An 1862 Overland Campaign...

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
My main point is that if the main objective is to bring the confederates to battle, it could have been done by Overland just as by the Peninsula. Limiting the options in '62 seems to me more about making excuses for McClellan.
Limiting the options in 1862 to the options that were possible in 1862 seems to me to be quite reasonable. If you literally can't feed your army south of Warrenton Junction then doing an ATL Wilderness seems quite implausible!


Why not? It's basically fighting the Seven Days battles but not on the Peninsula. I don't see why a competent federal commander couldn't defeat Johnston/Lee with those numbers in battles out in the open. The problem is the leadership.
But by that standard Grant should have defeated Lee in 1864 - and done it easily. The Seven Days battles saw no more than 105,000 Union troops involved; Grant had had 175,000 Union troops involved by the end of Spotsylvania.

The only reasonable conclusion I can draw from your argument (that an 1862 Overland is fighting the Seven Days Battles but out in the open) is either:

- In 1862 Johnston/Lee will go on the attack instead of defending, thus sacrificing their army and country, for no apparent benefit.

or:
- Grant was not a competent Federal commander, because he had 175,000 PFD and you think a competent commander would have been successful (after bringing the Confederates to battle) with 105,000 PFD.
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
The first half of the month certainly does apply. McClellan had those two weeks to figure out the Severn landing, and some have criticized him for not detaching a force even before Franklin arrived.
Franklin's division was the only one with any kind of training in amphibious landing. Remember that the Coastal Division had already creamed off a lot of the men with naval experience; you can't just select a random group of regiments and find them well experienced.

Meanwhile, as of the 14th when Franklin arrived McClellan was in the middle of preparations for an assault on the most vulnerable point on the Yorktown line (the assault misfired on the 16th); with 47,000 Confederate effectives in the Yorktown line on the 14th spread between only a few possible points of attack, any attack by McClellan would have to anticipate overcoming a dug in division.

Yes, this means it's a resource allocation problem. This was probably made much harder than it could have been because a plan originally designed for 136,000 men PFD all told was being handled using 94,000 men PFD all told.
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
It's worth remembering what happened when an Overland option was considered in 1862 historically, because it wasn't like the Peninsula was unilaterally imposed by McClellan.

What happened was that McClellan favoured Urbanna, and there was a vote of the division commanders (eight to four, for Urbanna) and then a vote of the four newly promoted corps commanders (the dissenting voices among the division commanders in the Urbanna vote, because of course they were).

The newly promoted corps commanders voted for the Peninsula.

What this means is that of the twelve DCs in the Army of the Potomac who voted on the Urbanna plan, none of them considered the Overland the superior option to some kind of amphibious move.

Now, this does not by itself mean that an 1862 Overland has insurmountable problems, though it's certainly suggestive. What it does mean is that there was a general military consensus in 1862 that an overland route was non-viable.


A number of factors cause this, mostly logistical and to do with the configuration of the Confederate armies. Notably, none of them still applied in October and November 1862 (though some of them do begin to apply again later); they're not permanent.



The reason why it's useful to consider these reasons is that it influences what can be done. For example to try and rely on forage for a long term campaign might be feasible, if you have somewhere to go at the other end (so you don't end up reaching the other side of your campaign route without an ongoing food source) but it's going to be easier during harvest time because that's when there's the most food available. Conversely trying to do it in what we know with hindsight is an extremely rainy April would be disastrous, as there would be less food to forage and you would be consuming more of it per mile (as the wagons and men move slower through the mud).


Military operations exist on a continuum between very easy and impossible, but the fact that someone has done something hard does not automatically mean that all similar situations are doable.
 

DanSBHawk

1st Lieutenant
Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Wisconsin
The Federals lost the Seven Days, however. Pope got Lee out in the open in 1862 and lost badly, so did Burnside and Hooker, respectively. Let's take the 95,000 and 120,000 figures and then use the historical casualties:

Wilderness: 11,000 Confederate to 17,000 Federal
Spotslyvania: 12,000 Confederate to 18,000 Federal
Cold Harbor: 5,000 Confederate to 12,000 Federal

Total: 27,000 Confederate casualties to 47,000 Federal

73,000 Federals to 68,000 Confederates at the end. Ignore the logistics and add Second Petersburg? 64,000 Confederates to 61,000 Federals....
Yes, they sure did lose at the Seven Days. But they shouldn't have. And the confederates suffered higher casualties for being the attacker.

