Overland The Overland Campaign

(Wilderness, Spotsylvania, North Anna, Cold Harbor)

Elennsar

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Edit to previous post, I should have realized it was noted there earlier: Burnside is stated (in the timeline) to have resumed command of 9th Corps on April 13th.

http://ebooks.library.cornell.edu/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=moawar;cc=moawar;q1=Burnside;rgn=full text;idno=waro0060;didno=waro0060;view=image;seq=1010

Only a few days before the Wilderness and we have this message ^.

So whatever decision to have him not merely occupy the rear must have been very last minute, or not covered by the messages I see so far.
 
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James N.

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...I'm up to the battles of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania (or Spottsylvania?) in J.F.C. Fuller's The Generalship of Ulysses S. Grant...

MEA CULPA! Something about this bothered me, so I did what I should've done in the FIRST place and looked it up - there's NO DOUBLE "S" in Spotsylvania! ( According to D. S. Freeman's George Washington, I WAS right about the naming; but there's no double "s" in Spotswood either. ) I'm surprised - and relieved - Ned or cash hadn't called me out on that one yet before I could correct it myself; I find lately that I tend to rely far too much on my ever-more-frequently imperfect memory of things read as much as a half-century ago.

Now that that's out of the way, back to the main topic:

...Grant's intent at that time was for Burnside to be in the rear and not at the front with Meade -- "I will give him the defense of the road from Bull Run as far south as we wish to hold it."

Given that, what need was there to subordinate the 9th Corps to the Army of the Potomac? In other words, how much of this decision to keep it seperate had to do with Burnside's status/politics and how much of it was simply that the original plan didn't require consolidation as the 9th wasnt going along?

And if that, then when did Grant decide that the 9th was going to not defend the road and instead cross the Rapidan with the rest of the army?

Although it doesn't answer your question, I've always enjoyed a pen picture of Burnside I found in what was probably the first modern and impartial study of the battle, Edward Steere's 1960 The Wilderness Campaign; despite its title, it's strictly about the Battle of the Wilderness. Steere quotes from the memoir of Lt. Morris Schaff of the Ordnance Dept., detailed from Meade's headquarters as a "supplementary aide" to Warren commanding the V Corps. Warren's chief of staff, engineer officer Maj. Washington Roebling, later famous as the designer of the Brooklyn Bridge, and his topographical engineer , Capt. Cope, were to meet Burnside's advancing column. "Schaff had orders to report to General Burnside and make himself available as guide" to direct the IX Corps to its desired place on the battlefield. According to Schaff, who was waiting for Burnside to make his belated appearance,

When he came, accompanied by a large staff, I rode up to him and told him my instructions. He was mounted on a bob-tailed horse and wore a drooping army hat, a large gold cord around it. Like a sphinx, he made no reply, halted and began to look with a most leaden countenance in the direction he was to go... After a while he started off calmly toward the Lacy house, not indicating that my services were needed - he probably was thinking of something that was of vastly more importance. I concluded that I wasn't wanted, and was about to go my own way, when I caught sight of Babcock of Grant's staff coming at great speed down the hill... Without halting he replied, "Hancock has driven them a mile and we are going to have a great victory!"

Although Schaff as a young lieutenant, likely puffed up with his own importance and possibly reflecting the competitive animosity that sometimes riddled the high command, may well have exaggerated events, it nevertheless reflects poorly on Burnside, of whom Steere says,

Burnside's tardy appearance opposite the gap between Ewell and Hill is generally regarded as the dissipation of an opportunity that seldom comes in war to a general of tarnished reputation to rehabilitate his past fame and, by the simple expedients of rapid movement and tough fighting, to clinch a decisive victory for the army he had once commanded. But Burnside was neither quick nor tough. here his dilatory movements in the Wilderness are on a par with his sluggish action at Antietam.
 

Elennsar

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I can't help but wonder how the Burnside that did this also has the small (well, relatively) independent command victories to his credit. It's as if Virginia (and Maryland) froze his mind.
 

James N.

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I can't help but wonder how the Burnside that did this also has the small (well, relatively) independent command victories to his credit. It's as if Virginia (and Maryland) froze his mind.

