Golden Thread Opinions on Generalship of George B. McClellan?

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NedBaldwin

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McClellan is chomping at the bit to turn Lee's right by moving his main body to Winchester, but won't do so unless the bridges can be built to enable the crossing and supply the force.
So he is postponing any movement for weeks until a new permanent bridge can be built over the Potomac, assuming there is immediate appropriation. Doesnt seem like chomping at the bit to me.

Halleck expressly forbids the movement.
Can you cite the express forbidding? It is not in the Sept 26th message being talked about.


Lincoln makes the asinine suggestion that McClellan's army doesn't need supplies.
Sounds like another distortion of what was actually said.

The next day Halleck issues a peremptory order to occupy the line of the Potomac around Leesburg, and so McClellan detaches 9th Corps.
Here is the text of Halleck's order of the 14th regarding Leesburg: "Scouts report that the enemy is concentrating a large cavalry force near Leesburg, preparatory for another raid either into Maryland or on Washington. Their force is estimated at from 7,000 to 10,000. No time should be lost in breaking up this expedition or in defeating its object." It is not a preemptory order to occupy the line of the Potomac.
 

NedBaldwin

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Here you are conflating two different things. The Corps Commanders said 25,000 for a covering force, and Lincoln asked for Manassas to be left secure. That does not equal 25,000 at Manaasas.
I think I am correct. You claim that the "covering force in front of the Virginia line" referred all the way to Harper's Ferry. I disagree. I think you are the one conflating things. I would also point to what we discussed much earlier in this thread -- that when later asked, some of the generals involved expressly said that the Shenandoah was not what they meant. I had earlier quoted from testimony given by Keyes:
Q. -- At the solicitation of Corps Commanders, referred to by you, did the force of forty thousand, named by Gen. Summer, or the garrisons of the forts, and moveable forts of twenty-five thousand men, agreed to in the resolution, passed by the majority of the commanders, in any way include the force in the Shenandoah Valley?
A. -- It did not.​

Banks was moving to Manassas, with his whole force.
No. Read the part you wrote under the heading "Changes in Banks Orders". As of April 1, Banks was not moving to Manassas.
 
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NedBaldwin

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You have the minutes of the War Board for 27th March 1862?
There is an interesting statement in there attributed to Gen Thomas: "The force to be left in the fortifications I understood was to be from forty thousand to forty-five thousand"

Totten does say " All of that force, it seems to me, is available for security here". It is difficult to tell what he means by "all of that force". He could mean Banks, as he was brought up earlier. It was also expected at the time that Banks was moving to Manassas (McClellan had not yet changed the plan).
 

67th Tigers

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Thanks, so Totten states that the force in the Shenandoah is indeed part of the defences, and no-one disagreed. In fact they were concerned that the enemy might not defend Richmond but concentrate in the Shanandoah:



Thursday, March 27, 1862

The Board met at 11 o’clock

Present: same as yesterday

The secretary [Stanton] laid before the Board several telegraphic dispatches – one of them from Gen. Banks stating that the rebels were moving back, and another from Gen. Wool, to the effect that three deserters had said that at Norfolk the “Merrimac” was daily expected to move out and attack the “Monitor”.

Gen. Meigs. It is pleasant information that the rebels are falling back if the intelligence furnished [by] Banks is correct.

Gen. Totten. How many troops has Banks?

Gen. Thomas. He has an army corps of about 25,000 men.

Gen Totten. How many has Sumner.

Gen Thomas. About 35,000

The Secretary. The largest army corps is that of McDowell, who has about 40,000 men.

Gen. Thomas. Blenker’s division has been thrown out on the same road.

Gen. Totten. Making full 50,000. Then how many troops has Wadsworth here?

Gen. Thomas. The force to be left in the fortifications I understood was from forty thousand to forty-five thousand. Few regiments are coming in, some thirteen or fourteen thousand having arrived.

Gen. Totten. All that force, it seems to me, is available for security here – it is directly applicable to this point, revolving around it and acting upon it, in connection with the fortifications in front and an ample river. I should think that we might feel safe, especially after such reports of the probable retrograde movement of the rebel forces.

