With some states celebrating Lee/Jackson Day this month, we thought it would be a good time to ask the question…
Who’s leadership style do you think was best? Lee or Jackson?
While both styles are unique, their synergy was the magic. My uncle was in the 3rd Army, General Patton’s, who I liken to Jackson. Rapid movement, doing the unlikely, being unpredictable can be hard on an Army, but is a willing sacrifice if it delivers victories. As a soldier myself, I would be attracted to Jackson, I think. Would have loved Lee, to be sure, but Jackson’s run and gun style would be motivation when the odds are bad. I expect to be spending most of a week at Shiloh during the anniversary. Anxious to explore Johnston’s surprise attack strategy, the hallmark of most Confederate victories.
I really don’t think that it’s a question of which one is best, their styles complimented each other. Just my opinion. But I’ll make this observation: for overall strategy, Lee. For implementation of strategy, Jackson. You must have both for a successful military campaign.
Lee: In addition to his well-established tactical mediocrity, Jackson could never have effectively led an army (and i don’t mean a glorified corps). He repeatedly demonstrated an inability to communicate with and get along with subordinates. Lee showed the opposite – possibly to a fault at times, but the irony is that Wing/Corps commander Jackson would likely have been cashiered early on by Army commander Jackson. Recalls the oft-told story about the pre-War Bragg as company commander engaging in an acerbic dispute with Bragg as company quartermaster.
Lee. Stonewall would have continued to march his men to death until he had none. He was brutal. Where was that much-vaunted Christianity?
I do not try to judge or criticize someone’s faith, but Jackson’s appears to be much more old Testament than new.
“He reduced his burning faith to military logic. The great national catastrophe that had descended was, for Jackson, a judgment from God to test the righteousness of man. Therefore, the Civil War must be a religious crusade to regain the Almighty’s favor. Christian faith and the Confederate cause were, for Jackson, one and the same.
“He thus became demanding, steel-cold, even pitiless, in the field. To be worthy of New Testament love, Jackson believed that he must fight with Old Testament fury. Thus, at the height of one of his great victories, Jackson turned to an aide and exclaimed joyfully: ‘He who does not see the hand of God in this is blind, sir, blind!'” ~ Dr. James I. Robertson, Jr.
Lee was far too open ended in his command approach, he tended to suggest things rather than directly ordering his subordinates to execute orders.
Jackson had no gray area and was far too secretive. His subordinates knew nothing of their commanders intent. His lack of trust lead to his ultimate demise.
While successful in the short term, neither command approach was effective in the long term. Hence the lack of battlefield success post Chancellorsville.
Lee’s opened ended approach worked well with Jackson, but poorly with Longstreet who seemed to do things in his own way and own time, usually later rather than sooner.
Not sure how poorly the approach worked with Longstreet. He swept the enemy at 2nd Manassas, not one Union soldier touched his lines at Fredericksburg while Jackson’s end broke (on top of that Longstreet’s men held back the Union Army for nearly a day on December 11), Longstreet saved Lee’s army in the Wilderness where both Hill and Lee failed to rectify the 3rd Corps position on the evening of May 5th-morning of May 6th. His men outfought Hill’s and Ewell’s on July 2nd at Gettysburg. His 14,000 men took Lee’s desired ground and engaged elements of 4 Federal corps, while Hill never took to the field and Ewell unperformed. Longstreet out-performed Jackson in the 7 Days. At Antietam he lent troops to Jackson’s wing as needed and his men held Burnside back long enough for Jackson’s men to repay the favor as the battle closed. So “poorly” is not the word I would use for the way Longstreet-Lee worked together. If you want to use the term “poorly,” apply that to Ewell and Hill at corps level.
I’d have to agree with Kris, especially regarding Jackson. If your subordinates routinely don’t understand your orders or objectives, you are doing it wrong.
Lee’s style, IMO, worked only fitfully at best; he acheived some notable successes, but even in 1862 his style opened the door to notable lapses, as well.
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