The turning point of the American Civil War... 150 years ago

Discussion in 'Off-topic Zone' started by MichaelWinicki, Jun 30, 2013.

  1. hipfake08

    hipfake08 Well-Known Member

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    Come on Mike - Fredricksburg was a duck shoot.
    1 - Buford could have been driven back on the 2nd to set up the flank later in the next day.
    2 - Longstreet would not have even been there Jackson would have had that flank.
    At least been in the position to get them there going off Chancellorsville - and same thing.
    3 - The Confederate troops were known for marching late to get to jump off positions.
    4 - They would have only needed scout calvary to at least knw what numbers were there.

    My deal is that yes they move to flank late afternoon. Just shifting a bit. Then move at dusk out of sight lines.
    Shift some to the middle from the North.
    Same bombardment goes off abit earlier in the AM to pin the Unions attention.
    Cross the Emmitsburg road well below the Union. Same thing they did before long flanking moves with force.
    Come up the Taneytown pike close to the woods to hide numbers.
    Get control of the round tops.
    Get some Artillery into position on one of the low rolling hills behind the Union.
    Pile it into their supply deopt to create havoic.
    The Union thinks they are in a vice - where there are only holding forces to the North and West.
    Union runs to the East on Hanover Pike. Just like at First Manassas - small road too much army.
    Panic - guys just running.
    Rebels pick up everything left there.
    Lots of Cannon and supplies.

    It would have set back the Union till 1864 Spring.

    Supplies left by Union would have held Rebels for 3 months.

    Plus the prisoners from Union have been in numbers where prisoner exchanget would have been done.
    Plus the and wonded for the Rebels would have been a lot less.
  2. MichaelWinicki

    MichaelWinicki "You want some?" Staff Member

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    I admire your gumption but I don't see it happening easily.

    Even if Jackson was there (at Gettysburg) he still would have had to march his entire corps around two other corps and get in place at a reasonable hour. Movement prior to the morning of the 2nd would have been unlikely due to battle involving a couple of Jackson's divisions on the first not to mention the uncertainty of where the Union units were in the area of Culp's Hill and points further east. I mean I doubt they would leave that entire area that they had "won" the day before totally abandon.

    Hey I've often thought about the whole flanking scenario and I know how incredibly difficult it was to coordinate movements like that. I'm not saying it couldn't have happened but it would have taken a lot of serendipity for it to happen successfully at Gettysburg.
  3. MichaelWinicki

    MichaelWinicki "You want some?" Staff Member

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    A July 1st recap...

    In one of those weird military oddities, the Southern army was actually north and had to move south to Gettysburg.

    The Northern army was south and had to move north to Gettysburg.

    The Battle of Gettysburg was a classic "meeting" engagement where one army suddenly meets the other and then they rush pell-mell to bring reinforcements to the battlefield.

    On July 1st, even though they were out-numbered overall, the Confederates got more men into the fight faster than the Union army could respond.

    Gettysburg is like a giant "wheel" with the village being the center. There were a number of roads radiating in all directions.

    Initially the Union army held area west and north of the village and the village itself.

    The Southern army initially approached from the north-west.

    As the Union army kept bringing what reinforcements they could to the battlefield and extending their line, the Confederates would bring more and gradually out-flanked the troops north of the village and ground down the troops west of the village.

    Then all-hell broke loose as the Northerners fell back through town to the now famous heights just south of the village. Of course the Southerners were hot on their heels, which resulted in the capture of a couple thousand Union soldiers.

    While there was discussion within the Southern ranks about pushing home one more attack that day, for one reason or another it did not come to pass.

    Both armies collected themselves, attended to the wounded, awaited reinforcements and wondered what July 2nd was going to bring.
  4. RS12

    RS12 Well-Known Member

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    The South was never gonna win the Civil War. The North had the factories and the rail roads. If you cant supply your forces you arent gonna win. Too many people in the South never figured out how long the odds were against them all along.
  5. MichaelWinicki

    MichaelWinicki "You want some?" Staff Member

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    There's a lot of merit in what you posted.

    When I made the original post I thought about qualifying the "Turning Point" statement so that it was meant militarily and not for the war overall.

    And it wasn't just the industrial output of the North that doomed the South but the lack of a unified strategy that contributed to the odds being stacked against them.

    One has to look no further on how the Federal government handled the railroads during that time period as opposed to their opposite number which had no cohesive plan to move products and men from point A to point B. The Federal govt basically took over the RR's, the Confederacy didn't– and it cost them.

    The South seemed to have everything go their way in the East for the first part of the war and still couldn't break the North. Even when the Union did win like at Antietam, they didn't get any style points.

    The common soldier for both sides was undermined to certain extend. The Southerner by the lack of a overall strategy that would husband their meager resources and not waste them. The Northerner by a great many commanders from the division level on up were simply inept.

