Hooker Goes Forth: The Overland Campaign of 1863

Generic Username

Corporal
Joined
May 12, 2019
Location
Yes
Thanks to @Saphroneth humoring me in his own thread about an 1862 Overland, I thought it prudent to create my own thread about an 1863 campaign.

So the point of divergence I have in mind is Reynolds with 1st Corps arrives in time to assume the right-rear of Howard's 11th Corps, securing Hooker's flanks. Jackson's flank attack fails as a result and, when Sedgwick successfully storms Marye's Heights on May 3rd, Lee is compelled to withdraw; Hooker still abandoning Hazel Grove enabling enabling the ANV to still re-unite and then move to Spotsylvania Court House. Once it becomes clear the Confederates have retreated, Hooker's confidence slowly begins to restore itself and the Army of the Potomac begins to cautiously pursue. From there, we have an Overland Campaign in 1863.

One important issue that will differentiate the campaign from 1864 is the issue of the declining strength of the Army of the Potomac. To quote from Gettysburg by Sears:

IN HIS RELUCTANT planning for a renewed offensive, sent to the president on May 13, General Hooker had pointed to an especially thorny problem—the need for what he termed a "partial reorganization" of the Army of the Potomac. This was necessary because of an ongoing, massive, and unavoidable reduction in his forces. During the next two months the Potomac army would have to come to terms with the mustering out of no fewer than fifty-three infantry regiments, 30,500 men. This came to better than 27 percent of the foot soldiers that had made the Chancellorsville fight. 16
In the first weeks of the war, two Northern states, New York and Maine, had signed up volunteer regiments for two years of service rather than the three-year standard in other states. Spring 1863 saw these two-year men— thirty-one regiments of New Yorkers and two regiments from Maine— scheduled for mustering out. At the same time, 16,700 short-termers—nine months' men from Pennsylvania and New Jersey, enlisted for service during the Peninsula-Second Manassas crisis times in August and September of 1862—were also preparing to start for home. "The dull monotony of camp life," Corporal James Latta entered in his diary on May 24, was enlivened by "the occasional distant shouts of troops whose terms of enlistment has expired and may be heard day after day." According to General Sedgwick, every day, day after day, a thousand men were leaving the army. 17​
In mid-May, as Hooker and the president discussed the pros and cons of renewing the offensive on the Rappahannock, Hooker observed that his former numerical superiority over the enemy was shrinking alarmingly. "My marching force of infantry is cut down to about 80,000...," he explained on May 13. This reflected both the casualties of Chancellorsville and the tidal wave of departing men whose time was up, and the downward spiral of the numbers was not finished. No fewer than twenty-five regiments were due to be mustered out during June. Even an immediate advance would still leave troops of dubious motivation in the ranks. As General Sedgwick had observed of the same situation before Chancellorsville, "No troops with but a few days to leave are going to risk much in a fight." Unless it was reinforced, the Army of the Potomac, on July 1, would have nearly 48,000 fewer men than it had had on May 1.
These departures produced serious gaps in the army's organization. In the First Division of the First Corps, for example, an entire brigade, five regiments of nine-months' men, was slated for mustering out, and a second brigade in the division would lose three of its four regiments. The Second Corps saw nine regiments depart, resulting in the loss of a brigade and a general pruning. The Third Corps was reduced from three divisions to two as a result of its Chancellorsville losses and losing men whose time was up. Meade's Fifth Corps was hardest hit, losing thirteen regiments of shorttermers and two-year men. Meade had to break up one of his divisions as a result, losing its commander, Andrew A. Humphreys, to another corps. "I am very sorry to lose Humphreys," Meade told his wife. "He is a most valuable officer, besides being an associate of the most agreeable character." 18​
Hooker requested reinforcements to make good at least some of these losses, but that only produced a steady diet of haggling with General Halleck. Of cordial cooperation between general-in-chief and general commanding there was none. The enmity between the two men dated back to their days in the old army in California, and when he assumed command of the Army of the Potomac in January, Hooker had made but a single stipulation—that he not have to deal with Halleck, but only with the president. He told Lincoln that neither he nor his army "expected justice" at Halleck's hands. This awkward arrangement had worked well enough, so far as Hooker was concerned, while he was reforming and reinvigorating the Potomac army and planning his Chancellorsville campaign. Now, however, stigmatized by defeat and with few allies, Joe Hooker had lost that upper hand.​
Henry Halleck was a master of bureaucratic subterfuge and circuitous paper-shuffling, talents he displayed when asked by Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton what replacements the Department of Washington might furnish to the depleted Army of the Potomac. After numerous paragraphs of hedging and cautionary foreboding, Halleck's answer was ... not a man could be spared. There was, to be sure, a "movable force" of 8,600 men attached to the Washington garrison, but in the general-in-chief's opinion, no matter which direction General Hooker might move (or, indeed, which direction General Lee might move), this force must stay where it was. After all, should it go on active service, "we should then have no movable force to throw upon any point which should be seriously threatened." In due course, there would be reinforcements for the Army of the Potomac, but not all in time to be put to use, and none in time for Hooker's benefit. In the meanwhile, General Halleck quietly laid his snares for an unwary Fighting Joe.​
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
The point about the troops who needed to muster out does change the calculus - if these numbers are anything like accurate it would hit Hooker's AoP much harder than it hit Grant's in the 1864 campaign.

