The Peninsula McClellan's Peninsula Plan (earlyFebruary)

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
The core logic behind the Peninsular Plan, from a grand strategy sense, is that it's frankly necessary to operate against Richmond at all. It can vary how you attack the Peninsula, but you have to do it unless the enemy you're facing is either totally outgeneralled or totally outclassed - simply put, the defensible rivers of NE Virginia make excellent stopping points where an army can resist twice its own numbers, and you have to clear the rail lines to be able to operate in strength that far south on the Overland route (which means in turn a long, vulnerable flank) and battering through the Richmond defences cannot be quick or easy unless you can get an irresistible siege train into position.

But to get around the defensive positions that can resist the Overland approach requires supply up the York River and its tributaries (Grant used this during the Overland) and to get the siege train into position probably requires waterborne transport or, again, uninterrupted control of the rail lines for a considerable length of time. If Yorktown's still strongly held, then the campaign stalls out at the North Anna or the analogue to it (though it would be necessary to win Spotsylvania, too, as after Spotsylvania Grant shifted supply to the Rappahannock).

It's possible to imagine an Overland analogue in 1864 which included an Urbanna landing as a secondary component, but an 1862 Overland campaign would have seen the Union army with much shallower pockets in terms of manpower - I doubt they could have found the manpower for an overland thrust at the appropriate force concentration while also managing an Urbanna landing. (Certainly not if they were limited to the same resources McClellan had.)
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
But isn't it also true that he was claiming the Confederate forces numbered about 200,000 (or twice the true number) at the time of the Battle of Seven Days? I know this is one of your areas of expertise, and I am only relying on recollection from reading Sears and posts I've seen on this site.

McClellan uses the 200,000 number in a message to Washington June 26th and again about July 11, seems to have used it in conference with Halleck about July 25-26. He uses it in the message he sent where he blamed the administration if he was defeated, but was unaware the heads of the telegraph office in Washington deleted the last part from the copy they gave Stanton and Lincoln (who didn't see that last part until McClellan published it himself later). Pinkerton's August 14 estimate implies the enemy is 200,000+ and probably too low. The real problem is the implication that the Union forces are badly outnumbered (such as 2:1 against when they are about even).

All that, however, is months after the plan McClellan is proposing February 3rd.

It is fairly routine for estimates of enemy strength to be wrong, and they are generally wrong on the high side. Bad things can happen when estimates are wildly wrong on either side.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
So, you would contend that Pinkerton's inflation was only moderate and not an important factor in the McClellan's decision-making?
Given the decisions McClellan makes and the reinforcements he asks for, it certainly seems as though any overestimates of Confederate numbers are countered by his confidence in the greater fighting ability of Union troops. His requests for more force are generally reasonable given the true values of troops, and his force commitments at battles such as Gaines Mill and Antietam suggest a good read of the battlespace overall.
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
The core logic behind the Peninsular Plan, from a grand strategy sense, is that it's frankly necessary to operate against Richmond at all. It can vary how you attack the Peninsula, but you have to do it unless the enemy you're facing is either totally outgeneralled or totally outclassed - simply put, the defensible rivers of NE Virginia make excellent stopping points where an army can resist twice its own numbers, and you have to clear the rail lines to be able to operate in strength that far south on the Overland route (which means in turn a long, vulnerable flank) and battering through the Richmond defences cannot be quick or easy unless you can get an irresistible siege train into position.

That's one thought. The only thing really necessary is defeating the enemy.

But to get around the defensive positions that can resist the Overland approach requires supply up the York River and its tributaries (Grant used this during the Overland) and to get the siege train into position probably requires waterborne transport or, again, uninterrupted control of the rail lines for a considerable length of time. If Yorktown's still strongly held, then the campaign stalls out at the North Anna or the analogue to it (though it would be necessary to win Spotsylvania, too, as after Spotsylvania Grant shifted supply to the Rappahannock).

No, you can develop a plan to move from the West (which has its' own set of problems, such as clearing the Shenandoah Valley and maintaining an LOC generally based on the Orange and Alexandria RR). Riskier.
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
Given the decisions McClellan makes and the reinforcements he asks for, it certainly seems as though any overestimates of Confederate numbers are countered by his confidence in the greater fighting ability of Union troops. His requests for more force are generally reasonable given the true values of troops, and his force commitments at battles such as Gaines Mill and Antietam suggest a good read of the battlespace overall.