Supposedly the early victories in the Carolinas that did so much to revive Northern morale in the wake of Bull Run owe most of their inspiration to Burnside's subordinate ( later ) Maj. Gen. John G. Foster. Other subordinates like Jessie Reno, killed at Fox's Gap; Isaac Rodman, killed at Antietam; Edward Ord at Vicksburg ( while Burnside was commanding the Department of the Ohio ); and Jessie Cox, later governor of Ohio, contributed greatly to Burn's evident successes. He had personally bungled First Bull Run by pulling his brigade out of action when it ran out of ammo and never quite managed to get it back into the battle. Once his dependable subordinates were either dead or reassigned, he wound up with losers like Ledlie who managed to lose for him the Battle of the Crater, finally bringing Burnside's military career to its belated close.
 

cash

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Supposedly the early victories in the Carolinas that did so much to revive Northern morale in the wake of Bull Run owe most of their inspiration to Burnside's subordinate ( later ) Maj. Gen. John G. Foster. Other subordinates like Jessie Reno, killed at Fox's Gap; Isaac Rodman, killed at Antietam; Edward Ord at Vicksburg ( while Burnside was commanding the Department of the Ohio ); and Jessie Cox, later governor of Ohio, contributed greatly to Burn's evident successes. He had personally bungled First Bull Run by pulling his brigade out of action when it ran out of ammo and never quite managed to get it back into the battle. Once his dependable subordinates were either dead or reassigned, he wound up with losers like Ledlie who managed to lose for him the Battle of the Crater, finally bringing Burnside's military career to its belated close.

Well, Burn helped it along at the Crater by having his division commanders draw lots to see who would lead the assault instead of selecting any of the others except Ledlie, without doubt the worst of the bunch.
 

Elennsar

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James N.:
There is something to that, but Burnside had some of those men (Cox and Rodman, I know) at Antietam for example - and yet we don't see that.

Makes me wonder if he was just a really lousy tactician but a decent (not good, but professional) strategist - his big bungles are all at the level of actually "Okay, your plan has run into the enemy. Now what?" decision making, whether army or corps.
 

James N.

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James N.:
There is something to that, but Burnside had some of those men (Cox and Rodman, I know) at Antietam for example - and yet we don't see that.

Makes me wonder if he was just a really lousy tactician but a decent (not good, but professional) strategist - his big bungles are all at the level of actually "Okay, your plan has run into the enemy. Now what?" decision making, whether army or corps.

According to ( if I remember right! ) Sears' Landscape Turned Red, Burnside was sulking because McClellan had "demoted" him by removing Hooker's I Corps from Burnside's "wing", and instead of reverting to command of only the IX Corps ( as he should've done ), continued to issue orders through Cox ( who had only replaced Reno the day before and was therefore brand new to corps command ), adding another unnecessary and confusing element to that ponderous organization.

Rodman, commanding a division, located Snavely's Ford and apparently thought it unsatisfactory and searched for another which he finally found. At least he completed his assignment, but was killed soon after near Sharpsburg. Samuel Sturgis finally managed to get two regiments across Burnside's Bridge, but even that was largely wasted by the hour-and-a-half it took to replenish ammunition and form for the advance on Sharpsburg. Much of that time could've been put to good use by sending forward at the same time some of the many units that had so far been unengaged in the battle.
 
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Elennsar

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That sounds familiar, though I'm not sure if it is from Sears (my copy is around here somewhere, which is another way of saying I have no idea where it is).
 

wausaubob

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The steaks were a little higher by the time of the Overland Campaign.
Lee had about six months to cause extreme casualties to the United States sufficient to cause the voters to defeat Abraham Lincoln.
Grant thought he had to defeat Lee absolutely by November 1864. That was not completely correct. But he did have to demonstrate the inevitability of eventual United State victory.
Both sides were mobilized, equipped and experienced in death.
The Confederate Army of Virginia had an limited manpower base and limited ability to maintain movement.
The United States army by that time had a very large logistical advantage.
The preponderance of numbers created the opportunity for the United States army to win a total victory. The Confederate army responded by taking to entrenching at every opportunity.
Not only did the United States army have the manpower advantage to overwhelm the Confederates, but the commander of the United States army had shown to be an intrepid campaigner and a willingness to co-ordinate the use of overwhelming force.
While the Army of the Potomac did not achieve complete victory in 1864, elsewhere in the war other United States armies demonstrated the inevitable consequences of overwhelming power.
In other words, the Confederacy was fighting for its life, while the United States army knew that any battle, if fought correctly could be the last.
 

Canadian

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It just so happens I'm in the midst of a blog post of a book review of Horace Porter's book, Campaigning With Grant. In it, Porter tells us what Grant's view of the command arrangement was:

"An animated discussion took place at headquarters that day regarding General Meade's somewhat anomalous position, and the embarrassments which were at times caused on the field by the necessity of issuing orders through him instead of direct to the corps commanders. The general-in-chief always invited the most frank and cordial interchange of views, and never failed to listen patiently to the more prominent members of his staff. He seldom joined in the discussions, and usually reserved what he had to say till the end of the argument, when he gave his views and rendered his decision. It was now urged upon him, with much force, that time was often lost in having field orders pass through an intermediary; that there was danger that, in transmitting orders to corps commanders, the instructions might be either so curtailed or elaborated as to change their spirit; that no matter how able General Meade might be, his position was in some measure a false one; that few responsibilities were given him; and yet he was charged with the duties of an army commander; that if he failed the responsibility could not be fixed upon him, and if he succeeded he could not reap the full reward of his merits; that, besides, he had an irascible temper, and often irritated officers who came in contact with him, while General Grant was even-tempered, and succeeded in securing a more hearty cooperation of his generals when he dealt with them direct. The discussion became heated at times. At the close of the arguments the general said: 'I am fully aware that some embarrassments arise from the present organization, but there is more weight on the other side of the question. I am commanding all the armies, and I cannot neglect others by giving my time exclusively to the Army of the Potomac, which would involve performing all the detailed duties of an army commander, directing its administration, enforcing discipline, reviewing its court-martial proceedings, etc. I have Burnside's, Butler's, and Siegel's armies to look after in Virginia, to say nothing of our Western armies, and I may make Sheridan's cavalry a separate command. Besides, Meade has served a long time with the Army of the Potomac, knows its subordinate officers thoroughly, and led it to a memorable victory at Gettysburg. I have just come from the West, and if I removed a deserving Eastern man from the position of army commander, my motives might be misunderstood, and the effect be bad upon the spirits of the troops. General Meade and I are in close contact on the field; he is capable and perfectly subordinate, and by attending to the details he relieves me of much unnecessary work, and gives me more time to think and to mature my general plans. I will always see that he gets full credit for what he does.' " [pp. 114-115]


A wonderful description. Thank you. It helps explain the complex politics that had to be negotiated, why this arrangement was necessary, and the sophistication of Grant's approach.
 

wausaubob

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It just so happens I'm in the midst of a blog post of a book review of Horace Porter's book, Campaigning With Grant. In it, Porter tells us what Grant's view of the command arrangement was:

"An animated discussion took place at headquarters that day regarding General Meade's somewhat anomalous position, and the embarrassments which were at times caused on the field by the necessity of issuing orders through him instead of direct to the corps commanders. The general-in-chief always invited the most frank and cordial interchange of views, and never failed to listen patiently to the more prominent members of his staff. He seldom joined in the discussions, and usually reserved what he had to say till the end of the argument, when he gave his views and rendered his decision. It was now urged upon him, with much force, that time was often lost in having field orders pass through an intermediary; that there was danger that, in transmitting orders to corps commanders, the instructions might be either so curtailed or elaborated as to change their spirit; that no matter how able General Meade might be, his position was in some measure a false one; that few responsibilities were given him; and yet he was charged with the duties of an army commander; that if he failed the responsibility could not be fixed upon him, and if he succeeded he could not reap the full reward of his merits; that, besides, he had an irascible temper, and often irritated officers who came in contact with him, while General Grant was even-tempered, and succeeded in securing a more hearty cooperation of his generals when he dealt with them direct. The discussion became heated at times. At the close of the arguments the general said: 'I am fully aware that some embarrassments arise from the present organization, but there is more weight on the other side of the question. I am commanding all the armies, and I cannot neglect others by giving my time exclusively to the Army of the Potomac, which would involve performing all the detailed duties of an army commander, directing its administration, enforcing discipline, reviewing its court-martial proceedings, etc. I have Burnside's, Butler's, and Siegel's armies to look after in Virginia, to say nothing of our Western armies, and I may make Sheridan's cavalry a separate command. Besides, Meade has served a long time with the Army of the Potomac, knows its subordinate officers thoroughly, and led it to a memorable victory at Gettysburg. I have just come from the West, and if I removed a deserving Eastern man from the position of army commander, my motives might be misunderstood, and the effect be bad upon the spirits of the troops. General Meade and I are in close contact on the field; he is capable and perfectly subordinate, and by attending to the details he relieves me of much unnecessary work, and gives me more time to think and to mature my general plans. I will always see that he gets full credit for what he does.' " [pp. 114-115]
George Meade was also Catholic, a long time professional soldier, from Pennsylvania and very knowledgeable about the the Committee had politically drawn and quartered other eastern generals.
It was a happy coincidence that Meade represented Pennsylvania, Sheridan represented New York and Irishmen, Sherman was well connected to Ohio, Thomas a Virginian and Grant was a thorough westerner.
Throw in John Schofield and McPherson and it makes it look as if West Point had done a better job homogenizing at least the northerners, then it might have appeared initially. Spreading out the appointments among the states was a good idea.
 

m14msgt

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"One hundred and fifty years ago this spring, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant launched the campaign that marked the beginning of the end of the American Civil War. For over a month, he and General Robert E. Lee were locked in a remorseless struggle that took their armies across the woodlands and farm clearings of central Virginia on the road to the Southern capital of Richmond."

http://history.army.mil/news/2014/140500a_overlandCampaign.html

http://history.army.mil/html/books/075/75-12/cmhPub_75-12.pdf


Dave
I want to write a paper for my Master's CW class on Bloody Angle. Can anyone recommend some good sources? Thx
 

Deleted User CS

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Gordon Rhea's series of books on this campaign are absolutely fantastic. I just purchased the newest and final volume this week. I heard him speak several times at our roundtable and is a very interesting and entertaining chap. His oratorical skills are magnificent, of course he is a lawyer, on the other hand he is also a very nice person. Perhaps Shakespeare was wrong. David.
 

