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timschochet

The American Civil War Timeline- 150th Anniversary

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Tim, that's the end of my bit for now. I have to figure out what next to do a narrative on. What are you planning to cover? I'll need some advance warning on my next bit. Now would be a good time! LOL...

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The Battle of Memphis

With the capture of Corinth, the Union army stood astride the railroad to Memphis. Before Halleck's bluecoats could take the Confederacy's 5th largest city, however, a hybrid fleet on the river did the job. It had not been easy. After the loss of Island No. 10, the next rebel strongpoint on the Mississippi was Fort Pillow, 50 miles above Memphis. In addition to the fort's 40 guns, the southerners had a new river defense fleet of 8 steamboats converted into armed rams. On May 10 this makeshift navy had surprised the Union fleet at Plum Run Bend above Fort Pillow with a hit and run attack that put two ironclads temporarily out of action with gaping holes below the waterline. The elated southern fleet captain assured Beauregard that the Yankees "will never penetrate further down the Mississippi."

But the bluejackets soon got some rams of their own. The ram concept was a revival of naval tactics from the days of galleys, before the advent of gunpowder and sailing ships (which could rarely be maneuvered to ram another ship) had converted navys to broadside firepower. But the development of steam propulsion made ramming feasible again. Several hundred tons of warship with a reinforced prow moving at even a slow speed could be far more lethal than any shot or shell then in existence. The Virginia had proved this at Hampton Roads, and the Confederate river fleet proved it again at Plum Run Bend. The most enthusiastic proponent of ram power was a thin, frail-looking 57 year old civil engineer from Pennsylvania, Charles Ellet. Having failed to interest the Union navy in his ideas, Ellet took them to Secretary of War Stanton, who expressed enthusiasm. Stanton made Ellet a colonel and sent him west to develop a ram fleet for river fighting.

Ellet rebuilt 9 steamboats according to his own calculations for maximum strength. Preferring riverboat men to naval personnel for his crews, he signed them up for special service. Ellet commanded the flagboat himself, and placed his brother Alfred in command of the second boat. 7 other Ellets- brothers, nephews, and a son- also joined the enterprise, some as captains. This remarkable family and its even more remarkable flotilla wanted to prove their mettle by attacking the rebel fleet at Fort Pillow. Beauregard forestalled them by ordering the evacuation of the fort when his withdrawal from Corinth made it vunerable to land attack. But the Confederates decided to make a stand at Memphis. At sunrise on June 6 the southern river fleet steam out to challenge 5 Union ironclads and 4 of Ellet's rams. Thousands of Memphis residents lined the bluffs to cheer on thier side.

But in less than 2 hours, the home team had lost. Charles and Alfred Ellet headed their rams downriver at 15 knots against the rebel van. The shock of collision between Charles's boat and the leading Confederate ram could be felt on the bluffs. Charles's attack punched a huge hole in the rebel bow, while Alfred's boat squeezed between 2 southern rams converging on her, causing them to collide with each other. Alfred then circled back and rammed the rebel boat that had survived this crash. Meanwhile the Union gunboats had gotten into the action. Their salvos finished off 2 crippled Confederate boats, sank another, and captured 3 others after disabling them. Only one southern vessel escaped downriver. The rebel fleet existed no more. Residents of Memphis watched in sullen silence as Ellet's son, Charles Jr. led a 4 man detachment to raise the stars and stripes over the post office. His father, the only significant Union casualty of the conflict, died of his wound two weeks later. Charles Jr. became the army's youngest colonel at 19 and subsequently took command of the ram fleet. A year later he too was dead.

The Yankees occupied Memphis and turned it into a base for future operations, while the fleet steamed 300 miles downriver to the Confederacy's next bastion at Vicksburg. As we shall see, this would prove to be a much tougher nut to crack- one of the toughest in the entire war. But all of these Union victories at Corinth and Memphis were being upstaged by the salt-water navy, which was about to engage in it's greatest victory of the war: the capture of New Orleans.

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Tim, that's the end of my bit for now. I have to figure out what next to do a narrative on. What are you planning to cover? I'll need some advance warning on my next bit. Now would be a good time! LOL...

Here is my list. I think BL may want to take some of this, and you're welcome to as well. I'm going to narrate the capture of New Orleans, which should take 2-3 posts, then I'm going to start in the east, starting with McClellan's plans and describing all of the events until the end of the Seven Days. Obviously these are major events which will take plenty of time. You're welcome to join me at any part of it.

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How about I do the battle of seven pines? I know BL has some other things on his plate he has to attend to for the time being. I do miss his commentary. Can you take the events up to 7 pines? I can always do some gap fillers, but without much independent research and original writing. I prefer researching stuff, and that takes some time. 7 pines would be good for my next bit if that's OK. Hopefully, things will settle down for BL shortly. I'll start working on 7 pines for now unless something changes... if you need me to do anything else in the meantime, let me know.

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How about I do the battle of seven pines? I know BL has some other things on his plate he has to attend to for the time being. I do miss his commentary. Can you take the events up to 7 pines? I can always do some gap fillers, but without much independent research and original writing. I prefer researching stuff, and that takes some time. 7 pines would be good for my next bit if that's OK. Hopefully, things will settle down for BL shortly. I'll start working on 7 pines for now unless something changes... if you need me to do anything else in the meantime, let me know.

Thats fine.

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OK, where should I pick it up? You or BL will do the peninsula campaign up until the actuall battle of 7 pines? Just let me know where to take it from. I could start from the seige of Yorktown which is earlier than I wanted to start, or take it at any point after Yorktown. My preference is to concentrat on the battle of 7 Pines, starting about May 18, but I'm flexable. Pick a spot in the timeline, and let me know where I should start from. Then I can get to work on my next narrative. We just need to coordinate a bit, so we don't duplicate any work here. Give me an event or date to use as my starting point. Once I have that, I can let you know where I will turn it back over to you or BL.

I think you handle the political stuff really well, and geeze, Lincoln was actually ordering artilley bombardments during that time. The Peninsula campaign was rife with conflicts between Lincoln and McClellan. But, just let me know where to start my next narrative.

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OK, where should I pick it up? You or BL will do the peninsula campaign up until the actuall battle of 7 pines? Just let me know where to take it from. I could start from the seige of Yorktown which is earlier than I wanted to start, or take it at any point after Yorktown. My preference is to concentrat on the battle of 7 Pines, starting about May 18, but I'm flexable. Pick a spot in the timeline, and let me know where I should start from. Then I can get to work on my next narrative. We just need to coordinate a bit, so we don't duplicate any work here. Give me an event or date to use as my starting point. Once I have that, I can let you know where I will turn it back over to you or BL. I think you handle the political stuff really well, and geeze, Lincoln was actually ordering artilley bombardments during that time. The Peninsula campaign was rife with conflicts between Lincoln and McClellan. But, just let me know where to start my next narrative.

I was originally going to say that you would start with Johnston's attack on May 31, after I'm done with Jackson. But these battles are all so intertwined. I'm just going to give a short summary of everything, nothing thorough, in a continuous narrative, and you go ahead and jump in with more details at any point you want.

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Union General Silas Casey

While researching the Battle of Seven Pines, named for 7 huge, ramrod straight pine trees, I came across Silas Casey. On the one day that he would see fierce battle as a field commander for the first (and last) time in the civil war, glory would be snatched away from him after he displayed incredible bravery, leadership and absolutely sound tactics against a force that outnumbered him 4 to 1. He saved McClellan's rear end at Seven Pines, only to have McClellan blame him for all that went wrong instead. Generals always had to have a subordite to blame, and Casey was McClellan's scape goat at Seven Pines. I find his story a facinating one.

I'll start with a short bio, and post more during Tim's narrative keeping with the time line of Casey's personal story and history leading up to Seven Pines. I find his story, and how his men felt about him to be one of the most interesting tales of the Civil War that I have stumbled upon. To jump ahead a bit, after the Seven Days Campaign, shortly after the Seven Pines, McClellan called for a grand review of the army at Harrison's Landing. When he passed Casey's old division, the men turned their back purposely on McClellan. They actually turned their backs on the commander in chief of the Union Army. They and Casey would never be forgiven.

Silas Casey was born on July 12, 1807, in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. He attended the US Military Academy at West Point but, despite his skills in mathematics, graduated near the bottom of the class. A lieutenant in the 2d US Infantry, he served at in the Great Lakes region and on the frontier. Casey served in the Seminole War, then fought under Gen. Winfield Scott in the Mexican War. In Mexico, he earned two brevets for gallantry, and was seriously wounded during the storming of Chapultepec. Casey served on the Pacific Coast for most of the ten years preceding the Civil War. A member of an officer's board that revised the tactics manual, he later prepared the "System of Infantry Tactics," which the War Department officially adopted and published in 1862. Casey's manual was not very different from an 1855 manual, except in its expansion of company- and battalion-level tactics to fit the brigade and division formations which were used in the Civil War. The new manual was used by thousands of volunteer officers in the Union army, and even influenced Confederate tactics.

Edited by Rovers

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Great stuff guys! You've got plenty of people reading this and liking it....

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Gen Silas Casey cont.

Here is another odd twist of fate. While Casey was serving on the west coast, He was was promoted to lieutenant colonel and named deputy commander of the Ninth Infantry Regiment when the unit was reformed in 1855. When the unit arrived in Washington Territory, eight companies went east of the Cascades, while Casey took two companies with him to Fort Steilacoom from January 1856 to August 1861.

It was with combined units of the Ninth and Fourth Infantry and Third Artillery regiments that Casey went to San Juan Island in August 1859 to reinforce George Pickett's Company D, Ninth Infantry. When Casey arrived he found Pickett encamped on an exposed location just above today's South Beach. Casey brought calm and common sense to the standoff with British forces and remained in command on the island until a stand down was arranged between British Gov. James Douglas and U.S. Army commander, Lt. Gen. Winfield Scott.

Here is the twist: Pickett would lead one of the brigades against the outnumbered Casey at the Battle of Seven Pines.

Casey and the 103rd Pennsylvania

The 103rd Pennsylvania was representative of the caliber of troops in the division Casey would eventually lead. In the fall of 1861, the regiment was assembled several miles northeast of Pittsburgh near the hamlet of Kittanning. It consisted of 10 companies of infantry whose men were recruited from mountainous western Pennsylvania counties. Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Lehman of the 62nd Pennsylvania, a unit that had been raised a few months before, became the colonel of the regiment. In late February, the regiment entrained for Harrisburg, the state capital, where it received its numeric designation and its colors, equipment and uniforms. On March 2, the 103rd moved out for Washington and Camp Lloyd, where they received the pitiful remnants of the Army's weapons, including aged Austrian muskets that proved to be bulky and inaccurate.

Casey was in charge of Camp Lloyd and was one of the most seasoned officers from the Old Army. The 54-year-old Rhode Islander and West Point graduate was a decorated veteran of both the Seminole and Mexican wars, and in 1855 was given command of the 9th U.S. Infantry Regiment. He was bald on top with otherwise wildly flowing snow white hair and a pure white longish "goatee" style beard. When the Civil War broke out, Casey was a colonel and one of the most senior officers in the Army. Yet other officers of lesser experience and ability were promoted before him. When Casey finally did receive his star, on the last day of August 1861, Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan delegated to him the Olympian task of establishing several'schools of the soldier' to train the incoming recruits. Casey had published a well-received infantry drill manual before the war, and he was the logical choice to organize such a system.

Casey's important work, however, seemed to go unnoticed. When Lincoln chose the four corps commanders for McClellan's newly constituted Army of the Potomac in the spring of 1862, Casey remained in charge of the training camp that indoctrinated new troops, like the men from the recently arrived 103rd Pennsylvania. It was not until March 13 that General McClellan finally issued orders for the men currently under Casey's care to be formally organized into a division and be readied for immediate movement to the field. On March 28, the 'rawest troops of the army,' as described by Corporal Dickey of the 103rd Pennsylvania, marched out of their training camp. They were, according to one veteran, 'jubilant and light hearted' as they marched toward Alexandria. Since they started late in the day, it was not until well after midnight that the volunteers reached their prescribed destination. As they bedded down for the night, they had to endure a snowstorm, and many became sick from exposure.

