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William T Sherman- The Most Overrated General of the Civil war?

Wed Aug 17, 2016 1:14 am

William T Sherman- The Most Overrated General of the Civil war?

“The literature is frequently slanted in favor of Grant and Sherman”
-Thomas J Rowland George B McClellan and Civil war History Kent State University Press


William Tucumseh Sherman or “Uncle Billy” in my opinion was the most overrated general of the civil war. He is usually ranked within the top four of almost every civil war rankings done. I think he was a good general, a good tactician, but not a top premier general.

Bull run

“Even Sherman, a future American military hero, sent his four regiments into battle not together, but in secession, one deadly advance at a time”
-John J Hennessy The First Battle of Manassas


Sherman's first action came at bull run where he commanded a brigade in Tyler's division, he had mixed results. Sherman sent his regiments in one at a time, instead of in force as he should have, against Henry Hill. The first 3 regiments were repulsed one at a time with heavy losses. Than with some help from other union attacks at the same time on his flank, the last of Shermans regiment met with some success capturing a house held by the confederates and pushing them back under the pressure. Sherman's command, however, was than routed by a counterattack from the 8th and 18th Virginia. After his men routed, he would see no more action at Bull run. Sherman brigade suffered higher loses than any union brigade at Bull Run.

Disaster in Kentucky


“Sherman stumbled badly in his first independent command in Kentucky”
-Thomas J Rowland George B Mcclellan and Civil war History in the Shadow of grant and Sherman


Sherman was transferred to a command in Kentucky where he literally went insane. After the defeat at Bull Run Sherman was scared and nervous of another confederate victory or attack. He started having asthma attacks, extremely nervous behavior, he did not sleep, had panic attacks, he contemplated suicide. He was described by citizens in his hotel as “a bundle of nerves all strung to their highest tension.”* he “talked incessantly while never listening” “pacing the floor, chain-smoking cigars.” He showed all the sighs of mania. Sherman claimed his force was outnumbered by Siomon Buckners 5-1 despite what every other general in the area said. *“He outdistanced even McClellan in describing the vast enemy hosts assembling against him.” He said the state was infested by pro confederate forces and sympathy and was in imitate danger. He said Louisville was in imitate danger and he needed 200,000 men to hold Kentucky. Sherman would not leave the fort until massively reinforced and refused to go on the offensive.

Relived From Command in Missouri

Sherman was shipped to St Louis were again he was convinced the enemy was ready to pounce on the disorganized union forces their. A physicians declared him to nervous for command and sent him home to Ohio.

Shiloh

Sherman would in time recover mentally and be sent to a command with his friend General Grant. The next engagement he was involved in was the battle of Shiloh where because of grant, he was given command of a division. Sherman was the one man most responsible for allowing the confederate army to surprise attack the union forces on day 1 at Shiloh. This was a near fatal mistake that almost destroyed the entire union army under Grant. The main confederate force was opposed Sherman the day before the battle. Many regiments and soldiers of the south did nothing to concile the upcoming “surprise attack” as men starting firing off shots [to clear muskets] sounded bugles and drums, drilled, and skirmished with the enemy in the woods all within 2 miles of the enemy main encampment.

Sherman “Failed to inteprit acculturate the numerous signs of the confederate surprise attack on April 6 at Shiloh.”
-David Martin The Shiloh Campaign


Sherman received multiple reports from his subordinates of large enemy units movements and skirmishing etc and he rejected them and even called one of his regiment commanders a liar. Sherman refused to even send them on to Grant. The day before the attack a few confederate soldiers taken prisoner boasted of the whole confederate army was near, yet these were also ignored by Sherman. Sherman did not even bother to scout the area he was in. Lew Wallace had to scout his area because Sherman failed to. Because of Shermans negligence, the union almost suffered its worst defeat of the war.

“Sherman should have been court martialed he was guilty of gross negligence.”
-Historian Otto Eisenschiml


Sherman himself fought hard once the battle was under way, but his command [division] was whipped and brook three times that day. His entire line collapsed and his command was saved from complete destruction by Mcclerand on day 1. After his poor performance at Shiloh, Sherman was given no direct command.

Deception at Corinth

The union under the command of general Halleck moved on the vital rail junction of Corinth Mississippi with a force twice the size of confederates under Beauregard who had around 60,000 troops. However Halleck, Grant and Sherman all believed the true confederate force to be 130,000 men. So instead of attacking they waited in a siege. Beauregard had set up dummy guns and positions to fool the union command. He was also able to fool the union into thinking he was being reinforced when he was in fact retreating. Every time a train pulled in Beauregard had his men let out a loud cheer, this made the union think he was being reinforced, this allowed Beauregard to pull his men out safely.

Chickasaw Bayou

In December of 62 Sherman was sent as part of grants first attempt to capture Vicksburg down the Mississippi river with 30,000 men. After landing, Sherman evaluated the position and decided on a frontal attack on the heavily fortified confederates under Pemberton who had a force of around 13,000. In a decision that makes Fredircksburg look like an easy task, Sherman assaulted and was repulsed over two days suffering heavy losses and 10 times the causalities the confederates suffered, a far worse ration than at Freadricksburg. After this horrific defeat Sherman was than superseded for his poor performance by a political officer John Mcclerand who was “almost universally despised in regular army circles.”

