What Lee Thought About the Lost Orders

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
And how none of these were seen by Steiner during the highly visible and extensive activity of Jackson's troops reported by him during the preceding four days leaves "more questions than answers".
I think this contention in particular is a bit strange, at least to my mind - is your argument that Steiner should have mentioned it in his diary more than once? Or that it's unrealistic that they'd only reach the "noticeability" threshold once?

Of course if they were part of the logs then they'd have only really passed through the town when the army marched.

(Personally I think Steiner's very reason for mentioning it was the contrast between Confederate objection to black soldiers and seeing black men as part of the AoNV; he may even have seen men carrying weapons, though one doubts they were formally enlisted as such.)



Something I want to point out though - since this came orginally from how McClellan's intel org should have known Lee had only a certain number of men - is that there is no single observation or combination of observations that can result in the picture of Lee having less than 60,000 men*. On the other hand, if combined correctly the historical observations can result in up to 104,000 infantry** plus however much cavalry Stuart had - and one of those historical observations is Steiner's 8,000 for DH Hill, which is the only observed value for that division and which misses out a brigade.

* except for the Baltimore American, which argued for there being only 5,000 - mostly cavalry - in the entire invasion force

** "Jackson and Lee" at Boonsboro on the 10th, "40,000 to 60,000" take that as 60,000
McLaws and Anderson, "30,000 men at Burkittsville"
Walker, "6,000 men"
DH Hill, 8,000 (Steiner)

So the low bar is 61,000 infantry, and the high bar is 104,000. Average the two and it's about 82,000, plus however many Stuart has.
 

Belfoured

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
I think this contention in particular is a bit strange, at least to my mind - is your argument that Steiner should have mentioned it in his diary more than once? Or that it's unrealistic that they'd only reach the "noticeability" threshold once?

Of course if they were part of the logs then they'd have only really passed through the town when the army marched.

(Personally I think Steiner's very reason for mentioning it was the contrast between Confederate objection to black soldiers and seeing black men as part of the AoNV; he may even have seen men carrying weapons, though one doubts they were formally enlisted as such.)



Something I want to point out though - since this came orginally from how McClellan's intel org should have known Lee had only a certain number of men - is that there is no single observation or combination of observations that can result in the picture of Lee having less than 60,000 men*. On the other hand, if combined correctly the historical observations can result in up to 104,000 infantry** plus however much cavalry Stuart had - and one of those historical observations is Steiner's 8,000 for DH Hill, which is the only observed value for that division and which misses out a brigade.

* except for the Baltimore American, which argued for there being only 5,000 - mostly cavalry - in the entire invasion force

** "Jackson and Lee" at Boonsboro on the 10th, "40,000 to 60,000" take that as 60,000
McLaws and Anderson, "30,000 men at Burkittsville"
Walker, "6,000 men"
DH Hill, 8,000 (Steiner)

So the low bar is 61,000 infantry, and the high bar is 104,000. Average the two and it's about 82,000, plus however many Stuart has.
In his September 10 account they weren't simply "part of the logs". His alleged observation on September 10 was a "headliner" - he was claiming that 3,000 black troops carrying the basic weapons of infantry (plus "sabres") were in Jackson's force. That's highly controversial today and it was significant in 1862, as well. It was notable enough that he made specific and detailed mention of it. This was supposedly a daily journal. What was remarkable on September 10 caused absolutely no interest during the preceding four days - unless, of course, these guys weren't "armed with rifles, muskets, sabres,", because "servants"/aka slaves, baggage carriers, and extra bedroll transporters, were not remarkable. That's the whole point - he makes no mention of what effectively are armed black troops "promiscuously mixed" until September 10. I think that - contrary to what I suggested as the protocol - we're now in fact trying to "explain" what he recorded and why he didn't record it earlier. As is usually the case, the simplest explanation is the best. I'm still trying to picture Howell Cobb riding in the midst of the equivalent to a large brigade of black men heavily armed. Something doesn't add up about Steiner's account.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
I think that - contrary to what I suggested as the protocol - we're now in fact trying to "explain" what he recorded and why he didn't record it earlier. As is usually the case, the simplest explanation is the best. I'm still trying to picture Howell Cobb riding in the midst of the equivalent to a large brigade of black men heavily armed. Something doesn't add up about Steiner's account.
But surely it's sensible to ask why he might record it either way - there's the "what he recorded is true and correct", and there's "what he recorded is outright fabrication", but in between there's "what he recorded is exaggerated/mistaken" and I think it's worth trying to see how there might be something underneath it which might be mistaken or exaggerated.

