First Bull Run What happened to McDowell

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Matt in France

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I understand that McDowell was, in fact, a very able general officer. I believe noone had the slightest idea of what was going on.

It seems that McDowell was held responsable for a catastrophe involving everyone.

I always wondered why he, unlike the unadventurous (to put it mildly) McClellan, was not given a second chance ??
 

dvrmte

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McDowell was routed at 1st Manassas, McClellan was never routed. I wouldn't say the defeat at 1st Manassas was McDowell's fault as he was pushed to attack long before the troops were ready to execute marches or battlefield tactics.

He was replaced by McClellan and put in charge of a corps defending Washington. He was supposed to march to the aid of McClellan around Richmond but the activities of Jackson in the Valley prevented that.

He performed well at Cedar Mountain and was brevetted.

He was blamed in part for the defeat at 2nd Manassas, though he was cleared, possibly for testifying against Porter.

He was then sent to the Pacific coast.

I probably left out some things but those are the highlights.

dvrmte

Edit: Welcome to the forum!
 

Nathanb1

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That was early in the war, too. They thought you could just snap your fingers and find a winner. Of course, McClellan had a lot to do with that, too.....he was a real expert at playing politics. By the time people start to have serious doubts about McClellan, they also realize great generals aren't a dime a dozen. I'm sure more than a couple of people thought the rush to remove McDowell was too swift. Haste makes waste, you know.

Of course, having a battle where Congressmen and their wives get shelled during their picnic tends to be something you don't get a pass on. That was McDowell's misfortune.
 
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ole

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Only Scott and Taylor had led an army, and then, nowhere near the size that McDowell was saddled with. Beauregard and Johnston barely pulled that one off. Luck that McDowell didn't have.

Pure politics. Drive those people out of Manassas Junction. Grant hisself couldn't have, or wouldn't have tried that with the troops available.
 

Nathanb1

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Only Scott and Taylor had led an army, and then, nowhere near the size that McDowell was saddled with. Beauregard and Johnston barely pulled that one off. Luck that McDowell didn't have.

Pure politics. Drive those people out of Manassas Junction. Grant hisself couldn't have, or wouldn't have tried that with the troops available.
It might have been a bit easier for Johnston if Mr. Delusions of Grandeur hadn't been his co-worker :smile:
 

ole

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Nate is quite right. In four years, the countries amassed, maybe 10 generals who could win battles. Hundreds were tried and found wanting.

When McDowell is measure against those ten, he made fail a part of the language. Measured against those hundreds, he didn't look so bad.
 
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gary

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McDowell is buried in San Francisco's Presidio National Cemetery.
 

Nathanb1

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Aha! Thanks to the t-shirt thread and TerryB, Diane and Wolf, I now know he got sent out to California after Bull Run.

(Honestly, I guess I never worried about what happened to him till now)
 

rpkennedy

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As has already been mentioned, in July 1864, he took command of the Department of the Pacific. He later commanded the District of California, the Fourth Military District during Reconstruction (Arkansas and Louisiana), and then the Department of the West.

It was during the Hayes administration that Porter was exonerated and most of the blame for Second Manassas was placed at McDowell's feet (wrongly, in my opinion. I think they got it rather right the first time).

R
 
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brass napoleon

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According to John J. Hennessey, in Return to Bull Run (pp. 466-467), after the Battle of Second Manassas "recriminations against McDowell, the army's most hated corps commander, came in a torrent from the common man." Hennessey goes on to quote several of them, but one quote in particular from the deathbed letter of Colonel Thornton Brodhead, who was mortally wounded in the battle, was widely circulated in the press:

"I have fought manfully and now die fearlessly. I am one of the victim's of Pope's imbecility and McDowell's treason. Tell the president that to save our country he must not give our flag to such hands."
It was as a result of this that McDowell asked for a court of inquiry. The court exonerated him, but the testimony was so "unflattering" to McDowell that his reputation was ruined.
 

wags6817

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I think the question should be what happened to Patterson?? If he could have made some noise in the Shenandoah, Johnston would not have been able to move to Manassas. Something else to think about, what if Patterson would have came to McDowell's aid instead of Johnston to Beauregard's. The whole outcome of the battle could have been different.
 
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