Gen. Meigs. The city is safe in front. The danger I apprehended from movements referred to in the telegrams which I read before I saw the despatch of Banks, was that the enemy were concentrating their forces in the Valley of the Shenandoah, with the intention to push through there and cross the river above. Shields says that they have been reinforced to the extent of thirty thousand men, and if they choose to take that line of operations, what is to prevent their throwing their army there? Suppose, for instance that the enemy chose to give up Richmond, and make an attack up there, and get in our rear?

Gen. Hitchcock. That would be an act of desperation.

Gen.Meigs. It is one a great man would take.

Gen. Totten. I do not think they have the moral elevation anything of that sort.

Gen.Hitchcock. It would require large physical means, which I do not think they possess.

Gen Totten. All our forces would be in their rear, and Gen. Rosecrans could come in on their rear.

Gen.Meigs. If Banks information be correct, and the rebels are falling back, we have a promise of something from this free[?] now moving down the river, if the “Merrimac” be neutralised.

Gen.Totten. Let us eradicate that cancer, and we would feel more comfortable.

Gen Hitchcock. I think she will be well disposed of by our vessels now at Fortress Monroe.

Gen Totten. I am very confident that she will be.

Gen. Hitchcock. They may be a little more prudent about coming out. They must know that the “Vanderbildt” is there, and, not knowing how she is prepared, they may feel some hesitation in again making their appearance.

Gen. Totten: I do not think that they can get another man like Buchanan. His reputation in our Navy was high, and it has been raise be his conduct in the “Merrimac”.

The Secretary. There seems to be some doubt as to his death.

[Continues with Passes to Fort Monroe etc.]
 

trice

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Not in quite so many words, but you did say:
That is, you are saying Magruder had 6,000 troops to occupy the Warwick line, and you have also said his strength reports are consistent and trustworthy.
Magruder is saying that he has 6,000 troops plus the garrisons in Yorktown, Gloucester Point and Mulberry Island. I am pointing you to what Magruder said.

The troops in Gloucester point will have no impact on the land fighting on the Peninsula unless they can reach across the York River (about a mile) and hit McClellan's men somehow with their artillery. Their guns are, of course, part of the defense of the York River against the Union Navy gunboats.
 
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67th Tigers

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Magruder is saying that he has 6,000 troops plus the garrisons in Yorktown, Gloucester Point and Mulberry Island. I am pointing you to what Magruder said.

The troops in Gloucester point will have no impact on the land fighting on the Peninsula unless they can reach across the York River (about a mile) and hit McClellan's men somehow with their artillery. Their guns are, of course, part of the defense of the York River against the Union Navy gunboats.
Mulberry Island's fortifications, Fort Crafford and water battery, were essentially abandoned on the morning of the 5th April. During the winter 2 companies of militia from Jamestown manned it (called "The Greenville Guards" on returns), in late March Hunt's command (5th Louisiana) manned the Mulberry island works - but Magruder ordered them abandoned on the morning of the 5th and for Hunt to move his whole command (5th La, Noland's Bn, Young's Bty and part of Roemer's Bty) to Minor's Farm, which constituted the right flank of the army.

With Colston's movement to Grove Wharf and hence into line Fort Huger opposite was also abandoned.

None of the troops mentioned were at Gloucester Point, and the infantry there consisted of the 26th Va, 46th Va and some militia. The batteries were handled by 5 companies of Heavy Artillery.

Inside Yorktown proper the batteries were handled mostly by the 15 companies of Heavy Artillery. The 26th Alabama was in Yorktown proper, and the 6th Georgia.

In fact dispositions look like this:

Yorktown1862.png


Can you tell me where McClellan could have bulldozered through?
 

trice

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Mulberry Island's fortifications, Fort Crafford and water battery, were essentially abandoned on the morning of the 5th April. During the winter 2 companies of militia from Jamestown manned it (called "The Greenville Guards" on returns), in late March Hunt's command (5th Louisiana) manned the Mulberry island works - but Magruder ordered them abandoned on the morning of the 5th and for Hunt to move his whole command (5th La, Noland's Bn, Young's Bty and part of Roemer's Bty) to Minor's Farm, which constituted the right flank of the army.

With Colston's movement to Grove Wharf and hence into line Fort Huger opposite was also abandoned.

