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

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Saphroneth

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It's quite possible for debates about McClellan to become quite heated, and for us to be in danger of losing sight of the cause for the debate.
I think it would be useful to try and highlight a place where McClellan made a battlefield or manoeuvre decision where another decision could have been better (and successful) based on the information he could reasonably have had access to at the time.*

For example, it is not fair in my opinion to criticize McClellan for retreating from Malvern Hill, because a retreat from Malvern Hill was necessary for the army to resupply; there is nowhere to land supplies at Malvern Hill and the Navy refused to land supplies any further upriver than Harrisons Landing.

So, where's the places where McClellan could have made a different decision and that could have had a better outcome?


n.b. there are two separate questions involved in the campaigns of McClellan; one of them is whether he had enough resources and the other is what he should have done with them. If you believe that McClellan had enough resources to succeed then ipso facto you must therefore believe that McClellan made false dispositions with what he had rather than merely making decisions which deprived him of support; it would be better to focus on the issue of false dispositions here.

For example, if one asserts that McClellan should have overcome Yorktown quickly, then one is asserting that Yorktown could have been overcome quickly.


The reason why I'm focusing on this is that a possible cause for Lincoln to not be confident in McClellan is the "I've already given him enough, he should be able to win the war with this" view. This 'challenge' (i.e. find a place a different decision by McClellan could have made the campaign successful) is to find out whether this view would be correct.


* e.g. it is unreasonable to expect McClellan to know that Lee was about to run out of reserves at Antietam, because even if every single brigade engaged had been identified perfectly there were still seven real brigades from Lee's army that had not been engaged. Of these three were at Antietam and four were back at Richmond; Lee did not vouchsafe to McClellan his exact strength, and plus or minus a few brigades is the kind of error in estimation that cannot be made good unless you e.g. capture the complete ration rolls of the enemy.
 

67th Tigers

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You have as many excuses as Little Mac. As for Yorktown, it obviously was a horrible choice as to where to launch the offensive with such obstacles in the way. It was a huge error on McClellan's part to choose a place with such natural defenses in the first place.
Surely you need to compare the other option? The overland approach was tried by McClellan's successors and took 18 months to get to the place McClellan reached in 6 weeks.
 

Saphroneth

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One may note that the above is a more generalized version of my point about Yorktown. I think it would be helpful to actually engage with these questions, because they're related to whether McClellan's 'excuses' were in fact valid or not.

When I make the claim that the Warwick line was difficult to attack, I'm doing so based on my best appreciation of the possible approaches. I do not, however, claim to have thought of all of them, and nor do I claim that McClellan had thought of them - but the list of those that were considered is quite long.

- block the enemy from reaching Yorktown in the first place: considered, with the plan to land 1st Corps around the Wormley Creek area, but screwed up by Heintzelman acting such that Magruder was alerted and fell back from the Big Bethel line.
- attack on the 5th around Yorktown: ordered but failed.*
- attack on the 5th on the left flank: ordered but failed.*
- naval attack by running the guns: considered, asked for, but not attempted. Navy men in May considered it would have worked.
- attack on the 6th at the flanks: repeats of the attack on the 5th, not attempted because they'd failed on the 5th and nothing had changed except Confederate reinforcements.
- attack on the 6th at the centre: requires the engineers to recce the line, a process which historically took several days. Could work if pure luck revealed the position.
- Naval landing on the eastern shore with 1st Corps: considered but 1st Corps got stripped away.
- attack after the storm of the 7th-9th once the ground is dry, on the identified weakest point of the line, with all possible troops: attempted but screwed up by a raid sent over the Warwick against orders.
- Naval landing on the eastern shore with Franklin's division only: prep work was underway but it took long enough to get Franklin back and ready that the guns were already being emplaced.
- Blast the enemy out with siege guns: preparations made after the attack on the weakest point of the line was made untenable.

Is there one I've missed? I don't think so, and it is possible that landing Franklin in a hurry would have resulted in turning the Yorktown line a week or so earlier, but I can't see a way to simply roll over Yorktown in a hurry without naval gunnery, 1st Corps, or pure luck to reveal the Garrow approach.



* by which I mean the commanders on the spot refused to advance due to heavy Confederate artillery fire.
 