A '62 Overland could have worked down the O&A, repairing and protecting it. The objective would be the confederate army, not Richmond. Keep continual contact and pressure on them. Try to bring them into decisive battles. There may well be higher casualties but as history showed, that was the way to defeat them.
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Yes, they sure did lose at the Seven Days. But they shouldn't have. And the confederates suffered higher casualties for being the attacker.

A '62 Overland could have worked down the O&A, repairing and protecting it. The objective would be the confederate army, not Richmond. Keep continual contact and pressure on them. Try to bring them into decisive battles. There may well be higher casualties but as history showed, that was the way to defeat them.
Okay, so two points.

Firstly, can you outline how the operational management in the Seven Days was flawed? Pick a day. (If the Union "shouldn't have" lost the Seven Days then you should be able to point to at least one major operational management error, probably several.)



Secondly, what you're arguing here - to be clear - is that an 1862 Overland working down the Orange and Alexandria would be the way to go.

What that means is that (unless I'm misrepresenting you) you're envisaging that the Union army crosses the Rapidan-Rappahanock barrier around Rapidan Station itself (as this is where the Orange and Alexandria crosses the Rapidan), and (because of the time taken to repair the railway) does so around July 1862.

Would you say that this is a correct statement of your position?
 

GwilymT

First Sergeant
Joined
Aug 20, 2018
Location
Pittsburgh
That seems like the most likely explanation. The purpose of this thread is essentially to examine the reasons the Overland campaign was nonviable in 1862, and indeed why the Overland campaign depended on a lot of earlier developments in the war simply to make it possible.
Here is the crux. This thread was set up to illustrate that the ‘64 campaign would not have been successful without the ‘62 campaign. Well, obviously.
 

DanSBHawk

1st Lieutenant
Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Wisconsin
Okay, so two points.

Firstly, can you outline how the operational management in the Seven Days was flawed? Pick a day. (If the Union "shouldn't have" lost the Seven Days then you should be able to point to at least one major operational management error, probably several.)



Secondly, what you're arguing here - to be clear - is that an 1862 Overland working down the Orange and Alexandria would be the way to go.

What that means is that (unless I'm misrepresenting you) you're envisaging that the Union army crosses the Rapidan-Rappahanock barrier around Rapidan Station itself (as this is where the Orange and Alexandria crosses the Rapidan), and (because of the time taken to repair the railway) does so around July 1862.

Would you say that this is a correct statement of your position?
Regarding the Seven Days, the end result is the clearest indicator of "management error."

Regarding the '62 Overland, my position is to use the O&A to go at the confederate army. But it is unknown how far south that would need to go. The aim is to bring the confederates to battle.
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
Regarding the Seven Days, the end result is the clearest indicator of "management error."

Regarding the '62 Overland, my position is to use the O&A to go at the confederate army. But it is unknown how far south that would need to go. The aim is to bring the confederates to battle.


You argument is hollow, and is drawing a false equivalence.

The O&A RR doesn't really "go at" the rebel army at all. Look at the route:

0px-Map_showing_the_Orange_and_Alexandria_Railroad.jpg


You'll note it inclines away from the rebel centre-of-gravity, and hence isn't that useful. Worse, it is in bits, and will require months to be rebuilt to allow the supply of an army. Historically, it took about a mile per day to re-lay the damaged track, and it was late August when it reached the Rapidan (just in time to get torn up again). A railroad bridge would take a week to rebuild.

Let's by clear about timings.

By July, the railroad would have been rebuilt enough that the army could reach Rapidan Station. The Federal army now has a problem of crossing a fortified river line and rebuilding the bridge to allow the railroad to proceed. However, note that there has been no gain in tempo, because by the time the railroad reaches the enemy virtually the entire Peninsula campaign has been fought. In this time there has been no pressure on Richmond, and the rebels will have had a chance to crush Burnside, and perhaps even retake Fort Monroe.

Johnston's defences at Rapidan station were pretty solid, and would have been a slaughter. Look at the ground:



It's a true "defenders paradise", and Johnston hoped McClellan would walk into this fire pocket.

The other options are:

1. Switch to trying to cross at Fredericksburg (which is well defended)
2. Switch to crossing at Germanna Mills, and hope the rebels abandon Fredericksburg allowing for resupply.

Frankly, in neither case is success likely.

