What If McClellan isn't Removed in Fall of 1862?

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Saphroneth

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Even after Jackson’s arrival, Lee has little more than half as many men as the AotP.
Wanted to quickly address this one as well, this time looking at brigades instead of regiments. I'm fully aware that Jackson straggled badly.


Jackson was in line by noon; at this point the Army of Northern Virginia is missing Walker, McLaws, Anderson and AP Hill.

The AoNV has a total of 39 brigades: Walker (2), McLaws (4), Anderson (6) and AP Hill (5) are missing from it, while DR Jones (6), Hood (2), Evans (1), Ewell (4), Jackson (4) and DH Hill (5) are in line, giving him 22 brigades with another 2 able to arrive by the end of the day.

At this time McClellan has 1st Corps (10), 2nd Corps (9) and Sykes (2.5) in line, with 9th Corps (8) and 12th Corps (6) en route but not arrived yet (i.e. basically in the same position as Walker). This means that in brigade terms McClellan has 21.5 arrived and another 14 able to arrive by the end of the day (but only for a head-on attack).

Even if we assume Jackson has straggled so badly that his four brigades temporarily only count as one, McClellan has rough parity in brigade count. For Lee to be outnumbered about 2:1 before noon on the 19th then the average Union brigade has to be twice the size of the average Confederate brigade.

This is simply not credible. Both armies' brigades average about 4.5 regiments each (rough figure, more than 4 but less than 5). Some of the Union regiments are brand new, but you'd need every single Union regiment to be brand new to get the near 2:1 ratio.
 

67th Tigers

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The entire "look at Antietam on the 15th" argument ignores what happened on the 17th - the bloodiest assault in US military history.

The situation around the 7th-9th might well be compared to days before Antietam. In this case McClellan has seized the river crossings and has forces protecting them as they are bridged. His intent is then to move over in force and strike Longstreet. There is no reason to believe that the real McClellan would not have done as he said he would.
 

Carronade

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I did a speculative thread on this with the information we have at hand a while back. In essence, the conclusion I arrived at was that if McClellan hadn't been dismissed, he probably persists in a fruitless pursuit of Lee until his supply line gets too long and then goes to Fredericksburg. In doing so, Lee either moves his army in front of the Union force, or falls back behind the North Anna River. In either scenario, McClellan runs up against Lee's entrenched army and he hesitates. The result of that will be Lincoln sacking McClellan, either at the end of November, or at the end of December.

There is no realistic way for McClellan's command to last into 1863 based on his performance from history. The big difference would be whether Burnside refuses command and Hooker takes over or not.
I agree that a Confederate army retreating in friendly territory, towards its sources of supply, could be difficult to pin down, but if the enemy is retreating and McClellan pursuing, is Lincoln going to fire him for even the slightest hesitation? I could see it if he broke off the pursuit and took the whole army to someplace like Fredericksburg, but what if he simply reoriented his supply lines? Lincoln was no military expert, but he could be amenable to reasonable concerns about logistics (granted, he wouldn't wait forever).

McClellan would have double Lee/Longstreet's numbers, so hopefully he would be willing to engage if he caught them up or they took a stand (speaking of governments, how long/far would Davis allow Lee to retreat?). He'd still have slightly superior numbers covering Jackson against whatever he might get up to, including conforming to his movements if he sought to join Lee. If the ANV did unite on the North Anna or wherever, Mac would still have 3:2 odds, and the Federals would no longer have to worry about some sudden stroke by Jackson.
 
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Saphroneth

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I agree that a Confederate army retreating in friendly territory, towards its sources of supply, could be difficult to pin down, but if the enemy is retreating and McClellan pursuing, is Lincoln going to fire him for even the slightest hesitation? I could see it if he broke off the pursuit and took the whole army to someplace like Fredericksburg, but what if he simply reoriented his supply lines? Lincoln was no military expert, but he could be amenable to reasonable concerns about logistics (granted, he wouldn't wait forever).
Actually, here's an interesting question. What would happen to McClellan if he crossed the Rapidan and angled east for Fredericksburg on the south side of the river? I'd need to check the numbers for the supply line, but I think it's possible that if McClellan gave almost his entire wagon complement to two of his grand divisions (and kept the third on the Orange and Alexandria railway around the Culpeper-Gordonsville area so they could get by on what he left) he'd have the supply capacity to make a flying column move to Fredericksburg.

Would Lincoln see this as a lack of aggression, even though it's basically what would have happened in the Overland campaign if Lee hadn't noticed Grant's movement? Would he grasp that once in supply at Fredericksburg McClellan would essentially have a clear run to Richmond - or if Longstreet abandoned Gordonsville to defend Richmond, the Grand Division on the Orange and Alexandria could block Jackson from joining Longstreet more or less indefinitely?


McClellan would have double Lee/Longstreet's numbers, so hopefully he would be willing to engage if he caught them up or they took a stand
Almost certainly. The times McClellan advanced to contact almost always involved a swift or immediate offensive action, surprisingly!

