Why was it so difficult to "rip the innards out"

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Saphroneth

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Burnside and the Navy worked well together in the Sound in early '62 (Roanoke Island for example). This potent force in the side of the Confederacy was only broken by Lincoln sending Burnside to McClellan.

If the eastern railroad line had been broken, Richmond and Lee would have to rely on Virginia itself and the weak railroad line through Knoxville.
The thing I'm wondering about is if Burnside really had the manpower to get clear to Raleigh NC. Checking the consolidated report for June 30 1862 the Confederate Dept. of North Carolina has 21K Aggregate Present and the Dept. of SC and Georgia has 30K Aggregate Present; IIRC a fair chunk of the Dept. of NC was concentrated around Richmond at that time, but if McClellan doesn't have the manpower to make a new offensive some of that can go back down to NC.
At the same time Burnside had 15.5K AP and Hunter had 21.5K AP, which means that both Confederate departments outnumber their Union counterparts; this isn't as much of a risk while operating near navigable water, but the Neuse river simply doesn't seem feasible as a power projection route up past Goldsboro (where it's about fifty yards across these days).

A Union capture of Raleigh would mean going another 45 straight-line miles inland from Goldsboro; I suspect at that point you're talking about needing serious reinforcement to Burnside's department, and it's back to the manpower argument again.

Had the Union continued recruitment through the spring of 1862 and had an ongoing manpower pipeline, on the other hand, all these constraints pretty much go away. Reinforce McClellan with another 20K new troops so he can keep most of Lee's force penned up in Richmond, give Burnside enough troops to muster 50K PFD and cut inland, and have Pope's Army of Virginia threatening along the line of the Rappahanock and rebuilding the Fredericksburg rail line; Lee at this point has too many cups and not enough water to fill them all.
 

Mark F. Jenkins

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Historically, no, Burnside didn't have the manpower to securely get to Raleigh and stay... and, in hindsight from his later performance, he might not have been the right commander to attempt it. (He might have made raids, but later experience proved that a raid could temporarily disrupt railroad communications but not really cut them.)

There was a title about Burnside's operations in eastern NC that had a title something like, "When Burnside was brilliant." I'm thinking more along the lines that Commander Stephen C. Rowan, USN deserves a fair chunk of that... good naval support could enable victory for even a mediocre commander (c.f. Butler at New Orleans, Banks at Port Hudson)... but of course it wasn't a guarantee (c.f. Butler at First Fort Fisher, Banks up Red River)!
 

Saphroneth

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Historically, no, Burnside didn't have the manpower to securely get to Raleigh and stay... and, in hindsight from his later performance, he might not have been the right commander to attempt it. (He might have made raids, but later experience proved that a raid could temporarily disrupt railroad communications but not really cut them.)
Even a raid might be tricky. You can't count on much more than 12 miles per day for a balanced force, so a raid on Raleigh from Goldsboro is a solid week's work - and Goldsboro is connected directly to the Richmond area, and it's your way out!
One might need to take both Goldsboro and Weldon, using the Roanoke River as your line of defence in the north, but then you're actually closer to the critical point on the Raleigh-Petersburg line at Gaston...


One interesting possibility though is what you could call "chaining". Let's say for the sake of argument that McClellan gets McDowell in early June 1862, takes the gun platforms around Goldings Farm in late June, and takes Richmond by the end of July. At this point the next suitable Confederate line of defence once the dust settles is the Roanoke.

But Burnside means there's a debouche below the Roanoke, and once Union forces supplied out of Petersburg have closed up to the Roanoke they can ship reinforcements to Burnside and turn the new Confederate line of defence. At that point I think the next major river line worthy of note is the Cape Fear River through Wilmington... not too much further to go before you reach into Hunter's area of operations?
 

Robin Lesjovitch

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The RR that Lee called for in the OR above was actually completed in June of '64. This poorly constructed slender thread is what kept Lee in the field after Grant cut the Weldon line in October.
Governor Vance obstructed the construction of the Piedmont RR to Danville as he understood that were it completed, Richmond could consider abandoning the Weldon line. Were that to happen, much of Eastern NC would he open to Union advances.
 

Saphroneth

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Just my point. At Cold Harbor Grant was after Lee. If Grant went after Richmond, he could not use White House as he did not have the manpower to secure it.
The required manpower to secure White House Landing is the manpower to hold a fortified line between the Chickahominy and the Pamunkey.

