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

DanSBHawk

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Lincoln's secretaries, Nicolay and Hay, wrote that Lincoln was aware of the disparaging comments about him that were coming out of McClellans headquarters, but he chose to ignore them.

"We need not refer again to the magnanimity with which the President had overlooked the insolent dispatches of General McClellan from Savage’s Station and Harrison’s Bar. He closed his ears persistently during all the months of the winter and spring to the stories which came to him from every quarter in regard to the tone of factious hostility to himself which prevailed at McClellan’s headquarters.”
 

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Lubliner

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The battle of Ball's Bluff gave Lincoln a distaste for war, due to the death of Edward Baker. Apparently this early blunder, showing the folly of going too soon into battle, did not influence the President enough. Granted the continual prods at McClellan to move during the winter of 1861-2 were due to Congressional oversight committees, the general public also clamored for action and revenge.
When McClellan first made his move to the Peninsula, Lincoln's initial complaint was the lack of troops left to guard Washington.

1. So was Lincoln's real loss of confidence revolving around the ability to hold the Capitol from invasion?
As McClellan could not convince him.

And--

2. As the passage of time proved a critical failure of patience on the part of the Government, when McClellan had a good plan for overwhelming the enemy and answering 'On To Richmond' mindset;
Did Lincoln's continual intervention prove a political gambit for crushing McClellan's popular support among the people?

Thank you all for your responses so far.
Lubliner.
 

67th Tigers

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Even before Pinkerton began supplying McClellan intel, McClellan was overestimating confederate strength. In August '61, he wrote that the "enemy have three to four times my force" in front of him near Washington.
Which is not that inaccurate once you strip away your incorrect imputation that this referred to only the force at Manassas. This is a mistake very commonly made. McClellan was estimating the whole enemy force that was in Virginia, not the fragment at Manassas.

This was written on 16th August. There were roughly 70 Federal infantry regiments at Washington and environs. The mustering out had largely finished. Half this force were from McDowell's Bull Run army. 10 regts were the newly enlisted Pennsylvania Reserves.

The rebels had ca. 148 infantry regiments in Virginia, of whom 71 were at Manassas. His statement three days later that “Beauregard probably has 150,000 men— I cannot count more than 55,000!” is completely reasonable; it is an accurate statement of what he had and what the enemy could bring to assault Washington.

With hindsight we know that the rebels did not make a general concentration to assault Washington. However, it was the correct military course of action, and it was only internal rebel politics that prevented them doing this. McClellan did not know that their internal politics were interfering with their ability to wage war. There was a race - who could concentrate forces quickest. By the 25th August McClellan was able to write "Friend Beauregard has allowed the chance to escape him.", because McClellan had a sufficient force at Washington to defend against even a general rebel concentration.

A few weeks later later the issue arose again. McClellan had no worries about defending Washington, but was worried about a turning movement towards Baltimore, because they might be able to move with 100,000 men (which is eminently possible if they mounted a concentration), whilst he could only meet them with 60 or 80,000.

* The fate of the Bull Run Army of NW Va by 16th August was:

1st Div
Keyes' Bde - 1 regt remaining, to Ft Corcoran
Schenck's Bde - 1 regt remaining, to Stone's Bde
WT Sherman's Bde - 3 regts, 2 to Ft Corcoran and the third to Smith's bde
Richardson's Bde - 4 regts, continued whilst transferring 1 regt to Hooker's force

2nd Div - 5 regts remaining, split up
3rd Div - 8 regts remaining, split up. The 1st and 3rd Bdes were the core of Stone's and Howard's Bdes
4th Div - 4 regts remaining, all NJ regts to Kearny's Bde, remaining regt to Sherman
5th Div - 8 regts remaining, essentially formed Blenker's and Franklin's Bdes
 
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Did Lincoln's continual intervention prove a political gambit for crushing McClellan's popular support among the people?
Why would Lincoln think McClellan would be stupid enough to run for President? The Presidency involves actual responsibility and accountability.
 

