McClellan on Hooker at Antietam

WScott

Private
Joined
May 6, 2021
It seems to me that many of the promising skilled Corps Commanders were lost in battle (General Jesse L. Reno, IX Corps, General .K.F. Mansfield, XII Corps, General John F. Reynolds I Corps and General John Sedgwick, VI Corps.) and many of the less qualified couldn't be removed.
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
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 ....
This is an attempt to shoehorn 20th century structures into the ACW. If I respond about Harrow and Lauman, 30 more "what abouts" will follow...

However, Harrow resigned. He was not relieved of duty in the sense you mean.

Harrow was commanding the division at Gettysburg (as Gibbon assumed command of the corps), and commanded the division afterwards due to Gibbon's wound. He had domestic troubles, and took leave to visit home in mid-August '63. On returning to the army at the beginning of September (between the 4th and 7th by the diary of a division surgeon) he resumed command of his division but immediately requested to resign his Commission. This was accepted by Lincoln in October, and Harrow left the army. In November, with things cleared up at home, he requested to "unresign", which was accepted and he commanded a different division of the Army of the Potomac until the reorganisation into three corps. This saw his division disbanded and he was reassigned to command a division in the west.

Jacob Lauman was arrested on Sherman's orders for disobeying orders and charges preferred. Lauman says he had verbal orders from Ord to launch an attack, which failed. Ord denied it (hence why so many regular officers waited for a written order). Lauman waited for the court-martial to clear his name, but it simply never happened. Grant pled that the army was too busy to spare officers for the court and they kicked the can down the road until the charges expired. Lauman then requested a court-of-inquiry to clear his name, which Grant (then GinC, it now being 1865) denied.

So, 2 out of 32 were not "relief of cause". I assume these were your best examples and I assume you will start bringing up the other thirty?

PS: Maybe it's best if you give us a reference to this list of 32 generals...
 
Last edited:

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
Burnside requested said leave. He was not "placed on leave."
Keep trying. He was placed on leave by Grant. And, as we know, a court of inquiry was pending. The fact that Burnside knew where Grant was heading doesn't change the facts.
This is an attempt to shoehorn 20th century structures into the ACW. If I respond about Harrow and Lauman, 30 more "what abouts" will follow...

However, Harrow resigned. He was not relieved of duty in the sense you mean.

Harrow was commanding the division at Gettysburg (as Gibbon assumed command of the corps), and commanded the division afterwards due to Gibbon's wound. He had domestic troubles, and took leave to visit home in mid-August '63. On returning to the army at the beginning of September (between the 4th and 7th by the diary of a division surgeon) he resumed command of his division but immediately requested to resign his Commission. This was accepted by Lincoln in October, and Harrow left the army. In November, with things cleared up at home, he requested to "unresign", which was accepted and he commanded a different division of the Army of the Potomac until the reorganisation into three corps. This saw his division disbanded and he was reassigned to command a division in the west.

Jacob Lauman was arrested on Sherman's orders for disobeying orders and charges preferred. Lauman says he had verbal orders from Ord to launch an attack, which failed. Ord denied it (hence why so many regular officers waited for a written order). Lauman waited for the court-martial to clear his name, but it simply never happened. Grant pled that the army was too busy to spare officers for the court and they kicked the can down the road until the charges expired. Lauman then requested a court-of-inquiry to clear his name, which Grant (then GinC, it now being 1865) denied.

So, 2 out of 32 were not "relief of cause". I assume these were your best examples and I assume you will start bringing up the other thirty?

PS: Maybe it's best if you give us a reference to this list of 32 generals...
Harrow was relieved by Webb. (Webb was likely following up on Gibbon's perception that Harrow was inefficient). That's a fact. It's in plain English. As usual, you cook up an extraneous, multi-layered story to support an erroneous position. The same with Lauman. The order from Ord is in the OR. Yet again, more external spin. And crickets about Hayes - for good reason. Deal with it - the doctrine was in existence then and has continued in existence through today, amended over time to correct any perceived excesses and to reflect the modern military. By the way - and this is something that is always missing in your analysis - it reflects common sense. In your planet the commanding officer - subordinate relationship is a fiction, because the CO must live with an inefficient subordinate unless the latter is reckless enough to commit a court martial offense. In the real world, that's a death wish for an army and is inherently absurd. That's why McClellan was prepared to "relieve" Burnside on September 17. And it's why McClellan never - and in fact nobody has ever - said that McClellan was legally barred from doing so by the contrived rationale you've erected.

PS: Why would I waste my time listing another 10, 20, or 30 so that we can then obfuscate the clear and complicate the simple? Because we know that's a 100% certainty. As noted, by the way, your reference to relief for cause being the result of "post-WW2 reorganisation" fails to explain the numerous reliefs of subordinates by their CO's in WWI and WWII. I'm sure there's a "real", behind the scenes story as to how each of those happened, as well.
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
Harrow was relieved by Webb. (Webb was likely following up on Gibbon's perception that Harrow was inefficient). That's a fact. It's in plain English.

