Grant and McClellan

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DanSBHawk

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Fox, on the 24th March:


Navy Department,
March 24, 1862
Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough
My dear Sir

Gen'l Barnard has informed you of the plan of operations and the desire the Army has to have you strike a blow for them. I told the President that it must be left entirely to your judgment bearing in mind that your first duty was to take care of the Merrimac. He agrees to that, at the same time I don't like to have the Army say that the Navy could not help them, so we are ordering everything we can raise to report to you. The Sebago and Marantanza, (similar to the Octorara) will probably be in line, so will the Galena, iron clad vessel and you can probably bring back some of the North Carolina fleet, though they amount to very little. The Pawnee is ordered up from Du Pont's squadron. The St. Lawrence was ordered into the Potomac, in my absence, you can make what use you wish of her. Please send back the yard boats, and Potomac flotilla craft as fast as you can as they are much required here. If Burnside gets to Beaufort and the Nashville is destroyed, I fancy one sailing vessel will be enough off that port, so altogether you will have considerable of a force such as they are, before the army, is ready. If it is not enough I will take care to explain it, but if you can, I should like to see you knock down the town for them, they consider it as saving several months in the campaign. We want the Octorara to go South after this matter and the Merrimac is decided. The Propeller and Mail she has, better go by the Rhode Island.




The idea was definitely there and the Assistant Secretary of the Navy was mentioning it. His later testimony that it was never understood that the Navy was expected to reduce Yorktown can only be seen as suspicious on this basis, as the idea is present two weeks before McClellan reaches the Yorktown line.
Also see the later point on this matter.



But he wasn't there to see how many troops were in the defences on the 5th and the 6th. If there really were 5,000 troops to cover the whole of the Warwick line then making a rush is possible; if there were 13,000 troops on the 5th with more arriving on the 6th it looks very difficult indeed.



But then that means that Keyes held both positions, that the line was impregnable and that it could easily be forced. Why did he change his mind, and why should we trust one view rather than the other?

Speaking of testimony to the JCCW, Keyes is absolutely clear both in his JCCW testimony and his memoirs that he refused to consent to the Peninsular Campaign until he had recieved confirmation from the Navy that "the Navy was in a condition to co-operate efficiently to break through between Yorktown and Gloucester"; he is also clear that that confirmation was recieved from the Navy. So the plan was not agreed to until the Navy had confirmed that they were in a condition to cooperate with an attack up the York river (which is the only thing between Yorktown and Gloucester).




Keyes does state that "my impression now is that if the whole army had been pressed forward, we should have found a point to break through", but he states also of Yorktown that "in looking at the works after we got possession, I should say that in making an assault our loss would have been very great".
He does not state where the point that the line might be broken is, and he is clear multiple times that it is his opinion only that they could have broken through; in fact, when asked specifically whether they could have penetrated the lines (even with hindsight) he is clear that he will not say it was impossible, and that it was his opinion that it might have been done.


What it looks like to me is that Keyes (and Webb, and for that matter Magruder) are thinking of the Garrows approach, which is certainly the weakest point on the line. But to come across that point on the 5th or the 6th is a matter of pure chance, as neither of the roads up the Peninsula leads there.

Keyes also does not mention in his JCCW testimony that he was ordered to make a strongly pressed attack on the 5th of April, and he states that "I did not see any propriety in ordering an assault against such very strong works" in relation to Lees Mill. Thus at the time Keyes considered the position basically impregnable by land.

When asked directly "why was not the attempt made to carry those works immediately on the arrival of the army in full force upon the peninsula", Keyes makes no mention of the order he had to make a direct bayonet assault. This is an odd omission.
Yes Assistant Secretary Fox, whose highest rank in the navy was lieutenant, making this suggestion to the Flag Officer at the end of March, after the operation was already underway. Read the Navy's testimony to the JCCW. There was never a conversation during the planning, involving competent naval officers, as to whether it was even possible to do what McClellan planned for the navy to do.
 

Saphroneth

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Yes Assistant Secretary Fox, whose highest rank in the navy was lieutenant, making this suggestion to the Flag Officer at the end of March, after the operation was already underway.
The assistant secretary of the navy isn't a trusted source about what the navy had been asked to do? Note that he references Barnard having already discussed this with Goldsborough.

. Read the Navy's testimony to the JCCW. There was never a conversation during the planning, involving competent naval officers, as to whether it was even possible to do what McClellan planned for the navy to do.
And Keyes states in so many words in his JCCW testimony that his assent to the Peninsular plan was dependent on the Navy agreeing that they could cooperate with an attack up the York.

Which JCCW testimony are you going to go with here?

I should note that in Rowena Reed's book on combined operations in the civil war she's complimentary of McClellan's combined operations approach and uncomplimentary about the Navy. She specifically notes that it is indisputable that Fox and Goldborough were consulted and that the Navy destroyed parts of their documentation involving this (so it's not in the ORN) after refusing to share it with the JCCW.


So Keyes gets a verbal promise from Fox on the 13th of March which is why he supports the Peninsular plan in the first place.
On the 14th, McClellan sends Welles a note.
On the 17th Fox has a meeting with Barnard and McDowell where he agrees to assist in the army movement (which is when McClellan embarks his first division), and Woodbury is sent to liase with Goldsborough. Same day Welles orders all available ships to concentrate at Fort Monore.
On the 19th Woodbury mentions that Goldsborough is unenthusiastic about the idea of running gunboats past Yorktown (which is to say an attack up the river); thus, on the 19th or earlier Goldsborough had been informed of the plan.

Note that the plan was only decided upon on the 13th. That Goldsborough had already been informed about the plan on the 19th is pretty quick given the delays involved in communications; it's true the operation had already begun, but it's going to take weeks to move everybody to Fort Monroe anyway.
The news that Goldsborough had issues is cause to immediately suspend the movement, and McClellan sends Barnard to Goldsborough instead.

