My Favorite Civil War General | HistoryNet

My Favorite Civil War General

By Dana Shoaf
6/7/2010 • CWT Video Blog

Who’s your favorite Civil War general?

68 Responses to My Favorite Civil War General

  1. Scott Grogan says:

    my favorite general in the war has to Robert E.Lee. I admire him because at the beginning of the war he was offered the command of the Union army but refused it because he could not bring himself to fight against his native state and later when he accepted the command of the Army of Northern Virginina he felt he was defending his own state against a northern invasion. I also admire how took a ragged, under supplied army to almost victory over a army ten times his size. I also consider him a great man of common virture when he came to relization when all lost for the southern side and was able to surrender with great dignity.

    • Army Vet says:

      I agree that Lee was a man of solid character and virtue, especially in peace time ventures. Could never quite understand what happened to him, after Gettysburg. So many condemed Grant as a butcher, but he was committed to ending the war and the killing as soon as possible. Lee was highly intelligent but did not, could not, or would not see that he had lost. He fought on, killing many thousands, only for the purpose of continuing the war and hoping that Lincoln would lose office; and with an impossible dream that the North would give up and offer a generous settlement to the South. It was only that he was absolutely defeated and about to lose his entire army that gave up. His greatest gift was being able to surrender to U.S. Grant. Bottom line: Grant fought the last year to end the war as quickly as possible. Lee, facilitated by Davis, fought on to drag out the war as long as possible.

  2. Kathy Pearlman says:

    My favorite general is the one my great-great–great grandfather served under – Ulysses Hiram Grant. Without his leadership, the Civil War would have been lost to a general who favored one state over the Union that the entire Union Army fought to keep. He had to have inspired many of the men who followed him, because like my great-great grandfather, there were quite a few Ulysses Simpson (Grant’s Civil War moniker) Grant ______s born following the War.

  3. Screaming Eagle says:

    General Buford is my favorite General. He saved the union with his decisive tactical decision of fighting on the best ground at Gettysburg. He wasn’t an Army Commander like Grant or Lee, but he was a genius as a division commander; without great leaders at the operational level nothing gets done. Yes sir, General Buford is my selection.

  4. ken riskedahl says:

    I think, General Nathan Bedford Forrest is my favorite General. He had the ability and knowledge to know, he and his men could not take on the whole Union army, but was able to defeat them with tacticts and leadership and the will to win that was not on the Union side. He also was fighting on his land, his country, and we now know that make a formidale opponent. For his leadership and skills on the battle field and his ablity to lead, I select General Nathan B. Forrest, C.S.A.

  5. Caleb Klingler says:

    My favourite Civil War general has to be Gen James Longstreet. He can arguably, be said to be the best corps commander on either side of the conflict. With Longstreet, consistency was a virtue. If I had to go into battle, and had to choose one commander, my choice would be Longstreet. Even though, he is seen by many historians, as one of the most controversial generals from the period, reference questioning senior leadership at Gettysburg (Lee) and Tennessee/Knoxville campaign of 63′ (Bragg), I feel, compelled, to say that he is my favourite Civil War general.

  6. BC says:

    I wouldve loved to have shared a drink with Grant! LOL

  7. Ron H says:

    Mine is N B Forrest, A truly hard fighting commander even when he was outnimbered.

  8. David Lowe says:

    Jubal Anderson Early left Stonewall Jackson in the dust. He did more with finesse in 1864 with less than Jackson ever managed to muddle through with in 1862. Sitting in Lynchburg writing his memoirs–the ceiling collapsed with plaster dust everywhere. “Jupiter” he said addressing his devoted servant. “Please bring me another Julip.” And he continued writing.

  9. John says:

    Old Pete. By a country mile.

    • Drew says:

      Longstreet (aka Old Pete) had to be one of the finest and best corps commanders the South had (along with Jackson). I think in some ways he was better than Jackson, however, I think Lee failed to fully utilize Longstreet’s skills and talents, especially at Gettysburg. I think Longstreet was right and they should have held a defensive position, instead of wasting all their men at Pickett’s Charge.

  10. Phillip says:

    I am with Kathy, US Grant was the man! Ruthlessly efficient because he hated war and wanted it over. Also, his ‘Gentle Peace’ was an inspiration.

  11. Joseph Swonger says:

    My favorite is Ulysses S. Grant. He came literally from no where when his country desperately needed a fair, tough commander. In addition to his military acumen he had the knack of picking the right men for the right positions when needed as his underlings. The best example of this is William Tcumseh. Sherman, another great leader who was indispensable to saving the union.
    It’s ironic that it took a man from such a common background, such as Grant, to defeat a man from one of the most distinguished American families, Robert E. Lee.

