Leaders of the Civil War

1355 Words6 Pages
Each of the military leaders on both sides of the Civil War had their strengths, and weaknesses. In the North Abraham Lincoln had great difficulty in picking a commander that would be aggressive enough, but at the same time that not throw his resources away recklessly. His biggest concern was what became known as the “Army of the Potomac,” which was understandable for several reasons. This army protected Washington, as well as states such as Pennsylvania, and Maryland, but was also the main force that could thrust into the South, and their capitol in Richmond. Even in the South where Robert E. Lee held command of the “Army of Northern Virginia” command issues were not unknown, but they did not involve the incompetence of the top commander. The North gave away many advantages that it might have had early in the war simply because of the inability their military commanders to perform. While at the same time in the South, commanders, many of whom were some of the brightest and best to come out of West Point, did their everything they could to end the war in their favor. Lincoln wanted to end the conflict quickly, which prompted his initial call for 75,000 volunteers, unfortunately for him the new volunteers, many of which had only enlisted for 90 days, only three months after the firing on Fort Sumter were much too green for the effort. Something their commander General Irvin McDowell was quite well aware of. Lincoln pushed McDowell to attack as soon as possible, so on July 21, 1861 the first major eastern battle of the Civil War started when McDowell sent ill trained, and poorly disciplined troops toward the Confederate forces drawn up along Bull Run Creek.. He initially wanted the attack to be a surprise, with the hope of t... ... middle of paper ... ...waiting behind the stonewall in front of a copse of trees. This left Union forces facing the Confederates almost totally undamaged. Several supporting brigades did not get started on time, and went on a route that left them totally out of position. By the time that the Virginians had reached the stonewall, much of their momentum had been lost, and although they were able to breach the wall for a short time, they were not able hold the position, at which point the attack fell apart in confusion. After this disaster a disappointed, and depressed Lee made plans to escape back to the South. Which he did, much to the chagrin of both Meade, and Lincoln. This as has often been said was the high point of the Confederacy. From this point on, and especially after the arrival of Grant in the East it was only a matter of time and attrition until the final end of the war.
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