Saphroneth

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When McClellan first made his move to the Peninsula, Lincoln's initial complaint was the lack of troops left to guard Washington.

1. So was Lincoln's real loss of confidence revolving around the ability to hold the Capitol from invasion?
As McClellan could not convince him.
It's possible. Certainly Lincoln had said that the appropriate defence of Washington should be determined by the corps commanders (men who he'd personally picked) but then he went back on that - it's possible however that the problem was a commander basically trying to mislead him with numbers.
The key factor here is whether a covering force in the Shenandoah Valley counts as defending Washington. The corps commanders thought it did, McClellan thought it did, but Wadsworth (commanding the Washington defences) said it didn't and with McClellan and all his corps commanders out of the city there was nobody to gainsay him.

2. As the passage of time proved a critical failure of patience on the part of the Government, when McClellan had a good plan for overwhelming the enemy and answering 'On To Richmond' mindset;
Did Lincoln's continual intervention prove a political gambit for crushing McClellan's popular support among the people?
In a sense popular support doesn't matter to McClellan's ability to prosecute the war - the army is already enlisted. What matters is governmental support and support among the military, and McClellan had the latter among the people he needed.

Government support seems to be what was lacking.

The late Joseph Harsh said:

M: Why did Lincoln, in March 1862, remove McClellan as general-in-chief? Why did he reject McClellan’s national strategy when he himself did not have one, and no one else did either?
H: I don’t have an answer for that. I do suspect, however, that Lincoln was bowing to political pressure. I am not sure that Lincoln wasn’t a much weaker President than he’s generally considered. I do not think he led public opinion in the North, but instead frequently caved in to it. Nor was he good at distinguishing what popular opinion really was. Sometimes, I think, he gauged public opinion simply by listening to Washington politicians who made the loudest noise.
M: And this, you believe, continued into the Peninsula Campaign?
H: Yes. In April 1862, after the Siege of Yorktown had begun, the Congressional Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War was in full swing investigating everything McClellan did almost as soon as he did it. This is extraordinary: A Congressional committee investigating an army commander as his troops are going under fire.

(full interview here)


ED: I suppose it's possible that Lincoln saw McClellan as a political rival who needed to be suppressed. I don't think so, because I think more of Lincoln than to think he'd ruin the Union's war effort in that way.

I think the most parlous explanation of the Lincoln-McClellan tension was just that McClellan didn't understand the pressures Lincoln was under and Lincoln didn't understand the constraints McClellan was operating under.
Lincoln can look at public opinion, or what he thinks is public opinion, and think "the people are upset that we're not crushing the rebellion, that means that if the army doesn't fight a battle they might desert" - and assume that that means charging an enemy fortification is the better option to prevent desertion.
McClellan can look at the army's progress, say "we've got to within a few miles of Richmond, and surely nobody can think we should attack the enemy while the fields are literally flooded" - and assume that the civilian population and leadership will understand how impossible an attack is when the ground is so wet that artillery can't move over it.
 
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OpnCoronet

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The battle of Ball's Bluff gave Lincoln a distaste for war, due to the death of Edward Baker. Apparently this early blunder, showing the folly of going too soon into battle, did not influence the President enough. Granted the continual prods at McClellan to move during the winter of 1861-2 were due to Congressional oversight committees, the general public also clamored for action and revenge.
When McClellan first made his move to the Peninsula, Lincoln's initial complaint was the lack of troops left to guard Washington.
1. So was Lincoln's real loss of confidence revolving around the ability to hold the Capitol from invasion?
As McClellan could not convince him.
And--
2. As the passage of time proved a critical failure of patience on the part of the Government, when McClellan had a good plan for overwhelming the enemy and answering 'On To Richmond' mindset;
Did Lincoln's continual intervention prove a political gambit for crushing McClellan's popular support among the people?
Thank you all for your responses so far.
Lubliner.


