tv [untitled] April 14, 2012 3:00am-3:30am EDT
americans are seeing it doesn't succeed. it's mcclellan. what's widely's evaluation of the concept of mcclellan's peninsula campaign? >> it's pretty positive. he doesn't have the guts to follow it through. >> exactly. and not only that. what doeswi widely talk about? >> there's a lot less revolutionary. so there weren't any changes. slavery wasn't touched. >> and whether or not that was really a good or bad thing. is it plausible likely? did you say something? >> would it be possible to bring the union back together? because the south wanted the war to end. they want to stay the same way they were. >> widely is on the fence.
if we read his other work, there's a sense that there's a lot of down sides to them. widely doesn't care a lot about slavery. that's one of the reasons that he can take that position. he seems to indicate that wouldn't have worked. his only chance to make it work requires him to achieve a military victory, which he does not. so grant has the better strategic perception. but let's step back again. twhast the -- he's got the good strategic view. but what's the strategy? # it's the hit ol it have chapter.
the strategy of annihilation. what does that mean? >> destroy the army. >> okay. so how are different ways of doing that? >> he's going to follow -- the big thing is he had people follow lee's army, and they just keep picking people off at a time and follow them. and make lee make a mistake. >> not just following lee as well as johnson. he divided his forces to engage the southern armies at the same time on multiple fronts. >> so you have various examples. you have attribution. what is that a fancy term for? what mr. roth just said. in the case, you can associate it with guerrilla warfare. in this case it's wearing down your opponent. but, you're probably thinking of a different -- did you mention
the vicksburg campaign? chast an example where grant doesn't wear down his opponent through heavy casualty sort of grinding away. what does he do instead there? >> originally he launched two or three assaults and failed at that. one could argue he tried to anigh lite tan annihilate the federal army. >> in the end the assaults don't work. but how does the siege conclude? where else does grant achieve maneuver that leads us to decisions by siege? >> greensburg. >> that's another one. although not really maneuver that gets him there. although he tries to get there. yes. also what makes grant innovative about the inner service? yes? >> he only forced unconditional
surrender? >> but what service helped him out. >> the navy. >> okay and what other campaign is the navy very useful for him? in the west. vicksburg. you guys hopefully remember that. so you have here the goal to annihilate, at least in widely's interpretation, confederate military power by destroying armies. what does grant not always seek for? and this is why widely sees him as praiseworthy. >> he doesn't always look for a battle. he criticizes scott for going through unnecessary battles and losing men when he could have gone around objectives. >> in what war? >> the mexican war. >> yes. >> who is the exponent of
napoleonic strategy? the chapter you read before that? it's lee. so grant wants to destroy -- and i want you to understand this. when he says a strategy of annihilation, he's not meaning a battle. he's meaning in this case he's basically saying the there are other aways of achieving the objective. generally, especially the objective is far less costly. what's the other thing that hasn't been put up here and involves this issue of noncombat tans? >> supplies. >> yes. >> all right. attacks on -- and how do you do that? let's not sugar coat it. >> you attack fields. >> yeah. you move through the countryside. you take what you can consume.
