There has been much irrelevant discussion about the ability or inability of commanders in the North and South.
The fact is that political instead of military ideas controlled in very large degree the selection of commanders in the Union
armies; while for three whole years the authorities in Washington
could not see the necessity of unity of action in all the armies under one military leader.
It required three years of costly experience to teach the government that simple lesson, taught in the military text-books!
As experience finally proved, there was no lack of men capable of leading even large armies to victory; but, with few exceptions, they were not put in command until many others had been tried.
Information as to military fitness was not sought from military sources.
If a lawyer is wanted for the supreme bench, or an engineer to construct a great bridge, information is sought from the best men of the profession concerned; but the opinions of politicians were thought sufficient in determining the selection of major-generals!
Again, the policy of the government required the capture and occupation of all the important seaports and other places in the South
, and the permanent occupation and protection of all the territory gained in military operations.
Until near the close of the war, neither the public nor the government seemed to have the remotest conception of the fundamental fact that Confederate armies, wherever they might go, instead of places and States, were the only real objectives.
Even some of the best Union generals were constrained to act upon this popular heresy, contrary to their own sound military judgment and education.
Yet while this erroneous ‘territorial’ strategy was insisted on, no adequate conception was formed of the vastly greater force required to hold all the territory gained, and to push aggressive operations still further into the heart of the South
Very rarely indeed were the Union
armies large enough, until