This division was the greenest group of troops in the entire Army of the Potomac. They were also one of the worst equipped. There were very few Army regulars even in the officers corp, most were also green volunteer army.

On March 31, the division shipped out for Fortress Monroe, Va., at the eastern tip of the peninsula formed by the York and James rivers, landing on April 3. There it was directed to march west about six miles, a little beyond Newport News, where it established Camp Casey.

Casey's division was in Maj. Gen. Erasmus D. Keyes' IV Corps, Army of the Potomac, and consisted of three brigades of infantry and one battalion of artillery. The 1st Brigade, led by Brig. Gen. Henry M. Naglee, consisted of the 52nd and 104th Pennsylvania Infantry, the 56th and 100th New York Infantry regiments and the 11th Maine Infantry. The 2nd Brigade, commanded by Brig. Gen. Henry W. Wessells, contained the 85th, 101st and 103rd Pennsylvania Infantry regiments and the 96th New York. Brigadier General Innis N. Palmer led the regiments of the third and final brigade, the Empire State's 81st, 85th, 92nd and 98th Infantry regiments. Colonel Guilford D. Bailey, one of the division's few Regulars, was in charge of Casey's artillery battalion. Bailey's charges were four spanking-new New York batteries: A and H, 1st New York Light Artillery, and the 7th and 8th, New York Independent Light Artillery.

A portrait of Casey as depicted in Harper's Weely in July, 1962: (scroll down after clicking)

http://www.sonofthesouth.net/leefoundation.../joe-hooker.htm

Edited by Rovers

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Great stuff guys! You've got plenty of people reading this and liking it....

Thanks Uwe. I find the "brother against brother" war infinitely interesting. I enjoy sharing what I learn here with folks who share that interest. This war in many ways was unique in the annals of men. Imagine going into battle against your "college" room mate? Or literally fighting against your own brother in a battle? The stories are just riveting, at least for me. Aside from even that, this war still shapes some of the politics in the U.S. today. Glad some folks are enjoying it. Positive feedback is most welcome speaking for myself... as well as constructive critisism would be. Maybe at some future point, after HBO finishes with "The Pacific" (which I just cannot wait for) as a follow up to "Band of Brothers" Hanks and Speilberg will take on the civil War too. That would be awesome.

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New Orleans, Part One

The capture of New Orleans illustrated the strategic wisdom of Lincoln's desire to attack several places simultaneously. Union pressure in Tennessee had forced southern leaders to strip Louisiana of an army division (which fought at Shiloh) and 8 gunboats (the fleet destroyed at Memphis). Left to defend New Orleans were 3,000 short-term militia, some river batteries just below the city where Andrew Jackson had beaten the British in 1815, a mosquito fleet of a dozen small gunboats, two unfinished ironclads, and two forts mounting 126 guns astride the Mississippi 75 miles below the city. The defenders relied mainly on these forts, which were expected to blow out of the water any wooden warships foolish enough to breast the 3 knot current in an attempt to pass them. But the Union navy had already shown that enough ships with enough big guns commanded by an intrepid sailor were more than a match for brick forts. The navy was about to prove it again; the sailor this time was the most intrepid of all, Flag-Officer David Glasgow Farragut.

60 years old, Farragut had gone to sea at the age of 9 and fought in the War of 1812 and the Mexican War. Like Grant, he possessed great force of character rather than a subtle intellect. Although born in Tennessee and married to a Virginian, Farragut's loyalty to the flag he had served for half a century was unswerving. When fellow southerners tried to persuade him to defect, he rejected their entreaties with the words: "Mind what I tell you: You fellows will catch the devil before you get through with this business." They would catch much of it from Farragut himself. In February 1862 he took command of a task force comprising 8 steam sloops (frigates dew too much water to get over the bars at the mouth of the Mississippi), one sailing sloop, and 14 gunboats. Accompanying this force were 19 mortar schooners to soften up the forts with high-angle fire before the fleet ran past them. To deal with any resistance on land, transports carried to the Gulf 15,000 soldiers commanded by the ubiquitous Benjamin Butler.

By early April, Farragut got his fleet over the bars and up to an anchorage a couple of miles below the forts. From there the mortar schooners began to pound the forts at the rate of 3,000 shells a day. Although this blitz dismounted a few guns and created a great deal of rubble, it did little to reduce enemy firepower. Farragut had never believed much in the mortar attack; after 6 days of it he decided to run the gauntlet without further delay. Two Union gunboats crept under the forts one night to cut the chain holding a boom of hulks across the river; though discovered and fired upon, their crews succeeded in making an opening large enough for the fleet to squeeze through single file. At 2:00am on April 24, 17 of Farragut's warships weighed anchor and began to steam upriver. The forts opened fire with 80 or 90 guns; the ships replied with twice as many; the mortar fleet recommenced its bombardment; the Confederate ironclad Lousiania, moored to the bank with her engines not yet working, cut loose with as many of her 16 guns as would bear. Three of the rebel gunboats entered the fray and tried to ram Union warhsips (one of them succeeded, sinking the 10-gun sloop Varuna) while the civilian captains of the other rebel boats fled upstream or scuttled their craft. Confederate tugs pushed fire-rafts heaped with flaming pine and pitch into the current to float down on Yankee ships.

With all of this happening in the space of scarcely a square mile, it was the greatest fireworks display in American history.

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Great stuff guys! You've got plenty of people reading this and liking it....

Thanks Uwe. I find the "brother against brother" war infinitely interesting. I enjoy sharing what I learn here with folks who share that interest. This war in many ways was unique in the annals of men. Imagine going into battle against your "college" room mate? Or literally fighting against your own brother in a battle? The stories are just riveting, at least for me. Aside from even that, this war still shapes some of the politics in the U.S. today. Glad some folks are enjoying it. Positive feedback is most welcome speaking for myself... as well as constructive critisism would be. Maybe at some future point, after HBO finishes with "The Pacific" (which I just cannot wait for) as a follow up to "Band of Brothers" Hanks and Speilberg will take on the civil War too. That would be awesome.
Absolutely. Completely agree with your first paragraph. Kind of adding to the "imagine going into battle against your college room mate". I followed along intently with the World War II thread along with, obviously this one. When I read about WWII its easy to root for our side. It was pretty clear good guys vs. bad guys. Us vs. them. When I read about the Civil War in the past and here while its certainly riveting and interesting, its mainly only depressing. While clearly the slavery argument is clear-cut these were still Americans killing Americans. Sure I can "root" for the Union, but its profoundly sad no matter how you cut it. Plus, while I'm in a Union state currently, I don't exactly know where my ancestors were during this time. I've got a strong line that I know goes back to western Missouri. Who knows where they were fighting? So I can't exactly take "enjoyment" in a Union victory when that could have been the very battle that killed a great, great, great grandfather or caused a great, great, great grandmother insane sadness after losing 3 of her boys. I have yet to walk any of these battlefields (though these entries have really made me desire to), but I can't imagine the number of mixed emotions for a number of reasons it must be. Really a tough study...

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Tim, what do you know about boat or ship mounted artillery, especially the mortars? I so often hear about "ineffective bombardments", it is somthing I don't quite get. I can read the specs, the range, the type of munitions, but how could Farragut shell the fort for 6 days and accomplish almost nothing? Your narrative mentions he didn't have much faith in the mortar barges, but why? Sometimes it seems to have worked well, other times it did very little.

I suppose the soldiers took cover under brick fortifications, but still, straight cannon shot should make brick walls crumble, while it did little to wooden structures other than drilling a hole through them from one end to the other. This is probably my least understood aspect of the Civil war. Sometimes cannon just owned a battle, sometimes it was almost superfilous. I know that sighting cannon had much to do with those things, but a fort? I can't understand why six days of shelling didn't level the thing.

Uwe, in many ways, having been born in NY, I do find myself "rooting" for the federals at times too. I suppose that might have been driven home even more during my many biz trips into the south from about '80 to '95. I was surprised to find out how disliked and untrusted people from the northern states are to this day in some places. I resent the lost cause movement, as it tries to paint a very inaccurate picture of the Union men while exhalting the Confederate soldier. The South fought bravely, fought hard and against terrible odds. Their story doesn't need romanticized embellishment. They were men of valor, as were the men from the North. Even today, at quite a few on line sites, there are very biased accounts of the battles and the men who fought them. SonsoftheSouth.com is a prime example of this. Men of the North were scoundrels and cowards, men from the South upstanding men of superior pedigree and honor.

I think the beginnings of this came from Jefferson Davis himself. Whether misinformed or just fabricating "facts" to stir the Southern resolve, he often attacked Northern leaders, their men, their conduct and their honor. His rhetoric was more than hateful. It was downright extreme in the strongest sense of the word. Lincoln on the other hand avoided such inflamatory statements, his goal never swayed from reconciliation.

But at it's most fundamental level, it's about the common man who fought as a soldier on both sides. The vast majority of them had little to gain personally from fighting the war. Mostly, they believed in their cause, North or South. They fought for the man next to them and for the towns they left behind. They fought for pride and respect. Some fought for glory, but few would get any.

That is why I try to use passages from the "unfamous" soldiers of the war. It was about the men who fought, their struggles, their bravery, their committment, their suffering and resolve. On the march to Fredericksburg, most of Stonewall Jackson's men walked barefoot for as much as 20 miles in a day through mud and dirt. Then, they would fight. What sort of men were these? I can't even fathom it.

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I just did a little reading. The Union lobbed 3,000 shells a day into the two forts for six days. 18,000 shells were fired, in total. That is over 4 shells a minute. For 6 days. Even if you divide it equally between the two forts, it's still over two shells a minute. Holy crap. It's a wonder they held as long as they did.

It's also no wonder New Orleans just up and surrendered after hearing about the bombardments, but I've read the city was on fire even before the Union approached. Looting and sabotage?

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New Orleans, Part Two

Every Union ship that got through, as well as the 4 that did not, took a heavy pounding; the fleet lost 37 men killed and 147 wounded during the hour and a half it took to pass the forts. The rebels suffered fewer casualties but their mosquito fleet was gone, the unfinished ironclads were destroyed by their crews to prevent capture, the garrisons in the forts later mutinied and surrendered, and the militia scampered for the hinterland. On the morning of April 25, Farragut's ships silenced the river batteries below New Orleans with a broadside or two. The fleet then steamed up to a city filled with burning cotton and cursing mobs brandishing pistols against the 11 inch guns trained on their streets. A lad of 17 at the time, George Washington Carver later recalled that on this bleak day:

The crowds on the levee howled and screamed with rage. The swarming decks answered never a word, but one old tar on the Hartford, standing with lanyard in hand beside a great pivot-gun, so plain to view that you could see him smile, silently patted it's big black breech and blandly grinned.

In a comic opera scene of "negotiations", the mayor declined the honor of surrendering the South's largest city. Tiring of this farce, Farragut on April 29 sent the marines to raise the flag over public buildings. Two days later Benjamin Butler entered New Orleans at the head of his unscathed troops to begin an efficient but remorseless rule of the occupied city. (More on this later.)

During the next two months most of Farragut's ships twice ascended the Mississippi, receiving the surrender of Baton Rouge and Natchez along the way. But Vicksburg proved another matter. We shall examine that next.

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Tim, what do you know about boat or ship mounted artillery, especially the mortars? I so often hear about "ineffective bombardments", it is somthing I don't quite get. I can read the specs, the range, the type of munitions, but how could Farragut shell the fort for 6 days and accomplish almost nothing? Your narrative mentions he didn't have much faith in the mortar barges, but why? Sometimes it seems to have worked well, other times it did very little. I suppose the soldiers took cover under brick fortifications, but still, straight cannon shot should make brick walls crumble, while it did little to wooden structures other than drilling a hole through them from one end to the other. This is probably my least understood aspect of the Civil war. Sometimes cannon just owned a battle, sometimes it was almost superfilous. I know that sighting cannon had much to do with those things, but a fort? I can't understand why six days of shelling didn't level the thing.

