What Lee Thought About the Lost Orders

Belfoured

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
And that makes me question of authenticity of the quotes. Because Lee knew that McClellan did not like battles. McClellan did not like to watch the army he had built suffer casualties. Lee had McClellan pegged perfectly.
In fact, Longstreet provided a very different quote from Lee on the same subject during an Antietam reunion years after the war.
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
Over time Longstreet's memories became reconstructed. Two decades earlier he said:

"There was no Union general whom we so much dreaded as much as McClellan. We would always tell when he was in command by the way the Union troops were handled, and the number of our dead and wounded. We received the blows, and we knew who dealt the heaviest ones. We were sorry when we heard he had been restored to command, after we had defeated Pope, and were glad when we was retired.... [McClellan] had, as we thought, no equal."
- unattributed Republican Confederate General (almost certainly James Longstreet) to Hugh McCulloch, 1874

There may be an element of playing to the audience in Longstreet. His memoirs, written in the 1890's, refer to Lee and McClellan as "great commanders", and had similar criticism for both; "Both were masters of the science but not of the art of war." He opined that McClellan's relief saved the Confederate Army:

"The change was a good lift for the South, however; McClellan was growing, was likely to exhibit far greater powers than he had yet shown, and could not have given us opportunity to recover the morale lost at Sharpsburg, as did Burnside and Hooker."

Longstreet admits that at Antietam they (the rebels) were terribly whipped, and needed a long time to recover. He did a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking as to what McClellan could have done better, but none of his ideas make a huge amount of sense. They are quite fantastical, and in line with Longstreet's consistent failure as an independent commander, and when he was unhappy with his superior's plans.
 

Belfoured

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
Over time Longstreet's memories became reconstructed. Two decades earlier he said:

"There was no Union general whom we so much dreaded as much as McClellan. We would always tell when he was in command by the way the Union troops were handled, and the number of our dead and wounded. We received the blows, and we knew who dealt the heaviest ones. We were sorry when we heard he had been restored to command, after we had defeated Pope, and were glad when we was retired.... [McClellan] had, as we thought, no equal."
- unattributed Republican Confederate General (almost certainly James Longstreet) to Hugh McCulloch, 1874

There may be an element of playing to the audience in Longstreet. His memoirs, written in the 1890's, refer to Lee and McClellan as "great commanders", and had similar criticism for both; "Both were masters of the science but not of the art of war." He opined that McClellan's relief saved the Confederate Army:

"The change was a good lift for the South, however; McClellan was growing, was likely to exhibit far greater powers than he had yet shown, and could not have given us opportunity to recover the morale lost at Sharpsburg, as did Burnside and Hooker."

Longstreet admits that at Antietam they (the rebels) were terribly whipped, and needed a long time to recover. He did a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking as to what McClellan could have done better, but none of his ideas make a huge amount of sense. They are quite fantastical, and in line with Longstreet's consistent failure as an independent commander, and when he was unhappy with his superior's plans.
What is your original source for the McCulloch quote?
 

Belfoured

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
That's the one I figured. McCulloch did not say that the unidentified general was a "Republican" - only that he had served under both Johnston and Lee. In 1874 McCulloch was living in London, where he was operating the financial firm he had set up previously with Jay Cooke. In 1874 Longstreet was busy taking on the violent, racist White League in his position commanding the Louisiana state militia and police, ultimately resulting in a battle in which Longstreet was wounded and his friend Grant sent in federal reinforcements. In addition, and as is undisputed, Longstreet and Grant were close friends going back decades to their initial service in the Army and remained so until Grant died. Grant sponsored Longstreet for a pardon after the War and as President appointed him Surveyor of Customs in New Orleans. The notion that Longstreet, a man who was being savaged by members of McClellan's party, said that "there was no Union general whom we so much dreaded as McClellan" - more so than his life-long friend who actually defeated Lee and forced his surrender - raises nothing but skepticism. Of course, there were other candidates - just for example, Billy Mahone. In 1871 Mahone - then President of the AM&O Railroad - sold company bonds to a "group of London investors". The railroad failed after the 1873 panic and defaulted on the notes.
 
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trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
Attacking prepared positions is poor generalship.
Or maybe posting generalization like this is just an attempt to drag a red herring across the path of history.

