Chancellorsville Sedgwick and Chancellorsville

wt_jimbos

Cadet
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Victoria, Australia
It seems Hooker blamed Sedgwick for the failure of his plans that resulted in the disaster at Chancellorsville.

Dairy of Col. Charles S. Wainwright, USA, Cheif of Artillery, First Army Corps, Army of the Potomac.
"May 31..The General sat with us for an hour, and spent that time in an attempt to justify himself as to the result of chancellorsville... He based his defense for not attacking Lee on monday [May 4] first that he expected Lee would attack his own right...The second excuse...was worse than the first, being an attempt to throw the whole blame on General Sedgwick. He was very bitter against "Uncle John", accusing him of being slow and afraid; also of disobeying orders directly. Now for a general to make such charges against an absent subordinate, in defending himself before a lot of young officers, while he takes no official notice of it, is-well, i hope Hooker was drunk while here, for his own sake....My feelings are divided between shame for my commanding general, and indignation at the attack on so true, brave, and modest a man as Sedgwick ...That Sedgwick did not do what Hooker wanted him there is no doubt...but this was more from Hooker's fault than his, owing as it was to the indistinct, even non-sencical wording of the orders recieved, and the fact that they were delivered from twelve to twenty-four hours later than they should have been...I got my information on both sides as direct as possible"

In a chapter of <u>The U.S. Army War College Guides to Civil War Battles: Guide to the Battles of Chancellorsvile &amp; Fredericksburg. </u>
Intelligence in the Chancellorsville Campaign.
When he suspended his own attack Hooker instructed Sedgwick, who commanded 40,000 men at Fredericksburg, "to keep a sharp lookout, and attack if you can succeed." But Segdwick, who received a steady flow of reports from "balloons in the air" to the effect that the Confederates had withdrawn many troops from their lines at Fredericksburg to meet Hooker's advance from the west, decided not to attack. Major General John F. Reynolds, who commanded I Corps, Cautioned against making an attack and speculated that the Confederates "have been...showing weakness, with a view of delaying Hooker, in tempting us to make an attack on their fortified position, and hoping to destroy us and strike for our depot over our bridges."

My question is how much was Sedgwick to blame for the events of the Chancellorsville campaign.
 
Joined
Nov 3, 2005
Sedgwick did indeed move cautiously but one corps should not be expected to rescue six others. Hooker had 2 corps with him, I and V, which didn't even see combat.
 

milhistbuff1

Sergeant
Joined
Nov 19, 2005
Location
NY
My question is why did Sedgewick attack directly up Marye's heights, doing what an entire army failed to do instead of flanking the position and going directly for Lee's rear. even though only one CSA brigade (barksdale) was behind the wall on May 3rd. With the addition of Gibbon's division Sedgewick had a 10:1 advantage over general Early's 3500 men. If Sedgewick had forded North of Fredericksburg as Hancock and Couch suggested to Burnside six month's earlier, He had the opportunity to destroy the ANV in detail. Am I correct in that Lee only had Anderson, McClaws and Early to fend off Hooker and Sedgewick while Jackson's 28K men were marching in the woods to attack Howard? Why did Hooker not coordinate with Sedgewick and send Meade to attack Lee from the Zoan church side putting him under pressure on 3 sides?
Respectfully
Matt.
 

nbforrest

Cadet
Joined
Oct 16, 2005
Location
VA
I would guess that Sedgewick did not want to wait to outflank Early's line. He probably figured that Early would combat his moves ****her north and somewhat blunt his flanking column. Thus, he figured a frontal assault was the quickest approach. That's just my gues....not sure of the explanations Sedgewick gave.


As to the second part of the question you posed...I guess that is the big question. Why didn't Hooker attack? Obviously he should have. He was still to cowed to go on the offensive. His explanation of losing faith in himself is pretty good.

Respectfully
 

milhistbuff1

Sergeant
Joined
Nov 19, 2005
Location
NY
nbforrest,

Looking at Stephen W. Sears book on C'Ville, he quotes Hooker's orders to Sedgewick " On May 3rd Sedgewick was to come up from Fredericksburg, and fall on Lee's rear. That order, Hooker said later, ' was premptory and would have justified him losing every man of his command in its execution'. " The only way to avoid that was crossing the Rap. north and west of Maryes heights, taking Barksdale, and Early in turn, in the flank. According to Sears that accounts for 8400 men that Lee had to respond with. Early could not move west because of Lee's need to protect the supplies coming up the RF&P RR. This left only Anderson and McLaws divisions being forced to move east. By the time they did so, Sedgewick would have been well established on Lee's rear.

According to the map in Sears' book representing 6 am May 3rd, Slocum's 12th and Couches' 2nd corp were capable of attacking McLaws and Anderson to give Sedgewick a free hand in dealing with Early. Once dealt with, Sedgewick would've turned taking Anderson and McLaws in the rear.

