What Lee Thought About the Lost Orders

Bruce Vail

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 8, 2015
McCLELLAN with or without the orders did not defeat the Confederate army ,it was considered a draw' At least Meade went after Lee after his Gettysburg Both battles achieved for the North one accomplishment ,they halted the Confederate army from going just so far North,Just wondering,reading the achievements of calvary on both sides,imagine a massive calvary ,as like the mongols or huns had,leading Union cavalry attacking Atlanta or Richmond and for the Confederates ,Washington or a vitely transport center,The armies would be engaged against against each other to assist the cavalry.Union cavalry under Sheridan ,Confederate under Forest.Possible or just not logical on a military scheme ?

I have to disagree with your statement that Mac 'did not defeat the Confederate army' at Antietam. It's certainly true that the 'victory' was very costly and that the Union forces failed to exploit their victory in the way they could have, or should have, but it was a victory nonetheless. The postwar testimony from Longstreet that the Confederates came perilously close to losing the war at the battle should count as conclusive evidence that it was a victory (even if a limited vctory) for McClellan.
 

jackt62

Captain
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Location
New York City
he postwar testimony from Longstreet that the Confederates came perilously close to losing the war at the battle should count as conclusive evidence that it was a victory (even if a limited vctory) for McClellan

We could say Antietam was a tactical draw, but a strategic victory for the Union. Obviously, that type of victory takes precedence and in this case, Lincoln used the outcome to publish his Emancipation Proclamation; it also sytmied British attempts to intervene in the conflict.
 

John S. Carter

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 15, 2017
I have to disagree with your statement that Mac 'did not defeat the Confederate army' at Antietam. It's certainly true that the 'victory' was very costly and that the Union forces failed to exploit their victory in the way they could have, or should have, but it was a victory nonetheless. The postwar testimony from Longstreet that the Confederates came perilously close to losing the war at the battle should count as conclusive evidence that it was a victory (even if a limited vctory) for McClellan.
Was there any battle that Lee and he fought that he had anything positive to write about .Lee did not take his advice or Lee fought not like he would have fought.He was a defensive while Lee was offensive planners,correct?How would Jackson and Longstreet compare,both were generals who were for attacks on the enemy's flanks.Has any military historian written a book comparing the two generals.would be interesting.but could it be impartial ? How correct am I?
 

John S. Carter

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 15, 2017
Interesting concept in which the infantry assists the cavalry, as opposed to the other way around. Don't see it as being practical, though for a number of reasons. To begin with, that type of cavalry assault would run into problems holding secure supply lines for operating on a massive scale and for a lengthy period of time. Cavalry assaulting fortified positions such as Atlanta or Washington would likely be decimated by entrenched artillery, assuming they could even reach those destinations without being cut off and surrounded by enemy forces. Even some of the actual, lesser cavalry raids such as Stoneman's attempt to outflank the ANV at Chancellorsville, or some of Sherman's cavalry raids to cut off the railroads around Atlanta failed abysmally.
Just a idea.Kinda like thinking that the Allies could bomb the Axis into submission.
 

Stone in the wall

2nd Lieutenant
Member of the Month
Joined
Sep 19, 2017
Location
Blue Ridge Mountains, Jefferson County WV
Wow. Lee must have been badly rattled by the near-disaster at Spotsylvania. No surprie there, as Grant came **** close to destroying the ANV right then and there. Ewell too, since his actions seem near-hysterical. Wasn't Ewell one-legged at the time? Must have been slightly comical to have seen pegleg Ewell chasing his own soldiers in fury.

Was Ewell sent home permanently?
Ewell must have returned as he was captured at Sailor's Creek.
 

Bruce Vail

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 8, 2015
Ewell must have returned as he was captured at Sailor's Creek.

I did a little checking last night. Ewell was re-assigned to Richmond following the Spotsylvania incident. He remained there in an office job up until the time the city was evacuated April 2, 1865. He moved with the ANV for the next five days until his capture by federal troops at the Battle of Sailors Creek April 6.
 

Jantzen64

Private
Joined
Aug 10, 2019
Only indirectly. There was no court martial, but D.H. Hill was so widely blamed that in the post war years he took to carrying his copy of the order around with him in his breast pocket. He would whip it out as "proof" of his innocence to show to anyone who challenged him.
In Landscape Turned Red, Sears points out that it was not typical that an order of this type would be directly sent to a division commander (the copy Hill would whip out came from his corps commander, Jackson, via the normal chain of command). Sears also notes that it would have been customary for Lee's adjutant, Chilton, to have received a receipt of delivery of the Order directly to Hill, but he had no records of this. It may be that the failure to follow normal procedures and/or the lack of evidence prevented any formal charges from being filed (even though Lee clearly took subequent steps to distance himself from Hill).
 

