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Churchill Imagines How the South Won the Civil War

By Ernest B. Furgurson 
Originally published by MHQ magazine. Published Online: August 03, 2011 
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The Confederates capture Washington? That's just one of the clever bits of fiction that Churchill conjured up in his 1931 essay (Photo Illustration by Vertis Communications; White House: Library of Congress; Confederate Flag: Thinkstock).
The Confederates capture Washington? That's just one of the clever bits of fiction that Churchill conjured up in his 1931 essay (Photo Illustration by Vertis Communications; White House: Library of Congress; Confederate Flag: Thinkstock).

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Many who have read and relied on Winston Churchill's magnificent historical works may be surprised to learn that he once devised an elaborate explanation of how Jeb Stuart prevented World War I. This seemingly far-fetched analysis was the great man's contribution to If, or History Rewritten, a 1931 collection of essays by historians of the day. Each explored a world where events had unfolded contrary to recorded history, with titles such as "If Napoleon Had Escaped to America" and "If the Moors in Spain Had Won." Churchill penned his contribution during his wilderness years, when he was out of office and working the lecture circuit across America. The essay is a playful study of a Civil War counterfactual: what might have happened had Robert E. Lee, with help from Stuart, won at Gettysburg and carried the South to victory in the war. It offers a look at Churchill's lively imagination at work, as well as a few glimpses of his views on race, war, and international politics as the storm clouds of World War II began to gather.

In Winston Churchill's fanciful alternative history, Lee wins at Gettysburg, and Jeb Stuart prevents World War I

The seeds of Churchill's excursion into alternative history were planted during his trip to North America in 1929. He and his entourage—including his son, Randolph, an undergraduate at Oxford, and his brother, Jack—arrived by boat in Quebec, then took a train across Canada to the Rockies. Entering the United States, he was indignant when customs officers searched his party's bags, which held Prohibition-defying flasks of whiskey and brandy, plus reserves secreted in medicine bottles.

Churchill, who was in his mid-50s, was endlessly interested in America, the land of his mother's birth. In California he admired the redwoods, visited William Randolph Hearst at the newspaper magnate's seafront castle, and toured MGM's studios. In Chicago, he inspected the meatpacking plants that Upton Sinclair had condemned in The Jungle, which Churchill had favorably reviewed on its publication in 1906.

From New York, Churchill headed south and spent 10 days as a guest of Virginia governor Harry F. Byrd at the governor's mansion on Richmond's Capitol Square. On Churchill's arrival, according to his granddaughter Celia Sandys, he mistook 14-year-old Harry Byrd Jr. for a servant, sent him out for a newspaper, and tipped him a quarter. When Mrs. Byrd served Virginia ham, he complained that there was no mustard. With his casual, cigar-waving air of entitlement, Churchill seemed unaware that he had offended his hosts. Young Harry, later his father's successor in the U.S. Senate, recalled that when Churchill left, Mrs. Byrd ordered her husband never to invite that man to her house again.

On most days during Churchill's stay with the Byrds, Douglas Southall Freeman, editor of the Richmond News Leader, whisked him away for tours of battlefields of the Civil War, which had fascinated the British leader even as a schoolboy. Freeman at the time was working on his Pulitzer Prize–winning biography of Robert E. Lee. The son of a Confederate soldier, he was famously said to have saluted the statue of Lee on the city's Monument Avenue each morning on his way to work.

Churchill's service as a young cavalry officer in India, Sudan, and South Africa as well as his brief duty as a World War I battalion commander had taught him that military history couldn't be learned in the abstract. "No one can understand what happened merely through reading books and studying maps," he wrote. "You must see the ground, you must cover the distances in person, you must measure the rivers, and see what the swamps were really like."