Vicksburg Campaign

Vicksburg was one of the great campaigns of the civil war and Sherman was given a corps to command by general Grant. However the credit belongs to Grant. It was his planning, maneuvering and command that led to the great victory. Sherman did not think Grants plan would even work. Mcpherson and Mcclernard did all the hard fighting at Raymond and Champions Hill. The only battle Sherman was involved in was the capture of Jackson Mississippi were he and other union forces skirmished with the greatly outnumbered confederates who were evacuating the town.

Assault on Vicksburg

The retreating confederates within Vicksburg were outnumbered, beaten, low on morale and not fully prepared within Vicksburg. Grants army was victorious over multiple battles, high on morale and ready to capture the city, Grant decided to attack. On May 19 Grant ordered Sherman to assault Vicksburg and win the prize, Sherman's men attacked and were easily repulsed. This failed attack and first loss on the union army in the campaign was damaging to union morale and boasted confederate resolve to hold Vicksburg. Union losses of 157 killed, 777 wounded, and 8 missing, versus Confederate casualties of 8 killed and 62 wounded. “The Confederates, assumed to be demoralized, had regained their fighting edge.” For the second time Sherman suffered 10X the losses of the defenders of Vicksburg. Grant would try one more time on the 22 with all his forces. Their was some limited success butt Sherman was repulsed and the union could not capture Vicksburg by assault and dug in for a siege.

Chattanooga

Grant attacked Bragg to break out of Chattanooga and set up a plan that was to make Sherman out to be the hero and win the day. Sherman controlled a large force and was sent around the confederate flank for what was to be the decisive action and win the battle. Hooker and Thomas were to be the distraction and holding forces. The confederates sent a small force under General Patrick Cleburne perhaps the best infantry commander in the confederate army of Tennessee at the time to meet Sherman. Sherman was repulsed time and again by Cleburne with heavy loses. Cleburne outmaneuvered, out thought, and used the terrain better than Sherman, also courageously leading counter attacks that repulsed Sherman attacks.

“Cleburne had bested Sherman”
-Steven E Woodworth Six Armies in Tennessee University of Nebraska press 1998


Sherman's failures left Grant with no choice but to push full ahead with Thomas at the confederate center as “Sherman's attack was going nowhere.” However Thomas would lead a charge up the fortified center of the confederates on Missionary ridge a place considered impossible to take and Thomas routed the confederate center while hooker would finally push through on his flank. The only place the confederates held the line was under Cleburne who could not be bested by Sherman. Cleburne had suffered so little that he was than able to cover the rest of the confederate armies retreat and avoid total disaster for the south.

So not only did Sherman fail to win the battle against the flank, Thomas won the battle against the confederate center over the worst terrain to attack. Where victory was most unlikely and against more men. Even Hooker finally won on his flank. The only thing that kept it from a total disaster for the south was Cleburne. Sherman could not even inflict enough damage to him to prevent him from covering the army's retreat.

The Capture of Atlanta

Sherman's campaign to capture Atlanta was by far his best performance of the war. His flank maneuvers that dislodged Johnson from multiple defensive positions make his campaign one of the great ones of the war. I do not wish to take away from the credit he fully deserves. However it also has to be put in context.

“Confederate western command less skilled than their eastern coutnerparts, they also made egrigoius tactical decistions that enabeled Grant and Sherman to overpower them”
-Thomas J Rowland George B McClellan and civil war history Kent state university press


Foremost Sherman fought in the west against sub par confederate generals. The generals he faced were Joe Johnson who was mediocre at best. Johnson had a habit of withdrawal that eventually led to his replacement with Hood. When in command in Virginia Johnson was losing ground to McClellan and constantly fell back, this Fabian tactics is what Johnston would become known for. Later Sherman faced the untested and dismal Hood. Also By 64 the confederate armies were a shell of their former selves. The confederate army under Johnson was low on morale, supplies and had suffered defeat and causalities that could not be replaced. When Johnston took command he had just 43,000, demoralized troops with large scale desertion. Johnston would be reinforced to around 66,000 and restore some morale to the army while in command.

Sherman for his campaign commanded 104,000 troops high on morale from recent victories and well supplied with a technological advantage over the enemy. Sherman would also receive replacements as the campaign moved on that gave him often a 2-1 advantage over the confederate force he faced.

Sherman Rescued

However at Dalton Shermans flank maneuver was repulsed by Johnston, so Sherman accepted the flanking maneuver as planned by General Thomas with success. Than at the battle of Resaca US losses were 3,500 and CS 2,600 in another repulse of Sherman.

At Adairsville at a fork in the road Johnston set an ambush for Sherman and Sherman took the bait. Johnston was able to isolated McPherson 35,000 troops against his whole army. But happenstance union Calvary in the area and subordinate failure to attack on time saved McPherson. Johnson out did Sherman but Sherman was rescued by luck.


New Hope/ Pickett's Mill

“There hasn't been more than twenty reb's there today”
-William T Sherman


“Once again Sherman found that he deluded himself when the federals encountered stiff resistance as they fell on the main confederate line”
-John Canaan The Atlanta campaign


Sherman misread the strength of the enemy at New hope and Picketts Mill that led to costly frontal assaults. At the battle of new hope church US losses were 1,665 confederate losses were half that number. At Picketts mill US losses were 1,600 and confederates under Cleburne only 420. Sherman omitted this battle and its losses from his memoirs and his official reports. These battles along with the battle of Dallas stopped Shermans flanking maneuver in its tracks. During the month of May US losses were 9,209 to CS 8,500.


