Overland Corps Commander performance in the Overland Campaign

(Wilderness, Spotsylvania, North Anna, Cold Harbor)

MichaelWinicki

Private
Joined
Jul 23, 2020
The sad thing is that Burnside actually "won" Spotsylvania Court House, and Grant refused to believe him. He had effectively severed the Brock road and was about to occupy the courthouse proper when Grant ordered a withdrawal. Burnside dutifully obeyed.

In "what-ifs" this was probably the best chance to annihilate Lee's army in the campaign.

That's a valid point.
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
I beg to view with suspicion what Grant says about the corps commanders in his memoirs. Grants judgment and his veracity are called into question In two new books, grant under fire by Joseph Rose Grant in the rewriting of history by Frank Varney
As it happens, Frank Varney was on my Little League team in fourth grade. (Our team went 1-13; I was out sick for the game we won.) I have seen him lecture and I have read his first book; the second one comes next year. He knows his stuff and has done a lot of research -- I only disagree with him somewhat. :smile:
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
The sad thing is that Burnside actually "won" Spotsylvania Court House, and Grant refused to believe him. He had effectively severed the Brock road and was about to occupy the courthouse proper when Grant ordered a withdrawal. Burnside dutifully obeyed.

In "what-ifs" this was probably the best chance to annihilate Lee's army in the campaign.

This is on May 10th? Here is what Grant has to say about it in his Memoirs:
Burnside on the left had got up to within a few hundred yards of Spottsylvania Court House, completely turning Lee's right. He was not aware of the importance of the advantage he had gained, and I, being with the troops where the heavy fighting was, did not know of it at the time. He had gained his position with but little fighting, and almost without loss. Burnside's position now separated him widely from Wright's corps, the corps nearest to him. At night he was ordered to join on to this. This brought him back about a mile, and lost to us an important advantage. I attach no blame to Burnside for this, but I do to myself for not having had a staff officer with him to report to me his position.

Looking in the OR, I see no indication that Burnside had noticed the important opportunity that his position offered. He has been ordered to attack at 5 PM on the 10th along with the rest of the army. He asks Grant if he should attack with the 2 divisions that he has or make an expanded attack by waiting for his third division -- Grant replies that there is no time for his third division to get up to participate in the 5 PM attack. That night, as Grant's HQ is trying to make adjustments for the next day, orders are sent to pull back to close the gap between Burnside and Wright. Burnside obeys, making no particular objection, and not pointing out any missed opportunity.
 
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