  12. Barry Hoff says:

    All romanticism aside….. General George Thomas, The Rock of Chicamagua. Because he was from Virginia, He was often overlooked for promotion in favor of the “Ohio Commanders”. His actions at Chickamagua preserved Union fighting forces. At Missionary Ridge the process began the march to Atlanta. Finally under Thomas’s command, Hood was finally crushed at Nashville. Other men would have possibly resigned if given the treatment by higher ups that Thomas endured…..but he remained faithful. His skills and accomplishments were often overlooked by the writers of history.

  13. Rick says:

    I would have to go with George Thomas. A Virginian that stayed with the union. Not fully trusted by his superiors because of his state of birth. Disliked by Grant because he replaced him after Shiloh. He was probably one of the best Union Generals there was. Only twice in the Civil War was a Confederate Army routed from the field of Battle, Mill Springs in Kentucky and Nashville in 1964 the commanding general of the Union forces, George Thomas. He also saved the Union army at Chicamauga.

  14. Old Fort says:

    George Armstrong Custer. The “Boy General” rose in rank due to an incredible leadership style, personal bravery, and tactical acumen. He inspired loyalty in his men to an amazing degree, and his battlefield victories had significant impact. He is also the only Union general to beat Jeb Stuart in a cavalry battle. Indian war issues aside, he was a truly brilliant commander during the Civil War.

  15. Jim says:

    Winfield Scott Hancock. Old Winnie boy.

  16. Mark says:

    William Tecumseh Sherman is my favorite General.He had lived in the South and knew the South would fight hard and the only way to win the war was cut off their supplies.His men all admired him because he would not waste lives needlessly.

  17. Chris says:

    George Thomas – The Rock Of Chickamauga.
    His crushing defeat of John Bell Hood at the Battle Of Franklin was a tactical masterpiece.

  18. Slowtrot says:

    “General George H. Thomas, the man who succeeded Rosecrans, of course, was the man who saved the day at Chickamauga and was known as “The Rock” forever after; a man whose fame was immeasurably enhanced by the very defeat which put Rosecrans’ own fame under an enduring cloud. Yet if Thomas won national acclaim for what he did at Chickamauga, he remains another general who, almost unaccountably, was somehow deprived of the full measure of recognition he might have had. His record contains no blots, yet he was obscured by others: the towering reputations of men like Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan put just a little shadow on him.

    Perhaps one trouble with Thomas was that he had no important backing. He came from Virginia, and his state had seceded; he stayed with the Union, but when the war began, his state had no important representatives in Washington to push his cause. His merits spoke for themselves, but nobody else bothered to speak for them; at one point, when his name was up for promotion, Lincoln is supposed to have remarked, “Let the Virginian wait.”

    Thomas waited, and what he waited for never quite came ? until long after his death, which may have been a little too late. It appears from this, and from all the rest of the record, that Thomas got his reputation on the wrong basis. He was supposed to be the immovable man, the soldier who was indomitable and who stolidly dug in his heels and refused to be moved, and at places like Chickamauga, he earned that reputation beyond question. When Rosecrans was driven back to Chattanooga, it was Thomas who stayed, formed a new line out of broken remnants of beaten men, held the line in spite of everything, and reduced the battle from an overwhelming disaster to a mere setback. Yet he was not primarily a defensive fighter. On the contrary, he was aggressive and mobile, and he struck some of the most devastating offensive blows in all the war; and the legend that portrays him simply as a man who could hold the line when things went badly is a pronounced bit of miscasting.

    It was Thomas who first cracked the Confederate line in Kentucky, unhinging its right wing in the Battle of Mill Springs early in 1862. It was Thomas who provided the essential stiffening for the Army of the Cumberland at Stones River and at Chickamauga; it was Thomas who managed to combine a care for details—provision of proper training, adequate uniforming and equipping, due attention to logistics—with the capacity for swift movement once the details had been taken care of. Twice in all the war a Federal army was able to look upon a Confederate army driven from the field in complete rout after a shattering Federal offensive; each time—at Chattanooga, and at Nashville—the fortunate and victorious army was commanded by Thomas.

    Thomas shared one thing with Rosecrans: he was never quite able to hit it off with General Grant. In Rosecrans’ case, the trouble is fairly easy to see, but with Thomas, it is more obscure. Somehow, the two men just did not see eye to eye. Grant obviously respected Thomas’ ability more than he respected Rosecrans’, but the end result was about the same: when he became general in chief, Grant never had the confidence in Thomas that he had in men like Sherman, McPherson, and Sheridan, and as a result Thomas missed the full measure of credit which he had earned.

