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Who is your favorite Union general of the American Civil War?
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General George Meade, he was the first to actually stop Lee.
It’s so hard to pick just one, but probably George Armstrong Custer. But Sheridan is cool too. So is Chamberlain. So is….oh, forget it.
I have several favorite generals chosen for their key strengths.
The most brilliant Strategic Field General of the war was by far Grant. He immediately understood the importance of cutting off the Ohio River for Confederate use and so attacked Cairo Ill without real orders. This had enormous strategic consequences for the South. His western Campaigns and taking of the Mississippi Valley which followed were masterful.
His Eastern Campaign demonstrated his understanding of modern war. While tying down Lee in a war of attrition he set Sherman loose on the southern industrial heart and Sheridan on the Souther breadbasket. Once Grant took command of the Army of the Potomac Lee knew it was over and could only hope to prolong the war.
The most brilliant tactical officers might logically be Jackson or Sherman but since it is more difficult to attack terrain than defend it I would give the nod to Sherman.
As for think on their feet types of officers I would have to divide the honor between Chamberlain who proved to have a natural flair for command and Forrest whose genius forshadowed special operations that would make later campaigns so successful.
None They All Are Got Their Buts Kicked By General Robert E.Lee & Stone Wall Jackson
Bill, I am afraid that you are mistaken about Grant and Cairo. Cairo was put under military control 21-22 April, 1861 by militia under the command of General R. K. Swift, following orders of (Illinois) governor Yates shortly after LIncoln’s call for troops. Grant did not arrive in Cairo until 4 September.
I think you are confusing Cairo with the battle of Belmont in November.
Robert E Lee will always remain a Hero to any Civil War Student or Historian both in The USA and here in England. He will always be remembered and admired both as a Soldier and as a man. However..I do not recall him kicking too many butts after Gettysburg and certainly not after he was confronted by Grant who in my opinion along with Lincoln played the most crucial part in saving The Union. It is not too hard to imagine the world without a “United States” IE No involvement in two world wars which could have been the case had The States been divided into separate countries. For this reason, though there are many others, Grant gets the vote of an impartial Limey.
Nathaniel Lyon He saved Missouri from being taken out of the union by a traitorous governor. Had he survived the battle of Wilsons Creek and been sent east, the war would have been very different, possibly shorter, but still very bloody.
General John Buford. The outcome at Gettysburg might have been different if Genl. Buford had not deployed his cavalrymen to control the approaches to Gettysburg as he did in the face of the advancing Rebs. Genl. Buford dismounted his troopers for more accurate fire, remounted them to change position when necessary and later forced advancing troops to halt with the threat of a massed cavalry charge. It is most unfortunate that he died much too soon – he could have accomplished more.
There are no “ifs” in history, so speculation about who might have done what is idle.
Sheridan and Grant both developed a fairly modern ethic towards warfare that elevated mission accomplishment over concerns like loss of life. And Grant, at least, recognized the horror of that particular ethic (witness Cold Harbor). That made them more or less “ruthless” (“without pity”), which in turn lent tremendous power on the battlefield. In a situation in which saving life was at least as important as repulsing an enemy or maintaining position (as was probably the situation for the South by 1864), generals could not expend men quite so freely. But a “favorite” general (of either side)? That’s like asking for a favorite virus or a favorite cancer. My favorite? Benjamin Butler: he saved the Brady photographs that still show us the horror of the war.
General Winfield Scott Hancock.
General Joshua Chamberlain was magnificent and U. S. Grant was one tough and stubborn SOB
D Chamberlain would get my vote. As a citizen soldier that plotted to get into the service, not out, he earns higher marks than the career soldiers. He had a knack for being at the crux of the action from Gettysburg, through the final surrender where his unit accepted the the arms of the defeated rebels. Wounded twice, his courage was unequalled. When you read his memoir the genuine concern he had for his men comes shining through. When the war was over he returned to his community where he continued his life of public service.
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