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Hoseman

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Surely you need to compare the other option? The overland approach was tried by McClellan's successors and took 18 months to get to the place McClellan reached in 6 weeks.
No. He should have either simply departed from Ft Monroe or landed further up the York or James.
 

Saphroneth

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No. He should have either simply departed from Ft Monroe or landed further up the York or James.
I'm not entirely sure what you mean by that.

You can't land further up the York because Yorktown and Gloucester Point block it. You can't land further up the James because the Virginia blocks it; the only way to avoid the Warwick line being a blocking position when operating up the Peninsula itself is to land between Yorktown and the Big Bethel line while the Big Bethel line is still occupied. (McClellan planned that, blame Heintzelmann for the abandonment of the Big Bethel line.)

And what do you mean by "departed from Fort Monroe"? McClellan did land his men at Fort Monroe; if you mean he should have left without trying the Peninsula, then you're right back to the problems with the Overland route.
 

67th Tigers

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No. He should have either simply departed from Ft Monroe or landed further up the York or James.
So, he shouldn't have tried? Landing "further up the York or James" is of course impossible, due to the river defences at Yorktown and Norfolk.
 
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Saphroneth

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March 19, 1862


The proposed plan of campaign is to assume Fort Monroe as the first base of operations taking the line by Yorktown and West point upon Richmond as the line of operations, Richmond being the objective point. It is assumed that the fall of Richmond involves that of Norfolk and the whole of Virginia; also that we shall fight a decisive battle between West Point and Richmond, to give which battle the rebels will concentrate all their available forces, understanding as they will that it involves the fate of their cause. It therefore follows —
1st. That we should collect all our forces, and operate upon adjacent lines, maintaining perfect communications between our columns.
2d. That no time should be lost in reaching the field of battle.
The advantages of the Peninsula between the York and James Rivers are too obvious to need explanation. It is also clear that West Point should as soon as possible be reached and used as our main depot, that we may have the shortest line of land transportation for our supplies, and the use of the York River.
There are two methods of reaching this point —
1st. By moving directly from Fort Monroe as a base and trusting to the roads for our supplies, at the same time landing a strong corps as near Yorktown as possible in order to turn the rebel lines of defence south of Yorktown. Then to reduce Yorktown and Gloucester by a siege in all probability, involving a delay of weeks perhaps.
2d. To make a combined naval and land attack upon Yorktown, the first object of the campaign. This leads to the most rapid and decisive results. To accomplish this the Navy should at once concentrate upon the York River all their available and most powerful batteries. Its reduction should not in that case require many hours: a strong corps would be pushed up the York under cover of the Navy directly upon West Point immediately upon the fall of Yorktown and we could at once establish a new base of operations at a distance of some twenty five miles from Richmond — with every facility for developing and bringing into play the whole of our available force on either or both banks of the James.
It is impossible to urge too strongly the absolute necessity of the full cooperation of the Navy, as a part of this programme. Without it the operations may be prolonged for many weeks and we may be forced to carry in front several strong positions which by their aid could be turned without serious loss of either time or men.
It is also of first importance to bear in mind the fact already alluded to, that the capture of Richmond necessarily involves the prompt fall of Norfolk — while an operation against Norfolk if successful at the beginning of the campaign facilitates the reduction of Richmond merely by the demoralization of the rebel troops involved, and that after the fall of Norfolk we should be obliged to undertake the capture of Richmond, by the same means which would have accomplished it in the beginning having mean while afforded the rebels ample time to perfect their defensive arrangements — for they would well know from the moment the Army of the Potomac changed its base to Fort Monroe that Richmond must be its ultimate object.
It may be summed up in few words that for the prompt success of this campaign it is absolutely necessary that the Navy should at once throw its whole available force, its most powerful vessels, against Yorktown. There is the most important point — there the knot to be cut. An immediate decision upon the subject matter of this communication is highly desirable, and seems called for by the exigencies of the occasion.





It may be instructive to think about Yorktown itself (the town, not the defensive line) as a problem which will probably require heavy artillery to reduce. It's not possible to supply up the York until Yorktown is taken.

