Overland The Overland Campaign

(Wilderness, Spotsylvania, North Anna, Cold Harbor)

James N.

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Kind of my point. I'd much rather face off against an opponent I understand than one I can't.
Of course Lee famously said that one day the Federals would find a commander he didn't understand...
 

rbasin

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In 20/20 hindsight wasn't Sherman correct? After the heavy loss's at Shiloh one could argue that Sherman wished to avoid head on battles if at all possible.
Leftyhunter

I don't really see a difference between what Grant and Sherman were doing,except for the casualty list.
 

leftyhunter

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I was thinking more in terms of Sherman conducting the March Through Georgia vs something along the lines of sending his 60k troops by rail from Georgia to Washington DC and then by ship to Norfolk and then reinforcing General Butler's troops and mounting an offensive accross the Bermuda 100 while Grant attacks Petersburg.
Leftyhunter
 

Norm53

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View attachment 316918
https://www.irishcentral.com/photo/irishmans-photographs-of-the-civil-war

"In May of 1864, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Union Army began the Overland Campaign, which aimed to wedge Union forces between the troops of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia."
https://www.irishcentral.com/roots/history/timothy-osullivan-irish-photographer

This quote got me thinking. There was an overall design/strategy in place involving a lot of individual battles. I tend to think more of these individual battles than the aim of the campaign itself.

Was the Overland campaign about cutting Lee off from his source and therefore destroying his army? Or was it about preventing Lee from protecting the capital of Richmond and taking it? Or both?
Both. “Lee, with the capital of the Confederacy, was the main end to which all were working.” (Memoirs, p 244) Thus, Grant had two overall objectives, Lee’s army and Richmond.

Wiki’s Definition: “The Overland Campaign [OC], also known as Grant's Overland Campaign and the Wilderness Campaign, was a series of battles fought in Virginia during May and June 1864, in the American Civil War. Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, general-in-chief of all Union armies, directed the actions of the Army of the Potomac, commanded by Maj. Gen. George G. Meade, and other forces against Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia.”

This definition consists of 14 events:

The Wilderness (May 5–7, 1864)
Spotsylvania Court House (May 8–21)
Yellow Tavern (May 11)
Meadow Bridge (May 12)
North Anna (May 23–26)
Wilson's Wharf (May 24)
Across the Pamunkey (May 27–29)
Haw's Shop (May 28)
Totopotomoy Creek/Bethesda Church (May 28–30)
Old Church/Matadequin Creek (May 30)
Cold Harbor (May 31 – June 12)
Crossing the James (June 12–18)
Trevilian Station (June 11–12)
Saint Mary's Church (June 24)
(Wiki)

Thus, the OC is limited to VA and the time between May 5 and June 24.

The campaigns outside of the OC; i.e., those of Sherman, Butler, Banks, Sigel, and Crook were designed by Grant to operate simultaneously with the AotP to prevent CSA forces from shifting and aiding each other as these campaigns waxed and waned. (Grant, Memoirs, pp 239-240) And they all pointed in the general direction of Richmond. Burnside from Annapolis to VA, was held in reserve to be able to operate anywhere as needed. (Memoirs, p 239). Grant had to harry Lee continuously to prevent him from scooting off to Grant's right to attack Washington, which would have defeated Grant's plan to bring him close to Richmond by flanking Lee's right (Grant's left).
 

Norm53

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Grant is rather obscure about it and vague.
“He [Butler] was to act from here, looking to Richmond as his objective point. I had given him to understand that I should aim to fight Lee between the Rapidan and Richmond if he would stand; but should Lee fall back into Richmond I would follow up and make a junction of the armies of the Potomac and the James on the James River. He was directed to secure a footing as far up the south side of the river as he could at as early a date as possible.” (Grant’s Memoirs, p 244)
 
