Δευτέρα, 23 Μαΐου 2011

During the American Civil War, did Napoleonic Linear Tactics make sense? Or was guerrilla warfare best?


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During the American Civil War, did Napoleonic Linear Tactics make sense? Or was guerrilla warfare best?

If you fought during the American Civil War, would you have preferred Napoleonic Linear Tactics or guerrilla warfare?

http://thomaslegion.net/napoleonictactic…

General Robert E. Lee Surrenders to General Ulysses S. Grant


 

Lee's Last Retreat: The Flight to Appomattox
Lee's troops were more numerous and far less faithful to their cause than has been suggested. Lee himself made mistakes in this campaign, and defeat wrung from him an unusual display of faultfinding

Appomattox Court House Virginia


General Robert E. Lee Surrenders to General Ulysses S. Grant




On the evening of April the 8th, 1865 General Robert E. Lee and the remnants of his once-proud Army of Northern Virginia arrived in Appomattox County one step ahead of the pursuing Federal Army. Lee's hope was to reach Appomattox Station on the South Side Railroad where supply trains awaited. 

Jefferson Davis & the ‘guerrilla option’


Jefferson Davis & the ‘guerrilla option’

March 30, 2011
By Michael
Davis' April 4 proclamation & partisan fighting
William B. Feis writes in the bookThe Collapse of the Confederacy (edited by Mark Grimsley and Brooks D. Simpson, University of Nebraska Press, 2001) about the possibility the Confederates had as the Union’s conquest of the South was nearly complete to call for guerrilla resistance to US occupation:
Civil War [sic] historians have often reflected on the critical events and decisions of the war that, had they been different, might have resulted in a Confederate victory and ultimately Southern independence. Generations of Southerners have also reveled in this postwar counterfactual debate. As William Faulkner described so eloquently in his novel Intruder in the Dust, at some point in his life every Southern boy has daydreamed about that fateful July afternoon in 1863, just before Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett’s division crossed that deadly field at Gettysburg, and though “This time. Maybe this time….” Standing at the “absolute edge of no return,” wrote Faulkner, the Confederacy chose not to “turn back… and make home” but to sail irrevocably on and either find land or plunge over the world’s roaring rim.” Aside from this famous episode during the Confederacy’s short and violent existence, scholars have identified other crucial crossroads at which the South could have chosen a different path and perhaps altered the war’s outcome. One of the more tantalizing of these was the Confederates’ refusal to resort to a large-scale guerrilla or partisan war as their armies crumbled in 1865.
Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America.
Instead of surrendering, what if Confederate leaders had dispersed the armies and instructed the officers and men to “take to the hills” and continue fighting as guerrillas? The so-called guerrilla option, the argument runs, was a plausible strategy by which to exhaust the Union armies, undermine Northern support for the war, and eventually realize the dream of Southern independence. Every field, farm, road, and village would become a battleground in a large-scale unconventional war designed to erode the North’s determination to subdue recalcitrant Rebels. And with thousands of men still under arms across the entire Confederacy, the South possessed the capability to prolong the war indefinitely. As one scholar has observed, had the Confederacy opted for guerrilla warfare on a grand scale in April 1865, “the South could have been made virtually indigestible.” More to the point, the authors of one study concluded that the refusal to pursue the guerrilla option may have cost the South its independence.
Several historians contend that Confederate president Jefferson Davis was the foremost advocate of this option and that he actually proposed its adoption shortly after the fall of Richmond, when he proclaimed on April 4 that the war had entered “a new phase.” Some have argued that Davis even issued a direct order to Gen. Joseph E. Johnston to disperse his men into partisan bands rather than surrender to Union forces. On the contrary, this essay will demonstrate that Jefferson Davis neither embraced nor advocated the guerrilla option as a means to revive the Confederacy near war’s end. The Confederate president seemingly adhered to the Clausewitzian dictum – that “the political object is the goal, war is the means of reaching it, and means can never be considered in isolation from their purpose” – when he concluded that extensive guerrilla warfare was not an appropriate military strategy with which to achieve the political goal of Southern independence….