Yorktown is a bastion fort; it has defences all around it, as opposed to a lunette which only has guns pointing to the front. Getting through the Yorktown line means you can surround it, but it can still hold out for however long it has food and ammunition. If you can't surround it and you can't cut off supply (down the York) then it can hold out indefinitely.

There are four ways to overcome Yorktown-the-fort.

1) Starve it out.
This is the most costly in terms of time.
2) Land siege artillery and conduct regular approaches.
This will probably be less costly in time than starving it out because of the time taken to construct protected batteries and move the guns into place.
3) Storm it.
This is the most costly in terms of men, by far - it's also the option least likely to work, because, well, in later engagements it was possible for single regiments in good fortifications to hold off entire corps. Yorktown is a strong bastion fort (which is why it wasn't taken by storm in the 1780s) and escalades are always costly.
4) A principally naval bombardment.
This is an option which is like the siege artillery option, in terms of results, but is much less costly in terms of time (because ships can move under their own power) and may be somewhat more costly in terms of men (because it's possible a ship may be lost).

In addition to all of these, there is the hope that it may be possible to place the garrison in an untenable position and that they would be evacuated rather than lost. However, you need to be credibly able to do at least one of the above to compel the evacuation in the first place (historically it was that McClellan had batteries in place to reduce Yorktown by bombardment).


The possible delays that could result from having to use one of the non-naval options were considered by McClellan, which is why he listed the landing at Fort Monroe as the most secure but least preferred option for making an amphibious movement; he preferred Urbanna first and Mobjack Bay second.
The vote of the corps commanders (at Lincoln's request) was what selected the Monroe landing, and promptly that it was decided McClellan threw himself fully into trying to make it work.

It's interesting to note that McClellan actually did secure naval cooperation, in that the orders to Missroon from Goldsborough on April 4th stated:
"The first object in view, as you are aware, is the reduction of Yorktown and Gloucester Point, and thus to open the navigation of York River and its tributaries to our army transports and naval vessels. The next is to keep those streams clear of the enemy to every necessary and practicable extent. In the landing and covering of our army forces, and in protecting its transports, you will afford every assistance in your power."

What this means is that the objectives* set to the commander of the York River squadron listed first the reduction of Yorktown. There is no qualifying statement that he is not to place his ships in danger.

In this situation it is reasonable for McClellan to believe that the York River squadron will help him reduce Yorktown - he said that their help reducing Yorktown would speed up the campaign by several weeks, and Goldsborough's orders to Missroon state clearly that that is what he is to do.


* the word "objective" appears only once in any volume of the ORN referring to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, and that is in a letter from Benjamin Butler in 1864; it was not in common use in the Navy at the time, and indeed the word is rare in the OR of the army as well.
 

CanadianCanuck

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Surely you need to compare the other option? The overland approach was tried by McClellan's successors and took 18 months to get to the place McClellan reached in 6 weeks.
Why are you using an 18 month figure? After the failures of 1863 Grant's Overland campaign took less than 60 days to reach Richmond and Petersburg alongside the thrusts up the Valley and the Bermuda Hundreds.
 

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I can concur with many of the statements made since my previous post, and I have gone back and reviewed Halleck's positioning at St. Louis while directing the Western Armies, as @Saphroneth suggested. I have four points to reference in the debate over opportunity, and associative camaraderie.

1. Much has been recorded and made mention of concerning the weather. The storms on the Peninsula kept the Navy and transports from operating at least a night or two, and the roads became so muddy it was impossible to move forward any provisions and other heavy details. This was upsetting the landing schedule and the forward advance.The maps were not accurate, and all vital reconnaissance required extreme caution for updating the maps. The southern people caught within the advance could not be relied on for information, and the Negroes were not able to advise technically for lack of usage and familiarity with topographical terms. Also because of decisions made involving other departments, the immediate plans to be followed were set at naught, and General Keyes notified the Senate representative from his State of the affair, desiring it to be known by the House. The plans voted upon were no longer viable due to diversion of troops.

