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Following up on Chickamauga

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  • tip87th@msn.com
    I m still trying to understand why the Confederates didn t follow through immediately on their success at Chickamauga. The heavy and bitter infighting at a
    Message 1 of 32 , Nov 7 6:09 PM
      I'm still trying to understand why the Confederates didn't follow
      through immediately on their success at Chickamauga. The heavy and
      bitter infighting at a time when their cause would be best served by
      some of the corps commanders, division commanders and the commanding
      general eating a little crow simply doesn't make sense to me.

      Here are a few honest questions:

      Did these officer's pride stand between what they knew as
      military commanders to be a bold and possibly complete crushing of
      the Army of the Cumberland?

      Although suffering many casualties at Chickamauga. The rank and
      file soldiers seem also to feel that they had missed a great
      opportunity. Was the Confederate army incapacitated to such an extent
      that these losses negated mounting a successful assault upon the
      Federal defenses?

      Certainly the above question changes with the amount of time
      given the Federals to get over the shock of Chickamauga and fortify
      Chattanooga. Yet much of this Confederate infighting apparently took
      place well into October. It would appear that C.S.A. President Davis
      was being informed of this. Would not a strong and direct order from
      Davis to attack at once in late September or early October be enough?
      Was there ever such an order?

      I have more questions on the upper command structures of the
      Army of Tennessee and the Army of the Cumberland but my brain modem
      runs only so fast.

      Thanking you in advance for your help and insights,
    • aldrichr@dsmo.com
      ... so ... like ... full ... part ... in ... I recently read in Buell s The Warrior Generals about the complexities encountered by Lee in order to promote
      Message 32 of 32 , Dec 1, 2000
        --- In civilwarwest@egroups.com, philip@t... wrote in part:
        > Thomas Connelly and Archer Jones in "The Politics of Command"
        > stated on page 50: "Bragg was so disliked that as early as
        > September of that year [1862], a petition of fifty-nine members of
        > the Confederate House and Senate asked Davis for his removal.
        > Bragg's own generals repeated this request frequently in 1862 and
        > 1863, and almost mutinied against Bragg after the Chickamauga
        > campaign." So, as you no doubt know, the efforts to have Bragg
        > removed had gone on for over a year, involving almost all of the
        > generals of his command and the Congress of the Confederacy. I
        > don't consider Jefferson Davis to have been a foolish man. Quite
        > the contrary, I believe that the fact that the Confederacy lasted
        > long was partly a credit to his efforts. Nevertheless, as a
        > commander in chief, I question his judgement when it comes to
        > Bragg. Why did he keep him in so long? Was it really a choice
        > between Johnston, Beauregard, and Bragg? If so why? There
        > were plenty of other choices. Was the command structure so rigid
        > and limited that only three supposedly poor choices existed?
        > Lincoln removed generals readily, with little concern for their
        > political affiliations, insubordination, or other damning qualities
        > low-birth. He conducted a talent search for the winner in a
        > determined and single-minded fashion that ultimately bore results.
        > Connelly and Archer partially answer this question on page 196 of
        > the same book. "Unlike Lincoln, Davis had established no tradition
        > of rapid and frequent removals from command. The fact that the
        > Confederacy possessed a hierarchy of lieutenant generals and
        > generals may have made constant shifting of appointments more
        > difficult as did the lack of interior commands, unmenaced by
        > enemy action, as places to lay on the shelf unsuccessful army
        > commanders. Lincoln sent John Pope to Minneapolis; there was
        > no comparable place for Confederate generals, though it is often
        > said that the Trans-Mississippi filled this role. But unemployed
        > generals were extremely difficult to dispose of, and this may in
        > account for Bragg's appointment in Richmond. Where else was he
        > to go?" My answer to that is back to corps or divisional command
        > like Hooker or Burnside. "The Politics of Command", in a seeming
        > self-contradiction, points out the numerous different departments
        > the Confederate hierarchy, many of them small and out of the way,
        > where poor generals could have been shunted.
        I recently read in Buell's "The Warrior Generals" about the
        complexities encountered by Lee in order to promote George (?) Gordon
        to (I think) Major General. A whole bunch of other changes had to be
        made in order to avoid the problem of a junior commanding a senior.
        In the Union Army, by contrast, as you point out, Generals were
        constantly being shifted in and out of command, and issues of juniors
        commanding seniors were "fixed" by the expedient of backdating
        promotions. Although there are counterexamples - such as when Grant
        felt compelled to keep Burnside's corps as a separate command outside
        the Army of the Potomac, reporting only to Grant and not to Meade -
        in the Confederate Army the hierarchy of generals does indeed seem to
        have been much more "rigid."

        I wonder if the difficulty of replacing Confederate generals is
        related to a more general weakness of the Confederacy's central
        government (because it was new, and because of the states rights
        ideology that rationalized the formation of the Confederacy in the
        first place). It's very difficult to fight a war effectively without
        a strong central government, and the Confederacy seems to have
        suffered from major, perhaps fatal handicaps in coordinating
        supplies. Is this also at the bottom of why the Confederate armies
        never had an overall military commander-in-chief, comparable to
        Halleck and later Grant? With Davis as the only overall commander,
        there was one less buffer between the politicians and the military
        command structure?

        Bob Aldrich
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