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

cash

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Right here.
Sorry for the delayed response. Had to take a break from the CW stuff, it would consume me if I let it. Plus, I had to help a friend out at Touro University with proctoring medical student's tests, which is always a lot of fun.

Anyway, just when I thought I was getting a foundation to build my CW study upon, it gets debunked :smile:
I have noted the website above and will check it out. I am currently reading The Road to Disunion; Secessionists at Bay. Definitely eye-opening. No hint of mint juleps and teacakes at all. What I like though is, it doesn't waste time getting into the thick of the building contentions, such as SC looking upon slavery as paternalistic and the more western states like Missouri, Kansas, and Texas deemed it as quick money and didn't necessarily treat their slaves as compassionately. The relationship between the plantation owner and slaves seemed a bit complicated as well. Some slaves protected and even warned the slave-owner of any nefarious activities, especially an uprising. There were free black people who were wage earners and also allowed to marry. It was a complicated system. No wonder people are still debating the topic today.

Goodness, not sure about Sam's Town all-you-can-eat steak night. I hardly go anywhere anymore, so I'd have to check on that. Did you used to live here?

You can't go wrong with Freehling. Yes, I lived in Vegas from '99 to '01, then split my time between Vegas and Honolulu from '01 to '04, mostly in Honolulu.
 

cash

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Right here.
As I remember the matter there were some weather issues that delayed that "cracker line" and some real problems with Wheeler's raid on those supplies in transit. I certainly won't minimize Grant's influence in seeing the replenishment of those troops in Chattanooga but it would be wrong to suggest that Rosecrans and Thomas just say around and drummed on their ....! Both were better generals/leaders than that.

Thomas wasn't in charge, Rosecrans was. And while one can make excuses for Rosecrans not implementing the plan, the fact is Grant was able to implement the plan with the supplies that were on hand, and he did so as soon as he saw the lay of the land, not hesitating at all. Officers and men in the ranks credited Grant, saying when he showed up things started to move.
 

David Moore

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 26, 2014
Location
Washington, DC
A letter from William LeDuc to General RichardJohnson requesting that credit in Johnson's memoir be taken from LeDuc and given to General Rosecrans.( Bold face added.)
Hastings, July 6, 1886. My Dear General Johnson:

The proof-sheet received and read. Please accept my thanks for your kindly mention, but you give me credit overmuch. If not beyond your control, could you not have the text changed, so as to express the exact truth, which was that I found a scow in process of construction on the banks of the Tennessee River when I arrived there with General Hooker's command, which, as you of course know, was sent from the Army of the Potomac to the assistance of Rosecrans? Our first duty being to secure the long line of communication between Nashville and Chattanooga, and to do whatever might be done to forward supplies to the famishing army at Chattanooga, Rosecrans, with prudent forethought, had ordered the construction of five steamers on the Tennessee, and the repair of the railroad, two very important bridges of which had been destroyed by the rebels, one across the Tennessee and one over
the Rolling Stone, half-way between Bridgeport and Chattanooga.
One of these flat-bottomed steam scows had been put on some posts and blocking near the bank of the river, and the work was prosecuted by a very competent ship-carpenter by the name of Turner, who was employed by Captain Edwards, A.Q.M. The timbers and lumber for the boats had to be made from the stump, and it was with difficulty that the machinery was shipped over the railroad from Nashville, as every engine and car was needed to transport rations. When the rains and rebel cavalry had made the wagon-road on the north side of the river impassable, rapid building of the steamboat became of the highest importance. I took personal supervision of the work, and crowded it forward night as well as day, saving the hull from destruction by floating it upon pontoons, and navigated it, as you describe, to Kelly's Ferry, with the first cargo of rations to reach the starving army. But for my action it is quite safe to say this boat would not have been launched for some weeks after it was, if at all, and certainly could not have contributed, as it did materially, to the success of our efforts to secure possession of that very important strategic position, Chattanooga.

General Rosecrans has not received the credit due him for his skilful conduct of the campaign. He foresaw the probable need of river transportation, and, so far as giving orders, provided for the emergency. Had those intrusted with the execution of these orders pushed through their work more energetically, and had the boats ready for use when needed, great loss of animals and distress of men would have been saved, and Rosecrans would have retained his position as commander of the Army of the Cumberland. The unfriendliness of Assistant Secretary Dana and the impatience of Secretary Stanton secured his downfall.