One thing I'm wondering about though is where all the men from that second callup (the Q3-4 1862 one) went. I know that for example in October-December 1862 that the strength breakdown was:

December 10 return

Right GD: 31,500 PFD
Center GD: 40,500 PFD
Left GD: 47,000 PFD
11th Corps: 15,500 PFD
12th Corps: 12,000 PFD
Upper Potomac: 5,500 PFD
Defences of Washington: 46,000 PFD

Total 201,500 PFD (including army-level troops)

In Aggregate Present that's 245,000 troops all told.

The April 30 return gives Hooker 158,000 AP and Washington 44,000 AP, for a total of 202,000 AP; this makes the effects of Fredericksburg pretty brutal. The April 30 return also gives the Middle Department something like 40,000 AP, which seems high to me.

ED: ah, that might have something to do with it. The forces in the West total to about 300,000 AP on April 30...
 

Generic Username

Corporal
Joined
May 12, 2019
Location
Yes
I checked Coddington and he says 23,000 expired enlistments from the end of April into June, with the Army declining by 20% on top of the 12% rate suffered at Chancellorsville. This is in line with Sears, as Sears' timeframe is to the start of July, which can explain the 7,000 man discrepancy. Further, on Page 40:

Official estimates on April 30 indicated a force of 111,650 infantry ready for front-line duty. Hooker wrote two weeks later, however, that his "marching force" of infantry was down to 80,000 men. Presumably by "marching force" he meant those troops ready for action. The cavalry was in even worse shape. The wear and tear of the campaign, which was particularly hard on the horses, and special assignments for certain units had reduced the number of cavalrymen ready for active duty from 11,542 on April 30 to 4,677 on May 27, a decrease of almost 60%.​
Also of note, on the same page:

Reductions in the numerical strength of these two branches and especially of the infantry furnished Hooker with plausible reasons for reorganizing his third branch, the artillery. Even when the army was stronger he had considered the proportion of artillery too great, since most of the fighting was done in heavily wooded country. He wrote Lincoln on May 13 that in view of the present size of the infantry corps and for the sake of efficiency he had decided he ought to store half the guns in army depots. Here he was indulging in his usual tendency to exaggerate while telling only part of the truth. As it turned out, Hooker cut the number of cannons by about 10 percent; there was 366 at Gettysburg compared to 411 at Chancellorsville.​

I think this might explain the missing siege guns...

Back to the enlistment issue, Guelzo in Gettysburg: The Last Invasion says the Army after Gettysburg was reduced to 40,000 in infantry(!!!) via losses and expiring enlistments, but by coming out the garrisons of Baltimore and Washington they brought in 37,000 men to fill out the ranks. All sources, however, agree that the troops with expiring enlistments were of dubious qualities; Guelzo notes of at least two mutinies over the issue, these being the 2nd Maine and 36th New York. There is also note of an incident where officers in the 2nd Corps had to restore order with drawn revolvers.
 
