Saturday, August 5, 2017

Roads into Ploughshares

As another Lame Cherry exclusive in matter anti matter.

The mark of revolutionary generals is not their battlefield tactics as General William Tecumseh Sherman, no more than General George Patton developed blitzkrieg or lightning warfare, as that was something perfected years before in Alexander the Great.

What set General Patton apart was his first use of tanks with fighter bombers. The devastating dimensions which General Patton engaged the enemy of Germany, like Hannibal crossing the mountains on elephants, were what set George Patton apart from other field marshals of his time.

The more I study Lt. General James Longstreet of the Confederate American Army, I appreciate more the words of President Andrew Johnson to General Longstreet in stating that only three people could never be pardoned nor have amnesty from the Union, in Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and James Longstreet.

That will puzzle many as history has smeared and placed General Longstreet into oblivion, but he was not only the American Napoleon of 1860, but he was the most masterful battle general, field general, commanding general and visionary that the Civil War produced, as he simply has the Union officers swearing at him constantly as he so beat them and frustrated them.

I am going to provide an example of General Longstreet which to most will seem as nothing, but it was everything, and it broke every military doctrine to the past, and regrettably was never repeated as it is an art of absolute warfare.

The glamorous impediments to the enemy are Hollywood in blowing up bridges, and we have all witnessed Robin Hood felling trees across the road. General Longstreet though decided that instead of impediments of bridges to slow down an army or trees to impede the path, that the real solution was to roll up the roads that armies traveled on and spirit them away.

This sounds impossible, and yet the General employed the most unglamorous of tools in the iron plough. He ploughed every road up when he retreated and ploughed up every road for an enemy approach.
An army can not move with ease its horses over lumpy roads, nor can wagons when the road was dry. As the campaigns educated General Longstreet to the dirt roads all becoming swamps, in wearing horses out and wagons sun to their axels.
General Longstreet simply helped the quagmire by deepening it, providing a pool for the rain to sit in, instead of run off, so the roads would not dry. In effect, General Longstreet with a few ploughs was able to slow an army down and wear it out, so it was not in top form to be ready to fight his corp.

These moves brought Sherman's army into remote 
bearing upon our army at Richmond, and as a matter of 
course it began to receive more careful attention from 
General Lee. In order to better guard our position on the 
north side, I ordered, in addition to the timber obstruc- 
tions over White Oak Swamp, the roads leading around 
towards our left to be broken up by subsoil ploughs, so as 
to make greater delay of any movements in that direction 
during the winter rains, and wrote to ask General Lee if 
he could not order the roads upon which General Grant 
would probably march against the Southside Railroad 
broken in the same way ; also suggesting that the roads 
in Georgia upon which General Sherman was marching 
could be obstructed in this and other ways so as to delay 
and annoy his march, with the possibility that it might 
eventually be broken up. 

As one can witness, he was desperate in trying to move Robert E. Lee to order this all throughout the Union march to slow it down. In the last desperate months, Longstreet knew that General Sherman was coming out of Georgia to attack them in joining up with General Grant, so the solution was to break up the roads in South Carolina with such impediments that it literally would break Sherman's equipment, his stock and his Soldiers down from the toil in the mud. In effect, if Lee would have so ordered this, Sherman's army would have been broken, isolated and had to have made an attempt to march to the ocean to gain supplies on shoreline.
Sherman actually did make that march, but unimpeded. What Longstreet envisioned was Sherman in rags, his cavalry broken, his artillery unable to move, and General Joseph Johnson falling upon it and shattering the remnants.

General E. E. Lee, 

Commanding : 

General, — From the report of scouts received yesterday, it 
seems that the Tenth Corps is still on this side, or if it 
went over to the south side, has returned. The information, 
too, seems to indicate the arrival of the Sixth Corps 
from the Valley. 

Under these circumstances it will be necessary for me to force 
the enemy to develop the extent of his move on this side 
before taking any more of my troops to the south side. This 
I shall do, of course, as rapidly as possible. I am going 
to have the roads leading from White Oak Swamp to the 
Williamsburg road well broken up with subsoil ploughs. I think 
that the enemy will then have to build a corduroy there 
as he moves. He surely will, if I can have a good gentle rain 
after the roads are thoroughly ploughed. Can't you apply 
this idea to advantage on your side on the roads that General 
Grant will be obliged to travel if he goes to Burkeville? 
I don't know, however, but that it would be better for us 
to go to Burkeville and block the roads behind him. If the 
roads that General Sherman must travel to get to Charleston 
or Savannah can be thoroughly ploughed and the trees felled 
over them, I think that General Sherman will not be able 
to get to his destination in fifty days, as the Northern 
papers expect ; and it is not thought to be possible that 
he can collect more than fifty days' rations before reaching 
the coast. If the parties are properly organized, I think 
that they might destroy or injure all of the roads so as 
to break down General Sherman's animals, and result in the 
capture of most of his forces. 

I remain, very respectfully, yours most obediently, 


Lieutenant- General, 

It makes a great deal more sense why the Northern regime would never pardon Longstreet, because his methods of warfare made nothing easy for the enemy and in every case the enemy was beaten, and they wanted no part of James Longstreet's Corp.

In that, I often wondered in studying maps, why Longstreet was never the focal point of the Union commands, and often it fell to General Stonewall Jackson.  The reality is an army attacks the weak points on the field, and General Longstreet never had any weak points on his lines, as he was meticulous in preparations and the order of battle.

This is the genius of Lt. General James Longstreet hidden in the annals of the war, and never noted for his encompassing vision of utilizing every part of a battlefield, including the weather.

The key to victories is to wear the enemy out before it can attack, and do so with the least amount of resources.