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  • Longstreet vs Jackson

    Who was in your opinion lee's best corps commander ?

    On the one hand Jackson performed quite brilliantly during the valley campaign, at Antietam and Chancellorsville, but poorly during the seven days battles.

    On the other hand, Longstreet performed poorly at Knoxville and have been much criticized for his action at Gettysburg, but his defence of Frederiksburg was solid and his performances during the seven days, at manassas or the Wilderness were outstanding.

    So, who was the best commander ? I know Longstreet is much more criticized but I guess this has something to do with was he did after the end of the war.

  • #2
    I think we should trust Lee on this one. Lee made sure that when they were promoted that Longstreet's effective date was earlier. This ensured that Longstreet was senior to Jackson.
    "Put guards on all the roads, and don't let the men run to the rear."
    Major General John Buford's final words on his deathbed.

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    • #3
      Jackson= Lee's Pitbull
      Longstreet= Steady Hand
      CSA Ancestors-R.T.Conner&J.J.Sowell-1st TEXAS Inf./J.W.Conner-14th TEXAS Cav/J.T. Crawford-17th Cons.TEXAS Dismtd Cav/John & Hezekiah Williams-4th TEXAS Cav./Jack Williams-1st Reg.Cav.TEXAS State Troops
      Federal Ancestors-By the Grace of GOD-0

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Widow Maker View Post
        I think we should trust Lee on this one. Lee made sure that when they were promoted that Longstreet's effective date was earlier. This ensured that Longstreet was senior to Jackson.

        True, this might show that Lee considered Longstreet as his best corps commander. On the other hand, while commanding on his own, Jackson was maybe more capable. But perhaps the steady and meticulous Longstreet was quite reassuring as a right-hand man.

        Jackson= Lee's Pitbull
        Longstreet= Steady Hand
        I do agree, though things weren't that simple (Jackson was a capable defender and proved it on several occasions, Longstreet - as evidenced by his performances during the seven days, at manassas or in the wilderness- though more cautious was still good on the offensive). But I find it difficult to say which general did perform better overall.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by clems View Post
          Who was in your opinion lee's best corps commander ?

          On the one hand Jackson performed quite brilliantly during the valley campaign, at Antietam and Chancellorsville, but poorly during the seven days battles.

          On the other hand, Longstreet performed poorly at Knoxville and have been much criticized for his action at Gettysburg, but his defence of Frederiksburg was solid and his performances during the seven days, at manassas or the Wilderness were outstanding.

          So, who was the best commander ? I know Longstreet is much more criticized but I guess this has something to do with was he did after the end of the war.

          If you really want to criticize Longstreet, the best place and time for that was Seven Pines/Fair Oaks. Knoxville was a no win situation for him. Bragg sent him there to get him out of his hair. His presence at Missionary Ridge might have been as useful to Bragg as had his presence at Chickamauga.

          To understand the two men, I think it is important to remember their qualities. Jackson was generally a good operations chief, but not a good tactician. His performances at Kernstown, the Seven Days, Cedar Mountain and Brawner's Farm tend to bear that out. OTOH, his ability to get Lincoln and Washington City to, if not panic, at least dance to his music during the Valley Campaign is a sign of his ability at the operational level; his ability to bring his men to the point of contact at Chancellorsville was another example of his ability to take men to the fight. Unfortunately, they took too long to do much damage to anyone else other than Eleventh Corps.

          In contrast, what Longstreet did tactically at 2nd Manassas, The Wilderness and Chickamauga were great accomplishments. Imagine a guy coming off the train late at night, making his way to army HQ without the slightest help and being told that he will command half the army in an attack the following morning and then working all night long to arrange his men for combat. His Gettysburg performance, while not up to the standards of the aforementioned performances was, at least adequate.

          If I had to choose between the two, I'd choose Longstreet.
          Last edited by TomDeFranco; 09 Apr 10, 13:09.
          I come here to discuss a piece of business with you and what are you gonna do? You're gonna tell me fairy tales? James Caan in the movie "Thief" ca 1981

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          • #6
            Very interesting, thank you.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by clems View Post
              Who was in your opinion lee's best corps commander ?

              On the one hand Jackson performed quite brilliantly during the valley campaign, at Antietam and Chancellorsville, but poorly during the seven days battles.

              On the other hand, Longstreet performed poorly at Knoxville and have been much criticized for his action at Gettysburg, but his defence of Frederiksburg was solid and his performances during the seven days, at manassas or the Wilderness were outstanding.