Bombardment from long range, like artillery fire from long range, or like bombing from above during World War II, is extremely difficult to be precise. You end up causing a lot of damage and smoke and rubble, but if the enemy keeps their heads down they can usually survive. Look at how Fort Sumter at the start of the war didn't lose a single man as a result of the bombardment, and only surrendered when they themselves were out of supplies. What makes Farragut such an extraordinary sailor was his willingness to test the forts at a certain point. So many men lose their nerve in similar situations, (as we are about to witness in the Peninsula campaign.) The best analogy to Farragut, with a different result, were the British admirals who were ordered by Winston Churchill to pass through the Dardenelles forts in 1915. Like Farragut, these admirals shelled those forts (with much better weapons, obviously.) The damage was so intense that most of the Turks manning the forts fled, and those who were left were willing to surrender. But then, in the key moment of decisions, unlike Farragut, the British admirals got cold feet and refused to take a chance passing through. Instead they turned around, forcing the British landing on Gallipolli which turned into such a disaster and for a time ruined Churchill's career. If Churchill had had a Farragut in 1915, world history as we know it today would very likely be greatly altered. Edited by timschochet

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Backing up to early on in this thread; I posted a link about Big Red being found in Iowa and coming back to Charleston.

Well, it's here and here is the story in Saturday's Charleston Post & Courier: Banner Back at Citadel

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A map of the forts and the Union mortar boats:

http://www.historyofwar.org/Maps/maps_cent...ew_orleans.html

You can see where derelict hulls were sunken across the river. They were then chained together to prevent any Union boats from sailing past the obstructions. Farragut was not quite ready to risk running his ships past the forts. His main concern now was that the line of hulks chained across the river was impassable. However, an expedition on the night of 20 April was able to cut the chain and create a clear channel on the left (eastern) side of the river, nearest to Fort St. Philip.

After having lobbed over 16,000 shells at the forts, Farragut was getting low on ammunition. While only one motar boat had been sunk, the vessles were wearing down just from firing so much artillery.

Running past the Forts

Farragut divided his fleet into three divisions for the dash past the forts. He had to be talked out of leading the first division himself, and eventually agreed to lead the second division, which contained his three heaviest ships. The fleet began to move at 2 a.m. on 24 April. The first ship of the first division came under fire at 3.15 a.m. At the same time part of the mortar fleet opened a new bombardment on Fort Jackson, preventing that fort from doing much damage during the upcoming battle.

The lead division was soon past both forts, and engaged with the Confederate fleet. By the time Farragut had got past Fort St. Philip, the battle between the fleets was almost over. Farragut’s division devoted some time to attacking Fort St. Philip, with the intention of knocking her guns out of action at least for long enough for the third division to get past safely. After succeeding in this, Farragut passed on beyond the forts. At this point he came clossest to disaster. A Confederate fire-raft, filling, amongst other things, with burning pine cones, was being guided towards the Hartford by a tug. In her attempts to avoid the fire-raft, the Hartford ran aground. The fire-raft found her target and the Hartford was soon on fire. After a short period when it looked like the flagship might have to be abandoned, the fire was extinguished; she was backed off the shoal, and continued up the river.

Most ships of the third division got past the badly damaged Confederate forts without any problems. Three of the slowest found themselves stuck below the forts at daylight, and had to beat a hasty retreat under fire from the remaining guns in the two forts.

Above the forts the biggest threat was posed by the ram Manassas. First she hit the Mississippi, but without inflicting much damage. She then attempted to ram the Pensacola, but that ship managed to avoid the collision. After that the Manassas attempted to pass between the forts to attack the mortar fleet, but was fired on by her own side, and forced to turn back. Her next target was the Brooklyn. She found her target, inflicting a blow that might have been very serious if it had not hit the Brooklyn’s full coal bunker (although her captain remained convinced that he had actually hit the Hartford). During the only gun on the Manassas was put out of action. This marked the end of her career. She was now downstream of the Union fleet, and could not make enough speed against the current to successfully ram her opponents. With the river behind her blocked by the guns of the Confederate forts, her captain had no choice but to run her aground and abandon ship. Once aground, she was set alight by Union gunfire, floated down the river, and exploded.

After Farragut's passing of the forts:

http://www.historyofwar.org/Maps/maps_cent...ew_orleans.html

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First attempt at Vicksburg and the Arkansas

Summoned to surrender, the military governor of Vicksburg replied, "Mississippians don't know, and refuse to learn, how to surrender...if Commodore Farragut can teach them, let him come and try." He came, he tried, but he did not conquer. In the last week of June the Union fleets that had subdued New Orleans and Memphis met at Vicksburg wiht the plan of crushing its defenses between the combined weight of more than 200 guns and 23 mortars. But the rebel batteries emplaced on the sides and top of the 200 foot bluff on which the city was built gave as good as they got. Farragut soon concluded that while naval bombardment might level the town and drive its inhabitants underground, the ship's guns could not alone overcome a determined defense. And the the South was determined to defend this last barrier to Union command of the Mississippi. Earl Van Dorn had arrived to command 10,000 soldiers entrenched at Vicksburg by the end of June. A Union infantry assault up the bluffs from the river would be suicidal. The only way to crack the defenses was to attack with a large land force from the rear while maintaining the naval blockade on the river. How to do this was a knotty problem in strategy that the Union army would not solve for nearly a year.

Farragut had brought 3,000 of Butler's soldiers up to Vicksburg. Too few in number for operations against Van Dorn, these men set to work (with the help of 1,500 contrabands) to dig a canal across an oxbowed neck of land out of range of Vicksburg's guns, in the hope that the river would cut a new channel and leave the Confederate fortress high and dry. But the Mississippi, dropping several inches every day in the summer drought, refused to cooperate. Farragut became alarmed that his deep-draft vessels would be stranded by the falling river. 75% of the Union soldiers and half the sailors fell ill with typhoid, dysentery, or malaria, with several dying each day.

The Yankees finally gave up the attempt to take Vicksburg this summer, but not before the rebels gave them a parting black eye. The weapon that delivered this blow was the C.S.S. Arkansas commanded by the South's own sea-dog counterpart of Farragut, Kentuckian Isaac Newton Brown. This 30 year veteran of the U.S. Navy had been overseeing the completion of a homemade ironclad up the Yazoo river while the Union fleet was shelling Vicksburg. Propelled by balky engines, carrying 10 guns, and resembling the Virginia in appearance, the Arkansas steamed down to challenge the combined Federal fleets in mid-July. She first encountered and crippled the famed Carondelet then swooped down between the two surprised Union flotillas tied up on either bank with their steam down and guns unloaded. They remedied the latter quickly and peppered the iron intruder with a hailstorm of shot. The Arkansas fired back, and despite suffering 60 casualties and extensive damage, the Arkansas disabled one of the Ellet rams and finally drifted to safety under the guns of Vicksburg.

Angry as a hornet, Farragut tried in vain to destroy the rebel monster. He finally gave up in disgust and on July 26 started his fleet downstream before low water grounded it. The Union river gunboats returned to Helena, Arkansas. For the time being, Confederates controlled 200 river miles of the Mississippi from Vicksburg to Port Hudson, Lousiana, where they built fortifications second in strength only to Vicksburg's. The South took heart at the Arkansas's exploits. Van Dorn decided to attack the Union garrison at Baton Rouge, "and then, Ho! for New Orleans!" He ordered the Arkansas downriver to neutralize the Union gunboats at Baton Rouge while an army division attacked by land. But the Arkansas's faltering engines kept her from arriving before the bluecoats had repulsed the rebel assault on August 5. Next day the ironclad's engines failed again as Union warships bore down on her. The crew blew her up to prevent capture.

This event served as a coda to what the New York Tribune had described in May as "A Deluge of Victories" in the West. From February to May, Union forces conquered 50,000 square miles of territory, gained control of 1,000 miles of navigable rivers, captured two state capitals and the South's largest city, and put 30,000 enemy soldiers out of action. The decline of southern morale in consequence of these reverses can be measured in the diary entries of Mary Boykin Chesnut during April and May:

Battle after battle- disaster after disaster...How could I sleep? The power they are bringing to bear against our country is tremendous. ...Every morning's paper is enough to kill a well woman (or) age a strong and hearty one...New Orleans gone- and with it the Confederacy. Are we not cut in two?...I have nothing to chronicle but disasters...the reality is hideous.

This was all shortly to change.

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The Peninsula Campaign Part One

(Note- this campaign encompasses numerous battles and will take lots of time to complete. I'm going to offer short summaries here, and then hopefully Rovers and BobbyLayne will fill in with more details.)

In the view from Richmond, the threat of McClellan's splendidly equipped army loomed even larger than disasters in the West. After much anxious prodding from Lincoln, McClellan had finally submitted a plan for a spring offensive against Joseph E. Johnston's army defending Manassas. Instead of attacking the rebels directly, McClellan proposed to transport his army by water down the Chesapeake Bay to the mouth of the Rappahannock River, 80 miles southeast of Manassas. This would place the Federals between Johnston and Richmond, thereby forcing the Confederates to race southward to defend their capital. McClellan anticipated either the capture of Richmond before Johnston could get there or a battle on a field of McClellan's choice where his men would not have to assault enemy trenches.

Lincoln did not like this plan, for if it placed McClellan's army between Johnston and Richmond it also left Johnston's army between McClellan and Washington. While Lincoln did not yet share the suspicion that as a Democrat McClellan was "soft" on the rebels and did not really want to smash them, he was not happy with McClellan's concept of strategy. Like Grant, the president believed in attacking the enemy's army rather than in maneuvering to capture places. By "going down the bay in search of a field, instead of fighting near Manassas," Lincoln told McClellan, "(you are) only shifting, and not surmounting, a difficulty...(You) will find the same enemy, and the same, or equal, intrenchments, at either place."

Before McClellan could launch his maneuver, Johnston anticipated it by withdrawing from Manassas in early March to a more defensible position behind the Rappahannock 40 miles to the south. While perhaps prudent militarily, this retreat had adverse political consequences. Coming amid other Confederate reverses, it added to the depression of public morale. And it also drove deeper the wedge of distrust between Johnston and Davis. The latter was not persuaded of the necessity for pulling back; when he learned that Johnston had done so with a haste that required the destruction of huge stockpiles of supplies which could not be moved over muddy roads, Davis was mortified and angry.

He was no more mortified than Lincoln was by the discovery that the evacuated Confederate defenses were not as strong or extensive as McClellan had claimed. Newspaper correspondents found more Quaker guns at Centreville. One reporter wrote that "the fancied impregnability of the position turns out to be a sham." There had clearly been no more than 45,000 rebels on the Manassas-Centreville line, fewer than half the number McClellan had estimated. "Utterly dispirited, ashamed, and humiliated," wrote another northern reporter, "I return from this visit to the rebel stronghold, feeling that their retreat is our defeat."

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The Peninsula Campaign Part One

(Note- this campaign encompasses numerous battles and will take lots of time to complete. I'm going to offer short summaries here, and then hopefully Rovers and BobbyLayne will fill in with more details.)

Tim, to be honsest, other than Williamsburg (which includes the defensive line sometimes refered to as McGruder) I find the Peninsula campaign to be largely uneventful other than the blunders McClellan continued to make, which would have more political fallout than anything else, although he wasted many oportunities to take advantage of situations a and continued his repetitive over estimation of the size of the forces he faced. He decided to lay siege to Williamburg when he should have just taken it.

McLellan was an idiot. He really was. The man had no clue between his timidity and caution. I find the entire Peninsula campaign too frustrating to even do a narrative on. What a general like Grant could have done in the same situation, the war could have been shortened by years. McClellan used any excuse to stop advancing. He and Halleck had no clue as to how to fight this war. Lincoln even knew better than these two combined.

I will add some to the battle of Williamsburg, but I have a preference to battle narratives. Tactics. The Maj and Brig generals, and the men who fought for them. I'd like to start from May 18, which was really the beginning of Seven Pines. Yet another McClellan debauchery. At least at 7 pines, there were men who were competant soldiers on both sides. Men who would fight. Not cowards. Yes, I think McClellan in his own way was indeed a coward. Then he had the unmitigated gall to call some of his subordinates out as poor commanders, even cowardly. The worst thing that ever happened to the North was McLellan. The Peninsula campaign proves that fact.

Johnston on the other hand, while also cautious, at least knew how to give ground and save his army for the defense of Richmond. His removal of his troops from the Peninsula was extremely well executed, while inflicting at least some damage on McClellan while "Little Mac" floundered in his own overthinking. Rant over on McClellan, at least for now. The man knew how to snatch a stalemate from the jaws of victory at every opportunity.