but why do you also need to do that? you have to feed your army. and what's the alternative? what's mccullen's alternative to feeding your army? you don't have to take stuff from civilians to feed the army. the american military doesn't do that nowadays. yeah, you have to live off extended lines of supply. or you can pay people. confederates do this in gettysburg. they give people vouchers and get paid in confederate money. t in the european army seriously do this by the way. people get compensated for this stuff. by late in the war the federals are not doing that anymore. you're not being terribly respective if you're paying them in currency they don't see as
legitimate. but they're not bothering with that. and what happens to it? it's deliberately destroyed. by the way, widely, i want to give you a sense here, widely is -- the consensus view in the h his historigraphy, yes, this is not a sugar coated thing. generally civilians are not killed. the incidents of rape and sexual assault is very low, especially when compared to other conflicts. at least with white civilians. african-americans it becomes a different issue. even then, relatively low. measures are made. we don't have a lot of evidence of mass starvation during the civil war. there sunt much evidence of that. people have to flee for their lives and their livelihoods are destroyed. they eventually find a place to
get food. we have evidence that the federal army will, for example, leave and that people won't starve. they'll destroy everything else and be rude and obnoxious about it. but that's -- -- this is the issue of attacking the confederate economy. and grant is the overall -- part of the overall master mind of this. who is the person who really executes this to the furthest degree? sherman. but obviously grant is a part of this set of schemes. all right. so here you have some of the different methods of aniling confederate military power that grant embarks on. which widely sees as, if nothing else, successful. and that's the argument. at the strategic level, that's
where grant comes in. and not only that, he has the personal traits. generals still matter. you can be like mcclellan and have a plausible strategy. but if you can't execute it, at least in his case, he loses his nerve, then the game is up for that strategy. it's not going to be operationally effective. let me step back. grant is on the winning side of the war. but someone give me an argument as to, okay, so what? why does that not necessarily mean he's a good general? all right. mr. roth. elaborate on that.
>> there's a line in the book that said we had more people at the peak of the union military than the confederates had in the general. >> it's a lot more inindustrialized than the south was. >> and so much credit do we give generals for having bigger resources, right? here's the other issue. and we haven't talked about this even with lee. who does grant fight in the west where he makes his career? is this the best the confederates have to offer? none of you can remember these folks. well, widely likes joe johnson a lot. but people like braxton bragg, you know, this is a rogue gallery. how can one produce the same argument that great generals require opponents. in lee's case.
who does lee fight? >> collin, burnside. >> right. the army of the potomac in general. but arguably the army of the tennessee is perhaps a worse army. the confederate army of the tennessee is a worse army than the union army of the potomac. all right. so, and when i say that, i mean things in terms of -- i mean, you can make that argument that it's plagued. we don't have time to cover that in this class. is it a happy army? no because what's going on? >> none of the generals liked each other. they're all at each other's throats. >> and davis never adjudicates the issue. he should have picked one side and fired everybody else. instead he stays with bragg too long. he doesn't fire polk.
they're all attempting to undermine bragg. and bragg is sort of this difficult human being. they were really cranky. there's a great story of braxton bragg, in the old army of how he -- it was a lying officer and the quarter master of his company. that happened a lot. the army was very small. you had to do double duty. he sent a requisition to himself as a line officer that he rejected. it's probably fake. but it says something about -- i mean, it says something about what everyone knew about braxton bragg. supposedly his superior said, sir, you have -- you have quarreled with everyone else in the army, and now you have quarreled with yourself. that's who you have as the primary for a long time. then you have folks like
mcclellan. and in all honesty, mcclellan looks good compared to burnside. well, he doesn't do very well though. so you have success with numbers. and it comes back to this issue. how much can we really put, how much credit can you really give to an individual general? for their success or failure? and how much of it is due to circumstances beyond their control? whether it be who happens to be their opponent, whether it is what is the material of resources they can call on. what's the political restrictions they're operating under. what's the institutional structures? >> certain years of the war they were less likely for troops to run away and flee. other times they weren't as dedicated to the cause or the cause they didn't see.
>> these are things that no individual can control. even they have the knowledge. what's good about him being obscure early in his career? why? he gets less political interference. he gets less exposure. the grant had done shiloh in the east, what would have happened to him? by the way, he does okay, arguably. his army is very motivated. but terribly -- and that's not mcdowel's fault. but it's a close call. but what happens by necessity to mcdowell? he gets fired. and his career never quite recovers. i'm not saying that he was a great general. but mcdowell is always going to be played by the sense of you're the guy whoo lost the first battle. really, rationally, it wasn't
really just his fault. i mean, a lot of things went wrong. for someone with his level of inexperience, which is true of everyone else, he did okay. lee is like this too. he does terrible. all right. why is lee put in command of the army? >> johnson gets injured. >> johnson takes a bull let where is the other four star? he happens to be in richmond. put him in command. the rest is history. lee has nothing to do with that. you can make the same argument about various episodes in grant's career. so what is grant's career like? it wasn't great. he does pretty good in mexico. he has an excellent combat record in mexico.