At Yorktown he ordered bayonet charges by both wings and it's only when the wing commanders concluded they could not advance against the hail of artillery fire that he had them spread out and probe for a weak point.
At Williamsburg he rode to the battlefield and ordered an attack when he got there.
When approaching Richmond he preferred to lean on regular approaches because of the forts and the difficulty of his army being divided by the Chickahominy; it's somewhat relevant that day one of the Seven Days is an attack by McClellan, not by Lee.
At South Mountain he ordered in heavy attacks on the day he reached it.
At Antietam the 15th is a pursuit action and stops when the enemy forms a firm front; the 16th is occupied by hauling the army back together after the traffic jam at South Mountain, and the 17th is the bloodiest day of combat in American history with McClellan launching almost all the attacks; he even nearly relieves a friend of his from command for insufficient aggression.
At Shepherdstown his orders are discretionary, but the corps commander on the spot goes for it and gets stop-punched back across the Potomac.

I know this doesn't look like the typical picture of McClellan, but the fact that it happens so often when McClellan advances to contact indicates that the typical picture of McClellan does not tell the whole story. Certainly he was cautious, but not to the point of caricature.

In fact...
Yorktown: attack at contact, 0 days.
Williamsburg: attack at contact, 0 days.
Richmond: attack after a month's waiting including the rain, 30 days.
South Mountain: attack at contact, 0 days.
Antietam: attack two days after contact, 2 days.
Shepherdstown: attack at contact, 0 days.

If one excludes the approach to a heavily fortified city, McClellan's typical delay between contacting the enemy and his first attacks is "the same day".
 

CanadianCanuck

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I agree that a Confederate army retreating in friendly territory, towards its sources of supply, could be difficult to pin down, but if the enemy is retreating and McClellan pursuing, is Lincoln going to fire him for even the slightest hesitation? I could see it if he broke off the pursuit and took the whole army to someplace like Fredericksburg, but what if he simply reoriented his supply lines? Lincoln was no military expert, but he could be amenable to reasonable concerns about logistics (granted, he wouldn't wait forever).

McClellan would have double Lee/Longstreet's numbers, so hopefully he would be willing to engage if he caught them up or they took a stand (speaking of governments, how long/far would Davis allow Lee to retreat?). He'd still have slightly superior numbers covering Jackson against whatever he might get up to, including conforming to his movements if he sought to join Lee. If the ANV did unite on the North Anna or wherever, Mac would still have 3:2 odds, and the Federals would no longer have to worry about some sudden stroke by Jackson.
Well remember, McClellan was advancing in November, but he had failed to bring Lee to contact or battle, and Longstreet managed to once again interpose himself between McClellan and his apparent objective. That was what got McClellan fired historically. If Lincoln instead allowed McClellan to keep going, either we see him fruitlessly pursuing Lee south until they reach a point where Lee can offer battle, or he stops at Culpeper CH and reorients the army towards Fredericksburg as he judges that this is the superior route to move his army and supplies by.

The question then is how long it takes Lee to spot this movement/how swift McClellan is at moving. Either McClellan is quick (not incredibly likely IMO) or Lee misses it and is forced to fall back along the North Anna River. However, if McClellan advances as he did OTL and reaches Culpeper around the 11th, Lee will be falling back to reunite with Jackson at Gordonsville, and potentially they can affect this meeting by the 19th (similar to how long it took Jackson to march to Fredericksburg, but maybe sooner, the 17th?) if McClellan moves slowly, Lee can move his army either to interpose itself in front of McClellan, or he will move back to the North Anna.

Either way, McClellan would end up facing Lee somewhere either just away from or south of Fredericksburg. If he is facing a dug in AoNV, which he really doesn't expect, he will run right into it. Fighting on the defensive, with a larger force than OTL's North Anna battle, it's hard to see McClellan winning against Lee. This will cause him to fall back to Fredericksburg, and most likely then lead to his sacking in the aftermath.

There's just not too many ways he can pull a win from this that will satisfy the administration. Militarily and politically he was in a lose-lose situation based on his overall performance and the ability of his foe.
 

67th Tigers

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Well remember, McClellan was advancing in November, but he had failed to bring Lee to contact or battle, and Longstreet managed to once again interpose himself between McClellan and his apparent objective.
Yet McClellan did come into contact. There is no reason to doubt he was moving to attack Longstreet.

That was what got McClellan fired historically.
Very questionable. It is clear that Lincoln sacrificed McClellan to the radicals after his position in Congress was weakened by the midterms.

The question then is how long it takes Lee to spot this movement/how swift McClellan is at moving. Either McClellan is quick (not incredibly likely IMO) or Lee misses it and is forced to fall back along the North Anna River. However, if McClellan advances as he did OTL and reaches Culpeper around the 11th, Lee will be falling back to reunite with Jackson at Gordonsville, and potentially they can affect this meeting by the 19th (similar to how long it took Jackson to march to Fredericksburg, but maybe sooner, the 17th?) if McClellan moves slowly, Lee can move his army either to interpose itself in front of McClellan, or he will move back to the North Anna.
but Jackson didn't move, because he couldn't. If as per history, Jackson would not be at the North Anna until early December, and in fact would have gone Richmond. The scene of action would again return to a siege of Richmond.

