McClellan on Hooker at Antietam

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
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"?
Yes, he did. To be precise, he asked permission to replace his corps commanders (who'd all disappointed him) and was denied permission to do this or to dissolve the corps structure, but he was granted permission to "modify" it. He then placed the two men who he considered to be his best division commanders (Porter and Franklin) in charge of the two new provisional corps - note provisional, they were not full corps until Lincoln had formally confirmed them.

While one may say that's rewarding his supporters, it can equally be stated that of course McClellan would prefer to rely on the advice of the men he considered to be his most capable division commanders. He'd actually wanted them as two of his permanent CCs before the President made a choice of his own.

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?
I'm not aware of McClellan having either motive or trying to do either thing.
McClellan moved 1st and 9th Corps (Burnside's wing) out to the northern flank to come in on the National Road, but this is part of the army's attempted manoeuvres to come in as a single unit; frankly McClellan needed all the men he could get, and when he marched out of Washington (before he was joined by Morell or French's divisions) he was basically on par for numbers with Lee's marching army at that point.* It's hard to see any version of McClellan trying to leave a corps behind (and indeed 1st Corps got road priority over Sumner's wing on the move through Frederick).
As for whipping the command into shape, it's possible but if that corps needed it it was hardly alone... I think it's just that McClellan did not have many possible choices of who commanded where, and 1st Corps needed someone to command it while Hooker was available to command a corps. The only other realistic commander for 1st Corps would be Reno (overriding his desire to stay with 9th Corps) and if you do that then now you need someone to command 9th Corps!



* based on regiment count, pre-straggle PFD, eyewitness reports and any other type of information McClellan could have known at the time; indeed, based on every source except later claims of weakness by senior generals
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
McClellan moved 1st and 9th Corps (Burnside's wing) out to the northern flank to come in on the National Road, but this is part of the army's attempted manoeuvres to come in as a single unit;
So I thought I'd clarify this slightly. Essentially, we know from actual history that Lee moved out of Frederick on the 10th and 11th of September, but McClellan does not confirm that Lee has moved west of Frederick until his cavalry crosses the Monocacy on the 12th. Until then it is quite possible (as far as McClellan could possibly know) that Lee is courting a battle around Frederick.

McClellan obviously has a good and direct road leading from Washington to Frederick, the Georgetown Pike. The problem is that if he moves his whole army down that road, he's making it very easy for Lee to defeat him - his army would be three days long at least, and coming on a single predictable axis, so Lee can just engage the front 30,000 men or so under ideal conditions and with overwhelming force (the whole of Lee's army, which has just beaten Pope's ~60,000 men at Second Bull Run and then been reinforced by about 50%).

1st and 9th Corps in Burnside's wing swing out north to the right of the Georgetown Pike, and cross the space between there and the National Road (from Baltimore to Frederick) before coming down that road. This causes a delay, but it (along with a similar flanking move by 6th and 4th Corps to the south/left of the Georgetown Pike) also means that when McClellan actually closes up to the Monocacy he does so on a broad fan about ten miles wide - which is wide enough that Lee can't concentrate everything to defend against a single column, but narrow enough that if Lee does commit to a massive battle against one column the others can swing in to help out in a reasonable timeframe.

The reason why it's 1st and 9th Corps doing this seems to simply be that that's where they'd been in the defences.
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
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?
McClellan had an attack of neuralgia about then, which is probably what he is referring to. I haven't seen much mention of it, but I think you might find it mentioned in Sears' The Young Napoleon or Landscape Turned Red, somewhere after the battle at Antietam ends.
 

neyankee61

Private
Joined
Oct 30, 2018
On Sept 5 1862 Hooker was assigned command of the V Corps replacing Porter. Franklin was relieved of his command, no replacement was named. Reno was named to the Corps renamed 1st Corps AoP. McClellan protested the order and got it delayed. Porter went back to the V Corps and Hooker took command of the III Corps Army of Virginia which became the I Corps AoP
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
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.

Nope. My point is that McClellan is being treated exactly the same as everyone else. I understand the laws, rules and regulations in effect at the time, which is what my last post tried to tell you. No need to post them when I already know about them.
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
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.

Then you understand that you should stop bringing up this matter of relieving commanders as an excuse for McClellan. He is being treated properly and equally.

