The Strength of the Federal Army in the Overland Campaign

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67th Tigers

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I'd like to thank DanSBHawk for giving me the motivation to research this, and Saphroneth for finding some of the data used here. This is now up.


The Strength of the Federal Army in the Overland Campaign


Introduction

Alfred C. Young III has done a wonderful job collating the Confederate Service Records (CSRs) and estimating the strength of the Army of Northern Virginia during the Overland Campaign in his book. His results are broadly similar to Newton's book, but by a different methodology. The methodology Young employed was similar to two studies carried out under the supervision of Joseph Harsh that found that the ANV in 1862 was much higher than generally credited (quoted in his Confederate Tide Rising). Generally, Young's work on Confederate strength should be applauded.

However, in his general conclusions is this statement are extremely questionable:
A comparison of Lee’s and Grant’s strengths and losses is instructive. As documented in the Official Records, the Army of the Potomac started the campaign with an effective strength of about 118,000 men, from which, if we are to compare the like with like, should be deducted the 3,400 men of the provost guard and engineers. Based upon other figures provided in the same source, Grant’s army received about 48,000 reinforcements during the Overland Campaign.1 These principally consisted of units drawn from the Washington defenses, others returning from furlough, and new recruits. According to the report of Maj. Gen. William F. Smith, he brought about 16,000 men in the XVIII Corps to Grant at Cold Harbor. At the same time, it should be recognized that the army lost about 20,000 men whose terms of enlistment expired. This represented a serious loss, for these were all veteran soldiers. Grant’s net increase is then about 44,000 men, or a maximum total of 162,000 men. The initial disparity in numbers between the Federal and Confederate armies decreased as the campaign progressed, especially in June.
from Young III, Alfred C.. Lee's Army during the Overland Campaign: A Numerical Study (Kindle Locations 4693-4701). LSU Press. Kindle Edition.
Young's sources for these figures thus:
  1. ORA 36(1), 1,036. The 30th April return for the AoP.
  2. ORA 36(1), 1,045. The 30th April return for the 9th Corps
  3. ORA 36(3), 665-6. A 7th July '64 statement by Halleck of 48,265 troops forwarded to Grant.
  4. A unreferenced statement that Smith brought 16,000 troops to Grant (which may be slightly lowballed, but not hugely given the last return, Smith estimated he had ca. 16,000 infantry, 100 cavalry and 16 guns)
  5. An unreferenced statement that 20,000 troops mustered out in this period, and should not be counted (which is both inappropriate, and unreasonable).
To those unfamiliar with how returns were made out in the Federal armies, this is superficially plausible, although the final point (5) is a truism, and as we shall see an inaccurate one. Here we will look at the actual strength of the Federal army operating north of the James River. As such only Smith's command from the Army of the James shall be counted.

1. The Army of the Potomac

The problem with Army of the Potomac returns in 1863-5 is that they were not made as per the regulation. However, at the War Department they were recorded as per the regulations. The main difference is that the AoP didn't count those on "extra duty", i.e. the logistics train, medical corps etc. in the "present for duty" column, as regulations required. This can be seen in the 30th April return in the OR as a large difference between those "for duty" (102,869) and present (127,471). The category "present for duty, equipped" is simply the PFD excluding the staff, engineers, and (as best we can tell) dismounted cavalrymen.

However, in the final report of the war, the Secretary of War reported at that time the commencement of the Overland Campaign the AoP had 120,384 PFD, exclusive of 9th Corps. Humphreys, the AoP Chief-of-Staff, in his 1883 account disputed this figure and in an appendix the then adjutant-general (Drum) wrote explaining that this was the regulation strength according to the April monthly report, which was made out on 18th July 1864. Drum then wrote that the consolidated morning report for 30th April was on file, which was a document compiled at the time, not months later, and it said:
  • Present for Duty: 102,869
  • Present and on special, extra or daily duty: 19,095
  • Sick: 4,756
  • In arrest or confinement: 931
  • Total Present: 127,471
Thus, by the monthly report, the regulation PFD was 121,964.

