Very Informative Article on How McClellan Outsmarted Lee at Antietam

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Saphroneth

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Messages
4,670
Yeah the Napoleon was a good allrounder and I'm not surprised the Arty men loved them easy to use not many problems unlike the Parrott's and the they had better defensive capability's unlike the Parrott's if I was in the Arty in those times id pick a napoleon crew.
I'd go Whitworth myself, but you'd hardly be alone - some batteries considered going from iron rifles to brass smoothbores a happy upgrade.

Nosworthy notes that the peculiarities of gun carriage design in the Americas resulted in a situation where rifles were put on top of the carriages of smoothbore pieces of similar bore, which produced a much greater recoil as the projectile for a rifle was about three times as heavy as the projectile of a smoothbore. Thus a 12-pounder rifle would recoil over twenty feet when fired, and the strain this placed on the wheels caused massive damage to them and would result in broken wheels or bent axles much more often than the eminently reliable Napoleons.

It seems that Lee considered the Napoleon smoothbore better in close terrain and for close in defence, and that the rifle was superior only when engaging at long range in open terrain; given the constraints of the weapons on hand he was probably right.

Though the Napoleon smoothbore was actually quite a new weapon (a smoothbore able to handle ball, shell, canister and grapeshot), and had only been invented in France in 1853 and adopted in America at all in 1857. It perhaps represents the final development of the battlefield smoothbore, not an obsolete weapon but one which could compete more than equally in most roles with the new rifles.
 

BlueandGrayl

First Sergeant
Joined
May 27, 2018
Messages
1,595
Location
Corona, California
While we're on the topic regarding the debate over McClellan's performance and the extent of what he did I think one CWTer really has preconceived notions and already was proven wrong by 16thVA on one thread named wausaubob (no offense to him or others) he was pretty interested in the idea of a Confederate victory on a thread called "The United States without the Confederates" but in another thread doubts it and this is the biggest problem with him he does not know how Union contemporaries in certain periods such as July 1861-January 1862 and summer to fall pre-Antietam 1862 for example really understood what was going on and among the claims he made in one thread on the "What If...? Discussions" I really had to address these claims by using info from some books I've read but no he has a tendency to post multiple times and sometimes repeat the same idea, among the ones I've seen:

1. Border states: He claims that "the numbers were decisive" always when it came to the Union attempt at keeping the border statees however he doesn't seem to know the nature of 2 of the 4 border states: Delaware and Maryland, the former was hardly ever in danger of seceding given that it was the first state to ratify the Constitution it would be the last to leave the Union plus blacks were free and on at least a few occasions in the late 18th and 19th century almost came close to abolishing slavery while in the case of Maryland after the Revolutionary War slavery was on the decline and it was dying by 1860 plus the state was a large free black community and outside of Eastern Shore/Southern Maryland areas and the Baltimore Riots it wasn't in danger of secession nor did they refuse to send troops and had a Unionist governor at the outbreak of the Civil War named Thomas Hicks who didn't get into conflict with legislature. Kentucky and Missouri on the other hand were in a completely different situation from Maryland and Delaware both chose neutrality and both did not want to send troops to suppress the South they also had Secessionist governors who ran into conflict with their legislatures (largely neutral and only would stay in the Union if they're peculiar institution wasn't abolished or their neutrality violated as shown by Fremont's attempted emancipation) : Beriah Magoffin and Claribone Fox Jackson, the former state had portions under Confederate control such as Bowling Green and Columbus for example while the latter state was the site of a major battle called Wilson's Creek which ended in a Confederate victory plus the capture of Lexington and about half the state at one point fell to the Rebels.

As far as numbers go well it wasn't the case with Abraham Lincoln's assessment of the war in the West in 1861 where he identified Kentucky as "successfully invaded" (as in Confederates have presence) ad Missouri as "virtually seized" (as in half the state is under Confederate control) and with Henry W. Halleck in January 1862 when he stated that he was operatong with avaliable (limited) force in Missouri and noted that about 80,000 were against the Federal government due to Jayhawker raids and attacks he also noted that being that state was like "virtually's in an enemy's territory" concerning Kentucky Halleck stated he had 15,000 troops when he deduced the number for guards left to Buell he noted he had only about 10,000 troops and the Confederate garrison at Bowling Green/Columbus about 22,000, in the aforementioned Battle of Wilson's Creek the Confederates (including the Missouri State Guard) had 12,120 while the Union only had 5,430 this is the number determined by the book Wilson's Creek: The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men Who Fought It while in the Battle of Lexington there were 15,000 Rebels and only 3,500 Federals based off estimates provided by the National Park Service in these cases it was the Confederates that had the "decisive" numbers not the other way around, Kentucky was also the subject of another invasion by Braxton Bragg and Edmund Kirby Smith when they defeated two Union armies in Richmond (KY) and Munfordville as well as capturing Lexington and the state capital of Frankfort where they prepared to inagurate a pro-Confederate governor as Don Carlos Buell noted the Confederates had 'virtual possession of the whole of Kentucky east of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad' outside of Louisville and Covington enough to cause a panic/state of emergency in the former city and Cincinnati, there.

