The meeting on 26th of September, 1861 (cont.)

Some reflections on the meeting with special reference to this post.

A strange reticence - Johnston asked for a meeting with Davis to request forces to invade the North. Then, neither he nor Beauregard raised the subject with Davis the night before the meeting, nor did they raise it the next day, during the actual meeting. GW Smith, the junior general present (perhaps fatigued by shilly-shallying) eventually introduced the topic that was the subject of Davis's visit.

Requesting a blank check - Davis was not presented with any concept, plan, or strategy that would use the proposed manpower increase. The generals are simply going to invade the North. Perhaps the generals did not agree on a use for the men at that point.

Use it or lose it - The generals tried to motivate Davis to concentrate not by presenting a compelling idea for the use of an enlarged army but by posing a negative incentive - the wasting away of an experienced field army.

Doubling down - When Davis was unmoved by a negative rationale, the generals doubled down on the negativity proposing a "death ride" for the army - having their reduced force invade the North without reinforcement so as to use it before it wasted away, acknowledging it could be destroyed but that would be "better" than losing it through expirations and attrition. In this case Davis would need to make a heroic supply effort to enable the death ride.

Basic position - If you reconstruct the meeting back-to-front, if you consider the generals' "bottom line" first and then work backwards to their opening proposition, you find this: the proposal they made was for a "death ride" enhanced for better odds with units stripped from quiet posts. They wanted a larger death ride but would settle for a smaller one.

Even if you disagree with the conclusion above, if you place yourself in Davis's shoes you would conclude that these generals were out of their minds. Having reaped a political bonanza at Bull Run, they were urging Davis to forgo politics to risk destruction of an army and the capture of Richmond because that would be better than to leave a tool rusting in the toolbox.

To invite Davis to a conference like this, to present no strategy but demand resources, and then to accuse Davis of having no strategy is as flamboyantly outrageous as the very meeting on 26th of September, 1861.

Now, did Davis indicate a strategy of his own at this meeting?