tv [untitled] April 13, 2012 8:30pm-9:00pm EDT
>> the name of general douglas macarthur cannot fade away. it shines forth brilliantly on some of the most glorious pages of our history. now this is sergeant stuart queen inviting you to be with us again for another look at the big picture. >> "the big picture" is an official report for the armed forces and the american people, produced by the army pictorial center. presented by the department of the army in cooperation with this station. still ahead, more american history tv, leading generals from world war ii and the civil
war. in a few moments, a lecture on robert e. lee, then grant, who commanded the army. later, a film about general george marshall, the chief of staff who we want on to serve as secretary of state and defense secretary. april 15th -- >> once the lookout bells were sounded, the lookouts cited ig berg ahead, they struck the bells three times. ding, ding, ding, which is a warning saying there's some object ahead. doesn't say what kind of object. what the lookout then did, he went to a telephone and called down to the officer on the bridge to tell them what it is that they saw. and the phone would finally answered, the entire
conversation was what do you see? and the response was iceberg right ahead and the response from the officer was thank you. >> samuel helper on the truths and myths of that night, sunday, 4:00 p.m. eastern this weekend on cspan 3. next, wayne shaw looks at the generalship of robert e. lee. his class is part of a course called the american way of war. it's 50 minutes. >> as you know, the topic of the class is sort of robert e. lee and not just to talk about his life and career, but to sort of assess his generalship, his command. the first thing, when you need to do something like this and we'll do this with grant on
friday. the reason i have the class structured this way, as we'll probably talk about later in this class, if you criticize, a lot of times, it ends up being in comparison to grant. if we're going to talk about how we assess the general, the commander's abilities, the question then becomes what's the criteria one uses for that. now, does anyone in your readings think that lee has no merits as a general whatsoever? anyone saying, lee's terrible to everything? terrible question. no. okay. so, what is the consensus, even and in your readings, who's the critic? which guy?
historian? is gallagher a critic of lee? >> no. >> yeah, okay. he gives you all the critics and then what does he say about them. he says you're wrong. goes through all of them, success they're all wrong. russell widely criticized lee, r all right, but even widely says one good things about lee. >> typical west pointish general. so everyone agrees that lee sort of positive straights aggressiveness, so what are some examples of that being a good thing? >> instead of like sitting back to face it, he moved forward and removed mccullen's forces.
>> and what happened? who wins? is he successful? because aggressiveness obviously can be a negative aspect, right? so, lee is successfully aggressive. so, that would be the seven days, the example you give there. what's usually, we think of lee's best, most important battle? second bull run. all right. what else? chester. so, these are two great victories. so, everyone has now decided, remember we talk about strategy. operations, captives. every one at the operational value, there's rarely historians saying lee is not a good campaigning general. and there, you just look at his record and the victories he
bins. second, he essentially routes, all right, he does the same to hooker. at the seven days, the federalists are how close to richmond? close enough to hear the church bells. on the outskirts of richmond and if richmond had fallen at that point, in the summer of 1862, what potentially, probably would have happened to the confederacy? yes. that comes after of course henry and donaldson, after the fall of new orleans, which actually isn't taught anywhere in your readings. lee turns the tide. and he wins those very large and very important victories. now, where, why is lee also criticized for his aggressive though? mr. roth. >> very early. >> yes. okay, so --
>> could afford to fight. >> exactly. mr. conners, want to get in there? all right. so, all right, explain. >> that he theorizes that the confederacy should have bought a war campaign similar to what the reb rebellion did during the american revolution. >> okay, not necessarily put, but there are a lot of arguments that lee should have engaged in something like partisan operations, all right, and it's not just guerrilla operations. everyone ak nonls that a confederacy would need a conventional army, but what relative of robert e. lee is sometimes compare d to lee as something that should have been done from the revolution? which very famous relative of lee admittedly at some level
removed, yes, washington. does washington act like lee during the revolution? no. >> what is washington's one crucial priority? to maintain the army, okay. to keep the army in tact. so, that's washington's strategy. how does that then affect his stance? what does washington do then as a consequence of that? >> lee should have preserved his army. he knew he could win whatever battles he fought, so he just kept on fighting. >> exactly. you see the different, i had you guys read the wigly on monday. who does do a fab yan strategy -- johnson. during what campaign? atlanta. okay. all right. all right. who criticizes him? >> confederates.