Kennesaw

At the battle of Kennesaw mountain Sherman relied on frontal assaults against heavily fortified confederates. US losses were 3,000 CS 700. Sherman wanted to do more direct attacks on the fortified mountain justifying it by saying Grants losses were far greater in Virginia, general Thomas talked him out of it. However General Schofeild found a way to outflank the enemy allowing the union to force the retreat of the confederates and rescuing Sherman from more direct assault with heavy losses.


John Bell Hood Takes Command

“Hes is bold...I am doubtful to other qualities necessary”
-Robert E Lee on John Bell Hood


The most important event that happened to influence the campaign and fight for Atlanta, was when Jefferson Davis replaced Johnston with Hood. Davis was upset with Johnston for giving ground to easy and replaced him with the aggressive Hood. This would prove a fatal error by Davis as Sherman said he could not have taken Atlanta by direct assault.


Sherman Rescued Once More

“Sherman failed to show concern for his exposed flank. Sherman overruled and sent dodge to destroy rail. McPherson went to Sherman talked him out of it.”
- Ronald H Bailey Battles for Atlanta Sherman Moves East


Hood went to work right away, he caught Sherman off guard. Hood spotted a mistake in Shermans lines as Sherman left a flank vulnerable to attack and unguarded. Hood than got 2 corps around and behind McPherson for the attack without Sherman knowledge. McPherson had complained about the flank and Sherman was warned Hood was very aggressive and would attack Sherman. Sherman was overconfident and instead overruled McPherson and send General Dodge not to protect McPherson flank, but to tear up rail line. McPherson than complained personally to Sherman and Sherman relented. Dodge was allowed to cover the flank just in time to respond to Hoods attack. This saved McPherson command and in turn, Sherman from a sound defeat of McPherson command. Hood had a 2 corps flanking against McPherson by surprise. Had Sherman had his way, Instead Hood met with small, but costly success in the battle and McPherson corps was saved.

“that fortunate peace of work was mcpherson”
-Ronald H Bailey Battles for Atlanta Sherman Moves East


Shermans Calvary Raid

Sherman sent Mccook and Stoneman behind enemy lines on a Calvary raid in an attempt to destroy rail and release union soldiers held captive at Andersonville. Instead Mccook was routed and only a few hundred made it back to union lines while Stoneman was surrounded and surrendered. Instead of freeing prisoners the attempt added thousands.

“The entire raid had been a costly and embarrassing failure. All in all, Sherman lost 4,200 troopers during this escapade, almost half of his entire Calvary force”
-John Cannan The Atlanta campaign



The Capture of Atlanta

Hood than went on to destroy 1/3 of his army in failed, unorganized, unsupported assaults on fortified union lines when the defender outnumbered him, and had hundreds of wagons captured by cavalry. Later Sherman was “obsession with tearing up rails missed opportunity to destroy Hardee at Jonesboro .” Shermans slow action and focus on rail, allowed Hardee to escape and the confederate army along with it. But with the capture of the rail line, Hood retreated out of Atlanta.


Atlanta Campaign Conclusions

“Sherman had failed in his primary objective of destroying the confederate army”
-Ronald H Bailey Battles for Atlanta Sherman Moves East


Sherman captured Atlanta, but did not achieve his main objective of destroying the confederate army. Sherman performed well during the Atlanta campaign against sub par generals and sub par armies. He had vast advantages in manpower and equipment and performed multiple great flanking maneuvers. However he was bested at least once by both Hood and Johnston and was saved by his subordinates a few times. It was a war of maneuvering and Shermans manpower advantage gave him a distinct advantage to be able to outmaneuver his enemy. During the siege Sherman said “we are more besieged than them...the enemy holds us by an inferior force.” In reality it was not such an amazing feat, but the consequences of the capture of Atlanta, given the time and circumstance of the war. Made it a impact-full victory and perhaps overrated.


Sherman's March to the sea

“I can make Georgia howl!”
-William T Sherman


Grant and Lincoln wanted Sherman to pursue and destroy Hood his main objective of the Atlanta campaign. Instead Sherman wanted to use his army as a large raiding party through the deep south. What Sherman really did was wage war on private property and civilians. The confederacy could offer no resistance to Sherman by late 64 and I don't see this as great military genius needed to command a raiding party with no opposition. He did a great job collecting and living off the land,[using census data to help] but as to view this from a great military commander perspective does not seem to work. In fact maybe the one time he could have won a military victory when he had Hardee's 10,000 men garrison of Savannah vastly outnumbered. Yet Sherman decided to lay siege and allowed Hardee's entire force to escape. Than later in North Carolina a vastly outnumbered confederate army under Joe Johnston attacked Sherman's with a insignificant result at Bentonville. Johnston would surrender soon after.

Sherman failed to complete what would have been a great military accomplishment by destroying Hood. This would have done more to end the war that stealing private citizens food and property. Yes this prevented supply from helping Lee, but Lee was near spent anyways and would surrender to Grant had Sherman marched to the sea or not. With Lee gone the rest of the south follows.

Why is Sherman Overrated?

It is my opinion that General Sherman is the most overrated general of the war. I believe in many ways during the early years it was only his friendship with Grant that held him above water and gave him chance after chance. He seemed to have failed over and over and only when the confederacy was near spent 64-65, did Sherman begin to have success.

After the war Sherman and his friend Grant both wrote popular memories and held each other up. These kind of works had influence on the public opinion of the men. Grant being elected president gave even more sway to Sherman and Grant. The fact that Sherman went on to fight the Indians and helped the expansion of America out west, I think also makes him one of the “good guys” and inflates his reputation. But I believe most of all the capture of Atlanta is the cause of Sherman being overrated. Viewed simply from a military point of view it was his best performance and a good campaign. But the fact it literally ensured Lincoln would be reelected and the war won for the north tends to inflate the accomplishment militarily. He shined at just the right time. Helping the republican party that would be in power the next 70 years and would influence and control education. Sure does not do anything that would diminish his reputation by seceding generations taught in schools.


