McClellan

Jimklag

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Sure we are, but none US sappers know that sometimes impossible orders are given... often all the way from the politicians at top.

Yes an officer in command to have a lot of the responsibility. But Should Lee get all the blame for loosing the war?
No obviously not.
He should be blamed/praised for the decisions he made... not for things outside his control.
My three sapper friends have an acronym for those politicians who give impossible orders - REMF. I will leave it to your imagination to translate.
 

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So, all the way to the top is Lincoln. I guess it's Lincoln's fault then?



It's the sort of nonsense they shout at you in Sapper School in the US I believe, but then that's not training you to manage a combat. Don't try and suggesting that's a universal opinion though, it's just the sappers being odd.
I'm not a sapper so I don't know what they train. And I will espouse any opinion I think relevant to the conversation. Commanders take the responsibility for their success and failure and that it is very nearly universally accepted in the military.
Lincoln bears the responsibility of putting a failure in charge but did little to impact his combat decisions.
 

67th Tigers

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Commanders take the responsibility for their success and failure and that it is very nearly universally accepted in the military.
Sort of. They have the responsibility to maximise the probability of success and minimise the probability of failure. You'll see this for example at the Court of Inquiry when a naval captain has lost his ship - the question asked is did he make an avoidable mistake? It is not an automatic "you lost your ship, you're a loser, get lost".

Ask the same question of the Peninsula Campaign, for example. Did McClellan make any avoidable mistakes? His one major mistake he knew about as he did it, but was under orders to do it. He was forced by Stanton to keep his supply base on the Pamunkey, even as he moved away from it. Stanton's reasoning was that 1st Corps might need it. It created a vulnerability which Lee used Jackson to exploit.

In any post-action analysis, McClellan can point out that Stanton gave peremptory orders, and had promised to assign an additional force to cover the vulnerability, which never arrived.

Can show me which law enables the military to disobey the lawful orders of the government?

Lincoln bears the responsibility of putting a failure in charge but did little to impact his combat decisions.
But his direct interference in operations did have a lot of impact. He of course had the right to make those decisions, but also faces the responsibility.
 
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Did McClellan make any avoidable mistakes?
Apparently, as the results of the campaign would indicate.

But his direct interference in operations did have a lot of impact.
The campaign was designed and executed by McClellan. Lincoln had no say in the day to day operations. Mac bears the ultimate responsibility for a failed campaign.

Can show me which law enables the military to disobey the lawful orders of the government?

This is a ridiculous question as even you know that no such thing exists. However, Mac certainly had no problem ignoring orders.
 

Jimklag

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Jimklag. I totally agree and concur with your excellent assessment of McClellan. However, my statement regarding McClellan as a brilliant tactician is based on this definition of military tactics. Military tactics is the military art of employing and manoeuvring fighting forces on the field of battle. It also involves the implementation of what Fredrick the Great called "Coup d'oeil" concept in which troops are strategically placed in an advantageous position based predominately on the terrain, weather and training of his troops. In other words, a general who can instantly examine a battlefield and determine the major points of advantage in order to efficiently win the battle with the least amount of casualties. McClellan was certainly terrible at following up after defeating an enemy in order to win a complete victory. However, I think he was excellent at training and building an army and motivating soldiers as well as equipping the soldiers but when it comes to unleashing these well trained and well equipped troops on the enemy-he failed miserably. I hope I clarified my prior statement. If you still disagree I certainly understand. My intentions are not to try and convince you otherwise. David.
I am in the process of re-reading a couple books on Antietam and am coming around a little about McClellan as a tactical thinker. One of the most important tactical moves at Antietam was performed by McClellan on September 16, the day before the battle. According to almost every campaign study of Antietam, Mac was sitting on his hands or twiddling his thumbs on the 16th and yet, on that day he moved a substantial force across the Antietam, reached and blocked the Hagerstown Pike, thus completely blocking Lee from his true goal of the campaign, the invasion of Pennsylvania. This simple move robbed Lee of any option but staying to fight or retreating. Lee was effectively bottled up without the ability to maneuver at which he was a master. This troop movement is discussed in every book on the battle, even those that say he did nothing on the 16th. And yet, it is not given the emphasis I think it deserves. It is fun to learn new stuff. Not a fan of Mac yet, but I give credit where credit is due.
 