some of you probably heard of grant's -- he liked to -- what's the story? some issues with alcohol. and it's still controversial if that ever comes up during the war. some people say there are few episodes. some people say none at all. the consensus is he obviously does fine. but he gets out of the army. hi happens to know how to be an officer. then he gets various opportunities. he makes the most of them. all these things are strangely random. unlike lee. he has a distinguished career. not just in mexico. but throughout the rest of it.
there's a lot involved in this. so that's something to consider about when you evaluate the question of are there good generals or not. why would an institution like the naval academy want to focus on generalship? what is it about our mission here? yeah, what would it do to the naval academy if they talk about there are all these constitutional and bureaucratic factors and a lot of it is luck. why might especially the folks at ban kroft hall be a little concerned if that's what i was telling you all. >> yeah. also, how might it be -- how might it hurt, even if -- even if all those statements are true, how might it hurt the organization if everyone just thinking of, you know, it's really context of that matter. >> people o who are passive and become victims of their environment. >> exactly.
have any of you heard of the concept of friction? okay, mr. goodman. >> the fog of war. >> yeah. in wars, even the simplest things become difficult. they're so plagued by uncertainty and chance. and also fear, right? people are getting killed, and things don't quite seem to work right a lot of times. and there are very human things. we'll have an optional staff writer. i'll point out things. people get tired. they run on too little sleep. they're asked to make decisions of incredible importance. that's why mistakes are made. stonewall jackson is a great example. what's to him? he's shot by his own men.
we'll talk a little bit about this. it's shot near where jackson is shot, by his own men, even after being warned by lee, be careful, you know what happened around here. he goes out on the patrol to do reconnaissance. you don't have satellite imagery. you have to look at the stuff yourself. it's night. it's confusing. he comes back and makes noise. his own guys shoot him. he eventually recovers. i think he's shot to the neck. so these are the kinds of random things that happen. and he calls it, you know, it's friction versus genius is related to this issue of character. and by the way, where did you hear of friction before? >> we had to do reading for warfare. >> okay. all right. the marine corps is really into
this. this is partly because he himself was a serving general and serving officer. the main way, and it's partly because intellectually he's a 19th german. one of the ways you overcome friction, by friction, using the concept of machine. where all the gears get gummed up. you guys are in the naval services this is, you might be, mr. connors might be having to lubricate things to make them work, or telling a chief to tell it and then telling some one else to do it. >> tell the chief to tell somebody else to do it. >> because you guys are officers, right? so, how do you overcome that, that frikttio that friction? how do you overcome inherent problems of getting the most basic things done. for klosowitz, some of you
mentioned it. t that is an argument for grant, grant's tenacity is seen as a virtue. something goes wrong, something always goes wrong. he find a way to overcome it. that is the ethic we try to teach you here. something goes wrong, what are you supposed to do, give up and give excuses? no. right? you are, i hope -- you are not supposed to do that. right. but here is something i want you to think about. this is an academic history class. this is not a leadership class. i an not saying people who teach leadership are wrong, one thing you might want to ask yourself at times is that really true? is that in fact the correct way? is that really how things occur? and that arguably is a different question. you can make that compatible, with giving your all, and trying to overcome things best you can. that is, really a moral and
ethical issue than one that historical. everyone see what i am saying here. there is potentially -- when it is professional ethic. you have that because of moral and ethical reasons. whether that is operative in the way of explaining history correctly is a different issue and is actually much more comb ply kate comb -- complicated. that is something you should consider. because, you see it -- do you still do hobson's law an things like that as a plebe? i think they used to give this to plebe -- historic, destroyer captain. something goes awry, the ship sinks. he is asleep in his cabin. he end up, i think he goes down with the ship. right? why does he have to do that even though? why are cos relieved even if
subordinates screw up. now, some one give me an argument against that? how can you always guarantee -- where does, what if it is a brand new ensign, what if it is -- >> they shouldn't have been doing it without having a qualified ood. which would have been signed off by the co which in fact -- >> that is the navy's ethic, right. and -- that's to make sure that every commanding officer gives his or her all in taking these responsibilities seriously. i mean that is arguably you have to do that as an organization. what is the most controversial thing that happened to most marines in afghanistan recently? ended up on youtube. yeah, what do you think is going to happen to the company commander? >> relieved. >> everyone has moved on. i don't think that person's career is going to go anywhere after this, in all honesty.
