Very Informative Article on How McClellan Outsmarted Lee at Antietam

Saphroneth

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#41
No just no my friend , Old Mac was convinced Lee outnumbered him by most accounts Mac believed Lee had over 100k men I personally think he never intended to move regardless of the mysterious Ammo crates that of course were also Lee's problem.
Ah, hold on, I think I see the misunderstanding. I meant as an alternate move for Franklin instead of coming to Antietam.

The intent would be to try and have Franklin in place on the 17th opposite the Potomac from Sharpsburg, to try and either prevent a crossing or force Lee to split his army. Unfortunately the likelihood is that AP Hill would just act as rearguard, but if he did hold against Franklin's entire force it would still mean he couldn't mess with Cox's attack.
 

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Saphroneth

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#42
So here's another thought that I had on the size of Lee's army - what if McClellan had perfect information about the time he'd actually fought Lee and the subsequent casualties?

Well, Lee's army at the Seven Days was about 112,000 PFD, of which 11,000 was the defences of Richmond (and Petersburg). McClellan inflicted about 20,000 casualties on this force, reducing it to about 80,000 PFD in the field army. However, Lee was subsequently reinforced - three brigades were new (that's Martin, Evans and Drayton) and enough new regiments for a fourth also joined (those being the 32nd and 53rd NC, the 47th and 48th AL, and the 5th and 8th FL).
Since these are mostly fresh regiments they can be assumed to be quite large, and it's hard to justify ~18 fresh regiments being below 10,000 PFD.

The entire Northern Virginia campaign cost the Confederacy about 9,200 casualties.

Thus McClellan has good reason to suspect that the strength of the Confederate field army is in the vicinity of 80,000 PFD if no casualties have been recovered. In fact, for the strength of the Confederate field army to be as low as the 40,000 it is sometimes given as, roughly half the Confederate field army would have to have gone missing - and it is not at all parlous to think that over 30,000 troops did not cross into Maryland, as... well, 30,000 troops existing outside the supply system for three to five weeks would have eaten an unfeasible amount of food.

In the end the approach which considers the least amount of information to be mistaken is that the Confederate PFD strength of the AoNV in Maryland, once closed up, was on the order of 70,000-80,000 PFD and that severe straggling reduced the effective strength that could be deployed against McClellan. This may also explain the extra few thousand who vanish from the Confederate army from September 2-October 10 as being swept up and captured after falling out of the line of march (from the Confederate divisions that got chased to Sharpsburg).

It would be an interesting exercise to compare the observed strengths of AoNV formations in reports before the battle, with Carman during the battle, and their added-back casualties after the battle. If a different kind of discrepancy is seen for the formations that got "chased" to the ones which arrived at the field another way it would be circumstantial evidence for the "fell out of line captured" theory.
 
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#43
I'll buy the outfoxed by Grant. As to the previous posters comment, not so much outsmarted by Meade as it was self-inflicted imo.
I agree. Lee's decision to launch Pickett's Charge was one of the worst of his career. It was extremely wrong headed.
 
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#44
The biggest problem with judging McClellan is that most people wrongly assume that McClellan mistreated Lincoln and that one can't be pro-McClellan and pro-Lincoln at the same time. The truth is much more complex than that simplistic picture.

Another major problem with judging McClellan is that too many people wrongly believe that he was disloyal or lukewarm to the Union cause and that he was pro-slavery, when in fact he was ardently pro-Union, had no intention of allowing the South to be independent, strongly disliked slavery, and would have insisted on an emancipation program as part of any surrender and reunification agreement.
 

Saphroneth

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#45
would have insisted on an emancipation program as part of any surrender and reunification agreement.
I'm not certain of that, and the reason I'm not certain is that I don't think Lincoln was going to insist on emancipation for reunification even as late as 1864. I'm open to being convinced otherwise, though.
 
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#46
This is incorrect.

The regiment that found it went in bivouac at midday. Within half an hour or so of going into bivouac Corporal Mitchell spotted the envelope and handed it to Sergeant Bloss. It slowly started making it's way up the chain-of-command. It was handed to the company commander (Capt Kop), who took it to Colonel Colgrove. After examining it Colgrove and Kop took it to brigade HQ, where General Gordon examined it. General Kimball was also present and advised them to hand it up. They took it to General Williams HQ.

