The Army of the Potomac/ The Army of the Shenandoah - A most unexpected victory? Part Four

Hussar Yeomanry

Forum Host
Dec 6, 2017
Part Four:

Continued from here (Part Three):
Part Two can be found here:
Part One can be found here:–-a-most-unexpected-victory-part-one.154031/

The Infantry:

“It is my firm belief that a great deal of the misfortune of the day at Bull Run is due to the fact that the troops knew very little of the principles and practice of firing. In every case I believe that the firing of the rebels was better than ours. At any rate I am sure that ours was very bad, the rear files sometimes firing into and killing the front ones. It is to be hoped that practice and instruction will have corrected this evil by the time that we have another battle.”

William B. Franklin, Colonel of the 12th U.S. Infantry and Commander of the First Brigade of the 3rd Division (O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S#2] — CHAPTER IX, p407)

Being praised by an opposing commander suggests that the South was doing something right... or at least wasn't making as many mistakes as its Northern opponents. Why? One statement is obvious. Conducting a defense is easier than making an attack and the South is on the defense.

But is that all?

Some have suggested that the greater number of military academies in the South might have helped. This seems a fair statement but how much of an effect did it have? We know that the VMI assisted in the training of elements of Jackson's First Brigade of the AoS. Meanwhile the Charlotte Military Institute seems to have had some interaction with the 6th North Carolina/ 6th North Carolina State Troops of Bee's Third Brigade of the AoS. Other academies and institutes would presumably have done the same and the cadets these provided would have had better military knowledge than those in the militia.

However in my opinion it is something else that will prove to be the South's true advantage and that is that they don't have any regulars. Regulars that suck up many of the available Northern officers and that there just aren't enough of to make any real difference to the coming battle. Instead what available military knowledge is shared out amongst the various regiments. Yes there will be trouble at times while these officers have to contend with the fact that the troops under their command are not regulars but it certainly seems to be the case that having these in amongst the various regiments will prove helpful. Now I am not arguing that Northern regiments did not have this. They did. Mostly former officers who have returned to the military they too will be invaluable but I have to wonder whether the many Regular army officers could have been used more effectively. It is an idea certainly.

Others may disagree.

It does mean that the average Southern soldier has been slightly better trained than the average Northern soldier and in the battle to come it will make a difference. A telling difference? I don't know for I don't think that the difference in training was that big for neither army was truly ready for battle.

'It is true that you are green but they are green also'... but maybe not quite so green?

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