Which is a lot of how history is done with primary sources.


For example, I think we can agree that the account of Howell Cobb can't be entirely correct, because Cobb was not a major-general; at the same time, it can't be that this is a later addition by someone (i.e. Steiner) reading back Cobb's promotion, because the account was published in 1862 and Cobb didn't become a MG until 1863.
Based on the very small number of MGs with the Confederate army at the time (seven - Longstreet, McLaws, Anderson, Jackson, both Hills and Stuart) then if the account describes an actual event the balance of probability is that someone (Steiner or his source) didn't know that Confederate insignia was the same for generals regardless of grade. Having seen the insignia on (e.g.) known MG Jackson and then seeing it again on Cobb they'd assume it was MG rank for both.



For the presence of black armed Confederates, then based on the actual account it appears that not all of them were armed with muskets. The text of the account is:

Most of the negroes had arms , rifles , muskets , sabres , bowie - knives , dirks , etc. They were supplied , in many instances , with knapsacks , haversacks , canteens , etc. , and were manifestly an integral portion of the Southern Con federacy Army . They were seen riding on horses and mules , driving wagons , riding on caissons , in ambulances , with the staff of Generals , and promiscuously mixed up with all the rebel horde . The fact was patent , and rather interesting when considered in connection with the horror rebels express at the suggestion of black soldiers being employed for the National defence .


Based on this, then obviously if Steiner is making it up then he's making it up - but if what he's reporting bears some resemblance to the truth, then it might be that most of the men in question had some kind of weapon (since he includes knives in the listing, which could be utility knives). Steiner is contrasting this with the Confederate aversion to black soldiers, and (again) he could well be making it up entirely, but if he's not making it up entirely then what he could quite reasonably be doing is conflating knives with rifles and including them both in the category of "armed" (while Howell Cobb would have seen nothing amiss with a slave or freedman servant working in logistics etc. having a knife - especially the freedmen servants, as that's what armed slave overseers mostly were) in order to get in a dig against the Confederates and cast them as hypocrites.




Now, to bring this back to the strength report, it is obvious that Steiner's report may not be entirely accurate, but it is even more obvious that it's not entirely inaccurate (in that the Confederate army manifestly did march through Frederick) and Steiner was there. Whatever the motive behind his calculation or the method by which he made it, 64,000 men for the Confederate main body did not seem preposterously high; indeed, if the whole Confederate army was no more than 45,000 men then the force that went through Frederick that day would have to be around 33,000, and would have taken half the time Steiner claimed to go past (and less than half the time claimed by the Baltimore Sun, which claimed 3AM to 9PM).

Does this mean we should take Steiner as gospel?*
No. It means however that we should take his report as the report of an eyewitness, as he had the means and opportunity to observe the Confederate army, and is the only one who had a chance to see almost all of it file past the same place in one go - and not throw out his number entirely.

* of course, gospel does involve conflicting and sometimes mutually incompatible accounts, so perhaps we should...
 
Last edited:

WScott

Private
Joined
May 6, 2021
It seems to me that there was an article in an old Civil War Times Illustrated magazine about Lewis Steiner and his calculations on the size of Confederate army in Frederick, Maryland, they were to high. Are there any old timers out there that may have read this article, I think it was in the early 1970's.
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
It depends how a pursuit is defined.

If a pursuit involves following directly after a defeated enemy who cannot sustain combat sufficiently to stop you, then yes, McClellan's pursuit ends on September 20th because it is no longer possible for a pursuit to exist - Lee is over the Potomac and retains enough combat power to knock back McClellan's crossing at Shepherdstown.

This would, however, mean that Meade (the example you used as a comparison) didn't actually pursue Lee in any significant way at all, because he took a different route.



If, however, a pursuit means following up after a defeated enemy so as to keep them on the move (or bring them to battle again if they don't keep moving), and does not require directly following the enemy up, then McClellan's operations to cross the Potomac at Harpers Ferry on 21-25 September would qualify - he is manoeuvring to follow up on Lee and bring him to battle or drive him south.

This is the same sort of thing that Meade was doing after Gettysburg, manoeuvring south some distance from the track of Lee's main army for the most part and attempting to either cut Lee off (bring him to battle) or force Lee to march south (to avoid being cut off).
This is just a red herring.

