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McClellan, Barnard, the Chickahominy, and engineers

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by 1SGDan, Feb 2, 2017.

  1. 1SGDan

    1SGDan Captain

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    In a book of essays entitled The Richmond Campaign of 1862 (edited by Gary Gallagher) there appears a piece entitled McClellan and his engineers by William Miller. In his article Mr. Miller, buttressed by words of BG John G. Barnard, chief engineer for McClellan’s forces, raises some interesting charges against McClellan and his use of engineers during the campaign. Before we look at the validity of these charges it should be remembered that McClellan was the force behind the creation of the engineer branch and had selected Barnard to his prestigious position. Using his influence McClellan had increased the engineer forces available from about 100 to nearly 2000 that accompanied him to the peninsula.

    Charge 1 – That McClellan did not specifically order bridges built immediately upon arrival at the Chickahominy.

    While this may be true it did not reflect a lack of effort in this area. On May 20th units from two Federal corps forded the river. Of course support for these troops became a priority. Detachments of the 50th New York Engineers arrived at the river on May 22 and by dark on the 23rd two trestle bridges were complete. By night of the 27th the 50th, using an abandoned saw mill had the railroad bridge open for supply trains (the first crossed the night of the 27th).

    Nor were the engineers the only ones concerned about passage over the river. Also on May 27th BG Edwin Sumner began building two bridges without Engineer help. The 5th New Hampshire Infantry completed the Grapevine Bridge on the 29th and the 81st Pennsylvania completed the Lower trestle Bridge the same day.

    These are examples of pro-active commanders operating under the “implied task” principle. This allows commanders to assume responsibility for tasks needed to accomplish their objectives without direct guidance from their superiors. In this case realizing that Richmond (the objective) could not be reached without crossing the river these commanders opted to act on their own. These bridges allowed communication and logistical support for the troops across the river. That they existed was more important than who ordered them.

    Charge 2 McClellan’s actions in the period of 28-30 May were negligent for failure to seize New Bridge.

    Barnard saw that this bridge would be a key to the campaign because the topography made it more likely to be sustainable in poor weather. The Confederates also realized this and covered the bridge with artillery and troops on the heights overlooking their end. Barnard insists that “so far as engineering preparations were concerned the army could have been thrown over as early as the 28th.” While the enemy forces covering New Bridge made a frontal assault out of the question, Barnard pushed for an attack using the existing bridges to assault the Confederate position from the flanks. This view was shared by BG A. A. Humphreys who noted that an attempt on the heights “ought to have been made at once.” Yet McClellan concentrated his efforts on defensive positions and although he believed 11 bridges were required before offensive operations could begin did not order any built.

    Barnard wrote “General McClellan was not waiting for bridges but the bridges were waiting for General McClellan.”

    The opportunity passed when the rains came and the Confederates attacked the Union forces at Fair Oaks.
     

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  3. 1SGDan

    1SGDan Captain

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    Charge 3 – That McClellan expended the most valuable military resource – time – in frivolous engineering operations.

    Even after starting bridging operations on June 1st and having at least ten bridges available by June 19th McClellan did not commence offensive operations. Instead he used his engineers to construct a line of defenses and artillery positions covering his bridges. This process lasted until June 26th when he finally declared himself ready to attack. Unfortunately the time spent on these preparations favored the enemy. While McClellan dug the Confederates marched. On June 26th Jackson’s Valley army attacked in conjunction with Lee’s forces at Mechanicsville. The long awaited Union offensive turned into a desperate defensive struggle culminating in McClellan’s famous “change of base” to the James River.

    In military operations time can be both an ally and an enemy. It can be a great benefit to those that use it wisely and a great deterrent to those that abuse it. McClellan seems to have forgotten that time could serve his enemy as well as him. While he was placing heavy siege artillery at New Bridge his primary objective – Richmond went ignored despite the pleas of the President and his staff to attack. Furthermore while he waffled his enemy reinforced and seized the initiative. The time spent on unnecessary preparations turned out to be his greatest failure. What was intended to be a grand offensive to the enemy capital instead languished on the Chickahominy allowing the Confederates time to react. About 130 years later another general admonished that you should never assume away the capabilities of your enemy. It was a lesson that would have served McClellan well.
     