References

-Great Campaigns The Shiloh Campaign David G Martin Combined Books PA 1996
-Great Campaigns the Atlanta campaign John Cannan Combined Books PA 1991
- John J Hennessy The first battle of Manassas Stackpole Books 2015
-Receding Tide Vicksburg and Gettysburg the Campaigns That changed the civil war Edwin C Bearess and J Parker Hills National Geographic D.C 2010
-Thomas J Rowland George B Mcclellan and Civil war History in the Shadow of grant and Sherman Kent State University Press 1998
-Six Armies in Tennessee the Chickamagua and Chattanooga Campaigns Steven E Woodworth University of Nebraska press 1998
-Battles for Atlanta Sherman Moves East Ronald H Bailey Time-Life Books, Alexandria, Virginia 1985
-Personal Memoirs of U.S Grant Da Capo Press 2001 -The Campaigns of General Nathan Bedford Forrest and of Forrest's Cavalry Da Capo Press 1996 --The Confederate war Gary Gallagher Harvard University press 1999 -A History of the south the Confederate States of America E Merton Coulter Louisiana State Press 1950
-James V Murfin Battlefields of the Civil war
-America's Civil war Magazine http://www.historynet.com/americas-civil-war
-Civil war Trust http://www.civilwar.org/
Last edited by 1stvermont on Thu Oct 20, 2016 11:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"How do you like this are coming back into the union"
Confederate solider to Pennsylvanian citizen before Gettysburg

"No way sherman will go to hell, he would outflank the devil and get past havens guard"
Southern solider about northern General Sherman

"Angels went to receive his body from his grave but he was not there, they left very disappointed but upon return to haven, found he had outflanked them and was already there".
Northern newspaper about the death of Stonewall Jackson

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Re: William T Sherman- The Most Overrated General of the Civil war?

Sun Oct 09, 2016 9:21 am

Just a quick comment. Thomas didn't lead the attack at Chattanooga. He was with Grant during the whole attack and had only ordered a demonstration. His troops, after overrunning the first line of rifle pits decided, on their own initiative, to keep going. Thomas was as supersized as Grant that they kept going...good thing for the both of them that it worked out in the end.

Otherwise, I agree that Sherman is a mixed bag as a commander.

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Re: William T Sherman- The Most Overrated General of the Civil war?

Sun Oct 16, 2016 1:04 am

pgr wrote:Just a quick comment. Thomas didn't lead the attack at Chattanooga. He was with Grant during the whole attack and had only ordered a demonstration. His troops, after overrunning the first line of rifle pits decided, on their own initiative, to keep going. Thomas was as supersized as Grant that they kept going...good thing for the both of them that it worked out in the end.

Otherwise, I agree that Sherman is a mixed bag as a commander.


Thanks for noticing that. I should have said ordered. He did however ordered them to take the rifle pits, and than orders became unclear as some though they were to assault and keep going [like sheridan and others] and some were unsure or thought to stop. He did command the attack to continue when it gained the success and chased the rebels afterwords.

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Re: William T Sherman- The Most Overrated General of the Civil war?

Thu Oct 20, 2016 7:31 am

I have no intention of getting into a big discussion, but there are a couple of points I'd like to make.

Sherman's single regiment attacks at First Manassas was conform with the tactics the army used at the time. In fact, William Franklin was the only brigade commander to have committed 2 regiments simultaneously to an attack during the entire battle. It was considered not tactically practical for a brigade commander to control more than 1 regiment on the attack at a time. It makes no sense to criticize Sherman for following standard tactics.

Sherman was NOT relieved of command at all after Chickasaw Bluffs. He was in command of his corps a the Battle of Arkansas Post only a couple of weeks later.

You state that "Halleck, Grant and Sherman all believed the true confederate force to be 130,000 men" at Corinth, as evidence of Sherman's being overrated. Without even looking into the facts, holding Sherman personally responsible for this shows a personal bias, which does serious investigation of history an injustice.

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Re: William T Sherman- The Most Overrated General of the Civil war?

Thu Oct 20, 2016 11:41 pm

Captain_Orso wrote:I have no intention of getting into a big discussion, but there are a couple of points I'd like to make.

Sherman's single regiment attacks at First Manassas was conform with the tactics the army used at the time. In fact, William Franklin was the only brigade commander to have committed 2 regiments simultaneously to an attack during the entire battle. It was considered not tactically practical for a brigade commander to control more than 1 regiment on the attack at a time. It makes no sense to criticize Sherman for following standard tactics.

Sherman was NOT relieved of command at all after Chickasaw Bluffs. He was in command of his corps a the Battle of Arkansas Post only a couple of weeks later.

You state that "Halleck, Grant and Sherman all believed the true confederate force to be 130,000 men" at Corinth, as evidence of Sherman's being overrated. Without even looking into the facts, holding Sherman personally responsible for this shows a personal bias, which does serious investigation of history an injustice.



Thanks for post and comments. I think if the standard tactic is wrong, and you go along with it, than you are also to blame. Its part of why I love Jackson/forrest/ lee/ grant , they changed warfare. I would have to reread but I thought multiple times entire brigades were thrown in the battle on both sides, but I could be wrong. Either way, not a good idea.

