Overland Something more clever than the Overland Campaign?

(Wilderness, Spotsylvania, North Anna, Cold Harbor)

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
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Nov 10, 2006
Speaking of "OLd Burn", I would add only that one of the millstones hampering Grant in executing his maneuvers was the convoluted status of Burnside/IX Corps in the Army of the Potomac command arrangements that were dumped on Grant.
Created by Grant.

The 9th Corps was designated to be an expeditionary force for Fort Fisher. Using false intelligence that Longstreet was in the valley he persuaded Halleck and Stanton that they should move to Manassas Junction to cover Washington when Grant's army cross the Rappahannock. They reluctantly agreed, and Grant was allowed to use them for a short period, but then they should be returned to Annapolis for embarkation. Grant then exceeded his order and called them into the Wilderness essentially on first contact.
 

Piedone

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Oct 8, 2020
I think both Scipio and Wellington were superior to their foes.

I don't care for what Shelby Foote would think one pinch of owl dung.
I know I am getting very off topic here but I'd ask why Scipio or Wellington should have been that superior to their foes.
Generally I'd be prepared to praise every general who has the outstanding ability to get his plans executed
(as this was for most of historic times the main problem - deriving mainly from underdeveloped communication abilities).

But to be successful in a certain battle is not only influenced by the genius of the planning general but also from a lot of factors the general cannot (or not always) influence.
As example for that: Hannibal lost against Scipio at Zama mainly because he had no more that effective cavalry he usually relied on.

Hence I did ask in a former post if a capable leader would have been available for Grant´s original plan
(a factor that he couldn't really influence that much).

Another question would be if the laws of warfare should always be obeyed to.
@JeffFromSyracuse said that Grant´s original plan would have broken fundamental laws of warfare (which is obviously right in itself) - but couldn't it be exactly this that makes the difference between a good and an outstanding general?
Calculately disobeying traditional laws of warfare?

Grant´s Vicksburg campaign also was breaking some commonly accepted "laws of warfare" - and maybe that was the reason for it's outstanding success?
 
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Belfoured

Sergeant Major
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Aug 3, 2019
Created by Grant.

The 9th Corps was designated to be an expeditionary force for Fort Fisher. Using false intelligence that Longstreet was in the valley he persuaded Halleck and Stanton that they should move to Manassas Junction to cover Washington when Grant's army cross the Rappahannock. They reluctantly agreed, and Grant was allowed to use them for a short period, but then they should be returned to Annapolis for embarkation. Grant then exceeded his order and called them into the Wilderness essentially on first contact.
However the IX Corps came to be affiliated with the Army of the Potomac for the Overland Campaign, the unwieldy command arrangement was dictated by Burnside's refusal to subordinate himself to Meade, who was junior to him.
 
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Created by Grant.

The 9th Corps was designated to be an expeditionary force for Fort Fisher. Using false intelligence that Longstreet was in the valley he persuaded Halleck and Stanton that they should move to Manassas Junction to cover Washington when Grant's army cross the Rappahannock. They reluctantly agreed, and Grant was allowed to use them for a short period, but then they should be returned to Annapolis for embarkation. Grant then exceeded his order and called them into the Wilderness essentially on first contact.
Is this and the XIX Corps information you shared all in the ORs or another source? I feel like I need to read up on my non-AoP Union troop movements.
 

67th Tigers

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Joined
Nov 10, 2006
However the IX Corps came to be affiliated with the Army of the Potomac for the Overland Campaign, the unwieldy command arrangement was dictated by Burnside's refusal to subordinate himself to Meade, who was junior to him.
The 9th Corps had not been assigned to the Department. That meant Meade had no authority over it. It was "temporarily on loan" from Annapolis and the Fort Fisher expedition. When it was formally assigned to the Department (i.e. they gave up on the idea of a Fort Fisher expedition), Burnside slotted into the Department cheerfully.
 

67th Tigers

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Is this and the XIX Corps information you shared all in the ORs or another source? I feel like I need to read up on my non-AoP Union troop movements.
I came across it when reading a letter from Pinkerton to McClellan about what was happening in Washington in April '64. Searches confirmed it to be true. Feis gave a lot of the context to how Grant levered this force from Annapolis, using the int of Longstreet threatening Washington from the Shenandoah.
 

Belfoured

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The 9th Corps had not been assigned to the Department. That meant Meade had no authority over it. It was "temporarily on loan" from Annapolis and the Fort Fisher expedition. When it was formally assigned to the Department (i.e. they gave up on the idea of a Fort Fisher expedition), Burnside slotted into the Department cheerfully.
Burnside objected to being placed under Meade based on seniority. Regardless of slotting into the "Deparment" he did not 'slot into the Army of the Potomac command structure cheerfully" and therefore operated independently of Meade, complicating command and control. He relented after the Wilderness and Spotsylvania, and Grant issued an order incorporating IX Corps.
 