20th March there's a sit-down meeting at the White House including McDowell, Lincoln, Stanton and three navy men. Fox is in favour of attacking Yorktown, Welles is against and we don't know Dahlgren's view.

21st March Lincoln assures McClellan on the navy issue enough that McClellan resumes the movement; McDowell says that the meeting from the 20th is continued and they wait for Barnard.

22nd March Barnard restates Goldsborough's reluctance. Thus McClellan orders the preparation of a siege train to hedge his bets.

And 24th march is when there's the letter between Fox and Goldsborough.

It's not the first time the issue was raised. It's not even the first time the issue is raised to Goldsborough, who's known about it for five days already.


Who else should McClellan have consulted with? The Peninsular plan is put together in a tearing hurry, it's four days between the council of war orders the plan and the first movement, and Yorktown ends up taken (despite the Navy not really being any help) roughly on the date when, in 1864, the campaign season was considered to have started.
 

Saphroneth

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There was never a conversation during the planning, involving competent naval officers, as to whether it was even possible to do what McClellan planned for the navy to do.
I'll note here that it was absolutely possible for the Navy to do what McClellan wanted the Navy to do, and Fox said so in as many words:

"I saw all the defences of Yorktown, and am satified that if Missroon had pushed by with a couple of gunboats the Navy would have had the credit of driving the army of the rebels out, besides immortality to himself.
Yorktown altogether had but fifty guns, and none pointing up river. The water batteries on both sides were insiginificant, and, according to all our naval conflicts thus far, could have been passed at night with impunity."
-Fox to Goldsborough, May 7 1862
 
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67th Tigers

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CF Smith's assault at Donelson was at a fortified position which was suspected of being undermanned.
What assault?

After 8 hours of battle, Grant comes onto the field and orders McClernand and Wallace to retreat and CF Smith to "stay quiet". McClernand basically tells him to stuff it.. Coming from his failed attempt to get McClernand to retreat he goes to CF Smith. There he sends to Foote (who has already left to take his ships to be repaired, Cmdr Dove of the St. Louis received it) that his men were demoralised and he must "order a charge to save appearances".

Here things get interesting. The only source for what transpired in the meeting is Grant's own memoirs, and it is false in at least one aspect - Grant claimed he knew the enemy were breaking out and the lines were weakly manned. In fact, Grant's own draft report written 3 days after the event showed that he only found this out after the surrender. Grant in fact had no apparent idea that the rebel right was weak at the time. He found this out after the event and redacted his story. CF Smith's draft report for his part merely states that Grant gave him an order to advance in person at 1500. Given Grant's apparent defeatism, and looking at Smith's general dominance of Grant, it's likely that CF Smith was the initiator, not Grant. After all, after this Grant put in writing that it was only "to save appearances", and not a serious attack.

Lauman's brigade advanced and gained the largely undefended rifle pits, but are stopped dead by 3 coys of the 30th Tennessee in the main line and a couple of batteries. Grant reissued the retreat order to Wallace directly, who ignores it because the rebels have withdrawn from the road and back into their entrenchments and they already had 3 brigades astride the road.

It's not much of an assault.

Missionary Ridge should have been a very strong defensive position for the confederates.
Yet it was not.

McClellan outnumbered the confederate defenders on the Yorktown line and the defensive works were weak according to Johnston.
Grant stated that an entrenched man was worth 5 attackers. The odds were less than 2:1 in McClellan's favour, or 2:5 against him in combat power.

Johnston is complaining about the lack of reverses and bomb-proofs at Yorktown, meaning if (ironclad) gunboats run past Yorktown then the fort can't be defended. The line was considered impregnable to infantry assault.

And yet McClellan never made a determined attempt to take it, so we will never know if it would have immediately fallen.
Yes we do, in the same way we know I wouldn't win a fight with Mike Tyson, despite it never being tried.

Look at previous threads for the links and references to the firsthand accounts of people who claimed an assault could have succeeded. I'm not going to look that all up again.
Again?
 

67th Tigers

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Yes Assistant Secretary Fox, whose highest rank in the navy was lieutenant, making this suggestion to the Flag Officer at the end of March, after the operation was already underway. Read the Navy's testimony to the JCCW. There was never a conversation during the planning, involving competent naval officers, as to whether it was even possible to do what McClellan planned for the navy to do.
Yes, there were many. From ten months ago:

We can sequence events. Firstly I should note you are completely wrong about the origin of the Peninsula movement. The decision to move to Fort Monroe was forced on McClellan by his corps commanders, whom Lincoln had appointed to make the decision (as was disappointed). The sequence is thus

13th March

"HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,

Fairfax Court-House, March 13, 1862.

A council of the generals commanding army corps at the Headquarters Army of the Potomac were of the opinion-

I. That, the enemy having retreated from Manassas to Gordonsville, behind the Rappahannock and Rapidan, it is the opinion of the generals commanding army corps that the operations to be carried on will be best undertaken from Old Point Comfort, between the York and James River, upon Richmond, provided-

1. That the enemy's vessel Merrimac can be neutralized.

2. That the means of transportation sufficient for an immediate transfer of the force to its new base can be ready at Washington and Alexandria to move down the Potomac, and

3. That a naval auxiliary force can be had to silence or aid in silencing the enemy's batteries in York River.

4. That the force to be left to cover Washington shall be such as to give an entire feeling of security for its safety from menace.

Unanimous.

II. If the foregoing cannot be, the army should then be moved against the enemy behind the Rappahannock at the earliest possible moment, and the means for reconstructing bridges, repairing railroads, and stocking them with material sufficient for the supplying the army should at once be collected for both the Orange and Alexandria and the Aquia and Richmond Railroads.

Unanimous.

NOTE.- That, with the forts on the right bank of the Potomac fully garrisoned, and those on the left bank occupied, a covering force in front of the Virginia line of 25,000 men would suffice.

KEYES.

