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Who Are Your Civil War Heroes and Why?

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by Mike Griffith, Feb 25, 2017.

  1. Mike Griffith

    Mike Griffith Sergeant

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    In other words, who do you think acted honorably and morally during the Civil War era? Who put the country above party or personal gain? Who sought peace before war? Who fought honorably, if they fought at all? Who behaved morally? Etc., etc., etc. Here are my top seven, in alphabetical order, and brief reasons for each person:

    Patrick Cleburne -- Not only did Cleburne fight honorably and with great skill (some called him the "Stonewall of the West"), but in January 1864 he led a movement in the Army of Tennessee to call for the emancipation for slaves (and their families) who would serve in the Confederate army. He got 13 fellow officers to sign his proposal. Sadly, Jefferson Davis was not yet ready to take this sensible step, and Davis ordered him to cease his efforts.

    John J. Crittenden -- Senator Crittenden was a true patriot who strove to maintain the Union and avoid war. Though a Southern slaveholder, he fiercely condemned the secessionists and even said force could be used to maintain the Union under some circumstances. Yet, he did more than anyone to try to avoid war, and he spoke out strongly against Radical confiscation bills after the Sumter collision. Although Crittenden did not vote for Lincoln, he came to admire him and began to defend him in the Senate against Radical attacks (Albert Kirwan, John J. Crittenden: The Struggle for the Union, University of Kentucky Press, 1962, pp. 449-453).

    Stephen A. Douglas -- Senator Douglas was another mighty champion of peace and compromise. He worked tirelessly to support Senator Crittenden's compromise plan and several other plans that would have avoided war. However, once the Confederates fired on Sumter, he strongly backed Lincoln's troop call-up and in fact urged him to call up even more troops, but he would never have condoned the total war tactics pushed by the Radicals.

    George McClellan -- McClellan believed in honorable warfare, gradual emancipation, and state rights without secession. He spoke out against the total war policy being urged by some Republicans and generals. He did not believe in the right of secession and he agreed with the use of force to maintain the Union, but if he had been in charge, an honorable peace would have been achieved. Before the war, like most other Americans, he supported the Crittenden Compromise (Ethan Rafuse, McClellan's War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union, Indiana University Press, 2005, pp. 87-89).

    Robert Gould Shaw -- Shaw was the subject of the famous Hollywood movie Glory. He was a senior Union officer who abhorred total war and condemned war crimes whenever he saw them. He was ashamed of what some of his fellow officers were doing in the South. He was well head of his times when it came to civil rights.

    Robert E. Lee -- Lee opposed secession and wanted Virginia to remain in the Union, but, like most other Virginia Unionists, disliked coercion much more than secession. Lee always strove to fight honorably and repeatedly called on his soldiers to observe the rules of war. Long before the Confederate debate on emancipation went public, Lee was privately urging Davis to support the official use of black combat troops and emancipation for those slaves and their families.

    George Thomas -- Thomas was one of the Union's most honorable, and effective, generals. He believed in honorable warfare and rejected as shameful the total war tactics employed by some of his fellow generals. Thomas voted for Bell in the election and supported compromise efforts before the war, but when Sumter was fired upon, he gladly accepted a command in the Union army. I highly recommend Benson Bobrick's superb book on Thomas, Master of War: The Life of General George H. Thomas (New York: Simon & Shuster, 2009).
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2017

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  3. highplainsdrifter59

    highplainsdrifter59 Sergeant

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    Jeb Stuart, his daring raids and the dashing cavalier.
    Stonewall Jackson, his quirky ways added to his story.
    A.P. Hill, always showed up at just the right time, until Gettysburg.
    The one major thing they had in common, all were killed.
     
  4. diane

    diane Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    U S Grant and Nathan Bedford Forrest fit the description. Grant was devoted to preserving his country, Forrest was devoted to creating his. They were good men, hard fighters, never wavered in what they believed was right.
     
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  5. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    Lincoln sought peace first, then when attacked destroyed the enemies of his country at great personal loss, led the United States into freeing the slaves at great political risk and laid the foundation of the modern United States.
     
  6. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    Benjamin Butler who despite crippling personal flaws, designed the end of slavery.
     
  7. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Major

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    Mark Mowars in his book "a question of command counterinsurgency from the Civil War to Iraq"gives Butler praise as an effective administrator in Louisiana and helped tamp down the insurgency in Louisiana.
    Leftyhunter
     
  8. MaryDee

    MaryDee Sergeant Major Trivia Game Winner

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    Butler's policy on "contrabands" shaped northern policy on slaves who escaped to Union troops. He actually was a reasonably good administrator, despite the flak he received for his New Orleans "woman policy"--that policy was in response to a need (for Union admirals not to have chamber pots dumped on their heads), was self-enforcing, and worked! He certainly wasn't the most diplomatic sort of person, and managed to offend some he probably shouldn't have.

