Thursday, November 29, 2012


This is coolbert:

"The GOD of the Hebrews is a poor general. HE allows them no line of retreat!" - - as spoken by Yul Brynner in the rule of Rameses in the Cecil B. DeMille version of the "Ten Commandments"

That prudent and wise military commander at all times taking into consideration and  determining a line of retreat during military operations if and when a movement to the rear is necessitated? As extracted from the Spartacus web site the American Civil War general officer Mc Clellan seen as dilatory and hesitant to a fault:

"Soon after this appointment Abraham Lincoln ordered McClellan to appear before a committee investigating the way the war was being fought. On 15th January, 1862, McClellan had to face the hostile questioning of Benjamin Wade and Zachariah Chandler. Wade asked McClellan why he was refusing to attack the Confederate Army. He replied that he had to prepare the proper routes of retreat. Chandler then said: 'General McClellan, if I understand you correctly, before you strike at the rebels you want to be sure of plenty of room so that you can run in case they strike back.' Wade added 'Or in case you get scared'. After McClellan left the room, Wade and Chandler came to the conclusion that McClellan was guilty of 'infernal, unmitigated cowardice'".

NOT so much cowardice and cowardly behavior as TIMIDITY? Prudent perhaps to a fault?

Timid as used to describe comportment being understood as non-aggressiveness and unassertive! NOT cowardice but a lack of gumption and positive resolve?

That word TIMID exceptionally pejorative when used to describe the behavior of a military man. That combat commander not confident of his command or his abilities. Especially when on the offensive that leader lacking in cran [guts], elan' [spirited action] or confidence seen as not being worthy of command?

From an exchange with an American professional military man who has considerable combat experience:

"Now that you mention it, we never had a line of retreat prepared as an option when I went to Command and General Staff School [C&GS] during battle planning exercises. We had alternative attacks at times when we wondered if the primary attack might be 'iffy' or we didn't know where some of the enemy's strengths were in the war games, so we had to consider other plans as the attack developed. But I don't recall ever planning a line of retreat 'just in case'. Which means probably no US Army professional school taught it."

Prudent commanders however perhaps wise taking into account a line of retreat during offensive operations if and when the situation necessitates?  Such a military leader was O.P Smith from sixty-two years ago yesterday [28 November] when the American Tenth Corps in Korea [1950] encountered for the first time the massed formations of Chinese Communist Forces [CCF].

Smith while in command of the First Marine Division moving north on the west side of the Chosin reservoir having detailed with foresight a reinforced infantry company to safeguard his main supply route [MSR] and line of retreat. Fox Company occupying and defending with great resolve dominant terrain against all comers and in the course of events doing so quite successfully! Smith PRUDENT and not TIMID!



Steiner said...

McClellan always gets the bad rap, and it's time this was put to rest. He understood that he was fighting in Clausewitzian space, and therefore his real objective was political, not military. The General knew he had a greater supply of men and material, and could consistently muster an impregnable defensive posture against the Confederacy. McClellan's, and the Union's, real enemies were the political voices in the North who called for accommodation with the South. The "copperheads" would be much strengthened if the South consistently won clear victories, so McClellan made sure they didn't.
Lee knew this too, so he was forced to throw the dice at Gettysburg, with the outcome we all know. Gettysburg is one of the true decisive battles in history, and it was where McClellan's grand strategy was vindicated. No disrespect to General Grant, but after the Army of Northern Virginia was defeated in Pennsylvania by the Union army that McClellan built, the Civil War was over.
The victor of Antietam, General George McClellan, deserves much better from history.

Dan Kurt said...

re: "He [McClellan] replied that he had to prepare the proper routes of retreat. " Albert

For the record and for those not schooled in maneuver warfare: A CORPS RETROGRADE MANEUVER is probably the most difficult operation for a commander to effect successfully. Only the Germans in WWII demonstrated the capability, many instances in fact, in Modern Times.

McClellan was an astute general to worry about his worst case scenario.

Dan Kurt