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

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Saphroneth

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I think McClennan had the troops to defend his supplies, but it's an interesting analysis. Attacking him directly was also a problem. Because when little Mac actually got into a fight, he gave a pretty good account of himself.
Had he been bolder, I think he would have won all the fame and fortune he might have dreamed of.
As to defending his supplies, it's not a question of Lee attacking McClellan's supply train I'm thinking of - I'm thinking of Lee wrecking the infrastructure that McClellan would then need to advance over. As of 8-9 November the Army of the Potomac is around Warrenton and Lee is at Culpeper; if Lee wrecks the rail line from Culpeper to Gordonsville (as much as he can while conducting a retreat to Gordonsville) then he's imposed problems on McClellan advancing, or that's the idea anyway.

As to being bolder, on the other hand, the reason McClellan didn't advance on the 10th November is that he'd been fired. Is there a particular period you're thinking of for McClellan lacking boldness?
 

67th Tigers

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I think McClennan had the troops to defend his supplies,
The problem here is that wagons have a definite range, and armies can't be supplied beyond a few days march from a railroad or navigable waterway.

The problem is that a wagon hauls its own "fuel" (i.e. fodder) as well as supplies. An army wagon was pulled by 6 horses, each of whom consumes 26 lbs of fodder per day, or 156 lbs of fodder per day. Each man's rations was 3.67 lbs (including packaging), and a standard army wagon required 4 men (3 drivers and the teamster), for just under 15 lbs per day. Thus the animals and crew of the wagon ate 171 lbs of the load every day.

For every days march from the depot, you need to ration the animals etc. twice (for the outbound and return journeys). Thus if the army is 2 days from a depot then 684 lbs of the load would be consumed by the wagon itself. Since a team could only haul about 1,000 lbs of load on non-macadamised roads, at this distance > 2/3rds of the load is used only for the animals. At three days from a depot the wagons consume everything, and there is nothing left to deliver. Since a wagon could only manage about 10 miles/day on non-macadamised roads, the distance from a depot the army could operate is only about 20 miles.

Good roads could extend range and the weight the wagon could carry. On a macadamised road the usable load doubled. Further, is forage could be found from the land then this could substitute, which is why Sherman was able to carry 20 days (shot) rations in the march to the sea.

Another expedient is operating as a "flying column" - that is not sending wagons back to be refilled. In this case the fodder that would have been consumed in the return journey can be used in the outbound. However, once the wagon is empty then it lacks the "fuel" to get back to depot and hence the terminus must be somewhere in supply.

This is how McClellan moved in October-November '62. He loaded his wagons north of the Potomac and was aiming for the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, but supplies could be drawn from the Manassas Gap Railroad at Salem and Rectortown. As Ingalls noted, the wagons were sufficient for 6-8 days with short rations. Ingalls had arranged first to resupply at Salem (which he reached on the 3rd November). When he was relieved the army was drawing supplies from Gainesville on the Manassas Gap RR, about 15 miles from the main body of the army. They were repairing the bridges on the O&A RR.
 

Saphroneth

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For every days march from the depot, you need to ration the animals etc. twice (for the outbound and return journeys). Thus if the army is 2 days from a depot then 684 lbs of the load would be consumed by the wagon itself. Since a team could only haul about 1,000 lbs of load on non-macadamised roads, at this distance > 2/3rds of the load is used only for the animals. At three days from a depot the wagons consume everything, and there is nothing left to deliver. Since a wagon could only manage about 10 miles/day on non-macadamised roads, the distance from a depot the army could operate is only about 20 miles.
I thought in Hagerman there's an analysis which shows 1500+ lbs load - presumably that's for better roads?



Another expedient is operating as a "flying column" - that is not sending wagons back to be refilled. In this case the fodder that would have been consumed in the return journey can be used in the outbound. However, once the wagon is empty then it lacks the "fuel" to get back to depot and hence the terminus must be somewhere in supply.