Last edited:

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
I think this might explain the missing siege guns...
Doubt it. You don't take the big siege guns with you on campaign, because they take ages to set up - you need to follow the 1st CT Heavy Artillery.

1st CT HA was moved to Alexandria VA in the evacuation from the Peninsula. Companies B and M were detached to the artillery reserve AoP and each battery was four 4.5" siege rifles (which were basically "position guns", meaning they follow the army but do not manoeuvre).
B and M were not at Gettysburg (probably because the army was moving too fast for the heavy guns) but served with the AoP for the whole of 1863 otherwise.
 

Generic Username

Corporal
Joined
May 12, 2019
Location
Yes
Doubt it. You don't take the big siege guns with you on campaign, because they take ages to set up - you need to follow the 1st CT Heavy Artillery.

1st CT HA was moved to Alexandria VA in the evacuation from the Peninsula. Companies B and M were detached to the artillery reserve AoP and each battery was four 4.5" siege rifles (which were basically "position guns", meaning they follow the army but do not manoeuvre).
B and M were not at Gettysburg (probably because the army was moving too fast for the heavy guns) but served with the AoP for the whole of 1863 otherwise.

Saw service at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and were heading to Gettysburg when stopped in Maryland in preparation for an expected Confederate cavalry attack. I found their official history and this is what they had going into 1864:

Mem. fob Col. Abbot, etc.​
Train to contain :​
Forty [40] 4.5-in. Siege Guns.​
Ten [10] 10-inch Mortars [Siege].​
Twenty [20] 8-inch Mortars [Siege].​
Twenty [20] Coehorn Mortars.​
Or, if these cannot be furnished, their equivalents. Also the battery and mortar wagons, forges, etc., complete. Ammunition, 1,000 rounds per gun, 600 for moitar, 200 per Coehorn mortar. Twenty [20] of the 4^-inch guns with complete equipage, and 200 rounds of ammunition per gun to be afloat by April 30. Ordnance Dep't to hold in readiness for shipment, [ii] six one-hundred pounder Parrotts, fully equipped and with 500 rounds of ammunition per gun.​
[Official Records, Vol. xxxiii, page 922.]​
Washington, D. C,​
April 20, 1864.​
Brig.- Gen. H J. Hunt, Commanding Artillery, Army of the Potomac.​
 
Last edited:

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Right, so that's everything up to the 6.4" Parrotts (some of them), but no sign of the 8" Parrotts. Perhaps they got reassigned to the Charleston operations and nobody bothered getting replacements?


Anyway. I think the massive drop in strength from expiring enlistments is really the key issue here. I've been meaning to look into how the AotP grew so much in preparation for the 1864 campaign, in the past - that is, where all the regiments came from, especially since post-Gettysburg there was a transfer of units west.
 

Generic Username

Corporal
Joined
May 12, 2019
Location
Yes
Right, so that's everything up to the 6.4" Parrotts (some of them), but no sign of the 8" Parrotts. Perhaps they got reassigned to the Charleston operations and nobody bothered getting replacements?


Anyway. I think the massive drop in strength from expiring enlistments is really the key issue here. I've been meaning to look into how the AotP grew so much in preparation for the 1864 campaign, in the past - that is, where all the regiments came from, especially since post-Gettysburg there was a transfer of units west.

No idea for the 8" Parrotts, although I assume so. Also, apparently most of the 100-pounders were reserved for containing the C.S.N's James River squadron:

Still more valuable was the service rendered by the First Connecticut Artillery on the night of January 23, 1865, when the Confederate fleet made a determined attempt to pass down James River to destroy our base at City Point. The only United States monitor present withdrew and left the defense to the land batteries, unsupported. These were four in number: Fort Brady, Company C. Captain Pierce, two 100-pounders and three 30 -pounders; Parsons and Wilcox, Company H, First Lieutenant Pratt, one 100-pounder, and one 10-inch seacoast mortar; Spofford, Company H, Second Lieutenant Silliman, one 30-pounder; and Sawyer, Company H, First Lieutenant Mason, one 100-pounder and two 10-inch seacoast mortars. The fire from the Confederate land batteries was very heavy, but did not divert attention from the fleet. The gunboat "Drewry" was sunk by a shell from Battery Parsons, the torpedo launch "Wasp" was destroyed, and finally the fleet retired baffled in its object. This service of the regiment was highly commended by General Grant, and he ordered the armament of the James River batteries to be at once largely increased.​
Not sure where the other two are, but scanning through the document. Interesting PoD all of it's own, as an aside...
 

