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

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Lubliner

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@DanSBHawk, I remember no discrepancy of facts shared between us. The original plan versus a contingent operation based on the fluid activity of field maneuvering, and why McClellan abstained is a wild guess for me at the moment. Trying to answer my own original question of 'disaffection' or 'dissatisfaction' or 'disenchantment', the President suddenly shows a keen manifestation against his top general. But Wait....!!! [I may have found a clue].

Blenker's Division was taken out of McClellan's control and the President did not tell why to McClellan. He was apologetic, and McClellan accepted it. But why didn't he say those troops were promised to Fremont? Fremont learned of it April 1st, that Blenker's Division had been detached from the Army of the Potomac and was now en route toward the Mountain Department which Fremont ascended to command March 29th.

Here is the brainteaser. McClellan was known to have his troops ready and drilled and gathering to sail toward the Peninsula, when Blenker's Division was relieved from his command. Meanwhile all the transports of wagons and men and horses were drawn by McClellan for the ensuing campaign, leaving the Mountain Department almost stripped of adequate numbers of men and horses and materials of war.

Blenker's Division:
By April 12th the division had failed to reach its destination of Harper's Ferry. Upon inspection by April 19th the troops mentioned were so illy provided for they could not march to Moorefield for want of shoes. It was said they had spent previously 38 days without tents or shelter in some of the worst spring weather encountered to date in Virginia. They were in need of 36 ambulances and teams for brigade and division regulations, and needed over 40 horses to move their batteries out of Martinsburg.

These men finally entered into the limits of the Mountain Department on May 4th and 5th. When arrived, the men were in an exhausted condition, the horses were near starvation and broken down, the wagons were inadequate for maintaining supply. It had been reduced to less than 7000 men, almost all in need of overcoats, blankets and shoes. Most had Austrian and Hungarian rifles with no ammunition.

These men were reported as being without any articles of first necessity for the field.
Does this sound like a twist of the handle, when an officer strips bare a whole division because he is no longer the commander of it, and moves onward without giving the least thought to a United Force?

Lubliner.
 

Lubliner

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The previous information on Blenker's Division was found in Series 1 of Official Records, Volume 12, Part 1, pages 3 through 7 of General Fremont's report written in 1865.

Thanks, Lubliner.
 

DanSBHawk

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@DanSBHawk, I remember no discrepancy of facts shared between us. The original plan versus a contingent operation based on the fluid activity of field maneuvering, and why McClellan abstained is a wild guess for me at the moment. Trying to answer my own original question of 'disaffection' or 'dissatisfaction' or 'disenchantment', the President suddenly shows a keen manifestation against his top general. But Wait....!!! [I may have found a clue].

Blenker's Division was taken out of McClellan's control and the President did not tell why to McClellan. He was apologetic, and McClellan accepted it. But why didn't he say those troops were promised to Fremont? Fremont learned of it April 1st, that Blenker's Division had been detached from the Army of the Potomac and was now en route toward the Mountain Department which Fremont ascended to command March 29th.

Here is the brainteaser. McClellan was known to have his troops ready and drilled and gathering to sail toward the Peninsula, when Blenker's Division was relieved from his command. Meanwhile all the transports of wagons and men and horses were drawn by McClellan for the ensuing campaign, leaving the Mountain Department almost stripped of adequate numbers of men and horses and materials of war.

Blenker's Division:
By April 12th the division had failed to reach its destination of Harper's Ferry. Upon inspection by April 19th the troops mentioned were so illy provided for they could not march to Moorefield for want of shoes. It was said they had spent previously 38 days without tents or shelter in some of the worst spring weather encountered to date in Virginia. They were in need of 36 ambulances and teams for brigade and division regulations, and needed over 40 horses to move their batteries out of Martinsburg.

These men finally entered into the limits of the Mountain Department on May 4th and 5th. When arrived, the men were in an exhausted condition, the horses were near starvation and broken down, the wagons were inadequate for maintaining supply. It had been reduced to less than 7000 men, almost all in need of overcoats, blankets and shoes. Most had Austrian and Hungarian rifles with no ammunition.

