Jefferson Davis - Was he the Right choice for the CSA

Discussion in 'History Forum' started by Salty, Dec 13, 2013.

  1. Salty

    Salty
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    In another thread Squire said:
    Just curious, what would you say the reason is:
     
  2. Earth Wind and Fire

    Earth Wind and Fire
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    Some history of his ancestors.

    They came from Wales where the name was originally Davies (Like my family---coal miners)

    Lived in Pennsylvania (which was the territory William Penn wanted to establish for Quakers & other religious Non Conformist....mostly Welsh). He even originally wanted to name the territory, "WELSH LAND" but London killed that.

    They Anglicized the name to "DAVIS" & his family moved around..... Jeff was born in Kentucky & then later moved to Mississippi.

    From my prospective, the selection of a personage to be a dissonant, well thats in his blood.....Welsh blood.
     
  3. Squire Robertsson

    Squire Robertsson
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    Beyond the constraints put on him by the CSA Constitution (which was a utopian work of States' Rights), he didn't properly and effectively manage his generals. In some ways, he acted as if he was still Secretary of War.
     
  4. thisnumbersdisconnected

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    I found this interesting, from Kansas Press at the University of Kansas:

    The book review expresses my feelings. I've read the book -- in fact, enjoy Seven Woodworth's writing regarding the Civil War. He's a good scholar and Jefferson Davis and His Generals is a very good read, and explains why Davis wasn't an idiot, but he still lost the war with bad decisions.
     
  5. Earth Wind and Fire

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    That commentary was suggesting that Jeff Davis selected military men who were incompetent. I dont know if that was true or not, but didn't the South have competent men who had graduated from the WP Academy with field experience. My own experience with Academy graduates has mostly been favorable....they are what Id consider "A Cut Above" but then that is a modern evaluation of military leadership not Civil War era.

    As a side note: from what I understand, General Longstreet took a fair amount of criticism for his assessment of Lee's command....particularly Pickets Charge at Gettysburg. do you know anything about that?
     
  6. thisnumbersdisconnected

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    Lee believed Meade, on the Union side and outnumbered over 2-to-1 by Confederate forces, had made a fatal error in reinforcing his flanks, thinking the Union major general had weakened his center and leaving it vulnerable to a full-on frontal assault. Gen. George Pickett proposed to him to lead the assault, and Lee assigned Gen. James Pettigrew's brigade to join in the assault, with Pickett on the left and Pettigrew on the right.

    The problem was, Meade had not truly weakened his center because he had reinforcing artillery backing it up. Also, Pickett and Pettigrew had to cross over a half-mile of open ground cut in two by the Emmitsburg Road, which had a rail fence on once side and a board-and-post fence on the other. The Confederate forces were going to have to either climb over those fences or dismantle them while under fire. It was a poorly advised attack, and was doomed to failure.

    Meade's strengthened right flank engaged Pettigrew's left flank just before the Confederate advance reached the road, and the assault forced Pettigrew's men toward the center of their own line. Pettigrew ordered a charge, and were decimated by Union fire as they attempted to cross the fences and Emmitsburg Road. The road itself was about eight feet below the average terrain, enabling Union forces to fire down on top of the Southerners, like the proverbial "fish in a barrel." Pickett's men tried to fill the gap that the losses on Pettigrew's right created between the two units, and lost covering fire provided by two Confederate units that held back in support. At that point, the Union reserve artillery and its infantry support laid down enfilading fire on Pickett's line, causing heavy losses.

    Even though heavily outnumbered, the Union forces fought valliantly under the oversight of Meade's second, Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock. He rallied troops, instituted rapid redeployment along the Union lines, and coordinated artillery fire so it further devastated Pickett's and Pettigrew's forces. In the end, Pickett's 6,000-man force suffered 50% casualties. Pickett's smaller division recorded nearly three-quarters casualties. Both units withdrew under heavy fire. Union losses totaled about 1,500, but handily defeated the Confederate advance and essentially ended the Battle of Gettysburg.

    Lee came under heavy criticism for choosing Pickett's hairbrained idea and for not making provisions to destroy the fences and control Emmitsburg Road before the advance began.
     
    #6 thisnumbersdisconnected, Dec 14, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 14, 2013
  7. Earth Wind and Fire

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    A field commander with Lee's experience must of known it would be a death trap....what possessed him & why couldn't other generals have convinced him of the folly of that maneuver?

    See, this was where I think Davis himself erred. Lee decimated a good portion of his troops & relegated them to the tactics of guerrilla warfare---which from my prospective would have been more devastating to the Union army than ill advised frontal attacks using conventional warfare. And this is where Davis should have stepped in & had Lee removed. From reading Longstreets bio, it appears that he could have been an effective replacement.

    Biographer and historian Jeffry D. Wert wrote that "Longstreet ... was the finest corps commander in the Army of Northern Virginia; in fact, he was arguably the best corps commander in the conflict on either side."
     
  8. thisnumbersdisconnected

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    I agree. We debated this in Army War College. How did so intelligent and battle-tested a commander as Lee make such a rookie mistake? It's still a mystery.

    Again I agree, EW&F. Lee was brilliant in the early part of the war, particularly at the Battle of Chancellorsville? Then again, one has to wonder why, given the advantage he had over Hooker's forces, he didn't simply march into Washington and demand the North's surrender? His forces were hurt and down in numbers, to be sure, but the North was hardly in any kind of shape to defend the capitol.

    One has to wonder why Lee seemed to spend most of the war trying to avoid Washington? I think the South could have won had he taken the initiative in 1863.
     
  9. Earth Wind and Fire

    Earth Wind and Fire
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    War College.....really! What rank & did you do on campus courses at Carlisle? Navy is now offering On Line Courses is the reason I asked.

    Did you get to study Hannibal Barka's tactics? Ive done extensive studies of that, Alexander's & some Roman Generals tactics. In Hannibal's case, he could have taken Rome but could not have maintained a standing army after conquering it.

    In the case of the MCWAR, they have some unique courses in "Small War's Tactics." That was set up by one of my heroes, General Al Gray, one of the Commandant's of the Marine Corps.
     
  10. thisnumbersdisconnected

    thisnumbersdisconnected
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    I was an O-6, promoted in '88, went through on-campus classes at Carlisle. They were talking of on-line courses back then, but didn't really have the tech to provide widespread access.

    Fascinating study. Hard to believe such a tactician existed 2,250 years ago.

    "Small war" strategies were actually part of the curriculum at AWC. Don't tell anyone we studied Marine tactics. [​IMG]
     
  11. Earth Wind and Fire

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    Yes we could even teach full birds some things... :laugh:
     
  12. thisnumbersdisconnected

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    Oops! That's a typo. O-5. Sorry. I was a "lightweight." :laugh: Or, as some called us, "telephone colonel." Can you figure that one out?
     

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