Re: A "Proper" Defense in the West
- 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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,
> the Hunley, torpedos, etc.), then what, really, did the South
> 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
> 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
> Or does anybody in the Southern high command think that far ahead?
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