|After reading a book on Nathan Bedford Forest I have wondered whether the Southern Confederacy had its grand strategy backwards.
I think it is true that although most of the fighting took place in the East, the fighting that ultimately decided the war was in the West.
Robert E. Lee showed a suprior ability in defensive warfare having eventually resorted to the most extensive use of field fortifications since the Roman army. Keeping the Federals out of Richmond was his specialty. However, he was less than successful when he took the offensive and that was as much due to the poverty of opportunities as skill.
The West was more open territory for manouvering and avoiding contact. There was the barrier of the Mississippi River but otherwise there was access to agriculturally important Northern territory.
Could say, Nathan Bedford with a large army on horseback could have used the Great Plains as a manouvering an staging area to threaten the Great Lakes states, induce the Northern papers to yell for forces, distract the Federal army, draw off pressure from Richmond, keep the North worried about the Plains Indian nations joining him, cut off overland communications with California and the Western half of the couuntry, etc?
Could he have sustained operations in the Plains year long avoiding contact with forces to great to defeat and defeating the rest? Could he have invaded Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indianna, etc and carried out operations against agriculture, industry and communications?