    And who else managed to have his portrait in potentially every New Orleans bedroom?

    On the other hand, militarily he was a truly lousy general!
     
  9. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    Butler solved the knotty women problem in New Orleans without arrests or bloodshed.
     
  10. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Major

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    I will agree with including Thomas and Shaw. I oen the Bobrick' s book but a far better and balanced book on Thomas is "George Thomas Virginan for the Union" Christopher Einolf University of Oklahoma Press.
    Lots of heros.
    The UCST
    The young men of Tennessee who risked their lives to cross into Kentucky to fight for the Union.
    John Ellis the " Mountain Pilot of Tennessee who guided them.
    Unionist guerrillas who fought at great risk and odds.
    The Unionist women who had to endure torture from the Confederate homeguards although they killed a few them selves.
    Leftyhunter
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2017
  11. Aussie Billy Sherman

    Aussie Billy Sherman First Sergeant

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    Longstreet and Sherman. Both very flawed and made mistakes but were fine generals
     
  12. amweiner

    amweiner Sergeant Major Trivia Game Winner

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    Lincoln and Grant are two of my heroes because both of them failed, time and time again, but kept trying. They refused to quit despite their mistakes and losses, and I admire that trait beyond description.
     
  13. MaryDee

    MaryDee Sergeant Major Trivia Game Winner

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    On the other hand, I have some real heroes (I wouldn't put Butler in that category).

    First is my avatar, Mary Livermore, of the Chicago/Midwestern Sanitary Commission, and her colleagues who ran the Sanitary Commission in New York and Boston (let's face it, the male USSC officers were simply figureheads; the women did most of the organizing and all the work). (Being away from home, I don't have the sources with me to give their names. For starters, try Mary Livermore's own My Story of the War.)

    Second is Lincoln, whose way with words and wisdom have been sorely needed since his death 152 years ago.

    And some military heroes:

    General John Buford, who recognized the importance of the high ground at Gettysburg and whose early morning stand west of town saved that high ground for the Union.

    All those impossibly brave men (and a few women) in the ranks (either side) who went ahead when ordered against impossible odds, despite their having to have known what would happen. (Now you know what movie I was watching last night!)

    The USCT, who had to endure so much more than the average soldier.
     
  14. OpnCoronet

    OpnCoronet Major

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    Lincoln and Grant, are in a category to themselves and I have some caveats concerning Sherman, but do include him in my list.

    Outside of them, I like George Thomas(The Other Virginian). From the historical record, I believe could have, at least, equaled Grant as a senior commander of Armies, if he had the opportunity.

    Nathaniel Lyon, helped to secure Missouri as the Western anchor of the border states, Lincoln considered essential for Union winning the War. The first major Union commander, I believe, to exhibit and prove the worth of boldness and aggressiveness, in a time of crisis.(If he had lived, I would hold out hope that his name would be better known.

    Samuel R. Curtis, again a bold and aggressive commander at the right place and time, at a vital point of the early part of the War, that, IMO, save Missouri for the Union, by sealing Lyon's work.
     
  15. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    He is an acquired taste as a hero.
     
  16. atlantis

    atlantis First Sergeant

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    The women on both sides who tended the sick and wounded. The conscript soldiers on both sides who did their duty.
     
  17. Lnwlf

    Lnwlf Brigadier General Moderator

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    The common, ordinary soldier for leaving everything behind in defense of an ideal they held dear. I am not going into which ideal is better or worse (which will end up leading to off topic land). The mere courage to do such speaks volumes of the American soldier.
     
  18. Podad

    Podad First Sergeant

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    My direct Confederate ancestors

    E C Jackson 24th Ga Inf
    Conrad Sellers 66th Ga Inf
    R. C Blalock 52nd Ga Inf
    Jesse Ayers. 4th Ga Cav.
    John Poe 3rd Ga State Cav
    William Poe White Co Home Guard.
     
  19. CSA Today

    CSA Today Colonel

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    Those Confederate “gomeguards” were especially fiendish. :frown:
     
  20. Pvt.Shattuck

    Pvt.Shattuck Sergeant Major

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    George Henry Thomas, "The Rock of Chickamauga." What is not to like and admire about this man?
    He did his duty in spite of great pain from a pre-war back injury.
    He remained loyal to the Union, despite his southern background and severe family condemnation. He aided them financially anyway.
    He was humble and loyal to his superiors-astonishing for a Union general.
    Most of all, he was able. He was victorious when in command and his contributions were decisive to victory when he was not.
    What a noble and largely unsung American ! This is a soldier I would follow or choose as my subordinate without hesitation.
     
  21. BillO

    BillO Captain

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    Lee, Stuart, Forrest, Richard Taylor and Jackson.
     
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