Freeman and Churchill tramped among the ghosts of the Seven Days' Battles and other famous Virginia showdowns. The British leader also toured Gettysburg, which he considered the decisive conflict of the Civil War. Years later he would analyze its events in his legendary A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, and his critique agrees comfortably with Freeman's. Although Freeman admired Lee as the beau ideal of Virginia chivalry, he did not insist that he was perfection personified. He criticized Lee for mistakes in the field, as did Churchill. Both men wrote that Lee at Gettysburg had too much confidence in his army, based on its performance against a two-to-one superior force in the Chancellorsville campaign two months earlier. While most accounts of Chancellorsville feature Lee's bold generalship and Stonewall Jackson's daring flank march, Lee remembered what his outnumbered troops had done after Jackson was mortally wounded—how they drove Major General "Fighting Joe" Hooker's powerful army back across the Rappahannock River in brutal, slugging combat.

"Lee believed his own army was invincible," Churchill wrote, "and after Chancellorsville he had begun to regard the Army of the Potomac almost with contempt. He failed to distinguish between bad troops and good troops badly led. Ultimately it was not the army but its commander that had been beaten on the Rappahannock." In Pennsylvania, however, it was the glum, courageous Major General George G. Meade who commanded the Union army. "It may well be that had Hooker been allowed to retain his command, Lee might have defeated him a second time," Churchill speculated.

Both Freeman and Churchill thought that Jackson, had he lived, would have changed the outcome at Gettysburg. "I have but to show him my design, and I know that if it can be done it will be done," Lee had said of Jackson. "Straight as the needle to the pole he advances to the execution of my purpose."

Lieutenant General James Longstreet, who would play a critical role at Gettysburg, was a proven fighter, but he was not Stonewall Jackson. He had suggested that instead of attacking Meade's lines on Cemetery Ridge head-on, Lee should swing south to get around the Federal left, placing the Confederates between Meade and Washington and thus forcing Meade to attack. When Lee rejected the idea, Longstreet sulked for the rest of the campaign.

Churchill sided with Lee: "It is not easy to see how Lee could have provisioned his army in such a position," he asserted. He was appropriately hard on Longstreet, who balked at Lee's attack orders on the second and third days of the battle: "Longstreet's recalcitrance had ruined all chance of success at Gettysburg."

Ultimately, however, Churchill's analysis of the battle came back to the actions of Jeb Stuart. The flamboyant cavalry officer and his troops left Lee's forces before the main fighting to pursue what became an ill-advised and ineffectual raid on the rear of the Union army. "Fortune, which had befriended [Lee] at Chancellorsville, now turned against him," Churchill wrote. "Stuart's long absence left him blind as to the enemy's movements at the most critical stage of the campaign….Lee's military genius did not shine. He was disconcerted by Stuart's silence, was 'off his balance.'"

Given Churchill's dissection of Gettysburg's actual events, it's no surprise that he made Stuart a crucial figure in his imaginary account for If. Returning to England after his jaunt through America, he began to work out in his mind just how Lee lost at Gettysburg—and how he might have won. "It always amuses historians and philosophers to pick out the tiny things, the sharp agate points, on which the ponderous balance of destiny turns," he writes in the essay.

Churchill goes on to attribute the Rebel victory to many small factors that aligned in their favor. "Anything…might have prevented Lee's magnificent combination from synchronizing," he writes. Like most historians, he points to the Confederate July 2 assault on Little Round Top as a pivotal moment; in his fictionalized version of events, the Rebels took the hill, depriving Meade of the high ground for his guns.

But ultimately, Churchill concludes that Stuart was the key. His narrative has the cavalry arrive at the Union rear precisely as Major General George Pickett led his infantry charge on Meade's position on Cemetery Ridge. This helped produce a panic that swept through the whole left of Meade's army. There could be "no conceivable doubt," he writes, "that Pickett's charge would have been defeated if Stuart with his encircling cavalry had not arrived in the rear of the Union position at the supreme moment."

Perhaps Churchill's adventurous service as a cavalryman inspired him to assign the decisive role to the dashing Stuart and his horsemen. For him, the battle was tipped not by the collision of masses of infantry, but by the hard-riding cavalry that moved on the fringes of the central ground.