    ABQCOWBOY Moderator Staff Member

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    For what it's worth, I think the key Victories, or the turning points were the victories by the North at Fort Jackson and Saint Philip. Once those fell, the South could not stop the North from taking New Orleans, which was the largest port in the South. It also prevented the South from reinforcing along the Mississippi and provided the North with a jumping off point all along the Mississippi. This was important because that set up the very Key victory at Vicksburg. This battle, IMO, was much more important then Gettysburg because Vicksburg effectively split all confederate states West of the Mississippi from the War. They could no longer send supplies or much needed Men and Gold to the South. After that, the South was pretty much done IMO. The rest was a waiting game. Without Texas in the War, the South had no hope of winning IMO. The South was basically down to Mobile as their loan port for resupply from England.

    Some might say Antietam and I can understand that as well. Antietam was pretty key because even though it was basically a draw, it stopped the South from recruiting Maryland and any other Northern States it might manage to pull over but more importantly, it allowed Lincoln to declare Emancipation, which many argue, prevented England from committing 100% to the War Effort with more then just money and supplies. Lincoln believed he needed a victory before he could make the famous Emancipation Proclamation stick and Antietam was as close as the Union had come. Timing is everything here because England was very close to committing and had Antietam not happened when it did, the War could have turned dramatically.

    Either way, it's arguable but that is my opinion on the subject, for what it's worth.
  7. Doomsday101

    Doomsday101 Well-Known Member

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    I would say the death blow though was in November 15 to December 21, 1864 and what was known as Sherman's March to the Sea.
  8. burmafrd

    burmafrd Benched

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    Debate about the Civil War will remain as long as there are people around.

    Could have
    should have
    might have

    are what is heard all the time

    only the incompetency of the Army of the Potomac commanders allowed Lee to get away with what he did

    Hooker at Chancellorsville was arguably the most incompetent commander of any army in any single battle in North America's history. Santa Anna comes close at several.

    You look at the commanders that army had until Meade and you marvel that it was able to fight at all. Now I happen to think that the first commander, McDowel, got a bad rep since what he was forced to fight with was only a armed mob as regards training. First Battle of Bull Run could have gone either way and he was never given another command. BUT after that you had McClellan who was great at organizing and training but crap for commanding in battle;; Hooker has been described already; Burnside who was a decent corps commander but lousy at army command. None of them really were ones that inspired confidence (McClellan was fairly loved by the men but they really did not think he was a great commander)

    Meanwhile the Army of Northern Virginia had a commander who right almost until the end inspired his men to do their best at all times. Lee took many chances and usually came out ahead due to the AOP command incompetence. At Chancellorsville especially a competent AOP commander could very nearly have destroyed Lee's army. And then there is Antietam where just about any OTHER AOP commander could have at the very least badly defeated Lee since they had captured his battle plan.

    Bottom line though is that the Union had a plan for the war and kept at it doggedly and in the end it was successful: Blockade the South; take the Mississippi; and engage the South in as many ways as possible in order to force them to spread out their manpower and just as importantly their resources.

    The South never had any strategy or plan at all. Which pretty much doomed them from the beginning anyway.
  9. MichaelWinicki

    MichaelWinicki "You want some?" Staff Member

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    I think Burnside was far worse than Hooker as an army commander... Not that Hooker was all that cos he wasn't but Burnside was abysmal. Right up there with John Pope.

    Hooker's plan for the Chancellorsville campaign was solid. And he was well on his way to pulling it off when he suddenly lost his nerve. But make no mistake he did get the upper-hand initially on Bobby Lee.

    His pursuit of Lee at the start of the Gettysburg campaign was fundamentally sound also. He kept his corps in mutual support of each other.

    Burnside's plan for the Fredericksburg campaign was fraught with problems. The worst "game-plan" for any of the Army of the Potomac's battles.

    And then he followed that up with the horrible "Mud March" idea.

    Also keep in mind the Union Army was in far better spirits as it was handed from Hooker to Meade than it was when it was handed from Burnside to Hooker.

    Again Hooker had his own issues but he did raise the Army's espirit de corps through various methods such as instituting the corps badge.

    He also was the first army commander to allow the Union cavalry to start doing what the Southern cavalry had been doing for two years.
  10. MichaelWinicki

    MichaelWinicki "You want some?" Staff Member

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    Recap of the 2nd day at Gettysburg...

    During the night of July 1st both armies received many reinforcements.

    As the fog lifted on the morning of July 2nd, the Union army was positioned south of Gettysburg occupying a number hills and ridges.

    It was a good defensive position. Not perfect, but good.

    The Southern army pretty much paralleled the Union line... Some units farther away from the Union line than others.

    R.E. Lee was in an aggressive mood. He declared the evening before that if the Union army still occupied the heights south of Gettysburg he was going to attack.

    Lee settled on a plan where his troops would attack each end of the Union line in unison, hopefully creating a crisis where the Union army couldn't support each end at the same time, thus the Union line would come apart.

    The challenge was trying to coordinate an attack towards each end of the Union line so that it happened in unison was near impossible. The ends of the Union line were separated by a good distance.

    Also several of the Confederate units were not in place and would spend a good chunk of the day marching into position.

    At the same time one of the Union Generals– Dan Sickles who commanded a corps at the extreme left of the Union line decided to move his corps forward to take advantage of some higher terrain in his immediate front. The problem was he did this on his own volition without the consent or input of the commanding general. The result was mass confusion.

