tv [untitled] April 29, 2012 2:00pm-2:30pm EDT
not maneuver though he tries to get there. yes. also, what makes grant innovative about some of those -- the inner service thing, what's grant -- yes. >> he forced unconditional surrender from a lot of the -- >> what service helped him out? you're right. so what other campaign is the navy useful for him? >> in the west. >> in the west. vicksburg. okay. it's vicksburg. you probably hopefully remember that.
you have here the goal is to annihilate at least in wigley's interpretation, confederate military power by destroying armies. the way to destroy armies are multiple versions. what does grant not always seek for and why wigley sees him as praise worthy. >> he doesn't always look for a battle. he criticizes scott for going through unnecessary battles and losing men. >> who is the exponent of the napoleonic strategy, the chapter you read before that in the book? it's lee. so, grant wants to destroy -- and i want you to understand this because when wigley says a battle of -- a strategy of annihilation, he's not means necessarily the battle. he's meaning, in this case he's basically saying there are other ways of achieving that objective which are more effective and generally especially the option
of maneuver leading to seizure are less costly. what's the other thing that we put up -- that hasn't been put up here and involves noncombatives. >> supplies. >> attacks on -- how do you do that? let's not sugar coat it. >> you attack fields, villages. >> it is you move through the countryside, you take what you can consume, but you also -- why do you need to do that? you have to feed your army. and what's the alternative, though. what is mcclellan's alternative. you don't have to take stuff. the american military doesn't do that now a days. yeah. you have to live off extended lines of supply. or even do things like you can even pay people. i mean, the confederate dues this in gettysburg, get people vouchers and you can get paid in confederate money. i mean the federalists could have done this. don't take that too -- in the
18th century armies seriously do this. people get compensated for the stuff. but by grant late in the war the federals are not doing that. i mean, u.s. dollar probably would have been worth more but it's asking a lot. you're not being terribly respective to southern white civilian you are paying them in currency they don't see as legitimate. but they aren't even bothering with that. they are taking the stuff and what they can't consume what happens to it? it's deliberately destroyed. by the way, why lee, i want to give you a sense, wigley in the historiography now a days is that yes, there is a lot of deliberate destruction of civilian property, yes, this is by no means a sugar coated thing. but generally civilians are not killed. the incidents of things like rape and sexual assault is low, especially when you compare to the other conflicts. at least with whites. african-americans unfortunately is a different issue.
but even then, relatively low. and measures are made, we don't really also have a lot of evidence of mass starvation during the civil war. there just isn't much evidence of that. so, people have to flee for their lives and their livelihoods are destroyed but they find a place to get food and we have evidence that the federal army will leave enough that people won't starve but they will destroy everything else. and be really rude and obnoxious about it. but that -- you know, this is this issue of attacking the confederate economy. and grant is the overall mastermind of this. in wigley's view who execute this is? sherman. but obviously grant is a part of
this set of schemes. so here you have some of the different methods of annihilating confederate pow they're grant embarks on and wigley sees if nothing else as successful. that's the argument. at the strategic level where grant's excellence comes in. not only that, he has the personality traits, this is why in military stories. personalities matter. you can have a plausible strategy. if you can't execute it because in mcclellan's case he loses his nerve, then the game is up for that strategy because it's not going to be operationally effective. all right. let me step back. where grant -- grant is on the winning side of the war. but someone give me an argument as to okay, so what?
why is that not necessarily mean that he's a good general? yes. you've got to -- mr. roth, why don't you elaborate. >> like a line in the book that said we had more people at the peak of our -- the union military than the confederates had in general. >> some other -- >> a lot more industrialized in the southwest. >> so how much credit do we give generals for having bigger resources? here's another issue. 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 confederates have to offer? no. none of you can probably remember these folks, like, well, wigley likes joe johnston
a lot. people like braxton bragg, pemberton, this rogue's gallery. how could one use the same argument that great generals require sort of inept opponents, in lee's case? this is the same issue in evaluating lee. who does he heat? >> burnside. >> joe hooker. the army of the potomac in general. arguably the army of tennessee is perhaps an even worse army. the confederate army of tennessee, than the union army from the potomac. when i say that i mean things in terms of -- you can make the argument that the confederate army is plagued and we don't have time to cover that in this class. maybe some of you did.
