tv The Civil War General William Rosecrans CSPAN July 5, 2019 11:45am-12:21pm EDT
teachers. 48 hours, all weekend, every weekend, only on c-span 3. next on american history, william kurtz talks about william rosen cranes' career and clashes with superiors like ulysses s. grant and edwin stanton. this was part of a day long conference hosted by the center for civil war history. >> it is my distinct pressure to produce the first speaker of this afternoon. if you haven't been able to glean how important he is, i want to say how important will is to everything we do here.
he is completing an edited collection titled soldiers of the cross. the text will be out sometime later this spring. i think he's going to talk about rosecrans, but he is also instrumental to everything that we do at the center, especially to our digital projects and black virginians in blue. he is fundamental to our under graduate internship and public events like this. so i would like you all to join me in welcoming will kurtz. >> they don't usually let me talk at these things.
i'm afraid you are about to find out why. ro rose cranes is kind of a downer and this is perhaps the first and last time we will talk about him in our day together. he may have mentioned him briefly and after he mentioned grant's name for the fifth time, i kind of tuned him out. i don't hate grant. i hope you take that away from this talk. in fact i think that the failed relationship between general grant and rose cranes and rosecrans and everything else was detrimental to the union cause. i'm going to talk about general rose kranz and how it's more than just him in the memoirs. also give you general thoughts about how his issues played out
that he served in during the war. for much of the conflict, they lacked a command structure that coordinate campaigns between different armies and across different theaters, sometimes even within the statement theater. instead jealously and bitter rivalries between government leaders saw them fighting each other almost as much as confederate enemies. slight exaggeration, but in some cases it was true. as the new york journalist said jealously did more damage during the war than incompetency. perhaps a little bit of an overstatement, but let's test that theory. union leaders shared goal was put aside while they grappled with more troops and more supplies and more prestige. the secretary of war, let's give examples. the secretary of war edwin stanton strongly disliked george
b. mac lelan. grant never really for gave him. they waged spirited campaigns when inviting the confederacy. i'm not going to pretend and i don't do traitors. we will stick to the union. buy my book. there are no traitors in it whatsoever. it's all about the north. now, despite these men's differences in intense personal conflicts, they were all united by one thing. they hated rose kranz. however he was one of the union's most successful commanders. he won important victories that secured western virginia independence and 1861, he defeated two armies in
mississippi in 1862. he provided a badly needed and very bloody victory on january 22nd at stone's river near stone's river is in some ways the reverse gettysburg. it's become more fornt us than it was at the time that gary argue. if you read the political newspape newspapers. it was a much needed victory even if it wasn't decisive as some of the later ones under grant. he also captured the important railway hub was the whole point of the campaign which he would tell you many times after the war. he was a brilliant engineer,
devote christian and a vocal critic of slavery and treason. he was not without his flaws as i am the first to admit as his future biographer he was very easy to hate. he had a bad temper, smoke incessantly. he was arrogant and unforgiving to those who failed him. he was incapable of getting along with many of his superiors. these trait and the enemies he wracked up undermine his once promising career. we see that. the story of his rise and fall during the civil war is a fitting one considering he served in all three mayjor theaters of the war that dr. gallagher mentioned earlier. he was born september 6. his father was a veteran of the war of 1812.
his maternal grandfather had fought in the revolution. he has a mill tear background. in 1838, lacking the money to attend college, he applied successfully for admission into west point. despite having no formal education, he rose to graduate. earning himself prestigious assignment to the engineering corps. he's distinguished like some other generals that won't be named. i could not find what they were about. about 30 for year. pretty low. he was so highly thought of that he was brought back and served at west point as an assistant professor for a number of years. they were slightly less valued
than what they did because there's no record of what he did there at all. it's only the major professors. i've looked. he served for several years. some time in 1844 or 1845, he sle converted to catholicsm. he went into private business in west virginia and cincinnati and was just about to turn a profit in his business when the war broke out. he explained his decision to rejoin the army to his wife. a sense of duty that impelled me to seek usefulness regardless of personal danger. i trust that god in his infinite
goodness will contain me in soul and body. cultivating a smart relationship, he soon got himself promoted to general and was sent to go serve in west virginia. althou although he decided to hitch his start to that lucky dog mcclellan. you'll see a pattern here. this is where it starts. i can't find it before the war. it's something about the war that brings part of his personality out. the first dispute happened in advance. mcclellan got mad for advancing
too far, possibly alerting the enemy. he said i desire you here after to act in strict conformity. this is his emphasis, i and not you are in command. in short, he accused the more aggressive grant of being s subordina subordinate. the dooj wamage was done. he explained that quote, itch not a general worth his salt. rosecrans is a fussy goose. this is the first of several bird metaphors that would haunt rosecrans for the rest of his life. any way, i'm keeping the audubon joke for the round table. the two men came up with a plan that called for an attack, a two
pronged assault, which is very difficult for civil war. rosecrans had the harder part of it. he had to advance over pathless mountains in order to take the southern sort of in the rear on the flank to the south. rosecrans held up his part of the deal and taked on july 22nd leading to the confederate position. one noted that mcclellan sat there with indecision and did absolutely nothing. he did credit him for the ha handsome manner but little mack gave him credit for that result.