Mahan taught at West Point, and he developed the doctrine of "active defence"; conducting strategically offensive operations whilst accruing the benefits of a tactical defence. It was used with success by most generals, including McClellan and Lee. That McClellan and Meade were able to pull it off is praiseworthy.
McClellan does not seem to have pulled it off, so why should he be praised for it?
 

wausaubob

Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
I don't think McClellan relied on the discovery of the supposed lost orders that much. His job was to keep his Army of Potomac units in touch with each other, and to resupply his army while it was moving. The information in the lost order might have been deceptive, and at any rate, observations of Confederate positions were necessary to confirm the information. It seems to me it would have helped McClellan know where to look, but he still has his own large management problems.
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
Though we can look specifically at McClellan's ratio for his attacks, and that is South Mountain and Antietam.

Confederate Maryland:
Cramptons Gap 887
South Mountain 2,685
Antietam 12,051
Shepherdstown 307
Total Confederate Maryland (vs. McClellan) 15,930

McClellan Maryland:
Cramptons Gap 533
South Mountain 2325
Antietam 12410
Shepherdstown 366
Total Union Maryland 15,364

McClellan on the attack has a ratio on the order of 1 (certainly not 1.5 or more like Grant is).


We can also look at McClellan's ratio for his defences, and that is the Seven Days.
Union 15,849
Confederate 20,100

McCLellan on the defence has a ratio of 0.78 or so.


So on the defence McClellan's loss ratio is better than Meade, and on the offence McClellan's loss ratio is better than any other general whose primary focus was offence.

n.b. these numbers may not precisely align with the ones provided by 67th owing to different definitions. I used Wikipedia for speed.
Your entire position here seems very strange. I am not sure where you got your numbers, but would guess at this:

McClellan's actions against Lee consist of the Seven Days and Antietam Campaigns, spanning about three months (June-September 1862).
Meade's actions against Lee consist of the Gettysburg, Bristoe and Mine Run Campaigns, spanning about five months (very late June to very early December, 1863)
Grant's actions against Lee consist of the Overland Campaign, the Siege of Petersburg, and the Appomattox Campaigns, spanning about eleven and a half months (very early May 1864 to mid-April 1865). Did you include all the actions in the Shenandoah Valley(Sigel and Hunter, Early, Sheridan), the Battle of Monocacy, Ft. Stevens? Sheridan's Richmond Raid back in May? Butler's Bermuda Hundred Campaign?
Pope's actions against Lee consist of the Second Bull Run Campaign, spanning less than a single month (August 9 to September 1). Did you include Cedar Mountain through Chantilly?
Burnside's actions against Lee consist of the Fredericksburg Campaign and the "Mud March", spanning about two months (mid-November 1862 to January 1863). Not much to consider outside the Fredericksburg stuff, I suppose?
Hooker's actions against Lee consist of Chancellorsville and the very beginning of the Gettysburg Campaign, spanning about two months (very late April to late June, 1863). I'd guess you have the Stoneman Raid in your number, but is there anything else?

Do you really think Grant's work over a year and a much wider series of actions can be reasonably compared to those of Meade, Pope, Burnside, Hooker, and McClellan? Does it matter to you that Grant defeated and destroyed all the Confederate forces in Virginia, forcing lee to surrender? Did you count the forces surrendered? Or is all of that irrelevant to you?
 

WScott

Private
Joined
May 6, 2021
I do have some questions on who was responsible for how many casualties for what conflict.
The Maryland Campaign should include the Federal lose of some 15,000 prisoners at Harpers Ferry and either McClellan or Pope has to take responsibility. During the Overland Campaign Meade is technically in charge of the Army of the Potomac with Grant influencing the decisions. At Petersburg I believe it was Meade the authorized Burnside to proceed with the "Battle of the Crater".
And we haven't even included any of the conflicts in the West where Grant, Longstreet and JB Hood fought in both the East and West.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Do you really think Grant's work over a year and a much wider series of actions can be reasonably compared to those of Meade, Pope, Burnside, Hooker, and McClellan? Does it matter to you that Grant defeated and destroyed all the Confederate forces in Virginia, forcing lee to surrender? Did you count the forces surrendered? Or is all of that irrelevant to you?
If we are comparing the ability of each commander to inflict casualties upon Lee (which is how McClellan, Pope, Burnside, Hooker, Meade and Grant were being compared) then the basis for the comparison is the battlefield results. This can either look at how well they performed while factoring in the strength ratios in the battles, or it can be done without factoring in the strength ratios in the battles.