the people -- >> yes, and do you remember who makes that argument? it's sort of in rebuttal, this idea. let me step back. johnston, sherman is marching on johnson in 1864. sherman is trying to take atlanta and johnston essentially delays action, but even widely acknowledges that what in the end, even if you accept wigely, if we assume, yes, johnston did fight a masterful fabian campaign, what happens to atlanta at the end of the day? it falls. and why does wigely say it falls? it's not because of his lack of skill. >> west -- >> that's the larger strategic problem, right, and for that reason, by the time the effective strategy is chosen, johnston doesn't have, if you're trading space, if you're trading space for time, johnston doesn't
have enough space to trade at that point. it's too late in the war to do that effectively. so what should have happened then? and this is called a counterfactual, right. all right, the more -- it's the what if. all right. and if it's tightly related to the issue of lee. because if you say lee's strategy is wrong, you must then give an alternative. and the alternative should give you a higher likelihood of success, all right, and you need to give a plausible. have you heard of a novel," guns of the south"? yes, what happens in "guns of the south"? okay. what's crazy thing happens in it. yes, south africans invent a time machine and they you know,
they see the civil war as a big headache for them because this is when apartheid still exists and what better way than giving the army of virginia ak 47s? the confederacy wins the war and it's kind of a silly book. i read pieces of it just for grins. i hope he isn't watching. he might be insulted. on the front, it's got sort of a cross, so sh obviously, that kind of counterfactual is space aliens invade, those are off the table. what possible counterfactuals are something like taking actual things used during the war. in this case, the counterfactual is johnston during the atlanta campaign. and saying this is what robert e. lee should have done or the
confederacy as a whole should have done or or washington. during the revolution. because you see here, at least similar circumstances. what are the similar circumstances between the american revolution and the confederacy? >> there's smaller army. however like if the confederates looked to the american revolution, they would be able to realize that the smaller forces could still gain independantsy, still be able to gain independentsy. with the smaller force, it's possible. >> you have to husband your forces in the correct manner. you have to, you can't, does watching go around willy-nilly attacking. mr. conner. >> just to exhaust them, to ruin
public opinion and for that, you don't necessarily need to completely trust your armed forces. you just need to frustrate them, which is what washington did. washington never really focused on one strong point, he took out you know, detachments. >> yeah. >> he won moral victories, which is probably what lee should have done is you know, picked small points as opposed to focusing on the large army where you risk your army in change. >> okay. now, here's a question. in defense of lee, does lee actually disagree except for the mean? with the ends? no. but what's lee's argument? >> he thinks the battle is going to get the great northern wall. it's against southern culture to do what all the historians say
he should are done. they would never, they want the classic conventional battles. >> who makes that argument? that's gallagher. >> in defense of a conventional battle, also vying for recognition by great britain and france and probably wouldn't have happened if they adopted a g guerrilla strategy, which some people have advocated. >> but washington's, you know, a southerner and he managed to pull this off. you don't, it's not just constant avoid dance of battle. it's with small victories that you can hold up and make big victories. suppress war. >> and that's a fair point and that's probably, that's the widely criticism, probably the most powerful criticism. i think gallagher quite ably goes through the problems with guerrilla war with confederacy and i would say first, there's recently a big book about
guerrilla war recently came out by a guy, he finds, he thinks guerrillas are more important than other wars. he acknowledges it's probably more important because it's so self-defeating, that guerrillas probably cause so many problems, because they become prone to a lack of control and we don't really cover it much in this class. you probably have heard of missouri and the crazyness that occurs in missouri. from the perspective of southern rights civilians, guerrilla war is not a great option. also, what crucial and important institution, confederate social institution is is very vulnerable? slavery. it requires stability of the laws and i know some of you, have you been talking professor camoy's class on slavery?