These men were reported as being without any articles of first necessity for the field.
Does this sound like a twist of the handle, when an officer strips bare a whole division because he is no longer the commander of it, and moves onward without giving the least thought to a United Force?

Lubliner.
Interesting. What is your opinion of the matter?
 
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Lubliner

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Interesting. What is your opinion of the matter?
I really need to return to Volume 11 and Volume 5 and find out specifically the dates on the full affair. At the moment it sounds to me (and I did wait a full day trying to digest the information) as though it was a tacit rebuff to leave the men without proper support, and ship all baggage etc. on to the Peninsula. (I need to verify issues, orders, etc. along the chain of command).

It does not seem likely at my initial discovery that these troops would be in such a derelict state of support and supply, once command was reenacted. It seems a gloss over on McClellan's part to believe he would not separate the baggage and wagons if they were ready to go. Was he trying to claim as much as possible for the belief in his own undertaking, and thinking no other departments had need? I almost feel it was done as an act of malicious intent, and possibly how the President felt it to be. What thoughts can you draw, and what reference can you find to further this hypothesis or deny it @DanSBHawk?

Thanks, Lubliner.
 
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trice

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I really need to return to Volume 11 and Volume 5 and find out specifically the dates on the full affair. At the moment it sounds to me (and I did wait a full day trying to digest the information) as though it was a tacit rebuff to leave the men without proper support, and ship all baggage etc. on to the Peninsula. (I need to verify issues, orders, etc. along the chain of command).

It does not seem likely at my initial discovery that these troops would be in such a derelict state of support and supply, once command was reenacted. It seems a gloss over on McClellan's part to believe he would not separate the baggage and wagons if they were ready to go. Was he trying to claim as much as possible for the belief in his own undertaking, and thinking no other departments had need? I almost feel it was done as an act of malicious intent, and possibly how the President felt it to be. What thoughts can you draw, and what reference can you find to further this hypothesis or deny it @DanSBHawk?

Thanks, Lubliner.
Sadly, Blenker's Division suffered badly from the lack of good leadership (from Blenker on up to Stanton) and became a notoriously bad unit given to wanton destruction and plundering. I doubt things would have gone the same way if Blenker had remained in close control of McClellan and Sumner in II Corps.

From McClellan's Own Story:
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Lubliner

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I would first like to apologize for some few small errors in my own postings, such as when @Saphroneth corrected my use of 'Halleck' instead of Stanton. It was inadvertent and the thought advanced with the fingers on a different setting. Also the use of rifles is Belgian and Austrian. I am sure there may be others and hopefully insignificant to the theme and purpose of the thread, and without a major blunder of fact. If so though, please do correct any outright mistake which I may stumble on by.

I reviewed some more and see where Sumner did complain to McClellan that he was left with the least adequate force in his Corps, when the other two divisions moved to Alexandria. It had been under question to send two of Blenker's brigades forward and let one remain until 4000 troops from Wadsworth could reinforce his Manassas front. The records do not indicate all that transpired, and I am uncertain whether the whole division advanced or parts of it only. I do know that fault was found in McClellan's orders for Wadsworth to fill the quota of 4000 and relieve Hooker's men on Aquia Creek. This was the cause of withholding McDowell.

The President had plans for the Mountain Department to cut the Tennessee-Virginia railroad and move on Knoxville, acting in concert with the ongoing operations out west, toward the Cumberland Gap. Fremont said the President essentially was expecting way more than what his own troops in their condition and numbers could handle. (Later this order was changed to cut the railroad and move on Richmond). None of this could take place with the supplies, forage, subsistence, etc. that were in the Department. Fremont really did make a very good effort in driving Jackson, and it was Shields mistake the confederates got away.