In ref.to this post, McClellan did indeed lose his job because of a critical(for McClellan) loss of patienceby Lincoln.

The war was progressing at much too slow a pace for Lincoln, but, he did not often show it by replacing unsuccessful generals, if that had been his criteria, Burnside, Hooker and probably, Meade, would have gotten second chances.

But, Generals who insisted on fighting the war his own way, in contradistinction, to that of his Commander In Chief, had better be successful.

As I have already noted, for politiical reasons, the War was not progressing fast enough for Lincoln, the war was progressing (if too slowly) in the West, because Union authority was being progressively restablished in formerly confederate territory, the same could not be said for the War for the Union, in the East, where the operative word was stalemate.
 

Saphroneth

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But, Generals who insisted on fighting the war his own way, in contradistinction, to that of his Commander In Chief, had better be successful.
Did McClellan contradict Lincoln on how the war should be fought?
Certainly the Peninsular campaign was a course of operation contemplated by McClellan, voted on by Lincoln's picked corps commanders, and approved by Lincoln himself - it wasn't even McClellan's preference.

One should also note that if a commander in chief insists on stripping his general of his troops, in contradiction to his own approval of the plan, it had better turn out that that general doesn't need the troops; a commander in chief is not above criticism when he actively makes military decisions himself rather than simply letting his highest ranking general get on with it.



As I have already noted, for politiical reasons, the War was not progressing fast enough for Lincoln, the war was progressing (if too slowly) in the West, because Union authority was being progressively restablished in formerly confederate territory, the same could not be said for the War for the Union, in the East, where the operative word was stalemate.
Perhaps this is so, but it demonstrates a problem with Lincoln's understanding of cause and effect.

I'll put it bluntly - if Lincoln had provided McClellan with the troops that everyone including Lincoln agreed that McClellan had a legitimate need for in June, Richmond would have been under fire by siege guns before the end of the month.

18th March the Army of the Potomac was north of the Rappahanock; 21st April it was before Yorktown; 24th May it was in the process of crossing the Chickahominy; 27th June it had siege guns on the heights before Richmond. This is progress.


Moreover, the strategic layout of Virginia's railways dictates that Richmond is the key city in the East. Taking it grants control of essentially all of Virginia, because all the railways concentrate there.


Now, there are four periods between March 1862 and McClellan's relief when he is not actively advancing. In all four cases there are solid military reasons for it - they don't mean moving forwards is impossible, as such, but they mean that moving forwards is difficult and McClellan has justification to wait.


The first case is the siege of Yorktown. Essentially this is because the Warwick line (of which Yorktown is a part) is a strong defensive position that can't be flanked by land and can't be surrounded to besiege. Compelling the abandonment of it in a month as McClellan did is actually very good, especially when one compares it to, say, Petersburg.
McClellan is not idle and at all times is either trying to set up an assault (before ca. 18 April) or setting up his siege guns (after that date).

The second case is the interval after Seven Pines. McClellan doesn't move forward for about three weeks, but this is largely due to the weather (which was atrocious, rendering it unfeasible to move artillery) and to a lesser extent the fact that McClellan was waiting for his reinforcements to come marching down from the north. When the ground dried, McClellan began advancing again despite the lack of reinforcements (Oak Grove, June 25), but the problem was that Jackson came along and the Seven Days happened.
If McClellan moved he would be advancing infantry only against strong fortifications held by an enemy almost equal in number.

The third case is the Harrisons Landing period. In this period McClellan is static because he is waiting for reinforcement, which Lincoln himself told McClellan to wait for; Lincoln said that McClellan should advance if he thought it possible, but McClellan's army was smaller than that of Lee and so McClellan judged that he needed reinforcement.
Lincoln and McClellan agreed that McClellan needed reinforcements.

The fourth case is after Antietam. In this period McClellan is static because he's not being supplied, and says so in as many words; the supplies are actually being sent to the outskirts of Washington. Once this is corrected McClellan re-equips his army and moves south forty miles, and then Lincoln fires him while the army's still in motion.




