War, politics, and poular opinion

Benjamin Franklin Butler ( November 5 1818 &nd...Image via Wikipedia

Growing up in the South, I often heard lists comparing Northern and Southern assets at the beginning of the Civil War. One of the items on the pro-side for the South were military leaders.

As I've studied the Civil War this summer, I've realized that this isn't quite correct. Instead was most important early in the war for the South was a president who understood war and tactics and who was willing to do the correct thing militarily over the politics and popular opinion.

I learned for instance that the general I most think of when I think of the South, Robert E. Lee, was sent to South Carolina for perceived faults early in the war. Later, Davis brought him to Richmond to help him coordinate war materials and tactics. It was only later that Lee received command of the army of Northern Virginnia.

Eventually Lincoln became both savvy enough to understand military tactics and could overcome the unwillingness of his public to (or built his and the army's public capital to a point where they could) understand that sometimes victory came through slow protracted events and would not be accomplished by a head on engagement.

Even in the final year of the war, Lincoln still struggled with incompetent and yet politically connected generals.

The mythical better generals vanish as I contemplate how the same forces of politics and public perception were at work during the Civil War as in modern conflict.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


Post a Comment