The Western Theater 1861-62: What could have been done better?

jackt62

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#21
That was certainly a challenge, but what part of the Confederacy would you suggest they not defend? How would Davis explain to the governor or congressmen from some state(s) that, sorry, you're just outside the perimeter that we feel we can reasonably defend? Oh, and by the way, we still want you to contribute troops and treasure to the cause.
That was precisely the problem. Rather than impose its national will over the individual states, Davis was often forced to concede to governors such as Joe Brown in Georgia who were adamant that their state and coastlines be defended. Although that problem remained throughout the entire struggle, the Confederacy did shift to (among other methods), a strategy that was based on spatially concentrating far-flung forces, as was the case at Shiloh.
 

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Carronade

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#23
That was precisely the problem. Rather than impose its national will over the individual states, Davis was often forced to concede to governors such as Joe Brown in Georgia who were adamant that their state and coastlines be defended. Although that problem remained throughout the entire struggle, the Confederacy did shift to (among other methods), a strategy that was based on spatially concentrating far-flung forces, as was the case at Shiloh.
Very true; operating on interior lines was one of their key advantages. It set up their one big victory outside Virginia - Chickamauga - and opportunities like Shiloh.

As you say, they couldn't be strong everywhere - "He who defends everything defends nothing" - so they had to be flexible. One example was the west in summer-fall 1862. They didn't have enough troops to fight both Grant and Buell, so they concentrated the main army against Buell and had smaller mobile forces oppose Grant's overland advance against Vicksburg, successfully in this case by destroying his logistic base at Holly Springs.

Also true that the insistence of governors or commanders of keeping control of "their" troops harmed the overall cause.
 

jackt62

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#24
Could the confederacy have pulled off a real concentration to save Vicksburg by using its trans-Mississippi forces, Longstreet's corps from Virginia, and more forces from Bragg's command than were actually sent?
 

Carronade

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#25
Could the confederacy have pulled off a real concentration to save Vicksburg by using its trans-Mississippi forces, Longstreet's corps from Virginia, and more forces from Bragg's command than were actually sent?
I think shuttling Longstreet all the way to Vicksburg might be a stretch, but how about a variation? Concentrate all the others you mention against Grant, ideally while he's cut himself loose from his supply lines. Use smaller forces including Forrest's cavalry to delay Rosecrans' advance until Longstreet can arrive. If the Confederates are successful against Grant, reconcentrate all these forces to defeat Rosecrans. It's a lot of shuffling and hoping things go right, but that's the sort of thing they needed.
 

jackt62

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#26
I think shuttling Longstreet all the way to Vicksburg might be a stretch, but how about a variation? Concentrate all the others you mention against Grant, ideally while he's cut himself loose from his supply lines. Use smaller forces including Forrest's cavalry to delay Rosecrans' advance until Longstreet can arrive. If the Confederates are successful against Grant, reconcentrate all these forces to defeat Rosecrans. It's a lot of shuffling and hoping things go right, but that's the sort of thing they needed.
That would be the appropriate use of the Confederacy's limited resources and interior lines: organizing against a serious threat (such as that at Vicksburg), defeat it in detail, then quickly disperse and/or shift resources to the next threatened front. But with few exceptions the Confederacy lacked a strong central command and excellent logistical ability to impose that kind of movement.
 

gary

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#27
Davis was under pressure to defend everything and he tried. He forgot what Frederick the Great said, "He who defends everything, defends nothing." A mobile strategy would have served the Confederacy better.
 



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