Webb was the next general in seniority in the division. When Harrow went on leave, Webb stepped up and took post as division commander. When Harrow returned from leave, Webb went back to his brigade and Harrow resumed command of the division. When Harrow's resignation was accepted, Webb took command of the division again. There is nothing out of the ordinary there.

The same with Lauman. The order from Ord is in the OR.

The order placing Hovey in command of the division upon the arrest of Lauman, and for Lauman to report to Grant's HQ. If you were to read the context, say the Grant papers, you'd know that Lauman was arrested and charges were preferred.

And crickets about Hayes - for good reason.

Hays was arrested for violating the 46th Article-of-War; to wit, sleeping on duty.


That's why McClellan was prepared to "relieve" Burnside on September 17. And it's why McClellan never - and in fact nobody has ever - said that McClellan was legally barred from doing so by the contrived rationale you've erected.
Arrest Burnside, not relieve him. He had no power to arrest him, but he did have the power to arrest him if there was just cause.

PS: Why would I waste my time listing another 10, 20, or 30 so that we can then obfuscate the clear and complicate the simple?
Because you know your argument is weak, and you are hiding behind the obfuscation.
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
Burnside requested said leave. He was not "placed on leave."
This appears to be an attempt to rely on a technicality to avoid noticing what was going on.

Burnside had been in hot water ever since The Crater on July 30. This is obvious from reading the messages back and forth from reading the messages in the OR.

On the evening of August 13th, the "leave" came about as a result of a Grant-Burnside meeting of the minds. It was not a routine process -- because if it was Meade would have known about it. Instead, the first Meade and his HQ know about it is when General Wilcox notifies Meade he has assumed command from Burnside. As far as Meade knows, this is when Burnside goes on "leave":

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
August 13, 1864-5.15 p.m.
General BURNSIDE:
Your dispatch of 4.45 p.m. has been submitted to the major-general commanding, who directs that the additional requisition of 400 men must be furnished. If a serious attack should be made, the details can quickly rejoin their commands.
A. A. HUMPHREYS,
Major-General and Chief of Staff.
-----
HEADQUARTERS NINTH ARMY CORPS,
August 13, 1864--9 p.m.
Maj. Gen. A. A. HUMPHREYS,
Chief of Staff:
GENERAL: I have the honor to report myself in command of this corps, and nothing important has occurred on the lines during the last twelve hours.
O. B. WILLCOX,
Brigadier-General.
-----
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
August 13, 1864--9.40 p.m.
Brigadier-General WILLCOX,
Ninth Corps:
Your dispatch is just received. The commanding general desires to know by what authority or under what circumstances you are in command of the Ninth Corps, as nothing to that effect has been received by him,
A. A. HUMPHREYS,
Major-General and Chief of Staff.
-----
HEADQUARTERS NINTH ARMY CORPS,
August 13, 1864--9.55 p.m.
General HUMPHREYS:
GENERAL: In reply to your dispatch of 9.40, this command was turned over to me this evening by General Burnside, who goes away under a leave of absence for twenty days, granted, as I understand, by Lieutenant-General Grant. I supposed, of course, it was known by the major-general commanding the army.
O. B. WILLCOX,
Brigadier-General.
-----
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
August 13, 1864--10 p.m.
Lieutenant-General GRANT:
Brigadier-General Willcox informs me he has assumed command of the Ninth Corps. No official communication has been received at these headquarters authorizing General Burnside to leave. Has any action been had or taken?
GEO. G. MEADE,
Major-General.
-----
HEADQUARTERS NINTH ARMY CORPS,
August 13, 1864--10 p.m.
Major-General MEADE:
I have turned over the command of this corps to General Willcox, having received permission from Lieutenant-General Grant to absent myself from this post. I supposed you knew of it.
A. E. BURNSIDE,
Major-General
-----
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
August 13, 1864--10.15 p.m. (Received 10.20 p.m.)
Major-General BURNSIDE:
Your dispatch to the major-general commanding is received. He requests me to say he had no notice of your authority to be absent, but presumes it is all correct.
A. A. HUMPHREYS,
Major-General and Chief of Staff.
-----
CITY POINT, VA., August 13, 1864.
Major-General MEADE:
I gave General Burnside leave of absence. The leave is only just made out this evening, and directions were given to communicate the fact to you, and no doubt it would have been communicated in the morning by the assistant adjutant-general. General Parke will command the Ninth Corps. He has gone out this evening.
U.S. GRANT,
Lieutenant-General.