So the President appears to be pushing for action in more than one direction without the abilities of available resource. On McClellan's behalf, the best determination I can justify is to say is, he is a 'Monopolist' on men, materials and supplies. As I mentioned a few posts back, whether this was done in an exaggerated manner after being deprived of troops and voiding plans, it is still a fault laying squarely on his inability to resolve it responsibly with the President. Fremont did the best he could and his men did suffer for want, but he did see the broader purpose and put it above the difficulties he was encountering. McClellan could not do that, from all I can assess.

Thanks again,
Lubliner.
 
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Saphroneth

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What the Navy Knew, and when


Course of events with the implementation of the Peninsular plan, and the involvement of the navy. Cases where we know the Navy was informed are in bold, cases where the Navy was merely said to be involved by someone else are in italics.


As of the middle of March, the intended plan was the Urbanna plan.



13th March: vote of the corps commanders which imposes the Fort Monroe plan over the Urbanna plan.

The minutes of this meeting include a statement that the Peninsular operations will be preferred provided “that a naval auxiliary force can be had to silence or aid in silencing the enemy's batteries in York River”.

In a 7th April letter, Keyes states that he had a verbal promise from Fox that Yorktown would be attacked before he signed the plan.

That Keyes did this is also in his memoirs and in the JCCW testimony.



17th March:

McDowell states that in a conference he was promised all the power of the Navy to be at their disposal.

A message from Gustavus Fox to Goldsborough states that every available vessel will be send to him to assist in the Army movement.

Union troops begin moving.


18th March:

Dahlgren's diary says that there is a meeting where McClellan explained the plans to Fox.


19th March:

McClellan suspends the movement to the Peninsula on the grounds there is uncertainty about the reliability of the Navy


21st March:

Dahlgren's diary says that McDowell asks for the Navy to attack Yorktown in the presence of Lincoln; Dahlgren agrees, Welles says no, Fox demurs a decision.



24th March:

A message from Fox to Goldsborough clearly outlines that the Army wants the Navy to bombard Yorktown, and tells him to do it “if he can”.



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).

If Keyes is lying, then it is possible that the Navy was informed of the movement only on the 17th (the same day it began) and that the Navy was informed of the requirement to bombard Yorktown only on the 21st (because on that day we know from Dahlgren's diary that the Navy was asked to attack Yorktown). Either way this is still two weeks before McClellan's forces reached the Warwick line.

There is no consistent reading of events where the Navy did not know about the bombardment plan after the 21st March, because Dahlgren wrote about the plan in his diary. Dahlgren would have to be simultaneously lying and clairvoyant for the Navy to not know; the diary entry makes no sense otherwise.

On the 24th of March there is no longer any possible question. Fox knew about the bombardment plan by the 24th of March, and we know that because he wrote it explicitly in a letter to Goldsborough.


We know at least one person involved in this was lying or, at best, did not remember what had happened; that person is Fox.
It is possible that McDowell and Keyes were also lying or mistaken about when they discussed aspects of the plan, and in that case we must rely upon the times when Navy men stated aspects of the plan in things they wrote.



The bottom line here is that a failure to secure naval cooperation was not the problem at Yorktown. The Navy knew what the plan was no later than the 21st March, and Keyes and McDowell separately stated that they had obtained a promise that the Navy would support them on or before that date. With half of McClellan's corps commanders telling him the Navy will support him in bombarding Yorktown, McClellan would have reason to believe the Navy would support him in bombarding Yorktown.

As a prudent commander, McClellan nevertheless secured an alternative for if the Navy did not come through (the siege train).
 

OpnCoronet

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Grant had his problems with naval protocols and preference for rigid insistence on following orders to the letter and no further, but he found ways to get their cooperation, even if he sometimes had to thretened to do the Navy's job for them, if they could or could not.
 

DanSBHawk

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18th March:

Dahlgren's diary says that there is a meeting where McClellan explained the plans to Fox.


