The Worst Civil War General - Union
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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VOTING ON THIS LIST IS CLOSED!!!

Final results:
1st Place: McClellan - 39
2nd Place: Burnside - 21
3rd Place: Banks - 12
4th Place: Pope - 5
5th Place: Bulter - 3
6th Place Tied: Howard - 1, McClernand - 1
No Votes: Buell, Sigel, Smith

RULES:
I've noticed a lot of Civil War buffs on bgg. Being that I'm interested in military failure, I'd like to get everyone's opinion on who they think is the Civil War's worst general.
Here is how it will work: I will make two Separate geeklists, one posted on 1/19/2008, and another on 1/26/2008, each comprised of ten Union and Confederate commanders respectively. Everyone gets one vote on the first two list, given by a thumbs up for who they think is the worst. Then on 2/2/2008 I'll post a third, semi-finalist list featuring the top four from the previous two lists. On this list you can vote twice(one Union, one Confederate). The next list, to be posted on 2/9/2007 will be a head to head of the worst Union and Confederate commander from the third list. The final list is one vote only.

Included are only commanders who led an army or corps, as a list with brigade and divisional commanders would be long and obscure. Please leave comments and discuss each of these colorful men who are mostly remembered as losers. For each I have drawn up a defending case for the generals exclusion from the list, and the reasons why many attack his generalship.

NOTE: This is not a personal list of who I think the ten worst are, but more a comprehensive list of those who I commonly see touted as among the worst of the American Civil War.
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1. Board Game: Shenandoah: Jackson's Valley Campaign [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:6867]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Nathaniel P. Banks


Case For: He secured troops, funds, and political support for the war.

Case Against: After being outfoxed by Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley and losing the Battle of Cedar Mountain (possibly Banks's finest moment), he was sent to Louisiana. He led the XIX Corps to the Pyrrhic victory at Port Hudson, and disaster in the 1864 Red River Campaign. He consistently showed poor leadership skills, and his treatment of his black regiments was scandalous.

My Thoughts: Banks was a poor strategist and an even worst tactician. My vote for worst is Banks because I struggle to see any strong points in his generalship. He was a bad leader, organizer, disciplinarian, and battlefield general. At Port Hudson all that was required was a siege; instead he sent men into frontal attacks that would have made Hood blush. At the Red River he was bested by an inferior Confederate force and nearly captured.


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2. Board Game: Perryville [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:5514]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Don Carlos Buell


Case For: Buell was a good organizer, who made the Army of the Ohio a disciplined force. Buell captured Nashville and arrived in time to save Grant at Shiloh.

Case Against: Buell, like many great organizers, was chronically slow. In central Tennessee Buell lost the initiative to the Confederates, who invaded Kentucky and with better generalship might have secured a great victory. Buell was relieved and later turned down Grant's offer to return to the colors in 1864.

My Thoughts: Buell belonged to a class of generals who helped make the Union war effort possible with their organizational skills, only to falter on the battlefield and give the Confederates breathing room in 1862.


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3. Board Game: Fredericksburg [Average Rating:6.40 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Ambrose E. Burnside


Case For: Burnside was usually popular with his men and fellow officers. He never lost the friendship of Lincoln. In secondary, low pressure theaters he won some victories, notably along the North Carolina coast in 1862 and in East Tennessee in 1863.

Case Against: His command of the Army of the Potomac was a disaster, including the humiliating defeat at Fredericksburg. As a corps commander under Grant and Meade he was inadequate.

My Thoughts: Burnside's laid back personality and command style failed him in large battles. At the Crater he planned well for the battle but once the fight commenced he did little to avert the tragedy that followed.


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4. Board Game: Bermuda Triangle [Average Rating:5.56 Overall Rank:12457]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Benjamin Butler


Case For: Butler was a superb military administrator, willing to try out new innovations like the Gatling gun and enlist black troops into the cause. His governorship of Louisiana, while scandal ridden, was also very effective and included improved sanitation and road repair, both of which helped curb yellow fever in New Orleans. He also secured political support for the war.