Better to discuss the plan and not drag events months later into it.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
No, you can develop a plan to move from the West (which has its' own set of problems, such as clearing the Shenandoah Valley and maintaining an LOC generally based on the Orange and Alexandria RR). Riskier.
Even if you do that, you still have some pretty major problems if the Confederate army's still in the field. You're still relying on clearing a single rail line, and indeed they converge at the North Anna battle area so you'd still have to fight past it.

Worse, though, is that your giant hanging flank now includes a rail line pointed directly at it - everything has to go through Gordonsville, and the nearby Charlottesville junction has two rail lines connecting to it (one of them from the south and the other from the west). You functionally can't clear them both of possible enemy presence, and if the enemy cuts that your supply line's done.

Better to discuss the plan and not drag events months later into it.
Then McClellan's estimates are solid at Yorktown (he doesn't overestimate) and I'm not sure why we're discussing it at all. My mention of GM and Antietam was to show any later overestimates didn't interfere with his read of the battlespace.
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
McClellan uses the 200,000 number in a message to Washington June 26th

Selective quotation is a wonderful thing:

25th to Stanton - "If I had another good division I could laugh at Jackson"
26th to his wife - "I am confident that God will smile upon my efforts & give our arms success. You will hear that we are cut off, annihilated etc. Do not believe it but trust will success will crown our efforts."
26th to his wife - "We have whipped secesh badly. McCall & Morell are the heros of the day. Stonewall Jackson is the victim this time."
27th to Stanton - "Had I twenty thousand fresh & good troops we would be sure of a splendid victory tomorrow."
28th to Stanton - "I should have gained this battle with ten thousand fresh men. If at this instant I could dispose of ten thousand fresh men I could gain victory tomorrow."
29th to Dix - "It is clear that 20,000 more men would have given us a glorious victory."
1st to Thomas - "If it is the governments intention to reinforce me largely, it should be done promptly and in mass. I need fifty thousand more men , and with them I will retrieve our fortunes. More would be well, but that number sent at once, will, I think, enable me to assume the offensive."

The 25th June (not 26th) communique to Stanton says:

"McClellan's, June 25, 6.15 P. M.
I have just returned from the field, and find your dispatch in regard to Jackson. Several contrabands, just in, give information concerning the supposition that Jackson's advance is at or near Hanover Court House, and that Beauregard arrived with strong reinforcements in Richmond yesterday. I incline to think that Jackson will attack my right and rear. The rebel force is stated at 200,000, including Jackson and Beauregard. I shall have to contend against vastly superior odds if these reports be true; but this army will do all in the power of men to hold their position and repulse any at tack. I regret my great inferiority of numbers; but feel that I am in no way responsible for it, as I have not failed to represent repeatedly the necessity of reinforcements; that this was the decisive point, and that all the available means of the Government should be concentrated here. I will do all that a General can do with the splendid Army I have the honor to command; and, if it is destroyed by overwhelming numbers, can at least did with it and share its fate. But if the result of the action, which will occur to-morrow, or within a short time, is a disaster, the responsibility cannot be thrown on my shoulders — it must rest where it belongs.

Since I commenced this I have received additional intelligence confirming the supposition in regard to Jackson's movements and Beauregard. I shall probably be attacked to-morrow, and now go to the other side of the Chickahominy to arrange for the defence on that side. I feel that there is no use in my again asking for reinforcements.

Geo. B. McClellan, Major General."

You'll ignore the qualification McClellan places on the number.

and again about July 11,

"Prisoners all state that I had (200,000) two hundred thousand enemy to fight — a good deal more than two to one, & they knowing the ground."

Again, very qualified.

seems to have used it in conference with Halleck about July 25-26.

There's no evidence to that effect other than Keyes saying they had 200,000 during the Seven Days.

He uses it in the message he sent where he blamed the administration if he was defeated, but was unaware the heads of the telegraph office in Washington deleted the last part from the copy they gave Stanton and Lincoln (who didn't see that last part until McClellan published it himself later).

It was not deleted. Lincoln discussed it with Browning. Stanton, on receiving the communique went to Lincoln and argued that Lincoln had authorised all he had done. It was Stanton that had it deleted from the early releases, knowing that the mood of the country was with McClellan and against him.

