Out come of Lee againat Sherman?

major bill

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#1
Had Lee somehow made a clean break from Richmond, he planned on joining his army with Joseph Johnston's army. The united armies would then defeat the Union army under Sherman.

So how practical was the plan? Could have the combined armies under Lee have defeated Sherman?

I am assuming that the armies of Lee and Johnston would have been roughly the size of Sherman's army. However, part of the combined Confederate armies were not hardened veterans while almost all of Sherman's army was.

Then Lee would at some point have to deal with Grant's army. I do not see Lee defeating both Sherman and then Grant. Any thoughts on this?
 

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#2
Lee would have been outnumbered easily. Sherman would have had 90-100k. Lee if he was very lucky maybe 65k, probably more like 55-60k.

You are correct, part of Lee's army would include jr. Reserves, sr. Reserves, and garrison troops. None of these had seen a lot of action. I think it would have been tough but Lee imo would have a better chance against Sherman, than Grant. Any mistakes Sherman would make, Lee would be all over. Something Johnston and Hood couldn't do.

In the end I'd give the edge to Sherman based solely on numbers, quality of troops, better cavalry, artillery, etc. Unless Sherman made a fatal, mistake.
 
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#3
It would have been a similar dynamic to Lee versus Grant, because like Grant, and unlike most every other Federal General Lee had out-generaled, he didn't know them. Again similar dynamic, but given Sherman's love of flank attacks, and Johnston there to apprise Lee of that fact, Lee would stand a good chance of hammering Sherman in the short term, but I highly doubt he could drive Sherman back far enough to turn around and go for Grant with better odds, the two would still link up against Lee and Johnston and overwhelm them.

Plus there's the little issue of Lee's troops from the ANV being just plum worn to the nub from war with little replacements. The Stonewall Brigade, the Texas Brigade, the J.E.B. Stuart-less cavalry, and so many more legendary commands from the ANV were just burnt out wrecks of their former selves number wise, and were mostly wore out from war, (though they'd never admit it). Oh and let us not forget the burnt out wreckage of what had been the Army of Tennessee and the Army formed by Johnston in N.C. too. Heck the C.S. Armies around that area were so small and wrecked they actually had enough supplies, weapons, and gear for every one, but not enough food of course. Lee was a good general, but those odds ain't no good for anyone, even against Sherman one on one.

I'd give Lee and Johnston's plans for link up and so on a 20% to 25% chance of success.
 
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#4
Could Lee and Johnston have defeated Sherman?

Short Answer: No.

Long Answer: No, but with a lot of bloodshed and books about how Lee could have won.
 

Irishtom29

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#5
The Great Army of the West was unwhippable. Fit, battle hardened, well led, confident and almost always victorious. And like the big boy, too big to be whipped.
 

trice

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#7
I'd agree with most of the opinions above.

On personal knowledge:
AFAIK, Lee (USMA 1829) never was in the same place as Sherman (USMA 1840). Sherman went around the Horn to California with Halleck and Ord during the Mexican War. Lee went to Mexico, where both he and Grant were in the Army Scott led to take Mexico City -- but Grant was a Lieutenant in a regiment while Lee was on Scott's staff. They were both members of the Aztec Club after the city fell. Lee knew he had met Grant back then, but strained to remember a single thing about him in 1864-65.​
Lee would have found men who knew them to talk to, however. Sherman was a good friend of Braxton Bragg (USMA 1837): they were both in the 3rd Artillery during the 2nd Seminole War, they corresponded afterwards, and Bragg was a successful planter in Louisiana when Sherman was superintendent of the Louisiana State Seminary (now LSU) in 1859-1861. Sherman also moved in the upper levels of society in GA and SC when stationed there in the 1840s, and so must have been known to many who became Confederate officers. Longstreet (USMA 1842), of course, knew Grant (USMA 1843) well: both served in the 4th US Infantry after West Point, Longstreet was at the wedding when Grant married Longstreet's 4th cousin; after Longstreet moved to the 8th US Infantry, they both served under Taylor and Scott, they met in St. Louis in 1856.​