DanSBHawk

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I am in the process of re-reading a couple books on Antietam and am coming around a little about McClellan as a tactical thinker. One of the most important tactical moves at Antietam was performed by McClellan on September 16, the day before the battle. According to almost every campaign study of Antietam, Mac was sitting on his hands or twiddling his thumbs on the 16th and yet, on that day he moved a substantial force across the Antietam, reached and blocked the Hagerstown Pike, thus completely blocking Lee from his true goal of the campaign, the invasion of Pennsylvania. This simple move robbed Lee of any option but staying to fight or retreating. Lee was effectively bottled up without the ability to maneuver at which he was a master. This troop movement is discussed in every book on the battle, even those that say he did nothing on the 16th. And yet, it is not given the emphasis I think it deserves. It is fun to learn new stuff. Not a fan of Mac yet, but I give credit where credit is due.
Can I ask what author claims Pennsylvania was Lee's true goal in '62? Threaten Pennsylvania, I can believe. Invade Pennsylvania, is not what I understand as a goal of the Maryland campaign.
 

Jimklag

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Can I ask what author claims Pennsylvania was Lee's true goal in '62? Threaten Pennsylvania, I can believe. Invade Pennsylvania, is not what I understand as a goal of the Maryland campaign.
Most all of them. Here is just one quote from historynet.com:

Carrying the war north was essentially General Robert E. Lee’s idea, based on more military considerations, starting with the unlikelihood of the Confederacy having the industry to sustain a prolonged, projected conflict. He hoped to land a knockout psychological blow by following up his startling victory on the Peninsula and at Second Manassas with a deep penetration into Maryland and Pennsylvania, threatening important cities such as Harrisburg or even Philadelphia, encouraging secessionists in Maryland and other borderline states to join the rebel cause and above all, spreading a nervous feeling of dread throughout Congress.

In addition, all you have to do is look at Lee's troop dispositions just prior to the battle. Longstreet was already on his way to Pennsylvania. I think it is a consensus among historians that Pennsylvania was on Lee's itinerary.
 
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I am in the process of re-reading a couple books on Antietam and am coming around a little about McClellan as a tactical thinker. One of the most important tactical moves at Antietam was performed by McClellan on September 16, the day before the battle. According to almost every campaign study of Antietam, Mac was sitting on his hands or twiddling his thumbs on the 16th and yet, on that day he moved a substantial force across the Antietam, reached and blocked the Hagerstown Pike, thus completely blocking Lee from his true goal of the campaign, the invasion of Pennsylvania. This simple move robbed Lee of any option but staying to fight or retreating. Lee was effectively bottled up without the ability to maneuver at which he was a master. This troop movement is discussed in every book on the battle, even those that say he did nothing on the 16th. And yet, it is not given the emphasis I think it deserves. It is fun to learn new stuff. Not a fan of Mac yet, but I give credit where credit is due.
Jimklag. You should add this book to your reading list by Dennis Frye entitled: "Antietam Shadows: Mystery, Myth & Machination." David.
 

DanSBHawk

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Most all of them. Here is just one quote from historynet.com:

Carrying the war north was essentially General Robert E. Lee’s idea, based on more military considerations, starting with the unlikelihood of the Confederacy having the industry to sustain a prolonged, projected conflict. He hoped to land a knockout psychological blow by following up his startling victory on the Peninsula and at Second Manassas with a deep penetration into Maryland and Pennsylvania, threatening important cities such as Harrisburg or even Philadelphia, encouraging secessionists in Maryland and other borderline states to join the rebel cause and above all, spreading a nervous feeling of dread throughout Congress.

In addition, all you have to do is look at Lee's troop dispositions just prior to the battle. Longstreet was already on his way to Pennsylvania. I think it is a consensus among historians that Pennsylvania was on Lee's itinerary.
I disagree but I know some writers, like Frye, would agree with you. Ethan Rafuse in his sympathetic McClellan book doesn't say Lee's goal was Pennsylvania. I think it was an option but not a goal of the campaign.