one of the things that makes slavery different from other forms of property, they are human beings. they have wills and the ability to run and leave. unless you have a legal apparatus to catch them, force them, confine them, they're the institution was going to have a hard time to survive. and gallagher in this reading that you have, spends pages basically demolishing the guerrilla option. when people get obsessed, vietnam, attempts to compare you know, the confederates should have been doing what mao did. this is a problematic comparison for obvious reasons. the more, the more credible alternative is what mr. conners considered, which is what wigely
argued. what part is partisan orientated? the southern part. it was greed. green is commandinging regulars and is aided and knows how to work with them and then you've got washington with a continental army and you gave example of yorktown. even yorktown is a coin of opportunity. he happens to have a british army follow him up there. that's the more effective criticism of lee. what he should are have done is fought this fabian strategy and kept his army in one piece and used the confederacy's vast size to his advantage. so, this is, and we have other military for examples. what helps with napoleon? what big country does he invade? russia. it's the same. it's too big. you get more and more worn down
and that's potentially a problem that can be used against the federals. who repeats professor lud will talk about this a lot. who repeats the french error in russia? nazis. >> it was actually the disadvantage to the confederates that they picked washington, not washington, richmond as their capital and not something further south. >> that is problematic, and your readings don't have, richmond is chosen probably because virginia is so important. it's the home state of so many presidents, including washington. virginia is var large in terms of population. richmond has the iron work, which is one of the few centers of confederate industries, so it's of extraordinary political importance and that's one of the reasons why it sort of seals the deal. in retro spect, was it really
such a good idea? no. but everyone early on thought the war would be short and weren't thinking these things through. >> going back to the whole size issue, i mean, i'm sure that the russians were aware that their country was huge, is there any evidence that southerners were like we have a large piece of real estate here if we can just survive? >> yeah and i think some of the newer scholars show there's more of a talk by some people, by some confederates early in the war and there's more criticism than we used to think of people like lee for being too, well, what school does he come from? the place you love to hate, right? well that's too strong. one team. we're joined. we're purple. so -- but what the confederate
high command all comes from that same institution. west point. that's one of the reasons it's off the table for them. that's not the way west pointer. gallagher has a fight. it's the same quote i use at the beginning of my book, and i'll repeat the story to you. alexander, after the confederate army -- yes? >> -- it was not the way the south wanted to fight because part of them were from west point. but wouldn't there have been an advantage since the northern generals were also from west point? they had to make the decision to split between state loyalties. so i don't see where the argument comes. it's not the way they wanted to fight if they have basically inside knowledge of how the north would be fighting strategically as well. >> the west point's significance is that. it's the only way, using organized armies for both sides, it's the only way they can imagine how to fight a war.
