A Lee-less Confederacy

The POD is this: General Joseph Reynolds arrives earlier to the Battle of Cheat Mountain and deploys some of his forces against Henry Rootes Jackson's forces before Lee can call the battle to a close. Lee gets wounded and dies later. As to what happens later - I am undecided.

The Death of Lee

The attack had not gone well. Nothing had been coordinated as he had wanted and no real force had been brought against the enemy. Despite some generally encouraging displays by General’s Rust and Anderson the fact that all they had achieved was rendered worthless by their premature and unneeded withdrawal left Robert E. Lee very disheartened. He had carefully looked over the intelligence reports before the battle and felt sure that the Federal forces on Cheat Mountain were there for the taking, if only he could seize the chance. But with everything going wrong coupled with his own inability to control the generals under his command and his being incapable of directing all his force towards a clear and certain goal the battle had been one big mess and the chance had been lost. The news of the death of John A. Washington of his staff had sapped what little remained of Lee’s remaining enthusiasm for the battle and he had decided to call a close to the matter.

As Lee sent out orders for a general withdrawal from the battlefield he was distracted by the sound of gunfire from his right. Wasting little time he went personally to the front to discover what was going on. Arriving near Camp Bartow, Lee was dismayed to find that the forces under General Henry Rootes Jackson on his right were hard-pressed by seemingly fresh Federal forces marching up the road. General Joseph Reynolds had arrived, leading the Federal reinforcement into battle and against Jackson’s command were two regiments of that force, soon to be increased to four. With Jackson’s men beginning to panic and flee, Lee quickly set into action, rallying the men and sending out orders for General Rust to bring his forces to the right to support Jackson’s command as they fell back.

Standing over the Greenbrier River, Lee maintained order and discipline over the soldiers, appearing for all the world like the very image of a God of War. One man, recalling how Lee appeared that day, said of him later; “I was convinced by the General that if we only stood by him we would emerge victorious” but it was not to be.

With the rout prevented Lee had begun to prepare his men for a tough defensive action and a stubborn withdrawal and was determined to get his men out of that dangerous situation in one piece, with their heads held high that they had accomplished a great feat despite the loss. As he dispatched orders to the officers present and sent out riders to find and issue further orders to General Rust, the Federal forces arrived and fighting began in earnest. Within only ten minutes of the start of the fighting General Lee was struck down as a bullet pierced his left shoulder and another tore through his left side. Lee’s staff that had accompanied him ran to his side all assuming the worst but they were wrong for the wound had not killed him. Stricken but alive Lee lay on the side of the road incapable of continuing to command. H.R. Jackson, now the ranking General at the scene, took command while Lee was carried from the field. Jackson would hold his position until General Rust arrived and the two would manage to withdraw together in order.

Lee was carried all the way to Richmond, alive but in great pain. The surgeon who saw him immediately after the battle said it was a miracle that he had survived the two wounds and predicted that he would not see out the Month. Lee, during a period of clarity and painlessness, had requested to be taken to Richmond to be with his wife. It was a request that could not be ignored. It was not wise however, and on the journey to the Confederate Capitol Lee caught pneumonia and was in a terrible fever when he arrived. He did not recognize his son’s George Washington Custis Lee, William Henry Fitzhugh Lee or Robert E. Lee Jr. when they came to his sickbed, nor did he recognize his wife and daughters when they arrived.

After two weeks of pneumonia induced fever and violent spells of pain from his still fresh wounds Lee’s body finally gave up and he died on October 12th 1861. It was not the wounds that killed him but the pneumonia. Had he not travelled those many miles to Richmond he may have survived.

Once he had learnt of Lee’s wounding General Joseph E. Johnston had refused to visit him. This was not done out of spite. General Johnston still remembered Lee as his West Point Classmate, as his friend and companion and as the man who had supported him when his beloved nephew Preston had died in battle in Mexico. Though they had drifted apart in the years after the Mexican War and shared a somewhat petty rivalry with each other he could not bare to see his old friend in such a state. When the news came of Lee’s death Johnston was beside himself with grief. Soldiers and officers alike saw their commander weep openly at the lost of his friend. “In youth and early manhood I loved and admired him more than any man in the world” said General Johnston “His lost to our cause is immeasurable.”