Either way, McClellan would end up facing Lee somewhere either just away from or south of Fredericksburg. If he is facing a dug in AoNV, which he really doesn't expect, he will run right into it. Fighting on the defensive, with a larger force than OTL's North Anna battle, it's hard to see McClellan winning against Lee. This will cause him to fall back to Fredericksburg, and most likely then lead to his sacking in the aftermath.
It difficult to see McClellan not getting over the North Anna. One days march SE from Hanover Junction is White House Landing, his base in May and June. The worst that would happen is McClellan moves over to there and then Lee is back in the Richmond defences. Both armies would be in winter quarters with Richmond under siege.
 
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CanadianCanuck

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but Jackson didn't move, because he couldn't. If as per history, Jackson would not be at the North Anna until early December, and in fact would have gone Richmond. The scene of action would again return to a siege of Richmond.
The fantasy that Jackson could not move does not need to be addressed, but the idea that McClellan would easily march to Richmond is heavily suspect. Lee intended to fight at the North Anna if Burnside beat him across the Rappahannock, and even being supremely generous to McClellan and suggesting he will move rapidly across the Rapidan moving both south and north of Fredericksburg after hypothetically marching on Culpeper and then switching routes to Fredericksburg, the idea that he beats Lee to the North Anna is ludicrous.

It difficult to see McClellan not getting over the North Anna. One days march SE from Hanover Junction is White House Landing, his base in May and June. The worst that would happen is McClellan moves over to there and then Lee is back in the Richmond defences. Both armies would be in winter quarters with Richmond under siege.
How? In this supposed situation Lee would be moving from Gordonsville either having united with Jackson or the two commands moving separately. That is a shorter march than McClellan by far. Uniting with Jackson Lee will have roughly 75,000 men, potentially more if he calls men from Richmond. He will have time to fortify his position, and McClellan can, at best, attack in early December. Lee can rapidly place himself along McClellan's line of march along the roads from Fredericksburg and the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac RR which McClellan needs to use if he is going overland to Richmond.

Even assuming he moves all his troops and leaves no one behind to watch for Jackson, as he did not know where Jackson was, at best he is bringing 115,000 men to battle. About as many as Grant had at North Anna in '64, and Grant was stalemated. Lee will have had more time to prepare, won't be indisposed due to illness, and if he raids Richmond can maybe put 80-85,000 in the field, 30,000 more than at North Anna from 64. It's nowhere near a lopsided fight.

McClellan also did not expect Lee to fight before he reached Richmond, anything beyond a skirmish would surprise him and so he would be arriving/probing Lee's line piecemeal for at least 2 days before committing to an assault. McClellan's movements were hardly breathtaking at Antietam, and so running right into a situation where Lee can once again use his better interior lines to shuffle a reserve around to blunt McClellan's attacks hardly sets things up for a winning situation. If McClellan is repulsed, he will retreat to winter quarters. He's sacked, cue General Hooker.
 

Sbc

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The speed you’re hypothesizing seems very unlike the McClellan who stared across the Antietam for two days instead of moving against a force scarcely larger than two of his corps. If he’s looking at Lee atop Marye’s Heights there is no way he moves, even if the pontoons arrive on time.
Agreed. He remembered Malvern Hill.
 

Sbc

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Like McClellan smashed Lee at Antietam with a similar advantage?
[/QUOTE]
Yes—Ole Pete loved defensive warfare. Highly unlikely he gets “smashed”.
 
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Sbc

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Which sounds a lot like the morning of September 16th at Antietam, considering that Lee’s army was missing Jackson, Walker, McLaws and Hill. McClellan has at least twice as many troops; probably something like 50,000 effectives. Even after Jackson’s arrival, Lee has little more than half as many men as the AotP. Thank goodness that fog finally lifted. Otherwise Mac may have never sent everyone piecemeal across the creek.

George McClellan was an amazing motivator and administrator, probably the best of the entire war. As a fighter he ranked somewhere around Rosecrans and Joe Johnston.
Lower than Rosecrans by a wide margin
 

67th Tigers

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The fantasy that Jackson could not move does not need to be addressed,
In our last thread on this matter, you withdrew when faced with the evidence of continual messages from Lee to Jackson to move, and Jackson not moving.

You might regard this as "fantasy", but it clear that this is what actually happened.

OTL Lee responded on the 18th by sending Fitz Lee's Cavalry brigade to recce Fredericksburg, supported by McLaws' division to a sent to Chancellorsville, and ordered Ransom's division to march from Madison Ct Hse to Hanover Junction via Orange Ct Hse. The orders for the other divisions aren't in the OR, but diaries etc. show that the other divisions marched SSW from Culpeper to Orange Ct Hse with orders to proceed to Hanover Junction. At 1630 that afternoon orders are sent to McLaws to continue on to Fredericksburg, and to Ransom to divert to Guinea Station (14 miles S of Fredericksburg). Warning orders are apparently issued to the other three division commanders, as the orders of the next day refer to them; Anderson, Hood and then Pickett would march to Fredericksburg. Anderson should start immediately, then Hood. Pickett was instructed to march on the 20th.