19th March:

McClellan suspends the movement to the Peninsula on the grounds there is uncertainty about the reliability of the Navy


21st March:

Dahlgren's diary says that McDowell asks for the Navy to attack Yorktown in the presence of Lincoln; Dahlgren agrees, Welles says no, Fox demurs a decision.
Regarding the diary of Dahlgren, there is nothing for the 18th that indicates they discussed reducing Yorktown by naval gunfire alone.

On the 21st, this is the entry in the Dahlgren diary:
"March 21. — Regular N. Easter. The President came down about three P. M. and asked me to go with him to Alexandria to see General McClellan, who came on board with
General McDowell, and a confab ensued on the operations about York River. McDowell's corps is to begin there, and the question is, whether to spread out from Fort Monroe or to attack Yorktown in the vessels and land there. The President concluded we should meet at the White House this evening. So McDowell accompanied the President and myself to the Navy Yard, and at 8.! P. M. we assembled in the President's private cabinet, — the Secretaries of War and Navy, Fox, McDowell, and myself. McDowell wanted the ships to attack. I advocated doing so with " Minnesota," " Wabash," and " Niagara," which vessels could be got round by the time McDowell's corps were there, and the new iron-clad " Galena " would also be ready. But the Secretary of the Navy was not so inclined, and Fox threw cold water by saying that General Barnard (of engineers) had gone down to confer with Goldsborough, and we must first hear from them. The Secretaries of War and Navy are very offish, always ; so we adjourned — " another proof that Councils of War do not fight," which I whispered to McDowell as we left."


The option was an "attack" and a "landing." Still nothing about the navy reducing Yorktown by naval gunfire alone.

The navy promised to support the army's operation, not to fight the battle for them.
 
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On my previous posting #166 I presented a stance of saying McClellan was a 'Monopolist'. I did this to lessen harsh judgments made earlier which are so familiar already, I need not repeat them. From the records; on March 16, 1862, General McClellan notifies Stanton, as 'Honorable E. M._____, Secretary of War:
"In order to carry out the proposed object of the Army, it has now become necessary that its commander should have the entire control of affairs around Fort Monroe." [O. R. Series 1, Volume 11, Part 3, pg. 8].

Of due course McClellan is designating himself, not another. On the same date Gideon Welles has urgently messaged both the New York and Boston Navy Yards to hurry forward to Hampton Roads all gunboats available. There is a distinct note that should be mentioned in the arrangement with the Navy. Transports were used as being under Army regulations, while gunboats were under Navy orders to protect the transports. McClellan still is hurrying forward his plans to ship by transport the whole of First Corps, (McDowell's) by the end of the week.

It is also on March 17 that Gen. Wadsworth has been assigned to Military Governor of the city of Washington, in charge of defenses north and south of the Potomac, including Alexandria a down to Fort Washington. He was put in charge of all new troops arriving and supervising all troops in the city. [S. O. #83].

McClellan states to Marcy on March 18,
"...I am now constantly obliged to tread on the heels of corps commanders by acting directly with divisions..."
He at this moment is busily directing the affairs of loading troops in their proper order, along with horse transports and other articles of material supply on transports to hurry south down the Potomac.

On March 20, a meeting was held concerning cooperation of the Navy. The official records [Ibid. pg 23-26]. reflect McClellan did not attend, but had sent a letter. McDowell being present says this about the meeting to McClellan;
"Nothing decisive at the President's....The only question seemed to be as to the ability of the Navy to do their part....I think it evident they cannot before you can ship another division [Heintzelman's] to Old Point.

Also about this time a boat had been built by Vanderbilt in New York and donated to the Army for use in the Chesapeake and elsewhere. This boat caused some contention when it arrived for the fact it was to be kept under Army rule and authority. I have not found any use made of this vessel yet, other than the 'giving her over to the Navy' and then re-claimed by Stanton as the Army's.

