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What if Johnston etc. etc.

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  • Chris Huff
    Dear Folks, I think it is interesting to examine the relationship between the loss of Fort Donelson and the loss of Vicksburg. It is singularly ironic that the
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 7, 2000
      Dear Folks,
       
      I think it is interesting to examine the relationship between the loss of Fort Donelson and the loss of Vicksburg. It is singularly ironic that the loss of Fort Donelson forced the reduction or abandonment of the defenses of the essential ports the South controlled along the Gulf of Mexico. Everyone had to race like mad to the north to defend that incredibly long line,  which could never realistically been held and which stretched from south of Donelson to Bowling Green.
       
      The subsequent loss of New Orleans portended the loss of the entire Mississippi. So the South lost it's ports and it's inland highways (the navigable rivers) pretty early on because of one incredibly bad tactical error (the invasion of Kentucky). Vicksburg was the last little hold-out on the Mississippi and I believe that the real loss there was to morale in the South. (Johnston's very argument against holding the city echoed strangely by Pemberton's council of war as the reason they could not leave)
       
      Poor Pemberton made much of the importance of Vicksburg but I think his thinking and that of many people in the South was based on an emotional attachment (whether they perceived it as such or not) rather than on any kind of real military imperative (although I gather from some of his reports that he really thought he could hold the city). The impression that I get from reading Davis' own reminiscences on the matter and Kean's notes taken at the time is that there was a lot of vacillation taking place within the Confederate Government itself as to whether Vicksburg should be held or given up as lost already. Davis never bothered to express his lack of resolution to Pemberton so Pemberton was left dangling with the order Davis had given him. I see the siege as a very heroic, but tragic example of something happening more by default than by design.
    • Chris Huff
      Dear Folks, I think it is interesting to examine the relationship between the loss of Fort Donelson and the loss of Vicksburg. It is singularly ironic that the
      Message 2 of 2 , Apr 7, 2000
        Dear Folks,
         
        I think it is interesting to examine the relationship between the loss of Fort Donelson and the loss of Vicksburg. It is singularly ironic that the loss of Fort Donelson forced the reduction or abandonment of the defenses of the essential ports the South controlled along the Gulf of Mexico. Everyone had to race like mad to the north to defend that incredibly long line,  which could never realistically been held and which stretched from south of Donelson to Bowling Green.
         
        The subsequent loss of New Orleans portended the loss of the entire Mississippi. So the South lost it's ports and it's inland highways (the navigable rivers) pretty early on because of one incredibly bad tactical error (the invasion of Kentucky). Vicksburg was the last little hold-out on the Mississippi and I believe that the real loss there was to morale in the South. (Johnston's very argument against holding the city echoed strangely by Pemberton's council of war as the reason they could not leave)
         
        Poor Pemberton made much of the importance of Vicksburg but I think his thinking and that of many people in the South was based on an emotional attachment (whether they perceived it as such or not) rather than on any kind of real military imperative (although I gather from some of his reports that he really thought he could hold the city). The impression that I get from reading Davis' own reminiscences on the matter and Kean's notes taken at the time is that there was a lot of vacillation taking place within the Confederate Government itself as to whether Vicksburg should be held or given up as lost already. Davis never bothered to express his lack of resolution to Pemberton so Pemberton was left dangling with the order Davis had given him. I see the siege as a very heroic, but tragic example of something happening more by default than by design.
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