Students of Churchill's strategic leadership on a much bigger stage have seen that he often proposed roundabout approaches rather than direct confrontation. He did so in 1915, when as First Lord of the Admiralty he urged the disastrous Gallipoli landing in Turkey. Not long after, he must have been moved by the waste of lives he witnessed in his three months of service in France, where he became commander of the 6th Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers.

But Churchill doesn't credit Stuart simply with saving the battle for Lee; he claims the cavalryman's raid was exactly one of those "sharp agate points" that changes destiny. In his alternative history, Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia took Washington within three days of Gettysburg. Lee then declared the end of slavery in the South—a "master stroke," Churchill wrote, that swung British opinion behind an alliance with the Confederacy. Faced with such a formidable combination, and with the moral issue of slavery removed, President Abraham Lincoln agreed to peace that September in the Treaty of Harpers Ferry, which gave all slaves their freedom and established the South as an independent nation.

Churchill's imagination didn't stop there. When tensions arose between the North and the South, he wrote, Lee created a diversion by sending the Confederate army to conquer Mexico in three years of bloody guerrilla war. At the turn of the 20th century, affairs beyond the oceans began to present graver threats. In his fable, Churchill explains how Prime Minister Arthur Balfour and President Theodore Roosevelt met to discuss a moral and psychological union. Once President Woodrow Wilson of the Confederacy joined the effort, "this august triumvirate" agreed to the Covenant of the English-Speaking Association on Christmas Day 1905.

The association adopted peace and international disarmament as its cause. But its voice was unheeded as the European powers began to mobilize for war in 1914. Calling for peace, it urged all nations to halt their armies at least 10 miles from their borders. If they did not, the association would consider itself "ipso facto at war with any power…whose troops invaded the territory of its neighbor."

The combined influence of Britain and America brought breathing space to Europe. The armies backed away. Thus World War I—which "might well have led to the loss of many millions of lives, and to the destruction of capital that twenty years of toil, thrift and privation could not have replaced"—never came to pass.

And that, in Winston Churchill's whimsical fantasy, is how Jeb Stuart prevented World War I. Amusing as it is, Churchill's fictional account also suggests that, although he was out of Parliament, his mind was still busy with the political issues of the day, particularly race. Since he and Freeman were used to publishing their opinions on tender subjects, they may have discussed racial matters as they drove to and from the battlefields.

Freeman was moderate by the standards of the time, less of a hardliner than Governor Byrd, for example, who decades later as a U.S. Senator led Virginia's campaign of "massive resistance" to school desegregation.

But moderation was not in Churchill's makeup. In his If essay, he wrote derisively about what might have followed a Union victory in the war: "Let us only think what would have happened supposing the liberation of slaves had been followed by some idiotic assertion of racial equality, and even by attempts to graft white democratic institutions upon the simple, docile, gifted African race belonging to a much earlier chapter in human history."

Churchill was not simply critiquing what happened in the postwar South. He was also underscoring his strong objection to what was happening in England's colonial holdings. Mahatma Gandhi was crusading for the independence of India, and Churchill vehemently opposed the liberation movement throughout his career, correctly anticipating that it would lead to the breakup of Britain's far-flung, mostly dark-skinned empire. He was a champion of liberty, but not too much of it, not for everyone.

Reading between the lines of Churchill's alternative history, we also find signs of what Churchill valued in war. As military historian Max Hastings and others have noted, the British in World War II liked minor operations, while the Americans did not. "The mushroom growth of British special forces," Hastings writes in Winston's War, "reflected the prime minister's conviction that war should, as far as possible, entertain its participants and showcase feats of daring to entertain the populace." Hastings was speaking of Churchill's enthusiasm for commando raids like those at Saint-Nazaire and Dieppe in 1942, and later for thrusting into the soft underbelly of Nazi-held Europe by attacking Crete and giving priority to the Italian campaign—campaigns with strong echoes of those of the gallant Stuart and his cavalrymen

Given that Churchill's public life was so long and full, it's hard to say how his study of the Civil War influenced his thinking in World War II. But it is obvious that to the end of his days, he was fascinated by this chapter of American history. He returned often to Gettysburg. He was there again in 1943 as the guest of Franklin Roosevelt during a wartime visit to the president's Catoctin Mountain retreat of Shangri-la (later Camp David), a few miles south of the battlefield. (He is said to have corrected Roosevelt when the president mistakenly said that the battle had been fought in 1864.) And in 1959, when he was 84 years old, he took a presidential helicopter tour of the battlefield with Dwight Eisenhower, whose farm was nearby.