rosecrans resented not getting his proper due. remembering that rosecrans is very loud and denouncing what happened to him, to his staff, to his fellow officers and his fellow journalists. criticism is believed one major biographer reached the ears of mcclellan. rs rosecrans fought a number of successful victories in west virgin virginia. his real enemy was the horrible terra
terrain. not so much the confederates he face. he managed to hold them off. they weren't able to regain western virginia territory. his generalship was successful. unfortunately for him, he proposed after going into winter quarters that he would lead an assault on winchester, virginia to put pressure on the south and that plan as you can imagine when it got to mcclellan who is not happy was basically rejected. in fact, john c. freemont who was looking for a new home to lose battles in took his job and he lost his job in a totally political manner. he couldn't believe it. this is the start of his trust issues, as you can imagine. he doesn't really understand what's going onto him. appealing to the secretary of war for a new position rosecrans was given the thankless task of baby sitting a division being
sent to reenforce the shenandoah valley. he displayed his admiral strategic initiative, understanding of war. said you just replaced my single command with a bunch of different commands. you should have a commander here to take it. he wanted him to obey orders and shut the -- shut up. do not -- i don't want your ideas. i just want you to obey. it's something rosecrans has problems with. if the suggestions had been followed, perhaps stonewall jackson ability to exploit the command structure might not have
happened and he likes to point that out after the war. rosecrans was sent to mississippi and got as far as away from edwin stanton as he could. that leaves general grant in charge of western forces. the two men got along very well together. they had known each other at west point. they were very friendly. he was an honest man to his wife after meeting him in mississippi. he wanted thoim get -- him to get a promotion. he was a bit miffed about this.
rosecrans decide his strategy at rich mountain was worth a second try. the plan was for grant to hold firm and wait to attack when rosecrans got into position. they would both attack confederate general price at the same time and catch them in a movement. they were so badly separated and communication broke down that what happened was rosecrans outnumbered forces were unable to cover the roads he agreed to cover and he decided caution was better than being a little bit too aggressive. he did not attack his plan.
price is able to escape off the on guarded road. grant is very, very pleased with the performance. they are known to be friendly the rosecrans. believed to be behind rumors that grant had been drunk again. this gets back to grant's staff. they blame rosecrans. this will play out in just a second. in price escape was van dorn's army. van dorn aggressively attacked. rosecrans was able to hold him
off after a couple days of battle. rosecrans was recalled. at this point the relationship is completed. i see i'm going way to long that i did the jokes that i promised myself i wouldn't. i'm just going to say that the relationship is a failed one. completely and utter failed one. basic their own guys reputation. they were about attacking the con fed r con f confederates. john rollins was all for it. he got grant's wife behind the scheme as well. rosecrans is appreciated by lincoln from his point of view. he sent to take over what would become the army of the cumberland. rosecrans wrote to grant after
leaving him quote r, we are to cooperate as far as possible to support each other's operations. we're to see that did not happen at all. sometimes they relied on other generals to inform them of what the other was doing. rosecrans spent a couple months getting the army of the cumberland back in shape. unfortunately, brag attacked first and drove him back. rosecrans had to stabilize the position. it was very desperate.
this is something a lot of people remark on after and remark on positively. accommodation of these things and resituated his line so when the confederates would assault two days later, they are utterly decimated and bragg retreats. this is a very bloody battle considering how many people are engaged. a welcome victory after union defeats at fredricksburg and outside of vicksburg in the weeks before. he and stanton assured him whatever he wanted, he would get. they would home him to that as long as he was in command. harpers weekly, leading republican newspaper praised
rosecrans as a strategist second to none. the new york times declared him said at the present moment if success be the standard stands at the very head of the union generals. end quote. all kinds of comparisons to napoleon, frederick the great, et cetera, et cetera. rosecrans spent most of the spring of 1863 re-organizing his army. as the months wore on, washington became impatient. they wanted to know why he wouldn't advance. he explained he didn't have sufficient calvary, sufficient so supplies and he was still awaiting those supplies.
throughout this time grant is attacking vicksburg but he doesn't. he will write about this. he should have been writing to rosecrans and rosecrans should have beenwriting to grant. this breakdown is largely responsible for this. it's rosecrans poor generalship to be sure. i don't think he needed to wait that long to finally advance. it's really his personality conflict that drives it. he advances on june 24th. drives bragg's army out of middle tennessee. he feels miffed that stanton implies this is not as important as the battle of vicksburg and gettysburg.
again, rosecrans would pause. again he would try to patience of stanton and even lincoln who was his sincere friend throughout this whole thing. unfortunately, for rosecrans and lincoln and washington, they were completely caught off guard when he made his next movement to capture the important city of ch chattanooga. he thought he was in headlong retreat and he really wasn't. he was about to be re-enforced by troops from mississippi and from the army of norton, virginia.