Not factoring in the strength ratios is the position which is most beneficial to Grant, and in this case it has been done.



The initial question that 67th was looking at was twofold.
The first was who caused the most damage to Lee's army, and Grant came first while McClellan came second.
The second was who caused the most damage to Lee's army relative to the damage Lee's army did to that general, and McClellan and Meade were more or less evenly matched (and did slightly more damage to Lee than they suffered) while all other generals who fought Lee took more damage than they inflicted.


You then stated that
the people who attacked had higher ratios and the people who fought defensively had lower ratios. This probably explains why McClellan's ratio is low.
What I did in reply was to break up McClellan's tenure as a commander into two sections, one of them the Seven Days (McClellan's time on the defensive) and the other the Antietam campaign (McClellan's time on the offensive). This was to demonstrate that McClellan's time on the offensive (Antietam campaign) showed a better performance than the performances of other commanders on the offensive, and thus to demonstrate that the "fought defensively" explanation does not sufficiently explain why McClellan's ratio is so low - his ratio was anomalously low even when fighting on the offensive.





The results of that campaigning in terms of surrenders etc. are a separate point of comparison, and in that case it makes much more sense to look at available resources and length of service as well.


The Maryland Campaign should include the Federal lose of some 15,000 prisoners at Harpers Ferry and either McClellan or Pope has to take responsibility.
It is my understanding that McClellan was explicitly not allowed to remove the Harpers Ferry troops from their place of danger until it was too late to save them. He recommended doing so earlier, but this was refused (by Wool and Halleck) and he wasn't given command of the garrison until September 11 or 12 (at which point they had already been substantially imperilled).

They'd best fit as part of Halleck's management of the campaign; you could feasibly ascribe them to McClellan (based on his gaining command of the defences) but his ability to actually do anything to prevent the capture at that point is limited.
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
Or maybe posting generalization like this is just an attempt to drag a red herring across the path of history.

Yet it is true. Grant's habit of letting Lee entrench and then attacking him there was poor generalship.

McClellan does not seem to have pulled it off, so why should he be praised for it?
McClellan indeed did "pull it off", as his casualty ratios and overall number of casualties inflicted shows.

I suspect you're pursuing a line of argument that since the enemy army didn't surrender to McClellan, everything that was achieved should be discounted. Also, because Grant did capture Lee's army, all Grant's mistakes and failures should also be discounted. It's what Showalter describes as "military calvinism". It eskews analysis. In fact it opposes analysis and simply sorts generals into "winners" and "losers". It is crude, and not a useful way of thinking.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
So capturing Lee's entire army does not count as "damage" and you eliminate it from your calculations? Why? Is it inconvenient to you somehow?
The analysis being conducted is based on the question of relative casualties, specifically in this case (per 67th's analysis) combat casualties.

There were two questions being evaluated separately.

1) Who inflicted the most casualties on Lee?
In this case, Grant is first and McClellan is second whether or not you count the Appomattox surrender.

2) In fighting against Lee, what casualty ratio did each commander achieve?
In this case, then what is being counted is casualties (in the attritional sense) rather than any other achievements, and against Lee rather than against Johnston for example.

Your initial comment on the results 67th provided was that the posture of the fighting (offensive vs defensive) affected the result, and that defensive fighting explained McClellan's low score; I then demonstrated that this was insufficient to explain McClellan's low score.

Obviously if offensive fighting permits one to obtain the surrender of the enemy, and this is counted, then it means that defensive fighting does not actually give as much of a benefit to the score.



If the Appomattox surrender is counted, and ascribed to Grant, then the count is that Lee suffered 101,833 and Grant 109,526 in their campaigns against one another.
 