Bruce Vail

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 8, 2015
Was there any battle that Lee and he fought that he had anything positive to write about .Lee did not take his advice or Lee fought not like he would have fought.He was a defensive while Lee was offensive planners,correct?How would Jackson and Longstreet compare,both were generals who were for attacks on the enemy's flanks.Has any military historian written a book comparing the two generals.would be interesting.but could it be impartial ? How correct am I?

All that may be true, but Lee fought the Battle the Antietam as a defensive action, and there was no one closer to the action than Longstreet. Did any of the participants in the battle ever refute Longstreet's post-war characterization?
 

Stone in the wall

2nd Lieutenant
Member of the Month
Joined
Sep 19, 2017
Location
Blue Ridge Mountains, Jefferson County WV
I did a little checking last night. Ewell was re-assigned to Richmond following the Spotsylvania incident. He remained there in an office job up until the time the city was evacuated April 2, 1865. He moved with the ANV for the next five days until his capture by federal troops at the Battle of Sailors Creek April 6.
I had thought Ewell was maybe commanding the Richmond defenses but not sure.
 

jackt62

Captain
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Location
New York City
Lee did not take his advice or Lee fought not like he would have fought.He was a defensive while Lee was offensive planners,correct?

I think we should not be too concerned with defining particular commanders as either "defensive" or "offensive" generals. For all of Lee's reputation as an "offensive" commander, his track record shows that he was just as willing and able to operate on the defensive, from Antietam, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, North Anna, and Cold Harbor. The hallmark of a brilliant commander is understanding the situational characteristics that include objectives, terrain, and resources and making dispositions accordingly, whether in offense or in defense. Likewise, Longstreet was able to powerfully assail the enemy flank at 2nd Manassas and utilize moments of opportunity at Chickamauga, while fighting defensively at Antietam and Fredericksburg and advocating a defensive posture at Gettysburg, given his analysis and awareness of the prevailing circumstances that existed there.
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
DH Hill was not under Jackson in mid-September. The ANV was reorganised into two columns (later corps) about a week after Antietam. Before this the army consisted of three wings; GW Smith's, Longstreet's and Jackson's, and an independent division; Anderson's.

DH Hill's division was part of GW Smith's wing (divisions of DH Hill, McLaws and Walker), and was sent over the Potomac first on a raid on 4th September. Jackson crossed with his wing on the 5th and as senior officer north of the Potomac assumed command of DH Hill. The next morning Jackson fell from his horse and was disabled. As senior officer present, DH Hill assumed command of all forces. Jackson was bedridden for several days.

When SO191 was issued, DH Hill and Jackson were ordered on separate missions. A copy was made by Jackson and sent to DH Hill, as well as the copy from HQ. It was the latter of these two that was lost.

Normally, the receiving officer signed the envelope, and the empty envelope returned to the issuing HQ. Without this there was no evidence DH Hill ever received the lost order to loose it, and so charges were out of the question.
 

Pete Longstreet

Sergeant Major
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Joined
Mar 3, 2020
Location
Hartford, CT
Regarding the lost order, Colonel W.H. Taylor writes: "Colonel Venable one of my associates on the staff of General Lee, says in regard to this matter: "this is very easily explained. One copy was sent directly to Hill from headquarters. General Jackson sent him a copy, as he regarded Hill in his command. It is Jackson's copy, in his own handwriting that General Hill has. The other was undoubtedly left carelessly by someone at Hill's quarters."
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
My understanding is that Lee knew by the time of South Mountain that McClellan had come into possession of a copy of the order, which is probably why he was ordering Jackson to give up the siege of Harpers Ferry and McLaws to try and cross over the Maryland Heights - Lee can't have failed to notice how vulnerable he was with Jackson's forces detached, and had Harpers Ferry not suddenly surrendered and the forces assigned to take it been still besieging it then Lee could quite easily have lost a quarter of his army and Longstreet's "wing" been driven across the Potomac in disarray.
 

