McClellan on Hooker at Antietam

Lubliner

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Not at all. It's been interesting, and not just regarding the historical facts discussed, but in showing how modern partisans try so hard to spin the history.
It is the proverbial painter that backs himself into a corner away from the door. I appreciate all the input that was posted by every member. Without the contention, nothing would have been learned. So, there is a glimmer of hope when the spin is spun; just wait until the paint dries.
Lubliner.
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
Balderdash.

You know better -- and have previously asserted that McClellan had exactly the right to "simply relieve a subordinate of duty" that you now say Grant did not have. Whatever your reason, McClellan is beyond reproach to you. You appear to feel you must attack Grant as a way of raising McClellan up and cannot acknowledge to yourself the obvious inconsistency in what you say.

Yes, I do know better. Apparently you still don't understand the distinction.

Hamilton was a division commander appointed by McClellan, as General-in-Chief, and removed by McClellan, as General-in-Chief. It is a right Grant would exercise once he became General-in-Chief.

McClernand was a corps commander, appointed by Lincoln who, by law, had the sole right to appoint or remove corps commanders.

McClellan understood that, since his corps commanders were appointed by Lincoln directly, he had no right to remove them. Hence in the aftermath of Williamsburg he asked for the right to remove them and was denied. Grant also understood the distinction.

Corps commanders operated under different rules from lesser generals. The entire point of the argument between Belfoured and myself is that he refuses to acknowledge that there is a legal difference, despite it being a fairly open and shut case. In furtherance of his case, he has taken to completely reconstruct the legal system as it existed at the time. He still cannot offer a single regulation that allows an army commander to relieve a corps commander, and nor will he ever be able to. That's why he's pursuing an entirely semantic argument.
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
Yes, I do know better. Apparently you still don't understand the distinction.

Hamilton was a division commander appointed by McClellan, as General-in-Chief, and removed by McClellan, as General-in-Chief. It is a right Grant would exercise once he became General-in-Chief.
This is completely false. You know better and have already acknowledged the facts in previous posts:
  • McClellan was not "General-in-Chief". He was appointed to command the Army on November 1, 1861 and he was relieved from commanding the Army on March 11, 1862. From that point on he is merely the head of the Department of the Potomac and commander of the Army of the Potomac.
  • McClellan relieved General Hamilton on April 30, 1862 -- seven weeks after McClellan was relieved from the command of the Army. McClellan is not "General-in-Chief" when McClellan does this. McClellan is not in command of the Army when he does this. McClellan is simply acting as commander of the Army of the Potomac.
  • McClellan was never in a position where he would have been "General-in-Chief" by rank. In US Army history and tradition, there was no "General-in-Chief" by rank when multiple people were actively serving at the highest rank -- only when one man clearly out-ranked all the others.
    1. McClellan and Fremont were the senior Major Generals with identical dates of rank, with Fremont being appointed first.
    2. Halleck (3rd in seniority) was specifically named "General-in-Chief" by President Lincoln when he appointed him to command the Army in July of 1862 -- and specifically relieved as "General-in-Chief" by Lincoln in March of 1864 when he was relieved from the command of the Army and assigned to a staff position. IMHO, Lincoln specifically named him as "General-in-Chief" to avoid squabbling by McClellan or Fremont since Halleck was junior to both of them.
    3. Grant is appointed by Lincoln to the rank of Lieutenant General in March of 1864.
      • When this happens, Grant outranks everyone else in the US Army.
      • By US Army history and tradition, Grant is now the sole officer at the highest rank in the Army. He would thus be considered the "General-in-Chief" automatically.
      • Halleck says he cannot continue to be the "General-in-Chief" because Grant clearly outranks Halleck (as well as McClellan, Fremont and any other Major General you care to mention).
      • Halleck is at this point appointed to the newly created "chief of staff" position in Washington. He reports directly to both Stanton and Grant -- a highly unusual situation in the US military, but not a unique one.
        • Before this position was created, there was exactly one US Army position that reported directly to both the Secretary of War and the commanding general of the Army: the Adjutant General. If you are looking for an equivalent to Halleck's new 1864 post as "chief of staff", it is equivalent to the Adjutant General position, held by Brigadier General Lorenzo Thomas. Both are staff posts, not line posts.
      • Obviously, since Halleck now reports to Grant directly, he cannot be the "General-in-Chief".
    4. Grant is appointed to command the Army in March of 1864. By actual appointment and rank, he now out-ranks and commands everyone in the Army. He can "hire-and-fire" anyone in uniform. He can issue direct orders to anyone in the line; there are some restrictions on what he can order in the staff departments (they report to Stanton), but with Lincoln's backing for Grant even Stanton is effectively restrained.
This is where you miss the facts of the situation. Grant does things by clearing them with his bosses and getting their support. McClellan wants to dictate, not work within a chain of command. That is why Grant can do things that McClellan flops at.
McClernand was a corps commander, appointed by Lincoln who, by law, had the sole right to appoint or remove corps commanders.