HEINTZELMAN.

McDOWELL.

A total of 40,000 men for the defense of the city would suffice.

SUMNER."

Hence some degree of confusion. Months had been made preparing for an operation and at the last minute McClellan had a change of plans imposed on him. McClellan immediately moves to implement said plan, and he writes to Stanton to secure the help of the navy. Keyes had already obtained a verbal promise from Fox to knock down Yorktown (see his 7th April letter).

14th March

Welles initially rebuffs McClellan's note. He's only interested in Norfolk. Said note is handed to Lincoln (it is in the Lincoln files) and we don't know what was said but....

17th March

The Navy Dept agrees to McClellan's terms and Welles orders all available ships to concentrate at Fort Monroe. Fox has a meeting with Barnard and McDowell and agrees "to assist in the Army movement which is to take place immediately from Hampton Roads." McClellan orders his lead division embarked on receiving the news. Woodbury is sent to liase with Goldsborough.

19th March

Woodbury reports that Goldsborough's offers of aid are not convincing, and he may be unreliable. Hence McClellan sends Barnard to Goldsborough, and kicks the matter upstairs to Stanton. McClellan suspends the order for the movement, awaiting the Navy question. Stanton tells Lincoln and Lincoln immediately writes he wishes to see McClellan at Alexandria, which will happen on the 21st.

20th March

McDowell, Lincoln, Stanton, Welles, Dahlgren, and Fox have a sit down meeting at the White House to discuss the matter, which McDowell says was "indecisive", because the Navy people disagree about whether the Navy can attack Yorktown or not. We know the hawk here was Fox, and we know Welles was against the idea. I've no idea about Dahlgren. The meeting was adjourned.

21st March

Lincoln meets McClellan in the morning at Alexandria to discuss the Navy issue. Lincoln reassures McClellan enough that McClellan un-suspends the movement and orders Porter's division embarked. Lincoln returns to Washington and continues said meeting. Again, nothing is concluded and McDowell states they're awaiting for Barnard to return.

22nd March

Barnard returns, and reiterates Goldsborough's reluctance. McClellan orders a siege train to be carried as it appears that the promises in Washington may be hollow. A previous study by Shields in January had suggested it would take 6 weeks to take Yorktown by regular approaches.

24th March

Fox sends a request to Goldsborough to attack Yorktown. He won't.

Keyes, Barnard and McDowell, the higher ups who liased with the Navy, reported that the Navy had promised to fully cooperate. Woodbury was sent to Goldsborough to liase and he reported he was not convinced by Goldsborough's offers of aid. Hence on 20th March McClellan kicks the question up to Stanton and McClellan etc. discuss the matter in Cabinet on the afternoon of the 20th. Barnard is sent to secure Goldsborough's cooperation. On the 22nd Barnard has not returned and McClellan orders Marcy to prepare an alternative to the Navy - a siege train.

3rd April

Knowing his army will be at Yorktown on the 5th, McClellan asks Goldsborough to arrive at Yorktown on the 5th and attack it.

5th April

Four gunboats show up but refuse to attack. They are Marblehead (5), Wachusett (10), Penobscot (5) and Currituck (5).

9th April

Fox visits McClellan and spends the night. He promises to get the fleet up to destroy Yorktown, and promises to get Franklin's division released for amphibious operations.

14th April

A fifth gunboat, Sebago, armed with rifles joins the force in the York.

16th April

Sebago engages the batteries at long range, and is not hit.

19th April

Fox repeats his request to Goldsborough to have a force run past Yorktown and attack it. He cites Lincoln's annoyance at the Navy.

21st April

Goldsborough writes a long piece of self-justification, which he'll repeat at the JCCW.

3rd May

Fox again visits McClellan. He's present at the evacuation.

7th May

Fox, having examined Yorktown, writes Goldsborough that indeed Yorktown could easily have been attacked, and that the Navy had been "humbugged". In this his understanding is exactly that of Joe Johnston, and the fact that he quotes Johnston confirms he'd read the latters letter to Davis.

Conclusion

McClellan never "relied" on the Navy. Indeed, for all their promises he considered them unreliable. This is because he put a lot of effort into trying to secure it, including getting Presidential intervention, but never managed it. Fox desperately tried to get Goldsborough to co-operate but failed.

McClellan understood one of two things would happen - the Navy might attack as promised by Fox but denied by Goldsborough, or he might need to destroy Yorktown conventionally which was estimated to require six weeks when assessed in January and was one of the primary reasons for the initial rejection of the Peninsula.

McClellan indulged the Navy in various schemes involving Franklin to try and get their cooperation, but in early May he gave up on the Navy. He ordered Franklin ashore as part of an 8-division assault planned for 5th May, when the batteries opened fire.

When they got into Yorktown it was obvious to all that the Navy easily could have done the job, and it was embarrassing that they didn't.

At the JCCW in 1863, both Fox and Goldsborough "deny everything" in an effort to protect the reputation of the US Navy.

Misroon was removed from active service at his own request in late April. It was an "asked to resign" thing. Goldsborough had fatally weakened his standing. Whilst a run up the James towards Drewry's Bluff prevented his immediately removal, it was decided to supercede him in active command ASAP.
 

DanSBHawk

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The assistant secretary of the navy isn't a trusted source about what the navy had been asked to do? Note that he references Barnard having already discussed this with Goldsborough.


And Keyes states in so many words in his JCCW testimony that his assent to the Peninsular plan was dependent on the Navy agreeing that they could cooperate with an attack up the York.

Which JCCW testimony are you going to go with here?

I should note that in Rowena Reed's book on combined operations in the civil war she's complimentary of McClellan's combined operations approach and uncomplimentary about the Navy. She specifically notes that it is indisputable that Fox and Goldborough were consulted and that the Navy destroyed parts of their documentation involving this (so it's not in the ORN) after refusing to share it with the JCCW.