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Norm53

I like your postings in general but please allow me to do so adjusting and clarification. First note that you based your response on Grant Memoir written after the War. My meaning in saying Grant was somewhat vague and obscure is that of his attempts to downplay Ben Butler/Army of James role in the final victory over Robert E. Lee. I see a slight contradiction in your own presentation in that you correctly show that the original plan was a coordination movement simultaneously between Grant and Butler to drive Lee into Richmond within a limited amount of days (this was their agreement at Fort Monroe conference in early April 1864). That is an intense partnership and not on the same level as Sigel, Banks, and Crook. These latter Federal Commanders were not to appear at Richmond but were secondary to the main event at Richmond. However, Ben Butler/Army of James was indeed to appear at Richmond at the south bank of the James River to block Lee escape route from Richmond entrapment driven there by Grant/Meade. I appreciate your position that Lee and Richmond were both objectives of Grant; and one shouldn’t be forced to say it has to be one or the other as a sole objective. It takes Richmond to be a box to capture Lee within (think Vicksburg). Finally, I like your list of events of the Overland but should we not include Beauregard’s attack upon Butler in that list since Butler/Army of James was a partner in the Overland Campaign with Grant because as cited above you must have Butler/Army of James to block Richmond from the south or Lee escapes from Grant/Meade?
 

OpnCoronet

Lt. Colonel
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Norm53

I like your postings in general but please allow me to do so adjusting and clarification. First note that you based your response on Grant Memoir written after the War. My meaning in saying Grant was somewhat vague and obscure is that of his attempts to downplay Ben Butler/Army of James role in the final victory over Robert E. Lee. I see a slight contradiction in your own presentation in that you correctly show that the original plan was a coordination movement simultaneously between Grant and Butler to drive Lee into Richmond within a limited amount of days (this was their agreement at Fort Monroe conference in early April 1864). That is an intense partnership and not on the same level as Sigel, Banks, and Crook. These latter Federal Commanders were not to appear at Richmond but were secondary to the main event at Richmond. However, Ben Butler/Army of James was indeed to appear at Richmond at the south bank of the James River to block Lee escape route from Richmond entrapment driven there by Grant/Meade. I appreciate your position that Lee and Richmond were both objectives of Grant; and one shouldn’t be forced to say it has to be one or the other as a sole objective. It takes Richmond to be a box to capture Lee within (think Vicksburg). Finally, I like your list of events of the Overland but should we not include Beauregard’s attack upon Butler in that list since Butler/Army of James was a partner in the Overland Campaign with Grant because as cited above you must have Butler/Army of James to block Richmond from the south or Lee escapes from Grant/Meade?




Historically, I believe The Army of the James was very important to Grants ultimate victory, but, the presence of Butler can only be counted as an impediment to that victory.

During the Siege at Petersburgh Grant had to stay near the front, because, if he left the front, Buutler would have been in command of the united Armies, a thought not to be viewed with confidence by rant.

Looking at the Historry of the Civil War in the East, it is difficult to believe that anyother Union commander would not have retreated after the first Week of battle in the Wilderness, leaving Butler to the attentions of Lee at his leisure.
 

James N.

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Historically, I believe The Army of the James was very important to Grants ultimate victory, but, the presence of Butler can only be counted as an impediment to that victory.

During the Siege at Petersburgh Grant had to stay near the front, because, if he left the front, Butler would have been in command of the united Armies, a thought not to be viewed with confidence by [G]rant.

Looking at the History of the Civil War in the East, it is difficult to believe that any other Union commander would not have retreated after the first Week of battle in the Wilderness, leaving Butler to the attentions of Lee at his leisure.
Lincoln really shot himself in the foot very early on when he appointed men like Ben Butler, Nathaniel Banks, and John C. Fremont Major Generals on no better authority than that they were early and highly important supporters of the war effort. That meant they outranked everybody else and were virtually impossible to remove or replace with more qualified generals because of their political connections. Perhaps oddly enough, Grant seems to have gotten along well personally with all three of them, suggesting that he was likely NOT the political bumpkin or novice he is usually depicted.
 

Eric Wittenberg

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Both. “Lee, with the capital of the Confederacy, was the main end to which all were working.” (Memoirs, p 244) Thus, Grant had two overall objectives, Lee’s army and Richmond.

