I have been thinking lately about Civil War commanders. We all have different opinions on what makes a good leader. I have always thought that the best commanders (or the best bosses in the regular world) put the needs of their people first. Somewhere along the way I read a quote that said the best commanders put their butts on the line to protect their people, not their people on the line to protect their own butt. I have tried to consider the Civil War in light of that quote.
As I ponder Civil War commanders and their leadership abilities, I look at one commander from each side. First, I think of General Hancock. What Civil War Addict could forget his famous quote at Gettysburg? When urged to remove himself from the field of fire during Pickett's Charge, he replied "There are times when a Corps commander's life doesn't count." He was wounded during the attack and refused to go to the rear, instead choosing to remain behind and see his men through the engagement.
On the Confederate side, I think of General Patrick Cleburne. With his many battlefield successes, he always gave credit to his men. At his last battle, Franklin, he was killed leading his troops into battle. General Cleburne was last seen on foot with his sword raised and kepi in the air. He died leading brave men into battle.
Both of these men are, in my opinion, good leaders and good commanders. I think we'd all love to have a boss like this in the modern world. If you are looking for examples of good leadership, look no further than Generals Hancock and Cleburne. These are in my opinion two of the best commanders of the war.
Who are your picks?
My name is Lee Hutch and I am a Civil War Addict.