New book on Lee. Would you read it?

wausaubob

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I dont think I agree. I think the Confed's best chance was a negotiated peace after Lincoln losing reelection in 1864. They had to make the war too expensive and too bloody for the Union to support. If Atlanta did not fall and if Early did not get crushed in the Shenandoah Valley, Lincoln could have lost in 1864 and McClellan would have felt pressure from his party to approve an armistice, which could ultimately lead to some kind of independence. I dont think its a slam dunk, but it seems like the best chance they had.
That makes sense except the settlement you describe would make the two competitive nations very much like Germany and France.
And the US under those conditions was going to be heavily Germanized. The influence of the German population was written out of the history due to the two world wars. But 1863 the US was in front of a pending wave of German immigration. All it took was the total abolition of slavery in the US. The Confederacy was already tilting towards France, French money, and the Catholic pope as the war progressed. I think they would have become far too dependent on France to call what they had obtained as real independence. There would have been future wars, and maybe continuous war. And war was increasingly industrialized, starting with the Crimean War.
 
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Belfoured

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Aug 3, 2019
Battlefield victories are nice, IF they lead to ultimate victory. Otherwise they just bleed your army dry, and with limited resources a prudent general would not just seek non-strategic battlefield victories, and certainly does not engage in hyper aggressive tactics that give a poor return on strategic value in exchange for high casualties. What the CSA needed was another Washington, who lost more battles than he fought, but kept the army intact and waited for the strategic opportunity. Lee never had a strategic victory, with the possible exception of the Seven Days. Grant had war turning victories at Henry and Donelson, Vicksburg and the Overland Campaign. War is about winning the war, not battles, and Lee had no plan to do so other than creating another Cannae, which he never accomplished. While it is true the US had manpower advantages, the CSA had the advantage of fighting on the defensive, on its own soil, with interior lines, and not having to protect extended supply lines, not to mention that the average Southern soldier was more committed to his cause than the average Union soldier, and the fact that the CSA did not need to conquer the US, but only had to outlast the public sentiment. Ultimately, Lee squandered all these advantages, and ignored some of them, and was a failure.
So I just received the book and based on some skimming around there are a few interesting points. First, Guelzo is much more favorable to Lee's perception of the proper strategy and conduct of the Confederate war than a lot of historians have been. He also has a much more neutral take on the erection of the Lee statue in Charlottesville in 1924 than I'm sure a lot of people would assume, pointing out who was involved and not involved, etc. These are just examples but this does not appear to be the one-way diatribe that some seem to believe. If Guelzo has a bias, it's the one that came across in his Gettysburg book - against Meade. I saw a portion in this book where he excoriates Meade's handling of the post-Gettysburg campaign in no uncertain terms. In short, this looks like what a biography should be - neither an uncompromising attack or a piece of hero worship, but an objective take pro and con. Probably room for disagreement on some conclusions but that's true of every legitimate biography.
 

Belfoured

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Lee and the Confederacy could not play a long war game. The US had access to the interior of the continent, with two different transportation systems to use to facilitate that access. The US had telegraph technology by 1855. The British did not have that in the AWR period.
No matter what type of settlement the Confederates could obtain in a long war, the US was going to control the west, most or all of the Mississippi River and the future growth of the economy.
Good points. Washington had a fundamentally different situation to work with. An opponent trying to maintain a fight 4,000 miles away as part of a world war with one of the participants in that war lending assistance; largely confined to the coastal littoral with all sorts of ungovernable groups and territory once you got 100 or so miles to the interior; diminishing support at home; the need to protect all that turf to the north of the 13 colonies, and Spanish presence to the south; and significant logistical problems that were never really solved.
 

Cavalier

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Jul 20, 2019
As a big Lee fan I'll have to read it regardless of the authors opinions on him. I like to try to know as much as possible about these guys. I don't have any opinions about Guelzo yet, one way orther.

John
 

wausaubob

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Location
Denver, CO
Good points. Washington had a fundamentally different situation to work with. An opponent trying to maintain a fight 4,000 miles away as part of a world war with one of the participants in that war lending assistance; largely confined to the coastal littoral with all sorts of ungovernable groups and territory once you got 100 or so miles to the interior; diminishing support at home; the need to protect all that turf to the north of the 13 colonies, and Spanish presence to the south; and significant logistical problems that were never really solved.
General Lee's problem was as your surmise. After July 1863, the main part of the Confederacy was surrounded. Trading space for time did not work for the Confederacy. As an example, Sherman was not marching off into a agricultural zone, he was marching toward a coast patrolled by the US navy.
 

Joshism

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Location
Jupiter, FL
That is also my opinion and regarding that Lee did a lot during the Overland Campaign (which I generally deem one of his better campaigns) to achieve that goal...

Lee seems to done pretty well during the Overland Campaign, especially under the circumstances. His own health issues, his loss of important subordinates, and manpower loses limited what he could do. Grant's dogged determination had something to do with it too.
 