i an just saying that, i have no real information. but why do you think -- what if -- can he supervise every little thing that happens. >> heap reyatecreates the cult. the military takes thattet etthn very seriously. that is a professional imperative. is that the best historical explanation for things like whether or not a whole country or army wins in the war or not? maybe not. maybe not. all right. can you still -- you see how those are different? a question of causality, whether professional ethics. that being said, most military historians take the view of that generals do matter. they will talk about things like -- you know, loss of nerve.
all right. sometimes they'll be incredibly critical about it. right. and they will be sort of -- the military historian's version of monday morning quarterbacking kind of. all right. so it is almost similar to, poor joe flacco. how he its krs criticized is th fair? now i want to throw this back. come back to grant though. grant. what do you think -- i know i've didn't give you the case against him. any one who wants to try to push back on that. or construct an argument. or maybe if you don't believe it. yes? >> his strategy was look keep throwing more body at it until he won. he realized we have more men than they do. it was, lost 7,000 people. like two hours. so, i mean. >> yeah, that is -- we don't
think it is quite that bad. there are plenty of things you can criticize grant for. we think that is an exaggeration. >> he really didn't, liking look at his men. more as objects than people. like, my focus is to one the war. don't really care about the casualties. >> i think wily subscribes to that view. >> i wouldn't say he doesn't care about his people. i would say he has the hierarchy of mission and then on down. understanding that he has to get a task done, knowing that he has to put forth these maneuvers that put his people at risk and there its also arguments and war theory that if you love your men you allow them to go forth and fight. where like mcclellan's argument was i love my men i don't want to put them in the face of danger. they were itching to go fight. do you love your men you are not trusting in their ability to go forth. that is a matter of we was in
brandt's -- >> all right. >> i was going to agree with her, actually. there are things, that he said he didn't care for them because he threw them at certain situations. they also don't, being a regular private or corporal in an infantry, you don't get the strategy, you only see the tactics. while they may see he is throwing body at a certain level. they are seeing he is not choosing to skip certain battles and move on to certain other things and not picking every battle across the line to wrack up wins. but overall, get a victory on strategy. >> from what we know of grant's reputation among his troops, he was -- generally, he was not loved -- how many know this by nicknames? sherman is called uncle billy. lee is called robert. mcclellan was called little mac. it was fond.
you hatch these big parade. they like parade. i know you all love parade. you live for parades. right? and, and, mcclellan, was a great horse man. he would do a flourish. his troops would go crazy. and really, it is seriously true. you know, the sense among historians. grant never got that kind of -- nickname, but he still had a lot of, you know, he was very respected. right? and that's a different issue. right. but the question of whether or not that is an index of effectiveness. mcclellan was loved. not as good a general. let me point that out. mr. connors let me get you. >> old blood and guts. yeah, he kind of grind the hell out of you at the same time he gets victory. that's what you appreciate. >> soldiers, we know from history, troops are willing to fight, especially if they know they're going to win.
the tradeoff has to be they have to have a sense of their winning or getting something out of it. yeah? >> i did get a sense that the conf confedracy was capitulating. maybe too much credit -- maybe -- already shot itself in the foot. >> at the end of the overland scam pain is the lincoln administration, political situation in great shape? no. people are terribly disappointed at the end of the summer of 1864. and do you remember what battle changes it? of course, the argument is grant deserves some credit for that. grant is the one that puts the motion in the strategy that involves moving in different avenues of advance. and one of those is sherman. and grant has lip tagsmitations. some are fail because of a