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GraniteStater
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Sat Mar 24, 2012 11:20 pm

Grant's historical assessment as President has improved in recent decades. I view his conduct in the two offices as entirely separate things. AFAIK, he didn't really want to be President to the degree that, for example, Seward did.

In a similar vein, Grant's stock as a commander has been rising steadily for 50 years, while Lee's reputation is a bit more objectively assessed now. In a nutshell, if I were to choose between the two as my man for a war I had to win in the mid-19th century (one must stick to that time frame, I believe; unlike baseball, historical circumstances are too great an influence), I'd take Grant every time. I'd take Sherman over Lee, too, and even Thomas or Longstreet.

Lee was the last of the romantics, if I may characterize him as such, in temperament and views. The ones I prefer had more of a modern outlook (for some reasons I shall not go into, Longstreet is more of a modern thinker, to my mind).

Grant and Sherman were the chief principals in prosecuting - and winning - the world's first modern war. Don't forget Lincoln, either, who saw what the essential points of principle and practicality were.
[color="#AFEEEE"]"Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!"[/color]
-Daniel Webster

[color="#FFA07A"]"C'mon, boys, we got the damn Yankees on the run!"[/color]
-General Joseph Wheeler, US Army, serving at Santiago in 1898

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Stauffenberg
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Sun Mar 25, 2012 12:44 am

GraniteStater wrote:Grant's historical assessment as President has improved in recent decades. I view his conduct in the two offices as entirely separate things. AFAIK, he didn't really want to be President to the degree that, for example, Seward did.

In a similar vein, Grant's stock as a commander has been rising steadily for 50 years, while Lee's reputation is a bit more objectively assessed now. In a nutshell, if I were to choose between the two as my man for a war I had to win in the mid-19th century (one must stick to that time frame, I believe; unlike baseball, historical circumstances are too great an influence), I'd take Grant every time. I'd take Sherman over Lee, too, and even Thomas or Longstreet.

Lee was the last of the romantics, if I may characterize him as such, in temperament and views. The ones I prefer had more of a modern outlook (for some reasons I shall not go into, Longstreet is more of a modern thinker, to my mind).

Grant and Sherman were the chief principals in prosecuting - and winning - the world's first modern war. Don't forget Lincoln, either, who saw what the essential points of principle and practicality were.


Oh well I'm not going to chew on that for long, it will hijack the thread: but I can’t let that go. As far as "romantic vs practicality" goes, we can all see where that has lead things in the century of benighted warfare that followed the 19th century. At least the Civil War protagonists had the excuse of newness with regards to élan and courage vs the brutal reality of the advancing technology of warfare. That some kept a spirit of chivalry alive in the midst of that is to their credit in my mind, as opposed to burning farms, slaughtering livestock, and inducing famine etc.: all very practical goals--rather far less honourable, at least for some. Lee, on his northern invasion in '63, could have made Maryland and Pennsylvania "howl" á la Sherman... but he didn't.

Lee's perspicacity with respect to his psychological assessment of his foes, is far beyond Grant's ken. The downside of the "romantic" bent in war, still leaves it in a dimension with a conscience. Grant was man enough to admit Cold Harbor was a huge mistake in his written memoirs, long after the event. I will credit him with that, but it's the least he could do surely...? By way of contrast, Lee was man enough to walk out upon the field and admit as much directly to the men of Pickett’s division returning from the very attack in which they had suffered over 50% casualties. I can’t think of a better contrast: give me a "romantic" any day of the week.

And frankly, if Grant had had to rely upon his own psychological insight into his opponent, as opposed to sheer material and manpower preponderance, he would have been in deep waters indeed. Sherman himself claimed Grant was almost insensate to the plans of his opponent once his mind was set. This is military genius? No it isn't: with this mind-set in place, he would have burned his army to cinders were he facing a Lee with a larger army than his—he could afford to be profligate with his mens' lives with an army twice the size of Lee’s, no? Yet this “practical” methodology almost handed Lincoln a severe political defeat in ’64 as it was, the war in fact, in losing 60,000 + men to Lee’s 35,000. Alexander Haig attempted this rather blunt manoeuvre against the Germans with 27 divisions vs 16 in the Battle of the Somme in 1916—the result was an inconclusive slaughter that lives on as perhaps the most infamous example of pointless and egregiously bloody attrition. Grant would have been as “modern” as Haig were it 1916, surely. He could feel fortunate he was not up against a southern army manning trenches and machine guns.