McClellan had 104,000 PFD with his main army just before the start of the Seven Days sequence; after the casualties of Wilderness+Spotsylvania+North Anna and the reinforcements he got (but without the Cold Harbor casualties) Grant would have 201,000 PFD (starting strength plus all reinforcements north of the James) - ~6,000 (highball est. of musters out) - 42,000 (Overland cas. without Cold Harbor) for about 150,000 PFD.

McClellan in 1862 was about two divisions short to the north, but was able to mount offensives on the south of the Chickahominy and actually took the vital ground during the Seven Days; Grant would need better defences because he can't use the same ground, but I suspect that the extra 45,000 PFD would cover for that.


It was an entirely viable line to go after Richmond with the troops Grant had. It may not have been the best, depending on the precise battle lines, but making regular approaches using the Richmond and York Railway is definitely a viable option with the force size Grant had on hand.
 

Saphroneth

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Given the manpower considerations, it's worth looking into the matter more generally.

The Confederacy was able to mobilize their fighting-age population to a greater extent than the Union for two reasons - one of them being that the south was where the eagle's share of the fighting was going on (so militia could be called up) and the other about manpower use. But the Union's base population was larger, so it should have been possible to mobilize a greater numerical strength anyway.

Oddly enough the strength of the offensive armies in the East in June 1862 for the Union was actually less than the defensive armies facing them. In the West it was different, but not overwhelmingly so; this can basically be ascribed to the way the Union stopped recruiting in early 1862 instead of keeping the recruit pipelines open, so the offensive concentration was drained away into the defensive armies.
It looks like there wasn't any serious use of drafted or compelled-by-threat-of-drafted manpower until 1863 at least, so - with the caveat that large numbers of casualties took place between the two dates - let's look at the increase in Union PFD between June 30 and December 31 1862 as a low estimate of what could reasonably be procured by just keeping recruiting offices open.

June 30: 432,600 PFD officers and men.
December 31: 556,000 PFD officers and men.

That's a difference of about 123,000 men.

Assuming that the situation in the West remains much the same, and that 23,000 of that PFD strength goes to the Army of the Potomac, that still leaves 100,000 men (which is by itself a major field army) to operate from the coasts. I would argue that this indicates that the constraint on amphibious operations being conducted in 1862 was not the existence of willing men, but the willingness to recruit them in the spring.


The other question is whether the supply capacity existed for these extra 123,000 men. Not in arming them - we happen to know that the Union had hundreds of thousands of rifles stockpiled on June 30 1862, though they later issued most of them to the second rush of volunteers, and the accoutrements presumably were possible as well - but in shipping capacity to move and supply those men and in wagon capacity to have them operate away from a rail line.

I can't currently speak to the ability to supply the men. The capacity to move the men did exist, there was roughly enough shipping to move around a complete three-division corps at nearly full TOE strength (ca. 30,000 PFD) plus some extra artillery capacity (though only enough horse transports for 1-2 regiments of cavalry) - it's what was used in the Peninsular movement - but supply is something else.
Wagons are hard to tell, but obviously if the men were operating near a rail line it wouldn't be so much of a problem. How much trouble would Burnside be able to cause with an extra 50K men PFD?
(Perhaps the operative question, how much trouble would Burnside be able to cause with Reno in his department commanding a full-TOE corps? )
 

Robin Lesjovitch

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The required manpower to secure White House Landing is the manpower to hold a fortified line between the Chickahominy and the Pamunkey.

McClellan had 104,000 PFD with his main army just before the start of the Seven Days sequence; after the casualties of Wilderness+Spotsylvania+North Anna and the reinforcements he got (but without the Cold Harbor casualties) Grant would have 201,000 PFD (starting strength plus all reinforcements north of the James) - ~6,000 (highball est. of musters out) - 42,000 (Overland cas. without Cold Harbor) for about 150,000 PFD.

McClellan in 1862 was about two divisions short to the north, but was able to mount offensives on the south of the Chickahominy and actually took the vital ground during the Seven Days; Grant would need better defences because he can't use the same ground, but I suspect that the extra 45,000 PFD would cover for that.


It was an entirely viable line to go after Richmond with the troops Grant had. It may not have been the best, depending on the precise battle lines, but making regular approaches using the Richmond and York Railway is definitely a viable option with the force size Grant had on hand.
I do not think I can buy this.
I cannot imagine Grant using a third of his available forces to defend a supply line to the other two thirds given those two thirds could not take Richmond on their own--and they could not. Beyond that, Grant would need to keep most of the AoP's cavalry nearby to prevent localized interdictions of that supply line. McClellan had set a proper template for what not to do, and Grant understood.
 