Belfoured

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
So capturing Lee's entire army does not count as "damage" and you eliminate it from your calculations? Why? Is it inconvenient to you somehow?
There's a lot of deflection going on here that would be viewed as entertainment at West Point. Over a 6-week period, Grant forced Lee - by a succession of turning movements (at least two of which surprised Lee) - into a position which Lee conceded would make the end just a matter of time. Grant ultimately forced Lee to surrender (the third time, by the way, that he forced the surrender of an army). Surrender by the opponent is the ultimate form of military victory, and when 25,000 or so troops are removed from the field by surrender they count as "casualties" just as much as do troops removed by KIA, MW, wounded, "MIA", and - oh yeah - "captured". The games being played with a calculator are meaningless. The fact that McClellan never inflicted "captured" casualties at that level apparently means they shouldn't count. As an aside, Leon Tenney has made a good case that McClellan's actual casualties in the Seven Days were higher than the "conventional wisdom" holds.
 

dgfred

Corporal
Joined
Apr 13, 2020
Seems like it might might have been a nice trick to 'accidentally' loose some orders of imaginary movements. Hmmmm

M had to make sure it was semi-valid at least.
 

Belfoured

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
Seems like it might might have been a nice trick to 'accidentally' loose some orders of imaginary movements. Hmmmm

M had to make sure it was semi-valid at least.
I've seen a blog site (name escapes me) where the site host speculated about a deliberate ruse. If that was the intent, there were far better ways of making certain they got into Mac's hands than sticking them in an envelope with cigars and dropping it in a field hoping somebody would find it a couple of days later, read it instead of just going for the smokes, and get it into the right hands. For example, a courier gets himself captured. A different issue might be whether the information was possibly "stale" after the passage of a couple of days.
 

dgfred

Corporal
Joined
Apr 13, 2020
Or the old WWII trick with the dead officer washed up on the beach. Oh... he has secret orders in his briefcase.
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
The analysis being conducted is based on the question of relative casualties, specifically in this case (per 67th's analysis) combat casualties.

There were two questions being evaluated separately.

1) Who inflicted the most casualties on Lee?
In this case, Grant is first and McClellan is second whether or not you count the Appomattox surrender.

2) In fighting against Lee, what casualty ratio did each commander achieve?
In this case, then what is being counted is casualties (in the attritional sense) rather than any other achievements, and against Lee rather than against Johnston for example.

Your initial comment on the results 67th provided was that the posture of the fighting (offensive vs defensive) affected the result, and that defensive fighting explained McClellan's low score; I then demonstrated that this was insufficient to explain McClellan's low score.

Obviously if offensive fighting permits one to obtain the surrender of the enemy, and this is counted, then it means that defensive fighting does not actually give as much of a benefit to the score.



If the Appomattox surrender is counted, and ascribed to Grant, then the count is that Lee suffered 101,833 and Grant 109,526 in their campaigns against one another.
This seems like another needless confusion of the situation by re-arranging numbers and bringing in extraneous issues.

Example: you just brought casualties "against Johnston" into a discussion of casualties against Lee. Why? The questions I asked very carefully excluded the period where Joe Johnston was involved against McClellan. Why are you now trying to introduce Johnston to the conversation?

In the numbers given by 67th Tigers are there any POWs included? If so, what is the justification for excluding the prisoners captured by Grant when Lee surrendered?

Example: 67th Tigers says Burnside sustained 12,653 casualties against Lee. These appear to be the "casualties" for the Battle of Fredericksburg (and nothing else). We can find the exact same number in Fox's Regimental Losses: 12,553. Fox breaks out that loss as being 1,284 Killed 9,600 Wounded 1,769 Missing. How many of those 1,769 Missing do you think were actually captured? Shouldn't they be removed from 67th Tigers' count if prisoners are not "casualties"?

Example: 67th Tigers says Hooker sustained 23,385 casualties against Lee. Fox's Regimental Losses says that the Battle of Chancellorsville looks like this: 1,606 Killed 9,762 Wounded 5,919 Missing 17,287 Total. Obviously there is a discrepancy there (6,098). That means he is including the cavalry actions at Brandy Station-Aldie-Middleburg-Upperville (totals 1,479 with 610 Missing). That leaves us 4,619 short, so it would appear he also included Winchester (95 Killed 348 Wounded 4,000 Missing for a total of 4,443). That is 10,529 Missing. How many of that 10,529 do you think were prisoners? Shouldn't they be removed from 67th Tigers' count if prisoners are not "casualties"?