    The Confederates started their attack on Sickles' end of the line late in the afternoon.

    Pete Longstreet, the Southern commander opposite Sickles said of the fighting down by his troops on July 2nd “The best three hours’ fighting done by any troops on any battlefield.”

    And the fact is he may have been right.

    The Southerners came close to breaking through the Union left and were only stopped by some timely Union reinforcements.

    The Southern attack on the Union right did not start on time... They had a late start and didn't accomplish all that was expected.

    As a day goes, July 2nd 1863 was on its own one of the bloodiest days of the war. For a while the entire Union line was ablaze.

    As night came, Robert E. Lee knew the course of action he would take the next day. And his counterpart George Meade felt he knew what Marse Robert was going to do on July 3rd.

    ABQCOWBOY Moderator Staff Member

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    Winfield Scott was a good tactician. It was his plan that was used to essentially defeat the South. Scott new that the South was highly dependent upon aid from Europe and from men and materials from the West. He also understood the vital military significance of controlling the Mississippi. The Southern Armies were better then those of the North, especially in the beginning but, they were relatively few in numbers without the ability to script replacements as quickly. What do you do when you have one of the best Armies in the world but only have limited numbers? You pick your targets and you use mobility to bring those forces to your targets. That's what the South did and in no small part, they used the Mississippi to move troops and supplies in order to strike targets in the North quickly and effectively. Scott's plan was to basically encircle the south by blockading all Atlantic and Gulf Ports and by taking control of the Mississippi to cut off the West. This plan was called Anaconda. That was General Scott's plan and it served as the main overall battle plan for the North in the War against the Confederacy.
  12. burmafrd

    burmafrd Benched

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    Actually there are stories that it was not Scott's idea but it was the one he proposed to the president.

    And it was pragmatic and practical; and played to the North's strengths. And As I said the South had no real strategy at all except to fight whenever the North moved on them.

    Pope was never really the Army commander. As regards Burnside I think he was a much better corps commander than Hooker was. Hooker's plan at Chancellorsville was too ambitious and more than his army could manage. And then he flat out froze; just absolutely froze. That makes him the worst commander the AOP had.

    ABQCOWBOY Moderator Staff Member

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    I've not seen stories that suggest that the plan was not Scott's. I guess I'd have to understand the reasoning behind those stories.
  14. MichaelWinicki

    MichaelWinicki "You want some?" Staff Member

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    Pope did command an army... There's no dispute about that. It's a fact.

    Hooker did freeze.

    No, Hooker's plan was not too complicated. And it had a good chance of working if only he did not halt the advance in the Wilderness.

    But his plan up to that point was far better than Burnside's at either Fredericksburg or the DOA "Mud March".

    Burnside ordering "death" charge after "death" charge at an entrenched position is far worse in my book than what Hooker did.
  15. jnday

    jnday Well-Known Member

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    With me being a Southern Nationalist, I better not touch this topic. Me being banned would be the only result.
  16. Doomsday101

    Doomsday101 Well-Known Member

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    one of the most interging things about this war was how close some of these commanders were to each other before the break out of the Civil war. A well known friendship was General Lewis A. Armistead and General Winfield Scott Hancock

    wasn’t until Pickett’s Charge on 3 July 1863 that the men had the chance of meeting again, but it would never come to pass. Armistead stood with thousands of other Confederates, ready for the charge. The attempt was futile though. The Union was equipped with better artillery and a better position. The grey soldiers marched to their deaths that afternoon, Armistead being one of them. He led his men from the front, waving his hat and shouting orders. He marched far enough to cross the wall onto the Union side and then was shot twice. He tried leaning on an enemy cannon but collapsed and laid there until Henry H. Bingham, a Union soldier, came by. Armistead asked him about Hancock. Bingham informed Armistead that Hancock was also wounded. Not knowing if he would ever see his friend again, Armistead gave Bingham his personal effects to deliver to Hancock.

    Hancock was injured, but not as severely as Armistead. During the charge, Hancock remained very high and visible on his horse while he commanded the troops. He refused to get closer to the ground and ensure his safety, and while he was surveying the battle from that height, a bullet passed through the pommel of his saddle and shot straight into his thigh. With the bullet came pieces of wood and a nail from the saddle as well. Hancock wouldn’t let his men remove him from the front of the battlefield until the fight was over. Hancock eventually received his friend’s possessions from Bingham, and Armistead died two days after he was wounded. Sadly, the men never had the reunion they had hoped for. -
  17. FiveRings

    FiveRings Well-Known Member

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    I don't understand war reenactments. Why is war glorified so much in our society?
  18. Doomsday101

    Doomsday101 Well-Known Member

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    Because as ugly as war is it also helps to forge a nation. It is a way to honoring those who gave their lives
  19. MichaelWinicki

    MichaelWinicki "You want some?" Staff Member

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    Good explanation.

    War is incredibly human. Right or wrong it has been part of our fabric since we came to understand there were other humans out there. War has shaped us, our country and the planet like no other activity.
    Doomsday101 likes this.
  20. Doomsday101

    Doomsday101 Well-Known Member

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    Very well said.

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