Antietam

Mango Hill

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Jul 23, 2020
If you mean Couch should have been sent to go there by crossing the Burnside Bridge on the 18th, AP Hill is in the way; if you mean he should have been sent to go there by going along the south side of the Potomac on the 17th, AP Hill left Thomas' brigade to prevent any Union troops from crossing at Harpers Ferry.

If you mean something else please clarify.

And frankly at this point I'd barely trust Sears to tell me when the sun rose during the campaign - he's been caught outright fabricating information on more than one occasion. The 4,300 number is what McClellan gave his cavalry strength as, but it's PFD strength and includes some units which weren't at the battle itself; 67th has given effective strength.

A. P. Hill left HF on the 17th. Couch did not have to cross HF to get to Sharpsburg and he did reach Sharpsburg so I don't know what the problem is. Once he reached the battlefield he could just as easily gone to Botelers Ford as to where he ended up. Same thing for Pleasonton's cavalry. That's the scenario for bottling up Lee on the 18th.

I didn't the the OOB from Sears though. The source is included in the post.
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
As to giving it another go? He wasted a month and 10 days before he set out on his brilliant campaign to cut off Jackson. It's too bad he didn't get an opportunity to continue the campaign. All the time before setting out on the 3BR Campaign he spent complaining about everything from lack of shoes to lack of horses. He also didn't think much of the 15 or so regiments he had been reinforced with. Felt they need training, which was probably true.
McClellan wanted to continue the campaign as soon as possible, but he was being actively prevented from moving. This is in all sorts of ways, from how Halleck is denying McClellan permission to spend money on repairing bridges (when the enemy is on the other side of a river) to how Halleck is ordering McClellan not to make an offensive move until Halleck has approved his plans (and then Halleck doesn't give approval for several weeks after McClellan promptly does send the plans) to a genuine supply shortage which meant that there were food riots in the Army of the Potomac during Lincoln's visit, and much of the army had no spare clothes.

If you want to call that time wasted, perhaps, but McClellan was doing his level best to get moving and in the meantime he was drilling the men so hard some of them said they barely had time to sleep. If anyone was wasting the time it was Halleck, not McClellan.
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
As to McClellan's numbers and Lee's forces he was getting really bad intelligence from Pleasonton and from Penn. governor Curtin. The sad thing is he was an engineer and an experienced army commander so he should have known how many troops a really long supply route can actually supply a given number of troops.
Well, Lee was clearly able to operate a force which (after ~15,000 casualties in Maryland) was posting a strength of ~60,000 by October 10th. So 75,000 men is not completely unrealistic because it's what Lee actually had - so how many men is completely unrealistic?
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
A. P. Hill left HF on the 17th. Couch did not have to cross HF to get to Sharpsburg and he did reach Sharpsburg so I don't know what the problem is. Once he reached the battlefield he could just as easily gone to Botelers Ford as to where he ended up. Same thing for Pleasonton's cavalry. That's the scenario for bottling up Lee on the 18th.
Okay, so you mean the route Couch historically took to reach Sharpsburg, not marching along the south of the Potomac. Fine, thanks for clarifying.

The problem here is that that means Couch arrives in the Antietam area from the east. And to get from the east to reaching Boteler's Ford, well...


LLoR.jpg

...the problem is that to get from east of the river to Boteler's Ford, Lee's army is in the way. The units south of Sharpsburg on the map here are basically AP Hill's division plus at least one other division (DR Jones?) so functionally getting there means launching an attack on, and defeating, two Confederate divisions.

It's not simply a matter of marching around the flank. It's a matter of going through the enemy army.
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
I didn't the the OOB from Sears though. The source is included in the post.
Yes, you got the OOB from the ORs (though it isn't an accurate reflection of the structure on the 17th or the troops present at Antietam Creek on the 17th. I meant you got the strength from Sears.
 

Mango Hill

Corporal
Joined
Jul 23, 2020
Since it had happened so recently, yes, any mention of political error would be referring to that. What McClellan is actually doing however is not saying that it was a political error - he's saying, effectively, "if you think there's been some kind of political error, the remedy is the ballot box".

It's the equivalent of saying "if you think he's made a mistake, vote him out". That phrasing does not automatically mean you think that a mistake has been made, it just means that you're achnowledging that some people you're speaking to think a mistake has been made (which is only reality).

Remember that there was serious paranoia (and discussion) at different times among various people during the war that a general would set himself up as a dictator - hardly an irrational fear with Napoleon within living memory. This is a period of serious dissention in the country when the President has done something which people disapprove of - in the forthcoming midterms he'll lose his majority and only hang on to a working congressional caucus due to the "War Democrats" - and McClellan, the person who would be the active part of any such "set up a dictator" movements, has basically said "no, if you disagree then vote".

That's one way of looking at it but it's known what Mac's true feelings were about the EP. If this announcement had been made by another general then, yeah, it would appear as just a neutral attempt calm the waters. Anyway, McClellan was way out of boundsby making such a statement. Some that one would not think would approve of the order did so I have to acknowledge that I'm looking at a historical event backwards. It should be looked at based on the situation at the time.
 