I haven't gone through it, but the numbers claimed for McClellan do not seem right to me. 67th Tigers says :
InflictedSustained
McClellan47,01743,453

Using Fox's Regimental Losses, I quickly threw together these numbers:
DateBattleKilledWoundedMissingTotal
June 25Oak Grove,
67​
504​
55​
626​
June 26Mechanicsville,
49​
207​
105​
361​
June 27Gaines's Mill,
894​
3,107​
2,836​
6,837​
June 28Golding's Farm,
37​
227​
104​
368​
June 29Savage Station,
80​
412​
1,098​
1,590​
June 30Glendale,
210​
1,513​
1,130​
2,853​
July 1Malvern Hill,
397​
2,092​
725​
3,214​
Sept. 14Crampton's Gap, Md
113​
418​
2​
533​
Sept. 14South Mountain, Md
325​
1,403​
85​
1,813​
Sept. 17Antietam, Md
2,108​
9,549​
753​
12,410​
Sept. 19, 20Shepherdstown Ford, Va
71​
161​
131​
363​
Totals
4351​
19593​
7024​
30968​

That shows a big discrepancy with the 67th Tigers numbers. Instead of a "Sustained" number of 43,453 for 67th Tigers, I came up with 30,968. The difference is 12,485 "Sustained". Pretty clearly, 67th Tigers is including something else here. My guess is that he is including earlier actions that had nothing to do with Lee, such as Williamsburg, West Point and Seven Pines -- but even that leaves a gap, because those three would only come to 7,456. Where would the other 5,029 come from? How many of this 43,453 are "Missing"? How many of those are prisoners? Shouldn't they be removed from 67th Tigers' count if prisoners are not "casualties"?
 

Belfoured

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
This seems like another needless confusion of the situation by re-arranging numbers and bringing in extraneous issues.

Example: you just brought casualties "against Johnston" into a discussion of casualties against Lee. Why? The questions I asked very carefully excluded the period where Joe Johnston was involved against McClellan. Why are you now trying to introduce Johnston to the conversation?

In the numbers given by 67th Tigers are there any POWs included? If so, what is the justification for excluding the prisoners captured by Grant when Lee surrendered?

Example: 67th Tigers says Burnside sustained 12,653 casualties against Lee. These appear to be the "casualties" for the Battle of Fredericksburg (and nothing else). We can find the exact same number in Fox's Regimental Losses: 12,553. Fox breaks out that loss as being 1,284 Killed 9,600 Wounded 1,769 Missing. How many of those 1,769 Missing do you think were actually captured? Shouldn't they be removed from 67th Tigers' count if prisoners are not "casualties"?

Example: 67th Tigers says Hooker sustained 23,385 casualties against Lee. Fox's Regimental Losses says that the Battle of Chancellorsville looks like this: 1,606 Killed 9,762 Wounded 5,919 Missing 17,287 Total. Obviously there is a discrepancy there (6,098). That means he is including the cavalry actions at Brandy Station-Aldie-Middleburg-Upperville (totals 1,479 with 610 Missing). That leaves us 4,619 short, so it would appear he also included Winchester (95 Killed 348 Wounded 4,000 Missing for a total of 4,443). That is 10,529 Missing. How many of that 10,529 do you think were prisoners? Shouldn't they be removed from 67th Tigers' count if prisoners are not "casualties"?

I haven't gone through it, but the numbers claimed for McClellan do not seem right to me. 67th Tigers says :
InflictedSustained
McClellan47,01743,453

Using Fox's Regimental Losses, I quickly threw together these numbers:
DateBattleKilledWoundedMissingTotal
June 25Oak Grove,
67​
504​
55​
626​
June 26Mechanicsville,
49​
207​
105​
361​
June 27Gaines's Mill,
894​
3,107​
2,836​
6,837​
June 28Golding's Farm,
37​
227​
104​
368​
June 29Savage Station,
80​
412​
1,098​
1,590​
June 30Glendale,
210​
1,513​
1,130​
2,853​
July 1Malvern Hill,
397​
2,092​
725​
3,214​
Sept. 14Crampton's Gap, Md
113​
418​
2​
533​
Sept. 14South Mountain, Md
325​
1,403​
85​
1,813​
Sept. 17Antietam, Md
2,108​
9,549​
753​
12,410​
Sept. 19, 20Shepherdstown Ford, Va
71​
161​
131​
363​
Totals
4351​
19593​
7024​
30968​

