Hooker Goes Forth: The Overland Campaign of 1863

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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?

Siege Artillery in the Campaigns against Richmond:

During the siege of Richmond no attempt was made at breaching or levelling the enemy' s works by artillery fire. A few experiments in destroying the abatis in front of the works failed utterly, except at points where an enfilading fire could be employed. The rifled siege guns were therefore wholly used in batteries of position to keep down the con federate fire, annoy their working parties, interfere with their use of the Petersburg bridges, and repel or support assaults. On James river they played an important part in assailing the confederate fleet, whenever it ventured within range, and in protecting the digging of Dutch Gap canal.​
The only classes of rifled guns in the siege train were the 100-pounder, 30-pounder, 20- pounder, and 10-pounder Parrott, (calibre 6.4 ,4 . 2, 3.67, and 2.9, subsequently 3-inches, the 4.5 and 3-inch Ordnance guns; and an experimental 24-pounder, (5.82 inches,) and 6-pounder (3.67 inches) rifled on the Sawyer plan. Of these the 24-pounder Sawyer gun burst on its tenth round, and guns of calibre less than the 30 pounder were scarcely used, being chiefly held in position to repel or aid assaults. We, therefore, really tested only the 100-pounder and 30-pounder Parrott, and the 4.5-inch Ordnance gun.​
As far as can be determined having read through the document, all of the 200-pounders and better were in the Carolinas.
 
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Outside of the issue of the Union Army's strength, I'm curious about that of the Confederates. Lee's returns immediately prior to setting off for the Gettysburg Campaign show 75,000 men despite Davis having him leave behind five brigades of about 11,000 infantry because of the perceived threat of Dix to Richmond. If Lee's strength at Chancellorsville is 60,000 as generally accepted, then his post battle casualties size would be around 48,000. Longstreet's Corps was 25,000 men, so that would only bring him back up to 73,000 men. For Lee to leave behind 11,000 men and go from 73,000 to 75,000 for the Gettysburg campaign, that's 13,000 reinforcements received between Chancellorsville and June 3rd.
 

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To quote directly from Guelzo in Gettysburg: The Last Invasion -

Based on the pay and muster reports recorded on June 30th, Meade should have had an army of approximately 112,000 men on hand, either for Pipe Creek or for Gettysburg. Determining the manpower of Civil War armies is a tricky business, compounded by lost or unsubmitted reports and diering denitions of what counted as “present” (which usually meant everyone who was issued rations) or “present for duty” (subtracting the sick but not the noncombatants) or “present for duty equipped” (those actually armed for the line of battle). In the 69th Pennsylvania, for example, the present and accounted for tallies on May 30th listed 389 men; but 52 of these were actually absent in hospital. Other men leaked away through desertion, and by the time they reached Gettysburg, the 69th could only count 292 on hand. In the 18th Massachusetts, the present-for-duty report listed 314 men, but the sergeant who “kept the company accounts” knew that only 108 “were found at the front” at Gettysburg. Meade himself believed that he had “about 95,000 … including all arms of service,” but in terms of troops ready to engage in combat, the Army of the Potomac was probably ready to furnish somewhere between 83,000 and 85,000 men.​
The army’s real strength may have been more fragile even than that, since the expiration of many two-year enlistments from 1861 and emergency nine-monthers from 1862 had reduced the Army of the Potomac, after Chancellorsville, to as few as 40,000, and it was only by drawing some 37,000 troops from Schenck’s and Heintzelman’s garrisons in Baltimore and Washington that Meade was able to pull together a force worth challenging Lee. Units like George Stannard’s Vermont brigade, George Willard’s New York brigade (newly exchanged after being captured at Harpers Ferry in 1862 and cruelly mocked as the “Harper’s Ferry Cowards”), and Samuel Wylie Crawford’s Pennsylvania Reserve Division all increased the raw numbers of the army, but it remained to be seen how well they would t with the rest of the army, or even if they would fight at all.​

To quote another section:

In the wake of McClellan’s dismissal in November 1862, and the debacle at Fredericksburg in December, desertions from the Army of the Potomac reached hemophiliac proportions—200 a day by one estimate, and over 25,000 by the end of January. Joe Hooker had, in a surprisingly skillful display of both carrot and stick, managed to restore and rebuild the army through the spring of 1863, bringing the number of deserters down to only 2,000 and ensuring that the army was well fed and well equipped. But the promises of victory that Hooker so lavishly spread around came to nothing at Chancellorsville in May; and what was worse, approximately 30,000 of the men in the ranks of the Army of the Potomac had been enlisted for two-year terms, rather than the customary three year volunteer service, or else had signed up for nine months’ service during the panic which greeted Lee’s invasion of Maryland in the fall of 1862. Those enlistments were due to expire in May and June 1863, taking away what seemed to one Minnesota soldier to be “fully one-half of the fighting strength of the old Army of the Potomac.”​
This was the rankers’ view; in terms of actual numbers, the army could still field between 85,000 and 94,000 men (allowing for sickness, leaves, and assignment to rear-echelon duties). More serious damage was done to the inner workings of the army, which lost units and officers that had otherwise been part of the day-to-day machinery of divisions and corps. John Reynolds’ 1st Corps was reduced from 16,000 to 9,000 men, and within the 1st Corps, James Wadsworth’s division was shrunk from four to two brigades and John Cleveland Robinson’s division from three to two. Dan Sickles’ 3rd Corps was downsized from three divisions to two. Not even the commanders stayed still: not a single one of the major generals who would command a corps at Gettysburg had been in command ten and a half months before at Antietam; sixteen of the Army of the Potomac’s nineteen divisions got new commanding ocers between Antietam and Gettysburg​
The Gettysburg Staff Ride also lists the May 31 strength of the Army of the Potomac at 95,000.
 

Saphroneth

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It looks like that ~90,000 number is probably what I would call Effectives; in PFD the army was probably larger. But if you're using Effectives for both sides then that's as fine as if you were using PFD for both sides.
 

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It looks like that ~90,000 number is probably what I would call Effectives; in PFD the army was probably larger. But if you're using Effectives for both sides then that's as fine as if you were using PFD for both sides.

PFD for Gettysburg, according to the OR at least, was 104,256. Kinda insane, compared to the 158,000 recorded in April, as you cited.
 

Saphroneth

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PFD for Gettysburg, according to the OR at least, was 104,256. Kinda insane, compared to the 158,000 recorded in April, as you cited.
Yep. Which raises the interesting question of what Lee's PFD-equivalent was.

It makes Gettysburg, meeting engagement as it was, look like quite a shrewd move - with 1st and 11th Corps so badly hammered on the first day and 6th Corps not arriving until the third (and for that matter 5th Corps not fully on the battlefield), in terms of combat strength on the second day Lee may actually have a superiority.

Pity the Union army if that situation develops when they're forty miles south of Fredericksburg...
 

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Yep. Which raises the interesting question of what Lee's PFD-equivalent was.

It makes Gettysburg, meeting engagement as it was, look like quite a shrewd move - with 1st and 11th Corps so badly hammered on the first day and 6th Corps not arriving until the third (and for that matter 5th Corps not fully on the battlefield), in terms of combat strength on the second day Lee may actually have a superiority.

Pity the Union army if that situation develops when they're forty miles south of Fredericksburg...

I checked Coddington for Lee:

Lee.PNG


To digress for a minute on the matter of Gettysburg, 67th Tigers has argued in the past that the PPT Charge could've been successful; this lends further credence to that claim beyond the already ample evidence of such.
 
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Saphroneth

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To me the critical day is Day Two, because Lee's echelon plan got completely bollixed by multiple general officer casualties. Without that you'd have something like 2:1 odds coming in on a converging attack on the hinge of the Union line... the 11th Corps, who'd never been at a victorious battle and had participated in defeat at Second Bull Run (as 1st Corps AoV), then Chancellorsville and then a third time the previous day. They'd also never been part of McClellan's training of the army, neither in the pre-Peninsular nor post-Antietam phases, except for that part who had started out as Blenker's division.
It would be hard to find AotP troops who were shakier.
 

