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  • A Chancellorsville what if?

    If commanding general Joseph Hooker had been more severely wounded or outright killed by the cannonball that rendered him only semi-conscious, presumably senior Corps Commander Darius Couch would have assumed full command (Judging by his quarreling with Hooker after the campaign, he was no fan of Fighting Joe). The question is, without Hooker's interference, do you think Couch would have conducted the battle from that point on better than Hooker, possibly resulting in a severe defeat of Lee's army?
    "Liberty and Union, now and for ever, one and inseparable!" -Daniel Webster

  • #2
    Originally posted by Viperlord View Post
    If commanding general Joseph Hooker had been more severely wounded or outright killed by the cannonball that rendered him only semi-conscious, presumably senior Corps Commander Darius Couch would have assumed full command (Judging by his quarreling with Hooker after the campaign, he was no fan of Fighting Joe). The question is, without Hooker's interference, do you think Couch would have conducted the battle from that point on better than Hooker, possibly resulting in a severe defeat of Lee's army?
    Welcome to the boards Viper, better yet, what if Hooker had just gone with Meade and Reynolds and continued the battle as it was- he had several strong tactical advantages.

    Granted- Howard, 'they couldn't hit an elephant at this distance' Sedgwick and Stoneman were useless- they all should have been retired, but Hooker still had the battle- he had Lee, but he didn't have the will to to follow the lead of Meade.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Bladerunnernyc View Post
      Welcome to the boards Viper, better yet, what if Hooker had just gone with Meade and Reynolds and continued the battle as it was- he had several strong tactical advantages.

      Granted- Howard, 'they couldn't hit an elephant at this distance' Sedgwick and Stoneman were useless- they all should have been retired, but Hooker still had the battle- he had Lee, but he didn't have the will to to follow the lead of Meade.
      Blade,

      I agree with most everything you've said here but one thing. I pretty strongly disagree with your assertion that Stoneman was useless. In fact, he was quite competent. The blame for the failure of the Stoneman Raid lies with Hooker and not with Stoneman. Once the heavy rains prevented the raid from beginning when it should have, Hooker should have canceled the raid because the element of surprise was lost. It never should have occurred. Hooker also must bear the blame for the fact that he stripped his army of all but a single small brigade of cavalry, which means that he had no scouts or screening force with the army. It's grossly unfair to blame Stoneman for that.

      Hooker, who refused to accept blame for his own defeat at Chancellorsville, decided that Stoneman and one of his division commanders, W. W. Averell, were the scapegoats for his defeat, not because of his own mental collapse and loss of moral courage. Hooker's scapegoating of Stoneman has badly tainted Stoneman. However, Stoneman's tenure in command of the AoP Cavalry Corps was a critical time in the development of the Union cavalry, and he did a competent job of commanding it.

      Eric
      Last edited by Eric Wittenberg; 13 Jun 10, 20:47.
      "If you want to have some fun, jine the cavalry"

      Maj. Gen. James Ewell Brown Stuart

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Bladerunnernyc View Post
        Welcome to the boards Viper, better yet, what if Hooker had just gone with Meade and Reynolds and continued the battle as it was- he had several strong tactical advantages.

        Granted- Howard, 'they couldn't hit an elephant at this distance' Sedgwick and Stoneman were useless- they all should have been retired, but Hooker still had the battle- he had Lee, but he didn't have the will to to follow the lead of Meade.
        (Thank you for the welcome). I agree fully Hooker should have had the battle, but he apparently lacked the willpower after his injury and Jackson's flank attack to press the attack. I thought it more realistic that with a dead or thoroughly disabled Hooker, Couch, seemingly lacking Hooker's shaky nerves, takes command and acts on the advice of his more skillful corps commanders, using his fresh troops to parry the Confederate thrust. If I recall correctly Hooker had already abandoned Hazel Grove and allowed Lee and Stuart to reunite, but Couch easily could have contained them with fresh troops and possibly launch a counterattack, at the very least holding Lee's troops in position while Sedgwick comes up. (I agree on the utter uselessness of Howard, Uncle John at least had his uses, but quick action and independent thinking was not one of them)
        "Liberty and Union, now and for ever, one and inseparable!" -Daniel Webster

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        • #5
          If the Union wins Chancellorsville, how much would it have shortened the war?
          How many Allied tanks it would take to destroy a Maus?
          275. Because that's how many shells there are in the Maus. Then it could probably crush some more until it ran out of gas. - Surfinbird

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          • #6
            Hooker commanded the most powerful army of the potomac to even enter the field of combat. That was the most experienced, equipped, trained, healthy, and the best moral of any union army in the east during the entire war.

