Restricted Debate What was the cause for President Lincoln's loss of confidence in General McClellan?


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DanSBHawk

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23rd April:

Fox states that the Navy was never informed of the movement to the Peninsula and that it was “perfectly understood” that the Army was to move without naval support.


This is obviously and completely untrue; we have multiple messages and diary entries positively indicating that the Navy knew about the movement and that a bombardment of Yorktown was intended. Fox himself knew about it no later than the 21st of March.



Fox's 23rd April message is completely illogical and cannot possibly be true. This is not merely a matter of who you believe when two people disagree but a matter of fact; the earliest that the movement could possibly have been communicated to the Navy is the 13th of March (as it was not the plan before then) and the latest that the movement was communicated to the Navy is the 17th (because at that time Fox was already sending messages referencing it explicitly).
Saphroneth, do you have a link to Fox's message? Thanks
 

DanSBHawk

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McClellan didn't fail at all. You might have missed the fact that Yorktown and Norfolk were taken, the Virginia burnt, and the SE Virginia counties liberated so much that Lincoln was able to exempt them from the Emancipation Proclamation. McClellan advanced to Richmond, pinned the main enemy army there as successfully as Grant did in '64, and would have taken Richmond if properly supported. Indeed, he almost did without proper support and likely still would.

As Upton noted, the Peninsula Campaign was not a failure until Halleck turned it into one. Certainly it was no more a failure than Grant's 1864 operations.

McClellan's planning was absolutely beyond reproach. He had layered contingencies depending on what others managed to achieve. That essentially everyone but him failed meant being reduced to the last, and slowest, contingency.

In other words; the Navy failed McClellan, but McClellan succeeded despite the Navy.

That you mention Drewry's Bluff is interesting. The Navy made no attempt to ask for Army help. Indeed, Drewry's Bluff was an object lesson to the Navy that they needed the Army. They then asked McClellan for help, and McClellan was enthusiastic about it, but the whole project was nixed by Stanton's orders regarding fixing the base of operations on the Pamunkey, preventing a move to the James.
The campaign failed to take Richmond and failed to defeat the confederate army. It failed in its objectives.
 

67th Tigers

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The campaign failed to take Richmond and failed to defeat the confederate army. It failed in its objectives.
You made claims of failure with respect to Yorktown. Of course, the Yorktown operations were hugely successful, and in less time than the estimates of January - four weeks instead of the estimated six if the Navy did not co-operate.

Now you defend calling the successful Yorktown operations a failure by pointing to the fact that Richmond did not fall. This is a specious line of reasoning. The fact that Richmond did not capitulate does not change the fact that the Peninsula operations were hugely successful. Indeed, McClellan did not fail - Halleck decided to abandon the campaign.

If McClellan was a failure in 1862, then Grant was a failure in 1864. Richmond did not fall in 1864.
 

Lubliner

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McClellan didn't fail at all. You might have missed the fact that Yorktown and Norfolk were taken, the Virginia burnt, and the SE Virginia counties liberated so much that Lincoln was able to exempt them from the Emancipation Proclamation. McClellan advanced to Richmond, pinned the main enemy army there as successfully as Grant did in '64, and would have taken Richmond if properly supported. Indeed, he almost did without proper support and likely still would.

As Upton noted, the Peninsula Campaign was not a failure until Halleck turned it into one. Certainly it was no more a failure than Grant's 1864 operations.

McClellan's planning was absolutely beyond reproach. He had layered contingencies depending on what others managed to achieve. That essentially everyone but him failed meant being reduced to the last, and slowest, contingency.

In other words; the Navy failed McClellan, but McClellan succeeded despite the Navy.

That you mention Drewry's Bluff is interesting. The Navy made no attempt to ask for Army help. Indeed, Drewry's Bluff was an object lesson to the Navy that they needed the Army. They then asked McClellan for help, and McClellan was enthusiastic about it, but the whole project was nixed by Stanton's orders regarding fixing the base of operations on the Pamunkey, preventing a move to the James.
I am not being disagreeable here. My question is authentic. So you think the idea of having McClellan ordered away from Harrison's Landing was either premature or unnecessary. I believe @Saphroneth had mentioned either Halleck or Stanton enforcing the order for McClellan's retreat.
I am unsure of the time-frame and fluidity of battle at this point, but weren't these orders justified due to the confederates turning their main force northward to attack again up toward Bull Run?
A second possibility in support of McClellan at this point is the idea he came to realize it was senseless to argue with Washington authority.
I do not mean to bounce back and forth between the pro and con McClellan camps, but there are items that show remarkable abilities in McClellan, and then the other hand appears, and the dirt of politics smears outright. My apology to all for that.
One last note regarding the Navy and their role of support. Fox was in New York most times, and possibly Washington City some. Was he ever at Fort Monroe, and had he any intercourse with Admiral Goldsborough upon the scene where these event were to happen? I am insinuating that whatever was promised yesterday, due to changes today, are no longer valid for tomorrow; or in Fox's case, maybe never were valid at all??
Thanks, Lubliner.
 

