Richmond siege

OpnCoronet

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#21
I wholeheartedly agree that Grant would have followed Lee to the ends of the earth. That must have been a terrible burden on Lee's mind, and to have him flee westward would also conflict with the boldness of his character in giving battle. Lee had a stake in Richmond from the beginning. He was a Virginian fighting for his home State. That is why he drew sword for the south to begin with, and I can't see him fighting once Virginia is overrun.
Lubliner.


I agree. To surrender the initiative to Grant, was tantamount to accepting defeat. I believe that to Lee's mind, being driven out of Northern Virginia, would be the sign of defeat in Va., i.e., to surrender Northern Va., was to the surrender the war, or, at least, any rational hope of victory, and depend upon miracles, for survival.
 

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#22
I agree. To surrender the initiative to Grant, was tantamount to accepting defeat. I believe that to Lee's mind, being driven out of Northern Virginia, would be the sign of defeat in Va., i.e., to surrender Northern Va., was to the surrender the war, or, at least, any rational hope of victory, and depend upon miracles, for survival.
You will remember Lee attacked Grant as soon as he crossed the Rapidan fords into the wilderness, and struck him hard on his left flank. Getting bogged down, Grant shifted toward Spotsylvania and the confederates raced to arrive first, just barely. Grant lost Sedgwick there, and a stand off ensued until Lee was overrun, back to the North Anna River. Grant allowed no breathing space for Lee, and Lee doggedly attacked wherever Grant showed. He was not about surrender at that time, and had hope, but the hope must have dimming out little by little, even with Cold Harbor and those merciless results. When Grant disappeared from his front and crossed the James, you can get the idea of Lee's utter dismay, and the fear of being outwitted is reflected in his discourses. It is hard to imagine when Lee first came to recognize the end result would be abandonment and surrender. He was waiting on Davis for that answer, and Lee had to prompt Davis continually on the dismal state of army affairs, until no more time could be spared. Lee never gave up the initiative until then.
Lubliner.
 

OpnCoronet

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#23
You will remember Lee attacked Grant as soon as he crossed the Rapidan fords into the wilderness, and struck him hard on his left flank. Getting bogged down, Grant shifted toward Spotsylvania and the confederates raced to arrive first, just barely. Grant lost Sedgwick there, and a stand off ensued until Lee was overrun, back to the North Anna River. Grant allowed no breathing space for Lee, and Lee doggedly attacked wherever Grant showed. He was not about surrender at that time, and had hope, but the hope must have dimming out little by little, even with Cold Harbor and those merciless results. When Grant disappeared from his front and crossed the James, you can get the idea of Lee's utter dismay, and the fear of being outwitted is reflected in his discourses. It is hard to imagine when Lee first came to recognize the end result would be abandonment and surrender. He was waiting on Davis for that answer, and Lee had to prompt Davis continually on the dismal state of army affairs, until no more time could be spared. Lee never gave up the initiative until then.
Lubliner.



Exactly right, it was no accident that from the day Grant and the AoP began their move South, Lee and the ANV surrendered in just a little less than a year.
 
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#24
Exactly right, it was no accident that from the day Grant and the AoP began their move South, Lee and the ANV surrendered in just a little less than a year.
In your previous post you made an excellent point about Northern Virginia, due to it being the breadbasket of the South. Once the Shenandoah Valley was wasted by Sheridan's troops, the supplies diminished rapidly. With Sherman's devastation advancing beyond Savannah, northward, and with the Sequatchie Valley in Tennessee under Union control, Lee's predicament is magnified, as he witnesses the full constriction of the original Anaconda Plan, and the swallowing up of the south's hindquarters. All that is left is the head, and it can't be a pleasant experience, those final throes.
Lubliner.
 
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#25
It is certainly difficult to project results of actions that never occurred, but, from military precedents, one result of Lee's covering Richmond with a small force while retreating West(assuming Davis agreed, a Big If), the result would be for Grant to link up with Butler and the Army of the James, and continue pursuit of the ANV, taking Richmond in passing, by Butler's force or at least elements of it, or, if too strongly defended, to mask Grant's pursuit of Lee. Once Lee and the ANV is brought to ground, the defense of Richmond would be Moot.
Yes, but i was not suggesting retreat. Lee would deal with things in the Valley. he would not be so far away. In the short term, Petersburg and Richmond would be safe if Lee left only 2 divisions to augment the commands of Beauregard and Ewell. Those defenses were strong.
 

OpnCoronet

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#26
Yes, but i was not suggesting retreat. Lee would deal with things in the Valley. he would not be so far away. In the short term, Petersburg and Richmond would be safe if Lee left only 2 divisions to augment the commands of Beauregard and Ewell. Those defenses were strong.