On April 4 the Confederate president issued a proclamation that exuded an unwavering faith in ultimate victory. In his address he urged all “patriots” to remain steadfast in their support of the cause despite the loss of the Confederate capital, the symbol of Southern defiance for four years. Davis placed the evacuation in a more positive light by emphasizing that, until now, Lee had been forced to “forgo more than one opportunity for promising enterprises” because of his obligation to defend the city. Now freed from that burden, the Army of Northern Virginia could once again fight the war on its own terms. In addition, the president believed that the Federals had staked everything on Richmond’s fall and that its capture “would be the signal for our submission to their rule.” He admonished his countrymen to deny the enemy that satisfaction and to reveal through sheer determination and perseverance the depth’s of the North’s self-deception.
Davis then issued what would become one of his more famous – and perhaps most misinterpreted – declaration:
“We have now entered upon a new phase of a struggle, the memory of which is to endure for all ages, and to shed ever increasing lustre upon our country. Relieved from the necessity of guarding cities and particular points, important but not vital to our defence with our army free to move from point to point, and strike in detail the detachments and garrisons of the enemy; operating in the interior of our own country, where supplies are more accessible, and where the foe will be far removed from his own base, and cut off from all succor in case of reverse, nothing is now needed to render our triumph certain, but the exhibition of our own unquenchable resolve. Let us but will it, and we are free.”
Davis also promised never to relinquish “one foot of soil” in any of the Confederate states. In particular, he vowed to defend Virginia, even though the Federals already occupied much of the state and the Confederate government had been forced to flee toward North Carolina….
Jefferson Davis Home and Presidential Library in Biloxi, MS.
Nowhere in the April 4 proclamation did Davis specifically request that Southerners “take to the hills” and fight as partisans. If indeed he wanted to inspire  the people to rise en masse as guerrillas, and if he thought this was a viable way to achieve independence, why did the normally blunt president fail to urge this solution upon his people in more explicit language? Moreover, if he had settled upon the guerrilla option, what prevented him from publicly warning the North that, unless it ceased hostilities, more misery and death would be inflicted upon its soldiers at the hands of millions of Southern civilians? Instead, in the address Davis spoke primarily of continuing a conventional defense, not about organizing or inciting partisan activity, a strange omission if indeed that was his purpose. He stressed that the Army of Northern Virginia could now maneuver and fight, a statement designed to stir memories of the glory days when Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson consistently prevailed over numerically superior enemy forces through boldness and initiative. Even in the dark hours after Richmond’s fall, Davis and many other Southerners still believed that Lee and his magnificent army would succeed against the odds….
Sharing the feelings of many Southern citizens, Davis had always looked to the noble soldiers in the national armies to achieve Southern independence, not to unsavory and unreliable “bushwhackers.” Shocked by the violence unleashed by and against civilians in “Bleeding Kansas” in the late 1850s, Davis had concluded early on, as Grady McWhiney observed, “that wars should be fought only between organized armies.” Composed of troops from all the Southern states, the Confederate armies – especially the Army of Northern Virginia – represented the soul of the would-be nation as well as symbolized its power and legitimacy. Gary W. Wallagher has argued compellingly that white Southerners saw Lee and his army as the embodiment of the Confederacy and as the “preeminent symbol of the Confederacy struggle for independence and liberty.” Davis would have agreed…. Even after issuing his alleged “guerrilla manifesto” on April 4, Davis continued to  stress the importance of maintaining united and organized forces.

