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Different commanders at Antietam

Posted: 2020-08-17 01:09am
by Isolder74
It's well known that the Union commander at The Battle of Antietam was the overly cautionous and slow to act McClellan. Given how many advantages he'd been handed before the battle he should have been able to pull of more than the token victory he actually got. It has to be wondered what other Union generals would have been able to do once handed the massive information coup that Little Mac got handed before the battle. To put it simple, he had a copy of Lee's marching orders day before the battle and did not act on the information quickly enough. He acted fast in relation to himself but still was as slow and cautions as usual.

Here's the supposition, let's put a different Union commander in charge and discuss how each of them would have handled the battle differently. We all know most of the command styles of these generals and their various reputations. The easy modes of Grant and Sherman should go last.

Hooker: Given his planning and command styles I'm not sure how much different he'd do but he was more agressive then the historical commander. Wonderful field commander but did not do well at overall adapting once things don't go to plan. --Even

Burnside: His reputation was greatly sullied by his massive losses during The Battle of Fredericksburg. Much of that was due to logistics failings that were not completely his fault. He was a good field commander. --Even

Meade: A good contender for doing much better when in charge of not only the battle itself but also the lead up to it. He was an agressive but also more subdued commander when it comes to his strategic planning. He gets points for being one commander to actually out think Lee on the battle level. +5

Sheridan: The Union commander best known for his campaigns in the Shenadoah Valley and his brutal strikes against Confederate supply lines. +5

Thomas: The rock of Chickamonga. Excellent commander of both field and strategic armies. Stood when others would fall back. +8

Grant: Unconditional Surrender Grant. We know his style well. +9

Sherman: The king of flanking and surrounding the enemy. Grant's right hand man. +10

Re: Different commanders at Antietam

Posted: 2020-09-13 09:41pm
by Rogue 9
Grant or Sherman, handed Lee's marching orders, would doubtless have hit his lines of communication and defeated the Army of Northern Virginia in detail. McClellan's behavior was inexcusable; he was so terrified of casualties and risking his reputation among the men that he simply would not act.

Re: Different commanders at Antietam

Posted: 2020-09-20 11:49pm
by Isolder74
Indeed, he even got to Antietam 2 days before he attacked Lee and refused to press his advantage. The idea of this thread was to talk about how much better each of these guys would have been if in command instead of McClellan. Of course Grant or Sherman is easy mode on that so should go last but frankly Litle Mac had no spine.

Even during the battle it took him hours to send out orders during the battle actually costing him more men then if he acted quickly.

Grant often gets called a butcher because he attacked and lost men but at least he attacked.

Re: Different commanders at Antietam

Posted: 2020-09-29 06:25pm
by Simon_Jester
Isolder74 wrote: 2020-08-17 01:09amBurnside: His reputation was greatly sullied by his massive losses during The Battle of Fredericksburg. Much of that was due to logistics failings that were not completely his fault. He was a good field commander. --Even
...Burnside fucked up due to insufficient aggression as a corps commander at Spotsylvania Court House early in the battle. He sent an unprepared division under a fuckup general to the Battle of the Crater and thus played a key role in that shitshow. His entire command structure for the Army of the Potomac during his tenure as general was unwieldy. That's just off the top of my head.

To be fair, he might not actually be worse than McClellan in the relevant role... but that really isn't saying very much. Hooker would probably be better, again, just from having the balls to actually attack.

Re: Different commanders at Antietam

Posted: 2020-10-10 10:06pm
by Isolder74
I think one of Burnside's big failings in general is that he wouldn't questions orders from his higher ups. It seemed that when we was put in command by himself he didn't know what to do.

Re: Different commanders at Antietam

Posted: 2020-10-14 04:52am
by Simon_Jester
I mean, yes, but that also applied to him being a subordinate commander maneuvering independently (Spotsylvania Court House). And he was perfectly capable of accepting an incompetent subordinate and failing to control or supervise them, to the detriment of an overall plan (Ledlie at and before Petersburg)

So he couldn't lead, and he couldn't act independently in pursuit of the army's overall objective while serving as a subordinate commander, and he couldn't supervise his own subordinates to ensure they correctly carried out a critical operation with implications at the army level.

That combination sounds like a fairly comprehensive set of 'failure' to me.

Re: Different commanders at Antietam

Posted: 2020-10-28 09:44pm
by Isolder74
This is why I feel that both him and Hooker would have left the battle about the same as McClellen. It's only possible that they might have tried attacking the day they'd arrived instead of waiting 2 days to assault the Confederate position as McClellan did.

Frankly, given the information he was handed, the historical commander acted extremely incompetently. Even given a copy of his oponent's marching orders, which includes division deployments, he sat on his hands and moved slow and with indecisiveness. He knows that a good portion of Lee's army is off at Harper's Ferry and he still won't move agressivly.

I can only imagine how fast Lee would be in trouble against perhaps Thomas or Sheridan if you handed them the same intelligence coup.