Edited by Rovers

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The Peninsula Campaign Continued

The question was, what to do now? Johnston's retreat ruined McClellan's plan for flanking the enemy via the Rappahanock. But the Union commander was loath to give up the idea of transporting his army by water to a point east of Richmond. He proposed a landing at Fortress Monroe on the tip of the peninsula formed by the York and James rivers. With a secure seaborne supply line, the Union army could then drive 70 miles up the peninsula, crossing only two rivers beofre reaching Richmond. This seemed to McClellan much better than Lincoln's idea of an overland invasion, which would have to advance 100 miles from Washington to Richmond with 6 rivers to cross and dependent on a railroad vunerable to calvary raids. Nevertheless, Lincoln remained skeptical. Operating on interior lines, the Confederates could shift troops to the peninsula and McClellan would "still find the same enemy, and the same, or equal intrenchments." But the president reluctantly consented to McClellan's plan, provided he left behind enough troops to defend Washington from a sudden rebel strike. McClellan promised.

Quartermaster-General Montgomery Meigs assembled 400 ships and barges to transport McClellan's army of more than 100,000 men, 300 cannon, 25,000 animals, and mountains of equipment to the Peninsula. It was an awesome demonstration of the North's logistical capacity. But from the outset an ill fate seemed to upset McClellan's plans. Having lost full confidence in his commander, Lincoln reduced McClellan's authority. On March 8 he appointed 4 corps commanders for the Army of the Potomac after consulting with the Committee on the Conduct of the War but without consulting McClellan. Three days later he demoted McClellan from general in chief to commander only of the Army of the Potomac. Lincoln justified this on the ground that McClellan's duties as a field commander would prevent him from giving attention to other theaters. Although this made sense, it also signaled Lincoln's reservations about McClellan. On March 11 the president also created a new military department in West Virginia for General Fremont. Republican pressure had compelled this move to give the antislavery Fremont an important command. Three weeks later the same pressure induced Lincoln to detach a division from McClellan's army and send it to Fremont.

The president subsequently withheld other divisions from McClellan because he discovered that the general had left behind fewer troops than promised for the defense of Washington. The confusion surrounding this matter still bedevils historians to this day. McClellan claimed to have assigned 73,000 men for the capital's defense. But Lincoln could count only 29,000. It turned out that McClellan had counted some troops twice and including Nathanial Banks's army of 23,000 in the Shenadoah Valley as part of the capital's defense. McClellan was correct in his belief that the rebels had no intention of launching a strike against Washington and that even if they did, Banks's divisions could be shifted in time to meet them. But in his impatience with civilian interference he failed to explain to Lincoln his arrangements for defending the capital. Lincoln's concern for the safety of Washington was excessive. Yet if by some chance the rebels did threaten the city, the president would stand convicted of criminal negligence in the eyes of the northern people.

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While Johnston may not have had plans on Washington, I think McClellan's plans were reckless, which i find very ironic given McClellan's overly cautious nature. He wanted to leave Washington nearly ungaurded. He didn't even know Johnston had withdrawn south, he was fooled by Quaker guns for some time. Months, in fact. It was a public ambarrassment. Stonewall Jackson was likely not a threat to Washington, but he was still in extreme notheastern TN where he could have put a scare into the Union capital.

Why was he so against marching to Richmond? Six rivers? He would still have to cross 3 rivers landing at Ft Monroe. He needed an armada to transport the AoP to Monroe over open water to land at the southernmost tip of the peninsula. At least overland bridges couls have been built. I know he worried about his supply line overland, but if that was so vulnerable, wouldn't Washington be too?

Again, like Halleck, and unlike Grant, he always had to move like a snail. He always over estimated enemy stregnth. Even when they weren't even there! He didn't know Johnston withdrew! Which by the way, made his orginal attack plan, the Urbana Plan, landing at Urbana further up the Rappahonack no longer viable. Did he think Johnston would just sit there for months? While the world watched 120,000 men and supplies sail to Monroe? Oh, and while McClellan was planning all of this, the CSS Virginia showed up at Hampton Roads and threatened his entire plan.

McClellan never did organize a good intelligence network, and that flies in the face of his reputation for organizational brilliance. The Union knew about the CSS Viringia. Did McClennan just discount the threat? Good thing for him the USS Monitor showed up, or this second plan to capture Richmond would have to get discarded as well.

Then, even after that he failed to at least use whatever advantages landing at Monroe offered, such as going up the James River to open two fronts in attacking Richmond from the NE and the SE. He could have gotten within 7 miles of Richmond using the James River. He decided to sit on his ### and lay siege on Yorktown when he should have just taken it. These delays just allowed Johnstyon more time. Then he would move only 1/3rd of his army over the Rappahannock River, essentially negating his advantage in the size of his army, but then again, he thought Johnston's force was superior to his, while in fact he outnumbered Johnston 2 to 1. But, I am jumping ahead.

There is still the Warwick line and Wiliamsburg to cover, featuring more blunders by McClellan all the way to the outside of Richmond. I honestly believe McClennan could have captured Richmond in 1862 but for his ineptitude. That might have ended the war right there. Might have saved 100's of thousands of lives. McClennan infuriates me. So would the general that followed him. Historians are not as hard on McClellan as they should be. As a field general, he was a fool, both from a strategic and tactical standpoint. He was a clerk, a stockboy. He could build an inventory, and then was unable to ship it. And he thought he was God's own gift to the Union throughout. In fact, when he was relieved as Commander-in-Chief of the entire Union army, and "demoted" to head of the AoP, he actually said it was part of an intrigue to "secure the failure of the approaching campaign." He believed Lincoln wanted him to fail?

Lincoln was far too patient with McClellan, and for that matter, Halleck too. Neither one of them knew how to fight this war.

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From the Southern perspective, the defense of the Yorktown Peninsula was a major problem. Indeed, the overall Virginia theater had a dismal outlook, with some 70,000 Confederates facing at least 200,000 Union troops.

The defense of the peninsula was handed to Major General John Bankhead Magruder, who, despite inadequate resources, set to work with enthusiasm. He had a long defensive line constructed with Yorktown serving as its left flank. A secondary line was built some ten miles back from the first, just in front of Williamsburg. General Robert E. Lee, serving in an advisory capacity to President Davis at that time, was afraid these lines might be outflanked, and on his advice, a third line was constructed about 10 miles in front of Richmond, with flanks anchored on the Chickahominy and James Rivers.

Magruder used his meager resources to their maximum effect, and by bluffing with the forces he had at hand, gave McClellan cause for hesitation in attacking. McClellan was not difficult to bluff. Magruder moved his troops around often, making it appear he had many more men than he did.

On the northern road General Erasmus Keyes [uS] led two divisions and a regiment of cavalry while Samuel Heintzelman [uS] led a similar group to the south. The few Rebels the Union troops spotted quickly disappeared in front of the substantial forward movement. McClellan was surprised at the 13-mile advance he made the first day. Deserters coming into the Union camp placed General John B. Magruder [CS] at Yorktown with a troop strength of no more than 8,000 men.

McClellan quickly found his advanced intelligence on the roads on the peninsula was wrong. Pinkerton's men had described them as "good, natural roads," but they turned into quagmires of mud in the Spring rains. When Keyes' column head came out of some woods south of Yorktown they saw Confederate works with a column of two to three thousand soldiers behind them. Magruder either had more men than the deserters thought or he had been reinforced. Neither prospect thrilled McClellan.

In fact, Magruder had a force of about 13,000 men, mostly regulars, to span the Peninsula . Using the Warwick River as his line, Magruder had only built works on the north end, from the point where the Warwick curves south to the York River. Meanwhile, he was using his men to their best advantage by marching large columns on standard military tasks. For example, when a hundred-man garrison was to be relieved he sent out four or five hundred men who would change out one-hundred, then march back to the city. Magruder added bugle calls and drum rolls from out-of-sight units to heighten the effect. It may have been this kind of theatrics that gave him the nickname "Prince John" (more likely it was his aristocratic bearing).

While many of Magruder's antics were tough on the raw Union soldiers, they had a more dramatic effect on the some of the Union generals. Estimates to McClellan from his commanders had Magruder's troop strength at 3 to 4 times its actual number, but it is important to point out that they were deeply divided on Confederate troop strength behind the Yorktown line. Notable exceptions on Magruder's strength were Brigadier General "Baldy" Smith, Chief Engineer John G. Barnard and Chief Topographical Engineer Colonel Andrew A. Humphries.

However, McClellan was having problems with his own government as well. On April 4, he learned that Fort Monroe, with a 12,000 man Federal garrison, had been taken from his command authority. Also, McDowell's 38,000 man corps would not be joining him on the Peninsula, but would be kept near Washington for its defense. Finally, he also learned that a stop had been put to additional Federal recruiting efforts.

Based on these distressing new developments, McClellan decided a siege was the solution.

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The Peninsula, Continued

Lincoln's concern was heightened by a clash in the Shenandoah Valley on March 23. Stonewall Jackson commanded a small Confederate army there. His mission was to harass Bank's force near Winchester and to prevent the transfer of Union troops from the Valley to McClellan. When Jackson learned that 2 of Bank's 3 divisions were about to be transferred, he attacked what he thought was the rear guard at Kernstown, just south of Winchester. Instead of swatting a small force, the 4,200 rebels ran into a full division of 9,000 men and were badly mauled. Jackson's tactical defeat at Kernstown- yet another Confederate reverse in this dismal spring- suddenly turned into an important strategic victory. Reasoning that Jackson would not have attacked unless he had a sizeable force, Lincoln cancelled the transfer of Bank's divisions. Moreover, discovering at this time the discrepancy in the number of troops left in and near Washington, the president also ordered Irvin McDowell's large corps of 35,000 men to remain in northern Virgina. For the time being, McClellan was deprived of some 50,000 of the 150,000 men he had expected to become part of his army on the Peninsula.

An embittered McClellan later charged that the administration did not want him, a Democrat, to succeed. This accusation contained little if any truth; indeed, Republicans fumed at the general's apparent lack of will to succeed. During the first week of April about 55,000 of McClellan's troops approached the Confederate defenses near the old Revolutionary War battlefield at Yorktown. Dug in behind the Warwick River were fewer than 13,000 rebels commanded by John B. Magruder. McClellan hesitated to attack, believing that the strength of the southern works would make the cost in casualties too high. "Prince John" Magruder did his best to encourage this conviction. A lover of the theater, Magruder staged a pageant for McClellan. He marched his infantry in endless circles and moved his artillery noisily from place to place, to give the impression of having more men than he actually had. McClellan reacted as Magruder hoped. He concluded that he could take Yorktown only by a siege. This news distressed Lincoln. "I think you had better break the enemies' line...at once," the president wired McClellan. "By delay the enemy will relatively gain upon you." Lincoln tried to warn McClellan about growing Republican doubts of his loyalty. He wrote:

It is indispensable to YOU that you strike a blow...The country will not fail to note- is now noting- that the present hesitation to move upon an entrenched enemy, is but the story of Manassas repeated...I have never written you in greater kindness of feeling than now, nor with a fuller purpose to sustain you...BUT YOU MUST ACT.

McClellan did not act; instead, he wrote to his wife that if Lincoln wanted to break the rebel lines, "He had better come & do it himself." While the general complained of his difficult position with "the rebels on one side, & the abolitionists & other scoundrels on the other," he brought up his sappers and siege guns. Week after week went by as Union artillery prepared to blast the rebels from their trenches with mortars and 200 pound shells. Lincoln felt driven to distraction by this "indefinite procrastination." As he warned, the Confederates used the delay to shift Johnston's whole army to the Peninsula.

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Sorry Rovers, I missed the previous post, so we basically repeated the same storyline, though yours has more details. That's cool. I'm going to finish with the peninsula in one more post and then it's on to the Shenandoah valley.