    So Thomas’ case is not quite like that of Rosecrans. Rosecrans did well but had one bad day which tarnished his fame. Thomas never had a bad day. With Rosecrans, one has the feeling: This man could have been the best of them all, except for that one mishap. With Thomas, one gets the haunting feeling: Perhaps this man actually was the best of them all, but it took his country the better part of a century to realize it.

    Thomas was perhaps the one top-ranking Federal officer who knew just what to do with his cavalry. Even Sheridan did not come up to him there. Thomas, incidentally, was a trained cavalryman himself, and he saw cavalry in much the same ultramodern, nontraditional way as Confederate Bedford Forrest saw it—as a striking force which used horses simply because the horses gave men greater mobility but which did its fighting on foot. In the final months of the war Thomas put together (at the cost of an unending struggle with the War Department) a cavalry corps under young James H. Wilson which carried repeating rifles and could move through the South irresistibly, a force wholly outside of the tradition of Jeb Stuart and John Hunt Morgan: mechanized infantry, in substance, able to move faster than anyone else and also able to hit harder, one which ignored “brilliant” raids and struck at the enemy’s main forces with devastating power.

    All of this, perhaps, is matter for the student of military history. But Thomas gets out of military history, simply because he was a good deal more than merely a military technician. He was one of the gifted few who understood what the war was about, understood what the North had to do to win it, and went ahead and put his ideas into practice. And it was quite a while before this fact was generally recognized.

    Perhaps Chickamauga did part of the damage. At Chickamauga Thomas fought as good a defensive battle as any man ever fought, and he was “the Rock of Chickamauga” forever after, immovable, imperturbable, and indomitable. Grant is supposed to have remarked once that Thomas was “too slow to move and too brave to run away.” If Grant said that, he was wrong. There was nothing slow about Thomas. He liked to make sure that everything was ready before he moved, but when he did move, somebody had to get out of the way.

    Thomas was one of the best of the lot. Yet he does remain a man who did not, in his lifetime at least, quite reach the summit of popular approval. Perhaps this is one case where the general verdict of history needs to be upgraded.”

    Bruce Catton wrote this opinion and it closely resembles mine.

    • Drew Brady says:

      I think Thomas was one of the finest generals the North had if not in the entire war. Contrary to what most people believe of him being a slow, overly cautious commander, I think he knew exactly what to do in every battle he commanded, especially at Nashville, and perfectly executed his attack on Hood’s army. He was both a great defense minded and offensive minded commander, and is a perfect example of what an ideal commander is. He waited till the right moment to strike his enemies, and did it with perfect execution and skill. He hit his enemies with devestating blows in battle too. Grant should have never attempted to show his distrust in Thomas by trying to send Logan to relieve him (Logan is actually from my homestate of Illinois by the way, but Thomas was a better commander anyway). I think the reason why he was rediculed so much by both sides, was the fact that the South felt like he betrayed them by favoring the North (afterall he was from Virginia) and the fact that the North (which my family was on) did not trust him. I wish the North did trust him. He was the perfect man for the job and I wish more officers nowadays studied his tactics.

  19. Mike Mullikin says:

    Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. Gettysburg was the decisive action of the war, afterwards the South could not win. Chamberlain had the decisive mission, holding the left flank of the Union Army; had he failed, Longstreet’s corps would have rolled up and destroyed it. Imagine Pickett’s charge launched at short range into the narrow and poorly defended flank of the Union position. Having fought all day the 20th Maine was virtually out of ammunition and Chamberlain was faced with a classic military dilemma—he could not retreat and he could not attack. His inspired choice? “BAYONET!” He thereby saved the Union flank, ensured the outcome of the battle, and thereby the war. Equally impressive, at Appomattox, it was Chamberlain who not only called the Union forces to attention, but to the salute as the Confederate forces marched forward to surrender. An absolutely class act and perfectly suited to the situation.

  20. Heatpacker says:

    I’m with Mike Mullikin. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain was a Renaissance Man and a fearless leader of men. Every time I read about the manner in which he ordered the Confederate soldiers to be treated during the Appomattox surrender ceremony, it brings tears to my eyes. He was one of the truly great, unheralded Americans of the 19th century.

  21. Tom DeFranco says:

    I would have to say that I have several favorites. At army command I really like Granr, Thomas, Rosecrans and Lee. At Corps command I think I’d select Longstreet and Hancock. At division level Pat Cleburne and John A. Logan were great. Finally, at brigade level John Turchin, August Willich (despite his politics), Strong Vincent and Geore Doles seem like strong leaders. Finally, John Buford was my favorite cavalry commander.

    Most unsung was Georgw Sears Greene for his stand on Culp’s Hill.