Mango Hill

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Joined
Jul 23, 2020
Well, "gradual" is relative; he explicitly suggested the mass emancipation of every slave in a state at once, after all.
He's suggesting doing it pretty quick, too, since he's talking about doing it during the war or at least on grounds of military necessity:

The right of the Government to appropriate permanently to its own service claims to slave labor should be asserted, and the right of the owner to compensation therefor should be recognized. This principle might be extended, upon grounds of military necessity and security, to all the slaves of a particular State, thus working manumission in such State; and in Missouri, perhaps in Western Virginia also, and possibly even in Maryland, the expediency of such a measure is only a question of time.

I think what's interesting about it is that McClellan, the army man, suggested a legalistic way of eliminating slavery, while Lincoln the lawyer opted for using the army to do it.

Mac is also for compensating the slave owners. Congress has already passed two laws eliminating that option and the EP follows up on that.

Yes, it's kind of ironic. The fact though is that Lincoln has to deal with Constitutional authority and McClellan doesn't.
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
That's one way of looking at it but it's known what Mac's true feelings were about the EP. If this announcement had been made by another general then, yeah, it would appear as just a neutral attempt calm the waters. Anyway, McClellan was way out of boundsby making such a statement. Some that one would not think would approve of the order did so I have to acknowledge that I'm looking at a historical event backwards. It should be looked at based on the situation at the time.
How was he way out of bounds? It seems like this is a circular argument - as in, we know his true feelings (i.e. he didn't like it) and therefore he must not have been serious in trying to calm the waters, even though someone else saying it would have been trying to calm the waters (though we don't know their true feelings on it).

I think the way you have to approach this is to say - what action is McClellan taking which is not what someone should do, and why? The Harrisons Landing letter is not out of bounds because he asked for permission first, the "calm down and vote" announcement is not out of bounds because it's literally what would be considered neutral by anyone where we did not happen to know their private thoughts...

Really it seems like the standard to which McClellan is being held is sort of unfair, where it's not enough for him to keep his personal beliefs out of the professional sphere (which he seems to have largely done) but he has to be privately supportive of the Administration as well even though people within it have tried their best to get his campaign ruined - which means his army killed or captured.
 

Mango Hill

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Jul 23, 2020
Okay, so you mean the route Couch historically took to reach Sharpsburg, not marching along the south of the Potomac. Fine, thanks for clarifying.

The problem here is that that means Couch arrives in the Antietam area from the east. And to get from the east to reaching Boteler's Ford, well...


View attachment 372079
...the problem is that to get from east of the river to Boteler's Ford, Lee's army is in the way. The units south of Sharpsburg on the map here are basically AP Hill's division plus at least one other division (DR Jones?) so functionally getting there means launching an attack on, and defeating, two Confederate divisions.

It's not simply a matter of marching around the flank. It's a matter of going through the enemy army.

Hmmm...., didn't think this one through. You're right. It would not have been such a piece of cake.
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Where these units available on the 18th?
McReynolds' unit arrived back on the 18th, though I believe they'd had quite a long ride and were not necessarily fit to go straight into the fighting. (They'd gone clear up to Gettysburg, then back to Franklin and then rejoined the army - I make it 81 miles in 5 days, which is doable but not a stroll.)

The list is:


8th IL - with the army, Farnsworth's Bde
3rd IN - with 8th IL
1st MA - with 8th IL

4th PA - with the army, Averell's Bde
5th US - with the army, Averell's Bde
6th PA (9 companies) - with the army, attached temporarily to Averell's Bde

8th PA - with McReynolds to Gettysburg, rejoined army on the 18th (Boonsboro evening 17th)
1st NY - with McReynolds
2 bns, 12th PA - with McReynolds

Battalion of 1st US cavalry - arrived with Franklin
1 bn, 12th PA - with Sumner's wing
3rd PA - with the army, specifically with 1st Corps, right flank guard
2 bns, 6th NY - with the army, with 9th Corps, left flank guard.

6th US Cavalry - still on the Maryland Heights, arrived on the 21st
8th NY - escapees of Harpers Ferry, joined 3rd PA late 17th or 18th

So if you consolidate everything on the field that's of a worthwhile size (at least a battalion) you can get the equivalent of:

Farnsworth = 3 regiments
Averell = 2.75 regiments
12th PA, 3rd PA, 6th NY, 1st US = 2.33 regiments
8th NY = 1 regiment
McReynolds = 2.66 regiments

Add it all up, and you're getting towards a division, though the flank guards are sort of needed and you're removing them here. More to the point though Lee has about the same amount of cavalry and you still have an infantry line to break through first.
 

Mango Hill

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Joined
Jul 23, 2020
How was he way out of bounds? It seems like this is a circular argument - as in, we know his true feelings (i.e. he didn't like it) and therefore he must not have been serious in trying to calm the waters, even though someone else saying it would have been trying to calm the waters (though we don't know their true feelings on it).