However, you've indicated you want the AoP to "go at" Johnston's army. You can shovel men into the enemy killing area until your heart's content. That mean old Joe Johnston isn't going to give you a "fair fight"
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Regarding the Seven Days, the end result is the clearest indicator of "management error."
Sorry, but that doesn't wash. If each individual operational movement is the best choice at the time, or is something that cannot reasonably be averted, then the whole campaign is not a "should have won".


The chain of logic goes like this.


McClellan has an open flank to the north because he does not have the men to simultaneously protect that flank and also attack Richmond.
Jackson comes down on that open flank and so Porter has to pull back from Beaver Dam Creek to Boatswain Creek (Gaines Mill).
Lee attacks Porter at Gaines Mill with a total of roughly 60,000 men PFD in the largest single Confederate attack I have identified in the whole war; Porter is unable to hold, but even if he had held successfully the Union supply base would have been taken because of Early's flanking move.
With no viable supply route any more, the Union moves south to the James and establishes itself on the Glendale line.
Franklin quits his position overnight on the 30th and unzips the line, so the Army of the Potomac condenses on their left flank to Malvern Hill.
With Malvern Hill in danger of encirclement the Union army falls back to Harrisons Landing where it can actually safely resupply.


The only way to avoid being forced away from Richmond in the Seven Days is to have the line of Tolopatamoy Creek covered by troops before Jackson arrives, but with McClellan's existing resources if he puts the men there he can't attack Richmond.
Don't agree with my assessment? Highlight somewhere my assessment is wrong.
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Regarding the '62 Overland, my position is to use the O&A to go at the confederate army. But it is unknown how far south that would need to go. The aim is to bring the confederates to battle.
So where do you cross the Rapidan? The Confederates are all on the south of it and they're not going to cross to north of it just to oblige you because you dearly want a battle.


This is something that people need to remember and I find consistently do not - the enemy commander is trying to make you lose, not trying to help you win. If there is something they can do which will obviously inconvenience you they will do it - for example if they are south of the Rapidan and you are north, they will make it as hard as possible for you to cross.
If you eventually do get yourself established south of the Rapidan, they will refuse to fight you on your terms and prefer to force you to fight on their terms.


For example if you have taken Orange and have the O&A from Alexandria to Orange, there might be cavalry raids or attacks out of the Valley to attempt to cut the O&A but your way of progressing further south will influence what they do.

If you are moving on from Orange to Gordonsville and intending to rely on the Virginia Central down towards Hanover Junction, they could wreck the railway line in front of you and attempt to cut it behind you - your supply line is now very long and tenuous and they still hold Fredericksburg, so the "threatened space" on your railway supply route is immense.
If you are moving across from Orange towards Fredericksburg, they may attempt to block you in the Wilderness (and if this doesn't work but you need them to abandon Fredericksburg, you have to allow for the possibility they will not). You will also have abandoned the O&A so it will probably end up wrecked behind you, so you're on a time limit and can't pull back to the O&A.
And if you have no plan for how to get supply south of Hanover Junction, Johnston or Lee can just pull south of the South Anna and watch as you waste time.
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
The fact of the matter is that:

If you have no way of threatening Richmond, the Confederates can avoid fighting you. Since you can't threaten Richmond, what do they care if you're making lots of noise?
This means that in order to bring the Confederates to battle you have to have some viable way of threatening Richmond. It doesn't have to be a "right now", thing - an advance down the railway from Fredericksburg to Richmond for example is very much an "eventually" threat to Richmond, but it is still a viable threat once it gets there and so you are forcing the Confederates to fight you at some point.

Of course you then have to allow for the fact that they will do their best to make that "some point" be the point when you have a good chance to not succeed, i.e. the best defensive terrain. So even though you have then brought the Confederates to battle there's a good chance it will be like Spotsylvania, or Cold Harbor - a battle where you take heavy casualties.

If your way of crossing the Rapidan is to use the O&A rail line, then taking Rapidan is a good example of a battle where the Confederates will want to oblige you and fight (as the defensive terrain there is good).
 

DanSBHawk

1st Lieutenant
Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Wisconsin

You argument is hollow, and is drawing a false equivalence.

The O&A RR doesn't really "go at" the rebel army at all. Look at the route:

View attachment 371013

You'll note it inclines away from the rebel centre-of-gravity, and hence isn't that useful. Worse, it is in bits, and will require months to be rebuilt to allow the supply of an army. Historically, it took about a mile per day to re-lay the damaged track, and it was late August when it reached the Rapidan (just in time to get torn up again). A railroad bridge would take a week to rebuild.