This is how McClellan moved in October-November '62. He loaded his wagons north of the Potomac and was aiming for the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, but supplies could be drawn from the Manassas Gap Railroad at Salem and Rectortown. As Ingalls noted, the wagons were sufficient for 6-8 days with short rations. Ingalls had arranged first to resupply at Salem (which he reached on the 3rd November). When he was relieved the army was drawing supplies from Gainesville on the Manassas Gap RR, about 15 miles from the main body of the army. They were repairing the bridges on the O&A RR.
Hmm, so it seems likely that the main body of the army's wagons moves from Warrenton to Culpeper along that pike road (as that's better for supply purposes, and is on the O&A). Culpeper can then serve as the supply base for a brief period of circuit supply if it's needed to breach the Rapidan, as Orange Ct Hse is ~17 road miles from Culpeper; after that and once 6th Corps has established a supply base at Port Royal, then there are choices (as the army can be supplied both at Orange Ct House and out of Port Royal).
 
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Saphroneth

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How much can be loaded onto a wagon is heavily dependent on the quality of the roads...
Right, thought it might be that. So in effect you sort of have a "gap" between Culpeper/Rappahanock Station and Orange Court House/Germanna Ford where there's no pike roads (at least on the GCACW map) which is the strategic-supply bottleneck, and McClellan's biggest problem supply wise is simply getting over it.
 

Ara Oko

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As to defending his supplies, it's not a question of Lee attacking McClellan's supply train I'm thinking of - I'm thinking of Lee wrecking the infrastructure that McClellan would then need to advance over. As of 8-9 November the Army of the Potomac is around Warrenton and Lee is at Culpeper; if Lee wrecks the rail line from Culpeper to Gordonsville (as much as he can while conducting a retreat to Gordonsville) then he's imposed problems on McClellan advancing, or that's the idea anyway.

As to being bolder, on the other hand, the reason McClellan didn't advance on the 10th November is that he'd been fired. Is there a particular period you're thinking of for McClellan lacking boldness?
Not really, it was implied elsewhere, but I know and you know that in a fight, McClennan was no pushover. On the contrary, he would push and press and almost literally whittle down the enemy.
As I said before, I think circumstance worked against him.
But he did build a fine body of men, well trained and loyalty others could only hope for.
I understand why he was fired, Hooker I think was on the rise, indecisive or lost battles
 
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Ara Oko

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The supply situation and its logistics have my head mystified. I can hardly imagine organizing and equipping a large army, often in adverse conditions.
A good logistician could very well save save your bacon!
From what I've read, McClennan was an excellent organiser. Perhaps it was his greatest strength.
 

John S. Carter

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I could imagine McClellan making a similar move on Fredericksburg like Burnside did. Unlike Burnside, I think McClellan gets the pontoons there on time, but also moves the army slower so Lee still blocks him. McClellan looks at the situation and doesn't attack at all. So you get a winter campaign, but no battle.

I expect McClellan has the AotP in good shape by spring too, but he keeps Pleasanton in charge of the cavalry.

From there I'm not sure where we go. Lincoln would insist he do something in May and would deny another try at the Peninsula. I don't see Mac making a move like Hooker's Chancellorsville offensive. Maybe attempting a crossing downstream of Fredericksburg if he can get the shipping together?
The question is one that could be asked of the other three generals .The question to ask is why did Lincoln remove generals as cards in a bridge or booker game?Then why did he recall McClellan to the front after firing him in the first place? Popularity could not be the reason,Lincoln was not to be forced or persuaded by this alone.Grant seems to have been moved because Lincoln realized that he had no general in the Eastern department to challenge Lee and his ANV.Grant with his generals had proved themselves capable to at least not to quit in the face of defeat.or had the endurance and willingness to sacrifice to accomplish what the other generals lacked.The question can not be answered excepte in a ''WHAT IF" .Prehaps a better question is what if there been no Grant and Sherman how long could the war continue or would the Union Republic party had loss in '64 and the North would have sued for peace under President McClellan?
 

Saphroneth

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Feb 18, 2017
Not really, it was implied elsewhere, but I know and you know that in a fight, McClennan was no pushover. On the contrary, he would push and press and almost literally whittle down the enemy.
I was wondering because you said "Had he been bolder..." so it sounded like you thought he lacked boldness.