2. British intervention: He claims that the British could have intervened in the war but their antislavery position and their commitment to stop the illegal slave trade prevented it he however ignores the fact that the latter issue was a matter of the British inspecting other countries ships (including American ships) which was a separate issue from the Civil War he also doesn't know that because of Lincoln (being a moderate) having to avoid taking radical measures of abolishing slavery towards the South or any border states as a way of appealing toward Unionist Democrats there and the populace (or any Southern Unionists) as well as taking a conciliatory stance towards the Southern states and having to overrule emancipation orders by John C. Fremont and David Hunter the British were quite skeptical and their basis of recognizing the Confederates was the Union not being able to defeat the Confederacy (which was true in certain periods and something he would recognize in another thread) and prior to Antietam they were prepared to give mediatation, even British newspapers were critical of the Emancipation Proclaimation due to the fact that it only targeted hostile slaveholders rather than all slaveholders one noted that other the principle of the United States is that a human cannot own another human but he can so as long as he is loyal to the United States when the Emancipation Proclaimation was issued it was because Lincoln needed a proper victory ot something close to it to justify the Proclaimation he had to give it the appearance of a "war measure" and exclude those in the border states and anyone Union loyal in the South, nor does he seem to note that America and Britain almost got into war with each other in the form of the Trent Affair.

3. Revolution status: He claims that a proper Confederate victory would have to be a revolution in the sense that the leaders would be executed and the government destroyed although he does note the Confederates were able to capture Norfolk and a naval base he fails to note that the Confederate attempt at secession was a war of independence akin to the Revolutionary War (or War of Independence) it was never intended to get rid of the existing U.S. government instead it was simply to create a new nation just like the American Patriots did.

4. Capturing Washington, D.C.: He claims that the Confederates could have captured Washington, D.C. after Bull Run/Manassas I but the U.S. wouldn't impaired that much after the East Coast Democratic Press convinced them to stop however it was early on in the war and neither army was well prepared and organized enough so it was too early in the war for this to occur plus the Union Army wasn't in a good condition.

5. Breckinridge and Bell: He claims that since John C. Breckinridge (Southern Democrat) and John Bell (Constitutional Union) ran on a secessionist platform therefore support for secession in the South is overstated however this was the 1860 presidential election in the United States both candidates were running for the presidency at that time and when Abraham Lincoln won the election most of Breckinridge and Bell's supporters became Secessionists when the Civil War came including both men themselves.

6. Secession movements elsewhere: He claims that after the Confederate secession the far-off parts of the United States did not break away and thus the strength of American nationalism was demonstrated however there was already an attempt at secession in the form of New York City given that it held a lot of trade ties to the South and was a Democratic stronghold the mayor Fernando Wood (an anti-war Copperhead Democrat) planned on breaking away from the Union and becoming the Free City of Tri-Insula only after Fort Sumter did this end but other talk of secession occurred the states of California and Oregon were part of a plan called "The Pacific Republic" and the Old Northwest (Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio) also was where some wanted to become independent given the hostility between them and the Northeast since sectionalism was still strong (see Copperheads: The Rise and Fall of Lincoln's Opponents in the North and The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln: The Story of America's Most Unpopular President) and for the settler communities he's mentioned he doesn't understand that most of this newly settled territory weren't even states yet and they were too far away to be part of the action plus the southern half of Arizona and New Mexico actually wanted to be part of the Confederacy and a battle called Glorieta Pass was fought there.

7. The naval stuff: By far the most insistent part of what he has repeated over and over again is regarding the naval affairs of the war he has an obsession with it claiming that surprise surprise the navy of the Union was why they won and claimed that naval warfare defined 19th century warfare however any Union contemporary living in certain periods knew it wasn't the case and none of his talk about "growth" or "expansion" was ever made a big deal by those who lived to see it but he dismisses that these people were wrong then and wrong just now except that he fails to understand that unlike him these people really saw the conflict and what was going on plus the Union blockade in 1861 as James M. McPherson notes in Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam really wasn't effective yet and did not have enough ships to stop Confederate cotton it was more of a case of self-imposed embargo (King Cotton) he did note the Confederates did hold a few ports but he should have taken a closer look into what was happening in the summer to fall of pre-Anntietam 1862 such as the case with the CSS Arkansas which was able to drive David Farragut's Union fleet away from Vicksburg and in that timeframe there were no more naval victories occuuring whatsoever.

I would really recommend that he actually read books such as Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam, Rise to Greatness: Abraham Lincoln and America's Most Perilous Year, The Long Road to Antietam and other books to know what was actually going on instead of making assumptions.
 

Scott1967

Corporal
Joined
Jul 11, 2016
Messages
276
Location
England
The naval stuff: By far the most insistent part of what he has repeated over and over again is regarding the naval affairs of the war he has an obsession with it claiming that surprise surprise the navy of the Union was why they won and claimed that naval warfare defined 19th century warfare however any Union contemporary living in certain periods knew it wasn't the case and none of his talk about "growth" or "expansion" was ever made a big deal by those who lived to see it but he dismisses that these people were wrong then and wrong just now except that he fails to understand that unlike him these people really saw the conflict and what was going on plus the Union blockade in 1861 as James M. McPherson notes in Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam really wasn't effective yet and did not have enough ships to stop Confederate cotton it was more of a case of self-imposed embargo (King Cotton) he did note the Confederates did hold a few ports but he should have taken a closer look into what was happening in the summer to fall of pre-Anntietam 1862
Id like to think the workers of Manchester had a hand 1862 in denying the CSA much needed funds when they refused to work Southern cotton causing the Manchester cotton famine , This was done off their own backs with no influence what so ever from the government.