Let's by clear about timings.

By July, the railroad would have been rebuilt enough that the army could reach Rapidan Station. The Federal army now has a problem of crossing a fortified river line and rebuilding the bridge to allow the railroad to proceed. However, note that there has been no gain in tempo, because by the time the railroad reaches the enemy virtually the entire Peninsula campaign has been fought. In this time there has been no pressure on Richmond, and the rebels will have had a chance to crush Burnside, and perhaps even retake Fort Monroe.

Johnston's defences at Rapidan station were pretty solid, and would have been a slaughter. Look at the ground:

rapidan-2bcrossing-png.png


It's a true "defenders paradise", and Johnston hoped McClellan would walk into this fire pocket.

The other options are:

1. Switch to trying to cross at Fredericksburg (which is well defended)
2. Switch to crossing at Germanna Mills, and hope the rebels abandon Fredericksburg allowing for resupply.

Frankly, in neither case is success likely.

However, you've indicated you want the AoP to "go at" Johnston's army. You can shovel men into the enemy killing area until your heart's content. That mean old Joe Johnston isn't going to give you a "fair fight"
You are jumping to wild conclusions. I never said anything about going to Lynchburg like your graphic suggests. I said the confederate army is the objective. Not Richmond.
 

DanSBHawk

1st Lieutenant
Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Wisconsin
The fact of the matter is that:

If you have no way of threatening Richmond, the Confederates can avoid fighting you. Since you can't threaten Richmond, what do they care if you're making lots of noise?
This means that in order to bring the Confederates to battle you have to have some viable way of threatening Richmond. It doesn't have to be a "right now", thing - an advance down the railway from Fredericksburg to Richmond for example is very much an "eventually" threat to Richmond, but it is still a viable threat once it gets there and so you are forcing the Confederates to fight you at some point.

Of course you then have to allow for the fact that they will do their best to make that "some point" be the point when you have a good chance to not succeed, i.e. the best defensive terrain. So even though you have then brought the Confederates to battle there's a good chance it will be like Spotsylvania, or Cold Harbor - a battle where you take heavy casualties.

If your way of crossing the Rapidan is to use the O&A rail line, then taking Rapidan is a good example of a battle where the Confederates will want to oblige you and fight (as the defensive terrain there is good).
The confederates were willing to fight quite a ways from Richmond, as Pope found out.
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
You are jumping to wild conclusions. I never said anything about going to Lynchburg like your graphic suggests. I said the confederate army is the objective. Not Richmond.
It's not like you were clear enough to say you weren't. Do you mean to say that you propose crossing the Rapidan at Rapidan Station, or crossing it to do The Wilderness?


The confederates were willing to fight quite a ways from Richmond, as Pope found out.
Because of the situations which then obtained which opened an opportunity to damage the Union army, and that opportunity was certainly realized.
As I said - the Confederates are trying to make the Union lose. You cannot simply assume they will fight in such a way as to allow the Union to win unless they have some kind of compelling reason to do so.
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
You've said that the approach route should be the Orange and Alexandria. Okay, so what do you do when you're getting close to the Rapidan (in July, when the railway line is built out that far) and Johnston's forces are deployed like this?

July_overland.jpg



You can go over the Rapidan at Rapidan station, or at Fredericksburg, or between the two and do a Wilderness.



Confederate brigade count explanation:

March 1862 forces:

Army of the Peninsula and defences of Norfolk - brigades of
Magruder - Rains, McLaws, Cobb, Crump, Pryor
Huger - Blanchard, Colston, Mahone, Armistead

Jackson
Brigades of:
Garnett, Burke, Fulkerson

JEJ's army
Brigades of

GT Anderson, Wilcox, Toombs
AP Hill, DR Jones, Pickett
French, Fields, SR Anderson
Elzey, Trimble, Taylor
Griffith, Featherstone(ex GB Anderson) and Walker
Early, Rodes, Kershaw
Whiting, Hood, Hampton

Reinforcements in April to June, by brigade:

RH Anderson
Semmes
JR Anderson
Gregg
Branch
Ripley
Lawton
Ransom
Daniel
Walker

Plus loose regiments (at least 2nd NC, 30th NC, 20th NC, 4th GA, 44th AL, 53rd GA, 32nd VA, 2nd SC Rifles, 56th VA, 1st LA, 14th VA) sufficient to create another ~3 brigades

This should equate to (historical Seven Days figure) 215 regiments of all arms minus
12 (Jackson's division)
12 (Huger's force from Norfolk)
24 (est. Peninsula force)

So about 170 regiments of all arms, which would mean the above brigade count (total 34 brigades) would be 5 regiments of all arms per brigade, which hangs together.
 