McClellan understood that, since his corps commanders were appointed by Lincoln directly, he had no right to remove them. Hence in the aftermath of Williamsburg he asked for the right to remove them and was denied. Grant also understood the distinction.

Corps commanders operated under different rules from lesser generals. The entire point of the argument between Belfoured and myself is that he refuses to acknowledge that there is a legal difference, despite it being a fairly open and shut case. In furtherance of his case, he has taken to completely reconstruct the legal system as it existed at the time. He still cannot offer a single regulation that allows an army commander to relieve a corps commander, and nor will he ever be able to. That's why he's pursuing an entirely semantic argument.
I was right. You do not understand this.

In the Spring of 1862, there is no law at all governing the appointment and relief of Corps commanders. There is also no law at all governing the creation of Corps. McClellan knew this. McClellan also knew that he had objected to the creation of Corps and the appointment of Corps commanders, expressing his objection to the President -- and his commander-in-chief had decided to create Corps anyway and assign Corps commanders to them. This is a battle McClellan has already lost, he knew it, and trying to re-fight it would have simply been more arrogant nonsense on McClellan's part. This is just acceptance of reality by McClellan, which is why he asks for permission in May.

Please post showing the actual law governing the removal corps commanders that you keep assuring us exists. It is not the Militia Act of 1862, so you must be referring to something else unknown to me. Please be specific. Please show us the exact text or a direct link to the section of law you are referring to. If you cannot do this, please stop making this unsupported claim.
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
This is completely false. You know better and have already acknowledged the facts in previous posts:

Nope. McClellan's position as GinC was not revoked until Halleck was appointed. The responsibilities of the GinC were not defined after the 1857 regulations, and were by Presidential diktat. McClellan was still GinC, but his command had been reduced.

I was right. You do not understand this.

Indeed, I see you still don' understand.

Lincoln appointed the corps commanders by Presidential diktat. Thus they are appointed by the President, and regardless of any lack of laws, only the President can countermand a Presidential order.
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
Nope. McClellan's position as GinC was not revoked until Halleck was appointed. The responsibilities of the GinC were not defined after the 1857 regulations, and were by Presidential diktat. McClellan was still GinC, but his command had been reduced.
Quibbling and pettifogging again. Lincoln and Stanton did not believe he was "General-in-Chief". General Dix did not believe he was "General-in-Chief" -- and Lincoln and Stanton asked him to do everything he could to help McClellan anyway, and Dix willingly agreed. General McClellan himself believed he was no longer "General-in-Chief".

What basis do you have for your belief when even McClellan thinks you are wrong?

Indeed, I see you still don' understand.

Lincoln appointed the corps commanders by Presidential diktat. Thus they are appointed by the President, and regardless of any lack of laws, only the President can countermand a Presidential order.

More silliness. You assure us that only Lincoln can appoint and relieve Corps commanders and that this is a matter of law -- but can never even point to a law that says what you insist upon. Balderash.

Lincoln certainly did create the Corps and appoint commanders to them -- but there was absolutely no law mentioning organizing Corps or appointing commanders to them when he did it. There was also no law prohibiting a commander from relieving a Corps commander when McClellan wanted to do it in May of 1862 -- which is why you can never provide evidence for your claims.

