McClellan on Hooker at Antietam

Ole Miss

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I have read many accounts, rumors, stories, tales and outright lies about “Fighting Joe Hooker” but this report was a shocker. George McClellan and Hooker were in different circles and worlds but evidently he was a firm believer in Joe’s abilities as a leader of men. Unfortunately he was a poor judge of character!

I would be interested in other’s reaction to McClellan’s inclusion of this letter in the Official Records of the Rebellion*. About the time of this missive, Ole Joe was in D.C. recovering from his wound and enjoying all the accolades that a hero deserves. Hooker took the opportunity to speak with Secretary of the Treasury Solomon P. Chase about how he, Hooker, would have fought the battle and the positive outcome he would have delivered. The Vice President of the United States, Hannibal Hamlin, was blessed also to hear from Hooker. What a splendid specimen of manhood!**
Regards
David

Headquarters Army of the Potomac,
Sharpsburg, September 20, 1862
Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker,
Commanding Corps:
My Dear Hooker : I have, been very sick the last few days, and just able to go where my presence was absolutely necessary, so I could not come to see you and thank you for what you did the other day, and express my intense regret and sympathy for your unfortunate wound. Had you not been wounded when you were, I believe the result of the battle would have been the entire destruction of the rebel army, for I know that, with you at its head, your corps would have kept on until it gained the main road. As a slight expression of what I think you merit, I have requested that the brigadier-general’s commission rendered vacant by Mansfield’s death may be given to you. I will this evening write a private note to the President on the subject, and I am glad to assure you that, so far as I can learn, it is the universal feeling of the army that you are the most deserving in it.
With the sincere hope that your health may soon be restored, so that you may again be with us in the field, I am, my dear general, your sincere friend,
Geo. B. McClellan, Major-General.”


https://civilwartalk.com/threads/20...nounced-october-9th-11th.166249/#post-2166718

*Official Records of the Rebellion
Series 1, Volume XIX, Part 1
Page 219
https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=coo.31924079609610&view=1up&seq=235&skin=2021&q1=216

**The Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association
“The Spirit Which You Have Aided to Infuse”: A. Lincoln, Little Mac, Fighting Joe, and the Question of Accountability in Union Command Relations
https://quod.lib.umich.edu/j/jala/2...e-a-lincoln-little-mac?rgn=main;view=fulltext
 

Lubliner

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Hey, @Saphroneth, the article directly above in the link provided by @Ole Miss is highly supportive of your own arguments involving McClellan and the chain of command concerning Lincoln. Please read:
**The Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association**
Thanks,
Lubliner.
 

Lubliner

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I have read many accounts, rumors, stories, tales and outright lies about “Fighting Joe Hooker” but this report was a shocker. George McClellan and Hooker were in different circles and worlds but evidently he was a firm believer in Joe’s abilities as a leader of men. Unfortunately he was a poor judge of character!

I would be interested in other’s reaction to McClellan’s inclusion of this letter in the Official Records of the Rebellion*. About the time of this missive, Ole Joe was in D.C. recovering from his wound and enjoying all the accolades that a hero deserves. Hooker took the opportunity to speak with Secretary of the Treasury Solomon P. Chase about how he, Hooker, would have fought the battle and the positive outcome he would have delivered. The Vice President of the United States, Hannibal Hamlin, was blessed also to hear from Hooker. What a splendid specimen of manhood!**
Regards
David

Headquarters Army of the Potomac,
Sharpsburg, September 20, 1862
Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker,
Commanding Corps:
My Dear Hooker : I have, been very sick the last few days, and just able to go where my presence was absolutely necessary, so I could not come to see you and thank you for what you did the other day, and express my intense regret and sympathy for your unfortunate wound. Had you not been wounded when you were, I believe the result of the battle would have been the entire destruction of the rebel army, for I know that, with you at its head, your corps would have kept on until it gained the main road. As a slight expression of what I think you merit, I have requested that the brigadier-general’s commission rendered vacant by Mansfield’s death may be given to you. I will this evening write a private note to the President on the subject, and I am glad to assure you that, so far as I can learn, it is the universal feeling of the army that you are the most deserving in it.
With the sincere hope that your health may soon be restored, so that you may again be with us in the field, I am, my dear general, your sincere friend,
Geo. B. McClellan, Major-General.”