Since Churchill's time, the alternative-history genre has thrived, with many books about the Civil War and at least one about Gettysburg. There is also a computer game, taking off from the moment in 1931 when Churchill looked the wrong way in New York and stepped off the curb into the path of an oncoming automobile. The game deals with what would have happened to the world if that accident had proved fatal. Some ifs are terrible to contemplate. 

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29 Responses to “Churchill Imagines How the South Won the Civil War”


  1. 1
    Jeff C says:

    Nice article, thanks for posting it. I have read and enjoyed H. Turtledove's alternative history book series "Guns of the South" & "American Front". They are very detailed and sweeping reads of epic events of "what if". Newt Gingrich/ Dr. Forstchen have also written a good series. Thanks again for this article!

  2. 2
    Brock Townsend says:

    Yes, excellent. Congratulations.

  3. 3
    William Hale says:

    The problem with Churchill is that he didn't know what the hell he was talking about! He was responsible for Gallipoli and the disastrous attack on Norway. Lee was NEVER going to destroy the Army of the Potomac at Gettysburg and thus would NEVER have captured DC. As was found in WWI, the armies had grown too large to completely destroy. The AoP could have fallen back to the defenses of Washington to regroup and reprovision while Lee was standing outside the city twiddling his thumbs. He couldn't besiege DC as they could always provision from the Navy and he couldn't attack the defenses. Like Hannibal outside the gates of Rome, Lee would NEVER have succeeded in capturing DC by storm or by siege.

    The ONLY way that a alternative history on the US Civil War could plausibly end up with a confederate victory is if the first premise was the removal(by death or defeat at the polls) of Abraham Lincoln.

    Churchill was obviously too influenced by the biased Freeman in regards to his complete obtuseness as to Longstreet. To say that Longstreet to a backseat to Jackson in any military competentcy is an error, Jackson was not perfect in any stretch of the matter, his performance at 7 Days was horrendous. Longstreet was not just a good defensive soldier, he was excellent on the attack as well. Longstreet's attacks at 2nd Bull Run and the Wilderness devastated the AoP and his 2 attacks at Gettysburg came out far better than they should have.

    The final commentary on who was the better general, Longstreet or Jackson belongs to the person who knew them both best, Robert E Lee, who made SURE that Longstreet was given his commission the day before Jackson to ensure that his best general would replace him if something should happen to Lee.

    whale

    • 3.1
      Keith says:

      No real problems with what you say here except your mention of Gallipoli. While the virtually unquestioned conventional wisdom is that Gallipoli was one of the "great military blunders of all time," attention should be paid to WHY that invasion was undertaken. It was all about finding a route to provide assistance to the teetering Tsarist regime. Churchill realized, correctly, that without support the Tsar would fall and one of Britain's allies would be lost. Russia could not be provided with aid through traditional channels because the Germans controlled the Baltic. Gallipoli was an attempt to establish a southern route for provisions and while it had little chance of success and ultimately failed, an argument can be made that it was worth the effort. In the spirit of revisionist history, "what if" the Tsarist regime had been able to pacify its hungry people and maintain order long enough to hold off the bolsheviks? No Soviet Union? No cold war? No nuclear arms race?

    • 3.2
      Robert says:

      Since Churchill was hell bent on getting the USA into WW1, including trying to intice UBoat atttacks on vessels, like the Louisitania, Jeb Stuart could have done nothing.

  4. 4
    Woody Tanaka says:

    " He was a champion of liberty, but not too much of it, not for everyone."