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McClellan rode to the front to view the Confederate position and immediately ordered the siege guns forward, established a line of forward posts, and started working on improving the roads between Fort Monroe and Yorktown. Meanwhile, Joe Johnston was now keenly aware that the bulk of the Army of the Potomac was less than 60 miles from Richmond, so he turned his Army of Northern Virginia around and headed south to stop it. As McClellan began the siege of Yorktown he received word of Johnston's approach and a bitter pill - President Abraham Lincoln had officially detached Irvin McDowell's First Corps from the Army of the Potomac to protect Washington, D. C.

http://www.mycivilwar.com/images/battle_maps/620411.jpg

Pinketton would report to McClellan that the roads were good, and he over estimated Magruder's strength. This would not be the last time the "famed" Pinkerton would deliver faulty and incorrect intelligence to McClellan. The "Pinkerton men" were not much of an asset for much of the war, to the contrary, they often made things worse.

Rainy weather favored the Confederates. The dams Magruder's men had built turned small streams into major barriers. However, the Union army made advances and prepared more positions. Minor forays gave new soldiers combat experience and broke the monotony of the siege.

Samuel Heinztelman wanted to probe the Confederate line in force, concentrating on the portion of the line between the northern approach and the Warwick River, but Fitz-John Porter and John Barnard (McClellan's chief engineer) denied the request. "Baldy" Smith didn't ask permission. He told young Winfield Scott Hancock to push forward with a promise of reinforcements if Hancock found a gap.

Hancock was preparing to advance when Smith rode off to tell General Keyes. As they were talking a messenger arrived from McClellan with orders not to initiate action against the Rebel line. Smith quickly rode back to camp to find Hancock had already scouted the far side of the Warwick River and was preparing to take a weak spot he had discovered, known as Dam Number 1. Smith told Hancock to stay put.

Hancock's expedition captured four guards who were very willing to talk. Unlike the earlier deserters, they placed Magruder's strength at 30- 40,000 men and claimed forward units of Joe Johnston's army were expected that day. McClellan telegraphed Washington of the development. Lincoln urged him to attack immediately ("...but you must act"). Lincoln was right, but McClellan did not act. On April 7th Magruder's force increased by more than 2,000 men as Johnston's men neared Richmond and 7 days later his force had swollen to 34,000. As Johnston's men took the field, Magruder shifted to the Confederate right (south end of the line), James Longstreet took the center and Daniel Harvey Hill the left (north end of the line). G. W. Smith was being held in reserve.

When Joe Johnston arrived to inspect Magruder's lines on April 13 he saw nothing but problems and recommended the entire army be withdrawn. Davis called a council including Johnston, Lee, Longstreet, G. W. Smith, and his recently appointed Secretary of War George Randolph. For 14 hours they worked on a plan for turning back George McClellan. Meanwhile, the siege was becoming routine for the men on the lines. Union sharpshooters had the edge, picking off Confederate soldiers until John Bell Hood's Texas Brigade arrived. They used their two-ring Enfields to drop the Union sharpshooters from "nests." Siege guns routinely fired hundreds of rounds a day, normally without much affect. There was never a change in lines. Some soldiers mingled across lines, informally agreeing not to fire on each other while on picket duty.

On April 16, a balloon operated by Professor Thaddeus Lowe, Porter made an observation flight over Confederate lines. When the mooring broke, the balloon drifted over the Confederate lines. Before the they could fire on Porter, a changing wind carried him back to the Union lines. Despite this problem, Professor Lowe continued his observation flights. This was an early step in the development of aerial reconnaissance.

On April 16, eleven days after begining the siege of Yorktown, McClellan decided to take some action. He ordered "Baldy" Smith to cross the Warwick River and attack at Dam Number 1, the same place Winfield Scott Hancock was set to attack before the siege began. Smith "softened" the location with artillery for most of the day and when a bold lieutenant crossed the Warwick River and came back unmolested, Smith decided to send a regiment across.

Crossing the Warwick River with guns and cartridge boxes held high, the regiment took the far side of the river with little fighting. Smith had fallen from his horse and was in no condition to supervise the battle. McClellan, who had advanced to watch the operation, left and the regimental commander did not cross the river to support his troops until the Rebels counterattacked. As the position was about to be overrun, Smith's Vermont men tried to pull back across the river. Almost half of the nearly 200 men were killed and many more were wounded.

Artillery exchanges along the lines were from field pieces, not the massive siege guns that McClellan was emplacing. On April 27, Joe Johnston warned President Davis that McClellan must be nearly ready with his larger guns. Additional reports had been reaching Johnston of increased activity in the York River. Johnston asked General Daniel Harvey Hill "How long can you hold out when the siege guns opened fire?" Hill replied, "Two days," without hesitation.

Despite harassing fire, McClellan's troops slowly advanced their siege works and artillery. The Union arsenal of 101 siege guns included Parrott guns ranging from 20lb. to 200lb. There were over 40 siege mortars, the largest being the 13-inch seacoast mortar which weighed almost 9 tons and fired a 220lb. shell. Never before had so much artillery been massed in one place in the history of the world. McClellan would use a sledge hammer to drive home a finishing nail.

While Union field batteries fired continuously during the siege, only 1 siege battery fired on the Confederates. McClellan planned to open his artillery barrage on May 5, concentrating his efforts at Yorktown and along a portion of the Confederate line just outside Yorktown. The plan also called for Union gunboats to give supporting fire from the York River.

McClellan, to the irritation of some, (irritation would be far too mild a word for my taste) always insisted on thoroughness in planning and preparation, and the Peninsula Campaign was no exception. He overestimated the Confederate's strength (what a shocker) and suddenly Johnston, in the face of superior numbers and firepower, forfeited the ground as untenable.

No matter to McClellan, the seige lasted throughout April. During that time, the Confederates assured themselves that McClellan was the primary threat to Richmond and reinforced Magruder with Johnston's army. On April 16, when Union forces probed a weakness in the Confederate line at Lee’s Mill/ Dam No. 1, resulting in about 309 casualties. McClellan's failure to exploit the initial success of this attack held up McClellan for 2 additional weeks, while he tried to convince his navy to maneuver the Confederates’ big guns at Yorktown and Gloucester Point and ascend the York River to West Point thus outflanking the Warwick Line.

McClellan planned for a massive bombardment to begin at dawn on May 4th, 3 days before his intended approach to Yorktown.

On May 3, during the night , the Confederate army slipped away in the night toward Williamsburg. As early as April 30, Johnston had planned to withdraw. Around midnight of May 3, the Confederate heavy guns had ceased their diverting fire, were spiked and left behind by the retreating army.

On May 4, at dawn, the Union army discovered Yorktown abandoned. However, the Confederates had left behind land mines, which claimed the lives of several Union soldiers. The Confederates were seeking more favorable circumstances in which to confront the Federals. The Federals surged forward in pursuit, and the seige of Yorktown ended. The Confederate withdrawal was well planned and executed. A mile east of Williamsburg, Magruder had built another fortified line. Johnston elected to delay the Union pursuit here. During the afternoon, the Battle of Williamsburg began, lasting into the next day.

I know this is a long entry. The siege of Yorktown was practically much ado about nothing, courtesy of McClellan and his exasperating lack of any willingness to attack, his continuous over estimations of enemy strength and his penchant for delaying any advances when the time was right and finding ways to lose opportunities.

I see Tim has posted explaining more in more detail about how Lincoln diverted some troops back to Washington during this time frame. We might have covered some of the same ground, but both posts add to the understanding readers will have. No problem there, Tim, good job. What was happening in the Valley was very important, militarilly and politically. Between us, I think we have covered it. Go ahead and post what you have on the peninsula. You and I are using different resources, and I think that just adds to things.

Next up is Williamsburg as far as battles of the "Peninsula" are concerned. I can take the actual battle if you want Tim, or if you want it, fine too. In the meantime, I can do an update on my pet project, General Casey. The Shenandoah is all yours as far as I am concerned. The time line between that and the peninsula are parallel.

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Union General Silas Casey

(continued from posts 1008 and 1010)

On March 31, Casey's division shipped out for Fortress Monroe, Va., at the eastern tip of the peninsula formed by the York and James rivers, landing on April 3. There it was directed to march west about six miles, a little beyond Newport News, where it established Camp Casey.

On April 16, camp was broken, and the division started its march up the peninsula. After a few days, Confederates dug in along the Warwick River stopped the advance cold. The strong line of earthworks was anchored on Yorktown and was known as the Yorktown Line. Over the next few weeks, as McClellan carefully marshaled his forces to disperse the Southerners, the men of Casey's division were ordered to dig trenches and cut timber with inadequate tools, practice drill and engage in patrolling activities. In doing so they got into a few scattered skirmishes with the enemy. In a bit of bright news, the men did receive new shelter tents on April 18.

On the night of May 3 the Confederates abandoned the Yorktown Line and fell back toward Richmond. The next day Casey was directed to form up his men with only their arms and minimal equipment and move out in pursuit of the Rebels. The decision to leave the tents behind would soon plague the division. After crossing the abandoned enemy works, Casey's tentless men, who also lacked overcoats and blankets, pushed on another seven miles and camped in a heavy rain.

One veteran of that march, Captain John Donaghy of the 103rd Pennsylvania, remembered the especially harrowing experience: 'It rained hard all night and the air was cold and the men were without tents, blankets or overcoats. Tired and sleepy as they were, they could only stand and take the rain. They leaned against trees or crowded together in large groups to keep warm. When they stood thus for awhile some would fall asleep supported on their feet by the others. When the majority of them were overcome by sleep the whole mass would lurch over and fall to the ground, only to gather themselves to renew the process.' The next morning Casey wanted to send back for the packs and equipment, worrying that he had 'lost a great many…men from that exposure, as they were obliged to lie down in the mud, exposed to the rain, without any protection whatever.' But Brig. Gen. Edwin V. Sumner of the II Corps, McClellan's left wing commander, overruled the division commander. Casey's troops were ordered to continue pursuing the enemy.

On May 5, a rainy overcast day, the Federals bumped into the next Southern line, a series of redoubts east of Williamsburg that were anchored on Fort Magruder. A sharp one-day battle ensued, during which elements of the III and VI corps engaged a Confederate rear guard. Casey's division, however, remained in reserve.

After the Confederates retreated the evening of May 5, the Union army continued to move up the peninsula, but at a very slow pace while McClellan brought up the forces he believed were needed to totally overwhelm the enemy. In the meantime, Casey's soggy soldiers continued to suffer increased illness from their lack of shelter.

Far more men would die from exposure and illness than they would in battle, not just for Casey's men, but all across both armies on both sides. Casey wasn't being a coward, he knew his men needed their tents and equipment to stay healthy enough to fight at full strength. Generals like Sumner and McClellan never got it. They were moving chess pieces, not living, breathing and dying men.

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The Peninsula, Concluded (for now)

An inspection of the Yorktown defenses convinced Johnston that they were hopelessly weak: "No one but McClellan could have hesitated to attack." Johnston recommended withdrawal all the way to prepare defenses just outside Richmond itself. But Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee vetoed this proposal and ordered Johnston to defend the Yorktown line as long as possible. Lee's role in this matter was a measure of Davis's loss of confidence in Johnston. The President had recalled Lee from Savannah in March and installed him in Richmond as sort of assistant commander in chief. Johnston held on at Yorktown until the beginning of May, when he knew that McClellan was about the pulverize the defenses with his siege guns. Rather than wait for this, Johnston evacuated the defenses on the night of May 3-4 and retreated up the Peninsula. Davis was as dismayed by this further loss as Lincoln was by the consumption of a month's time in accomplishing it. On May 5, a strong Confederate rear guard commanded by James Longstreet fought a delayed action near the old colonial capital of Williamsburg. At the cost of 1,700 casualties the rebels inflicted 2,200 an delayed the Union pursuit long enough to enable the rest of the army to get away with its artillery and wagons. (Rovers has promised to provide us more details about this battle.)

Frequent rains had impeded operations during April, even heavier rains bogged down the armies during May. The only significant action took place on the water. With Johnston's retreat, Norfolk and its navy yard were no longer tenable. The Confederates blew up everything there of military value- including the Virginia- and pulled out. The Monitor led a flotilla of 5 gunboats up the James River. Their captains dreamed of emulating Farragut by running the river batteries and steaming on to level their guns at Richmond. Confederate officials began packing the archives and preparing to leave the city. But they soon unpacked. On May 15 the batteries at Drewry's Bluff 7 miles below Richmond stopped the gunboats. The Monitor proved ineffective because her guns could not be elevated enough to hit the batteries on the 90 foot bluff. Rebel cannons punished the other boats with a plunging fire while sharpshooters along the banks picked off Yankee sailors. The fleet gave up; Richmond breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Despite the gleam of cheer afforded by the battle of Drewry's Bluff, a sense of impending doom pervaded the South. McClellan's army approached to within 6 miles of Richmond, while reports of defeats and retreats arrived almost daily from the West. In the crisis atmosphere created by these setbacks during the spring 1862, the southern Congress enacted conscription and martial law. Internal disaffection increased; the Confederate dollar plummeted. During these same months a confident Union government released political prisoners, suspended recruiting, and placed northern war finances on a sound footing.

