The Peninsula Peninsula questions

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Which is, functionally speaking, pretty good battle management - especially since he was ill at the time, having come down with fever on the 30th. Working from the saddle for three days despite a fever may be why he's then in his sick bed until the 11th...
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
At Gaines Mill, McClellan was actually on the field in the early parts of the engagement.

McClellan had placed Porter in position, and ridden back to GHQ to see what was occurring with the rest of the army. When Porter sent that he didn't need Slocum, McClellan returned to Porter, leaving Franklin at GHQ ready to push Slocum on. Reaching the front, McClellan sent for Slocum. However, after a while there is no sign of Slocum. As it turns out, when Magruder had put a divisional attack on Smith in, Franklin rode to the front. The order to Franklin thus sat at GHQ for some time. It seems this brought McClellan back to GHQ, and to push on more reinforcements.

Did we ever establish a timeline for McClellan's movements that day, or was it something I had the intention of doing but was too busy?
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Did we ever establish a timeline for McClellan's movements that day, or was it something I had the intention of doing but was too busy?
I don't remember reading such a timeline, but that doesn't mean it was never done. Since the above is new information to me though I suspect it may have not been done.


That's what got Kearny killed at Chantilly, riding around moving regiments from the front
I believe in his final hour he threatened to have a Union battery shoot a regiment that wasn't even part of his division (21st Mass, which was a 9th Corps regiment) when they didn't do whatever it was he wanted at that point. He ignored their unready state (wet cartridges) and the fact that there was an enemy in the position (not believing them even when they presented prisoners from the 49th Georgia) and forced them to advance blind and effectively unarmed; when the 21st Mass ran into the 49th GA Kearny got shot.
 

neyankee61

Private
Joined
Oct 30, 2018
You asked me about McClellan. I feel he never realized the immense power he had created in AoP. It showed itself when he was greeted by the retreating army after 2nd Bull Run and when he was relieved from command. The demonstration by the men showed they would have stormed hell itself if he asked them. Instead he never asked them. It was the same with his battlefield command. He didn't show up on the field at Antietam or ride the lines at Malvern Hill, showing himself to the men. If he was a poker player, it would be like he would play well until the final ante, then he would pull back. He played not to lose instead of to win.
Not saying Kearny was right. He was reckless and irresponsible and he got himself killed. Perhaps just a little of Kearny in McClellan would have paid off greatly.
The men who were on the Peninsula in 1862 and got back there with Grant in 1864 realized this as they looked back.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
You asked me about McClellan. I feel he never realized the immense power he had created in AoP. It showed itself when he was greeted by the retreating army after 2nd Bull Run and when he was relieved from command. The demonstration by the men showed they would have stormed hell itself if he asked them. Instead he never asked them. It was the same with his battlefield command. He didn't show up on the field at Antietam or ride the lines at Malvern Hill, showing himself to the men. If he was a poker player, it would be like he would play well until the final ante, then he would pull back. He played not to lose instead of to win.

Er, there's a couple of things to point out here.

Firstly, there's that at Antietam McClellan launched all the assaults on the bloodiest single day of combat in American history, and inflicted more casualties than he suffered. McClellan was not reluctant to attack; he was reluctant to attack when it wouldn't have had a point (i.e. a good chance of success commensurate with the cost).
Feel free of course to provide examples of the contrary (i.e. cases where McClellan could have reasonably attacked with a good chance of success but did not).

Secondly, there's that McClellan did show up on the field at Antietam - in fact, he was quite active. For example he was there when the Irish Brigade charged, and he was assessing the situation in the afternoon as to whether one last assault should go in. At Malvern Hill McClellan was further back, but he was within artillery range.

Thirdly, there's that war is not a poker game. There are some aspects that are similar, but not identical, and significant differences (like that if you lose a risky play then you are losing people not money).
 