So Keyes gets a verbal promise from Fox on the 13th of March which is why he supports the Peninsular plan in the first place.
On the 14th, McClellan sends Welles a note.
On the 17th Fox has a meeting with Barnard and McDowell where he agrees to assist in the army movement (which is when McClellan embarks his first division), and Woodbury is sent to liase with Goldsborough. Same day Welles orders all available ships to concentrate at Fort Monore.
On the 19th Woodbury mentions that Goldsborough is unenthusiastic about the idea of running gunboats past Yorktown (which is to say an attack up the river); thus, on the 19th or earlier Goldsborough had been informed of the plan.

Note that the plan was only decided upon on the 13th. That Goldsborough had already been informed about the plan on the 19th is pretty quick given the delays involved in communications; it's true the operation had already begun, but it's going to take weeks to move everybody to Fort Monroe anyway.
The news that Goldsborough had issues is cause to immediately suspend the movement, and McClellan sends Barnard to Goldsborough instead.

20th March there's a sit-down meeting at the White House including McDowell, Lincoln, Stanton and three navy men. Fox is in favour of attacking Yorktown, Welles is against and we don't know Dahlgren's view.

21st March Lincoln assures McClellan on the navy issue enough that McClellan resumes the movement; McDowell says that the meeting from the 20th is continued and they wait for Barnard.

22nd March Barnard restates Goldsborough's reluctance. Thus McClellan orders the preparation of a siege train to hedge his bets.

And 24th march is when there's the letter between Fox and Goldsborough.

It's not the first time the issue was raised. It's not even the first time the issue is raised to Goldsborough, who's known about it for five days already.


Who else should McClellan have consulted with? The Peninsular plan is put together in a tearing hurry, it's four days between the council of war orders the plan and the first movement, and Yorktown ends up taken (despite the Navy not really being any help) roughly on the date when, in 1864, the campaign season was considered to have started.
I think you are conflating some things here. The plan about "running gunboats past Yorktown" was about landing troops above Yorktown, not about reducing Yorktown with naval gunfire.

As far as Reed, she was an unabashed McClellan fan.

There was never a McClellan/Goldsborough joint planning process for the Peninsula in the model of a Grant/Foote collaboration.
 
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DanSBHawk

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What assault?

After 8 hours of battle, Grant comes onto the field and orders McClernand and Wallace to retreat and CF Smith to "stay quiet". McClernand basically tells him to stuff it.. Coming from his failed attempt to get McClernand to retreat he goes to CF Smith. There he sends to Foote (who has already left to take his ships to be repaired, Cmdr Dove of the St. Louis received it) that his men were demoralised and he must "order a charge to save appearances".

Here things get interesting. The only source for what transpired in the meeting is Grant's own memoirs, and it is false in at least one aspect - Grant claimed he knew the enemy were breaking out and the lines were weakly manned. In fact, Grant's own draft report written 3 days after the event showed that he only found this out after the surrender. Grant in fact had no apparent idea that the rebel right was weak at the time. He found this out after the event and redacted his story. CF Smith's draft report for his part merely states that Grant gave him an order to advance in person at 1500. Given Grant's apparent defeatism, and looking at Smith's general dominance of Grant, it's likely that CF Smith was the initiator, not Grant. After all, after this Grant put in writing that it was only "to save appearances", and not a serious attack.

Lauman's brigade advanced and gained the largely undefended rifle pits, but are stopped dead by 3 coys of the 30th Tennessee in the main line and a couple of batteries. Grant reissued the retreat order to Wallace directly, who ignores it because the rebels have withdrawn from the road and back into their entrenchments and they already had 3 brigades astride the road.

It's not much of an assault.



Yet it was not.



Grant stated that an entrenched man was worth 5 attackers. The odds were less than 2:1 in McClellan's favour, or 2:5 against him in combat power.

Johnston is complaining about the lack of reverses and bomb-proofs at Yorktown, meaning if (ironclad) gunboats run past Yorktown then the fort can't be defended. The line was considered impregnable to infantry assault.



Yes we do, in the same way we know I wouldn't win a fight with Mike Tyson, despite it never being tried.



Again?
This post is a perfect example of why I have zero confidence in any of the numbers or "facts" posted by McClellan fans.
 

67th Tigers

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This post is a perfect example of why I have zero confidence in any of the numbers or "facts" posted by McClellan fans.
So, you admit that your argument is not based on facts?

I think you are conflating some things here. The plan about "running gunboats past Yorktown" was about landing troops above Yorktown, not about reducing Yorktown with naval gunfire.
As per last time you said this, no.

If you look at the map, Magruder's main defensive position is at Young's Mill (considerably east of Yorktown) and the landings considered were behind that, not Yorktown.

Woodbury%2Breport%2Bint.png



There was never a McClellan/Goldsborough joint planning process for the Peninsula in the model of a Grant/Foote collaboration.
McClellan tried, but Goldsborough refused. See all the meetings etc.
 

Saphroneth

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I think you are conflating some things here. The plan about "running gunboats past Yorktown" was about landing troops above Yorktown, not about reducing Yorktown with naval gunfire.
I have to admit, "gunboats" are famously capable of landing troops and famously incapable of shooting things.

What was the landing point considered above Yorktown? We know they were quite happy to discuss the exact names of all the other landing places.


As far as Reed, she was an unabashed McClellan fan.
Hold on, what? Does that mean her argument can be dismissed without evidence?
 
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DanSBHawk

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Here is a book review of The Peninsula Campaign of 1862: A Military Analysis, by Kevin Dougherty and J. Michael Moore, in which the reviewer notes the following:

"What was needed (in the Peninsula campaign), the authors point out, was an informal, but nevertheless, close collaboration based on the model of Ulysses Grant and Andrew Foote in the western theater; however, the personalities of both men (McClellan and Goldsborough) prevented such collaboration."

https://networks.h-net.org/node/4113/reviews/4850/tap-dougherty-peninsula-campaign-1862-military-analysis

That's my opinion as well. It should be noted that the authors of this book concluded that the blame for the failure of the joint operations rests with McClellan.
 