  22. Robert S. Abramson says:

    I am a military college graduate, I also earned several bachelor,master and doctoral degrees from several universitys.I served in the U.S.Army and U.S. Coast Guard as a commissioned officer for almost 38 years. I do not have a degree in history. However, I have studied military history for many years. I notice that there are alot of people who read bull conjured up by revisionists and home spun stories by people who have no idea what the are talking about. I live in the South. Therefore, I can’t say what kind of answer a Northerner would give to the question of how many generals did the south have during the civil war. I have never receive the correct answer. In fact ,no one has been within three hundred of the correct answer. I do know what the correct answer is. I also have met many southerners who claim their ancestors were high ranking officers during the civil war.In fact I was told an ancestor was a major in the confederate Army. The story had been passed along for years. Guess what I found out when I actually checked it out, he was a corporal. When I was readind the comments about the genarals I thought , what alot of nonsense. However, I think it’s nice to be loyal and stick in the fight.

  23. Mike Caplanis says:

    I liked Confederate general John Sappington Marmaduke, chiefly because of that terrific name, but also because of his appearance. Skinny as a snake, and with upswept red hair behind his head, that, like the pompadour, is another victory of art over gravity. He must have been an inspirational sight on the battlefield, a riveting technicolor southern commander, Caring enough in his soldierly mien to devote some hours before a mirror prior to engaging the enemy. We caricaturists of the modern era salute him and all the wonderfully bewhiskered and tonsured warriors of America’s greatest conflict.

  24. Chuck Dunning says:

    My vote is for Lewis Armistead, CSA. The image of him leading Pickett’s charge through the Union lines at Gettysburg, hat perched on his sword, is iconic. The essence of leadership. He was also a Virginian in the pre-war U.S. Army who, like Lee, left to follow his loyalties. Runner-up votes would also be Chamblerlain and Winfield Scott Hancock. Hancock and Armistead were close friends, and Hancock tended to his old friend after he had been mortally wounded at Gettysburg.

  25. Dire Wolf says:

    While I hold Lee and Jackson in high esteem, I have to say the most fascinating general for me is Richard Taylor of the CSA. A great brigade commander under Stonewall, he went on to do a great deal with the little he had in Louisiana and Arkansas.

  26. Retired veteran says:

    My favorite general was Confederate General Patrick Cleburne who was one of the most talented commanders in the Army of Tennessee. He also recommended that the South free its slaves to fight for independence. He also foresaw what would happen if the South lost the War.

  27. Leslie Strecker says:

    Major General Philip Kearny Jr. —very impressed with his cavalry service record and reverently visited his grave at Arlington in 1963 when I was just starting high school as a then- subscriber to Civil War Times.

  28. Earl Wiest says:

    My favorite Civil War General is William T. Sherman contrary to what many of my southern friends think. He was obedient to his superiors,
    fervent in ending the war, and generous to General Johnston and his Army in extending surrender terms. My great grandfather served under Sherman in Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina. I remember as a child him relating to me his experiences with Sherman. My wife’s great uncle was killed at Kennesaw Mountain in Sherman’s Army. Sherman’s famous statement “War Is Hell” is always true. His view on political ambition “If nominated I will not accept and if elected I will not serve” further makes him my favorite.

  29. Popsiq says:

    My favorite general is Confederate John B.Gordon.

    From his first battle during the 7 days outside Richmond to his final service leading the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox CH,. JB Gordon epitomised the ‘style’ of service to the Southern cause. A gentleman of the first water, he was audacious on the attack and nail hard stubborn on the defense.

    It was Gordon’s unit that held the sunken road at Antietam against the onslaught of the best Corps in McLellan’s Army. He quit that field only after being wounded five times.and being carried away unconscious.

    At Gettysburg it was Gordon’s unit that caused the final rout of Union forces through the town to their stand on Cemetery Ridge. It was during that action that Gordon would meet a lifelong friend, Union Gen Francis Barlow. Finding Barlow perilously wounded Gordon arranged for him to be moved to safety and for his wife to pass through the lines to tend to him. Gordon thought him to have died until the two met after the war. They were friend from thence forward.

    Gordon may have held true to his beliefs and principles while the war continued but he realized that the time of animosity was past. He let his name stand and was elected to multiple terms in the US Senate and later as Governor of Georgia. He maintained his belief in white supremacy and was accused of involvement with the KKK. This was never proven but Gordon made no secret of his dislike of reconstruction, and his work in unofficial peace and order groups.

    He was elected first commander of the United Veterans of the Confederacy, and as such saw to the welfare of ex-president Jefferson Davis.

    Gordon is commemorated to-day in a his home state with, among other things, a US Army installation.

