This week’s question of the week comes from ECW reader Dwight Hughes:
I have a question for you experts: Everyone talks about Jackson’s brilliance at Chancellorsville. What about Second Manassas? The flanking movement at Chancellorsville was excellently conceived and executed, but wasn’t it after all reactive, ad hoc, almost a “hail Mary”?
Hooker had taken the initiative, flanked Lee, and pulled him out of his strong position at Fredericksburg into the Wilderness. Lee was in trouble and was saved by Hooker’s hesitance as well as by Jackson.
However, for Second Manassas, Jackson had the initiative throughout the campaign: He got way behind Pope between him and Washington, captured a major depot, disrupted Union supply lines, fell back into a strong defensive position, waited for Pope to find him, and then held him off until Lee and Longstreet snuck up on Pope’s flank and almost destroyed him.
I’m not clear how much of that was Lee’s thinking and how much Jackson (or just a great team), or how much was planned or just good decisions at each point. But as a campaign, it seems near perfect and better than Chancellorsville.
What do you think?