DanSBHawk

1st Lieutenant
Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Wisconsin
You've said that the approach route should be the Orange and Alexandria. Okay, so what do you do when you're getting close to the Rapidan (in July, when the railway line is built out that far) and Johnston's forces are deployed like this?

View attachment 371018


You can go over the Rapidan at Rapidan station, or at Fredericksburg, or between the two and do a Wilderness.



Confederate brigade count explanation:

March 1862 forces:

Army of the Peninsula and defences of Norfolk - brigades of
Magruder - Rains, McLaws, Cobb, Crump, Pryor
Huger - Blanchard, Colston, Mahone, Armistead

Jackson
Brigades of:
Garnett, Burke, Fulkerson

JEJ's army
Brigades of

GT Anderson, Wilcox, Toombs
AP Hill, DR Jones, Pickett
French, Fields, SR Anderson
Elzey, Trimble, Taylor
Griffith, Featherstone(ex GB Anderson) and Walker
Early, Rodes, Kershaw
Whiting, Hood, Hampton

Reinforcements in April to June, by brigade:

RH Anderson
Semmes
JR Anderson
Gregg
Branch
Ripley
Lawton
Ransom
Daniel
Walker

Plus loose regiments (at least 2nd NC, 30th NC, 20th NC, 4th GA, 44th AL, 53rd GA, 32nd VA, 2nd SC Rifles, 56th VA, 1st LA, 14th VA) sufficient to create another ~3 brigades

This should equate to (historical Seven Days figure) 215 regiments of all arms minus
12 (Jackson's division)
12 (Huger's force from Norfolk)
24 (est. Peninsula force)

So about 170 regiments of all arms, which would mean the above brigade count (total 34 brigades) would be 5 regiments of all arms per brigade, which hangs together.
I'm not going to get into the operational minutiae and the artificial gamer-type scenarios. My point is that a '62 Overland was not impossible, and may have even been easier than the historical '64 Overland. The confederates were not as likely to fight only on the defensive in field works, as in '64.

There were options for logistics: the O&A, the York River, and the other railroads depending on what develops. What a '62 Overland Campaign needed was a federal commander who understood that the objective was not Richmond, but the confederate army.
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
I'm not going to get into the operational minutiae and the artificial gamer-type scenarios. My point is that a '62 Overland was not impossible, and may have even been easier than the historical '64 Overland. The confederates were not as likely to fight only on the defensive in field works, as in '64.

There were options for logistics: the O&A, the York River, and the other railroads depending on what develops. What a '62 Overland Campaign needed was a federal commander who understood that the objective was not Richmond, but the confederate army.
I have to say, I expected this would eventually happen.


These are not "minutiae", or "artificial gamer-type scenarios". They are the existing logistical constraints which existed in 1862 and which did not exist in 1864 - for example the Confederates had a smaller manpower pool in 1864 because of all the men who had been killed or crippled in the fighting in 1862 and 1863 (and the Federal manpower pool was larger in 1864 because recruitment had been expanded in the Union), while the Orange and Alexandria railroad needed repairs in 1862 which had already been done by 1864. Similarly Fredericksburg was in Federal hands in 1864 and it was not in 1862, and the York river was open in 1864 as a result of Federal action which had not yet taken place in 1862.

All of these things are the reasons why an 1862 Overland campaign is harder than 1864. You can't just handwave them away and then argue that an 1862 Overland would be easier, because that's like saying that the Battle of Fredericksburg would have done perfectly well were it not for all the Confederates - it completely ignores the entire salient point.



If an 1862 Overland would have been easier than an 1864 campaign, then either that is because there were options in 1862 which did not exist in 1864 or it is because there are factors which make the existing options actually taken in 1864 easier than in 1862. You've said that the Confederates in 1862 were not as likely to fight only on the defensive in field works, but in 1864 the Confederates did not only fight on the defensive in field works (they were on the attack during the Wilderness fighting) and in 1862 the Confederates largely took up defensive positions unless they felt they had a good chance to inflict major damage on the Union army.