I think the way you have to approach this is to say - what action is McClellan taking which is not what someone should do, and why? The Harrisons Landing letter is not out of bounds because he asked for permission first, the "calm down and vote" announcement is not out of bounds because it's literally what would be considered neutral by anyone where we did not happen to know their private thoughts...

Really it seems like the standard to which McClellan is being held is sort of unfair, where it's not enough for him to keep his personal beliefs out of the professional sphere (which he seems to have largely done) but he has to be privately supportive of the Administration as well even though people within it have tried their best to get his campaign ruined - which means his army killed or captured.

Gosh darn it! You did it again. If you keep this up I might start liking McClellan.
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Mac is also for compensating the slave owners. Congress has already passed two laws eliminating that option and the EP follows up on that.

Yes, it's kind of ironic. The fact though is that Lincoln has to deal with Constitutional authority and McClellan doesn't.
Remember, what McClellan is suggesting is basically the forcible requisition of slaves as a workforce to governmental control - something the government absolutely can do in time of war, and for which it would be expected to provide compensation - and then the government doing what it likes with the slaves, which is "free them".

McClellan's view on the whole issue of "subduing an enemy population" is surprisingly modern, it'd actually fit quite well in modern US thinking on the subject. He wanted to combine "shock and awe" with "hearts and minds".

The "Shock and awe" aspect of it is to basically deliver overwhelming military power - he wants as big an army as he can possibly get, and if the CSA can build itself an army of 150,000 men he wants the much-bigger Union to build a much-bigger army so that no matter what the South does they get flattened. This is what "shock and awe" is - to convince the enemy population that resisting you is futile because you are so powerful.

The "hearts and minds" aspect of it is what McClellan's talking about in the Harrisons letter. To be as conciliatory as possible to the civilian population of the South, because it is the Government's position that these people are not foreign citizens - they're still US citizens - and if they believe that their property rights will be respected (including slavery) then they will be easier to convince that resisting is pointless - because the North doesn't want to do what the South warned they would.

This doesn't mean that people in arms against the US would be respected - indeed slaves applying for protection would get it under McClellan's idea of how to do things. It means that rather than saying "We're taking your slaves away", it's "You can either lose your slaves soon because they ran away to apply to our armies for protection, or you can rejoin the Union and possibly lose your slaves and get paid for them when the Government requisitions them".

It means that the "rejoin the Union" option is better, because of that first bit about shock and awe.


Now, this doesn't mean I'm saying McClellan's system is perfect, because it's certainly not. I think by the point he was writing the trend where the South began to see itself as distinct no matter what the politics said was too far ahead to be entirely arrested, and of course the "present the North as invincible" idea was impossible to recapture. But I think McClellan's ideas in the Harrisons Landing letter are a valid part of the conversation at the time, and in some ways would actually demonstrate more pro-Emancipation feeling than the Emancipation Proclamation did.

That might sound strange but it's because the EP (as written and enacted) involves taking away enemy slaves - loyalists can keep theirs indefinitely under the EP system. While the "compensated emancipation of all slaves in a state" system can be done right now, to Maryland, and it would cost money and free slaves whose slave labour was benefitting the Union.

It might even go down better in Britain than the actual EP itself, weirdly.
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
According to the Official Records as stated in Battles & Leaders Vol. II p. 600;

Although counting by regiments does not give a number for troops it should be of some guide as to strength both "Grimes" Davis 8th NY and Voss 12th Ill had between 1,200 and 1,300 at HF according to two sources, Sears being one.

As Saph has pointed out, I spent the first six weeks of lockdown poking at the regimental histories etc. when I wasn't working. Getting the organisation was easy, just read the histories and various orders. The strength was harder. My conclusion was that McClellan actually likely had much more cavalry (7,000 including Voss but excluding escort sqns), but much of it wasn't on the field (i.e. McReynolds, Voss and the 6th US).

The six regiments in question were the only ones with Pleasanton on the 17th, with the apparent organisation:
  • Averell's Brigade, under Col. Childs (then Rush, vice Childs KIA)
    • 5th United States (Capt. Whiting)
    • 4th Pennsylvania (Lt Col Kerr, vice Col Childs, brigadier)
    • 6th Pennsylvania (9 coys) (Col Rush, then Lt Col Smith vice Rush, to brigadier)
  • Pleasanton's Own Brigade, under Col. Farnsworth
    • 8th Illinois (Maj Medill, vice Col Farnsworth, brigadier)
    • 3rd Indiana (Maj Chapman)
    • 1st Massachusetts (Col Williams)
  • Horse Artillery
    • Battery A, 2nd US Artillery (Capt Tidball, 6 Ordnance Rifles)
    • Battery B&L, 2nd US Artillery (Capt Robinson, 4 Ordnance Rifles)
    • Battery M(-), 2nd US Artillery (Lt Hains, 4 Ordnance Rifles)
    • Battery C&G(-), 3rd US Artillery (Capt Gibson, 4 Ordnance Rifles, section with 6th US Cavalry by elimination)
There were 4 other cavalry organisations above escort squadrons on the field during the 17th:
  • 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry (1st Corps)
  • (3rd?) Battalion, 12th Pennsylvania Cavalry (2nd Corps)
  • Battalion, 1st US Cavalry (Coys, B, C, H & I, attached to 6th Corps)
  • 1st and 2nd Battalions, 6th New York Cavalry (8? coys) (attached to 9th Corps)
The 3rd Pa Cav was attached to 1st Corps and lead them over the creek on the 16th. The first non-artillery shots of the battle were from Coy C skirmishing ahead of Hooker's advance.