https://civilwartalk.com/threads/20...nounced-october-9th-11th.166249/#post-2166718

*Official Records of the Rebellion
Series 1, Volume XIX, Part 1
Page 219
https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=coo.31924079609610&view=1up&seq=235&skin=2021&q1=216

**The Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association
“The Spirit Which You Have Aided to Infuse”: A. Lincoln, Little Mac, Fighting Joe, and the Question of Accountability in Union Command Relations
https://quod.lib.umich.edu/j/jala/2...e-a-lincoln-little-mac?rgn=main;view=fulltext
Sounds to me like Little Mac, knowing of Hooker's ambitions both militarily and possibly politically, purposely put forth in the Official Record his 'forget-me-not' letter. This may have been the precursor to his future opportunities in the political sphere as his own military tenure was ending. That was an excellent article, and I personally thank you for the link.
Lubliner.
 

WScott

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I have read several books on the Maryland Campaign and the Battle of Antietam in particular but can't remember reading that on September 20th McClellan stated that "I have, been very sick the last few days,..." . While Joe Hooker did a good job in the opening attacks and might have achieved significant results had he not been wounded but was McClellan sick during the battle and did it affect his ability to command? McClellan was always the consument politian, was this his way of justifying his lack of aggressively pursuing Lee on the 18th​ or 19th​? Was that his excuse to Lincoln for doing his job, suffering from the slows?
 

Saphroneth

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I have read many accounts, rumors, stories, tales and outright lies about “Fighting Joe Hooker” but this report was a shocker. George McClellan and Hooker were in different circles and worlds but evidently he was a firm believer in Joe’s abilities as a leader of men. Unfortunately he was a poor judge of character!
I suspect that at least part of that is what one has to go on and the available choices (in terms of who to pick to give CC positions).
We know that McClellan didn't ding Burnside in his report, though he seriously considered it.
 

Ole Miss

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George was fond of Burnside and wanted to protect him after the Bridge debacle at Antietam. Ambrose was loyal and had no ambitions to move up to command the Army of the Potomac and that was what mattered to “Little Mac” the most.
Regards
David
 

Saphroneth

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George was fond of Burnside and wanted to protect him after the Bridge debacle at Antietam. Ambrose was loyal and had no ambitions to move up to command the Army of the Potomac and that was what mattered to “Little Mac” the most.
The actual words of what McClellan said to his wife in his letters (and we have no particular reason to disbelieve him on this) is that if he "rapped" Burnside very severely (as he agreed Burnside deserved) then Burnside would be his enemy after that.

The thing that needs to be recognized here is that McClellan really has very little control of the upper command structure of his own army. He can "hire" commanders for open slots, within strict limitations, but he has almost no ability to "fire" them - he is explicitly not allowed to remove a corps commander for cause unless they have disobeyed orders, and carrying them out in a slow fashion does not qualify. (Burnside is a corps commander appointed by Lincoln, and so McClellan cannot get rid of him.)

Furthermore, when McClellan complained on the Peninsula about the poor performance of various subordinates and asked to replace them, he was told outright that the answer was no*; when his official report stated that commanders had performed poorly at e.g. Williamsburg, the result was that those commanders would often end up in a feud with him on a long term basis.

So this means McClellan has three possible outcomes:


1) Accept Burnside's report as truthful, officially, and do what he can to work within the army structure he has.
This is an outcome within McClellan's control.