is at happy relationship in the army of the confederate army of tennessee's high command? what's going on. >> none of the generals like each other. >> and davis never adjudicates the issue. davis probably should have picked one side and fired everyone else. you have essentially a corrupted command climate. he stays with bragg for too long, doesn't fire polk, so they are all attempting to undermine bragg and it's sort of this -- and bragg is this difficult human being. we think he might have had stomach problems, so you got to read stories. there is a story of braxton bragg how he happened to -- i think a line officer and he was i think the quarter master of this company. you had to do double duty. he sent a requisition that he
then rejected. it's probably fake but it says something about grant relates the story, says something, supposedly his superior said sir, you have quarreled with everyone else in the army and now you have quarreled with yourself. sort of this -- that's who you have as the primary confederate commander for a long time. in the case of lee as you probably know more you have folks like mcclellan, in honesty looks pretty good compared to burnside. well, he doesn't do very well, though. so you have here a successive numbers and it comes back to this issue is how much can we
really put -- how much credit can you 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's the material resources they can call upon. what it is the political restrictions they are operating under. what's the institutional structures. >> during the time period, what time of the war were they in, because certain years of the war there was less likely for their troops to run away and flee. then other times they weren't feeling it. they aren't as dedicated to the cause or the cause that they didn't see. >> and these are things that no individual can patrol. some people have, even those who are very -- have that knowledge. what is good about him being the obscure western theater early in his career? but he gets less political interference, less exposure so he can make mistakes. if grant had done shy low in the east early on what probably would have happened? >> irvin at bull run does okay. the army is motivated but -- that's not mcdowell's fault. it's a close call. what happens by necessity to mcdowell when everyone expects to win it. he gets fired.
and mcdowell's career never quite recovers. i'm not saying he was some great general but even as a corps commander is going to be plagued by you're the guy that lost the first battle. it wasn't just his fault. a lot of things went wrong. with his level of inexperience. he did okay. lee is like this. does lee do so great in western virginia? he does terrible. why is lee even put in command of the army, what later becomes the army of northern virginia. johnson takes a bullet and is incapacitated. where is the other four star. happens to be in richmond. put him in command. the rest is history. lee has nothing to do with that. and you can make the same
argument about various episodes in grant's career. most of you know, what's grant's antebellum career like? it wasn't great. he does pretty good in mexico. he has an excellent combat record in mexico. the very boring world of a regular army becomes problematic. some of you probably heard of grants -- what did grant like to imbibe. some issues with alcohol and it's still controversial if that ever comes up during the war. there are few episodes, some say no. the consensus is he does fine so mischaracterize him as a drunk would be pretty foolish. but he gets out of the army, and he pulls back into the service because he happens to know how
to be a mustering officer. and then he gets regiment and gets various opportunities, makes the most of them but all of these are happenstance. lee who is second in his class, scott wants him to take command of the army. he has this distinguished career. and but grant obviously, there's a lot of randomness involved in this. so that's something to consider about when you evaluate the question of are there good generals or not. why would the naval academy want to focus on ownership. yes. what would it do to the naval academy's self conception if all of our classes talk about you know, there are all of these institution and bureaucratic factors and a lot of it is blind luck. why am i especially the folks if that is what i was telling you. >> use this institution. how might it hurt, even if all of those statements are true,
how might it further the organization if everyone just thinks of it's really context that matters. >> becoming victims of their environment. >> exactly. have any of you heard of the concept of friction? mr. goodwin. >> in the fog of war. >> yes. that in war the simple things become difficult because wars so plagued by uncertainty, by chance, also fear. people are getting killed and things don't seem to work right a lot of times. and also there are very human things. we'll have a staff writer but when you go to spotsylvania i'll point out things like when you study individual battles, people get tired. people get -- they run on too little sleep, they are asked to
make decisions of incredible importance and that's why mistakes are made. stone wall jackson is a great example. what happens to him? he's shot by his own men. we'll talk a lit basically this when i do spotsylvania. lawn street is shot near where jackson is shot by his own men even after being warned by lee, be careful. you know what happened around here. it's almost -- a long street goes out to do her reconnaissance you don't have satellite imagery. it's night, it's confusing. he comes back and his own guys shoot him. he recovers but i think he is out of commission for a little. so these are the kinds of random things that happen. and it's friction versus genius,
related to this issue of character. by the way, mr. goodwin where did you hear of friction before? >> we had to do a reading for warfare. >> the marine corps is really into this, actually. for claus0vits, serving officer, one of the -- the main way, partly because he is in 19th century romantic german, one of the ways you overcome friction, and he's using the concept like the machine where all the machines get gummed up. mr. connors might have to lubricate things. telling a chief to do it. then tell someone else. that's probably the way. >> so -- because you guys are officers, right. so how do you overcome that
friction. how do you overcome the inherent problem of getting even the most basic things done. for large part it's force of will. and some of you mentioned it. that's always been an argument for grant. that's why grant's tenacity is seen as a virtue. something goes wrong, something always goes wrong and he finds a way to overcome it. that is the ethic we try to teach you here. something goes wrong. are you supposed to give up and give excuses? no. you're supposed to, well, i hope, you're not supposed to do that. but here is something i want you to think about. this is an academic history class. not a leadership class. i'm not saying that the people who teach it are wrong but 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
occurred? that arguably is a different question. you can make that compatible giving your all. but that's arguably more a moral and ethical issue than one that's historical. there are different types of historical explanations. there's potentially, one is professional ethic, you have that because of moral and ethical reasons. whether that's always operative in the way of explaining history correctly is a different issue and much more complicated. that's something you should consider. because i mean, do you still do hopson's law and things like that? i think i used to give this.