A battalion of the 12th Pa Cav was attached to 2nd Corps at Frederick. At the battle the major commanding the battalion notes they were deployed behind the Federal right as a straggler net and ran the prisoner-of-war cage.

The battalion of the 1st US was with 6th Corps and led them to the field. There is an order sending them to Pleasanton for the 18th.

The 8 coys of the 6th NY (6 coys in some sources) were attached to 9th Corps.

One of the more interesting questions is when did the 8th NY Cavalry arrive at the battle. Davis headed towards the "sound of the guns" without waiting for orders, and arrived off the Federal right probably in the early afternoon. He fell in with Buford (who was at 1st Corps HQ) and the 3rd Pa Cav. The rest of Voss' brigade awaited orders, and were at Greencastle during the battle. They rode down on the 19th, having received an order from McClellan dated the 16th (ISTR).

McReynolds command was thus:
  • 1st New York Cavalry (Maj AW Adams, vice Col McReynolds, acting brigadier)
  • 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry (Lt Col AE Griffiths)
  • 2 battalions, 12th Pennsylvania Cavalry (Maj JA Congdon)
  • Chapin's section, Bty M, 2nd US Artillery
He rode to Gettysburg chasing FitzLee, but failing to overhaul him he didn't turn to go onto the army's line of advance, but retraced his steps to Frederick. He didn't reach the field until the night of the 18th/ morning of the 19th.

Finally, the 6th US and a section of arty remained on the Maryland Heights, even after Couch left, and didn't leave until relieved by 12th Corps on the afternoon of the 20th.
 

Mango Hill

Corporal
Joined
Jul 23, 2020
And frankly at this point I'd barely trust Sears to tell me when the sun rose during the campaign - he's been caught outright fabricating information on more than one occasion. The 4,300 number is what McClellan gave his cavalry strength as, but it's PFD strength and includes some units which weren't at the battle itself; 67th has given effective strength.

Why is that? Does Sears intentionally try to deceive or could it be just a simple mistake/ not doing more research on a particular subject etc.? Take the 4,300 cavalry as an example. Sears uses McClellan's own numbers. Is Sears trying to deceive by not digging further and showing those PFD? Another question. Since I own five of Sears books I'm interested in what you have to say. Which information in any of those books has Sears fabricated?
 

Mango Hill

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Joined
Jul 23, 2020
McClellan wanted to continue the campaign as soon as possible, but he was being actively prevented from moving. This is in all sorts of ways, from how Halleck is denying McClellan permission to spend money on repairing bridges (when the enemy is on the other side of a river) to how Halleck is ordering McClellan not to make an offensive move until Halleck has approved his plans (and then Halleck doesn't give approval for several weeks after McClellan promptly does send the plans) to a genuine supply shortage which meant that there were food riots in the Army of the Potomac during Lincoln's visit, and much of the army had no spare clothes.

If you want to call that time wasted, perhaps, but McClellan was doing his level best to get moving and in the meantime he was drilling the men so hard some of them said they barely had time to sleep. If anyone was wasting the time it was Halleck, not McClellan.

I didn't see any of the claims that "McClellan wanted to continue the campaign as soon as possible.........." In fact the opposite is what's in his own Report McClellan only wanted the bridge to defend HF. From his base at HF if he went the Shenandoah route he didn't expect to reach beyond Winchester after the Potomac had crested and the fords unavailable. This would have been in late October. As has already been posted in a previous post Halleck wanted McClellan to cross the Potomac after Lee on Oct 1st. Besides this you have raised the issue that McClellan raised (among many others) that held him back; supply shortage. Another thing to consider that Halleck pointed out is that the bridge would take 3-4 weeks to build. McClellan was requesting the bridge to be built on October 1st. When McClellan finally sends the plan to the Shenandoah route he adds that he can't advance past Winchester, needs at least three more days before three of his Corps can move, additional reinforcements because "it would be a desperate affair" if battle at Winchester. This doesn't appear as someone who's eager to get anything started soon.
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Why is that? Does Sears intentionally try to deceive or could it be just a simple mistake/ not doing more research on a particular subject etc.? Take the 4,300 cavalry as an example. Sears uses McClellan's own numbers. Is Sears trying to deceive by not digging further and showing those PFD? Another question. Since I own five of Sears books I'm interested in what you have to say. Which information in any of those books has Sears fabricated?
I'm going to go for something which is absolutely ambiguous, which is from the Peninsular period. This is what Porter said in a message to McClellan at Malvern Hill.

