Henry W. Halleck: Savior of the Union?

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wausaubob

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Very interesting thread. I just came across this line in McClellan's letters: "If he does go to Pennsylvania I feel quite confident that I can arrange things that the chances will be that he will never return."[1] Sounds like McClellan was daring him to go into Pa!?!

[1] Civil War Papers of George B. McClellan, edited by Stephen W. Sears (New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1989), 449-450.
McClellan is writing that he could cut in behind Lee, and force Lee to cut his way out and the Confederates would break up before the could get out. And Lee concentrated his army and fought before that could happen.
 
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I just came across this line in McClellan's letters: "If he does go to Pennsylvania I feel quite confident that I can arrange things that the chances will be that he will never return."[1] Sounds like McClellan was daring him to go into Pa!?!
Great find! I think this statement by McClellan supports my belief that, if the confederates had crushed the initial attack of Hooker/Mansfield, then McClellan would not have sent Sumner and Burnside into the battle. He would have let Lee leave the field and move north into Pennsylvania, thinking that he had a better shot at Lee there than at Sharpsburg.
 

67th Tigers

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Great find! I think this statement by McClellan supports my belief that, if the confederates had crushed the initial attack of Hooker/Mansfield, then McClellan would not have sent Sumner and Burnside into the battle. He would have let Lee leave the field and move north into Pennsylvania, thinking that he had a better shot at Lee there than at Sharpsburg.
Since he gave orders to launch 9th and 2nd Corps well before the results of 1st Corps action was known, that is questionable.

French's and Sedgwick's divisions were moving not long after dawn, and Sumner received the order to cross at 0720 at the latest. At 0800 he is over the creek with both divisions and is sending his AdC's to find Hooker, who is not at his CP, where Sumner now is. Hooker is not at his CP because Mansfield is down, and Hooker (with Williams) rode over to try and put the 12th Corps in, but was shot ca. 0815. Ca. 0830, Hooker is stretchered back to the CP, but can give Sumner no information.

Burnside received an 0800 order to attack the bridge, hence him attacking it at 0900 for the first time.

Hence McClellan committed before the result of Hooker's action was known. Indeed, McClellan thought it was going well.
 
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Andy Cardinal

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Great find! I think this statement by McClellan supports my belief that, if the confederates had crushed the initial attack of Hooker/Mansfield, then McClellan would not have sent Sumner and Burnside into the battle. He would have let Lee leave the field and move north into Pennsylvania, thinking that he had a better shot at Lee there than at Sharpsburg.
This is an intriguing theory, but if true, why block the road to Hagerstown at all?
 
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Since he gave orders to launch 9th and 2nd Corps well before the results of 1st Corps action was known, that is questionable.
Sorry, but this is incorrect. Around 6:30-7:00 the first confederate counterattack through the Cornfield takes place. It gets utterly annihilated, the two brigades in the Cornfield, Lawton(Douglass) and Hays, together losing almost 50% of their men. Immediately afterward, McClellan receives a flag message from Hooker and tells those around him, “All goes well. Hooker is driving them.” Immediately after that, McClellan sends an order to Burnside to put his corps into attack positions (but to wait for further orders before attempting to cross the creek), then he orders Sumner’s corps across the creek to support Hooker, and at 7:30 orders Morell’s Division to come up and replace Richardson.
Richardson's and Sedgwick's divisions were moving not long after dawn
Completely wrong. Sedgwick started moving at 7:20. Richardson started moving at 9:00, once Morell’s Division arrives.
Burnside received an 0800 order to attack the bridge
I’m afraid not. McClellan sent the order for Burnside to move at 9:10.
 
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This is an intriguing theory, but if true, why block the road to Hagerstown at all?
Because Lee’s army was divided. McClellan doesn’t really know how much of Lee’s army is at Sharpsburg. If only part of Lee’s army is there, then McClellan wants to trap Lee and crush him. If the whole confederate army is there, then McClellan doesn’t want to attack at all.
 
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67th Tigers

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Sorry, but this is incorrect. Around 6:30-7:00 the first confederate counterattack through the Cornfield takes place. It gets utterly annihilated, the two brigades in the Cornfield, Lawton(Douglass) and Hays, together losing almost 50% of their men. Immediately afterward, McClellan receives a flag message from Hooker and tells those around him, “All goes well. Hooker is driving them.”
Sears et al. place this utterance early, but the original source places it after 0800, the the described events bear out the timing. Indeed, Colbert at McClellan's command post sent a 0830 signal to Sumner:

"Gen. Hooker appears to be driving the enemy rapidly. If he does not require your assistance on his right, please push up on his left through the ravine at the head of which the house was burned this morning, getting possession of the woods to the right as soon as possible & push on towards Sharpsburg and a little to its rear as rapidly as possible. Use your artillery freely."