Effectively your argument about not fighting only on the defensive in 1862 is a handwave - a reason you have decided upon that the Confederates would wilfully destroy their own army in open combat in central Virginia, rather than use the strengths of their own strategic position in the way that they historically did. This is why when McClellan threatened to attack a vulnerable point on the Confederate defensive position near Washington they withdrew to a defensive position at Centreville; this is why when McClellan threatened to outflank the Confederate defensive position at Centreville they pulled back to the Rapidan; this is why when McClellan rendered the Yorktown defensive position untenable Johnston pulled back to the third defensive line on the Peninsula, and then did not fight an open battle anywhere from there to Richmond itself.




What you need to do is to do a perspective flip. Consider your proposed plan of action, and then ask what the Confederate response would be to it - for example, are you attacking directly into their entrenchments? Then they will probably just accept that.
Are you marching past them? Then they will probably try to exploit that if you make yourself vulnerable.
Are you dug in and waiting for them to attack? In that case they probably won't attack, unless you staying there is going to cause them unresolvable problems in the short term.
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
For example, getting over the Rapidan, you have three options and none of them is good.

You can:

1) Fight a Fredericksburg, attacking into the teeth of Confederate fieldworks.
2) Fight at Rapidan Station, attacking into the teeth of Confederate fieldworks.
3) Push through the Wilderness via Germanna Ford.

What you can't do is just wave your hand and get over the Rapidan. That's why it took four tries, three of them with armies nearly or actually twice the size of the one defending the Rapidan line.
 

DanSBHawk

1st Lieutenant
Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Wisconsin
For example, getting over the Rapidan, you have three options and none of them is good.

You can:

1) Fight a Fredericksburg, attacking into the teeth of Confederate fieldworks.
2) Fight at Rapidan Station, attacking into the teeth of Confederate fieldworks.
3) Push through the Wilderness via Germanna Ford.

What you can't do is just wave your hand and get over the Rapidan. That's why it took four tries, three of them with armies nearly or actually twice the size of the one defending the Rapidan line.
I'm not just waving my hand. I'm refusing to get sucked into an excuse-making exercise. An Overland campaign was going to involve hard fighting regardless of what year. Claiming that it was just too hard in '62, is really just making excuses for the failed Peninsula Campaign.

McClellan knew Lincoln preferred an offensive that would leave Washington covered. He should have figured it out.
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
I'm not just waving my hand. I'm refusing to get sucked into an excuse-making exercise.
You can't just dismiss a reason by calling it an excuse.
It's fact that getting over the Rapidan by the Overland route involves three options and none of them are good; if you are willing to argue that an Overland campaign in 1862 was militarily plausible (in the face of the opinions of not just McClellan but every divisional commander of the Army of the Potomac in March 1862) then you need to either accept the problems and admit you do not have a solution to them, or provide a solution.

McClellan knew Lincoln preferred an offensive that would leave Washington covered. He should have figured it out.
But he did leave Washington covered. The Urbanna plan (McClellan's preferred option) left about three corps in the Washington area (5th in the Valley, plus two in Northern Virginia) until Johnston had materially abandoned the Rapidan line, while the Peninsular plan left 5th Corps in the Valley permanently and a further corps' worth of troops until Johnston had retreated behind the Rapidan; both plans also allowed for the garrison of Washington, and the Department of the Mountains must also be considered a valid part of the defences of Washington as far as Lincoln is concerned because that is why Blenker was detached. (To help defend Washington, by being attached to the Dept. of the Mountains.)

By Lincoln's own definition, the Department of the Mountains counts as defending Washington; 5th Corps counts as defending Washington because it is the covering force; the Dept. of Washington obviously counts as defending Washington. Thus, as of the moment the Peninsular plan was adopted and counting only those categories (Shenandoah, Mountains, DC and Alexandria) the Peninsular plan had 61,000 PFD defending Washington; when Blenker was detached this rose to 70,000 PFD.
The fact that Lincoln didn't consider this enough, and that by the 7th of April there are 103,500 men defending Washington (including the Dept. of the Rappahanock to all the above categories, which means that at that point there were 9,500 men more defending Washington than attacking Richmond) indicates that Lincoln's idea of Washington being secure as of 1862 is impossible to meaningfully fulfil.


The Overland (as conducted in 1864), meanwhile, does not leave Washington covered.
 
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