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Old 10-19-2009, 10:49 PM
 
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As a huge Stonewall Jackson fan...im curious to see what some have to say of this...We all know that Lee is a lot more popular then Stonewall. No doubt he was a great leader...but do you think he was truly a better leader then Jackson? He was quoted as saying very positive things about Jackson...Does Lee deserve all the popularity that he has? We all know his famous mistake of gettysburg...but what do you think?
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Old 10-20-2009, 01:38 AM
 
Location: BOY-see
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Originally Posted by CelticViking View Post
As a huge Stonewall Jackson fan...im curious to see what some have to say of this...We all know that Lee is a lot more popular then Stonewall. No doubt he was a great leader...but do you think he was truly a better leader then Jackson? He was quoted as saying very positive things about Jackson...Does Lee deserve all the popularity that he has? We all know his famous mistake of gettysburg...but what do you think?
I think one has to keep in mind that not every officer is effective at all levels. Take Marshal Michel Ney: as a divisional commander he was a force of nature, but as a corps commander he screwed the pooch at Waterloo. In strategy gaming, I've always been terrible at small unit tactics, okay at operational warfare and very capable at grand strategic campaigning.

Jackson was an outstanding corps commander, especially when serving under Lee, thanks to the dynamic between them. With Longstreet (also a fine corps commander) as the anvil and Jackson as the hammer, Lee wound up looking pretty good. But at Gettysburg, without Jackson and with A.P. Hill and Ewell commanding two corps, Lee lost. I think Jackson would have taken Culp's Hill on the first day, for example, which Ewell did not. But suppose Lee had been killed in action and Jackson appointed to command of the ANV (not sure what the order of seniority was there, always a touchy issue in any army and particularly in the CSA). Would Jackson have been as successful at army command as he was in corps command? Very hard to gauge.

That Lee was the right leader for the ANV seems beyond logical doubt, but that doesn't make him a better soldier than Jackson or vice versa. That the ANV had its greatest successes with Lee running the ANV and Jackson commanding a corps is not easy to deny. I guess the lesson is when you have the right generals in the right jobs, good things happen. For example, I wouldn't call Ike a master of strategy. I would credit him with doing a good job at the very difficult task of managing US and British and French generals who often didn't get along much. I certainly don't think Patton, given two more stars, would have done as well in the end. But commanding a corps or army of armor, Patton has to be high on anyone's list.
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Old 10-20-2009, 07:39 AM
 
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Exactly what I was going to say, such that I don't have much more to add. Jackson was a corps commander and that was his strength. Lee was an army commander and that was his strength. Jackson and Lee (and Longstreet) meshed well.

Not all corps commanders make good army commander - look at Hood for example (Hood was best as a division commander actually), who ultimately destroyed his western army with nonsensical attacks.

As for Jackson. Even as a corp commander he wasn't infallible. He was slow to action at the 7 Days early in the war (some say he spent most of the battle sitting under a tree sucking on lemmons) and people are still arguing if his iconic nickname "Stonewall" came because he stood inactive for so long at Bull Run.
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Old 10-20-2009, 07:48 AM
 
Location: Virginia
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To add to the point agreeing that Jackson was right for the level of command he was given, there are plenty of examples of his pride getting in the way of good judgement as overall commander of a full army...

As "brilliant" as the Valley Campaign of 1862 was, it was Jackson's own ignorance that led his army there into defeat at 1st Kernstown... Had Garnett not taken it upon himself to withdraw Jackson probably stands to lose a large portion of his army (an action that Garnett was to be Court Martialed for by Jackson)...

Anyway, having begun to examine the Valley Campaign of '62 a little closer, I'm reserving judgement on the "genius" of the campaign at this point and chalking it up more to the discipline of his army and what Jackson was able to get out of them... A couple of months ago I walked a good portion of Cross Keys and Port Republic and came out thinking "Wow.... Great job of commanding, but Jackson was a lucky SOB as well.."

