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Albert Sidney Johnston

Who's Your Favorite General?

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Simple enough. I'm interested in who you consider to be your favorite general. Note that I don't mean the most skilled general, simply the one you like the most. I also ask that you refrain from the two obvious choices (Lee and Grant), because I have a suspicion that pretty much everyone would pick one or the other :P

Edited by Albert Sidney Johnston

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My personal favorite Yankee general is probably Meade. He was cool and level-headed, and I think that if Lincoln had employed him longer, he would have made a fine commander of the Army of the Potomac. 

My favorite Southern general is a tie between Albert Sidney Johnston and J.E.B. Stuart. I love ASJ for his fighting spirit and leadership skills, but by sheer force of personality, I think I prefer Stuart.
I first began studying J.E.B. in Junior High, when I read The Last Cavalier, and I was never quite the same. From his flamboyant personality to his fierce loyalty and charisma, I became a bit of a Stuart fanboy :P I bought a model LeMat pistol and I even bought a replica of his hat which I wear to costume parties to this day. His wry humor and optimism remind me rather of myself sometimes, and when I read his biographies, I feel like I'm reading about myself. I relate to Stuart on so many levels, and thus he is my very favorite general.

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I've got three.

 

Longstreet, because while he has recently been re-evaluated by historians, he was for long the most underappreciated Confederate general and I think very arguably superior to Jackson in most every way. Less aggressive, perhaps. But while Jackson was a good general in the Napoleonic sense, Longstreet was a gifted tactician who would have been superior to the generals of the First World War. And, of course, he was right at Gettysburg no matter what the Lost Cause proponents say. 

 

John Reynolds, partly as a "what if". Probably the most gifted of all the Army of the Potomac's corps commanders. One wonders what might have happened had he accepted command rather than Meade, or even failing that if he had not been killed at Gettysburg what contributions he would have made later in the war. Not a single officer in the US Army had a bad thing to say about him.

 

The last one is probably not common, but that would be Joe Hooker. With the exception of Chancellorsville, Hooker actually had a very good record and reading Sears' books it is clear that during 1862 Hooker was the best division, and then corps, commander in the Army of the Potomac. Yes, he was scheming and egotistical but that just makes him more human and interesting to me. Finally, modern research (and medical knowledge) seems pretty convinced that at Chancellorsville the cannon shot that hit the post Hooker was leaning against gave him a concussion. He was thus seriously impaired, and when he finally did relinquish command of the army it was to the less than impressive Darius Couch rather than to Reynolds or Meade (who, though junior to Couch, could probably have gotten away with Hooker giving them command without much complaint). Finally, Hooker was completely justified when he complained about Howard being given command of the Army of the Tennessee over him because Howard was responsible for the defeat at Chancellorsville.

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With all apologies to Fredrick Lander, my heart belongs to but one general in the Civil War: Thomas 'Stonewall' Jackson

A man who feared nothing but God. 

We all know his story. His genius. His resolve. His sheer audacity. I won't bore you with it here. 

I pray to the Lord when my time comes, I echo his last words and say: 'let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees'.

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I would go for Jackson if it wasn't for his Seven Days Battles performance, which was very poor, always late. Although there is something about him that is so astonishing and unique, that he is one of the obvious choices, though he wasn't loved by his soldiers, being distant, cold, the only factor for him being admired was that he knew how to make a soldier out of a man and with a providential skill of finding victory event at the eve of defeat. 