Pete Longstreet

Sergeant Major
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Joined
Mar 3, 2020
Location
Hartford, CT
Colonel W.H. Taylor also states:

It was custom to send copies of such orders, marked "confidential" to the commands of separate corps or divisions only, and to place the address of such separate commander in the bottom left hand corner of the sheet containing the order. General D.H. Hill was in command of a division which had not been attached to nor incorporated with either of the two wings of the Army of Northern Virginia. A copy of the orders was, therefore, in the usual course, sent to him. After the evacuation of Frederick City by our forces, a copy of General Lee's order was found in a deserted camp by a soldier and was soon in the hands of General McClellan. The copy of the order, it was stated at the time, was addressed to "General D.H. Hill, commanding division." General Hill assured me it could not have been his copy, because he still has the original order received by him in his possession."
 

Jantzen64

Private
Joined
Aug 10, 2019
DH Hill was not under Jackson in mid-September. The ANV was reorganised into two columns (later corps) about a week after Antietam. Before this the army consisted of three wings; GW Smith's, Longstreet's and Jackson's, and an independent division; Anderson's.

DH Hill's division was part of GW Smith's wing (divisions of DH Hill, McLaws and Walker), and was sent over the Potomac first on a raid on 4th September. Jackson crossed with his wing on the 5th and as senior officer north of the Potomac assumed command of DH Hill. The next morning Jackson fell from his horse and was disabled. As senior officer present, DH Hill assumed command of all forces. Jackson was bedridden for several days.

When SO191 was issued, DH Hill and Jackson were ordered on separate missions. A copy was made by Jackson and sent to DH Hill, as well as the copy from HQ. It was the latter of these two that was lost.

Normally, the receiving officer signed the envelope, and the empty envelope returned to the issuing HQ. Without this there was no evidence DH Hill ever received the lost order to loose it, and so charges were out of the question.
Interesting, 67th. Could you please provide source info for the AoNVA order of battle regarding Smith' wing for the Maryland campaign? It was my understanding that Smith had left the AoNVa by August. In The Lost Dispatch, Hill claims that upon crossing the Potomac into Maryland at Cheek's Ford, his division had become attached to Jackson's command and advanced to Frederick under Jackson's command; Hill further wrote, "we drew all of our supplies and received all our orders for the next several days through Jackson." See also https://www.nps.gov/mono/learn/historyculture/an-invitation-to-battle.htm.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
It was my understanding that Smith had left the AoNVa by August.
I believe that's meant to be the point - Smith himself was left in Richmond but the reinforcement column that arrived in Northern Virginia (too late to participate in Second Bull Run) was recognizably formed of components of GW Smith's command.

Effectively as of late August you have:

Jackson's wing - already in Northern Virginia and has been for weeks
Longstreet's wing - marched up north as a fairly cohesive unit and arrives in the Manassas area at the end of the month
GW Smith's wing - originally left in Richmond (and formed of what was left behind after the other two wings departed for the north) but most of it moved north afterwards.


We know that in SO 191 DH Hill's division is distinct from "Jackson's command", and so are McLaws, Anderson and Walker's divisions. As it happens the composition of the AoNV on September 2 (per Harsh, table 24, Sounding the Shallows, in the context of strength) was:

Longstreet's command (DR Jones, Wilcox, Kemper, Evans)

Jackson's command (Stonewall division, Ewell, AP Hill)

RH Anderson's division (not part of the reinforcing column as enumerated there and not part of either command)

Stuart's cavalry (included for completeness)

Reinforcing column (McLaws, DH Hill, Walker, plus a cavalry brigade)

Effectively the reinforcing column is "Smith's wing", though it has no overall commander because Smith himself was left behind; Harsh raises the possibility that Lee was trialling McLaws as commander of this third wing of the army by putting him in command of Anderson's division in addition to his own, and he was clearly disappointed (though the heavy Antietam campaign casualties obviated the need for a third wing anyway).
 
Last edited:

Georgia Sixth

Sergeant Major
Joined
Dec 14, 2011
Location
Texas
It was charcteristic of Lee to refrain from publicly blaming any of his subordinate generals for battlefiled reverses, no matter what his personal feelings might have been. I can't think of an example of him ever doing so, can you?

Lee was realllly PO'd at Pickett after Five Forks. I do believe Lee expressed his displeasure, but don't have a quote in my memory banks. Of course, Five Forks was the battle that finally broke the Petersburg line and it could not be recovered. The end was now at hand and Lee knew it. Just a matter of days after that.
 

dgfred

Corporal
Joined
Apr 13, 2020
Well... I believe it was at least 2-1 Union advantage instead of Pickett that was the major problem. With or without him actually being present at the battle. Not to mention well-supplied infantry and good cav vs weakened and poorly supplied infantry/cav. Maybe he was just tired of seeing his face, haha.
 
Top