a story of a destroyer captain, something goes wrong, the ship sinks. he's not, i mean, i think asleep in this cabin. i think he goes down with the ship. why does he have to do that even though -- why are ce's relieved. someone give me an argument against that. >> every time something is wrong the c.o. is in the room. >> how can you guarantee, what if it's a brand newensin. >> that is the navy's ethic that -- and that's to make sure that every commanding officer gives his or her all in taking these responsibilities seriously. that's arguably you have to do that as an organization. do any of you -- what was the most controversial thing that happened in afghanistan
recently. what dow think is probably going to happen to the company commander. i don't think that person's career is going anywhere in all honesty. i'm just saying that as i have no real information. why do you think -- can he supervise every little thing that happens? >> responsible for it. create culture. >> that's the ethic, right. he is responsible for the culture, making sure his nco's. the military takes that ethic on very seriously. okay. but again, 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. can you still -- you see how those are different. that being said, most military historians take the view that generals do water so they'll talk about things like you know, loss of nerve. sometimes they will be incredibly critical. the military historian's version of monday morning quarterbacking. it's almost similar to reddick, but is that fair. things like that. so, i want to throw this back. i want to come back to grant. grant. what do you think? good general? bad? i didn't give you the case against him. i need the center. any one who wants to try to push back on that. or construct an argument.
maybe even if you don't believe. >> his eye strategy was keep throwing more boats at it. we have more men. there were like 7,000 people in two hours. >> that's -- we don't think it's that bad but there are plenty you can criticize grant for. >> that he really didn't like look at his men, more like his objects, than people. when they won the war they don't care. >> you think wigley kind of subscribed to that. >> i would say more he has the hierarchy of mission and on down. understanding that he has to get -- put forth these maneuvers that put his people at risk. there is also argument and theory if you love your men you allow him to go forth. they were itching to go out and fight so do you love your men
that you're not trusting them to go forth. i think that's a matter of who is really in grant 7. >> other people on this question, some interesting points now. >> i was going to agree with her. i they will there are things that while his men might have said he didn't care because he threw them into certain situations, they also don't, being a regular private or corporal you don't get the strategy, you can do the tactics. he may be throwing bodies at a certain level they are not seeing that he is choosing to skip certain battles and not taking every battle across the line. but overall get a victory on strategy. >> from what we know of grant's reputation, he was -- generally
he was not loved -- how many of you know this by nicknames that generals get. sherman is uncle billy. mcclellan is called little mack. and it's not -- it's very much supposedly he'd have big parades and they would like them. i know you all love parades, right. and mcclellan would, he was a great horseman and his troops would go crazy. seriously true. the sense is this. grant never got that kind of nickname but he had a lot of -- very respected. and that's a different issue. but the question of whether or not that's an index of effectiveness. let me point that out. mr. connors, let me get you in there. >> kind of -- old blood and guts so yeah, you kind of grinds the hell out of you. at the same time he gets victory. that's what you appreciate. >> we know that troops are
willing to fight. especially if they know they are going to win. the trade-off has to be they have a sense of their winning or getting something out of it. >> i get the sense that the confederacy was capitulating and grant gave the final push? >> maybe is not much that -- >> i don't want that -- maybe too much credit. maybe already shot itself in the foot. >> people are terribly disappointed at the end of the summer of 1864. do you remember what battle changed it. >> sherman. of course the argument that grant deserved credit for that. moving in different avenues of advance.
and one of those is sherman. grant has limitations, some of his advances are failed because of in he want field commanders like me. the bench of effective field commanders is low, he has to respect. that's a good subtle argument of too much credit. >> you mentioned lincoln, lincoln was so thrilled to have a -- was aggressive. had more of annihilation. he wanted his general to attack lee's army, not necessarily take richmond. which it lined up better and lincoln needed somebody whether he won or not. >> maybe not so much grant as he disciplined kids. >> i think grant's failings are tactical. he's strategically very good but tactically less so.
that is wilder ness. he gets his flanks turned. tactical skills. cold harbor. they ate of the angle. >> but that's not -- >> thinking of sharpsburg. sharpsburg. >> same thing. and cheetah mclellen. the angle. yes. you can certainly criticize the way -- we'll walk that ground. the way this all terminates are open to question. although in grant's defense, is it grant's job to be doing
tactical level stuff. >> it's supposed to be me. >> there is arguably an organizational issue there as much as anything. grant, part of grant's trouble in the campaign, this is not clear in the readings you have, grant has two different and profoundly conflicting hats. he is in effect the field commander in a very awkward relationship, he is in the field fighting lee. what else is he supposed to do and wigley talks about it. he is coordinating all of the federal armies. this is as if general dempsey had to do his job as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff while in afghanistan. why do we not do things that way. it's too much for one person.
it really is too much for one person. the american system is -- has all sorts of weird quirks. this is why hollis is -- he should have played that role of keeping the big picture. halak was great, well, there are not that many great military writers but halak is pretty much the best you've got. the only one in uniform. and he doesn't do. that grant eventually takes up that role. so you can make, it's in his defendant he pulled in too many directions. you get some of these failings. i want to come back to mr. nice point. this is arguably some sort of conflict between -- mcclellan is left but can you love your men too much. do people really buy that or is that -- or is this different types of -- let me let you discuss it. >> related to sports if you're