Did Robert E. Lee Lose The Civil War For The South

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Did Robert E. Lee Lose the Civil War for the South? Abstract Most history books portray Robert E. Lee as the greatest general of the American Civil War, acknowledging his brilliance as the reason that the South lasted four years against a vastly superior Union force. The reality was that Lee’s strategy and tactics actually was the reason that the South lost what was a “winnable” conflict. Where the South needed a tie, Lee went for the win and therefore was a major reason the South lost. This paper will evaluate Lee’s military strategic capability in the context of the war and his battlefield leadership, demonstrating how his aggressive “Virginia first” strategy directly contributed to the Confederate loss. The combination of Lee wasting irreplaceable troops in frontal attacks and his refusal to help reinforce the Confederate West put the South on the road to defeat. Did Robert E. Lee Lose the Civil War for the South? We all know the Confederacy lost the American Civil War. Traditional history holds that the South was defeated by overwhelming Union manpower and resources. That same history states that the South only lasted as long as it did (four years) because of the brilliance of the South’s (and even America’s) greatest general, Robert E. Lee (Thomas, 1995). The fact is the South could have won the Civil War. History shows many wars have been won by the weaker opponent. The American Revolution demonstrated that a vastly inferior American army (with no Navy) was able to outlast and when needed decisively fight and beat the most powerful army (English) in the world. The same can be seen in America’s war in Vietnam and the Soviet Union’s war in Afghanistan. It was on the North to conquer the South, whereas the South only needed to hold the North at bay and go for the tie. Through a conservative use of manpower and resources and the use of
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