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"For a change, who's the worst??" Topic

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769 hits since 13 Sep 2023
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gamer113 Sep 2023 7:06 a.m. PST

Just for fun and curiosity, as the title suggests who do you guys think was the worst army commander?? We always talk about who was the best but don't see much about who folks think was the worst. Personally, honestly, I am not for sure, there are obviously a few that come to mind but no one stands out to me as the obvious choice as the last commander in the war either Lincoln or Davis would want in charge of their army???


79thPA Supporting Member of TMP13 Sep 2023 7:19 a.m. PST

Army commanders or generals in the army?

Personal logo ezza123 Supporting Member of TMP13 Sep 2023 7:46 a.m. PST

In terms of constantly leading tabletop armies to their ruin and snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, I would like to nominate myself.


gamer113 Sep 2023 8:11 a.m. PST

LOL, funny, yes I have been known to be in charge of some pretty bad losses with a little help from the dice myself. I was thinking of Army commanders, the guys ultimately in charge of the win or lose, the captain of the ship:)


ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP13 Sep 2023 8:22 a.m. PST

Benjamin Butler is certainly near the top of the list. Ambrose Burnside was in way over his head as commander of the Army of the Potomac (something he freely admitted). McClellan and Hooker were good organizers and could inspire men, but both choked at crunch time. On the Confederate side you have Braxton Bragg and John Bell Hood and a few lesser commanders like the ones who lost Forts Henry and Donelson after abandoning their men.

DisasterWargamer Supporting Member of TMP13 Sep 2023 8:27 a.m. PST


A discussion on some of the worst

Personal logo KimRYoung Supporting Member of TMP13 Sep 2023 8:41 a.m. PST

Scott got the the most obvious. At least Burnside and Hooker got recycled back to Corp commander.

The one who even Lincoln realized was a terrible choice, and in my opinion the worst. was John Pope.

He was so bad that after the debacle at 2nd Manassas, he was shipped as far away as possible from any real command, being sent to Minnesota to fight Indians for the rest of the war.


35thOVI Supporting Member of TMP13 Sep 2023 8:45 a.m. PST

John Floyd, Theophilus Holmes and Gideon Pillow come to mind

donlowry13 Sep 2023 9:03 a.m. PST


IronDuke596 Supporting Member of TMP13 Sep 2023 9:32 a.m. PST

James Wilkinson.

Grattan54 Supporting Member of TMP13 Sep 2023 10:15 a.m. PST

Pope preformed well in the West prior to going East. That is why Lincoln chose him. So I would not rate him the worst. Did flame out big time back East.

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP13 Sep 2023 11:04 a.m. PST

I agree with all of the above and would also nominate Pemberton and Joe Johnston.


William Warner13 Sep 2023 11:24 a.m. PST

I don't recall John Bell Hood winning any battles while an army commander. Yes, he was aggressive, but it didn't result in any victories for the South.

gamer113 Sep 2023 12:10 p.m. PST

Several of these where on my short list. I also thought of the guy that was Grants superior in 62, was it Halleck?? Don't know if he actually commanded an army in battle but remember he was a political obstacle to Grant???
I don't know if I would include Pemberton, he's choices where limited after Grant got his army across and at least he was willing to hold out as long as he could and didn't just give up as soon as Vicksburg was surrounded like some probably would have. I also thought of John Bell Hood, I know he was under pressure to not keep retreating and change things around but to just through away your army with nothing to show for it. Anyway fun post I think, thanks for the input!!!

batesmotel3413 Sep 2023 12:34 p.m. PST

I'm surprised to not see Braxton Bragg in this illustrious list. While the battle of Chickamauga was a Confederate victory, it seems it was more despite Bragg's efforts than because of them. The fact that he couldn't get along with any of his subordinates or those at his own level certainly seems to make him a strong contender for worst especially as the commander of the South's second most important army for much of the war.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP13 Sep 2023 12:55 p.m. PST

I feel Ben Butler is always given short shrift. He was effective in Maryland and North Carolina at the beginning of the war, and he was an able administrator of New Orleans. He cared deeply for his men and spent a fortune of his own money to ensure that his troops were properly supplied. He also raised the 1st Louisiana Native Guards. He was not a particularly able field commander in the later part of the war, but both sides had their share of fair to middling generals. While no saint, he did a lot more than he is given credit for. Political rivals and Lost Causers did their best to tarnish his reputation and ignore his accomplishments.

Bill N13 Sep 2023 3:31 p.m. PST

It Lost Causers tarnished Butler's reputation they did not have to work hard to do so. Eastern Virginia in 1861, Bermuda Hundred and Fort Fisher in 1864 were all failures. In Maryland he faced no armed opposition. Butler was a shrewd politician and while serving as general used his political skills to benefit the U.S. during the war, but that is no more relevant to an evaluation of Butler as a commander than Butler's shady financial dealings.

Of the major commanders my vote is Bragg.

Personal logo KimRYoung Supporting Member of TMP13 Sep 2023 4:14 p.m. PST

Here's a very good book on the subject. It's very unfair and judgmental which is exactly what is needed.
He devotes a good deal to the Civil War.

Et tu is correct, this is great book I read 50 years ago.

Appropriately the title comes from Lincolns statement after the Union fiasco at the Battle of the Crater:

"Only Burnside could have managed such a coup, wringing one last spectacular defeat from the jaws of victory".


Extrabio1947 Supporting Member of TMP13 Sep 2023 4:55 p.m. PST

On the Union side, Butler. On the Confederate side, Bragg.

The Peter Principle Award goes to John Bell Hood

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP14 Sep 2023 12:08 p.m. PST

batesmotel, Bragg was nominated by ScottWasburn 5th post
in the list.

enfant perdus14 Sep 2023 2:17 p.m. PST

Thoughts on Albert Sidney Johnston? He had a tremendous reputation at the start of the war but accomplished almost nothing. It is true he was given a herculean task in trying to defend the Confederate West, but other than outmaneuvering Sherman and Halleck (and conducting some harassing raids) he fought one battle, Shiloh, which was arguably lost due to his arrangement of the Confederate corps.

Marcus Brutus14 Sep 2023 8:19 p.m. PST

In all fairness to Albert Johnston I think everyone was learning how to command large forces. Before the war Johnston was a colonel commanding a regiment. At Shiloh he as commanding an army of 30,000 men. Completely different circumstances that even the best commanders would need to grow into.

Personal logo Old Contemptible Supporting Member of TMP14 Sep 2023 11:02 p.m. PST

Any Confederate Army commander not named Lee.

Bill N16 Sep 2023 12:14 p.m. PST

Is that fair Brute? It is normal that an army commander would want his own army to be as strong as possible. However I can think of a number of times during Lee's tenure as commander of the ANV where he detached substantial forces either to another portion of Virginia or to an entirely different department.

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