As to Jackson, despite repeated pleas, he didn't start marching until 21st November, and the divisions arrived near Fredericksburg between the 1st and 3rd December. On the 5th Burnside seems to have authorised the crossing Sumner had proposed on the 17th November, but DH Hill's division now commanded the ford.

but the idea that McClellan would easily march to Richmond is heavily suspect. Lee intended to fight at the North Anna if Burnside beat him across the Rappahannock,
Lee intended to withdraw behind the North Anna, but fight? That's a question. He was withdrawing there to cover Richmond. The orders to Jackson were to entrain for Richmond via Lynchburg.

and even being supremely generous to McClellan and suggesting he will move rapidly across the Rapidan moving both south and north of Fredericksburg after hypothetically marching on Culpeper and then switching routes to Fredericksburg, the idea that he beats Lee to the North Anna is ludicrous.
Who is suggesting that? I'm noting that Lee can't block McClellan on the North Anna, as one days march away is White House Landing, and it is impossible for Lee to stop McClellan there. That's the strategic geography of the situation. Once McClellan reaches WHL the same geography that made it impossible for Joe Johnston to oppose McClellan to further than the Richmond entrenchments kicks in.

How? In this supposed situation Lee would be moving from Gordonsville either having united with Jackson or the two commands moving separately.
The head of Jackson's command isn't at Gordonsville until 27th November.

Jackson's HQ movements were:

21st: troops started leaving Winchester
22nd: Jackson and his HQ marched and went to Old Stone House
23rd: Mount Jackson
24th: Hawksbill
25th: through Fisher's Gap to Madison Court House
26th: having gotten ahead of the troops, near Madison Court House
27th: Gordonsville, redirected to Fredericksburg
28th: Orange Ct Hse
29th: Rode ahead of troops to Lee's HQ on the Mine Run Rd
30th: recce'd the area his divisions were assigned to
1st: Met the lead division at Massaponax Church

That is a shorter march than McClellan by far. Uniting with Jackson Lee will have roughly 75,000 men, potentially more if he calls men from Richmond. He will have time to fortify his position, and McClellan can, at best, attack in early December. Lee can rapidly place himself along McClellan's line of march along the roads from Fredericksburg and the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac RR which McClellan needs to use if he is going overland to Richmond.

Even assuming he moves all his troops and leaves no one behind to watch for Jackson, as he did not know where Jackson was,
You asserted this previously, and you were wrong. McClellan knew exactly where Jackson was, and anyone that can read a map can see that Jackson poses no threat.

at best he is bringing 115,000 men to battle. About as many as Grant had at North Anna in '64, and Grant was stalemated.
Refresh my memory. Did Grant get over the North Anna? Ah yes, he simply went around and crossed lower down the river.

You also misread the 1864 North Anna action. Lee did not block the North Anna crossings because it is basically impossible with the ca. 50,000 men (41,420 infantry effectives) he had, and the geography didn't allow it. Generally, along North Anna the left bank is higher than the right, meaning the crossings can't be disputed (except at Ox Ford, which is why Lee anchored his V there). With ca. 31,000 effective infantry (30,802) in 1862 it is impossible, you can only form one of the two sides of the 1864 V properly.

Lee will have had more time to prepare, won't be indisposed due to illness, and if he raids Richmond can maybe put 80-85,000 in the field, 30,000 more than at North Anna from 64. It's nowhere near a lopsided fight.
Lee has ca. 31,000 effective infantry. The troops at Richmond, exclusive of the fixed garrisons, amount to a couple of brigades.

McClellan also did not expect Lee to fight before he reached Richmond, anything beyond a skirmish would surprise him and so he would be arriving/probing Lee's line piecemeal for at least 2 days before committing to an assault. McClellan's movements were hardly breathtaking at Antietam, and so running right into a situation where Lee can once again use his better interior lines to shuffle a reserve around to blunt McClellan's attacks hardly sets things up for a winning situation.
Again, you think the only option is "hey, diddle diddle, straight up the middle" against Ox Ford. McClellan could easily turn the North Anna position, either locally or a wide turning movement. McClellan could cross one wing at Jericho Ford, and another at Chesterfield Bridge and both wings would be twice Lee's strength.

Let us sum up, if McClellan reaches the North Anna with 118,128 effective infantry (AoP 10th December return, deducting Potomac defences and 12th Corps, but including 3rd Corps), he is faced with 30,802 effective infantry. i.e. a genuine ca. 4:1 numerical advantage.

Grant on approaching the North Anna is of unknown strength, but Grimsley's calculation of 67,000 effectives may well be accurate, and a straight reading of the monthly return would place strength around 80,000 (and casualties and reinforcements would need to be accounted for). Grant is between 6:5 and 8:5 in effective strength, and far lower ratio than McClellan would have achieved.