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Outside the numbers, what was the operational intent of Hooker?

Hooker entered what he considered the initial stage of his spring offensive at Chancellorsville believing that he would first defeat Lee’s army by maneuver. According to their earlier discussions and correspondence, Lincoln’s concept of the campaign was devised with the destruction or scattering of Lee’s army as the means of their defeat. Hooker, however, viewed the withdrawal of the enemy as a means to that end. It would also provide a moral victory for the army while avoiding costly head-on assaults. Prior to Chancellorsville, Hooker was already making preparations for driving to Richmond. He had made arrangements for the Union Navy to transport a million and a half rations up the Pamunkey River to supply his army on its final approach to the Confederate capital. 18 Additionally, he had his artillerymen planning for a siege train of heavy guns to blast at the works surrounding Richmond.19 Furthermore, he had coordinated with the Chief of Construction and Transportation of the U.S. Military Railroad Department, General Herman Haupt, to be prepared to establish the necessary communication lines.20​
Hooker did pursue Lee’s army and not Richmond as the main objective as the President had directed, but the means that Hooker pursued to that end were misleading. According to his Chief of Staff, “General Hooker’s belief, as he had always expressed it to me, was the rebellion rested upon that [Lee’s] army, and when it was destroyed the end was at hand.”21 However, I believe Hooker’s overall plan for accomplishing Lincoln’s stated intent was not limited to the actions Hooker had outlined in his letter to the President on April 11. Hooker’s letter simply outlines the first step of his overall plan, which would seek to actually “defeat” Lee in or around Richmond.22​
 

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The transport of 1.5 million rations up the Pamunkey river (which is where White House Landing is) is interesting, and the note about the siege train is interesting as well. 1.5 million rations is enough for his whole army for on the order ten days, which suggests to me he wasn't just stopping by en route to the James - I think he might have been planning on taking up McClellan's old lines around the Chickahominy.

Of course, he might simply have been using the Pamunkey as a full resupply point before moving on to the James, because you can also fight your way up the James with regular approaches. But that doesn't involve the railways, so I think the Chickahominy route makes more sense of what he was going for.
 

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At this point, I feel comfortable enough to make some speculations about the campaign.

With regards to Chancellorsville, I’m going to be somewhat arbitrary and say the Confederates have taken the same casualties as they did historically; Jackson’s failed attack on May 2nd is more costly, but the lack of the May 3rd assault makes up for it. Federal casualties, however, are lower by 4,000 in order to reflect the less successful attack on the 11th Corps as well as the lack of Lee’s attack on May 3rd. Call it 13,000 Federals to 12,000 Confederates which, combined with Lee’s subsequent retreat, makes for a decent victory for Hooker. I suspect Lee will get away cleanly, however, given the defensive disposition of Hooker and Lee’s success in these same regards in the historical 1864.

At this point, Hooker is locked into the campaign through a combination of political and military factors, irrespective of the looming enlistments issue. To retreat would basically guarantee his relief by squandering the victory of finally turning the Rappahannock on the political level, while on the military one it concedes the initiative back to Lee, a dangerous prospect. I suspect Lee’s defeat and withdrawal will also be a confidence booster for Hooker and, overall, the Army of the Potomac. Therefore, they will give chase and thereon it is a race towards Richmond.

Unlike 1864, I doubt Lee will make a stand at Spotsylvania and will instead order a concentration at the North Anna; with 48,000 PFD, he’s just too weak and by the time he reaches there, Longstreet and his 25,000 will likely be there too. Call it late May by the time this happens, and we will also throw in Jenkins’ and Imboden’s commands to get Lee up to 75,000. For the Federals, the enlistment issue is starting to hit; for sake of ease, I am going to say they are at 95,000. Once both armies are at the North Anna, there’s two ways it could do:
Of the two, I am of the opinion it will be the second one; the Army of the Potomac keeps maneuvering towards Richmond while Lee withdraws and always interposes himself between his base of supply and Hooker’s troops. Eventually, however, once he crosses the Pamunkey and is astride the Chickahominy River, Hooker is faced with the same dilemma as Grant. Either:
  • He must reverse course, maneuvering to the right this time i.e. away from Richmond. Politically, this is probably untenable.
  • He must attack Lee, head on, which Grant infamously tried at Cold Harbor. If he brings up the siege artillery, he can try to take it slow and thus avoid immediate casualties but the force size available to him puts him in the same position as McClellan for the Seven Days.
  • He must cross the James River, same as Grant ultimately did, as it is the last movement to the right that can be done and opens Petersburg-with its vital railways-to attack.
 