neyankee61

Private
Joined
Oct 30, 2018
Not saying war is a game.
McClellan seemed to be a half empty glass of water person. He saw obstacles. When finding the Lost Orders, he ordered Franklin to move "at daybreak in the morning." His orders were clear and precise but nowhere in them is there any hint of urgency. To march "at daylght" was good but to march upon reciept of these orders would have been better. Franklin's VI Corps was well-rested having not seen fighting since the Peninsula. The roads were good, the weather clear, and a night march was perfectly feasible. This way Franklin could have struck the gap at South Mt at first light.
McClellan could drive his men just a hard as he was driven, but no harder. He never asked them to achieve more.
Catton described McClellan as "a first rate soldier in an ordinary way but lacking the power to be a first rate soldier in an extraordinary way"
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
McClellan seemed to be a half empty glass of water person. He saw obstacles. When finding the Lost Orders, he ordered Franklin to move "at daybreak in the morning." His orders were clear and precise but nowhere in them is there any hint of urgency. To march "at daylght" was good but to march upon reciept of these orders would have been better. Franklin's VI Corps was well-rested having not seen fighting since the Peninsula. The roads were good, the weather clear, and a night march was perfectly feasible. This way Franklin could have struck the gap at South Mt at first light.
Well, the Jefferson Pass wasn't seized until near nightfall by cavalry and elements of the 6th and 9th Corps; the fact that 6th Corps elements were involved with taking the pass indicates in and of itself that 6th Corps was not wholly stationary. Given that McClellan sent the order to Franklin after sunset (6:20 PM) and they were on the eastern side of a mountain range it was probably already quite dark; given travel times Franklin would have recieved the order probably after 7PM, at which point you're dealing with trying to orient and march troops when it's too dark to point them in the right direction.
A reference I have (an article by Gene Thorp) states that part of 6th Corps did a night march to Jefferson pass.

In the case of the pass at Braddock Heights (which was secured in the middle of the day and which has the National Road running down it) McClellan has most of the 9th Corps advance overnight with 1st Corps behind. This wing of the army does attack not long after dawn (8AM) though then have to fight all day, while Franklin reached Burkittsville around noon and takes another three hours to close up, though how much of that distance was made at night is hard to determine for sure.

Cox left Frederick around 3PM and the attack began around 8AM; that's the results of about five hours of daylight marching, plus a couple of hours of twilight marching, plus whatever was done at night. Franklin left the foot of the Catoctins around dawn and reached Burkittsville around noon, which is the result of about six hours of daylight marching, plus up to an hour of twilight marching.

The amount of distance Cox and the 9th Corps made at night might not have been very large in a real sense. At that, 9th Corps has the National Road to use as a guideline - it's comparatively easy to tell you might be making a wrong turn if you're no longer on a specific good quality road, while the road network around Jefferson does include a good quality road but it's not the one that 6th Corps is supposed to take. A wrong turn by night could leave 6th Corps hopelessly confused, which is a reason why retreat movements by night are more common than advances to contact by night. (As it happens, Franklin's corps had done almost exactly this after Glendale, and without orders to boot - they'd gone some miles down the wrong road by night.)

Of course, there might have been consequences for running 9th Corps ragged - they were slow for the next few days.


McClellan could drive his men just a hard as he was driven, but no harder. He never asked them to achieve more.
I mean, McClellan's movements in Maryland are fairly rapid, and he's the one arguing to advance against the enemy afterwards. During the Loudoun Valley campaign some of his corps march upwards of fifteen miles, while back at the start of Yorktown he orders full on attacks by both wings as soon as they arrive.



Having read McClellan's actual order to Franklin, it specifies what Franklin is to do in certain contingency situations, outlines McClellan's goals, orders him explicitly not to wait for Couch, and asks him for (among other things) "the utmost activity that a general can exercise" and to attack half an hour after the main attack on the National Road; as it happens Franklin does in fact wait for Couch at Jefferson (though he then moves on) and waits until he has more troops formed up before going for it rather than attacking as soon as he arrives.

This could be attributed to McClellan not using sufficiently urgent language in his message, but Franklin actually has fewer brigades in his corps than McLaws does in the Pleasant Valley; I think Franklin might really need to get his whole force closed up to exploit in the Pleasant Valley.

(Franklin's 6th Corps proper, 271 companies; Couch, 144 companies; McLaws and Anderson, 430 companies.)
 

atlantis

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 12, 2016
If Magruder had been properly reinforced the first line of defense works could have kept McClellan boxed in just outside fort Monroe.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
If Magruder had been properly reinforced the first line of defense works could have kept McClellan boxed in just outside fort Monroe.
I actually don't think so. See, this was McClellan's plan:


Pen_Plan.jpg




McClellan planned to drop an entire Union corps between the Big Bethel line and Yorktown, turning the confederate position. It might not be able to actually envelop Magruder but it'd certainly force him out of position and would probably prevent him taking up the Warwick line.
 

atlantis

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 12, 2016
no he would’ve landed troops behind that line like he did at Elthams Landing
The bluffs overlooking Elthams landing provided good defensive terrain. If the objective is to defend the capital then keeping enemy forces as far from the capital as possible is a must.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
The bluffs overlooking Elthams landing provided good defensive terrain. If the objective is to defend the capital then keeping enemy forces as far from the capital as possible is a must.
The sand pits aren't good terrain though, not least because there's three landing options to put 1st Corps.
 
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