2) Reject Burnside's report and complain about his poor performance, and get Burnside (and Cox, who had been Burnside's tactical deputy and may have shared the blame) replaced by an unknown commander.
This is obviously the better outcome in terms of what happens if McClellan complains, assuming the replacement commander is any good, but then again most of the CCs McClellan has had to deal with are not very good. They've all screwed up in some way, and he may not necessarily believe a replacement would be much better.

3) Reject Burnside's report, as above, but he is unable to force Burnside's replacement.
This is the worst possible outcome. He has made an enemy of one of his most senior subordinates who he now has to continue working with.
He's not even the only CC who could be considered to have screwed up at Antietam, though certainly the one with the most consequential lapse of capability in hindsight.


It should be pointed out here that when McClellan did get a chance to promote people out of turn, he took it and did try to generate a more efficient command structure.
Hooker for example was already someone Lincoln wanted to get a corps command (in lieu of Porter I believe) but McClellan considered Porter to be one of his better CCs so managed to get that suspended; Hooker however was then a "prospective corps commander" so got 1st Corps instead as that had no current CC.



* Lincoln criticized him for getting rid of one useless division commander on competence grounds, and outright forbade him from removing CCs on competency grounds. Only actual disobedence would suffice as a reason.
 

trice

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The actual words of what McClellan said to his wife in his letters (and we have no particular reason to disbelieve him on this) is that if he "rapped" Burnside very severely (as he agreed Burnside deserved) then Burnside would be his enemy after that.

The thing that needs to be recognized here is that McClellan really has very little control of the upper command structure of his own army. He can "hire" commanders for open slots, within strict limitations, but he has almost no ability to "fire" them - he is explicitly not allowed to remove a corps commander for cause unless they have disobeyed orders, and carrying them out in a slow fashion does not qualify. (Burnside is a corps commander appointed by Lincoln, and so McClellan cannot get rid of him.)

Furthermore, when McClellan complained on the Peninsula about the poor performance of various subordinates and asked to replace them, he was told outright that the answer was no*; when his official report stated that commanders had performed poorly at e.g. Williamsburg, the result was that those commanders would often end up in a feud with him on a long term basis.

So this means McClellan has three possible outcomes:


1) Accept Burnside's report as truthful, officially, and do what he can to work within the army structure he has.
This is an outcome within McClellan's control.

2) Reject Burnside's report and complain about his poor performance, and get Burnside (and Cox, who had been Burnside's tactical deputy and may have shared the blame) replaced by an unknown commander.
This is obviously the better outcome in terms of what happens if McClellan complains, assuming the replacement commander is any good, but then again most of the CCs McClellan has had to deal with are not very good. They've all screwed up in some way, and he may not necessarily believe a replacement would be much better.

3) Reject Burnside's report, as above, but he is unable to force Burnside's replacement.
This is the worst possible outcome. He has made an enemy of one of his most senior subordinates who he now has to continue working with.
He's not even the only CC who could be considered to have screwed up at Antietam, though certainly the one with the most consequential lapse of capability in hindsight.


It should be pointed out here that when McClellan did get a chance to promote people out of turn, he took it and did try to generate a more efficient command structure.
Hooker for example was already someone Lincoln wanted to get a corps command (in lieu of Porter I believe) but McClellan considered Porter to be one of his better CCs so managed to get that suspended; Hooker however was then a "prospective corps commander" so got 1st Corps instead as that had no current CC.



* Lincoln criticized him for getting rid of one useless division commander on competence grounds, and outright forbade him from removing CCs on competency grounds. Only actual disobedence would suffice as a reason.
You seem to be saying that McClellan's problem was that he was expected to abide by the rules and regulations that applied to all the other Union commanders. Is that it?
 

67th Tigers

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The thing about McClellan is that he assessed his subordinates based on ability, without regard to his personal friendships etc. Hence he was very protective and supportive of both Kearny and Hooker, despite them being openly hostile to him at times. To McClellan it was only their ability that counted. McClellan did not need validation from his subordinates, unlike some other generals.

