Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by gem, Jun 10, 2017.
What was the Confederate governments biggest blunder during the war ?
No doubt, to fire on Fort Sumter
Since you say "during the war" I guess I can't just say 'secession.' Gee, there are so many to choose from I can't really pick just one so I'll cheat and provide a short list off the top of my head:
holding cotton to try and force Europe to pay more;
not having a military person in overall command (i.e. not Jeff Davis);
not paying as much attention to the western theater as to the eastern one;
not somehow structuring the government so as to require all the states to cooperate (i.e. not letting some hold out on supplies and such);
essentially ignoring the importance of the railroads and not nationalizing them;
threatening to kill USC troops thus ending the prisoner exchange.
I could probably come up with a few more if I tried to convince some of my lost memory cells to fire up. Ain't that enough though ?
Agree 100%. In second place was their lack of emphasis on western theater.
Yes, I missed the key word "during." Bearing that in mind I would now have to say the Confederate government's decision to send over the author of The Fugitive Slave Law, a slave owning fire-eater, and a diplomatic imbecile to represent the Confederacy and negotiate recognition.
The 1862 Conscription Act seemed to hurt more then help. Confederate Counterinsurgency appears to also hurt the Confederacy. Unionist insurgency increased throughout the war.
Intimidating voters didn't help in the long term in increasing popular support for the Confederacy.
Not thinking things through.
Confederate leaders should of anticipated that the Union would copy the British policy in the Revolutionary War of freedom in exchange for military service.
Has mentioned grossly overestimating the importance of"King Cotton". Inability to think that cotton could be grown elsewhere, indeed it was and how.
In defense of Davis, did Davis have enough men to properly cover both theater's? Davis admitted ge did not have enough manpower to protect the crucial ports. Not only is the Confederacy outnumbered they have a very difficult job countering desertions and internal insurgencies which also drains manpower.
(1) Jefferson Davis as president.
(2) the invasion of KY by Polk and Pillow.
(3) Failure to defend the Cumberland/Tennessee River approach adequately, resulting in Fort Henry/Fort Donelson.
(4) The divided command structure in the Vicksburg area in 1863, with Davis giving order, Joe Johnston, and Pemberton dividing command east of the river, with a separate command west of the river.
(5) Braxton Bragg.
(6) The failure to exploit the victory at First Manassas aggressively.
(7) Davis' insistence that Lee defend Richmond, which tied the Army of Northern Virginia to a positional war (and ultimately led to the siege of Petersburg).
(8) Kirby Smith's decision to divide his forces after Pleasant Hill/Mansfield, leaving Dick Taylor with too few troops to deliver a knockout blow to Nathaniel Banks.
I think it can be reasonably said that both sides had dozens of missed opportunities that might have had dramatic impacts upon history if exploited.
Jeff Davis, big mistake. He was in way over his head.
Yeah. You're right. But with the east in Lee's capable hands I think the rest of the CSA military hierarchy could have given more of their time to the west. It's where they were getting whipped, after all.
Lots of blunders, but one that comes to mind is the failure to establish a unitary command system until Lee's appointment (too late!) in March 1865.
for the South it was their embargo on their cotton it hurt them and made more enemies in England then friends.
To be fair to Davis he did ( per Coopers excellent biography " Jefferson Davis American") twice personally make field trips to talk to Braggs subordinates to figure why the couldn't work as well oiled machine.
Some events are simply outside of Davis's control. The Confederates outnumbered the Union at Pea Ridge and Praririe Grove and still lost. Is it Davis's fault for other key loss's such as New Orleans or Ft. Henry or Donaldson?
The Western Theatre included large Unionist areas and most certainly not all Unionist troops were recruited from the West. Some Confederate troops were tied
down in counterinsurgency.
Could Davis of prevented the disaster at Missionary Ridge?
Not that I have the answers it's just that Davis had to juggle a lot of chainsaws.
Davis did make those two trips to Bragg's. HQ. He made the wrong decision but that's beside the point. There just seems to be a lack of attention paid to the western theater. Maybe I'm all wet.
No not all wet just pointing out that Davis did pay attention to the Western Theatre.
I think of it like this : unlike the American Continental Congress the Confederacy has no foreign military support other then some British privateers.
Not that I am a big Davis fan but he has to juggle chainsaws .
My argument is that the Confederacy had so many inherent weakness that no one man or even one group of wise men could of won the war. Davis and his cabinet were composed of well educated experinced men who tried their best but leadership is not everything.
A nation or secessionist movement needs a lots of factors to perfectly align themselves.
Others of course may disagree.
Just a little damp.
In defense of Davis juggling chainsaws is not easy. Has others have noted Davis had way to many problems for even a genius to overcome.
Ok, I'll say it. Davis allowed Lee to be to aggressive in the east and in the west (Davis) allowed Bragg to command. A one, two that couldn't be absorbed. Therefore, my answer is Jefferson Davis
Believing the guy who wrote " one Johnny Reb can beat 10 Yankees."
The Confederacy was not in a position to absolute non-negotiable political positions.
To be prudent, it would have kept the lines of communication open and been very creative in its bargaining options.
Separate names with a comma.