Generic Username

Corporal
Joined
May 12, 2019
Location
Yes
With regards to the Army of the Potomac getting bigger, my first thought was the Enrollment Act but that seems unlikely, given Union field strength peaked in 1863. Combing out other departments, then?
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Looking at the departments in the West or on the coast, I wonder if there's one of them that could conceivably spare a division or two. April 30 numbers in AP:

(to nearest 000)
Gulf 45,000
Virginia 37,000
North Carolina 17,000
Missouri 40,000
Cumberland 99,000
Ohio 41,000
Tennessee 116,000
(Potomac 158,000)
Washington 44,000
Middle 40,000
(Various small depts like East, New Mexico, Northwest, Pacific)
South 21,000

Total 678,000 AP


The Army of the Potomac's big (though it's about to shrink from all the enlistments, and this is also pre-Chancellorsville of course) but the armies out in the west in aggregate are much bigger.

I've seen it described elsewhere that the basic choice for how to handle the challenge the CSA represents to the government's authority is whether to fight it in the East or to fight it everywhere at once, and the government decided "everywhere at once" (with the attendant dispersal of effort.)



Interestingly in the June 30 1864 list the total is 683,000 AP and that's after the big battles of the Overland, while the April 1863 one is before Chancellorsville (and Vicksburg) - I think it might actually be the case that the Union armies were bigger overall in 1864, and changes in PFD definitions and when units gave accounts disguise that a bit.
 

Generic Username

Corporal
Joined
May 12, 2019
Location
Yes
Looking at the departments in the West or on the coast, I wonder if there's one of them that could conceivably spare a division or two. April 30 numbers in AP:

(to nearest 000)
Gulf 45,000
Virginia 37,000
North Carolina 17,000
Missouri 40,000
Cumberland 99,000
Ohio 41,000
Tennessee 116,000
(Potomac 158,000)
Washington 44,000
Middle 40,000
(Various small depts like East, New Mexico, Northwest, Pacific)
South 21,000

Total 678,000 AP


The Army of the Potomac's big (though it's about to shrink from all the enlistments, and this is also pre-Chancellorsville of course) but the armies out in the west in aggregate are much bigger.

I've seen it described elsewhere that the basic choice for how to handle the challenge the CSA represents to the government's authority is whether to fight it in the East or to fight it everywhere at once, and the government decided "everywhere at once" (with the attendant dispersal of effort.)



Interestingly in the June 30 1864 list the total is 683,000 AP and that's after the big battles of the Overland, while the April 1863 one is before Chancellorsville (and Vicksburg) - I think it might actually be the case that the Union armies were bigger overall in 1864, and changes in PFD definitions and when units gave accounts disguise that a bit.

Here's a source on the matter using Livermore:

EnlistmentNumberLength (Yrs)
15th April 6191,8160.25
May-July 612,7150.50
9,1471.00
30,9502.00
657,8983.00
May-June 6215,0070.25
2nd July 62421,4653.00
4th August 6287,5880.75
15th June 6316,3610.50
July 63 draft35,5823.00
Oct 63 - Feb 64281,5101.33
14th March 64259,5153.00
23rd April 6483,6120.25
18th July 64385,1630.70
19th December 64211,7520.33
Various from territories
and the south
172,7441.50
“”15, 509Short Term
1865 Militia120,0000.05
Total2,898,334

Also, it should be noted this agrees with Sears; ~31,000 expiring two year enlistments in May-July of 1863. With regards to overall size, however:

Numbers on
Union Rolls​
Number
Present​
Number
Absent​
Jul-61​
186,751​
183,588​
3,163​
Jan-62​
575,917​
527,204​
48,713​
31-Mar-62​
637,126​
533,984​
103,142​
01-Jan-63​
918,121​
698,802​
219,319​
01-Jan-64​
860,737​
611,250​
249,487​
01-Jan-65​
959,460​
620,924​
338,536​
 
Last edited:

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Also, it should be noted this agrees with Sears; ~31,000 expiring two year enlistments in May-July of 1863.
Don't forget that if the input is 31,000 two-year enlistments then the one thing you're not getting out of that at the other end is 31,000 people mustering out, because of casualties (battle, medical and straggling). For example the 24th NY is listed by one source as 229 officers and men at Second Bull Run; even if that's effectives then you're not talking about more than 500 men AP at the outmost.