As you already know, Meade was pursuing and fighting from July 4th onward. He is pursuing directly and indirectly. He is in constant contact with the enemy. This continues to the point where Meade is actually moving on Lee's entrenchments when he finds Lee has withdrawn in the night -- and then Meade bangs up the last of Lee's rearguard pretty good. Then Meade actually crosses the river and pursues Lee some more.

McClellan, OTOH, is doing as close to "none of that" as he can. He is not in contact with Lee. He is not fighting Lee (or even making any serious or urgent attempt to get in contact with and fight Lee). You tell us it is not McClellan's fault -- it is Halleck's fault. Why -- because McClellan wants to stop and rebuild a permanent bridge he says is necessary before actually getting in contact with and pursuing Lee. That might be necessary, but that in itself is an indication the pursuit is already over.

At this point, what you are talking about is a decision on a new campaign. This McClellan has his idea on how to proceed. Washington (Lincoln/Stanton/Halleck) has another.

Certainly there is room for disagreement on that and very clearly Washington (Lincoln/Stanton/Halleck) are not on the same page as McClellan. That disagreement does not make McClellan right, or above criticism, or anything else other than a guy who disagrees with his bosses. It does not make Washington (Lincoln/Stanton/Halleck) wrong, or above criticism, or anything else other than bosses trying to deal with a fractious subordinate. Yet to you McClellan is always right and always smarter and always above criticism. That is not realistic.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
This is just a red herring.

As you already know, Meade was pursuing and fighting from July 4th onward. He is pursuing directly and indirectly. He is in constant contact with the enemy. This continues to the point where Meade is actually moving on Lee's entrenchments when he finds Lee has withdrawn in the night -- and then Meade bangs up the last of Lee's rearguard pretty good. Then Meade actually crosses the river and pursues Lee some more.

McClellan, OTOH, is doing as close to "none of that" as he can. He is not in contact with Lee. He is not fighting Lee (or even making any serious or urgent attempt to get in contact with and fight Lee). You tell us it is not McClellan's fault -- it is Halleck's fault. Why -- because McClellan wants to stop and rebuild a permanent bridge he says is necessary before actually getting in contact with and pursuing Lee. That might be necessary, but that in itself is an indication the pursuit is already over.
Which means that what McClellan did was, well, pursue Lee until the point it was evident no (direct) pursuit was possible:

On the 18th (McClellan)/4th (Meade), both sides were on the field the day after the bloodletting.
On the 19th (McClellan)/5th (Meade), Lee having withdrawn, both Union generals began to follow. McClellan goes after Lee at dawn with his whole army and pursues to the water's edge, while Meade starts moving later in the day.

Thus, on day one (for both of them) no pursuit takes place. On day two, McClellan's pursuit is more energetic than Meade's.

On the 20th (McClellan), McClellan pushes over the Potomac and is stop-punched by a quarter of Lee's army. This is the point at which McClellan can no longer pursue and needs to start planning a different campaign, because Lee is evidently planning on preventing McClellan crossing the Potomac.

Meade's pursuit continues after the third day, and this is because Lee does not make a serious attempt to stop Meade short (but instead keeps withdrawing, because Meade's manoeuvres are able to create the situation where Lee needs to keep withdrawing). This is owing to the terrain; for McClellan to create the situation where Lee needs to keep withdrawing involves a crossing into the Shenandoah, or Loudoun.


So if you measure over the period for which McClellan pursuing was possible (and define it narrowly enough that trying to compel Lee to keep withdrawing by crossing at Harpers Ferry doesn't count), McClellan's pursuit is on par with Meade's in terms of aggression. The difference is that Meade's pursuit phase is longer, because Lee has much less far to go before he is safe in 1862 (partly because he's so close to the Potomac, partly because of the difficulty in crossing at Harpers Ferry, and partly because Lee feels safe to fight McClellan's crossing column because it's much closer to him than the closer of Meade's ones is).
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
Which means that what McClellan did was, well, pursue Lee until the point it was evident no (direct) pursuit was possible:

On the 18th (McClellan)/4th (Meade), both sides were on the field the day after the bloodletting.
On the 19th (McClellan)/5th (Meade), Lee having withdrawn, both Union generals began to follow. McClellan goes after Lee at dawn with his whole army and pursues to the water's edge, while Meade starts moving later in the day.

