The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #55326 Message #860700
Posted By: Little Hawk
07-Jan-03 - 11:12 AM
Thread Name: Review: Unique Civil War Biography
Subject: RE: Review: Unique Civil War Biography
Longstreet had the right idea (find good ground, dig in and defend), and it could have won the South some important battles. Lee's penchant for bold attack led to some victories...and some VERY costly losses here and there, but he was still a brilliant general, all considered, and an inspiration to his troops.
It was later in the war (after Gettysburg) that circumstances forced Lee to resort regularly to the defensive tactics recommended by Longstreet (as in the Wilderness campaign), and they worked very well, but the Big Blue Horde eventually ground down the Army of Northern Virginia regardless, through sheer numbers.
And strategically speaking, the key victories were won elsewhere, in the West, at places like Shiloh, Jackson, Vicksburg, Island # 10, and so on. All of Lee's expertise in the East could not change that.
I think the South had only one hope in that war...an early victory at the very outset, after Bull Run, by an immediate and unhesitating advance on Washington. That might have demoralized the North enough to cause them to sue for peace (but Lincoln was not a man easily turned aside from his path).
If it had happened that way, however, there would probably have been another war between the States anyway, within 5 or 10 years, over disputed areas in the West or some other pretext. I don't think they could have tolerated sharing the same continental area for long.