This piece has not been previously published. I do not now re-
member what I wrote it for; my best guess is that it was a Civil
War Roundtable talk or a piece for one of the many panel discus-
sions I have served on. It comprises much of the germ for my
initial input for How the North Won: A Military History of the Civil
War (1983). It emphasizes the South much more than the North,
reflecting my greater interest. I thought perhaps I might
acknowledge this tendency with a new and more specifically
descriptive title, but decided not to do so.
Good leadership ranked equally with adequate manpower as a factor in determining the Civil War's outcome. This was especially true at senior-level, general-grade appointments. The Confederacy ultimately named eight full generals, seventeen lieutenant generals, and seventy-two major generals. It is my opinion that blame for the eventual Confederate defeat cannot be placed upon this group. That is so either collectively or with any individuals or groups of individuals.
I believe that Confederate generalship compared rather closely and favorably with Federal generalship. It is true, however, that some of the generals on both sides were less than exemplary. Sound and discernible military reasons typically prompted a general's elevation in rank, but both opposing presidents occasionally granted promotions for broader considerations, usually political in nature.1
The age of a general can have much bearing upon his ability to
1. It has been typical of Civil War scholars to denigrate nearly all of the polit-
ical generals, but Thomas J. Goss offers a good argument that there were sound
and compelling reasons for the naming and retention of the political generals
in The War within the Union High Command: Politics and Generalship during the
Civil War (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2003).