Finally, Lee was not the "last of romantics": Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck in E. German Africa in WW I, along with T.E. Lawrence, Rommel in WW II, and many others, have to be understood and appreciated as well. It is a tension, finally, that exists in every soldier and officer: how they balance the two, or fail to it could be argued, is a measure of their greatness or lack thereof.
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Sun Mar 25, 2012 1:25 am

I'd give this a plus if there were that function. My sentiments exactly.

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GraniteStater
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Sun Mar 25, 2012 1:44 am

You misunderstand me to some extent. The contrast I made was, to expand, "18th/19th century limited war vs. modern total war".

It is not a commanders part to apologize to anyone. He is accountable to his superiors and no one else. He is the commander and the responsibility for all is his and his alone. Lee's action is commendable, but if he had not done so, he could not have been faulted. Grant was writing for the public and put it on the record that he regretted his decision - this is not the same as an apology. Cold Harbor and 3 July 1863 were both frontal attacks that are justified if the commander feels that the cost is worth the gain. No one can take that responsibility and authority from a commander - he is the commanding officer and it his decision, for ill or good. It is not unlikely that if you or I were in their boots on both occasions, we would issue the same orders.

A reporter came to Grant after the war and offered the same criticisms that you mention to Grant in his own parlor, preponderance of men and materiel, etc. For one of the very few times in his life, Grant lost his temper. He pointed out to the scribbler that McDowell, McClellan, Pope, Hooker, Burnside and even Meade (IIRC, Grant merely said 'other generals' and did not use names) had tried to effect the surrender of those forces in the state of Virginia who were engaged in an unlawful rebellion against the authority of the United States. None of them had done so - he had.

Grant is not beyond reproach. His focus on his plans could be detrimental. Still, as he said to his staff at the Wilderness, "I'm sick to death of hearing about 'Bobby' Lee. Stop thinking about what he's going to do to you and start thinking about what you're going to him. Now, bring those guns up!"

Whether Lee before Vicksburg would have conceived of Grant's third (succesful) attempt to approach the position is beyond speculation (this is the campaign that, in the opinion of Fuller, puts him in the company of Wellington, Caesar and Alexander, and I agree, it was a masterpiece of calculated risk, daring, and sheer courage - once he was on dry ground on the same side of Ole Man River, he whipped Johnny Reb). What Grant may have done along the Rappahannock in May of '63 against Hooker's sound plan (he didn't execute) is the same conclusion. Cudda-shudda-wudda can go only so far, as interesting as it can be.

Lee's run of success was during one year and ended at Gettysburg, hardly a victory for Southern arms. Grant never lost a campaign and led three of them to succesful conclusions, adapting to his needs the sinews of modern war. As great as Lee was, and he was great, indisputably, he did nothing comparable. The fact that he didn't have the chance was his fault entirely, really - he didn't have to resign his commision, a commision solemnized by an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. On this point, Winfield Scott was absolutely right: "Colonel, you are making the greatest mistake of your life." Incidentally, before he chose to resign, Lee asked if he could serve in another capacity other than directly prosecuting a war against the rebellion. Scott essentially replied that a serving officer didn't pick his assignments and that if he chose to remain, he would do as he was ordered.

Lee chose to participate in a rebellion against the lawful authority of the United States. Mistake One, of the most profound consequences.

A girlfriend of mine started to get into the Civil War, going to Gettysburg and Antietam with me. At one point she said about Lee, "How can you be so great if you lose?" Not a bad observation, if you ask me.