2. McClellan was at fault on two points recited at the Investigation for his operational procedures. It was said that nothing should or would be done with the Army of the Potomac until the Merrimac was destroyed or neutralized. Good points were made as to why. Yorktown, Gloucester Point, James River, all these needed to be cleared of threats but couldn't until then, focus was upon Norfolk. McClellan had an excuse as to why this point of procedure was departed from, saying, "I believed..." etc. The other point was the number of troops guarding Washington, and the idea of south of Manassas being left open. McClellan stated as his 'belief' that due to destruction caused when they fell back to their Richmond area, the confederates would not turn and advance upon Washington from that direction. Part of the reason why Banks and Blenker were at Winchester to Strasburg and up to Harper's Ferry. Lincoln and other men disagreed with the assessment stated by General McClellan.

3. Turning westward much rain fell on the Tennessee areas of Fort Henry, Island No. 10, New Madrid, and south into Alabama and Mississippi during the early parts of March 1862. Henry Halleck was busily involved with chastising General Grant for failure to submit daily returns, but these matters were placated. Halleck revealed his direct superior to be McClellan at this point by stating the returns called upon were demanded by that Department. (Am I correctly assuming the East as superior to the West?) Halleck was also busily admonishing General Buell for always being late to the Department heads, saying in essence, he was always tardy and useless because of it. Buell was in turn asking for personal meetings with McClellan and Halleck in Louisville. Halleck hadn't the time. Too busy. McClellan is aware of this situation unfolding in the west, and believing possibly a dilatory example is being set by his own movements proceeds on with the embarkation of troops, [Conjecture is open to debate] before the Merrimac has been hunted down.

4. Halleck had one remarkable observation to make upon McClellan. He telegraphs to him that making three Generals in the field out west a big mistake, and suffering was in store due to it and boldfacedly blames McClellan's use of a 'friend-list' for promotions.

Coming away after reviewing the opening correspondence for that Spring Campaign, I believe that other men besides Lincoln attributed to McClellan's ouster. It was not the President's idea, and when informing McClellan of withholding Blenker, Lincoln admitted he did so with great trepidation and uneasiness, but never states exactly why. Later he resolved these initial misgivings and turned against the General with no reason other than maybe Wadsworth's assessment of troop strength. So who had been advising the President that the confederates would turn through the gaps and storm Washington, leaving the valley and Richmond behind them?

Thank you all for attending,
Lubliner.
 
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DanSBHawk

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No. He should have either simply departed from Ft Monroe or landed further up the York or James.
It may have been possible to run past the Yorktown/Gloucester batteries at night and land troops above the defenses. The Navy suggested as much at one point.

Or, maybe McClellan should have stuck to the original plan he had with the navy: Land troops at the Severn and take Gloucester first, which would have made Yorktown untenable. Even if he didn't have McDowells force, he had enough forces to detach for a Severn landing.

I believe some have said all the gear and boats for an amphibious landing were with McDowell, but obviously he had no need for it anymore. Presumably the boats could have been made available for whatever forces McClellan detached. But it seems that once a wrench had been thrown into the works, McClellan couldn't or wouldn't adjust to the new circumstances. He just slowed down from a crawl, to a stop.
 

OpnCoronet

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McClellan was prepared(and quite content) to move only as fast as his slowest piece of artillery.

Against Johnston, little mac was another Halleck, barely adequate in the field, on the offensive, against lesser forces and commanders. But totally inadequate for swift offensives against better, generals.
Had little Mac's leadership been adequate to advancing Lincoln's Policies, he would probably have been rewarded, like Halleck, however dissatisfied Lincoln might have been with its speed or efficiency.
 
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67th Tigers

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It may have been possible to run past the Yorktown/Gloucester batteries at night and land troops above the defenses. The Navy suggested as much at one point.
This is the exact opposite of what happened. McClellan tried to get the Navy to run past the batteries and they stonewalled him with "not possible" every time. Then, on the 10th April, McClellan proposed to the Navy Department directly that the "Mystic" (i.e. the Galena) run the batteries. The Navy Department agreed, but when the Galena arrived, Goldsborough tried to divert her to the James. The Galena did not enter the York River until 8th May, several days after McClellan took Yorktown without the Navy.

Or, maybe McClellan should have stuck to the original plan he had with the navy: Land troops at the Severn and take Gloucester first, which would have made Yorktown untenable. Even if he didn't have McDowells force, he had enough forces to detach for a Severn landing.
That was not the plan. Indeed, such a plan would have been foolish. Without a previous advance on the James Peninsula the Navy could not support operations against Gloucester Point at all, because of the Yorktown batteries.