Case Against: Butler brought military timidity to new heights, especially at Bermuda Hundred and Fort Fisher. He was too afraid to risk military failure and suffer the political consequences.

My Thoughts: Butler was a true political necessity, and if he had been kept away from the battlefield, would have been a consistent boon to Lincoln's war effort. Tactically he was totally incompetent.


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5. Board Game: Chancellorsville: Pinnacle of Victory, April 30 - May 5, 1863 [Average Rating:5.92 Overall Rank:11732]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Oliver Otis Howard


Case For: A brave general, who earnestly fought for freedmen's rights, Howard made a solid contribution to Sherman's successful campaigns in Georgia and the Carolinas.

Case Against: Howard utterly failed as a corps commander at two key battles: Chancellorsville and Gettysburg.

My Thoughts: Howard was an average general who suffered the misfortune of commanding low-quality troops who found themselves fighting against strong Confederate flank attacks at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg.


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6. Board Game: Seven Pines [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:5675]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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George McClellan


Case For: McClellan's skill at building an army's organization, morale, and discipline is unparalleled. He created the Army of the Potomac and under his command the army rarely lost a battle.

Case Against: McClellan would win battles, only to see them as close flirtations with disaster. He was consistently delusional and made it impossible for his superiors, Winfield Scott and Lincoln, to work with him. In 1864 he ran for president as a war Democrat although he was given a peace platform by the Democratic Party leadership.

My Thoughts: McClellan is that curious mix of skill and buffoonery, charisma and bad manners. His perceptive analysis at one moment could be canceled out by his delusional paranoia. Thus McClellan came within a hair of victory in 1862, only to lose it all with mostly himself to blame. It would be a personal tragedy if it wasn't for his histrionic hi-jinxes.


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7. Board Game: The Battle of Shiloh [Average Rating:6.38 Overall Rank:9985]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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John McClernand


Case For: McClernand was vital in getting Midwestern Democrats, especially in Southern Illinois, behind the war. He raised most of the XIII Corps through his political connections.

Case Against: McClernand consistently proved to be a terrible battlefield general. His performance at Fort Donelson, Shiloh, and Champion Hill was poor. He was also an intriguer and sowed discord against Grant even after the fall of Vicksburg.

My Thoughts: McClernand was clearly an important political instrument and a very poor general who's failures were made up for by the solid generalship of those around him. He fortunately never held a real independent command.


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8. Board Game: The Battles of Bull Run [Average Rating:5.92 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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John Pope


Case For: Pope won a victory at Island No. 10 and handled the opening weeks of the Second Bull Run campaign well.

Case Against: Pope was outmaneuvered, out fought, and out thought at Second Bull Run. He then attacked Lincoln when he was not given another assignment while blaming Fitz John Porter for his failures.

My Thoughts: Pope would have been fine in division command, but he lacked the brains and moral courage for high command. His management of Second Bull Run is among the worst jobs done by an American army officer.


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9. Board Game: Charge to Glory: The Battle of New Market [Average Rating:6.17 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Franz Sigel


Case For: Sigel was vital in getting German immigrants into the war. He also did superbly at the Battle of Pea Ridge, among the North's first and most important victories.

Case Against: Outside of Pea Ridge Sigel did poorly on the battlefield, with his record at Wilson's Creek and New Market showing that his military mind was simple and given to over excitement.

My Thoughts: Sigel was all daring and bluster, but he lacked the skill to be anymore than a brigade commander. He raised many regiments for the Union, that being his main accomplishment.


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10. Board Game: Not War But Murder [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:4232]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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William F. Smith


Case For: Smith was a first rate engineer, and personally brave. His part in lifting the siege of Chattanooga was vital.

Case Against: Smith was the most contentious subordinate of the war, spearheading attempts to remove Burnside and Butler. After his failures at Petersburg he was removed due to his attacks on Butler and Meade.

My Thoughts: What makes Smith's harsh criticism of his superiors ironic is his own failure in independent command at the Second Battle of Petersburg. Smith brewed dissension against everyone he served under except for William B. Franklin.


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