Discussion Who Should Have Been Promoted But Wasn't?

NedBaldwin

Major
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Feb 19, 2011
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California
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.

I think it’s a hard argument to make for anyone and a really hard argument to make for Rosecrans. Unless given extended time to prepare and plan, Rosecrans was not known for quickness of movement

Maybe you can explain how the results would have been different as I dont see it
 

gjpratt

Corporal
Joined
Apr 14, 2019
I think it’s a hard argument to make for anyone and a really hard argument to make for Rosecrans. Unless given extended time to prepare and plan, Rosecrans was not known for quickness of movement

Maybe you can explain how the results would have been different as I dont see it
I was thinking bigger picture. From the Union perspective, the Valley Campaign was a series of poorly coordinated tactical battles that resulted from movements in reaction to Jackson. There was no unified command and no overarching strategy, except the nebulous protection of Washington. Rosecrans was a gifted strategist. In January 1861 he was proposing a concentration of Union forces at Winchester as this would outflank Johnston at Manassas and threaten his line of communications in the Valley. He reasoned that Johnston could not shift enough troops to retake a strongly fortified Winchester without weakening his right flank and giving the Army of the Potomac the opportunity to fall on Richmond. He espoused a refined version of this strategy when he arrived in the Valley in April as Stanton’s emissary. He discussed with Banks at Strasburg a plan of concentrating Banks, Fremont and Milroy at Strasburg to advance up the Valley while Blenker stayed east of Thornton’s Gap and McDowell moved to Culpepper. These moves would leave the Confederates the Hobson’s choice of reinforcing Jackson in the midst of the Peninsula Campaign or abandoning the Valley. Instead, the Union forces were dispersed in the Valley under 4 separate commands that did not effectively coordinate their movements And were repeatedly defeated in detail. My point is not so much that Rosecrans had a better strategic grasp of the situation but that if he had been given overall command he would have used his forces more effectively.
 

Bruce Vail

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 8, 2015
Alpheus Williams was a solid Union commander whose career as a division commander in the XII Corps (and later as part of Sherman's army), performed consistently and effectively at places like Culp's Hill in Gettysburg and during the Atlanta Campaign. Although he assumed temporary Corps command at times, he was never promoted to permanent command most likely because he was not a "professionally trained" soldier, and he lacked the political skills that were often necessary to gain advancement.

Yeah, I'll second the nomination of Seph Williams. As noted, he had been given temporary Corps command several times during the war, but never offered a Corps command in his own right. His prospects for advancemnt were probably limited because he was neither a West Pointer nor a Republican. He did have political skills of a sort, however, and was prominent in Michigan Democratic Party circles for decades. He served in Congress after the war and still in the House of Representatives when he died in 1878.
 

jackt62

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He did have political skills of a sort, however, and was prominent in Michigan Democratic Party circles for decades. He served in Congress after the war and still in the House of Representatives when he died in 1878.
I tend to put Williams in the same category as George Thomas in terms of "political" skills. Meaning that they were not flagrant self-promoters such as Hooker or Custer.
 

Bruce Vail

1st Lieutenant
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Jul 8, 2015
I tend to put Williams in the same category as George Thomas in terms of "political" skills. Meaning that they were not flagrant self-promoters such as Hooker or Custer.

Yes, quite right. Williams was actually a "political general" in the sense that his original appointment as brigadier general of volunteers was the result of his political connections and recruiting skills, not his military training. He was a lawyer and a judge by trade.

His military career got off to rocky start in the Shenandoah campaign of 1862 but his boss Gen. Nathaniel Banks generally is the one who gets the blame for the Union defeats there.
 

OpnCoronet

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Feb 23, 2010
George Thomas should have been promoted to the command of the Army of the Cumberland, when Buell was removed.

Rosecrans was good, but Thomas was better.


P.S. I know Thomas refused the command when first offered, because he believed it unfair to both Buell and himself to change commanders at the very time Buell was preparing to meet Bragg in battle. I think his protest after Buell had been replace, dignified and correct. The Union gained a good army commander but lost a better one, at the time.
 

James N.