Pinkerton's August 14 estimate implies the enemy is 200,000+ and probably too low. The real problem is the implication that the Union forces are badly outnumbered (such as 2:1 against when they are about even).

Was, past tense.

It is fairly routine for estimates of enemy strength to be wrong, and they are generally wrong on the high side. Bad things can happen when estimates are wildly wrong on either side.

Luckily here they weren't that far off. Closer to reality the BMI's estimate at Gettysburg or Halleck's for Corinth.

Bad things only happen when you underestimate the enemy.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Re the telegraph, it's actually quite understandable (if sent in a definite moment of weakness) - McClellan has been warning about exactly this and pleading for reinforcements for more than a month, which have been repeatedly withheld by the Administration (i.e. Stanton + Lincoln etc). The very fact they never cancelled the order for McDowell to move, but also never had McDowell actually link up with McClellan, placed him in a strategic vise to which the only answer (without disobeying orders) was to gamble, and McClellan did gamble, but he lost his gamble (his gamble was that Lee's offensive wasn't quite ready yet).

It's quite easy to produce a situation where there's no way out of the problem for the Confederates on the Peninsula - but as it stood interference from the high command of the Union created a situation where McClellan could only have prevailed with great luck (if the line had held during Gaines Mill, or later at Glendale, the situation might have been salvageable because he could have shifted supply without moving the army.)
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
Selective quotation is a wonderful thing: ...

There's no evidence to that effect other than Keyes saying they had 200,000 during the Seven Days.
...
You know far better than this and have already seen evidence of it several times. Be more honest with yourself.
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
Even if you do that, you still have some pretty major problems if the Confederate army's still in the field.

Same in every scenario: an enemy army is a problem.

You're still relying on clearing a single rail line, and indeed they converge at the North Anna battle area so you'd still have to fight past it.

If you want to actually hang on to the RR and have no other LOC, sure. The enemy is still there, you still have to fight him sometime. All plans have problems. Listing a few doesn't make them impossible.

Worse, though, is that your giant hanging flank now includes a rail line pointed directly at it - everything has to go through Gordonsville, and the nearby Charlottesville junction has two rail lines connecting to it (one of them from the south and the other from the west). You functionally can't clear them both of possible enemy presence, and if the enemy cuts that your supply line's done.

No matter where you go, the Confederates will have some means of getting at you.

Fighting out to the west along the slope of the Blue Ridge has its problems. So does advancing south through Manassas and Fredericksburg, or trying an end-run through Urbanna or the Peninsula. Clear examples of the problems with the Peninsula and the Fredericksburg approach were developed as the war progressed: Seven Days and Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.

IMHO, if you want to try the western route, you would probably need to clear a good chunk of the Shenandoah -- down to Harrisonburg would be nice, Staunton would be better. If you can get Staunton, you're no longer worried about the RR to the west. And yes, this would require forces to move down the Valley.

You'd also want to protect your LOC, which would probably require the type of precautions Sherman used later in 1864 to protect his LOC from St. Louis and Louisville through Nashville and Chattanooga to Atlanta; the equivalent in northern Virginia has the advantage of being shorter.

As you advance down the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge, the Rebels probably come out to block you or attack you. If they do not, they expose their flank and LOC to you, risking being defeated and driven against the waters to the East.



Then McClellan's estimates are solid at Yorktown (he doesn't overestimate) and I'm not sure why we're discussing it at all. My mention of GM and Antietam was to show any later overestimates didn't interfere with his read of the battlespace.

We are only discussing it now because it is being dragged in by a comment or question. Please post all such in some more appropriate thread and I will try to do the same. This thread should be about McClellan's February 3rd plan, not the details of things that happened months later.
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
You know far better than this and have already seen evidence of it several times. Be more honest with yourself.

The rub is I am being honest.

The evidence you cite is McClellan passing on a rumour, the same one, on two separate occasions. Nothing more and nothing less.

Now, compare with some of the selective quotations I made above. You choose to ignore these because they overturn large parts of your argument.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
If you want to actually hang on to the RR and have no other LOC, sure. The enemy is still there, you still have to fight him sometime.
My point is that you will have no other LoC - the only other option is the rivers going past the Warwick line, and without clearing them it's the rail or nothing. You can't batter your way through the Richmond forts against a large army without either plenty of time or plenty of heavy artillery, and either one requires uninterrupted supply - and there's no way to avoid Charlottesville being a major vulnerable spot unless you clear the whole of Northern Virginia so you have two rail lines (and doing that gets harder still if Yorktown and Norfolk are still Confederate held.)

