Discussion Who Should Have Been Promoted But Wasn't?

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Aug 7, 2019
1) UNION

Let's take the aftermaths of the Peninsula Campaign.

Beyond the numerous Division Commanders promoted to MG by McClellan in July 1862, many were future Corps Commanders :
- MG John Sedgwick (2nd Div./2nd Corps)
- MG Joseph Hooker (2nd Div./3rd Corps)
- MG Darius N. Couch (1st Div./4th Corps)
- MG Henry W. Slocum (1st Div./6th Corps)
- MG William F. Smith (2d Div./6th Corps), even if this first promotion to Major-Generalcy ended in 1863
Beyond the others, two are frequently presented as good-to-excellent leaders :
- MG Israel B. Richardson (1st Div./2nd Corps)
- MG Philip Kearny (1st-3rd Div./3rd Corps)
The remaining officers are :
- MG John J. Peck (2nd Div./4th Corps)
- MG George W. Morell (1st Div./5th Corps)
Two Division commanders operating in the Peninsula weren't promoted to MG :
- BG George Sykes (2nd Div./5th Corps)
- BG George A. McCall (PA Res./5th Corps), captured during Seven Days Battles

Based on this situation, and considering McClellan's lack of confidence in some Corps Commanders,
we can at least imagine some options:
- Richardson becomes the 2nd Corps Commander (replaces Sumner)
- Hooker or Kearny becomes the 3rd Corps Commander (replaces Heintzelman)
- Kearny becomes the Cavalry Commander (replaces Cooke)
- Couch or Peck becomes the 4th Corps Commander (replaces Keyes)

But the one I would really enjoy to promote in the East would be Rosecrans at the head of the soon-to-be 11th Corps as early as March-April 1862. I believe Old Rosy should have retained his command in West Virginia and should have confronted Jackson in the Valley.

In the West, Thomas should at least get a command equal to Buell, Grant and Pope following his action at Mill Springs.

2) CONFEDERACY

As for the Union, so many options !

Because 1862 is the year I like to study the most, I'll also take the aftermaths of the Peninsula Campaign.

After Lee get rid of Magruder, Holmes and Huger, he still have the choice between several top subordinates to create his wing commanders :
- MG Longstreet
- MG Jackson
- MG Ewell
- MG D.H. Hill
- MG McLaws
- MG A.P. Hill
- MG R.H. Anderson
- MG Stuart
- BG D.R. Jones
- BG Whiting

A.P. Hill, as a favorite of Lee, may have the opportunity to discover his level of incompetency sooner when put in command of a wing
or
D.R. Jones and Whiting are finally promoted MGs while keeping their commands
or
Stuart assumes command of Jackson's Div., as a confirmed MG and as a Virginian
etc.

Personnaly, I would have retained D.H. Hill as a Reserve Wing commander (because he is one of my favorites).

In the West, it's very difficult to deal with such senior subordinates as Polk or Bragg, but we can imagine some options :
- Cheatham, as a confirmed MG, assumes command of Polk's Grand Div./1st Corps
- Lovell is transferred to the Army of the Mississippi and assumes command of a Division or a Corps
- Hardee is promoted Gen. and assumes command of the Army of the Mississippi, instead of Bragg or Polk
- Forney is transferred to the Army of the Mississippi and assumes command of a Division with the rank of MG

Personnaly, I would like to see Loring in command of the Dept. of East Tennessee / Army of Kentucky, in order to evaluate his leadership and his command ability at that level. Combing this command with Southwestern Virginia Dept. would allow Loring to assemble quite a huge force (perhaps 20-25,000) for temporary missions. Kirby Smith can be transferred elsewhere.
 

Irishtom29

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Pat Cleburne, one of the finest division commanders in the CSA, whose aggressive leadership ability was demonstrated at places like Tunnel Hill, Ringgold's Gap, and Pickett's Mill. But his advocacy for enlisting slaves was suppressed by Davis, and most likely ended chances for promotion.

His involvement with the near mutinous anti Bragg clique was no help.
 

NedBaldwin

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But the one I would really enjoy to promote in the East would be Rosecrans at the head of the soon-to-be 11th Corps as early as March-April 1862. I believe Old Rosy should have retained his command in West Virginia and should have confronted Jackson in the Valley.
Given his tactical results (Iuka, Corinth, Stones River, Chickamauga) I cant picture Cross Keyes going better than it did.
 

jackt62

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Although his stance concerning use of black troops and their subsequent emancipation prevented Cleburne's "official" promotion to command of a corps, his friend and superior William Hardee turned over his own corps to Cleburne during the short campaign that resulted in the Battle of Jonesboro, Ga. Unfortunately for various reasons Cleburne turned in a poor performance on that particular occasion, and it's just possible that although a stellar division commander he may have - in the concept of The Peter Principle - reached his own personal level of incompetence.
I do believe there were more "red flags" waving in front of Hood before he was given higher command that dealt with his leadership abilities. I don't think the same was true of Cleburne.
 