In order to deal with Stuarts assault on Hazel Grove, send Meade and Reynolds down the Hunting road on the south side of Ely's Ford Rd, 2nd corp ANV finds 20,000 AOP troops in its rear. Sears pgs 308, 315, Chancellorsville
Respectfully,
Matt
 
Joined
Nov 3, 2005
Wasn't Early in the process of moving his men when Sedgwick attacked and only in the nick of time did Barksdale's men get back to the stone wall?
 

milhistbuff1

Sergeant
Joined
Nov 19, 2005
Location
NY
I believe he was compelled to move them south to protect the RF&P by Sedgewick's attack. What was he doing prior, moving west towards Lee?
Respectfully,
Matt
 
Joined
Nov 3, 2005
What was he doing prior, moving west towards Lee?

Yes I believe so unless my memory has failed me. It has been awhile since I read anything about Chancellorsville.

Forrest can probably help us out.
 

milhistbuff1

Sergeant
Joined
Nov 19, 2005
Location
NY
Admiral Porter,
According to Sears, he was indeed withdrawing westward and it was only Uncle John's crossing that forced to him to return. Sears claims Early had 8 guns and 1200 men at Marye's Heights. At its closest point to the town, Sedgewicks men had only 450-600 yards to cross under fire as opposed to over 1000.
respectfully
Matt
 
Joined
Nov 3, 2005
Thanks buff. Glad to see I wasn't losing my mind.

That explains why Sedgwick attacked straight up Marye's Heights.
 

milhistbuff1

Sergeant
Joined
Nov 19, 2005
Location
NY
The real question is why not continue after Early, draw Lee south and east, create an insurmountable distance between 2nd Corp ANV and Lee. Then send Meade and Reynolds down Hunting Run to where it empties out by Wilderness Church. Do to Hill what Jackson did to Oliver Howard, hit'm in the flank and rear. Lee is forced to either abandon Early or let 20K men stream over a weakened 2nd corp with its command structure in dissary. McLaws and Anderson, Early and perhaps Colston would be able to even extricate themselves.
Respectfully,
Matt
 

milhistbuff1

Sergeant
Joined
Nov 19, 2005
Location
NY
the goal was to get lee from both sides in an anvil type attack. By driving west, your only bunching a reunited 1st &2nd Corp ANV into supporting position. Sedgewick would have ideally gone southwest get behind lee force him to turn. This gives 2nd, and 12th corp a chance to strike out into Mclaws and Andersons new rear and alternately, 5th and 1st corp could come down from the North as i indicated in post 12.

Respectfully,
Matt
 
Joined
Nov 3, 2005
Personally I think Hooker should have used the I and V corps to slam into Stuart's left flank and drive him onto Lee's command.
 

gary

Captain
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Hooker blames Papa John for his own failure. O.K. Papa John could have conducted himself better but that doesn't explain why Hooker didn't have Howard make better preparations or why Hooker ignored the movement of Jackson as seen by his signal men. Even after Jackson was killed, Hooker still had his chance and Reynold's First Corps was in position to roll up Stuart's left flank. Reynolds pleaded with Hooker to be allowed to attack but Hooker insisted on retreating. Hooker can blame no one but himself.
 

milhistbuff1

Sergeant
Joined
Nov 19, 2005
Location
NY
Hooker had little to do with Howard's failure, all throughout May 2nd OOH received reports ranging from regimental to other corp commanders (Sickles intercepting APHill.) The question is why didnt Howard listen to his own men? Why did he automatically assume Jackson was retreating. Considering Jackson's rep for audacious attacks, calling that snap judgement foolish, is being polite.
Respectfully,
Matt
 

nbforrest

Cadet
Joined
Oct 16, 2005
Location
VA
I think most of us here would agree that Hooker screwed up and Sedgewick was slow. In Sedgewick's defense, the quickest way to "fall upon Lee's rear" would be to punch through directly and not maneuver Early out of position. Hooker certainly should have punched through Anderson and McLaws, but was so spooked he sat still. So...I think the majority of the blame clearly falls on Hooker's refusal to do anything resembling an offensive after tangling with the Rebs on the first day.

As to Early's movement westward, didn't Chilton screw that up somehow by giving stale orders or something?

Respectfully
 

nbforrest

Cadet
Joined
Oct 16, 2005
Location
VA
milhistbuff1 said:
Hooker had little to do with Howard's failure, all throughout May 2nd OOH received reports ranging from regimental to other corp commanders (Sickles intercepting APHill.) The question is why didnt Howard listen to his own men? Why did he automatically assume Jackson was retreating. Considering Jackson's rep for audacious attacks, calling that snap judgement foolish, is being polite.
Respectfully,
Matt

Chancellorsville was certainly Howard's worst moment. There's blame to go around though...Hooker should have taken more interest in securing his flank, Howard's brigade and division commanders should have secured their fronts, etc. But Howard probably has the greatest blame here.
The trouble is that people just remember Howard for Chancellorsville. He was a solid commander that developed into a trustworthy subordinate out west.

Respectfully
 
Top