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  4. OpnCoronet

    OpnCoronet Major

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    In an article(that I can no longer find), I read an analysis of McClellan and the formation of the AoP, in which the writer, posited the idea that the AoP, was a success. It was successful, within its limits. The limits being, that as it was designed by McClellan, it was designed to be strategic covering force for little mac's enormous siege train, with which he planned to take Richmond and win the War; Not as a tactical field Army.

    McClellan, according to the writer, planned for a huge Army, so large that, it would be impervious to any assaults by the enemy, as the AoP marched steadily to within range of its siege guns and pound Richmond into surrender. When McClellan did have receive all the men he believed he needed , he was at a loss as how to proceed, until he received sufficient reinforcements.

    The AoP was not a flexible military force, because McClellan was not flexible, himself.
     
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  5. CW3O

    CW3O Sergeant

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    McClellan always seemed to have "one more thing to do" before he did anything. His career succumbed to the military "slows." There is , as you mentioned a fine line in military timing, strike when the advantage is yours or see that advantage move on. McClellan, despite a fine military education and experience, never seemed to understand this line even existed, never mind how to take advantage of it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2017
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  6. 1SGDan

    1SGDan Captain

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    More then anything involved here McClellan certainly mismanaged time. It is easy to say 150 something years after but subsequent events proved this to be true. An offensive campaign that turned to what it became has its faults somewhere. This is where I find fault. Time is the one thing that can't be controlled. It passes regardless.
    If you intend on an offensive campaign then move forward. Using your engineers to do things that they were intended to do but does not necessarily advance your campaign does not make it their fault.
     
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  7. 67th Tigers

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    Barnard wrote two major pieces about engineer operations. First his report to McClellan (1863) is reasonably factual, but misses things which were obvious. The in 1864 a rather different account was published under his name, although it is fairly obviously ghostwritten campaign propaganda for the 1864 election. In a much later 1886 letter General Hunt notes that Barnard was the chief reason for the slow movement on the Peninsula, and that Barnard "blamed McC for not refusing to be governed by Barnard’s own advice at Yorktown".

    Of course McClellan had created that engineer brigade especially for some of the operations he intended. That he had to beg to have them sent in April '62, slowing operations along the Warwick River line considerably is a factor in taking a month to get the rebels out of Yorktown.

    McClellan ordered every division to have their own bridge, in addition to those the engineer brigade worked on. The Grapevine Brigade was Sedgwick's divisional bridge and lower tressle was Richardson's. The Engineer brigade worked on repairing the railroad bridge and Bottom brigade, and on 31st May McClellan retasked them to repair the infantry bridges, and a written order of 1st June (probably confirming an earlier verbal order) places the bridges under the command of Col Alexander, vice Barnard. Indeed, his 2120 message to his COS (pg 284 of Sears McClellan papers) tells Marcy to threaten Barnard with getting rid of the engineers - their lack of ability to keep the bridges working disgusted him.

    Anyway, they were specified tasks. For example, in his 23rd May telegraph to Stanton McClellan specifically says they were building four bridges and investigating others. Later communications show he was very unhappy with Barnard, and seems to have thought him negligent.

    I have a copy of the Comte de Paris's journal and on the afternoon of 31st May a large argument developed between McClellan, who wanted Franklin to assault across New Bridge, and Porter and Franklin who believed it impossible. McClellan made it a written order that is in the OR - he wrote to Heintzelman that they would force New Bridge on 1st June. Col Alexander wrote to Barnard on 30th May about the ease of pontooning New Bridge. We have the order from HQ on 31st May to Franklin to support Duane's engineers in this bridging effort. I have a note that there is written order telling Franklin to push a brigade over at dawn, but when he tested the pontoon bridge before allowing his lead brigade to cross it collapsed under him, dumping him in the river (this anecdote from Snell's biography of Franklin).