There were some officers who came with high reputations, who McClellan ultimately found to be of problematic ability. However, he had no power to remove corps commanders. He did have the power (until Halleck was appointed) to remove division commanders, since the regulations stated that the appointment of brigade and division commanders was within the GINC's prerogative.

Legally, the existence of corps commanders was due to a separate July '62 Act of Congress and it specified that only POTUS could appoint or remove corps commanders. The original five were done by Presidential fiat, and in May '62 (before the formal Act) McClellan asks if he could remove them. The answer was no, but he was allowed to create provisional corps and appoint provisional corps commanders (FJ Porter and Franklin). As soon as the Act was passed, Lincoln made the formal appointment to 5th-9th Corps. This Act effectively created a separate grade of "higher" major-generals.

As McClellan was marching out, Lincoln made a new series of appointments, including Hooker to command 5th Corps vice FJ Porter. McClellan asked for this to be suspended for the campaign, and that was assented to. When McDowell got himself fired (by asking for a court-of-inquiry), McClellan placed Hooker in acting command of 1st Corps, vice McDowell.

There were two "illegal" firings of POTUS-appointed corps commanders that I can remember. The first was Grant's relief of McClernand. McClernand pointed out that Grant did not have the authority to do so, but waived this point expecting Lincoln to fire Grant. Of course, Lincoln didn't. The second was the relief of Warren, which was even more egregious.

In both cases, the relieved officer accepted the illegal action. This created huge problems for them, as they'd effectively waived their rights in doing so. What they should have done is refused the illegal order. This would have caused them to be arrested and forced a court-martial, in which Grant/Sheridan would literally not have a leg to stand on. However, since the penalty for refusing said order could be death, you have to gamble that the court would follow the law, which they'd been demonstrated (by the FJ Porter trial) not to be fastidiously bound by...
 

Saphroneth

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You seem to be saying that McClellan's problem was that he was expected to abide by the rules and regulations that applied to all the other Union commanders. Is that it?
Not really. I'm saying that McClellan's problem (compared to a "typical commander" in another war, or perhaps a commander operating at a different point in the Civil War) was that he was not able to relieve his subordinates for incompetence (himself) or to have them relieved (through the proper channels). This means that if a commander was not capable then McClellan effectively has no recourse which will actually remove them from command, and so he must act with the understanding that he is stuck with them.

If McClellan had the ability to say "This commander is no good, because I ordered him to do X and it took him four hours to do something that should have taken thirty minutes", and that would actually result in his relief (either directly by McClellan sacking him or indirectly through whatever proper channels happen to be), then he could do so and replace Burnside (for example) with someone else he felt more capable (and then, if that replacement also proved incapable, do it again until he had a command team he trusted to do the job).

But instead McClellan has no reason to believe this will be possible. Instead he is stuck with Burnside and to give Burnside a negative review - even one which Burnside amply deserves - will make an enemy out of a man McClellan has to continue working with.

I believe this to be a lesson McClellan learned after Williamsburg, where merely not mentioning the performance of poorly performing commanders led to a feud with at least one of them and where McClellan's appeal to Lincoln to replace his corps commanders (who had all performed poorly at Williamsburg) was met by Lincoln denying the request; incompetence was not sufficient reason for Lincoln to authorize removing a corps commander, and of course McClellan can't do it himself.
 

trice

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Not really. I'm saying that McClellan's problem (compared to a "typical commander" in another war, or perhaps a commander operating at a different point in the Civil War) was that he was not able to relieve his subordinates for incompetence (himself) or to have them relieved (through the proper channels). This means that if a commander was not capable then McClellan effectively has no recourse which will actually remove them from command, and so he must act with the understanding that he is stuck with them.

If McClellan had the ability to say "This commander is no good, because I ordered him to do X and it took him four hours to do something that should have taken thirty minutes", and that would actually result in his relief (either directly by McClellan sacking him or indirectly through whatever proper channels happen to be), then he could do so and replace Burnside (for example) with someone else he felt more capable (and then, if that replacement also proved incapable, do it again until he had a command team he trusted to do the job).

