Corps to command, he displayed a propensity to disregard orders and worked against Bragg throughout the period between Perryville and Chattanooga. Jeff Davis, a friend and classmate, gave Polk top cover and Polk was able to remain in Corps command. When scouting Union positions at Pine Mountain on June 14, 1864, Polk and his staff were seen by Gen Sherman, who had a Union battery fire on the group to disperse them. Per Wikipedia, "The third shell struck Polk's left arm, went through the chest, and exited hitting his right arm then exploded against a tree; it nearly cut Polk in two."

[I know you were looking more for nominations of survivors, but I had to throw this guy in the mix.]
 

ExNavyPilot

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#5
For a survivor, I'll nominate James Longstreet. He was a great subordinate to R. E. Lee--not so good in independent command, however--and continually turned in solid performances as a Corps commander, but ended up being looked down upon after the war for supporting the Republicans and for having the nerve to criticize Lee's decisions at Gettysburg.
 
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#7
Longstreet being thrown in and mixed up with Bragg, NOT a good combination with Davis involved...
then there was Braxton Bragg!:timebomb:

Kevin Dally
 

Mark F. Jenkins

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#9
Lew Wallace took a shellacking for getting "lost" at Shiloh, and it wasn't until Grant was writing his memoirs practically on his deathbed that he realized it had been a miscommunication. Wallace lived most of his life trying to live that down.
 

Mark F. Jenkins

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#10
then there was Braxton Bragg!
In which case, the Confederacy was the really unfortunate one.

I'm up to the Hornet's Nest in Wiley Sword's Bloody April and it's brutally apparent that Bragg has no idea what to do other than to keep sending wave after wave of Confederate troops to their death in a manner that can only be described as Burnside-esque. How they kept turning to Bragg time and again throughout the war is mind-blowing.
 

ole

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#11
This thread has all the makings of who got rolled over the most.

Being named as a Confederate commander is giving Polk way too much credit. I have yet to figure out what positive benefit he contributed to the Confederacy.

The greatest sin was the deification of Lee and blaming Longstreet for the defeat at Gettysburg.

Will not even mention Pillow and Floyd as being unfortunate -- they were simply unfitted for command.

And then there's Pemberton who was stuck between his commanding officer and the Commander in Chief, and didn't have the fortitude to choose.

The field is open for other opinions.
 

ole

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#13
In which case, the Confederacy was the really unfortunate one.

I'm up to the Hornet's Nest in Wiley Sword's Bloody April and it's brutally apparent that Bragg has no idea what to do other than to keep sending wave after wave of Confederate troops to their death in a manner that can only be described as Burnside-esque. How they kept turning to Bragg time and again throughout the war is mind-blowing.
Another Davis boo-boo. Bragg, like McClellan had his good qualities. Unfortunately, battle wasn't included.

When Burnside blew it, he was sent away. When Bragg blew it, he was kept on.

Not only was Bragg kept on, he was kicked upstairs.

In this is only one reason the Confederacy failed. Nobody gained military power in the Davis administration unless he was known to Davis -- and preferably a friend.

Lincoln had the advantage there in that he knew none of his generals. All he had to go on was "what have you done lately?"

One of Davis's biggest was to replace Johnston with Hood. That decicision all but erased the AoT.

Notice how most of this diatribe comes back to Davis?
 

diane

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#14
James Andrews of the Great Locomotive Chase fame was mighty unfortunate. Not only did everything go wrong, especially a fleet-footed Confederate engineer who was determined no Yankees were stealing his train and another determined engineer who drove the Texas backward for miles chasing the General. Gen Mitchel failed to take Chattanooga, so even if Andrews had succeeded in stealing the General and doing all the mischief he planned along the way, he'd have ended up in Confederate hands. As it was, he was hung along with 8 other raiders. There was where Andrews was really unfortunate. Apparently the rebels couldn't make a proper hangman's noose and made the rope too long - Andrews didn't break his neck and his feet touched the ground but not enough to give him air. One soldier ran up and frantically started digging dirt out from under him! By then, though, he'd strangled. The other 8 didn't do much better - the rebels couldn't build a proper gallows, either. They dropped and the thing broke - so, they fixed it and hung 'em again! (That took.) Most of them got a Medal of Honor, the first handed out, but James Andrews wasn't eligible - he was a civilian.
 
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#15
The Army of Tennessee...because of Davis, Bragg, and Hood!
I left out Johnston because I feel he wasn't such a threat to the overall well-being of that army.

Kevin Dally
 
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#16
I think Hood had a lot of bad luck. His love life went south, so to speak and his body took a beating. Then he was put in a no win situation by Davis.
 
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#17
Most Unfortunate Personalities of the Civil War

Could he ever be better than Stonewall Jackson?

I'd suggest that Jackson was a pretty odd duck himself. Personality was not his forte.
 
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#19
Francis P. Blair, Jr.: Pivotal in saving Missouri for the Union. Spent much of his fortune on its behalf. Served as a brigadier and eventually corps commander. He opposed reconstruction, his undoing.
 
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#20
William Barker Cushing
Expired Image RemovedBorn: 4-Nov-1842
Birthplace: Delafield, WI
Died: 17-Dec-1874
Location of death: Washington, DC [1]
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, US Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD
Gender: Male
Religion: Christian
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Military
Nationality: United States
Executive summary:Civil War naval hero
Military service:US Navy (US Civil War)
The American naval officer William Barker Cushing was born in Delafield, Wisconsin, on the 4th of November 1842. He entered the Naval Academy from New York in 1857, but resigned in March 1861. When, however, the Civil War began, he volunteered into the navy, was rated acting master's mate, and became a midshipman in October 1861, and a lieutenant in July 1862, serving in the North Atlantic blockading squadron. The work of blockade, and of harassing the Confederates on the coast and the rivers of the Atlantic seaboard, called for much service in boats, and entailed a great deal of exposure. Cushing was distinguished by his readiness to volunteer, his indefatigability, and by his good fortune, the reward of vigilance and intelligence.

The feat by which he will be remembered was the destruction of the Confederate ironclad Albemarle in the Roanoke river on the 27th of October in 1864. The vessel had done much damage to the Federal naval forces, and her destruction was greatly desired. She was at anchor surrounded by baulks of timber, and a cordon of boats had been stationed to row guard against an expected Federal attack. Lieutenant Cushing undertook the attack on her with a steam launch carrying a spar-torpedo and towing an armed cutter. He eluded the Confederate lookout and reached the Albemarle unseen. When close to he was detected, but he had time to drive the steam launch over the baulks and to explode the torpedo against the Albemarlewith such success that a hole was made in her and she sank. Cushing's own launch was destroyed. He and the few men with him were compelled to take to the water; one was killed, another was drowned, Cushing and one other escaped, and the rest were captured. Cushing himself swam to the swamps on the river bank, and after wading among them for hours reached a Federal picket boat.

For destroying the Albemarlehe was thanked by Congress and was promoted to be lieutenant-commander. On the 15th of January 1865 he took a conspicuous part in the land attack on the sea-front wall of Fort Fisher.
After the war he commanded the Lancaster (1866-7) and the Maumee (1868-9) in the Asiatic Squadron. In 1872 he was promoted commander at what was an exceptionally early age, but he died on the 17th of December 1874 of brain fever. He had suffered extreme pain for years before his death, and in fact broke down altogether under disease contracted in the discharge of his duty.
 



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