Who Should Have Been Promoted But Wasn't?

JeffBrooks

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 20, 2009
Location
Manor, TX
Here's a question I would be interested in hearing opinions on. . . which officers, Union and/or Confederate, do you think deserved promotion but didn't receive it? Why?

I, for one, think Jubal Early should have been promoted to command of the Second Corps after his performance in the Chancellorsville Campaign.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jun 27, 2017
I actually consider this to be incorrect, and the reason is that the defences were large but not deep. The size of the area covered by fortifications is actually the denominator in the calculation.

Sevastopol's fortifications, which carried something like half as many guns (at least 500) on less than a sixth of the frontage (5 miles versus 37), were almost certainly more formidable. This is before getting into the specific issues with the Washington fortifications themselves, which were noted by contemporary engineers (one British engineer in late 1862 rode a horse up the sides of one fort to prove his point that they weren't impassable).

On top of that there's the siege gun issue. The Washington forts generally contained few to no weapons that could equal or exceed the range of even Union heavy siege rifles, and contemporary breech loading position or siege guns in some European armies would have been able to overwhelm any one fort. Since in most places the forts were not properly mutually supporting, the destruction of one or two forts would have rendered the defence scheme untenable.

The strongest section of the Washington forts is south of the Potomac, where they are better laid out for mutual support. Depending on the time period I believe there are actually spots you can march through the defences north of the river without being in view of any fort at battle range.
The fortification around DC were impregnable to Lee because he did not have the necessary equipment to breach them. Lee never even attempted to approach DC itself because he did not have the necessary siege equipment to even dream about breaching them.

I assume that several European countries possessed the wherewithall to successfully attack DC's defenses but unfortunately for the South they were not at war with any of them.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
The fortification around DC were impregnable to Lee because he did not have the necessary equipment to breach them. Lee never even attempted to approach DC itself because he did not have the necessary siege equipment to even dream about breaching them.

I assume that several European countries possessed the wherewithall to successfully attack DC's defenses but unfortunately for the South they were not at war with any of them.
Indeed; that being said though I think Lee could have got through the Washington defences if he'd had a few days to examine them unmolested and had had much of his whole army with him. There are points where the effort required to take the defences would not be beyond the ability of a large army.

The whole point of the defence scheme for Washington is to have a combination of the defences themselves preventing the city being taken "on the bounce" and sufficient extra troops to threaten the supply lines and communications of an army trying to work its way into them. It's why when the main army was elsewhere the general assessment was that Washington needed on the order of 40,000 troops assigned to defend it (of which more than half was the movable covering force). Combine that with how if most of Lee's army is at Washington it's not at Richmond, and the only situation where there is a realistic threat to Washington is:

1) Washington's garrison is smaller or worse led than it should be
or
2) The Army of the Potomac has been defeated or otherwise rendered unable to either fight the AoNV or threaten Richmond.
 
Joined
Jun 27, 2017
Indeed; that being said though I think Lee could have got through the Washington defences if he'd had a few days to examine them unmolested and had had much of his whole army with him. There are points where the effort required to take the defences would not be beyond the ability of a large army.

The whole point of the defence scheme for Washington is to have a combination of the defences themselves preventing the city being taken "on the bounce" and sufficient extra troops to threaten the supply lines and communications of an army trying to work its way into them. It's why when the main army was elsewhere the general assessment was that Washington needed on the order of 40,000 troops assigned to defend it (of which more than half was the movable covering force). Combine that with how if most of Lee's army is at Washington it's not at Richmond, and the only situation where there is a realistic threat to Washington is:

1) Washington's garrison is smaller or worse led than it should be
or
2) The Army of the Potomac has been defeated or otherwise rendered unable to either fight the AoNV or threaten Richmond.
One of the last meeting of the Augusta CW Round Table featured a speaker who had just written a book dealing with the DC fortifications.

I have no qualifications whatsoever to pontificate about the DC fortifications.

The speaker and I haven't looked up his name was quite specific. According to him, the DC defenses were not succeptible to attack by the South at any time after the first full year of the war with the only exception being Early's last minute assault and only them because the forts had been stripped of their defenders.

Again according to him (and this is something that was thoroughly explored in the Q&A) Lee did not have the requisite siege equipment. And even if he did by the time he could have laboriously brought such equipment to bear, the fortifications could have been completely manned. In many ways the Union defenses around DC presaged the Maginot Line of WWII which was similarly impregnable. The Germans having accepted the French surrender had to actually beg the Maginot defenders to surrender and turn them over to them.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Again according to him (and this is something that was thoroughly explored in the Q&A) Lee did not have the requisite siege equipment. And even if he did by the time he could have laboriously brought such equipment to bear, the fortifications could have been completely manned.
I'm pretty sure based on operations in this period that:

- a sufficiently vigourous assault can take forts, and some of the component forts could have been taken by this means (e.g. the taking of the Malakov, the Great Redan (taken and then retaken by the Russians) and the Quarries fort at the Crimea - there were nine assaults of which three were successful, which means it is hard but not impossible.) The individual Washington forts were not all sufficiently large as to be immune to an assault, though it would be difficult; it could have been possible if the full Confederate army was there and the Union main army elsewhere for other reasons.

- The point about siege artillery is correct apart from that caveat.

- If Lee did have siege equipment, what would prevent him from taking the forts is not the forts being fully manned but the ability of a mobile force to operate against his communications.
 
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