Goldsborough of course suggested that 1st Corps land in Mobjack Bay and attack Gloucester Point, and the Navy wash its hands of all York River operations. The operation was not what was planned, which was a landing behind Ship Point to cut Magruder's line at Young's Mill etc. off and isolate the enemy. Discussion about a landing in Mobjack Bay was underway, but no plan had been agreed upon. When 1st Corps was removed the whole idea was obviously untenable. McClellan and Goldsborough both lobbied for at least Franklin's division to be sent. Franklin's division didn't arrive until 24th April.

Beach landings are tricky things, and many things effect it. The major one is the gradient of the surf zone. On the York three landing sites were considered: Ship Point, Back Creek and Wormley Creek. They were recce'd by Lt Col Barton Alexander and the landings planned. When the objective of the landings shifted to the Severn River in Mobjack Bay, it was ca. 3rd April. McClellan discussed said movement with Goldsborough on his arrival at Ft Monroe, as the rebels had retreated back to Yorktown. Lt Col Alexander was still back at Washington, and was held there because Stanton's order included the engineers. McClellan asked for his engineers to be sent to him and after a few days Stanton agreed. However, it's already the great storm of 6th-10th April.

Lt Col Alexander was a widely regarded expert on the area of the littoral, and McClellan relied heavily on him. As a further example, it was Alexander who picked out Harrison's Landing as the furthest upriver position supplies could be landed after the Navy nixed Carter's and Haxall's Landings.

On reaching the army, it was found that the Severn plan had been nixed by the Navy. They'd finally done a recce of the Severn and looking at the neck of the river refused to risk their ships going in there. So the idea of landing in the Severn was ruled out. Missroon suggested the beach around 3.5 miles east of Gloucester. When Alexander recce'd it ca. 21st April he found that the gradient was gradual, and the landing craft could only get to 250 feet from the shore at that point, unlike the previously selected points, where the landing craft could ground at the shore, put down a couple of planks and disgorge artillery on shore. Whilst the infantry might wade through 250 feet of surf, certainly vehicles could not (including the artillery). Alexander devised a quite ingenious scheme of using pontoons to make a short wharf, allowing the artillery rafts to tie to the end and land their guns over the wharf. Converting the craft to land on the left bank of the York took around a week. So much time had been consumed that McClellan was ready to assault.

Duly, Franklin's Division finally landed, and marched to join Heintzelman's 3rd Corps, where they were designated a reserve for the assault on Yorktown proper (first wave was Hooker against the White Redoubt, Kearny against the Red Redoubt and Porter at Yorktown proper. Sedgwick, Richardson and Franklin constituted the second wave). D-day was set for 5th May.

I believe some have said all the gear and boats for an amphibious landing were with McDowell, but obviously he had no need for it anymore. Presumably the boats could have been made available for whatever forces McClellan detached. But it seems that once a wrench had been thrown into the works, McClellan couldn't or wouldn't adjust to the new circumstances. He just slowed down from a crawl, to a stop.
On the contrary, McClellan did adjust to the new circumstances. It's just the changed circumstances required changes in planning etc. which consumed time. Like building a pre-fabricated wharf in sections because the Navy refused to follow through on their plans.
 

Lubliner

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What was the cause of president Lincoln's loss of confidence in General McClellan?


George B. McClellan...................


Respectfully,
William

One Nation,
Two countries
View attachment 311105
True to some extent, but when he intervened by withholding Blenker's troops, he felt very put upon by other people for a reason he did not clarify to General McClellan. It was only afterward when McClellan had moved south and left the Manassas area 'open' to invasion that Lincoln had a noticeable sharpness in his tone. McClellan believed the confederates could not use the rails southward from that point after destroying them on the relocation, but apparently the other people involved disagreed with this assumption. McClellan had wanted to use McDowell's force for turning Gloucester Point, and also the Navy for bombarding Yorktown. The Navy was preoccupied with the Merrimac and McClellan was supposed to wait for its destruction before the opening campaign.

