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How Many Civil War Generals Were There

Civil War generals numbered in the hundreds during the war. Many officers were promoted to higher ranks during the war, which included promotions to the rank of general.

These promotions were called brevet promotions. They were only valid for as long as the war lasted.

After the war ended their rank reverted back to where it was prior to their brevet promotion. George Armstrong Custer was one example of this type of wartime promotion. He was promoted to the rank of general during the Civil War.

George Armstrong Custer

George Armstrong Custer

Generals of the Civil War either won or lost battles due to their competence or incompetence as commanders.

Who Were the Best Civil War Generals

  • Ulysses S. Grant
  • William Tecumseh Sherman
  • Phillip Sheridan
  • Winfield Scott Hancock
  • George Thomas
  • Robert E. Lee
  • Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson
  • James Longstreet
  • Nathan Bedford Forrest
  • Albert Sidney Johnston
  • Jeb Stuart
  • Edward Porter Alexander

This list is in no particular order. It is difficult to proclaim one general is better than another. Each of these generals possessed unique abilities and qualities of their own.

For example Jeb Stuart’s brilliant cavalry leadership can’t be compared to Edward Porter Alexander’s talent using artillery, or Stonewall Jackson’s tactical abilities on the battlefield.

Although if I had to pick the best general of the Civil War, I would pick General Ulysses S. Grant. This choice is not based on any particular talent he had. Instead it’s based on his overall ability to get things done. He did more than any other general to win the war. As Abraham Lincoln once said “I can’t spare this man, he fights”

Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant

A must read book about Stonewall Jackson is #ad Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson this is a very well researched and fascinating biography about one of the Confederates best and most famous generals.

Who Was the Worst General in the Civil War

Some less impressive generals during the Civil War are remembered simply for being as equally terrible as Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee were great.

Union General Ambrose Burnside was arguably the worst general in the Civil War. He was an example of incompetence and ineptitude that was nothing more than a burden to his subordinates and his men.

General Ambrose Burnside

General Ambrose Burnside

What Happened at Burnside Bridge

One of General Burnside’s most famous blunders was during the Battle of Antietam at a bridge which forever bears his name called Burnside bridge.

He ordered his men to cross the bridge so that Union forces could cross Antietam creek and continue their attack against the Confederates. The bridge was defended by a small group of Confederate soldiers who held the high ground on the other side.

The defenders had easy targets as the Union troops tried to cross the narrow bridge.

Burnside Bridge During Civil War

Burnside Bridge During Civil War

Hundreds of General Burnside’s men were needlessly sacrificed trying to cross this bridge. Meanwhile General Burnside could have had his soldiers cross the creek a few hundred feet downstream where it wasn’t defended and it was shallow enough for his men to have easily and safely walked across the Antietam creek.

Burnside himself even admitted publicly that he would make a very poor general, apparently nobody was listening and he was put in command anyway.

A great book about Civil War Generals from both sides of the conflict is #ad Generals South, Generals North: The Commanders of the Civil War Reconsidered

Who Were the Main Generals in the Civil War

These are some of the more famous Civil War Generals

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Antietam

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Ball’s Bluff

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Belle Isle Prison

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Benjamin Butler

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