Very Informative Article on How McClellan Outsmarted Lee at Antietam

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Saphroneth

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History.com

Peninsula Campaign of 1862


Lincoln preferred an overland campaign toward Richmond, but McClellan proposed an amphibious maneuver in which the Union Army would land on the Virginia Peninsula, effectively circumventing the rebels under General Joseph E. Johnston.

McClellan put his Peninsula Campaign into action in March 1862, landing over 120,000 men on the coast and proceeding east toward the Confederate capital. The Confederates withdrew toward Richmond, and McClellan’s troops fought their way to within only a few miles of the city.

Despite his strong position, McClellan failed to capitalize on his tactical advantage, once again believing that he might be outnumbered. When General Robert E. Lee took control of Confederate forces on June 1, he launched a series of bold offensives that culminated in the Seven Days Battles.

Okay, so you'e claiming the Peninsular Campaign as a whole as a time McClellan had superior numbers and failed to win a "Lincoln-style" victory.

So here's the problem. The Peninsular Campaign has several individual phases.

Yorktown: McClellan had the numerical advantage at Yorktown, but it was not as great as is often stated and the Confederates reinforced quickly - actually quicker than the Union could. There was no point when McClellan had enough of an advantage to simply roll over the enemy, and because the Warwick line was a strongly garrisoned river line an attack would largely have been futile with the force ratios McClellan actually possessed. Despite this McClellan compelled the abandonment of the position after a month.
When Grant had a similar advantage at Vicksburg to the one McClellan had the first day or two at Yorktown and ordered an attack, he failed to take the fortifications. In fact, I'm not aware of any Civil War situation where an army broke through a flankless defensive line at the odds present.

Williamsburg: McClellan attacked the Confederate positions and won a victory.

Chickahominy (Seven Pines): McClellan at this point had only a very minor numerical advantage (no more than 10% or so), and his orders forced him to split himself across the Chickahominy. He was thus unable to muster the manpower for an offensive, and no other AoTP commander won an offensive battle at those odds either.

Chickahominy (Seven Days): McClellan was outnumbered.

Harrisons Landing: McClellan's force at Harrisons Landing and Lee's force at Richmond were comparable, with Lee's force in entrenchments.


Essentially there's no point where McClellan had means (a numerical advantage) and method (a place to apply it where in a comparable situation another Union commander won a victory).
 

Saphroneth

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I think based off what was said and written in July 1861-January 1862 (between Bull Run/Manassas I and the Trent Affair) and in summer to fall pre-Antietam 1862, and post-Fredericksburg 1862-January 1863 Mud March none of what is said above ever mattered to those Union soldiers, civilians, and enthusiastic supporters of the war living at the time who did not think they were going to win given the string of events and actions that took place in those periods unlike some on CWT who really don't have a grasp of what contemporaries knew what was going on
Yes, and part of that is that the Union was reluctant to make a large outlay of resources all at once early on. The clearest example of this is the fact the Union shut down recruitment in April 1862 - since the main limiting factor was small arms, continued recruitment could have produced another 300,000 troops by June 1862 (of whom only about 120,000 would have been armed with good rifled small arms, true, but this is still enough to drastically change the outcome of the war).
Another part of it is that the Union needed time to realize most of those advantages, but McClellan's strategy involved capitalizing on the ones it already had.
 

Saphroneth

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"They would do lots of things, like march troops back and forth as if they had twice as many as they had," Sutton said. "With McClellan, it worked. He had these wild ideas that the Confederate Army was always two to three times larger than it was."
Funny thing, that... that's wrong.
McClellan's estimates of enemy strength are generally correct - and when they're not, the errors are understandable and tend to be because of flaws in the infomation gathering or processing (someone - not McClellan - subtracted 6% instead of 1/6, or some regiments that failed to organize were counted as being in existence). The trick is understanding what the numbers McClellan is talking about actually mean, because when making estimates of enemy strength (or asking for reinforcements, actually) he tends to speakin Aggregate Present, as this is the easiest measure to get from spy work.

The "march troops back and forth" assertion is usually made about Yorktown. At Yorktown McClellan made three estimates:

McClellan%2Best%2B3rd%2BApril.png



McClellan%2Best%2B7th%2BApril.png



McClellan%2Best%2B20th%2BApril.png





So "15,000" on April 3rd.
"30,000" on April 6th or 7th, where it's mentioned that McClellan's full force (minus the troops taken from him) will be "100,000" and those troops taken from him were "45,000".
And "80,000" on April 20th.


Now, we know the effective strength of the force at Yorktown based on the April/May effective strength report, and we know the strength of McClellan's force in PFD and Present. Tellingly, McClellan's force minus Franklin is about 100,000 Present and the strength of the divisions taken from him in late March and early April add to about 45,000 Present. (Both totals are smaller than that in PFD - in PFD McClellan minus Franklin was only about 85,000 PFD.) This tells us that at least on April 6/7 McClellan was talking in Present, not Effectives.
The second report should also be taken with a grain of salt, as McClellan's whole force of ~100,000 Present would not finish arriving for at least another few days after this point.

Conversion from Effectives to Present is a little tricky, but adding 25% is a reasonable way to estimate the number.

3rd April -
Brigade total_effectives
1: McLaws 2084
2: Cobb 660
3: Reserve 582
4: Ewell 800
5: Colston 1175
6: Wilcox 2616
7: Winston 2310
8: Ward 890
9: Rains 2981
10: Crump 1119
11: Reserve Arty 720
12: Magruder 990

I can give a regimental breakdown if required, but this is the strength of the troops who'd reached Magruder by the 3rd. The total is 16,900 Effectives, which means it's actually about 20,000 in Present - McClellan has certainly not underestimated here. (n.b. Cobb's Brigade and Colston's Brigade as they would later be enumerated had only partially arrived.)

7th April-
Here's the reinforcements by brigade Magruder recieved by that point.
Brigade total_effectives
1: Kershaw 2567
2: Cobb 1864
3: Colston 575
4: Early 1920
5: Rodes 3040
6: Wise 700

In total this is 10,700 effectives in reinforcement, bringing the strength in the Yorktown line to 27,600 Effectives - or about 34,500 Present. (The number for the 6th is 25,000 Effectives for 31,300 Present.) Thus the 30,000 estimate is also quite accurate.