Lincoln created the Corps and appointed the commanders of them on his own authority, relying on his Article II powers as the "Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States". Until and unless the Congress actually passed laws on the creation of Corps and the appointment of Corps commanders, that is what everything concerned with the creation of Corps and the appointment/relief of commanders is based on: the President's position as "Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States".

So absolutely Lincoln can create the Corps and appoint commanders. That does nothing to keep McClellan from ordering their relief. McClellan's problem is that he has to deal with a superior -- and McClellan wants the power to dictate whatever he wants to be done.

This is normal. Every soldier in the US Army has to deal with that situation every day. Even when they have an established authority, it can be over-ridden by a superior with greater authority. McClellan is no different than any other soldier in this. He is not treated unfairly. He is merely asked to act as a soldier.

If McClellan wanted to relieve a commander, he could have done so. The limitation is that he needs to present a case for it and convince his superiors to approve what he wants. Grant does this. McClellan complains and pouts about it. This is why McClellan cannot get it done and why Grant can.
 

Belfoured

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Joined
Aug 3, 2019
Nope. McClellan's position as GinC was not revoked until Halleck was appointed. The responsibilities of the GinC were not defined after the 1857 regulations, and were by Presidential diktat. McClellan was still GinC, but his command had been reduced.



Indeed, I see you still don' understand.

Lincoln appointed the corps commanders by Presidential diktat. Thus they are appointed by the President, and regardless of any lack of laws, only the President can countermand a Presidential order.
Here we go again. Show us one single act McClellan took as G-in-C after March 11 - not your opinion but an actual document/record. As he put it in Own Story, he never even set foot in the physical office after that. His "command had been reduced" by eliminating his authority over all other departments - including the new established after March 11 in Virginia. That was how he saw the job when he was appointed to it in November 1861. All you've given us so far is that Stanton didn't summon him to the War Department and rip the bars off his shoulders. That didn't fool anybody at the time and - up until now, at least - it hasn't fooled anybody since.
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
Yes, I do know better. Apparently you still don't understand the distinction.

Hamilton was a division commander appointed by McClellan, as General-in-Chief, and removed by McClellan, as General-in-Chief. It is a right Grant would exercise once he became General-in-Chief.

McClernand was a corps commander, appointed by Lincoln who, by law, had the sole right to appoint or remove corps commanders.

McClellan understood that, since his corps commanders were appointed by Lincoln directly, he had no right to remove them. Hence in the aftermath of Williamsburg he asked for the right to remove them and was denied. Grant also understood the distinction.

Corps commanders operated under different rules from lesser generals. The entire point of the argument between Belfoured and myself is that he refuses to acknowledge that there is a legal difference, despite it being a fairly open and shut case. In furtherance of his case, he has taken to completely reconstruct the legal system as it existed at the time. He still cannot offer a single regulation that allows an army commander to relieve a corps commander, and nor will he ever be able to. That's why he's pursuing an entirely semantic argument.
Hamilton was removed by McClellan as CO of the Army of the Potomac.

You're the one engaging in "reconstruction". On any issue of contention, you're the one who persistently refrains from posting the actual documents, resorting instead to your result-driven "interpretation". Words matter and the folks reading these posts are perfectly capable of reading the records themselves and reaching their own conclusions. That's not what you want, unfortunately.
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
Not at all. It's been interesting, and not just regarding the historical facts discussed, but in showing how modern partisans try so hard to spin the history.
150+ years later what we have are the records. We can all read them - when they're made available, of course - and reach our own conclusions. That's the real attribute of these forums. Regarding Grant, I will point out only that he had a well-earned reputation for drafting clear, unambiguous orders.
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
Quibbling and pettifogging again. Lincoln and Stanton did not believe he was "General-in-Chief". General Dix did not believe he was "General-in-Chief" -- and Lincoln and Stanton asked him to do everything he could to help McClellan anyway, and Dix willingly agreed. General McClellan himself believed he was no longer "General-in-Chief".

Nope. His status of General-in-Chief was not revoked. Hence McClellan was wearing the three stars of that position until July 1862.

Stanton intended for McClellan to be removed from that role, and it is outright stated in Stanton's draft that McClellan is removed from that position. Lincoln removed that from the issued order, simply having it as a redefinition of the span of command of the General-in-Chief.