Despite the noble request from the post-master ;) I will go for Lee nonetheless, amazing person, yet nobody is said to have revealed his heart truly. His anticipation and taking long odds decisions were more suited for a gambler than general, although he made the best of it until one day in July... It's heartwarming to see a good man as a general, without the gruesome disciplinarian actions of Bragg or the crazy blodlust Hood or even the stiffness and stubborness of Grant he was kind to all never calling on Union's soldiers otherwise than "these people" (not enemy); one that understood the nature of war and wasn't cold and overlooking suffering as Jackson (Lee's words after Fredericksburg are one of his finest and marked with a sense of truly realizing what a hell war was). Most of the leaders tended to be more generals than humans, but Lee was the other way around, his human nature made him a less effective general than Grant but it was astonishing when he noticed a complaint from a Union captive who said he had his hat stolen, Lee said: "Give the man his hat back", and so happened. Also his post-war days, being away from war memories or parades, as well as rejecting an offer from an insurance company to include his name in the company's one for a huge deal of cash, Lee turned it down because (despite living far from pre-war Virginia plantator aristocracy standards) he said that he can't receive money for the services he did not provide. A gold nugget among the generals, but a gem among men. 

If I would have to omit Lee, I would go for cool headed and pragmatic Longstreet, who lacked the sense of Jackson, but war far more reliable and a true professional, while Old Blue Light tended to give in to his eccentirc nature giving him much glory, but also a tendency for blunder. 

And for the Union, only Sigel. Hardly speaking English, prior to the battle of Pea Ridge he rode up to Curtis and asked if he doesn't have soemthing to eat before briefing him about the men he brought with him and overallsituation. Just kidding, but for Union it's harder. Probably Sherman, a man who got war to a new, modern level, unfortunately for Georgia though. But he was a tough nut, Shiloh katharsis made him a true leader of men, intelligent, driven, innovative, but also ruthless, far from the shaky man who was set off balance after the outbreak of war and 1st Manassas whipping. One of the first modern generals. 

 



 

 

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Well, obviously August Willich, first commanding officer of the 32nd Indiana "First German", probably the best trained all-German regiment of the Union army. Nicknamed "Papa" (dad) for caring so much about his men. I cite Wikipedia for further stuff:

The 32nd saw action at Shiloh on the second day, during which Col. Willich displayed great leadership. When his troops became unsteady under fire, he stood before them, his back to the enemy, and conducted the regiment through the manual of arms. He had the regimental band play "La Marseillaise", the anthem for all republican movements in Europe. Recovering its stability, the 32nd launched a bayonet attack. Willich was promoted to brigade command. The 32nd remained in his brigade, under command of von Trebra and, later, Frank Erdelmeyer.

His brigade later played a major role at Liberty Gap. During the Siege of Chattanooga, the 32nd played a conspicuous part, as Willich's Brigade captured Orchard Knob. Willich ordered the assault up Missionary Ridge. The 32nd Indiana and the 6th Ohio were the first to reach the top. While later his veterans wouldn't re-enlist because of the shit Hooker had thrown their way, though  the all-German units had fought valiantly during the Battle of Chancelorsville, he fought through the Atlanta Campaign, was wounded and received his brevet promotion to major general of volunteers at the end of the war. He returned to Germany in 1870 because he wanted to serve in the prussian army during the Franco-German War, but they didn't want him because of his communist views (he had tried to kill Karl Marx in London for being too conservative LOL!). So instead he studied philosophy, graduated at the age of sixty from the university of Berlin and returned to the US to die in St. Marys, Ohio.

Edited by Hjalfnar_Feuerwolf

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I would say George Henry Thomas for the Union because he wasn't the most flashy human or the most political human but he had well trained men and he did the damn job

 

for the Confederates probably Patrick Cleburne because I think he was among the best out of the Western Theater commanders out there

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I don't know how I forgot the greatest general of his age...

 

Brevet Lieutenant General Winfield Scott. Had Scott been more fit in 1861, or if the war had broken out just five years earlier, I think you would have seen it brought to an end more swiftly. Scott's contributions to American military theory were immeasurable, and he was the literal and figurative mentor of many of the top officers on either side, especially Lee.

 

I have a painting of General Scott in my living room, painted by Paul Penrose called "The General is older than the Capitol" which was what Lincoln was reputed to have said before meeting him for the first time. The painting depicts General Scott, circa 1861, in his study with portraits on the wall of him in his brigadier's uniform of 1814, and as a major general in Mexico in 1846. It's not a style of painting I would usually hang (I prefer darker oils, whereas this is a very bright and vibrant water color) but the subject matter attracted me to it. I can't find an image online of it or I would attach it.