    He was truly a man of his time.

  30. Bob Woehr says:

    William Tecumseh Sherman is my favorite. He was a visionary leader that is said to be the first “Modern” General. He wanted to attack the means of War and not to defeat the Armies. I am convinced his influence of Grant early in the War made the Pre-War “Anaconda” (of Winfield Scott) strategy develop into the means to defeat the Confederacy. Grant went East knowing that coordinated attacks to pin Confederate Armies would open opportunities to strike deep into the South to deprive the field armies of men and material.

  31. Nancy says:

    My great grandfather, BHN Hurt, served under Lee and was captured in Devil’s Den the 2nd day at Gettysburg. Lee’s character in defeat was truly admirable.

  32. doofous says:

    “Best general” begs for division into levels. The best strategic and tactical commanders on offense were not the best on defense. Corps commanders and brigade commanders have distinctly different roles. Some of the best at the brigade and division level have been named…Buford and Chamberlain, Cleburne, Armistead and Stuart were excellent. A step up, I’d pick Hancock and Longstreet; Thomas and probably Joe Johnston at his peak. Lee, of course, and Grant, but mostly Lee were the primary strategic leaders.

  33. Robert Caldwell says:

    As a Southerner with Confederate ancestors I am not supposed to like Sherman. He was a Southerner. He knew what it would take to win the war and make it end as soon as possible. He was one of the few who understood that.

  34. StevenF says:

    I’ll sing the praises of Andrew Foote and David Dixon Porter. They pioneered modern riverine warfare and used their techniques to conquer the Cumberland, Tennesse and Mississippi Rivers.

  35. baldknobber says:

    My favorites are the overlooked Trans-Mississippi generals. Kirby Smith had to command what little military forces were available, plus fill in the political and civil administrative duties of a pseudo-president of a vast territory. His department was cut off from Richmond and the rest of the CSA, threatened from all points of the compass by Union forces, hostile Plains Indians, and bordering a foreign country experiencing it’s own civil war (Mexico).

    Jo Shelby was an excellent cavalry raider. So was Stand Watie – the Indian aspects of the CW are fascinating and often overlooked, with colorful characters like Watie, Albert Pike, Douglas Cooper, etc. Sterling Price was the stalwart ex-governor of MO, always trying to return to his home state. Ben McCullough, the former Texas Ranger, had a short but storied military career, also.

    On the Union side, Samuel Curtis was an under-rated commander, defeating the CSA at Pea Ridge, Westport, and Mine Creek. Nathaniel Lyon and Thomas Sweeney were very interesting figures, also. Missouri served as the proving ground for many of the war’s generals, including Grant and several others. Generals in Kansas had to transition from fighting regular Confederate forces, to MO guerrilas, to Confederate Indians from Oklahoma, to hostile tribes to the west.

    The Trans-Mississippi is often dismissed as being of little to no importance. The generals (and other officers, enlisted men, partisans, etc.) who faced off at Wilson’s Creek, Pea Ridge, Prairie Grove, Honey Springs, Pleasant Hill, Westport, etc. probably would quibble with that opinion.

  36. Richard says:

    Mine? A little known commander, outside the Shenandoah Valley, but a hard fighter, and his exploits in such a short time, still made him a legend in the Valley……………General Turner Ashby.
    His star was bright, but all too brief, but he really made a mark in the short time he he was on the scene.

  37. Dan T. says:

    Without a doubt, Thomas J. (Stonewall) Jackson was the most outstanding Civil War general and thus my favorite. From a largely obscure background (essentially a math and artillery teacher – though he was lauded during the Mexican-American war for bravery) Jackson was certainly in the “right place at the right time.”

    Without a doubt Jackson had his faults: eccentric, largely uncommunicative on most occasions (under modern medical thinking/diagnosis, he might actually have been characterized as autistic) and with very unorthodox thinking/leadership traits for his time; Jackson turned essentially a group of farmers and young men/boys who were always short of supplies and just about everything; usually always outnumbered, always facing long odds, into a very hard hitting, fast moving “foot cavalry” that began to believe (and actually could) face up to and on quite a few occasions meet on equal terms and usually beat the largest, most well supplied, and technically sophisticated army on the planet (Union army). He gave “his boys” hope, inspiration and a chance for victory – and in return they gave him their lives (something he did not forget).