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The transport of 1.5 million rations up the Pamunkey river (which is where White House Landing is) is interesting, and the note about the siege train is interesting as well. 1.5 million rations is enough for his whole army for on the order ten days, which suggests to me he wasn't just stopping by en route to the James - I think he might have been planning on taking up McClellan's old lines around the Chickahominy.

Of course, he might simply have been using the Pamunkey as a full resupply point before moving on to the James, because you can also fight your way up the James with regular approaches. But that doesn't involve the railways, so I think the Chickahominy route makes more sense of what he was going for.

Do you think we could see a repeat of the Seven Days? Lee has at least 78,000 men while D.H. Hill has 9,000 around the Richmond environs and 19,000 in the Department of North Carolina; at the minimum, the 9,000 around Richmond can be added to Lee's total. Honestly, we could probably call it at 90,000 at least if we still add Imboden's and Jenkins' forces? We're also still not touching any of the troops in North Carolina. Let's just call it at 90,000 Confederates for ease, so Hill can keep the Federals in North Carolina busy.

Lee keeps Hooker's main body engaged with 45,000 troops, while deploying a 30,000 man break out force and a 15,000 man flanking force?
 

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Do you think we could see a repeat of the Seven Days? Lee has at least 78,000 men while D.H. Hill has 9,000 around the Richmond environs and 19,000 in the Department of North Carolina; at the minimum, the 9,000 around Richmond can be added to Lee's total. Honestly, we could probably call it at 90,000 at least if we still add Imboden's and Jenkins' forces? We're also still not touching any of the troops in North Carolina. Let's just call it at 90,000 Confederates for ease, so Hill can keep the Federals in North Carolina busy.

Lee keeps Hooker's main body engaged with 45,000 troops, while deploying a 30,000 man break out force and a 15,000 man flanking force?
I'm not sure that would be enough - or, rather, if what resulted was like a Seven Days rerun, you'd have the "Gaines Mill" battle result in Lee bouncing off. Historically it took him attacking columns totalling around 65,000 (Harsh, PFD, as of the start of the Seven Days) to just about break Porter's lines - here the attacking force is about 20,000 weaker - and if Lee does this and doesn't break the lines defending north of the Chickahominy, the result is that he's vulnerable to a riposte.

Also, of course, Hooker has much more cavalry. He might well be able to make things work better from that alone.
 

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I'm not sure that would be enough - or, rather, if what resulted was like a Seven Days rerun, you'd have the "Gaines Mill" battle result in Lee bouncing off. Historically it took him attacking columns totalling around 65,000 (Harsh, PFD, as of the start of the Seven Days) to just about break Porter's lines - here the attacking force is about 20,000 weaker - and if Lee does this and doesn't break the lines defending north of the Chickahominy, the result is that he's vulnerable to a riposte.

Also, of course, Hooker has much more cavalry. He might well be able to make things work better from that alone.

Well, Lee has ~78,000 and it can climb to 81,000 if we assume Imboden and Jenkins still get added. Add the 9,000 troops around Richmond, and you're now at 90,000 Confederates to 93,000 Federals, and this without touching the Department of North Carolina's 19,000. From there, based on what you said in your own thread, Lee can hold Hooker's main attack force of 70,000 with 45,000 Confederates, freeing up 43,000 to attack the Northern wing but it is, at maximum, 23,000 Federals. If this proves insufficient, Lee can tap into D.H. Hill's command to create a 10,000 man force to threaten Washington.