Williams was absent from his HQ, but Colonel Pittman of his staff recognised the signature, and sent a runner to ask Williams to return. When he did Williams, Pittman, Kimball, Colgrove, Kop and some other staffers discussed the matter and decided it should be sent on to General McClellan. General Kimball carried it, and went looking for McClellan's HQ.

Now, McClellan's HQ was not established at the Steiner Farm until ca. 1500 hrs. McClellan himself was forward with Cox. They had just gained possession of the Braddock Pass through the Catoctins and McClellan was ordering Cox to march to Middletown beyond in support of the cavalry advancing to seize the South Mountain passes. When McClellan went to his HQ at ca. 1430 the Lost Order had not yet arrived, but it arrived shortly thereafter. McClellan sent a copy forward to Pleasonton timestamped 1500. The written confirmatory orders to Cox for his advanced went out timestamped 1535.

There can of course be no noon telegram (the original is timestamped midnight) because at noon there is no operational telegraph wire, the rebels have downed it. At 1500 hours it is noted that the line has just been put back up across the Monocacy River, connecting Frederick and Monocacy Stations. The line then had to be relaid from Monocacy Station to Urbanna. The first telegram sent was the 2300 to Halleck.



What else could he have done? Once the Braddock Pass was seized McClellan immediately sent 9th Corps across the Catoctins to support Pleasonton's seizure of Turner's and Fox's Gaps. The 9th Corps filled the National Road out of Frederick until ca. 0200 or 0300 hours the next morning. Hooker was under orders to follow immediately, and did exactly that.

There is literally no physical way of moving faster, because there is only one road going through a mountain pass.



McClellan certainly didn't have a 3:1 advantage when correct counting is done. It's certainly less than 2:1 at the extreme, and somewhere between 1:1 and 3:2. Franklin's Corps was in the front lines, if not heavily engaged.

As to Lee's escape, after having moved all his heavy equipment etc. over the river (which he'd already done by the morning of the 17th) the infantry crossed during the night. At dawn McClellan aggressively pursued to the banks of the Potomac where they were greeted by ca. 50 artillery pieces across the river engaging his vanguard.



Offensive is an interesting term. You misuse it to suggest that only a bayonet charge is an offensive. In fact apart from the covering actions of the Seven Days all of McClellan's actions are on the offensive. Even Seven Pines, where the rebels adopt the tactical offensive, is an offensive movement by McClellan - seizing ground that the enemy has to attack and forcing him to come out of his entrenchments to attack yours.



He was too senior. He was the most senior general in the US Army until Grant was made Lt-Gen. It was basically impossible to make him a subordinate. Now there was talk of him taking command of the Western Theatre in Halleck's old role, but that came to naught. The radicals had seized the balance of power after the November 1862 elections and they wanted McClellan and several others gone. Lincoln's party before then didn't need his Radical faction to govern and ignored them, but Lincoln's reduced position post the November '62 elections meant he now needed their votes to pass legislation. They extracted their price in a massive purge of "disloyal" officers as they saw it - Buell, McClellan, Porter and Butler were the first to go, and they soon continued their program. There was no military reason for it; it was the price Lincoln paid to maintain a functional government.
Is there a reference that backs this up? Always willing to add to the library!
 

Saphroneth

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#47
Is there a reference that backs this up? Always willing to add to the library!
Any particular aspect, or the whole thing? That's a big post.
For example, that McClellan was most senior is just logic because, well, he was a MG(R) with an early date of rank. Only a LG outranks that.

The timing of the telegrams, meanwhile, is based partly on what the orders and telegrams say. I think 67th has a history of the signals detachment, that's a good source to pick up.
 
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#48
The biggest problem with judging McClellan is that most people wrongly assume that McClellan mistreated Lincoln and that one can't be pro-McClellan and pro-Lincoln at the same time. The truth is much more complex than that simplistic picture.

Another major problem with judging McClellan is that too many people wrongly believe that he was disloyal or lukewarm to the Union cause and that he was pro-slavery, when in fact he was ardently pro-Union, had no intention of allowing the South to be independent, strongly disliked slavery, and would have insisted on an emancipation program as part of any surrender and reunification agreement.
Not a McCellen expert. Did McCellen write or gave a speech about the issue of slavery?
Leftyhunter
 

Saphroneth

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#49
Not a McCellen expert. Did McCellen write or gave a speech about the issue of slavery?
He did mention it in a negative context in his letters with his wife, which were pretty much his diary - so that tells you about his inner thoughts. That said, I've not combed through them and the mention I know of may not be representative.
 