    If Jackson had not had his communication faults I believe he would have been hailed as a “visionary” who in many aspects – single handedly revolutionized the art of warfare at a time. The principles that today we call “Integrated Surveillance and Reconnaisance” (ISR) and Operations Security “OPSEC” you can essentially trace in the way Jackson organized, trained and handled his forces. On his own home ground (the Shenandoah, Harper’s Ferry, Manassas) they were virtually unbeatable – he knew that ground well and how to exploit that advantage. Jackson understood earlier than anybody else in the Civil War what winning a modern war was all about – taking the fight to the enemy, keeping them off-balance, focusing on keeping and exploiting an adventage, and always staying a step ahead in what today we call the “OODA loop” (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act).

    Jackson certainly would not have recognized any of these fancy, modern terms – in fact he probably never could have explained his way of operating to his superiors, peers or subordinates. Reading his in-depth biography (I recommend “Stonewall Jackson: The Man, the Soldier, the Legend” by James Robertson) is eye opening to anyone who wishes to understand the “first half” of the Civil War and exactly how this unlikely man became what he truly is – a legendary American general for all times.

    Last but not least, getting killed by “friendly fire” at just about the supreme moment of one of the longest odds, “Hail Mary” manuvers in modern warfare (the Battle of Chancellorsville) – was certainly one heck of a “career move” that leaves many with the tantalizing question of exactly how the war would have turned out if the man they called “Stonewall” had been around for the “second half” of the Civil War.

    BTW: Jackson strongly disliked being called “Stonewall” – he always maintained that name was for the brigade he commanded at the time (1st Viriginia, CSA) and was not a suitable honor for him personally. He definitely was a very modest, publicity-shy person who reluctantly became a “hero” – when his cause desperately needed one…

  38. Daniel Lonce says:

    you ask for favorite, and my favorite is James Ewell Brown Stuart. I like “Jeb” because he was brave, and smart, and had character and he was controversial. Jeb Stuart my Favorite. Although i have great respect for Grant, Lee, Sherman, Longstreet, Buford, Custer, Chamberlain and Stonewall.

  39. Greg Buss says:

    My favorite is John B Gordon.
    Not a military man to start with, he climbed in stature as the war progressed.

    If any CW general had “true grit” is has to be this guy.
    Wounded several times – he kept coming back and was well-respected by Lee at the end of the war.

    Yep, he did get political after the war was over – as did several others.

    I’m confining my comments to the actual conflict.


  40. Dan Pool says:

    The best Civil War general was Ulysses S. Grant. We can always look at a person’s war record to determine the success of a great general; however my choice is Grant because of his humanity toward fellow Americans (Southerns). I believe that no other commander could have reached the agreement with General Lee as did Grant. He singled handily brought civility to situation that impacted every American.


  41. Kenny says:

    My favorite has to be Patrick Cleburn. He was one of the best and brightest that the confederacy had and was wasted along with his men by John Bell Hood.

  42. B.Picchi says:

    My favorite general of the civil war is Jefferson Davis. Not because he was brilliant but because he was so bad. Yes, I know he was the president of the Confederacy. But as Ullysses Grant once said, “Jefferson Davis is the best general the Union has.” It was Davis who replaced Johnston with Hood at the crucial moment before Atlanta. It was Davis who refused to remove Bragg after Chickamauga which resulted in Missionary Ridge and the loss of Chattanooga. It was Davis and his petty squables with his generals that caused men like Cleburn, Longstreet, Forest, and Beauregard to be relegated to luetenants and not field generals.

  43. Joseph Law says:

    Beford Forrest by far, only soldier to rise from Private to General on either side of the fight. Perhaps too much is made of his being a founder of the KKK, which at that time was more of a VFW club for ex-Conferderate soldiers. When the klan became violent, he discarded his membership. Forrest was fearless in the heat of battle, but not to the point of maling unwise decisions or putting his troops at undue risk. Sheridan called him “that Devil” Forrest.

  44. JW says:

    William Tecumsah Sherman. He knew from the start the way the war needed to be fought. His personality was cool too; eccentric and irrascible. He truly cared for his soldiers even after the war was over. He respected his opponents and was respected in turn by them. Sure he made some mistakes: his rampage through Georgia and the Carolinas created a lot of hostility that still has not truly died away. But he knew it was all for the greater good of ending the war as soon as possible.

  45. Chris Evans says:

    Two of my favorite generals of the Civil War are Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant. I really like studying both men. I find them both to be utterly fascinating figures from two completely different backgrounds.

    The Overland campaign that the two waged against each other was truly epic and I have always been in awe of their meeting at Appomattox. The pure decency that Grant showed to a defeated foe like Lee was truly moving and honorable.

  46. robert lucid says:

    my favorite general is one who didnt fight a single battle during the civil war but with a keen eye was able to place his country in a position to win. he was winfield scott commander of union forces at the outbreak of the civil war. he asked lee to be commander of union forces, and if he had accepted who knows how long or less bloody the conflict would have been. secondly he proposed the anaconda plan which shut down the southern cause’s ability to resupply. my lack of more information on his participation during the great conflict is vast perhaps someone else can broaden his accomplishments for me and you readers.