Quote:
Many mill owners and workers resented the blockade and continued to see the war as an issue of tariffs against free trade. Attempts were made to run the blockade, by ships from Liverpool, London and New York. 71,751 bales of American cotton reached Liverpool in 1862.[30] Confederate flags were flown in many cotton towns.

On 31 December 1862, a meeting of cotton workers at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester, despite their increasing hardship, resolved to support the Union in its fight against slavery. An extract from the letter they wrote in the name of the Working People of Manchester to His Excellency Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America says:

... the vast progress which you have made in the short space of twenty months fills us with hope that every stain on your freedom will shortly be removed, and that the erasure of that foul blot on civilisation and Christianity – chattel slavery – during your presidency, will cause the name of Abraham Lincoln to be honoured and revered by posterity. We are certain that such a glorious consummation will cement Great Britain and the United States in close and enduring regards.

— Public Meeting, Free Trade Hall, Manchester, 31 December 1862.
On 19 January 1863, Abraham Lincoln sent an address thanking the cotton workers of Lancashire for their support. He wrote:

... I know and deeply deplore the sufferings which the working people of Manchester and in all Europe are called to endure in this crisis. It has been often and studiously represented that the attempt to overthrow this Government which was built on the foundation of human rights, and to substitute for it one which should rest exclusively on the basis of slavery, was unlikely to obtain the favour of Europe.

Through the action of disloyal citizens, the working people of Europe have been subjected to a severe trial for the purpose of forcing their sanction to that attempt. Under the circumstances I cannot but regard your decisive utterances on the question as an instance of sublime Christian heroism which has not been surpassed in any age or in any country. It is indeed an energetic and re-inspiring assurance of the inherent truth and of the ultimate and universal triumph of justice, humanity and freedom.

I hail this interchange of sentiments, therefore, as an augury that, whatever else may happen, whatever misfortune may befall your country or my own, the peace and friendship which now exists between the two nations will be, as it shall be my desire to make them, perpetual.

— Abraham Lincoln, 19 January 1863
170px-Abraham_lincoln_manchester_england.jpg

The statue of Abraham Lincoln in Manchester, England
A monument in Brazenose Street, Lincoln Square, Manchester, commemorates the events and reproduces portions of both documents.[31] The Abraham Lincoln statue by George Grey Barnard, 1919, was formerly located in the gardens at Platt Hall in Rusholme.

The Federal American government sent a gift of food to the people of Lancashire. The first consignment was sent aboard the George Griswold. Other ships were the Hope and Achilles.

A local historian told me that he had seen newspaper articles in Lancashire that celebrated McClellan's victory at Sharpsburg and that some street party's took place and much rejoicing as the people of Lancashire thought the war would come to an end and normal cotton production would resume as it happens and sadly it didn't and by 1864-65 many had emigrated to other country's.

I think McClellan was held in high regard by my town as was Grant who of course came to visit us on his tour and was very warmly received.
 

Attachments

Last edited:
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

BlueandGrayl

First Sergeant
Joined
May 27, 2018
Messages
1,595
Location
Corona, California
Id like to think the workers of Manchester had a hand 1862 in denying the CSA much needed funds when they refused to work Southern cotton causing the Manchester cotton famine , This was done off their own backs with no influence what so ever from the government.

Quote:
Many mill owners and workers resented the blockade and continued to see the war as an issue of tariffs against free trade. Attempts were made to run the blockade, by ships from Liverpool, London and New York. 71,751 bales of American cotton reached Liverpool in 1862.[30] Confederate flags were flown in many cotton towns.

On 31 December 1862, a meeting of cotton workers at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester, despite their increasing hardship, resolved to support the Union in its fight against slavery. An extract from the letter they wrote in the name of the Working People of Manchester to His Excellency Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America says:

... the vast progress which you have made in the short space of twenty months fills us with hope that every stain on your freedom will shortly be removed, and that the erasure of that foul blot on civilisation and Christianity – chattel slavery – during your presidency, will cause the name of Abraham Lincoln to be honoured and revered by posterity. We are certain that such a glorious consummation will cement Great Britain and the United States in close and enduring regards.

— Public Meeting, Free Trade Hall, Manchester, 31 December 1862.
On 19 January 1863, Abraham Lincoln sent an address thanking the cotton workers of Lancashire for their support. He wrote:

... I know and deeply deplore the sufferings which the working people of Manchester and in all Europe are called to endure in this crisis. It has been often and studiously represented that the attempt to overthrow this Government which was built on the foundation of human rights, and to substitute for it one which should rest exclusively on the basis of slavery, was unlikely to obtain the favour of Europe.

Through the action of disloyal citizens, the working people of Europe have been subjected to a severe trial for the purpose of forcing their sanction to that attempt. Under the circumstances I cannot but regard your decisive utterances on the question as an instance of sublime Christian heroism which has not been surpassed in any age or in any country. It is indeed an energetic and re-inspiring assurance of the inherent truth and of the ultimate and universal triumph of justice, humanity and freedom.

