- Jul 29, 2013
Thanks. I guess the stained copies generally seen in photos belonged to the other recipients. I had heard that McClellan's copy was simply wrapped around a few cigars but will see if I can check this out anywhere.It was in a waxed envelope. The envelope was supposed to be returned signed by the recipient to prove it didn't get lost.
I have always been puzzled by the classification of the Monocacy battle as a Confederate victory and a Union defeat considering the net result of the battle, namely possibly saving the Union capital. It raises the question of "what is the criteria for categorizing a battle as a victory or a defeat?"For the Confederates, Monocacy became a hollow victory. Wallace's outnumbered army delayed Early's advance for one vital day, which allowed the Union VI Corps to arrive in time to man the defenses of Washington, D.C. Wallace's defeat most likely saved the Northern capital.
On another note, the Gambrill House, on the hill above the Gambrill Mill, is the headquarters of the NPS Historic Preservation Training Center (HPTC). From here the Park Service experts in historic preservation plan the jobs to be conducted at parks across the nation. The talented HPTC staff turn each preservation project into a teaching opportunity and teach the park staff how to conduct the work on thier own. Also from this site is the heart of the PAST program. Preservation and Skills Training is two-year program where Park Service maintenance employees are paired up with experienced mentors for hands on training. The "class" consists of 20 students and 20 mentors and they work small projects at their own park and get together twice a year for big group projects. I went through the course as a trainee when I was in maintenance. Later, when I had become a Ranger, I returned as a mentor, the only Ranger to ever work in this program. I was lucky enough to work on projects at Stone's River NB, Gulf Islands NS (Fort Pickens), Lincoln Home NHS, Yosemite NP, Rocky Mountain NP, Cane River Creole NHS, Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller NHP, Chickasaw NRA, Castillo de San Marcos NHP, Harper's Ferry NHP, and of course my own park, Shiloh NMP.
I have always been puzzled by the classification of the Monocacy battle as a Confederate victory and a Union defeat considering the net result of the battle, namely possibly saving the Union capital. It raises the question of "what is the criteria for categorizing a battle as a victory or a defeat?"
Describing the victor as the "one who holds the field at the end of the day" seems such a narrow definition. If the objective of a force is to delay the advance of the enemy for a time and this objective is met as planned, but the enemy holds the field at the end of the day when the delaying force retreats, then the enemy is deemed to be the victor, albeit it is a Pyrrhic victory. In the end, I guess there has to be a narrow definition of victor or loser of a battle for the simple case of categorization. Otherwise it would be impossible to write the history books in any cohesive way.Very simple and as you point out possibly contradictory in many cases: The victor is the one who holds the field at the end of the day or battle if it lasts longer than a day. Of course many such battles turn out to be what are known as Pyrrhic victories like what's suggested here. (Pyrrhus was a commander in the ancient world who kept winning battles - and losing more and more of his men - so that in the end he lost the campaign!) A variation on this is what's known as Fabian tactics in which one commander, usually having inferior numbers, continually and deliberately retreats attempting to draw his enemy into losing men like Pyrrhus; stretching his supply line so it can be cut; or making a blunder that can be exploited in a counterattack. (Fabius was a Roman general after whom this idea is named.) Good examples of Fabian tactics are George Washington in most of the Revolution and, less successfully, Joe Johnston in the Atlanta Campaign. Monocacy, however, was a clear-cut Confederate victory because Early not only held the field, he routed Wallace all the way out of the campaign altogether.
I don't think that Wallace had any hopes that he could win, but he was pretty sure that he could delay Early and thereby accomplish something which would impede the Confederate attack. To me it was, if not a victory, it was at least a valiant effort to TRY to hold up the Confederates. He saw a need and attempted to do to something. He gets my vote of "A" for effort, and it really irritates me when people criticize him for that effort.
...In the end, I guess there has to be a narrow definition of victor or loser of a battle for the simple case of categorization. Otherwise it would be impossible to write the history books in any cohesive way.
Applying Avalon Hill's Panzer Blitz or Panzer Leader victory conditions with each scenario having a "decisive victory," "tactical victory" and "marginal victory" for each side, one could call Monocacy a decisive victory for Lew Wallace and a tactical victory for Jubal. Decisive trumps tactical. Early held the field after the battle, but lost the campaign...