It is possible to ascribe (partial) blame to Lincoln for at least two of these incidents. In three cases we have positive evidence that McClellan got moving again once the problem was rectified, and in the fourth case (Harrisons Landing) we know that Lincoln agreed with McClellan that McClellan needed reinforcement.
 

DanSBHawk

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Did McClellan contradict Lincoln on how the war should be fought?
Certainly the Peninsular campaign was a course of operation contemplated by McClellan, voted on by Lincoln's picked corps commanders, and approved by Lincoln himself - it wasn't even McClellan's preference.

One should also note that if a commander in chief insists on stripping his general of his troops, in contradiction to his own approval of the plan, it had better turn out that that general doesn't need the troops; a commander in chief is not above criticism when he actively makes military decisions himself rather than simply letting his highest ranking general get on with it.
McClellan knew beyond any doubt that Lincoln did not like the idea of the AOTP going by way of the lower Chesapeake. According to Ethan Rafuse, on March 8th Lincoln was still in a foul mood at McClellan for a bungled operation at Harpers Ferry involving canal boats and for McClellans faliure to clear the lower Potomac of Confederate batteries, and Lincoln told McClellan that he did not like the Chesapeake plan. McClellan suggested the vote of his division commanders (not corps commanders) and the vote was 8-4 for the Chesapeake plan.

3 of the 4 who voted against the Peninsula plan became corps commanders by their seniority (as was tradition).

Lincoln stripped the general of troops because he did not believe the general had complied with one of the prerequisites of the plans approval.
 

DanSBHawk

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Which is not that inaccurate once you strip away your incorrect imputation that this referred to only the force at Manassas. This is a mistake very commonly made. McClellan was estimating the whole enemy force that was in Virginia, not the fragment at Manassas.

This was written on 16th August. There were roughly 70 Federal infantry regiments at Washington and environs. The mustering out had largely finished. Half this force were from McDowell's Bull Run army. 10 regts were the newly enlisted Pennsylvania Reserves.

The rebels had ca. 148 infantry regiments in Virginia, of whom 71 were at Manassas. His statement three days later that “Beauregard probably has 150,000 men— I cannot count more than 55,000!” is completely reasonable; it is an accurate statement of what he had and what the enemy could bring to assault Washington.

With hindsight we know that the rebels did not make a general concentration to assault Washington. However, it was the correct military course of action, and it was only internal rebel politics that prevented them doing this. McClellan did not know that their internal politics were interfering with their ability to wage war. There was a race - who could concentrate forces quickest. By the 25th August McClellan was able to write "Friend Beauregard has allowed the chance to escape him.", because McClellan had a sufficient force at Washington to defend against even a general rebel concentration.

A few weeks later later the issue arose again. McClellan had no worries about defending Washington, but was worried about a turning movement towards Baltimore, because they might be able to move with 100,000 men (which is eminently possible if they mounted a concentration), whilst he could only meet them with 60 or 80,000.

* The fate of the Bull Run Army of NW Va by 16th August was:

1st Div
Keyes' Bde - 1 regt remaining, to Ft Corcoran
Schenck's Bde - 1 regt remaining, to Stone's Bde
WT Sherman's Bde - 3 regts, 2 to Ft Corcoran and the third to Smith's bde
Richardson's Bde - 4 regts, continued whilst transferring 1 regt to Hooker's force

2nd Div - 5 regts remaining, split up
3rd Div - 8 regts remaining, split up. The 1st and 3rd Bdes were the core of Stone's and Howard's Bdes
4th Div - 4 regts remaining, all NJ regts to Kearny's Bde, remaining regt to Sherman
5th Div - 8 regts remaining, essentially formed Blenker's and Franklin's Bdes
Edwin C Fishel, who Ethan Rafuse describes as the "foremost student of the subject," found that McClellan repeatedly overestimated enemy troops, and even when Pinkerton gave him inflated estimates, that McClellan would pad the numbers even higher.