    Then he wasn't really a champion of liberty, but of privilege (for himself, and those like him.)

  5. 5
    Thomas Kerr says:

    Oh, let's be a little bit easy on Winston. Sure he favoured 'peripheal' operations. So would any sane man who experienced the insanity of the ww1 trenches which destroyed Europe as the world leader forever.
    Let us never forget that his rhetorical skill saved western civilization twice:
    in 1940 "We shall fight on the beaches, on the landing fields, in the cities…we shall never surrender"
    In 1948 "From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste on the Adriatic, an iron curtain has been drawn across Europe" (Fultham Missouri, Harry Trumans home town!)
    But he was also good with a quip and humour. Nancy Astor, a seriously left wing MP once denounced him in the House of Commons "Mr. Churchill, if you were my husband, I'd put arsenic in your tea."
    "Were you my wife, I would drink it!"
    Let us now praise famous men.
    PS. I reckon that Lee lost it at Antietam before the Union had fully mobilized)
    TKerr

    • 5.1
      Bob Woodward says:

      Just a small correction… The speech was made in Fulton, MO and that was not the home of Harry Truman. Harry Truman was born in Lamar, MO and spent is adult life in Independence, MO.

    • 5.2
      Robert says:

      The Cult of Churchill is worse even than the Cult of Lincoln.

  6. 6
    DVG93 says:

    There is one flaw for certain. The south would never free the slaves. States rights be darned. It was all about slavery. Yeah the politicians tip toed around it in the run up, but slavery was the main event.

  7. 7
    BrockTownsend says:

    It was all about slavery.

    Of course, just like the Tyrant Lincoln stated…………….

  8. 8
    William McDill says:

    Churchill was a master of 'Grand Stategy', i.e. thinking about what actions to pursue to achieve ultimate victory, but he was very poor at 'Strategy',i.e. actions to achieve Grand Strategic objectives. Thus he was correct about breaking the Central Power's hold on the Dardenelles,( Russia would collapse with access to the West.) He was correct about keeping Britain in the war. He was correct about supporting the USSR, about getting the US into WWII. But he was totally wrong about Greece, Malaya, Burma, 'The soft underbelly of Europe'.

  9. 9
    jjheinis says:

    Of course, take a look at this site.

    http://www.uchronia.net/bib.cgi/label.html?id=squiifitha

  10. 10

    [...] was reading, as a teenager, Winston Churchill's famous essay on what might have happened if Lee had won at Gettysburg, which opened my eyes to the fundamental truth that many of the great events of history turn upon [...]

  11. 11
    ichael Vaughan says:

    Just a couple of points. Churchill wasn't out of parliament in the 1930s, he was out of government. Nancy Astor, a Virginian, was a fellow Conservative MP with equally dotty opinions. She is buried in Danville VA wrapped in a Confederate flag!

  12. 12
    pete yanzsa says:

    Nothing Lee did at Gettysburg could have prevented Vicksburg from surrendering the next day. The Confederacy is still split, and the South still loses the war.

  13. 13
    Tex says:

    Nothing in this essay changes the fact that Winston Churchill was an overrated pompous racist who literally had his rear end saved by The Yanks.

    His vile and vicious rhetoric against Indians and especially against Gandhi, who he called a half naked fakir!

    He is a farce and embodies all that was wrong about the colonial superiority and privilege that was the British Empire. Good riddance to that!

  14. 14
    Rob Richardson says:

    A minor, very minor, detail but one that continues to bug me, none-the-less. The battle flag shown flying over the Capitol Building was not rectangular as shown. The battle flag was square. You see the same error all the time with \no nothings\ flying Chinese made (incorrect) battle flags at various political gatherings and motorcycle rallies.

    Of course, who's to say that it wouldn't have been redesigned by imaginary Confederates after they won their imaginary victory in the '60s: perhaps, made rectangular to accommodate additional stars for Arizona, New Mexico, Maryland, and Delaware.