Thus, on day one (for both of them) no pursuit takes place. On day two, McClellan's pursuit is more energetic than Meade's.

On the 20th (McClellan), McClellan pushes over the Potomac and is stop-punched by a quarter of Lee's army. This is the point at which McClellan can no longer pursue and needs to start planning a different campaign, because Lee is evidently planning on preventing McClellan crossing the Potomac.

Meade's pursuit continues after the third day, and this is because Lee does not make a serious attempt to stop Meade short (but instead keeps withdrawing, because Meade's manoeuvres are able to create the situation where Lee needs to keep withdrawing). This is owing to the terrain; for McClellan to create the situation where Lee needs to keep withdrawing involves a crossing into the Shenandoah, or Loudoun.


So if you measure over the period for which McClellan pursuing was possible (and define it narrowly enough that trying to compel Lee to keep withdrawing by crossing at Harpers Ferry doesn't count), McClellan's pursuit is on par with Meade's in terms of aggression. The difference is that Meade's pursuit phase is longer, because Lee has much less far to go before he is safe in 1862 (partly because he's so close to the Potomac, partly because of the difficulty in crossing at Harpers Ferry, and partly because Lee feels safe to fight McClellan's crossing column because it's much closer to him than the closer of Meade's ones is).
Gee, once again we see the incredible nobody-can-say-anything-to-make-McClellan-look-less-than-great school in action.

You started this by saying that you saw Meade's pursuit and McClellan's pursuit as the same. They are not the same. From your own post, you clearly know this. You are just unable to acknowledge it.
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
It seems to me that there was an article in an old Civil War Times Illustrated magazine about Lewis Steiner and his calculations on the size of Confederate army in Frederick, Maryland, they were to high. Are there any old timers out there that may have read this article, I think it was in the early 1970's.
Except they aren't.

By all measures, Lee crossed the Potomac with 75-80,000 effectives.

The question that is asked is when did Lee's army straggle?
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Gee, once again we see the incredible nobody-can-say-anything-to-make-McClellan-look-less-than-great school in action.

You started this by saying that you saw Meade's pursuit and McClellan's pursuit as the same. They are not the same. From your own post, you clearly know this. You are just unable to acknowledge it.
Well, I considered the alacrity with which they started to be comparable (in fact your enumeration had "Meade's infantry starts to pursue" on the end of the battle + 3 days, which means the 20th if mapped onto Antietam), and I also considered the plan by McClellan to manoeuvre via Harpers Ferry to be of a piece with the plan by Meade to manoeuvre by the flank to get around the areas which Lee could actively defend (that latter being part of Meade's pursuit).

If McClellan is considered to have ended the pursuit when he can't pursue directly over the river, that's fine, but it also means Meade's pursuit ends when Lee crosses the Potomac - which is over a week before you had Meade's pursuit counted as ending.

In fact, looking at this, from your narrative of Meade's pursuit:



July 11 -- Lee entrenches to protect Williamsport crossing. Potomac River in flood due to downpours of the last week.
July 12 -- Meade's infantry arrives and deploys at lee's entrenchments
July 12 -- Battle at Hagerstown
July 13 -- Heavy skirmishing between ANV and AoP. Lee's engineers finish pontoon bridge; Lee withdraws.
July 14 -- Meade's advance finds most of Lee already gone; Heth and Pender lose many prisoners; Pettigrew killed.
July 16 -- Fitz Lee and Chambliss against Federal infantry and Gregg's cavalry at Potomac crossings
July 17 -- AoP starts crossing Potomac River
July 23 -- Battle of Manassas Gap (III Corps vs. Pettigrew's division and Rodes)
July 24 -- Federals occupy Front Royal.

It's clear that you include events after Lee crosses at Falling Waters and Meade crosses at Harpers Ferry.


Lee withdraws over the night of the 13th/14th in 1863, and the 18th/19th in 1862. Meade begins crossing the Potomac on the 17th in 1863, and to match this McClellan would have to begin crossing on the 22nd in 1862.
This is about when the 1862 pontoon bridge is laid only to be broken by the storm. McClellan's crossing absent the storm would have begun 1-2 days later (which indeed qualifies as being later), but then again Meade doesn't follow Lee over the Potomac on the 15th.


