Discussion Unfit for duty

atlantis

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 12, 2016
Were officers like A P Hill and Dick Ewell unfit for duty, in the case of Hill for example he had an illness which appears to have been slowing killing him. Then you have Ewell who lost two limbs, these of course are not the only cases. I know the question is who would be the replacement but should untested officers been given the chance. Were unfit for duty officers kept on because they were a familiar face, part of an army commanders comfort zone you might say.
 

Lubliner

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Were officers like A P Hill and Dick Ewell unfit for duty, in the case of Hill for example he had an illness which appears to have been slowing killing him. Then you have Ewell who lost two limbs, these of course are not the only cases. I know the question is who would be the replacement but should untested officers been given the chance. Were unfit for duty officers kept on because they were a familiar face, part of an army commanders comfort zone you might say.
I know Ewell lost a leg, but did he lose a second limb? You ask a good question, and I think they had the knowledge of organization and leadership that could be used behind the lines. Even Grant and Meade were seldom at the front of battle. They could visit their lines more easily in moments between conflicts, but generally the staff officers served them. Ewell made use of a wagon as far as I know when the army had to advance of retreat.
Lubliner.
 

Lincoln56

Private
Joined
Jul 24, 2016
Location
Texas
I wonder about John B. Hood in this regard as well. There have been back and forth stories of his use of laudanum and no he didn't etc... but these significant injuries / illnesses had to take a mental toll on these men that diminished their effectiveness.

Perhaps it's that tried and true formula - I must have experienced leadership. How do you get experience? By being put in the position. But you don't have experience so I can't put you in that position to let you gain experience as the risks if you fail are too great.
 
Joined
Jun 24, 2015
Location
Talladega, Alabama
As long as they could direct and give commands they were useful. Physical situations were not an issue with Generals which could be behind the lines and not be as mobile as division or brigade commanders. So being in command of a Corp you well could have and many did assume command after their wounds.
AP Hill, well he had an sexually transmitted disease which seem to pop up at the most unopertune times, maybe his nervous system kicked in which brought on his ailments?
If you were a front line soldier the chances were about zero you would have stayed in the army. You can’t March on one leg and shoot with one arm.
 

Cavalier

First Sergeant
Joined
Jul 20, 2019
Kearny and Howard are two guys who come to my mind. They seemed to have functioned pretty well with only one arm. Hills VD appears to have effected his battlefield performance more than their handicaps effected either of theirs. Then there was the cavalry General, (whose name escapes me at the moment), who suffered from hemmroids. I've never ridden a horse but that sound like a career ender to me. Maybe its a case by case kind of thing.

Kearny, with his saber in one hand and his horses reins in his teeth. Now there, in my humble opinion, is a subject for a beautiful miniature.

John
 
Joined
Jul 6, 2020
Location
Hoboken living, CNY raised
The most compelling question is something we can't answer easily.

What psychological impact did losing a limb have on someone like Dick Ewell? Did it make him more cautious, cause him to lose his nerve, etc.? Sears speculated in Chancellorsville that John Sedgwick was never the same after he was wounded at Antietam. Hancock performed unevenly during the Overland Campaign, even before his wound flared up and he had to take some time off.
 

rpkennedy

Lt. Colonel
Member of the Year
Joined
May 18, 2011
Location
Carlisle, PA
The most compelling question is something we can't answer easily.

What psychological impact did losing a limb have on someone like Dick Ewell? Did it make him more cautious, cause him to lose his nerve, etc.? Sears speculated in Chancellorsville that John Sedgwick was never the same after he was wounded at Antietam. Hancock performed unevenly during the Overland Campaign, even before his wound flared up and he had to take some time off.

In the case of Ewell, I would say that it didn't really affect him very much. He was still fairly aggressive through the Gettysburg Campaign and did ok early in the Overland Campaign.

Sedgwick was a solid, reliable officer before Antietam and was the same afterwards. He was never flashy or super aggressive so I don't see him changing all that much.

Now, Hancock is another story. He was an active, aggressive general who could often be found at whatever crisis point arose during a battle. The problem was his wound never fully healed which led him to be in constant discomfort and forced him to limit his mobility for much of the rest of the war (he had difficulty riding a horse). This forced him to be a very different commander than what he had been previously.

Ryan
 
Top