OO Howard poor reputation

Fairfield

Sergeant Major
Member of the Month
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
Tarnished might not be the right word. Because he was a religious abolitionist and head of the Freedmen's Bureau, he was hated by enemies of emancipation and reconstruction. Maybe still hated now by some for similar reasons.

R
"Tarnished" definitely isn't the right word :unsure:. If being a person of principle--who is willing to act on those convictions--is a fault, perhaps we could use a bit more tarnish. 🙂 IMO the only real downside to the Fredmen's Bureau is that it was allowed to languish.
 

Saint Jude

Sergeant Major
Joined
Oct 15, 2018
Location
Heaven
I agree that Logan deserved command of the Army of the Tennessee, but to be fair to Howard, that decision was made in conversations between Sherman and Thomas. Thomas had an extreme dislike for Logan, and so Howard became the default choice.
It's clear from Sherman's correspondence at the time and from later letters that he much preferred Howard over Logan and that he considered Howard the better commander. Howard was definitely not the default choice.
 

DanSBHawk

Captain
Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Wisconsin
It's clear from Sherman's correspondence at the time and from later letters that he much preferred Howard over Logan and that he considered Howard the better commander. Howard was definitely not the default choice.
"Default choice" probably sounded like I was belittling Howard, but that's not what I meant. I meant Logan had put in his time with that army and some would say he deserved a chance to command. Howard was certainly competent for the position.
 

Saint Jude

Sergeant Major
Joined
Oct 15, 2018
Location
Heaven
I am just not a fan of Howard, and I will never will be, he was a great excuse maker, and he should have been sacked after Chancellorsville. He fought poorly at Gettysburg, and I suspect he had very few fans in the Army of the Potomac. He was no real fighter. Howard later led an Army that was made up of first rate soldiers. Among them was John Logan, who was a better Corps commander than Howard and I suspect he as far above Howard as a fighting soldier.
Such biases are often not founded in facts. Not even Hooker suggested that Howard should be sacked after Chancellorsville; he received the thanks of Congress for his role on the first day of Gettysburg; he was well liked by many in the Army of the Potomac; he had been an aggressive fighter since childhood; and Sherman and others considered him a better general than Logan. These facts are easy to find in primary sources.
 

Saint Jude

Sergeant Major
Joined
Oct 15, 2018
Location
Heaven
"Default choice" probably sounded like I was belittling Howard, but that's not what I meant. I meant Logan had put in his time with that army and some would say he deserved a chance to command. Howard was certainly competent for the position.
Thanks for clarifying! If Logan had not been a "political general," Sherman might have allowed him to stay in command, but I think, based on his later correspondence, that he didn't much like him.
 

Saint Jude

Sergeant Major
Joined
Oct 15, 2018
Location
Heaven
Exactly how did Howard get to be called "the Christian General"? His character was portrayed on an old Jimmy Stewart movie.
I talk about this in chapter 4 of the biography I'm writing. To be very brief, between June 1861 and December 1862, Howard’s courage and competence moved him up the military ladder from colonel to major general. Along with those virtues, his faith, his concern for his men’s physical and spiritual well-being, and his growing antislavery convictions earned him an enduring reputation as “The Christian General.”
 

Cavalier

First Sergeant
Joined
Jul 20, 2019
@Saint Jude I must confess to not being the biggest fan of Howard but I am looking forward very much to seeing what your book has to say.

John
 

Luke Freet

First Sergeant
Forum Host
Joined
Nov 8, 2018
Location
Palm Coast, Florida
Pardon my question here as it probably has already been answered. Why wasn't OO Howard taken out of corps command? I have heard and read lots of historians and they don't seem to have a favorable opinion of his performance or his personality. Seems to me that if he was really that bad, wouldn't he get replaced?
Howard was many things. He was overall a poor corps commander, as seen at Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and Pickett's Mill. However, he had several qualities that kept him around, for both respectable reasons and some less respectable ones.
First, the man was a hardcore Republican. The army was full of conservatives, such as McClellan, Rosecrans, and Hancock, many of whom had little interest in promoting the Republican agendas. Howard was one of the few West Point army officers who was a staunch abolitionist. Thus, he was needed politically to balance out the Democrat dominance of the army.
Aside from this side of politics, Howard was a brave man. He had lost an arm in a charge at Fair Oaks, was in the thick of the action on Cemetery Hill, and was wounded again at Pikcett's Mill. He may not be as brave or charismatic as a Barlow, Custer, or Gordon, but he had some respect from his fellow officers for his personal courage.
Finally, when he's sent west, Sherman (an arch-conservative by any stretch of the definition) seemed to take a liking to Howard, and when Howard's corps was disbanded, appointed him to command IV Corps. I've heard from Sean Chick this was done out of a sense that, as a disgraced officer, he would not pose much of a political threat to Sherman. However, i get the feeling Sherman found him personally amiable, despite being on the far opposite end of the political spectrum, for he appointed him to replace the deceased McPherson in command of Sherman's Army of Tennessee (his prized force). In this capacity, Howard actually improved spectacularly in skill, and won victories at Ezra Church, Jonesboro, and lead half the army in the March to the Sea and into the Carolinas.
 

Saint Jude

Sergeant Major
Joined
Oct 15, 2018
Location
Heaven
@Saint Jude I must confess to not being the biggest fan of Howard but I am looking forward very much to seeing what your book has to say.

John
Thanks, John! If you or anyone else are interested in the chapters I have already written, you can start a conversation with me nd let me know your e-mail address. I can then send them to you in pdf installments and we could e-talk about them one at a time. Or you can wait for the whole shebang, which might take me another couple of years or so to complete as I'm the primary caregiver to my adult son, who has had a stroke.
 

Cavalier

First Sergeant
Joined
Jul 20, 2019
Since I only do this on a kindle device and don't have much in the way of computer skills I think it would be best for me if I waited for the "whole shebang". However thanks very much for the offer.

I will look forward to your work on Howard and send my sympathies and prayers to you and your son.

John
 
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