More silliness. You assure us that only Lincoln can appoint and relieve Corps commanders and that this is a matter of law -- but can never even point to a law that says what you insist upon. Balderash.

Ha!

Please, go back and read the thread. You'll find many, many references to the Militia Act of 17th July 1862. Before that, Presidential diktat applies - no-one but the President can countermand an order by the President. That's pretty basic civics.

If McClellan wanted to relieve a commander, he could have done so. The limitation is that he needs to present a case for it and convince his superiors to approve what he wants. Grant does this. McClellan complains and pouts about it. This is why McClellan cannot get it done and why Grant can.

No, he couldn't remove a corps commander. That is the point. I don't think you've been following.
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
Hamilton was removed by McClellan as CO of the Army of the Potomac.

By what authority?

Hamilton had been ordered to duty in the Army of the Potomac by the authority of the General-in-Chief. Thus, only the General-in-Chief or a superior authority (the President) can order Hamilton away from said duty.

McClellan, if only a department commander cannot countermand an order by the General-in-Chief, even if the GinC at the time was himself. Orders are issued by an office, not a person.
 

67th Tigers

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It seems there is a lack of understanding of a very basic principle:

Only an superior authority (or the original issuing authority) can countermand an order. A lesser authority cannot countermand an order from a higher authority.

The corps commander issue should be so obvious as not to need explanation. All corps commanders were ordered to duty by the President (by law). Thus only the President or a higher authority (i.e. an Act of Congress) could countermand the order, and order a corps commander out of said duty.

This, of course, does not overrule military discipline. Any officer over a corps commander has the right to arrest a corps commander, but this requires grounds.

The same with Hamilton. Hamilton had been ordered to duty by the General-in-Chief. Thus only the General-in-Chief or a higher authority (i.e. the President or an Act of Congress) can order Hamilton away from said duty.

A mere department commander is below the General-in-Chief and the President. Thus, he cannot countermand an order by either the General-in-Chief or the President.

Officers have to be ordered to duty in a department by the War Department, either by the President directly, the Secretary-of-War (in the name of the President), or the General-in-Chief. They cannot take duty in a department without such an order (per article II of the Regulations). A departmental commander does not have authority over an officer until they are assigned to his department, ergo a departmental commander could not order an officer to duty in his department because until they are part of his department he cannot issue them an order.

I trust you'll reframe your arguments to conform to the basic principles.
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
Nope. His status of General-in-Chief was not revoked. Hence McClellan was wearing the three stars of that position until July 1862.

Stanton intended for McClellan to be removed from that role, and it is outright stated in Stanton's draft that McClellan is removed from that position. Lincoln removed that from the issued order, simply having it as a redefinition of the span of command of the General-in-Chief.
You appear to be wrong on this.

If not, please simply post the actual text of these documents you say establish that McClellan is "General-in-Chief" when he is not so that we may see what you are referring to. Please do not just tell us you are correct without posting the evidence.

McClellan probably should have removed the three-star insignia on March 11th. If he did not, he is at fault for it. This does not justify your claim in any way.

Ha!

Please, go back and read the thread. You'll find many, many references to the Militia Act of 17th July 1862.
I have read the Militia Act of 17th July 1862. It simply does not say what you claim. Please provide actual evidence that other people can see instead of making unsupported claims.

Before that, Presidential diktat applies - no-one but the President can countermand an order by the President. That's pretty basic civics.
Again, you appear to be from some foreign place and do not seem to have an understanding of how things are done in the Ubited States. Presidents are not dictators or monarchs.
No, he couldn't remove a corps commander. That is the point. I don't think you've been following.

McClellan could certainly have issued an order to relieve any officer within his command. He did simply relieve General Hamilton on his authority as commanding officer of the Army of the Potomac.

The point is that McClellan is a subordinate to Lincoln and Stanton. They can over-rule him and deny his order. You seem to want McClellan to be able to dictate to the President and the Secretary of War. Again, this is the United States and things do not work that way here.
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
By what authority?

Hamilton had been ordered to duty in the Army of the Potomac by the authority of the General-in-Chief. Thus, only the General-in-Chief or a superior authority (the President) can order Hamilton away from said duty.