    As an aside, McClellan is far more active at Seven Pines than the likes of Sears credits - he is in the saddle 1130 hrs of the 30th when the noise of musketry is heard. He stands to on the left bank immediately and orders Sumner to move to the bridges ready to cross, immediately (emphasised in Paris's journal). He rides to the heights over New Bridge and can hear escalating musketry, and when several columns of white smoke indicating artillery was in action rise over Naglee's position he orders Sumner in.

    Riding back to HQ he finally gets comms with Heintzelman, who initially (1430) tells McClellan there is no attack, and then around 1500 tells McClellan Casey has been overrun. The argument develops with McClellan trying to get Franklin and Porter to cross the Chickahominy and strike the enemy flank, and them arguing they can't get across the bridges. At 1700 Sumner indicates he was reached the field, and McClellan saddles up, rides first to Sumner's old HQ, picks up a guide and rides to the front. He spends the evening surveying the position, and giving orders to renew combat in the morning. He also places Sumner in command of the right bank. Returning to HQ he expects Franklin to get his corps across the next morning, which never happens.

    This ignores the weather. The storms got worse and continued for another two weeks. The reason McClellan starts his offensive on 25th (advance to King's Court House, planned similar attack by Franklin on 27th, both securing the LD for an assault) and Lee starts his on the 26th is simply that's when the ground dried enough to move wagons and field artillery.
     
  8. 1SGDan

    1SGDan Captain

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    McClellan started his offensive operations on June 25th not May 25th as Barnard and Humphreys had wanted. This was before the rains came.
    McClellan threatened the engineers only after his orders of June 1st. By that time the opportunities suggested by Barnard had passed.
    The Comte de Paris also criticized McClellan for being slow to act.
    McClellan's own writings about this time were done 14 months after the fact and are so disingenuous as to be nearly useless.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2017
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  9. 67th Tigers

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    What opportunities are those? In what context? How do they interact with the orders of McClellan's superiors to McClellan?

    McClellan's advance reached the Chickahominy on the 20th, and Stanton's order of 18th May has already nixed McClellan's plan to move down to the James. On the 20th he threw Casey's division across the river to occupy the debouches and orders four bridges built down by the rail bridge. On the 23rd McClellan sent 4th Corps across, and on the 24th Naglee's brigade made a recce-in-force to Seven Pines - McClellan ordered 4th Corps to occupy Seven Pines on the 25th and 3rd Corps to cross to support.

    On the 24th Lincoln writes an order (received afternoon 25th) directing McClellan to cut the rail lines north of Richmond. The advance on the right bank is suspended whilst 5th Corps goes off in the other direction.

    In fact, at this point Johnston tries to swing his main attack against Porter on the left bank of the Chickahominy, but with his army on the LD receives word that McDowell has moved towards the Shenandoah and cancels his attack for one on the other side, which will become the Battle of Seven Pines.

    That McClellan followed the orders of the President should not be held against him.

    In his journal he levels his charges squarely against Washington. Checking his History of the Civil War in America he is not particularly critical. Indeed, he opines that McClellan perhaps should have taken three divisions and forced New Bridge, but repeats what he wrote in his journal - both Porter and Franklin objected to this movement, and we've discussed the fact that McClellan ordered Franklin to take his force over New Bridge at dawn the next day, but the bridge collapsed under him.

    Sadly not. McClellan was honest to a fault and what is written is, from McClellan's PoV, absolutely truthful. Certainly, the documents and communications used copies exist thereof.
     
