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Re: A "Proper" Defense in the West

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  • Will <wh_keene@yahoo.com>
    I think Eric is right. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/civilwarwest/message/16440 I think the flaw in Polk s move was its limited nature which created imbalanced
    Message 1 of 59 , Feb 4, 2003
      I think Eric is right.

      I think the flaw in Polk's move was its limited nature which created
      imbalanced results--He improved the defense of the Mississippi River
      by weakening the defense of the area to the east of it. Given his
      limitations as a general, the limited resources at his disposal and
      the fact that he was reacting to a perceived threat by the enemy I
      think what he did is understandable even though it may not have been
      wise. While I think the negative consequences outweighed the
      positive, I do not think it was a death knell. There was still
      opportunity to recover.

      I think the line AS Johnston established made sense. I don't think
      it was the location of the line that was the problem rather I think
      the problems were in the structure of the line, the resource
      allocation and the commanders.

      After Donelson, the new line has to run Memphis-Corinth-Florence-??.
      I think AS Johnston might have done better by trying to manouver in
      east/middle TN in order to keep Buell from joining Grant and keeping
      the eastern portion of the line angled northward from Florence.
      Still, there is a certain sense to concentrating and trying to take
      on the enemy before he concentrates.

      One thing I as wondering, and hopefully those knowledgeable as to the
      Pea Ridge campaign can tell me, is whether Van Dorn's movement to
      join Johnston opened the way for Curtis's march across Arkansas. Put
      the other way, if Van Dorn had not journeyed across the river,
      would/could Curtis have been contained even though he had won Pea

      I think that after Shiloh, the command area should have been split
      between a Mississippi valley dept. and an AL-GA-TN dept.
      The line for the Mississippi dept. becomes a V with Vicksburg at the
      center and the eastern side formed by the Yazoo (and tributaries)
      with the western side by the Arkansas River. The line for the other
      department would run from the highlands of northern Alabama along the
      Plateau of the Cumberland/Walden Ridge with Chattanooga as the center
      with an advanced position along a Shelbyville-Sparta line.

    • Alan Smolinski
      Sustaining your army off enemy resources while preserving you own is very useful to your moral. Will wrote:Two
      Message 59 of 59 , Feb 7, 2003

        Sustaining your army off  enemy resources while preserving you own is very useful to your moral.

         "Will <wh_keene@...>" <wh_keene@...> wrote:

        Two thoughts in reaction to Madelon's question:

        1)  Offensive campaigns 'liberate' areas theoretically disposed to
        join the Confederacy (ie: Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri) or lost
        through previous advances of the enemy.

        2) Offensives campaign create opportunities to engage the enemy on
        your terms in his territory.  Victories in this situation could have
        much greater impact on the will of the enemy populace and thus
        greater political impact than defensive victories within one's own


        --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, meheatherington@j... wrote:
        > In light of Hank Clark's recent notion about the 'offensive' North
        > the 'defensive' South, I have another question.
        > If, with Hank, we stipulate that "all CSA successes were strictly
        > offensive" (whilst acknowledging that this is a mere stipulation,
        yes yes
        > the Hunley, torpedos, etc.), then what, really, did the South
        expect to
        > gain by taking the offensive?
        > My understanding is that the Confederacy's oft-repeated political
        > (failing either European recognition or one grand knock-out Cannae
        > would bring the North militarily to its knees) was simply to
        outwait the
        > Union, keep up the fighting for so long that squeamish Northern
        > (apparently assumed to be less stout of heart than their Southern
        > counterparts) would sue for a cessation of hostilities, after which
        > South would stagger away, content to be let alone.  Winning by
        > not-losing, so to speak; victory by endurance.
        > So how does a flair for the offensive, with its glamor *and* its
        > attrition rate, advance that rather low-keyed wait-'em-out grand
        > strategy?
        > Or does anybody in the Southern high command think that far ahead?
        > Regards,
        > Madelon

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