    • 14.1
      buckeyeman says:

      "You see the same error all the time with \no nothings…"

      Hilarious. "know nothings" ????? Just hilarious.

      • 14.1.1
        Rob Richardson says:

        Glad you caught my play on words.

        That said, I'm not sure why my quotation marks got translated to back slashes. Maybe when the gov is back in business we can move back from no nothings to know nothings.

  15. 15
    Don Herko says:

    Lee won nearly ever battle that he fought from 1862 to 1865, but he lost the war. many attribute that to overwehlming numbers and capabiltiy in the North.

    Well if Lee knew he was always going to be outnumbered and face more cannon, why would he carry out such offensives as Malvern Hill and Picket's charge. He played right into the hands of the Federal strength – Union Artillery.

    As a retired Army Officer, we developed plans with the idea that the enemy had a vote. Lee learend from Winfield Scott in the Mexican War to not give the enemy a vote during the battle. This idea worked well against the bungling Burnside, mealy McClellan and the happless Hooker. Lee said Meade would not make a mistake in his front and Meade did not at Gettysburg, did not at Bristoe Station nor at Mine Run. Lee made all the mistakes

  16. 16
    Don Herko says:

    The Gingrich Forctchen could almost be classified as science fiction.

    Their Gettysburg book ingnores laws of physics and discounts entire Union Brigade and Divisional formations. I plotted their battle on a map, deducted casualties from both sides as occured, Lee runs out of men before the climactic battle.

    According to Gingrich and Forstchen, the ANV made a dramatic but failed attempt on Cemetary Hill the night of July 1st.

    Consider that prior to that attack, Heth's Division had two Brigades in poor shape: Archer and Davis and Rodes had two in abissmal shape ONeil and Iverson. Two days later some of Heth and Penders' Brigades were the first to break during the charge. So how could Heth, Pender and Rodes' divisions be counted on for extended offeinsive operations over several days when most were incapable of maximum effort with 48 hours rest.

    With that mathmatical subtraction, Lee now faces Meade's five Corps (minus 1st and 11th) with just six Divisons (Early's division having incurred slight losses on July 1st) Rodes(largest in the Army) and Heth (next largest in the Army) were the largest in their respective Corps and Pender was the six largest in the ANV.

    By comparison the 1st and 11th Corps were the two smallest in the AoP. The Vermont \Paper Collar\ Brigade (1950 strong) was assigned to 1st during the campaign to bolster their strength, but were not present on July 1st.

    Meade was appraoching the Gingrich Forstchen battlefield on July 2nd with 62,000 fresh infantry and 10,000 fersh cavalry along with 306 unused cannon and a secret train of Artillery ammo that only Hunt knew about.

    Lee was appraoching July 2nd with the intact 1st Corps 21,000 and 87 cannon and portions of his other two Corps with only Johnson and Anderson's fresh divisions a combined 13,500 men, 5300 cavalry and undertermined ammount of cannon not to exceed 63 unused pieces. Niether co-author clearly gave indication that Jones/Robertson nor Imboden were moved from their pre-battle locations

    That was their premise on the morning of July 2nd. The Union High Command would then completely lay an egg and allow themselves to be destroyed. Only one Army in the history of the war was smashed to pieces and disolved on the battlefield – Hood's Army of Tennessee before Thomas at Nashville. That army was plagued with organizational and structural problems making that result a forgone conclusion.

    I would also draw your attention to this article

    http://www.civilwarhome.com/napolmath.htm

    read it and look at what the author presents, facts devoid of bias. He does not even negatively comment on the two commanders. The questions he posed are simple time honored questions commanders faced throughout history – many that Lee simply chose to ignore.

  17. 17
    Pro Bono says:

    Interesting counterfactual history by Churchill, but he completely misses the mark on his idea that Lee would have abolished slavery.