Saphroneth

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I cannot imagine Grant using a third of his available forces to defend a supply line to the other two thirds given those two thirds could not take Richmond on their own--and they could not.
They could; not by assault charges, but by regular approaches. Regular approaches are slower, but inexorable; the side with the bigger guns wins, and the Union had the bigger guns.

Beyond that, Grant would need to keep most of the AoP's cavalry nearby to prevent localized interdictions of that supply line.
They would not. If Grant has 65,000 PFD dug in between the Chickahominy and the Pamunkey it's actually enough men to make a solid two-deep line from one river to the other - there's no way to get to the supply line to interdict it.

A line from the Chickahominy at Orapax Farms to the Pamunkey around Hampstead is eight miles long; the normal rule of thumb is that a divisional frontage in a single two-deep line is about 6,000 men per mile, because a man is 21 inches wide in close order and each line thus fits 3,000 men per mile. Terrain means the line would need to be a bit longer, but it also means the line could be deep by not being a single two-deep line.

McClellan had set a proper template for what not to do, and Grant understood.
On the 27th of June 1862 McClellan was placing siege batteries on the high ground around Garnetts Hill; these guns included or would shortly include heavy 8" Parrott rifles with the range to shoot clear into Richmond town centre from that high ground, and could command the entire approach route into the city down the rail line.
The only reason why Richmond didn't fall in July was that McClellan had insufficient men to secure his supply line - the same day Lee threw the largest attacking force of the entire war against the men McClellan had dug-in defending his supply line (it was about 60,000 or so PFD making the attack, so near enough Lee's entire force as of Cold Harbor) and after hours of fighting he finally broke the outnumbered Union force at sundown.

There was nothing wrong with the situation that another 25,000 men wouldn't have completely solved.
 
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rbasin

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The Union navy had dominance. The Confederacy has a massive east coastline from Florida up to Virginia.

Why didn't the Union navy ever land a battle group in size somewhere on the Georgia, Florida or SC coastline and breakout, moving towards Atlanta or making South Carolina and Charleston howl?

I understand there were Union troops in all of these states, but why did they never do anything in size? If Savannah and Atlanta were so significant when Sherman got to them, why not do something in 1862 or 1863 and move on them through the coast and utilizing your Naval power? Doesn't it make sense to open up another front and make the overland approaches easier (What Rosecrans and Sherman were doing)?

mike
Couldn't have held Atlanta without having Chattanooga. Was Savannah important?

Supply lines would have been iffy
 

DaveBrt

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The Union navy had dominance. The Confederacy has a massive east coastline from Florida up to Virginia.

Why didn't the Union navy ever land a battle group in size somewhere on the Georgia, Florida or SC coastline and breakout, moving towards Atlanta or making South Carolina and Charleston howl?

I understand there were Union troops in all of these states, but why did they never do anything in size? If Savannah and Atlanta were so significant when Sherman got to them, why not do something in 1862 or 1863 and move on them through the coast and utilizing your Naval power? Doesn't it make sense to open up another front and make the overland approaches easier (What Rosecrans and Sherman were doing)?

mike
Lincoln wanted New Orleans to help open the Mississippi and retain the Mid-West. He wanted Charleston as the seat of the rebellion. He had no interest in Mobile, Savannah or Wilmington -- all three of which were taken in the last four months of the war. All three cities were the homes to major railroads, with all the shops for them. Wilmington was, of course, the blockade supply center for the Confederacy. Lincoln was unable, or unwilling, to use troops against logistics targets, unless they were in the vicinity of major armies.
 

Robin Lesjovitch

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Saphroneth said:


They could; not by assault charges, but by regular approaches. Regular approaches are slower, but inexorable; the side with the bigger guns wins, and the Union had the bigger guns.
Lincoln would not have allowed that. Lincoln wanted to see casualties, and did not want to see McClellan again.


They would not. If Grant has 65,000 PFD dug in between the Chickahominy and the Pamunkey it's actually enough men to make a solid two-deep line from one river to the other - there's no way to get to the supply line to interdict it.

