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Military Leadership in the South: Maj. Gen. Robert Emmet Rodes Biography: Born: Lynchburg, Virginia 1829 Robert Rodes was in a family with a long military.

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Presentation on theme: "Military Leadership in the South: Maj. Gen. Robert Emmet Rodes Biography: Born: Lynchburg, Virginia 1829 Robert Rodes was in a family with a long military."— Presentation transcript:

1 Military Leadership in the South: Maj. Gen. Robert Emmet Rodes Biography: Born: Lynchburg, Virginia 1829 Robert Rodes was in a family with a long military history. He graduated from The Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in 1848 and became an engineer designing canals for public transportation. He later moved to Alabama and became the Chief Engineer of the Northeast and Southwest Alabama Railroads in Rodes had established himself as a successful engineer, but what he really wanted to do was teach mathematics. After getting married in 1857 he moved back to Virginia and received a professorship at VMI. Unfortunately the Civil War broke out before he was ever able to begin teaching and Rodes decided to fight for his home state of Virginia. He joined the 5 th Alabama regiment in 1861 as a colonel, but after his distinguished performance at the battle of 1 st Manassas he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General. Rodes fought with the Army of Northern Virginia throughout he war and gained a reputation as a magnificent general. His men, colleges, and historians as being a capable leader of extraordinary courage praised him. He always led his men from the front and fought with them in the thick of battle. He was promoted to Major General after the battle of Chancellorsville and continued fighting until he was killed at the battle of 3 rd Winchester in September of He was shot while holding off the Union Army to allow General Early’s forces to retreat to safety. What Stood Out in a Leader? A leader is someone who can direct and motivate a group of people toward the achievement of a particular goal. Reputation: The key ingredient in leadership is motivation. A leader must be able to motivate his or her followers in a certain direction. In southern culture during the Civil War Era a person reputation was vitally important to his ability to motivate people. Soldiers often followed the “legend” of their great leaders without actually knowing them. To be a leader in the south one had to impress his followers and earn their respect. Image: One’s personal appearance and how he presents himself is a major part of leadership. If an officer looked the part, then his men were more likely to follow him. General Rodes stood over six feet tall. He was blond with a prominent mustache and “flashing blue eyes”, according to Doughlas Freeman. Atop his impressive black charger, Rodes’ distinguished appearance was often enough to gain people’s attention. Character: A person’s character motivated soldier beyond the chain of command, which meant that soldiers listened to an officer for more reasons than just rank. Character is a combination of one’s morals, temperament, and personality as reflected through their behavior. General Rodes was a man of outstanding character. His colleges remember him to have been strict in his duties, but possessing a great generosity and sense of humor. Many even described him in their memoirs as having a kind and lovable disposition. His men described him as having “firmness tempered with kindness”. Although military leadership is typically viewed as purely centered on rank superiority, most of what makes a leader goes beyond the chain of command. Standing in a leadership position does not make one a leader. Courage: A leader’s place is in front of his men. Soldiers are less motivated by a leader who stands in the rear, out of danger, and pushes his troops forward. Throughout history, the most effective leaders are in front of their troops in the heat of battle. A leader’s job is dangerous and if he wants to motivate his soldiers he cannot be a coward. One must lead from the front and inspire the soldiers to follow. General Rodes was always on the front lines, charging in to battle with his men and he had the battle scars to prove it. “The sight of him was sure to exhort a cheer which was rarely given to any besides General Jackson” Leaders must set clear goals: Military leaders have a vast amount of man-power and resources at their disposal, but to accomplish anything with it they must provide a clear goal for the group to reach. The military leaders of the south failed to define what the army’s true goal was and therefore failed to effectively direct the efforts of their soldiers. Abstract goals included preserving slavery, winning independence, and preserving honor, but the Confederate leadership as a whole did not set a definite goal to unite the soldiers. Be Aggressive: During the Civil the Confederate officers were more prone to taking risky moves than the Union officers because the southern forces were nearly always out numbered. President Lincoln replaced his generals repeatedly throughout the was because he could not find an aggressive one that was willing to take chances the way the southern generals did. When officers take chances they do not always win, but, as the southern leaders learned, it can sometimes pay off with a decisive and unexpected victory. General Rodes and his men made a risky move at Chancellorsville when they moved to flank the Union Army. The bold move paid off and allowed the Confederates to gain a crushing victory. The Confederates were outnumbered during the battle and may never have gained the victory if the southern generals were not willing to take the risk. Some historians like Darrel Collins accuse General Rodes of not being aggressive enough based on his performance at Gettysburg, however, Rodes proved himself to be an aggressive leader early in the war at Seven Pines. During this battle General Longstreet commended Rodes on making “one of the most important and decisive movement on the field” A true leader takes care of his soldiers: Motivate your troops and you will be surprised at what they can accomplish: Southern soldiers in the Civil War revered their generals as more than normal men. Southern generals possessed the complete admiration and respect of their soldiers. Major General Rodes Confederates charging a Union camp. The Fame of General Rodes in the Confederate Army: His Overall Rating as an Officer: Nearly forgotten from history after the war. Historians do not mention him much because most of his personal papers were lost when his wife burned them. Sources: Larry Tagg. “Major General Robert Emmet Rodes.” The Generals of Gettysburg: The Leaders of America's Greatest Battle (New York: De Capo Press, 2003), 54. Darrell L. Collins. Major General Robert E. Rodes of the Army of Northern Virginia: A Biography (New York: Savas Beatie, 2008), ix. Sources: The United States War Department. War of Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, vol. 12 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1884), 942. Ernest B. Furgurson. Chancellorsville 1863: The Souls of the Brave (New York: Vintage Books, 1992), 163. Orville Vernon Burton. The Age of Lincoln (New York: Hill and Wang, 2007), Susan Leigh Blackford. Memoirs of Life In and Out of the Army In Virginia During the War Between the States (Lynchburg, Virginia: J. P. Bell Company Printers, 1896), 105. Virginia Military Institute Archives. "VMI's Civil War Generals". Accessed January 30, Randolph Shotwell. The Papers of Randolph Abbot Shotwell. (Raleiph, NC: North Carolina Historical Commission, 1929), 350. Pictures: Library of Congress. (accessed March 20, 2012). The Century, Battles and Leaders of the Civil War: People's Pictorial Edition. (accessed March 20, 2012).http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/27794 Ken Burns on PBS. Battle of Chancellorsville. Accessed March 25, Battle of Chancellorsville


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