To President Jefferson Davis the loss of General Lee was “the greatest tragedy yet to befall this nation” and to Adjutant General Samuel Cooper – speaking in hindsight some years after the war had ended - the loss of Lee meant the Confederacy had lost it “most able and devoted servant”.

Another one of my abandonned ideas. The eventual purpose of TTL was to have Joe Johnston fall wounded at Seven Pines and have Davis take temporary command of the Army of Northern Virginia himself and lead the fight against the Federals until Bragg could arrive to take perminant command.

I followed the original post up with this but got no further:

War comes to the Peninsula

The fortunes of the Confederacy had taken a turn for the worst in the winter of 1861/1862. Defeat at Mill Springs had driven their forces from eastern Kentucky and destroyed the command, the loss of Fort Henry quickly followed by Fort Donleson had expelled them from the rest of Kentucky and forced them to cede middle Tennessee and to make matters worse had destroyed whatever strength there was to be found in that region, with the capture of almost 20,000 troops.

With these disasters President Jefferson Davis was forced to change his ideas. He no longer favoured defending all along he front and had come to accept that such a plan had been risky and dangerous from the beginning, instead Davis now favoured the idea of concentration of strength at strategic points. Accordingly he stripped the coastal defences of his country for all available manpower to allow Albert Sidney Johnston to create a new army with which to defend the Western states.

And Virginia did not go unchanged either.

Joseph Johnston’s new orders from the President were to pull back from his advanced position at Manassas to a line of his choosing on the Rappahannock while Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson was to pull back in the Valley towards the vicinity of Staunton. A central reserve was to be built in Richmond for quick deployment to either Northern or Eastern Virginia when the need arose for such an action and all the commanders of the individual districts of Virginia – Johnston in Northern Virginia with his sub-district of the Shenandoah Valley under Jackson, John B. Magruder in at Yorktown and Benjamin Huger at Norfolk in Eastern Virginia – were informed that the defence of Richmond now took precedent over everything else and they should be prepared to converge on the capital whenever required.

The problem then was, who could Davis turn to in order to coordinate the movement of troops throughout these districts from Richmond? Johnston, as the ranking general, should have to do the job by rights but he was with the Army of the Potomac (CS) at the Rappahannock and couldn’t be expected to control everything from there and, in addition to this, he had been involved in numerous squabbles with the War Office when Judah P. Benjamin had been in charge and with Adjutant General Samuel Cooper and he was known to indulge Davis’ opposition so he was far from an ideal choice. Samuel Cooper had shown no aptitude for the task and no one in the war office seemed a likely candidate either. This left Davis with only one possible choice, he would have to handle the matter himself, as poorly as it might reflect on him in the public gaze.
In the first case, the death of Lee would in all likelihood actually *help* the Confederacy. If Joe Johnston is wounded, this means that he'd probably be succeeded by Braxton Bragg, who was the ranking Confederate officer at the time. In which case the CSA in all likelihood doesn't exactly do well. If, on the other hand, Johnston is succeeded by Stonewall Jackson, you'd see a Sherman-style blend of tactical mediocrity with strategic genius. If James Longstreet, the USA is in for some unpleasant times. Longstreet was the most successful officer under Lee, and he had several instances of independent command. Unfortunately at Knoxville his attempt to take Bragg's job turned into a debacle, so he was in one sense problematic as a supporting officer, but on the other hand he had the larger of Lee's two corps under the two corps system, and as commander of the third corps his attacks were the most universally successful. In charge of the entire army, Longstreet would have been strategically rather better than Lee, and tactically he was as noted the most successful of Lee's officers. Unfortunately the CSA had Mr. Napoleon Complex.

In the second case, the Army of Northern Virginia faces some dire situations and President Davis would have the same difficulties Lee did in co-ordinating attacks. What this would mean for Davis is anyone's question, as I'm not entirely sure Davis would have liked Stuart's ride around the Army of the Potomac which was brilliant but not exactly what the Army of Northern Virginia needed. Davis also focused on cities, not armies, so the Army of the Potomac is actually *better* off with him in charge, as he's not going to do what Lee did and repeatedly attempt to destroy a much larger army that fought well under poor leadership up to 1863, he's going to try to menace various cities, and that opens problems if he should face Northern generals that want to get at the Virginia army.
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Just bumping this to see if there are any more opinions about what could plausably have happened in this scenario.