20th April-

By this point almost the entire Confederate force has arrived, with only Pettigrew's Brigade and the Reserve Artillery yet to arrive. By brigade:

Brigade total_effectives
1: McLaws 2084
2: Griffith 2774
3: Kershaw 2567
4: Cobb 3796
5: Reserve 582
6: Toombs 2357
7: Semmes 2342
8: Ewell 800
9: AP Hill 2512
10: Anderson 4198
11: Colston 1750
12: Pickett 2460
13: Wilcox 2616
14: Winston 2310
15: Early 2380
16: Rodes 3040
17: Ward 890
18: Rains 2981
19: Featherston 2224
20: Crump 1119
21: Whiting 2398
22: Hood 1922
23: Hampton 2225
24: Stuart 1289
25: Reserve Arty 720
26: Magruder 990
27: Wise 700


This totals to 56,000 Effectives, or 70,000 Present. 80,000 is a slight overestimate, but it's not anything that would change McClellan's behaviour.

When the Yorktown position was captured two weeks after the 20th April estimate it was found that the ration strength of Johnston's army was 110,000. This included more than just Yorktown, it's true, but it indicates that the 80,000 number is not a wild fantasy. (It's quite possible that the "more than 80,000" actually came from those ration strength reports, but it's notable that McClellan discounted it down significantly from the raw intel take if true.)

It's also quite possible that the effectives we measured above were reduced by sickness (by 10%-20%, according to reports). I have not attempted to take this into account.



As for the Maryland Campaign, McClellan's estimate there is high - but not by much. The error is essentially entirely due to an assumption that the entire Confederate Army in the east has come to invade Maryland, where in fact a few brigades were left behind to defend Richmond.
This did not significantly change McClellan's decision making.
 

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BlueandGrayl

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Yes, and part of that is that the Union was reluctant to make a large outlay of resources all at once early on. The clearest example of this is the fact the Union shut down recruitment in April 1862 - since the main limiting factor was small arms, continued recruitment could have produced another 300,000 troops by June 1862 (of whom only about 120,000 would have been armed with good rifled small arms, true, but this is still enough to drastically change the outcome of the war).
Another part of it is that the Union needed time to realize most of those advantages, but McClellan's strategy involved capitalizing on the ones it already had.
Well considering that folks like McClellan, Halleck and Buell were around and they were conservative Democrats who wanted a soft war towards the South as well as the attempt to do a conciliatory approach it hindered the Union realizing what it had (coupled with John Pope's disastrous attempt at stopping the Confederates at Bull Run/Manassas II in August) and gave the Confederates the time to reorganize and win some victories in the Eastern and Western Theatres up until Harpers Ferry and the Lost Order.

An early war is pretty much the best case scenario for a Confederate victory such as ending in the fall of 1862 like say no Lost Order and thus Lee's invasion goes as planned or the Confederates are able to trap the Union Army at Glendale (assuming Stonewall Jackson didn't become too tired and thus assisted Benjamin Huger in moving his corps) for example means that the Confederates have suffered the least amount of damage and given that this involves a single move/decision (like you mentioned in another post) it means Union defeat and European recognition by Britain and France.
 

Saphroneth

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Well considering that folks like McClellan, Halleck and Buell were around and they were conservative Democrats who wanted a soft war towards the South as well as the attempt to do a conciliatory approach
...while it's true that McClellan wanted a conciliatory approach, he also wanted this combined with overwhelming military power. McClellan's target value was essentially "as many troops as possible" - he wanted the troop disparity to reflect the census disparity.

It's actually quite a modern approach - offer people a binary choice, an easy acceptance of the government's legitimate authority, or obvious and inevitable defeat.

no Lost Order and thus Lee's invasion goes as planned
Wouldn't work, McClellan was already moving westwards before the Lost Order. For Lee's invasion to go as planned you'd probably need Pope in charge, Pope didn't care about supply lines or bases.

or the Confederates are able to trap the Union Army at Glendale (assuming Stonewall Jackson didn't become too tired and thus assisted Benjamin Huger in moving his corps)
Glendale was a solid line, the problem was that Franklin quit his position without orders. There are at least two better ways to get the Union army trapped in the Seven Days.

An early war is pretty much the best case scenario for a Confederate victory
IMO the best way to get a Confederate victory is a Trent war, it takes all those Union systemic advantages I mentioned out behind the shed and shoots them in the head. After six months of a Trent war the Union's position will be absolutely terrible, even if the British mount no offensives whatsoever except a blockade.
 

wbull1

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I do not deny that McClellan did a number of things very well and his troops clearly loved him for the care he showed for them. I think his abhorrence of the death and injury caused by the war speaks well of him as a person. His organizational and training skills were top notch. But maneuvering and commanding the ground did relatively little to win the war. Maybe his defensive skills and avoiding combat would have served the Confederacy better than the Union.
 
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Saphroneth

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But maneuvering and commanding the ground did relatively little to win the war.
Er... sorry, but this view isn't really appropriate. Manoeuvre warfare is the more sophisticated form of warfare, which is to say that it's a way of fighting which isn't purely attritional and which revolves around gaining an advantage to fight with. Lee almost always aimed to manoeuvre for advantage, and it's part of why a generally smaller army was able to fight a generally larger one - certainly it's how Chancellorsville was a Confederate victory.


Just to give you an example of how McClellan's ability to win 'bloodless victories' contributed materially to the success of the war, consider how the Overland Campaign would have gone without McClellan's manoeuvres in the Peninsular Campaign. Since McClellan's way of clearing the Peninsula* was about the only way of doing it without huge slaughter and since it would have been all but impossible to clear the Peninsula from an Overland campaign, it would mean the Overland ground to a halt at the North Anna.


Maybe his defensive skills and avoiding combat would have served the Confederacy better than the Union.
It might be worth considering that "defensive skills and avoiding combat" which let McClellan defend his way to within six miles of Richmond city centre clearly means that something is amiss with the standard picture.


Again. Where is an example where there was an opportunity for McClellan to win a victory by acting differently, where he failed to take this opportunity?




*at least, once the Urbanna plan had been nixed...
 
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BlueandGrayl

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...while it's true that McClellan wanted a conciliatory approach, he also wanted this combined with overwhelming military power. McClellan's target value was essentially "as many troops as possible" - he wanted the troop disparity to reflect the census disparity.

It's actually quite a modern approach - offer people a binary choice, an easy acceptance of the government's legitimate authority, or obvious and inevitable defeat.


Wouldn't work, McClellan was already moving westwards before the Lost Order. For Lee's invasion to go as planned you'd probably need Pope in charge, Pope didn't care about supply lines or bases.


Glendale was a solid line, the problem was that Franklin quit his position without orders. There are at least two better ways to get the Union army trapped in the Seven Days.