2. Ninth Army Corps

The OR strength is as per regulation, but the 9th Corps received some reinforcement between 30th April and 5th May. For example, the 58th Massachusetts. It appears the final report included these, as it listed 20,780 PFD at the start of the campaign.

3. Reinforcements Forwarded

The 7th June statement is incomplete, as it does not cover the entire period in question. On 10th June all further reinforcements were ordered to the Bermuda Hundred, and a statement enumerates that 42,469 troops had been sent to Grant in the field or via Fredericksburg (excluding troops sent to Washington or the Bermuda Hundred). This excludes a number of batteries forwarded etc., and thus should be regarded as a low estimate.

4. Smith

There are no official sources for the strength of the forces Smith brought to Grant. Smith's forces consisted of the HQ of 18th Corps, 4 from the Army of the James' 6 divisions (2 each from 10th and 18th), Smith's HQ cavalry squadron and 4 batteries of 4 guns. Mostly his communication to Halleck is quoted:

My command consisted very nearly of 16,000 infantry, sixteen pieces of artillery, and one squadron of cavalry of about 100 men.
The monthly return is missing the two 10th Corps divisions transferred to Smith. It lists Smith's two 18th Corps divisions that moved to Grant as 8,357 PFD (apparently excluding extra duty). Thus with two other (weaker) divisions, and a small cavalry squadron, 16,000 is a conservative figure, but reasonable.

5. Losses by Discharge

It must be questioned why discharges should not be counted. The better accounting method is to count them, but include them in non-battle casualties.

In the winter of 63-4 it was reported that the AoP stood to loose upto just over 20,000 troops by discharge prior to 31st August 1864. This assumed no casualties and no reenlistments (kudos to Saphroneth for finding it)

The 2nd Corps reported all discharges in May and June, as per a general order. They total 2,137 over this period. However, this period is longer than the period in question. Of the regiments listed, the 4th Maine, 42nd NY, 70th NY, 72nd NY, 74th NY, 26th Pennsylvania, 8th Ohio, 1st Delaware and Bty A, 1st RI mustered out after crossing the James. These total 857, leaving the total loss by discharge for 2nd Corps north of the James at 1,280.

The 6th Corps also reported their discharges, and helpfully placed dates on the table. They lost 998 north of the James.

No table for the 5th Corps has been located. The regiments lost by discharge during this period were (those in brackets continued to serve as units after discharging those who didn't re-enlist):

  • 1st Division: 9th Massachusetts
  • 2nd Division: (11th Pennsylvania - went Veteran in January), 83rd NY, (1st Maryland)
  • 3rd Division: (Pennsylvania Reserves, reorganised as brigade)
  • 4th Division: 14th NYSM, (2nd Wisconsin, veterans formed 2 coy bn)
The 9th Corps had only one regiment have their term expire, the 79th NY Highlanders. They generally re-enlisted, and on 11th June discharged the 17 men who had not re-enlisted.

It is immediately clear that the 20,000 figure is completely fallacious. The 2nd, 6th and 9th Corps lost 2,295 by expiration of enlistment north of the James. To reach 20,000 then the 5th Corps must have discharged 17,705 - a ridiculous figure.

The 5th Corps had the weak Pennsylvania Reserve Division reorganise into a strong brigade, with (according to the history) ca. 1,200 mustering out.

The 9th Massachusetts history has the muster list lists 383 on the list discharged on 21st June, 1864. The history of the 83rd NY has 92 leaving the field. The roster of the 1st Maryland has 62 discharged on 23rd May, 1864. The roster of the 14th NYSM lists 132 discharged on 6th June, 1864. The 2nd Wisconsin had 215 mustered out. The 11th Pennsylvania converted to a veteran regiment in January 1864, and hence lost little to none.

This gives a maximum of 2,084 mustering out. Unfortunately for most regiments only roster data (i.e. aggregate present and absent) is available, and the actual loss to the army would be less. However, if you accept it then the grand total that mustered out north of the James is 4,379. This figure is less than a quarter of what Young claimed.

6. Campaign Strength and Discussion

The total of the starting strength of the AoP, 9th Corps, reinforcements and Smith's command is 201,213.

