Tag Archives: Civil War

Crisis in Command

During the battle of Antietam… George McClellan was concerned with prudence.  He was managing his resources carefully that day, he would not allow his army to fail.  His insistence on preventing the Army of the Potomac from being defeated cost it the chance at decisive victory.   McClellan claimed in his report of the battle that his army was outnumbered and overcame great odds to achieve a minor tactical victory.  A closer examination of the facts reveals McClellan was presented with three separate chances to strike a decisive blow against Lee between 6am- 1pm on September 17.

An indelible mark upon the battle

  • A tactical reserve?  McClellan kept the V & VI Corps of the army on the East side of the Antietam all day.  The addition of one division from either Corps could have had a devastating impact on Lee’s army, especially his weakened center and southern wing.
  • Foolish odds- Most historians now agree that McClellan withheld such a  significant portion of his army because of fear.  He feared being outnumbered (Lee was actually outnumbered 2-1).  He feared a massive Confederate counterattack routing his forces.  He feared defeat….
  • Fighting blindly- Also massed in the Union rear was nearly all of McClellan’s cavalry force.  The mounted wing was vital to Civil War armies for gathering intelligence.  The troops sent against Lee were moving blindly through the country side with nearly no tactical guidance.  Cavalry could have located fords on the Antietam easily.
  • A guiding hand?  McClellan never crossed the Antietam that day and had little trust in any of the commanders he sent into combat.  The Union assaults lacked a firm hand to direct the many massed assaults.  This allowed Lee (never far from the fighting) to coordinate his reinforcements.  Union headquarters was nearly three miles from the fighting.  McClellan’s lack of timely information and failure to grasp key tactical situations cost the Union a decisive victory.

A terrible cost

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Trumped History

President Trump’s grasp of American history is nearly as suspect as his… grammar and usage-  PracticallyHistorical wants to help our 45th President amend some of his historical misconceptions:

No studying required

 

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Never Secession

Confused, contrary, and just plain ignorant students of history… continue to argue that secession was at worst technically legal, at best it was an inherent right.  Such historically disingenuous dialogue is clogging social media and preventing productive discussion of recent controversies surrounding Civil War history and heritage.

 

Lincoln best explained the absurd foundation on secession in his First Inaugural…. Irrational, reactionary, unethical, illegal, and unhistorical-  secession was a fool’s play:

We cannot separate

“I hold that in contemplation of universal law and of the Constitution the Union of these States is perpetual. Perpetuity is implied, if not expressed, in the fundamental law of all national governments. It is safe to assert that no government proper ever had a provision in its organic law for its own termination. Continue to execute all the express provisions of our National Constitution, and the Union will endure forever, it being impossible to destroy it except by some action not provided for in the instrument itself.

Again: If the United States be not a government proper, but an association of States in the nature of contract merely, can it, as a contract, be peaceably unmade by less than all the parties who made it? One party to a contract may violate it–break it, so to speak–but does it not require all to lawfully rescind it?

Descending from these general principles, we find the proposition that in legal contemplation the Union is perpetual confirmed by the history of the Union itself. The Union is much older than the Constitution. It was formed, in fact, by the Articles of Association in 1774. It was matured and continued by the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It was further matured, and the faith of all the then thirteen States expressly plighted and engaged that it should be perpetual, by the Articles of Confederation in 1778. And finally, in 1787, one of the declared objects for ordaining and establishing the Constitution was “to form a more perfect Union.”

But if destruction of the Union by one or by a part only of the States be lawfully possible, the Union is less perfect than before the Constitution, having lost the vital element of perpetuity.

It follows from these views that no State upon its own mere motion can lawfully get out of the Union; that resolves and ordinances to that effect are legally void, and that acts of violence within any State or States against the authority of the United States are insurrectionary or revolutionary, according to circumstances.

I therefore consider that in view of the Constitution and the laws the Union is unbroken, and to the extent of my ability, I shall take care, as the Constitution itself expressly enjoins upon me, that the laws of the Union be faithfully executed in all the States. Doing this I deem to be only a simple duty on my part, and Ishall perform it so far as practicable unless my rightful masters, the American people, shall withhold the requisite means or in some authoritative manner direct the contrary. I trust this will not be regarded as a menace, but only as the declared purpose of the Union that it will constitutionally defend and maintain itself.”

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Of Course Slavery was the Cause

Neo-secessionists and revisionists struggle uselessly to blame the Civil War… on Federal overreach, inequitable tariffs, and outmoded economic theory- they fail to see the forest for the trees.  The historical record settles matters plainly and without ambiguity.

Future Confederate Vice-President Alexander Stephens delivered the clearest, most definitive explanation… for secession and the existence of a Confederate State.  Less than three weeks following Lincoln’s inauguration, Stephens defiantly declared to the nation:

 

Cadaver with an agenda

“Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. This truth has been slow in the process of its development, like all other truths in the various departments of science. It has been so even amongst us. Many who hear me, perhaps, can recollect well, that this truth was not generally admitted, even within their day. The errors of the past generation still clung to many as late as twenty years ago.”

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On the Confederate Flag

Soul of a Lion

The Lion of the Union, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain… remembered the significance of the Confederate flag years after the conflict that defined his life, and the lives of millions of his fellow Americans:

Americans to Americans

” The sight of the Confederate battle flag always reminded me of the immense bravery of the soldiers who served under it.”

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

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Weekly History News Roundup

Lee descendants grapple with family legacy… the complex issue of monument removal haunts family

 

Wreckage of USS Indianapolis discoveredship sank by Japanese submarine 72 years ago

 

Will Trump resign the Presidency?.many before him have considered it

 

Fruitcake found in Antarctica “practically edible”… was abandoned over 100 years ago by explorer 

 

Civil War Trust acquires 391 acres of battlefields in Virginia... purchase halts significant threat to 3 battlefields

 

Found

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Hubris pt. 3

“Every human being must be viewed according to what it is good for. For not one of us, no, not one, is perfect. And were we to love none who had imperfection, this world would be a desert for our love.”

― Thomas Jefferson

Kyle Sammin correctly surmises in the current edition of  The Federalist… that historical figures are imperfect- the millennial demands of  removing every monument and memorial to historical figures who do not satisfy their modern sensibilities is both foolish and destructive.  Though many of his comments following the Charlottesville violence were divisive and insensitive, Trump’s fear that removing monuments to Confederate generals may lead to the destruction of memorials to our Founders were not far from reality.  Trump’s implication(inadvertent)  is that there is a slippery slope with historical revisionism–    Click on links

These links are the steady progression of arbitrary historical revision… being driven by a generation of social justice warriors completely lacking any semblance of humility.  So-called activists who are convinced they are not only morally superior to their grandparents, but to all previous generations.  This is hubris at its most blatant and dangerous.  Politicians, like Nancy Pelosi pander to these intellectual pipsqueaks by joining in this fool’s chorus- moral redemption through historic erasure.

 

As previously stated in the pages of this blog… there are more appropriate places for Confederate symbols and monuments than government buildings and public squares.  This is a reasonable debate and it should continue.  The slippery slope of historical revisionism is real and we are well on the way down it.  Sadly, legitimate leadership is required during such a crisis of conscience.  We have Donald Trump…..

Confederates in the attic

 

 

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