AHC: Lee fights for the Union

Grimbald

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Like most southernors of his day Lee was a Virginian first and an American second. To have him in union blue you must move Virginia with him. If Virginia stays with Lincoln, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina probably do too.

Lee is given command (if a war is fought a all) and it is a relative cake walk.

Personally I do not see Virginia staying, but that is the key question.
 
There were southern officers who stayed with the union (John Gibbon, George Thomas) in spite of there states seceding. Heres some more: Montgomery C. Meigs, David Farragut, Winfield Scott, John C. Fremont, Stepehen Hurlbut, Solomon Meredith, John D. Stevenson, John B. Mcintosh, William R. Terrill, William B. Campbell, Samuel P. Carter, Edmund J. Davis, Lawrence P. Graham, Isham N. Haynie, William Hays, James G. Spears, Philip St. George Cooke, John W. Davidson, Alexander B. Dyer, Alvan C. Gillem, Andrew J. Hamilton, William S. Harney, John Newton, George D. Ramsey and numerous others why not good Ole Bobby Lee?
 
Without Virginia (bear in mind I'm hardly unbiased), IMHO the CSA wouldn't last as long as it did; they needed VA to succeed, or even really just survive. With that in mind, a pro-Union Virginia means a pro-Union Upper South (IIRC they tipped the scales for Tennessee and North Carolina), which doesn't bode that well for the CSA at all.

Slightly off-topic, but I've always been interested by the idea of a "split" South, and not just between the Deep South and the rest. Say, have Texas decide to stay with the Union as well; could make for an interesting post-war scenario (Lord knows, the war itself likely wouldn't be as long or even-sided).
 
With Lee as their commander and Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina on the Union side, the war would probably be won by the end of 1862.
 
Even if North Carolina still secedes without Virginia and Tennessee (they wouldn't, but let's just say they do), those two states are really the key to beating the rest of the South; Tennessee in Union hands + control of the seas= mastery of the Confederate life-blood, the Mississippi. And Virginia was a vital supplier of talented leadership, high-quality troops and arms and a location well suited to launching attacks and counter-attacks at the Northern states. I agree, a Civil War without those states would mean a victory by 1863 at best, with a likely 1862 victory.
 
Alright then what would lee have to work with since Virginia was to stay with union. Remember Lee just being Lee isn't going to automatically change things for the better. Those of you who even the slightest of knowledge should know that early in the war for the union army, the political jockeying that occurred during most of the war and haraunged even the best the union had to offer through its officer corps. Also, Lee will still have to deal with large amounts of nearly untrained Militia/volunteer soldiers. Who's to say that the politicos that pressured McDowell to move forward before he was ready will not affect Lee? Lee being the hardnosed well educated west point graduate/veteran that he is would he not have to improvise to simpler tactics/strategems? So that in order to fulfill his campaign measures due to the fact what ever he knows by heart probably won't be understood by a good number of his subordinates and his very green soldiers. Also where would the confederate capital be. New Orleans? Atlanta? Charleston? or maybe still Montgomery? Being that it would still be early 1861, the union army would probably still be fighting with Brigades instead of by Corps or Divisions. And Lee would still be having to deal with Simeon Cameron and Winfield Scott. In order summarize what I just said, how would the union conduct the war with Lee in the picture and would it be much of difference from what really occurred what with all of the restrictions the Union army early on had to face other than location of the battles and campaign routes. Who would be resisting Lee? Anyone agree or have answers?
 
I read something once where it was said that Lee - when he was offered command of the Union Armies - actually might have accepted no matter which way Virginia went. Don't remember where. And his family were pretty split on the idea of staying loyal to the Union as well.

Perhaps the POD would actually be the night he makes the decision.
 
I read something once where it was said that Lee - when he was offered command of the Union Armies - actually might have accepted no matter which way Virginia went. Don't remember where. And his family were pretty split on the idea of staying loyal to the Union as well.

Perhaps the POD would actually be the night he makes the decision.
While it's fairly clear Lee would have gone to the Union had Virginia stayed, I don't see the fascination with requiring this to get a Union Lee. Winfield Scott was just as much a Virginian and stuck with the Union, and if I recall had asked Lee to do so as well. Why not just start with assuming everything is the same except Lee stays with the Union? That I think is a more interesting scenario.
 
I read something once where it was said that Lee - when he was offered command of the Union Armies - actually might have accepted no matter which way Virginia went.
Lee was offered command of a Union army, not all of them. In OTL, Lee's early performance as a commander was poor. He was shuttled off to handle coastal defenses, then moved to an advisory position and would never have seen field command again if not for Jefferson Davis having no one else of sufficient rank to replace the wounded Johnston. Even then, Lee's record on the offense was not that good.

Lee in Union blue would probably have a similar career to OTL's McDowell, forced into an offensive before the army was ready, and sidelined to unimportant commands afterwards.
 
Turtledove's story Lee at the Alamo gives a good example how Lee is forced to fight for the Union without knowing that Virginia will leave the Union.
And there can be other PoDs. Perhaps the future military commander of the confederate army does not like Lee (and vice versa).
 
Lee was offered command of a Union army, not all of them. In OTL, Lee's early performance as a commander was poor. He was shuttled off to handle coastal defenses, then moved to an advisory position and would never have seen field command again if not for Jefferson Davis having no one else of sufficient rank to replace the wounded Johnston. Even then, Lee's record on the offense was not that good.

Lee in Union blue would probably have a similar career to OTL's McDowell, forced into an offensive before the army was ready, and sidelined to unimportant commands afterwards.
Lee was really set up for failure in his commands in W. Virginia and the Carolina coasts - inadequate resources, poor commanders. I don't think you can judge much off that.

But Lee felt very strongly about his home state, more than most Virginia officers. There's simply no way he accepts a Union command if there's any chance of Virginia seceding. For him to do so would be to be a very different Robert E. Lee than the one we know.

Turtledove's scenario here - for once - seems plausible.
 
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