The Peninsula General Barnard on McClellan's Peninsula Campaign

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Possibly because they didn't have three more divisions they wished to send.
Yes, they did. It was McDowell's corps plus Shields' division (i.e. four divisions at the time, of which one was sent). The divisions Lincoln and Stanton told McClellan to expect and the ones specified by the men who went ashore to conduct the fact finding expedition. (The report said, almost exactly, "recommend McDowell's corps with Shields' division be sent immediately by water".)

Any other explanation, now that one's provably wrong?
 

1SGDan

Captain
Joined
Dec 13, 2009
Location
New Hampshire
Yes, they did. It was McDowell's corps plus Shields' division (i.e. four divisions at the time, of which one was sent). The divisions Lincoln and Stanton told McClellan to expect and the ones specified by the men who went ashore to conduct the fact finding expedition. (The report said, almost exactly, "recommend McDowell's corps with Shields' division be sent immediately by water".)

Any other explanation, now that one's provably wrong?

I said they didn't have any they wished to send. They apparently thought that those troops were performing valuable service where they were.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Again you insist that Mac didn't have enough. That is not everyone's opinion. It is certainly not mine.
It was the opinion of everyone at the time (including McDowell, the man commanding the prospective reinforcements, AND the men Lincoln sent ashore to find out if McClellan had enough) except for Lincoln and Stanton.

Also, you tacitly admitted he didn't have enough when you said the explanation was that they didn't have the divisions, not that McClellan didn't need them.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
I said they didn't have any they wished to send. They apparently thought that those troops were performing valuable service where they were.
Then why did they tell McClellan they were on the way? More than once?
Why did they feel they knew better than McDowell (who said McClellan needed him) and basically everyone else with a military background, who stated that they were needed with McClellan and not where they were?

More to the point, how can you defend the idea that Lincoln felt he needed more than 40,000 troops defending Washington against Jackson's 8,000, but that McClellan would be okay with 100,000 against the 100,000 or so Confederates in Richmond?

(The total force defending Washington, irrespective of Baltimore, was upwards of 70,000; McDowell's corps plus Shields' division was about 30,000 once McCall had been sent.)
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
Possibly because they didn't have three more divisions they wished to send.

Well there's the point. Lincoln had the divisions to hand, but he chose not to. Glad we're getting somewhere.

All the expert advice, including General Scott, General Hitchcock, General McDowell, all of the other senior officers of the Army of the Potomac, the Assistant Secretary of War and other cabinet members appointed to investigate said "send the divisions" that McClellan asked for. Lincoln decided not too. Who is right and who is wrong?

When a superior asks a subordinate to go something and he says "I need this to do that", and all the impartial experts agree, is the superior (a) justified in expecting his subordinate to succeed without the thing everyone agrees is necessary to succeed or (b) simply a fool.

Again you insist that Mac didn't have enough. That is not everyone's opinion. It is certainly not mine.

But it was the opinion of all the experts of the time.

It may not be your opinion, and I'm glad that you admit you're simply restating your opinion in the face of all contrary evidence.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Incidentally, the total military experience of Lincoln and Stanton combined was:

Stanton. Absolutely nothing whatsoever, as far as I can tell he wasn't even in the militia.
Lincoln. Briefly captain of Illinois militia in 1832 (by election), no battle service. 36 days as captain and 43 as private, in that order.

Literally everyone who completed a ninety-day term in the militia was more experienced in military affairs than the two men who overrode every military officer's advice at once on this matter.
 

wausaubob

Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
This is the part that hurts the Army of the Potomac and General McClellan the most:
Though delay might mature more comprehensive plans and promise greater results, it is not the first case in which it had been shown that successful war involves something more than abstract military principles. The true question was to seize the first practicable moment to satisfy the perhaps unreasonable but natural longing of an impatient nation for results to justify its lavish confidence, and to take advantage of an undivided command and untrammeled liberty of action while it was possessed.

Lost time cannot be recovered. This is an a professorial criticism that probably was commented on by General Scott and when it mentions slavish devotion to abstract military principles, that is an attack on Mahan, Halleck and Jomini.
If McClellan was aligned with them, then it is a criticism of General McClellan also.

The same problems exist in every war. Maintenance of the army and its moral. Finding the enemy and evaluating the enemies force. Then attacking the enemy with a plan that leads to the next operation.
But the solution to those problems is always shifting with technology, geography and politics.

