Skip to comments.Do We Still Have Grants and Shermans?
Posted on 05/22/2008 3:03:45 AM PDT by moderatewolverine
Who becomes a general and why tells us a lot about whether our military is on the right or wrong track. The annual spring list of Army colonels promoted to brigadier generals will be shortly released. Already, rumors suggest that this year, unlike in the recent past, a number of maverick officers who have distinguished themselves fighting and usually defeating insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq will be chosen.
For example, scholar-soldier Col. H. R. McMaster, Special Forces Col. Ken Tovo, and Col. Sean MacFarland all of whom helped turn Sunni insurgents into allies could, and should, make the cut.
These three colonels have had decorated careers in Iraq mastering the complexities of working with Iraqi forces in hunting down terrorists and insurgents. And they like David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq in the past have not always reflected the Army establishment in Washington. Their unconventional views about counterinsurgency warfare do not hinge on high-tech weaponry, tanks, artillery, and rapid massed advance.
But most wars are rarely fought as planned. During the fighting, those who adjust most quickly to the unexpected tend to be successful. And in almost all of Americas past conflicts, our top commanders on the eve of war were not those who finished it.
(Excerpt) Read more at primetimepolitics.com ...
I don’t know if it used to be different many years ago, but during at least the recent past once you make Colonel you can stay in until 30 regardless of how many times you are passed over for General. Most 06s don’t make General as you know, and tend to stay in until at least 26 years (when the pay sort of maxes out).
I do believe he will make it this time. He came in the Army in 1984, so has 6 more years regardless. I believe Sean came in about 1982, but I could be off a year. I also believe he will make it.
And while we're at it, I recently had the opportunity to question the experts (Civil War park rangers) about civilian deaths. Typically there were few to none, with the total for the war less than 1,000.
In fact, the biggest single number of civilians who died happened during Sherman's march through Georgia, but it was not of white Georgians. It was freed slaves following Sherman's army, hundreds of whom drowned trying to cross a river where one of Sherman's generals had destroyed the bridge.
Let me know if you want in or out.
Links: FR Index of his articles: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/keyword?k=victordavishanson
His website: http://victorhanson.com/
NRO archive: http://www.nationalreview.com/hanson/hanson-archive.asp
These three colonels have had decorated careers in Iraq mastering the complexities of working with Iraqi forces in hunting down terrorists and insurgents. And they -- like David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq -- in the past have not always reflected the Army establishment in Washington. Their unconventional views about counterinsurgency warfare do not hinge on high-tech weaponry, tanks, artillery, and rapid massed advance.Thanks neverdem.
What about Robert E. Lee???
For the Appomattox campaign, the chart shows 10,780 casualties for Grant; none for Lee. That’s obviously incorrect. Lee’s army suffered numbers of casualties from the time when the Petersburg defenses were evacuated to the surrender at Appomattox.
I copied that chart to Excel and did some calculations.
Total casualties comes to 506,359.
Comparison of Grant/Sherman (which includes Thomas but not Sheridan) to their opponents: Grant/Sherman: 88,733; Opponents: 111,458.
I don't know if he considered the Confederacy an appendage, or an ally of Virginia, but he doesn't seem to have seen it as a polity superior to his native state.
Case in point, the run up to the Gettysburg campaign. There were major discussions in Richmond about sending Lee and two Corps of his army to the West, which was the critical theater of operations in the Civil War, to help Bragg.
Lee did NOT want to go. So he proposed the raid into Pennsylvania in its stead. That is strategic myopia to the level of near blindness. And the South paid.
That’s Andrew Jackson.
Thanks for that perspective...and for your service.
It is interesting that this topic came up again. My thoughts when it comes to Grant and Cold Harbor -
Grants true strength was in that he never gave up. Shiloh was a good early example of this. There would be many more such examples before the war was through. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Grant never lost a battle through inaction or inactivity. Grant was not afraid to try different things until he found a winning combination and once he found that combination he held on with the stubbornness and unswerving focus of a pit bull.
Once Grant took over the Army of the Potomac he pursued the Army of Northern Virginia with a dogged tenacity which would not be denied. Cold Harbor was one of the few times where he was forced to admit that he could not win through sheer force of will. The other battles which eluded him were faced during his two terms as president.
It is important to note specifically what Grant admits to in his memoirs when he expresses remorse over Cold Harbor. He doesnt admit that the battle should never have taken place. He doesnt admit that the early charges where so many men fell were ill conceived and which he ordered over the objections of his commanders. The fact that some of his commanders were slow to act likely created a bit of doubt in Grants mind about whether the failure of the charges was due to the fact that his Army was incapable of taking the Confederate positions or whether the earlier failures were the result of a lack of well timed coordination.
What Grant admitted to regretting specifically was the last charge that he ordered. That final charge was ordered over a vehemence of his subordinate commanders which approached mutiny. He seems to recognize that the other charges were necessary for learning and understanding the situation, but the last charge did not serve any other purpose than to confirm the grim reality of the futility of the situation, and that his commanders had been correct all along.
Given the earlier failures of his commanders to coordinate their attacks properly, Grant could have taken this as his excuse for why he ordered that final charge thus passing the blame onto the shoulders of other. The fact that he didnt do this is a great testament to Grants sense of honor and responsibility.
The Siege of Petersburg was approached in the same manner Grant approached his other battles. Grant slowly felt around for his opponents weakness extending his lines day after day till he finally found the point at which Lee could no longer hold on.
Man, does he ever look different without the beard! Just goes to show you what a spa makeover and the right shade of lipstick will do for a feller...oh, yeah, and losing the cigar...
What a great quote!
I didn’t know that he said that.
Grant conducted the greatest campaign ever fought on North American soil. At Vicksburg. Strategically sound, operationally innovative and tactically superb.
Very interesting post, and thank you for you service.
And a treadhead ping, since this is a very worthwhile article by VDH, and your post concerns Armor officers.
>>Sherman proved in his writings both before the Civil War and after, that he understood warfare in a very unique way that few others do, and that has proven to be timeless - Hap Arnold and others in the US Army Air Forces were using Sherman’s tactics against the Japanese.
That willingness to really punish your adversary through to complete victory is one of the themes in Victor Davis Hansen’s “Carnage and Culture”. Recommended, if you haven’t read it.