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I was thinking bigger picture. From the Union perspective, the Valley Campaign was a series of poorly coordinated tactical battles that resulted from movements in reaction to Jackson. There was no unified command and no overarching strategy, except the nebulous protection of Washington. Rosecrans was a gifted strategist. In January 1861 he was proposing a concentration of Union forces at Winchester as this would outflank Johnston at Manassas and threaten his line of communications in the Valley. He reasoned that Johnston could not shift enough troops to retake a strongly fortified Winchester without weakening his right flank and giving the Army of the Potomac the opportunity to fall on Richmond. He espoused a refined version of this strategy when he arrived in the Valley in April as Stanton’s emissary. He discussed with Banks at Strasburg a plan of concentrating Banks, Fremont and Milroy at Strasburg to advance up the Valley while Blenker stayed east of Thornton’s Gap and McDowell moved to Culpepper. These moves would leave the Confederates the Hobson’s choice of reinforcing Jackson in the midst of the Peninsula Campaign or abandoning the Valley. Instead, the Union forces were dispersed in the Valley under 4 separate commands that did not effectively coordinate their movements And were repeatedly defeated in detail. My point is not so much that Rosecrans had a better strategic grasp of the situation but that if he had been given overall command he would have used his forces more effectively.
The same situation largely obtained two years later when Jackson's "replacement" Jubal Early was similarly giving the successive run-around to the likes of Hunter, Sigel, Wallace, Wright, and Crook, all of whom he either chased off, bypassed, or defeated. It wasn't until the administration agreed to quit playing petty politics and allow Grant to combine all those separate commands under a single department and commander in the person of Phil Sheridan that constructive measures could be taken.
 

gjpratt

Corporal
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Apr 14, 2019
The same situation largely obtained two years later when Jackson's "replacement" Jubal Early was similarly giving the successive run-around to the likes of Hunter, Sigel, Wallace, Wright, and Crook, all of whom he either chased off, bypassed, or defeated. It wasn't until the administration agreed to quit playing petty politics and allow Grant to combine all those separate commands under a single department and commander in the person of Phil Sheridan that constructive measures could be taken.
Excellent point.
 

jackt62

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General Richard Garrnet. From the bits of info I've read about him he cared for his men and also knew when to attack and when to defend .
Garnett is an interesting case. He was arrested by Stonewall Jackson for alleged disobedience at Kernstown, when Garnett withdrew under fire when faced with superior numbers, intelligence that Jackson misread. But Garnett's courtmartial was never fully carried out, and he continued to serve admirably as a brigade commander until he was killed leading his men in Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg. So even though he might have been considered for higher command, he never really had the opportunity.
 

Scott1967

Sergeant
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Jul 11, 2016
Location
England
Garnett is an interesting case. He was arrested by Stonewall Jackson for alleged disobedience at Kernstown, when Garnett withdrew under fire when faced with superior numbers, intelligence that Jackson misread. But Garnett's courtmartial was never fully carried out, and he continued to serve admirably as a brigade commander until he was killed leading his men in Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg. So even though he might have been considered for higher command, he never really had the opportunity.
Some say it was a point of honour that he rode a horse on that fateful day trying to regain his reputation in light of what happened under Jackson.
 

DanSBHawk

1st Lieutenant
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May 8, 2015
Location
Wisconsin
George Thomas should have been promoted to the command of the Army of the Cumberland, when Buell was removed.

Rosecrans was good, but Thomas was better.


P.S. I know Thomas refused the command when first offered, because he believed it unfair to both Buell and himself to change commanders at the very time Buell was preparing to meet Bragg in battle. I think his protest after Buell had been replace, dignified and correct. The Union gained a good army commander but lost a better one, at the time.
When Rosecrans was given the command, Thomas complained to Halleck about a junior being placed over him. Halleck calmed him down by telling him Rosecrans was senior, but I think that was a lie at that point in time. Rosecrans was able to get his date of rank backdated later, after Stones River. In fact, Rosecrans wrote Lincoln and asked "as a personal favor" to have his date of rank backdated before all other Major Generals in the west, including Grant. Lincoln refused to go that far.
 
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