Friday, January 08, 2010


I firmly believe that there were any number of pivotal events during the Civil War. If any of these pivotal events had been resolved differently, the effect on the war (and / or the peace afterwards) would have been enormous. It only took me 20 minutes or so to come up with these potential deal-breakers:

1. TN, VA, or TX fail to secede (1861)
2. Secessionist forces seize St. Louis Arsenal prior to arrival of N. Lyon and U.S. regulars (1861)
3. R. E. Lee accepts field command of U.S. Forces (1861)
4. J. Johnston not wounded, so R. E. Lee does not take command (1862)
5. G. McClellan fully commits reserves to fight at Antietam (1862)
6. J. Davis overrules R. E. Lee and sends substantial reinforcements to J. Pemberton at Vicksburg (1863)
7. R. E. issues an unambiguous order to R. Ewell to attack Cemetery Hill on first day at Gettysburg (1863)
8. J. L. Chamberlain orders retreat rather than bayonet charge on second day at Gettysburg (1863)
9. G. Granger obeys orders and waits in reserve rather than reinforcing G. Thomas on Snodgrass Hill at Chickamauga (1863)
10. G. Thomas's Army of the Cumberland waits at foot of Missionary Ridge for orders to advance instead of advancing without authorization (1863)
11. J. Longstreet not wounded at Battle of the Wilderness (1864)
12. Confederate authorities accept P. Cleburne's proposal to arm slaves (1864)
13. W. T. Sherman captures Atlanta two weeks after presidential election; McClellan elected president (1864)
14. L. Powell kills W. Seward and / or G. Atzerodt kills A. Johnson and/ or General & Mrs. Grant attend theater with Lincolns (1865)
15. A. Johnson commutes death sentence of Mrs. Surratt (1865)

What pivotal events occur to you?

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