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#50
He did mention it in a negative context in his letters with his wife, which were pretty much his diary - so that tells you about his inner thoughts. That said, I've not combed through them and the mention I know of may not be representative.
Is there a brief passage that could be quoted?
Leftyhunter
 

Saphroneth

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#51
Is there a brief passage that could be quoted?
Leftyhunter

1861, to Ellen:
"The negroes came flocking to the river with their bundles in their hands ready to take passage! There is something inexpressibly mournful to me in that – those poor helpless ignorant beings – with the wide world & its uncertainties before them – the poor serf with his little bundle ready to launch his boat on the wide ocean of life he knows so little of. When I think of some of the features of slavery I cannot help shuddering. Just think for one moment & try to realize that at the will of some brutal master you & I might be separated forever! It is horrible, & when the day of adjustment comes I will, if successful, throw my sword into the scale to force an improvement in the condition of those poor blacks. I will never be an abolitionist, but I do think that some of the rights of humanity might be secured to the negroes – there should be no power to separate families & the right of marriage ought to be secured to them."


mid-1862, to Lincoln:

"Military power should not be allowed to interfere with the relations of servitude, either by supporting or impairing the authority of the master, except for repressing disorder, as in other cases. Slaves, contraband under the act of Congress, seeking military protection, should receive it. The right of the Government to appropriate permanently to its own service claims to slave labor should be asserted, and the right of the owner to compensation therefor should be recognized. This principle might be extended, upon grounds of military necessity and security, to all the slaves of a particular State, thus working manumission in such State; and in Missouri, perhaps in Western Virginia also, and possibly even in Maryland, the expediency of such a measure is only a question of time. A system of policy thus constitutional, and pervaded by the influences of Christianity and freedom, would receive the support of almost all truly loyal men, would deeply impress the rebel masses and all foreign nations, and it might be humbly hoped that it would commend itself to the favor of the Almighty."

This is McClellan suggesting a non-military approach to emancipation, which is to essentially permanently appropriate and manumit (with compensation) the entire slave population of a state; his objection here to military emancipation is the word "military", not the word "emancipation".


There was essentially no discussion of the matter in the 1864 election, so we can't use that as a source. It looks like McClellan's views evolved over time, and that he could be viewed as a "conservative" (i.e. smaller rather than larger impact if possible) but his evolving views as the country evolved meant he remained in pretty much a constant position relative to the country as a whole - somewhere in the middle.
 

Saphroneth

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#52
So this is a bit more general of a McClellan thought than about Antietam specifically, but it occurred to me that a lot of McClellan's actions and strategy makes sense if he grasped the Union's principal strategic advantages almost straight away.

Those are:
- Naval. The Union started the war with most of the prewar navy and a greater shipbuilding capacity, plus the prewar merchant marine.
- Numerical. The Union had a much larger population and the tax base to (theoretically) support a much larger army.
- Industrial. The Union has a greater ability to construct heavy artillery, especially rifled.

He also identified the primary Confederate advantage, which was geographical - such as the river lines in Virginia, especially the line of the Rappahanock, which stymied attempts to overcome it twice before ultimately being taken in 1864.

He also seems to have identified the primary risk to the Union, which is an early decision in the war in favour of the Confederates. A long war means Confederate defeat, but a Union defeat could result from a short war and so could European intervention.

This actually explains a lot about McClellan's actions in the Peninsular campaign. In particular, it explains why he wanted an amphibious move in the first place (it outflanked the river lines like the Rappahanock that the CSA could defend with an economy of manpower) and it also explains why he was so insistent on having reinforcements (because, quite simply, to not give a Union commander a significant numerical advantage was squandering that major Union advantage). It also provides an explanation for his preference on getting close to a major Confederate position, moving up heavy artillery, and blasting through it - because this is something the Confederates can't fight with their own artillery, so they have to fight it instead by coming out of their fortifications and launching attacks on prepared positions.