Also, yes, I know about the various Militia Acts in US history. I read them all when I was researching the Dick Act a few years back.
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
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.
You fail to understand the established military doctrine of "relief for cause", which was used a number of times during the Civil War and was used thereafter. McClellan had the authority to relieve Burnside for cause at Antietam if he believed that Burnside was acting incompetently. That authority as a commanding officer was different from establishing corps commands, etc and had nothing to do with how his subordinates were appointed. It also was different from "firing" Burnside for a court martial offense.
 

rbasin

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jan 31, 2013
Location
Tampa, Fl
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...
Halleck gave Grant the power to replace mcclernand.
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
You fail to understand the established military doctrine of "relief for cause", which was used a number of times during the Civil War and was used thereafter. McClellan had the authority to relieve Burnside for cause at Antietam if he believed that Burnside was acting incompetently. That authority as a commanding officer was different from establishing corps commands, etc and had nothing to do with how his subordinates were appointed. It also was different from "firing" Burnside for a court martial offense.
No, he expressly didn't have that authority. The Militia Act expressly states that appointments to corps command are the prerogative of the President, and the President only. Burnside was legally assigned to command 9th Corps by the President directly. An army commander, since at this point McClellan is not even General-in-Chief, has no authority to overrule the President's commission of Burnside as GOC 9th Corps. Hell, even Grant, as GINC, could not fire Burnside as much as he wanted to.

Consider how Burnside was actually removed in 1864. Meade ordered a court-of-inquiry into Burnside to have him removed, and went as far as appointing the court. He was then told that neither me nor Grant had the authority to do such a thing. Burnside was a Presidential appointee and only the President could thus order such a thing. Meade asked Grant to have Lincoln give the order, whilst he prepared to prefer charges of insubordination if Lincoln did not assent. Grant duly requested that Halleck get Lincoln to give the order. Lincoln gave the order the next day.

The court had been packed by Meade with anti-Burnside partisans, and they found that Burnside was to blame. On 13th August Burnside asked Grant for a leave-of-absence and Parke assumed acting command of 9th Corps. When Burnside asked when was convenient to return, Grant said he should wait but that he was still GOC 9th Corps. No order replacing Burnside as GOC 9th Corps has been found by me, in which case General Orders 84 of 1862 is still in effect. Hence the 9th Corps remained "Burnside's Corps". In late September Parke asked about Burnside's extended leave, and the answer was it was indefinite. This triggered Grant to ask for any remaining staff members to return.

The take home point is that Grant, as GINC, could not order a court-of-inquiry, and Grant, as GINC, could not relieve Burnside of command of the 9th Corps even after a court had found against him. In the end he simply extended a leave Burnside had taken indefinitely. Arguably, Burnside could simply have returned to his duty station (9th Corps) and resumed command.

Given that Grant could not do what Belfoured proposes, and was General-in-Chief, what makes anyone think McClellan could?
 

rbasin

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jan 31, 2013
Location
Tampa, Fl
No, he expressly didn't have that authority. The Militia Act expressly states that appointments to corps command are the prerogative of the President, and the President only. Burnside was legally assigned to command 9th Corps by the President directly. An army commander, since at this point McClellan is not even General-in-Chief, has no authority to overrule the President's commission of Burnside as GOC 9th Corps. Hell, even Grant, as GINC, could not fire Burnside as much as he wanted to.

Consider how Burnside was actually removed in 1864. Meade ordered a court-of-inquiry into Burnside to have him removed, and went as far as appointing the court. He was then told that neither me nor Grant had the authority to do such a thing. Burnside was a Presidential appointee and only the President could thus order such a thing. Meade asked Grant to have Lincoln give the order, whilst he prepared to prefer charges of insubordination if Lincoln did not assent. Grant duly requested that Halleck get Lincoln to give the order. Lincoln gave the order the next day.

The court had been packed by Meade with anti-Burnside partisans, and they found that Burnside was to blame. On 13th August Burnside asked Grant for a leave-of-absence and Parke assumed acting command of 9th Corps. When Burnside asked when was convenient to return, Grant said he should wait but that he was still GOC 9th Corps. No order replacing Burnside as GOC 9th Corps has been found by me, in which case General Orders 84 of 1862 is still in effect. Hence the 9th Corps remained "Burnside's Corps". In late September Parke asked about Burnside's extended leave, and the answer was it was indefinite. This triggered Grant to ask for any remaining staff members to return.

