Badtux the Snarky Penguin

In a time of chimpanzees, I was a penguin.

Religious fundamentalists are motivated by the sneaking suspicion that someone, somewhere, is having fun -- and that this must be stopped.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

War is Hell

Wikipedia's Page of the Day is William Tecumseh Sherman, the first modern general -- the first general who truly understood the nature of war in the industrial age.

Read. Discuss. Understand why there was not a single general in the U.S. Army advocating invading Iraq prior to being ordered to do so by Herr Bush.

-- Badtux the History Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 8/07/2007 01:49:00 PM  


Dude was knighted

Wonder how many "scorched earth policy" military professionals of British persuasion he wrote about?

Oh, yeah, that's right, the British Empire was always polite, right?

Not that we didn't learn a trick or two from Victorian England.
# posted by nunya : 7/8/07 3:50 PM  

Basil Liddell Hart was a thorn in the side of the British military establishment and rather uncompromising in his attitude toward war-time leaders.

I have the Sherman biography around here somewhere, and it is based exclusively on the written record, especially dispatches.

Sherman was not exactly a fan of the military establishment either, but he realized that logistics was vital in any campaign.

The Sherman-Johnston campaign was the real war, featuring the two best generals in the field. Johnston certainly wouldn't have allowed Atlanta to fall as quickly as it did, and he gave Sherman a major rebuke the only time Sherman attempted a direct attack on a Johnston position.

Sherman was a realist and it depressed him to see the way things were run. He knew what would happen and described it detail. He had to stand by and watch happen.

He also hated politicians and reporters. His brother was a Senator and kept trying to pull him into politics. He considered reporters spies and would have executed them if he had been allowed.
# posted by Bryan : 7/8/07 7:50 PM  

one of the beautiful things about sherman's march through georgia and the carolinas was that it was a focused, and directed rage. it wasn't small farms that were targeted. it was plantations. it was the railroad system that delivered food grown on the plantations to the army of lee, and also any industrial operations which were supplying the tools of war. he went after the bastards that started it, and he did so with a vengance. cities that capitulated were spared (like alexander in lebanon and egypt).

his historical model was the campaign of the theban general epaminondas when he broke the spartans and freed the helots who formed the basis of the spartan slave economy. sherman almost blew the whole shebang at shiloh when he allowed johnston within mere miles of his army which was split for a river crossing. sherman rallied his troops. got them to hold in three key points. he was wounded twice and had three horses shot out from under him that first day. he reported to grant that evening and said "well grant, we've had the devil's own day." grant replied "we'll lick 'em tomorrow though." they did.

when explaining his relationship to grant he told a reporter that "grant stood by me when i was crazy. i stood by him when he was drunk. now we stand by each other always."

his best though, was when his name was being touted as a candidate for president. he said "if nominated, i will not run. if elected, i will not serve."

if a private soldier was enlisted at the beginning of the war and wished to survive to the end of the war his chances were best under sherman. sherman, after shiloh loathed the frontal assault. he prefered the ancient art of siege where disease and starvation will, given time, produce capitulation fo cities. he prefered to bypass entrenched infantry and artillery positions and attack undefended towns and farms showing the opposing forces to be ineffective in protecting the civilian population.

sherman was a fucking genius. he was, in my estimation, the finest general produced by either side during that conflict.
# posted by The Minstrel Boy : 8/8/07 8:32 AM  

Davis sacking Johnston was a perfect example of why Jefferson Davis was the most hated man in the South by 1865. Johnston was doing nothing that Robert E. Lee wasn't doing in the east -- maneuver warfare in response to maneuver warfare by a superior force because he could not risk destruction because there were no more reserves (unlike Sherman, who had three armies under his command and was invading with only one of them) -- but because he did not have the political clout of Lee, he got canned.

That is a perfect example of the damage that politics can do to an overstretched military. After Hood took over and threw away tens of thousands of men attacking superior forces basically destroying Johnston's army or at least pulling it so far out of position as to make it useless, there were no reserves, and the entire Southern military effort crumbled because Sherman could then march almost unmolested through the South and destroy all ability of the South to feed its armies. Armies with no food generally do not last long. RIchmond fell because the starving soldiers deserted and there were no longer enough men to man the fortifications, not because Grant made any progress against the Confederate fortifications around the city.

Of course, if it comes to the logistical nightmare of our own soldiers in Iraq having their logistical tail stomped upon because of bad decisions by political generals, they don't have the option of deserting. Unlike the Confederate soldiers in 1865, they aren't in their homeland, able to simply throw down their weapon, strip off their uniform, and go home. It'd look more like Dien Bien Phu than the Battle of RIchmond, methinks...

- Badtux the War Penguin
# posted by BadTux : 8/8/07 8:54 AM  

there were two prominent generals for the south named johnston

joseph (the one you were talking about) and

albert sydney johnston, who died of wounds at shiloh.

albert sydney was a mentor and previous commander of lee's.
# posted by The Minstrel Boy : 8/8/07 3:29 PM  

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