Lee had identified the Antietam area on the 15th as a good place to make a stand according to Ethan Rafuse. There was no intention by Lee on the 15th-16th to invade PA. Lee's intention was to defeat the federals.

There was discussion in this thread: https://civilwartalk.com/threads/ve...lan-outsmarted-lee-at-antietam.148588/page-12

Here is what Lee wrote:
The war was thus transferred from the interior to the frontier, and the supplies of rich and productive districts made accessible to our army. To prolong a state of affairs in every way desirable, and not to permit the season for active operations to pass without endeavoring to inflict further injury upon the enemy, the best course appeared to be the transfer of the army into Maryland. Although not properly equipped for invasion, lacking much of the material of war, and feeble in transportation, the troops poorly provided with clothing, and thousands of them destitute of shoes, it was yet believed to be strong enough to detain the enemy upon the northern frontier until the approach of winter should render his advance into Virginia difficult, if not impracticable. The condition of Maryland encouraged the belief that the presence of our army, however inferior to that of the enemy, would induce the Washington Government to retain all its available force to provide against contingencies, which its course toward the people of that State gave it reason to apprehend. At the same time it was hoped that military success might afford us an opportunity to aid the citizens of Maryland in any efforts they might be disposed to make to recover their liberties. The difficulties that surrounded them were fully appreciated, and we expected to derive more assistance in the attainment of our object from the just fears of the Washington. Government than from any active demonstration on the part of the people, unless success should enable us to give them assurance of continued protection.
Influenced by these considerations, the army was put in motion, DH Hill’s division, which had joined us on the 2d, being in advance, and between September 4 and 7 crossed the Potomac at the fords near Leesburg, and encamped in the vicinity of Fredericktown.
It was decided to cross the Potomac east of the Blue Ridge, in order, by threatening Washington and Baltimore, to cause the enemy to withdraw from the south bank, where his presence endangered our communications and the safety of those engaged in the removal of our wounded and the captured property from the late battle fields. Having accomplished this result, it was proposed to move the army into Western Maryland, establish our communications with Richmond through the Valley of the Shenandoah, and, by threatening Pennsylvania, induce the enemy to follow, and thus draw him from his base of supplies.
 
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DanSBHawk

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Here is how Ethan Rafuse described McClellans movements on the 16th:

rafuse1.png
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McClellan moved to the north of Lee because it was the safest option.
 

Jimklag

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Lee's intention was to defeat the federals.
This is absolutely true. It is also true that the Cumberland Valley of Pennsylvania was a target for the same reason as it was in 1863, not just an option. Vast amounts of supplies could be had and the farther north Lee went, the more pressure was removed from northern Virginia.
 

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This is absolutely true. It is also true that the Cumberland Valley of Pennsylvania was a target for the same reason as it was in 1863, not just an option. Vast amounts of supplies could be had and the farther north Lee went, the more pressure was removed from northern Virginia.
True but by the 15th-16th, a Pennsylvania raid was no longer an option. Lee would have been suicidal to consider abandoning defensible ground, his escape route, his supply line, while in the face of a superior enemy force, to go deeper into enemy territory.

IMO, McClellan's moves on the 16th were purely to set up for the coming battle, not to block a Pennsylvania invasion. The moves were safe, predictable, and conservative.

And I still don't believe a Pennsylvania raid in '62 was anything more than an option conditional on the circumstances.
 

Jimklag

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Here is how Ethan Rafuse described McClellans movements on the 16th:

View attachment 295401 View attachment 295402 View attachment 295403

McClellan moved to the north of Lee because it was the safest option.
Here is Gary Gallagher, in a battlefields.org article, on Lee's invasion of 1862.