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Buford.  I'm not one much for Cavalrymen, but, allow me to just snip some things from his Wiki page:

Quote

 

Based on his background, Buford had ample reason to join the Confederacy. He was a native Kentuckian, the son of a slave-owning father, and the husband of a woman whose relatives would fight for the South, as would a number of his own.

One night after the arrival of the mail we were in his (Buford's) room, when Buford said in his slow and deliberate way "I got a letter from the Governor of Kentucky. He sent me word to come to Kentucky at once and I shall have anything I want." With a good deal of anxiety, I (Gibbon) asked "What did you answer, John?" And my relief was great when he replied "I sent him word I was a Captain in the United States Army and I intended to remain one!"

 

And, let us not forget that it was Buford who picked Gettysburg, held on with dismounted cavalry long enough to get reinforced, and, I would argue, won the day (and set the stage for winning the battle).

I think he would be much more celebrated had he lived long enough to live out the war.

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2 hours ago, Powderhorn said:

I think he would be much more celebrated had he lived long enough to live out the war.

I think you are correct. Of course, in this day it's a disgrace that men like Buford (and others like Meade, Reynolds, etc) are not still celebrated. The public is more interested in the latest Kardashian...

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3 hours ago, Sir R. Calder of Southwick said:

I don't know how I forgot the greatest general of his age...

 

Brevet Lieutenant General Winfield Scott. Had Scott been more fit in 1861, or if the war had broken out just five years earlier, I think you would have seen it brought to an end more swiftly. Scott's contributions to American military theory were immeasurable, and he was the literal and figurative mentor of many of the top officers on either side, especially Lee.

 

I have a painting of General Scott in my living room, painted by Paul Penrose called "The General is older than the Capitol" which was what Lincoln was reputed to have said before meeting him for the first time. The painting depicts General Scott, circa 1861, in his study with portraits on the wall of him in his brigadier's uniform of 1814, and as a major general in Mexico in 1846. It's not a style of painting I would usually hang (I prefer darker oils, whereas this is a very bright and vibrant water color) but the subject matter attracted me to it. I can't find an image online of it or I would attach it.

At first glance, I thought you were going with Winfield Scott HANCOCK. Hancock, the Superb. Another excellent choice. 

He is a man who lived up to his namesake's glorious reputation. 

In my head to this day, Winfield Scott voice sounds exactly like Sydney Greenstreet eating creamed bemuda onions with Custer in 'They Died with their Boots On'

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21 minutes ago, Sir R. Calder of Southwick said:

I think you are correct. Of course, in this day it's a disgrace that men like Buford (and others like Meade, Reynolds, etc) are not still celebrated. The public is more interested in the latest Kardashian...

No; they are more interested in re-writing history, tearing down the memorials of the past, and creating a present based on an illusion of something that has never existed in order to build a future that scares the hell out of me. 

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31 minutes ago, Andre Bolkonsky said:

No; they are more interested in re-writing history, tearing down the memorials of the past, and creating a present based on an illusion of something that has never existed in order to build a future that scares the hell out of me. 

To my great and ever lasting sorrow I cannot disagree with that statement.

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Favorite general has to be Stonewall Jackson.

Always did more with less, and was always trying to strategize ways to win the war.

Next favorite would be Forrest (a great "character"), followed by Longstreet who led 4 of the most devastating attacks for the South:

1. 2nd Manassas - 2nd day

2. Gettysburg - 2nd day

3. Chickamauga

4. Wilderness

                     --Gael

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As for the Union I obviously going to say John Buford.  Worked his way out of the inspector general's office to lead a brigade of cavalry at 2nd Manassas. Almost beat Robertson's brigade with a brigade he had only led for mere weeks and lacked training or reliable officers.  Despite that he blocked Robertson from cutting off Reynold's fighting withdrawal.  A major proponent of modern cavalry tactics and was tremendous in use of skirmishers.  Only blemish was Stoneman's raid.  Then was in constant contact with only 2 of his 3 brigades all the way up to Gettysburg and then all the way back down across the Potomac.  He was the only Union officer to be in constant contact with the Confederate forces during the whole stretch.  Essentially worked himself to death, but thanks to him Meade always had a clear picture of the Confederate forces and their direction.  Died far too soon of pneumonia thanks to his body giving out after a year of being in the saddle constantly while wounded.  Grant even remarked that had Buford not died, it is likely Sheridan would not have come east to lead cavalry, but might have replaced Warren in command of the 5th Corps.