The question is one that could be asked of the other three generals .The question to ask is why did Lincoln remove generals as cards in a bridge or booker game?Then why did he recall McClellan to the front after firing him in the first place? Popularity could not be the reason,Lincoln was not to be forced or persuaded by this alone.Grant seems to have been moved because Lincoln realized that he had no general in the Eastern department to challenge Lee and his ANV.Grant with his generals had proved themselves capable to at least not to quit in the face of defeat.or had the endurance and willingness to sacrifice to accomplish what the other generals lacked.The question can not be answered excepte in a ''WHAT IF" .Prehaps a better question is what if there been no Grant and Sherman how long could the war continue or would the Union Republic party had loss in '64 and the North would have sued for peace under President McClellan?
I suspect a big chunk of it is that Lincoln didn't understand the constraints that generals operated under. I also suspect he didn't really learn by 1864, and that a big part of Grant's success is simply that he just got more of everything (more men, more time and a weaker enemy) than any previous general did.

As for an 1864-elected McClellan, I seriously doubt he'd have let the South go free without continuing to fight - he explicitly repudiated the peace plank. I suspect he'd simply use the Presidency to have executed his original plan to take Richmond - possibly under Fitz John Porter as commander of the AotP, since he considered Porter to be a skilled general, though that's speculation.
 
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Joshism

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Then why did he recall McClellan to the front after firing him in the first place?
Lincoln had strong ideals, but was also very pragmatic. He realized, under the circumstances, McClellan was the right man for the job in Sept 1862. I think he was right.

He was subsequently removed after Antietam for essentially the same reason as on the Peninsula: too slow, made too many demands, had too many excuses.

I suspect a big chunk of it is that Lincoln didn't understand the constraints that generals operated under. I also suspect he didn't really learn by 1864, and that a big part of Grant's success is simply that he just got more of everything (more men, more time and a weaker enemy) than any previous general did.
Grant earned Lincoln's trust, something none of the AotP commanders did, and something none of them deserved.

I'm not sure about more men. A previously untapped source of men in the Washington defenses, yes.
 

Ara Oko

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Lincoln had strong ideals, but was also very pragmatic. He realized, under the circumstances, McClellan was the right man for the job in Sept 1862. I think he was right.

He was subsequently removed after Antietam for essentially the same reason as on the Peninsula: too slow, made too many demands, had too many excuses.



Grant earned Lincoln's trust, something none of the AotP commanders did, and something none of them deserved.

I'm not sure about more men. A previously untapped source of men in the Washington defenses, yes.
I don't think Lincoln would countenance hiving off defensive Washington forces, knowing Lee was itching to move a whole army north.
I seem to recall that detachments were "borrowed" from what amounts to a defensive army, during the course of the war.
Lincoln seems to have spent a lot of time and resources on the Capitals' security knowing Lee was champing at the bit to strike north and threaten the Union in its own back yard.
The union Washington forces may have been untapped, but then, they never were a reserve army. Just being there meant Lee would need a massive army to attack it, with no calculable hope of success.
Even though these men were implacable enemies, they both understood the stakes. I recall reading about Lee attacking into the North, and to "threaten" Washington, but I can't recall Lee talking about "taking" Washington. So these Idle troops (seemingly) played a big part in securing the capital city.
 

Saphroneth

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He was subsequently removed after Antietam for essentially the same reason as on the Peninsula: too slow, made too many demands, had too many excuses.
But this doesn't make any sense, because McClellan is not slow at all after Antietam - he's banned from moving.

Halleck doesn't allow him to advance until Halleck has approved the plan, and McClellan is prompt in submitting a plan for approval; Halleck is not prompt in giving approval to the plan. Once McClellan's actually allowed to move he heads south pretty fast - not a sprint or anything, but he shifts his whole force successfully south from the Harpers Ferry area to the Warrenton area and effectively interposes himself between Longstreet and Jackson.
This is one of the few times in the entire war Lee gets outmanoeuvred.

As for excuses, "I'm not getting enough food or clothing" is a valid reason for waiting to mount an offensive operation one would think - even had he not been barred from moving...


