Blackford Evaluates His Generals

by Fred Ray on May 2, 2016 · 1 comment

On December 7, 1861, Blackford wrote his father a rather pessimistic letter about the state of Confederate leadership. He is at his pithy best here when he evaluates his division commander, Earl Van Dorn.

By the way our Maj. Gen. [Van Dorn] is a sad example of what effect too rapid a rise in the Army will sometimes have. Every thing is overdone and exaggerated. Ego is visible in the very atmosphere around his quarters and this is so apparent that he is the laughing stock of this Division. Last Monday he gave a grand dinner, and had every Gen. in the Army present, all of whom with 3 exceptions became very drunk, several so much that they had to be carried home. I saw one for whom I had the highest respect carried by me by two of his aids, totally unconscious. The example of Van Dorn was followed by Gen. G. W. Smith a few days afterwards, when report says matter became much worse. Of course the effect upon the Army is direct and extremely injurious—it has made me positively sad, and my confidence in our Generals is now utterly gone. I have always believed that a very moderate amount of generalship has been displayed upon our side, & we would most certainly be thrashed were it not for the indomitable pluck of our men. I believe that McClellan is at this moment completely outgeneraling Beauregard, and indeed he has been doing so for months past by making him believe that he would make his advance every day or two, while he was attending quietly to other matters. But perhaps I have said too much already, please let it be subrosa, and don’t show it to Mother if you think it best not –

Just a reminder that Blackford’s letter excerpts are from my new book Sharpshooter, The Selected Letters and Papers of Maj. Eugene Blackford C.S.A. which for a very limited time (I am expecting books any day) is available at a substantial prepublication discount.


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Dean west May 3, 2016 at 1:53 pm

Hi Fred! Remember me? We debated about woodsy battlefields. On perhaps a better note, I thought Your book on lee’s SS bns was terrific – a unique and altogether correct analysis of why the RM could be a very effective weapon. Look forward to owning and reading your latest work. Regards, Dean

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