Opportunity Costs

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J.L. Wall

J.L. Wall is a native Kentuckian in self-imposed exile to the Midwest, where he studies literature and over-analyzes Leonard Cohen lyrics.

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  1. Avatar Elias Isquith
    Ignored
    says:

    The difference—maybe, in light of the different political circumstances of the war, better put as “a difference”—may well have been that Lee, what with his shorter odds, well-trained regulars, and initial surplus of strategic minds, had too much opportunity.

    This is a much under-appreciated feature of our psychology, I think. To cite a trivial example — I find little more infuriating and paralyzing than being in a grocery store and having 6 seemingly indistinguishable options for one product. Not quite the life and death of war, I admit; but breakfast is the most important meal of the day.Report

  2. “The difference—maybe, in light of the different political circumstances of the war, better put as “a difference”—may well have been that Lee, what with his shorter odds, well-trained regulars, and initial surplus of strategic minds, had too much opportunity. Unlike Washington, here was a general both willing to seize an opportunity and capable of pulling it off—most of the time.

    His instincts led him to make two invasions of the Union. “

    I was thinking the exact same thing before I got to this section of your post. I have long-suspected that if Lee had remained in Virginia and put Jackson in charge of the Army of the Tennessee, the South could have held indefinitely. With a year or two of careful dimplomacy they would have taken Kentucky without a shot. Perhaps Missouri next.

    It was taking the offensive with a smaller force that spelled their doom.Report

  3. Avatar DensityDuck
    Ignored
    says:

    “[I]t was Washington who kept his army in the field until the French intervened and the British grew weary, and Lee who saw his crumble south of Richmond.”

    Indeed, maybe that’s the key there; that Washington knew a greater force was coming who would defeat his opponents, whereas Lee had no such promised help. Lee had to beat his opponent straight up, whereas Washington just had to not die until help arrived.Report

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