IMO the best way to get a Confederate victory is a Trent war, it takes all those Union systemic advantages I mentioned out behind the shed and shoots them in the head. After six months of a Trent war the Union's position will be absolutely terrible, even if the British mount no offensives whatsoever except a blockade.
To be fair, Glendale was like you said a solid line for one of the corps commanders named Franklin who quit and yes two other ways could be used to trap the Union Army and destroy it entirely. What do you define as two other ways to get the Union Army in a position that it can't retreat in Glendale specifically and how Franklin quitting his position affected the battle?. BTW, I got the detail of Stonewall Jackson not getting tired when trying to assist Benjamin Huger from Civil War Trust's 10 Facts: Glendale article when Jackson after his successful Shenandoah Valley Campaign getting tired and falling asleep thus he was unable to help Huger as well as a Civil War scenario from What Ifs of American History (about historians doing alternate history) in which one of the scenarios is called "A Confederate Cannae" focusing on Lee achieving his Cannae in that battle.

The Lost Order helped give McClellan a full idea about the movements and plans of the Army of Northern Virginia and what they were going to do next otherwise as McClellan stated "Now I know what to do!" and one of his aides quoted him as saying "Here is a paper with which if I cannot whip 'Bobbie Lee', I will be willing to go home" he also stated "I have the plans of the rebels [Confederates], and will catch them in their own trap" in a letter to Lincoln.

The Trent Affair like you said definitely is a good way to give the Confederates a much-needed victory considering that the British had twice as much industrial, financial, and population capacity (counting Britain and its colonies) as the Union did, any hypothetical Trent war could probably follow along the lines of Wrapped In Flames: The Great American War and Beyond and your Trent War scenario.

One of the more unexplored possibilities of a Confederate victory early on this site could be starting earlier in another decade there were at least a few points which could have happened in an alternate early Civil War if it had gotten out of hand or changed at least one detail:

1. The debate surrounding the admission of Missouri between the Northern and Southern states in 1820: When James Tallmadge Jr. of New York introduced an amendment that would have outlawed slavery in the territory it actually passed in the House of Representatives narrowly 87 to 76 in favor of stopping slave migration and 82 to 78 in favor of emancipating slaves at age 25 (most of the yes votes were from the North with the exception of one vote elsewhere while the no votes were from the South) given the greater population northward but the enabling bill was rejected 22 to 16 (including five Northerners, two were proslavery Illinoisians) and 31 to 7 against gradual emancipation there was also the Three-Fifths Compromise which was meant to balance representation between North and South but to the Federalists it was seen as letting Southerners dominate the government perhaps we might change the near-perfect balance between the free (12) and slave (11) states by making one of them Dealware become a free state in OTL that state's slave population was on the decline by 1810 most of the black population was free (78%) it was culturally speaking more in common with the Mid-Atlantic states of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania than the Upper and Lower South states such as Virginia, Maryland, and South Carolina and and there had already been efforts to abolish the institution in 1792 but failed and it came close to happening in 1803 which was only stopped by a tie-breaking vote by the House Speaker
let's say his vote is a yes rather than a no and so slavery is abolished in Delaware it means that the North's free white population is boosted by a nearby state abolishing the institution thus giving it another free state enough to upset the balance and heat up tension a bit. At the same time the amendment proposed by James Tallmadge Jr. also caused
"rancorous", "fiery", "bitter", "blistering", "furious" and "bloodthirsty" reactions so much Tallmadge flat out stated "If a dissolution of the Union must take place, let it be so! If civil war, which gentlemen so much threaten, must come, I can only say, let it come!" while Thomas W. Cobb of Georgia responded with "You have kindled a fire which all the waters of the ocean cannot put out, which seas of blood can only extinguish" so yeah there were threats of civil war and disunion over the future of the territories.

2. Tariff of Abomination of 1828 and the Tariff of 1832/Nullification Crisis: In 1828, President John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts (who opposed slavery) passed a new tariff (albeit reluctantly) that would become infamously known as "The Tariff of Abominations" it was intended to help manafacturing in New England and the Northeast due to the disruption caused by the War of 1812 against British manafacturing but this caused strong objections in the South especially South Carolina most of whom argued that the tariff was unfair to them with the votes of yes being from the former two regions while the no votes were from the latter region.

The tariff also gave the Jacksonian Democrats someone to scapegoat and one of the people behind the tariff was Martin Van Buren of New York (although reading from one document it's a bit debatable if he was responsible for the Tariff of Abominations or not) thus Adams would be discredited by the time the 1832 election came and now that Andrew Jackson of Tennessee was president he had another issue to deal with that being the aforementioned South Carolina already voting no, John C. Calhoun and the Nullists (the precursor to the Confederate Secessionists and Fire-Eaters) held quite a bit of influence with their native state going as far as to vote to approve the Nullification Convention which declared the tariffs of 1828 and 1832 unconsitutional and as a result Andrew Jackson even threatened to send the U.S. Army into the state in the Force Bill eventually the Compromise Tariff of 1833 was passed and so the crisis ended.

The other Southern states reaction to South Carolina's actions was that they were not pleased whatsover the Alabama legislature, for example, pronounced the doctrine "unsound in theory and dangerous in practice." Georgia said it was "mischievous," "rash and revolutionary." Mississippi lawmakers chided the South Carolinians for acting with "reckless precipitancy." (to quote one historian) I can see why given that a Tennessee-born Southerner was president it wasn't seen as a sectional issue but rather a South Carolina issue if the Nullification Crisis of 1832-1833 and its tariff was presided over a Yankee president (i.e. someone from New England or the Mid-Atlantic states) like say JQA or Daniel Webster then it might as well escalate and get the Southern states of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, and to a lesser extent-Missouri (I checked the votes for the Tariff of Abomination in 1828 on a U.S. government website) into conflict with the Northern states much sooner.

3. Texas sending its militia to reinforce its claims on New Mexico: Between the late 1840s until 1850, there was an existential crisis that almost broke up the Union it pertained to the newly acquired Western territory of the United States after the Mexican-American War over whether they should be Northern or Southern states efforts to contain the spread of a certain institution were led by the Free-Soilers and Northern Whigs such as David Wilmot (the writer of the Wilmot Proviso) while those who wanted it included Southern Democrats and Whigs it also included an issue pertaining to fugitives, the newly-elected president was Zachary Taylor (a war hero) while he was from Virginia and was a slaveowner but he did not want to expand the institution westward and preferred keeping the peace between North and South over anything else.

The potential for a conflict between the Northern Union and Southern Confederacy almost came in the form of not the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina of a certain fort but in the form of a territorial dispute in the desert between New Mexico and Texas you see when Texas was a republic between 1836-1846 it had a claim to a stretch of land surrounding the aforementioned New Mexico, Oklahoma (the panhandle part), Kansas, Colorado, and Wyoming because the Missouri Compromise of 1820 barred the peculiar institution along the 36-30 line some of Texas' land was not compatible with it and so things would get heated.