None of the troops mentioned were at Gloucester Point, and the infantry there consisted of the 26th Va, 46th Va and some militia. The batteries were handled by 5 companies of Heavy Artillery.

Inside Yorktown proper the batteries were handled mostly by the 15 companies of Heavy Artillery. The 26th Alabama was in Yorktown proper, and the 6th Georgia.

In fact dispositions look like this:

View attachment 153344

Can you tell me where McClellan could have bulldozered through?
As I have told you repeatedly, the way to find it is to go forward hard and look for a weakness, then try to exploit it. This is a normal approach used by combat soldiers in meeting engagement situations. Sometimes it will work, and sometimes it will not.

Hopefully, the Union would find and exploit on April 5th or 6th whatever it is that Magruder is worried about when he writes to Robert E. Lee on April 6th: "They discovered a weak point, where numbers must prevail. It is in a wood, in our center. We will work day and night to strengthen it."
 

67th Tigers

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As I have told you repeatedly, the way to find it is to go forward hard and look for a weakness, then try to exploit it. This is a normal approach used by combat soldiers in meeting engagement situations. Sometimes it will work, and sometimes it will not.
Actually no, you misapprend. This is not a "meeting engagement" by any stretch of the imagination. This is unexpectedly encountering a prepared defensive position. In a modern army you certainly wouldn't bulldozer into the enemy killing areas, but rather you'd send forward recce patrols etc. to see what the situation is.

Smith, with his column attempted to deploy against Lee's Mill, and had a battery shot to pieces for his efforts. If he'd have sent his infantry in a human wave against Lee's Mill the result would simply have been several thousand dead Federal troops and no-one getting within 500 yards of the enemy works. This much was patently obvious to Smith, which is why he ignored McClellan's orders to attack "if only with the bayonet" because it's obviously suicidal.

Hopefully, the Union would find and exploit on April 5th or 6th whatever it is that Magruder is worried about when he writes to Robert E. Lee on April 6th: "They discovered a weak point, where numbers must prevail. It is in a wood, in our center. We will work day and night to strengthen it."
Which Wood? How does McClellan get forces to the wood? Magruder's paranoia notwithstanding, by the end of the 6th when he writes said letter he has an effective force of nearly 30,000. To successfully attack on a board front McClellan would need 6:1 or 180,000 effectives. Magruder had a tendency to massively underrate his own forces and overrate McClellan's.

You continue to dance around the problem that, with the benefit of hindsight, you can't find a reasonable point of attack. You apparently think that had McClellan's army been repulsed with thousands of casualties that would be a good thing because that's what fighting is.
 
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67th Tigers

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Trice,

I think can agree McClellan is not a “hey, diddle, diddle – bags of smoke and straight up the middle” kind of commander. Where I suspect we disagree is the appropriateness of the doctrinaire approach as exemplified by Chandler’s utterance “Without a little blood letting, this Union will not be worth a rush!”. A large chunk of American society believed a good general was one that got a lot of his own men killed. It showed the proper fervor and devotion to the cause.

Indeed, I invite you to observe the fictional Buford’s objections to the doctrinaire approach in the film Gettysburg:

 

trice

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Actually no, you misapprend. This is not a "meeting engagement" by any stretch of the imagination. This is unexpectedly encountering a prepared defensive position. In a modern army you certainly wouldn't bulldozer into the enemy killing areas, but rather you'd send forward recce patrols etc. to see what the situation is.

Smith, with his column attempted to deploy against Lee's Mill, and had a battery shot to pieces for his efforts. If he'd have sent his infantry in a human wave against Lee's Mill the result would simply have been several thousand dead Federal troops and no-one getting within 500 yards of the enemy works. This much was patently obvious to Smith, which is why he ignored McClellan's orders to attack "if only with the bayonet" because it's obviously suicidal.
No, you are wrong about this. McClellan is advancing to contact in an unknown situation and meeting the enemy. This is a meeting engagement from the Union side. Running into opposition, his command acted as you describe. It was not the only choice they had.