But instead McClellan has no reason to believe this will be possible. Instead he is stuck with Burnside and to give Burnside a negative review - even one which Burnside amply deserves - will make an enemy out of a man McClellan has to continue working with.

I believe this to be a lesson McClellan learned after Williamsburg, where merely not mentioning the performance of poorly performing commanders led to a feud with at least one of them and where McClellan's appeal to Lincoln to replace his corps commanders (who had all performed poorly at Williamsburg) was met by Lincoln denying the request; incompetence was not sufficient reason for Lincoln to authorize removing a corps commander, and of course McClellan can't do it himself.
So you are saying that McClellan could not relieve his subordinates himself, but all the other Union commanders could? Might you have a few examples of other Union commanders relieving commanders while McClellan was denied?

The rest of this seems to be about matters internal to McClellan himself and his own personality.
 

Saphroneth

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So you are saying that McClellan could not relieve his subordinates himself, but all the other Union commanders could? Might you have a few examples of other Union commanders relieving commanders while McClellan was denied?
No, what I'm saying is that this is why McClellan acted as he did towards Burnside. It is because Burnside had performed poorly (and McClellan knew it) but McClellan would have to work with Burnside again very soon, and antagonising him (with a negative report) would sour their relationship for no benefit.


An example of someone who was not under the same pressures (regarding division commanders) as McClellan was regarding Burnside (a corps commander) would be McClellan himself over Hamilton, a division commander who he considered incompetent enough to sack (which Lincoln dinged him over because of the political costs, but didn't overturn the relief from duty).

Another example is Pope relieving Hatch of command of a cavalry brigade for poor performance.


Now, as it happens, Warren was relieved of command during the Appomattox campaign (by Sheridan, under permission from Grant) and Warren was a corps commander. Obviously this means either that Grant was legally able to do this sort of thing (when McClellan was not) or that Grant acted extra-legally on this occasion; the fact of Warren being relieved from command means it must be one of these two.

(A similar situation is when Stoneman was relieved of command by Hooker.)


The rest of this seems to be about matters internal to McClellan himself and his own personality.

It matters because it means that critizing Burnside in a report is not an action with no consequence. It will have a negative effect on the McClellan-Burnside relationship (i.e. it will make Burnside an enemy) and McClellan has reason to believe it will not have a positive effect.
 
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Saphroneth

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In an attempt to clarify, if a commander is genuinely bad, there are three possible outcomes.


Outcome one is that McClellan relieves that commander (let's say it's Burnside because we know he felt Burnside failed) on his own authority. This is something he is not allowed to do except if that commander disobeys an order, and Burnside did not disobey an order so McClellan did not do this (as he was not allowed).

Outcome two is that McClellan appeals to higher authority (in this case Lincoln) to get that commander relieved; that is, going through proper channels.
This would be fine, if those proper channels were working properly (by which I mean, a report by the army commander of incompetence meant that that incompetent corps commander could be relieved of command). However, McClellan's previous experience was that the last time he did this (appealing to Lincoln) he was denied permission to switch out corps commanders for incompetence, or even to dissolve the corps structure entirely.

Outcome three is that, without a means to remove that general, McClellan has to work with what he's got.


This simply states the situation McClellan is in when he is doing things like writing his report of Antietam.
 

67th Tigers

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So you are saying that McClellan could not relieve his subordinates himself, but all the other Union commanders could? Might you have a few examples of other Union commanders relieving commanders while McClellan was denied?

The rest of this seems to be about matters internal to McClellan himself and his own personality.

You are completely missing the context of what regulations said.

There were two major authorities to whom the power to appoint and relieve senior officers were intrusted:

1. POTUS - the power to assign officers to armies, departments and corps, and to relieve them, was exclusively invested in POTUS. SECWAR could exercise this power "by order of the President", if POTUS allowed such.

