Past is Prologue

Clint Schemmer writes about history, heritage preservation and the American Civil War.  On Facebook: Past is Prologue  On Twitter: @prologuepast  ContactEmail Clint or call 540/374-5424.

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Cooper on Davis as CSA commander in chief

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Despite his critics, Davis always held the upper hand in Confederate politics, William J. Cooper says:

“Until the bitter end, Davis remained the dominant political force in the Confederacy.”

Davis never shunned his role as commander in chief of the Confederacy forces. He never doubted his ability or judgment.

He enjoyed conversations with his staff and Confederate officers about all sort of military matters.

“But he made all the decisions.”

Davis was a micro-manager as running the government’s war office. But once he put generals in the field, he rarely told them what to do.

Cooper says it’s difficult to explain Davis’s management of the War Department contrasted with way he managed his generals.

Generals, Davis felt, should be left alone. Perhaps his Mexican War experience with Zachary Taylor, whom he greatly admired, was the reason, Cooper says. Taylor regularly complained then about political interference with his military decisions in that conflict.

“Whatever the reason, Davis gave his generals enormous leeway,” Cooper says.

Sometimes, he kept commanders in place far too long. Unlike Lincoln, Davis did not fire generals.