Your point escapes me.Hey @cash . I stipulate to the correctness of Gordon Rhea. But, something just occurred to me. On July 3, 1863, Pickett's charge was made by three small divisions against a position with only a low stone wall and there were about 6,000 casualties in an hour or so. At Cold Harbor, three full corps attacked full entrenchments more than a mile long that are still clearly visible after 150 years and the casualties, according to the most reliable source, were the same 6000 in all-day fighting. Go figure.
Sorry. My point was that seeing what happened in an hour at Gettysburg shows why people might believe the 7000 in 30 minutes thing at Cold Harbor. It was not pure fantasy.Your point escapes me.
However, thanks for reminding us that Lee was also prone to launching bloody and futile frontal assaults. Guess he learned nothing from Malvern Hill.
Hey @cash . I stipulate to the correctness of Gordon Rhea. But, something just occurred to me. On July 3, 1863, Pickett's charge was made by three small divisions against a position with only a low stone wall and there were about 6,000 casualties in an hour or so. At Cold Harbor, three full corps attacked full entrenchments more than a mile long that are still clearly visible after 150 years and the casualties, according to the most reliable source, were the same 6000 in all-day fighting. Go figure.
As for best book on the Overland Campaign there is Trudeau's book "Bloody Roads South" but I would read Gordon Rhea's four (and someday hopefully soon) five volume series.
There are other good books on various aspects of the campaign out there.
If seeking more accurate information is due to people wanting to make a name for themselves, so what? It's the result that counts. No one's disputing Rhea's research methods.
Freeman and Foote didn't go digging in the National Archives to look at those sources firsthand.
Next we'll hear that claiming that the earth is round is a revisionist plot hatched by egomaniacs who can't stand the truth and who want to be politically correct.
At Cold Harbor there were 7000 casualties in about a half hour.
The Overland campaign;
1. When the Army of the Potomac moved south, the Confederate strategy of causing as many casualties as possible to break the will of the people of the United States to continue the fight and Lee attacked with everything he had in the Wilderness.
2. When the Army of the Potomac emerged from the Wilderness with its logistics intact, it then had a chance to see if the Confederates had made any mistakes in allowing approaches to the Confederate entrenchments. The Potomac Army found at least one place where they approach the Confederate line under cover.
3. After the Wilderness and Spotsylvania, the Confederates were pulling reinforcements from all over the Atlantic coast.
4. Despite the United States Army taking a very vulnerable position at the North Anna River, the Confederates did not attack.
5. The combination of the near success at Spotsylvania, the Confederates hesitating at the North Anna confrontation, frustration with the lack of response of the command structure to getting a position at Cold Harbor early, which could have been exploited, and the fact that Cold Harbor was the last place there could be a battle before resorting to moving below the James River, led to Grant allowing Meade to try the assault at Cold Harbor, which was a mistake.
6. This led to the crossing of the James and the siege of Petersburg, which replicated many of the same results as Vicksburg.
7. While this was going on in a series of larger and larger and raids, the United States cavalry gradually destroyed the Virginia landscape and made all of Virginia a theater of war.
8. Lee's partial success in defending Richmond and Jefferson Davis led to the ruin of Virginia, the state that Lee said he was committed to defend. Ironic.
See the chart in my #59 above. Rhea, who seems to be the only source you trust, has about half as many total casualties as everybody else. I did not invent the 7000/30 minute thing. It's stated by Shelby Foote, both in his 3-volume history and in Ken Burns' documentsry and in the other places I have posted today ad nauseum. The historians who don't agree with Rhea are not chumps, yet you completely ignore them and rely solely on Rhea. That's your prerogative. I'll stick to the consensus.
Butler's offensive did not achieve what Grant wanted, but it probably achieved what Grant needed.There is a lot of inter-action not explicitly covered above, otherwise pretty good summary.
- Butler allows himself to get bottled-up at Bermuda Hundred instead of doing something useful (like cutting the RR between Richmond and Petersburg). Once he has been buffaloed by Pickett, then Beauregard, his army is penned up -- allowing reinforcements to be sent to Lee.
- Sigel's disaster in the Shenandoah allows Breckinridge to move to reinforce Lee. Lee uses Breckinridge to plug the gap at Cold Harbor for a day, gaining critical time to shift troops and prevent a Union victory.
- Meade's Cold Harbor plan, if executed properly (very big if), could have won the war in June 1864. Mistakes (poor leadership, stumbling by exhausted troops, etc.) kept it from working. If the final attack is carried through when ordered (36 hours earlier), the Union will almost certainly smash the Rebel flank, be south of Lee and closer to Richmond on an open road, with Sheridan's cavalry massed to exploit the breakthrough. That didn't happen, and the attack should have been cancelled to avoid disaster -- but 36 hours earlier it would have overwhelmed the Confederate right. Such is war: good plan, lousy execution, some bad luck = disaster instead of success.