The Longstreet decision

farmerjohn

Private
Joined
Oct 30, 2019
It's funny how Lee always gets blamed for wanting to keep his army intact. How often did Johnston or Bragg offer to send troops to fight in Virginia? It wasn't Lee's job to make these decisions. Had they been sent to Mississippi after Chancellorsville, they probably would have arrived too late (Champion's Hill was May 16), and i can assure you Johnston would not have used them to any good effect.

And as it turned out, except for a lucky break when Wood's Union division pulled out of line, the assault at Chickamauga may have ended in bloody repulse. We know that Longstreet's two excellent divisions were absolutely wasted in the Chattanooga and Knoxville campaigns. Let's face it, the problem in the West wasn't a disproportionate shortage of men, it was awful generalship again and again.
namely bragg!!
 

neyankee61

Corporal
Joined
Oct 30, 2018
The use of interior lines works if the lines are useable. The south's lack of good connected RRs hindered this. Look at the Union's response to the defeat at Chickamauga. Pulled two corps the XI and XII from the AoP and shipped them from NVa to Tennessee without working up a sweat. The South pulled out all stops to ship two divisions to Bragg and they still arrived piecemeal
 

jackt62

Captain
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Jul 28, 2015
Location
New York City
Another good example of a deficiency in the Confederacy's use of interior lines might be the transfer by rail of the remainder of the Army of Tennessee from Tupelo, MS to join Johnston and Bragg's forces in North Carolina in a final attempt to concentrate against Sherman. The troops left Tupelo on January 19, 1865; many did not arrive for about a month.
 

rpkennedy

Lt. Colonel
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Carlisle, PA
Longstreet was not the mastermind of sending his corps to the Western Theater although he was never opposed to it (and even embraced the opportunity). Jefferson Davis was asking Lee about the possibility in the aftermath of Chancellorsville but Lee shot it down because of his plan to go north. After Gettysburg and the relative quiet in the autumn of 1863, Lee could no longer keep Davis at bay and had to send part of Longstreet's corps to the Army of Tennessee.

Ryan
 
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Mar 28, 2014
Location
Atlanta
namely bragg!!
Here's my list, from worst to less worse:
1. Floyd/Pillow
2. Johnston, Joseph (not a typo)
3. Pemberton
4. Bragg
5. Hood
6. Beauregard

Bragg gets points for the invasion of Kentucky.
And Hood gets points for some near misses that could have been major victories - Atlanta and Spring Hill

At least they tried, unlike Retreatin', Whinin' Joe
 

Dave DuBrucq

Corporal
Joined
Oct 28, 2020
Location
Tennessee
Hi everyone,
Was curious - what was the background to the decision to send Longstreet West? Was Lee GiC of all the CSA at this time, or was Davis or someone else in Richmond calling the shots? Whose idea was it? Bragg? Lee? Davis? If not Lee's idea, did he fight it? Did Davis have to overrule him?
Initially, I believe the idea was that of Jefferson Davis. Longstreet was not opposed to it. Lee however had other plans and wanted to invade the north. Lee, of course, prevailed. After the defeat at Gettysburg, it was decided to send Longstreet west with two divisions to Bragg. Bragg in turn sent him to Knoxville to oust Ambrose Burnside, A move that did not produce the desired result. As far as Burnside was concerned, he was facing doom. Sherman "rescued" the frightened Burnside and Ole Pete (a general I hold in high regard despite some of his detractors) was forced to withdraw.
 
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Dave DuBrucq

Corporal
Joined
Oct 28, 2020
Location
Tennessee
Here's my list, from worst to less worse:
1. Floyd/Pillow
2. Johnston, Joseph (not a typo)
3. Pemberton
4. Bragg
5. Hood
6. Beauregard

Bragg gets points for the invasion of Kentucky.
And Hood gets points for some near misses that could have been major victories - Atlanta and Spring Hill

At least they tried, unlike Retreatin', Whinin' Joe
I would agree with five of the six you listed here, but not in the same order. The exception would be Joe E. Johnston. Johnston was a defensive general in my opinion, although he seemed the prince of retreat. I would be interested in asking why you ranked him above the others.
 