At most only 4,379 were discharged in this period, making it a much less minor manpower drain than claimed. Almost all of these discharges were south of the North Anna. It is not appropriate to remove them from the strength, except as another category of casualties. Otherwise we'd have to consider that Breckinridges' and Early's commands were detached to the Shenandoah, and Hoke's to the James before Grant crossed the James, and no-one would except the argument that they should be counted.

Young's argument is clearly flawed. He has gone to great lengths to boost the rebel numbers, finding 66,140 with Lee on the 5th May, and adding 25,495 in units that joined Lee and an estimate of 4,565 in returning convalescents etc. to total 96,200. However, he then does not act with the same zeal in locating Federal units, and to be fair that was not what his study was about. In fact, he is sloppy and undercounts the Federal strength be several means. We can state with a reasonable degree of certainty that Young has managed to exclude nearly 40,000 men from the Federal count. The true force ratios are roughly 201,213 : 96,200 north of the James, or 2.1 : 1.

Of course, none of Lee's reinforcements arrived until after Spotsylvania, whereas many of Grant's did. Grant received 33,255 prior to withdrawing from Spotsylvania, giving a campaign strength to that point of 175,999 vs Lee's 66,140, or a ratio of 2.7 : 1 for the Wilderness-Spotsylvania fighting. Arguments that Grant thus had an overwhelming numerical superiority, especially in the first two weeks of the fighting, are thus on very shaky ground.

7. Conclusions

Whilst we should acknowledge the brilliant work of Young on the rebel strength, we must ignore his claims on the Federal strength and the strength ratios as ill-founded. He engaged in only cursory research and hence massively overconcluded. His arguments regarding the discharge of troops are particularly ill-researched, with him more than quadrupling the number discharged, and failing to note that such an adjustment is utterly inappropriate.

The campaign strength of the Federal forces upto the end of Spotsylvania was 175,999, and upto crossing the James was 201,213. This is far higher than Young reckoned. Thus his argument trying to minimise the crushing numerical superiority of the Federal forces cannot stand. Grant did have nearly a 3:1 manpower advantage, as the numerologists of the Lost Cause later articulated, although they also tried to minimise rebel numbers.
 
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DanSBHawk

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Well thank you for the mention, but as I've said before I've seen too many times how numbers get manipulated here. And it's impossible to say, without checking with Young, how he arrived at his numbers. He lists sources, but could very well have other methods and sources.

I'll stick with the historians estimates, but will note that your 200,000 number is much less than the 250,000 that was being thrown around here recently. Additionally, a 200:90 ratio is less than 3:1 and is far less than the ideal for assaulting defensive works.
 

67th Tigers

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I'll stick with the historians estimates, but will note that your 200,000 number is much less than the 250,000 that was being thrown around here recently.
PFD vs aggregate present, and we were considering the residue of the Army of the James that fought at Petersburg.
 
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lelliott19

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@67th Tigers this is excellent research and much appreciated. It's about time that someone closely examined the strength of the Union forces engaged in the Overland campaign - just as Al Young has done so carefully for the Confederate forces. That was, as you mentioned, the primary purpose of his fantastic book Lee's Army During the Overland Campaign: A Numerical Study. I've spoken with Al at length about his research methods. He is, and has been, very generous with his research notes - even to a nobody like me. :D From my review of his notes related to my brigade, it seems that Al was extremely meticulous and accurate on Confederate strengths, down to the regimental level.

Since the Union strength was not his primary topic, and since the Union strength seems to have been well documented and generally accepted until now, thanks to your fantastic research, it makes sense that he would not have dug into it as you have. I'm just curious if you contacted him and asked him how he arrived at his numbers for the Union strength? and perhaps suggested that he might have overlooked the discrepancy you have discovered? It's just my opinion - and you can certainly take it with a grain of salt - but it seems unnecessary to use such a defamatory title for your blog post. IMHO your research discovery would be better received by all if you allowed it to stand on its own merit and avoided the use of the negative title that seems to imply (whether intentional or not) that Al's work is generally flawed. Again, just my opinion. And again, GREAT research! Thanks for sharing it.
 