67th Tigers

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Burnside objected to being placed under Meade based on seniority. Regardless of slotting into the "Deparment" he did not 'slot into the Army of the Potomac command structure cheerfully" and therefore operated independently of Meade, complicating command and control. He relented after the Wilderness and Spotsylvania, and Grant issued an order incorporating IX Corps.
No, he was initially not assigned to the Army of the Potomac. He was assigned to the Fort Fisher expedition. By hook and crook, this expedition was temporarily attached to Grant's command in the field (not Meade). Burnside had never received any order placing him into the Army of the Potomac, and under Meade. On 24th May, such an order was finally issued, and Burnside was immensely relieved that the complicated structure was gone.

So, Burnside had not been legally assigned to the Army of the Potomac until 24th May. Hence the issue.

These things aren't mere trifles. This is the legal basis of the command structure we're discussing. Until Burnside had received a lawful order placing him under Meade, he was legally bound NOT to obey Meade's orders whilst a more senior officer than both (Grant) was in the Department (which is not to say he could not co-operate, but Meade could not issue Burnside a legal order).
 
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No, he was initially not assigned to the Army of the Potomac. He was assigned to the Fort Fisher expedition. By hook and crook, this expedition was temporarily attached to Grant's command in the field (not Meade). Burnside had never received any order placing him into the Army of the Potomac, and under Meade. On 24th May, such an order was finally issued, and Burnside was immensely relieved that the complicated structure was gone.

So, Burnside had not been legally assigned to the Army of the Potomac until 24th May. Hence the issue.

These things aren't mere trifles. This is the legal basis of the command structure we're discussing. Until Burnside had received a lawful order placing him under Meade, he was legally bound NOT to obey Meade's orders whilst a more senior officer than both (Grant) was in the Department (which is not to say he could not co-operate, but Meade could not issue Burnside a legal order).
Wasn't Burnside also a people pleaser? From what I know of him, he would not have been one to loudly make a fuss about rank.
 

Belfoured

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No, he was initially not assigned to the Army of the Potomac. He was assigned to the Fort Fisher expedition. By hook and crook, this expedition was temporarily attached to Grant's command in the field (not Meade). Burnside had never received any order placing him into the Army of the Potomac, and under Meade. On 24th May, such an order was finally issued, and Burnside was immensely relieved that the complicated structure was gone.

So, Burnside had not been legally assigned to the Army of the Potomac until 24th May. Hence the issue.

These things aren't mere trifles. This is the legal basis of the command structure we're discussing. Until Burnside had received a lawful order placing him under Meade, he was legally bound NOT to obey Meade's orders whilst a more senior officer than both (Grant) was in the Department (which is not to say he could not co-operate, but Meade could not issue Burnside a legal order).
Read more closely - I didn't say that he was "initially" assigned to the A of the P. But when Grant tried to augment that Army with the IX Corps, Burnside did object to serving under Meade - resulting in the ponderous structure. He wasn't "legally bound NOT to obey an order from Meade" - but he was legally entitled to object if he chose. How do you think that the issue got resolved on May 24 - that the idiot Grant finally figured out after 2+ weeks that Burnside simply should be "assigned" to the Army of the P? His seniority over Meade hadn't magically disappeared ...
 

Belfoured

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Wasn't Burnside also a people pleaser? From what I know of him, he would not have been one to loudly make a fuss about rank.
Meade had been a mere division commander when Burnside had commanded the army. He may have been a "people pleaser" but he wasn't Mother Teresa and he had his own pride. Seniority was important to these guys.
 

Grant's Tomb

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Grant's objective wasn't Richmond. Grant's objective was to defeat the ANV. That narrowed his options tremendously.

The Peninsula was out because the Peninsula is a peninsula and is therefore narrow. Lack of flanks and the need to leave extra troops around Washington would have sapped Grant's superiority in numbers.

The Valley wasn't favorable, as it too is narrow and dominated by hills and passes, which makes maneuver difficult.

Going to the right through Culpepper was a possibility, but the manpower to guard precious rail lines from cavalry and partisans would have seriously sapped Grant's strength.

Lee wasn't going to follow Grant to NC or anywhere else outside of a Richmond perimeter.

So Overland it was.
Plus if he had the Army of the Potomac move right moving towards Richmond via the Shenandoah Valley he would have been dependent the railroad for resupply and it would be have been vulnerable to rebel raiders such as John S. Mosby's rangers in that area. And the railroad would not have been sufficient to keep the army supplied and they couldn't possibly live off the land after Virginia been ravaged by three and a half years of war. And moving the army in that direction would have made easier for Lee to directly attack Washington because the Union army moving overland towards to Richmond always needed to keep itself between Lee and the capital which is why Lincoln did not like McClellan's advancement up the Peninsula.
 