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In Battle Cry of Freedom, James McPherson pauses here before moving onto the Shenandoah Valley with a chapter called "The Sinews of War." Mostly it deals with how Davis and Lincoln pushed through laws to finance the war, discusses economic conditions in 1861 and 1862, and returns to the issue of martial law which we discussed earlier (though in this case both sides now imposed it.)

While all of this is important stuff, it's not especially interesting to narrate, at least compared to the battles. I may return to some of it later- there is a much more interesting chapter in book later on called "The Fire In the Rear" which does deal with internal issues on both sides, and I plan to deal with that later on in great detail. For now, with the Confederacy about to be crushed in the late spring of 1862, I think it's more interesting to continue to focus on the battles, especially as we're about to discuss in detail some of the most dramatic events in American history. Therefore, with no further ado, let's move onto the Shenandoah Valley, where a military legend was about to be created.

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Shenandoah Part One

In May 1862 prospects for the Confederacy's survival seemed bleak. Most of the Mississippi Valley had fallen to the enemy. In Virginia, McClellan's army of 100,000 had advanced to within hearing of Richmond's church bells. Irvin McDowell's corps, which Lincoln had held near Fredericksburg to cover Washington, prepared to march south to join McClellan's right wing. This would give the Union forces closing in on Richmond some 135,000 men, about twice the total that Joseph E. Johnston could bring against them. Although McClellan's past performance suggested that he would lay siege to Richmond rather than attack Johnston's army, the fall of the Confederate capital seemed only a matter of time.

The next act in this drama took place not in front of Richmond but 100 miles to the northeast in the Shenandoah Valley. Commanding the rebel forces in that strategic region, Stonewall Jackson had been reinforced to a strength of 17,000 men by a division from Johnston's army. Its commander was Richard S. Ewell, an eccentric, balding, 45 year old bachelor whose beaked nose and habit of cocking his head to one side reminded observers of a bird. Everything about Ewell seemed odd, from his ulcer-induced diet of hulled wheat boiled in milk with raisins and egg yolk to his manner of cursing with a lisp. But while Ewell was an unfailing source of jokes around soldier campfires, Jackson seemed even more peculiar.

Attired in an old army coat he had worn in the Mexican War and a broken-visored V.M.I. cadet cap, Jackson constantly sucked lemons to palliate his dyspepsia and refused to season his food with pepper because (he said) it made his left leg ache. A disciplinary martinet, Jackson had tarnished some of the fame won at Manassas by an aborted winter campaign into West Virginia that provoked a near mutiny by some of his troops. A devout Presbyterian, Jackson came across to some colleagues as a religious fanatic. Taciturn, humorless, and secretive, he rarely explained to subordinates the purpose of his orders. His rule of strategy- "always mystify, mislead, and surprise the enemy"- seemed to apply to his own officers as well. Before May 8, 1862, many of his soldiers considered him crazy and called him "Old Tom Fool". Events during the next month, however, showed them that he was crazy like a fox. These events made Jackson the South's premier hero for a time- until eclipsed by an even wilier fox with no tinge of fanaticism, Robert E. Lee.

It was Lee who unleashed Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley. Serving as Jefferson Davis's military adviser, Lee conceived the idea of a diversion in the Valley to prevent McDowell's Union corps from reinforcing McClellan. Once before, after the battle of Kernstown in March, the northern command had cancelled the transfer of troops from the Valley to eastern Virginia. Since then, one of Nathaniel Banks's 3 divisions west of the Blue Ridge had departed eastward. A second was preparing to follow. Lee hoped that an offensive by Jackson would compel them to return. This was Lee's first essay in the kind of offensive-defensive strategy that was to become his hallmark. And as long as Jackson lived, he commanded the mobile force that Lee relied on spearhead this strategy. Jackson did so now, with a series of maneuvers that did indeed mislead, mystify, and surprise the enemy.

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Williamsburg

Not surprisingly, McClellan was unprepared to move on the retreating Confederate Army after they abandoned Yorktown. The bad muddy roads would hamper the retreat almost as much as it would the Union Army. The heaviest rebel guns were left at Yorktown, but not without being "spiked" first.

Spiking a gun meant driving home a metal plug into the ignition hole to detonate the blast which would propel a shot. It was a fast and easy way to make sure a cannon could not be turned around and used in the same battle against the previous owners. Most guns could be saved by drilling the spike out, but care had to be taken so as not to weaken the gun causing it to explode when it was put back into action.

Mcgruder had built quite a few reboudts, earthen fortifications around Williamsburg as a third line of defenses and even a couple of "forts", the largest of which was named Fort Mcgruder. In fact, he may have built too many, as some would lie empty for the Union to take, and then use as a defense against counter attacks.

http://civilwar.org/battlefields/williamsb...amsburgmap.html

By this time, Johnston only wanted to delay the Union advance so he could get his supply trains safely back to Richmond for it's defense, and once again McClellan believed this was where Johnston would stand and fight, just as he mistakenly thought Yorkstown would be the place.

Meanwhile, the two infantry divisions had blundered around the Peninsula, finally getting into position in front of Fort Magruder (the key position in the Confederate lines) early in the morning of 5 May. They were now facing Confederate infantry. The poor roads on the Peninsula slowed the Confederate retreat almost as much as the Union advance, and so James Longstreet (with D.H. Hill), were left to hold the line at Williamsburg while the rest of the Confederate army moved north towards Eltham’s landing, to prevent their being outflanked by Union forcing landing behind them. Early on 5 May, even Hill’s division began to move away.

McClellan was not with the advancing Union troops. He remained at Yorktown, helping General Franklin embark his division ready to attempt that very flanking manoeuvre by sailing up the York River to West Point (or Eltham’s Landing). Instead, General Sumner, his second-in-command, was sent to the front. He reached the front late on 4 May, and ordered Brig.-Gen. William F. Smith’s division to launch a frontal assault on the enemy lines. However, between the Union lines and the Confederate defences was a band of thick woodland, and as darkness fell this first attack had to be abandoned, well before reaching the Confederate lines.

On the next morning the fighting began with a clash between the two lines of skirmishers. For most of the morning the fighting was concentrated in the centre of the line, facing Fort Magruder, and to the south (Union left, Confederate right). Here General Hooker had started with a careful advance, which soon developed into a fierce battle, which was to continue on for most of the day. Both sides soon began to call in reinforcements. On the Confederate side, A.P. Hill was called in before 9.00 a.m., the same time that Kearny was ordered forward on the Union side.

Brig. Gen. Joseph Hooker's 2nd division of the III Corps was the lead infantry in the Union Army advance. They assaulted Fort Magruder and a line of rifle pits and smaller fortifications that extended in an arc south-west from the fort, but were repulsed. Confederate counterattacks, directed by Maj. Gen. James Longstreet, threatened to overwhelm Hooker's division, which had contested the ground alone since the early morning while waiting for the main body of the army to arrive. Hooker had expected Brig. Gen. William F. "Baldy" Smith's 2nd Division of the IV Corps, marching north on the Yorktown Road, to hear the sound of battle and come in on Hooker's right in support. However, Smith had been halted by Sumner more than a mile away from Hooker's position. He had been concerned that the Confederates would leave their fortifications and attack him on the Yorktown Road.

Longstreet's men did leave their fortifications, but they attacked Hooker, not Smith or Sumner. The brigade of Brig. Gen. Cadmus M. Wilcox applied strong pressure to Hooker's line. Regimental bands playing Yankee Doodle slowed the retreating troops as they passed by, allowing them to rally long enough to be aided by the arrival of Brig. Gen. Philip Kearny's 3rd Division of the III Corps at about 2:30 p.m. Kearny ostentatiously rode his horse out in front of his picket lines to reconnoiter and urged his men forward by flashing his saber with his only arm. The Confederates were pushed off the Lee's Mill Road and back into the woods and the abatis of their defensive positions. There, sharp firefights occurred until late in the afternoon.

The crisis came in mid-afternoon. At about noon, Longstreet had become aware that the movement of the rest of the army was so slow that he could fight all afternoon without risking any delay to the move back to Richmond. Accordingly, he launched what he called ‘first grand assault’, which forced the Union lines back from their advanced positions. Despite this success, the Confederate attack eventually faded. The longer the day went on, the more Union troops could be brought onto the field, and Longstreet’s orders were after all only to win a day’s delay for the rest of the army, already moving away to the west. Couch’s and Kearny’s troops arrived in time to prevent any disaster in the centre.

A second fight developed to the north of Fort Magruder. At about 11.00 a.m., Sumner became aware that it might be possible to turn the Confederate left, and dispatched General Winfield S. Hancock to see if it could be done. Hancock faced a potentially difficult task crossing Cub Creek in the face of a Confederate fortification, but for some reason that particular redoubt had been abandoned. At 12 noon Hancock’s men crossed a dam across the stream and occupied the empty redoubt. A second Confederate fort also fell easily into his hands, and Hancock now sent urgent demands for reinforcements to allow him to capture that third fort and secure his advance.

Early split his command, and without first reconoitering, he emerged from the woods not on Hancock's flank, but directly in front of his guns. Early attacked anyway. Early would get a bullet in his shoulder for his efforts. Hancock had been ordered repeatedly by Sumner to withdraw his command back to Cub Creek, but he used the Confederate attack as an excuse to hold his ground. As the 24th Virginia charged, D.H. Hill emerged from the woods leading one of Early's other regiments, the 5th North Carolina. He ordered an attack before realizing the difficulty of his situation—Hancock's 3,400 infantrymen and eight artillery pieces significantly outnumbered the two attacking Confederate regiments, fewer than 1,200 men with no artillery support. He called off the assault after it had begun, but Hancock ordered a counterattack. The North Carolinians suffered 302 casualties, the Virginians 508. Union losses were about 100. After the battle, the counterattack received significant publicity as a major, gallant bayonet charge and McClellan's description of Hancock's "superb" performance gave him the nickname, "Hancock the Superb."

Hancock’s actions were described as brilliant by McClellan. There was a general feeling on the Union side that without Hancock’s successes on the right, the Confederates would not have withdrawn from the Williamsburg line. This was probably not the case, but Hancock’s successful seizure of the Confederate left flank prevented any possibility of a change of plan.

Back at Ft Magruder, at about 2:00 p.m., Brig. Gen. John J. Peck's brigade of Brig. Gen. Darius N. Couch's 1st Division of the IV Corps arrived to support and extend the right of Hooker's line, which had, by this stage, been pushed back from the cleared ground in front of Fort Magruder into the abatis and heavy wood about 600 – 1,000 yards from the Confederate fortifications. The morale of Hooker's troops had been affected terribly by the loss of Captain Charles H. Webber's Battery "H" of the 1st U.S. Light Artillery and Captain Walter M. Bramhall's 6th Battery of the New York Light Artillery. Peck's arrival on the field and his brigade's recovery of Bramhall's battery came at a critical moment for Hooker's division, which was on the verge of retreat.

Two controversies surround this battle. This first is over the nature of the battle itself. Union reports at the time represents it as a victory over a large part of the Confederate army, intent on holding the Williamsburg line just as it had held the Yorktown line. This was not the Confederate’s intention when the fighting started. Longstreet simply needed to delay the Union advance for a day or so to allow the Confederate supply trains to get back into Richmond.

A second controversy developed over the use of primitive landmines – effectively artillery shells rigged to explode as Union soldiers passed. Once again, reports of their use appeared in Union sources soon after the battle. Jefferson Davis even referred to it in his autobiography. However, Joseph Johnston, then the Confederate commander in the field, denied that any such thing had been done. Sadly for his case, the Confederate commander responsible, General G. J. Rains, was an enthusiastic supporter of the idea, and was happy to admit that he had planted four such shells in front of his lines at Williamsburg. Longstreet clearly did not approve, and ordered him to stop.