There would be no respite for Lee, wherever he went.. The ANV was Grant's target, not Richmond or Petersburg.

If Lee moved his army West(or any point beyond Richmond), for whatever reason, it uncovers Richmond and Petersburg. Actual events shows that Grant had sufficient forces, and, or generalship, to negate all confederate forces in the area, at least, insofar as diverting him from his main goal of the ANV.
 

OpnCoronet

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#27
In your previous post you made an excellent point about Northern Virginia, due to it being the breadbasket of the South. Once the Shenandoah Valley was wasted by Sheridan's troops, the supplies diminished rapidly. With Sherman's devastation advancing beyond Savannah, northward, and with the Sequatchie Valley in Tennessee under Union control, Lee's predicament is magnified, as he witnesses the full constriction of the original Anaconda Plan, and the swallowing up of the south's hindquarters. All that is left is the head, and it can't be a pleasant experience, those final throes.
Lubliner.


Very true, too often in the study of events there is a natural tendency to narrow the students focus of attention and lose sight of events that may be affecting the events one is narrowly studying.
 
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#28
There would be no respite for Lee, wherever he went.. The ANV was Grant's target, not Richmond or Petersburg.

If Lee moved his army West(or any point beyond Richmond), for whatever reason, it uncovers Richmond and Petersburg. Actual events shows that Grant had sufficient forces, and, or generalship, to negate all confederate forces in the area, at least, insofar as diverting him from his main goal of the ANV.
As things actually were, the Federal II and XVIII Corps arrived before Petersburg, and failed to take it, despite there being no help from the ANV. With the exception of the "heavies" and the USCT both the AoP and AOJ were jaded. The veteran infantry was not going to attack fortifications with any determination. Lee has a small chance of success if he gets out in the open and forces Grant to guess what he might be up to.
 

Jamieva

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#29
There wouldn't have been a siege. There is no way Lee could've covered all of the approaches to Richmond with the forces he had left. Even if he could, he has no way to supply the men he is leading. Their connection to the Valley is gone. All of their connections to points south come through Petersburg.
 
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#30
You will remember Lee attacked Grant as soon as he crossed the Rapidan fords into the wilderness, and struck him hard on his left flank. Getting bogged down, Grant shifted toward Spotsylvania and the confederates raced to arrive first, just barely. Grant lost Sedgwick there, and a stand off ensued until Lee was overrun, back to the North Anna River. Grant allowed no breathing space for Lee, and Lee doggedly attacked wherever Grant showed. He was not about surrender at that time, and had hope, but the hope must have dimming out little by little, even with Cold Harbor and those merciless results. When Grant disappeared from his front and crossed the James, you can get the idea of Lee's utter dismay, and the fear of being outwitted is reflected in his discourses. It is hard to imagine when Lee first came to recognize the end result would be abandonment and surrender. He was waiting on Davis for that answer, and Lee had to prompt Davis continually on the dismal state of army affairs, until no more time could be spared. Lee never gave up the initiative until then.
Lubliner.
How was Grant able to steal away over the James without Lee knowing? Fascinating to me that there weren't 100's of sets of eyes on Grant constantly, especially considering the movements of Grant up to this point in the Overland campaign. Did anyone in particular catch any blame for this?
 

Jamieva

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#33
What if Lee evacuated Richmond and moved all troops to Petersburg? Could he have held out longer?
No that would've ended it a lot faster imo. First of course that is the seat of government. It also means losing Tredegar, which was vital to keeping the war going. Grant could've simply taken all union troops north of the James and brought them straight down in Lee's rear. Lee would''ve had to bail out to the west immediately.
 

DaveBrt

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#34
What if Lee evacuated Richmond and moved all troops to Petersburg? Could he have held out longer?
There were no troops defending Richmond itself, just those south and south-east of the city facing Butler at Bermuda Hundred and Deep Bottom. Of course, they could not be moved, or Grant could have walked into Petersburg's north side.

Richmond/Petersburg were a single fortified point. Neither Lee nor Grant had the troops to handle the vast area involved. Grant tied himself to the James River and City Point for his supplies -- and everything flows from there. If Grant is going to be near Petersburg, Lee had to go there, too. Richmond had its forts and some defensive lines, but it was essentially undefended when Lee went to Petersburg/Bermuda Hundred/Deep Bottom. Only Lincoln's fear of Early and the limits of available Union manpower kept Richmond from being taken from its undefended north or west side.

The real weakness of Richmond/Petersburg, as with any fortified position, was its supply line. Richmond got a little from northern and northwestern Virginia and from the Virginia & Tennessee RR to the southwest. All the serious supplies (corn, fodder, powder, lead, medical supplies, etc) came up from the south on the North Carolina/Piedmont/Richmond & Danville RRs. Inside the defended area (at the Richmond & Danville RR junction with the South Side RR) there was an option to shift southern and V&T RR supplies to Richmond or Petersburg. Richmond and Petersburg were, of course, connected by the railroad with the same name, but it brought in no outside supplies.
 