Lubliner

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As far as my own judgement allows me to see, McClellan had a sensible plan for the Peninsula Campaign, but it was and is no more now than a theory. He theorized,
"If I do this with x-numbers, it will lead to this chain of events, and then I will do this other thing with my x-numbers."
What he had planned was never brought to fruition due to extraneous and extra-curricular activities, demanded on the part of others.
Lincoln did not know enough at first to properly question his major general about, "What if they do this other thing?"
So with us now dealing with the controversy of McClellan and Lincoln, it becomes a fantasy drift to what may have happened if things had not been tampered with, and no proof that the theory of his plans would have succeeded. This one fact is a major downfall in being able to properly assess General McClellan's proficiency, and the matters of the times don't allow us to realize what he may have accomplished if he had been left to his own device. We all have the opportunity to ruminate, and as I look back to the beginning, I had wished to bring no more discredit to the young general, and as always seems to be the case, politics have the right over the rule. And theoretically, right has the rule over all. We can only place among the principalities of power, a proper claim for justification.
Lubliner.
 

67th Tigers

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I am not being disagreeable here. My question is authentic. So you think the idea of having McClellan ordered away from Harrison's Landing was either premature or unnecessary. I believe @Saphroneth had mentioned either Halleck or Stanton enforcing the order for McClellan's retreat.
I am unsure of the time-frame and fluidity of battle at this point, but weren't these orders justified due to the confederates turning their main force northward to attack again up toward Bull Run?
A second possibility in support of McClellan at this point is the idea he came to realize it was senseless to argue with Washington authority.
In terms of timing; McClellan's army reached Harrison's Landing on the 2nd July. The next day (3rd July) the last action of the Seven Days is fought (10 days after the first), when Stuart tried to push the Federals off the Everlington Heights. The main body of the rebel army arrived on 4th July, Jackson in the lead. Jackson looked at 6th Corps entrenched on the Everlington Heights and refused to attack. In the afternoon Longstreet arrived at the head of AP Hill's division and ordered Jackson to attack, which Jackson again refused. Lee arrived and concurred with Jackson - the Federal position was impregnable. On the 5th July, Lee writes to Davis admitting his failure to destroy McClellan's army, and that he expected McClellan to cross the James.

On 6th July, Lee withdrew from facing off against McClellan back towards Richmond. The army was split up so as to offer resistance to threats from the N (Pope), E (McClellan coming on the left of the James) or S (McClellan coming on the right of the James). As Lee surveyed the new intelligence he learnt of Burnside's force gathering at Ft Monroe, and the fact that the Federal government was levying another 300,000 troops.

Pope advanced troops to Culpeper Ct Hse, threatening Gordonsville. Duly, Lee had to send a token "tripwire" force, and on 13th July Jackson was ordered with two divisions (his own and Ewell's), plus a cavalry brigade to Louisa Ct Hse to watch Pope. Lee wanted Jackson to strike at the Federal force Pope should they advance on Gordonsville. Jackson responded he was too weak to do that, and on 27th July, Lee sent AP Hill's division (plus Starke's brigade). Lee felt this was a risk, but one he had to take.

Meanwhile, Halleck has decided to withdraw McClellan, but hasn't issued the order. Pope was told about the plan to unite the whole Federal field force, McClellan, Burnside and Pope, in front of Washington. Pope immediately takes his HQ to the field on 29th July, resolving to attack before McClellan's forces arrive and he is superceded. He orders Banks' Corps to cross the Rappahanock and starts marching the rest of his army that way. Jackson hits Banks immediately (9th August), overwhelming the isolated corps.

Lee meanwhile is in crisis. McClellan advanced to Malvern Hill on 5th August, but withdrew. We know that Halleck had issued an order to withdraw to Washington, and that McClellan received it on Malvern Hill that day. Lee did not, and mounted a general concentration on the Nine Mile Road to face McClellan (at roughly the old Glendale battlefield). When McClellan suddenly withdrew, and Lee found out that Burnside's force was at Fredericksburg, Lee was mystified. On 7th August, Lee denied a request for reinforcements from Lee, citing the threat from McClellan. On the 8th, Jackson wrote that there was an isolated Corps at Cedar Mountain, and he was going to strike it, and thus could Lee send a force to cover Hanover Junction whilst Jackson was away. Lee approved. He did this because he now believed that McClellan would not cross the James (McClellan's vanguard having been withdrawn), and hence shifted RH Anderson's division to the Nine Mile Road from Drewry's Bluff, and on the 9th Longstreet's division (6 bdes) received orders to move to Gordonsville, then Evans (3 bdes) on the 10th, and finally DR Jones (3 bdes) on the 11th. Thus half Lee's field force was committed to Pope, and half remained to watch McClellan.