When Sears wrote the books in question, McClellan's papers had not been digitized - but Sears had gone to research them. Consequently Sears was reading directly from the primary source.
He said that Porter wrote:

By 9: 30 he declared victory: “After a hard fight for nearly four hours against immense odds, we have driven the enemy beyond the battle field. . . .” If reinforced, if the men were provisioned and their ammunition replenished, “we will hold our own and advance if you wish.” His victorious men “can only regret the necessity which will compel a withdrawal.”

Sears, Stephen W.. Lincoln's Lieutenants: The High Command of the Army of the Potomac (p. 271). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.


And:

At 9: 30 that night Fitz John Porter signaled McClellan that “against immense odds, we have driven the enemy beyond the battle field and the firing ended at 8: 30.” He went on to say that if he could be resupplied with food and ammunition, “we will hold our own and advance if you wish.” Here was General Porter, the soul of military caution, proposing to follow up the Malvern Hill victory with a counteroffensive.

Sears, Stephen W.. To the Gates of Richmond: The Peninsula Campaign (Kindle Locations 5925-5928). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.



Now, here's what Porter actually said:


Brick House – Near Turkey Creek
July 1st – 9.30 P.M.
General McClellan –
After a hard days fight for nearly four hours against immense odds, we have whipped driven the enemy, beyond the battle field and firing ended at 8.30. Our loss is heavy. If new troops can reinforce or replace us [before] daybreak, and our men provisioned, (without food for 24 hours) and ammunition (exhausted) replenished, we will hold our own and advance if you wish. Without these we must retire. Whatever the results of the days victory (and you alone are the judge) they are due to the excellent positions selected by you today, the firm resistance of Morell (2) and Couch (1), the prompt and spirited support of Sykes’ regulars,
[page 2, note that the three pages are out of order in the archive]
and Couch’s reserves, to Naglee’s and Sickles’ brigades and the skillful use of the artillery pertaining to Morell[,] Couch and Sykes and admirable disposition and thorough support by Hunt of the reserves. Of I cannot do justice to each command and commander. I cannot Only the country can do it. Every man was engaged and when up is if animated by the one thought of on his individual effort depended the safety of our comd army and heroically did they act. I wish to express my warmest thanks to Gen Sumner for Meagher’s brigade, promptly provided when asked for, and for the voluntary assistance of Sickles brigade, which in the noble spirit of a gallant soldier
[page 3]
was hastened forward by Genl Heintzelman when he knew I wanted aid. The country and the Comd General has no more true [illegible] brave soldiers than those engaged today and if they cannot reap the full [illegible deletion] fruits of their labors, today they can only regret the [illegible deletion] necessity of which will compell a withdrawal.
I am General [&c.]
FJ Porter


I've bolded the bit which Sears quoted. Notice that the bit he removes from the middle of the quoted bit completely reverses the meaning of the message - what Porter is actually saying is that his men need food, ammunition, and reinforcements or to be entirely replaced - and without those they have to retreat.

Sears is effectively lying here.


Another good example is about the telegram in which McClellan mentioned that he had the Lost Orders. See, one of the copies of that telegram says "12 Midnight", but Sears argues that "12M" means "12 Midday".
In an email conversation, Sears admitted he'd seen the "12 Midnight" copy (but had effectively ignored it).

These are by no means the only examples. 67th found one where he mendaciously mistranslated an account by one of the French Princes, for example.



Of course, the 4,300 cavalry is from McClellan's report, but if Sears is giving Lee's strength in effectives and McClellan's strength in PFD (which are absolutely not the same thing) then it's a very biased portrait and the sort of thing a historian should not do.
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
I didn't see any of the claims that "McClellan wanted to continue the campaign as soon as possible.........." In fact the opposite is what's in his own Report McClellan only wanted the bridge to defend HF. From his base at HF if he went the Shenandoah route he didn't expect to reach beyond Winchester after the Potomac had crested and the fords unavailable. This would have been in late October. As has already been posted in a previous post Halleck wanted McClellan to cross the Potomac after Lee on Oct 1st. Besides this you have raised the issue that McClellan raised (among many others) that held him back; supply shortage. Another thing to consider that Halleck pointed out is that the bridge would take 3-4 weeks to build. McClellan was requesting the bridge to be built on October 1st. When McClellan finally sends the plan to the Shenandoah route he adds that he can't advance past Winchester, needs at least three more days before three of his Corps can move, additional reinforcements because "it would be a desperate affair" if battle at Winchester. This doesn't appear as someone who's eager to get anything started soon.
I know McClellan pointed out that the bridge was necessary to defend Harpers Ferry even if it wasn't used offensively, so they may as well build it as soon as possible even if Lincoln wanted him to move along a different route.
As for "finally", the timeframe doesn't seem to me to support "finally".