@Saphroneth I think they met with Barnard the next day. But from what I am witnessing with the records I can grasp upon, is that McClellan has taken 'lock-stock-and-barrel' in his move which he accelerates and pushes forward, while Lincoln and the rest appear to be applying 'the brakes'. I earlier formed a contention against McClellan that he stripped the Mountain Department, and especially Blenker's Division of all necessary field equipments. Do you, or rather have you, come across any evidence that McClellan advanced knowingly with baggage, supplies, etc. for the whole available force he was promised, and did not separate and leave behind the equipments these other divisions and departments required? Even Wadsworth admits that he hasn't the required strength of experienced men to fulfill his own obligations, that the manning of new troops in artillery emplacements was worthless.

Again the reasons I come upon to find Lincoln suddenly turning sharply against favorable leniency on McClellan's part are due to the direct consequence of McClellan's acting in a 'Monopolistic' fashion by claiming all he can without regarding the whole scheme of the country.
Thanks for continued responses. These thoughts of mine do not come alone, but by the prompting of other minds.
Lubliner.
 

OpnCoronet

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Much has been made of the Peninsula Campaign, Second Manassas, and Antietam, with an emphasis on battlefield tactics, overall strategy, and leadership command. A failure occurred in the attempt to take Richmond, and the counter-stroke by the rebels put the Federal forces back into Maryland. Instead of blaming any fault with General McClellan for these failures, I would prefer to hear a reasoned opinion on Lincoln's ploy of political strength in overruling Army Doctrine and Discipline. Why was the military strategy subverted and what caused it? Thank you.
Lubliner.


From the White House, the view of affairs on the Peninsula, was one of great energy being expended to no great prpose of effect. Much tooing and froing, onferences, orders counter orders, complaints, finger pointing, etcl, etc. etc. and, etc. There was no agreement from various dept's of the War Dept, or McClellans Hdqtrs, of exactly how many men McClellan had under his command, nor how many reinforcements received or when or where.

The bottom line was that from the Administrations point of view(the view that really mattered, in this case) as far as the reestablishing of Federal control and Constitutional Authority and Law, in Va. as quickly as possible, was not happening, and that slowly and at great expense in time, energy and money.

As already noted, one moment McClellan was tapping at the gates of Richmond, and almost literally, is fighting for his life, in Md. All the while loudly proclaimiing that none of that was any of his responsibility.


P.S. Politically, while it may be true, that little mac was not disloyal to the Union, he was, I think, disloyal to the Lincoln Administration.
 

Lubliner

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From the White House, the view of affairs on the Peninsula, was one of great energy being expended to no great prpose of effect. Much tooing and froing, onferences, orders counter orders, complaints, finger pointing, etcl, etc. etc. and, etc. There was no agreement from various dept's of the War Dept, or McClellans Hdqtrs, of exactly how many men McClellan had under his command, nor how many reinforcements received or when or where.

The bottom line was that from the Administrations point of view(the view that really mattered, in this case) as far as the reestablishing of Federal control and Constitutional Authority and Law, in Va. as quickly as possible, was not happening, and that slowly and at great expense in time, energy and money.

As already noted, one moment McClellan was tapping at the gates of Richmond, and almost literally, is fighting for his life, in Md. All the while loudly proclaimiing that none of that was any of his responsibility.


P.S. Politically, while it may be true, that little mac was not disloyal to the Union, he was, I think, disloyal to the Lincoln Administration.
Still exasperated with the idea of putting the blame on McClellan's shoulders, and though I mentioned the major flaw in retaining all the materials of war for himself, I began to think he expected the other troops in all departments to remain static while he moved. But again, this leads me to wonder when these meetings took place with the President and McClellan and his subordinates, wasn't he briefed on the Mountain Department and the responsibility they held, and the field of Manassas as well, the great fear the confederates would turn and invade a route he called 'improbable'. To remain secure is to remain without the fear of being overrun by enemy troops, and a great fear did exist in the environs of Washington City.

