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Why didnít Scott receive field command?

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  • Why didnít Scott receive field command?

    As you may know, Winfield Scott was the most accomplished general the United States had in 1860. He sided with the Star Spangled Banner. He not only commanded troops in the War of 1812, he also led a US army in a successful campaign across Mexico. In the War Between the States he devised the Anaconda Plan, which turned out to be the way the war had to be won.

    Why didnt he receive field command at the outset? I understand he had health problems, but what role did he play in the campaigns of McDowell and McClellan? Was he kept to the side, perhaps for political reasons?
    "It is a fine fox chase, my boys"

    "It is well that war is so terrible-we would grow too fond of it"

  • #2
    General Winfield Scott was far too much of the "Fuss and Feathers" for field command. He couldn't mount a horse unassisted, nor alight from one.

    The Anaconda plan was neither his creation, nor was it used to capture southern ports like New Orleans or Vicksburg. Anaconda shyed away from tackling the Conferacy wholesale, as Sherman was to do in Georgia and the Carolina's.

    Irwin McDowell's plan for Bull Run had nothing wrong per see....Southern Generals like Jackson were simply in the right place at the right time, with Confederates able to combine using railroads.

    The Union Army could easily have overcome it's Bull Run jitters, but it was on display, with northern picknickers.

    Nothing wrong with Little Mac either, whose talent for organisation proved the equal of Mcdowell

    All in all, Ol' Fuss and Feathers was past his best days...pity the Union Army had a bad day
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    • #3
      Scott was in worse physical shape than many know. There were a number of healthy, vigorous men in their 70's and older back then, but Scott was declining.

      Pruitt
      Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

      Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

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      • #4
        The most important ability for a job may well be avail-ability. As has been pointed out, Scott lacked this quality due to his physical infirmities.

        Regards,
        Dennis
        If stupid was a criminal offense Sea Lion believers would be doing life.

        Shouting out to Half Pint for bringing back the big mugs!

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        • #5
          The above is true, IMO Scott won the ACW. His strategy as set out in 1861 is what did the CSA in: Take NO, secure the MIss, blockade the south, and relentlessly drive on Richmond, all were Scott's plan.
          Any man can hold his place when the bands play and women throw flowers; it is when the enemy presses close and metal shears through the ranks that one can acertain which are soldiers, and which are not.

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          • #6
            He laid out a strategic plan for the conduct of the war. He was too old and infirm for a field command. Other Union commanders, such as Grant and Sherman, especially Grant, won the war on the battlefield. And they had the support of an excellent president. And Halleck's contribution should not be overlooked. Grant and Sherman rose to prominence under him and he was an excellent chief of staff.

            Grant proved to be an excellent strategist, and his Vicksburg campaign was a miniature version of Scott's campaign against Mexico City where he abandoned his line of communication and marched inland.

            Winfield Scott was one of the best generals and commanders the United States ever produced.
            We are not now that strength which in old days
            Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
            Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
            To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

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            • #7
              Anaconda did not envisage anything more than thr crippling of the south due to blockade. It did NOT plan for the Confederacy to be ransacked by an occupying Army. It was Sherman alone who turned his back on conventional practice. Up until that point, it looked as though Little Mac and his Democrat voters would carry the day in the Election of 1864 and make a peace with the South not based on anything other than a war weary Northern people, who up until that particular popint, did not believe that the South COULD be conquered.

              Grant/Sherman came to this conclusion, by their own admission after the Battle of Shiloh. How this strategy was to be enacted only became crystal clear after Atlanta. Before this, Sherman was called 'crazy' for enunciating such views and almost cashiered from the service, saved only by Grant himself.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Drusus Nero View Post
                Anaconda did not envisage anything more than thr crippling of the south due to blockade. It did NOT plan for the Confederacy to be ransacked by an occupying Army. It was Sherman alone who turned his back on conventional practice. Up until that point, it looked as though Little Mac and his Democrat voters would carry the day in the Election of 1864 and make a peace with the South not based on anything other than a war weary Northern people, who up until that particular popint, did not believe that the South COULD be conquered.

                Grant/Sherman came to this conclusion, by their own admission after the Battle of Shiloh. How this strategy was to be enacted only became crystal clear after Atlanta. Before this, Sherman was called 'crazy' for enunciating such views and almost cashiered from the service, saved only by Grant himself.
                Sherman's march through Georgia and the Carolinas was quite tame compared to contemporary European standards. Sherman was protected by Halleck as was Grant while Halleck was in command in the Western Theater.

                For an excellent summary see The Superstrategists by John Elting.
                We are not now that strength which in old days
                Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
                Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
                To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Scott was in worse physical shape than many know. There were a number of healthy, vigorous men in their 70's and older back then, but Scott was declining.

                  Pruitt
                  Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                  Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                  by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Drusus Nero View Post
                    Anaconda did not envisage anything more than thr crippling of the south due to blockade. It did NOT plan for the Confederacy to be ransacked by an occupying Army. It was Sherman alone who turned his back on conventional practice. Up until that point, it looked as though Little Mac and his Democrat voters would carry the day in the Election of 1864 and make a peace with the South not based on anything other than a war weary Northern people, who up until that particular popint, did not believe that the South COULD be conquered.

                    Grant/Sherman came to this conclusion, by their own admission after the Battle of Shiloh. How this strategy was to be enacted only became crystal clear after Atlanta. Before this, Sherman was called 'crazy' for enunciating such views and almost cashiered from the service, saved only by Grant himself.
                    First, Scott certainly WAS the author of the Anaconda Plan, contrary to your earlier statement. https://www.civilwaracademy.com/anaconda-plan

                    Second, the plan was NOT just about the blockade. Control of the Mississippi was an integral part of Scott's plan from its inception. To state otherwise is to be badly mistaken.