I hail this interchange of sentiments, therefore, as an augury that, whatever else may happen, whatever misfortune may befall your country or my own, the peace and friendship which now exists between the two nations will be, as it shall be my desire to make them, perpetual.

— Abraham Lincoln, 19 January 1863
170px-Abraham_lincoln_manchester_england.jpg

The statue of Abraham Lincoln in Manchester, England
A monument in Brazenose Street, Lincoln Square, Manchester, commemorates the events and reproduces portions of both documents.[31] The Abraham Lincoln statue by George Grey Barnard, 1919, was formerly located in the gardens at Platt Hall in Rusholme.

The Federal American government sent a gift of food to the people of Lancashire. The first consignment was sent aboard the George Griswold. Other ships were the Hope and Achilles.

A local historian told me that he had seen newspaper articles in Lancashire that celebrated McClellan's victory at Sharpsburg and that some street party's took place and much rejoicing as the people of Lancashire thought the war would come to an end and normal cotton production would resume as it happen and sadly it didn't and by 1864-65 many had emigrated to other country's.

I think McClellan was held in high regard by my town as was Grant who of course came to visit us on his tour and was very warmly received.
It was only after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued and the feared slave insurrection by some British officials did not arise did the workers of Manchester and Abraham Lincoln make such statements.
 

Attachments

Saphroneth

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Messages
4,670
On 31 December 1862, a meeting of cotton workers at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester, despite their increasing hardship, resolved to support the Union in its fight against slavery. An extract from the letter they wrote in the name of the Working People of Manchester to His Excellency Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America says:
That meeting was actually a put-up job, or at any rate was not spontaneous but was actively encouraged by the US consul at considerable cost in time and money.


Mary Ellison showed back in 1972 that that meeting was a sham. It was supposedly set up by two working-men, but the mayor of Manchester was there in his full regalia along with such middle-class dignitaries as John Watts, Samuel Pope, W.A Jackson and Thomas Bayley Potter. The Manchester Courier called it "a very artfully contrived enterprise on the part of the friends of Messrs. Cobden and Bright and the peace-at-any-price party", and other editors did the same. It's hard to see whether you can place any reliance on the meetings held at this time given Freeman H Morse's own admission that "It has cost much labor [sic] and some money to get it [mass meetings] well started but I think both have been well spent and are producing results far better than had any reason to hope" (Morse to Seward, Jan 17th 1863).


Ellison also demonstrated that there was a notable base of support for intervention in Lancashire. It was an issue on which people were divided.


The Federal American government sent a gift of food to the people of Lancashire. The first consignment was sent aboard the George Griswold. Other ships were the Hope and Achilles.
Though, again, this is as much a PR move as anything - the scale of it wasn't enough for anything greater, and it arrived after the winter (which is the period of greatest hardship) and after UK charitable organizations had already begun providing substantial relief.




Of course, this is getting a bit off the Antietam topic and the McClellan topic!
 
Last edited:
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Stone in the wall

First Sergeant
Joined
Sep 19, 2017
Messages
1,217
Location
Blue Ridge Mountains, Jefferson County WV
Yes the Union had plenty of smooth bores also, but I don't see any 6lb guns unless I'm missing them somewhere. Lee had 76 6lb guns. The problem here is it takes the same size crew to man it and just as many horses to pull it as a 12pounder. on the Maryland campaign (there will be less at Sharpsburg ) along with the 6lb guns Lee had; 52 12lb howitzers ; 28 12lb napoleons ; 6 20lb parrots ; 45 10lb parrots ; 45 3" OR ; 2 24lb howitzers ; 2 blakelys ; 2 whitworths ; 2 Hotchkiss ; 1 james total261 guns. The following more worn down and depleted battery's were left at Leesburg(Leake's Goochland; Stribling's Fauquier ; Rodger's Loudon ;Fleck's Middlesax :Latham's Branch NC ; Anderson's Thomas Battery) These units did not go into Maryland. Thus Lee did not have all of his artillery with him. ----- this is from The Long Arm Of Lee Vol 1- Jennings Cropper Wise
 

Saphroneth

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Messages
4,670
Yes the Union had plenty of smooth bores also, but I don't see any 6lb guns unless I'm missing them somewhere. Lee had 76 6lb guns.
They're still pretty good for anti-infantry work - less oomph but more shots per caisson and somewhat faster to reload (as there's less of a push needed to put them back into battery). A 12-lber is preferable to a 6-lber all else being equal, but for canister impact they're not hugely different.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

DanSBHawk

First Sergeant
Joined
May 8, 2015
Messages
1,540
Location
Wisconsin
The article in the OP tries a little too hard to make excuses for McClellan. Too much emphasis is placed on the threat to Pennsylvania, when in fact that wasn't Lee's main objective in the '62 invasion.

Also, the author exaggerates the speed of the march to cover Baltimore on Sept 11. It was not "over 40 miles" in "3 days." It was actually about 35 miles in 5 days of marching, according to Jacob Cox.
 

Saphroneth

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Messages
4,670
The article in the OP tries a little too hard to make excuses for McClellan. Too much emphasis is placed on the threat to Pennsylvania, when in fact that wasn't Lee's main objective in the '62 invasion.
In your opinion, then, what was Lee's main objective in the 1862 invasion? Specifically, what was his plan after the Harpers Ferry capture, and why did he hold both Boonsboro and Hagerstown instead of stopping up the gaps in South Mountain with his full right wing?
(Why was he already directing troops to occupy Middleburg on the 13th?)

