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Is a nice leader a bad leader?

Posted August. 02, 2022 07:45,   

Updated August. 02, 2022 07:45


When you read about the American Civil War, the victory of a battle seems to be dependent on the leadership and tactics of commanding officers. It feels like so even though there was no impressive tactical move from generals during the Civil War except for Gen. Stonewall Jackson, a Confederate general. Maybe, the abilities of commanding officers are the only attribute to compare as commanders of both the Union and the Confederacy were brought up in the same environment and culture; They were even trained in the same military academy and fought against each other with the same armaments.

Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, who became a British war hero after defeating German commander Erwin Rommel in War in North Africa during World War Two, had a very unique perspective on leadership during the American Civil War: Robert Edward Lee, a Confederate general, was a gentleman of virtue. He never yelled at his subordinates nor did he make overbearing orders to them. He tolerated the mistakes of subordinates. He indeed was a man with integrity.

Behind the leadership of Field Marshal Montgomery, there were personal connections within the leadership of the Confederacy. He led the Army of Northern Virginia, which was the biggest sectionalized force in the U.S. forces. We cannot say cronyism ruined the war as it produced a lot of war heroes after all. However, rampant acknowledgment, encouragement, and friendship within the Confederacy often led to trivial disobedience or excessive autonomy which were clearly disastrous in crucial moments in the Battle of Gettysburg.

On the other hand, the Union led by Abraham Lincoln didn’t have any previous military connections. As the personal connections within the Union were of low quality, initially, incompetent, bureaucratic generals had become leaders. Because of this, so many dumb episodes were produced by the North Leadership until the midway of the American Civil War.

However, Lincoln responded to dumb mistakes by replacing the incompetent leaders right away. Through trial and error, great commanders who changed the fate of the war were appointed, which eventually brought victory for the Union. As war carries so many risks, talent appointment requires courage and an adventurous spirit. I think this is what Montgomery wanted to convey.