The take home point is that Grant, as GINC, could not order a court-of-inquiry, and Grant, as GINC, could not relieve Burnside of command of the 9th Corps even after a court had found against him. In the end he simply extended a leave Burnside had taken indefinitely. Arguably, Burnside could simply have returned to his duty station (9th Corps) and resumed command.

Given that Grant could not do what Belfoured proposes, and was General-in-Chief, what makes anyone think McClellan could?
Would Warren fit into this also?
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
Halleck gave Grant the power to replace mcclernand.
Did he? I have seen no such reference, and Halleck had no such authority. McClernand was appointed by General Orders 210 of 1862 "by direction of the President."

Now Halleck could direct Grant to assume command over McClernand, which he did thus; "You are hereby authorized to relieve General McClernand from command of the expedition against Vicksburg, giving it to the next in rank or taking it yourself." However, this did not give him the authority to remove McClernand from 13th Corps.

The order relieving McClernand came from the War Dept issued under authority of the President. McClernand noted on receipt of the order that Grant had no such authority. One wonders exactly the sequence of events.
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
Would Warren fit into this also?
Yes.

Sherman (by then GINC) notes in his summary of the eventual court-of-inquiry into the Warren affair that only the President had authority to relieve Warren, but assumes that the President had given Grant authority to do it in his name. There is no documentary evidence of this. Of course, if Lincoln had done such then Grant would still not legally be able to transfer said authority to the third party (Sheridan).
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
It also seems reasonable to point out that if McClellan had the ability to remove corps commanders for lack of competence he'd have done just that after Williamsburg where he was very clearly disappointed in all three of them. Instead he wrote to ask permission, and that permission was denied; this is at a point where he is GiC in at least some legal theory (as his position was only temporarily suspended) but he is not able to remove CCs for incompetence despite wanting to.
 

rbasin

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jan 31, 2013
Location
Tampa, Fl
Yes.

Sherman (by then GINC) notes in his summary of the eventual court-of-inquiry into the Warren affair that only the President had authority to relieve Warren, but assumes that the President had given Grant authority to do it in his name. There is no documentary evidence of this. Of course, if Lincoln had done such then Grant would still not legally be able to transfer said authority to the third party (Sheridan).

What about like a Baldy Smith? Or a Crook?
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
What about like a Baldy Smith? Or a Crook?

Smith was relieved by Lincoln confirming Grant's order. The order is here. This shows Grant knew he didn't have the authority to remove Smith etc., but issued orders "subject to approval of the President."

For Crook, I found the order by the President assigning him to West Virginia. Was he relieved? He was superseded by Sheridan by a Military Division being created over him.
 

rbasin

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jan 31, 2013
Location
Tampa, Fl
Smith was relieved by Lincoln confirming Grant's order. The order is here. This shows Grant knew he didn't have the authority to remove Smith etc., but issued orders "subject to approval of the President."

For Crook, I found the order by the President assigning him to West Virginia. Was he relieved? He was superseded by Sheridan by a Military Division being created over him.
He was "suspended" is what I have found.
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
No, he expressly didn't have that authority. The Militia Act expressly states that appointments to corps command are the prerogative of the President, and the President only. Burnside was legally assigned to command 9th Corps by the President directly. An army commander, since at this point McClellan is not even General-in-Chief, has no authority to overrule the President's commission of Burnside as GOC 9th Corps. Hell, even Grant, as GINC, could not fire Burnside as much as he wanted to.

Consider how Burnside was actually removed in 1864. Meade ordered a court-of-inquiry into Burnside to have him removed, and went as far as appointing the court. He was then told that neither me nor Grant had the authority to do such a thing. Burnside was a Presidential appointee and only the President could thus order such a thing. Meade asked Grant to have Lincoln give the order, whilst he prepared to prefer charges of insubordination if Lincoln did not assent. Grant duly requested that Halleck get Lincoln to give the order. Lincoln gave the order the next day.