How can I deflect blame on a commander that should know the idea of striking a blow from one direction and moving in from the opposite side, such as Fremont was ordered to do once Jackson was defeated (and he almost was). Yet instead of being fairly motivated to bring strength up to a usable force, he acted in a way that deprived more than one other army department with necessary strength per experience, utensils, and supplies to complete any field operations.

So a gung-ho shot at Richmond was supposed to be a brief affair that would give these other troops a rest and relaxation period? They were to sit idly encamped until the final salvo after storming Richmond? Can Lincoln be at fault for not letting McClellan understand the other departments had obligations that were concerted, possibly, as well? This is what baffles me with McClellan. He should have known, and should have allowed other forces composed of his own allegiance to qualify, or be accredited to the campaign. It undoubtedly points to excessive egoism, but character is not a cause for injustice. What he did still remains unjust in my own mind.

I really do not like feeling this way about a commander as 'gifted' as he was. He had much opportunity, and Lincoln's intimacies with the general are founded I think on faults beyond character, dealing with fairness to all. Even Halleck called him out on favoritism.

Thanks, Lubliner.
 
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CanadianCanuck

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I really do not like feeling this way about a commander as 'gifted' as he was. He had much opportunity, and Lincoln's intimacies with the general are founded I think on faults beyond character, dealing with fairness to all. Even Halleck called him out on favoritism.
Saying 'favoritism' or 'ego' is pretty accurate in McClellan's case I think (to whit, a man who respected his President/Commander in Chief would not have willingly run against him in 1864) as he definitely played favorites on trusted subordinates, and his private correspondence shows he really was willing to disregard the advice of others he felt didn't know as well as him.

However, with favoritism I think that this was a flaw commanders have shared throughout history. Even the greats of the civil war were not immune to it. Lee was always willing to place enormous authority on Jackson, Early and Longstreet and he had a rather ruthless purge of officers he deemed unfit for his standards after the Seven Days. Sherman too played great favorites with the Army of Tennessee, and even indirectly (or directly if you look at it in other ways) snubbed George Thomas and the Army of the Cumberland by leaving him/them out of the March to the Sea.
 

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That's an odd definition of favouritism - favouring those regarded as competent over those less competent.

McClellan didn't favour generals due to friendship. Look at Hooker, who continually openly disparaged McClellan. Yet, McClellan regarded him as competent and so protected him and secured him a corps and the rank of BG in the regular army.

This is the nature of McClellan's "favouritism" - promoting competence over seniority, friendship or political connections (see his firing of Hamilton - McClellan was willing to defy Lincoln to rid himself of a bad subordinate, asking Lincoln to make it an order to reinstate Hamilton*). Indeed, it is incompetence that gets McClellan's hackles up, with the obvious examples being Sumner at Williamsburg and Burnside at Antietam.

* Hamilton was sent to Grant's forces, and Grant also fired him for the same reasons.
 

Saphroneth

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@DanSBHawk - yes, and I was precise in my language. The latest that a bombardment of Yorktown is explicitly stated by the Navy is the 24th of March, where Fox orders Goldsborough to do it; the latest that an attack on Yorktown is explicitly stated by a Navy person is the 21st, where Dahlgren mentions an attack on Yorktown without specifying whether it would be a bombardment or not.
But an attack on Yorktown without a bombardment makes no sense. Yorktown is known to be defended, and a pure landing without any navy bombardment wouldn't actually require the help of the navy, as such; what would that look like?

If McClellan was thinking in terms of a bombardment then presumably he would have mentioned it at one of the meetings; there's no reason for him to not mention it, since the ops plan notes that the involvement of a naval force to "silence or aid in silencing" the Yorktown batteries is a precondition.

Regardless, however, it is clear that Fox's late-April statement that he was not informed of the Navy plans is false. There were meetings on the 18th and 21st March where the plans were outlined, and by the 24th March Fox clearly knows the plan because he's telling someone else about it.

The only person in this discussion (out of Fox, Keyes, Dahlgren, McClellan and McDowell) who we know to have falsified information is Fox, because he claimed ignorance of a topic which he had earlier stated in so many words.