Apparently we differ. I'll take Grant over anyone in that conflict, anyone, any day of the week and twice on Sundays.
[color="#AFEEEE"]"Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!"[/color]

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[color="#FFA07A"]"C'mon, boys, we got the damn Yankees on the run!"[/color]

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Sun Mar 25, 2012 2:04 am

It's harder to win when you're always outnumbered. It's easier to win when you have a manpower, technological, and logistical advantage. I think if all things were equal, Lee would whip Grant. But they weren't and all we have is the historical results to look back on. They both performed their roles about as well as could be expected.

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Sun Mar 25, 2012 3:01 am

GraniteStater wrote:You misunderstand me to some extent. The contrast I made was, to expand, "18th/19th century limited war vs. modern total war".

Lee chose to participate in a rebellion against the lawful authority of the United States. Mistake One, of the most profound consequences.


I don't think I misunderstand you at all. You are shifting ground to make this a political debate upon the merits, or demerits, of secessionism. I happen to agree with the secessionists--it was their right. Beyond that, I have stated all I need to in a debate about Grant vs Lee... they were in different dimensions as far as I can see, and their war time, and postbellum, positions and reputations bear this out.

It's not "lawful" if the vast majority of the populace from the Rappahannock to the Rio Grande say it isn't. And VOTE accordingly.
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Sun Mar 25, 2012 3:27 am

Things are never equal in war. Could the South have won? Maybe, a big, big maybe.

Context matters and can be determinative. Example: attacking Poland in 1939. The UK and France had, essentially, allied with Poland. Attack Poland and you're at war with France. France could be 'gotten at' - Britain was an island, with the Royal Navy.

Germany had no way to get there - Hitler, in an amazingly blithe (read "colossaly stupid") decision, hoped that (a) the Western Allies wouldn't support Poland, and (b) he could defeat France (far from a given) and get Britain to negotiate.

What? Talk about a house of cards. He went to war with fewer than 50 U-boats, which were the only means to contest the Atlantic. The Luftwaffe being able to impose its will in the Channel and neutralize the RN was far fetched, really - even if he had landed nine divisions in Kent, how the heck was he going to supply them for weeks and months?

IOW, the political, logistical, strategic and tactical foundation was against him. His generals were reluctant to kick off in '39, fer darn good reasons. An extremely foolish decision to start that war.

Ditto with the South. Napoleons and Parrots don't care about gallantry, the Federal Administration had 33 months before the voters could stop the war, and any realistic appraisal of international affairs would have informed a cogent mind that Her Majesty's Government was not going to go to war on behalf of a slavocracy whose cotton they could grow themselves in their Empire.

In both cases, the sensible course was restraint. Mankind, unfortunately, isn't always sensible. Grant said it best - they fought gallantly and courageously against very long odds, but the cause for which they fought was about as indefensible as one can get, with certain exceptions just mentioned, and others. The moral factor is not inconsiderable in national conflicts.

We now return to your regularly scheduled thread.
[color="#AFEEEE"]"Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!"[/color]

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Sun Mar 25, 2012 3:44 am

Stauffenberg wrote:I don't think I misunderstand you at all. You are shifting ground to make this a political debate upon the merits, or demerits, of secessionism. I happen to agree with the secessionists--it was their right. Beyond that, I have stated all I need to in a debate about Grant vs Lee... they were in different dimensions as far as I can see, and their war time, and postbellum, positions and reputations bear this out.

It's not "lawful" if the vast majority of the populace from the Rappahannock to the Rio Grande say it isn't. And VOTE accordingly.


I'm sorry you feel that way, I truly am (in the wider context).

But you misread if you think I was trying to rehash the Southern rationalizations. One point only: the voting conducted in the South for ratifications was done with bayonets at the ballot box, among other things. Lincoln said that, with the exception of SC, it was debatable whether a majority of the voters, free to vote their will, formed a majority in any state voting on the question (which could not be voted upon in the first place - examine, re-examine and think: Andrew Jackson had it right in 1832 and was still right in 1861: the United States government is a government, not a league, to quote Old Hickory, and that Tennesean was prepared to invade SC and start hanging seditionists who proposed to defy Federal law). And think deeply about it, my friend, with the greatest love I ask you - for what? Their 'right' to hold other human beings in perpetual bondage?