Thus it is possible to argue that the key decision which most impaired McClellan's Peninsular campaign was the decision to cease recruitment in early 1862 - this meant that the CSA, which was ruthlessly prioritizing and instituting a draft, could come within shouting distance of Union manpower across the continent and actually focus superior manpower on McClellan at the point of decision in June.
The lack of reinforcements in the pipeline made it easier to justify holding back on reinforcing McClellan even when everyone agreed that he had insufficient forces, as the defence of the capital was a more immediate matter to Lincoln et al.


The main relevance this has to Antietam, I think, is that destruction of the Confederate army is both hard (it's very rare in the ACW) and not necessary. McClellan certainly gave it a try (it's not called America's bloodiest day for nothing) but overall time is on the side of the Union because they've opened recruitment again.
Indeed, when McClellan moved south less than two months after Antietam he's concentrating a force of about 115,000 PFD at Warrenton when he's relieved. This is his largest ever field force (his force just before the Seven Days was about 104,000 PFD) and it still left 106,000 troops along the line of the Potomac or otherwise defending Washington - thus rendering Washington more safe than it had been. By May 1863, despite the heavy casualties of Fredericksburg, this army has grown further to almost 135,000.

The difference with the Seven Days is striking, as at that time Lee had 112,000 PFD in and around Richmond which was his largest ever field force. Since Lee's PFD around November 10 1862 is around 70,000, the events of June-November 1862 (the fighting and especially all that Union recruitment) have shifted the force ratio between the field armies from 1:1.07 Union:Confederate to 1.64:1 Union:Confederate.
 

Saphroneth

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#53
And from reading the appendices in Harsh, I've found where the numbers generally come from for Lee's strength at Antietam and in the Maryland campaign generally.

Harsh's view, based on John Allen's Master's thesis, was based on muster rolls and regimental returns and estimated about 75,000 PFD on September 2nd. About a third of these were DH Hill's reinforcing column in complete units, irrespective of the troops who came up as "replacements" to the troops actually at Second Bull Run.

Harsh notes:
Walter Herron Taylor, a Lost Cause statistician, gave Lee 49,000 at Second Bull Run and 35,000 at Antietam, but did not put a number on the reinforcement column.
William Allan put Lee at 50,000 on September 2 by assuming that Taylor's Second Bull Run figure was correct and that the reinforcements from Richmond only covered the Second Bull Run casualties.
A.L.Long wrote that the army "did not exceed 45,000 men" and appears not to source this.
Bradley Johnson went to the extreme of giving Lee only 35,000 men PFD entering Maryland, apparently by using Taylor's Antietam figure and not allowing for any casualties or straggling before September 17.
Sears claims 50,000 on September 2nd, without a source, and his logic is the same as William Allan's.

In short, Allan, Johnson and Sears all use numbers ultimately derived from a Lost Cause source.

The other possible source is Carman, and we've already covered the problem with using Carman's numbers for only one side!



Interestingly it seems that Lee and Longstreet both believed that the only way that the Federals would "dare" attack their army was if it was divided - Lee holding that view even after the war and holding he could have "crushed" the Federal one. This has an interesting implication for two reasons - firstly that Lee considered his army to be fundamentally "divided" before DH Hill arrived (possibly because Hill's division was quite large?) and second that they had a strong belief that their numbers were not so inferior as to render them vulnerable if closed up.
To my mind this is another plank of evidence for Lee's army being at least within shouting distance of Union total strength, as if Lee's total campaign strength was only about half of the Union one it seems unlikely he would think he could "crush" them on the attack. Lee's successful campaign at 2:1 odds at Chancellorsville was based entirely on being able to catch the Union army divided and pin them behind river lines, and he certainly didn't crush them.
 
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#54
I'm not certain of that, and the reason I'm not certain is that I don't think Lincoln was going to insist on emancipation for reunification even as late as 1864. I'm open to being convinced otherwise, though.
Rafuse discusses McClellan's strong dislike of slavery in McClellan's War. In his autobiography, McClellan stated that he would have insisted on some kind of emancipation program as a condition for ending the war and allowing the Southern states to rejoin the Union.
 

Saphroneth

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#55
Rafuse discusses McClellan's strong dislike of slavery in McClellan's War. In his autobiography, McClellan stated that he would have insisted on some kind of emancipation program as a condition for ending the war and allowing the Southern states to rejoin the Union.
I'd consider a post-war autobiography in this case as a less reliable source, because that's post-war and emancipation is a done deal. For me to consider it unimpeachable it would need to have corroboration by sources during the war.
Requiring emancipation in return for reunification was actually further than Lincoln went even after the ratification of the 13th Amendment, though I can certainly imagine it being on the table.
 