In taking his army across the Potomac River in early September, Lee had in mind strategic, logistical, and political factors. He believed that the soldiers of McClellan and Pope “lay weakened and demoralized” in the vicinity of Washington, D.C., and he sought to maintain aggressive momentum rather than assume a defensive position and allow the Federals to muster their superior strength to mount another offensive. If he remained in Virginia, Lee would be forced to react to Union movements, whereas in Maryland or Pennsylvania he would hold the initiative. Lee believed he could easily flank the enemy by crossing the Potomac upriver from Washington and marching the Army of Northern Virginia through Maryland. A short thrust into Union territory would not be enough; a protracted stay would be the key to Confederate success. Lee hoped to keep his army on United States soil through much of the autumn, not with the intention of capturing and holding territory but with an eye toward accomplishing several goals before returning to Virginia as winter approached.


The most important of those goals focused on logistics. Facing critical shortages of food, Lee knew that a movement into the untouched agricultural regions of Maryland and Pennsylvania’s Cumberland Valley held significant promise.
If positioned northwest of Washington, Lee could force the Federals to remain between him and their capital, thus liberating war-exhausted northern and north-central Virginia, as well as the Shenandoah Valley, from the presence of the contending armies. Southern farms that had suffered from the presence of scores of thousands of troops could recover, crops could be harvested safely, and civilians could enjoy a respite from the stress of constant uncertainty about their persons and property. Meanwhile, Lee’s army would gather vital food, fodder, and other supplies from Maryland and from southern Pennsylvania. This double-sided logistical bonus, by itself, would be sufficient to render the Maryland campaign a success.
 

Jimklag

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True but by the 15th-16th, a Pennsylvania raid was no longer an option. Lee would have been suicidal to consider abandoning defensible ground, his escape route, his supply line, while in the face of a superior enemy force, to go deeper into enemy territory.

IMO, McClellan's moves on the 16th were purely to set up for the coming battle, not to block a Pennsylvania invasion. The moves were safe, predictable, and conservative.

And I still don't believed that a Pennsylvania raid in '62 was anything more than an option conditional on the circumstances.
Longstreet was in Hagerstown when Lee called him back because of McClellan's attack on South Mountain. It doesn't take much imagination to see that Hagerstown was the jumping off point to go into Pennsylvania. If Lee had sent a corps there before the battle is it not logical to assume that, before South Mountain, Lee intended to go into Pennsylvania. The fact that circumstances after the 15th made that move no longer feasible, doesn't change the fact that that was Lee's plan.
 

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Longstreet was in Hagerstown when Lee called him back because of McClellan's attack on South Mountain. It doesn't take much imagination to see that Hagerstown was the jumping off point to go into Pennsylvania. If Lee had sent a corps there before the battle is it not logical to assume that, before South Mountain, Lee intended to go into Pennsylvania. The fact that circumstances after the 15th made that move no longer feasible, doesn't change the fact that that was Lee's plan.
Lee wrote:
A report having been received that a Federal force was approaching Hagerstown from the direction of Chambersburg, Longstreet continued his march to the former place, in order to secure the road leading thence to Williamsport, and also to prevent the removal of stores which were said to be in Hagerstown.
That suggests Longstreet was sent as more of a defensive measure than on offense.

You very well may be right, but after reading through the Lee correspondence in the OR (no 19, vol 2, starting about page 590) for that other thread linked earlier, I did not get the impression that PA was very high on Lee's priority list during the 62 campaign.
 

Jimklag

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Lee wrote:
A report having been received that a Federal force was approaching Hagerstown from the direction of Chambersburg, Longstreet continued his march to the former place, in order to secure the road leading thence to Williamsport, and also to prevent the removal of stores which were said to be in Hagerstown.
That suggests Longstreet was sent as more of a defensive measure than on offense.

You very well may be right, but after reading through the Lee correspondence in the OR (no 19, vol 2, starting about page 590) for that other thread linked earlier, I did not get the impression that PA was very high on Lee's priority list during the 62 campaign.
You may also be right. That's the beauty of it. Educated people can disagree on the interpretation of historical events. I've always believed that Lee intended to go into PA. That's why McClellan's maneuver on the 16th has more significance to me than just positioning 1st corps for the 17th. Different strokes for different folks. Maybe @67th Tigers or @Saphroneth can add to the discussion.
 