The fundamental question here I think is how much of the events of the pursuit are dictated by the weather, events and terrain versus how much they are dictated by the commanders. For example:
The rain that prevents Lee crossing (and allows Meade several days to "catch up", Lee's rearguard having reached Hagerstown by July 7) works in Meade's favour in allowing a close pursuit; the rain that prevents McClellan's crossing by flooding the Potomac between the armies works against McClellan.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Certainly there is room for disagreement on that and very clearly Washington (Lincoln/Stanton/Halleck) are not on the same page as McClellan. That disagreement does not make McClellan right, or above criticism, or anything else other than a guy who disagrees with his bosses. It does not make Washington (Lincoln/Stanton/Halleck) wrong, or above criticism, or anything else other than bosses trying to deal with a fractious subordinate. Yet to you McClellan is always right and always smarter and always above criticism. That is not realistic.
Incidentally, no, I don't think that McClellan is always right. I think that there has been a pervasive pattern of incorrect criticism of him, including criticism where he took something that was a reasonable approximation of the best practical decision and people criticize him without offering a better alternative.

My view of McClellan is that he is a technically capable commander who tends to make good decisions. That doesn't mean he aways makes the best decision, but it means that it is rare (i.e. not nearly as common as believed) for him to make a decision which is obviously in error. It is more common for him to make a decision which may not be the best but which is justifiable.

For example, for the direct pursuit of Lee, here are the options.

- McClellan resumes the battle on the 18th. This would be significantly more aggressive than Meade was, and indeed it's not something Grant tended to do either after heavy fighting.
- McClellan pursues to the water's edge on the 19th. This actually happened; there's perhaps an argument he could have pushed faster, but that then gets into how fast a viable advance is.
- McClellan pursues over the river in significant force on the 19th. This is a possibility, and if that's the superior alternative then that's what the argument is, but we have to consider what Lee could do that day. Obviously most of Lee's army was close to the crossing since it had only recently crossed and could come back to hit the crossing troops (as happened at Shepherdstown historically).
- McClellan pursues over the river in force on the 20th. This is what McClellan did, though perhaps not as well as he could have done. The option of pursuing in greater force is worth considering, but it has to deal with the problem of Lee's historical reaction - how much force does McClellan need to pursue in to make it workable?


At the same time there is an intel report late on the 19th that Lee is marching to Williamsport.

Now, obviously if Lee's army is in a sufficiently beaten state (such that he can be driven south by direct attacks) then McClellan doesn't need to mount what is basically an opposed river crossing (where he crosses as quickly as possible) but the evidence of the 20th and Lee's quick response with heavy force suggests that Lee's army is not in this sufficiently beaten state. In this light, McClellan tries (and is repulsed), repulses Lee's own attempt to cross the Potomac, then begins shifting south to mount a new campaign.



As for the nature of that new campaign, obviously Lincoln and Halleck want one thing and McClellan wants another. What McClellan wants though is to cross into the Shenandoah, which is where Lee is.
Perhaps this is the wrong decision! But what it is not is McClellan outlining a plan which isn't aggressive.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
To provide a bit of comparison, here's how I'd look at Lee's SO 191 and the resultant actions depending on Lee's intent.

If Lee's intent is to provoke a battle with the Army of the Potomac west of South Mountain, or in the South Mountain gaps themselves, then the basic flaw in the plan is related to time. It would be to Lee's significant detriment if the battle developed before the surrender of Harpers Ferry.
Jackson is intended to march from Frederick via Williamsport to Harpers Ferry in time to begin the siege (a distance of 60 miles) and then to capture Harpers Ferry - which historically held out for nearly two full days despite significant incompetence on the part of the defending commander (who failed to fortify any of the heights over the town). He is meant to achieve this by the time that McClellan can reach the South Mountain gaps; even with the defiles along the route McClellan is to take, this means Lee is relying on McClellan moving slower than a certain speed and also relying on Harpers Ferry falling very quickly.

If Lee's intent is to clear the threat to his supply lines posed by Harpers Ferry and then march into Pennsylvania, the same basic problem arises though for a different reason.


There is a fairly simple hedge that Lee could conduct to prevent this problem, which is to send some of Longstreet's command (either Hood's division, Evans' brigade, or DR Jones/Pickett's division depending on how many troops were felt to be required) to Crampton's Gap as well and have them fortify it, while also confirming that DH Hill should hold and fortify the National Road pass. The delay this would pose on ulterior operations is minor.
 