Immediately after that, McClellan sends an order to Burnside to put his corps into attack positions (but to wait for further orders before attempting to cross the creek),
Cox said when he returned from starting Rodman's division retrograding away from the bridge, "About 7 o'clock orders were received from General Burnside to move forward the corps". However, if you check the brigade and divisional reports, no-one apart from Rodman moves until ca. 0900, and Rodman is moving away from the bridge.

If such an order from Burnside existed, it was not implemented.

There is no indication that McClellan sent any such order.

then he orders Sumner’s corps across the creek to support Hooker,
Sumner says it was 0720 before he received the order, but his son later wrote Sumner had sat on the steps of the Pry House for an hour beforehand. McClellan was half a mile south of here, having slept near the left hand regiment (5th NH) of Richardson's division, with the 5th NH doing duty guarding him that night.

The various brigadiers give much earlier times for their movements, and it is clear that the divisions were moving over an hour before Sumner was found.

I’m afraid not. McClellan sent the order for Burnside to move at 9:10.
As we've discussed, Lt Wilson delivered the attack order around 0800. See this article.

Otherwise you've got to answer the question of why the 11th Ct assaulted the bridge at 0900 if no order had been received, amongst many other things.
 

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Very interesting thread. I just came across this line in McClellan's letters: "If he does go to Pennsylvania I feel quite confident that I can arrange things that the chances will be that he will never return."[1] Sounds like McClellan was daring him to go into Pa!?!

[1] Civil War Papers of George B. McClellan, edited by Stephen W. Sears (New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1989), 449-450.
Reminds me of his comment on the Lost Order: "Here is a paper with which, if I cannot whip Bobby Lee, I will be willing to go home."
 

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I think Halleck could be labeled savior if that was in fact his intention in maintaining the garrisons. I have seen no evidence that this was the case; the only justification Halleck ever gave (to my knowledge) is that Harper's Ferry was too important to be given up and must be held at all costs. Unless you can show that Halleck left the garrison in place with the intention of forcing Lee to divide his army, then this is more of a blind squirrel finding an acorn situation. It was a questionable decision that had a useful outcome (at the cost of thousands of soldiers and a mountain of supplies).
I think this is a good description. If Halleck intentionally left the garrison there, he was putting it in considerable danger, if not deliberately sacrificing it. If this was a deliberate stratagem, why would he not advise the army commander of it? Particularly since McClellan had asked to have the garrison removed. Just tell Mac "I'm leaving the garrison in Harpers Ferry to induce Lee to split his army and give you a chance to defeat him in detail" and have the army ready to pounce if Lee took the bait.
 
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Sears et al. place this utterance early, but the original source places it after 0800, the the described events bear out the timing. Indeed, Colbert at McClellan's command post sent a 0830 signal to Sumner:
Edward Cross says 8:00, but historians who know the flow of the battle know that this cannot be true, because the confederates most certainly were NOT being driven from the field at that time. By 8:00, Hooker’s corps had collapsed from Hood’s counterattack, and the confederate brigades of Ripley, Colquitt, and Garland(McRae) were just entering the Cornfield and East Woods. This is why Stephen Sears, Eugene Tidball, James Morris, Mike Pride/Mark Travis, and Bruce Catton all place the flag message around 7:00. At no point between 7:00 and 8:30 could Hooker be described as “driving” the confederates. Cross is simply mistaken about the time, like many others were on that day.
 
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There is no indication that McClellan sent any such order.
Actually, McClellan himself indicated that McClellan sent such an order:

“Early on the morning of the 17th, I ordered General Burnside to form his troops and hold them in readiness to assault the bridge in his front, and to await further orders.”

Burnside, of course, says likewise:

“About this time I received an order from the general commanding to make my dispositions to carry the stone bridge over the Antietam nearly opposite our center, but to await further orders before making the attack. I accordingly threw my lines forward.”
 

67th Tigers

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Edward Cross says 8:00, but historians who know the flow of the battle know that this cannot be true, because the confederates most certainly were NOT being driven from the field at that time.
Yes they were. At 0800 things were going great. 1st Corps had caved in Ewell's Division under Lawton (minus Early detached) and the Stonewall division by 0700. Hood's counterattack was destroyed before 0730, and his division completed routed. At 0800 Ripley's and Colquitt's brigades were in the process of breaking, and the 12th Corps were going into action.