Thanks for noticing the mistake. He was superseded by Mcclerand not replaced. My apologizes i will edit my op.

Please provide some support. Sherman was part of the group deceived, that is all i was saying.

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Re: William T Sherman- The Most Overrated General of the Civil war?

Fri Oct 21, 2016 9:32 am

1stvermont wrote:
Captain_Orso wrote:I have no intention of getting into a big discussion, but there are a couple of points I'd like to make.

Sherman's single regiment attacks at First Manassas was conform with the tactics the army used at the time. In fact, William Franklin was the only brigade commander to have committed 2 regiments simultaneously to an attack during the entire battle. It was considered not tactically practical for a brigade commander to control more than 1 regiment on the attack at a time. It makes no sense to criticize Sherman for following standard tactics.

Sherman was NOT relieved of command at all after Chickasaw Bluffs. He was in command of his corps a the Battle of Arkansas Post only a couple of weeks later.

You state that "Halleck, Grant and Sherman all believed the true confederate force to be 130,000 men" at Corinth, as evidence of Sherman's being overrated. Without even looking into the facts, holding Sherman personally responsible for this shows a personal bias, which does serious investigation of history an injustice.



Thanks for post and comments. I think if the standard tactic is wrong, and you go along with it, than you are also to blame. Its part of why I love Jackson/forrest/ lee/ grant , they changed warfare. I would have to reread but I thought multiple times entire brigades were thrown in the battle on both sides, but I could be wrong. Either way, not a good idea.

Thanks for noticing the mistake. He was superseded by Mcclerand not replaced. My apologizes i will edit my op.

Please provide some support. Sherman was part of the group deceived, that is all i was saying.


It seems you are expecting a brigade commander, who's only combat experience was as a 2nd lieutenant during the 2nd Seminole War, to throw military doctrine to the wind during the first major engagement of the war and devise his own tactics on the spot. That is far from a realistic expectation, in my opinion.

If you would like an historic account of the First Battle of Bull Run/Manassas I can recommend The Early Morning Of War Bull Run, 1861 by Edward G. Longacre. I found his analysis and account very enlightening.

McClernand outranked Sherman already before Chickasaw Bluffs and Arkansas Post. Without contradictory orders he was obliged to follow McClernand's orders, although I'm sure the situation was not that simple; it never is.

If you wish to hypothesize Sherman should have, or even could have, had a better estimation of the CS forces at Corinth, you will have to show evidence for that.

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Re: William T Sherman- The Most Overrated General of the Civil war?

Fri Oct 21, 2016 3:58 pm

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=0nU ... an&f=false

Online here:. See page 413 dealling with the authors critscism of standard military doctrine of keeping a heavy reserve, half the regs, and Sherman using his regiments one at a time piecmeal, deawing from that reswerve force to supportt each regimnet as warranted, which saw his entire command defeated piecmeal.

http://www.civilwarhome.com/strategyandtactics.html

Collection of usefull articles on combat for the period.

Manuals that the Officers were trained to use are here: http://www.storymindmedia.com/angryalie ... anuals.htm

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Re: William T Sherman- The Most Overrated General of the Civil war?

Fri Oct 21, 2016 7:12 pm

Yes, Longacre in full hindsight knows that through Franklin's example it could have been possible to commit 2 regiments to an assault at one time. That is however not the question. Sherman did not have the luxury of this knowledge, so he conducted his assault per the standing doctrine. That cannot be held against him.

To understand history, you must first ignore what you already know of history, and look at the situation through the eyes of those involved at the point in time in question. Only then can you understand the most important question of history, why people did what they did.

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Re: William T Sherman- The Most Overrated General of the Civil war?

Fri Oct 21, 2016 8:56 pm

Captain_Orso wrote:
1stvermont wrote:
Captain_Orso wrote:
It seems you are expecting a brigade commander, who's only combat experience was as a 2nd lieutenant during the 2nd Seminole War, to throw military doctrine to the wind during the first major engagement of the war and devise his own tactics on the spot. That is far from a realistic expectation, in my opinion.

If you would like an historic account of the First Battle of Bull Run/Manassas I can recommend The Early Morning Of War Bull Run, 1861 by Edward G. Longacre. I found his analysis and account very enlightening.

McClernand outranked Sherman already before Chickasaw Bluffs and Arkansas Post. Without contradictory orders he was obliged to follow McClernand's orders, although I'm sure the situation was not that simple; it never is.

If you wish to hypothesize Sherman should have, or even could have, had a better estimation of the CS forces at Corinth, you will have to show evidence for that.



No I was looking more for common sense. Like I said, if common thought is wrong, dont follow it if you want to be considered great. That is why men like Grant/Lee/Jackson etc are great. Jackson at bull run in many ways did not follow standard tactics, and it made him great at bull run. Its not like the textbooks said you can only attack one regiment at a time, look at the mexican american war, see what Scott did with great success. With your expectations we would still be fighting with swords/shields as nothing new can be tried. Also please show me where the tactical books changed during the war so that generals could than change how they fight. Otherwise where did they learn? by experiences. However if i am not mistaken men like Burnside and porter and the fighting around matthews hill was mostly entire brigades in attack. Than in the counter attack from Henry hill.

The book i was working off was highly recommended called John J Hennessy The first battle of Manassas Stackpole Books 2015 I promise you it was a historical book using only first hand historical accounts. Not sure if you were confused i was using a fantasy book.

Corinth, he was deceived along with the other generals I was not saying he was responsible. My evidence is the csa force was less than half what was thought to be. If we are to be critical of generals like McClellan for this [being deceived] we should other generals as well.

