Did Grant Ever Retreat?

DanSBHawk

Captain
Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Wisconsin
What you mean here by "play with the numbers" is to actually look closely at where Young got his numbers...
What I mean by "play with the numbers" is that you and 67 make revisionist claims about the numbers, and in every single case, 100% of the time, your revisions either try to inflate McClellan or deflate his rivals.

I don't have confidence in the numbers claims by you and 67 because I know there's an agenda, and that agenda is not historical accuracy. I'll go with the credible historians, like Young and Rhea.
 
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Saphroneth

Major
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Feb 18, 2017
What I mean by "play with the numbers" is that you and 67 make revisionist claims about the numbers, and in every single case, 100% of the time, your revisions either try to inflate McClellan or deflate his rivals.
This would be what's called an "area of interest" - plus, of course, the fact that people like Lee and Grant and so on have had rather more people willing to argue their cases.

I don't have confidence in the numbers claims by you and 67 because I know there's an agenda, and that agenda is not historical accuracy. I'll go with the credible historians, like Young and Rhea.
I think the problem here is that you're imputing an agenda which does not exist. That agenda is historical accuracy - I feel McClellan is hard done by by the general historical consensus, for example, not because I think historical accuracy is bad for him but because I feel historical accuracy is good for him and it's lacking.


But as for Grant, which of these numbers do you disagree with?

- The number of PFD in the Army of the Potomac upon crossing the Rapidan was 120,384. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.b2979871&view=1up&seq=15
- The number of PFD in the 9th Corps upon crossing the Potomac was 20,780. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.b2979871&view=1up&seq=15
- The number of reinforcements Grant got was not less than 42,600 north of the James. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=coo1.ark:/13960/t4kk9w68r&view=1up&seq=745
- The strength of Smith's reinforcement column from Butler's army was not less than 16,000.

Because if they're all accurate, then you can just add them up for an estimate of the number of men Grant had available to him before reaching the James; if at least one of them is inaccurate, then we can ask why.

If I'm wrong here, then at least one of those is inaccurate. If they're all accurate, then I'm not wrong.

You can't just dismiss numbers not because "I see an error here" but because "I know you're wrong even though I can't find any errors"; the Lost Cause was not shown to be wrong by pointing out that they were pro-South, because everyone knew that anyway. They were shown to be wrong by pointing out the inaccuracies in their maths.
 

DanSBHawk

Captain
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Wisconsin
You can't just dismiss numbers not because "I see an error here" but because "I know you're wrong even though I can't find any errors"; the Lost Cause was not shown to be wrong by pointing out that they were pro-South, because everyone knew that anyway. They were shown to be wrong by pointing out the inaccuracies in their maths.
I can dismiss, and am dismissing your numbers. I haven't studied them and don't intend to. Credible historians disagree with you, and I'll go by their numbers.

Perhaps this thread should get back on topic.
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
I can dismiss, and am dismissing your numbers. I haven't studied them and don't intend to. Credible historians disagree with you, and I'll go by their numbers.

Perhaps this thread should get back on topic.
Or, to translate "I know you're right, but don't want to admit it"?
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Absolutely. I'll continue to go by the writing of credible historians. That seems like a coherent stance to take.
So, to be clear, you are agreeing with Young on this matter that Grant crossed the Rapidan with 120,000 men PFD, and got 64,000 reinforcements?
 

DanSBHawk

Captain
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Location
Wisconsin
So, to be clear, you are agreeing with Young on this matter that Grant crossed the Rapidan with 120,000 men PFD, and got 64,000 reinforcements?
You misrepresent Young's writing. Here is his total:

"Grant's net increase is then about 44,000 men, or a maximum total of 162,000 men."
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
So, to be clear, you are agreeing with Young on this matter that Grant crossed the Rapidan with 120,000 men PFD, and got 64,000 reinforcements?

You misrepresent Young's writing. Here is his total:

"Grant's net increase is then about 44,000 men, or a maximum total of 162,000 men."
Because he inappropriately deducted 20,000 mostly non-existent discharges, when 20,000 was the number to be mustered out by the end of August.

To be clear, Young made two errors:

1. He used the AoP return in the OR, unaware that Humphreys had "doctored" it to reduce the reported strength of the AoP
2. He randomly deducted 20,000 men as "discharges" without evidence or citation, and in contravention of other evidence.

(2) is particularly egregious, as Young included them to pad the numbers and reduce the "percentage casualties" at another point in the book.

This is why you should always show your working, kids!
 

DanSBHawk

Captain
Joined
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Location
Wisconsin
Because he inappropriately deducted 20,000 mostly non-existent discharges, when 20,000 was the number to be mustered out by the end of August.

To be clear, Young made two errors:

1. He used the AoP return in the OR, unaware that Humphreys had "doctored" it to reduce the reported strength of the AoP
2. He randomly deducted 20,000 men as "discharges" without evidence or citation, and in contravention of other evidence.

(2) is particularly egregious, as Young included them to pad the numbers and reduce the "percentage casualties" at another point in the book.