From the Texas State Historical Association's Compromise of 1850 article by Roger A. Griffin:
"COMPROMISE OF 1850. The results of the Mexican War (1846–48) brought Texas into serious conflict with the national government over the state's claim to a large portion of New Mexico. The claim was based on efforts by the Republic of Texas, beginning in 1836, to expand far beyond the traditional boundaries of Spanish and Mexican Texas to encompass all of the land extending the entire length of the Rio Grande. Efforts to occupy the New Mexican portion of this territory during the years of the republic came to naught (see TEXAN SANTA FE EXPEDITION).

In the early months of the Mexican War, however, federal troops, commanded by Gen. Stephen W. Kearny, easily occupied New Mexico. Kearny quickly established a temporary civil government. When Texas governor J. Pinckney Hendersoncomplained to United States secretary of state James Buchanan, the latter replied that, though the matter would have to be settled by Congress, Kearny's action should not prejudice the Texas claim. By the provisions of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Mexico relinquished all claim to territory north and east of the Rio Grande. The treaty did not, however, speak to the issue of the Texas claim to that portion of New Mexico lying east of the river.

By this time New Mexico and all other lands ceded to the United States by Mexico had become embroiled in the slaverycontroversy. Southern leaders insisted that all of the new territory be opened to slaveholders and their human property. Northern freesoilers and abolitionists were determined to prevent such an opening and so resisted the claims of Texas to part of the area in question. Texas attempted to further its claim by organizing Santa Fe County in 1848, with boundaries including most of New Mexico east of the Rio Grande. In New Mexico military and civilian leaders then petitioned the federal government to organize their area into a federal territory. Texas governor George T. Wood responded by asking the legislature to give him the power and means to assert the claim of Texas to New Mexico "with the whole power and resources of the State." Soon afterward his successor, Peter H. Bell, made a more moderate request, asking only for authority to send a military force sufficient to maintain the state's authority in that area. Bell then sent Robert S. Neighbors west to organize four counties in the disputed area. Although he was successful in the El Paso area, Neighbors was not welcomed in New Mexico.

Publication of the report of Neighbors's mission in June of 1850 led to a public outcry in Texas. Some persons advocated the use of military force; others urged secession. Bell reacted by calling a special session of the legislature to deal with the issue. Before the session began, the crisis deepened. New Mexicans ratified a constitution for a proposed state specifying boundaries that included the territory claimed by Texas. Also, President Millard Fillmore reinforced the army contingent stationed in New Mexico and asserted publicly that should Texas militiamen enter the disputed area he would order federal troops to resist them. Southern political leaders responded by sending Governor Bell offers of moral and even military support".

For some more context regarding the situation here are some excerpts from America's Great Debate: Henry Clay, Stephen A. Douglas, and the Compromise That Saved the Union by Fergus M. Bordewich:
"Texans had expected everything east of the Rio Grande would automatically be turned over to them after the war. By 1848, their patience was running out. That March, Governor George T. Wood asked President Polk to order the military authorities in Santa Fe 'to cooperate to the end that the State of Texas may in no wise way be embarassed in the exercise of her rightful juridisction', Wood appointed a young lawyer from Nacogdoches, Spruce Baird, to personally carry his writ of juridisction to Santa Fe. The hustling, red-haired Baird was emblematic of the buccaneering spirit thatt drove Texan spirits but a poor choice for a mission that required diplomatic finesse. He spoke no Spanish, and was interested (if not more so) in finagling business opprotunities for himself as he was in carrying out his official duties. When New Mexicans learned that Texas meant to enforce its claims, they reacted with alarm. Anglos and Latinos alike took to the streets. The Santa Fe Republican thundered 'New Mexico does not belong, nor has Texas even has a right to claim as a part of Texas', adding 'We would so advise Texas to send her with her civil officiers for this country [United States], a large force, in order that they may have a sufficient bodyguard to escort them back safe'...

"In Zachary Taylor, Texans faced a man who had no respect at all for their claims. Nor did he have much use for Texans. Freewheeling, trigger-happy [Texas] Rangers had caused him more trouble than they were worth during the war [Mexican-American War], when like 'packs of human bloodhounds' they had pillaged their way across northern Mexico, slaughtering civilians as they went. Taylor believed that everything acquired from Mexico was now federal land. And that was that. Hoping to head off the congressional collision that loomed, he resolved with a soldier's decisiveness to make both regions fully-fledged states, and to do it without delay. In a personal letter to the president, Governor [George T.] Wood confessed that Texas was embarassed - it desperately wanted to sell New Mexico land to pay off its creditors. But such crass concerns were beside the point: Texan honor was at stake. 'To yield to a sevverence of any portion of her soul would be as humiliating to Texas as it would be unjust on the part of the United States' he wrote. Wood's restrained language veiled a threat: Texas would not surrender her claim, come what may. In frustration, Baird issued a proclaimation that had been burning a hole in his pocket for the past half-year. Santa Fe was now officially a part of Texas, he declared to all, and the town of Santa Fe was its country seat:
'All proceedings not in accordance with the laws of [Texas] will be held as absolutely null and void', there was no going back now. The rest was in the hands of his compatriots. A few weeks later he left home'...

"The delegates tiptoed through the minfield that had thrawted their earlier petition, hinting at a willinges to cmpromise on the problem of slavery, and fuzzliy describing New Mexico's eastern boundary simply as the 'State of Texas'. But their hedging case came too late. Texas was aroused"...

"It was now clear to Texans that Zachary Taylor was actively working to snatch the prize from their grasp. Protest meetings demanded action against the 'greasers rebellion' in Santa Fe, while the drum-beating Texas State Gazette editorialized, 'Rather than surrender to the usurpation of the General Government one-inch of our blood-won territory, let every human habitation in Santa Fe be leveled to the earth, and we, if the necessity of the case requires it, buried beneath the ruins'. The threat of a Texan invasion of New Meixco had become as Henry Clay memorably put it 'the crisis of a crisis', the single issue that had the capacity to tumble the country into civil war overnight...