  47. Larry Davis says:

    Rufus Ingalls! Supply folks get none of the credit, glory or press that ‘fighting’ generals do. Surely the Federals owe a great deal to having this brilliant quartermaster in the Army of the Potomac. The amphibious transport and rapid withdrawal of the army and huge quantity of supplies for the Peninsula campaign was unprecedented (and little noted). Also, the depot at City Point was his doing. He was Grants roommate / classmate at West Point and also his friend (they served together at Ft Vancouver, WA in 1850’s).
    An interesting note is that Ingalls was on the USS Powhatan (with Montgomery Meigs) destined to Ft Pickens, FL but that ship was also supposed to be the gunship for the Ft Sumpter ‘resupply’. The ship sailed past Charleston as the first shots of the Civil War were fired. And he was in the room at Appomattox. Surely no one was closer to both the start and end of the ‘shooting’ Civil War than Rufus Ingalls.
    Just think, how much forage will 36,000 animals eat in a day (not to mention 100,000 people)?? That is only one piece of the puzzle.

  48. Chuck says:

    My favorite General was Longstreet “Old Pete” , I am a firm believer if Lee has followed The Old War Horse’s plan at Gettysburg, the South would have won that battle, and by doing so it would have caused the North to grow tired of a war where they were loosing so many of their men. A Gettysburg defeat would have been a crushing defeat for Lincoln, having chosen another General who couldn’t win a major battle.

  49. S K Smith says:

    There is one that went on to start trolly cars in San Francisco, got screwed in history at Gettysburg, and is credited with creating our national pastime sport, baseball. General Doubleday. Pictures of Grant on the money only fuel his achievements.

  50. Phil K. says:

    General Winfield Scott. He may not have served for the entire war…or even to the end of the first year, but he set the stage for the Union commanders and helped Lincoln better understand what needed to be done. He was the best strategic mind the Union had at the beginning of the war and even though he was from Viriginia, he stayed loyal to the Union.

  51. Dale Cheney says:

    Ulysses S Grant was the best general this country has produced. I read as much as I can about him. As a quote I heard about him, when he showed up things happened. He is one of the most misunderstood Great Americans. I believe he was a better president than he is given credit for. He held up the rights of the freedman after the war. I would have liked to enjoy a cigar with him.

  52. Ken Corman says:

    My favorite Civil War general is also U. S. Grant.. As a young soldier he studied maps of the great battles in human history. While participating in the Mexican War he would go out into the surrounding landscape and recreate the great battles he had memorized. This is the kind of training and innate ability he would later need to plan and execute strategies during the Civil War. Grant was generally conceded to be the very best horseman in the entire country.

    It is simply amazing that an apparently ordinary young man would rise to the heights he achieved. From a retired young soldier with a drinking problem to the top of the United States Army to Commander in Chief is nothing less than incredible. I have read nothing to make me question his personal character. His respect for his fellow man was complete and his personal manners, although seeming to be gruff, probably because of his frumpy uniforms and cigars, were impeccable. His love for his family and his interaction with them was exemplary. Even the way in which he died shows his character. In constant pain due to his cancer, he worked against the clock to complete his autobiography. Why? He did this to leave a legacy for us all and a fortune for his wife. You see, finances had not been his strength and he had managed to go broke in his post Presidential years.

    Read his autobiography. It is considered a masterpiece of English literature. If you don’t believe this, read it for yourself. It is lucid beyond any other comparable work by anyone, contains enormous amounts of detail, and holds your interest like no other book. In essence, the book which was written in one continuous effort , like a first draft, is near to perfection. Here is one more source from which interesting insights about the life of U. S. Grant can be found. It is the book “Campaigning with Grant” by General Horace Porter, a staff member of Grant during the latter part of the war. The book entertains because Porter is so admiring of Grant that some of this flamboyance actually become entertaining in itself due to the over the top writing style. My point is the Grant must have been a worthy person to receive such affection from another human being. If you read the book you will be impressed.

    U. S. Grant captures my attention and imagination enough to be be my favorite Civil War General and one of the Greatest Americans ever.

  53. GeneT says:

    Yes, although you may laugh or perhaps turn up your nose, my favorite General is none other than George B. McClellan. (Years ago, I would have laughed too) He is a man that contemporary historians like Stephen Sears, period politicians like Edwin Stanton and Lincoln biographers John George Nicolay and John Hay have successfully smeared over the last 148 years. Yet if you dig deep, and spend time to peal away the never ending falsehoods (especially the OVER cautious B.S.), you will find he was actually one of the best generals this country has ever had. General Robert E. Lee would—and by the way did—agree.