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67th Tigers

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Here is a book review of The Peninsula Campaign of 1862: A Military Analysis, by Kevin Dougherty and J. Michael Moore, in which the reviewer notes the following:

That's my opinion as well. It should be noted that the authors of this book concluded that the blame for the failure of the joint operations rests with McClellan.
So what?

I'm actually read the book, and it's not exactly a scholarly work. Try finding a primary reference in it. In this case the authors reference the opinions of some anti-McClellan writers (Sears, Catton and Glaathar mainly) as their evidence, and simply accept their word as fact.

In this case, like those he quotes, Dougherty decides to blame McClellan for the Navy being unable to make up their minds. He ignores completely the divergent opinions of Goldsborough and Welles on one hand, and President Lincoln and Fox on the other. There's mental gymnastics involved where the army commander is blamed for the navy commander refusing to do what the President asks!
 

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An interesting letter from Fox to Goldsborough on April 23 that reinforces that McClellan failed to adequately plan with the Navy.

Letter from the Assistant Secretary of the Navy to Flag-Oflicer Golds-
borough, U. S. Navy, regarding cooperation with the Army of the
Potomac.
NAVY DEPARTMENT, April 23, 1862.
MY DEAR COMMODORE: I have your note of the 20th instant, and
your two of the 21st. It is perfectly understood that the army were to
dash up the peninsula without the navy, and in fact we were never
informed of the movement. I found it out accidentally, and did my
best to turn it to Norfolk, knowing the scant force we had and the
benefit the rebels would derive from the Merrimack. But, as it was
determined to go on to the peninsula, we threw all the force we could
toward you, and so continue to do, because the cry will be (it has
already commenced) for the Navy to pull them out of the slough.
 
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67th Tigers

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An interesting letter from Fox to Goldsborough on April 23 that reinforces that McClellan failed to adequately plan with the Navy.

Letter from the Assistant Secretary of the Navy to Flag-Oflicer Golds-
borough, U. S. Navy, regarding cooperation with the Army of the
Potomac.
NAVY DEPARTMENT, April 23, 1862.
MY DEAR COMMODORE: I have your note of the 20th instant, and
your two of the 21st. It is perfectly understood that the army were to
dash up the peninsula without the navy, and in fact we were never
informed of the movement.
I found it out accidentally, and did my
best to turn it to Norfolk, knowing the scant force we had and the
benefit the rebels would derive from the Merrimack. But, as it was
determined to go on to the peninsula, we threw all the force we could
toward you, and so continue to do, because the cry will be (it has
already commenced) for the Navy to pull them out of the slough.
and five weeks earlier:

"Unofficial

Navy Department
March 17, 1862
Dear Commodore,

Every available vessel we have will be ordered to report to you, to assist in the Army movement which is to take place immediately from Hampton Roads
. I have chartered the Illinois and Arago to report to you to be used as rams. Sand bags will go by the Arago to protect their boilers. We telegraphed for you to keep the San. Jacinto. The Wachusett sailed the 12th from Boston, and three gun-boats, two I think went to Beaufort. I will also send what boats are heavily armed, from the Potomac. If a hawser could be trailed near the Merrimac's stern, it would be sucked in and disable her, but these are all bell and cat ideas.

Yours in haste

G. V. Fox

P.S. Please consult with Col. Woodbury of the Engineers who is now at Old Point Comfort. "

... and a week later:

"Navy Department,
March 24, 1862
Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough
My dear Sir

Gen'l Barnard has informed you of the plan of operations and the desire the Army has to have you strike a blow for them. I told the President that it must be left entirely to your judgment bearing in mind that your first duty was to take care of the Merrimac. He agrees to that, at the same time I don't like to have the Army say that the Navy could not help them, so we are ordering everything we can raise to report to you. The Sebago and Marantanza, (similar to the Octorara) will probably be in line, so will the Galena, iron clad vessel and you can probably bring back some of the North Carolina fleet, though they amount to very little. The Pawnee is ordered up from Du Pont's squadron. The St. Lawrence was ordered into the Potomac, in my absence, you can make what use you wish of her. Please send back the yard boats, and Potomac flotilla craft as fast as you can as they are much required here. If Burnside gets to Beaufort and the Nashville is destroyed, I fancy one sailing vessel will be enough off that port, so altogether you will have considerable of a force such as they are, before the army, is ready. If it is not enough I will take care to explain it, but if you can, I should like to see you knock down the town for them, they consider it as saving several months in the campaign. We want the Octorara to go South after this matter and the Merrimac is decided. The Propeller and Mail she has, better go by the Rhode Island.

We will send you the Maratanza and Sebago, probably without Commanders, or at least one of them, and you must give them to your best men, keeping in view seniority if it possesses merit, not without! The President has sent you the Vanderbilt, are you in want of any more for rams? They charge $3000 per day, for those sound boats. The Roanoke is to be iron-clad. Can't you spare Stimers? We want him here for one of the board in iron-clad vessels. We shall have a dozen Monitors improved and carrying two 15 in. guns. Is
Buchanan dead? I think the Merrimac is shifting her battery. Has she been in the Dock? Could one of these Potomac fishing nets be sunk across the Channel?

Prize money for fleet captains is fixed as agreed upon when you were here.

Most truly yours,

G. V. Fox. "

So, over a month before he claims he never knew that the Army of the Potomac was moving to Fort Monroe and going to attack Yorktown, we have him telling Goldsborough to cooperate with the move up the Peninsula, and "knock down" Yorktown.