This is why you should always show your working, kids!
Yes, I understand you disagree with Young. But as I've said multiple times, he has more credibility and so I'm sticking with his work, not your spin.
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
Yes, I understand you disagree with Young. But as I've said multiple times, he has more credibility and so I'm sticking with his work, not your spin.
Not spin, but rather fault-finding.

Young made two errors which reduced the count of the Federals by 42,000 troops (and he never checked the "table of reinforcements" and missed something significant there). By declaring he's considering "net" gains, he's acknowledging that Grant had 20,000 more than he's summing to, but he's ignoring them.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
You misrepresent Young's writing. Here is his total:

"Grant's net increase is then about 44,000 men, or a maximum total of 162,000 men."
Well, yes, because he also deducted 20,000 men who (he claimed) left the army after some of the fighting. But that's no more correct than saying that Butler was sent against Richmond with only the divisions he had on June 15, because four of them started with him (and were present for some of the fighting) but were then assigned away.

Young's own numbers indicate that he felt Grant crossed the Rapidan with 120,000 men and gained 64,000 reinforcements; certainly almost all the units who mustered out north of the James can be confirmed to have been involved in heavy fighting, so it's not as if he had merely the same effectiveness as if he'd swapped those units out for the same number of fresh men before the start of the campaign.

Of course, Young doesn't source his claim of 20,000 men leaving the army. Do you believe it?
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Yes, I understand you disagree with Young. But as I've said multiple times, he has more credibility and so I'm sticking with his work, not your spin.
Out of interest, why do you say that Young has more credibility on the Federal unit strength?
I don't dispute he has credibility on the Confederate unit strength; he's gone into great detail analyzing it. But someone who is a known expert in one field is not necessarily a known expert in a related field; a known expert in civill law is only to be respected in criminal law if he shows the same rigour in that field as well.
Young has written two books on Lee's army during the Overland Campaign, and those books are very clear that they are about Lee's army - not about Grant's army. Young is an expert on (and has credibility regarding) the Confederate army, but he has not written any books on the Union army in the same period (let alone ones with a high reputation) - so why grant him that credibility?


Indeed, if you measure credibility by depth of research and sourcing, 67th has actually done more than Young has on this subject - in that 67th has sourced all the relevant numbers, while Young uses at least two unreferenced numbers.
 

DanSBHawk

Captain
Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Wisconsin
Out of interest, why do you say that Young has more credibility on the Federal unit strength?
I don't dispute he has credibility on the Confederate unit strength; he's gone into great detail analyzing it. But someone who is a known expert in one field is not necessarily a known expert in a related field; a known expert in civill law is only to be respected in criminal law if he shows the same rigour in that field as well.
Young has written two books on Lee's army during the Overland Campaign, and those books are very clear that they are about Lee's army - not about Grant's army. Young is an expert on (and has credibility regarding) the Confederate army, but he has not written any books on the Union army in the same period (let alone ones with a high reputation) - so why grant him that credibility?


Indeed, if you measure credibility by depth of research and sourcing, 67th has actually done more than Young has on this subject - in that 67th has sourced all the relevant numbers, while Young uses at least two unreferenced numbers.
Credibility is more than a measure of "depth of research." Some authors who have done very deep research go on to write books so tainted by bias that they lack any credibility.

Young is respected by other respected historians, such as Gordon Rhea who wrote the Foreword in his book. I don't put anyone on a higher level of credibility concerning the Overland Campaign than Rhea.

I've engaged 67 in enough discussions here that I've been able to form an opinion as to his credibility. Let's just leave it at that.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Young is respected by other respected historians, such as Gordon Rhea who wrote the Foreword in his book. I don't put anyone on a higher level of credibility concerning the Overland Campaign than Rhea.
So in that case, I presume you feel Young's (unsourced) claim on 20,000 men leaving the army by mustering out is correct. Is that so?
 

Dead Parrott

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 30, 2019
......aaaaaaaaaaand the Interesting morphs into the Exhausted.

Back to the point - did Grant ever retreat?

I agree with Saphroneth's original answer - yes, and that is not the pejorative some folks think it is.
 

wausaubob

Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
Grant certainly retreated. But the lines given to the Lee character in the documentary were also correct. By May of 1864, the US army in Virginia was not going to retreat. General Lee knew the last campaign in Virginia had started.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Grant certainly retreated. But the lines given to the Lee character in the documentary were also correct. By May of 1864, the US army in Virginia was not going to retreat. General Lee knew the last campaign in Virginia had started.
Eh... I think it depends how you define it.

If you say "Lee's army was Grant's objective" and define that as only Lee's army, then Grant did retreat in the Overland.
But if you say that that objective encompassed both the army itself and the support structure which let it exist within Virginia, then Grant did not (because that way by manoeuvering away from Lee's army he is still advancing).

I hold the second view, but I wouldn't be surprised if the documentary pressed the "Grant's objective was Lee's army and this was different" view.
 
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