On what would happen:
Assuming Lee manages to evade Grant's pursuit and join Johnston to attack Sherman, I believe Sherman would have likely attempted to stand on the defensive until Grant approached. Sherman would have had about 100,000 men (his 60,000 plus 40,000 or so with Schofield). Grant would be coming down from Virginia with something like 75,000-100,000. There was another column under Stoneman out in western NC at the time. It seems unlikely Lee can find any meaningful battlefield success in North Carolina in 1865.​
 

diane

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#8
I think where Lee had the chance to whip the AoTT was during the march through Georgia, before Sherman could connect with other Union forces and had no lines of communication or logistics. As pointed out earlier, Lee's army was worn down and Sherman's army was fat and sassy. But - Lee's army also had family in the way of Sherman and that would have given them hard-core determination. It was a nightmare of Sherman's that Lee would do that very thing - somehow disconnect from Grant as he had done more than once before, and connect with Sherman out of a clear blue sky. I don't think Sherman had to worry that much, though. If Grant woke up one morning and discovered Lee gone...he would go find him. Lee would have to re-create Chancellorsville, with a hard driving lightning flank attack and hope Sherman was O O Howard - which he was not. But, he was not a match for Lee, either.
 

Irishtom29

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#9
A fantasy. One might as well speculate what would’ve happened had the Kyrellian armada cloaked in the Rings of Saturn come to Lee’s aid—it’s as likely as Lee stealing a march on Grant and moving his poorly equipped and poorly fed army to confront Sherman. The actual event showed the armies of the Potomac and James were capable of outmarching Lee and running him to ground.
 

wbull1

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#10
A fantasy. One might as well speculate what would’ve happened had the Kyrellian armada cloaked in the Rings of Saturn come to Lee’s aid—it’s as likely as Lee stealing a march on Grant and moving his poorly equipped and poorly fed army to confront Sherman. The actual event showed the armies of the Potomac and James were capable of outmarching Lee and running him to ground.

So that's where the Kyrellians were hiding; I knew the talk about the dark side of the moon had to be a dodge. Early in the war neither Grant nor Sherman had yet become experienced enough to have any chance against Lee. By the time they were ready, Lee's army was well past its prime. Lee was remarkable about being able to use what he knew about his opponents against them.
 

JeffBrooks

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#11
Sherman was not especially good as a tactician, but he was no fool. He would have adopted a defensive posture and had plenty of room in which to retreat if he felt it necessary. Meanwhile, Grant would be moving up behind Lee/Johnston and would have attacked them from the rear within a few days of the first shots between the rebels and Sherman.

It's always mystified me that people who talk about this scenario seem to think Grant would have simply sat still and done nothing after taking Richmond and Petersburg. Grant would have had his men on the road after Lee within hours of receiving word that the Petersburg trenches were empty,
 

jackt62

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#12
This scenario would have ended in nothing less than failure for Lee and the combined confederate armies. Assume that Lee had been able to evade the AOTP, make a clean break from the Petersburg/Richmond lines with sufficient food and forage, link up with Johnston and whatever remnants there were of the AOT, find a defensible position somewhere in North Carolina and wait for the inevitable onslaught by Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, and Schofield. It would have been known as Lee's last stand.
 

Irishtom29

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#13
It's always mystified me that people who talk about this scenario seem to think Grant would have simply sat still and done nothing after taking Richmond and Petersburg. Grant would have had his men on the road after Lee within hours of receiving word that the Petersburg trenches were empty,
Hell, Grant, Meade and Ord would’ve reached Sherman before Lee did.
 

Northern Light

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#14
I think that that was Lee's best case scenario, but, in my opinion,he really didn't think that it would work. He made a plan, however, because that is what a good commander does. He knew, however, that trying to carry that plan out was going to just end up wasting more lives in a hopeless cause.
 

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