Drawing conclusions from Grant, and extrapolating to McClellan ignores the much more favourable situation for McClellan you've hypothesised. Longstreet can literally be destroyed if he stands at the North Anna.

If McClellan is repulsed, he will retreat to winter quarters. He's sacked, cue General Hooker.
A lot of supposition. If McClellan has survived it is because the Republicans did well in the mid-terms, and the Radicals don't hold the whip hand over Lincoln.
 

67th Tigers

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McClellan would have double Lee/Longstreet's numbers,
About quadruple. The situation McClellan created was by far the most favourable of the entire war in the eastern theatre. That is excluding the 12th Corps and additional troops left on the Potomac to block Jackson.

If the ANV did unite on the North Anna or wherever, Mac would still have 3:2 odds, and the Federals would no longer have to worry about some sudden stroke by Jackson.
Lee's orders to Jackson were not to reunite behind the North Anna, but make for Lynchburg and take the railroad to Richmond. Depending on exactly what happened there is a chance of reuniting the army around Cold Harbor.
 
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Saphroneth

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Re the point about interior lines, it's worth considering that Lee didn't really use interior lines at Antietam. The use of interior lines relates to using the same troops in both halves of the fight.

If we imagine you have commander C with six divisions:

C C C C C C

And he is under attack from commander A with four divisions and commander B with three divisions:

A A A A

B B B

Then a use of interior lines would be to match up:

CC vs AAAA (to fight a delaying action)

and

CCCC vs BBB (to win)

Beat force B quickly, and then transfer the divisions to fight force A:

C vs BBB (to prevent a rally)

and

CCCCC vs AAAA (to win)


The key point here is that troops are being used against both force A and force B. If you aren't using the same troops against both force A and force B, you're not actually using interior lines (because you could deploy your troop balance the same way if you didn't have interior lines and end up with fundamentally the same result.)
A good example of this is how Lee shifted forces first west to stop Hooker at Chancellorsville and then east to stop Sedgewick at Salem Church. Specifically McLaws' division was engaged against both Union forces.

At Antietam, Lee did not use interior lines. If you think he did, identify by commander the brigades which fought both against the attacks coming from the north and against the attacks coming from the south.

There are several possible conclusions to draw from the fact Lee did not use interior lines. One of them is that he didn't need to (i.e. he had enough combat power to hold off McClellan's attacks without using interior lines); another is that maybe he wanted to but the effect of the fighting in the north was sufficiently damaging to the Confederate troops engaged that he couldn't justify pulling troops out (i.e. that the threat of an advance by 6th Corps prevented him shifting troops south).
 

CanadianCanuck

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In our last thread on this matter, you withdrew when faced with the evidence of continual messages from Lee to Jackson to move, and Jackson not moving.

You might regard this as "fantasy", but it clear that this is what actually happened.
One can only contradict nonsense for so long. If you're determined to believe something in the face of the plain English of the correspondence from the time period, pointing it out repeatedly would not help.

Lee intended to withdraw behind the North Anna, but fight? That's a question. He was withdrawing there to cover Richmond. The orders to Jackson were to entrain for Richmond via Lynchburg.

Who is suggesting that? I'm noting that Lee can't block McClellan on the North Anna, as one days march away is White House Landing, and it is impossible for Lee to stop McClellan there. That's the strategic geography of the situation. Once McClellan reaches WHL the same geography that made it impossible for Joe Johnston to oppose McClellan to further than the Richmond entrenchments kicks in.
So, just so we're clear, you believe that McClellan, who was slower than Grant no matter what your contrarian attitude believes, is going to essentially follow Grant's same strategy, against a larger Confederate army, and move continuously to Lee's left and there is no way that Lee can slow him down or inflict disporportionate casualties which will compel McClellan's withdrawal?

The head of Jackson's command isn't at Gordonsville until 27th November.
As we've discussed before, Jackson was not moving historically because Lee trusted his intuition, and Jackson's delay has little to do with McClellan or Burnside.

You asserted this previously, and you were wrong. McClellan knew exactly where Jackson was, and anyone that can read a map can see that Jackson poses no threat.
I was not then, and I am not now. McClellan can say whatever he wants in his reports, when Lee contradicts him, Lee is right about his dispositions.

Refresh my memory. Did Grant get over the North Anna? Ah yes, he simply went around and crossed lower down the river.
And then got into the most lopsided battle of his career at Cold Harbor. And McClellan is going to somehow avoid an engagement before he gets to Richmond?

Lee has ca. 31,000 effective infantry. The troops at Richmond, exclusive of the fixed garrisons, amount to a couple of brigades.