Also, the author exaggerates the speed of the march to cover Baltimore on Sept 11. It was not "over 40 miles" in "3 days." It was actually about 35 miles in 5 days of marching, according to Jacob Cox.
The first referenced order to Burnside was sent 10 PM on September 9. Self evidently that couldn't have resulted in five days of marching before Baltimore was covered, as five days of marching would mean it was the end of September 14 (marching on the 10,11,12,13,14) and he wouldn't make his appointment at Frederick on the 13th. Would you be so kind as to furnish the five days you refer to?
 
Last edited:

DanSBHawk

First Sergeant
Joined
May 8, 2015
Messages
1,540
Location
Wisconsin
In your opinion, then, what was Lee's main objective in the 1862 invasion? Specifically, what was his plan after the Harpers Ferry capture, and why did he hold both Boonsboro and Hagerstown instead of stopping up the gaps in South Mountain with his full right wing?
(Why was he already directing troops to occupy Middleburg on the 13th?)


The first referenced order to Burnside was sent 10 PM on September 9. Self evidently that couldn't have resulted in five days of marching before Baltimore was covered, as five days of marching would mean it was the end of September 14 (marching on the 10,11,12,13,14) and he wouldn't make his appointment at Frederick on the 13th. Would you be so kind as to furnish the five days you refer to?
Here's Jacob Cox:
"On September 7th I was ordered to take the advance of the Ninth Corps in the march to Leesboro, following Hooker's corps.
...
On the day that we marched to Leesboro, Lee's army was concentrated near Frederick, behind the Monocacy River, having begun the crossing of the Potomac on the 4th. There was a singular dearth of trustworthy information on the subject at our army headquarters. We moved forward by very short marches of six or eight miles, feeling our way so cautiously that Lee's reports speak of it as an unexpectedly slow approach. The Comte de Paris excuses it on the ground of the disorganized condition of McClellan's army after the recent battle. It must be remembered, however, that Sumner's corps and Franklin's had not been at the second Bull Run, and were veterans of the Potomac Army. The Twelfth Corps had been Banks's, and it too had not been engaged at the second Bull Run, its work having been to cover the trains of Pope's army on the retrograde movement from Warrenton Junction. Although new regiments had been added to these corps, it is hardly proper to say that the army as a whole was not one which could be rapidly manoeuvred. I see no good reason why it might not have advanced at once to the left bank of the Monocacy, covering thus both Washington and Baltimore, and hastening by some days Lee's movement across the Blue Ridge. We should at least have known where the enemy was by being in contact with him, instead of being the sport of all sorts of vague rumors and wild reports.1 The Kanawha division took the advance of the right wing when we left Leesboro on the 8th, and marched to Brookville. On the 9th it reached Goshen, where it lay on the 10th, and on the 11th reached Ridgeville on the railroad. The rest of the Ninth Corps was an easy march behind us. Hooker had been ordered further to the right on the strength of rumors that Lee was making a circuit towards Baltimore, and his corps reached Cooksville and the railroad some ten miles east of my position."

So Cox's division, which he describes as the advance of the right wing, leaves Washington on the 7th, to Leesboro on the 8th, to Goshen on the 9th, and reaches Ridgeville on the 11th.

The distance from Washington (close to Howard University where Cox camped) to Ridgeville Md is a 35 mile walk according to Google.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Saphroneth

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Messages
4,670
The distance from Washington (close to Howard University where Cox camped) to Ridgeville Md is a 35 mile walk according to Google.
Thanks for explaining your reasoning.

I think the problem with distances there is that the marches given don't describe a direct route. The kicker is the Brookeville-Goshen march, as this is an east-west march.

The full route is over 40 miles:

https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Howard+University,+2400+Sixth+St+NW,+Washington,+DC+20059,+USA/Leesborough+Cir,+Silver+Spring,+MD+20902,+USA/Brookeville,+Maryland+20833,+USA/Goshen+Mill+Ct,+Gaithersburg,+MD+20882,+USA/E+Ridgeville+Blvd,+Mt+Airy,+MD+21771,+USA/@39.1426541,-77.1916099,11z/data=!4m32!4m31!1m5!1m1!1s0x89b7b7fc56b4cef9:0x32dcc71fc8db77c2!2m2!1d-77.0194377!2d38.9226843!1m5!1m1!1s0x89b7cf041a1af0e3:0x8e7de350e616cfd9!2m2!1d-77.0490448!2d39.0455967!1m5!1m1!1s0x89b7d6d569ab0761:0xd785efeab880fa3b!2m2!1d-77.0591452!2d39.1806623!1m5!1m1!1s0x89b7d4b08397c133:0x1b69398163c92f9b!2m2!1d-77.1818711!2d39.2025841!1m5!1m1!1s0x89c82c8e41c63f0f:0xc20ad379ee5ee433!2m2!1d-77.1585939!2d39.363737!3e2

As for the three days, I admit I don't have an explanation for that; it's possible that it's describing the movement of the bulk of the corps, or counting from McClellan actually gave the order mentioned (the 9th). This would be an error.