because they think it's unethical to some degree. for both sides, no matter what section you go with, you go to west point, yes, you have a sectional loyalty. but you end up in a military position. that's different than your political beacons, right? that to some degree imprisons them. that's also part of the reason -- part of the reason is that guerrilla warfare is a lot more problematic than -- has all sorts of problems and complications that would probably have made it not a viable solution anyways. even if these guys did do that. even though some confederates talked about it. that doesn't mean it would have worked. >> i believe there's actually quite a definitive book on that exact subject right there called west pointers in the civil war. >> yeah. it does talk about some of those
things. >> is there an honor integrity question with guerrilla warfare? >> yes, precisely. it's not the regular army folks have no experience with it. they do. who do they fight before the war? the indians. they're all veterans of the indian wars. they deal with guerrillas in mexico. they think this is completely inappropriate. they're on the receiving end of all of this. they don't see it as this is fighting dirty for them. of course, for them it's the way you fight. you have a culture clash here. but that's part of -- but -- yes? >> with guerrilla warfare in richmond being close to the union line, wouldn't that mine they would have to sacrifice that? >> that would have been a problem. the capitol is still of great political importance. it's also related to the issue of what do the confederates
want? losing your capitol does not help your cause. mr. conners. >> philadelphia fell. >> during what war? >> right. the united states loses new york. and the americans still win. that's a fair reprise. >> but that's different because the confederates were trying to keep the capital so that great britain would support their cause and recognize them also as their own sovereign state. so i think it's different because you have one mind in the revolution, we're trying to become free of like oppression. and though the north sees the south as like a rebel group, the south sees themselves as breaking free of oppression. they want to be recognized as a sovereign state. the south wants to hold their capitol because they want to be recognized. if they let their capitol fall
like the revolution did with the americans and philadelphia, they feel like they're not going to have the support. america wasn't trying to have the support of anyone else. they just wanted to get out of their land. >> i don't think it's all that different. in the american revolution the americans were looking for support from the french. and that was a vital aspect, was holding onto showing the french that they could beat the british. and i think, was it nathaniel green? >> saratoga is a crucial battle, right. >> it wasn't fought -- >> you're right. there are -- >> yeah. that's the pattern that works. back in the american revolution. the french were itching to get at the british. so i think the united states or
america didn't need decisive victories as much as the confederates did. because the french and english needed their support, but they weren't as dedicated to defeating another power as the french were in 1776. >> when it comes to the history of europe, in 1776-'83, the british and the french are fresh off the war against each other. they really hate each other. but in 1861, the concert of europe is in full effect in the middle of the century. and the europeans want to do everything to not go to war with each other. so they don't want to pick a battle with north america when they're trying to avoid battles at all cost. >> fundamentally, the british and the french -- the french have ambitions in mexico and things like that. and partly because of what you talk about in 19th century.
the british will make the decision to come in when it seems to them the decision has already been made. because what does britain have as a problem always with the united states? where is it a bit exposed? north, canada. which is hard to defend. which is far away. so recognition is an important thing. but the thought is really the confederates will have to win enough victories to prove that. either win enough victories or prolong it long enough. whatever that means. and what's not mentioned in your readings, there's a big problem for the british, which is slavery. slavery is an issue for them. not violently, but through a program of gradual emancipation. but at tremendous cost because of this incredibly important humanitarian. i think there was a movie made about this. amazing grace. and the british are a little bit on the fence about these issues.
but the british don't like slavery for the moist part. and this is going to be a big problem for them, a big hurdle for them to advance beyond in terms of recognizing the confederacy. but there's another group of people that we haven't talked about. and that's mongalager. gallagher says that lee uses a strategy partly to attack and break its will. what does it also feed into? >> southern desire for large victories. >> yes. what's the problem with the strategy? we'll talk about the operational issues. but it also doesn't recognize -- mr. roth? >> johnson got fired because he didn't win battles in sherman. if lee would have done the same thing, lee would have been sacked too probably. >> yes. >> and why is this important?
>> that's why you fight spoiling battles. that's why you, like washington too, is depend upon public opinion. km is why he did raids and he attacked small detachments when he could pick up a win and say look. >> that's a good point. >> -- the relationship with davis. to say he would have been sacked because he wasn't doing anything is kind of a far stretch. like, for example, lincoln didn't fire half of his generals because of political reasons who were not doing as well. >> sometimes he does. mcen is a good -- mccullen is a good example of that. what's different about american political culture between the confederacy. i mean, now i'm expecting you to remember it's a little bit of american history, in the
jacksonian period. democracy. in washington's era public opinion is not as important. in the early american public you had to have property to vote. by the time of the civil war, it's well established that only white men vote. you have things like newspapers. public opinion -- it's not that it didn't matter in the american revolution. but the reply is that it matters more. and perhaps it wouldn't be a enough. and sherman, for example. remember the poem i had you? that's where sherman attempts a big charge fail. suffers a lot of casual think. johnson can point to local