Which Wood? How does McClellan get forces to the wood? Magruder's paranoia notwithstanding, by the end of the 6th when he writes said letter he has an effective force of nearly 30,000. To successfully attack on a board front McClellan would need 6:1 or 180,000 effectives. Magruder had a tendency to massively underrate his own forces and overrate McClellan's.
How would I know "which woods"? It is whichever one is described by Magruder, the commander on the spot: "They discovered a weak point, where numbers must prevail. It is in a wood, in our center. We will work day and night to strengthen it."

Now you are resorting to calling Magruder paranoid simply because what he is saying doesn't fit the view you want to be absolute. You do this type of thing all the time whenever the words of the actual Confederate commanders on the spot does not fit with what you want. Apparently, to you, McClellan is all holy and any mild criticism of him must be violently attacked and all statements to the contrary must be derided and scorned, no matter what you must say.

Also, please, do not push this 6:1, McClellan needs 180,000 men stuff. We can find many examples in the Civil War that will make that look silly, for either side.

You continue to dance around the problem that, with the benefit of hindsight, you can't find a reasonable point of attack. You apparently think that had McClellan's army been repulsed with thousands of casualties that would be a good thing because that's what fighting is.
Nope. This is just you tossing out statements that relate to what you want to believe, not what I say.
 

Saphroneth

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Also, please, do not push this 6:1, McClellan needs 180,000 men stuff. We can find many examples in the Civil War that will make that look silly, for either side.
How many of them are frontal attacks all along the line on dug in infantry with artillery support? That (not simply "attacking") is what produces the 6:1 figure, and it's 6:1 in combat power rather than straight numbers that's needed.

If McClellan has less than 6:1 numbers, he has to choose a place to attack rather than attacking all along the line. That means he can concentrate greater force against some enemy positions (i.e. 6:1 at the point of contact) and then by breaking the line turn the rest out of their positions - but that means we're back to your refusal to suggest where the Confederate line was weak.




No, you are wrong about this. McClellan is advancing to contact in an unknown situation and meeting the enemy. This is a meeting engagement from the Union side.
In case you don't know what a meeting engagement is, it's what happens when both sides are advancing to contact. That's why it exists as a distinct category, and why it evolves into a pitched battle when both sides decide to commit rather than disengaging.
Gettysburg is a meeting engagement because both sides bumped into one another in "neutral" ground (i.e. ground neither side occupied before the encounter). Yorktown is not.

How would I know "which woods"? It is whichever one is described by Magruder, the commander on the spot: "They discovered a weak point, where numbers must prevail. It is in a wood, in our center. We will work day and night to strengthen it."
But if you, with hindsight, don't know which one it is when you have the Confederate positions, how will McClellan discover this when he's on the far side of a river and any attempt to push less than a brigade forwards to scout will see them shelled to bits?

It looks like it's probably Dam Number Three which Magruder meant, which is indeed about the middle of the line and which he reinforced late in the day (it being relatively weakly held on the 5th). The problem is that that particular dam wasn't even discovered until the 6th, and there isn't a good road leading to it so attacking is even harder.


What I find odd about this is that when Magruder (the commander on the ground for the Confederates) and McClellan (the commander on the ground for the Union) disagree, you accept Magruder - though we have troop count and troop movement data which shows he's almost certainly wrong, and we also have additional information from other commanders on the ground (such as Keyes commanding the Union left wing, and Porter commanding the Union right wing) that they could not push forwards.


But let's say that some other commander's in place of McClellan, and wants to order his men to attack (to push through the 'weakly held' line). Out of interest, what would the orders look like to this other commander's wings? He certainly can't control them both directly, they're miles apart and there's no directly connecting road, so which column does he accompany and which one does he send orders to? What do those orders look like?

The reason I ask this is in the hope that you realize that McClellan's own orders on the day ("Attack if only with the bayonet", "attack with all your force as soon as you arrive") were as agressive as you can actually get, and that any other commander would have had to deal with the same system of transmitting orders, going to the same subordinate commanders, in the same places. There is essentially no way of telling these commanders to be any more agressive, and when given the same orders in the same situation the same men are going to do the same thing.
 