Joined
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Location
Atlanta
I would agree with five of the six you listed here, but not in the same order. The exception would be Joe E. Johnston. Johnston was a defensive general in my opinion, although he seemed the prince of retreat. I would be interested in asking why you ranked him above the others.
Sure. The more I read about Johnston, the more I wonder about his relatively high standing. Although he didn't preside over any major disasters, I think his risk-averse mindset repeatedly cost the South opportunities. He did very little to arrest McClellan's advance up the Peninsula until it was almost too late. When Davis put him in charge of the Western theater to achieve coordination among the different armies, he pretty much did nothing except complain. Davis had to order him to Mississippi to try to retrieve the Vicksburg situation, and again his efforts were minimal at best. And in 1864 he was repeatedly outmaneuvered by Sherman across some of the best defensive terrain a commander could hope for. The only thing that really slowed Sherman down was the rain.

Admittedly, these were all difficult assignments, and maybe the final result was pre-ordained. But his lack of effort or taking risks pretty much sealed the deal.
 

jackt62

Captain
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Jul 28, 2015
Location
New York City
Although he didn't preside over any major disasters, I think his risk-averse mindset repeatedly cost the South opportunities.
That might be the case, but alternative strategies that were based on more aggressive movements (Lee, Hood) did not offer the Confederacy a successful pathway to independence. At least Johnston recognized that Southern strategy was reliant on a strong defense, with the application of force undertaken with surgical like precision and with an aim of preservating southern armies. So Johnston's CW career is one of withdrawing (or seeking to withdraw) from indefensible positions (Harpers Ferry, Centreville, Vicksburg), while maneuvering his forces in such manner as to be able to set upon isolated and vulnerable Union forces (Seven Pine, Bentonville). While the execution of those battle plans was often faulty, the mindset behind the planning was not.
 

Dave DuBrucq

Corporal
Joined
Oct 28, 2020
Location
Tennessee
Sure. The more I read about Johnston, the more I wonder about his relatively high standing. Although he didn't preside over any major disasters, I think his risk-averse mindset repeatedly cost the South opportunities. He did very little to arrest McClellan's advance up the Peninsula until it was almost too late. When Davis put him in charge of the Western theater to achieve coordination among the different armies, he pretty much did nothing except complain. Davis had to order him to Mississippi to try to retrieve the Vicksburg situation, and again his efforts were minimal at best. And in 1864 he was repeatedly outmaneuvered by Sherman across some of the best defensive terrain a commander could hope for. The only thing that really slowed Sherman down was the rain.

Admittedly, these were all difficult assignments, and maybe the final result was pre-ordained. But his lack of effort or taking risks pretty much sealed the deal.
You make a compelling argument however, it is my belief that had Davis left Johnston in charge of the defense of Atlanta, he would have held Sherman at bay for a fairly significant amount of time by occupying the defenses around Atlanta, Hood may as well have handed Sherman the keys to the city. Atlanta's fall was inevitable, but a delay would have put Lincoln at greater risk come the November elections. On the other hand, Johnston's performance was poor in taking the heat off Vicksburg. As to my list, your choice is indisputable, Floyd/Pillow for #1, Jefferson Davis as #2, Braxton Bragg as #3, John Bell Hood as #4 and PGT Beauregard at #5. Pemberton would have fared better, if Johnston had not been so anemic is his efforts to assist in the defense of Vicksburg. One personal observation/speculation: I wonder if the Southern leadership recognized the critical importance of the Western theater?
 

jackt62

Captain
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Location
New York City
I wonder if the Southern leadership recognized the critical importance of the Western theater?
Part of the problem was that the west was "out of sight, out of mind," to the decision makers in Richmond. Add to that the logistical difficulties of communicating and defending that vast amount of land, and the highly symbolic position of Richmond that elevated the Virginia theater to greater importance. Ironically, Lee's success in the east might have further led to the authorities concentrating their resources and efforts where they appeared to have the best opportunities.
 

uaskme

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Location
SE Tennessee
Johnson thought Mississippi and Arkansas should support each other. In the case of Vicksburg, Trans Mississippi Troops should cross the river and support. Bragg had the AOC in their Front. He couldn’t give up the RR to the middle of the South. However, Johnson did sent Carter Stephenson and Breckinridge to MS from the AOT. Davis politically didn’t think he could give up territory or move troops across the MS River.

Beauregard and Johnson are going to clash with Davis over Policy. If you question Davis’s Administration, you question the Cause. The Reason Beauregard and Johnson are expelled. Pemberton and Bragg stay loyal to Davis. So Davis sustains them. No matter what the Cost.

Lee knows how to stroke Davis’s ego so he can get what wants. Lee also stays out of Politics.
 
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