If you wish to go over this in detail, start a thread, unless it's against forum rules in this case. I can present a very cogent case why it was, indeed, an unlawful rebellion. This is not unimportant; the moral factor carries a certain weight, which is not light. And also consider - it would have been a very easy course to 'let the erring sisters go'. Why were so many so willing, from the beginning, to set aside their own peace, happiness and even their lives, to ensure that not one stripe or star would be effaced from Old Glory, that the Union was worth dying for?

And it's not Grant versus Lee, really - that was settled in 1865 and Grant won. Look at May 1864 and what followed in Virginia - threaten, maneuver, threaten, maneuver, until the fox was holed up with few exits left. What are ya gonna do now, tricksy Reynaud?

IMHO, Grant is the best commander of the 1860s in North America.
[color="#AFEEEE"]"Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!"[/color]

-Daniel Webster



[color="#FFA07A"]"C'mon, boys, we got the damn Yankees on the run!"[/color]

-General Joseph Wheeler, US Army, serving at Santiago in 1898



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Sun Mar 25, 2012 3:49 am

GraniteStater wrote:I'm sorry you feel that way, I truly am (in the wider context).

But you misread if you think I was trying to rehash the Southern rationalizations. One point only: the voting conducted in the South for ratifications was done with bayonets at the ballot box, among other things. Lincoln said that, with the exception of SC, it was debatable whether a majority of the voters, free to vote their will, formed a majority any state voting on the question (which could not be voted upon in the first place - examine, re-examine and think: Andrew Jackson had it right in 1832 and was still right in 1861: the United States government is a government, not a league, to quoye Old Hickory, and that Tennesean was prepared to invade SC and start hanging seditionists who proposed to defy Federal law). And think deeply about it, my friend, with the greatest love I ask you - for what? Their 'right' to hold other human beings in perpetual bondage?

If you wish to go over this in detail, start a thread, unless it;s against forum rules in this case. I can present a very cogent case why it was, indeed, an unlawful rebellion. This is not unimportant; the moral factor carries a certain weight, which is not light.

And it's not Grant versus Lee, really - that was settled in 1865 and Grant won. Look at May 1864 and what followed in Virginia - threaten, maneuver, threaten, maneuver, until the fox was holed up with few exits left. What are ya gonna do now, tricksy Reynaud?

IMHO, Grant is the best commander of the 1860s in North America.


I don't have anything useful to add to that--back to the thread at hand after my, and your--what if's re Grant and Lee.
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Sun Mar 25, 2012 4:04 am

Agreed.
[color="#AFEEEE"]"Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!"[/color]

-Daniel Webster



[color="#FFA07A"]"C'mon, boys, we got the damn Yankees on the run!"[/color]

-General Joseph Wheeler, US Army, serving at Santiago in 1898



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(B) Pull my reins up sharply when needed, for I am a spirited thoroughbred and forget to turn at the post sometimes.





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wsatterwhite
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Sun Mar 25, 2012 4:32 am

This is somewhat along the lines of Stauffenberg's earlier Jackson "what-if" but slightly different. A popular "what-if" is always to ask what if Stonewall Jackson hadn't been shot and thus was alive for the campaign that ends up leading to Gettysburg but mine is a little bit different- what if Jackson is still shot at Chancellorsville but instead of dying, he's just knocked out of action for the rest of the summer of but survives to return to action in late 1863 (similar to when Longstreet was wounded in much the same fashion one year later). Knowing that Jackson will still return to duty, does Lee still go through with the reorganization of the ANV? If so, does Ewell then end up getting the new 3rd Corps with AP Hill only temporarily commanding the 2nd Corps? How would Jackson living but nevertheless being out of action for a long time affect Lee's strategy- does it perhaps cause Lee to hold off on invading the north again right away and instead, actually approve of temporarily loaning some troops out to go west?