Let's say the western route is followed. What's the US supply line like when they reach Richmond?

ED: the other objection to a western route, of course, is that it uncovers Washington every bit as much as the Peninsular operation does, so realistically you end up with the force being heavily stripped down.
 
Last edited:

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Oh, something else to consider is force availability. When McClellan was making his plans he expected to have eleven divisions available to him after Washington was secured, and to have five of those able to be moved in one lift (to Urbanna).

Division list:

Sedgewick, Porter, Hamilton, Couch, Smith, Casey, Hooker, Richardson, Franklin (all as per historical at Yorktown)
+ Blenker, Williams, Shields, King, McCall




Historically McClellan's plan for the Peninsula operation was to use the historical ones, plus King, McCall and Blenker, minus Casey (as they were 'green') and plus a division from Wool (Mansfield, IIRC) to give a total of 12, with three left over to secure the capital from the list (as I assume he'd use Hatch's cavalry in the field). This was his plan in late March before the removals started.
His plan before that, as I understand it, envisioned landing five divisions (presumably including 1st Corps, meaning Franklin + King + McCall) at Urbanna in a single lift, to attempt to "bag" Magruder in Yorktown, which would have the double benefit of turning the AoNV's position and allowing the other wing of the army to advance.
Worst case, there's a battle between the entire AoNV and the detached wing of the AotP, but with the other half of the AotP coming down from the north it's going to be a hasty one for JEJ and I think he'd probably be too busy retreating.
Second worst case, the entire Confederate army makes it back into Richmond and the York and James rivers are open for the movement of supplies - and an operation to take Norfolk is feasible, because historically the fall of Yorktown is what made it feasible.

Of course, Stanton effectively killed the Urbanna plan in mid-March and so McClellan had to replan.
 
Last edited:

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
It is a good plan in many ways (it looks an awful lot like Scott's Anaconda Plan, which is generally how the war played out anyway if you step back and look at it as a 4-year whole).
Quick correction here - Scott's Anaconda plan was to blockade and march down the Mississippi, without offensives across the Continent and relying almost entirely on economic pressure. McClellan's plan is how the war played out anyway, but in a disjointed sense.
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
The rub is I am being honest.

The evidence you cite is McClellan passing on a rumour, the same one, on two separate occasions. Nothing more and nothing less.

Now, compare with some of the selective quotations I made above. You choose to ignore these because they overturn large parts of your argument.

This is simply wrong. Go back and look at the evidence in the other thread. Please keep this useless digression out of this one.
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
Quick correction here - Scott's Anaconda plan was to blockade and march down the Mississippi, without offensives across the Continent and relying almost entirely on economic pressure. McClellan's plan is how the war played out anyway, but in a disjointed sense.

Quick correction here: Scott unveiled the Anaconda Plan May 3rd, 1861 (preliminary) and May 21st (final). It was the outline for a 2-year war to defeat and conquer the Confederacy. Political, military and economic isolation via the blockade was certainly a big part of his plan. Your description leaves out Scott's fighting the war in the West by clearing the Mississippi River Valley first while the blockade strangled the Confederacy. The major objection made to Scott's plan was that two years was too slow.

But let's leave this digression alone and get back to McClellan's February 3, 1862 plan. To discuss Scott's Anaconda plan, we'll have to bring in McClellan's April 27, 1861 proposal to win the war by advancing to take Richmond from Ohio down the Kanawha River, which seems unsupportable and was rejected by Scott.
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
My point is that you will have no other LoC - the only other option is the rivers going past the Warwick line, and without clearing them it's the rail or nothing.

The Warwick line down on the Peninsula, 100 miles from the scene? My guess is this must be a typo and you are referring to the Rappahannock or the Rapidan.

You can't batter your way through the Richmond forts against a large army without either plenty of time or plenty of heavy artillery, and either one requires uninterrupted supply - and there's no way to avoid Charlottesville being a major vulnerable spot unless you clear the whole of Northern Virginia so you have two rail lines (and doing that gets harder still if Yorktown and Norfolk are still Confederate held.)