The fighting at Williamsburg was as intense as any on the Peninsula. Several regiments on the Union side suffered very heavy losses. The Union dead numbered 468, compared to 790 in the two days at Seven Pines or 1,734 during the Seven Days (or 289 for each of the six days of significant battle). This in a battle where only a part of the Union army ever got into action! Reported Confederate losses were not as heavy, although at least one heavily damaged regiment (The 5th North Carolina) did not return a list of casualties.

Both sides could come away from Williamsburg with some satisfaction. Longstreet had held the Union attack off for a day, and allowed the Confederate supply trains to withdraw. In one day’s fighting the Federal’s had pushed the rebels away from a defensive line that appeared to have a similar potential to the lines at Yorktown that had delayed them for a month. McClellan even managed to convince himself that he had been outnumbered at Williamsburg!. The scene was set for the climax of the Peninsula campaign at Richmond.

While many historians called this battale a draw (at the time the North called it a great victory) I think despite the losses, it was a win for Johnston. He made good his retreat, he avoided being flanking by a Union division moving up the York river, and would buy more time to prepare Richmond's defenses. There would be two more minor skirmishes before the Battle of Seven Pines.

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Eltham's Landing

Franklin having been sent up the York river by McClellan, arrived on May 6, and too late to flank the Confederate retreat, he landed practically on the doorstep of the entire Confederate army. He used his pontoon boats as docks, and unloaded supples well into night time, with only some light sporadic harrassing fire from the woods nearby.

Johnston sent Whiting to cover any movement Franklin may have planned. Hood, under Whiting had his men advance into the woods where Union pickets were, but with unloaded rifles, fearing casualties from friendly fire. Fortunately for Hood, one of his men disobeyed that order. When a Union corporal raised his gun directly at Hood, he was shot down before he could fire.

Franklin was loathe to the idea of advancing beyond the supporting fire of his gunboats, and wisley did not advance. His position on the river could not be attacked by Whiting's artillery because the were shielded by a large bluff. It was a standoff. The Confederate retreat to Richmond would continue without interference from Franklin.

Eltham's Landing was somewhat important, as it was where the rail line and a road from Richmond terminated.

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General Silas Casey (continued from posts 1008, 1010 and 1029)

On May 5, a rainy overcast day, the Federals bumped into the next Southern line, a series of redoubts east of Williamsburg that were anchored on Fort Magruder. A sharp one-day battle ensued, during which elements of the III and VI corps engaged a Confederate rear guard. Casey's division, however, remained in reserve.

After the Confederates retreated the evening of May 5, the Union army continued to move up the peninsula, but at a very slow pace while McClellan brought up the forces he believed were needed to totally overwhelm the enemy. In the meantime, Casey's soggy soldiers continued to suffer increased illness from their lack of shelter.

By the evening of May 17, Casey's division was camped at White House Landing on the Pamunkey River, a tributary of the York River. There the men were finally reunited with their packs and were able to rest for two days. From White House, Casey's division, the smallest and greenest of McClellan's vast arsenal, was inexplicably ordered to lead the army's advance on Richmond. On May 20, after a small clash with the Confederate rear guard, it reached the Chickahominy River at Bottom's Bridge. The span had been partially destroyed, but Casey's soldiers were able to repair it and cross over. Likewise, the Confederates had set afire the upstream railroad bridge, but the flames were extinguished, and some of the bluecoats used that span to cross the rain-swollen river.

On May 25 Keyes' corps advanced several miles along the Williamsburg Stage Road, which led to Richmond, to a defensible position a mile east of a crossroads called Seven Pines and dug in. That same day the two divisions of Brig. Gen. Samuel P. Heintzelman's III Corps took up positions two miles west of the Chickahominy and Heintzelman was given command of the Federal troops south of the river. On May 28, McClellan ordered Keyes to advance again, this time to hold Seven Pines in force. In accordance, Casey's green troops marched to an advance position three-quarters of a mile west of the crossroads, while the IV Corps' other division, Brig. Gen. Darius N. Couch's, occupied Seven Pines.

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To understand the attitudes of both sides at this time, the best analogy would be (IMO) to the Allies in 1944 having successfully completed the Normandy invasion. Late summer of 1944: sure, everyone knew that some fierce fighting lay ahead, but for all practical purposes, the war was over, it's outcome guaranteed. The Yankees had a reluctant commander in charge, but both he and they were EXTREMELY confident. The South was desperate though determined, and fatalistic.

If you had told either side that three more years of the most ferocious fighting would occur before this conflict would finally be settled, no one would have believed you.

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Hanover Courthouse

Disclaimer*** Straight cut and paste from Wiki***

The Army of the Potomac pushed slowly up the Pamunkey, establishing supply bases at Eltham's Landing, Cumberland Landing, and White House Landing. White House, the plantation of W.H.F. "Rooney" Lee, son of General Robert E. Lee, became McClellan's base of operations. Using the Richmond and York River Railroad, McClellan could bring his heavy siege artillery to the outskirts of Richmond. He moved slowly and deliberately, reacting to faulty intelligence that led him to believe the Confederates outnumbered him significantly. By the end of May, the army had built bridges across the Chickahominy and was facing Richmond, straddling the river, with one third of the Army south of the river, two thirds north. (This disposition, which made it difficult for one part of the army to reinforce the other quickly, would prove to be a significant problem in the upcoming Battle of Seven Pines).[3]

While skirmishing occurred all along the line between the armies, McClellan heard a rumor from a Virginia civilian that a Confederate force of 17,000 was moving to Hanover Court House, north of Mechanicsville. If this were true, it would threaten the army's right flank and complicate the arrival of McDowell's reinforcements. A Union cavalry reconnaissance adjusted the estimate of the enemy strength to be 6,000, but it was still cause for concern. McClellan ordered his close friend, Maj. Gen. Fitz John Porter, commander of the newly formed V Corps, to deal with the threat.[4]

Porter departed on his mission at 4 a.m. on May 27 with his 1st Division, under Brig. Gen. George W. Morell, the 3rd Brigade of Brig. Gen. George Sykes's 2nd Division, under Colonel Gouverneur K. Warren, and a composite brigade of cavalry and artillery led by Brig. Gen. William H. Emory, altogether about 12,000 men. The Confederate force, which actually numbered about 4,000 men, was led by Col. Lawrence O'Bryan Branch, and included the 18th, 28th, and 38th North Carolina Infantry regiments, and the 45th Georgia Infantry. They had departed from Gordonsville to guard the Virginia Central Railroad, taking up position at Peake's Crossing, 4 miles southwest of the courthouse, near Slash Church. Another Confederate brigade was stationed 10 miles north at Hanover Junction.[5]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Battle_o...t-House_map.png

Porter's men approached Peake's Crossing in a driving rain. At about noon on May 27, his lead element, the 25th New York Infantry, encountered Col. James H. Lane's 28th North Carolina on a reconnaissance patrol at the farm owned by Dr. Thomas H. Kinney. The New Yorkers, along with the 1st U.S. Sharpshooters, skirmished briskly with the Confederates until Porter's main body arrived, driving the outnumbered Rebels up the road in the direction of the courthouse. Porter set out in pursuit with most of his force, leaving three regiments (the 2nd Maine, the 44th New York, and the damaged 25th New York), under the command of Brig. Gen. John H. Martindale, to guard the New Bridge and Hanover Court House Roads intersection, a mile to the west of Kinney's farm. This movement exposed the rear of Porter's command to attack by the bulk of Branch's force, which Porter had mistakenly assumed was at Hanover Court House.[6]

Branch also made a poor assumption—that Porter's force was significantly smaller than it turned out to be—and attacked. Col. Charles C. Lee led his own regiment, the 37th North Carolina, along with the 18th North Carolina and two cannons from Latham's Battery. An initial assault by the 18th was repulsed, but when the 37th joined in, Martindale's force was almost destroyed by the heavy fire. The 44th New York suffered 25% casualties and its battle flag received 44 bullet holes.[7]

When messengers reached Porter with news of the engagement, he quickly dispatched the 9th Massachusetts and 62nd Pennsylvania regiments back to the Kinney Farm. The Confederate line broke under the weight of thousands of new troops and they retreated back through Peake's Crossing to Ashland.

General McClellan claimed that Hanover Court House was yet another "glorious victory over superior numbers" and judged that it was "one of the handsomest things of the war."[8] However, the reality of the outcome was that superior (Union) numbers won the day in a disorganized fight, characterized by misjudgments on both sides. The right flank of the Union army remained secure, although technically the Confederates at Peake's Crossing had not intended to threaten it. And McDowell's Corps did not need its roads kept clear because it never arrived—the defeat of Union forces at the First Battle of Winchester by Stonewall Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley caused the Lincoln administration to recall McDowell to Fredericksburg. The estimates of Union casualties vary, from 355 (62 killed, 233 wounded, 70 captured) to 397. The Confederates left 200 dead on the field and 730 were captured by Porter's cavalry.[9]

A greater impact than the actual casualties, according to historian Stephen W. Sears, was the effect on McClellan's preparedness for the next major battle, at Seven Pines and Fair Oaks four days later. During the absence of Porter, McClellan was reluctant to move more of his troops south of the Chickahominy, making his left flank a more attractive target for Johnston.[8]

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To understand the attitudes of both sides at this time, the best analogy would be (IMO) to the Allies in 1944 having successfully completed the Normandy invasion. Late summer of 1944: sure, everyone knew that some fierce fighting lay ahead, but for all practical purposes, the war was over, it's outcome guaranteed. The Yankees had a reluctant commander in charge, but both he and they were EXTREMELY confident. The South was desperate though determined, and fatalistic. If you had told either side that three more years of the most ferocious fighting would occur before this conflict would finally be settled, no one would have believed you.

I still find it difficult to understand why McClellan could not find a way to take Richmond at this time. He had everything going for him excepting a willing general who knew tactics and would fight. In other words, McClellan was his own worst enemy. This is why I find writing about his battles so absolutely exasperating. He makes me :):moneybag: Well, we've posted a lot today, perhaps it's time to let readers catch up a bit. Next is Seven Pines for me, which will by necessity take several posts and maybe two days to complete. I hope all is well with Bobby Lane... I miss his insights and solid contributions. I may post something later on today or tonight.Does anyone else hate McClellen as much as I do? LOL... before TOO long he will be out of the war, an event I will welcome, but first he had to butcher a few more battles before he'd be done. Mr Lincoln, to the white courtesy phone... you have a general named Grant on the line...

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Prelude to Seven Pines

Johnston withdrew his 60,000 men into the Richmond defenses. Their defensive line began at the James River at Drewry's Bluff and extended counterclockwise so that his center and left were behind the Chickahominy River, a natural barrier in the spring when it turned the broad plains to the east of Richmond into swamps. Johnston's men burned most of the bridges over the Chickahominy and settled into strong defensive positions north and east of the city. McClellan positioned his 105,000-man army to focus on the northeast sector, for two reasons. First, the Pamunkey River, which ran roughly parallel to the Chickahominy, offered a line of communication that could enable McClellan to get around Johnston's left flank. Second, McClellan anticipated the arrival of McDowell's I Corps, scheduled to march south from Fredericksburg to reinforce his army, and thus needed to protect their avenue of approach.

The Army of the Potomac pushed slowly up the Pamunkey, establishing supply bases at Eltham's Landing, Cumberland Landing, and White House Landing. White House, the plantation of W.H.F. "Rooney" Lee, son of General Robert E. Lee, became McClellan's base of operations. Using the Richmond and York River Railroad, McClellan could bring his heavy siege artillery to the outskirts of Richmond. He moved slowly and deliberately, reacting to faulty intelligence that led him to believe the Confederates outnumbered him significantly. Gee. McClellan thought he was outnumbered again, when he wasn’t. More of Pinkerton’s work.

By the end of May, the army had built bridges across the Chickahominy and was facing Richmond, straddling the river, with one third of the Army south of the river, two thirds north.(This disposition, which made it difficult for one part of the army to reinforce the other quickly, would prove to be a significant problem in the upcoming Battle of Seven Pines.