  54. tyler horton says:

    ROBERT E. LEE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL

  55. William Hale says:

    Joseph law – Forrest didn’t rise from Private to General. He joined as a private and didn’t like it, he then quit and went home and raised his own regiment and was elected Col and then rose from Col to General. He did not go from private to nco to company command to battalion command to regimental to division command.

    Robert Adamson – What the heck was the point of your post? Your contention that you are smarter than everyone else? All you did was make claims on your bona fides and belittle others and guess what, you never even tried to give an answer to the question, clearly you are not as smart as you claim if you can’t answer a simple question like who is your favorite general.

    This is not a question that requires much thought, it is not about who is the best general, the question is who is your favorite general?

    My favorite generals are Sherman and Longstreet.


  56. Becky says:

    I think my favorite general was Patrick Cleburne.

  57. John says:

    Nathan Forrest. He defeated much larger forces than his own in Tennessee and Mississippi and he was a fighting officer, leading his troops into battle at the front.

  58. Cameron says:

    My favorite general has to be Joshua L. Chamberlain, for the fact that he led one of the most precise battles, and he had everything a general should value.

  59. Drew says:

    James H. Wilson would have to be my favorite. He was very agressive, tough and got stuff done. He was the only general who bested Forrest. Forrest and Stuart were great cavalry commanders as well. What’s a shame is that most people have never heard of Wilson.

  60. Drew says:

    My favorite general used to be Longstreet, however after reading about James H. WIlson, I think Wilson perhaps was one of the best generals ever. He completely destroyed and bested Forrest, and captured Jefferson Davis. Wilson is probably my favorite general. Wilson may have had superior weapons to Forrest, however he still nevertheless beat Forrest. Prior to Wilson becoming a general, the Union army had inferior and bad cavarly corps compared to the Confederates. It was Wilson, not Sheridan who made the Union cavalry a great cavalry force that ultimately beat the Confederate cavalry.

  61. Bluto Smatz says:

    Robert E. Lee

  62. Dave Marshall says:

    G.A Custer

  63. Gabe Hanafin says:

    My Favorites are John F. Reynolds, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, Winfield Scott Hancock, or J.E.B. Stuart

  64. Drew says:

    Absolutely!!! He is also one of my favorite generals. I think Longstreet’s treatment on how he handled things at Gettysburg after the war was totally unfair and wrong. In fact, contrary to what his critics say, I think he was absolutely right and Lee was wrong. They should have redeployed their men to more favorable ground, like Longstreet recommended. He correctly predicted that the casualties would be over 50 percent and that their men would be slaughtered during Pickett’s Charge. Oftentimes Longstreet and Jackson are compared and I think in some ways, Longstreet was a better corps commander because he had the ability to do both defensive and offensive maneuvers. Jackson was mostly on the offensive and as such, there would be a very high number of casualties in his corps, while Longstreet believed a battle should be won by minimizing casualties on his corps and maximizing the amount on the enemy. Also unlike Jackson, Longstreet was loved by his men and he did his best to take care of them. He was a good man and his great character should be just as remembered as Lee’s!!!

  65. Allan Arkush says:

    Not only could Geo H. Thomas have won the war earlier had his commander listened to his advice (both times his Commander and former roommate at West Point, the ” great ” Wm. Tecumseh Sherman)’ but, my opinion is that, he won the war by saving the Union Army at Chickamagua.
    He asked to proceed on to Knoxville following the Mill Spring (which broke the Confederate defensive line weeks prior to Ft. Henry). That move could have led to the severing the connect from west to east, brought pro-Union civilians in Tennessee into the fray, and produced an easy march, unopposed to Chattanooga. He later proposed taking the Army of the Cumberland with 60,000 men through Snake Creek Gap to cut off the Army of the Tennessee at Resaca. That would have prevented the March to Atlanta, and would have routed Johnston’s Army. However, Sherman sent the Army of the Ohio, much smaller, through the Gap. It did not cut off the Confederate army and only served to warn Johnston of the threat, so that he retreated starting the long, costly March.
    Lastly, by standing strong and orderly retreating at Chicamagua, the entire Army of the West was saved. The March to Atlanta could now start from Chattanooga, instead of Nashville the next, best hope for a defeated army to start. The fall of Atlana directly led to Lincoln’s re-election, which saved the war. If Lincoln does not get re-elected, McClellan, the opposition, ran on a platform to come to terms with the Confederate States of America.
    George H. Thomas was the best general of the Civil War for my reasons and all the other reasons given in previous posts.

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