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Sun Mar 25, 2012 2:39 pm

I agree, when the topic of 'what-ifs' comes up, Jackson springs to mind. You mention A.P. Hill as well, probably the best division commander in the war. The other D.H. Hill would have made a fine Corps replacement for Jackson (and was for awhile), but he was effectively sidelined in not getting along with Davis and Lee, an incredible waste of talent. His irreverent sense of humour was part of the problem it seems, that and being thoroughly anti-Bragg. Jackson actually surviving somehow, might likely have seen D.H. Hill cashiered even sooner.

The other big what-if that hasn't come up yet, is an early army command out west for Forrest.
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Mon Mar 26, 2012 12:25 am

Regarding Forrest, I think a lot would depend on just how large a force we're talking about. While Forrest was undoubtedly a military genius, I've always wondered if he would have done well with some of the less glamorous administrative duties of an army commander. I think that's one of the underrated aspects of the difference between the professionals versus the "talented amateurs" like Forrest- while the professionals had been taught the importance of supply and strong administration, I'm not sure the volunteer generals gave such concerns their due. With that said, I could see Forrest maybe doing well with say 10,000-20,000 men but not anything much more than that. But that in and of itself is an interesting proposition, if I remember correctly, that was about the size of the army Joe Johnston was assembling outside of Vicksburg to try to assist Pemberton- how different might things have gone with Forrest in command there instead of Johnston?

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Mon Mar 26, 2012 4:22 pm

Yes that's a good point. Commanders like that are often assigned a sort of "shadow general" (or in literary terms a ghost writer) to dot all the i's and cross the t's so the star performer can get on with being, well, stellar. A superb quartermaster general and incredible staff would make up for that. Forrest was such a rare commodity that I think anything was possible with him., He may have intuitively mastered the logistics game himself--afterall, this is the man who became Sherman's logistical nightmare: he obviously got that side of things.

Rommel was another field officer ranked enfant terrible who gave his supply officers fits.

And not to load all the what-ifs up on the southern side (my obvious bias), but an interesting what-if for the North has to be Lyon surviving Wilson's Creek and going on to be a contender for further laurels in the West vs Grant. He comes off as the most fearless, action-oriented general, preferring to lead from the front ranks, that the North had early on. How he would have handled a cavalry division, or Corps, against Forrest in the West is quite the prospect. :dada:
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Mon Mar 26, 2012 5:43 pm

I think the Lyon what if is particularly interesting because of the wide-reaching implications his survival might have had. Lyon's early war actions in Missouri kind of make him a Western version of McClellan in that he likely would have been regarded as "the man" out west the way McClellan was in the east after 1st Bull Run. Instead of Halleck, Lyon likely would have been the man coordinating the Union advances in Kentucky and Tennessee in early 1862 and I think it's fair to say Lyon would have been a bit more aggressive in the advance on Corinth than Halleck was and also likely would have given Grant more of a free reign (and wouldn't "promote" him out of a job after Shiloh). And this of course leads us to Halleck's next job after taking Corinth- would Lyon possibly have ended up going East in late 1862 and if so, how might that have changed the course of the war? It really is interesting to consider the possibilities of how different the war might been if Lyon had survived and just how many other characters might have had their own fortunes changed.

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Thu Apr 05, 2012 10:55 pm

:thumbsup:

Normally I'd be with Mae on this one. What if the moons a balloon? Just for the hell of it though I'll pose a couple of what ifs......

The first is what if Lee had used Shermans 'total war' tactic in 62/63 during his invasions of the north. Certainly it would have made him hated but what would/could it have done to Union civilian morale?

Then again what if the South had granted emancipation to the slaves in advance of Lincoln's proclamation ? I accept it would have cut right across Southern culture so is highly unlikely but I reckon my country at least would have been more inclined to recognise the independance of the South and it would have most certainly screwed up the Norths morale high ground.

As I said at the start though.. I'm with Mae. There really is no mileage in 'ifs'. If wishes were horses then beggars would ride as my old granny used to say bless her cotton socks. :coeurs:

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Fri Apr 06, 2012 12:31 pm

soundoff wrote: :thumbsup:

Normally I'd be with Mae on this one. What if the moons a balloon? Just for the hell of it though I'll pose a couple of what ifs......