              So, who was the best commander ? I know Longstreet is much more criticized but I guess this has something to do with was he did after the end of the war.
              I would say Antietam was not Jackson's best day, 1st Union chewed him up pretty well! Stuart basically saved him from having his flank turned.

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              • #8
                If I were to put money on an independent operator, I'd go with Jackson. In an independent or quasi-independent role, he generally gave the biggest bang for the buck (or buck private). He was also the war's great flanker, at an operational as well as a tactical level (see Valley Campaign, Chancellorsville, Frericksburg). His only downside was his autocratic nature -- he was a lot like Field Marshal Montgomery from World War II in that respect. (Patton's observation, not mine.)

                That said, Longstreet had a tremendous appreciation for good fighting ground -- and not just at Gettysburg. At Fredericksburg, he knew virtually no blue army would make it all the way up Marye's Heights by the time his men had dug in and his artillery (a lot of it placed by his highly capable (if unofficial) artillery chief, E. Porter Alexander) was sited. He was also better than Jackson at getting the most out of his senior subordinates.
                "There are only two professions in the world in which the amateur excels the professional. One, military strategy, and, two, prostitution."
                -- Maj. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower

                (Avatar: Commodore Edwin Ward Moore, Republic of Texas Navy)

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Jon Jordan View Post
                  If I were to put money on an independent operator, I'd go with Jackson. In an independent or quasi-independent role, he generally gave the biggest bang for the buck (or buck private). He was also the war's great flanker, at an operational as well as a tactical level (see Valley Campaign, Chancellorsville, Frericksburg). His only downside was his autocratic nature -- he was a lot like Field Marshal Montgomery from World War II in that respect. (Patton's observation, not mine.)
                  At the tactical level, Jackson made several mistakes throughout his career. He had a terndency to send his men into the fray in a piecemeal fashion. His actions at Kernstown, Cedar Mountain and Brawner's Farm are evidence of that. He was solid at the op level because he got Washington to react to his moves in the Valley. He managed to surprise the Eleventh Corps at Chancellorsville because Howard would not take the appropriate measures to shore up the right flank. After the initial actions, the battle of Chancellorsville degenerated into a slugfest.

                  Originally posted by Jon Jordan View Post
                  That said, Longstreet had a tremendous appreciation for good fighting ground -- and not just at Gettysburg. At Fredericksburg, he knew virtually no blue army would make it all the way up Marye's Heights by the time his men had dug in and his artillery (a lot of it placed by his highly capable (if unofficial) artillery chief, E. Porter Alexander) was sited. He was also better than Jackson at getting the most out of his senior subordinates.
                  Longstreet also led some of the war's most devastating attacks as borne out as 2nd Manassas (flanking the Union army's left), Gettysburg (chewed up the Federal left with a 1:2 numerical disadvantage), Chickamauga (one of the two best performers on the field on 9/20/1863 along with Thomas) and at the Wilderness (another powerful left wing attack years after which Hancock was quoted as stating 'You rolled me up like a wet blanket.')
                  I come here to discuss a piece of business with you and what are you gonna do? You're gonna tell me fairy tales? James Caan in the movie "Thief" ca 1981

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                  • #10
                    I was once told that Longstreet was a bit like Thomas in Grant's army and Jackson like longstreet, but I'm do know if it's a valid comparison. Thomas seems to have had (like longstreet) a reputation of cautiousness.

                    I think people tend to praise agressive generals (Grant, Lee, Jackson or Sherman were that sort of commanders) over more meticulous yet successful generals (Thomas, Longstreet, Johnston for instance). Though Lee and Grant won several great victories, they also sometimes launched pointless and bloody assaults too (malvern hill, pickett's charge vicksburg, cold harbor). On the other hand, a general like Thomas won great victories without wasting the bollod of their men.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by TomDeFranco View Post
                      If you really want to criticize Longstreet, the best place and time for that was Seven Pines/Fair Oaks. Knoxville was a no win situation for him. Bragg sent him there to get him out of his hair. His presence at Missionary Ridge might have been as useful to Bragg as had his presence at Chickamauga.

                      To understand the two men, I think it is important to remember their qualities. Jackson was generally a good operations chief, but not a good tactician. His performances at Kernstown, the Seven Days, Cedar Mountain and Brawner's Farm tend to bear that out. OTOH, his ability to get Lincoln and Washington City to, if not panic, at least dance to his music during the Valley Campaign is a sign of his ability at the operational level; his ability to bring his men to the point of contact at Chancellorsville was another example of his ability to take men to the fight. Unfortunately, they took too long to do much damage to anyone else other than Eleventh Corps.

