While writing one of the two posts I have written here today, I had a sparkling What If discussion idea that hit me, but it seems for the time being, I have forgotten it. So I wanted to at least throw an idea on the site regarding General Lee becoming the Commander of all Union Forces in 1861. How do you think it would have impacted the Civil War? Would it have ended sooner? Would he persuade some of the Confederate Generals to remain loyal to the Union? How much, in that nature, did he possess with the power of persuasion? No one can render the man useless in Military Ability, though I do not want to make him equal to Ares--The God of War. I think fighting for the South made him more dangerous & perhaps more agile. Playing defense suited him & the 75,000 volunteers more than likely would have been pressed to attack the Southern Army with Lee commanding the Union troops. A delicate issue with this question relies on Lee's Estate & the Institution of Slavery. By Constitution Law & before the 13th Amendment, Lee's loyalty to the Union would have been an interesting entity to see play out--this betting on a Union Advantage & proposed hope that the war would end swiftly----If one looks at it in a way where it took 21 months for the Emancipation Proclamation to be released, 46 months of the war for the 13th Amendment to be passed in the House, 11 more months for it to be ratified----General Lee turning down the offer was a blessing for those who were anxious to see him accept the command. That being stated, how much longer would slavery be tolerated in the Union granted Lee took Command & help end the war sooner. & now the questions just pour in. Would General Lee assure a swift end to the Rebellion? Could President Lincoln move faster to press the House to create the 13th Amendment? Would Lee, the man, be an advocate to abolish the Institution of Slavery? It is quite perplexing & complicated. It is one thing to consider Military Victory alone without two separate Governments. It is another to to combine both Battle & Diplomacy. It's delicate for certain. So perhaps, it is a two tier question: One consisting of Military Victory with the exemption of the platform of President Lincoln with the other including both Victory & what Lincoln & men like him were ushering in during those days of tribulation & the dire need for the United States to change. For those who have read "Team of Rivals" or watched the movie "Lincoln" it is known how challenging it was, even with the South all but starved to get the 13th Amendment passed. It's odd that when I began to write this, I meant to keep it simple. I reckon my subconscious has been bouncing this "What If" more than I was capable of knowing. In conclusion, I offer up the questions solely based on "When would the shooting have stopped?" The element of the keen relationship Lincoln & Lee would have had & needed. & finally, if Lee had accepted the offer, how would that have affected the Constitutional change that abolished the Institution of Slavery? *This being based on my hypothesis that General Lee would have helped the Union quell the Rebellion sooner than 1865. So if you think that the General would not have done much, if any, to shorten the War----please feel free to give it a go with your own premise that would differ from mine that relies on Lee helping to end the War sooner.
I am not sure how you all feel about What Ifs. I find myself torn from being intrigued at times & too busy with what actually happened in the Civil War. I believe volumes could be written about this & that if things didn't happen as fate would have it; though I believe the headache of straight laced historical research is a headache on its own too much sometimes. Personally I pray that if Lee would have assumed command and helped the Union win the war, Slavery would have been abolished without more conflict than it took. How would it all have affected Virginia---would the General been seen as a traitor to his native state, having to take up real estate in Pennsylvania or New York? I, by no means, want to put the General in a type of spotlight that would shadow great men like Grant, Sherman, Hooker, Burnside, Hancock, Meade, Reynolds, Howard, Rosecrans or any other game changers from the Federal side. I am basing this on the all too familiar mistake folks made then thinking that any War would have only lasted a few months.
Thanks for your time, take good care. If any of you know of a good book or essay about this topic, please feel free to share. All the best!