With regards to overall size, however:
This seems to be based on the ORs, in part. My suspicion is that there was significant recruitment over the first half of 1864 since the June 30 strength Present for the Union is 683,000 (and that's after the big battles); that or there was intensive provost work to sweep up as many absent soldiers as possible.
 

Generic Username

Corporal
Joined
May 12, 2019
Location
Yes
Don't forget that if the input is 31,000 two-year enlistments then the one thing you're not getting out of that at the other end is 31,000 people mustering out, because of casualties (battle, medical and straggling). For example the 24th NY is listed by one source as 229 officers and men at Second Bull Run; even if that's effectives then you're not talking about more than 500 men AP at the outmost.



This seems to be based on the ORs, in part. My suspicion is that there was significant recruitment over the first half of 1864 since the June 30 strength Present for the Union is 683,000 (and that's after the big battles); that or there was intensive provost work to sweep up as many absent soldiers as possible.

Hadn’t thought of that and it could explain the difference between Coddington and Sears; the former has 23,000 and the latter has the 30,000 figure, perhaps by just counting enlistments instead of accounting for casualties as it appears Coddington did?

As for the other, probably explained by the timing of the matter, given the returns all come the start of the year in the 1863-1865 timeframe. From October of 1863 to May of 1864, 624,637 are taken into service and thus mostly after the January 1, 1864 reporting date.
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
As for the other, probably explained by the timing of the matter, given the returns all come the start of the year in the 1863-1865 timeframe. From October of 1863 to May of 1864, 624,637 are taken into service and thus after the January 1, 1864 reporting date.

Yes, many of them would indeed come after the January 1864 reporting date. The point I'm making is that we have a mid-year data point for 1863 and one for 1864 and it looks like the 1864 peak of "present" was higher rather than equivalent or lower.
 

Generic Username

Corporal
Joined
May 12, 2019
Location
Yes
Yes, many of them would indeed come after the January 1864 reporting date. The point I'm making is that we have a mid-year data point for 1863 and one for 1864 and it looks like the 1864 peak of "present" was higher rather than equivalent or lower.

In agreement, just explaining how that is for any readers who-like me until I reviewed the source-thought 1863 was the peak. The claim actually comes from the NPS, lol.
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
In that light I'll just remind everyone to remember that enlistments =/= soldiers, since in many cases they represent people re-upping. Someone who enlisted for three months at the start of the war, re-upped for three years and then re-upped again for half a year could represent three papers (while a cheeky sod who kept deserting could represent a dozen and end up very rich!)
 

Generic Username

Corporal
Joined
May 12, 2019
Location
Yes
Looking at the departments in the West or on the coast, I wonder if there's one of them that could conceivably spare a division or two. April 30 numbers in AP:

(to nearest 000)
Gulf 45,000
Virginia 37,000
North Carolina 17,000
Missouri 40,000
Cumberland 99,000
Ohio 41,000
Tennessee 116,000
(Potomac 158,000)
Washington 44,000
Middle 40,000
(Various small depts like East, New Mexico, Northwest, Pacific)
South 21,000

Total 678,000 AP


The Army of the Potomac's big (though it's about to shrink from all the enlistments, and this is also pre-Chancellorsville of course) but the armies out in the west in aggregate are much bigger.

I've seen it described elsewhere that the basic choice for how to handle the challenge the CSA represents to the government's authority is whether to fight it in the East or to fight it everywhere at once, and the government decided "everywhere at once" (with the attendant dispersal of effort.)