JerryD

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Aug 23, 2021
That makes sense except the settlement you describe would make the two competitive nations very much like Germany and France.
And the US under those conditions was going to be heavily Germanized. The influence of the German population was written out of the history due to the two world wars. But 1863 the US was in front of a pending wave of German immigration. All it took was the total abolition of slavery in the US. The Confederacy was already tilting towards France, French money, and the Catholic pope as the war progressed. I think they would have become far too dependent on France to call what they had obtained as real independence. There would have been future wars, and maybe continuous war. And war was increasingly industrialized, starting with the Crimean War.
I'm not so sure of what the ultimate deal would look like. Depending on the situation on the ground, it may end up something like Great Britain and Scotland. Or Greenland and Denmark. Its hard to predict what would be agreed to short of total independence, and if the Confederacy insisted on total independence they ran the risk of pissing off the northern public. As I said, there was a chance for peace, but not a slam dunk. Who knows what would have happened?
 

wausaubob

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I wonder what Allen Guelzo does with Lee's blind spot that he was simply wrong about the complexity of the capitalist economy of the US, and the US dedication to the cause of union. Lee was a tragic figure in my mind. He was consumed by a fatal resignation to defeat and likely death, a Hamlet like figure.
But Grant was not so consumed. He and Lincoln had an even worse punishment in store. Grant's terms were, go home and watch the nation recover from what you did.
 

jackt62

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New York City
Lee was a tragic figure in my mind. He was consumed by a fatal resignation to defeat and likely death, a Hamlet like figure.
Yes, and he perhaps symbolized the larger Confederate cause, which sought to preserve and keep alive a romantic, agrarian, and chivalrous notion of southern society. Quite unlike the more unsentimental northerners who were racing to create an industrial and managerial economy and society, whatever its own faults.
 

Fairfield

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Yes, and he perhaps symbolized the larger Confederate cause, which sought to preserve and keep alive a romantic, agrarian, and chivalrous notion of southern society. Quite unlike the more unsentimental northerners who were racing to create an industrial and managerial economy and society, whatever its own faults.
Just an adjustment. While it is true that the Southern army was largely agrarian (~75%), over half of the Union army was also. In many northern areas (such as northern New England), the industrial economy was in its infancy. In the town I've been studying, a man of industry was someone who hired his brother-in-law to work with him. No corporate bosses here: with a few exceptions, the owner worked right along side his employee. It was the ACW that was a great boost to industrialization.

And I worry about the term "unsentimental" perhaps being used at a motivator. Before they were unsentimental industrial workers, they were unsentimental farmers. It is the way of things here: display of emotion was seen as a weakness.
 

jackt62

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In many northern areas (such as northern New England), the industrial economy was in its infancy.
Which reinforces the point. Northern society might have been in the early stages of industrial development, but it started to embrace that development and never looked back. The war created a momentum in the north that accelerated new techniques in logistics, manufacturing, and management.
 

Belfoured

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Aug 3, 2019
Do you find it odd that Dan Marino is the the Hall of Fame despite never having won a Super Bowl?
No - but he didn't get in there as "the most successful" QB. Joe Montana didn't put up close to the numbers Marino did but clobbered him in the rings category - and until Brady came along I think most folks would have thought of him as the most successful.
 

wausaubob

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Yes, and he perhaps symbolized the larger Confederate cause, which sought to preserve and keep alive a romantic, agrarian, and chivalrous notion of southern society. Quite unlike the more unsentimental northerners who were racing to create an industrial and managerial economy and society, whatever its own faults.
I was listening to Shelby Foote and he stated that President Lincoln was one the least sentimental people in history. I think Foote had it right.
 

wausaubob

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Which reinforces the point. Northern society might have been in the early stages of industrial development, but it started to embrace that development and never looked back. The war created a momentum in the north that accelerated new techniques in logistics, manufacturing, and management.
Good topic but it has nothing to do with Confederate General Lee.
 

Fairfield

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I was listening to Shelby Foote and he stated that President Lincoln was one the least sentimental people in history. I think Foote had it right.
Have to disagree! I have a collection of his writings--and he was quite sentimental. Did you know that he wrote poetry? Alright, not good poetry but his poems were touching. He wrote about incidents of his boyhood, about the sadness of endings. I believe that his compassion and gentle nature were the roots of his greatness. Today we'd say of him that he is a push-over for a sad story.

Keeping up the side was important.
 

Drew

Major
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Oct 22, 2012
I'm strongly inclined to skip this one because of the author.



Lincoln and Grant I agree. Even Meade has gotten excessive coverage in the last decade.

Lee is a popular topic of discussion, but he's had few modern biographies and none of them have been good.

I'm not aware that Meade has got excessive coverage. Rod Andrew Jr. did an excellent work on Wade Hampton and last I heard was doing one on George Meade.

I'd be a buyer and a reader of that one, if it materializes.
 
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