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Coonewah Creek

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I've spoken with Al at length about his research methods. He is, and has been, very generous with his research notes - even to a nobody like me. :D From my review of his notes related to my brigade, it seems that Al was extremely meticulous and accurate on Confederate strengths, down to the regimental level.
With respect to the Confederate numbers and Davis's Brigade at least, I can say that Al's numbers agree to within just a handful of what I have come up with independently...
 

Saphroneth

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I suspect (though can't prove, obviously) that the reason for 67th's title is that the primary flaw in the research - not the most impactful, but the most basic - was the use of the 20,000 figure for the troops who left by discharge. This figure isn't referenced, which isn't good at all, and the most obvious place for it to have come from is a table in the ORs which lists the expected discharge date by regiment - and most of them are after the end of June 1864.
 
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Saphroneth

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The ca. 3:1 advantage is transient, and is during the pre-North-Anna phase, because all of Lee's reinforcements arrived after the North Anna position was adopted. This is the relevant section:

Of course, none of Lee's reinforcements arrived until after Spotsylvania, whereas many of Grant's did. Grant received 33,255 prior to withdrawing from Spotsylvania, giving a campaign strength to that point of 175,999 vs Lee's 66,140, or a ratio of 2.7 : 1 for the Wilderness-Spotsylvania fighting. Arguments that Grant thus had an overwhelming numerical superiority, especially in the first two weeks of the fighting, are thus on very shaky ground.
Though should probably be "Arguments that Grant did not have an overwhelming numerical superiority..."

Interestingly deducting out the Wilderness and Spotsylvania casualties for both sides gives the end-Spotsylvania state as
Lee 66140 - 11033 - 12687 = 42420
Grant 175999 - 17666 - 18399 = 139934
 

ealexander1865

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I see that as manipulating numbers to get the interpretation you want. Many of the heavy artillery reinforcements did not arrive until the second week at Spotsylvania. That does not mean that Grant had a nearly 3:1 ratio for Wilderness and Spotsylvania.
 
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Saphroneth

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I see that as manipulating numbers to get the interpretation you want. Many of the heavy artillery reinforcements did not arrive until the second week at Spotsylvania. That does not mean that Grant had a nearly 3:1 ratio for Wilderness and Spotsylvania.
If you take a snapshot of the strength of the Union and Confederate armies as of the end of Spotsylvania (the departure from that position, a move initiated by Grant), Lee's strength is less than a third that of Grant's.

That means that, for part of the campaign, Grant had more than three times the strength Lee did. That's simply factual and is the point when Grant had the highest strength relative to Lee; if a 3:1 ratio is necessary to overcome a defensive position, Grant absolutely could have attacked then and he'd have had that strength ratio. (Specifically he'd have had about 10:3).

If you measure whole-campaign strength, on the other hand, the number that comes out is slightly more than 2:1.
If you measure the campaign strength up to the departure from the Spotsylvania position, the ratio is 8:3 (2.67:1).
If you measure the strength Grant crossed the Rapidan with and don't add reinforcements, and compare it to the strength Lee had, the numbers are 142,744 crossed the Rapidan and 66,140 were in Lee's force. That leads to a ratio of 2.16:1 in the Wilderness.
After the Wilderness, the Union army had 125,078 PFD and Lee had 55,107 PFD; the ratio is 2.26:1.
After the fighting at Spotsylvania, and assuming no Union reinforcements (i.e. the "12 May state" without Union reinforcements) the Union strength is 106,649; that means the ratio is 2.5:1.

Depending on when you measure you get different results and a different ratio - that's kind of the point of the analysis as a whole, looking into what the numbers actually were and how they shifted about. However, any whole-campaign analysis shows Lee outnumbered at about 2:1, and more so before his North Anna reinforcements.
 

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That means that, for part of the campaign, Grant had more than three times the strength Lee did. That's simply factual and is the point when Grant had the highest strength relative to Lee; if a 3:1 ratio is necessary to overcome a defensive position, Grant absolutely could have attacked then and he'd have had that strength ratio. (Specifically he'd have had about 10:3).
So now 3:1 is all that is necessary to assault an entrenched enemy? Does that apply to commanders other than Grant?
 