"[Robert] Neighbors was the perfect choice to carry out the imperial dreams of Texans and their militant new governor Peter Hansborough Bell, across the desert to New Mexico. Bell, a former Texas Ranger, had promised immediate action against the recalcitrant New Mexicans. 'We have trusted too much and too long ', he declared in his first message to the Texas legislature, on December 26, 1849. Declaring that further inaction would only embolden those who were ignoring Texan rights, he asked for the authority to raise an army to enforce Texan claims at Santa Fe, 'without reference to to any anticipated action of the Federal Government'. What those words eliptical words meant was that Bell intended to fight for New Mexico, and that he would accept nothinbg less than a complete surrender of federal authority. There could be no question in the minds of his listeners, that Bell ws prepared to go to war with the United States". Neighbors was given copies of the Texas constitution, sets of state ordinances, decrees, and laws that had paseed the most recent sessions of the legislature, in both English and Spanish, and eighty copies of Bell's address to the people of New Mexico. In this inagurating screed, the governor reassured his new subjects that Texas, having learned of New Mexicans' 'friendly dispositon towards us, and your expressed desire that such facilities should be extended to your own people' - this was utter hogwash- Texas was not extending over them by fulfilling 'the design which she has long entertained of extending wholesome and salutary laws over every portion of her territory' Bell promised them freedom of religion, peace, and liberty and all the 'advantages' of the Texas constitution, presumably slavery. Rejoice, New Mexicans! 'How many of our fellow beings, while groaning under the iron rod of despotism, would be made thrice happy could they embrace the golden opportunities which we are permitted to enjoy'.

On the Brink of Civil War: The Compromise of 1850 and How It Changed the Course of American History by John C. Waugh noted Zachary Taylor's reaction to Texas' attempt at enforcing its territorial claims:
"Taylor resolve had calcified even more since coming to Washington. When word reached him that Texans might soon march on New Mexico and seize its claim by force, the president vowed that he would resist with federal troops. He had marched into Texas before and he would do it again. He knew the way. In April he told Alfred Pleasanton, an army officer about to join his command in New Mexico 'These Southern men in congress are now trying to bring on civil war. They are now organizing a military force in Texas for the purpose of taking New Mexico and annexing it to Texas, and I have ordered the troops in New Mexico to be reinforced, and directed that no armed force from Texas be permitted to go into that territory'. If there were not enough soldiers there to do that, Taylor told Pleasanton 'I will be with you myself... be-fore those people [Texans] shall go into that country or have a foot of that territory'. The whole business is infamous, and must be put down".
And as for Millard Fillmore handling this crisis well this how he could have done it:
"Filllmore was with Taylor on this one. He was just as ready to use force to derail the Texas intention. He viewed any Texas move into U.S. territory in New Mexico as an intrustion, under the protection of no lawful authority. He would resist such willful trespass by force if necessary 'however painful the duty' just as Taylor vowed to do. At the same time he was about to call on Congress for 'an immediate decision or arrangement or settlement of the question'".

Zachary Taylor was as mentioned before willing to use force had he lived a bit longer:
"[Robert] Toombs had warned Taylor that this new policy would drive him and every other Southern Whig into open opposition and that the entire South would rush to the side of Texas if New Mexico should forcibly resist. Taylor had denied the validity of the Texas claim... He told Toombs he was a soldier who knew his duty and would do it whatever the consequences. Toombs later told a friend "The worst of it is, he will do it".

Alexander Stephens (future Confederate Vice President, but back in the 1850s an anti-secessionist leader) wrote about a potential Taylor action:
"When the 'Rubicon' is passed, the days of the Republic [i.e. the Union/United States] will be numbered... the cause of Texas, is such a conflict, will be the cause of the entire South. This threat had been made by Southerners before, but this one, from this particular pro-Union Whig, had been reprinted across the country"
Ultimately after the death of Zachary Taylor and 3 bills by the likes of John Bell of Tennessee (future leader of the Constitutional Union Party and later pro-Confederate secessionist), Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri, and Henry Clay of Kentucky all of which had failed a senator from Maryland named James A. Pierce gave Texas an offer they couldn't refuse in which they would give up all their territorial claims entirely in exchange for $10 million.


Perhaps for the Texan militia attempt to enforce its attempt on territorial claims in nearby New Mexico to escalate into full-scale fighting between them and the Federal troops stationed there regardless of who fires the first shot I think we need to kill off Henry Clay (the man behind the Compromise of 1850) let's say by a having tuberculosis much sooner than he did in OTL (in 1852) which isn't unreasonable considering that his partners in "The Great Triumvirate" Daniel Webster and John C. Calhoun were nearing death so along with Clay they could die much earlier or just simply Clay himself.

Reaction-wise either having Taylor or Fillmore (if the former still ends up dying) ordering the Federal troops to attack the Texan militia would reflect what Toombs and Stephens (who lived at the time and knew what was going on) said a Southern state having its personal citizens attacked by the Federal government would anger the South as well Southerners whether they were Whigs or Democrats and give Southern secessionists something for their brethren to rally around to their cause especially if it were the New York, Northern-born Fillmore who like his POTUS opposed any extension of slavery which would be seen as "Northern aggression", while Civil War doesn't entirely break out after that (at least yet) it does heat up tension between the North and the South much sooner and the Southern Whigs and Democrats perhaps deserting their parties' Northern branches after the standoff between Federal troops and Texan militia speeding up the Civil War.
 

Saphroneth

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What do you define as two other ways to get the Union Army in a position that it can't retreat in Glendale specifically and how Franklin quitting his position affected the battle?
Not Glendale specifically, but two other cases during the Seven Days. One of them is McClellan deciding not to retreat after Gaines Mill (ends with the Union army surrounded) and the other is McClellan not retreating after Malvern Hill (ditto). It's possible that Lee's move with Longstreet not being interrupted by the accidental attack on Malvern may also have seen the Union army encircled on Malvern.

The Lost Order helped give McClellan a full idea about the movements and plans of the Army of Northern Virginia and what they were going to do next otherwise as McClellan stated "Now I know what to do!" and one of his aides quoted him as saying "Here is a paper with which if I cannot whip 'Bobbie Lee', I will be willing to go home" he also stated "I have the plans of the rebels [Confederates], and will catch them in their own trap" in a letter to Lincoln.
The only new information the Lost Order really gave McClellan was that the Confederates were definitely marching divided - his cavalry had already found out a lot of the information, though not all of it. It was a days-old movement order, some of which had been superseded and which was no longer current (it was a September 9 march order which reached as far as September 12 - that Friday - and was found on September 13; by that point Longstreet had moved past where the order had told him to stop.)
That McClellan was already sending 9th Corps forwards before he actually recieved the order shows us that he didn't need SO191 to act.

I think the reason McClellan was so confident was because he thought Harpers Ferry would hold out another day or two, as he'd already ordered them to hold the heights IIRC. If it had then Franklin would have trapped a quarter of the whole Confederate army in the Pleasant Valley; Harpers Ferry falling meant that McLaws could escape that way.
 