As such, we must consider what Fox stated in his letters to be the lower bound for what the Navy promised, and not the upper bound. Even that lower bound indicates that they were aware by the 24th March that bombarding Yorktown was on the table, and since Keyes stated that his assent to the plan was conditional on Yorktown being attacked then the upper bound is that the Navy promised to attack Yorktown before the plan was actually agreed upon.


The most charitable interpretation of things is that there was a fundamental misunderstanding on what it means to "attack" Yorktown, in that the Navy may have had some interpretation of "attacking" a fortified town complete with batteries that didn't actually involve bombarding it, but I admit I'm somewhat at a loss as to what it would look like for the Navy to attack Yorktown (or "silence or aid in silencing" the batteries) without shelling it...
 
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DanSBHawk

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@DanSBHawk - yes, and I was precise in my language. The latest that a bombardment of Yorktown is explicitly stated by the Navy is the 24th of March, where Fox orders Goldsborough to do it; the latest that an attack on Yorktown is explicitly stated by a Navy person is the 21st, where Dahlgren mentions an attack on Yorktown without specifying whether it would be a bombardment or not.
But an attack on Yorktown without a bombardment makes no sense. Yorktown is known to be defended, and a pure landing without any navy bombardment wouldn't actually require the help of the navy, as such; what would that look like?

If McClellan was thinking in terms of a bombardment then presumably he would have mentioned it at one of the meetings; there's no reason for him to not mention it, since the ops plan notes that the involvement of a naval force to "silence or aid in silencing" the Yorktown batteries is a precondition.

Regardless, however, it is clear that Fox's late-April statement that he was not informed of the Navy plans is false. There were meetings on the 18th and 21st March where the plans were outlined, and by the 24th March Fox clearly knows the plan because he's telling someone else about it.

The only person in this discussion (out of Fox, Keyes, Dahlgren, McClellan and McDowell) who we know to have falsified information is Fox, because he claimed ignorance of a topic which he had earlier stated in so many words.


As such, we must consider what Fox stated in his letters to be the lower bound for what the Navy promised, and not the upper bound. Even that lower bound indicates that they were aware by the 24th March that bombarding Yorktown was on the table, and since Keyes stated that his assent to the plan was conditional on Yorktown being attacked then the upper bound is that the Navy promised to attack Yorktown before the plan was actually agreed upon.


The most charitable interpretation of things is that there was a fundamental misunderstanding on what it means to "attack" Yorktown, in that the Navy may have had some interpretation of "attacking" a fortified town complete with batteries that didn't actually involve bombarding it, but I admit I'm somewhat at a loss as to what it would look like for the Navy to attack Yorktown (or "silence or aid in silencing" the batteries) without shelling it...
I've never said the navy did not agree to throw some shells at Yorktown and Gloucester. I've argued that there was never a plan agreed upon by the Navy to reduce Yorktown by naval gunfire ALONE. Even the March 24th message from Fox to Goldsborough is a non-order which asks Goldsborough to do what he thinks is possible.

There was no promise by the Navy to reduce Yorktown so that the Army could march up the Peninsula.

McClellan blamed the Navy for the delay. But McClellan failed to plan, coordinate, or effectively use the opportunities for joint operations on the Peninsula. Besides Yorktown, there is Drewrys Bluff as an example of a failure to utilize joint operations. McClellan didn't fail because of the Navy. He failed all on his own.
 

Lubliner

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The understanding of the word 'failure' is not necessarily all military strategy.
1. McClellan can be found to have failed at forming a compromise with the Government regarding the assembly and disposition of war materials;
2. after the Seven Days and the retreat, he has failed in the Public Press to bring away laurels from the field of action;
3. failure in maintaining morale among the ranks
4. failure in working in tandem with other departments.