McClellan, if only a department commander cannot countermand an order by the General-in-Chief, even if the GinC at the time was himself. Orders are issued by an office, not a person.
Really? Documents are your friend.

The order dated April 30, 1862 assigning Kearney and stating Hamilton's relief from duty was issued by Seth Williams, AAG of the Army of the Potomac, at the Army's HQ. It did not come through anybody in Washington on the G-in-C's staff. We all know you're a real stickler for detail on these things - unless it doesn't support the result, of course. And McClellan confirmed that Hamilton was only removed from "this army" because he was "not fit to command a division". We all know that Hamilton subsequently landed a division command in one of those pesky other departments.
 

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Lubliner

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I need some clarity on the issue with McClellan asking Lincoln for permission to relieve corps commanders. When this happened and the request was denied. McClellan had proposed a clear usurpation of power by thinking he could receive the power to relieve and remove without further request to Lincoln. When this power was denied him, he may have still had the opportunity to request to Lincoln any removal of a Corps Commander but did not. Do you see the point I need clarified?
Grant never usurped his position by such a tactic as McClellan had tried to do. Did McClellan believe Lincoln would fall to the hoodwink?
Lubliner.
 
Joined
Jun 27, 2017
His wing, not corps, I believe.

And I've heard that theory before, though IIRC Burnside did order the attack fairly early - he just did so incapably.
My discussion of Burnside's actions is not my theory. Not long ago I read an article in North and South. I hope you know their reputation for accuracy and thoroughness (the authors actually have to footnote their work like they would a college paper).

They were emphatic that Burnside received the order to attack many hours before he actually launched it, as well as many hours before he acknowledged after the fact in his official reports.

Furthermore and this is my own observation from my visits to the scene. His repeated assaults on the bridge shows a total failure to reconnoiter the scene. The creek over which the famous bridge spanned could be better described as a ditch. I really believe my 80+yr old mother could have crossed that huge obstacle with very little difficulty.

The only reason the Confederates were able to defend the bridge for such a long time was that the Union troops crossing the bridge were compacted into probably no more than 8 abreast. The 300+ Confederate sharpshooters opposing them could concentrate their fire and block the bridge with dead and wounded further slowing any advance.

Had they done so, Lee's defeat would have been so resounding that he would be a very minor footnote not only in world history but that of the US as well. A military commander that foolishly allowed himself to be trapped and his army destroyed.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
They were emphatic that Burnside received the order to attack many hours before he actually launched it, as well as many hours before he acknowledged after the fact in his official reports.
I think the difference here is (1) what "many" hours means and (2) what counts as disobedience versus poor performance.

As to (1), it is my opinion that the first actual attack order (as opposed to warning orders) was sent around 8AM*, and that the first charge against the bridge was around 9AM - which is what the lower level commanders actually said. Burnside appears to have shifted the first charge and the order later in the day to reduce the amount of time it took him to carry the bridge.

* based on the text of the 9:10 AM order which is stating the situation as of ~8AM

For (2), I think there are two sub-sections.

A) The amount of delay in Burnside's actual first attack.
This I do not think counts as disobedience, becaus while the attack order was sent around 8AM it takes time for an order to be transmitted. The messenger with the order has to get to Burnside, and Burnside has to extract the order down to his frontline commanders - he should have had them ready to go given just a signal, but he didn't, but that's an issue of competence not an obedience-to-orders issue. The amount of time from the order reaching Burnside to the attack being launched is not excessive.

B) The amount of time it took Burnside to take the bridge.
This is not a matter of disobedience either. Burnside was attempting to take the bridge, he was just doing so badly. Remember, it is disobedience and not incompetence which Lincoln has established as the standard for removing a corps commander.


Now, with that in mind, I agree that the effects of Burnside getting over the bridge in good time could have been transformative. Everything else that went wrong at Antietam was survivable except the delay at Burnside's bridge.
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
I need some clarity on the issue with McClellan asking Lincoln for permission to relieve corps commanders. When this happened and the request was denied. McClellan had proposed a clear usurpation of power by thinking he could receive the power to relieve and remove without further request to Lincoln. When this power was denied him, he may have still had the opportunity to request to Lincoln any removal of a Corps Commander but did not. Do you see the point I need clarified?
Grant never usurped his position by such a tactic as McClellan had tried to do. Did McClellan believe Lincoln would fall to the hoodwink?
Lubliner.