Interestingly in the June 30 1864 list the total is 683,000 AP and that's after the big battles of the Overland, while the April 1863 one is before Chancellorsville (and Vicksburg) - I think it might actually be the case that the Union armies were bigger overall in 1864, and changes in PFD definitions and when units gave accounts disguise that a bit.

9,000 from Washington, as Halleck suggested, and perhaps the 17,000 from North Carolina? Goldsboro becomes meaningless if the Federals can take Petersburg, the thinking might go. Comb through of Virginia, Middle, and the Ohio as well?
 
Last edited:

Generic Username

Corporal
Joined
May 12, 2019
Location
Yes
In that light I'll just remind everyone to remember that enlistments =/= soldiers, since in many cases they represent people re-upping. Someone who enlisted for three months at the start of the war, re-upped for three years and then re-upped again for half a year could represent three papers (while a cheeky sod who kept deserting could represent a dozen and end up very rich!)

Coddington in particular notes that very few of the veterans discharged in 1863 re-signed, precisely because they knew that with the Enrollment Act they could perform the substitute duty for a draftee and collect the $300 bounty. Not a bad idea, given that's equal to $50,000 in today's money.
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
9,000 from Washington, as Halleck suggested, and perhaps the 17,000 from North Carolina? Golosboro becomes meaningless if the Federals can take Petersburg, the thinking might go. Comb through of Virginia, Middle, and the Ohio as well?
I recall that the minimum considered necessary to defend Washington safely in 1862 was about 40,000; that was probably PFD not AP, but Middle and Washington between them can probably be stripped down to 57,000 instead of 88,000 (50,000 AP, plus convalescents).

That gets you about 31,000 AP - call it 25,000 PFD to avoid overclaiming.


North Carolina depends on if it's pinning down more CS or US troops, relatively speaking, but I think it could probably spare some as 17,000 isn't really enough by itself to push inland far enough to take something critical. It is taking up a lot of Confederates though.

I'm not sure if you could strip troops from the Dept. of the Ohio specifically (though you could probably take some troops because historically they got 9th Corps as reinforcements when Burnside transferred there) but I think you could definitely argue there were troops to spare in the West overall.

Confederate reports in AP for 30 June (or 31 May for units like the AoNV) are to nearest 000:

Lee's AoNV 89,000 (includes Longstreet, though there's also Ransom's division not reported)
West Virginia 7,000
Richmond 9,000
NC 23,000
East Tennessee 19,000
SC, Georgia, Florida 22,000
Bragg's Army of Tennessee 60,000
Johnston's Dept. of Mississippi and East LA 29,000
Pemberton's Vicksburg forces on the order of 20,000-25,000
Port Hudson 4,000
Gulf 5,000
1st District of Mississippi 2,000
5th District of Mississippi ? (not large)
Clinton Louisiana 2,000
Trans-Mississippi Dept. 30,000

All combined forces in the West, including Pemberton at Vicksburg, the East Tennessee force and the Trans-Mississippi dept., are something like 175,000. The equivalent Union total (including the Dept. of the Gulf) is 341,000, so the Union basically outnumbers the Confederacy 2:1 in the West so there must be some places to have troops.


It'd be interesting to line up those armies as "what was facing what".
 

Generic Username

Corporal
Joined
May 12, 2019
Location
Yes
Back to the enlistments issue:

4th August 6287,5880.75

I forgot about the nine month enlistments that were expiring in May-June too, on top of the two year enlistments from 1861. Between the two, I think Sears is probably correct as combined this represents a total pool (in the aggregate, of course) of 118,538. Also fits with the figures commonly given for the Army of the Potomac at Gettysburg, given the lack of heavy battle between Chancellorsville and then.
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
This reminds me of that anecdote about the most ridiculous Medals of Honor given in the war - an entire regiment got them for staying in the Washington defences for a few extra days, even the ones who bunked off early because they couldn't track who actually had stuck around.


It looks like it's basically a priority thing. If the East is the main priority then it can quite feasibly be supplied with enough men to make a march on Richmond workable, but it does need to get that priority for it to work; without that priority decision you end up with a requirement to knock lots of troops off of Lee's army "on the cheap", and that means you're hoping for Lee to make a mistake.
 
Top