2. GINC - the power to assign general officers to brigades and divisions was delegated to the General-in-Chief, where POTUS had not given such an order.

No-one else had authority to assign officers to divisions etc. Of course, army commanders etc. might make a provisional assignment, but this has no legal power. Having no legal power, they could be relieved easily.

With respect to Burnside, his assignment to command of a Corps has been made by POTUS. McClellan is neither POTUS nor GINC, and has no authority over any assignments. Thus he can't override POTUS by relieving Burnside. That's a simple point of law - no-one can override the President. This was emphasised in General Orders 40.

That departments commanders could not even formally appoint division commanders was the sticking point over which McClellan and Scott clashed leading to Scott's removal. McClellan arguably exceeded his authority in creating divisions in the Army of the Potomac in late summer '61. This was a power reserved for the GINC by the regulations. Scott refused to appoint such and even as the army swelled to 80,000 and above.

To be clear, nothing in regulations stopped a department commander from forming brigades or divisions, but their commander could not be appointed. Thus, the senior regimental colonel would command the division. There was no mechanism for a department commander to assign a brigadier-general to command a brigade, for example. Have a look at the Federal army at 1st Bull Run - the division commanders are two militia generals (appointed by the states) and in the other three divisions the senior colonel is commanding.

In early August, POTUS, through SECWAR started making "generals of brigade" (i.e. brigadier-generals), but did not make many "generals of division" (i.e. major-generals). When McClellan started grouping brigades into twos and threes, with the senior brigadier taking command, this was an affront to Scott.

No formal Corps were authorised in regulations until July 1862. Hence McClellan could not make Corps (although before Lincoln's order, he had grouped the divisions under senior division commanders). When the Militia Act authorised corps, the power to appoint or relieve their commanders was exclusively reserved for POTUS. The GINC could not appoint or remove corps commanders, or even staff members appointed by POTUS.
 

trice

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It matters because it means that critizing Burnside in a report is not an action with no consequence. It will have a negative effect on the McClellan-Burnside relationship (i.e. it will make Burnside an enemy) and McClellan has reason to believe it will not have a positive effect.
So? Sounds like an extremely normal, everyday situation faced by every commander who ever wrote an after-action report. People don't always get the credit they deserve, and people don't always get the blame they deserve.

We can find lots of other examples of officers who could have been criticized in a report and were not, by other commanders than McClellan. We can also find examples of officers who were criticized in reports. What you are saying is that McClellan himself decided not to criticize Burnside. It was a personal choice made by McClellan, not something imposed on him from the outside.

Another officer might have decided to criticize Burnside in that spot if he thought Burnside deserved it. Or that other officer might have decided to skip criticizing Burnside as McClellan did.
 

trice

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You are completely missing the context of what regulations said.

There were two major authorities to whom the power to appoint and relieve senior officers were intrusted:

1. POTUS - the power to assign officers to armies, departments and corps, and to relieve them, was exclusively invested in POTUS. SECWAR could exercise this power "by order of the President", if POTUS allowed such.

2. GINC - the power to assign general officers to brigades and divisions was delegated to the General-in-Chief, where POTUS had not given such an order.

No-one else had authority to assign officers to divisions etc. Of course, army commanders etc. might make a provisional assignment, but this has no legal power. Having no legal power, they could be relieved easily.

With respect to Burnside, his assignment to command of a Corps has been made by POTUS. McClellan is neither POTUS nor GINC, and has no authority over any assignments. Thus he can't override POTUS by relieving Burnside. That's a simple point of law - no-one can override the President. This was emphasised in General Orders 40.

That departments commanders could not even formally appoint division commanders was the sticking point over which McClellan and Scott clashed leading to Scott's removal. McClellan arguably exceeded his authority in creating divisions in the Army of the Potomac in late summer '61. This was a power reserved for the GINC by the regulations. Scott refused to appoint such and even as the army swelled to 80,000 and above.