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Re: William T Sherman- The Most Overrated General of the Civil war?

Sun Oct 23, 2016 7:15 pm

Captain_Orso wrote:Yes, Longacre in full hindsight knows that through Franklin's example it could have been possible to commit 2 regiments to an assault at one time. That is however not the question. Sherman did not have the luxury of this knowledge, so he conducted his assault per the standing doctrine. That cannot be held against him.
Actually everyones book training was to assault with half the elements in the Brigade, with the remander forming to the rear to support the attack and or explot initial success. Sherman failled to attack with more than 1 regiment for the entire engagment, so your dislike of the point is based on not what Sherman was trained to do, as the author you citied explains that Sherman did not apply how a Brigade should attack, but went in piecmeal.
To understand history, you must first ignore what you already know of history, and look at the situation through the eyes of those involved at the point in time in question. Only then can you understand the most important question of history, why people did what they did.
except your problem is one of contradicting the author. the next problem is how come Jackson used every Reg when he assaulted at Bull Run and their are many examples of this at Bull run.

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Re: William T Sherman- The Most Overrated General of the Civil war?

Mon Oct 24, 2016 11:35 am

1stvermont wrote:No I was looking more for common sense. Like I said, if common thought is wrong, dont follow it if you want to be considered great. That is why men like Grant/Lee/Jackson etc are great. Jackson at bull run in many ways did not follow standard tactics, and it made him great at bull run. Its not like the textbooks said you can only attack one regiment at a time, look at the mexican american war, see what Scott did with great success. With your expectations we would still be fighting with swords/shields as nothing new can be tried. Also please show me where the tactical books changed during the war so that generals could than change how they fight. Otherwise where did they learn? by experiences. However if i am not mistaken men like Burnside and porter and the fighting around matthews hill was mostly entire brigades in attack. Than in the counter attack from Henry hill.

The book i was working off was highly recommended called John J Hennessy The first battle of Manassas Stackpole Books 2015 I promise you it was a historical book using only first hand historical accounts. Not sure if you were confused i was using a fantasy book.

Corinth, he was deceived along with the other generals I was not saying he was responsible. My evidence is the csa force was less than half what was thought to be. If we are to be critical of generals like McClellan for this [being deceived] we should other generals as well.


I believe what you are calling "common sense" is simply looking back at what you have read and then introspecting your feelings on it, It sound like:

After reading it, it's obvious to me that committing 2 regiments abreast was the better tactic. So those who didn't do this at the time are just not good leaders, because the tactic is obvious to me.

Measuring the quality of leadership by looking for the deduction and successful use of new tactic, before all others, is in my opinion, not viable.

Expecting those on the battlefield to have the insight gained only through the experience of others, and passed on through time, is ridiculous.

The study of history is a scientific study. Statements require evidence to be considered an hypothesis. Without evidence, they are simply conjectures, which are meaningless. There are no arguments based on "common sense".

This is exactly why I said I don't want to get into a discussion on this, because I'm not interested in discussing opinions based on "common sense", which is actually just your feelings. Fine that those are your feelings, but I have no interest in discussing them.

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Re: William T Sherman- The Most Overrated General of the Civil war?

Mon Oct 24, 2016 1:02 pm

hanny1 wrote:
Captain_Orso wrote:Yes, Longacre in full hindsight knows that through Franklin's example it could have been possible to commit 2 regiments to an assault at one time. That is however not the question. Sherman did not have the luxury of this knowledge, so he conducted his assault per the standing doctrine. That cannot be held against him.


Actually everyones book training was to assault with half the elements in the Brigade, with the remander forming to the rear to support the attack and or explot initial success. Sherman failled to attack with more than 1 regiment for the entire engagment, so your dislike of the point is based on not what Sherman was trained to do, as the author you citied explains that Sherman did not apply how a Brigade should attack, but went in piecmeal.


In his opinioning Longacre stated that Sherman's assault was doomed from the start, but also "The red-haired Ohioan cannot be faulted for a lack of tactical vision". He writes further, "The war now beginning marked the first time in American history that sizeable bodies of infantry had become available to a field commander. In Mexico, the only operational proving ground in national memory, most of the fighting had been accomplished in regimental and small-unit strength. This mid-nineteenth-century infantry-assaults tactics (most of them predicated on attacking fixed works rather than an enemy force in line of battle) suggested that larger formations would prove unmanageable, exceeding the control of a single commander. Military theory also limited the size of an attacking force by recommending that fully half of it be assigned to the reserve rather than to the front line."

hanny1 wrote:except your problem is one of contradicting the author. the next problem is how come Jackson used every Reg when he assaulted at Bull Run and their are many examples of this at Bull run.


I have no idea what you are talking about. Jackson arrived with his brigade on an Henry Hill devoid of an enemy presence, and refused to move down to the defensive line on the Young's Branch manned by the remnants of Bee's, Bartow's, and Evans' brigades; he never assaulted Henry Hill.

He did assault Griffin's and Ricketts' batteries near the Henry House, but never with even half of his brigade at one time.

IIRC all the Union brigades which actually fought on the west side of Bull Run committed all of their regiments to an assault at one time or another.

I, in no way, disagree with Longacre nor Hennessy. I disagree with yours and Vermont's interpretations of their writings.

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Re: William T Sherman- The Most Overrated General of the Civil war?