Let us sum up, if McClellan reaches the North Anna with 118,128 effective infantry (AoP 10th December return, deducting Potomac defences and 12th Corps, but including 3rd Corps), he is faced with 30,802 effective infantry. i.e. a genuine ca. 4:1 numerical advantage.
Look, I'm aware you really want a situation where McClellan is going to fall on Lee like the anvil of God, but you do this by saying McClellan will move with ahistorical swiftness, that it is impossible for Jackson to unite with Lee, and that Lee can make no stand outside of the Richmond entrenchments. In essence, all the cards must fall perfectly into McClellan's hand and nothing can go wrong. Forgetting the ever important adage that in war, the enemy gets a vote. McClellan made that same mistake historically and he paid for it.

McClellan would not be facing 30,000 infantry, he would be facing close to 80,000 troops, Lee's whole army. He would be moving with his historic speed, and Lee would be moving to find ground to engage McClellan in a battle he did not expect. None of this is at all setting him up for a great or war winning victory, all its setting him up for is defeat.
 

67th Tigers

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One can only contradict nonsense for so long. If you're determined to believe something in the face of the plain English of the correspondence from the time period, pointing it out repeatedly would not help.
You never formulated a coherent counterargument. Lee wrote continually to Lee to ask him to move his army to unite with his via Swift Run Gap. It took Jackson roughly two weeks to start moving.

So, just so we're clear, you believe that McClellan, who was slower than Grant no matter what your contrarian attitude believes, is going to essentially follow Grant's same strategy, against a larger Confederate army, and move continuously to Lee's left and there is no way that Lee can slow him down or inflict disporportionate casualties which will compel McClellan's withdrawal?
I said no such thing. However, strategic geography doesn't change, and McClellan on reaching the North Anna has the same options as Grant did in 1864. The differences is that McClellan would have had a larger army than Grant did (due to Grant's head on attacks, the starting strength is lower), and Lee would be weaker (ca. 74% of the strength he had against Grant) as Jackson won't be there barring teleporters.

McClellan could attack Lee on the far bank of the North Anna, as he did at Williamsburg or Antietam, or he could simply crossing the North Anna downriver.

As we've discussed before, Jackson was not moving historically because Lee trusted his intuition, and Jackson's delay has little to do with McClellan or Burnside.
Jackson continually ignored requests from Lee to move. He did this because he could not move because his trains were in disarray from the disease outbreak.

I was not then, and I am not now. McClellan can say whatever he wants in his reports, when Lee contradicts him, Lee is right about his dispositions.
Lee did not contradict McClellan. Understand, McClellan stated where he believed Jackson's troops were, and when we check we find that they were where McClellan said they were. There is no evidence supporting your assertion that McClellan didn't know Jackson's dispositions, and abundant evidence that he did. You reached the conclusion that he didn't know before examining the evidence, and then tried to fit the evidence to your theory.

Look, I'm aware you really want a situation where McClellan is going to fall on Lee like the anvil of God, but you do this by saying McClellan will move with ahistorical swiftness, that it is impossible for Jackson to unite with Lee, and that Lee can make no stand outside of the Richmond entrenchments. In essence, all the cards must fall perfectly into McClellan's hand and nothing can go wrong. Forgetting the ever important adage that in war, the enemy gets a vote. McClellan made that same mistake historically and he paid for it.
Historical swiftness, surely?

It is impossible for Jackson to unite with Lee so far north except if something bizarre happens; like it did with Burnside. Indeed, had Jackson had to go via Lynchburg then he'd have missed the historical Fredericksburg, and have been arriving in early January instead of early December (see below).

McClellan would not be facing 30,000 infantry, he would be facing close to 80,000 troops, Lee's whole army. He would be moving with his historic speed, and Lee would be moving to find ground to engage McClellan in a battle he did not expect. None of this is at all setting him up for a great or war winning victory, all its setting him up for is defeat.
Jackson is unable to reach Longstreet until early December. Historically, moving ASAP Jackson's divisions arrived at Fredericksburg 1st-3rd December, with much of his artillery and trains strung out along the way. Jackson's artillery came in over the fortnight following his infantry for example.

Taking the approximate route of Jackson, Winchester to Fredericksburg via the Chester Gap and Madison, Jackson travels about 10 miles per day (i.e. 120 miles in 12 days), which is fairly good marching.

Now, lets examine Jackson's route as per Lee's orders during November. Winchester to Lynchburg via Swift Run Gap is 161 miles. It will take Jackson 16 days to reach Lynchburg, and his troops will have arrived 6th-8th December, using the historical start date. The troops then board the Southside Railroad to Petersburg. The journey is 124 miles, and thus a locomotive pulling cars consumes a full day to make the journey. We need to know the capacity of the line, and should note that just the infantry of Jackson's divisions need ca. 750 cars or (since my sample averages 9 cars per train) ca. 83 trainloads. If all 190 wagons on the RR were dedicated to the movement it would take 8 days (4 loads, with each wagon moving a load every two days, one day up the line and another day down the line). The wagons, attached cavalry, and artillery would have to march, and if they maintained 10 miles/day would take another 12 days. These will be rate limiting, and we can estimate Jackson's wing will be complete in Petersburg 18th-20th December. The first division arriving in Lynchburg on the 6th will be in Petersburg on the 7th-8th, the next the 9th-10th, the third the 11th-12th and the last on the 13th-14th.