Fishel described the "most irrational of all his (McClellans) numerical fantasies" was when he was ordered off the Peninsula and his estimate of enemy forces in Richmond suddenly went from 200,000 to 36,000 in a couple weeks, as he was hoping that his orders back to Washington would be reversed.
 

wbull1

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Without rehashing a series of posts in the McClellan versus Thomas thread, General Meigs, William Stoddard and John Hay each individually report a time when they thought McClellan was dismissive of Lincoln. Winfield Scott made similar remarks about McClellan's treatment of him. Whatever limitation and question arise about any individual report, when four independent sources say McClellan was disrespectful to his military superiors, I tend to believe it.

On July 7, 1862, asked for a statement of his plans for attacking the Confederates in the near future, McClellan instead handed the President a political manifesto outlining McClellan's ideas for the military and political course of the entire war, which was basically a list of the concepts espoused by the the Democrats, questioning Lincoln's ideas and contrary to the administration's actions.

Lincoln started out ignorant of military matters. Just as he learned grammar, surveying, law, and geometry by studying and reading, Lincoln became well-informed and knowledgeable about military matters. As he learned more, his trust in McClellan diminished. When Lincoln finally found generals who would engage the Confederate Army, he, by and large, left them to it.

McClellan was competent as a military man. He had a tin ear as a politician, annoying his superiors and giving unwanted, unasked for advice. Lincoln gave him two chances, recognizing his organizational talents. McClellan discounted Lincoln's growing mastery of military matters, stayed in touch with the (dis)loyal opposition political party. His letters to his wife reveal how grandiose his self-opinion was. Lincoln and the Union owe him a debt of gratitude for his real accomplishments.

That said, the war went better with McClellan on the sidelines.
 
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On paper, McClellan was perfectly qualified for his job, but credentials don't always predict success. I'm reminded of the one man in Robert E. Lee's West Point class who graduated with a higher grade point average, but accomplished so little on the battlefield that hardly anyone remembers his name.
 

OpnCoronet

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Lincoln was never in favor of McClellan's pinensula campaign and only allowed it on the assurance of adequate protection for Washington, agreed upon by both.

When has any military commander, ever been satisfied that they have enough men, materiale or supplies? Lincoln could not waiit for little mac to be satisfied with his command, i.e., if he wasunbable or unwilling to satisfy his commander in chief, he should have done the honorable thing, and given way to one who was willing to try with thhe means provided, in the time alotted.

Lee, Grant, et. al., on discovering what was expected of them, got with the progaram and did their best with what their gov'ts could or would give them,m with crying to the heavens that their success or failure depended upon what was not provided.
 

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McClellan knew beyond any doubt that Lincoln did not like the idea of the AOTP going by way of the lower Chesapeake.
Indeed, but he'd known about it, and debated it with McClellan and others for 4 months. McClellan told Lincoln of his evolving plan in December, and Lincoln told McClellan to brief Chase (and maybe others) about it. Chase told McDowell and Franklin of McClellan's plan during his attempted January Coup. When the 13th January came around and Chase asked McClellan for a public statement of his plans the only person in the room unaware of them was Meigs, and Meigs knew about the Urbana plan because McDowell and Franklin had already asked Meigs to arrange for transportation.

According to Ethan Rafuse, on March 8th Lincoln was still in a foul mood at McClellan for a bungled operation at Harpers Ferry involving canal boats
Stanton's quip about the size of the locks was of course wrong. The Shenandoah Outlet Lock was the same size as all the other locks (or how could it work?), but had fallen into disuse, because the land opposite the lock was owned by a major investor in the nearby Winchester and Potomac railroad, so they wouldn't let their land by used for a competing tow path etc. Over the course of several decades the lock had "bowed in" meaning that if you measured the top it was the normal size, but the walls were no longer straight and hence the interior had narrowed.