That shows a big discrepancy with the 67th Tigers numbers. Instead of a "Sustained" number of 43,453 for 67th Tigers, I came up with 30,968. The difference is 12,485 "Sustained". Pretty clearly, 67th Tigers is including something else here. My guess is that he is including earlier actions that had nothing to do with Lee, such as Williamsburg, West Point and Seven Pines -- but even that leaves a gap, because those three would only come to 7,456. Where would the other 5,029 come from? How many of this 43,453 are "Missing"? How many of those are prisoners? Shouldn't they be removed from 67th Tigers' count if prisoners are not "casualties"?
And - as I indicated - Leon Tenney has done a lot of work on Seven Days strengths, casualties, etc In his self-published 2012 expansion of the paper he did under Joseph Harsh's guidance at GMU, he concluded that McClellan's Seven Days casualties were materially higher than Fox's numbers.

In the big picture I don't see the significance (beyond earning debating stars) of the point attempting to be made about "casualty ratios". Once a war starts Job 1 of the military is to end it with a victory. It's not to earn some "style points" award that leaves the war ongoing and the opponent able to continue to inflict defeats like Second Bull Run, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. Did Grant suffer heavy losses on May 19 and May 22 at Vicksburg? You bet he did. Did the CSA control the Mississippi after July 4? You bet they didn't. Grant beat Lee and he didn't beat Lee by accident. He also didn't spend all 10 months stupidly launching forlorn hopes against a well-entrenched foe. He mixed in multiple turning movements and even after he had Lee pinned at Petersburg - where it became just a matter of time - he resorted to several local offensives that kept the heat turned up and the throat constricting. Were Cold Harbor and the Crater successful ideas? Not hardly. But ultimately Lee - as he knew would liklely be the case once Grant had again gotten the jump by crossing the James - had to try a desperate escape on April 2, 1865. One week later he had been run to ground and was left with no options. And for the third time Grant accepted the surrender of his opponent's sword. As an aside, and as we know, in his Memoirs Grant had the wherewithal to admit that Cold Harbor was a mistake. Scan Own Story, correspondence with Ellen, etc. for a similar admission about anything. That's probably because the writer made absolutely no mistakes....
 

WScott

Private
Joined
May 6, 2021
If we are comparing the ability of each commander to inflict casualties upon Lee (which is how McClellan, Pope, Burnside, Hooker, Meade and Grant were being compared) then the basis for the comparison is the battlefield results. This can either look at how well they performed while factoring in the strength ratios in the battles, or it can be done without factoring in the strength ratios in the battles.

Not factoring in the strength ratios is the position which is most beneficial to Grant, and in this case it has been done.



The initial question that 67th was looking at was twofold.
The first was who caused the most damage to Lee's army, and Grant came first while McClellan came second.
The second was who caused the most damage to Lee's army relative to the damage Lee's army did to that general, and McClellan and Meade were more or less evenly matched (and did slightly more damage to Lee than they suffered) while all other generals who fought Lee took more damage than they inflicted.


You then stated that

What I did in reply was to break up McClellan's tenure as a commander into two sections, one of them the Seven Days (McClellan's time on the defensive) and the other the Antietam campaign (McClellan's time on the offensive). This was to demonstrate that McClellan's time on the offensive (Antietam campaign) showed a better performance than the performances of other commanders on the offensive, and thus to demonstrate that the "fought defensively" explanation does not sufficiently explain why McClellan's ratio is so low - his ratio was anomalously low even when fighting on the offensive.





The results of that campaigning in terms of surrenders etc. are a separate point of comparison, and in that case it makes much more sense to look at available resources and length of service as well.



It is my understanding that McClellan was explicitly not allowed to remove the Harpers Ferry troops from their place of danger until it was too late to save them. He recommended doing so earlier, but this was refused (by Wool and Halleck) and he wasn't given command of the garrison until September 11 or 12 (at which point they had already been substantially imperilled).

They'd best fit as part of Halleck's management of the campaign; you could feasibly ascribe them to McClellan (based on his gaining command of the defences) but his ability to actually do anything to prevent the capture at that point is limited.
If you are going to bring in Halleck, I think he was the worst of the bunch. I don't think he did a very good job in the West, he seems to have put McClellen on a string and I don't think he did much good for the War Effort. There was no clear strategy to the execution of the War until Grant took over. Grant did better after Halleck went to Washington and McClellen would have undoubtedly done better under Winfield Scott.
 
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