    Yes, Lee privately opposed slavery, even as his wife and her family owned slaves at Arlington. But Lee was a career army officer, a constitutionalist and a conservative. He was a man who recognized and respected civilian control of the military. There is simply no way that someone of Lee's personality and political beliefs would every usurp the civilian political authority of the Confederate government by unilaterally abolishing slavery in the South, with no other authority than being the commander of the South's largest field army.

  18. 18
    buckeyeman says:

    The South would more likely have "won" the Civil War by not firing on Fort Sumter". There was a lot of sympathy in the North for the concept of states rights, including the right to secede and time was the South's friend. Lincoln did nothing militarily to force the issue until the Fort Sumter debacle gave him an excuse to actually go to war.

    Fort Sumter galvanized Lincoln's supporters and silenced (somewhat) the opponents of forced re-unification. "Southern Pride" is what lost the war. Once the shooting started there was virtually no imaginable way (short of fantasies like Churchill's) that the South could have prevailed against the North.

  19. 19
    fgill says:

    Gallipoli could hardly rank as one of the greatest military disasters of all time. It was a great setback but it did not, for instance, result in the military collapse of the Allies. It represented both the best and worst of Churchill's strategic imagination. It was certainly an idea worth trying, as Keith points out, but only if there had been a commitment to use whatever forces were necessary, combined with meticulous planning and cooperation. Instead, Churchill and others allowed the effort to follow an ad hoc, piecemeal process. This commenced with the effort in March,1915 to force the Straits on the cheap, using a quarrelsomely commanded Anglo-French naval force composed largely of obsolete ships and supported only by a small ground force to assist in reducing the Ottoman shore batteries.

    Even this came close to succeeding before it had to withdraw after taking heavy losses from Ottoman mines. The latter were left by Allied minesweepers which in their turn had been forced to withdraw under fire from the remaining shore batteries – batteries which may well have been taken with a larger ground force. By the time the Allies returned in force a month later their best chance had passed though even then they may have succeeded but for assorted errors.

    Most of this was not Churchill's fault. WWI marked the beginning of that long and fitful, but spectacularly fruitful Western alliance which we are perhaps in the twilight of. The enormous difficulties of successful coalition warfare were only beginning to be grappled with. Moreover, modern amphibious warfare was in its infancy. Indeed, Gallipoli can be thought of as its painful precursor. In retrospect the campaign hardly stands out as a unique example of failure in this war. Commanders and strategists on both sides were often inadequate to the tasks they set themselves.

    In military manners Churchill was always a precocious amateur. His talents lay elsewhere as in, for instance, saving Western Civilization.

  20. 20
    Michael Vaughan says:

    Interesting comments by Tex.

    I agree with the first statement, but Churchill's racist views were probably quite common at the time and never forget he was half-American. His father was in disgrace and Randolph famously played the \Orange Card\ to resurrect his political career. The result was a partitioned Ireland and bitter sectarianism to this day. Maybe, just maybe, that was why WSC hated James Longstreet, a Catholic convert. Lady Astor, the Virginian was a rabid anti-Catholic in the Blaine of Maine tradition.

    Yes, he did insult Gandhi and the Indians and I am glad you kept mum about American Indians – awfully embarrassing, old chap!

    The last statement could be an apt description about the collapsing American Empire.

    When I was young Randolph Jnr. was a laughing stock and said he would finally make the headlines when he died. He died on 6th June 1968 and barely got a mention.

  21. 21

    [...] in a different world. Churchill, a great admirer of Lincoln and a student of American history, wrote an article in 1930 imagining what might have happened had Lee won at Gettysburg. At least thoughtful Americans retain the ability to use the speech as a way of critiquing the [...]

  22. 22
    Terry P says:

    Had Lee listened to Longstreet and went around Gettysburg and threatened Washington D.C he would have almost certainly defeated Meade's Army and won the War. As Churchill noted, Lee was overconfident and repeatedly attacked uphill a fortified position. He had very little chance of succeeding as Sun Tzu had predicted in \The Art of War.\

    • 22.1
      BrockTownsend says:

      Though the march would have almost certainly been detected by the opposition, leaving it in a very precarious situation.



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