the confederates showing a much better strategic sense of cooperation across theaters. brought those men. thanks to a terrible, terrible mistake on the second day of the battle drove rosecrans and his men from the field in disarray. only general george h. thomas remaining on the field to salvage the battle for the union side. rosecrans would retire and he would prepare for the siege that ensued. he would fortify energetically. he would make plans to open up supply lines. he had issues with one of his supply lines being cut by superior confederate calvary. it looked bad. it was a bad situation. he wanted to impress.
he felt like he needed to tell washington i really need those troops. washington responds by transferring troops from mississippi and from the army of the potomac to relieve union forces there during the siege. at the same time they do this. lincoln decides to put grant in overall command in the west. grant, rightly, realized he couldn't work with general rosecrans. regardless of his past successes, he relieved him from command which was effect on october 19th. rosecrans was so embarrassed pe left in the middle of the night. he couldn't face his men, as he said. he hoped this was the end of rosecrans, lincoln promised to give him another go. he was sent to missouri. in missouri, rosecrans suggested a bold strategy of come bibinii
union command, basically sweeping from missouri down through the gulf in a large, very, perhaps impossible, perhaps farfetched plan but he was overruled saying that we're going to support general banks in texas and we know how that went, right. that didn't go very well either. rosecrans was in oo baa back wa theater and he had to fight off a vicious guerilla wear. he refused to transport troops. this enraged grant who said to his wife, quote general rosecrans never obeyed an order in his life that i had yet heard of. rosecrans was asked by stant
stanton -- once he was leaved in early december 1864, stanton asked what should i do with him. he said he would do less harm doing nothing than on duty. rosecrans was very upset and sad at this point. he spent the rest of the war in cincinnati. he would exchange letters with grant what was the cause of his removal this time. he appeared before the joint committee on the conduct of war trying to vindicate his record over grant's objection, he would be promoted to major general in the regular u.s. army for his conduct at stone's river. neither man forgave each other. rosecrans tried to block a
pension bill for the dying president. he returned the favor by tarnishing rosecrans reputation in his memoirs. the men in blue were the victims of this. they were the victims of this inability to cooperate. this inability to exploit the fact grant had one army bottled in vicksburg and bragg had been reduced in forces. why it's important to remember those partnerships that won the war, it should be about some of those that belong to conflict war.
chase. i'm struck by the fact that grant removes him only after the election of 1864 as this rather biting comment about him. how did he get there to begin with? grant could have reassigned him or send him to cincinnati right away? >> evidentiary explanation for that is limited. if you look at grant getting more and more angry with rosecrans for not realized he needed every man he could, he's trying to relieve him before price getting to missouri. just like he wanted to get rid of thomas before nashville. he wanted to get rid of rosecrans many months before he finally does. i can only surmise that lincoln had something to do with it. especially it's generally accepted that rosecrans wasn't relieved or wasn't put in position where he could be relieved by somebody like grant
until after the gubernatorial elections in ohio. the election of 1863 when he was a big supporter of the republican candidate at the time. he was seen as very useful political tool by the lincoln administration. he was sounded out to be lincoln's vice president in 1864 election because he was a war democrat with a largely successful record who hated slavery and really hated treason. he was looked at as a political asset by some. >> they're saying rosecrans in california, i believe. how did his reputation get resurrected in order to get a fort named after him? >> rosecrans has the good fortune of out lasting all the other major generals and other people who hated him. by the time he die, his reputation is largely restored and he is seen as a hero of the
conflict. that would be revised way down over the course of the 20th century. he was looked at as a great hero. when he was re-entered at arlington, teddy roosevelt gave a speech. he was this hero figure. people forgot a bout things lik the pension bill. i was in san diego with my kids and we were going to get ice cream and i got off on some road and it was rosecrans avenue. i thought that was great. it's fantastic. i think we're going to have to end on this. when we got off and drove for a bit, i saw kurtz avenue intersecting. i said it's a sign, kids.
i looked around and it said adult video store, liquor store. that looks like pay by the hour motel. i don't know what this bodes for many project but i don't think it's good. any way, that's kind of -- sort of mixed l ee ee eed legacy, i what does. thank you very much. [ applause ] this c-span cities tour is exploring the american story as we take book tv and american history tv on the road. in cooperation with our spectrum cable partners, this weekend we take you to missoula, montana. the second largest city sits in the western part of the state in the heart of the northern rocky mountains. >> we see bears here all the time particularly in fall when they are looking for wild and domestic fruit in the valley.
the state of grizzlies and humans is at this crucial moment where we have to decide how much space we'll make for these wild animals. particularly difficult wild animals like a grizzly. >> join us saturday at noon for c-span book tv. >> smoke jumping started in 1939. the goal of a smoke jumper is to parachute into wildfires where it's inaccessible to other resources. >> we're jumping these fires in the wilderness and keeping them from becoming massive wildfires. >> this c-span cities tour, exploring the american story every first and third weekend each month as we take book tv and american history tv on the road. this is a special edition of american history tv. a sample of the compelling
history programs that air every weekend on american history tv like lectures in history, american artifacts, real america, oral histories, the presidency and special event coverage about our nation's history. enjoy american history tv. now and every weekend on c-span3. next, christopher nil lphil talks about how it influenced theaters of the war. >> okay. our final speaker of the day is dr. christopher phillips who is the john and dorothy professor of american history and the