The first is what if Lee had used Shermans 'total war' tactic in 62/63 during his invasions of the north. Certainly it would have made him hated but what would/could it have done to Union civilian morale?

Then again what if the South had granted emancipation to the slaves in advance of Lincoln's proclamation ? I accept it would have cut right across Southern culture so is highly unlikely but I reckon my country at least would have been more inclined to recognise the independance of the South and it would have most certainly screwed up the Norths morale high ground.

As I said at the start though.. I'm with Mae. There really is no mileage in 'ifs'. If wishes were horses then beggars would ride as my old granny used to say bless her cotton socks. :coeurs:


These are viable political events that could be modded into the game I am sure if really desired. They aren't any more outrageously unlikely than the CSA option of territorial concessions to influence foreign intervention, or the union emancipation political trigger.

But as for your remark that "There really is no mileage in 'ifs'..."
I'm glad you don't really believe that, or we wouldn't have that really fine AAR you posted a few years back. Very well-written indeed, and evocative, it showcased this game system and aided my transition from newb to half-decent player (and I'm currently in a pbem with that same opponent of yours). But, the instant you played turn 1 in that game, you engaged in a 'what-if'; indeed, as my first post in this thread attempted to indicate, a model like AGEOD's ACW, were it only able to replicate the historical result every time, would rapidly lose all interest. Every played game is a fascinating what-if.

You're really talking about outrageously unlikely 'what-ifs', and on that we can agree. The writer Harry Turtledove has made a career out of these, exploring various ideas, like a Confederate brigade getting hold of a few thousand AK-47s... "somehow."

But we are bound by the reality of the game in front of us, which has gone to great lengths to be historical. Alas, in the replacements drawer, and the TOE of various units, there is no option to equip your troops with Kalashnikov's. ;)
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Tue Apr 17, 2012 11:57 pm

Biggest what if for me is not so much Grant vs Lee as how so easily Grant may never have risen to ever be General in Chief. At several key points he could have disappeared out the picture. Two examples come to mind, firstly at Belmont Rebel riflemen could so easily have killed Grant and his horse was shot out from under him, second example is after Shiloh when he was disgraced even though he won and left in limbo by Halleck.

If Grant was either dead or disappeared back down the bottle was there another US general at that time who could have captured Vicksburg and defeated Lee before the Northern voters lost faith in the war? Also without Grant would Sherman have recovered his confidence?

I certainly think the South could have won simply by breaking the northern will to fight, if Lincoln could keep fighting he would eventually defeat the south as the economic mismatch was pretty huge.

As for Lee he was amazing at Chancellorsville and 2nd Bull Run but Hooker and Pope allowed him to be otherwise his performance isn't that great. Seven days battle was very poorly carried out and it was only Lil Mac's timidity that stopped him counter-attacking Lee and taking Richmond. Antietam is another poor campaign by Lee again saved by Lil Mac.

Actually Lee fought pretty well in 64 but Grant just wouldn't retreat or give in despite heavy losses and ground Lee back to Petersburg. So while tactically Lee was better Grant won strategically. I agree its hard to assess how Grant would have done against Lee if it had been a more equal contest.
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Wed Apr 18, 2012 2:53 am

Chuske wrote:I agree its hard to assess how Grant would have done against Lee if it had been a more equal contest.


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Wed Apr 18, 2012 4:16 am

Here's a "what if" that's kinda intriguing: What if John Brown had joined the Army, rather than fomenting slave rebellions and so forth?
In other words, how much longer would the war have been postponed, had Brown not done the things he did? :)
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Wed Apr 18, 2012 1:45 pm

Stauffenberg wrote:
I'm not idealizing Jackson (well not too much ;) ), but he was always determined to push the enemy, at all costs, towards total collapse in the same ruthless way Forrest was, and with the three stars and an army, in an ideal situation here, to do it with.


