Lee in the Union Oct 5, 2020 18:21:45 GMT
Post by EwellHolmes on Oct 5, 2020 18:21:45 GMT
Shiloh: Unprepared Federals caught by surprise with no fortifications
Pickett's Charge: Fortified Federals expecting an attack in the open against them
Further again, you need to consider that comparisons to other battles ignore the changed landscape and orientation of the battlefield. At Fredericksburg, the Confederates were entrenched and allowing the Federals to attack them but, further, the Federals had an open line of retreat. Same goes for Antietam. What the author wrote was Johnston's plan, which was a good one; instead of focusing on Pittsburg Landing, the attack maneuvers the Union forces into such a position that they have no escape due to the prevailing swamps and creeks of the area. If to his rear is flood, impassable swamps and to his front is the Confederate Army, what else can be expected but the total destruction of the force? See what happened to Harper's Ferry in September of 1862, where Jackson destroyed an entire force of 12,000 Federals.
Finally, "No Plan survives Contact with the enemy" isn't meant to be a truism, but to instill a sense of improvisation as the particulars of the battlefield shape up. The vast majority of military operations do proceed as planned; otherwise, how does anybody win wars?
Have to disagree with this last bit. Yes its meant to show the importance of improvisation. However by definition at least half of military plans do fail in part and many totally as there are at least two sides in any war. Classic example might be the opening campaigns of WWI as I don't think anyone can say their plans worked out there. [Possible exception might be the Serbs, who for the 1st year+ managed to hold off a much larger opponent and possibly the UK for helping to prevent the total crushing of Belgium and defeat of France. However I doubt many in the BEF or the government and military higher levels at home expected anything like what happened in the campaign let alone the next 4 years].
Sometimes the conflict is so one sided that the eventual winner is in doubt but you can still get nasty shocks. For instance the Soviets in the Winter War or British at Isandlwana for example. Other than very short wars which may see little/no problems for the eventual winner its a case of muddling through, being better in some areas and making less [and/or less serious] mistakes than the opposition.
If taken as a truism, then all national militaries are stupid for maintaining military training academies like West Point or Sandhurst given the pointlessness of learning strategy and tactics. In reality, yes, little deviations to the plan always occur given the reality of human reaction and the like but in general, the concept of operations play out as intended even if said operation doesn't achieve it's operational goals. For a contemporary example, see the Army of the Cumberland's Tullahoma Campaign in the Summer of 1863. For a WWI example, see 1918 in general.