            His plan was excellent, its execution, almost flawless. When that crucial moment came and it was time to strike the blow..... he pulled his army BACK into the wilderness.... losing momentum forever.

            Instead of beating a broken pack of wolves he decided to set up camp and allow those lean, mean rebels the advantage of attack in a place in which vision and maneuver were foreign concepts.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Wolery View Post
              If the Union wins Chancellorsville, how much would it have shortened the war?
              Considerably I'd say. With Lee's army in bad shape, the Army of Potomac presumably begins maneuvering straight for Richmond, with Lee trying his best to delay them or isolate a single element of the army to attack. Longstreet presumably comes rushing to Lee's aid, and possibly they hold up the Union army for quite a while. However, I suspect that by the end of 1863, Richmond would be abandoned and captured or at least under siege. With Grant's victories in the west, I don't see the Confederates lasting any longer than mid 1864.
              Last edited by Viperlord; 13 Jun 10, 21:53.
              "Liberty and Union, now and for ever, one and inseparable!" -Daniel Webster

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Eric Wittenberg View Post
                Blade,

                I agree with most everything you've said here but one thing. I pretty strongly disagree with your assertion that Stoneman was useless. In fact, he was quite competent. The blame for the failure of the Stoneman Raid lies with Hooker and not with Stoneman. Once the heavy rains prevented the raid from beginning when it should have, Hooker should have canceled the raid because the element of surprise was lost. It never should have occurred. Hooker also must bear the blame for the fact that he stripped his army of all but a single small brigade of cavalry, which means that he had no scouts or screening force with the army. It's grossly unfair to blame Stoneman for that.

                Hooker, who refused to accept blame for his own defeat at Chancellorsville, decided that Stoneman and one of his division commanders, W. W. Averell, were the scapegoats for his defeat, not because of his own mental collapse and loss of moral courage. Hooker's scapegoating of Stoneman has badly tainted Stoneman. However, Stoneman's tenure in command of the AoP Cavalry Corps was a critical time in the development of the Union cavalry, and he did a competent job of commanding it.

                Eric


                I also have no love lost for Hooker as he had Lee and then just it away.

                I agree that Hooker needed to deflect the volume of criticism and one of those that got it was Stoneman. Not long after the battle he would end up at a desk for almost two years- then when he was restored- not long after- he got himself captured.

                I was going with the great indifference Stoneman seemed to clearly show. It was a poor plan by Hooker- too much too soon if you will considering all the logistical problems, I agree, but I've always been of the school of thought which Sears pounded home in Chancellorsville- using his 'useless' line when needed most due to indifference. As Sears pointed out, Buford was brilliant and when you compare what John did to the Confederates to what at Stoneman did-Stoneman doesn't come out well off.

                I do appreciate the different perspective on Stoneman. As you know Eric, there aren't exactly many sources that are favorable to George Stoneman at Chancellorsville.

                Last edited by Bladerunnernyc; 14 Jun 10, 01:37. Reason: added toast

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Viperlord View Post
                  (Thank you for the welcome). I agree fully Hooker should have had the battle, but he apparently lacked the willpower after his injury and Jackson's flank attack to press the attack. I thought it more realistic that with a dead or thoroughly disabled Hooker, Couch, seemingly lacking Hooker's shaky nerves, takes command and acts on the advice of his more skillful corps commanders, using his fresh troops to parry the Confederate thrust. If I recall correctly Hooker had already abandoned Hazel Grove and allowed Lee and Stuart to reunite, but Couch easily could have contained them with fresh troops and possibly launch a counterattack, at the very least holding Lee's troops in position while Sedgwick comes up. (I agree on the utter uselessness of Howard, Uncle John at least had his uses, but quick action and independent thinking was not one of them)
                  The one part the shoots down this contention is that Chancellorsville isn't a battle for Darius Couch. Reynolds- hell yeah....Meade- without a doubt, but Couch was just McClellan with a different face.

                  Remember Second Corps historian Francis Walker said; 'There was probably no man in the ranks that had a greater devotion for General McClellan.' Walker detailed how Couch's strongly conservative outlook lead him to carefully scrutinize everything and basically- think it to death. He detailed as well how Couch took great pains to avoid peril....Chancellorsville was not for him my friend.

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                  • #10
                    The men of the Cavalry Corps actually had a great deal of faith and confidence in Stoneman, unlike Alf Pleasonton......
                    "If you want to have some fun, jine the cavalry"

                    Maj. Gen. James Ewell Brown Stuart

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Bladerunnernyc View Post
                      The one part the shoots down this contention is that Chancellorsville isn't a battle for Darius Couch. Reynolds- hell yeah....Meade- without a doubt, but Couch was just McClellan with a different face.