Jackson was a great general on a good day but look at him at the Seven Days, he kept stopping and doing nothing, leaving everyone wondering "Where is Jackson?". I guess it's one of the biggest mysteries of the Civil War. Was he just overtired? Also he was not always great at scouting what he was attacking, look at Kernstown.

All these generals were very human and all made mistakes. I guess it's true, all things being equal, it's who makes the least mistakes that wins, problem for the south was they could less afford to make them.
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soundoff
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Wed Apr 18, 2012 11:50 pm

Stauffenberg wrote:But as for your remark that "There really is no mileage in 'ifs'..."
I'm glad you don't really believe that, or we wouldn't have that really fine AAR you posted a few years back. Very well-written indeed, and evocative, it showcased this game system and aided my transition from newb to half-decent player (and I'm currently in a pbem with that same opponent of yours). But, the instant you played turn 1 in that game, you engaged in a 'what-if'; indeed, as my first post in this thread attempted to indicate, a model like AGEOD's ACW, were it only able to replicate the historical result every time, would rapidly lose all interest. Every played game is a fascinating what-if.

You're really talking about outrageously unlikely 'what-ifs', and on that we can agree. The writer Harry Turtledove has made a career out of these, exploring various ideas, like a Confederate brigade getting hold of a few thousand AK-47s... "somehow."



Hi Stauffenberg,

I nearly let your post go ...... only nearly :thumbsup: Lets take what we can agree on. If we are only able to replicate the historical result every time interest is rapidly lost. But thats true with any wargame by any developer based on an historical battle or war.

Now let me turn to the AAR you speak to kindly of. Yes in the strictest of terms in planning moves I engaged in 'what ifs' but only in the sense of 'if I do x what if my opponent does y'. After weighting up all the possibilities that my grey cells could cope with eventually I had to decide on a course of action. That process all players engage in each and every turn to a greater or lesser degree. Trouble is my 'what if's' in the game are alterable. I can go back a turn and redo it another way. I can restart a campaign and adopt an entirely different strategy. These produce 'what if' situations I grant but not in the sense of the 'what ifs' that this thread originally speculated about. To me speculation on historical reality is a fruitless task. And as many times as I play the game I'm not creating historical 'what ifs' because one thing that no computer wargame does is to simulate war or those who participate in it......thank god.

Hopefully I can end, as I began, with something we can both agree on. AGEOD's ACW is an extremely enjoyable game :thumbsup:

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FENRIS
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Thu Apr 19, 2012 11:29 am

I have seen somewhere that CSA army don't create a GQG to lead and better organize the strategy. Jefferson Davis had not a very clear vision of the CSA strategy and every states have their own army (and the Virginian army lack of soldiers for this reason)

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Stauffenberg
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Tue Apr 24, 2012 5:26 pm

soundoff wrote:Hi Stauffenberg,

I nearly let your post go ...... only nearly :thumbsup: Lets take what we can agree on. If we are only able to replicate the historical result every time interest is rapidly lost. But thats true with any wargame by any developer based on an historical battle or war.

Now let me turn to the AAR you speak to kindly of. Yes in the strictest of terms in planning moves I engaged in 'what ifs' but only in the sense of 'if I do x what if my opponent does y'. After weighting up all the possibilities that my grey cells could cope with eventually I had to decide on a course of action. That process all players engage in each and every turn to a greater or lesser degree. Trouble is my 'what if's' in the game are alterable. I can go back a turn and redo it another way. I can restart a campaign and adopt an entirely different strategy. These produce 'what if' situations I grant but not in the sense of the 'what ifs' that this thread originally speculated about. To me speculation on historical reality is a fruitless task. And as many times as I play the game I'm not creating historical 'what ifs' because one thing that no computer wargame does is to simulate war or those who participate in it......thank god.

Hopefully I can end, as I began, with something we can both agree on. AGEOD's ACW is an extremely enjoyable game :thumbsup:


Soundoff--good to see you are alive and kicking, and we do agree on ACW by AGEOD as a stellar piece of work. Addictive even, in my case. Perhaps we can meet on the battlefield one of these days.