From 67th's write-up of the subject.
September:




On the 22nd, Sumner was ordered to throw a pontoon bridge over the Potomac, and occupy the far side. McClellan wrote to the President of the C&O Railroad to send construction teams to rebuild the rail bridge, and also to Halleck to have him authorise the expense. On the 23rd Halleck asked McClellan's intent, and on the 24th McClellan replied he was going to cross the Potomac and Shenandoah, and attack Winchester. McClellan noted the storm assisted them by making it impossible for Lee to cross the Potomac, whereas he could use the rebuilt bridges at Harper's Ferry. Halleck had also previously stated the 11th Corps would be released to McClellan, and on the 25th McClellan suggested the 11th Corps march to Knoxville (i.e. where the Potomac cut through South Mountain). On the same day, McClellan gave his plans to his wife; essentially he intended to let the Potomac rise (as it already was) to prevent Lee fording the river, then use the rebuilt bridges to attack Winchester. This is exactly what he told Halleck.

On the 26th, the hammer falls on the campaign. In one telegram, Halleck states he will not send any more troops until McClellan's plans are "agreed on", and that he believes there is a whole other rebel army waiting to strike Washington. In another, Halleck denies the requisition for the repair of the Harper's Ferry bridges until he agrees to McClellan's plans. This effectively ends the plans for immediate forward movement. Halleck has imposed control measures to stop McClellan from advancing.


(section skipped)


1st October:


On 1st October, McClellan writes to Halleck that the permanent occupation of Harper's Ferry is "taken for granted" by him, and without reference to future operations, the bridges are needed, if only for the proper defence of the place. Halleck's reply is that he cannot authorise the expenditure, only the President can, and he is en route. He states that the delay caused by rebuilding the bridges would be unacceptable. Hence Halleck decides to delay more, by refusing to get the work started.

That afternoon, Lincoln showed up unannounced at Harper's Ferry, having traveled by train, but having to disembark early (at Monocacy), travel down to Harper's Ferry in a carriage and cross the rivers by the pontoon bridges, because the main bridges had still not yet been repaired. McClellan rode down to see him, and Lincoln spent four days with the army. The consultation on further actions occurred on the 4th October, and was during a ride to South Mountain. McClellan recorded an immediate impression that he had convinced Lincoln of the problems with advancing before preparations (i.e. the bridges) were complete, and Stotelmyer found two additional confirmatory accounts. This seems to be true, as the next day Halleck orders Cox's division removed from McClellan's army. Deliberately weakening McClellan's army would not be done if McClellan was intended to take the offensive by Washington.


(short section skipped)


On the morning of the 7th October, this apparent understanding is shattered. The following telegram from Halleck is received:

"I am instructed to telegraph you as follows: The President directs that you cross the Potomac and give battle to the enemy or drive him south. Your army must move now while the roads are good. If you cross the river between the enemy and Washington, and cover the latter by your operation, you can be re-enforced with 30,000 men. If you move up the Valley of the Shenandoah, not more than 12,000 or 15,000 can be sent to you. The President advises the interior line between Washington and the enemy, but does not order it. He is very desirous that your army move as soon as possible. You will immediately report what line you adopt and when you intend to cross the river; also to what point the re-enforcements are to be sent. It is necessary that the plan of your operations be positively determined on before orders are given for building bridges and repairing railroads.

I am directed to add that the Secretary of War and the General-in-Chief fully concur with the President in these instructions.''

This telegram is often mis-quoted. Some parse it as an order for an immediate movement (even Lincoln, two years later, recalled that he'd issued a peremptory order, which he clearly hadn't). However, the bolded sentence reveals that it is not. Washington's control measures are still in place, and they wish to approve any action before it is undertaken.



(what follows is mine)

McClellan replies to Halleck immediately, by the way. What he says, summarized, is that McClellan thinks that the strike into the Shenandoah will either result in a fight around (or north of) Winchester, or (and presuambly more likely) it will result in Lee having to abandon the northern part of the Valley.
Thus, while McClellan can't fight Lee much south of Winchester, this doesn't actually matter because McClellan's objective is simply to drive Lee south of Winchester and then plan future operations.


If we have a look at the position map:


September_30_smaller.jpg




The numbers are what's important here. If Lee is still positioned with half his troops at Martinsburg and the other half at Winchester, then McClellan can't pull 5th and 6th Corps away from the upper Potomac while it's still possible to cross the upper Potomac - otherwise he's exposing the North to immediate invasion.
There are effectively three ways in which this problem can be resolved:

1) McClellan can be given enough troops that he can leave 5th and 6th Corps covering the upper Potomac and still go on the offensive east of the Blue Ridge Mountains (down into Loudoun Valley). In this situation then he doesn't care about leaving 5th and 6th Corps where they are because if Lee does come down to fight him he doesn't need them to have an advantage.
2) McClellan can attack into the Shenandoah and force Lee to pull back south of Winchester. In this situation then McClellan no longer needs to leave multiple corps covering the upper Potomac, and can then go on the offensive east of the Blue Ridge mountains.
3) McClellan can wait until the Potomac rises, because once it has risen then it is no longer possible for Lee to invade the North via the upper Potomac (because there are so many fewer possible crossing points once the river is high, so a couple of brigades would be able to cover them).