The thing I admit I find interesting about Cox's report is that it's clearly been written with access to Lee's report. That suggests it's not contemporary; the fact it describes four marches averaging ten miles each as "six to eight miles" is just odd. Ten miles is shorter than the theoretical "standard" of fifteen on the road, but quite reasonable in a march to contact against an enemy with a superior cavalry screen.
 

Saphroneth

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Messages
4,670
Interestingly, that Cox quote continues by repeating the "12 midday" myth for when McClellan telegraphed the Lost Order discovery, which Cox should have known was nonsense because McClellan was actually with him at the time the telegram was supposed to have been sent. Either that (from his point of view) or McClellan sent the telegram and then immediately came up to Cox himself and discussed where he should be going. Either way there's frankly a logical contradiction in Cox's own pages, when he repeats the myth.


Cox (on the 13th):
Through some misunderstanding Rodman took the road to Jefferson, leading to the left, where Franklin's corps was moving, and did not get upon the Hagerstown road. About noon I was ordered to march upon the latter road to Middletown. McClellan himself met me as my column moved out of town, and told me of the misunderstanding in Rodman's orders, adding that if I found him on the march I should take his division also along with me.

Also Cox:
There was certainly no time to lose. The information was in his hands before noon, for he refers to it in a dispatch to Mr. Lincoln at twelve.


Of course the truth is that Cox's book was published in 1900, thirty-five years after the fact, and that there are logical contradictions in the timing of events for SO191 to be in McClellan's hands by noon.

(I also found in the ORs what may be the largest estimate of Confederate force yet, by Curtin - 190,000 in Maryland and 250,000 in Virginia!)
 

DanSBHawk

First Sergeant
Joined
May 8, 2015
Messages
1,540
Location
Wisconsin
Thanks for explaining your reasoning.

I think the problem with distances there is that the marches given don't describe a direct route. The kicker is the Brookeville-Goshen march, as this is an east-west march.

The full route is over 40 miles:

https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Howard+University,+2400+Sixth+St+NW,+Washington,+DC+20059,+USA/Leesborough+Cir,+Silver+Spring,+MD+20902,+USA/Brookeville,+Maryland+20833,+USA/Goshen+Mill+Ct,+Gaithersburg,+MD+20882,+USA/E+Ridgeville+Blvd,+Mt+Airy,+MD+21771,+USA/@39.1426541,-77.1916099,11z/data=!4m32!4m31!1m5!1m1!1s0x89b7b7fc56b4cef9:0x32dcc71fc8db77c2!2m2!1d-77.0194377!2d38.9226843!1m5!1m1!1s0x89b7cf041a1af0e3:0x8e7de350e616cfd9!2m2!1d-77.0490448!2d39.0455967!1m5!1m1!1s0x89b7d6d569ab0761:0xd785efeab880fa3b!2m2!1d-77.0591452!2d39.1806623!1m5!1m1!1s0x89b7d4b08397c133:0x1b69398163c92f9b!2m2!1d-77.1818711!2d39.2025841!1m5!1m1!1s0x89c82c8e41c63f0f:0xc20ad379ee5ee433!2m2!1d-77.1585939!2d39.363737!3e2

As for the three days, I admit I don't have an explanation for that; it's possible that it's describing the movement of the bulk of the corps, or counting from McClellan actually gave the order mentioned (the 9th). This would be an error.

The thing I admit I find interesting about Cox's report is that it's clearly been written with access to Lee's report. That suggests it's not contemporary; the fact it describes four marches averaging ten miles each as "six to eight miles" is just odd. Ten miles is shorter than the theoretical "standard" of fifteen on the road, but quite reasonable in a march to contact against an enemy with a superior cavalry screen.
The historical maps don't show that wide loop around to the west of Goshen. At most, the full route was 38-39 miles.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Saphroneth

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Messages
4,670
The historical maps don't show that wide loop around to the west of Goshen. At most, the full route was 38-39 miles.
I suspect the problem is simply that the road layout's changed somewhat in that area (Goshen being the smallest of the places Cox mentions on his marches - it's now a neighbourhood, which is where my Goshen waypoint sprang up) but it's certainly closer to 40 miles than 35 even if you go along the modern Woodfield Road. At that point it's close enough to the quoted 40 miles from the article that differences in how the measurements are made can allow for it to reach 40 miles, though I agree "over 40 miles" appears misleading. It seems the author of the article has somewhat overstated the claims, and I suspect he's miscounted the marches (though it's interesting that Cox also miscounted somewhere - even by the 35 mile figure his average speed was 9 miles per march, not 6-8.).


In the interests of moving to a different topic, what do you consider Lee's objective to be post Harpers Ferry?
 
Last edited:

DanSBHawk

First Sergeant
Joined
May 8, 2015
Messages
1,540
Location
Wisconsin
In the interests of moving to a different topic, what do you consider Lee's objective to be post Harpers Ferry?
The best source for that is Lee himself.

In the OR, volume 19 part 2, starting at about page 590, the confederate correspondence shows that Lee and Davis were focused on Maryland not Pennsylvania. Lee clearly thought Marylanders might be sympathetic to the confederacy. At one point, he mentions stationing pickets at the Pennsylvania state line. That is suggesting a defensive posture for Maryland, rather than an offensive against Pennsylvania.
 

Saphroneth

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Messages
4,670
The best source for that is Lee himself.