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BlueandGrayl

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Not Glendale specifically, but two other cases during the Seven Days. One of them is McClellan deciding not to retreat after Gaines Mill (ends with the Union army surrounded) and the other is McClellan not retreating after Malvern Hill (ditto). It's possible that Lee's move with Longstreet not being interrupted by the accidental attack on Malvern may also have seen the Union army encircled on Malvern.



The only new information the Lost Order really gave McClellan was that the Confederates were definitely marching divided - his cavalry had already found out a lot of the information, though not all of it. It was a days-old movement order, some of which had been superseded and which was no longer current (it was a September 9 march order which reached as far as September 12 - that Friday - and was found on September 13; by that point Longstreet had moved past where the order had told him to stop.)
That McClellan was already sending 9th Corps forwards before he actually recieved the order shows us that he didn't need SO191 to act.

I think the reason McClellan was so confident was because he thought Harpers Ferry would hold out another day or two, as he'd already ordered them to hold the heights IIRC. If it had then Franklin would have trapped a quarter of the whole Confederate army in the Pleasant Valley; Harpers Ferry falling meant that McLaws could escape that way.
Who knows it's possible, perhaps another battle like Gaines Mill or Malvern Hill with the alternate decisions you mentioned made as you said could give the Confederates their Cannae to help them win the war.

Yeah, McClellan was a bit too confident he thought that the Union garrison at Harpers' Ferry (which was hopelessly outmatched by the superior Confederate force) would hold out when in fact they didn't.

Well about how McClellan got info from his cavalry well he had a rather limited knowledge of Lee's movements asystated byyhimself to his wife Mary Ann McClellan "Fom what I can gather secesh [Confederates] is skedaddling & I don't think we can catch him unless he is really moving to Penna [Pennsylvania] - in that case I shall catch him before he has made much headway towards the interior. I begin to think that he is making off to get out of the scrape by recrossing the river at Williamsport - in which case my only chance of bagging him will be to cross lower down & cut into his communications near Winchester. He evidently don't want to fight me - for some reason or another" McClellan did not think he could ever capture or get the Confederate Army into a fight unless in his opinion that they were moving towards the state of Pennsylvania (which they were planning to) and he was a bit unsure whether the Confederates were moving into the state or not.

Reading an article on HistoryNet called 'The Roar and Rattle': McClellan's Missed Opportunities at Antietam" it just comes to show that historians have differing interpretations over the established facts of an event and McClellan's performance at the Battle of Antietam is up to debate whether he performed adequately or poorly.
 
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Saphroneth

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Yeah, McClellan was a bit too confident he thought that the Union garrison at Harpers' Ferry (which was hopelessly outmatched by the superior Confederate force) would hold out when in fact they didn't.
Harpers Ferry was fairly defensible, at least if the heights were occupied. The problem is that they gave up possession of the heights.

'The Roar and Rattle': McClellan's Missed Opportunities at Antietam"
That article claims only 40,000 Confederate troops and 200 guns with McClellan's army "more than twice that size, with 300 guns". It's based off false assumptions (specifically, it's comparing McClellan's campaign strength with Lee's Effectives).
It also claims only 15,000 men at Sharpsburg on the 15th and early 16th; the true number is 25,000, at least if you're giving McClellan's full strength in campaign PFD.

Since it seems like the main thing it's claiming as a missed opportunity is an attack on the 15th or 16th, then that alternative can be dismissed (I've already looked at the true force ratio).
 
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Stone in the wall

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I think there's a definite argument that Lincoln didn't really understand military strategy or operations, yes - and, perhaps worse, that he thought he did understand it by applying simple principles without thinking them through or knowing the flaws in them.

So for example Lincoln stated about Fredericksburg:


"...if the same battle were to be fought over again, every day, through a week of days, with the same relative results, the army under Lee would be wiped out to the last man, the Army of the Potomac would still be a mighty host, the war would be over, the Confederacy gone, and peace would be won at a smaller cost of life than it will be if the week of lost battles must be dragged out through yet another year of camps and marches, and of deaths in hospitals rather than upon the field."



The principle here that Lincoln is asserting is that attrition would kill the Army of Northern Virginia if Fredericksburg was fought over and over until one army was destroyed, and that this would involve fewer casualties from the conditions of campaigning. In so far as a quick end to the war is desireable he's correct, but Fredericksburg is not the battle to say it about - Fredericksburg saw a 3:1 casualty ratio. Fight it seven times over with the same relative results, and you end up with over 86,000 Union casualties to about 30,000 Confederate. By that point Burnside's Army of the Potomac is actually smaller than Lee's AoNV, and another three goes at it would see the AotP wiped out as a fighting force to the last man with Lee still possessing a significant force (a little under half what he started with).
That's assuming the Union army would have the same offensive spirit at Seventh Fredericksburg as it did at the historical (first) Fredericksburg. In fact we know from the Overland what would happen, and it's that the Federal army would rapidly go downhill in motivation as they decide for themselves that their commanders are out to slaughter them. Human beings simply can't keep up an offensive spirit for that many bloody assaults in a row, even successful ones, and post-hoc statistical analysis has shown a general tendency for Federal troops to recover their abilities post-battle somewhat slower than Confederate ones.

Functionally I think if a commander did try to Fredericksburg over and over again they'd be facing mutiny by about the third or fourth assault, at which point 1/3 of the army had been killed or wounded...


In this Lincoln's way of thinking is actually worryingly reminiscent of the stereotypical WW1 general.
I don't think they would even get 3, the troops of the 1st day had had their fill, and after fresh troops got a taste of this the 2nd day and both seeing what happen to the other plus knowing what they went thru, it would be hard to get anyone to make a 3rd attack. 2nd day now hole in Hills line is no longer there,his losses here will be much less. Lee could maybe run out of ammunition.
 
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Stone in the wall

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Plus Lincoln would figure it was B
I don't see the question, but I was asked about times McClellan had a numerical advantage:


History.com

Peninsula Campaign of 1862


Lincoln preferred an overland campaign toward Richmond, but McClellan proposed an amphibious maneuver in which the Union Army would land on the Virginia Peninsula, effectively circumventing the rebels under General Joseph E. Johnston.

McClellan put his Peninsula Campaign into action in March 1862, landing over 120,000 men on the coast and proceeding east toward the Confederate capital. The Confederates withdrew toward Richmond, and McClellan’s troops fought their way to within only a few miles of the city.

Despite his strong position, McClellan failed to capitalize on his tactical advantage, once again believing that he might be outnumbered. When General Robert E. Lee took control of Confederate forces on June 1, he launched a series of bold offensives that culminated in the Seven Days Battles.