Option one involves sending McClellan a lot more troops.
Option two involves spending money and waiting for however long it takes to rebuild the bridges. The bridges still need to be rebuilt, however, and the longer you put it off the later they'll be finished.
Option three involves waiting for an unknown amount of time.

Since option one was not tenable (Halleck wasn't willing to send McClellan enough troops to completely replace 5th and 6th Corps plus a corps for Harpers Ferry, and that number of troops were probably not available to begin with), and option two was not something Halleck was willing to do (he kept delaying starting the work), option three ended up happening by default.



Here's the timeframe:

September 22nd - McClellan wants to rebuild the rail bridge and asks Halleck for the money.
September 23rd - Halleck asks why.
September 24th - McClellan explains he wants to attack Winchester.
September 26th - Halleck denies the funds to repair the bridge, cancels reinforcement, and insists that he wants to agree to whatever McClellan is planning.
September 26th - McClellan explains his plans, mentioning an offensive if the enemy made a mistake (n.b. not protecting Winchester would count as a mistake!)
No reply from Halleck.
October 1st - McClellan makes the point that occupying Harpers Ferry is taken for granted and the bridges are needed anyway.
Halleck replies that he can't authorize the expenditure and the delay from rebuilding the bridges would be unacceptable (a funny thing to say from someone who's spent five days not giving McClellan an answer to his September 26th message).

Lincoln visit goes here.

October 7th - Halleck asks for a plan from McClellan, saying that a plan and agreement to that plan is required before any rebuilding of bridges, railroads etc. is allowed.
McClellan replies the same day or the next with his plans (i.e. cross at Harpers Ferry and push Lee south of Winchester, then switch to a better offensive route).

No reply from Halleck; McClellan's plans have been neither agreed with nor rejected, and he's not been allowed to rebuild the bridges.

October 16th - Lincoln asks why McClellan hasn't advanced yet (message was sent about the 13th and arrived on the 16th, it took several days to reach McClellan). He suggests but does not order a plan of action (the Loudoun Valley movement, basically).
On this date, a recce-in force had happened but no major fighting resulted.
October 17th - McClellan replies that he'd go with Lincoln's plan unless there were reasons not to go for it, and says that as soon as his men had shoes he'd go for it.

October 18th - McClellan asks for the supply problem to be resolved. (Halleck will deny there's a problem.)
October 21st - McClellan writes to Halleck saying that shoes and winter clothing are absolutely essential for the advance.
Halleck's reply is to say his order of the 6th still applies (the one that arrived on the 7th). As a reminder, this is to send his plans and not do anything until they're approved.

October 22nd - McClellan says he'll go with the plan the President wanted.
October 23rd - Halleck approves this plan.

McClellan begins building the pontoon bridge at Berlin MD on the 24th, and has the first troops over the river on the 26th.



So of this period of one month, just about all of it is McClellan waiting for approval from Halleck (where that approval is essential to allow things to start happening). For much of it Halleck isn't saying "no" to McClellan's plan - he's just stalling.
 

Mango Hill

Corporal
Joined
Jul 23, 2020
I'm going to go for something which is absolutely ambiguous, which is from the Peninsular period. This is what Porter said in a message to McClellan at Malvern Hill.

When Sears wrote the books in question, McClellan's papers had not been digitized - but Sears had gone to research them. Consequently Sears was reading directly from the primary source.
He said that Porter wrote:

By 9: 30 he declared victory: “After a hard fight for nearly four hours against immense odds, we have driven the enemy beyond the battle field. . . .” If reinforced, if the men were provisioned and their ammunition replenished, “we will hold our own and advance if you wish.” His victorious men “can only regret the necessity which will compel a withdrawal.”

Sears, Stephen W.. Lincoln's Lieutenants: The High Command of the Army of the Potomac (p. 271). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.


And:

At 9: 30 that night Fitz John Porter signaled McClellan that “against immense odds, we have driven the enemy beyond the battle field and the firing ended at 8: 30.” He went on to say that if he could be resupplied with food and ammunition, “we will hold our own and advance if you wish.” Here was General Porter, the soul of military caution, proposing to follow up the Malvern Hill victory with a counteroffensive.

Sears, Stephen W.. To the Gates of Richmond: The Peninsula Campaign (Kindle Locations 5925-5928). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.