Belfoured

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
But surely it's sensible to ask why he might record it either way - there's the "what he recorded is true and correct", and there's "what he recorded is outright fabrication", but in between there's "what he recorded is exaggerated/mistaken" and I think it's worth trying to see how there might be something underneath it which might be mistaken or exaggerated.

Which is a lot of how history is done with primary sources.


For example, I think we can agree that the account of Howell Cobb can't be entirely correct, because Cobb was not a major-general; at the same time, it can't be that this is a later addition by someone (i.e. Steiner) reading back Cobb's promotion, because the account was published in 1862 and Cobb didn't become a MG until 1863.
Based on the very small number of MGs with the Confederate army at the time (seven - Longstreet, McLaws, Anderson, Jackson, both Hills and Stuart) then if the account describes an actual event the balance of probability is that someone (Steiner or his source) didn't know that Confederate insignia was the same for generals regardless of grade. Having seen the insignia on (e.g.) known MG Jackson and then seeing it again on Cobb they'd assume it was MG rank for both.



For the presence of black armed Confederates, then based on the actual account it appears that not all of them were armed with muskets. The text of the account is:

Most of the negroes had arms , rifles , muskets , sabres , bowie - knives , dirks , etc. They were supplied , in many instances , with knapsacks , haversacks , canteens , etc. , and were manifestly an integral portion of the Southern Con federacy Army . They were seen riding on horses and mules , driving wagons , riding on caissons , in ambulances , with the staff of Generals , and promiscuously mixed up with all the rebel horde . The fact was patent , and rather interesting when considered in connection with the horror rebels express at the suggestion of black soldiers being employed for the National defence .


Based on this, then obviously if Steiner is making it up then he's making it up - but if what he's reporting bears some resemblance to the truth, then it might be that most of the men in question had some kind of weapon (since he includes knives in the listing, which could be utility knives). Steiner is contrasting this with the Confederate aversion to black soldiers, and (again) he could well be making it up entirely, but if he's not making it up entirely then what he could quite reasonably be doing is conflating knives with rifles and including them both in the category of "armed" (while Howell Cobb would have seen nothing amiss with a slave or freedman servant working in logistics etc. having a knife - especially the freedmen servants, as that's what armed slave overseers mostly were) in order to get in a dig against the Confederates and cast them as hypocrites.




Now, to bring this back to the strength report, it is obvious that Steiner's report may not be entirely accurate, but it is even more obvious that it's not entirely inaccurate (in that the Confederate army manifestly did march through Frederick) and Steiner was there. Whatever the motive behind his calculation or the method by which he made it, 64,000 men for the Confederate main body did not seem preposterously high; indeed, if the whole Confederate army was no more than 45,000 men then the force that went through Frederick that day would have to be around 33,000, and would have taken half the time Steiner claimed to go past (and less than half the time claimed by the Baltimore Sun, which claimed 3AM to 9PM).

Does this mean we should take Steiner as gospel?*
No. It means however that we should take his report as the report of an eyewitness, as he had the means and opportunity to observe the Confederate army, and is the only one who had a chance to see almost all of it file past the same place in one go - and not throw out his number entirely.

* of course, gospel does involve conflicting and sometimes mutually incompatible accounts, so perhaps we should...
Now - not surprisingly - you're trying way too hard. as usual. I do this for a living. If you're presenting a case to prove Lee's strength just before Antietam and you put Steiner on the stand, you've made a bad tactical decision. He'll get ripped up. A lot of dominoes fall ...
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Now - not surprisingly - you're trying way too hard. as usual. I do this for a living. If you're presenting a case to prove Lee's strength just before Antietam and you put Steiner on the stand, you've made a bad tactical decision. He'll get ripped up. A lot of dominoes fall ...
Well, Steiner is a source who describes the passage of Lee's army. Obviously Lee's army passed through, so we should count him as part of the assessment of the strength of Lee's army - not in the sense of "this is a source we can trust without question" but in the sense of "here is one of the observations of Lee's army on the move".

