In the fall of 1863, as George Gordon Meade tried to grapple with the Army of Northern Virginia, his former III Corps commander, Dan Sickles, was back in Washington stirring up controversy: to cover his own blunder at Gettysburg on July 2, Sickles conducted a full-court press to discredit Meade’s overall performance at the battle. By the time Meade learned of Sickles’ slander campaign, he demanded that General-in-Chief of the Army, Henry Halleck, conduct an investigation.
“[N]othing would suit [Sickles] better than to get you into a personal or newspaper controversy,” Halleck replied. “He would there be perfectly at home, and, with his facilities for controlling or giving color to the New York press, would have greatly the advantage.”
Meade said he didn’t “consider it good policy to permit such slanders as have been circulated to pass entirely unnoticed,” but he took Halleck’s advice and largely let the matter go.
Knowing how badly Meade’s reputation has suffered as a result of his decision not to actively contest Sickles, Halleck’s advice, in retrospect, stands out as some of the worst advice he ever gave a subordinate.
What’s another instance from the Civil War where you think, in retrospect, advice turned out to be terrible?