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67th Tigers

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No, you are wrong about this. McClellan is advancing to contact in an unknown situation and meeting the enemy. This is a meeting engagement from the Union side. Running into opposition, his command acted as you describe. It was not the only choice they had.
What you suggest would in fact not find the "weak point" (see below) as Smith is deploying off the road in front of the fortifications. If he'd "gone forward" he'd have been bloodily repulsed. The weakest point was not found for several days, and wasn't that weak.

How would I know "which woods"? It is whichever one is described by Magruder, the commander on the spot: "They discovered a weak point, where numbers must prevail. It is in a wood, in our center. We will work day and night to strengthen it."

So where is it? We must know to assess the veracity of his claim, especially since the entire frontage is covered by a water feature except by Yorktown proper.

For numbers to tell, there must be a good crossing of the water feature where the Federals can advance in good order on a fairly broad front (at least a brigade - 750 m long or two 1,500 m long). Unless you can locate such a crossing point the whole thing is paranoia on Magruder's part. So what if Magruder can only fill his centre with 5,000 bayonets if there is no physical way of the enemy getting there.

He's probably referring to the Orchard near Dam no. 1 BTW, which was covered merely by 5,000 bayonets by the 6th. He placed Rodes' brigade there to counter the threat he perceived. The water here was neck deep, and really there was little threat as it was difficult to cross the river.

However, this was probably the weakest point in the line, and the engineers reported such on 12th April. It was a full mile to the "right" of Lee's Mill (where Smith engaged the batteries and got shot to pieces).

The reasons for the weakness are simply that there is a lack of cleared fields of fire there, and the fact that there was a ridge (Garrow's) that was higher than the one gun battery (which contained a single piece sweeping the crossing). If time was taken to establish a firing position then the rebels couldn't hold the Federals at the waters edge. It was the only place where a true infantry assault could even be attempted.

Dan%2Bno%2B1.png


Now, the chances of success aren't that great on 5th-6th. Indeed, no Federal troops came anywhere near it until the 6th (when Hancock recce'd the area on McClellan's orders) and the open fields of Garrow's Farm meant they couldn't get down to see if the river was fordable there. It was, in fact, neck deep, as the 3rd Vermont would find on the 16th, when they sent troops over (after Smith lined up 18 guns to push the rebels out of the one gun battery) and then couldn't shoot because their powder was (obviously) wet.

Now you are resorting to calling Magruder paranoid simply because what he is saying doesn't fit the view you want to be absolute. You do this type of thing all the time whenever the words of the actual Confederate commanders on the spot does not fit with what you want. Apparently, to you, McClellan is all holy and any mild criticism of him must be violently attacked and all statements to the contrary must be derided and scorned, no matter what you must say.
Magruder underrated his own force by half, and overrated the enemy by 2-4 times.

Also, please, do not push this 6:1, McClellan needs 180,000 men stuff. We can find many examples in the Civil War that will make that look silly, for either side.
6:1 is the established rule for assaulting defences.



Nope. This is just you tossing out statements that relate to what you want to believe, not what I say.[/QUOTE]
 

trice

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I don't think you will accept anything not bound by "McClellan was perfect" and "McClellan could have done nothing else" and "Don't criticize McClellan". Everything you ask, everything you say, is structured to make that appear as the only possibility.

Your position is that the Yorktown line was impregnable and only a fool would have attacked it, even probed it hard, when McClellan approached. Maybe so -- but that is a fairly rare real-life situation. Your side (there have been so many posts I am not sure if it was you) seems to believe that Magruder had 3 times the troops he thinks he had -- and you call him a liar to protect your position. He mentions a weakness in his position -- and you say he is paranoid. Maybe you should pause and consider that he knew things you do not.

There are different ways to conduct operations. There is nothing essentially wrong in a technical sense with McClellan's style, or Sheridan's, or Rosecrans', or Lee's, or Grant's, or Jackson's or Bragg's, or George Thomas', or Meade's or any of a number of others. They all have pluses and minuses. It is how they implement them in day-to-day operations, what they do and do not accomplish with them that matters.