As far as what-if's go, when I was a small boy my parents took me to Expo '67 here in Montreal, and I think it was a Czech film outfit in their pavilion that had this fascinating movie. It was a classic "who done it" detective short film as I recall, but what was total magic to me was that the film would stop at critical junctures and you all had a button on the seat rest to vote on the direction the film would take from that point onwards: does the butler kill the cook in the struggle--or does the cook kill the butler? etc. The majority vote was counted, and then the film would continue on a new branch, exploring this particular what-if. They had around 8 projectors in the back and 30 rolls of film I gather, to handle all the twists and turns and possible outcomes.

Any game model that can recreate the historical result can go on to explore various outcomes as with the Czech movie. I see most of us engaged in this peculiar habit as following in the footsteps of the early Prussians under Molke the Elder: Kriegsspielen, the institutionalised war gaming that most General Staffs embraced after some early German victories in Europe in the 19th c.

They are gaming out the Gulf situation as we speak, and some of these 'what-if's' could become reality: I certainly hope not, but if the option to have a war there is declined, it could well be a direct result of these 'what-if' war game studies. :thumbsup:
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George McClellan
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Wed Apr 25, 2012 2:05 am

I propose the following: What if McClellan was never quick with his actions and he was never unofficially annnounced the best general in the war by Lincoln? :dada:
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Jorje Vidrio
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Sat May 05, 2012 11:58 pm

Interesting to speculate on how the war would have turned out just on which leaders had lived or died.
What if AS Johnston had lived? The Confederate leadership quality in the West would have been far better.
What if Nathaniel Lyons or Stonewall Jackson had lived? What if Sherman had stayed retired?

Or even how long the war would have lasted if Lee had accepted command of the US army? [not long I'd wager]

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Sun May 06, 2012 1:29 am

Lee took the field in 1861 in what became West Virginia, with green troops and inexperienced officers, without much success. It wasn't until he inherited a functioning army from J. E. Johnston that...well, the rest is history. As General of the US Army, he would have been saddled with the same collection of second-raters and political appointees that Scott and McClellan had to deal with. He might have spent the war shuffling papers in Washington. Could Lincoln really have appointed a Virginian to command a field army?

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Sun May 06, 2012 6:36 am

khbynum wrote:Could Lincoln really have appointed a Virginian to command a field army?


You mean like George Thomas? ;)
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khbynum
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Sun May 06, 2012 2:07 pm

Yes, I knew when I hit "Post" that someone would bring up Thomas. He's the exception that tests the rule.

To get back on topic, I think it's really interesting to imagine "what ifs", though I understand that some posters to this thread think it's a waste of time. The worth of a military simulation, of which this is an excellent example, is that it will duplicate history if you follow history but still allows realistic (given our imperfect understanding) results is you choose other paths. Every time you try something different in this game, you are exploring a "what if". Some say that a single decision can alter history (chaos theory?), others say that history has a momentum built up of numerous inter-related factors that make it difficult to deflect (regression to the mean?). We'll never know, though I tend to the latter point of view. Long may you run.

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Stauffenberg
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Sun May 06, 2012 8:02 pm

Jorje Vidrio wrote:Interesting to speculate on how the war would have turned out just on which leaders had lived or died.
What if AS Johnston had lived? The Confederate leadership quality in the West would have been far better.


This is interesting. Surely Jeff Davis, who graduated from West Point and fought in the Mexican–American War and later served as the United States Secretary of War, was a better judge of what generals deserved high rank early on than Lincoln--and he ranked A.S. Johnston above all others. This was before the emergence of Lee of course, but Davis believed the loss of Johnston "was the turning point of our fate." Johnston was the highest ranking officer killed during the war on either side.

But how good was he? He certainly is not rated extremely high in ACW and as the CSA I routinely transfer him to command in MO where his surprise attack ability might prove useful. For the defense of Tennessee and southern Kentucky I bring Joe Johnston out as his defensive abilities far outweigh those of A.S.

I wonder if his values are under-rated here.
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