The court had been packed by Meade with anti-Burnside partisans, and they found that Burnside was to blame. On 13th August Burnside asked Grant for a leave-of-absence and Parke assumed acting command of 9th Corps. When Burnside asked when was convenient to return, Grant said he should wait but that he was still GOC 9th Corps. No order replacing Burnside as GOC 9th Corps has been found by me, in which case General Orders 84 of 1862 is still in effect. Hence the 9th Corps remained "Burnside's Corps". In late September Parke asked about Burnside's extended leave, and the answer was it was indefinite. This triggered Grant to ask for any remaining staff members to return.

The take home point is that Grant, as GINC, could not order a court-of-inquiry, and Grant, as GINC, could not relieve Burnside of command of the 9th Corps even after a court had found against him. In the end he simply extended a leave Burnside had taken indefinitely. Arguably, Burnside could simply have returned to his duty station (9th Corps) and resumed command.

Given that Grant could not do what Belfoured proposes, and was General-in-Chief, what makes anyone think McClellan could?
You do not understand the concept. McClellan absolutely had that authority. "Relief for cause" is a military doctrine based on the role of a commanding officer in relation to a subordinate and it was in full effect for the US military by the time of the Civil War, was used several times in WWI, and has remained in effect to this day, codified in the UCMJ as modified based on a couple of incidents during WWII. Burnside was subordinate to McClellan at Antietam and was subject to his orders and control. The doctrine has nothing to do with who appointed the subordinate or how that occurred. It's a common sense military principle without which the strict hierarchy of commander to subordinate could not function. It was exercised numerous times during the Civil War (one researcher has come up with the number 32). At least three commanders who exercised it were Ord at corps level in summer 1863; Webb at division level in August 1863; and Humphreys at corps level in 1865. The Burnside 1864 example was not based on "relief for cause" and the principle is not "overruling a commission". Nothing about Burnside's appointment changed his status as a subordinate.

As for 1864, Grant placed Burnside on leave on August 14. The court of inquiry issued its report on September 9. Burnside subsequently resigned.
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
As for 1864, Grant placed Burnside on leave on August 14. The court of inquiry issued its report on September 9. Burnside subsequently resigned.
.. On 15th April 1865, after Lee had surrendered. He attempted to resign after it was clear that whilst Grant would not (and could not) fire him, he would not order him back to duty. He submitted it to Lincoln and Lincoln refused it. Lincoln told Burnside he intended to give Burnside a new command, but never did.

Relief of cause is a 20th century concept, not present in the Army Regulations of 1857 etc. McClellan could not use regulations based on the post-WW2 reorganisation of the regulations in 1862.

It might be obvious to some, but modern US Army Regulations =/= ACW US Army Regulations.
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
.. On 15th April 1865, after Lee had surrendered. He attempted to resign after it was clear that whilst Grant would not (and could not) fire him, he would not order him back to duty. He submitted it to Lincoln and Lincoln refused it. Lincoln told Burnside he intended to give Burnside a new command, but never did.

Relief of cause is a 20th century concept, not present in the Army Regulations of 1857 etc. McClellan could not use regulations based on the post-WW2 reorganisation of the regulations in 1862.

It might be obvious to some, but modern US Army Regulations =/= ACW US Army Regulations.
That's wrong. As I said, at least 32 generals were relieved for cause during the ACW by one researcher's count. Let's start here. Who relieved William Harrow from his brigade command in the II Corps of the Army of the Potomac on August 15, 1863 and on what authority? (Extra credit - Lincoln got involved afterwards, but only to find Harrow another landing spot, because he recognized the doctrine). Next - who relieved William Hays from division command in the Army of the Potomac on April 6, 1865 and on what authority? And last, who relieved Jacob Lauman from division command in the Army of the Tennessee on July 12, 1863 and on what authority? Those are just three examples. By the way, this doctrine was used extensively in WWI (perhaps too much) and was also used in WWII, before any "post-WW2 reorganisation". As I pointed out, it's codified in the UCMJ today with ameliorating factors based on a couple of notorious uses in WWII, including one that seemed to involve a dose of inter-service rivalry.

You fail to address the undisputed fact that it was Grant who placed Burnside on leave in August. He remained on leave until he resigned. Magic ....
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
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.
Or McClellan might have refrained from criticizing Burnside in an official report because Burnside was his friend and supporter.
 
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