McClellan's army broke camp on the 14th, and started marching for Yorktown etc. to embark on ships. Harrison's was not suitable to embark the army because the large ships could not get there. Hence to move the army McClellan had to ship off stores and the sick on small ships (a slow process), then march the army to a more suitable harbour for embarkation. Lee immediately went north himself with Anderson's division, leaving GW Smith with four divisions (his own, McLaws', DH Hill's and Walker's), a cavalry brigade and the reserve artillery to watch in case it was a ruse and McClellan suddenly turned on Richmond. Orders were for them to join him once it was certain McClellan was gone.

On the 19th this was still being debated, when a rumour of a threat from Fredericksburg reached Lee. Lee ordered GW Smith to send two divisions (DH Hill and McLaws) and the reserve arty to Hanover Court House, leaving just Walker and GW Smith at Richmond. On the 24th, Lee wrote Davis that unless the President objected, Lee would call DH Hill, McLaws and Walker to unite with the main body facing Pope.



One last note regarding the Navy and their role of support. Fox was in New York most times, and possibly Washington City some. Was he ever at Fort Monroe, and had he any intercourse with Admiral Goldsborough upon the scene where these event were to happen? I am insinuating that whatever was promised yesterday, due to changes today, are no longer valid for tomorrow; or in Fox's case, maybe never were valid at all??
Yes. Fox in fact visited McClellan at Yorktown twice, the first time around the 11th April, and the second time just before the rebels withdrew. He was able to examine the Yorktown batteries immediately afterwards and wrote to Goldsborough that the Navy had been "humbugged".
 

Shelby's Foot

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McClellan's mode of war was not accomlishing the goals lincoln set out for the AoP, defeating confederate forces and reestablishing Constitutional authority in rebel areas and Lincoln did not believe that his administration could afford to wait for little mac to make up his mind to whether he wanted to fight or not. He might have been wrong in that estimate, but it was his to make, and generals better payu attention. Some times the Boss is Right and sometimes he is wrong, but, the Boss is always the Boss.
I think McClellan was accomplishing the STATED goals ("preserve" the union). It was the as yet UNSTATED goals (seizure of slaves and other property*) that McClellan would have obstructed.

*It was about two weeks after he wrote this order, he got canned.
"All officers and soldiers of this army are enjoined and ordered to abstain from all seizures of private property except in the mode above prescribed; all other appropriations will be regarded and punished as pillage"
The bloodthirsty radicals must have been pulling their hair out when they found out about his. Enter Pope, who goes the other way. No coincidence.
 
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DanSBHawk

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Ahh Okay. I remember now. Here's the letter:

Letter from the Assistant Secretary of the Navy to Flag-Oflicer Golds-
borough, U. S. Navy, regarding cooperation with the Army of the
Potomac.
NAVY DEPARTMENT, April 23, 1862.
MY DEAR COMMODORE: I have your note of the 20th instant, and
your two of the 21st. It is perfectly understood that the army were to
dash up the peninsula without the navy, and in fact we were never
informed of the movement. I found it out accidentally, and did my
best to turn it to Norfolk, knowing the scant force we had and the
benefit the rebels would derive from the Merrimack. But, as it was
determined to go on to the peninsula, we threw all the force we could
toward you, and so continue to do, because the cry will be (it has
already commenced) for the Navy to pull them out of the slough.

What in this letter is false?
 

Shelby's Foot

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To the extent, there was no "confidence" in McClellan, it was because he was a Democrat and not an abolitionist - and he has become a political threat to Lincoln and whatever Radicals were twisting his arm. McClellan was popular with the military. His non-abolitionism is likely to filter down to the men, in what is eventually supposed to be an abolition army. Democrat Papers put his name in the same sentence with the word "President."

And perhaps just as important, if the Peninsula campaign works and the war ends - the stated goal will be at hand (re-establishment of the union), and the unstated goals (annihilation and abolition) will be in doubt.

To some degree, then, the success of McClellan is a detriment of the Republicans.

So, "Washington DC" begins to undermine McClellan. He spends six months prepping a major assault, and on the eve of departure, Blenker's division is reassigned. He is planning to use Goldsborough for the river assault and McDowell for the land assault, and both of these are removed on the eve of the attack.

So, unless McClellan is really stupid, he figured all of this out.
 