As to the idea; the reopening of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was a major issue for the Ohio politicians. On 7th December 1861 Babcock (the man who fed McClellan a lot of false information) wrote in his scouting report that he had come up with the idea of moving C&O canal boats up the Lock 32, and then out via the Shenandoah Outlet Lock to make a solid bridge to supply a force reoccupying Harper's Ferry.

On 6th February, Lincoln visited McClellan in the evening and insisted that before any movement to Urbana could be made, he must reopen the B&O RR and clear the Potomac of the enemy batteries. This would prevent further disruption of the coal supply to Washington. McClellan just said "yes, sir" and got on with it. Lincoln wrote McClellan on the 8th as to whether the canal boats had arrived, and they had not. McClellan of course was busy that day obeying Stanton's orders to arrest General Stone. Lincoln's attention becomes focused elsewhere, as his sons lay at deaths door and indeed, Willie would die. During the period of mourning for Lincoln's son, military operations were largely suspended.

McClellan developed a three phase plan:
1. Lander's operations to clear repel Jackson from the vicinity of Hancock, and open the line down to Hancock (complete 14th February)
2. Seize the far side of Harper's Ferry and rebuild the railroad bridge (seized 27th)
3. Advance on Winchester, rebuilding the Winchester and Potomac RR as them went (Winchester occupied 12th March)

When the first canal boat reached lock 32 and then tried to turn into the outlet lock, it wouldn't fit. McClellan had had the engineers survey it, and Barnard said it would work. McClellan had perhaps expected that this hairbrained scheme wouldn't work, because he had the engineers already over the Potomac rebuilding the rail bridge. Winchester would be occupied on 12th March, and the W&PRR be fully back in service in late March.

Lincoln was angry because he'd asked for a written report on what happened but he'd never received McClellan's report. McClellan had of course followed the correct procedure and submitted a written report to Stanton, the Sec'y of War. Instead of endorsing the report up to Lincoln, Stanton pocketed it, and later told McClellan Lincoln had read it and not to mention it again. On 7th March McClellan met with Lincoln, and Lincoln asked why he hadn't sent the report he'd been asked to send. The truth soon emerged, and Lincoln was apparently satisfied.

and for McClellans faliure to clear the lower Potomac of Confederate batteries, and Lincoln told McClellan that he did not like the Chesapeake plan. McClellan suggested the vote of his division commanders (not corps commanders) and the vote was 8-4 for the Chesapeake plan.
The 7th March meeting continues - Lincoln is personally convinced that he is right, and therefore the majority of McClellan's division commanders will see things his way. He suggests the division commanders vote on the matter, and tells McClellan that if they vote with him (Lincoln) then he'll assign Fremont to command the Army of the Potomac.

The division commanders vote 8-4 for McClellan's plan. The four who voted against were McDowell (who'd proposed the same plan two months earlier to Lincoln), Sumner, Heintzelman and Barnard. Stanton did what a lawyer would do, he tried gerrymandering the vote. He suggested to Lincoln that they change the composition of the voters, and by making Corps commanders they made an electorate of five (McDowell, Sumner, Heintzelman, Keyes and Barnard). They then had this gerrymandered electorate vote again on the 13th March. To their horror, all 4 who'd voted against McClellan's Urbana plan voted for the Peninsula plan instead.

3 of the 4 who voted against the Peninsula plan became corps commanders by their seniority (as was tradition).
There is no such tradition, as these were the first corps commanders appointed in US history. Lincoln had a completely free hand in appointing who he wanted.

Lincoln stripped the general of troops because he did not believe the general had complied with one of the prerequisites of the plans approval.
Lincoln believed no such thing and did no such thing. It was Stanton who did this.