'Respectfully, etc.,

Wm. G. Le Duc.
(page 420-1 in Johnson's Reminiscences in Peace and War)
 

David Moore

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 26, 2014
Location
Washington, DC
From the book by John Turchin who played a key role in the movement to open the Cracker Line:

He [Rosecrans] left to his successor a splendid army, and in a position to strike the Confederacy at its very heart; he achieved all that he undertook, and if he did not achieve more his commander-in-chief, Gen. Halleck, was responsible in refusing to reenforce him and in misleading him in regard to the strength of the enemy's army; he made the most difficult campaign of the late war, through the roughest and most mountainous part of the entire theatre of our operations; he skillfully extricated his army from great danger in the face of a much stronger enemy, and in the battle every blow of the enemy was returned with liberal interest. When at Chattanooga, he would have brought Hooker to his help and reopened the railroad on the south side of the Tennessee River, if he had stayed longer with the army. What was done afterward at Brown's ferry, was but the carrying out of Rosecrans' plan. Whatever failings he had will be forgotten, while the splendid service he performed, the country will gratefully remember and the name of Wm. S. Rosecrans will shine in history.

(page 164 Turchin's Chickamauga)
 

David Moore

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 26, 2014
Location
Washington, DC
From the report of a board of army officers looking into who should get credit for originating the plan for opening the supply line:

CONCLUSIONS OF THE BOARD.

After a diligent search of the official records the board fails to find any evidence that Gen. W. F. Smith was the originator of the plan for the relief of Chattanooga, Tenn., by military operations to be conducted in Lookout Valley, October, 1863. On the contrary, there is abundant evidence in the official records to show that the plan, which contemplated crossings of the Tennessee River at Bridgeport and at the northern end of Lookout Valley, and which was successfully executed by General Thomas October 26 to 28, 1863, was devised and prepared for by General Rosecrans before relinquishing command, and that its execution was begun, under orders issued by General Thomas, the very night (October 19) that General Rosecrans was relieved from command of the Department of the Cumberland and without consultation with General Smith.
There is no evidence to show that General Smith took any part, whether by counsel or by action, in the operations conducted by General Hooker through Lookout Valley from the direction of Bridgeport.


In conclusion, the board is of the opinion that the legend complained of does no injustice to the military record of Gen. W. F. Smith.
(Pgs 20-21 from the Report)
 

NathanTowne

Corporal
Joined
Aug 1, 2017
Location
United States
I will have to object to two things that have been written here.

Firstly, I take exception to the comments posted by David Moore above because he is only providing half of the story. The reality is that the record differs dramatically over the process in which the Brown's Ferry plan was adopted. The sources that we have vary considerably on it and it is important to lay that out for the reader.

As to the second issue, there is simply no way in which one can say that nothing was being done to relieve the Army prior to Grant's arrival, unless you are solely referring to the plan that was ultimately implemented. The high command of the Army of the Cumberland had formulated, made preparations for and organized several different operations, several of which were partially implemented. The situation wasn't static though, of course and what is available to work with within the last several days of Rosecrans tenure was, while still tenuous, dramatically superior to what had been available only a week prior. These are simply facts. I am a bit bemused as to the comments to the contrary and why some are attempting to speculate on this, when we have solid information on it.
 

David Moore

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 26, 2014
Location
Washington, DC
I actually made no comments on my last post but simply posted verbatim quotes including two from persons who were deeply involved in the relief operation. I also would like to see the other half (?) of the story I have left out.
Fortunately much invistigation on this topic was done by a military board and they published the evidence supporting the conclusion of the board.
I invite you to delve into the result of their labor:
https://archive.org/stream/reportofboardofa00unit#page/n3/mode/1up
 

NathanTowne

Corporal
Joined
Aug 1, 2017
Location
United States
I actually made no comments on my last post but simply posted verbatim quotes including two from persons who were deeply involved in the relief operation. I also would like to see the other half (?) of the story I have left out.
Fortunately much invistigation on this topic was done by a military board and they published the evidence supporting the conclusion of the board.
I invite you to delve into the result of their labor:
https://archive.org/stream/reportofboardofa00unit#page/n3/mode/1up

It is important to provide and analyze other relevant source material. You do realize that Baldy Smith continued to argue his case regarding whether Rosecrans was involved in the selection of the Brown's Ferry site, do you not?

The study of history is about weighing sources and if you are going to offer the conclusions of the board, it would be helpful to also offer the perspectives of those whose positions are being analyzed. Aside from his contemporaneous accounts on the matter, one can find more on Smith's perspective in several places including the two articles that he wrote, "Comments on General Grant's 'Chattanooga'" published in Battles and Leaders (3:714-717) and "A Historical Sketch of the Military Operations around Chattanooga" in the Papers of the Military Historical Society of Massachusetts (8:149-246), as well as in his autobiography (especially p. 75 and note 39).
 

David Moore

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 26, 2014
Location
Washington, DC
It is important to provide and analyze other relevant source material. You do realize that Baldy Smith continued to argue his case regarding whether Rosecrans was involved in the selection of the Brown's Ferry site, do you not?