All I have ever said to you is that a different approach might have led to different events. That the only way to find out is to actually try harder to find out and see what happens. It might work; it might not. But a Grant or a Sheridan or a Jackson or a Lee would have tried, while McClellan was content to pause when he met an issue.
 

trice

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In case you don't know what a meeting engagement is, it's what happens when both sides are advancing to contact. That's why it exists as a distinct category, and why it evolves into a pitched battle when both sides decide to commit rather than disengaging.
Gettysburg is a meeting engagement because both sides bumped into one another in "neutral" ground (i.e. ground neither side occupied before the encounter). Yorktown is not.
This is just completely wrong. You only need one side to be in motion to have a "meeting engagement". The other side can be in the Maginot Line and invisible. They can be hiding in the bushes waiting to come out and ambush you. Or they can be galloping down the road in an all-out charge to run you down. It doesn't matter, you are still in a "meeting engagement".

Yorktown on April 5th and 6th is a meeting engagement. McClellan is advancing to contact, expecting Confederates in Yorktown and ignorant, knowing as close to nothing as can be, about the line across the Peninsula along the Warwick River. Indeed, before they stumble upon the river itself, they seem to know little about the Warwick River at all and are surprised that it is where it is.

As part of that meeting engagement, the Union discovers there is a lot of water out there, and difficult terrain. They don't have any maps showing this (the Peninsula, despite being occupied by settlers and Virginians for 250 years, is one of the least-mapped places in America at the time). There are rebels there and they shoot at the Union troops. This is an unpleasant surprise, a small engagement starts and by the evening McClellan has decided to proceed very cautiously and puts that word out. By 1:30 PM on the 6th, he is writing that he needs the engineer brigade and heavy artillery to advance. That's his judgement, not mine; his decision, not mine. He has paused to prepare before attempting anything else. Another general might have done differently -- a Grant, a Lee, a Jackson, a Sheridan almost surely would have.
 
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67th Tigers

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This is just completely wrong. You only need one side to be in motion to have a "meeting engagement". The other side can be in the Maginot Line and invisible. They can be hiding in the bushes waiting to come out and ambush you. Or they can be galloping down the road in an all-out charge to run you down. It doesn't matter, you are still in a "meeting engagement".
Nope. It is an "attack on a fortified area" or the like. In a meeting engagement both sides are moving and hence both are developing the battlespace simultaneously. In this case the rebel defences are fully developed.

I'm still amazed that anyone could describe an ambush as a "meeting engagement". It isn't.
 

trice

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Nope. It is an "attack on a fortified area" or the like. In a meeting engagement both sides are moving and hence both are developing the battlespace simultaneously. In this case the rebel defences are fully developed.

I'm still amazed that anyone could describe an ambush as a "meeting engagement". It isn't.
Be amazed, then: an ambush can certainly be a meeting engagement -- just one that the ambushed party might regret a lot.
 
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Saphroneth

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This is just completely wrong. You only need one side to be in motion to have a "meeting engagement". The other side can be in the Maginot Line and invisible. They can be hiding in the bushes waiting to come out and ambush you. Or they can be galloping down the road in an all-out charge to run you down. It doesn't matter, you are still in a "meeting engagement".
By that definition literally every battle is a meeting engagement except for those during positional warfare, and thus the term is unhelpful. If the same definition describes Antietam, the Charge of the Light Brigade, the Battle of Gettysburg, the Schlieffen Plan and Sickelschnitt, then it's too broad.
The definition you're giving is functionally that of manoeuvre. A meeting engagement is a specific subset of that, which is where neither side "owns" the territory to start with - that's why the Army Manual of Operations discusses how commanders "may choose to establish a hasty defense if the enemy force is larger or the terrain offers a significant benefit."
Clearly this doesn't apply to Yorktown, which is a fortified area and thus the term we should be talking about is either penetration (an attack on one specific location) or frontal attack (an attack all along the line).



Another general might have done differently -- a Grant, a Lee, a Jackson, a Sheridan almost surely would have.
But how? Would they have ordered an attack on the 6th? What form would this attack have taken?

What you're doing is repeatedly saying that other generals would have done differently, but repeatedly refusing to specify what form that "other thing" would have taken - and I conjecture that this is because you either do not know how another general would have succeeded, or that you suspect any specific option will prove impossible.



So let's have a look at those options again. No matter who the other Union commander is, they have to do one of these things.


1) Attack off the march on the 5th, at the locations this took place in reality.