Even if Steiner was making the whole thing up and never saw Lee's army, he still would have made up the number of 64,000 for Lee's main body and 8,000 for DH Hill's division, and was still someone with every opportunity to talk to other people in Frederick who saw the force going past. If he'd claimed 5,000 then that would obviously have been unbelievable, ditto if he'd claimed 200,000, so 64,000+8,000 reflects some point within the spectrum of numbers which were credible. Especially since it concords with the average of most of the other observations.*


*Jackson: 15,000, 25,000, 15,000, 20,000. Average 18,700.
Longstreet: only one for his force, "20,000 to 30,000". Average 25,000.
McLaws and Anderson: 17,600, "20,000, perhaps 30,000", "some 12,000 or 15,000, perhaps more", "some 30,000", "30,000 men at Burkittsville", "25,000 down to 12,000". Average 21,300.
Total main body: 65,000
 

Belfoured

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
Well, Steiner is a source who describes the passage of Lee's army. Obviously Lee's army passed through, so we should count him as part of the assessment of the strength of Lee's army - not in the sense of "this is a source we can trust without question" but in the sense of "here is one of the observations of Lee's army on the move".

Even if Steiner was making the whole thing up and never saw Lee's army, he still would have made up the number of 64,000 for Lee's main body and 8,000 for DH Hill's division, and was still someone with every opportunity to talk to other people in Frederick who saw the force going past. If he'd claimed 5,000 then that would obviously have been unbelievable, ditto if he'd claimed 200,000, so 64,000+8,000 reflects some point within the spectrum of numbers which were credible. Especially since it concords with the average of most of the other observations.*


*Jackson: 15,000, 25,000, 15,000, 20,000. Average 18,700.
Longstreet: only one for his force, "20,000 to 30,000". Average 25,000.
McLaws and Anderson: 17,600, "20,000, perhaps 30,000", "some 12,000 or 15,000, perhaps more", "some 30,000", "30,000 men at Burkittsville", "25,000 down to 12,000". Average 21,300.
Total main body: 65,000
I've pointed out the reasons why it's not a good idea to place reliance on Steiner. What I will credit him with is his very carefully-phrased sentence with the two big caveats about his number. Lawyers can spend hours coming up with CYA language such as that. I only wish that Howell Cobb had seen the report - purely for entertainment purposes. Ironically, the reason he may have landed in an approximate spot matching others is the obvious possibility - he was using what others were telling him/he heard.
 

John S. Carter

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 15, 2017
I don't believe Hill lost them. Myself, I've never seen any information that D H Hill even smoked cigars. Since Hill was under Jackson's command at the time, Jackson also sent him a (2nd) copy of the orders. Cigars may have been easy to get as they had just been in Frederick. Maybe the courier never delivered them? Or he did and as you said an orderly kept them? Waking up fumbling around in the dark and moving out before daybreak valuable items were easily left behind.
Question; Why would anyone place such essential material into a cigar box or any other such flimsy item instead of a military pouch or even a saddle bag. That is like carrying the defense of West Point inside of a booth. In military intelligence ,you do that which may or may not deceive the enemy into believing that which is opposite of what you actually are to do.{It is a game of deception}It would be like - here is a box of cigars for your general and by the way enclosed is our future movements into Maryland .If your general does not enjoy the brand, please return the box to D.H. Hill ,you may retain the papers. It is the ol' game of" d'' if you believe, d' if you do not." Question= What could have convinced Mc that what he had was original and not a deception ?
 
Joined
Jul 22, 2021
Question; Why would anyone place such essential material into a cigar box or any other such flimsy item instead of a military pouch or even a saddle bag. That is like carrying the defense of West Point inside of a booth. In military intelligence ,you do that which may or may not deceive the enemy into believing that which is opposite of what you actually are to do.{It is a game of deception}It would be like - here is a box of cigars for your general and by the way enclosed is our future movements into Maryland .If your general does not enjoy the brand, please return the box to D.H. Hill ,you may retain the papers. It is the ol' game of" d'' if you believe, d' if you do not." Question= What could have convinced Mc that what he had was original and not a deception ?
I am only guessing here but your points are great and I have wondered that myself. McClellan most likely compared this communique with what he knew about the rebs movements at the time from intel and made the deduction they were apparently correct. It may also have been a signature or handwriting someone on his staff may have recognized as real. Many of them knew one another as you know and doubtless someone was familiar with the authors pen.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Ironically, the reason he may have landed in an approximate spot matching others is the obvious possibility - he was using what others were telling him/he heard.
Well, yes, though the fact he's got the only reported "eyewitness" estimate for DH Hill's strength (even if it is missing a brigade) suggests what he's not doing is relying solely on other information we also have (since no other DH Hill estimate has been recorded).
This means there's a fair chance at least that - even if he's reporting on the eyewitness views of others - the strength he gives for the main body is an independent estimate to the ones that have been recorded. (Call it the "Frederick Column" observation.)