So how is this to be put on him? ( seems a general theme for placing blame). When he is not to put off the attack, then the Navy needs to fulfill their obligation for neutralizing the Merrimac. His own generals in the field were beginning to complain that the overall operation was based on viable assets and troop movements in conjunction with naval affairs. They found themselves facing Yorktown with neither possibility nor plausible substitution for completing previously made plans. From that point, after terrible storms, heavy guns had to be advanced. Anything else put more chance of defeat and annihilation onto an Army that was the only hope at that time.

Meanwhile Halleck is in St. Louis mimicking General McClellan by saying, "I am about to begin this campaign which will settle the conflict after one big battle here in the west."

My question is, 'Was McClellan forced to move when he did, or was it an extenuating circumstance of one-up-man-ship between two commanding officers?'

Thanks, Lubliner.
 

DanSBHawk

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This is the exact opposite of what happened. McClellan tried to get the Navy to run past the batteries and they stonewalled him with "not possible" every time. Then, on the 10th April, McClellan proposed to the Navy Department directly that the "Mystic" (i.e. the Galena) run the batteries. The Navy Department agreed, but when the Galena arrived, Goldsborough tried to divert her to the James. The Galena did not enter the York River until 8th May, several days after McClellan took Yorktown without the Navy.



That was not the plan. Indeed, such a plan would have been foolish. Without a previous advance on the James Peninsula the Navy could not support operations against Gloucester Point at all, because of the Yorktown batteries.

Goldsborough of course suggested that 1st Corps land in Mobjack Bay and attack Gloucester Point, and the Navy wash its hands of all York River operations. The operation was not what was planned, which was a landing behind Ship Point to cut Magruder's line at Young's Mill etc. off and isolate the enemy. Discussion about a landing in Mobjack Bay was underway, but no plan had been agreed upon. When 1st Corps was removed the whole idea was obviously untenable. McClellan and Goldsborough both lobbied for at least Franklin's division to be sent. Franklin's division didn't arrive until 24th April.

Beach landings are tricky things, and many things effect it. The major one is the gradient of the surf zone. On the York three landing sites were considered: Ship Point, Back Creek and Wormley Creek. They were recce'd by Lt Col Barton Alexander and the landings planned. When the objective of the landings shifted to the Severn River in Mobjack Bay, it was ca. 3rd April. McClellan discussed said movement with Goldsborough on his arrival at Ft Monroe, as the rebels had retreated back to Yorktown. Lt Col Alexander was still back at Washington, and was held there because Stanton's order included the engineers. McClellan asked for his engineers to be sent to him and after a few days Stanton agreed. However, it's already the great storm of 6th-10th April.

Lt Col Alexander was a widely regarded expert on the area of the littoral, and McClellan relied heavily on him. As a further example, it was Alexander who picked out Harrison's Landing as the furthest upriver position supplies could be landed after the Navy nixed Carter's and Haxall's Landings.

On reaching the army, it was found that the Severn plan had been nixed by the Navy. They'd finally done a recce of the Severn and looking at the neck of the river refused to risk their ships going in there. So the idea of landing in the Severn was ruled out. Missroon suggested the beach around 3.5 miles east of Gloucester. When Alexander recce'd it ca. 21st April he found that the gradient was gradual, and the landing craft could only get to 250 feet from the shore at that point, unlike the previously selected points, where the landing craft could ground at the shore, put down a couple of planks and disgorge artillery on shore. Whilst the infantry might wade through 250 feet of surf, certainly vehicles could not (including the artillery). Alexander devised a quite ingenious scheme of using pontoons to make a short wharf, allowing the artillery rafts to tie to the end and land their guns over the wharf. Converting the craft to land on the left bank of the York took around a week. So much time had been consumed that McClellan was ready to assault.

Duly, Franklin's Division finally landed, and marched to join Heintzelman's 3rd Corps, where they were designated a reserve for the assault on Yorktown proper (first wave was Hooker against the White Redoubt, Kearny against the Red Redoubt and Porter at Yorktown proper. Sedgwick, Richardson and Franklin constituted the second wave). D-day was set for 5th May.



On the contrary, McClellan did adjust to the new circumstances. It's just the changed circumstances required changes in planning etc. which consumed time. Like building a pre-fabricated wharf in sections because the Navy refused to follow through on their plans.
Do you have any sources for any of this? Because I distinctly remember, and can find the source, that the navy acknowledged the possibility of running past Yorktown at night.