What do we make of this? His denials are obviously false, since there is documentary proof to the contrary. As Dahlgren's diary notes, on 18th March there was a general meeting at Alexandria where McClellan explained the plans to Fox etc. Dahlgren's diary then moves to the 21st, where McClellan, McDowell, Dahlgren, Fox etc. have two meetings. At the latter (which McClellan is not at) McDowell asks, in the presence of Lincoln, for the Navy to attack Yorktown. Dahlgren agrees and says they should bring the heavy frigates and the Galena up and attack. Welles said no, and Fox suggested they wait to see what Goldsborough said before deciding.

Certainly, Fox knew what the plan was, for he was told it in the presence of the President. Yet he denies knowing it...
 

DanSBHawk

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and five weeks earlier:

"Unofficial

Navy Department
March 17, 1862
Dear Commodore,

Every available vessel we have will be ordered to report to you, to assist in the Army movement which is to take place immediately from Hampton Roads. I have chartered the Illinois and Arago to report to you to be used as rams. Sand bags will go by the Arago to protect their boilers. We telegraphed for you to keep the San. Jacinto. The Wachusett sailed the 12th from Boston, and three gun-boats, two I think went to Beaufort. I will also send what boats are heavily armed, from the Potomac. If a hawser could be trailed near the Merrimac's stern, it would be sucked in and disable her, but these are all bell and cat ideas.

Yours in haste

G. V. Fox

P.S. Please consult with Col. Woodbury of the Engineers who is now at Old Point Comfort. "

... and a week later:

"Navy Department,
March 24, 1862
Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough
My dear Sir

Gen'l Barnard has informed you of the plan of operations and the desire the Army has to have you strike a blow for them. I told the President that it must be left entirely to your judgment bearing in mind that your first duty was to take care of the Merrimac. He agrees to that, at the same time I don't like to have the Army say that the Navy could not help them, so we are ordering everything we can raise to report to you. The Sebago and Marantanza, (similar to the Octorara) will probably be in line, so will the Galena, iron clad vessel and you can probably bring back some of the North Carolina fleet, though they amount to very little. The Pawnee is ordered up from Du Pont's squadron. The St. Lawrence was ordered into the Potomac, in my absence, you can make what use you wish of her. Please send back the yard boats, and Potomac flotilla craft as fast as you can as they are much required here. If Burnside gets to Beaufort and the Nashville is destroyed, I fancy one sailing vessel will be enough off that port, so altogether you will have considerable of a force such as they are, before the army, is ready. If it is not enough I will take care to explain it, but if you can, I should like to see you knock down the town for them, they consider it as saving several months in the campaign. We want the Octorara to go South after this matter and the Merrimac is decided. The Propeller and Mail she has, better go by the Rhode Island.

We will send you the Maratanza and Sebago, probably without Commanders, or at least one of them, and you must give them to your best men, keeping in view seniority if it possesses merit, not without! The President has sent you the Vanderbilt, are you in want of any more for rams? They charge $3000 per day, for those sound boats. The Roanoke is to be iron-clad. Can't you spare Stimers? We want him here for one of the board in iron-clad vessels. We shall have a dozen Monitors improved and carrying two 15 in. guns. Is
Buchanan dead? I think the Merrimac is shifting her battery. Has she been in the Dock? Could one of these Potomac fishing nets be sunk across the Channel?

Prize money for fleet captains is fixed as agreed upon when you were here.

Most truly yours,

G. V. Fox. "

So, over a month before he claims he never knew that the Army of the Potomac was moving to Fort Monroe and going to attack Yorktown, we have him telling Goldsborough to cooperate with the move up the Peninsula, and "knock down" Yorktown.

What do we make of this? His denials are obviously false, since there is documentary proof to the contrary. As Dahlgren's diary notes, on 18th March there was a general meeting at Alexandria where McClellan explained the plans to Fox etc. Dahlgren's diary then moves to the 21st, where McClellan, McDowell, Dahlgren, Fox etc. have two meetings. At the latter (which McClellan is not at) McDowell asks, in the presence of Lincoln, for the Navy to attack Yorktown. Dahlgren agrees and says they should bring the heavy frigates and the Galena up and attack. Welles said no, and Fox suggested they wait to see what Goldsborough said before deciding.

Certainly, Fox knew what the plan was, for he was told it in the presence of the President. Yet he denies knowing it...
Yep, towards the end of March, right before the operation commences, "Gen'l Barnard has informed you of the plan" and "McClellan explained the plans to Fox etc."

That backs up what Fox wrote, that the Navy wasn't included in the planning and only found out about it at the last minute.
 

Saphroneth

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That backs up what Fox wrote, that the Navy wasn't included in the planning and only found out about it at the last minute.
And Dahlgren mentioning in his diary that Fox and Welles were in a meeting on the 21st March where the alternatives clearly included attacking Yorktown in the ships?

That pretty much proves by itself that Fox's claim of the 23rd April is totally false - notwithstanding that Keyes and McClellan at different times both sought assurances from the Navy.

Given that Dahlgren's 18th March mentions that "10,000 men had already gone down the river" then the idea that the Navy was only informed at the last minute is rather silly - the plan was only determined to be adopted on the 17th. Before the 17th it was a campaign study out of several options; on the 17th it's imposed, on the 18th Dahlgren and Fox are in a meeting where they're told troops are moving and on th 21st they're discussing the movement to Fort Monroe and to Yorktown.

There's almost no sooner they could have been included in the planning, as before the 17th the main plan is Urbanna.
 
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DanSBHawk

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And Dahlgren mentioning in his diary that Fox and Welles were in a meeting on the 21st March where the alternatives clearly included attacking Yorktown in the ships?

That pretty much proves by itself that Fox's claim of the 23rd April is totally false - notwithstanding that Keyes and McClellan at different times both sought assurances from the Navy.

Given that Dahlgren's 18th March mentions that "10,000 men had already gone down the river" then the idea that the Navy was only informed at the last minute is rather silly - the plan was only determined to be adopted on the 17th. Before the 17th it was a campaign study out of several options; on the 17th it's imposed, on the 18th Dahlgren and Fox are in a meeting where they're told troops are moving and on th 21st they're discussing the movement to Fort Monroe and to Yorktown.