Waterloo50

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Dick Taylor deserved a major command earlier in the war, I feel.
Of the little that I’ve read on Taylor I’d have to agree with you, he had an incredible ability to pre-plan, he was incredibly well versed in military history and tactics and had a common sense approach, not afraid to take calculated risks but enough common sense to withdraw when the odds were firmly stacked against him. Definitely deserving of a major command.
 

James N.

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1) UNION

... In the West, Thomas should at least get a command equal to Buell, Grant and Pope following his action at Mill Springs.
Actually, he did - In the aftermath of the deluge of criticism over Grant and his surprise at Shiloh (though Grant always denied unconvincingly that he had been surprised!), Halleck basically "jumped' Thomas over Grant's head appointing him to command the Army of the Tennessee for the advance on Corinth. Grant was "kicked upstairs" to a meaningless position as Halleck's Second-In-Command with no actual command of his own and almost nothing to do, while Thomas, Buell, and Pope led the components of the force into Mississippi. This irritating (to Grant) situation continued until the fall of Corinth and rearrangement of the Federal forces there placed Grant in command in northern Mississippi to figure out a way to advance on Vicksburg. Meanwhile, it became Thomas' turn to act in the decidedly secondary role as second-in-command to Buell in the Kentucky Campaign leading to Perryville.
 
Joined
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Actually, he did - In the aftermath of the deluge of criticism over Grant and his surprise at Shiloh (though Grant always denied unconvincingly that he had been surprised!), Halleck basically "jumped' Thomas over Grant's head appointing him to command the Army of the Tennessee for the advance on Corinth.
I meant "permanently" by stating Thomas should get an army command, but thanks for bringing more context. After the Siege of Corinth, Thomas was relegated to a desk position as Buell's second-in-command and later reduced to corps commander instead of replacing his superior at the head of the Army of the Ohio. And next came Rosecrans ... who was very good at that level of command but I'd rather choose Thomas to assume it.
 

James N.

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2) CONFEDERACY

... In the West, it's very difficult to deal with such senior subordinates as Polk or Bragg, but we can imagine some options :
- Cheatham, as a confirmed MG, assumes command of Polk's Grand Div./1st Corps
Again, it was only a temporary assignment, but Cheatham did in fact command Polk's Corps at Perryville. Although Bragg had arrived right before the battle commenced he took no part in it, leaving tactical control entirely to Polk while Cheatham continued to lead what had been Polk's immediate command.
 

James N.

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Gideon Pillow for his services to the union.
I've mentioned this before, but Pillow's military talents may have been wasted in the wake of the overall disaster at Fort Donelson. He had only just arrived there when he took charge of the successful assault on Grant's incomplete encirclement, catching Grant when he was absent visiting Foote. No less a fighter than Nathan Bedford Forrest praised Pillow for his handling of the attack and later unsuccessfully advocated for him as a subordinate to help with Forrest's attached infantry. Pillow seems to have been sincerely outraged and incredulous at Floyd's order to return to the entrenchments - likely it was mainly his flight and refusal to share in the fortunes of the garrison that blackened his career and subsequent reputation.
 

gjpratt

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Given his tactical results (Iuka, Corinth, Stones River, Chickamauga) I cant picture Cross Keyes going better than it did.
This assumes that the Valley Campaign plays out the same way with Cross Keys being the penultimate battle. Let's back up a step. It is not hard to make the argument that anyone other than Fremont would have closed the trap on Stonewall at Strasburg as he was consolidating and retreating up the Valley to Cross Keys and Port Republic. My money would be on Rosecrans. But I believe the bigger point is how he would have conceived and fought Jackson from the outset. He had a very good strategic grasp of the situation and a sound plan for countering Jackson when he was transferred to Washington in early 1862. Rosecrans being Rosecrans, he was so insufferably right in his own mind that he ended up breaking with Stanton because of his insistence on the correctness of his plan. Rosecrans' strengths were logistics and engineering. If he had been given overall command of the Federal pursuit of Jackson with numerical superiority and unified actions, the results could well have been different. Interesting to contemplate, despite the many "what ifs."

Based on Rich Mountain, I always thought Rosecrans was more worthy of elevation than McClellan. There was that pesky seniority problem as well as McClellan's deftness in political maneuvering.
 

Luke Freet

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So many to pick, but I have a soft spot for ol' Pat. While he performed poorly leading the Corps attack at Jonesboro day 1, I feel he would have done better than Cheatham in the Tennessee Campaign. Given his actions at Jonesboro, Bald Hill and Spring Hill to those of Cheatham, i doubt you'd have that fiasco play out as it did under Cheatham, with the divisions locked static in place, not taking any initiative to take the Columbia Pike or Spring Hill itself.
It's hard to say. Considering how much S. D. Lee improved after Atlanta, I can't see how Cleburne wouldn't be able to achieve the same.
 
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