  10. 1SGDan

    1SGDan Captain

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    What opportunities are those?
    As described by Barnard, Humphreys and the Comte, they believed that New Bridge could be carried in the period from 25-30 May. This bridge considered to be viable even in the worst of weather conditions would have allowed McClellan to move the entire AoP across the river and resume a drive to Richmond. The believed this because the existing bridges (5) during this period allowed an attack on the heights covering New Bridge from the flank. This was before the rains came. It was the rains that started overnight 31May-1Jun that destroyed these 5 bridges that made McClellan shift emphasis to bridging operations on the 1st, otherwise communications with the southern bank would be lost or severely compromised.
     
  11. 1SGDan

    1SGDan Captain

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    Prince de Joinville writing about McClellan's failure to act on the opportunity to seize New Bridge and move on from the Chickahominy in May.
    "The opportunity, that moment which is ever more fragile in war than in any other occupation in life, had taken wing."

    Humphreys commenting on the chance to assail New Bridge;
    "ought to have been made at once."
    "Could have been best approached from the flank, which was, strange to say, even as late as the 27th May open."

    Barnard on McClellan's leadership here;
    "Such generalship which in delay, hesitation and uncertainty incurs risks such as the rashest of daring and energetic generals seldom encounter."
     
  12. 67th Tigers

    67th Tigers First Sergeant

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    So, after Lincoln issued his order to McClellan to operate against the railroads north of Richmond instead of against Richmond proper?

    Mystery solved - McClellan followed the lawful orders of the President.

    Now, knowing why McClellan sent his forces on an expedition which Barnard declared was "really useless" (Lincoln's orders) instead of pushing over when Sumner completed his first bridge on the 28th, we must speculate on what would have happened had Lincoln not issued said order.

    McClellan of course really did intend to cross the Chickahominy as soon as the bridges were completed. He says it in letters to his wife, and indeed at 1700 hrs, 25th May writes Lincoln:

    "I have two corps across Chickahominy, within 6 miles of Richmond; the others on this side at other crossing within same distance, and ready to cross when bridges are completed."

    This being in the middle of the back and forth where Lincoln diverts McClellan's army from crossing the Chickahominy to operating against the railroads. Indeed, the back and forth between McClellan and Lincoln 26th-29th is mainly Lincoln complaining that the Richmond and Fredericksburg RR still being open until McClellan is able to report on the evening of the 29th that 5th Corps was seized Ashland and burned the bridges over the South Anna.

    What of the enemy you ask? Well, they originally intended to attack Porter's 5th Corps at Beaver Dam Creek on the morning of the 29th May (see GW Smith in his Battle of Seven Pines), but suspended the operation and ultimately attacked 4th Corps instead on the 31st. Here you see the problem with being spreadeagle across a river - if you make one side strong the enemy will attack the other. Of course when McClellan did move the bulk of his forces over the Chickahominy the Beaver Dam Creek attack was carried out.

    La Prince de Joinville (writing here) was critical of the character of the army not McClellan. In fact he is attacking Barnard and the engineers for their lack of celerity in fixing the bridges, not McClellan.

    Perhaps, but is he (in the letter quoted in Miller's article in "the Richmond Campaign of 1862") criticising McClellan? Is he criticising the government order to send forces northwest instead of southwest?

    Well, this isn't Barnard, but his ghostwritten piece of 1864 Republican election propaganda. It certainly wasn't Barnard's opinion at the time. Indeed, Barnard is in the doghouse with McClellan for his failure to get the bridges up and running promptly. Reading back through the McClellan Papers (Sears) one finds that as early as mid-May McClellan is concerned about the poor performance of his engineers.

    In Summary

    Three interrelated charges are being leveled at McClellan:

    1. That he should have crossed more forces to the right bank on the 29th-30th via bridges further east.

    2.That he should have ordered 6th Corps to make a river crossing assault against AP Hill's division ca. 26th via the (at this time destroyed) New Bridge.

    3. That he should have insisted 6th Corps (and 5th) made a river crossing assault against AP Hill's division on the 31st May-1st June via New Bridge.

    The answers are obviously:

    1 and 2 - Lincoln has ordered otherwise. No ifs. No buts. The President of the US has ordered McClellan to operate against the railroads, and especially the Richmond and Fredericksburg.