67th Tigers

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Read more closely - I didn't say that he was "initially" assigned to the A of the P. But when Grant tried to augment that Army with the IX Corps, Burnside did object to serving under Meade - resulting in the ponderous structure. He wasn't "legally bound NOT to obey an order from Meade" - but he was legally entitled to object if he chose. How do you think that the issue got resolved on May 24 - that the idiot Grant finally figured out after 2+ weeks that Burnside simply should be "assigned" to the Army of the P? His seniority over Meade hadn't magically disappeared ...
Thanks, but there is no evidence Burnside ever objected to being under Meade, and when he received a lawful order placing him under Meade he did so cheerfully.

Grant had decided he wanted Burnside and the 9th Corps by 4th April. It was immediately pointed out by Halleck that Burnside was under orders from Lincoln for the Fort Fisher expedition. Well, by inches Grant managed to drag the 9th Corps south.

Burnside actually wanted to be placed under Meade, and replied to the order placing him so "I am glad to get the order assigning the Corps to the Army of the Potomac and think good will result from it..."

The issue wasn't Burnside, but something else, such as it being beyond Grant's authority to assign a Corps to a different Department (or to change their leader, for example)...
 

Rhea Cole

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Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
I am referring to Sherman's flanking tactics actually during the Atlanta campaign. I am talking about Snake Gap Creek, movements in present day Bartow County, the flank move away from the Kennesaw battlefield, Jonesboro.

I am talking about the tactics that Grant did not adopt in Virginia.

Sherman only lost his patience once at Kennesaw mountain.
Grant repeatedly flanked Lee out of his positions for nearly 100 miles before pinning him at Petersburg. From that point onward, Grant constantly turned Lee's flank until his was stretched thin & his entire line collapsed.
 

Rhea Cole

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Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Plus if he had the Army of the Potomac move right moving towards Richmond via the Shenandoah Valley he would have been dependent the railroad for resupply and it would be have been vulnerable to rebel raiders such as John S. Mosby's rangers in that area. And the railroad would not have been sufficient to keep the army supplied and they couldn't possibly live off the land after Virginia been ravaged by three and a half years of war. And moving the army in that direction would have made easier for Lee to directly attack Washington because the Union army moving overland towards to Richmond always needed to keep itself between Lee and the capital which is why Lincoln did not like McClellan's advancement up the Peninsula.
Not being bloody minded or anything, but how long do you think Mosby would have lasted if Grant has sent Sheridan out to kill him?
 

Joseph A. Rose

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Thanks, but there is no evidence Burnside ever objected to being under Meade, and when he received a lawful order placing him under Meade he did so cheerfully.

Grant had decided he wanted Burnside and the 9th Corps by 4th April. It was immediately pointed out by Halleck that Burnside was under orders from Lincoln for the Fort Fisher expedition. Well, by inches Grant managed to drag the 9th Corps south.

Burnside actually wanted to be placed under Meade, and replied to the order placing him so "I am glad to get the order assigning the Corps to the Army of the Potomac and think good will result from it..."

The issue wasn't Burnside, but something else, such as it being beyond Grant's authority to assign a Corps to a different Department (or to change their leader, for example)...
That's great information you provided on this thread about the 9th Corps. I would, however, modify your statement that, "there is no evidence Burnside ever objected to being under Meade." There is evidence that Burnside would have waived rank before the campaign started, so that he could serve under Meade (as he eventually did). Meade, in a letter on March 8, 1864, he wrote: "Per contra to show the confidence that military men have in me I have received messages from the following officers that they would be willing to take corps under me—Genl Harney, Hunter, & Burnside—all of whom have commanded armies themselves and are my seniors."

Furthermore, despite his Recollections being somewhat unreliable (possibly due, in part, from their having been ghosted by Ida Tarbell), Charles A. Dana said that the 9th Corps "was not formally incorporated with that army [of the Potomac] until later, but, by a sort of fiction, it was held to be a distinct army, Burnside acting in concert with Meade, and receiving his orders directly from Grant, as did Meade. These two armies were the excuse for Grant's personal presence, without actually superseding Meade.”

Some of the problems suffered by the Union forces in the Battles of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania can be directly or indirectly attributed to this awkward command structure engendered by Grant.
 

Belfoured

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Aug 3, 2019
Thanks, but there is no evidence Burnside ever objected to being under Meade, and when he received a lawful order placing him under Meade he did so cheerfully.

Grant had decided he wanted Burnside and the 9th Corps by 4th April. It was immediately pointed out by Halleck that Burnside was under orders from Lincoln for the Fort Fisher expedition. Well, by inches Grant managed to drag the 9th Corps south.

Burnside actually wanted to be placed under Meade, and replied to the order placing him so "I am glad to get the order assigning the Corps to the Army of the Potomac and think good will result from it..."

The issue wasn't Burnside, but something else, such as it being beyond Grant's authority to assign a Corps to a different Department (or to change their leader, for example)...
He vetted the order with Burnside c. May 24. It may be more that up to that point Grant perceived - correctly or not - that Burnside objected rather than Burnside expressly objecting. If all he had to do was issue the order regardless of Burnside's reaction, he was an idiot for waiting until May 24. Have it your way.
 
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