Wiki’s Definition: “The Overland Campaign [OC], also known as Grant's Overland Campaign and the Wilderness Campaign, was a series of battles fought in Virginia during May and June 1864, in the American Civil War. Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, general-in-chief of all Union armies, directed the actions of the Army of the Potomac, commanded by Maj. Gen. George G. Meade, and other forces against Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia.”

This definition consists of 14 events:

The Wilderness (May 5–7, 1864)
Spotsylvania Court House (May 8–21)
Yellow Tavern (May 11)
Meadow Bridge (May 12)
North Anna (May 23–26)
Wilson's Wharf (May 24)
Across the Pamunkey (May 27–29)
Haw's Shop (May 28)
Totopotomoy Creek/Bethesda Church (May 28–30)
Old Church/Matadequin Creek (May 30)
Cold Harbor (May 31 – June 12)
Crossing the James (June 12–18)
Trevilian Station (June 11–12)
Saint Mary's Church (June 24)
(Wiki)

Thus, the OC is limited to VA and the time between May 5 and June 24.

The campaigns outside of the OC; i.e., those of Sherman, Butler, Banks, Sigel, and Crook were designed by Grant to operate simultaneously with the AotP to prevent CSA forces from shifting and aiding each other as these campaigns waxed and waned. (Grant, Memoirs, pp 239-240) And they all pointed in the general direction of Richmond. Burnside from Annapolis to VA, was held in reserve to be able to operate anywhere as needed. (Memoirs, p 239). Grant had to harry Lee continuously to prevent him from scooting off to Grant's right to attack Washington, which would have defeated Grant's plan to bring him close to Richmond by flanking Lee's right (Grant's left).

This list leaves out two major cavalry battles: Hanover Court House, May 31, 1864 and Ashland, June 1, 1864. Both involved James H. Wilson's Third Cavalry Division, AoP. It also does not include Second Haw's Shop, June 2, 1864, also involving Wilson's division. One of the very best Union regimental cavalry commanders was KIA that day, Col. Addison W. Preston, 1st Vermont Cavalry.

All of these engagements fall within the time frame and should be included on the list. This is the problem with relying in Wikipedia as a legitimate source.
 

Norm53

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Location
Cape May, NJ
This list leaves out two major cavalry battles: Hanover Court House, May 31, 1864 and Ashland, June 1, 1864. Both involved James H. Wilson's Third Cavalry Division, AoP. It also does not include Second Haw's Shop, June 2, 1864, also involving Wilson's division. One of the very best Union regimental cavalry commanders was KIA that day, Col. Addison W. Preston, 1st Vermont Cavalry.

All of these engagements fall within the time frame and should be included on the list. This is the problem with relying in Wikipedia as a legitimate source.
So noted, thank you.
 

OpnCoronet

Lt. Colonel
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Feb 23, 2010
Lincoln really shot himself in the foot very early on when he appointed men like Ben Butler, Nathaniel Banks, and John C. Fremont Major Generals on no better authority than that they were early and highly important supporters of the war effort. That meant they outranked everybody else and were virtually impossible to remove or replace with more qualified generals because of their political connections. Perhaps oddly enough, Grant seems to have gotten along well personally with all three of them, suggesting that he was likely NOT the political bumpkin or novice he is usually depicted.





What you say is true enough, up to a point. But, any good commander gets along with those he cannot remove, but that does not mean he wouldn not, if he coulld.

As you note, early in the war, politicl generals served Lincolns political purposes of helping to unify the Union War effort. There were many aspects to winning the war, of which the military is only one. It is difficult at this late dte to quantifyhow much and political generals contributed or hurt the Union war effort, but at the time, Lincoln who was a pretty good judge of the political necessities at the time, thought they helped more than they hurt, or, they would have been removed by him, I tend to accept Lincoln jugement on this partiicular matter.

Grant was, in fact, given authority to replace Butler, on his own authority, with the understanding that the Administrtion had no reason to do. Grant, decided that Lincoln wanted Butler to remain and wisely chose to hold his hand for a more propitious time,which he did.
 
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