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DanSBHawk

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To the extent, there was no "confidence" in McClellan, it was because he was a Democrat and not an abolitionist - and he has become a political threat to Lincoln and whatever Radicals were twisting his arm. McClellan was popular with the military. His non-abolitionism is likely to filter down to the men, in what is eventually supposed to be an abolition army. Democrat Papers put his name in the same sentence with the word "President."

And perhaps just as important, if the Peninsula campaign works and the war ends - the stated goal will be at hand (re-establishment of the union), and the unstated goals (annihilation and abolition) will be in doubt.

To some degree, then, the success of McClellan is a detriment of the Republicans.

So, "Washington DC" begins to undermine McClellan. He spends six months prepping a major assault, and on the eve of departure, Blenker's division is reassigned. He is planning to use Goldsborough for the river assault and McDowell for the land assault, and both of these are removed on the eve of the attack.

So, unless McClellan is really stupid, he figured all of this out.
"Annihilation?"

Goldsborough was not removed on the eve of attack. No doubt that politics influenced the conduct of the war, but if McClellan had been more successful in waging the war I don't think Washington would have undermined him.
 

Lubliner

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Concerning the order to retreat, or consolidate at Aquia, I mentioned Halleck was 'enforcing' this order. I said it under the premise that maybe Lincoln was the origin of it, and fear for Washington's safety, the cause of it. Again when McClellan is in the field, by June 30, Halleck is moved to Washington, and the plans on gaining rank were known to have been shared by one to the other. Somehow this appears suspect as a decision made to remove McClellan from command, near this time. McClellan wanted a field command, but he also wanted overall command which now had been given to a 'close' friend of his. There is some maneuvering here with Stanton and Lincoln and members of Congress that must have underlying influence on the decision. I am not yet ready to comment in depth on it, but have become suspicious of it. We could be looking at a 'coup' against the military by political intrigue, and unless you knew how to march in step, you got cast aside into the dung heap. If so, nothing shall come out as a fair measure.

Lubliner.
 

Shelby's Foot

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"Annihilation?"

Goldsborough was not removed on the eve of attack. No doubt that politics influenced the conduct of the war, but if McClellan had been more successful in waging the war I don't think Washington would have undermined him.
I think I covered that. McClellan's definition of "success" was going to be at odds with the definition of success used by radical elements of Washington. That is why I referred to his general order as contrasted with that of Pope. After McClellan fades away, doesn't the practice of "civilized war" on the part of Lincoln's army fade away, too?

Also, while trying pull a loose thread, you ignored the rest of the sweater. This is an 'entirely' Republican war. (And perhaps I should have said "extermination" and cited the Helper's guide, instead of saying "annihilation"). The Republican's enemy is entirely Democrat. (Vallandingham is a Democrat. Many of those who are locked up places like Fort Lafayette are Democrat). McClellan is a Democrat. To overlook that element is to make a mistake.

IMO, having "no doubt" that politics had influence is one thing, and actually identifying it is another. IMO, there is more battlefield betraya on both sides of this war than most would be comfortable with acknowleding.
 
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DanSBHawk

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I think I covered that. McClellan's definition of "success" was going to be at odds with the definition of success used by radical elements of Washington. That is why I referred to his general order as contrasted with that of Pope. After McClellan fades away, doesn't the practice of "civilized war" on the part of Lincoln's army fade away, too?

Also, while trying pull a loose thread, you ignored the rest of the sweater. This is an 'entirely' Republican war. (And perhaps I should have said "extermination" and cited the Helper's guide, instead of saying "annihilation"). The Republican's enemy is entirely Democrat. (Vallandingham is a Democrat. Many of those who are locked up places like Fort Lafayette are Democrat). McClellan is a Democrat. To overlook that element is to make a mistake.

IMO, having "no doubt" that politics had influence is one thing, and actually identifying it is another. IMO, there is more battlefield betraya on both sides of this war than most would be comfortable with acknowleding.
If by "civilized war" you mean a war which goes easy on slaveowners, and preserves slavery into the postwar, perhaps that did become more unlikely once McClellan was gone. But I don't believe he ever held that much sway over Lincoln, that he could have influenced how Lincoln saw the war.

I really don't get your statements about sweaters and extermination and Helper guide. But I get the impression you are saying McClellan was cashiered not because he was unsuccessful at waging war, but because he was a Democrat. That is very unlikely. Other generals who were democrats served with distinction throughout the war, for example Winfield Scott Hancock and Black Jack Logan. It's true though that some defenders of cashiered generals often blame politics and not the generals performance. I'm thinking of defenders of Rosecrans as well as McClellan.

If politics was the primary factor, McClellan would never have been promoted to the position in the first place. And if he had been a success, he would have finished out the war as General in Chief.
 

Robert E Lee 1

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McClellan in Lincolns eyes was too slow to get in there and fight he was a good organizer and had his subordinates respect from what I know .
 

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