To be clear, nothing in regulations stopped a department commander from forming brigades or divisions, but their commander could not be appointed. Thus, the senior regimental colonel would command the division. There was no mechanism for a department commander to assign a brigadier-general to command a brigade, for example. Have a look at the Federal army at 1st Bull Run - the division commanders are two militia generals (appointed by the states) and in the other three divisions the senior colonel is commanding.

In early August, POTUS, through SECWAR started making "generals of brigade" (i.e. brigadier-generals), but did not make many "generals of division" (i.e. major-generals). When McClellan started grouping brigades into twos and threes, with the senior brigadier taking command, this was an affront to Scott.

No formal Corps were authorised in regulations until July 1862. Hence McClellan could not make Corps (although before Lincoln's order, he had grouped the divisions under senior division commanders). When the Militia Act authorised corps, the power to appoint or relieve their commanders was exclusively reserved for POTUS. The GINC could not appoint or remove corps commanders, or even staff members appointed by POTUS.

Nope. I have understood all of that for many years. None of this applies to what I posted.
 

67th Tigers

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Nope. I have understood all of that for many years. None of this applies to what I posted.
It does, and that's the issue. Ergo you probably don't understand it.

McClellan can't relieve an officer that was appointed by Lincoln. To do so is countermanding an order of the President. He can relieve officers who were appointed by himself. Burnside was appointed by the President, and indeed it could not be any other way.

So you are saying that McClellan could not relieve his subordinates himself, but all the other Union commanders could?

No, as we're explaining to you.

You don't understand that the Militia Act of July 1862 created a completely separate class of officer in the "corps commander". A class above a department or even field army commander. Hence when Grant was made a corps commander in October 1862 it was an effective promotion. It made it impossible for Halleck to remove him.
 

Saphroneth

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Feb 18, 2017
So? Sounds like an extremely normal, everyday situation faced by every commander who ever wrote an after-action report. People don't always get the credit they deserve, and people don't always get the blame they deserve.

We can find lots of other examples of officers who could have been criticized in a report and were not, by other commanders than McClellan. We can also find examples of officers who were criticized in reports. What you are saying is that McClellan himself decided not to criticize Burnside. It was a personal choice made by McClellan, not something imposed on him from the outside.

Another officer might have decided to criticize Burnside in that spot if he thought Burnside deserved it. Or that other officer might have decided to skip criticizing Burnside as McClellan did.
I'm not sure what you're getting at. I was describing what caused McClellan to make the decision to not criticize Burnside, and why we might therefore believe him in his letter to his wife (to the effect that he felt Burnside had underperformed) while also recognizing that the official report he filed did not blame Burnside.

It's perfectly reasonable to say that McClellan made that decision (which he did) but to also understand why he made that decision - in the same way that we would conclude that (for example) Lee made the decision to invade the North but that we can then examine why he would make that decision.


I wanted to point this out because the constraints on McClellan regarding his command structure are not always well understood, and McClellan has been blamed in the past for not firing Burnside on the field at Antietam (for example) - which is a thing he could not do for "mere incompetence".

I am not sure the extent to which the same thing is going on with, for example, Hooker, but it can't be ruled out.
 

neyankee61

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Oct 30, 2018
A couple of questions:
Didn't McClellan request that he be able to create two new Corps V and VI while on the Peninsula?
Didn't he get to name the two Corps commanders Porter and Franklin, who were his "supporters"?
It seems that McClellan had no use for the I Corps after 2nd Bull Run, feeling they were a mixed bag of troops with a poor track record. They were slow on the march and he almost left them behind as the Army moved towards South Mountain. Did McClellan want Hooker to command this Corps because Hooker, regarding his reputation, would whip the command into shape or by placing him there might Hooker be somewhat out of the picture?
Wipperman" First for the Union" points out McClellan's feeling towards the I Corps in early Sept 1862.
 
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