At the same time, as I note, the man did have a house in Frederick right by the road that almost the entire Confederate army took. If he was in fact in Frederick on that date then he'd have had a good opportunity for some first-hand eyewitnessing.


t may also have been a signature or handwriting someone on his staff may have recognized as real.
We are told that that is exactly what happened, and indeed we have the names involved:


The small party found William’s assistant adjutant general, Lt. Samuel E. Pittman, at the XII Corps headquarters tent, and Pittman accepted the document. At this juncture Colgrove, and Kimball began wondering about the authenticity of the alleged special orders. Rather amazingly, Pittman could guarantee the document was indeed genuine. The copy of Special Orders No. 191 was signed by General Lee’s chief administrative officer, Col. Robert H. Chilton. As Pittman later recalled, “Before the war I was teller of the Michigan State Bank, and R. H. Chilton at the same time was a paymaster in the U.S. Army, stationed at Detroit. His bank account was kept at our bank,” continued Pittman, “and a bank teller becomes more or less an expert as to signatures. . . . I was able to assert that I was familiar with Col. Chilton’s signature and that this signature on the order was genuine.”

Stotelmyer, Steven R.. Too Useful to Sacrifice (pp. 36-37). Savas Beatie. Kindle Edition.


This happened before they reported to General Williams (division commander in 12th Corps), so at the time it reached McClellan that verification step had already happened.
 

Stone in the wall

2nd Lieutenant
Member of the Month
Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Antietam 2021
Joined
Sep 19, 2017
Location
Blue Ridge Mountains, Jefferson County WV
Question; Why would anyone place such essential material into a cigar box or any other such flimsy item instead of a military pouch or even a saddle bag. That is like carrying the defense of West Point inside of a booth. In military intelligence ,you do that which may or may not deceive the enemy into believing that which is opposite of what you actually are to do.{It is a game of deception}It would be like - here is a box of cigars for your general and by the way enclosed is our future movements into Maryland .If your general does not enjoy the brand, please return the box to D.H. Hill ,you may retain the papers. It is the ol' game of" d'' if you believe, d' if you do not." Question= What could have convinced Mc that what he had was original and not a deception ?
Well, they weren't in a cigar box. The orders were wrapped around the cigars. An aid recognized the signature of R H Chilton as he had served with him, and said yes that's his signature. That was good enough for McClellan. D H Hill was recieving the orders not sending them. So the box, or envelope or cigars would not have be returned to him.
 

Belfoured

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
Well, yes, though the fact he's got the only reported "eyewitness" estimate for DH Hill's strength (even if it is missing a brigade) suggests what he's not doing is relying solely on other information we also have (since no other DH Hill estimate has been recorded).
This means there's a fair chance at least that - even if he's reporting on the eyewitness views of others - the strength he gives for the main body is an independent estimate to the ones that have been recorded. (Call it the "Frederick Column" observation.)


At the same time, as I note, the man did have a house in Frederick right by the road that almost the entire Confederate army took. If he was in fact in Frederick on that date then he'd have had a good opportunity for some first-hand eyewitnessing.



We are told that that is exactly what happened, and indeed we have the names involved:


The small party found William’s assistant adjutant general, Lt. Samuel E. Pittman, at the XII Corps headquarters tent, and Pittman accepted the document. At this juncture Colgrove, and Kimball began wondering about the authenticity of the alleged special orders. Rather amazingly, Pittman could guarantee the document was indeed genuine. The copy of Special Orders No. 191 was signed by General Lee’s chief administrative officer, Col. Robert H. Chilton. As Pittman later recalled, “Before the war I was teller of the Michigan State Bank, and R. H. Chilton at the same time was a paymaster in the U.S. Army, stationed at Detroit. His bank account was kept at our bank,” continued Pittman, “and a bank teller becomes more or less an expert as to signatures. . . . I was able to assert that I was familiar with Col. Chilton’s signature and that this signature on the order was genuine.”

Stotelmyer, Steven R.. Too Useful to Sacrifice (pp. 36-37). Savas Beatie. Kindle Edition.


This happened before they reported to General Williams (division commander in 12th Corps), so at the time it reached McClellan that verification step had already happened.
Steiner also apparently had 20/5 vision, night goggles, a few sandwiches at hand, and a port-a-potty within a couple of feet. And - to repeat - Howell Cobb must have been literally "blind" drunk. Your witness....
 
Top