Jackson's use of speed was really the element that made him so unique for his time and gave him great advantages in battle, and again, that's a function of discipline.
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Old 10-20-2009, 07:58 AM
 
Location: Virginia
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Regarding Lee? I think he was a great general, but maybe a little overrated in some respects.

The Army of the Potomac suffered from poor leadership and political pressure from Washington that put them in quite a few untenable positions in the first two years of the war....

Obviously Chancellorsville is the crown-jewel battle for the two (Lee and Jackson) and showed what they were capable of together. Alone, I think, they weren't quite as good.
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Old 10-20-2009, 09:04 AM
 
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Outside of being a traitor to his country and his oath of allegiance, I don't think that in any way shape or form has Lee been overrated as a military commander, certainly not as an overall commander of the confederate forces. As for Jackson, perhaps there are few commanding Generals other than Lee, who would have given Jackson the freedom of command that allow Jackson's brilliance as a tactical commander to come to the for.

Of course having said that, the utter incompetence of U.S. generals commanding the Army of the Potomac, with the exception of Grant, would have made any opposing general seem brilliant in comparison.
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Old 10-20-2009, 10:42 AM
 
Location: Virginia
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Originally Posted by ovcatto View Post
Outside of being a traitor to his country and his oath of allegiance, I don't think that in any way shape or form has Lee been overrated as a military commander, certainly not as an overall commander of the confederate forces. As for Jackson, perhaps there are few commanding Generals other than Lee, who would have given Jackson the freedom of command that allow Jackson's brilliance as a tactical commander to come to the for.

Of course having said that, the utter incompetence of U.S. generals commanding the Army of the Potomac, with the exception of Grant, would have made any opposing general seem brilliant in comparison.
Well that's kind of what my question would be with regard to Lee (and to a lesser extent Jackson). How much of their "brilliance" can be attributed to Union incompetence?
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Old 10-20-2009, 10:55 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Rhett_Butler View Post
Well that's kind of what my question would be with regard to Lee (and to a lesser extent Jackson). How much of their "brilliance" can be attributed to Union incompetence?
No doubt about the brilliance of Lee, or the incompetence of the first wave of Union generals. But their were other factors -

-Defense of the home country meant better motivated troops.
-The men of the south had a better tradition of military training, which showed in the skill of both the junior and senior officers.
-The common southerner was more familiar with firearms and backwoods skills that aided them in combat (also the common midwestern union soldier - but they generally weren't part of the AOP).
-Lee usually had the benifit of interior lines.
-Lee usually was able to choose the ground, being on defense, and was thus able to get good ground to entrench on with a minimal forces, pin down the enemy, and flank with his remainder.
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Old 10-20-2009, 11:10 AM
 
Location: Virginia
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Originally Posted by Dd714 View Post
No doubt about the brilliance of Lee, or the incompetence of the first wave of Union generals. But their were other factors -

-Defense of the home country meant better motivated troops.
-The men of the south had a better tradition of military training, which showed in the skill of both the junior and senior officers.
-The common southerner was more familiar with firearms and backwoods skills that aided them in combat (also the common midwestern union soldier - but they generally weren't part of the AOP).
-Lee usually had the benifit of interior lines.
-Lee usually was able to choose the ground, being on defense, and was thus able to get good ground to entrench on with a minimal forces, pin down the enemy, and flank with his remainder.
All true, but on the last two points especially..... That is a function of political pressure pushing Union commanders to attack these positions as well...... From accounts of subordinate commanders at Fredericksburg, for instance, it sounds as though it didn't take a military genius to determine that it was a terrible idea to attack the Confederate position on Marye's Heights....... I haven't done the research to determine whether Burnside actually thought it a good idea, or was simply pressured into forcing an engagement, but.....
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Old 10-20-2009, 11:10 AM
 
Location: BOY-see
4,360 posts, read 7,019,825 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dd714 View Post
-Lee usually was able to choose the ground, being on defense, and was thus able to get good ground to entrench on with a minimal forces, pin down the enemy, and flank with his remainder.
This being a particular strength of Lee's, having risen through the ranks as an engineer.
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