|President Jefferson Davis|
Davis was vilified by his own generals and political rivals. McPherson
believes that Davis' fragile heath might account for the "Jekyll and Hyde descriptions of his personality." McPherson said that Davis "articulated the principal policy of the Confederacy with clarity and force: the quest for independent nationhood." Davis also supported slavery as "the core institution of the Confederate policy." Mr. McPherson concludes that "no other chief executive in American history exercised such hands-on influence in the shaping of military strategy." As chief architect of Confederate strategy, Davis must absorb the blame for the failure strategy to achieve its goal.
Davis' plan to protect slave-owner assets produced a military strategy of perimeter defense. Key to this approach was the rapid movement of troops via interior lines. However, it is one thing to articulate a strategy and quite another to execute it. This failure ultimately lies with the senior officer corps. Davis, like Lincoln, was plagued by generals who would not fight (Johnston and McClellan), arrogant officers (Beauregard and McClellan), petty rivalries between officers, incompetent officers, and disobedient military leaders. Davis was further burden by having 30% of his generals his own political appointees.
|P. G. T. Beauregard|
McPherson defends Davis by saying he was "the best man for the job" and "no clear evidence exists" that his fellow Confederates were wrong. The author also points out that the Confederates appeared to "on the cusp of success on at least three occasions." However, Davis' major fault was his choices of generals and his relationship with them rather than strategy. This was a fatal flaw because the generals were the instrument of his strategy and Davis' failures here meant that his strategy and perhaps any strategy was doomed to failure.