                      In contrast, what Longstreet did tactically at 2nd Manassas, The Wilderness and Chickamauga were great accomplishments. Imagine a guy coming off the train late at night, making his way to army HQ without the slightest help and being told that he will command half the army in an attack the following morning and then working all night long to arrange his men for combat. His Gettysburg performance, while not up to the standards of the aforementioned performances was, at least adequate.

                      If I had to choose between the two, I'd choose Longstreet.
                      I would agree on Longstreet. Stonewall is a better nickname than Pete though.

                      Might it be a stretch to say that anyone was working at the operational level of war (at least as the Soviets would have defined it in the 30s), other than maybe Grant when he assumed the generalship in chief? Actually, this could make a very interesting thread: was there an operational level of war in the ACW? Any interest in that? We could use the Vulcan's Anvil article on the CGSC as a starting point.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by The Ibis View Post
                        I would agree on Longstreet. Stonewall is a better nickname than Pete though.

                        Might it be a stretch to say that anyone was working at the operational level of war (at least as the Soviets would have defined it in the 30s), other than maybe Grant when he assumed the generalship in chief? Actually, this could make a very interesting thread: was there an operational level of war in the ACW? Any interest in that? We could use the Vulcan's Anvil article on the CGSC as a starting point.
                        I think that the ACW was filled with operations. To me, campaign level activity equals the ops level. So, the Valley Campaigns of 1862 and 1864, the Vicksburg Campaign, the Seven Days Battles, the 2nd Manassas Campaign, the Maryland Campaign, the 1862 Kentucky Campaign, the Overland Campaign, etc. were the ACW equivalents of the Russian WWII operational art. Certain generals like Lee, Grant, Sherman, Jackson and Rosecrans excelled at the operational level. Even the likes of McClellan and Bragg were not bad ops chiefs. Thomas and Longstreet might have been, but were not really given any true opportunities to test their mettle at the operational level.
                        I come here to discuss a piece of business with you and what are you gonna do? You're gonna tell me fairy tales? James Caan in the movie "Thief" ca 1981

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by clems View Post
                          I was once told that Longstreet was a bit like Thomas in Grant's army and Jackson like longstreet, but I'm do know if it's a valid comparison. Thomas seems to have had (like longstreet) a reputation of cautiousness.

                          I think people tend to praise agressive generals (Grant, Lee, Jackson or Sherman were that sort of commanders) over more meticulous yet successful generals (Thomas, Longstreet, Johnston for instance). Though Lee and Grant won several great victories, they also sometimes launched pointless and bloody assaults too (malvern hill, pickett's charge vicksburg, cold harbor). On the other hand, a general like Thomas won great victories without wasting the bollod of their men.
                          Even though, semantically, people substitute words (like meticulous for cautious) that seem to fit at the moment, I think that meticulous and aggressive are not mutually exclusive. Look at both Thomas and Longstreet at Chickamauga - both were very aggressive at that battle.
                          I come here to discuss a piece of business with you and what are you gonna do? You're gonna tell me fairy tales? James Caan in the movie "Thief" ca 1981

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by TomDeFranco View Post
                            I think that the ACW was filled with operations. To me, campaign level activity equals the ops level. So, the Valley Campaigns of 1862 and 1864, the Vicksburg Campaign, the Seven Days Battles, the 2nd Manassas Campaign, the Maryland Campaign, the 1862 Kentucky Campaign, the Overland Campaign, etc. were the ACW equivalents of the Russian WWII operational art. Certain generals like Lee, Grant, Sherman, Jackson and Rosecrans excelled at the operational level. Even the likes of McClellan and Bragg were not bad ops chiefs. Thomas and Longstreet might have been, but were not really given any true opportunities to test their mettle at the operational level.
                            We could have a lot of fun debating that. I'll try and come up with a good thread question. No need to bog this one down.

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                            • #15
                              Longstreet over Jackson because Longstreet did so much both offensively and defensively, well.
                              My main critique of Lee's Warhorse is, Chickamauga aside, he did not do well unless under Lee's command. Suffolk was disjointed, and Old Pete did not do well trying to stop Hooker from reaching Chattanooga, and at 7 Pines he even blamed other for his own failures ion the march.

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