I'm not sure about more men. A previously untapped source of men in the Washington defenses, yes.
That's the same thing - for the purposes of an offensive campaign against Richmond then men not released from the Washington Defences may as well have been on the moon.

200,000 men passed through the Army of the Potomac before it reached the James river in 1864; McClellan could have been given about 150,000-160,000 men without endangering Washington, but he actually got much less than that.
 
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Saphroneth

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I don't think Lincoln would countenance hiving off defensive Washington forces, knowing Lee was itching to move a whole army north.
I seem to recall that detachments were "borrowed" from what amounts to a defensive army, during the course of the war.
Lincoln seems to have spent a lot of time and resources on the Capitals' security knowing Lee was champing at the bit to strike north and threaten the Union in its own back yard.
The union Washington forces may have been untapped, but then, they never were a reserve army. Just being there meant Lee would need a massive army to attack it, with no calculable hope of success.
Even though these men were implacable enemies, they both understood the stakes. I recall reading about Lee attacking into the North, and to "threaten" Washington, but I can't recall Lee talking about "taking" Washington. So these Idle troops (seemingly) played a big part in securing the capital city.
The corps commanders of the Army of the Potomac, in 1862, concluded that about 40,000 men (PFD, split between the Washington Defences themselves and a covering force) would suffice to defend the capital and the rest would be available for offensive operations.

1862, Peninsular Campaign: McClellan plans to leave something over 50,000 men defending the capital and in the covering force. Lincoln intervenes to up the total men defending the capital and in the covering force to greater than the strength of McClellan's field army; troops get slowly released, but at the crisis point of the Peninsular Campaign in the Seven Days there are over 70,000 men around Washington and in the covering force (amalgamated as Pope's Army of Virginia by that point) and McClellan is forced away from Richmond for want of ~20,000 men to cover his exposed right flank. Those troops had been promised to be sent to him for more than a month.
(He never gets them.)

1862, Antietam: The force defending Washington during the Maryland Campaign is slightly harder to determine, but here:



Forces McClellan brought back from the Peninsula: 81,700 (August 10 strength)
AoV plus defences of Washington, June 30: ~70,000, of which ~5,000 were en route to the Army of the Potomac on that date. (This does not include the Middle Department.) This is 65,000 PFD as the other 5,000 are embraced in the AotP strength.

Reinforcements with Burnside (from his department and another): ~13,500 PFD.

Subsequent new recruits:

This is the hardest one to estimate, but Humphreys (7,000 PFD, 8 regiments) implies ca. 800 PFD per brand new regiment. Sticking with just the inf regiments for now and counting only new arrivals, not those shuffled about:

The Middle Department acquired eleven new regiments (as in, regiments that joined from their state) in August and September.
The Mil Dist of Washington gained eight in August for Defences North of the Potomac, seven in Unassigned Infantry, and seventeen in Whipple's division.
In September, Whipple's division gained one, Casey's provisional brigade gained one, the Defences North of the Potomac gained one and the Unassigned Infantry gained five (though that last group all arrived right at the end of the month so can be ignored). This doesn't count all the temporary militia showing up.

These categories mostly do not overlap with Humphreys Division (though two regiments do)

This means that over the course of August and September the influx of reinforcement regiments exclusive of Humphreys is 11+8+7+17+1+1+1-2, for 44. That amounts to about 35,000 PFD.
Humphreys is 7,000 PFD.

Total before casualties: 42,000 + 13,500 + 65,000 + 81,700 = 202,200
Northern Virginia Campaign casualties ~17,000

Remaining: 185,000 PFD.

With McClellan's approx. strength at Antietam at about 87,000 PFD, it should be clear that the forces left behind to defend Washington were enormous and may well have been larger than McClellan's field army. (Sanity checking confirms this, as there were two entire corps - 3rd and 11th, and 3rd was a really big one - plus the Washington Defences themselves which in late October were about 55,000 strong.)


In 1864, on the other hand, the Washington Defences were drawn down to about 20,000 men PFD (rough number, I've seen smaller). This had an enormous effect on the size of field army the Union could support; you'll also note it's less than the amount the corps commanders considered required...
 