Now, here's what Porter actually said:


Brick House – Near Turkey Creek
July 1st – 9.30 P.M.
General McClellan –
After a hard days fight for nearly four hours against immense odds, we have whipped driven the enemy, beyond the battle field and firing ended at 8.30. Our loss is heavy. If new troops can reinforce or replace us [before] daybreak, and our men provisioned, (without food for 24 hours) and ammunition (exhausted) replenished, we will hold our own and advance if you wish. Without these we must retire. Whatever the results of the days victory (and you alone are the judge) they are due to the excellent positions selected by you today, the firm resistance of Morell (2) and Couch (1), the prompt and spirited support of Sykes’ regulars,
[page 2, note that the three pages are out of order in the archive]
and Couch’s reserves, to Naglee’s and Sickles’ brigades and the skillful use of the artillery pertaining to Morell[,] Couch and Sykes and admirable disposition and thorough support by Hunt of the reserves. Of I cannot do justice to each command and commander. I cannot Only the country can do it. Every man was engaged and when up is if animated by the one thought of on his individual effort depended the safety of our comd army and heroically did they act. I wish to express my warmest thanks to Gen Sumner for Meagher’s brigade, promptly provided when asked for, and for the voluntary assistance of Sickles brigade, which in the noble spirit of a gallant soldier
[page 3]
was hastened forward by Genl Heintzelman when he knew I wanted aid. The country and the Comd General has no more true [illegible] brave soldiers than those engaged today and if they cannot reap the full [illegible deletion] fruits of their labors, today they can only regret the [illegible deletion] necessity of which will compell a withdrawal.
I am General [&c.]
FJ Porter


I've bolded the bit which Sears quoted. Notice that the bit he removes from the middle of the quoted bit completely reverses the meaning of the message - what Porter is actually saying is that his men need food, ammunition, and reinforcements or to be entirely replaced - and without those they have to retreat.

Sears is effectively lying here.


Another good example is about the telegram in which McClellan mentioned that he had the Lost Orders. See, one of the copies of that telegram says "12 Midnight", but Sears argues that "12M" means "12 Midday".
In an email conversation, Sears admitted he'd seen the "12 Midnight" copy (but had effectively ignored it).

These are by no means the only examples. 67th found one where he mendaciously mistranslated an account by one of the French Princes, for example.



Of course, the 4,300 cavalry is from McClellan's report, but if Sears is giving Lee's strength in effectives and McClellan's strength in PFD (which are absolutely not the same thing) then it's a very biased portrait and the sort of thing a historian should not do.

Thanks for replying; much appreciated. On the first example it is ambiguous (had to look the word up in the dictionary). I have the book To The Gates of Richmond but I would need a page number. I'll have to check that chapter out. But, yes. I see your point. Sears doesn't like Porter or McClellan so he tries to put them in as bad a light as possible. But I can live with that 😈

In Appendix 1 of Landscape Turned Red Sears does address this 12M business with the explanation that 12 M stands for meridian, or noon, "in contemporary military parlance" and not midnight. The issue has to do with when Lincoln received the dispatch, I guess. I don't see were the problem lies. In page 113 Sears says the document (SO 191) was handed to McClellan late in the morning and then sent a dispatch to Lincoln at 12 m. McClellan was elated with the find and wanted to share it with Lincoln quickly because Lincoln had sent him dispatches wanting to know what's going on and, I guess, was pressing McClellan for information regarding Jackson re-crossing the Potomac. Seriously now, what difference does it make whether it was midnight or mid day?

As to strength Lee himself wrote in his report that he fought with less than 40,000 at Antietam. Sears has him at around 36,000 if I do my math correctly and don't count A. P. Hill, and the AOP at around 71,500 effectives. Looking at the West Point Atlas Lee has 55,000 before the Battle of South Mountain and McClellan has 84,000. Is there a noticeable discrepancy here?
 

Mango Hill

Corporal
Joined
Jul 23, 2020
Wow! That's a lot to digest. I'm afraid I have to disagree with 67th's interpretation.

"This telegram is often mis-quoted. Some parse it as an order for an immediate movement"

The President directs that you cross the Potomac and give battle to the enemy or drive him south. Your army must move now while the roads are good.

There's no ambiguity there. It's a direct order to move.

Sap writes;

I know McClellan pointed out that the bridge was necessary to defend Harpers Ferry even if it wasn't used offensively, so they may as well build it as soon as possible even if Lincoln wanted him to move along a different route.
As for "finally", the timeframe doesn't seem to me to support "finally".


The time frame does support Halleck because McClellan was given two choices on October 1st and Halleck is GiC. But let's get back to when McClellan request for the permanent brides to be built over the Potomac and the Shenandoah. He declares the offensive is not possible without the bridges and also dismisses the temporary trestle bridge as not being sturdy. That was on the 24th. Just like requesting supplies, horses, munitions, etc. McClellan can not order this but has to request it and must be approved. McClellan is not a dictator but part of the team. Meigs, Haupt, Halleck must be brought in on the plan in order to get things done correctly and as efficient as possible. It was demonstrated there where many hiccups with supplies being stored in RR cars for weeks, stuff going to the wrong terminal, lines being clogged by with private RR cars etc.

As has already been mentioned Halleck tells McClellan to get moving on the 1st of October; "finding that he purposed to operate from Harper's Ferry, I urged him to cross the river at once and give battle to the enemy........On October 6th he was peremptorily ordered to cross the Potomac and give battle to the enemy, or drive him south". Halleck (GiC) is ordering Mac to move towards the Shenandoah or Halleck's and the Presidents (CIC) preferred route. By this time McClellan is also worried that Lincoln is "down on me".
 
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