In my opinion I believe James Longstreet was the south’s best general, he encouraged the idea of defensive warfare and was just brilliant. Robert E. Lee was the famous one, and while he was skilled, his ego got in the way of the south’s interests, and I believe he is responsible for the loss of the war. …
You are right, Longstreet could of changed history, but he hesitated to attack the Union left flank during the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg. If he had attacked sooner, he would of captured Little Round Top before the Union troops arrived, and that would of changed the outcome of the battle, and maybe the war.
In my opinion, the North’s best was General George Thomas, known as the Rock of Chickamauga.
I think the South’s best was Albert Sidney Johnston, but unfortunately for the South, he was killed in 1862, which leaves Robert E. Lee.
This is trully a matter and subject of scholarly studies. Arguably, and after all is said and done, one judges a General of an Army by the OVERALL results, since results speak for themselves. A good way to determine this question is to ask what are the 10 best commanded battles of the American Civil War…because in this category, we spotlight the commander in charge (CIC).
10 BEST COMMANDED BATTLES
BATTLE DATE COMMANDER
1. Chancellorsville 5/1-4/63 CS Gen. Robert E. Lee
2. 2nd Bull Run 8/29-30/62 CS Gen. Robert E. Lee
3. Nashville 12/15-16/64 US Maj. Gen. George Thomas
4. Brice’s Cross Roads 6/10/64 CS Lt. Gen. Nathan B. Forrest
5. Cedar Creek 10/19/64 US Maj. Gen. Phil Sheridan
6. Shiloh 4/6-7/62 US Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant
7. Franklin 11/30/64 US Maj. Gen. John Schofield
8. Gettysburg 7/1-3/63 US Maj. Gen. George Meade
9. Drewry’s Bluff 5/16/64 CS Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard
10. Monocacy 7/9/64 US Maj. Gen. Lew Wallace
In the final tally, you may be right (and others who have the same opinion) by saying that Lee committed an unforgivable blunder at Gettysburg by looking at this now from the perspective of the 10 worst commanded battles of the American Civil War: (Notice Lee’s ranking at No.6). On the other hand, Lee commanded two battles that is No.1 and No.2 on the BEST COMMANDED BATTLES list of the US civil War.
10 WORST COMMANDED BATTLES
BATTLE DATE COMMANDER
1. Fort Donelson 2/13-16/62 CS Maj. Gen. Gideon Pillow & Brig. Gen. John B. Floyd
2. Fredericksburg 12/13/62 US Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside
3. Chancellorsville 5/1-4/63 US Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker
4. 2nd Bull Run 8/29-30/62 US Maj. Gen. John Pope
5. Murfreesboro 12/31-1/2/63 CS Gen. Braxton Bragg
6. Gettysburg 7/1-3/63 CS Gen. Robert E. Lee
7. Antietam 9/17/62 US Maj. Gen. George McClellan
8. Cold Harbor 6/1-3/64 US Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant
9. Perryville 10/8/62 CS Gen. Braxton Bragg and US Maj. Gen. Don C. Buell
10. Chattanooga 11/23-25/63 CS Maj. Gen. Braxton Bragg
“It is well that war is so terrible, lest we grow fond of it.” —Robert E. Lee (At the Battle of Fredericksburg, Dec. 1862)
Totally agreed!!! I don’t think Longstreet should be held to blame at all for what happened at Gettysburg. In fact, I think he was totally right and was a scapegoat for what had happened. Contrary to what a lot of people believe, the general who should be held to blame is Richard S. Ewell for his failure to take Culp’s Hill and Cemetery Hill, which were virtually unoccupied by the Union army. Even his subordinates (such as Issac Trimble and John B. Gordon) were angry that he just froze in the midst of attempting to seize them (Edward Johnson one of his division commanders should also be held to blame for his failure to attack). I think Gordon should have been made commander of the Second Corps after Stonewall Jackson’s death, instead of Ewell since he was as equally aggressive as Jackson was and probably would have seized those heights. Gordon was a great commander and I think Gettysburg would have turned out a lot different if he were promoted to command the Second Corps after Jackson’s death (he was eventually promoted to corps command, but not after till the Appomatix compaign, when most of that corps was depleted of men). Longstreet was also right in regards to pulling back and redeploying the army on favorable terrain or simply moved around Meade’s army after Ewell’s mess up. Their odds of winning the battle would have been much higher. Longstreet was a excellent and underrated corps commander as well (probably one of the best that the South had along with Jackson, Forrest and Hardee). He was well-loved by his men, who he greatly cared for and believed that battles should be won by inflicting as much damage on the enemy and minimizing the casualties on his own troops. Just read about him at the Battle of Chickamauga or Second Battle of Bull Run (where he actually bailed out Stonewall Jackson). What made Longstreet unique was that he was impressive at both defensive and offensive maneuvers (something that very few generals were good at). There is also a great book on him by Jeffry D. Wert that I highly recommend you read if you haven’t.