By Eric M. Weiss July 12, 2002 The Washington Post

Quaker guns often worked surprisingly well. The fake guns were used first and most effectively in Northern Virginia, where the logs -- and real guns -- discouraged Gen. George B. McClellan and Union forces from attacking deep into Virginia and threatening the key railroad junction at Manassas. And when Union troops did attack across Bull Run in July 1861, they approached from the northwest, around the dozen earthen forts in what is now Manassas.

"One can hardly believe," a Northern newspaper reporter said in 1862 after visiting the then Union-controlled area, "that this here is the monster Manassas, which for eight months has been the fright and bugbear of the country."

Quaker guns also were discovered in Centreville and at high points closer to Washington. The earliest and most prominent was found on Munson's Hill, near Merrifield in present-day Fairfax County. The wooden discovery tarnished McClellan's reputation.

When other Union commanders discovered they had been fooled by fake cannon, the embarrassing arsenals were often disposed of as firewood, said Melinda Herzog, director of the Manassas Museum, which operates Mayfield Fort.

"It was just one of the tactics used to confuse McClellan about how many guns or troops there were," said Robert K. Sutton, superintendent of Manassas National Battlefield Park. Strategic deception was a potent weapon in the Confederate arsenal and one used expertly by Southern generals, he said.

"They would do lots of things, like march troops back and forth as if they had twice as many as they had," Sutton said. "With McClellan, it worked. He had these wild ideas that the Confederate Army was always two to three times larger than it was."
You didn't miss a question I think what your talking about is I stated "Lincoln was another war McClellan and other generals had to fight"
 

Saphroneth

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With regard to the idea of attacking on the 15th when Lee supposedly had only ~15,000 effectives up, even if you assume that this 15,000 number is Campaign PFD (or rather that McClellan's stated 87,000 strength is effectives) then attacking on the 15th is a risky gamble. Only two divisions were up - Sykes and Richardson - and they were 1/2 of the elements of 5th Corps and 1/3 of the elements of 2nd Corps McClellan listed as being present.
Taking those two as fractions of the strength McClellan gave it's

Sykes 6,450
Richardson 6,270

So 12,720 in line.

Thus an attack on the evening of the 15th really isn't possible, even if Lee's whole force present at the field was only 15,000 and McClellan's divisions hadn't straggled at all - Lee would still outnumber him.
This is quite surprising, perhaps, but it can be explained by the fact that McClellan's troops were mostly following only one road (the northern one) - 6th and 9th Corps had been assigned to the southern road, and 6th had gone to Harpers Ferry while 9th had been overstrained and slowed down. Functionally this is

Confederate brigades of
Toombs, Drayton, Garnett, Kemper, Walker, GT Anderson
Evans
Wofford, Law
Ripley, Rodes, Garland, GB Anderson, Colquitt

opposed to the divisions of Sykes and Richardson, formed of the brigades of
Buchanan, Lovell, Warren
Caldwell, Meagher, Brooke

Thus it's 14 Confederate brigades against 6 Union ones. For this to be an even fight the average size of Confederate brigades would have to be less than half that of Union ones.

In fact comparing campaign strength for the whole army finds that the 40 inf brigades of Lee's army were about 1,750 strong each (70,000 not counting the cavalry / 40 = 1,750)
and the 44 inf brigades of McClellan's army which fought were about 1,900 strong each (83,000 not counting cavalry / 44 = 1,886)
though this is not constant unit by unit on either side.

Individual formations

- Confederate

DH Hill 10,624 (Rodes, Ripley, Garland, Anderson, Colquitt) 5 brigs 2,125 per
DR Jones, Hood/Evans 13,963 (Toombs, Drayton, Garnett, Kemper, Walker, Anderson, Wofford, Law, Evans) 9 brigades 1,551 per
Jackson, Ewell, AP Hill 22,559 (Douglass, Early, Walker, Hays, Branch, Gregg, Archer, Pender, Brockenbrough, Thomas, Grgisby, Warren, Johnson, Starke) 14 brigs 1,611 per
Walker 5,097 (Manning, Ransom) 2 brigs 2,547 per
McLaws/Anderson 18,480 (Kershaw, Cobb, Semmes, Barkdale, Cumming, Parham, Posey, Armistead, Pryor, Wright) 10 brigs 1,848 per

- Union

1st Corps 14,856 (10 brigades 1,486 per)
2nd Corps 18,813 (9 brigades 2,090 per)
5th Corps (minus one division) 12,930 (6 brigades 2,155 per)
6th Corps 12,300 (6 brigades 2,050 per)
9th Corps 13,819 (8 brigades 1,727 per)
12th Corps 10,126 (5 brigades 2,025 per)

Notably the most depleted Union brigades are in 1st and 9th Corps, probably because they'd been mauled at Second Bull Run, while the anomalously strong Confederate brigades are from DH Hill and Walker. The Union forces are much more uniform as a general rule, which is interesting.
 
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Saphroneth

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An interesting secondary analysis is that the 243 guns in the Confederate army pretty much amount to a six-gun battery per brigade (6.075), while the 290 guns in the Union army (on the field) amount to six and a half guns per brigade (6.591). This tends to support the conclusion about the Union having a slight advantage.

In campaign strength terms and counting the cavalry the Confederates have 3.24 guns per 1,000 men and the Union has 3.33 guns per 1,000 men. The Union advantage in infantry is slimmer than their artillery advantage, but not by much, while the Confederate advantage in cavalry is significant. (Much of the Union cavalry was off the field, performing a screening role, while Stuart wasn't in the same situation).
 
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Scott1967

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Okay, so you'e claiming the Peninsular Campaign as a whole as a time McClellan had superior numbers and failed to win a "Lincoln-style" victory.

So here's the problem. The Peninsular Campaign has several individual phases.

Yorktown: McClellan had the numerical advantage at Yorktown, but it was not as great as is often stated and the Confederates reinforced quickly - actually quicker than the Union could. There was no point when McClellan had enough of an advantage to simply roll over the enemy, and because the Warwick line was a strongly garrisoned river line an attack would largely have been futile with the force ratios McClellan actually possessed. Despite this McClellan compelled the abandonment of the position after a month.
When Grant had a similar advantage at Vicksburg to the one McClellan had the first day or two at Yorktown and ordered an attack, he failed to take the fortifications. In fact, I'm not aware of any Civil War situation where an army broke through a flankless defensive line at the odds present.

Williamsburg: McClellan attacked the Confederate positions and won a victory.

Chickahominy (Seven Pines): McClellan at this point had only a very minor numerical advantage (no more than 10% or so), and his orders forced him to split himself across the Chickahominy. He was thus unable to muster the manpower for an offensive, and no other AoTP commander won an offensive battle at those odds either.

Chickahominy (Seven Days): McClellan was outnumbered.

Harrisons Landing: McClellan's force at Harrisons Landing and Lee's force at Richmond were comparable, with Lee's force in entrenchments.


