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18 December 2014

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BabelFish

Conjecture: I have considered one of Lee's strongest talents was recognizing the ultimate size of unit that one any one of his generals was fit to effectively command. I think he he did that ,O'Steen's brilliantly with Jackson.

turcopolier

Babelfish

"O'Steen?" Who is that? IMO Lee played the hand he had been dealt. If you read "Lee's Lieutenants" you will see that his "stock" of really capable leaders declined throughout the war as losses whittled away at it. At the same time he inhibited the development of many new leaders in senior positions by clinging to allegiances to; family (Fitz Lee), the WPPA (Wickham, Rosser,. etc) and former regular officers of the US Army (French, etc.) He was abetted in this tendency by Samuel Cooper the Adjutant General and Jeff Davis himself. The Irish Brigade had had its ass kicked at Sharpsburg a few months before and was at a quarter of its original strength. the next year they had their ass kicked again at Gettysburg. pl

BabelFish

Pat, bleeping auto-correct on that one! No idea where that came from.

Tigershark

Col.,

WPPA?

Haralambos

Col. and others,
Thank you for this. I watched O'Reilly's piece and followed up with reading on the Irish Brigade. I was unaware of the extent of their losses over the course of this battle and the war. In addition, I was unaware of the number of foreign officers involved in this battle. I well recall the centennial commemorations (I was about 10 when they began) and was first confronted with the extent of carnage in some of the battles as firepower escalated with grapeshot and the various new weaponry available.

I encourage everyone to donate to the http://www.civilwar.org/aboutus/ this holiday season in lieu of one or two unneeded or unwanted gifts.

Fred

TTG,

Thanks for the post. It's always nice to read a little history and home town news at the same time.

William Fitzgerald

Pat Lang,

I must disagree about R.E. Lee and the development of new officers in the A.of N.Va.
There was no staff college or other officer training schools in the CSA. The development of leadership was pretty much trial and error and luck. According to Freeman, the best predictor of competence was professional schooling at WP and the several state military academies. Professions such as railroad management, the law, and plantation ownership were also possible predictors. I don't rule out family and other societal relationships, which were important in that pre-bureaucratic time.

Merry Christmas to all!

WPFIII

turcopolier

William Fitzgerald

It was understandable that the Confederate Army, in which Lee was only one of several significant decision makers, should have begun with Freeman's criteria but as the war progressed, casualties mounted and incompetence was revealed there were many opportunities to develop and advance senior officers who were not part of the WP/RA/FFV crowd. In some cases that happened, John Gordon, Nathan Forrest, Wade Hampton and Billy Mahone were all examples of good personnel decisions, but on the other hand there is the example of Thomas Munford who was never promoted to BG although he several times commanded a brigade and a division with success. And then there is the matter of BG Raleigh Colston who was relieved of command after Chancellorsville because he disagreed with several foolish orders on the part of Stuart as acting 2nd Corps commander. Stonewall, on his death bed, objected mightily to this relief which seems to have been largely based on Colston's status as an outsider. Clausewitz is correct in saying that peace time service and staff colleges are poor substitutes for the learning experience of real war. The confederates seem to me to have had a a hard time rising above their cliquishness. Their insistence on promoting people like Rosser and Fitz Lee, when better men were available was absurd. pl

William Fitzgerald

Pat Lang,

I take your point about the cliques. The cavalry seems to have been particularly that way. Perhaps because of Stuart and his group of insiders? Wade Hampton may have been the best cavalryman in the war but had to wait in the wings. The war was the ultimate leadership school but, given the casualties among colonels and brigadier generals, not very efficient.

WPFIII

turcopolier

William

No, a very efficient school, but the cliques did not let it function. Munford was particularly unacceptable to the Lees since he thought of them as jumped up middle class parvenus. pl

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