Excuse me? Wasn’t Oliver Cromwell the Lord Protector of England waaaaay back after the Elizabethan Golden Age? That ain’t the civil war.
Stonewall Jackson. Any day of the week.
Lord Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell – they totally dominated the civil war
Best Generals of the Civil War
Who is the best general in the Civil War? has to be one of the most compelling questions whenever two or more Civil War buffs get together. There is normally a wide range of answers and normally fans of each “best” general can trot out a few facts to back up their beliefs. Essentially, though, the debate comes down to Ulysses S. Grant or Robert E. Lee, vastly different men with different styles and backgrounds who not only won the admiration of their men but the respect of the opposing force.
Ulysses S. Grant [US]
It was Grant’s understated brilliance that won The Civil War. With the Mississippi River heavily fortified, Grant sidestepped the Rebels by travelling up the Tennessee and Cumberland River, capturing Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, the first major Union victory. His stubborn defense at the Battle of Shiloh turned defeat into victory. After freeing the Mississippi River of Confederates at Vicksburg, he rescued the Army of the Cumberland at Chattanooga before continuing east to assume the role of General-in-Chief, U. S. Army. His orders to his subordinates were simple:pursue the Rebels wherever they went and destroy them. He engaged the Confederates repeatedly, fighting a war of attrition (The Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor and Petersburg) with Lee until the end of the war.
Robert E. Lee [CS]
After the Surrender at Appomattox, General George Meade asked Lee how many men he had at Petersburg. Lee said he had held the entire Petersburg line with 33,000 men. Meade responded “I thought there were that many in front of me alone.” It was Lee’s innate ability to get the most out of his men that stands the test of history, as well as his understanding of his opponents and willingness to let subordinates make decisions. After replacing a severely injured Joe Johnston at Fair Oaks, Lee forced George McClellan into the Seven Days Retreat. The indecisive battle of Antietam was offset by clear victories at Fredericksburg and Chancelorsville, only to move north to defeat at Gettysburg. Slowly forced south under the pressure of an overwhelming force by Grant, Lee defended a perimeter around Richmond and Petersburg with less than 40,000 men.
Patrick Cleburne [CS]
Cleburne is probably the most underrated general in either force during the Civil War, but he repeatedly withstood vastly superior forces under some of the best generals to earn his sobriquet “Stonewall Jackson of the West.” At Billy Goat Hill during the Battle of Missionary Ridge he repeatedly repulsed Union forces under William Tecumseh Sherman in spite of being outnumbered 10-to-1 forcing Ulysses S. Grant to order a desperate frontal assault on Missionary Ridge. Performing rear guard duties at Ringgold, Georgia, Cleburne positioned his men himself and his division withstood an attack by Joe Hooker’s XX Corps. At Pickett’s Mill he spread his line east and absorbed an attack by General George Thomas, at Kennesaw Mountain he and Benjamin Cheatham [CS] again repulsed Thomas in an area today known as Cheatham Hill. During the Battle of Atlanta he advanced to Leggett’s Hill, where brutal hand-to-hand combat at the top of the hill and a late-day charge by John “Blackjack” Logan [US] turned his men back. At Jonesboro (GA), Cleburne’s 5,000 men held a line against 50,000 of Sherman’s Yankees
Stonewall Jackson [CS]
At the scene of the heaviest fighting during First Manassas, Thomas Jackson earned the nickname “Stonewall,” most famous sobriquet of the Civil War. Following a stunning campaign in the Shenandoah Valley in early 1862, Jackson made a feint on Washington, depriving George B. McClellan of a much needed corps. During the Seven Days his performance was questionable, but he moved north and nearly destroyed John Pope’s Army of Virginia during the Second Battle of Manassas. At Fredericksburg he held off a strong federal assault. Chancellorsville would be his last battle. Jackson rolled up the federal right flank almost to the center of the federal line. That night he was shot in a friendly fire incident.
William Tecumseh Sherman [US]
Friend and supporter of Ulysses S. Grant, Sherman absorbed the initial Confederate assault at Shiloh, led a corps during Vicksburg before assuming command of the Army of the Mississippi and marching it east to relieve the Army of the Cumberland in Chattanooga. During the Atlanta Campaign he repeatedly outflanked opponent Joe Johnston, taking Atlanta before the Election of 1864, which Lincoln considered key. In the “March to the Sea” he led 60,000 men from Kingston, Georgia to the Atlantic Ocean west of Fort McAllister, then began moving north to join Grant’s army. When Sherman’s advanced forces began crossing the Nottaway River in Virginia, Lee informed Davis that he could no longer hold Richmond, precipitating the Surrender at Appomattox
Nathan Bedford Forrest [CS]
One of the few men feared by both Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman, “that