The Battle of Monocacy


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major bill

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it is generally believed that the Battle of Monocacy delayed Early by a day and kept him form capturing Washington D.C., however, this this true? Had he arrive a day sooner would Early have enough strength of take Washington? Are there numbers to support an easy Early victory at the gates of Washington?
 

JeffBrooks

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It's impossible to say for certain, of course, but I think he could have. It was only on the night of July 9, when the Battle of Monocacy was ending, that Grant finally woke up to the danger and ordered the VI Corps and part of the XIX Corps to move to Washington at once. The lead elements only arrived during the night of July 11 (if I remember correctly). Early's men were formed and ready to attack on the morning of July 12, when Early called off the attack when it became clear that reinforcements from the Army of the Potomac had arrived.

Had there been no Battle of Monocacy, Early and his men would have not lost a day and, presumably, they would have been in position to attack Fort Stevens on the morning of July 11 rather than July 12. This was before the VI Corps and XIX Corps men had arrived. The defenses of Washington were poorly manned by inexperienced soldiers, with most of the heavy artillery having long since been siphoned off to the field army by Grant. So, it's at least possible that Early's men might have broken through at some point and seized the city. They would not have been able to hold Washington for very long, but the damage to the Union cause would have been catastrophic.

I believe Grant was an outstanding military leader for the most part, but his lackadaisical attitude toward the threat posed by Early is a black mark on his record and one that has gone strangely unnoticed.
 

Stone in the wall

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In 1925 John McClausland declared "I don't think many people, North or South realize how close Washington came to falling into Rebel hands that summer of 1864. Years afterwards, I told General Grant, when he was campaigning for president, that the last time I had been in Washington was '64. He asked me if I was in disguise. Oh no I told him, I rode with my staff into the defenses of Georgetown. Your capital was practically undefended! I sat there on a big gun and looked at the lights and wished I had enough to go ahead and capture the place and end the ****ed war!" Washington Post March 18th 2001 He was most likely inside of Fort Gaines.
 

Drew

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I believe Grant was an outstanding military leader for the most part, but his lackadaisical attitude toward the threat posed by Early is a black mark on his record and one that has gone strangely unnoticed.
Historians seldom notice anything less than stellar about U.S. Grant. I've joked for years in these forums that Lew Wallace saved the Union - he lost Monocacy but bought the time to get the IV and XIX Corps up the Potomac River to defend Washington.

I agree, it would have been catastrophic, politically, for Early to have marched in, unchallenged. It really was a freaking close call.
 

Jantzen64

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Historians seldom notice anything less than stellar about U.S. Grant. I've joked for years in these forums that Lew Wallace saved the Union - he lost Monocacy but bought the time to get the IV and XIX Corps up the Potomac River to defend Washington.

I agree, it would have been catastrophic, politically, for Early to have marched in, unchallenged. It really was a freaking close call.
Although Grant and Wallace did not get along after Shiloh, in his Memoirs, Grant had the following comment about Wallace at Monocacy: “Whether the delay caused by the battle amounted to a day or not, General Wallace contributed on this occasion, by the defeat of the troops under him, a greater benefit to the cause than often falls to the lot of a commander of an equal force to render by means of a victory.”

Back handed praise, but praise nonetheless.
 

Drew

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Although Grant and Wallace did not get along after Shiloh, in his Memoirs, Grant had the following comment about Wallace at Monocacy: “Whether the delay caused by the battle amounted to a day or not, General Wallace contributed on this occasion, by the defeat of the troops under him, a greater benefit to the cause than often falls to the lot of a commander of an equal force to render by means of a victory.”

Back handed praise, but praise nonetheless.
Yeah, Grant had no use for Lew Wallace, until, Wallace preserved the Union. :D

Had Early got into DC, for even five minutes, Lincoln would have been toast in 1864. That's just my opinion.
 

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