67th Tigers

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Since the Union strength was not his primary topic, and since the Union strength seems to have been well documented and generally accepted until now, thanks to your fantastic research, it makes sense that he would not have dug into it as you have. I'm just curious if you contacted him and asked him how he arrived at his numbers for the Union strength? and perhaps suggested that he might have overlooked the discrepancy you have discovered? It's just my opinion - and you can certainly take it with a grain of salt - but it seems unnecessary to use such a defamatory title for your blog post. IMHO your research discovery would be better received by all if you allowed it to stand on its own merit and avoided the use of the negative title that seems to imply (whether intentional or not) that Al's work is generally flawed. Again, just my opinion. And again, GREAT research! Thanks for sharing it.
His work with the rebel numbers is meticulous and praiseworthy. However, there is no corresponding work for Federal numbers, and he derived some numbers based off partial information, because it was not his main focus of research. However, I see your point over the title, and have deleted the subclause.

Thus his Federal numbers contain problematic derivations, primarily two:

1. The AoP strength. Unless you've spent a lot of time looking at the topic then it is not obvious that from ca. the beginning of 1863 forward the AoP started filling in their returns in a non-regulation manner. They excluded all their non-combatants from the PFD category. It is very easy to fall into this trap unless, for example, you read Humphreys or wonder why the difference between PFD and aggregate present in the AoP is huge compared to the 9th Corps. Essentially every writer for the last hundred years has fallen here, with only the likes of Jubal Early noting the difference (but as a Lost Cause numerologist, no-one listens to him any more).

2. The claim of 20,000 muster outs. This is very problematic. Firstly, those that mustered out should not be excluded from the strength in the first place. These men fought in part of the campaign and effectively became "casualties" to the army on muster out. Any exclusion of them is inappropriate. Secondly, the number 20,000 has very little credibility. As I noted, two of the corps have reports of what they lost in the OR. The 9th Corps only had one regiment expire, and they're easy to find. Thus from three corps 2,295 were "casualties" to expired enlistments. That left only the 5th Corps, and there I had legwork to do, but the most liberal estimate (using mostly rosters) is 2,048. Thus even if it were a legitimate adjustment, it would be massively exaggerated.
 
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67th Tigers

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I see that as manipulating numbers to get the interpretation you want. Many of the heavy artillery reinforcements did not arrive until the second week at Spotsylvania. That does not mean that Grant had a nearly 3:1 ratio for Wilderness and Spotsylvania.
As a whole, it does. When breaking down campaign strengths you need to set a boundary, and include everything in that boundary. Tyler's Heavy Arty Division, for example, arrived with the army on the 15th May, and famously the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery charged on 18th May. They certainly were "engaged at Spotslyvania", even if only the end of it.

Of course, on any given day the ratio is lower, because Grant is losing men proportionally much quicker than Lee, and is being "topped up" with reinforcements. Lee received his first reinforcements as he was marching away from Spotslyvania (a few regiments missing from 2nd Corps, and Pickett's Division - both had been fighting Butler in the Bermuda Hundred).

If we had daily casualty breakdowns we could probably estimate the shifting forces and ratios. That would be a worthwhile project.
 

Saphroneth

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So now 3:1 is all that is necessary to assault an entrenched enemy? Does that apply to commanders other than Grant?
You'll note that the first word on the bolded sentence is "If".

Possessing a 3:1 numerical advantage across the whole battlespace is a pretty good situation to be in when you're about to make a set-piece attack, because it makes it much more likely you'll be able to either
1) Hold the enemy in front with an attack strong enough he cannot detach significant reinforcements, and launch a flanking attack with another part of your force
or
2) Launch an attack on an identified weak point of sufficient strength that the enemy will not be able to hold there, and you will be able to break into the enemy position.

Launching an attack off the march with a 3:1 advantage in total manpower is certainly much more likely to work than an attack off the march with a 2:1 advantage, but it's less likely to work than a set-piece attack with a 3:1 advantage. It might even be less likely to work than a set-piece attack with a 2:1 advantage, though that depends on the specifics.
When manoeuvre enters the conversation, even a quite small advantage can be telling. If Grant could split his army into two equal parts and both of them would individually outnumber Lee's entire force, he has a lot of scope for conducting a manoeuvre sur les derrieres.
 