Yorktown and Norfolk? If the Confederates are holding those in force, great! They interfere in no way at all with a Union advance to the west of the northern Virginia river lines.

Let's say the western route is followed. What's the US supply line like when they reach Richmond?

You are viewing supply here as if this fight was being waged by the techniques of the first half of the 18th century, with armies closely tied to sources of supply and unable to maneuver far.

The purpose of an advance to the west is to outflank the lines along the rivers. To answer your question about supply down at Richmond, you would first have to tell me what has transpired before that. Has the Confederate army simply fallen back to Richmond? Have they come out and fought the Union to the West while still holding on near Fredericksburg? What have they done?

ED: the other objection to a western route, of course, is that it uncovers Washington every bit as much as the Peninsular operation does, so realistically you end up with the force being heavily stripped down.

I don't think that is true. You are saying that everything must remain the same when it doesn't.

I have said that as part of this it seems likely the Union would have moved down the Shenandoah Valley, hopefully as far as Staunton. It seems likely this move starts earlier than (no later than the same time as) the move down the Eastern slope of the Blue Ridge. Clearly that means troops are out there and they came from somewhere. Generally speaking: Fremont's lot, Banks, etc. If it is to be waged first, probably more required; if at the same time as the main advance, probably fewer troops needed in the Valley.

Also, there is no absolute need to strip Washington. You can try this plan and leave McDowell more-or-less between Washington and the Rebels, because McDowell will be within co-operating range of the main army. This will also make it easier to convince the powers that be that Washington is safe. (Sorry, I can't make Stanton with his tendency to panic as a response to Rebel moves disappear, but following this plan is an easier sell to the politicians anyway.)

So: assume that the campaign is getting ready to start around April 20. Banks has cleared the Shenandoah down to Harrisonburg and New Market; Jackson is at Swift Run Gap to the east of Banks. Johnston is in the positions he pulled back to in March, or near them. McClellan is in northern Virginia, probably generally towards Manassas/Centreville, with all of his army deployed from there to Washington or in positions he may have adopted preparatory to the offensive.

Where are the Confederates going to contest the advance?
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Your description leaves out Scott's fighting the war in the West by clearing the Mississippi River Valley first while the blockade strangled the Confederacy. The major objection made to Scott's plan was that two years was too slow.
"blockade and march down the Mississippi".
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
Quick correction here: Scott unveiled the Anaconda Plan May 3rd, 1861 (preliminary) and May 21st (final). It was the outline for a 2-year war to defeat and conquer the Confederacy. Political, military and economic isolation via the blockade was certainly a big part of his plan. Your description leaves out Scott's fighting the war in the West by clearing the Mississippi River Valley first while the blockade strangled the Confederacy. The major objection made to Scott's plan was that two years was too slow.

But let's leave this digression alone and get back to McClellan's February 3, 1862 plan. To discuss Scott's Anaconda plan, we'll have to bring in McClellan's April 27, 1861 proposal to win the war by advancing to take Richmond from Ohio down the Kanawha River, which seems unsupportable and was rejected by Scott.

There never was such a think as an "Anaconda Plan". It is a post-facto invention. The name itself comes from a satirical cartoon lampooning Scott.

The Navy of course is going to blockade the coast, because that's what navies do. Operational problems mean the Navy won't be mounting a full blockade until well into 1862 after the seizure of Port Royal. Scott in his 3rd May writes to McClellan that his only planned operation is for 60,000 men (the regulars and the advance of the 3-years volunteers) to be carried on 40 transports escorted by 12-20 gunboats some time after 10th November 1861 (because according to Scott the 3 years volunteers who enlisted right at the start of the war won't be ready for the field until then). On the 21st he objects to McClellan's plans again and is suggesting 80,000 men going down the Mississippi on water and overland (the larger part of the force), again at the end of the year. In his 21st May letter Scott informally unites the Dept of Missouri and Dept of Kentucky with McClellan's own and makes him de facto commander of all western forces.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
The Warwick line down on the Peninsula, 100 miles from the scene? My guess is this must be a typo and you are referring to the Rappahannock or the Rapidan.
No, I am referring to the York and James rivers. You need those to have a way of supplying an army before Richmond that doesn't use rail supply via the site of the North Anna battles.