In chronological order:

1857: Jeff Davies' new edition of the Army Regulations revokes the right of commanders to form corps. It specifies the organisation is army - division - brigade - regiment.

8th March 1862: Lincoln issues an executive order creating the 1st-4th and Bank's 5th Army Corps and specifies their commanders.

13th March: McClellan issues GO 151 assigning divisions to the corps.

9th May: McClellan asks for permission to be able to remove corps commanders for incompetence. It is denied. McClellan is allowed to temporarily suspend the current organisation, but it is clear this does not include removing the existing corps commanders.

18th May: McClellan issues the order creating 5th Provisional and 6th Provisional Corps, and places Porter and Franklin in command.

17th July: The Militia Act of 17th July 1862 passes. Section 9 allows for the President to establish and organise Army Corps at his discretion. Section 10 establishes a staff for them, which the President alone can appoint.

19th July: McClellan writes Stanton asking that the 5th and 6th Corps be confirmed, and asks for Dix's command to be created as an Army Corps.

20th July: Stanton writes McClellan that the 5th and 6th Corps will be confirmed and brought into official existence, and Dix made a corps commander.

22nd July: A General Order from the War Department formalises 5th and 6th Corps (creating Porter and Franklin as official corps commanders), and creates 7th Corps (Dix), 8th Corps (Wool) and 9th Corps (Burnside).

So, in May the Corps existed by an executive order, and the commanders were appointed by that order. McClellan asked permission to remove them, and it was denied. In July a law was passed authorising the President to create corps and assign their commanders, and assigned this right exclusively to the President.

For his part, when Grant removed Smith and Terry, he issued fait accompli orders. He knew he did not have the authority to relieve a corps commander so gave the order "Subject to the approval of the President..." which is far more presumptuous than McClellan asking permission.
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
I need some clarity on the issue with McClellan asking Lincoln for permission to relieve corps commanders. When this happened and the request was denied. McClellan had proposed a clear usurpation of power by thinking he could receive the power to relieve and remove without further request to Lincoln. When this power was denied him, he may have still had the opportunity to request to Lincoln any removal of a Corps Commander but did not. Do you see the point I need clarified?
Grant never usurped his position by such a tactic as McClellan had tried to do. Did McClellan believe Lincoln would fall to the hoodwink?
Lubliner.
The Army of the Potomac was ordered to be organized into Corps by this:
PRESIDENT'S GENERAL WAR ORDER, No. 2
EXECUTIVE MANSION,
Washington, March 8, 1862.

Ordered, 1. That the major-general commanding the Army of the Potomac proceed forthwith to organize that part of the said army destined to enter upon active operations (including the reserve, but excluding the troops to be left in the fortifications about Washington) into four army corps, to be commanded according to seniority of rank, as follows:
First Corps to consist of four divisions, and to be commanded by Maj. Gen. I. McDowell.
Second Corps to consist of three divisions, and to be commanded by Brig. Gen. E. V. Sumner.
Third Corps to consist of three divisions, and to be commanded by Brig. Gen. S. P. Heintzelman.
Fourth Corps to consist of three divisions, and to be commanded by Brig. Gen. E. D. Keyes.
2. That the divisions now commanded by the officers above assigned to the commands of army corps shall be embraced in and form part of their respective corps.
3. The forces left for the defense of Washington will be placed in command of Brig. Gen. James S. Wadsworth, who shall also be military governor of the District of Columbia.
4. That this order be executed with such promptness and dispatch as not to delay the commencement of the operations already directed to be undertaken by the Army of the Potomac.
5. A fifth army corps, to be commanded by Maj. Gen. N. P. Banks, will be formed from his own and General Shields' (late General Lander's) divisions.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

McClellan implemented that on March 13th with his General Order, No. 101. In between those two dates, McClellan was relieved as his duties as commanding general of the Armies of the United States. Thus McClellan's order is issued by Major general McClellan as commander of the Army of the Potomac.