Mon Oct 24, 2016 10:28 pm

Captain_Orso wrote:
1stvermont wrote:No I was looking more for common sense. Like I said, if common thought is wrong, dont follow it if you want to be considered great. That is why men like Grant/Lee/Jackson etc are great. Jackson at bull run in many ways did not follow standard tactics, and it made him great at bull run. Its not like the textbooks said you can only attack one regiment at a time, look at the mexican american war, see what Scott did with great success. With your expectations we would still be fighting with swords/shields as nothing new can be tried. Also please show me where the tactical books changed during the war so that generals could than change how they fight. Otherwise where did they learn? by experiences. However if i am not mistaken men like Burnside and porter and the fighting around matthews hill was mostly entire brigades in attack. Than in the counter attack from Henry hill.

The book i was working off was highly recommended called John J Hennessy The first battle of Manassas Stackpole Books 2015 I promise you it was a historical book using only first hand historical accounts. Not sure if you were confused i was using a fantasy book.

Corinth, he was deceived along with the other generals I was not saying he was responsible. My evidence is the csa force was less than half what was thought to be. If we are to be critical of generals like McClellan for this [being deceived] we should other generals as well.


I believe what you are calling "common sense" is simply looking back at what you have read and then introspecting your feelings on it, It sound like:

After reading it, it's obvious to me that committing 2 regiments abreast was the better tactic. So those who didn't do this at the time are just not good leaders, because the tactic is obvious to me.

Measuring the quality of leadership by looking for the deduction and successful use of new tactic, before all others, is in my opinion, not viable.

Expecting those on the battlefield to have the insight gained only through the experience of others, and passed on through time, is ridiculous.

The study of history is a scientific study. Statements require evidence to be considered an hypothesis. Without evidence, they are simply conjectures, which are meaningless. There are no arguments based on "common sense".

This is exactly why I said I don't want to get into a discussion on this, because I'm not interested in discussing opinions based on "common sense", which is actually just your feelings. Fine that those are your feelings, but I have no interest in discussing them.


I can see what your saying but the fact is as I stated, many commanders used more than one regiment at bull run and all generals would still be using swords/ shields if nothing new was done or tried. If standard doctrine defies common sense, if you wont to be considered great, don't follow it. If Lee/ Grant/Jackson/Forrest all followed standard doctrine, they would have never been great. Maybe part of what makes forrest so great, he used common sense and not textbooks. It is common sense in warfare since the beginning of time.

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Re: William T Sherman- The Most Overrated General of the Civil war?

Tue Oct 25, 2016 3:18 am

Not everyone finds Lee, Jackson, Grant, or Forrest "great."
Lee was good at retreating warfare. On the offensive he wasn't so great.
Jackson was good as he was going up against some of the worst Union generals. Would he have done as well against the better Union generals that came along later? We'll never know.
Grant was good at attacking. He was willing to do something that most Union generals weren't willing to do . . . send men to their deaths in battle. Grant was "bloody" in that regard.
Forrest was good at guerilla tactics. Hit and run. Again against marginal Union generals.

So would any of them be in my classification of "greatness"? No, none would. They were each good in their own way, but overall "great", no not at all.

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Re: William T Sherman- The Most Overrated General of the Civil war?

Tue Oct 25, 2016 7:17 am

Yet Forrest's tactics at the Battle of Brice's Crossroads is still taught at West Point.

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Re: William T Sherman- The Most Overrated General of the Civil war?

Tue Oct 25, 2016 12:40 pm

DrPostman wrote:Yet Forrest's tactics at the Battle of Brice's Crossroads is still taught at West Point.


They have to teach something.

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Re: William T Sherman- The Most Overrated General of the Civil war?

Tue Oct 25, 2016 1:19 pm

Captain_Orso wrote:
In his opinioning Longacre stated that Sherman's assault was doomed from the start, but also "The red-haired Ohioan cannot be faulted for a lack of tactical vision". He writes further, "The war now beginning marked the first time in American history that sizeable bodies of infantry had become available to a field commander. In Mexico, the only operational proving ground in national memory, most of the fighting had been accomplished in regimental and small-unit strength. This mid-nineteenth-century infantry-assaults tactics (most of them predicated on attacking fixed works rather than an enemy force in line of battle) suggested that larger formations would prove unmanageable, exceeding the control of a single commander. Military theory also limited the size of an attacking force by recommending that fully half of it be assigned to the reserve rather than to the front line."


Are you reading impaired or simply being ignorant?. you already posted "Sherman's single regiment attacks at First Manassas was conform with the tactics the army used at the time. In fact, William Franklin was the only brigade commander to have committed 2 regiments simultaneously to an attack during the entire battle. It was considered not tactically practical for a brigade commander to control more than 1 regiment on the attack at a time. It makes no sense to criticize Sherman for following standard tactics." and citeied a book that contradicts your posts content completly."

Longacre on the pages already quoted tells the reader Sherman did not act as he was trained to act and went in peicemeal, and was defeated piecmeal, he offers the opinion had it been delivered with more weight it may have succedded, but you ignore that and mutch else of his negative comments on Shermans actions. The manuals i linked readers to show that from Mexico onwards US military doctrine was to use half the elements of a Brigade to assault with, this was standard doctrine, here is an author explaining this doctrine in practice in Mexico. https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=WHg ... ar&f=false on page 75



Captain_Orso wrote:I have no idea what you are talking about. Jackson arrived with his brigade on an Henry Hill devoid of an enemy presence, and refused to move down to the defensive line on the Young's Branch manned by the remnants of Bee's, Bartow's, and Evans' brigades; he never assaulted Henry Hill.