Ara Oko

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Wow, amazing detail. I get the feeling you think oversensivity towards the security of the Federal Capital tied up rather too many resources. So much so it hindered the Army of the Potomac. Perhaps Lincoln could have executed a Russian defence where you let them penetrate further and further. And when the time comes, they are enveloped and destroyed with no hope of escape due to scorching everything within 20 miles of the enemy, starving them. Lincoln had the men to do this I think at that time. If Lincoln had used Washington for bait and done this, he could have crushed a whole rebel army perhaps. It made Napoleon exit Russia in a most undignified manner!
 

Saphroneth

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Wow, amazing detail. I get the feeling you think oversensivity towards the security of the Federal Capital tied up rather too many resources. So much so it hindered the Army of the Potomac. Perhaps Lincoln could have executed a Russian defence where you let them penetrate further and further. And when the time comes, they are enveloped and destroyed with no hope of escape due to scorching everything within 20 miles of the enemy, starving them. Lincoln had the men to do this I think at that time. If Lincoln had used Washington for bait and done this, he could have crushed a whole rebel army perhaps. It made Napoleon exit Russia in a most undignified manner!
This also isn't a good idea because the Union can't just give up hundreds of miles of terrain (not least because Washington is actually inside two slave states).

The sensible thing to do would have been to stick to the assessment that the Federal capital required about 40,000 defenders split between fort garrisons and a covering force, and free up the rest of the army for offensive operations. But if that wasn't acceptable, then Lincoln letting McClellan keep going in November 1862 with everything except the Washington Defences, 12th Corps and Morell's Defences Upper Potomac would also have been great.

At that point the total strength of Lee's army was about 60,000 PFD, split between Jackson and Longstreet. McClellan meanwhile had:

9th Wilcox 14223
1st Reynolds 17820
3rd Stoneman 21323

2nd Couch 15739
5th Butterfield 19073

6th Franklin 25979
11th Sigel 15562
Cav Pleasonton 6312


Wash Def Heintzelman ~55000
12th Slocum 11330

And about 5-6,000 on the Upper Potomac with Morell.

This means that Washington is defended by a little over 70,000 troops PFD - which is larger than the entire Army of Northern Virginia - so there is no reasonable complaint about security. Meanwhile the Army of the Potomac is 136,000 PFD (which is more than twice the size of the Army of Northern Virginia).
 
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Joshism

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That's the same thing - for the purposes of an offensive campaign against Richmond then men not released from the Washington Defences may as well have been on the moon.
Because of the nature of most of the men in the defenses (Heavy Artillery regiments with no combat experience converted to infantry) those reinforcements were largely worthless, as were much of the IX Corps (leadership there was also a major problem). Grant's predecessors mostly got better reinforcements than he did. I think Burnside and Hooker also commanded larger AotP at one time than Grant did at any one time in 1864?

Once McClellan's actually allowed to move he heads south pretty fast - not a sprint or anything, but he shifts his whole force successfully south from the Harpers Ferry area to the Warrenton area and effectively interposes himself between Longstreet and Jackson.
This is one of the few times in the entire war Lee gets outmanoeuvred.
So what happened after McClellan got to Warrenton and between Lee's wings? Why was Lee able to reunite?

Perhaps Lincoln could have executed a Russian defence where you let them penetrate further and further. And when the time comes, they are enveloped and destroyed with no hope of escape due to scorching everything within 20 miles of the enemy, starving them.
Desolating Northern Virginia was not a step I think the Union was prepared to take before at least mid-1864 and by then it wasn't necessary. It also would have been difficult to implement given how spread out the region is. Unlike the Shenandoah its not mostly concentrated along a single valley with a good road.
 

Saphroneth

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Because of the nature of most of the men in the defenses (Heavy Artillery regiments with no combat experience converted to infantry) those reinforcements were largely worthless, as were much of the IX Corps (leadership there was also a major problem).
Then, um, maybe Grant should have just left them in the Washington defences? Not much point making Washington vulnerable for "largely worthless" reinforcements.

He did get quite a lot of infantry as well, though - and it's worth remembering that in context "heavy artillery" actually means "fort garrison". Many of them were expected to fight as infantry (e.g. in rifle pits) - they were not all gunners.

