The victories in the battles of the Civil War were never complete. While there were brilliant leadership of commanders and admirable courage of the troops, there were tactical blunders and mistaken sense of capabilities that affected the results of combat. In the Battle of Shiloh, the Confederate troops were led by General Johnston with his next-in-command General Beauregard, while the Federal forces we led by General Grant. Corinth was the Confederate stronghold and a mile away were the Federal camps.
During the fight the Confederates seized the camps of the Feds and General Johnston was fatally shot. Beauregard carried on with only 30,000 disorganized Confederate men, while Grant’s reinforcement came with the troops of General Buell and Major General Wallace. Beauregard retreated to Corinth and Grant reclaimed their camps. The Battle of Shiloh ended in the way it began, the camps belonged to the Feds and Corinth to the Confederates. 23,746 lives were lost including that of war strategist like Johnston with neither side winning in the unfinished business of the battle which was to capture Corinth.
In the Battle of Chancellorsville, the Federals was headed by Major General Joseph Hooker while the Confederates was headed by Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. Hooker’s strategy was to fight Lee in Hooker’s own territory. The Union positioned themselves in the high and open Hazel Grove. Jackson’s troops surrounded them with Lee’s men as support. During a lull in the fighting, Jackson surveyed the area where he was fatally shot by friendly fire. After heavy losses, Hooker retreated when Lee advanced. Hooker’s blunder was Lee’s glory.
The casualty count was 17,000 men or 13% of its strength for the Federals, and 13,000 or 22% for the Confederates. The Federals had the greater opportunity to win the battle than the Confederates but an error in judgment had reversed the outcome. Stonewall Jackson, another war strategist was killed in action. The Battle of Chattanooga between the Cumberland forces of General Thomas and the Rebel troops of Braxton Braggs, was to seize Chattanooga a vital distribution link of the Confederacy. It was along the divide and conquer plans of Lincoln.
The 80,000 combined forces of Thomas, Sherman, and Hooker engaged the rebels from center, left and right. On the other side Bragg refused to destroy the retreating Cumberland forces. Troops’ petition to relieve the commander was ignored by President Davis. Despite mishaps on the side of Cumberland, like Sherman’s inability to carry out his objective, the cannon firing was ineffective due to its wrong location, and the destruction of the only bridge for the troops to cross and advance, they were still able to seize Orchard Knob and Lookout Mountain.
After Bragg’s retreat he wrote the president for his relief. He admitted it was wrong to keep him in charge. At the cost of lives, the Battle of Chattanooga was one mired with mistakes and arrogance. The way to war is one laden with violence and death. There will always be a victor and a vanquished. Total victory will never be achieved because of the costs it took to attain the objectives. Costs in terms of lives lost, properties destroyed, and lives put on hold may never be commensurate to the outcomes of wars.
Dunn, J. R. “Buried Victories.” American Thinker, May 29, 2008, at http://www. americanthinker. com/2007/10/buried_victories. html Hennehan, J. “America’s Civil War: Little Round Top Regiments. ” America’s Civil War Magazine, September 1, 2006, at http://www. historynet. com/americas-civil-war-little-round-top-regiments. htm McPherson, J. M. “Battle of Shiloh. ” The Atlas of the Civil War, February 7, 2002, at http://www. civilwarhome. com/shilohdescription. htm “Battle of Chancellorsville. ” August 13, 2006, at http://www. nps. gov/frsp/chist. htm “Chattanooga. ” 2008. at http://ngeorgia. com/history/chat. html