On April 30th, McClellan relieves General Hamilton, commander of a division, and replaces him with Kearney. McClellan does this under his own authority as commander of the Army of the Potomac and lists no cause for the action. A controversy erupts over this. Lincoln, under pressure from Congress, tries to find out what is going on, gets no information. Finally, Lincoln is receives a delegation from Congress delivering a letter signed by a great many Senators and Congressmen. Lincoln writes McClellan telling him of this and saying he has a mind to reverse McClellan's relief of C. S. Hamilton. That gets McClellan to finally give his reasons for relieving Hamilton. Lincoln then sustains McClellan.

This all happens in early May. On May 8th, Stanton is at Fort Monroe and Lincoln is actually down near Ft. Wool witnessing the attack on Sewell Point. McClellan is engaged in the move up the Peninsula. On May 9th, with the furor over the relief of General Hamilton barely ended, McClellan was apparently feeling his oats and decided to push for more:

WILLIAMSBURG, (Received May 9, 1862, 12.19 a.m.)
Hon. E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War:
I respectfully ask permission to reorganize the army corps. I am not willing to be held responsible for the present arrangement, experience having proved it to be very bad, and it having very nearly resulted in a most disastrous defeat. I wish either to return to the organization by division or else be authorized to relieve incompetent commanders of army corps. Had I been one-half hour later on the field on the 5th we would have been routed and would have lost everything. Notwithstanding my positive orders I was informed of nothing that had occurred, and I went to the field of battle myself upon unofficial information that my presence was needed to avoid defeat. I found there the utmost confusion and incompetency, the utmost discouragement on the part of the men. At least a thousand lives were really sacrificed by the organization into corps.
I have too much regard for the lives of my comrades and too deep an interest in the success of our cause to hesitate for a moment. I learn that you are equally in earnest, and I therefore again request full and complete authority to relieve from duty with this army commanders of corps or divisions who prove themselves incompetent.
GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General, Commanding.

If nothing else, this shows McClellan as completely tone-deaf to the realities of political life for the President. Also --as usual for McClellan -- he makes the request all about him and implies that someone else (IOW, the President) is responsible for the problems, is hamstringing McClellan, and that he declares he is "not willing to be held responsible". In my experience, people who talk that way to their bosses often end up fired, whether we are talking about military or civilian life.

Given all that, Lincoln is actually very kind to McClellan in his reply, attempting to help him see the light:

FORT MONROE, VA.,
May 9, 1862.
Major-General McCLELLAN:

The President is unwilling to have the army corps organization broken up, but also unwilling that the commanding general shall be trammeled and embarrassed in actual skirmishing, collision with the enemy, and on the eve of an expected great battle. You, therefore, may temporarily suspend that organization in the army now under your immediate command, and adopt any you see fit until further order. He also writes you privately.

EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.
-----
FORT MONROE, VA.,May 9, 1862.
Major-General McCLELLAN:

MY DEAR SIR: I have just assisted the Secretary of War in framing the part of a dispatch to you relating to army corps, which dispatch of course will have reached you long before this will.

I wish to say a few words to you privately on this subject. I ordered the army corps organization not only on the unanimous opinion of the twelve generals whom you had selected and assigned as generals of divisions, but also on the unanimous opinion of every military man I could get an opinion from, and every modern military book, yourself only excepted. Of course I did not on my own judgment pretend to understand the subject. I now think it indispensable for you to know how your struggle against it is received in quarters which we cannot entirely disregard. It is looked upon as merely all effort to pamper one or two pets and to persecute and degrade their supposed rivals. I have had no word from Sumner, Heintzelman, or Keyes. The commanders of these corps are of course the three highest officers with you? but I am constantly told that you have no consultation or communication with them; that you consult and communicate with nobody but General Fitz John Porter and perhaps General Franklin. I do not say these complaints are true or just, but at all events it is proper you should know of their existence. Do the commanders of corps disobey your orders in anything?

When you relieved General Hamilton of his command the other day you thereby lost the confidence of at least one of your best friends in the Senate. And here let me say, not as applicable to you personally, that Senators and Representatives speak of me in their places as they please without question, and that officers of the Army must cease addressing insulting letters to them for taking no greater liberty with them.