By 8:00, Hooker’s corps had collapsed from Hood’s counterattack,
Hood's counterattack was over by 0730, and Hood made little impression, and by 0730 the Federals were advancing over the Cornfield.

and the confederate brigades of Ripley, Colquitt, and Garland were just entering the Cornfield and East Woods.
At 0800 Ripley had tried to enter the Cornfield, and the 128th Pa of the 12th Corps charged them and stop-punched that movement, driving Ripley back in disorder.

It is not well supported that Colquitt entered *the* Cornfield. If you read Colquitt's report the geography and situation doesn't fit. However, there is another cornfield that does fit. It appears what happened was this:

1565804023753.png


Colquitt and Garland deployed to oppose French's advance towards the Sunken Road position. They were pushed back and fell back on Rodes' position on the Sunken Road.

Fighting through Colquitt's line in front of the Roulette Farm is the second paragraph of French's report:

"The enemy, who was in position in advance, opened his batteries, under which fire my lines steadily moved until the first line, encountering the enemy's skirmishers, charged them briskly, and, entering a group of houses on Roulette's farm, drove back the force, which had taken a strong position for defense. Whilst Max Weber was clearing his front and driving before him the enemy's first line, a sudden and terrible fire was opened upon his right by the troops, which had succeeded in breaking the center division of the line of battle. At the same time a heavy column endeavored to turn my left and rear. "

Kimball describes the line as running from the orchard, through the cornfield, to the hill side:

"In this position I moved directly forward about three-fourths of a mile, when General Weber encountered the enemy's pickets and drove them back, and soon came upon the enemy in force, posted in a strong position in an orchard, corn-field, ditches, and upon the hill-sides. "

Rodes of course says he formed on the sunken road behind Colquitt et al., who had moved away from "the" cornfield.

This is why Stephen Sears, Eugene Tidball, James Morris, Mike Pride/Mark Travis, and Bruce Catton all place the flag message around 7:00. At no point between 7:00 and 8:30 could Hooker be described as “driving” the confederates. Cross is simply mistaken about the time, like many others were on that day.
Yet in this period Hooker does push forward, and ca. 3 divisions have broken on him.
 
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Yes they were. At 0800 things were going great. 1st Corps had caved in Ewell's Division under Lawton (minus Early detached) and the Stonewall division by 0700. Hood's counterattack was destroyed before 0730, and his division completed routed. At 0800 Ripley's and Colquitt's brigades were in the process of breaking, and the 12th Corps were going into action.



Hood's counterattack was over by 0730, and Hood made little impression, and by 0730 the Federals were advancing over the Cornfield.



At 0800 Ripley had tried to enter the Cornfield, and the 128th Pa of the 12th Corps charged them and stop-punched that movement, driving Ripley back in disorder.

It is not well supported that Colquitt entered *the* Cornfield. If you read Colquitt's report the geography and situation doesn't fit. However, there is another cornfield that does fit. It appears what happened was this:

View attachment 320764

Colquitt and Garland deployed to oppose French's advance towards the Sunken Road position. They were pushed back and fell back on Rodes' position on the Sunken Road.

Fighting through Colquitt's line in front of the Roulette Farm is the second paragraph of French's report:

"The enemy, who was in position in advance, opened his batteries, under which fire my lines steadily moved until the first line, encountering the enemy's skirmishers, charged them briskly, and, entering a group of houses on Roulette's farm, drove back the force, which had taken a strong position for defense. Whilst Max Weber was clearing his front and driving before him the enemy's first line, a sudden and terrible fire was opened upon his right by the troops, which had succeeded in breaking the center division of the line of battle. At the same time a heavy column endeavored to turn my left and rear. "

Kimball describes the line as running from the orchard, through the cornfield, to the hill side:

"In this position I moved directly forward about three-fourths of a mile, when General Weber encountered the enemy's pickets and drove them back, and soon came upon the enemy in force, posted in a strong position in an orchard, corn-field, ditches, and upon the hill-sides. "

Rodes of course says he formed on the sunken road behind Colquitt et al., who had moved away from "the" cornfield.



Yet in this period Hooker does push forward, and ca. 3 divisions have broken on him.
You’re just writing nonsense.
 