Grant's predecessors mostly got better reinforcements than he did. I think Burnside and Hooker also commanded larger AotP at one time than Grant did at any one time in 1864?
Well, if "no combat experience" is a malus...
(Training time is a plus, no combat experience is a malus. Arguably the best troops an AotP commander could reasonably expect as reinforcements would be troops who'd been training for several years without interruption; the worst would be fresh recruits or possibly recruits who've fought one unsuccessful battle. Interestingly most of the troops McClellan got as reinforcements in 1862 were "no combat experience" more or less by definition.)


As for commanding a larger AotP at one time, surely what matters is the number of men that pass through your army? Getting 200,000 men (number of men who passed through Grant's army before he reached the James, in PFD) but having nearly 80,000 of them become casualties does not mean you're worse off for troop numbers than someone who got 125,000 men PFD all told right up front, because you're why you don't still have those men... (And they presumably did something in the process.)

So what happened after McClellan got to Warrenton and between Lee's wings? Why was Lee able to reunite?
McClellan got fired. That's sort of the topic of the thread.

Desolating Northern Virginia was not a step I think the Union was prepared to take before at least mid-1864 and by then it wasn't necessary. It also would have been difficult to implement given how spread out the region is. Unlike the Shenandoah its not mostly concentrated along a single valley with a good road.
More to the point, Napoleon went hundreds of miles into Russian territory - to give some idea, at Smolensk he was pretty much secure and that's more than 200 miles into Russia at the time. I don't think Lincoln would be willing to give up literally everything south of the Susquehanna to begin with, let alone retreating even further...
 
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Saphroneth

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Based on the research of 67th Tigers to get regulation PFD for Grant's Overland:


Strength of the AotP as of crossing the Rapidan (2nd, 5th, 6th, Cavalry corps) 121,964
9th Corps on that date 20,780
Grant's strength (counting 9th Corps) when crossing the Rapidan ~142,700 (PFD)

Grant's reinforcements before leaving Spotsylvania Court House 33,255 (for a before-casualties strength of 176,000)
Grant's losses at Wilderness and Spotsylvania 17,666 + 18,399 (so about 36,000)
Grant's strength as of leaving Spotsylvania smaller than as-crossed-Rapidan strength (but no question about whether it included 9th Corps) ~140,000 (PFD)

Grant's strength at Cold Harbor

Casualties at North Anna 4,000
Musters-out no more than 4,000

Smith's force from 18th Corps ~16,000 PFD.

Union casualties at Cold Harbor ~13,000
Troops that joined from the Washington area after Spotsylvania ~10,000

Grant's instantaneous strength in the Cold Harbor period would thus be around or above 150,000 PFD pretty much no matter in what configuration these troops arrived.



Burnside's force at Fredericksburg, counting forces not engaged (11th Corps) was about 140,000 PFD. Hooker's force was a little smaller than that AIUI (as should be expected - he gained 12th Corps but lost the Fredericksburg casualties), and the instantaneous strength of McClellan's peninsular force in PFD never got much above 100,000 (his campaign strength was higher, of course, but if we're talking instantaneous strength then you have to count the same way for both).

So yes, Grant did have a larger army.
 
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67th Tigers

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The return for Chancellorsville is here. The listed PFD is already "non-regulation" and has placed the extra-duty men out of the PFD column. Given the likely number of sick and arrested present, Hooker likely had >150,000 PFD by the regulation measurement.
 

Saphroneth

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The return for Chancellorsville is here. The listed PFD is already "non-regulation" and has placed the extra-duty men out of the PFD column. Given the likely number of sick and arrested present, Hooker likely had >150,000 PFD by the regulation measurement.
Ah, forgot that they'd shifted the PFD column...

Presumably his force got bulked out as well then. It'd have to be from the "Washington Garrison" then as there's no other source of troops on the board, and indeed on the next page the Washington Garrison is listed as about 35,000 PFD*. That was 45,000 on the December 10 return.


* I quite like that the Provisional Brigades are 7 officers and 12 men PFD on that return. Sounds like about enough men for a good party.
 
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