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  • Appomattox Campaign

    Main question... Is there anything Lee could have done better to avoid defeat during the Appomattox Campaign?

    How big a role the Union cavalry played during the campaign? And the Confederate cavalry?
    My avatar: Center of the Cross of the Légion d'honneur (Legion of Honour) of the First French Empire (Napoleonic Era), 3rd type (awarded between 1806-1808). My Légion d'honneur. :-)

  • #2
    Short answers as I'll let the smart give the detail answers.

    1) No. It was over except for the shouting.
    2) IIRC it was the Union Cavalry that captured the last real rations of the ANV at Appomattox.
    3) Nothing. It was down to broken down horses and little to no feed. A very thin shade of the original cavalry of the ANV.
    Eagles may fly; but weasels aren't sucked into jet engines!

    "I'm not expendable; I'm not stupid and I'm not going." - Kerr Avon, Blake's 7

    What didn't kill us; didn't make us smarter.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by RichardS View Post
      Short answers as I'll let the smart give the detail answers.

      1) No. It was over except for the shouting.
      2) IIRC it was the Union Cavalry that captured the last real rations of the ANV at Appomattox.
      3) Nothing. It was down to broken down horses and little to no feed. A very thin shade of the original cavalry of the ANV.
      Answer #1 pretty much says it all .

      John
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      • #4
        I've wondered about leaving Petersburg earlier... and heading for the hills of Va and N.Carolina. Tearing up bridges and RR behind. But that really is not the kind of warfare Lee was willing to take part in. Just putting off the inevitable really.
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        • #5
          Originally posted by RichardS View Post
          Short answers as I'll let the smart give the detail answers.

          1) No. It was over except for the shouting.
          2) IIRC it was the Union Cavalry that captured the last real rations of the ANV at Appomattox.
          3) Nothing. It was down to broken down horses and little to no feed. A very thin shade of the original cavalry of the ANV.
          Richard, that about covers it.
          In all my perplexities and distresses, the Bible has never failed to give me light and strength.
          Robert E. Lee

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          • #6
            Lee certainly had opportunities. North Anna sticks out as one. The Wilderness was another lost opportunity. Allowing Grant to move south across the James was the real killer. And then trying to hold out in a siege was his last great mistake.

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            • #7
              I believe it was all over after Grant took over. Simply because he did not retreat after the first setback in the Wilderness like all others before him who lost or thought they lost a battle. Grant and or Meade, another touchy subject, kept the pressure on Lee and did not allow for any rest or maneuver.
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              • #8
                Originally posted by dgfred View Post
                I've wondered about leaving Petersburg earlier... and heading for the hills of Va and N.Carolina. Tearing up bridges and RR behind. But that really is not the kind of warfare Lee was willing to take part in. Just putting off the inevitable really.
                I too have thought about that. Putting too much importance on keeping Richmond safe and not willing to 'give up' the capital in order to fight another day.

                We could really stretch this out and say if Lee did leave Petersburg earlier and met up with Johnston somewhere in western NC what then?
                "War is sorrowful, but there is one thing infinitely more horrible than the worst horrors of war, and that is the feeling that nothing is worth fighting for..."
                -- Harper's Weekly, December 31, 1864

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Twitter3 View Post
                  I too have thought about that. Putting too much importance on keeping Richmond safe and not willing to 'give up' the capital in order to fight another day.

                  We could really stretch this out and say if Lee did leave Petersburg earlier and met up with Johnston somewhere in western NC what then?
                  They get caught between Grant and Sherman. Same thing; just a little longer.
                  Eagles may fly; but weasels aren't sucked into jet engines!

                  "I'm not expendable; I'm not stupid and I'm not going." - Kerr Avon, Blake's 7

                  What didn't kill us; didn't make us smarter.

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                  • #10
                    You are right. With little to no supplies, it was over.

                    Did Lee really think he could escape Grant at Petersburg, or was it more to save face so to speak in surrendering outside of the siege?
                    "War is sorrowful, but there is one thing infinitely more horrible than the worst horrors of war, and that is the feeling that nothing is worth fighting for..."
                    -- Harper's Weekly, December 31, 1864

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Twitter3 View Post
                      You are right. With little to no supplies, it was over.

                      Did Lee really think he could escape Grant at Petersburg, or was it more to save face so to speak in surrendering outside of the siege?
                      He (Lee) was just trying to get to the rations at Appomattox. If he could get his men feed; then maybe more options MIGHT come to him. But once the line was flanked he had no option but to move or die.
                      Eagles may fly; but weasels aren't sucked into jet engines!

                      "I'm not expendable; I'm not stupid and I'm not going." - Kerr Avon, Blake's 7

                      What didn't kill us; didn't make us smarter.

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                      • #12
                        I cannot recall where I saw the stat, but Lee's men were averaging roughly 1,000 calories during the last 9 months of the AONV. The remnants that surrendered at Appomattox were down to something like 600 calories per day. The Union memoirs describe men akin to those at Auschwitz, just skin and bones. The surrender at Appomattox was just a formality. Lee had already lost.
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                        • #13
                          The crazy part was the Confederacy had plenty of rations for Lee's army, even at the end. The problem was that the transportation system was in a shambles and they were extremely limited on how they could actually get this food to the men in ranks.

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                          • #14
                            I can't see any justifiable reason for Lee to hold onto Petersburg for so long. What could he accomplish there?

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Charger View Post
                              I can't see any justifiable reason for Lee to hold onto Petersburg for so long. What could he accomplish there?
                              Once Lincoln is reelected - not much.

                              However, Richmond and the Tredegar Iron works must be held because of the need for the artillery and munitions produced there which supply not only Lee's Army but other Confederate forces. Richmond is the last major supply depot necessary to keep forces in the field supplied with artillery. The depots and limited foundries in Chattanooga and Atlanta have fallen, and the handful of plants that can make cannon out in Alabama and Georgia cannot even hope to produce enough guns to replace the cannons lost in the Army of Tennessee, let alone supply Lee's Army and other troops.

                              And to hold Richmond, he must hold the supply line at Petersburg.
                              "Hit hard when you start, but don't start until you have everything ready." - Lt. Gen. James Longstreet

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