As you can see, at 4:45 PM Burnside is still handling routine work with Meade's HQ (this is about supplying a work detail of 400 men for Captain Harwood). At 9 PM, General Wilcox is reporting to Meade's HQ that he is now in command of IX Corps -- which surprises the heck out of Meade and his Chief-of-Staff Humphreys.

In between those two points, Burnside talked with Grant, "applied" for a leave of absence, Grant "gave" it to him, Burnside turned his command over to Wilcox, and Wilcox promptly notified Meade's HQ that he was now in command. All of that happened in what looks like four hours.

You seem fairly well aware of military procedure, so you surely know that is not normal. A court of inquiry had been convened to investigate The Crater situation (at Meade's insistence) and was in sessions from August 6 to September 9. Burnside was one of those being investigated. Suddenly on the evening of August 13th, Burnside is placed on leave in a very unusual way that surprises Meade, Humphreys, Wilcox and probably a bunch of others.

Maybe Burnside asked Grant for a leave, maybe to prepare for his testimony to the board of inquiry and possible court-martial board. Maybe Burnside felt he could not be an effective leader in that situation and offered to step down. Maybe Grant told him that Burnside could not be an effective leader in that situation, then asked Burnside to submit a request for leave. Maybe there was a Grant ultimatum or pressure involved; maybe Grant just wanted Burnside to go and Burnside agreed.

No matter what, though, Burnside was stepping down because he was under pressure. Pitching it to the public as a "leave" is just what would be called "spin" today.
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
Webb was the next general in seniority in the division. When Harrow went on leave, Webb stepped up and took post as division commander. When Harrow returned from leave, Webb went back to his brigade and Harrow resumed command of the division. When Harrow's resignation was accepted, Webb took command of the division again. There is nothing out of the ordinary there.



The order placing Hovey in command of the division upon the arrest of Lauman, and for Lauman to report to Grant's HQ. If you were to read the context, say the Grant papers, you'd know that Lauman was arrested and charges were preferred.



Hays was arrested for violating the 46th Article-of-War; to wit, sleeping on duty.



Arrest Burnside, not relieve him. He had no power to arrest him, but he did have the power to arrest him if there was just cause.


Because you know your argument is weak, and you are hiding behind the obfuscation.
You're playing verbal "hide the ball" regarding the Webb order. You simply dodge the order by Ord - who, according to you, stupidly wasted ink and paper. And how is it that no charges were preferred against Hays, who according to you was "arrested" and then immediately assigned to another position? McClellan dispatched an aide with an order "relieving" Burnside on September 17 AM - not an order "arresting" him. That speaks for itself. Keep on with the Fiction 101 course.

And - of course - continuing crickets about WWI. Because you know your argument is weak, and you are hiding behind the obfuscation.
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
This appears to be an attempt to rely on a technicality to avoid noticing what was going on.

Burnside had been in hot water ever since The Crater on July 30. This is obvious from reading the messages back and forth from reading the messages in the OR.

On the evening of August 13th, the "leave" came about as a result of a Grant-Burnside meeting of the minds. It was not a routine process -- because if it was Meade would have known about it.
It was routine, and although Burnside had agreed to obey Meade's orders, he still was not administratively responsible to Meade.
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
You're playing verbal "hide the ball" regarding the Webb order. You simply dodge the order by Ord - who, according to you, stupidly wasted ink and paper. And how is it that no charges were preferred against Hays, who according to you was "arrested" and then immediately assigned to another position? McClellan dispatched an aide with an order "relieving" Burnside on September 17 AM - not an order "arresting" him. That speaks for itself. Keep on with the Fiction 101 course.

And - of course - continuing crickets about WWI. Because you know your argument is weak, and you are hiding behind the obfuscation.
Webb is a functionary (AAG) issuing the administrative part of the arrest.

Thus far, in your attempt to prove that "relief for cause" was a thing in 1861-5 you've produced three examples of officers leaving their posts for other reasons - one who resigned because of domestic issues, and two who were arrested for violating the articles-of-war.

You claim to have a list of 32. I postulate that you've give your best three and the other 29 are even weaker.
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
Webb is a functionary (AAG) issuing the administrative part of the arrest.

Thus far, in your attempt to prove that "relief for cause" was a thing in 1861-5 you've produced three examples of officers leaving their posts for other reasons - one who resigned because of domestic issues, and two who were arrested for violating the articles-of-war.

You claim to have a list of 32. I postulate that you've give your best three and the other 29 are even weaker.
"Webb is a functionary (AAG) issuing the administrative part of the arrest." That's a knee slapper. He was acting in his capacity as division commander at the time, not as a process server. You may be confused by the fact that he had ascended to brigade command before Gettysburg because his division commander did place an officer under "arrest".

As for the rest, you can "postulate" whatever you want - which is what you've been doing in this thread anyway. Here's some good advice, however. Don't take it to the betting window. The definition of insanity would be my laying out the next 5 or 10 or 15 expecting anything other than false labeling and reference to fictional events.