There is no change to what happens. A Grant sending the same orders to the same people cannot make them more inclined to charge artillery.

2) Attack off the march on the 5th, with one wing attacking past Garrow's Chimney.

This does require hindsight, but it might work. It involves taking the advanced work south of the river (if defended), and attacking with multiple brigades in delayed succession across the river. Owing to the nature of the ground they don't actually know whether the river's fordable until they reach it, and what you'll end up with is large numbers of troops being fired upon by many guns (over a dozen) as they struggle across neck-deep water. They will each have one shot in their rifles if they hold them over their heads, and their cartridge pouches will be soaked. Against them you have one large brigade (a good few thousand effectives) who have works and dry powder.
If these men then make a successful bayonet charge, congratulations, the crossing's cleared and you can cross troops able to actually continue to fire their weapons. But since nobody knew about this crossing point and no major roads lead there, it's not really very likely - most successful bayonet charges involved setting up a base of fire first, and Civil War infantry are not good at closing with the bayonet against works.

3) Form troops and attack in the afternoon of the 5th, at:

a) Lees Mill.
With perhaps two divisions trying to file across a narrow dam and with all attempts at artillery support being shelled to bits as they deploy, this is going to be very bloody indeed and will probably not work. There's just not enough frontage when crossing.
b) Garrow's Chimney
Same as the above (2), though you can now put troops in as a continuous wave instead of just one brigade at a time. The problems all still exist, however, as you're sending troops to struggle across deep water and then mount bayonet charges against works.
c) Red/White Redoubts
There's only about a thousand infantry in here, but the approach is a nightmare - it involves crossing a mile wide killing area under the fire of as many as a hundred guns, including a long period moving parallel instead of directly at the guns. Even a full infantry division might not make it within small-arms range of the target, there's a truly titanic amount of firepower pointed at them.
d) Yorktown directly.
Again, about a thousand infantry present, but this time you're charging directly at a fortification that can engage with more than sixty guns. It's actually less bad than attacking the R/W Redoubts, in terms of the approach, but the attack itself is harder because Yorktown's got better walls.

4) Make an assault on the 6th.
The same four targets are an option. You have more time to do prep work (such as bringing up batteries) but Magruder's also been reinforced by more troops - for example, Early and Rhodes have arrived, bringing about 5,500 bayonets to reinforce the line.

Note that the option most likely to work involves hindsight - specifically, discovering the crossing discussed earlier on this page, and throwing in a full assault by the entire wing the next day - requires massive hindsight (discovering the Garrow's Chimney approach, guessing that it is a ford sight unseen, and committing to it despite the risk the water is too deep to ford) and is still not very likely to work.


5) Make preparations for a full assault on the 7th.

This would run into the problem of the storm, which made vehicular movement impossible.

6) Conduct a thorough recon and mount a set-piece assault on the weakest point of the line, using skirmishers to protect the engineers as they do their work.

McClellan did this in reality, and if you can (with precognition) prevent the Vermonters from screwing the whole thing up you have a plan - but, of course, if it works then it's going to be because Grant (or whoever) avoids the bad luck that McClellan had.

7) Blast the enemy out.

McClellan decided on this after all other options were exhausted.


8) Have the navy run past and take the redoubts from the rear.
Not possible for McClellan owing to a combination of the physical reality of the batteries covering the York, and Wadsworth.
9) Take Gloucester Point with the amphibious division to make a right turning movement.
Not possible for McClellan owing to Stanton and Lincoln.
10) Make a left turning movement over the Warwick southwest of Lees Mill.
Not possible for McClellan owing to Confederate gunboats.
11) Attack somewhere else along the line.
Not possible for McClellan owing to lack of being Moses.


12) Something else?

If you have a better suggestion, of course, I'm all ears. Absent that, the onus is on you to indicate which you think Grant would have done - after all, it's all very well to say he would have attacked, but there's only a few choices and they're all quite bad. The weak points aren't very weak and any attacks with a single brigade will be repulsed by the dug-in artillery, so probing for the weak point is largely guesswork.
 

Jimbo_Poke

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Jan 28, 2015
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Anybody tell those Union men they needed 6:1 at Missionary Ridge, Rappahannock Station, and Nashville?
 
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