And, Goldsborough made clear that his expectation was that the navy would be supporting a landing at the Severn. And if reducing Gloucester first, before Yorktown, was in fact foolish than McClellan was a fool because that is what he suggested to the navy.
 
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Lubliner

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Do you have any sources for any of this? Because I distinctly remember, and can find the source, that the navy acknowledged the possibility of running past Yorktown at night.

And, Goldsborough made clear that his expectation was that the navy would be supporting a landing at the Severn. And if reducing Gloucester first, before Yorktown, was in fact foolish than McClellan was a fool because that is what he suggested to the navy.
Volume 11, part 1, McClellan has his long report on the Campaign. Begins on page 5 (I am not using the Cornell site)
1. Council formed on March 13 composed of 4 Corps Commanders, President, adopt Ft. Monroe as base of operations.
2. In addition to the use of these 4 corps, the Navy cooperation was desired for an attack on Yorktown and Gloucester, as well as controlling the York and James Rivers. Protecting flanks and transporting supplies for all four corps, used in their entirety, plus the 10,000 men garrisoning Ft. Monroe.
3. Transports arrived slow and few at a time. (all from page 5)
4. McClellan arrives at Ft. Monroe April 2, 1862, (bottom of page 6)
5. On his arrival the James River was declared by naval authorities closed to operations of their vessels (page 8)
6. Admiral Goldsborough did not feel able to detach any force to attack Yorktown and Gloucester. (page 8)
7. Because of this, a change in plans for landing the First Corps on the left bank of the York or on the Severn, to move it on Gloucester and West Point, to take in reverse whatever force the enemy might have on the Peninsula.
8. Terrible topo information needed correction. (bottom page 8).
9. On April 4, 1862, McClellan receives this message ; "By direction of the President, General McDowell's Corps has been detached from the force under your immediate command, and will report to Secretary of War."
10. In messaging the President, General McClellan states, "....In my judgement [is needed] the whole of the First Corps to land upon the Severn River and attack Gloucester in the rear. My present strength will not admit of a detachment sufficient for this purpose without materially impairing the efficiency of this column. Flag Officer Goldsborough thinks the works too strong for his available vessels unless I can turn Gloucester." That message was sent April 7.

I hope this helps clarify the points under scrutiny, though it really doesn't answer the debacle going on in the chain of communication between Washington and the field. It does help establish the hamstringing of plans originally intended.

Thanks, Lubliner.
 

DanSBHawk

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Volume 11, part 1, McClellan has his long report on the Campaign. Begins on page 5 (I am not using the Cornell site)
1. Council formed on March 13 composed of 4 Corps Commanders, President, adopt Ft. Monroe as base of operations.
2. In addition to the use of these 4 corps, the Navy cooperation was desired for an attack on Yorktown and Gloucester, as well as controlling the York and James Rivers. Protecting flanks and transporting supplies for all four corps, used in their entirety, plus the 10,000 men garrisoning Ft. Monroe.
3. Transports arrived slow and few at a time. (all from page 5)
4. McClellan arrives at Ft. Monroe April 2, 1862, (bottom of page 6)
5. On his arrival the James River was declared by naval authorities closed to operations of their vessels (page 8)
6. Admiral Goldsborough did not feel able to detach any force to attack Yorktown and Gloucester. (page 8)
7. Because of this, a change in plans for landing the First Corps on the left bank of the York or on the Severn, to move it on Gloucester and West Point, to take in reverse whatever force the enemy might have on the Peninsula.
8. Terrible topo information needed correction. (bottom page 8).
9. On April 4, 1862, McClellan receives this message ; "By direction of the President, General McDowell's Corps has been detached from the force under your immediate command, and will report to Secretary of War."
10. In messaging the President, General McClellan states, "....In my judgement [is needed] the whole of the First Corps to land upon the Severn River and attack Gloucester in the rear. My present strength will not admit of a detachment sufficient for this purpose without materially impairing the efficiency of this column. Flag Officer Goldsborough thinks the works too strong for his available vessels unless I can turn Gloucester." That message was sent April 7.

I hope this helps clarify the points under scrutiny, though it really doesn't answer the debacle going on in the chain of communication between Washington and the field. It does help establish the hamstringing of plans originally intended.