                      Remember Second Corps historian Francis Walker said; 'There was probably no man in the ranks that had a greater devotion for General McClellan.' Walker detailed how Couch's strongly conservative outlook lead him to carefully scrutinize everything and basically- think it to death. He detailed as well how Couch took great pains to avoid peril....Chancellorsville was not for him my friend.
                      I'm not sure I completely agree that Couch took great pains to avoid peril. Apparently during Chancellorsville, Couch and his staff deliberately drew artillery fire on themselves to allow infantry to march unhindered, so apparently he had no shortage of bravery. He was certainly cautious, but I thought the possibility of him at least holding his ground without the semi-conscious Hooker advising/ordering him not to is worth discussing.
                      Last edited by Viperlord; 14 Jun 10, 09:34.
                      "Liberty and Union, now and for ever, one and inseparable!" -Daniel Webster

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Couch, despite any politics, was ready to counterattack with Reynold's Corps and only his order from Hooker to fall back tied his hands, few military men want to face treason charges.
                        Lincoln also considered putting Couch at the head of the AoP but Couch's ill health was also problematic.
                        A fresh 1st Corps up against a tired Jackson's Corps would have put the man with the means and the will on his flank (Reynolds), but Sedgewick was too far away at Fredricksburg to aid an attack from the other flank.
                        Problem with winning Chancellorsville would have left Hooker in charge, but even Meade mused Hooker would have done better at his next attempt, which may still have been Gettysburg.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Eric Wittenberg View Post
                          The men of the Cavalry Corps actually had a great deal of faith and confidence in Stoneman, unlike Alf Pleasonton......
                          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMuwg...eature=related

                          I like you'll like the above seen Eric- it is Buford and reynolds- it was cut from the movie.

                          I've also always meant to ask you- what did you think of Grierson? I've always felt he was one of the great 'forgotten' figures in the Federal Cavalry. His raid from Tennessee to Baton Rogue might have been one of the most important for the Federals in the entire war.



                          And here is one you know very well Eric;



                          The below is really sharp quality;

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                          • #14
                            I don't see Couch's politics any different than Meade, Reynolds or Hancock's for that matter. they were fully professional soldiers.
                            In stark contrast were Mac and Hooker who were constantly manuevering politically outside of army circles.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by mgronski View Post
                              Couch, despite any politics, was ready to counterattack with Reynold's Corps and only his order from Hooker to fall back tied his hands, few military men want to face treason charges.
                              Lincoln also considered putting Couch at the head of the AoP but Couch's ill health was also problematic.
                              A fresh 1st Corps up against a tired Jackson's Corps would have put the man with the means and the will on his flank (Reynolds), but Sedgewick was too far away at Fredricksburg to aid an attack from the other flank.
                              Problem with winning Chancellorsville would have left Hooker in charge, but even Meade mused Hooker would have done better at his next attempt, which may still have been Gettysburg.
                              I mentioned Couch months ago when we all talked about Hooker's Council of War- and Meade urging the attack, Reynolds supporting whatever he wanted to do and Couch wanting to attack as well- if anything because he disagreed with Hooker constantly.

                              When I said that Chancellorsville 'wasn't his battle' I was making reference of Sears detailing how Darius never would have attempted a plan even half that daring and complex due to the caution of his nature. He was not one to hide for the battlefield- and he had courage, but after McClellan was gone he really didn't fit in (For instance- Reynolds and Meade were close).

                              Hooker's plan was brilliant, and it near worked. He did do in my opinion an outstanding job with the army after the battle and Hooker can be given the credit he is due for it being in excellent condition on the eve of the GB campaign in my opinion.

                              I would also say that Lee defeated Hooker- the Army of Northern Virginia fought well against a part of the AOP, but they didn't defeat it per say. the AOP was not allowed to show its full potential at Chancellorsville.

                              I'm no great fan of Joe Hooker, but his campaign at Chancellorsville was probably third in the top three campaigns of the CW in my opinion in regards to planning and execution, THAT was the boldness that Hooker had- Couch didn't have that in him and I reference the material I already mentioned, as well as Sears even pointing out that after Chancellorsville, '.......through no great mistake or failure on his part, even after Hooker resigned, nobody really wanted Darius Couch back and he faded quietly away until he later got a divisional command with the Army of Ohio.'

                              The other campaigns that I think were the most brilliant would have been Rosecrans' plan for the Tullahoma Campaign and Grant's campaign for Vicksburg.

                              Last edited by Bladerunnernyc; 14 Jun 10, 10:28. Reason: thumbs up- added

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