Some Observations About the American Civil War

The Army of the Potomac versus the Army of Northern Virginia in the spring of 1864 and again in 1865

I find it interesting to compare the relative performance of the two opposing armies in the spring of 1864 to the spring of 1865.  In both cases, the campaigns started with approximately 120,000 Yankees against 60,000 rebels.   The results were remarkably different.  In my mind, the major reason for this difference, was the replacement of every single Union Corp commander in the intervening year.  It started with the death of Sedgewick, killed at Spotsylvannia and culminated with the dismissal of Warren, after five forks.  Union Corp commander performance during the Battle of the Wilderness was absolutely abysmal.  During the Appomattox Campaign, Union Corp commanders performed brilliantly.

Cavalry versus Infantry

The general feeling has been that Cavalry in the American Civil War was not a decisive battlefield weapon, but was more suited for scouting and securing ones flanks.  Though I need to research this topic more,  it is clear that Sheridan effectively used Cavalry as a decisive battlefield force in late 1864 and 1865 in Virginia.  Why and how did this come to be, so late in the war, when entrenching and fortifications also became such an important part of the battlefield?

MYTH:Attacking Entrenched Troops was Doomed to Failure

Entrenched troops were frequently attacked successfully, sometimes with decisive results.  Extreme examples of what could be achieved include Missionary Ridge,  Nashville,  and the Breakthrough at Petersburg.

What if Meade had Immediately Counter Attacked after Pickett's Charge

Could the result have been the same as Wellington's counter attack after the failed charge of the French Guard at Waterloo?  Sure there was that line of Confederate artillery to overcome - but it seems like the reward would have been worth the risk.  I think that it would have been difficult for Lee to escape with that portion of his army that was North and East of Gettysburg had his center been decisively broken.

The Men of the Iron Brigade and the Beanpole and CornStalk Bridge

Before they were famous, three companies of soldiers from the Iron Brigade built the famous "Beanpole and Cornstalk" bridge over Potomic Creek in 1862 for the famous railroader  Haupt.  Haupt's report of May25th, 1862, he clearly states that "many of the men were sickly and ineffiecient".  This is clearly a different vision of the Iron Brigade soldiers than what is so often reported in the history books.

Little Round Top Myth Debunked

Check out this article:  If you think about it, you might come to the conclusion that this was an opportunity lost by unaggressive northern generals. Can you think of a time when  so many troops were rushed to a location and were not used.  The apparent ease at which the north recovered the 9th Mass Artillery's guns at the trostle farm, reinforces this conclusion.

What Was The Real Reason That The Southern States Succeeded?

This is a controversial topic that shouldn't be.  Some of the southern state governments authored documents that clearly state why they succeeded.  They were called "Declaration of Causes of Succession".  Here is a link to four of them.  The one from Mississippi is most to the point.

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