There's almost no sooner they could have been included in the planning, as before the 17th the main plan is Urbanna.
The Navy should have been included in the planning when it was a "campaign study out of several options." And that means qualified line officers to be included in the planning.

The claim about Keyes is very thinly sourced.

Fox's letter of the 23rd is exactly how he and Goldsborough viewed the mess. Throughout the early part of the campaign, Goldsborough assumed that McClellan was in agreement that Gloucester would have to be taken in order for any joint operation against Yorktown to proceed. Goldsborough surely did not know that McClellan had claimed to Lincoln that the Navy, independently, could reduce Yorktown in a matter of hours.

That it was such a confused mess is ultimately the fault of McClellan.
 
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Saphroneth

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The Navy should have been included in the planning when it was a "campaign study out of several options." And that means qualified line officers to be included in the planning.
During January and February? I haven't even looked back that far; I know that the Peninsula was rejected at the time because they thought Yorktown would take 4-6 weeks to get through.

This is important - McClellan considered the Peninsular plan dubious because of issues about getting through Yorktown, and the plan is adopted as the result of a council of war with Presidential imprimatur. Of the four Corps commanders, it's Keyes whose agreement was conditional on Navy cooperation and he is explicit about this.



The claim about Keyes is very thinly sourced.
Well, he says it in a letter of the time (7th April), he says it in his memoirs and he says it in the memorandum which recommends the Peninsular line of operations (mid-March). We have sourcing from before the campaign, from during the campaign, and from after.


Goldsborough surely did not know that McClellan had claimed to Lincoln that the Navy, independently, could reduce Yorktown in a matter of hours.
But the Navy did know about the idea of reducing Yorktown because the SecNavy, Assistant SecNavy, and Dahlgren had all heard about it. Indeed, Goldsborough during this whole period refused to cooperate directly with McClellan, asking everything to go through the Navy Department.

Thus we have a circle that cannot be squared. You want McClellan to have consulted with "qualified line officers" but Commander Dahlgren of the Washington Navy Yard doesn't count; Goldsborough insists that all cooperation discusssions go through the Navy Department, but you consider discussions directly with the head and vice-head of the Navy Department insufficient.

Missroon, when ordered directly by the Navy Department to "cooperate willingly and energetically with McClellan's smallest request" refused to so much as take his ships under fire, and lied about whether they'd been hit.



Incidentally, I should make something else absolutely clear - the idea that the Navy could independently reduce Yorktown in a matter of hours was completely correct.
 

Saphroneth

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Okay, so here's the possible ways to get over the Rappahanock and the Rapidan in 1862.


Rappahanoptions.jpg



Option one: an amphibious landing far down the Rappahanock. This is basically the Urbanna plan and we can discount it.

Option two: amphibious operations between the Rappahanock and the York, or between the York and the James. This is basically the Peninsula plan and variants so we can discount it.

With those not possible, there are these remaining options.





Three: Go down the Shenandoah Valley. This basically skips the Rappahanock entirely, but unfortunately it's also extremely logistically difficult if there's a large enemy force in the field. You can keep them out of the Valley by stopping up the gaps in the Blue Ridge, but you can't keep them out of the Manassas Gap Railroad and that's the only way you can really supply doing down the Valley. It's also nowhere near Richmond and clearly fails the “keep the army somewhere it can protect Washington” test.

Fundamentally an offensive down the Valley is moving with a comparatively small chunk of the army while the rest of the army just holds the line of the Rappahanock/Rapidan, and it's vulnerable to what Jackson did historically by marching all over the Valley and tying up two entire corps.



The next four plans share a common problem, which is the status of the Orange and Alexandria railroad. Historically it took months of work to repair this rail line after Johnston's army comprehensively wrecked it; it's not at all clear quite how many troops it could support, but Haupt estimated in late 1862 that after much repair work it could sustain 40,000 troops on a long term basis.


Four: Go west of the South West Mountains and aim for Charlottesville.

This has the problem that you're trying to supply almost the entire army via the O&A Railroad with a fairly sizeable chunk of the force thus supplied then just holding the line of the Rapidan against potential Confederate pressure. It also means you're trying to operate a force forty straight-line miles from Culpeper by wagon supply, and that's at the outer limit of what an 1862 Union army could manage in fine weather.


Five: Go over the Rapidan at the town of Rapidan itself, to open up the O&A as a supply route.

The problem with this is basically the topography around Rapidan. The river forms a V shape with the point aimed south, and all around the tip of the V there are heights on the south of the river which dominate the positions on the north.


Six: Go over the Rapidan in the Raccoon Ford area to try and outflank the position around Rapidan.

This might work, but it's relying on a single ford and a single poor road on top of the problem supporting a force in the area. It also means leaving a holding force in the Rapidan area to prevent being out-turned – possible if the Confederate force in the area is very weak, but historically it wasn't.


Seven: Go over the Rapidan in the Germanna Ford area, and basically conduct the historical movement east as a flying column.

This has a number of problems. One of them is that Fredericksburg is in Confederate hands (as indeed is Aquia) so you can't use that as an extender to your supply – your wagon supply has to carry you from Culpeper, over the river at Germanna Mills, right past Fredericksburg and all the way to Port Royal, or even further downriver if operating Port Royal as a Union supply base is untenable.

It's not at all clear there are enough wagons to make this movement. It's something like fifty miles as a collection of straight lines, more if you consider the marching.

Historically Grant's force was able to carry sixteen days of supplies. It crossed the Rapidan on the 4th and regained supply on the 17th (with repairs completed to the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac) but that was with at least 4,300 wagons – that's the figure for the Army of the Potomac alone (and Burnside's force presumably had wagons themselves, possibly hundreds or thousands of them). McClellan in late 1862 had access to 1,980 wagons only and to get 12 days of supply out of them would mean taking no more than 90,000 troops (PFD) across the Rapidan; that's also not considering how the R,F&P is simply not an option here and so there's further to march.