OpnCoronet

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#35
As things actually were, the Federal II and XVIII Corps arrived before Petersburg, and failed to take it, despite there being no help from the ANV. With the exception of the "heavies" and the USCT both the AoP and AOJ were jaded. The veteran infantry was not going to attack fortifications with any determination. Lee has a small chance of success if he gets out in the open and forces Grant to guess what he might be up to.

True enough, but, we know what Grant would do if lee tried to escape Petersburg Lines. What he did from the Rapidan to the James, pursue Lee and the ANV.

To restore the strategic and tactical initiative to the ANV, Lee had to break free from defending any fixed strategic spot, which, under the circumstances, meant sacrificing Richmond.
 
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#36
True enough, but, we know what Grant would do if lee tried to escape Petersburg Lines. What he did from the Rapidan to the James, pursue Lee and the ANV.

To restore the strategic and tactical initiative to the ANV, Lee had to break free from defending any fixed strategic spot, which, under the circumstances, meant sacrificing Richmond.
I'm not sure the thing is so simple. As things were, Grant had not understood that Early was not at Petersburg,
If a force of 40,000 head to Lynchburg and smash Hunter, while the remainder of the ANV is at Richmond-Petersburg, Grant might have a situation.
Beauregard and Ewell have troops, and can hold out a while.
It might be as simple as Grant takes Richmond, while Lee takes Washington. Lee will have lost his gamble, but Grant might not look too good.
Things might become much more complicated...........
But if Grant heads out to go after the larger part of the ANV, if the movement is discovered, Grant cannot get to Lee before he hits DC. And, Richmond is safe.
I think things are not so simple.
Could anyone have figured that Early could have had DC had he moved directly to that city?
 

DaveBrt

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#37
I'm not sure the thing is so simple. As things were, Grant had not understood that Early was not at Petersburg,
If a force of 40,000 head to Lynchburg and smash Hunter, while the remainder of the ANV is at Richmond-Petersburg, Grant might have a situation.
Beauregard and Ewell have troops, and can hold out a while.
It might be as simple as Grant takes Richmond, while Lee takes Washington. Lee will have lost his gamble, but Grant might not look too good.
Things might become much more complicated...........
But if Grant heads out to go after the larger part of the ANV, if the movement is discovered, Grant cannot get to Lee before he hits DC. And, Richmond is safe.
I think things are not so simple.
Could anyone have figured that Early could have had DC had he moved directly to that city?
Lee could not get to DC, even with no one in front of him. He had no reserves of food or fodder and the countryside between the two cities was stripped bare. Lee would have to go with exhausted infantry only -- no wagons and no artillery (they might start out, but would not make it) -- and have to confront whatever was manning the Washington defenses. And, by the way, Lee just lost Richmond, Tredegar, Petersburg, the seat of government, everything. It would be the dying gasp of a lost cause -- there was no future after this move, even if he did capture Washington.
 
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#38
Lee could not get to DC, even with no one in front of him. He had no reserves of food or fodder and the countryside between the two cities was stripped bare. Lee would have to go with exhausted infantry only -- no wagons and no artillery (they might start out, but would not make it) -- and have to confront whatever was manning the Washington defenses. And, by the way, Lee just lost Richmond, Tredegar, Petersburg, the seat of government, everything. It would be the dying gasp of a lost cause -- there was no future after this move, even if he did capture Washington.
Lee would have been marching in the Valley, which could support him, at least to the extent that the draft animals could eat. Lynchburg was a supply point for the CSA army. The Valley would not be devastated until that Summer. In reality, Early made that march.
 
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#39
How was Grant able to steal away over the James without Lee knowing? Fascinating to me that there weren't 100's of sets of eyes on Grant constantly, especially considering the movements of Grant up to this point in the Overland campaign. Did anyone in particular catch any blame for this?
I don't remember hearing of any blame being shared by Lee. It has been sometime since I read the account by an historian. It was not something I gleaned from the O. R.
Lubliner.
 
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#40
I don't remember hearing of any blame being shared by Lee. It has been sometime since I read the account by an historian. It was not something I gleaned from the O. R.
Lubliner.
Lee gets some credit, but there was more involved. Ewell probably should have been watching the Peninsula, and Beauregard was not the most trusted source of information in the minds of the CSA War Dept, the de facto head of which was Jeff Davis. I think Davis, and most likely Lee, thought Beauregard was shouting "wolf". But this was not as bad for Lee as it could have been. Petersburg was not immediately taken. But a great opportunity to take the AoP out a Corps at a time was lost.
 



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