Meanwhile, just more crickets on (1) Mac's dispatching an order to RELIEVE - not ARREST - Burn at Antietam and (2) the use of the doctrine in WWI and WWII.
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
Officers apply for leaves of absence from their 1-up all the time.
Yeah - happened in the middle of active campaigning all the time. Especially at the higher levels. It appears that the US Army in the mid-19th century was 150 years ahead of the curve in the Human Resources realm. Who knew ....
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
Yeah - happened in the middle of active campaigning all the time. Especially at the higher levels. It appears that the US Army in the mid-19th century was 150 years ahead of the curve in the Human Resources realm. Who knew ....
Yes it did, like when Grant and Meade took simultaneous leave in the winter of 1864/5.
 

WScott

Private
Joined
May 6, 2021
Burnside was never one of my top Generals from the Civil War but I do question his transfer / removal after the Battle of the Crater. Things didn't go well but then again it was Grant the didn't want the Colored Troops leading the attack they spent months training for. A less than competent Division Commander was put in charge of the attack at the last minute with results that could have been expected. It was Burnsides Corps but it was Grant / Meade that were pulling the strings.
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
Arrest for violation of the 9th article-of-war, as discussed.
Wrong. Two different concepts. The point was that if McClellan intended to take action for disobedience of an order, he could "arrest" for a violation of the Articles and go through the required process that would ensue. But if he wanted to address lesser "misconduct", "inefficiency", etc, that did not violate the Articles - such as Burnside was acting "too slowly" or "filtering orders to him through an intermediate subordinate" - he could opt instead for "relief for cause". That's why it's been resorted to without "arrest" for at least 150+ years - with modifications over time. That may be why McClellan phrased it as he did. In either case, if the circumstances applied he had the power to use it on Burnside as his subordinate. You have a 1,000 yard stare/fixation on (1) whether a commander has authority over a subordinate depending on how the subordinate was appointed and (2) the inability to separate "arrest" from "relief for cause" where "arrest" isn't required. The latter is especially the case for reliefs that did not occur literally on the battlefield during an engagement. Those National Guard officers who were relieved by Pershing and his professional subordinates were not placed under arrest.

By the way, while we're on the subject you need to read Art. 46 a little more closely regarding the "arrest" you say that Hays was placed under by Humphreys. Actually, a lot more closely. Hint: the applicable Articles are those enacted in 1806.
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
Burnside was never one of my top Generals from the Civil War but I do question his transfer / removal after the Battle of the Crater. Things didn't go well but then again it was Grant the didn't want the Colored Troops leading the attack they spent months training for. A less than competent Division Commander was put in charge of the attack at the last minute with results that could have been expected. It was Burnsides Corps but it was Grant / Meade that were pulling the strings.
Burnside was responsible for the choice of the "less than competent Division Commander was put in charge of the attack". Burnside also deliberately chose not to remove some of the obstacles on his front (despite orders) before the mine exploded. The switch from the USCT division was surely a Grant/Meade decision based on political sensitivity.

Also, Grant exposed himself to fire to get to Burnside and order the attack stopped, and Meade issued at order to stop the attack by 9:30 AM; Burnside didn't get that order into the Crater until about 2:00 PM (where it had little effect).

Meade can be dinged for micro-managing this -- but then Burnside's record almost demanded micro-managing from above. By mid-1864, the general consensus in Union higher commands was that Burnside was not suited to command more than a brigade.

Grant's post-war comment on Burnside:
General Burnside was an officer who was generally liked and respected. He was not, however, fitted to command an army. No one knew this better than himself. He always admitted his blunders, and extenuated those of officers under him beyond what they were entitled to. It was hardly his fault that he was ever assigned to a separate command.
 

Lubliner

Captain
Forum Host
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
I can find scant information other than a two-page explanation on 'Relief for Cause', here; https://www.carson.army.mil/assets/docs/sja/relief-for-cause.pdf
It appears to be a legal brief in our current military services. It does state that the chain of command is vitally important when a subordinate officer is relieved of command for, 'misconduct, poor judgement, inability to complete assigned duties, similar reasons, and loss of confidence in the subordinate commander' (paraphrased).
It says after the notification for such relief, it cannot take place until the 'senior general commander' gives written approval. This in McClellan's case would be whom; Lincoln or Halleck? If Burnside was served a relief notification on Sept. 17, 1862, then this went to the senior commander, either Lincoln or Halleck; one of these seniors then dismissed McClellan instead. This to me appears coincidentally the same with @Belfoured's argument of suspension of duties. Whether it originated by the express terminology "Relief For Cause" back in the Civil War, I know not, but it does not invalidate the argument of its existence.
Lubliner.
 
Top