                    Regards,
                    Dennis
                    If stupid was a criminal offense Sea Lion believers would be doing life.

                    Shouting out to Half Pint for bringing back the big mugs!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Absolutely correct-well done.
                      We are not now that strength which in old days
                      Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
                      Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
                      To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Historian Rowena Reed contends that the government in Washington was unable to impose it's will on field commanders, so that the war was, (in actuality) a series of independent campaigns conducted according to the whims of whatever general happened to be in charge, (therefore) the Anaconda plan is a later, conceptual imposition on events for which order did not exist at the time they took place.
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                        GULAG Glossary....Who Really Killed The Red Baron?....Pearl Harbor At 75
                        Lincoln-Douglas Debates

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                        • #13
                          in other words, Scott came up with a plan that envisioned both a blockade, and a march down the Mississippi River to support it and cut the South in two. This, he argued, would be enough to bring on peace alone, with a minimum of blood spilt.

                          Battles like Shiloh proved the fallacy of that idea, and as Grant said in his memoirs..."After Shiloh, I gave up all idea of defeating the Confederacy except by complete conquest."

                          Grant "saw the Elephant", and realised from that point forward that the South would not tamely give up for lack of imports, as Anaconda had said it would.

                          The conduct of the blockade was the responsibility of a special Board based in Wshington that acted as an overseer.

                          So, not only was Winfield Scott not in charge of his own idea, (if indeed it was his whole concept, but events took over to modify the concept, as did the conduct of each of the principle army groups in all three theaters.

                          Scott wanted a relatively bloodless campaign, just like Mexico, and by a small force that was to follow the riverine fleet down the "Father of the Waters". What they got, instead, was one damned battle after another that really went nowhere in a strategic sense, until Halleck, Grant, Sherman and Lincoln focused their attentions in conbining these movements so that the South was being squeezed from many points at the same time, rather than fending off each piecemeal thrust and counterattacking.

                          It's all on the Wki page, gentlemen and brother members!

                          Drusus
                          My Articles, ALMOST LIVE, exclusive to The Armchair!

                          Soviet Submarines in WW2....The Mythology of Shiloh....(Edited) Both Sides of the Warsaw Ghetto
                          GULAG Glossary....Who Really Killed The Red Baron?....Pearl Harbor At 75
                          Lincoln-Douglas Debates

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Drusus Nero View Post
                            in other words, Scott came up with a plan that envisioned both a blockade, and a march down the Mississippi River to support it and cut the South in two. This, he argued, would be enough to bring on peace alone, with a minimum of blood spilt.

                            Battles like Shiloh proved the fallacy of that idea, and as Grant said in his memoirs..."After Shiloh, I gave up all idea of defeating the Confederacy except by complete conquest."

                            Grant "saw the Elephant", and realised from that point forward that the South would not tamely give up for lack of imports, as Anaconda had said it would.

                            The conduct of the blockade was the responsibility of a special Board based in Wshington that acted as an overseer.

                            So, not only was Winfield Scott not in charge of his own idea, (if indeed it was his whole concept, but events took over to modify the concept, as did the conduct of each of the principle army groups in all three theaters.

                            Scott wanted a relatively bloodless campaign, just like Mexico, and by a small force that was to follow the riverine fleet down the "Father of the Waters". What they got, instead, was one damned battle after another that really went nowhere in a strategic sense, until Halleck, Grant, Sherman and Lincoln focused their attentions in conbining these movements so that the South was being squeezed from many points at the same time, rather than fending off each piecemeal thrust and counterattacking.

                            It's all on the Wki page, gentlemen and brother members!

                            Drusus
                            You argue two different things. First you cast doubt on the validity of Scott being the author of the Anaconda Plan. I have sourced to show that idea is incorrect, period. I recommend sources other than Wiki to make points.

                            Second, you add an argument that Anaconda was not a good plan to, I suppose, bolster your initial incorrect statement. You may or may not have a point about the merits of the plan, but that has nothing to do with whether or not Scott was the author of same. To divert from you point does not make it. The two themes are not connected, but are rather mutually exclusive.

                            Regards,
                            Dennis

                            If stupid was a criminal offense Sea Lion believers would be doing life.

                            Shouting out to Half Pint for bringing back the big mugs!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Drusus Nero View Post
                              General Winfield Scott was far too much of the "Fuss and Feathers" for field command. He couldn't mount a horse unassisted, nor alight from one.

                              The Anaconda plan was neither his creation, nor was it used to capture southern ports like New Orleans or Vicksburg. Anaconda shyed away from tackling the Conferacy wholesale, as Sherman was to do in Georgia and the Carolina's.

                              Irwin McDowell's plan for Bull Run had nothing wrong per see....Southern Generals like Jackson were simply in the right place at the right time, with Confederates able to combine using railroads.

                              The Union Army could easily have overcome it's Bull Run jitters, but it was on display, with northern picknickers.

                              Nothing wrong with Little Mac either, whose talent for organisation proved the equal of Mcdowell

                              All in all, Ol' Fuss and Feathers was past his best days...pity the Union Army had a bad day
                              Everything i've read gives Scott credit for forming the Anaconda Plan, although I haven't seen the document he used to submit it. Also, Halleck made the decision to march south to Corinth, and once there he put Grant in charge of securing the Mississippi. I haven't read whether this was his idea, his interpretation of Anaconda, or if he got the idea from somewhere else.

                              Other than this I have to agree. Grant devised a plan for converging army units against the two major Confederate armies simultaeneously, and Sherman "dropped the atom bomb" as it were, by marching his bummers through the southeast. Perhaps the real "anaconda" plan was destroying southern railroads.
                              "It is a fine fox chase, my boys"

                              "It is well that war is so terrible-we would grow too fond of it"

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