These failures are not all a fault to his military skill and knowledge. They are more in tune with social and economic guidelines of responsibility he cannot align himself with. An immense amount of money had been used from the previous August when McClellan was transferred from the Ohio. He could not grasp, maybe, the functions of a Government overseeing military operations? His insecurities can be glimpsed in his numerous dealings with others, and it could possibly be as Scott permitted it on record, "...a young junior officer...".

Lubliner.
 

Lubliner

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Please allow me, both @Saphroneth and @DanSBHawk, an opportunity to clarify my use of the term 'favoritism' (sorry for being obscure).
Having read much of the correspondence out west with Halleck in Saint Louis, and Grant in Cairo (?), and Buell in Nashville, and C. F. Smith being initially in charge at Savannah, Tennessee; Halleck was reporting daily to McClellan on troop strengths, etc. and really made a complaint to Grant over his failure to make timely reports. That issue was cleared up between Halleck and Grant, but at the same time he was complaining directly to McClellan about General Buell always being late to the scene of action in committing his troops to aid the battles. Halleck had made a comment on one too many major generals in the field out west that caused a lack of cooperation, for one could not command the other. (A similar incident occurred between Fremont and Shields in the Shenandoah). Halleck had attributed this shortcoming to McClellan pulling strings to create departments for 'friends' to head, when the overall command of the forces were divided up. Whether this accusation is valid, it was at least to Halleck, who wanted the command for himself.
Thanks,
Lubliner.
 
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Saphroneth

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Keyes' account states that he got confirmation from the Navy that an attack on Yorktown was possible before he even gave his approval to the plan. This conflicts with the account given by Fox, but we have already shown that Fox's account is unreliable because he states as fact that he did not know of the Army's plan when we can show as fact that he knew of the Army's full plan no later than the 24th March and that a movement to Monroe was taking place several days prior.

Now, it is probably the case that the Navy was not aware of the "bombard Yorktown by yourselves while the Warwick line is still holding" plan until early April at the earliest, because that was not the Army plan until early April either. The Army plan, based on the information they had available (to whit, the (false) course of the Warwick river) and the then-current Confederate positions (to whit, the Big Bethel line) was to make a landing around Wormley Creek to cut the majority of the Confederate force on the Peninsula off south of Yorktown, leaving Yorktown as an isolated bastion (or to sweep around it and do the same, which would have been possible without the true course of the flooded Warwick constraining the battlespace).

If this Army plan had gone through successfully (which is to say, if Magruder had not been spooked) then Yorktown would still need to be reduced by bombardment; by itself it could hold out for several weeks unless taken by assault or bombarded, and of the two bombardment is much easier.

*That* Army-Navy cooperation plan was skotched when Heintzelmann launched his demonstration and revealed that the Union army was present at Monroe in strength. At that point, the plan to surround Yorktown with the army and bombard it with the Navy (which I suspect was probably the "attack Yorktown" plan which Dahlgren refers to on the 21st March and Fox on the 24th March - knock down the town to save several weeks in the campaign by opening up the York) is gone; it is no longer possible.

After Heintzelmann's demonstration is launched, the plan is non-viable. However, as far as McClellan is aware (based on what he has been told by Keyes and McDowell about full cooperation) the Navy was willing to bombard Yorktown.
This is a reasonable assumption. They were willing to bombard Yorktown once it had been surrounded by the army, and nothing about the actual mechanics of bombarding Yorktown was changed by the altered circumstances except for the number of prisoners that could be expected to be taken.



The reason why this seems like a plausible course of events to me is that it explains all the statements by all involved except perhaps for Fox's assertion that they did not know the Army plan, and even then it could be explained if Fox thought that the Army had been expecting to run into the Warwick line.
 
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67th Tigers

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McClellan blamed the Navy for the delay. But McClellan failed to plan, coordinate, or effectively use the opportunities for joint operations on the Peninsula. Besides Yorktown, there is Drewrys Bluff as an example of a failure to utilize joint operations. McClellan didn't fail because of the Navy. He failed all on his own.
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.
 
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