Jimklag

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Gordon Rhea's series of books on this campaign are absolutely fantastic. I just purchased the newest and final volume this week. I heard him speak several times at our roundtable and is a very interesting and entertaining chap. His oratorical skills are magnificent, of course he is a lawyer, on the other hand he is also a very nice person. Perhaps Shakespeare was wrong. David.
Gordon Rhea is awesome.
 

James N.

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I want to write a paper for my Master's CW class on Bloody Angle. Can anyone recommend some good sources? Thx
I thought this shorter (only around 200pp.) treatment told me all I wanted to know without overwhelming me with detail; of course you might want something more than an overview, but you also presumably want multiple sources, too - not necessarily an easy thing to find concerning this particular battle.

Image.jpg
 

Jimklag

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I agree. Rhea does not support the "7000 casualties in half an hour" see Cold Harbor pages 385-386.
I'm readin pp. 385-386 as we write. Can't find a definitive casualty estimate only a bunch of he said, he said. NPS estimates 13,000 U.S. and about 2500 total rebel casualties. Here is a chart.

Casualty Estimates for the Battle of Cold Harbor
Source
Union Confederate
Killed
Wounded Captured/
Missing
Total Killed Wounded Captured/
Missing
Total
National Park Service 13,000 2,500
Kennedy,Civil War Battlefield Guide 13,000 5,000
King,Overland Campaign Staff Ride 12,738 3,400
Bonekemper,Victor, Not a Butcher 1,844 9,077 1,816 12,737 83 3,380 1,132 4,595
Eicher,Longest Night 12,000 "few
thousand"
Rhea, Cold Harbor 3,500–4,000
(June 3) 1,500
Trudeau,Bloody Roads South 12,475 2,456 14,931 3,765 1,082 4,847
Young, Lee's Army 788 3,376 1,123 5,287
Some authors (Catton, Esposito, Foote, McPherson, Grimsley) estimate the casualties for the major assault on June 3 and all agree on approximately 7,000 total Union casualties, 1,500 Confederate. Gordon Rhea, considered the preeminent modern historian of Grant'sOverland Campaign, has examined casualty lists in detail and has published a contrarian view in his 2002 book, Cold Harbor. For the morning assault on June 3, he can account for only 3,500 to 4,000 Union killed, wounded, and missing, and estimates that for the entire day the Union suffered about 6,000 casualties, compared to Lee's 1,000 to 1,500.

You see where I got the 7000 number.
 

Jimklag

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I'm readin pp. 385-386 as we write. Can't find a definitive casualty estimate only a bunch of he said, he said. NPS estimates 13,000 U.S. and about 2500 total rebel casualties. Here is a chart.

Casualty Estimates for the Battle of Cold Harbor
Source
Union Confederate
Killed
Wounded Captured/
Missing
Total Killed Wounded Captured/
Missing
Total
National Park Service 13,000 2,500
Kennedy,Civil War Battlefield Guide 13,000 5,000
King,Overland Campaign Staff Ride 12,738 3,400
Bonekemper,Victor, Not a Butcher 1,844 9,077 1,816 12,737 83 3,380 1,132 4,595
Eicher,Longest Night 12,000 "few
thousand"
Rhea, Cold Harbor 3,500–4,000
(June 3) 1,500
Trudeau,Bloody Roads South 12,475 2,456 14,931 3,765 1,082 4,847
Young, Lee's Army 788 3,376 1,123 5,287
Some authors (Catton, Esposito, Foote, McPherson, Grimsley) estimate the casualties for the major assault on June 3 and all agree on approximately 7,000 total Union casualties, 1,500 Confederate. Gordon Rhea, considered the preeminent modern historian of Grant'sOverland Campaign, has examined casualty lists in detail and has published a contrarian view in his 2002 book, Cold Harbor. For the morning assault on June 3, he can account for only 3,500 to 4,000 Union killed, wounded, and missing, and estimates that for the entire day the Union suffered about 6,000 casualties, compared to Lee's 1,000 to 1,500.

You see where I got the 7000 number.
So, you are right. Rhea does not support my statement. But Catton, Eicher, Trudeau, McPherson and the National Park Service do.
 
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