All this is assuming no pitched battles between Chancellorsville and the positions around Richmond, of course.
 

Saphroneth

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I think the question at that point becomes why Lee didn't tap all those forces for his Gettysburg run historically as it starts to seem that Lee could have theoretically invaded the North with basically a "fourth corps" - it's worth considering, though it may be that the danger to Richmond would force priority re-evaluations. (Or maybe it just means that that's another AU worth considering!)

As for the northern wing size, remember that when the "Gaines Mill" situation develops Hooker can do what McClellan did and transfer troops over the Chickahominy - Lee's attacking column would be 20,000 weaker and Hooker's defensive force available only about 10,000 weaker, and with a better overall command structure (i.e. whoever's in Porter's place not initially assuming everything is fine and only calling for reinforcements later) you could see "Gaines Mill 2 Electric Boatswain" going better for the Federals.
Or it could not, of course.
 

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I think the question at that point becomes why Lee didn't tap all those forces for his Gettysburg run historically as it starts to seem that Lee could have theoretically invaded the North with basically a "fourth corps" - it's worth considering, though it may be that the danger to Richmond would force priority re-evaluations. (Or maybe it just means that that's another AU worth considering!)

As for the northern wing size, remember that when the "Gaines Mill" situation develops Hooker can do what McClellan did and transfer troops over the Chickahominy - Lee's attacking column would be 20,000 weaker and Hooker's defensive force available only about 10,000 weaker, and with a better overall command structure (i.e. whoever's in Porter's place not initially assuming everything is fine and only calling for reinforcements later) you could see "Gaines Mill 2 Electric Boatswain" going better for the Federals.
Or it could not, of course.

Coddington notes Lee left Fredericksburg with at least 78,000 and then added Jenkins and Imboden along the way; obviously you have to figure in straggling and casualties but he states this was minimal. The only real addition here is the 9,000 troops defending Richmond, which are, well, defending it in concert with the ANV.

Something I've been thinking about, but was a "Southern attack" option contemplated? Otherwise add them to the Northern attack option and it evens out; Lee is short 10,000 but then so is Hooker.
 

Saphroneth

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Something I've been thinking about, but was a "Southern attack" option contemplated? Otherwise add them to the Northern attack option and it evens out; Lee is short 10,000 but then so is Hooker.
I believe not really, because of the presence of White Oak Swamp. On the other hand, if there had been an extra ~10,000 Confederates at the actual Seven Days and they'd been covering the bridge near the mouth of the White Oak then McClellan would quite probably have had to surrender his army - crossing the White Oak was his way out of the "box".
 

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Basically, the question is whether Hooker, after Chancellorsville, attacks Lee between that position and the James. If he keeps moving around the flank, he can get to the James and initiate the siege, at which point it's-in my estimation-up in the air. If he uses the siege artillery the same way McClellan did, he stands a good chance and the question then switches to if Davis can pull 10,000 men out of the Department of North Carolina. Lee can possibly dislodge Hooker with the new numbers, but that opens up the threat of the Federal coastal garrisons there trying something against the 9,000 remaining Confederates.

If Hooker attempts an engagement anywhere, though, I think the campaign comes undone. Grant during his historical Overland Campaign certainly felt compelled to engage in bloody fighting and, unlike Grant, Hooker just doesn't have the forces for such. Imagine Hooker getting into it with Lee at the North Anna with 93,000 men to Lee's 75,000.....
 

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I believe not really, because of the presence of White Oak Swamp. On the other hand, if there had been an extra ~10,000 Confederates at the actual Seven Days and they'd been covering the bridge near the mouth of the White Oak then McClellan would quite probably have had to surrender his army - crossing the White Oak was his way out of the "box".
That seems like a interesting POD by itself, could that have happened?
 

Saphroneth

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That seems like a interesting POD by itself, could that have happened?
Yes. More troops continued to arrive into Richmond after the Seven Days, and those troops could have feasibly arrived earlier - or enough of them that, combined with the Petersburg garrison, they could put a reasonable-strength division on the far side of White Oak Bridge.
 
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