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

NedBaldwin

Major
Joined
Feb 19, 2011
Location
California
I lost some of what little respect I may have had for Uncle Billy after reading about his absolute blunders in the attempt to capture the northern end of Missionary Ridge and dislodge Pat Cleburne.
I think it is a shame that it is viewed this way. He successfully moved his command over a large, raging river then advanced to seize the heights in front of him; the next day he attacked a heavily defended position that was geographically strong. There were no "absolute blunders". The fact that he didn’t drive Cleburne off is no surprise considering the forces opposing him and the terrain.

The very idea that the NPS unit of Chickamauga-Chattanooga NMP there is called the Sherman Reservation in honor of the Yankee who failed utterly to capture it instead of the Cleburne Reservation for the Southerner who successfully defended it is a travesty.

Sherman Reservation stretches along the top of what is referred to as Tunnel Hill. Cleburne held the southern end; Sherman’s men held the northern end from where they charged Cleburne (“Here they come again for about the sixth time, and they come like they were going to walk right over us” – diary of Captain Samuel Foster, 24th TX cavalry). Below are pictures from the Historical Marker Database. The first is from Cleburne's position looking north. The edge of Sherman Reservation is behind the picture taker with everything in forward and beyond within the Reservation. The second picture is from a marker (just visible in the middle of the first picture) which denotes a position held by some of Sherman's men and is looking back at Cleburne's position. The third shows the same marker looking north toward monuments marking locations of Sherman's men. So most of the Reservation was held by Sherman's men and it deserves to be named what it is.

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If George Thomas' men hadn't successfully carried the center of Missionary Ridge Sherman may have subsequently been seen in an even less favorable light.

I doubt it. If Sherman hadn’t done what he did. Thomas’ men likely would never have carried the ridge. Concerned about Sherman, Bragg sent about 1/2 his army to stop him (Cleburne was supported by the Stevenson and Gist with Cheatham in reserve) meaning the line facing Thomas was thin.


Sherman's failure to secure his camps at Shiloh/Pittsburg Landing should've drawn down official criticism on his red head, but his friendship and support of Grant seems to have protected him from the calumny he deserved.

Sherman’s camps were secure. He had pickets out and his men prepared defenses. Here are the words of the those who led the first attack against his position -- Hardee: “Deadly volleys were poured upon the men as they advanced from behind bales of hay, logs, and other defenses, and after a series of desperate charges the brigade was compelled to fall back.”; Cleburne: “He was very advantageously posted and overlapped my left flank by at least half a brigade. His line was lying down behind the rising ground on which his tents were pitched, and opposite my right he had made a breastwork of logs and bales of hay. Everywhere his musketry and artillery at short range swept the open spaces between the tents in his front with an iron storm that threatened certain destruction to every living thing that would dare to cross them.” Sherman mounted a successful defense until the division commanders to his left were turned and he had to pull back.
 

James N.

Colonel
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Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Antietam 2021
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I think it is a shame that it is viewed this way. He successfully moved his command over a large, raging river then advanced to seize the heights in front of him; the next day he attacked a heavily defended position that was geographically strong. There were no "absolute blunders". The fact that he didn’t drive Cleburne off is no surprise considering the forces opposing him and the terrain.

Sherman's blunders appear to have been more in realm of communication with his subordinates and his commander Grant. From what I've read, he persisted in believing the knob his men seized on the 24th was the end of Missionary Ridge, informing Grant he had captured it. Once realizing his mistake by light of the following day he began that futile series of uncoordinated piecemeal attacks which Cleburne managed to beat back; outnumbered as he was, Cleburne might not have been so able if Sherman had made an early attack with his full force. Even reinforced by the Eleventh Corps division of Carl Schurz, Sherman concluded his attacks not even bothering to inform Grant of the fact and his lack of progress. Grant didn't even turn to Thomas for support for Sherman until after the latter had ceased his attacks! Thomas' success owes less to anything Sherman did than it does to Bragg's poor deployment and reaction to events as they unfolded.
 

NedBaldwin

Major
Joined
Feb 19, 2011
Location
California
From what I've read, he persisted in believing the knob his men seized on the 24th was the end of Missionary Ridge, informing Grant he had captured it.


"Careful examination of the ground and written evidence, however, reveals that the high ground Sherman's men took on the afternoon of November 24 was indeed part of Missionary Ridge." - Stephen Woodworth, from the book Six Armies in Tennessee. I agree with Professor Woodworth and persist in believing that the heights seized on the 24th was the end of Missionary Ridge.

Grant didn't even turn to Thomas for support for Sherman until after the latter had ceased his attacks!

Grant's instructions to Sherman and Thomas the night before had said that Thomas would attack early in the day in conjunction with Sherman. Sherman got underway in the morning, attacking as ordered, but there was no attack from Thomas early in the day. Just before 1pm, as Sherman was about to launch another attack, he sent a signal to Grant: "Where is Thomas?" Thomas responded "I am here; my right is closing in from Lookout Mountain toward Missionary Ridge.". So Sherman launched his next attack, fought Cleburne for the next two hours without Grant or Thomas really doing anything. As Dana would report that night "Grant gave orders at 2 p. m. [NOTE: This is before Sherman had ceased his attacks] for an assault upon their lines in front of Thomas, but owing to the fault of Granger, who devoted himself to firing a battery instead of commanding his corps, Grant's order was not transmitted to the division commanders until he repeated it an hour later. Accordingly it was not executed until after 4 p. m., when the nearness of night rendered it impracticable to follow up and complete the victory." Yet somehow this is a blunder by Sherman???
 

rbasin

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jan 31, 2013
Location
Tampa, Fl
I think a better way if if ask this question would have been who was the most important general. Then it gets opened up a bit
 
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