Who was the Greatest Civil War General? (poll)

Who was the Greatest Civil War General?

  • Jubal Earl

    Votes: 1 0.4%
  • George Gordon Meade

    Votes: 2 0.7%
  • James Longstreet

    Votes: 15 5.4%
  • George Henry Thomas

    Votes: 6 2.2%
  • Robert E. Lee

    Votes: 90 32.3%
  • Ulysses S. Grant

    Votes: 97 34.8%
  • Philip Sheridan

    Votes: 1 0.4%
  • Nathan Bedford Forrest

    Votes: 18 6.5%
  • Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson

    Votes: 24 8.6%
  • William T. Sherman

    Votes: 14 5.0%
  • Don't Know

    Votes: 11 3.9%

  • Total voters
    279

Private Watkins

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 12, 2014
Location
Oklahoma
While I'm sure there are many who would disagree, I think there might be a few who would agree with a vote for Longstreet, which is what I cast. Yes, it's hard to argue against the ultimate success of Grant or the near deification of Lee, and yes Longstreet was not perfect, with all too many human flaws... but rather than make the case for Longstreet myself I thought I would let a few others do the talking:

"Longstreet is never far from General Lee, who relies upon his judgment. By the soldiers he is invariably spoken of as the best fighter in the whole army." --Lt. Col. Arthur Freemantle.

"Our generals don't do that sort of thing." --A captured Union officer at Gettysburg on seeing Longstreet leading Barksdale's Mississippi Brigade against the Peach Orchard.

"Longstreet's advice was sound military sense; it was the step I most feared Lee would take."
--Union General George Meade on Longstreet's advice to General Lee at Gettysburg.

"He was our hardest hitter." --General John Bell Hood.

"Longstreet has no superior as a soldier in the Southern Confederacy."
--General Lafayette McLaws to General Richard Ewell.

"It's no use to stop and fight Longstreet. You can't whip him. It don't make any difference, whether he has one man or a hundred thousand." --Union General Gordon Granger, 1864.

"Bring me Longstreet's head on a platter and the war will be over." --President Abraham Lincoln.

"To Kill Longstreet." --President Lincoln on the morning of the Battle of the Wilderness when asked about the best thing that could happen to the Union that day.

"He was brave, honest, intelligent, a very capable soldier, subordinate to his superiors, just and kind to his subordinates, but jealous of his own rights which he had the courage to maintain." --General Grant on Longstreet.
http://www.longstreetsociety.org/Longstreet_Quotes.html
 
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diane

Retired User
Joined
Jan 23, 2010
Location
State of Jefferson
I tend to think the cavalrymen were misplaced on this list - their job was very different from the other generals. So, I went with Sherman. He wasn't particularly feared, wasn't always a winner, wasn't charismatic and overall average, but what puts him in the greatest category is the Georgia campaign. You could have brought Lincoln Lee's head and it wouldn't have crushed the Southern cause more thoroughly than Sherman's march.
 

W. Richardson

Captain
Joined
Jun 29, 2011
Location
Mt. Gilead, North Carolina
I tend to think the cavalrymen were misplaced on this list - their job was very different from the other generals. So, I went with Sherman. He wasn't particularly feared, wasn't always a winner, wasn't charismatic and overall average, but what puts him in the greatest category is the Georgia campaign. You could have brought Lincoln Lee's head and it wouldn't have crushed the Southern cause more thoroughly than Sherman's march.



I can understand your point about Sherman. Not sure I agree totally with the Georgia campaign being more important than Lee's head. I think by mid to late 1863 Lee was the Confederacy and without his military leadership I feel the Confederacy would have folded much sooner than 1865. Sherman's March was a death knell though, I can't take that away from it.

Confederate 3rd National Flag  1.jpg
Respectfully,
William
 

diane

Retired User
Joined
Jan 23, 2010
Location
State of Jefferson
I can understand your point about Sherman. Not sure I agree totally with the Georgia campaign being more important than Lee's head. I think by mid to late 1863 Lee was the Confederacy and without his military leadership I feel the Confederacy would have folded much sooner than 1865. Sherman's March was a death knell though, I can't take that away from it.

View attachment 74233
Respectfully,
William

Lee was certainly that important - that's why his men wouldn't let him lead them in battle. But when you can go up to an enemy's front porch and wipe your feet on the doormat, that's pretty much letting him know who's in charge now!
 