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#56
I'd consider a post-war autobiography in this case as a less reliable source, because that's post-war and emancipation is a done deal. For me to consider it unimpeachable it would need to have corroboration by sources during the war.
Requiring emancipation in return for reunification was actually further than Lincoln went even after the ratification of the 13th Amendment, though I can certainly imagine it being on the table.
Ok, well, I would see Rafuse's treatment of this issue in McClellan's War. McClellan abhorred slavery.
 
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#57
Any particular aspect, or the whole thing? That's a big post.
For example, that McClellan was most senior is just logic because, well, he was a MG(R) with an early date of rank. Only a LG outranks that.

The timing of the telegrams, meanwhile, is based partly on what the orders and telegrams say. I think 67th has a history of the signals detachment, that's a good source to pick up.
Yes, the ranking structure. Where is this source material from? Who did McClellan answer to? The President alone? War Department? Which General officer was posted in D.C.? Halleck?

As for "loyalty"---- this segment hits home in the most current of events.
 

67th Tigers

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#58
No just no my friend , Old Mac was convinced Lee outnumbered him by most accounts Mac believed Lee had over 100k men
McClellan's estimates were some of the lowest going around.

During the Maryland campaign McClellan's estimates were that Lee may have 100,000 PFD (= 120,000 Present), and this was actually reasonable. Lee's moving column was about 76-78,000 PFD, excluding the slaves driving his trains and performing logistics duties in the camps.

The breakdown shows that aside from one line on the estimate the estimate was very accurate. The extra line was basically forces left at Richmond and forces in West Va that could have joined.

However, at Sharpsburg McClellan believed he'd caught a fragment of the enemy force, and hence he aggressively attacked it before all his own force was up. At dawn on the 16th September McClellan has only two divisions in line, the two leading divisions from the pursuit the day before, Richardson and Sykes. Hooker's 1st Corps reached the vicinity of Keedysville shortly before night and bivouacked north of the town. The remaining 2 divisions of 2nd Corps was spread along the road at nightfall back to Boonsboro. 12th Corps was from Boonsboro back. Positions at dawn on 16th September were:

end%2B15th%2BSept.png


I personally think he never intended to move regardless of the mysterious Ammo crates that of course were also Lee's problem.
McClellan went back to his camp fully intending to renew the attack in the morning, and issued orders to that effect. Back at his HQ camp his subordinate commanders met him and told him the state of their commands. After they reported McClellan suspended his attack order to wait for two more divisions to come up, and for his artillery to be resupplied. His artillery had literally run dry. Everything was late.

McClellan gets low on ammo cant move must wait for more men and ammo resupply regardless of the fact that Lee must have been low on ammo as well + his men had just done a 15 day footslog and bust a gut to converge on Sharpsburg and fought a battle where nearly every CSA unit was engaged.

Or are you telling me the logistics of the CSA were far superior to the Union logistics?.
No, but they had fallen back on their supply lines, and McClellan had advanced from his. The destruction of the railroad bridge across the Monocacy River meant that from crossing that on the 13th September his army was living solely on what it carried with them.

The engineers repaired the railroad bridge early on the 18th. The first train that runs over it is the well delayed ammunition supply train, which unloads at Hagerstown, 15 road miles from McClellan's army, having arrived there at 1300 hrs on the 18th. The wagoners pull off a minor miracle and move the ammunition from Hagerstown to the army during the night, and on the morning of the 19th McClellan's artillery is back in action.

The rebels, meanwhile, had a bonanza from Harper's Ferry. Whilst on the 17th they did run low on ammunition, like McClellan, they were able to draw upon Harper's Ferry and resupply from there that night. They had their guns well stocked for action on the 18th, and the Federals lacked ammunition.
 

Saphroneth

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#60
I did read the article. SO 191 did not specify in minute detail every one of Lee's intentions, but it was a pretty clear road map pointing to Lee's intentions requiring a bare minimum of guesswork to calculate.
It's a movement order, and an old one. It doesn't tell you what Lee's intentions are after the object of those marches (Harpers Ferry) is obtained, and I doubt Lee planned to just take HF and then sit there for the next few months...
 



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