Essentially there's no point where McClellan had means (a numerical advantage) and method (a place to apply it where in a comparable situation another Union commander won a victory).
Yet again you mask the fact that McClellan gave up virtually all the ground that his troops had won over 8 weeks you would make a very good politician Saphroneth you use smoke and mirrors to hide McClellan's flaws while pointing out troops numbers and ifs and buts.

While I don't claim to be as knowledgeable as you Saphroneth you do tend to miss out clear advantages McClellan had over his CSA counterparts like Logistics and Supply not to mention the clear advantage in sheer firepower due to better artillery & small arms.

So here we have the AoP better Drilled , Supplied , With better artillery and small arms and last but not least better morale and guess what McClellan used none of these to his advantage instead he retreated under the assumption he was vastly outnumbered (poor spy network anyone?) Or of course you could also say he retreated because his position was untenable (his problem).

I keep seeing quotes made by Lees kin stating that Lee was very disappointed that McClellan was replaced and Lee rated him as his most dangerous opponent and I cant help but feel this is all tongue in cheek after all McClellan was a Democrat and in later years wanted a negotiated peace all of which of course plays into the CSA hands having McClellan reinstated would have been a major coup for the CSA government and Lee.

So the question stands why was McClellan even sat outside Richmond?. After all this was his masterplan I suppose you could blame the papers or the Lincoln administration but Lincoln had always been an advocate of decisive action and pursuing CSA forces not objectives correctly assuming that the loss of one would lead to the loss of the other.

Even your numbers at Sharpsburg are a smokescreen that attempts to defend McClellan's actions during the battle and after bearing in mind his was facing a force that was both footsore and ill supplied and outnumbered by at least 2-1 you don't think the CSA had problems with straggling , sickness , ammo and food supply?.

No sir no amount of figures and what ifs will convince me that George McClellan was nothing short of a poor field commander , poor tactician , and an egoistic bighead I think its common knowledge exactly what he was and I'm not quite sure what you seek to gain by implying he was some sort of tactical genius.

Put it this way if McClellan hadn't been sacked after Sharpsburg would the War have dragged on with no decisive battles and in the end a negotiated peace of course brokered by McClellan himself no doubt with him taking all the plaudits for saving everyone from a useless war while the south gained her independence.

Smoke and Mirrors.
 

Saphroneth

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Yet again you mask the fact that McClellan gave up virtually all the ground that his troops had won over 8 weeks
When? Are you talking about when he was ordered against his own protests off the Peninsula?

While I don't claim to be as knowledgeable as you Saphroneth you do tend to miss out clear advantages McClellan had over his CSA counterparts like Logistics and Supply not to mention the clear advantage in sheer firepower due to better artillery & small arms.
In early 1862 there isn't a "sheer firepower" advantage, and not much of one in logistics and supply either. What advantage there is is because McClellan uses seaborne supply and heavy artillery, but it's not quite sufficient to compensate for the orders of Lincoln and Stanton which place him in a poor position astride the Chickahominy.

So here we have the AoP better Drilled , Supplied , With better artillery and small arms and last but not least better morale and guess what McClellan used none of these to his advantage instead he retreated under the assumption he was vastly outnumbered (poor spy network anyone?) Or of course you could also say he retreated because his position was untenable (his problem).
Better drilled is possible, but the advantage wasn't all that great. Supplied? It was right outside Richmond, of course the Confederates have good supply.
Better artillery? That's largely McClellan's siege train, the field guns were comparable at this point.
Small arms? Much of both sides are using smoothbores, and the ones with rifles aren't using them to gain any advantage from the rifles - neither side was rifle trained.
Morale? Questionable!

And McClellan retreated not "under the assumption he was vastly outnumbered" but because of the fact his supply line was gone. The reason for this was that he simply did not have the men to defend it, it would have taken an extra ~6 brigades along Tolopatamoy Creek to secure it against Jackson... and while he had those six brigades, tasking them there would have meant not attacking Richmond. He had no extra troops after holding a strict defensive.

McClellan was in an untenable position because of the orders of Lincoln and Stanton. You can say he should have ignored the orders, but that doesn't remove the fact they were issued.

Even your numbers at Sharpsburg are a smokescreen that attempts to defend McClellan's actions during the battle and after bearing in mind his was facing a force that was both footsore and ill supplied and outnumbered by at least 2-1 you don't think the CSA had problems with straggling , sickness , ammo and food supply?.
The numbers at Sharpsburg are not "a smokescreen", they are the core of the point. You yourself state that the problem is that McClellan "outnumbered" his enemy "at least 2-1".

As for straggling and sickness, of course they did! The problem is that:
McClellan outnumbered the enemy 2:1
is only possible
IF
The Confederates suffered badly from straggling
AND
The Union troops did not suffer from straggling.

If you count from both sides straggling the forces at Antietam are close to even. If you count from both sides not straggling the numbers at Antietam are close to even. Only if you deduct stragglers from the Confederates only do you get the 2:1 force ratio.

Put it this way if McClellan hadn't been sacked after Sharpsburg would the War have dragged on with no decisive battles and in the end a negotiated peace of course brokered by McClellan himself no doubt with him taking all the plaudits for saving everyone from a useless war while the south gained her independence.
Not really, no. Are you aware of what McClellan was doing when he was sacked?
He certainly wasn't sitting around doing nothing...
 
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Saphroneth

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No sir no amount of figures and what ifs will convince me that George McClellan was nothing short of a poor field commander , poor tactician , and an egoistic bighead I think its common knowledge exactly what he was and I'm not quite sure what you seek to gain by implying he was some sort of tactical genius.
Then show me an opportunity he missed. Show me somewhere he had a chance and did not take it, somewhere a good field commander would have done something else.
Bonus points if you can show me one where the information was actually available at the time, but it's not required. (Though I will be very unimpressed if the information he should have had was about his own reinforcement schedule...)
 
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Saphroneth

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So the question stands why was McClellan even sat outside Richmond?. After all this was his masterplan I suppose you could blame the papers or the Lincoln administration but Lincoln had always been an advocate of decisive action and pursuing CSA forces not objectives correctly assuming that the loss of one would lead to the loss of the other.
McClellan was "sat" outside Richmond - I assume you refer to the period between Seven Pines and the Seven Days - for two reasons.

Firstly, he was waiting for the reinforcements Lincoln had promised him - McDowell's 1st Corps.
Secondly, the weather was awful and it was not possible to mount offensive operations. McClellan's break-in operations to Richmond begin when the ground hardens after this period of bad weather, and Lee's attack begins on the same day because the ground hardens for him too.
 
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