In the OR, volume 19 part 2, starting at about page 590, the confederate correspondence shows that Lee and Davis were focused on Maryland not Pennsylvania. Lee clearly thought Marylanders might be sympathetic to the confederacy. At one point, he mentions stationing pickets at the Pennsylvania state line. That is suggesting a defensive posture for Maryland, rather than an offensive against Pennsylvania.
Okay, so that's his objective before he enters Maryland... there are a couple of questions I'd like to raise, however.

1) How does this make sense of his movements on the 10th-12th September with DH Hill and Longstreet?
That's a period when much of his army is going after HF, and the main Union army is known to be in Washington. Yet instead of strongly holding the South Mountain and Cacotin passes with the majority of his remaining force and detaching a small number of troops to picket in the direction of the road from Pennsylvania, Lee picketed the South Mountain and Cacotin passes with cavalry and a small number of troops and pushed the mian body of his remaining force to Hagerstown - thus raising the possibility that when he wanted to move on the bulk of Maryland he would have to fight a battle for the possession of the mountain passes. I don't see what advanced his "Maryland plan" by moving Longstreet as far as Hagerstown.

2) Assuming that his plan was the "Maryland plan", what does that mean he would be planning to do on the 14th-15th after South Mountain and after the capture of Harpers Ferry? With McClellan in the way of returning to the bulk of Maryland by going east, his options to get to the bulk of Maryland are either to march north from Sharpsburg (thus through Hagerstown) and make a turning move through Pennsylvania, to cross south of the river and go via Williamsport (and ditto go to Hagerstown) or to go south of the Potomac and attempt to march east to interpose himself between McClellan and DC (and thus not go via Pennsylvania).

Of these options, it's the last one which Lee did not take (he went the wrong direction after crossing) and the second one we know he did. Thus I think that, regardless of what Lee's plans were before he crossed the Potomac, after Frederick there is evidence in his movements to suggest that his plan involved at least passing though Pennsylvania.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

DanSBHawk

First Sergeant
Joined
May 8, 2015
Messages
1,540
Location
Wisconsin
Okay, so that's his objective before he enters Maryland... there are a couple of questions I'd like to raise, however.

1) How does this make sense of his movements on the 10th-12th September with DH Hill and Longstreet?
That's a period when much of his army is going after HF, and the main Union army is known to be in Washington. Yet instead of strongly holding the South Mountain and Cacotin passes with the majority of his remaining force and detaching a small number of troops to picket in the direction of the road from Pennsylvania, Lee picketed the South Mountain and Cacotin passes with cavalry and a small number of troops and pushed the mian body of his remaining force to Hagerstown - thus raising the possibility that when he wanted to move on the bulk of Maryland he would have to fight a battle for the possession of the mountain passes. I don't see what advanced his "Maryland plan" by moving Longstreet as far as Hagerstown.

2) Assuming that his plan was the "Maryland plan", what does that mean he would be planning to do on the 14th-15th after South Mountain and after the capture of Harpers Ferry? With McClellan in the way of returning to the bulk of Maryland by going east, his options to get to the bulk of Maryland are either to march north from Sharpsburg (thus through Hagerstown) and make a turning move through Pennsylvania, to cross south of the river and go via Williamsport (and ditto go to Hagerstown) or to go south of the Potomac and attempt to march east to interpose himself between McClellan and DC (and thus not go via Pennsylvania).

Of these options, it's the last one which Lee did not take (he went the wrong direction after crossing) and the second one we know he did. Thus I think that, regardless of what Lee's plans were before he crossed the Potomac, after Frederick there is evidence in his movements to suggest that his plan involved at least passing though Pennsylvania.
The article states: "Invasion of Pennsylvania, from the outset, had been his principal goal." This is false. Your comment regarding "at least passing through Pennsylvania" is not how the author characterized it.

The author writes earlier in the article, "McClellan knew instinctively, and his military mind confirmed conclusively, that Lee’s logical strategic target was Baltimore." This contradicts his statement about invading Pennsylvania, and is wrong in any case. Lee was in Frederick by Sept 4. McClellan didn't send troops marching for Ridgeville until the 7th. Lee made no effort to take Baltimore. The author uses the word "alacrity" to describe the McClellans movement to cover Baltimore. But rather than "3 days" to march "over 40 miles," it was actually 5 calendar days to march 35-40 miles. And it wasn't even begun until Lee had been sitting 50 miles from Baltimore for 3 days.

The author writes of Sept 16, "McClellan’s prescient move on September 16 constituted the demise of Lee’s invasion strategy. The most famous Southern general of the war had been outsmarted, outflanked, and outmaneuvered by the most harshly criticized Union general of the war." This is wrong. Lee's biggest priority at that point was concentrating his forces, and McClellans "prescient" delay allowed that to happen.

The author writes of the 21st, "In fact, Lee determined to continue the invasion immediately: “[T]he army was immediately put in motion toward Williamsport,” Lee informed President Jefferson Davis. Thus, Lee’s retreat from Antietam was, in effect, merely a repositioning of Confederate forces." Then, "Of more significance, however, is the fact that Lee made no mention of McClellan blocking him at Williamsport. Not a word about McClellan stealing away the renewed offensive through the Union commander’s aggressive countermeasures." This is because the author is wrong, and Lee wrote the real reason he pulled back from Williamsport in the same letter to Davis.