Stanton moved to construct a brief as soon as McClellan left. He had his ally Wadsworth complain and then had thwe whole War Board assess the Washington defences against the criteria the CC's had agreed on the 13th (40,000, consisting of a 25,000 man covering force and 15,000 in the Washington fortifications)". They initially replied(on 27th March) that he had. Stanton, of course, didn't like that answer, and so asked a different question - is Washington "perfectly secure", and asked a small subset of the board he knew he could pressure, Lorenzo Thomas and EA Hitchcock. They agreed with Stanton, as he wanted.

Stanton, had his case built and he ambushed Lincoln with it at the White House on the 3rd April. Without time to think Lincoln endorsed Stanton's recommendation to detached a Corps to Manassas. Stanton chose the biggest one, and the one whose commander the radicals wanted to make an independent commander.

Lincoln was essentially passive in this, although Stanton and Lorenzo Thomas threw the blame onto Lincoln.
 

67th Tigers

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Edwin C Fishel, who Ethan Rafuse describes as the "foremost student of the subject," .
To quote from Harsh's "On the McClellan-go-round":

Harsh%2BOtMGR%2BPinkerton.png


The behaviour Harsh notes in f/n 47 is exactly what Fishel indulged in.

The rebels reported their count a couple of weeks later as 147 Infantry regiments, 5 battalions, 8 cavalry regiments and 3 legions in Virginia. Thus an estimate of 150,000 is perfectly reasonable, and, in fact, accurate.
 

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On December 1, 19861 Lincoln did submit a plan for McClellan to review. A what if proposition of moving amphibiously south of the Occoquan River and then pushing west to meet up with other forces pushing south through the Manassas area. It was Dec. 10, 1861 McClellan told Lincoln he had plan no one on either side anticipated. So Lincoln had been studying military tactics, @wbull1, I agree, and his ideas were not far-fetched. And as well @DanSBHawk, Lincoln had a real fear of exposing Washington City and Wadsworth seemed to be, as the Military Governor of that District, calling for more troops to remain behind. The expressions Lincoln permits us to observe give me the feeling Kentucky and Washington City are crucial for success, losing either one would be the end. So Lincoln does have other Generals making assessments, and appears to be giving ear to these.

1. Does anyone note a fear of some military junta, possibly if McClellan is successful, at this point?

McClellan states to Halleck out west that he has few supporters (by early March) in Congress, and that the Abolitionists hate him, and have set out to topple him from his leadership before he even strikes a blow. It appears that somewhere after Bull Run when he was first promoted, he had found much favor in Congress, and was saying they were looking to him to be the Savior of the country.
Now, it appears to me that Lincoln was acting more upon the persuasions in the House than his own tact, to a greater degree.

2. So what happened to cause this extreme change in attitude in the Congressional Caucus;
Was it time and money spent on troop training, or was it a snubbery of military vs. civil service, or was it media driven public clamor?

My opinion says once McClellan moved his headquarters to Hampton for the campaign, he could no longer control the Valley and Potomac River adequately. This cause aligned more need for Lincoln to be involved with other generalships.

I thank all of you for the responses so far. The animosity between the General and the President is reflected in two questions directly above. It is becoming clear that it is a presiding sentiment that rules the Nation, and the rest are but the actors in it.
Lubliner.
 
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When has any military commander, ever been satisfied that they have enough men, materiale or supplies?
But there is one who is remembered for it more than any other. Preparing for the first Gulf War, Norman Schwarzkopf had already accumulated over 100,000 troops in northern Saudi Arabia and over a thousand tanks, and was waiting for a few more before making his move into Iraq. At a press conference in a tent, a reporter asked about the delay and dared make a reference to our all-time most infamous never-ready general, McClellan. Schwarzkopf pounded the table as he fired back, "I'M NO G** ****ED McCLELLAN!!!"
 

Saphroneth

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As has already been noted, McClellan knowing that Lincoln disliked an approach is no reason by itself to reject the approach.