    3 - was actually ordered by McClellan, but the engineers were unable to fix the bridge. At 0815 hrs on 1st June the engineer in charge of the bridge led a small working party to the far bank (whence they were ambushed), but when General Franklin tested it on his horse the bridge collapsed under him.
     
  13. 1SGDan

    1SGDan Captain

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    This is after the period in question. Lincoln was constantly chiding McClellan to move forward. A supposedly offensive campaign cannot be successful standing still. McClellan held the AoP on the river for over a month and only then moved backwards.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2017
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  14. 67th Tigers

    67th Tigers First Sergeant

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    Well, some the the criticism Miller tries to pull in is specific to that period (i.e. Prince de Joinville). That it is decontextualised of course requires one to check the reference.

    FWIW, I agree that without Lincoln's 24th May orders to operate against the railroads McClellan would have crossed another corps or two earlier and opened the right bank of New Bridge to his infantry from the flank. However, McClellan is working within the operational constraints imposed by his superiors. The two important ones at this period are:

    1. Stanton's 18th May order that McClellan must remain based on the Pamunkey, sent in response to McClellan indicating on the 17th (ISTR) he was going to detach from the Pamunkey once he was across the Chickahominy and move to the James.

    2. Lincoln's 24th May order (reiterated several times over the coming days) that McClellan must cut the railroads north of Richmond to prevent Johnston reinforcing Jackson. The panic in Washington is so great that Lincoln indicates he may recall McClellan to defend Washington (as he did in August via Halleck).

    In the last week of May McClellan is busy obeying these orders, which interrupted his plans to cross the Chickahominy with his whole force and march across Richmond to place his base of operations on the James. That perhaps it would have been better if McClellan wasn't sidetracked on this task is understood and accepted, but then the blame for any mistake lies with Lincoln, not McClellan.
     
  15. OpnCoronet

    OpnCoronet Major

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    The AoP did its best work, in relation to how McClellan originally intended it to be used, was the siege of Petersburg, to effectively end the War....Under the command of a new(and better) commander, of course.
     
  16. 67th Tigers

    67th Tigers First Sergeant

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    Yet that was a ten month siege. Very difficult to say it did better than in 1862, apart from Halleck not being able to order Grant to retreat, although he wished too....

    "Entre nous. I fear Grant has made a fatal mistake in putting himself south of James River. He cannot now reach Richmond without taking Petersburg, which is strongly fortified, crossing the Appomattox and recrossing the James. Moreover, by placing his army south of Richmond he opens the capital and the whole North to rebel raids. Lee can at any time detach 30,000 or 40,000 men without our knowing it till we are actually threatened. I hope we may yet have full success, but I find that many of Grant's general officers think the campaign already a failure. Perseverance, however, may compensate for all errors and overcome all obstacles. So mote it be. " - Maj Gen Henry Halleck to Maj Gen WT Sherman, 16th July 1864
     
  17. OpnCoronet

    OpnCoronet Major

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    I am surprised(shocked?) that you are quoting Halleck. But, your quote is good evidence that not only did most of Grants senior commanders not understand Grant's purpose, any more than Halleck.

    Grant's target was the ANV and the best way to prevent Lee from exercising his army;s superior mobility and maneuvering capacity to its fullest, was to threaten the Confederate Capital(Strategically, Lee was marching to Grant's tune, not his own). Lincoln ordered Grant to go wherever the ANV was to be found .

    Halleck give evidence of why he was bested suited behind a desk, unraveling Red Tape(so he could make more)

    The siege at Petersburg, was when all those Engineering Officers in the AoP, made their best contribution to winning the War. Just as McClellan had intended and expected, in the first place. .
     
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  18. 67th Tigers

    67th Tigers First Sergeant

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    Not really. Halleck killed the first Peninsula campaign and if allowed he would have killed the Petersburg siege. Hence there is a major situational difference between Grant and McClellan; both want to resume their offensive after a failed battle around Cold Harbor by crossing the James River and striking Petersburg. The difference was that Halleck was not in a position to order a retreat in 1864, whilst he was in 1862.