10 Responses to Jefferson Davis & the ‘guerrilla option’

  1. Roy H Norris on March 30, 2011 at 5:14 pm
    I feel that whether Davis ordered guerrilla war or not is irrelevant. The facts are that the only war in which the United States has ever been defeated is a guerrilla war. The North Vietnamese correctly identified the American Empire’s greatest weakness: the stamina of the American public to withstand a war that drags on and has no “big victories” to revitalize the public’s will. All that it takes to beat the United States in war is to outlast the short patience of the American people. That can be accomplished through the methods of guerrilla warfare which by its nature is a much extended conflict of small victories. It requires 8 or 9 years of a much lower scale of warfare with a slightly larger casualty count in the long run. (Vietnam 500,000 casualties; War to Prevent Southern Independence 350,000 Southern casualties.)
    I don’t think guerrilla war resorted to in 1865 would have been successful. We needed to have changed our strategy to guerrilla war after the defeat at Gettysburg when we were still well armed and had not suffered so many losses in manpower. I believe the South did have the stamina to outlast the Yankees in a guerrilla war and the Yankee citizenry would have soon tired of the constant rain of small guerrilla attacks similar to those conducted by Mosby.
    We just didn’t understand at that time the major weakness of the Yankee Nation or how effective guerrilla war can be in dealing with the flawed Yankee character.
    Roy
  2. clint on March 30, 2011 at 6:13 pm
    I surely wish he had called for a guerrilla war. Roy is right. Just look at the success the partisans had in Missouri. 55,000 Yankees had to be deployed to TRY and reign in 5000 bushwhackers! John Singleton Mosbey is another good example. We could have won using 4th generation warfare.
  3. NeoConfederate on April 3, 2011 at 12:50 pm
    I agree, if only we had dug in across the Southern border and fought them people as they came across. I don’t see the advantage of going north to fight but I trust in Gen Lee’s and the other Commanders decisions because I have no doubt they were doing what they thought best at the time and that hindsight is 20/20 but I can’t help but think of what if.
    Pres. Davis held to an upstanding virtue and he expected it of those under his command and there is no shame in that but unfortunately it cost us.
    Southrons have always held a high moral code and it should always be that way but like the old adage says we should learn from the past so that it doesn’t repeat itself.
  4. Ginny on April 3, 2011 at 1:12 pm
    “Pres. Davis held to an upstanding virtue and he expected it of those under his command and there is no shame in that but unfortunately it cost us.”
    It did not cost us. It will strengthen us. Because of their spotless record, we can call on God to honor the South in the battles taking place now and in the future. I hope the South can maintain its integrity and not give in to winning cheap victories that will not last.
  5. NeoConfederate on April 4, 2011 at 11:02 am
    It did cost us,, having high morals is great and all but try telling it to the people who had to suffer shermans march and reconstruction and the rape and plunder of people and places.
    as far as gods honor look at how he commanded his armies,,, killing thousands of people himself,,, laying siege to cities and causing walls to crumble,, joshua waiting to ambush in the mountains,,, I dont think god would disapprove of tactics that were a lil different than standing there and getting shot straight on.. Mosby and some others were already fighting this way and it was having a positive effect.
    Look how at long the cheap victory of the north has lasted,, would it have not been better for Pres Davis’ govt to have been set in motion,, I think so personally.
  6. Ginny on April 4, 2011 at 1:38 pm
    Your point was that President Jefferson had high morals and that his high morals cost us. I am not arguing that things could not have been done differently, I was taking issue with that one point. Joshua fought as God commanded him and he maintained his obedience to God which means he had the highest morals, wouldn’t you say?
    The north did win a cheap victory and they will pay for it, I do not have any doubt about that.
  7. NeoConfederate on April 4, 2011 at 4:35 pm
    Ah I see what you mean now..
    I still believe that having high morals is good and right but at the same time, when faced with the loss of something bigger than ourselves especially, a person should take a look at where there standings are.
    Isn’t that what forgiveness is for?
    I respect Pres Davis and Gen Lee and would follow them even now but I would try to talk them into a little more of a guerilla style, in the bushes type of fighting style. I don’t know but I would think that rural men that lived in the woods hunting, stalking, trapping and whatever else would be a natural for that type of engagement, unlike the city dwellers of the north (i’m sure they had rural people too but not to the extent of the Southland).
    The greater cause of Southern Independence should trump a leaders personal convictions, that’s my main concern. I would never condone going to the extremes that the north did, burning, raping, destroying just for the sake of destroying, that is NOT the Southern way and is never acceptable.
    If nothing else I will agree to disagree because I dont want to argue or debate a fellow Southerner, I dont believe in that if its at all avoidable.
  8. Ginny on April 4, 2011 at 10:54 pm
    “If nothing else I will agree to disagree because I dont want to argue or debate a fellow Southerner, I dont believe in that if its at all avoidable.”
    I feel the same way. I do see what you are saying and I appreciate the way you said it very much. I love Southerners.
  9. Roy H Norris on April 12, 2011 at 12:33 am
    There is no dishonor in promulgating a war with guerrilla warfare. I think some may be confusing guerrilla warfare with something else. Guerrilla warfare is simply warfare conducted on a much smaller and slower scale, typically by an indigenous population from hidden bases and consisting of many, many small harassing raids that gradually wear down the patience of the enemy. The forces live off the land and depend on local civilians for food, etc. They move camp often and concentrate on swift attacks and rapid withdrawal. The go only for very high value military targets and targets that maximally disrupt the lives of civilians (railroads, ports, food distribution) to create the maximum amount of annoyance; and then melt back into the country side.
    It has nothing to do with attacks on civilians or women and children or any other dishonorable activity. It does have to do with picking your battles where victory is assured, and retreating into oblivion and hiding until you can attack again.
    Dishonor can be introduced to any form of warfare as Sherman and Sheridan so aptly demonstrated for us.
    Guerrilla warfare is the favored techniques when you are vastly outnumbered (as the South was) and vastly out-gunned (as the South was). Conducting a war by some preconceived notion of what is honorable but is sure to be unsuccessful is just pure stupidity. Imagine a cavalry charge into several well entrenched M-134 mini-guns. No honor in that.
    I don’t fault Lee or Davis for not conducting a guerrilla war. The concepts of Guerrilla war nor the success it can have against large well armed invaders was not known in those days. It took Vietnam for us to understand that.
    Roy
  10. Ginny on April 12, 2011 at 8:36 am
    Roy, I am not arguing with you. I just want to ask a question to gain understanding. My question is, doesn’t guerrilla warfare bring the fighting right in among civilians because the other side doesn’t know where the guerrillas are hiding, thereby resulting in greater civilian casualties? Isn’t that why the US is always defending themselves when they kill more civilians – that there were enemy combatants among the civilians that they had to get to? Wouldn’t the North, scum that they were, just have used the same line to wipe everyone out wholesale?
    It’s a tough topic for me. I know the colonists won against the British because of their dishonorable style of fighting (to the British). War is war and war is killing people. Maybe I just need to keep repeating that to myself.

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