DanSBHawk

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You'll note that the first word on the bolded sentence is "If".

Possessing a 3:1 numerical advantage across the whole battlespace is a pretty good situation to be in when you're about to make a set-piece attack, because it makes it much more likely you'll be able to either
1) Hold the enemy in front with an attack strong enough he cannot detach significant reinforcements, and launch a flanking attack with another part of your force
or
2) Launch an attack on an identified weak point of sufficient strength that the enemy will not be able to hold there, and you will be able to break into the enemy position.

Launching an attack off the march with a 3:1 advantage in total manpower is certainly much more likely to work than an attack off the march with a 2:1 advantage, but it's less likely to work than a set-piece attack with a 3:1 advantage. It might even be less likely to work than a set-piece attack with a 2:1 advantage, though that depends on the specifics.
When manoeuvre enters the conversation, even a quite small advantage can be telling. If Grant could split his army into two equal parts and both of them would individually outnumber Lee's entire force, he has a lot of scope for conducting a manoeuvre sur les derrieres.
Long story, short,... "3:1 against an entrenched enemy" applies when you want it to apply. And when you don't want it to apply, it doesn't. Got it.

Speaking of derrieres...
 
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Saphroneth

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Long story, short,... "3:1 against an entrenched enemy" applies when you want it to apply. And when you don't want it to apply, it doesn't. Got it.
It's a first-order rule of thumb which can break down if the situations are unusual; it's more normally rendered as 3:1 advantage in combat power, with entrenchments a multiplier to combat power and supporting gunnery an advantage to either attacker or defender (while veteran troops are better than the same number of green troops).

The attack on the Mule Shoe involved considerably more than a 3:1 numerical advantage at the point of contact, with much of a corps hitting a single Confederate brigade. However, as the attack continued, it ran into greater and greater Confederate strength while the Union force tired out and its combat power reduced until it hit the culmination point.


Is there a particular instance you're thinking of where you think I think the 3:1 rule doesn't apply? Is it a case of attacking entrenchments, or are there additional complicating factors involved?


Speaking of derrieres...
Well, a manoeuvre sur les derrieres is just one example of a classic fixing-and-turning movement, which is one of the most basic ways to employ manoeuvre if you can split your force. Presumably it was an option for e.g. Grant after May 12 at Spotsylvania.
 

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It's a first-order rule of thumb which can break down if the situations are unusual; it's more normally rendered as 3:1 advantage in combat power, with entrenchments a multiplier to combat power and supporting gunnery an advantage to either attacker or defender (while veteran troops are better than the same number of green troops).

The attack on the Mule Shoe involved considerably more than a 3:1 numerical advantage at the point of contact, with much of a corps hitting a single Confederate brigade. However, as the attack continued, it ran into greater and greater Confederate strength while the Union force tired out and its combat power reduced until it hit the culmination point.


Is there a particular instance you're thinking of where you think I think the 3:1 rule doesn't apply? Is it a case of attacking entrenchments, or are there additional complicating factors involved?



Well, a manoeuvre sur les derrieres is just one example of a classic fixing-and-turning movement, which is one of the most basic ways to employ manoeuvre if you can split your force. Presumably it was an option for e.g. Grant after May 12 at Spotsylvania.
No, I was just thinking how strange it is, from you and your friend, that there are endless excuses for McClellan failing and endless criticisms for Grant winning.
 
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Coonewah Creek

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Possessing a 3:1 numerical advantage across the whole battlespace is a pretty good situation to be in when you're about to make a set-piece attack, because it makes it much more likely you'll be able to either
1) Hold the enemy in front with an attack strong enough he cannot detach significant reinforcements, and launch a flanking attack with another part of your force
or
2) Launch an attack on an identified weak point of sufficient strength that the enemy will not be able to hold there, and you will be able to break into the enemy position.
Just remember that 3:1 odds is generally the *minimum* acceptable odds for conducting an offensive against a fixed defense. That's why even with 3:1 odds, you still "roll the dice" in wargames. :wink:
 
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Saphroneth

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Just remember that 3:1 odds is generally the *minimum* acceptable odds for conducting an offensive against a fixed defense. That's why even with 3:1 odds, you still "roll the dice" in wargames. :wink:
Oh, indeed; it's a rule of thumb. A general does all they can to stack the odds in their favour, either directly or indirectly, but it's strength at the point of contact.
Manoeuvring is so useful because it allows the general who manoeuvres better to adjust the odds in their favour.