Other Union General would be George Thomas.  Won at Mill Springs and destroyed a Confederate army there.  Led troops all through the war and was never credited with a defeat in which he was in charge.  Saved the Union at Chickamauga and Chattanooga.  Was Sherman's battering ram to Atlanta and then despite his best troops being taken away. He was able to scrounge an army to destroy Hood at Nashville.  Then made Wilson's raid possible at the end of the war.  All while being a Virginian.  Was given a bad rap for moving slowly due to a major back injury incurred just before the war started.  Prior, he was an excellent artillerist and cavalryman whom a Lt. Colonel Robert E. Lee had the utmost respect for.  

For the Confederate side, to name someone different. John B. Gordon, rose through the ranks.  Spent everything he had on his men and became the last General on the Southern side with the flair and aggression for a true fight other than Longstreet.  Led troops capably throughout the entire war.  Then was chosen by Lee to surrender the army.  Was a self taught soldier, wounded multiple times and never lost being a gentleman.  Ordered Francis Barlow cared for at Gettysburg.  Then returned Chamberlain's salute at Appomattox.  Led the last major Confederate attacks at Fort Stevens and then made a valiant effort against Sheridan and Griffin in a last gasp.  Very forgotten and underrated in my opinion.  Wanted to say D.H. Hill, but he had a bad habit of driving away good officers despite being an excellent battlefield leader.

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18 hours ago, Buford Protege said:

...  Wanted to say D.H. Hill, but he had a bad habit of driving away good officers despite being an excellent battlefield leader.

Daniel Harvey Hill, (no relation btw,) was a very capable officer.  As long as there was at least one superior officer over him that would and could ultimately take any blame for failure. A lone with no superior he was a very indecisive commander, more worried about reputation than actual results.  As a indicator of this weakness of his, all one needs to do is read about his time as commander of the N.C. region of the South.

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There were so many officers who excelled at one level of command and were wholly ineffective at another. John Bell Hood is probably the best example, as probably the finest division commander in the ANV but an absolutely terrible army commander opposing Sherman. Like I said earlier with Hooker, while his Chancellorsville performance was poor (though again, I think there was more to it than is usually remembered now) he was an excellent division and corps commander. Even Longstreet had a poor record when operating independently (Suffolk campaign and Siege of Knoxville).

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On 10/30/2017 at 11:41 PM, Andre Bolkonsky said:

With all apologies to Fredrick Lander, my heart belongs to but one general in the Civil War: Thomas 'Stonewall' Jackson

A man who feared nothing but God. 

I remember the very first biography I read of him, The Valiant Virginian. It had a quote which I think sums up Old Jack rather well:

Lying in his tent in the dark, going over his plans in his head... Jackson heard two cold and unhappy privates of the Stonewall Brigade talking as they stood on sentry duty.
One of them said bitterly, "I wish the Yankees were in hell!"

After a little thought, the other replied, "I don't. Old Jack would follow them there with our brigade out in front."

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On 11/1/2017 at 7:56 PM, Andre Bolkonsky said:

No; they are more interested in re-writing history, tearing down the memorials of the past, and creating a present based on an illusion of something that has never existed in order to build a future that scares the hell out of me. 

When did people start knocking over public libraries and burning books? Where do they do that at?

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26 minutes ago, william1993 said:

When did people start knocking over public libraries and burning books? Where do they do that at?

I'm happy to have this chat offline. Just pm me. My apologies for detracting from the purpose of the thread. 

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