Here is what Lee actually wrote to Davis:
"Sir: Since my last letter to you of the 18th, finding the enemy indisposed to make an attack on that day, and our position being a bad one to hold with the river in rear, I determined to cross the army to the Virginia side. This was done at night successfully, nothing being left behind, unless it may have been some disabled guns or broken-down wagons, and the morning of the 19th found us satisfactorily over on the south bank of the Potomac, near Shepherdstown, when the army was immediately put in motion toward Williamsport. Before crossing the river, in order to threaten the enemy on his right and rear and make him apprehensive for his communications, I sent the cavalry forward to Williamsport, which they successfully occupied. At night the infantry sharpshooters, left, in conjunction with General Pendleton’s artillery, to hold the ford below Shepherdstown, gave back, and the enemy’s cavalry took possession of that town, and, from General Pendleton’s report after midnight, I fear much of his reserve artillery has been captured. I am now obliged to return to Shepherdstown, with the intention of driving the enemy back if not in position with his whole army; but, if in full force, I think an attack would be inadvisable, and I shall make other dispositions."
So Lee returned to Shepherdstown NOT because McClellan had blocked Williamsport, but because federal forces were threatening Sheperdstown. And Lee wrote nothing about "repositioning" or resuming the invasion from Williamsport. Just about threatening McClellans right and rear.

McClellan didn't outsmart Lee in Maryland in '62. In fact, McClellan did an adequate but not brilliant job of defeating Lee in Maryland.
 

Saphroneth

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Messages
4,670
The article states: "Invasion of Pennsylvania, from the outset, had been his principal goal." This is false. Your comment regarding "at least passing through Pennsylvania" is not how the author characterized it.
That, I think, is fair; I believe Harsh covers Lee's intentions in his appendices for his Maryland Campaign book.

I'll certainly agree the writer appears at times to use overly dramatic language, though I'll note someone else in this thread told me in no uncertain terms that Lee's intention to move to Pennsylvania was obvious and required no special skill to discern! As for the point about Baltimore, I'll ask you what you think Lee's intentions actually were then, apart from just marching around in Maryland a bit, if you feel he clearly didn't intend to attack Baltimore because he didn't go for it on the 9th/10th. (For my part I think it's quite plausible that Lee was considering either going after Harpers Ferry or Baltimore and decided which to employ based on his scouting, with liberating Baltimore and thus Maryland his ultimate goal.)

The author writes of Sept 16, "McClellan’s prescient move on September 16 constituted the demise of Lee’s invasion strategy. The most famous Southern general of the war had been outsmarted, outflanked, and outmaneuvered by the most harshly criticized Union general of the war." This is wrong. Lee's biggest priority at that point was concentrating his forces, and McClellans "prescient" delay allowed that to happen.
I wanted to highlight here that the events of the 16th don't really constitute a delay on McClellan's part which "allowed" Lee to concentrate. An attack on Lee was not feasible on the 15th because only two divisions had arrived; an attack in the morning of the 16th would have taken place in fog; an attack on the afternoon of the 16th without moving 1st and 12th Corps across the upper bridge would have amounted to an attack over the middle bridge only (as 9th Corps had not yet arrived; indeed, 12th hadn't either until late in the day) and would have been conducted with only a comparatively small fraction of McClellan's army.

This is why McClellan's movement of 1st and then 12th Corps across the river to block the Hagerstown road is a good one; it cut off a possible means Lee had for further offensive manoeuvre while also widening the attack surface on Lee's army.

If you consider the move to have been a delay which ultimately and mistakenly allowed Lee to concentrate, then would you be able to outline what you consider the alternative course of action to be? I assume that to be an attack in the afternoon of the 16th by 1st, 2nd and half of 5th Corps, though I may be mistaken here and if so I would welcome correction.

Assuming that I'm not mistaken, then McClellan would have 40,000 campaign strength in infantry/artillery formations closed up, or about 25,000 effectives going off the state of 1st Corps, and Lee would have 44,000 campaign strength in infantry/artillery formations closed up, or about 27,000 effectives given the slightly greater Confederate straggling. (Effectives estimated for the 17th; on the 16th both sides will be smaller in number for the units which arrived on that day, which means the 11 Confederate brigades of Jackson, Ewell, Walker and the 16 Union brigades of Doubleday, Ricketts, Meade, Sedgewick and French)

McClellan has another 24,000 (13 brigades) coming up to join in late in the day, of course, but the earliest date when 9th and 12th can join in the fight is quite late and historically it took 9th an age to get over what's now Burnside's Bridge.

Essentially the Confederates just concentrated faster, or rather they got to Sharpsburg first with 14 infantry brigades there by the time McClellan's first six arrived. For an afternoon fight on the 16th it's 22 Union brigades and 25 Confederate, and another 13 Union brigades turn up in the evening with another 10 Confederate brigades arriving overnight.
Recall that Carman's engaged numbers suggest that (his report) 29,222 Confederate infantry held off (his report) 46,146 Union infantry, those being the numbers of effectives on both sides who were actually engaged; this indicates that by the common account a 3:2 advantage was insufficient. Once 12th and 9th turn up McClellan just about has a 3:2 advantage in campaign strength, but by the time these corps turn up it's too late for a serious battle anyway.
 
Last edited:
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Top