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Apparently, as the results of the campaign would indicate.
That's a non-sequitur.

The campaign was designed and executed by McClellan. Lincoln had no say in the day to day operations. Mac bears the ultimate responsibility for a failed campaign.
We've been over this before.

First Intervention - Lincoln Destroys McClellan's Plan and Substitutes a New One

The plan was not McClellan's. Lincoln attempted to prevent McClellan's plan on 8th March by summoning the division commanders to vote on it. To his chagrin they voted 8-4 in favour of McClellan's plan. Thus Lincoln promoted the four that voted against it to Corps Commanders and on 13th March asked them to vote again. Happily for Lincoln, they rejected McClellan's plan and it was shelved. However, they substituted a completely new plan that Lincoln hated even more than McClellan's, and that plan was the movement to Fort Monroe.

McClellan had rejected the Fort Monroe movement in January, because a study by James Shields showed it would take six weeks to get past Yorktown. However, Lincoln was boxed himself in by calling a referendum that went against him, and orders McClellan to execute the Corps Commanders' plan.

Hence, your notion that the campaign was "designed by McClellan" is false. It was designed by McDowell, Sumner, Heintzelman, Keyes and Barnard, and set in motion by Lincoln.

McClellan in fact did a bit better than six weeks, and broke through to beyond it. This is despite Lincoln not ordering the Navy to cooperate (as he said he would), and Lincoln removing 5 divisions from McClellan's army, including the engineers.

Second Intervention - Lincoln Paralyses McClellan's Army on the Chickahominy

In response Lincoln came down to investigate, accompanied by Stanton, Seward, Chase and Tucker (***'t sec'y of war). Lincoln diverted forces from the pursuit of Johnston to the rather useless occupation of Norfolk (the rebels had abandoned it when they lost Yorktown). Seward, Chase and Tucker remained and concluded McClellan had been right all along;

"Providence Forge, May 14, 1862

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President

We [Seward and Chase] think that you should order whole or major part of General McDowell's, with Shields, up the York River as soon as possible, and order Whyman's flotilla up the James River. General McClellan moves to White House tomorrow morning.

WM H. SEWARD "

Lincoln doesn't want to send these forces, and so grudgingly orders that 1st Corps will go overland, rather than by water. McClellan is preparing to cross the Chickahominy and make for the James, where he can attack Fort Darling and open the river all the way to Richmond. On 1400, 18th May 1862, Stanton issues a peremptory order that McClellan's base must remain on the Pamunkey. This halts forward movement - McClellan is now under orders to wait for McDowell.

Six days later, the 24th May, was the day McDowell said he'd start marching. On this day Lincoln issues two sets of orders; firstly he says McDowell is coming, and that McClellan should split his own force (into three pieces, McClellan already holds a debouche on the right bank of the Chickahominy), and attack JR Anderson's "Army of the North", which he does. Only a few hours later Lincoln suspends the order to McDowell, but does not rescind any order to McClellan. Indeed, on 6th June McClellan is told that a division will come by water. McCall's division offloads at White House Landing 11th-13th June, and McClellan is told "It is intended to send the residue of McDowell's force also to join you as speedily as possible."

On the 12th McClellan transferred his CP to the right bank of the Chickahominy (to everyone's relief, Sumner was constantly panicking), and over the next few days McCall's division relieves Slocum's division along Beaver Dam Creek, and becomes the general reserve division.

McClellan moved to attack Richmond, within the parameters Lincoln set. Lee counterattacked, and McClellan defeated it. Then Jackson arrived behind his lines and cut him off from the supply base which Stanton specified on 18th May.

Third Intervention - Ordering McClellan to Retreat

McClellan on the James paralysed Lee. Richmond falling was still just a matter of time. Lincoln along with Halleck ordered McClellan's army withdrawn. This led to two full years with no serious threat to Richmond.
 

67th Tigers

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This is a ridiculous question as even you know that no such thing exists. However, Mac certainly had no problem ignoring orders.
Exactly, so why do you suggest McClellan should have disobeyed a lawful order?

What orders did McClellan ignore?
 



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