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Myths of the war (CSA)

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  • kywddavid
    I ve been having a great time reviewing service records from the CSA the last two days. The records seem to conflict with many of the myths about the war
    Message 1 of 1 , May 28, 2003
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      I've been having a great time reviewing service records from the CSA
      the last two days. The records seem to conflict with many of the
      myths about the war taught in elementary or high school. What
      follows is my take on some of these myths.

      (1) The military leadership of the confederacy was better educated
      than the leadership of the Union.

      I suspect that this is a generalization comparing RE Lee's class rank
      at West Point (2) to Grant, Meade, Hooker, Burnside, etc. A
      significantly greater number of Union generals were WP valedictorians
      than CSA generals. Hood (45) was not the scholastic equal of Sherman
      (6, I think).

      A larger percentage of Union generals seem to have been West
      Pointers, as well.

      (2) Lincoln's political generals were a major problem. Little is
      mentioned of Davis' political generals.

      In the west, McClernand was brought under control. Banks and Butler
      had mixed records at best. Breckinridge, Pillow, Price, Polk, et.al.
      seemed to have done much more harm to the CSA.

      (3) West Point records are good predictors of CW records. Among top
      CSA generals, those whose WP rank was highest were: Beauregard (2),
      Bragg (5), Albert Sidney Johnston (8), Leonidas Polk (8), and Simon
      Buckner and Joe Wheeler (both 11th). Class rank may have gotten you
      a higher rank more quickly but it didn't translate to performance.

      (4) The top leadership of the US army defected. Only old fogy in
      chief Winfield Scott stayed.

      Many of the defectors proved to be individuals with high rank and
      little education or value (David Twiggs, Loring). Winfield Scott's
      Anaconda Plan, although much derided at the time, played a big part
      in Union success.

      (5) Grant was a drunk and butcher who stumbled to victory through
      greater numbers and luck.

      Grant's opponents had greater casualties than his troops did.
      Although there is considerable evidence that Grant had a drinking
      problem before the war and some evidence that he was at least
      occassionally drunk during the war during lulls, the evidence of
      Grant during the battles is of someone who was alert, hard working,
      and in control.

      (6) Sherman was a cruel and evil man. After all, his boys
      threatened Tara. "War is hell" and all that about making Georgia
      howl.

      Sherman's principal methods around Atlanta and to the sea were
      movement and destruction of railroad tracks. The burning of Atlanta,
      Tara, etc. was partially a novel, partially the work of departing
      confederates and partially connected to Sherman's bummers. Uncle
      Billy had a very big and colorful mouth.

      Thanks for allowing this .
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