You are viewing supply here as if this fight was being waged by the techniques of the first half of the 18th century, with armies closely tied to sources of supply and unable to maneuver far.
Well, yes, because that's how battles were fought in the American Civil War - at least, by large armies. It's not until the Loudoun Valley campaign that the Army of the Potomac first uses a flying column.

Wagon logistics, especially in the less developed US, was very bad indeed at allowing mobility.

The purpose of an advance to the west is to outflank the lines along the rivers. To answer your question about supply down at Richmond, you would first have to tell me what has transpired before that. Has the Confederate army simply fallen back to Richmond? Have they come out and fought the Union to the West while still holding on near Fredericksburg? What have they done?
Assume the worst. What can the Confederate army do to disrupt your approach?

One example is that the CS army falls back to the area of the North Anna battles, as your supply line must go through there to reach Richmond.

I have said that as part of this it seems likely the Union would have moved down the Shenandoah Valley, hopefully as far as Staunton. It seems likely this move starts earlier than (no later than the same time as) the move down the Eastern slope of the Blue Ridge. Clearly that means troops are out there and they came from somewhere. Generally speaking: Fremont's lot, Banks, etc. If it is to be waged first, probably more required; if at the same time as the main advance, probably fewer troops needed in the Valley.

Um... so you're advancing down both sides of the Blue Ridge at once? Doesn't that just mean the part of the army east of the Blue Ridge has no consistent supply route, because there's Confederate troops on top of it?
ED: having read further, you seem to mean moving to Gordonsville.

So: assume that the campaign is getting ready to start around April 20. Banks has cleared the Shenandoah down to Harrisonburg and New Market; Jackson is at Swift Run Gap to the east of Banks. Johnston is in the positions he pulled back to in March, or near them. McClellan is in northern Virginia, probably generally towards Manassas/Centreville, with all of his army deployed from there to Washington or in positions he may have adopted preparatory to the offensive.

Where are the Confederates going to contest the advance?
Well, assuming all of that goes as specified, I'd say Jackson would run rings around Banks in the Valley (pretty much as per historical) while the Rebels would pull back to the line of the Rappahannock. At this point you're essentially looking at facing a Fredericksburg, where even if victorious the Union suffers heavy losses battering their way through the river line, or a Wilderness.

In order to render the Rappahannock line untenable Banks would need to come through one of the gaps that lets out behind the Rappahannock in strength (and get quite a long way out from behind the gaps, rendering "going back in" non-trivial), but it's possible to hold mountain gaps with a much smaller force and Jackson could do that quite handily - Banks needs to come very far south indeed to get around this and overstretch Jackson.


Once the Rappahannock is rendered untenable (presumably by Banks issuing forth from the gaps in the Blue Ridge?), Johnston can withdraw to the next defensible position, and the next (after all, McClellan needs that rail line) until you get to the North Anna. Here, historically, the Confederate army held out despite being outnumbered something close to 5:3, and their defensive lines included a west-facing component so Banks is no particular help.
This is the real impediment, more than any other - it's a position which must be taken by McClellan and is very hard indeed to turn.

Even assuming that Banks turns the enemy out of all their positions without loss, however (instead of the spectacular and quite one sided bloodletting of an Overland type campaign), where you end up with is an army that's reached Richmond from the north and has run into a fortified enemy. It must retain control of the rail lines to prosecute a siege, and with Confederate reinforcements flooding into Richmond over the course of April-May operations against both flanks of the Union army are quite feasible - anywhere from Fredericksburg to Richmond is vulnerable to a flank attack from the east (with the CSA able to move a force down to Yorktown and then up to West Point) and a force from Lynchburg can go after the rail lines from the west.

The whole reason why an offensive towards Richmond is feasible in Loudoun Valley is that Longstreet and Jackson were so badly out of position (coupled with the way the Peninsula was clear), so it was a straight race to Richmond. The CSA had also already gotten their draft dividend and so the situation was pretty much static in troop terms, while historically speaking the Union's troop count was declining in this period (April-May 1862) and the CS one was rising fast due to their draft and the like.


Of course, if McClellan had access to anything like this level of manpower historically then Richmond would have fallen in early July at the latest... Washington was not under threat at all for the entirety of June but they still had half a dozen divisions chasing Jackson around the Valley.
 
Top