    If I may quote Emory Upton:

    "[T]he worst that could be said of the Peninsula campaign was that thus far it had not been successful. To make it a failure was reserved for the agency of General Halleck."

    Upton is of course correct. As of July '62 McClellan's campaign is three months old. In the same time Grant is upto the Battle of the Crater. McClellan gets to the "gates of Richmond" in the same time as Grant, and actually conducted his siege operations with much more celerity than Grant did. Mostly this is because McClellan had a realistic concept of operations, which Grant lacked. Indeed, it is not clear Grant had any real concept of operations at the time, although ones have been retconned in since.

    The odd thing is that Grant's army was about as effective at pinning Lee as McClellan was at Haxall's landing. This always comes up and my answer is the same - Grant was ineffective at reducing Richmond/Petersburg. He had one idea - keep extending the flanks and eventually we might cut the enemy supply lines. This was ultimately successful, but took ten months and a 2.5:1 force ratio to achieve. Meanwhile, Lee can have been said to have neutralised a large part of Grant's force with 50,000 men and detached "large" forces to threaten Washington.

    Unlike Grant, McClellan did have a plan to attack Richmond/Petersburg. McClellan was doing a "bite and hold" and it was inexorable. If Lee hadn't managed to sever McClellan's supply lines then Richmond would have fallen, probably in July, but August at the outside. Grant had no idea how to "break Lee's lines", and instead operated against the railroads. We can perhaps forgive some of this as when Lincoln gave Grant a massive bollocking on 31st July during their meeting aboard USS Baltimore, he essentially stripped Grant of his manpower edge. Lincoln repeated the Shenandoah runaround and removed large forces from the army before Richmond for the Shenandoah. Grant didn't undertake serious offensive operations again until Sheridan returned in March 1865, 8 months later. Grant's contribution to the real final victory was to hold Lee's 50,000 in place, whilst Sherman, Sheridan and Thomas effectively destroyed the Confederacy with little input from Grant. Indeed, when Sherman set off on his March to the Sea (which Grant objected to, but wasn't confident enough to give Sherman an order) Grant didn't even know where Sherman was going, and sent supplies for him to Mobile Bay!

    Anyway, I digress....
     
  19. OpnCoronet

    OpnCoronet Major

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    Indeed you digress... But, in fact, as you already know, you will seldom find any attempted defense of Halleck or his Gneralship (that is why I was surprised, if not shocked)

    As noted by others on this board, The AoP was the brainchild and creation of McClellan, to one specific job....Take Richmond. The Army was as one dimensional as its first commander.

    The army was inmobile in maneuver and slow on the march, because it(and its senior officers) was not expected by McClellan to be a mobile field Army to fight another mobile field army. But, merely fight off any attack(with 150 -200 thousand man army)while advancing slowly and carefully to take strategic geographical points by which its enormous siege trains might be most effective moved. Then emplace and guard the siege forces as they bombarded Richmond. That was all that little mac expected from the AoP and That was exactly the Army, Burnside, Hooker, Meade and Grant inherieted from its first commander in chief...McClellan.
     
  20. 67th Tigers

    67th Tigers First Sergeant

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    I was not defending Halleck. In fact I think Halleck made a huge mistake in August 1862, and had he been allowed to would have repeated the mistake in 1864.

    If others note that then they are incorrect. McClellan's plans were far grander, and his plan to destroy Johnston's army and take Richmond was only the first part of a wider plan.

    I think you are confusing McClellan's planning and intentions with Lincoln's orders.

    McClellan's army (after he was removed from General-in-Chief) stretched from the Shenandoah Valley to Ship Island off New Orleans. He had 3 divisions already mounting combined operations against the rebel coast (at New Orleans, South Carolina and North Carolina). He had three divisions in the Shenandoah, another threatening the rebels on the Potomac and he viewed his 10 disposable divisions as available for a wide variety of operations.

