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

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rbasin

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My understanding was that there was a delay in the pontoons because of a number of SNAFUs about proper transmission of orders - McClellan wanted them at Washington, but the order wasn't sent on from Washington by telegraph and so there was a multi-day delay in their arriving at Washington.

As for Burnside's original plan, I'm having a real job of work trying to work out what the hell Lee could have done to prevent it! (Lee did too, which was why he elected to pull back to the North Anna.)
The pontoons were used at Harper's Ferry after Antietam. The bridge simply wasn't ready.

Halleck, then Lincoln supported Burnside's plan, but only if he moved quickly. I can't figure out why Burnside changed it.
 

67th Tigers

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The pontoons were those laid at Berlin, by which much of the army crossed the Potomac. This used 61 pontoons and a trestle, thus:

berlin_oct_1862.jpg


On the 6th November, the bridge was of no further use. The army was on the railroad. Hence orders were sent from Duane to Spaulding to move it to Washington for redeployment. The order was telegraphed from McClellan's HQ to the War Department, who put a copy on a barge to be sent up the river. Hence Spalding didn't receive it until the 12th. They sailed the pontoons down the C&O canal, arriving the evening of the 14th.

The pontoon bridges over the Potomac and Shenandoah at Harper's Ferry were left in place, as McClellan intended to permanently garrison HF.
 

rbasin

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The pontoons were those laid at Berlin, by which much of the army crossed the Potomac. This used 61 pontoons and a trestle, thus:

View attachment 337553

On the 6th November, the bridge was of no further use. The army was on the railroad. Hence orders were sent from Duane to Spaulding to move it to Washington for redeployment. The order was telegraphed from McClellan's HQ to the War Department, who put a copy on a barge to be sent up the river. Hence Spalding didn't receive it until the 12th. They sailed the pontoons down the C&O canal, arriving the evening of the 14th.

The pontoon bridges over the Potomac and Shenandoah at Harper's Ferry were left in place, as McClellan intended to permanently garrison HF.
you may be right> I read the Harper's Ferry thing in the O.R. I think in a note written by Burnside.
 
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Saphroneth

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Halleck, then Lincoln supported Burnside's plan, but only if he moved quickly. I can't figure out why Burnside changed it.
It's possible it was part of the delay in getting the new commands set up, plus possibly worry about where Jackson was. I know that McClellan had recently localized Jackson in the Valley as of his removal from command, but if there was no further localization then a theoretical possible track of Jackson could be getting close to reinforcing Lee via the Swift Run Gap or similar. (And the plan doesn't work if Jackson is also present to help form the defensive line along the Rapidan.)
 

rbasin

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It's possible it was part of the delay in getting the new commands set up, plus possibly worry about where Jackson was. I know that McClellan had recently localized Jackson in the Valley as of his removal from command, but if there was no further localization then a theoretical possible track of Jackson could be getting close to reinforcing Lee via the Swift Run Gap or similar. (And the plan doesn't work if Jackson is also present to help form the defensive line along the Rapidan.)
Maybe. I had always thought that going to Falmouth was the original plan, but now, it seems like there was no way for it to succeed.
 

Saphroneth

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Maybe. I had always thought that going to Falmouth was the original plan, but now, it seems like there was no way for it to succeed.
Honestly even the Falmouth plan (i.e. go to Fredericksburg) could have worked, partly because of the fog of war. Lee doesn't know that the Union has a serious deficiency in bridging equipment and has to assume they can throw a bridge over the Rappahanock successfully, and so he originally pulled back to the North Anna position to wait for Jackson; when Burnside reached the Fredericksburg area, there's fords upstream of Fredericksburg which could have been used to get a corps across the river. Scott's Ford in particular as a corps placed in a defensive posture just south of Scott's Ford would permit the occupation of Marye's Heights.
Historically Burnside arrived at Falmouth with his whole force on the 22nd, while the Confederates didn't occupy Marye's Heights until the 25th; with Sumner (army vanguard) and Hooker both asking permission to occupy the heights it's basically Burnside's command decision that led to the opportunity being lost rather than a fundamental flaw in the ops plan.

Interestingly McClellan pushing a corps across a river as a debouche before he's ready to move the rest of his force over is actually something of a command pattern of his unless he's facing a fully defended obstacle - it occurs when moving over the Chickahominy, at Antietam, and more than once during the Loudoun Valley campaign.
 
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