Thanks, Lubliner.
Thanks, Lubliner, but I'd have to disagree. Even after McClellan had found out about First Corps, there were still plans to land on the Severn. Here is an April 15th letter from EA Hitchcock at Fort Monroe to Stanton on April 15th (it's in the Correspondence of the same OR volume you cited):

Fort Monroe, April 15,1862.
Hon. E. M. Stanton,
Secretary of War:
I arrived this morning. Have been on board of the Monitor, and thence to the Minnesota, where I saw Commodore Goldsborough, whose plan for receiving the Merrimac is as perfect as circumstances will admit. He awaits an attack, and will not be drawn from his position into shallow water. Merrimac not seen to-day. Commodore Goldsborough has sent four gunboats to General McClellan’s assistance, and has three more in reserve to aid the landing in the Severn. The necessity of occupying Gloucester seems admitted on all hands. Gloucester once taken, Commodore Goldsborough will pass above Yorktown and shell the enemy in flank. This is understood between the two commanders. The enemy has seen the necessity of defending Gloucester and is preparing for it. The country, made almost impassable by the late rains, will soon be in good condition for wagons, except through the known swamps. I hear much better accounts of the condition of the public property than was reported a few days ago on good authority. I am persuaded that the army is in good spirits, and is full of reliance on their commander, who is confident of success; but he needs heavy guns, which are but just now reaching him. I see no opening for any additional order from the War Department.
E. A. HITCHCOCK,
Major-General Volunteers.

I don't take McClellans reports or writing as anything other than serving his own interests. He presumed some things about the Navy's participation without really confirming or planning them with the Navy. And his claims that "his present strength" was not strong enough for a Severn detachment is ridiculous when you think about the number of troops that was holding Fort Monroe before he got there.
 
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DanSBHawk

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Regarding the landing on the Severn, McClellan is told by April 11th that Franklin's division is being sent to him. McClellan writes to Stanton on the 11th: "I am delighted with Franklin’s orders, and beg to thank you. I shall make the movement I have alluded to as soon as possible after he arrives. There shall not be a moment’s unnecessary delay in any of the operations here."

On the 14th, McClellan is informed of an intelligence report that there are only 5 companies of confederates at Gloucester. McClellan will presumably soon have Franklins division landed to oppose them.

On the 15th McClellan writes to Stanton, "I am on point of going onboard gunboats with Franklin to reconnoiter" and then later the same day, "Have found what seems a good landing place for Franklin, who has returned to superintend embarkation of his division."

On the 19th, the navy commander Misroon writes McClellan, "I am glad to learn that General Franklin, with part of his troops, have arrived. My plans for co-operation are ready for approval or amendment by him." The navy is ready and standing by for the landing on the Severn.

And then, nothing. McClellan basically just stops talking about a Severn landing in his correspondence. His updates to Stanton say nothing about it.

On the 28th, over ten days since McClellan and Franklin scouted out a good landing place, the navy commander Misroon writes, "As the first duty of importance for the vessels will be to cover the landing of General Franklin’s division, they must be kept intact and ready for it" and "I should think that the pontoons at Sand Box indicate to the enemy the intention to land at Gloucester."

On May 1, over two weeks now since McClellan and Franklin identified the landing place, Lincoln writes McClellan:
Washington, May 1, 1862.
Major-General McClellan:
Your call for Parrott guns from Washington alarms me, chiefly because it argues indefinite procrastination. Is anything to be done?
A. LINCOLN.


On May 4, over three weeks after McClellan wrote Stanton, "I shall make the movement I have alluded to as soon as possible," McClellan finally gives Franklin the order to come ashore, but on the Yorktown side of the river.

McClellan had options other than a siege. He just failed to take any action. All of this can be found in the OR vol 11, Correspondence.
 
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DanSBHawk

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Why did McClellan fail to land Franklin on the Gloucester side as he had told Stanton he would?

According to Franklins JCCW testimony: "We were kept in the Poquosin river for some time without disembarking, because the general was under the impression that it was impossible to spare another division to join mine; and one division would have been too weak to land alone, on the north side of the York river."

So McClellan received the reinforcement that he had said was adequate for the job, and then failed to even attempt it.
 
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