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67th Tigers

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A mountain of misinformation.
No, I don't think you know what misinformation is.

At 0800 things were going great. Hooker had advanced and repelled 3 divisions (Jackson, Ewell and Hood), and the 12th Corps were forming on his left. The main body of the 2nd Corps was across the creek and forming in Miller Woods.

Hood's impetuous charge into the Cornfield wrecked his division, and had very little effect.

As to Colquitt, his report doesn't match "the" cornfield. It seems because a cornfield is mentioned it is assumed to be "the" cornfield, but there was more than one cornfield. One of the other cornfields is the centre of the battle line that French's division engaged at ca. 0830 as they moved SSW from the Miller Woods towards the Roulette Farm. Colquitt's description matches this. Other surrounding reports also match it.

However, Carman placed them in "the" cornfield, which is doubtful. Indeed, several things in Carman are doubtful. For instance, Colquitt says Ripley was on his left when they formed in the morning, and that creates issues. Either the whole division was formed off Jackson's right, meaning they didn't sleep in the sunken road, or Ripley was with the main body at the sunken road.

In fact, the AAR's generally don't fit here.
 
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As to Colquitt, his report doesn't match "the" cornfield.
Yes it does, and you know it does, which is why you haven’t quoted a single word from it. Here is his After-action report, in its entirety:

BRIGADE HEADQUARTERS,
Near Bunker Hill, Va., October 13, 1862.

Maj. J. W. RATCHFORD,
Assistant Adjutant-General.

SIR: I give you below an account of the part taken by this brigade in the battle of September 17.

About 7 o'clock in the morning my brigade entered the fight. It was moved to the front and formed on the right of General Ripley's brigade, which was then engaged. After a few rounds had been discharged, I ordered an advance, and at the same time sent word to the regiments on my left to advance simultaneously. The order was responded to with spirit by my men, and, with a shout, they moved through the corn-field in front, 200 yards wide, and formed on the line of fence. The enemy was near and in full view. In a moment or two his ranks began to break before our fire, and the line soon disappeared under the crest of the hill upon which it had been established. It was soon replaced by another, and the fire opened with renewed vigor.

In the mean time Garland's brigade, which had been ordered to my right, had given way, and the enemy was advancing, unchecked. The regiments upon my left having also failed to advance, we were exposed to a fire from all sides and nearly surrounded. I sent in haste to the rear for re-enforcements, and communicated to General Hill the exposed condition of my men. With steady supports upon the right we could yet maintain our position. The support was not at hand and could not reach us in time. The enemy closed in upon the right so near that our ranks were scarcely distinguishable. At the same time his line in front advanced. My men stood firm until every field officer but one had fallen, and then made the best of their way out.

In this sharp and unequal conflict I lost many of my best officers and one-half of the men in the ranks. If the brigades upon the right and left had advanced, we should have driven the enemy from the field. He had at one time broken in our front, but we had not strength to push the advantage.

Colonel [L. B.] Smith, of the Twenty-seventh Georgia; Colonel [W. P.] Barclay, of the Twenty-third Georgia, and Lieutenant-Colonel [J. M.] Newton, commanding the Sixth Georgia, fell at the head of their regiments. Their loss is irreparable. Upon every battle-field they had distinguished themselves for coolness and gallantry. Colonel [B. D.] Fry, of the Thirteenth Alabama, and Captain [N. J.] Garrison, commanding Twenty-eighth Georgia, were severely wounded.

Subsequent to the action of the forenoon, portions of my brigade encountered the enemy in two desultory engagements, in which they stood before superior numbers and gave a check to their advance. In one of these a small party was placed under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel [W. H.] Betts, and directed to deploy as skirmishers along the crest of a hill upon which the enemy was advancing. They did so with good effect, keeping back a large force by their annoying fire and the apprehension, excited by their boldness, that they were supported by a line in rear.

During the engagements of this day I had the misfortune to lose my acting assistant adjutant-general (Lieut. R. P. Jordan). He fell while gallantly dashing toward the enemy's line. I have not known a more active, efficient, and fearless officer. Lieutenant Grattan, my aide-de-camp, was conspicuously bold in the midst of danger and untiring in the discharge of his duties. I regret that I cannot here mention the names of all, dead and living who are entitled to a tribute at my hands.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

A. H. COLQUITT,
Colonel, Commanding Brigade.”


Your claim that Colquitt didn’t attack through the Cornfield is entirely based on his misjudgment of the width of the Cornfield. :nah disagree:
 
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