Im refering to actuial history, which is why your in the dark. I refered to Jackson, trained the same as Sherman, when attacking used all 5 regiments of his Brigade, see acount here, http://www.worldcat.org/title/stonewall ... /606104050 Or Hendersons acount if your prefer.

He did assault Griffin's and Ricketts' batteries near the Henry House, but never with even half of his brigade at one time.


Except that he used his entire Brigade. 33rd had charged in and was pushed back by 14th Ny and 1st Minn, so he orderd the 4th and 27 Th V to assault the federal, supported by 49th Va Bttn, 2nd Miss, and 6 NC, this was sucessful and the remaing Regiment also went forward in pursuit of the defeated federal forces. when jackson orderd a full attack/pursuit by all Regiments.

other commanders using multi Reg attacks include Averill, 8th 14th NY against Jackson Arty line. Keyes at 12:30 orderd by his Div commander to use 2nd Maine 3rd Conn, with 2 others as supports, to assualt the guns on Robinson house.https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=UQ5 ... se&f=false
Franklins 5th and 11th Mass. Hoawrd attacking with 4th Main 2nd Vt with 3rd and 5th Main in reserve.
IIRC all the Union brigades which actually fought on the west side of Bull Run committed all of their regiments to an assault at one time or another.

So?.
I, in no way, disagree with Longacre nor Hennessy. I disagree with yours and Vermont's interpretations of their writings.
Given that your the one contradicting their written word, and all of history no wonder your so confused.

Yes, Longacre in full hindsight knows that through Franklin's example it could have been possible to commit 2 regiments to an assault at one time. That is however not the question. Sherman did not have the luxury of this knowledge, so he conducted his assault per the standing doctrine. That cannot be held against him.


Not hindsight, Franklin and Averill on the USA side both put in standard doctine attacks using half the Brigades assets, as per how they were taught to do. Sherman just as everyone from WP on the field knew thats the way to do it, he just failled to do so, as was condemd by Longacre for this failure. You treally ought not to cite books that contradict what you post, as it gives the impression of being ignorant.
Last edited by hanny1 on Tue Oct 25, 2016 2:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: William T Sherman- The Most Overrated General of the Civil war?

Tue Oct 25, 2016 1:20 pm

csiemers wrote:
DrPostman wrote:Yet Forrest's tactics at the Battle of Brice's Crossroads is still taught at West Point.


They have to teach something.


And G Patton was one who proffited much from doing so.

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Re: William T Sherman- The Most Overrated General of the Civil war?

Tue Oct 25, 2016 1:29 pm

1stvermont wrote:I can see what your saying but the fact is as I stated, many commanders used more than one regiment at bull run and all generals would still be using swords/ shields if nothing new was done or tried. If standard doctrine defies common sense, if you wont to be considered great, don't follow it. If Lee/ Grant/Jackson/Forrest all followed standard doctrine, they would have never been great. Maybe part of what makes forrest so great, he used common sense and not textbooks. It is common sense in warfare since the beginning of time.


This is ridiculous. What you are talking about has nothing to do with "common sense". There's a saying in Germany, "you think they should smell the knowledge". That is how I see you acting, and that makes it pointless for me to discuss this with you.

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Re: William T Sherman- The Most Overrated General of the Civil war?

Tue Oct 25, 2016 2:14 pm

What about those who didn't follow common tactic and failed? I guess they were more numerous but were not so remembered.
So, maybe like Napoleon said, luck is big part of greatness, and a general is not great for he has some luck one time, but a true great general had this 'luck' proved in several battles.

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Re: William T Sherman- The Most Overrated General of the Civil war?

Tue Oct 25, 2016 10:37 pm

csiemers wrote:Not everyone finds Lee, Jackson, Grant, or Forrest "great."
Lee was good at retreating warfare. On the offensive he wasn't so great.
Jackson was good as he was going up against some of the worst Union generals. Would he have done as well against the better Union generals that came along later? We'll never know.
Grant was good at attacking. He was willing to do something that most Union generals weren't willing to do . . . send men to their deaths in battle. Grant was "bloody" in that regard.
Forrest was good at guerilla tactics. Hit and run. Again against marginal Union generals.

So would any of them be in my classification of "greatness"? No, none would. They were each good in their own way, but overall "great", no not at all.


I wonder who you would consider "great" and just what you meant by the word. But i think this all off topic.

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Re: William T Sherman- The Most Overrated General of the Civil war?

Tue Oct 25, 2016 10:38 pm

Captain_Orso wrote:
1stvermont wrote:I can see what your saying but the fact is as I stated, many commanders used more than one regiment at bull run and all generals would still be using swords/ shields if nothing new was done or tried. If standard doctrine defies common sense, if you wont to be considered great, don't follow it. If Lee/ Grant/Jackson/Forrest all followed standard doctrine, they would have never been great. Maybe part of what makes forrest so great, he used common sense and not textbooks. It is common sense in warfare since the beginning of time.


This is ridiculous. What you are talking about has nothing to do with "common sense". There's a saying in Germany, "you think they should smell the knowledge". That is how I see you acting, and that makes it pointless for me to discuss this with you.


Hmm they have a whole brigade over there, lets attack with just one regiment at a time to ensure our defeat. Larger numbers at the point of attack is Napoleonic basic tactics.

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Re: William T Sherman- The Most Overrated General of the Civil war?

Wed Oct 26, 2016 2:46 am

1stvermont wrote:I wonder who you would consider "great" and just what you meant by the word. But i think this all off topic.


Ok, I guess you don't like dissenting opinions, so I'll not post here anymore.

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