W. Richardson

Captain
Joined
Jun 29, 2011
Location
Mt. Gilead, North Carolina
Lee was certainly that important - that's why his men wouldn't let him lead them in battle. But when you can go up to an enemy's front porch and wipe your feet on the doormat, that's pretty much letting him know who's in charge now!


You are totally correct as to the statement "when you can go up to an enemy's front porch and wipe your feet on the doormat, that's pretty much letting him know who's in charge now" and them not being able to do anything about it.


NC State Flag in Civil War  1.jpg
Respectfully,
William
 
Joined
Aug 25, 2013
Location
Hannover, Germany
While I'm sure there are many who would disagree, I think there might be a few who would agree with a vote for Longstreet, which is what I cast. Yes, it's hard to argue against the ultimate success of Grant or the near deification of Lee, and yes Longstreet was not perfect, with all too many human flaws... but rather than make the case for Longstreet myself I thought I would let a few others do the talking:

"Longstreet is never far from General Lee, who relies upon his judgment. By the soldiers he is invariably spoken of as the best fighter in the whole army." --Lt. Col. Arthur Freemantle.

"Our generals don't do that sort of thing." --A captured Union officer at Gettysburg on seeing Longstreet leading Barksdale's Mississippi Brigade against the Peach Orchard.

"Longstreet's advice was sound military sense; it was the step I most feared Lee would take."
--Union General George Meade on Longstreet's advice to General Lee at Gettysburg.

"He was our hardest hitter." --General John Bell Hood.

"Longstreet has no superior as a soldier in the Southern Confederacy."
--General Lafayette McLaws to General Richard Ewell.

"It's no use to stop and fight Longstreet. You can't whip him. It don't make any difference, whether he has one man or a hundred thousand." --Union General Gordon Granger, 1864.

"Bring me Longstreet's head on a platter and the war will be over." --President Abraham Lincoln.

"To Kill Longstreet." --President Lincoln on the morning of the Battle of the Wilderness when asked about the best thing that could happen to the Union that day.

"He was brave, honest, intelligent, a very capable soldier, subordinate to his superiors, just and kind to his subordinates, but jealous of his own rights which he had the courage to maintain." --General Grant on Longstreet.
http://www.longstreetsociety.org/Longstreet_Quotes.html

Bravo!
Makes 2 of us.
 

hanna260

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 1, 2015
Location
Just Around the Riverbend
I'm curious as to why people selected General Thomas?

As far as potential goes as compared to actual results? I'd put General Thomas at the top of the list. An excellent tactician, great corps commander, reliable, able to take orders or to exercise independent command, a man who could be agressive and hard-hitting without throwing away his men's lives, and someone, when you look at the woulda-coulda-shoulda routine- who could have been a great army commander too.

But when it comes to actual results- I'm going with Grant, though I was tempted to vote Lee. He did what no other general could do, and hammered the Confederacy into submission. When it comes to generals, only the surrender document really matters.
 

Private Watkins

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 12, 2014
Location
Oklahoma
I tend to think the cavalrymen were misplaced on this list - their job was very different from the other generals. So, I went with Sherman. He wasn't particularly feared, wasn't always a winner, wasn't charismatic and overall average, but what puts him in the greatest category is the Georgia campaign. You could have brought Lincoln Lee's head and it wouldn't have crushed the Southern cause more thoroughly than Sherman's march.
So first of all, many thanks to gem for this thread.... quite fun! But diane, you bring up a good point, and perhaps there's room for another poll on who was the greatest Cavalry general...? Without going there in depth, I think I know who I would vote for, and his name isn't Stuart, Sheridan, Forrest, or Morgan! The two hints I'll give are that he's buried in Kansas City, and that Alfred Pleasonton, who served east & west, declared him the South's best Cavalry general bar none...
 
Last edited:

diane

Retired User
Joined
Jan 23, 2010
Location
State of Jefferson
So first of all, many thanks to gem for this thread.... quite fun! But diane, you bring up a good point, and perhaps there's room for another poll on who was the greatest Cavalry general...? Without going there in depth, I think I know who I would vote for, and his name isn't Stuart, Sheridan, Forrest, or Morgan! The two hints I'll give are that he's buried in Kansas City, and that Alfred Pleasonton, who served east & west, declared him the South's best Cavalry general bar none...

Gotta be Jo! We need a thread on just on him.
 
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