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Stonewall Jackson's Shenandoah Valley Campaign: A Synopsis and Index to Threads

Discussion in 'Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson' started by James N., May 10, 2016.

  1. SharonS

    SharonS Private

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    Fearful rumors of Jackson's impending arrival flew throughout the South and many northern areas until the day he died, from places he never reached--like DC and apparently New Orleans--to places he did get to but not very effectively, like the sites of the Seven Days. McClellan's fear of Jackson being "on the way" must have played some part in his abandoning his offensive..
     
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  3. James N.

    James N. Captain Forum Host Civil War Photo Contest
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    It's rather like a similar story that in Tennessee a Confederate raiding party untruthfully told a surrounded Union blockhouse garrison they were led by Nathan Bedford Forrest, resulting in their immediate surrender. One Reb involved was quoted as having written afterwards, "The very name of Forrest is a host unto itself."
     
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  4. pfcjking

    pfcjking First Sergeant

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    I think If Jackson had been sent to Louisiana, he would have found in Taylor second in command, with ample knowledge of the area. Brig Gen Tom Green would also have been a good tool, much like Ashby Turner.

    Jackson had to mold that little Army of the Valley into an effective force. He relieved quite a few ineffectives, and that made the mediocre colonels and brigade commanders even better. Lets face it, Jackson's presence was very powerful. It scared the enemy and it hardened his own army. Ewell, Hill, Taliaferro, along with many others, never were as effective before or sense when they rode and fought with Jackson. The man was an enigma.

    Taylor leaned heavily on his lessons learned from Jackson during his time in Louisiana, and with much success. Bragg mentioned Jackson to his underlings as an example of how they must proceed prior to his invasion of Kentucky, and was successful up until he lost his nerve and retreated. Hood tried to channel the spirit Jackson's & Lee's flank attacks and, to no avail, during the Atlanta Campaign. He had studied their successful maneuvers with awe and great vigor. He was certain that he could beat Sherman with the same tactics and determination, but victory eluded him.
     
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  5. NedBaldwin

    NedBaldwin Captain

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    How important was that to his success? How much of it was from his own knowledge as opposed to from other officers (Hotchkiss, Ashby, Ewell)
    If he went west, he would work with officers local to that area -- Mouton, Taylor, etc, so I wont think it would be a problem.
     
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  6. pfcjking

    pfcjking First Sergeant

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    I like what you're saying here. Jackson didn't know the lower valley any better than the next guy who had passed thru that region a time or two. He did, however have time to get familiar with it.

    His knowledge of the terrain in Louisiana & Mississippi would be at least on-par with the Yankees. The Yanks got their info from runaway slaves and loyalist, both of which were not trained or seasoned military men (for the most part) with an eye for advantageous ground. Jackson's sources would include a few West Point trained men with vast knowledge of the landscape. He would definatley have to learn to rely on them more than usual, which would have been out of character for the man.
     
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  7. SharonS

    SharonS Private

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    I tend to think Jackson's success might not have been quite as great in Louisiana and the west (midwest) as it was in Virginia. Jackson made considerable use of mountains, particularly in the Valley campaign but also in the Maryland campaign,to disguise his movements, and mountains are in short supply in Louisiana.

    Also his health problems, imagined and real, may have played a part. Little attention has been given to the fever he suffered during the Seven Days (possibly a malaria attack) and his health might have really suffered in Louisiana. It;s actually hard to imagine Stonewall Jackson being entirely effective in swampland.
     
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  8. James N.

    James N. Captain Forum Host Civil War Photo Contest
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    By that time you propose E. Kirby Smith was already commanding the Trans-Mississippi with Taylor HIS subordinate. Jackson could probably have been wedged in between them as a field commander, but his position would've been similar to Longstreet's under Bragg a few months later. No question about the usefulness of men like Taylor and Green, but I suspect Stonewall would've found Green's Texans as unruly as Ashby's Virginians, with whom he had numerous clashes!

    In fact he had almost an entire year to "get familiar with it", from assuming command at Harpers Ferry in Spring, 1861, and even more after his return to Winchester following Bull Run to take command of the Valley District. He continued to learn through the terrible Romney Campaign that winter, up until his forced exit from Winchester in the face of Banks' superior numbers.

    Another thing to remember about Jackson is that he very much considered himself to be fighting in defense of his homeland, Western Virginia, where he was born, reared, and made his home; at the time there was no political division and he considered himself as much a "mountaineer" as his sister and other Unionists from the counties that became West Virginia. As for his problems in "swampland", one has only to recall the Peninsula which has already been referred to.
     
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