The study of history is about weighing sources and if you are going to offer the conclusions of the board, it would be helpful to also offer the perspectives of those whose positions are being analyzed. Aside from his contemporaneous accounts on the matter, one can find more on Smith's perspective in several places including the two articles that he wrote, "Comments on General Grant's 'Chattanooga'" published in Battles and Leaders (3:714-717) and "A Historical Sketch of the Military Operations around Chattanooga" in the Papers of the Military Historical Society of Massachusetts (8:149-246), as well as in his autobiography (especially p. 75 and note 39).
The book (the Report of the Board of Officers) I linked is filled with documentary evidence from a variety of people. Much of the dispute was over the location of Brown's Ferry and whether is was the same place as the Mouth of Lookout Creek.
Granger,writing in 1864 in the quote I posted earlier, had an interesting thing to say about Smith. Make of it what you wish.
I'm sure you know Smith was involved in a dispute with Grant and Butler. That's beyond my area of interest and "expertise."
 

NathanTowne

Corporal
Joined
Aug 1, 2017
Location
United States
The book (the Report of the Board of Officers) I linked is filled with documentary evidence from a variety of people. Much of the dispute was over the location of Brown's Ferry and whether is was the same place as the Mouth of Lookout Creek.
Granger,writing in 1864 in the quote I posted earlier, had an interesting thing to say about Smith. Make of it what you wish.
I'm sure you know Smith was involved in a dispute with Grant and Butler. That's beyond my area of interest and "expertise."

Yes, I am aware of the board's proceedings. The point was to offer context as to what the other users on the site are looking at with regards to the excerpts that you provided.

I am a bit confused by what you are saying here. Different sources are obviously of different value, but no source is the 'holy grail.' Maybe I am just not understanding what you are saying particularly well.
 

chucksr

Sergeant
Joined
May 26, 2017
Nathan, I think David is agreeing, by using written records, with your earlier claim that "The situation wasn't static though, of course and what is available to work with within the last several days of Rosecrans tenure was, while still tenuous, dramatically superior to what had been available only a week prior."
At least that's how I read the interchange.
 

NathanTowne

Corporal
Joined
Aug 1, 2017
Location
United States
Nathan, I think David is agreeing, by using written records, with your earlier claim that "The situation wasn't static though, of course and what is available to work with within the last several days of Rosecrans tenure was, while still tenuous, dramatically superior to what had been available only a week prior."
At least that's how I read the interchange.

I appreciate the comment. I wasn't referring specifically to plans relating to Brown's Ferry though and the attendant controversies. There were a number of plans which were formulated.
 

chucksr

Sergeant
Joined
May 26, 2017
As I read the several exchanges, Roger was documenting, using contemporary sources, the entire matter of whether Rosecrans and/or Thomas were making a strong effort to rectify the problems facing the Army of the Tennessee after their retreat to Chattanooga. An earlier poster had suggested that nothing was happening until Grant arrived, which isn't at all accurate. I think his aim was to include a number of matters other than who authored the Brown's Ferry plan.
My understanding is that "Baldy" Smith was the originator of the plan but...????
 

David Moore

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 26, 2014
Location
Washington, DC
I appreciate the comment. I wasn't referring specifically to plans relating to Brown's Ferry though and the attendant controversies. There were a number of plans which were formulated.
I think among people who even know about the Brown's Ferry relief plan there is a belief that Baldy Smith came up with the plan to open the supply line while Rosecrans "stunned like a duck hit on the head" did little to nothing.
I have attempted to show using only sources by people who were there at the time that Rosecrans had come up with a plan and except for the shortage of transporting animals with Hooker at Bridgeport he would have carried out the plan before Grant arrived.
I really don't see anything confusing or controversial in any of this. The Board Report gives numerous examples supporting the claim of Rosecrans.
 

NedBaldwin

Major
Joined
Feb 19, 2011
Location
California
.
Firstly, I think that it is essentially preposterous to define Rosecrans as not having been "successful."
Chickamuaga is considered a US defeat.
Subsequently to losing that battle, Rosecrans lost the confidence of Lincoln ("Rosecrans has seemed to lose spirit and nerve since the battle"),
which led to Grant being called to take over.
It wasnt a successful time for Rosecrans.



He is certainly one of the top ten or so officers most responsible for the suppression of the rebellion.
A fascinating proposition -- maybe this needs it own thread.
 

NathanTowne

Corporal
Joined
Aug 1, 2017
Location
United States
Chickamuaga is considered a US defeat.
Subsequently to losing that battle, Rosecrans lost the confidence of Lincoln ("Rosecrans has seemed to lose spirit and nerve since the battle"),
which led to Grant being called to take over.
It wasnt a successful time for Rosecrans.




A fascinating proposition -- maybe this needs it own thread.


Well, Rosey had commanded the Army since October 30, 1862, (orders dated October 24th) so I don't know where you are going with this. Furthermore, his service obviously expands well beyond his command of Fourteenth Army Corps/Army of the Cumberland.
 
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