I have made a tactical error.

I allowed myself to be sucked into a Twitter discussion of the best general of the American Civil War.  If there is a better way to eat entire hours of time over a subject that nobody will ever, EVER give any ground on, I do not know what it is.  And I knew that going in, so I don’t even have an excuse.

Moe Lane

PS: Grant, of course.  Although General George Thomas is seriously underrated, even today.

19 thoughts on “I have made a tactical error.”

  1. Not Sherman? Burning a 60-mile-wide scar from Atlanta to the sea is a pretty out there move.

    Also, is this fight just limited to generals, or are admirals allowed? I don’t know of any admirals of note in the civil war, so I won’t comment on where they should fall in the pecking order.

      1. Having read up on Farragut, he was the first Admiral in the US navy. Congress created the rank just for him.

  2. Ye be daft.
    It was obviously Jackson. His Shenandoah campaign has no equal in all of history.
    Honorable mention go to Sherman and Stuart.
    There’s even an argument for Beauregard on defense and generally being a sneaky underhanded bastard (an alternate history where Sherman squared off with him in the Western Theatre would be epic! But that would require a much different Jeff Davis, which makes congruence unlikely.)
    Grant was the right man for the job, but he was not an inspiration to his men, nor tactically brilliant, nor strategically insightful.
    What he was, was ruthless. To his own troops more than the Rebels.

  3. General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, hands down.

    Anyone praising General Sherman must be a Yankee. I dare you come to the south to praise him and not get beating for your trouble.

      1. There’s nothing wrong with that. Look, we praise Confederate Generals because they were all honorable. Misguided and on the wrong side, sure. However after the war, life moved on. Take General James Longstreet: After the war, he enjoyed a successful post-war career working for the U.S. government as a diplomat, civil servant, and administrator.
        I respect them all (with the sole exception for General “Scorched Earth” Sherman), Confederate and Union alike.

        1. Sheridan employed scorched earth tactics in the Shenandoah.
          Sherman really didn’t. Compared to Wallenstein, the Free Companies, or even Sheridan and Butler from the same war on the same side, he was downright merciful.
          He did, however, inflict a psychic wound on the Confederacy that still exists. And it went a long way toward winning the war in a way the brutality of Butler never did.
          Add to this that he was loved by his troops, and his actions after the war were especially laudable…

          I’m drafting him for my fantasy league.

        2. Sorry, I meant “You could get a good AH out of that fact.” …If you spent fifteen years making sure that you knew everything about Jackson, down to what kind of eggs he had for breakfast. Because GOD help the writer who gets any detail about anything involving the American Civil War wrong. 🙂

  4. I second the motion for Grant. It’s very simple. He won. And he did it three sheets to the wind, which is a little like fighting with one hand tied behind your back.

    1. I think that three sheets to the wind is an exaggeration. Still, Lincoln’s response to reports that Grant was a drunk is great: “I will send a barrel of this wonderful whiskey to every general in the army.”

  5. Oh, and a plug for Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. He was a great combat leader before he became a general.

  6. What about Nathan Bedford Forrest? A malevolent sonofabitch, to be sure (see slave trader, Klu-Klux-Klan, Fort Pillow) but tactically one of the best generals, North or South.

    1. Much more complicated than malevolent.
      For example, the Reconstruction government got extremely pissed off at him after the war. Not for founding a vigilance committee that would quickly become violently racist, but for arming the newly-freed blacks.
      He was a good general. But calling him one of the best on either side is overselling it. He commanded a mobile force, in a theatre of the war especially suited for those, and benefited from the intelligence advantages of operating in a region friendly to you and hostile to your enemy, and the communication and mobility advantages of internal supply lines.
      He took full advantage, but it’s doubtful he’d have faired as well in different environs.

  7. Not only did you allow yourself to be sucked into a discussion of the best general in the ACW, but you brought that discussion here!

    I think Vizzinni would tell you that’s the fourth greatest screw-up of all time.


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