A line from the Chickahominy at Orapax Farms to the Pamunkey around Hampstead is eight miles long; the normal rule of thumb is that a divisional frontage in a single two-deep line is about 6,000 men per mile, because a man is 21 inches wide in close order and each line thus fits 3,000 men per mile. Terrain means the line would need to be a bit longer, but it also means the line could be deep by not being a single two-deep line.

Were Grant to invest 65,000 in logistics defense, he would have sqandered what advantage he had over McClellan's attempt.


On the 27th of June 1862 McClellan was placing siege batteries on the high ground around Garnetts Hill; these guns included or would shortly include heavy 8" Parrott rifles with the range to shoot clear into Richmond town centre from that high ground, and could command the entire approach route into the city down the rail line.
The only reason why Richmond didn't fall in July was that McClellan had insufficient men to secure his supply line - the same day Lee threw the largest attacking force of the entire war against the men McClellan had dug-in defending his supply line (it was about 60,000 or so PFD making the attack, so near enough Lee's entire force as of Cold Harbor) and after hours of fighting he finally broke the outnumbered Union force at sundown.

Assuming Lee has only Butler to worry him about Petersburg, he will have a force sufficient to deal with Grant should Grant elect to pin the AoP down before Richmond. Among other factors, Lee would know the ground, something he did not know two years before.
 

Saphroneth

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Lincoln would not have allowed that. Lincoln wanted to see casualties, and did not want to see McClellan again.
That doesn't mean the approach is mistaken. It means the problem is Lincoln!
Besides which, there'd already been about 42,000 Union casualties by this point, so Lincoln has seen casualties...

Were Grant to invest 65,000 in logistics defense, he would have sqandered what advantage he had over McClellan's attempt.
In the first place, no he wouldn't - Grant's advantage over McClellan's attempt as of June 1 was 46,000 PFD and the fact Lee's army was only about 2/3 the size Lee's army was in 1862. Putting 65,000 north of the Chickahominy still leaves Grant 85,000 PFD south of the Chickahominy, which is by itself larger than Lee's entire remaining army.
In the second place, so what if he did commit his advantage to securing his logs? Literally the only thing that stopped McClellan was that Lee could concentrate overwhelming force against his logistics route, which is why Lee did it; if Lee doesn't have that option he has no options left.

Assuming Lee has only Butler to worry him about Petersburg, he will have a force sufficient to deal with Grant should Grant elect to pin the AoP down before Richmond. Among other factors, Lee would know the ground, something he did not know two years before.
In what sense would Lee have a sufficient force to deal with Grant? Lee's army at this point is down to about 70,000 PFD to cover Petersburg and Richmond (while Grant has 150,000 PFD not even counting the rest of Butler's force), and historically in 1862 Lee said that if McClellan managed to make it a battle of posts (i.e. regular approaches) the Union victory was inevitable.
That was when the two of them had roughly equally sized armies; now Lee's outnumbered about two to one.


Knowing the ground doesn't really help much, not in this case - the "vital ground" (the Old Tavern area) was defended in 1862, but McClellan took it anyway, and once the vital ground is taken then the guns can shoot down to Richmond and Lee has no good options. If Lee places stronger defences on the Old Tavern area, then it just means an extra phase of siege gun bombardment with the guns firing from the nearest high ground to the Nine Mile Station area.

Again - Lee felt that in 1862 he simply could not defend Richmond long-term against McClellan's army (104,000 PFD minus whatever was detached for logistics protection, so 73,000 PFD south of the Chickahominy) even with a total force of 88,000 PFD in Richmond and 22,000 PFD to call on from the Valley. Here you're saying that Lee could defend Richmond long-term against Grant's army (150,000 PFD minus whatever was detached for logistics protection) with a total force of less than 70,000 in Richmond and nobody to call on from the Valley.


I'll note by the way that the reason I've been using the 65,000 figure is because I see it as basically impossible to take the logistics line if that's the scale of protection. It would probably be possible to get by with significantly less.

Historically before the Seven Days sequence broke McClellan had the divisions of Sykes, Morell and McCall north of the Chickahominy, which was about 31,000 PFD; this was insufficient, but 1864-Lee is weaker than 1862-Lee. (An attack on Grant's LoC as strong as the one 1862-Lee launched would leave a total of 5,000 men split between Richmond and Petersburg.) I would say that 50,000 PFD dug in along an eight mile line would be workable*, which leaves Grant 100,000 PFD south of the Chickahominy... and lots and lots of siege guns, which is the factor that makes assaulting defences workable.

* compare the density of this line to the density of the defences at Petersburg
 
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