Petersburg to Hanover is 40 miles via Richmond. Thus the first division can reach Longstreet around the 12th December, without artillery or wagons, then the 14th, 16th and 18th, with the artillery and wagons coming in around Christmas.

However, we've discussing a conflict on the North Anna in mid-November. Jackson will still be around Winchester gathering supplies to enable his 325 mile movement. That is a movement 2.7 times longer than the one to Fredericksburg, albeit with a railroad to speed the infantry up in the middle of it. Only ca. 200 miles of it is actual marching.
 
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67th Tigers

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At Antietam, Lee did not use interior lines. If you think he did, identify by commander the brigades which fought both against the attacks coming from the north and against the attacks coming from the south.
Indeed. There is not a single brigade that fought in two different sectors.

In fact, Lee had a reserve of 3 divisions available to him; McLaws, Anderson and Walker. Lee put them in as counterattacks. Anderson (minus Armistead's brigade, not engaged and in reserve the whole battle) counterattacked at the Sunken Road, and McLaws and Walker counterattacked in the West Woods/ Dunker Church Plateau.
 

Saphroneth

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One can only contradict nonsense for so long. If you're determined to believe something in the face of the plain English of the correspondence from the time period, pointing it out repeatedly would not help.
Lee was ordering Jackson to move over and over again.
Why did Jackson not move until the date he actually did, historically, and why would Jackson have moved so much earlier if McClellan remained the Union commander? McClellan was the Union commander when Lee ordered Jackson to join him on the 6th, and Jackson deferred moving for another fifteen days.

As for "the plain English of the correspondence from the time period", the correspondence of the time period is that Lee orders Jackson to join him on the 6th, 8th, 10th, 11th, 14th and 18th, and Jackson doesn't move until the 21st..


As we've discussed before, Jackson was not moving historically because Lee trusted his intuition, and Jackson's delay has little to do with McClellan or Burnside.
But if Lee trusted Jackson's intuition then why would he keep ordering Jackson to join him?




McClellan would not be facing 30,000 infantry, he would be facing close to 80,000 troops, Lee's whole army.
Hold on...

Where did all those troops come from to make Lee's whole army? I rather assume you wouldn't say Lee had 90,000 at Antietam.
Lee's contemporary strength reports do state that his entire army's strength on November 10 is 83,400 Aggregate Present, but on the same date McClellan's strength AP is 141,300 AP; the December 10 return 67th uses gives 160,817 AP with 3rd Corps (but without the Washington and Upper Potomac defences and without 12th Corps).





It's simple fact that McClellan's army is strong enough that Lee must avoid engagement until he has concentrated Longstreet and Jackson. This is something we seem to agree on (though we disagree on how long it will take for Lee to re-concentrate his army).


The fact that Lee has to avoid engagement until his army has been concentrated is the advantage here. Depending on how fast McClellan moves compared to Jackson then he can win increasing dividends.

Worst case: McClellan gets over the Rapidan before Lee has concentrated his army.

This is essentially impossible for Lee to avoid; Jackson simply cannot move fast enough. To rejoin Lee at Gordonsville via Swift Run Gap then Jackson's closest division has to march eighty miles; at Jackson's historical rate of march when he finally did start moving that's eight days. McClellan is less than forty miles from the Rapidan.
Worse, Jackson's furthest division (AP Hill) is up near Gregory's Gap, which is 102 miles from Gordonsville when going via Swift Run Gap. Thus for Jackson to count as concentrated with Lee is 9-10 days at minimum after Jackson starts moving; surely nobody would entertain the idea McClellan's historical march speed was less than four miles per day.


Middle case: McClellan makes it over the Rapidan and to Fredericksburg before Lee has concentrated his army and got to Fredericksburg (functionally the equivalent of winning the Battle of Fredericksburg bloodlessly).

This might involve, for example, McClellan sending one GD direct to Fredericksburg and the other two over the Rapidan, then marching the two over the Rapidan to Fredericksburg via flying column supply.

To see if this would be plausible we need to measure roughly how fast McClellan's army had become able to move during the Loudoun Valley campaign. We know that McClellan at one point asked (and got) a twenty-mile one day march from Burnside and Porter's corps (on November 6); this obviously isn't typical, but it suggests that McClellan's force could achieve a march rate greater than six miles per day. I would say that eight was a reasonable average; this would be the equivalent of a week containing one twenty-mile march, one rest day, and five days of seven-mile marches.


The route from Warrenton via Orange to Fredericksburg is ca. 80 miles; the route for Jackson to go from Winchester via Swift Run Gap to Fredericksburg is ca. 140 miles. For Jackson to reach the Fredericksburg area at the same time as McClellan would mean that Jackson would have to set off straight off (as in, the moment McClellan continues advancing) and move at nearly twice McClellan's speed; with Jackson's 10 mile speed, McClellan would have to be moving at an average of six miles per day or less.