No, I was just thinking how strange it is, from you and your friend, that there are endless excuses for McClellan failing and endless criticisms for Grant winning.
If a 3:1 full-campaign superiority is what is needed to succeed comfortably, then Grant did well to succeed without it.

If a 2:1 full-campaign superiority is what Grant needed to succeed, however, then this can be used to evaluate what was asked of other generals and how well they did.

It is my view that it is not simultaneously possible to hold all four of these views:

1) Grant needed the troops he had to do as well as he did.
2) Grant is skilled for doing as well as he did with the troops he had.
3) McClellan had all the troops he needed.
4) McClellan is not skilled for doing as well as he did with the troops he had.

I'm quite happy to say that Grant was a perfectly competent general (better than most, as he could manage an army of >100,000 men PFD - not an easy skill!) who made some good decisions and some bad ones; however, if McClellan is held to have failed given the resources he had then we must use that to judge what the standard of success is.

For example, given the two-day delay between setting off against the Warwick line and reaching it, and given the actual strengths reported* for the units that arrived (on both sides) and when they arrived, and also given the requirement to garrision Newport at the start of the campaign, I am unaware of a way in which McClellan could have concentrated a 3:1 ratio of strength against the Confederate enemy at any point in the Peninsular campaign.

On the other hand, as we have seen, if Grant had launched an offensive just before the armies left Spotsylvania - such as by launching a third assault, or by holding off the 12 May assault until the reinforcements arrived - Grant would have been able to muster a 3:1 ratio of strength.



*regulation PFD for the Union, Effectives for the Confederates. This actually reduces Confederate strength relative to Union, so it's better for seeking a 3:1 ratio than if both sides had regulation PFD.
 

Saphroneth

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Another way to use these numbers is to consider a different split of troops. Specifically, if we conjecture what the balance would have been if Grant got no reinforcements after crossing the Rapidan (and that he'd stayed at Spotsylvania), and that instead all of the troops that would have been reinforcements for him were sent to the Army of the James.


Firstly we need to take Grant's starting strength and deduct out the casualties from Spotsylvania and the Wilderness. Fortunately I already did this:

After the fighting at Spotsylvania, and assuming no Union reinforcements (i.e. the "12 May state" without Union reinforcements) the Union strength is 106,649.

Secondly we need Lee's remaining strength:

Lee 66140 - 11033 - 12687 = 42420
Thirdly, we need to take the total Union campaign strength (201,213) and the total Confederate campaign strength (96,200) and deduct out the forces that faced one another at the Wilderness; this is the total reinforcement strength that Grant got versus what Le would have left to react to it.

For Lee it's 30,060; for Grant it's about 58,500.

And finally we need to consider the losses by discharge, which (if we assume that all North Anna casualties were men who were going to muster out, and ditto CH) would cut down on Grant's strength by (4,400+675) so about 5,075.

This would result in a mid-June state of:

101,575 Union troops at Spotsylvania
And 58,500 Union troops on the Peninsula (irrespective of the rest of Butler's force)
versus 42,420 Confederate troops at Spotsylvania
And 30,060 Confederate troops to split between the Peninsula and Spotsylvania

Mathematically speaking, if Lee splits his forces to maintain the same force ratio with Grant's troops both north and south of Richmond, this puts 26,500 Confederate troops on the Peninsula and 46,000 Confederate troops at Spotsylvania, both outnumbered 2.2:1.

It's an interesting hypothetical, anyway. Also interesting is that if Lee tried to concentrate troops on the Peninsula such that he had an equal force to the 58,500 Union troops there then he'd have to strip the Spotsylvania army down to 14,000!
 
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