There is a reason everyone hated Barnard. He was working with the concept that everyone is accountable and he wasn't grading on a curve.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
This is the part that hurts the Army of the Potomac and General McClellan the most:
Though delay might mature more comprehensive plans and promise greater results, it is not the first case in which it had been shown that successful war involves something more than abstract military principles. The true question was to seize the first practicable moment to satisfy the perhaps unreasonable but natural longing of an impatient nation for results to justify its lavish confidence, and to take advantage of an undivided command and untrammeled liberty of action while it was possessed.

Lost time cannot be recovered. This is an a professorial criticism that probably was commented on by General Scott and when it mentions slavish devotion to abstract military principles, that is an attack on Mahan, Halleck and Jomini.
If McClellan was aligned with them, then it is a criticism of General McClellan also.
Except that Barnard is wrong. McClellan's "undivided command" had ended before he was even on the Peninsula (General Wool was explicitly not included in the scope of his command, and he was demoted from general-in-chief and as such unable to order his own reinforcements in -he had to ask Lincoln, and Lincoln refused), and his "untrammeled liberty of action" was as we've seen also simply not there. Because he was repeatedly constrained by Lincoln's broken promises.
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
Why is this a McClellan thread? What is it about the McClellan that constantly has to be defended?

If memory serves, it started with Sgt Dan trying Barnard to bash McClellan. Yes, the original post is clear that he was trying to use Barnard's claims to attack McClellan. Frankly, as I noted in my first post if there were major issues then one of them was the inefficiency of Barnard.

The "front" has widened. The OP widened it from my POV into a general "Mac bashing".
 

wausaubob

Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
That's unresponsive. The impatient nation is President Lincoln and Congress. They have 43 months to win the war or prove to the nation that is essentially won. Every month that goes by is a lost asset and an argument in London that the Confederacy is a real nation.
George Thomas and Ulysses Grant both used troops that were poorly trained and poorly equipped to achieve results.
General McClellan was unable to find places to get some experience for his units prior to his own version of the siege of Sevastpol.
General Barnard is giving that delay an F. The campaign, once begun he is giving out a range of C's and B's and he includes himself in the group that failed to critically test the opponents strength.
 

wausaubob

Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
If memory serves, it started with Sgt Dan trying Barnard to bash McClellan. Yes, the original post is clear that he was trying to use Barnard's claims to attack McClellan. Frankly, as I noted in my first post if there were major issues then one of them was the inefficiency of Barnard.

The "front" has widened. The OP widened it from my POV into a general "Mac bashing".
I think that is probably right and is not Barnard's intent. Barnard is writing that George delayed the campaign too long, but once it started we all could have helped him more. In addition, this report was studied in the west. Grant concentrated on celerity, a word I think he borrowed from a navy document. Sherman came to the conclusion that there is no timeless geographical organization of war and the commander has to fight with the conditions in the current war.
But McClellan, Grant and Sherman were not that far apart. The mid 19th century makes steam engine logistics possible and that creates a huge advantage for the United States.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
That's unresponsive. The impatient nation is President Lincoln and Congress. They have 43 months to win the war or prove to the nation that is essentially won. Every month that goes by is a lost asset and an argument in London that the Confederacy is a real nation.
Though in this case impatience was taken much too far, and furthermore that impatience was combined with totally unrealistic expectations. McClellan set off in late March and was outside Richmond by the end of May - that despite his campaign being hampered by multiple problems - and after the Seven Days McClellan was withdrawn on the grounds it might take another month or two to take Richmond!
Instead we got, well... yeah.

Similarly McClellan's relieved of command in November under circumstances which make no military sense.


General Barnard is giving that delay an F.
I think that is probably right and is not Barnard's intent. Barnard is writing that George delayed the campaign too long, but once it started we all could have helped him more.
Then Barnard is a military fool. The campaign began in late March to early April - which is to say, pretty much the start of the serious campaign season - and in fact there were serious storms even in April which were bad enough to shut down all movement for several days. If Barnard is saying serious amphibious operations should have started in March or even February he's suggesting moving far too early. (Not to mention the difficulty of collecting up the amphibious transport.)

If he's saying the operations should have begun in 1861, that's even worse - in 1861 the army was simply not fit for the field. Indeed fully a third of the troops (as of early 1862, let alone September 1861) were armed with weapons unfit for field use, and Bull Run should have shown that.
 
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