Best case: McClellan reaches the North Anna position before Lee has concentrated his army there.

This pretty much requires that Jackson be unable to move for supply reasons until after McClellan has begun moving. McClellan's route from Warrenton via Orange and Fredericksburg to the North Anna area is ca. 120 miles, while Jackson's route from Winchester via Swift Run Gap to the North Anna position is ca. 155 miles. (Which is actually quite close - if McClellan moves at eight miles a day on average and Jackson moves at ten miles a day on average Jackson and McClellan will both arrive on the same day.)
 

Dead Parrott

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So now we're back to the twisted quotes and contorted cherry-picked numerology thing... (sigh) … all just to deny the historical trends and results...

And this thread had so much good promise up to now. Shame. :O o:

Oh well, there's other threads with honest discussions still going on. Have fun. :wavespin:
 
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Saphroneth

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So now we're back to the twisted quotes and contorted cherry-picked numerology thing... (sigh) … all just to deny the historical trends and results...
If by "contorted cherry-picked numerology" you mean attempts to ascertain the force balance using consistent counting methods for both sides, that's an odd way to characterize it.

If someone is willing to claim Lee had ~80,000 troops in late November, after Antietam, then they should also presumably be willing to accept that by the same metric Lee had > ~80,000 troops in late September at Antietam. If on the other hand people assert that Lee had ca. 40,000 troops at Antietam, suffered 10,000 casualties and then in late November had ~80,000 troops then they are asserting that Lee got >40,000 reinforcements between Antietam and late November. But who would those reinforcements be?

(For my part I think Lee had, very roughly, 90,000 troops Present in the army he used to invade Maryland. A few thousand perhaps didn't cross the Potomac and rejoined after Shepherdstown, and Lee suffered ~13,500 casualties from all causes but got some few thousand of those back again from the recovery of wounded by late November; this picture is at least internally consistent and concords with what information the AoNV gives in its reports.)

In any case, the important point is that Lee cannot possibly fight McClellan's whole force with any prospect of success until Lee's whole force is closed up together; indeed Lee would have trouble using just Longstreet to fight only two thirds (or three quarters) of McClellan's whole force, because McClellan's whole force is larger than Lee's whole force by nearly a factor of two.
 

Saphroneth

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I also think it would be useful when discussing how quick Jackson can move, and how quick McClellan can move, to actually be willing to lay out numbers for it. If someone wants to say that McClellan can only move at six miles per day on average and that Jackson is able to march at ten miles per day on average, say, then that's perhaps a bit unkind to McClellan but it's at least a basis on which we can begin to analyze possible movements.

My view on what McClellan would do, meanwhile, is based to some extent on contingencies. (i.e. if there is a certain type of opportunity offered then he would take it, otherwise he would do something else.) I also tend to the assumption that Lee would avoid offering those opportunities, but that in avoiding offering those opportunities it constrains his operations.

For example - if I treat it as read that Lee would not let Longstreet's wing get hit by McClellan while Jackson is more than a day or two away, then what that means is that if McClellan is within a day's march of Longstreet's position and Jackson isn't about to arrive then Lee pulls back; thus, McClellan takes the position without a fight.



This seems to me to be the approach which is the most fair to Lee. It would be easy to say (e.g.) that if Lee tried to defend Culpeper with only those elements of Longstreet's wing at Culpeper then McClellan would crush him at nearly 5:1* odds, but the natural result of that is that that is a fight Lee would not take in the first place. He would fall back across the Rapidan to Gordonsville, as he was already planning to do (he'd sent his trains away).

* Longstreet 27,600 AP at Culpeper : McClellan 141,300 AP near Warrenton


Unless you think Lee would be willing to take a fight at such long odds, the main question about the campaign is at what point Lee has enough of his army together that he'd be willing to fight (which means probably most of it) and how he manoeuvres until that point to keep open his options, while McClellan manoeuvres to keep open his options and give Lee bad ones.

Keeping in mind that McClellan was always concerned with keeping good supply lines but that he was willing to use flying-column supply, for example, one plausible approach might be that McClellan moves his whole army forwards towards Gordonsville and then leaves a grand-division sized formation there as a blocking force while the rest of his army inclines east to regain supply at Fredericksburg. (A single grand division can maintain supply off the Orange and Alexandria long-term.)
At this point Lee has to pick what he has Longstreet's corps do. He can either march them east to the North Anna position or stay around Gordonsville; if he stays around Gordonsville then he unites his forces earlier but there is nothing between McClellan's main body and Richmond, while if he marches east then he is taking the risk that Jackson will be cut off from joining him at the North Anna position.
This approach would be giving Lee bad options, and the risk is comparatively minor. The Rebels might cut the O&A, but in that case then the GD supplying off the O&A can simply march to join the rest of the army at Fredericksburg.

So what does Lee do in that situation? Does he stand at Culpeper? At Gordonsville? Pull back west to join Jackson? Pull back south until Jackson arrives in the area? March straight to the North Anna position and wait for Jackson to join him?
 
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