The fighting is also a tricky question. There were actually three attempts made to cross in the Germanna Ford area and only one of them worked, and this would have a worse force ratio for the Union than any of them.



Eight: Fredericksburg.

It's Fredericksburg. The merits and problems should be clear from that name alone, except that more correctly it's “Fredericksburg but there's more Rebels”.



That's it, basically. No other options.


If I'd been told to get over the Rappahanock in 1862 and been told that an amphibious operation wasn't an option, and if I had accurate information about enemy strengths, I'd say “Give me a few months and recruit a lot more troops”. Repairs to the O&A to allow it to subsist a reasonably sized force, lots of stockpiling at Culpeper and the ability to use all five corps of the Army of the Potomac would allow a multi-pronged approach (5th Corps in the Valley, two corps doing Fredericksburg, a corps at Culpeper and a final corps ready to move in and temporarily exist at Culpeper while it burns through the supplies there).
 
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67th Tigers

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That backs up what Fox wrote, that the Navy wasn't included in the planning and only found out about it at the last minute.
Fox "found out" before McClellan that they were going to the Peninsula. Fox was consulted by Keyes before the Corps Commanders meeting.

I don't think you understand that the Army and Navy are separate entities. The Army and Navy meet at Cabinet via their respective Secretaries. McClellan has to ask Stanton, who asks Welles, who pushes it down. Here is McClellan's initial request:

"HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, Fairfax Court-House, March 13, 1862. (Received 9.40 p. m.)
Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War:
I would respectfully suggest that the Secretary of the Navy be requested to order to Fort Monroe whatever force DuPont can now spare, as well as any available force that Goldsborough can send up, as soon as his present operations are completed.
GEO. B. MCCLELLAN, Major-General."

and here's Welles denying the request:

"WASHINGTON, March 15, 1862.

Maj. Gen. GEORGE B. MCCLELLAN, Seminary:

In reply to your dispatch to this Department of yesterday [13th], which was transmitted to the Secretary of the Navy, he replies as follows:

"NAVY DEPARTMENT, March 14, 1862.
Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War:
SIR: Yours, inclosing the dispatch of Major-General McClellan, suggesting that the Secretary of the Navy be requested “to order to Fort Monroe whatever force DuPont can now spare, as well as any available force that Goldsborough can send up, as soon as his present operations are completed,” has been received. If a movement is to be made upon Norfolk-always a favorite measure of this Department-instant measures will be taken to advise and strengthen Flag-Officer Goldsborough, but unless such be the case, I should be extremely reluctant to take any measure that would even temporarily weaken the efficacy of the blockade, especially at the points under the command of Flag-Officer DuPont. The importance of capturing Norfolk is, I know, deemed most indispensable by Flag-Officer Goldsborough, who will be happy to co-operate in a movement in that direction, and will, I need not assure you, have the active and earnest efforts of this Department to aid him with all the force that can be placed at his disposal.
I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,
GIDEON WELLES.
The foregoing letter was received late last night.

EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War."

What we know is that Lincoln tells Welles different at the 17th March meeting, and Welles immediately starts ordering a concentration at Fort Monroe to assist the army movement. Lincoln can do this because he is over both the Army and the Navy.

For all the arguments, on 4th April Goldsborough's orders to Misroon were for "the reduction of Yorktown and Gloucester Point". On the 5th McClellan writes Goldsborough that the Severn landing has been cancelled as the landing force has been grabbed by Lincoln. On the 6th Goldsborough states that Misroon must judge whether he can attack or not. Misroon says not, but it is soon realised that he's a coward. He's dropped and replaced by Commander William Smith, who immediately moves the squadron to challenge the batteries, successfully...


The claim about Keyes is very thinly sourced.
Better than many things. Keyes wrote in his memoirs that that's what happened, testified such to the JCCW, and wrote such on 7th April. Heintzelman recorded Keyes' visit to the Navy Department in his diary.

Fox's letter of the 23rd is exactly how he and Goldsborough viewed the mess. Throughout the early part of the campaign, Goldsborough assumed that McClellan was in agreement that Gloucester would have to be taken in order for any joint operation against Yorktown to proceed. Goldsborough surely did not know that McClellan had claimed to Lincoln that the Navy, independently, could reduce Yorktown in a matter of hours.
It's pandering to Goldsborough. Fox in fact thought the opposite, but was loyal to the Navy. Certainly after they got a look at Yorktown Fox realised they'd been "humbugged" and the Navy could easily have done what he continually asked for.
 

Saphroneth

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Okay, so here's the possible ways to get over the Rappahanock and the Rapidan in 1862.
Further to this, Confederate forces.


Confederate forces.

Fredericksburg: 7 brigades (Whiting, Hood, Hampton, French, Walker, Field, SR Anderson)

Rapidan area: 14 brigades (GT Anderson, Wilcox, Toombs, AP Hill, DR Jones, Pickett, Elzey, Trimble, Taylor, Early, Rodes, Kershaw, Griffith, GB Anderson) plus Stuart's cavalry

Valley: Jackson's division

Possible reinforcements (historically sent to Yorktown or north from other stations): 4 brigades (JR Anderson, Cobb, Gregg, Branch)

Possible reinforcements (from the Norfolk area): 1 brigade (Colston)

Total: 26 brigades plus Jackson plus Stuart's cavalry

Remaining in Norfolk: historical
Remaining in Yorktown: historical

Pryor's brigade could also be stripped out of Norfolk, historically it went to Yorktown (mostly under Col. Winston until Pryor got there AIUI).

So it's a pretty substantial force. For comparison, at this time there were three Federal corps with nine brigades and two with six brigades (after the transfer of Blenker's division to the Division of the Mountains).
 
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