McClellan considered the amphibious approach superior to the overland approach on grounds of military practicality. If Lincoln simply prefers the overland approach, that doesn't really matter - Lincoln is in the chain of command because he's the commander in chief, but he's not a trained officer and it is possible (nay likely) for him to miss important details about how military operations are best conducted.
Note that almost every single US division commander at the time voted for some amphibious operation over the overland - there was, functionally, consensus among the officers selected to command divisions.


On the other hand, Lincoln is the commander in chief. What this means is that if he wants a certain course of operation to be followed he has the authority to order it. If Lincoln had ordered that McClellan take up the overland line of operations, that's what McClellan would have done - he wouldn't have liked it, but he would have done it.
But Lincoln didn't order it. Instead he called for votes, and after the second vote he accepted the plan; at this point as far as McClellan is concerned he has convinced Lincoln that the amphibious option is the one to go for.


So the question is - at what point should McClellan have changed his mind based on Lincoln's preferences?
The answer is simple. He should have changed his mind when Lincoln ordered the overland approach, but Lincoln never did.
 

Saphroneth

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Lincoln had a real fear of exposing Washington City and Wadsworth seemed to be, as the Military Governor of that District, calling for more troops to remain behind. The expressions Lincoln permits us to observe give me the feeling Kentucky and Washington City are crucial for success, losing either one would be the end. So Lincoln does have other Generals making assessments, and appears to be giving ear to these.
The problem here is that what actually happens with McDowell's corps doesn't bear this out.

The fundamental basis of Wadsworth's complaint is "I don't have quite enough troops in the city", which is to say that he excludes the covering force from his calculations - only troops in the city count, and the deficit is on the order of a few thousand.

So what happens to McDowell's corps of more than 30,000 troops Present?

Well, none of them are moved into the garrision of the city. They're added to the covering force, which Wadsworth's assessment had told us didn't count.


This suggests that the argument used to claim that Washington needed more defenders was inconsistent.
 

Sildesalaten

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On December 1, 19861 Lincoln did submit a plan for McClellan to review. A what if proposition of moving amphibiously south of the Occoquan River and then pushing west to meet up with other forces pushing south through the Manassas area. It was Dec. 10, 1861 McClellan told Lincoln he had plan no one on either side anticipated. So Lincoln had been studying military tactics, @wbull1, I agree, and his ideas were not far-fetched. And as well @DanSBHawk, Lincoln had a real fear of exposing Washington City and Wadsworth seemed to be, as the Military Governor of that District, calling for more troops to remain behind. The expressions Lincoln permits us to observe give me the feeling Kentucky and Washington City are crucial for success, losing either one would be the end. So Lincoln does have other Generals making assessments, and appears to be giving ear to these.

1. Does anyone note a fear of some military junta, possibly if McClellan is successful, at this point?

McClellan states to Halleck out west that he has few supporters (by early March) in Congress, and that the Abolitionists hate him, and have set out to topple him from his leadership before he even strikes a blow. It appears that somewhere after Bull Run when he was first promoted, he had found much favor in Congress, and was saying they were looking to him to be the Savior of the country.
Now, it appears to me that Lincoln was acting more upon the persuasions in the House than his own tact, to a greater degree.

2. So what happened to cause this extreme change in attitude in the Congressional Caucus;
Was it time and money spent on troop training, or was it a snubbery of military vs. civil service, or was it media driven public clamor?

My opinion says once McClellan moved his headquarters to Hampton for the campaign, he could no longer control the Valley and Potomac River adequately. This cause aligned more need for Lincoln to be involved with other generalships.

I thank all of you for the responses so far. The animosity between the General and the President is reflected in two questions directly above. It is becoming clear that it is a presiding sentiment that rules the Nation, and the rest are but the actors in it.
Lubliner.
I agree that Lincoln's loss of confidence in McClellan should be seen in a wider context. McClellan lost, or never gained, the confidence of Lincoln, Stanton, the Cabinet, the Committee on the Conduct of the War, Winfield Scott and Halleck - most of the Union leadership, in fact.
 


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