    Indeed, McClellan, like Hooker and Grant, did not plan to begin a thrust at Richmond until May. His general planning was towards reinforcing the peripheral operations of Butler, Burnside, TW Sherman and Banks forcing the rebels to disperse to meet these offensives, and then use his superior mobility to rapidly concentrate against Richmond and overwhelm it.

    That McClellan was reduced to simply operating against Richmond comes down to Lincoln - Lincoln gave orders directing the Department of the Potomac to attack Richmond, and then removed all other Departments from McClellan's command. Then of course he removed large chunks of McClellan's force from this attack...

    This isn't really true, and in fact McClellan moved his army pretty rapidly, and certainly as rapidly or more rapidly than, for example, Grant. Of course McClellan gets held up by defensive lines several times, but then of course so does Grant and every other commander. Both McClellan and Grant average around 2 miles per day in their approach to Richmond/ Petersburg, although of course both move in bursts, and are caught in front of obstacles for periods of time.

    You see this in West Virginia, Maryland and the Loudon valleys, in the open with space to maneuver McClellan is pretty fast moving and deft in his movements. When up against a heavily entrenched enemy he seeks ways of turning or bypassing the enemy before resorting to attacks, and prefers deliberate approaches against a fortified enemy (as indeed Grant did at Fort Donelson, Vicksburg and his Petersburg operations).

    Take the Peninsula campaign - the siege train is not ordered to land until the evening of 16th April, because up until this point McClellan does not wish to get involved in a siege and is seeking a way of turning the position (via the navy) or breaking the enemy lines. It is only on the evening of 16th April that it is clear there is no weak point and the navy won't help. Hence McClellan orders parallels dug, Wormley Creek bridged for the guns and preparations for an attack. The works are there to get the infantry onto an LD and the siege artillery is there to suppress the enemy artillery sweeping the killing area. Hence when the rebels abandoned Yorktown 6 Federal divisions were moving into their assembly areas for an assault the next morning, and indeed McClellan had landed Franklin's division as a second wave division for the assault - hence they were not available for an immediately movement.

    Against Richmond, the plan is the same. The siege artillery is they to get the infantry across the enemy killing area. McClellan's forward movement of the 25th was a preliminary to moving the heavy artillery within range of the enemy fortifications and getting the infantry in assault range. The batteries in Franklin's sector were finished and marked out for occupation on the 27th, and had Lee not turned McClellan on the 26th-27th then McClellan would have started his assault against Richmond on the 28th-29th.

    Ah, but you'll say this was slow, and maybe it was. However it all comes down to the weather. The reason Lee waited until 26th is that the ground had only just dried to move artillery and wagons. Hence McClellan and Lee open simultaneously. Any earlier attack without moving up the guns is against large quantities of unsuppressed enemy artillery, through multiple belts of abatis and other obstructions and knee deep in mud! It could only resulted in the slaughter of the attackers in the enemy killing area, as Grant learned at Spottsylvania and Cold Harbor.

    The siege artillery is a tool to answer the tactical problem of how to get your infantry across an enemy killing area when they have entrenched heavy artillery and obstacle belts. It is one that no good commander shied away from.
     
  21. OpnCoronet

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    You waste a lot of space on this board in your defense of McClellan, while avoiding the object of this particular thread.

    You are describing the tactical use of mobile artillery in the field, not the strategic use of emplaced siege artillery on a strategic target.

    There were no siege trains at Chancellorsville, Gettysburg or even Antietam, much less the Wilderness. If it were actually true that little mac's true target was Johnston's army and Lincoln forced him to target Richmond(almost everything McClellan said or wrote while planning his campaign, anyone, listening or reading could be forgiven for believing his target was Richmond; it was almost all he talked about), as you described, why was siege artillery moving with the Army in the initial stages of his invasion?(Lincoln's main concern was not what little mac's plan was, but, getting the general off his a** and get moving on it)
     

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