Question of the Week: 11/30-12/6/20

In your opinion, who was the best corps commander for the Union’s Army of the Tennessee?

10 Responses to Question of the Week: 11/30-12/6/20

  1. My top picks, beginning with No.3 – James Birdseye McPherson, 17th Army Corps. Steady performer; rising star who followed orders; Grant acolyte who performed well during Vicksburg and was eventually rewarded with command of Army of the Tennessee.
    No.2 – George H. Thomas, Right Wing (during Siege of Corinth April/May 1862.) Four divisions of Grant’s Army of the Tennessee made up Thomas’ command; General Thomas returned to Army of the Ohio after Corinth occupied (and Grant resumed command of the re-assembled Army of the Tennessee.) Thomas went from strength to strength, eventually commanding Army of the Cumberland.
    No.1 – John A. Logan, 15th Army Corps. Arguably the Best non-West Point General for the North during the Civil War, with unsurpassed fighting spirit. Briefly commanded Army of the Tennessee (after death of McPherson; and again, during the Grand Review through Washington D.C. at conclusion of the War.)

    1. Remarkable that, given the nearly unbroken chain of successes the army had. I guess Shelby Foote nailed it – “That Grant – he was somethin'”.

      1. Yes, he did very good farming with indifferent tools. But the again, he opposed Pemberton and Johnston.

      2. I guess that’s the same analysis one could easily apply to Stonewall’s magnificent record against the “C Team” in the Valley

  2. John Logan is probably the best choice. The dark horse is A.J. Smith. Even though his command is operating separately from the Army of the Tennessee itself, he’s very good in 1864.

    Not many will agree with me on this, but John McClernand is a better corps commander than he’s generally given credit for being. He’s pretty solid in corps command during the Vicksburg campaign (other than perhaps on May 22); probably Grant’s best corps commander during most of the campaign.

  3. I vote McPherson or Logan. A.J. Smith and McClernand are under-rated. The latter was fired for not being a team player, not because of performance on the battlefield.

  4. I would agree with Andy Papen that Logan did very well (although at the latter portion of the Battle of Atlanta he was serving as an acting army commander. McClernand also did well during the Vicksburg campaign, while the blame for May 22nd is highly exaggerated.

    1. Solid point about Logan. My own opinion is that McClernand is afflicted with “Fitz John Porter Syndrome”, in which an isolated element of unfairness provokes overreaction in the other direction. He – like Porter – was a mediocrity in the big picture. Porter’s particular flair was borderline-seditious communication with an anti-administration newspaper publisher while McClernand’s was a politician’s infatuation with his own inflated military skills and the belief that he should have been given higher commands. The departure of neither posed a major obstacle to Union victory.

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