- Nov 10, 2006
Except we know that Franklin and Sigel have no clue where Jackson is (up to the 11th or 12th at least), and Jackson is well and truly behind them. McClellan doesn't know this, and that's quite the problem.
This simply isn't true. The int reports consistently placed Jackson's Corps in the correct place. Jackson hasn't moved for over a month. His main body went into camps in a square Martinsburg-Charlestown-Berryville-Kernstown ca. 24th September, and didn't move until 21st November.
We have the record of reports of skirmishing on the 11th, and reports of Jackson advancing on the 13th and 14th (estimated at having a force of 40,000 men) causing great alarm in the Federal rear. There are also reports of skirmishing on the 15th and of some prisoners taken, but no total agreement on numbers that I can see. The 300 I expect is exaggerated.
On the 11th (your link is to the wrong page BTW) is simply a false report coming out of Cox in West Virginia, and has Jackson heading NW, not E or S. The 13th-14th is the same - Cox is paranoid that Jackson is heading NW. This is all wrong, and all that happened was the 12th Corps and Cox were told to be on alert. This has nothing to do with the main body, and does not support the argument you are attempting to construct.
It's assuming McClellan moves fast enough to do this, and he doesn't react to the suggestion of Jackson's threat in his rear at all. I'm skeptical of this, and if Jackson is moving earlier than the 13th (which absent the Federal delays after the 9th seems likely, so say the 12th). If he's moving 16-18 miles a day then he would reach Gordonsville on either the night of the 17th or the morning of the 18th, or about the time when McClellan would be ready for battle.
The army was not moving with expectation of battle, and even reaching Gordonsville on the 17th and realizing Longstreet is formed before them, they will take time to maneuver into battle as McClellan realizes that the enemy is forming to meet him (and he may assume Jackson is already there since he placed Jackson further south than he actually was) and so will most likely take to the 18th to form up as the main body will still be arriving by the evening.
Jackson was historically not ready to march until the 21st November. Perhaps it's best to look at the communications of Lee etc.
On 28th Lee orders Jackson to remain where he is, and Longstreet to move to Culpeper, sending Pickett's Division as rapidly as possible there.
On 2nd November, the Federal occupation of Snicker's Gap creates a panick amongst Jackson's Corps. If the Federals cross the Gap then Jackson is isolated and will have to cut his way out. Jackson of course wants to pull out, but Lee is down in Richmond and so there is no-one available to give the order.
On 5th November Lee returns from Richmond, and on the 6th tells Jackson to prepare to abandon his position and march to unite with Longstreet. On the same day Lee write to the Secy of War his assessment and plans; he has misread McClellan and wrongly believes Jackson will prevent McClellan advancing on Longstreet. However, his orders to Jackson in the event this happens are not to raid into the Loudoun Valley (which Lee understands is pointless), but rather to unite with Longstreet via Swift Run Gap. In the same event Longstreet is ordered to retreat to Madison. The next day Lee writes the Secy of War that he issued the order for Jackson to march to unite with Longstreet on the 6th. Stuart thinks McClellan might cut Jackson off, and on the 7th Lee writes that he thinks that isn't so, and he's ordered the whole army to retreat to Madison.
On the 8th Lee reiterates his order to Jackson, and on the 9th writes again, this time replying to a letter from Jackson dated the 7th. Jackson apparently reported McClellan had left Snickers and Ashby's Gaps. Lee (incorrectly) interpreted this as McClellan turning west towards the Shenandoah, and gave instructions to that effect. On the 10th Lee repeats that he wishes Jackson to descend the valley and unite with Longstreet if McClellan isn't being delayed by Lee (which he isn't), whilst Jackson is still talking to his division commanders about trying to obtain enough rations to make the march. The 11th and 12th similar, and on the 13th Lee is puzzled by why "McClellan" has stopped when he had secured the Rappahanock crossings.
On the 14th Lee has worked out that McClellan has no base of operations that Jackson could raid, and hence Jackson's presence at Winchester does nothing. He again asks Jackson to move. On the 18th Lee writes again, replying to Jackson's continued insistence that McClellan's army threatens him. Lee now quite forcefully states Jackson is doing no good and tells him to send at least some of his divisions to Longstreet. On the 18th Lee writes that Burnside's army is making for Fredericksburg, and again asks Jackson to move.
On the 21st November, Jackson starts moving. On the 23rd Lee still doesn't know that Jackson has started to move, telling him to get to Culpeper. On the 25th Lee ingenuously tells the President that it was his decision to leave Jackson there, ignoring the fact that as far as he's concerned, he gave orders on the 6th for Jackson to march to Culpeper, and has reiterated them almost daily. This is the day he received the news that Jackson is actually, finally, moving. His letters to Jackson of that day however indicate that he now believes he is in no danger - Burnside is not as threatening as McClellan was.
Even assuming a worst case scenario where Jackson is still at Winchester on the 13th and McClellan receives word of a potential movement in his rear, this will mean the army stops on the 11th or 12th as McClellan now realizes his dispositions were wrong and there might be a great force behind him. I doubt the march continues for a least a day as he tries to find out what is going on.
Historically, no order Lee gave Jackson could move him. On the 14th he realised that "McClellan" had no rear that Jackson threatened. McClellan of course knew that Jackson did not threaten him, and knew that Jackson wasn't going to march unopposed in Washington as many in the government feared.
That me reiterate that - McClellan had no rear that Jackson threatened.