But to return: Are you strong enough--are you strong enough, even with my help-to set your foot upon the necks of Sumner, Heintzelman, and Keyes all at once? This is a practical and very serious question for you.

The success of your army and the cause of the country are the same, and of course I only desire the good of the cause.

Yours, truly,
A. LINCOLN.
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
McClellan implemented that on March 13th with his General Order, No. 101. In between those two dates, McClellan was relieved as his duties as commanding general of the Armies of the United States. Thus McClellan's order is issued by Major general McClellan as commander of the Army of the Potomac.

You keep making this mistake.

The authority creating the corps and assigning to command their commanders here is Lincoln, not McClellan. McClellan is simply executing an order given to him by the President. Since the authority is the President, McClellan cannot countermand the order.


On April 30th, McClellan relieves General Hamilton, commander of a division, and replaces him with Kearney. McClellan does this under his own authority as commander of the Army of the Potomac and lists no cause for the action.

General officers can only be assigned to duty in a department by the War Department. Within a department they can be placed whereever the department commander wishes, assuming no higher authority has specified. Both Hamilton and Kearny were assigned to the Division of the Potomac by authority of the General-in-Chief (Scott in both cases).

Within the Division of the Potomac, assuming seniority rules are respected (since no-one had the right to order a officer to duty under a duty officer until 6th April 1862, and then only the President), the department commander can assign them as they wish, maybe. It was a point of controversy that Scott tried to claim that department commanders did not have the right to appoint division commanders, but I think this was essentially ignored.

Hamilton went to war as Colonel of the 3rd Wisconsin, and was made a colonel on the authority of his state. The 3rd Wisconsin was assigned the Department of Pennsylvania, and hence to Stone's Brigade by Patterson. When Stone was placed in command of a division, Hamilton was senior Colonel and assumed command of the brigade. On 1st August 1861, Lincoln nominated five officers to be brigadier-generals of volunteers, and Hamilton was one of them (the other four were Hunter, Buell, Maj. James Oakes, and WT Sherman). This made Hamilton a brigadier-general before the publication of War Department General Orders 62, which sealed the seniority of all appointed BG(V) before 5th August using existing seniority. Hamilton was effectively ranked as the 20th BG(V), and simply continued to command his brigade, now as a BG(V).

On the 15th March, McClellan ordered:

1. King (22nd BG(V)) to assume command of McDowell's Division, vice McDowell
2. Kearny (14th BG(V)) to assume command of Sumner's Division, vice Sumner (Kearny refused and Lincoln asked for Richardson (31st) to be appointed instead, which he was).
3. Hamilton (20th BG(V)) to assume command of Heintzelman's division, vice Heintzelman
4. Couch (21st BG(V)) to assume command of Keyes' Division, vice Keyes
5. Williams (30th BG(V)) to assume command of Banks' Division, vice Banks

To be clear, these were the 5 most senior generals not commanding divisions (or corps) in the Army of the Potomac, with Richardson as the 6th.

Now, to be clear, Hamilton had been ordered to duty in the Army of the Potomac (via the Department of Pennsylvania) by the War Department. McClellan had placed him in command of a division due to his seniority. McClellan thus could have reassigned Hamilton within the Army of the Potomac as a department commander, but could not have reassigned him out of the Army of the Potomac as a department commander, only as General-in-Chief. This is because he cannot overrule the General-in-Chief if he is not General-in-Chief.

Again, this is a basic principle that you are missing; only a senior authority, or the original issuing authority, can countermand an order. A junior authority cannot countermand an order from a senior authority.
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
In case you didn't know what happened to Hamilton, he went to the west and was present at the Battle of Iuka. Lincoln then promoted him a major-general of volunteers to date from 18th September 1862 in December '62, and it was confirmed on 9th March 1863. With this, he found himself senior to McPherson (MG(V) with seniority to 8th October 1862). He then demanded that he be assigned command of the 17th Army Corps vice McPherson, or another Army Corps, and that if his wish was not granted then he'd resign. It wasn't, and he did. His resignation was dated 13th April 1863.
 
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