McClellan's army being awkwardly placed on both sides of the Chickahominy Creek left his right flank north of the river, protecting its supply lines and the route that any reinforcements from Washington would take. The left flank was south of the river, threatening Richmond. The danger was that the Chickahominy was prone to sudden rises in water level, which had the potential to wipe away the temporary pontoon bridges built by McClellan's engineers.

The left flank of McClellan's army was the weaker of the two. It contained two of his five army corps - Heintzelman's Third Corps and Keyes's Fourth Corps, both 17,000 strong. Next in line, on the other side of the Chickahominy, was Sumner's Second Corps, of roughly the same size. Roughly 34,000 of McClellan's nearly 100,000 men were available to resist any Confederate attack south of the river.

The Confederate commander at Richmond, General Joseph Johnston, now had just over 60,000 men at his disposal. In theory he had more than enough men to inflict a significant defeat on McClellan's isolated left wing, but in the battle that was to develop around Fair Oaks and Seven Pines neither side managed to get more than a fraction of their available men into action.

Johnston's original plan was for an attack on the stronger Federal right wing. This was because he had learnt that another 40,000 Federal troops under General McDowell were about to join McClellan. This move was cancelled after Stonewall Jackson's first victories in the Shenandoah Valley as chronicled by Tim earlier. Johnston now decided to attack south of the Chickahominy instead.

The following map is somewhat difficult to read, but it is detailed and if studied, imparts a good understanding of the positions on the field prior to the battle.

http://www.historyofwar.org/Maps/maps_cent...even_pines.html

Cross referencing between the map above and this one may help to better understand the details of the first map.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Seven_Pines.png

Johnston developed a plan to take advantage of McClellan’s army straddling the river. His new plan involved an early morning attack by four divisions on 31 May. They would begin their march at daybreak (roughly 4 a.m.), and fall on Keyes' corps before 8 a.m. Keyes's corps was clossest to Richmond. Most of the corps was on the Williamsburg road, with a smaller force a little further north at Fair Oaks. Heintzelman's corps was further east. Sumner's corps was slightly closer, but on the other side of the Chickahominy, which was now in flood. Keyes's corps was poorly entrenched and dangerously isolated.

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If you had told either side that three more years of the most ferocious fighting would occur before this conflict would finally be settled, no one would have believed you.

Especially considering the feeling amongst some that as soon as a southern soldier touched a rifle, every Yankee on the continent would have a spark of cowardice run up his spine and run away.

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Does anyone else hate McClellen as much as I do? LOL... before TOO long he will be out of the war, an event I will welcome, but first he had to butcher a few more battles before he'd be done. Mr Lincoln, to the white courtesy phone... you have a general named Grant on the line...

McClellen may be the person I dispise the most as a student of Abraham Lincoln.

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If you had told either side that three more years of the most ferocious fighting would occur before this conflict would finally be settled, no one would have believed you.

Especially considering the feeling amongst some that as soon as a southern soldier touched a rifle, every Yankee on the continent would have a spark of cowardice run up his spine and run away.
There was alot of that... I mean a LOT. I think it began with the Lincoln-Douglas exchanges. It was further fueled by Jefferson Davis who characterized northern soldiers as rapists, pillagers and cowards. Their rhetoric fueled the already low opinion that southern men had for their northern counterparts. How many men of the South thought they wold be gone for a few weeks, win the war, and return home? Sherman knew better. He predicted the course of the war when he left LSU (as it was to be known as later). He told his friends in the south it would be long and bloody, and that they vastly underestimated the will of people in the northern states. As he predicted, it was a fatal mistake.I hate McCLennan too but for a different reason. His incompetance lengthened the war by years in my opinion, but he thought he walked on water. I think by the end of 1862, the south had a different opinion of the northern soldier. Each side by that time had learned respect of the other, a lesson learned the hard way. As the war wore on, men of both sides would lament the needless deaths of their enemies. Even in the Penisula campaign, both sides would unofficially agree to not fire upon the other's pickets for the first time. That is something that would happen in both World Wars too. Certain completley independent agreements between filed combatantas would be met. Cease fires, the use of notched bayonettes being abandonded.... even in war, there remains an element of empathy. That is not to say there weren't dissenters on both sides. The Irish riots in NY will be fertile ground to explore these issues further.

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The Saga of General Casey cont. from posts 1008, 1010 and 1029

Having established his troops in a large field that surrounded two identical houses, Casey deployed a picket line that covered the Williamsburg Stage Road. The 'Twin Houses,' as they were called, were situated 135 yards south of the road, in line with each other. The surrounding land had been under cultivation, and the open space extended west about 800 yards to a swampy forest filled with tangled undergrowth. While Casey's pickets were posted near the foreboding woods, the Confederates of Maj. Gen. Daniel Harvey Hill's division waited patiently about 200 yards farther west, concealed by the dense growth.

As soon as his brigades reached their assigned positions, Casey ordered fatigue details to begin at once to fortify the exposed position. His exhausted men erected an earthen redoubt, called Fort Casey, flanked by trenches that stretched out into the thick woods. He next had the men slash timber for two rows of abatis, one to their front, running parallel to the western wood line, and the other about 500 yards behind the fort.

Casey, meanwhile, protested his assigned position to Keyes. Five of the enemy's seven known divisions were just a stone's throw away, and most of the rest of the Federal army was deployed several miles to the north, safely behind the Chickahominy. The only other Union troops on the south side of the river were Couch's division and Brig. Gens. Philip Kearny's and Joseph Hooker's divisions of the III Corps. If the Confederates attacked, Casey's brigades, with their flanks in the air, could not possibly stop them.

http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/seven...npinesmap1.html

On the morning of May 29, the 23rd North Carolina Infantry of Brig. Gen. Samuel Garland's brigade probed Casey's pickets. Taking advantage of a heavy fog, they drove the startled Federals back through the woods to the unfinished abatis. Once the Yankees had re-formed, they counterattacked and drove back the Carolinians.

The next day around noon, as the men of the division felled timber, dug trenches and cut firewood, the 23rd North Carolina once again reconnoitered in force and drove the Federal pickets back to the abatis. This time Casey put his entire division on alert while Colonel Bailey's guns shelled the woods. Casey next sent the 100th New York forward to support the outposts and re-establish the picket line.

To this point in the campaign, Confederate commander General Joseph E. Johnston and President Jefferson Davis had been feuding about how the campaign should be conducted. Johnston had resented Davis' insistence that he hold and fight at Yorktown and Williamsburg. Davis resented the fact that Johnston had allowed the invading Federal army to get to within seven miles of the Southern capital. But when the 23rd North Carolina's probes revealed the presence of the IV Corps near Seven Pines, Davis and Johnston finally came to terms. Casey's exposed men would reap the full fury of the Confederates' first offensive of the Peninsula campaign.

Casey sent pickets into the heavy brush to the east. He built several lines of defense. He built an abatis at the western end of the open field against the woods, where his pickets might fall back upon. On the eastern side of the 800 yard field, be built some earthworks, the afroementioned "Fort Casey". Further to the east, another abatis. He had preparted as best he could. Now, McClellan would leave him out there, vastly outnumbered.

Casey knew he would take the brunt of the attack. He also knew he had the greenest troops in the AoP.

Edited by Rovers

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Shenandoah, Continued

At the beginning of May, Jackson marched part of his army east across the Blue Ridge. Federal scouts reported that he was heading toward the Richmond front. Jackson's own troops believed the same. But when they arrived at the railroad near Charlottesville, Jackson put them on trains that carried them back west over the Blue Ridge to Staunton. From there Jackson led 9,000 men a few miles farther over mountain passes to the hamlet of McDowell, where on May 8 they defeated a Union force half as large. These bluecoats were part of an army of 25,000 men that John C. Fremont was assembling in West Virginia for a drive 250 miles southward to capture Knoxville. This impracticable plan was a compound of Fremont's romanticism and Lincoln's desire to liberate east Tennessee. Jackson's surprise attack disrupted the campaign before it got started.

Stonewall marched his men back into the Shenandoah Valley at Harrisonburg. Banks's sole remaining division had recently retreated northwar from there to Strasburg, where they dug in. Jackson made as if to follow, but at New Market he suddenly swerved eastward across Massanutten Mountain, which at that point divided the Shenandoah valley into two smaller valleys. Jackson had spent many hours studying maps of the Valley drawn by his brilliant topographical engineer Jedediah Hotchkiss. Now all that study paid off. While Jackson's hell-for-leather calvary under Turner Ashby kept up a feint along the pike toward Strasburg, deceiving Banks into thinking the rebels were coming that way, the main Confederate thrust came into the Luray Valley east of Massanutten Mountain. Here on May 23 Jackson's and Ewell's combined force overwhelmed the small Union outpost at Front Royal. Jackson was now on Banks's flank only 10 miles away with a force more than double the size of the Union division.

In all of these swift, deceptive movements Jackson was aided by local scouts and spies who knew every foot of the country. Northern commanders had no such advantage. Moreover, Valley residents such as Belle Boyd of Front Royal kept Jackson informed of Federal troop dispositions. Banks had to contend not only with Jackson's army but also with a hostile civilian population- a problem confronted by every invading Union army, and one that helped make this a war of peoples as well as of armies.

Impatient toward weaknesses of the flesh, Jackson had driven his infantry at a killing pace. "He classed all who were weak and weary,, who fainted by the wayside, as men wanting in patriotism," said an officer. "If a man's face was as white as cotton and his pulse so low you could scarcely feel it, He looked upon him merely as an inefficient soldier and rode off impatiently." Ewell caught the spirit and ordered his marching columns stripped to the minimum. "We can get along without anything but food and ammunition," he stated. "The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage." Although barefoot, blistered, and broken down from marching 160 miles and fighting two battles in two weeks, Jackson's men no longer called him Tom Fool. Now he was Old Jack, and they were proud to be known as his foot cavalry.

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Seven Pines Also known as Fair Oaks

This is also a contuation of the "Saga Of General Silas Casey"

Johnston puts his plan into action.

Originally planning on striking McClellan's right flank near Mechanicsville, Keyes crossing of Chickahominy seemed so fortuitous that Johnston completely reworked his plans to strike Keyes corps instead. General James Longstreet never liked the plan of attacking Mechanicsville, but he did like the idea of hitting the 4th Corps as it was crossing the Chickahominy. It was not until Daniel Harvey Hill moved west on May 30 that the Confederates realized that Heintzelman's 3rd Corps had also crossed the Chickahominy.

Aiding the Rebels was a portentous thunderstorm that passed through the area the night before. High winds and a wall of water wrecked havoc on the federals crossing the Chickahominy. Taking a page from Jomini, Johnston concentrated his force, including 21 of his 29 brigades of infantry, east of the rail depot at Fair Oaks. Johnston's plan called for A. P. Hill and John Magruder to screen Longstreet's move east along Nine Mile Road from the Union army north of the Chickahominy while additional troops moved forward along the Charles City Road(Huger), Williamsburg Road (Harvey Hill) and Nine-Mile Road(Longstreet). Johnston intended for Benjamin Huger to let Hill know when he was in position, then Hill would start the attack.

The Confederate attack plan was complex at least from a logistics standpoint. A.P. Hill and Magruder were to engage lightly and distract the Union forces north of the river, while Longstreet, commanding the main attack south of the river, was to converge on Keyes from three directions: six brigades under Longstreet's immediate command and four brigades under D.H. Hill were to advance on separate roads at a crossroads known as Seven Pines (because of seven large pine trees clustered at that location); three brigades under Huger were assigned to support Hill's right; Whiting's division was to follow Longstreet's column as a reserve. The plan had an excellent potential for initial success because the division of the IV Corps farthest forward, manning the earthworks a mile west of Seven Pines, was that of Brig. Gen. Silas Casey, 6,000 men who were the least experienced in Keyes's corps. If Keyes could be defeated, the III Corps, to the east, could the be pinned against the Chickahominy and overwhelmed.

Johnston would bring 21 of his 29 brigades down on Keyes. That meant 55,000 Confederate soldiers against 33,000 if the Union army's II and IV corp. For once, McClellan actually would be outnumbered. He never acknowledged this fact. He was wrong yet again.

The plan of attack was mismanaged from the start. Johnston chose to issue his orders to Longstreet orally in a long and rambling meeting on May 30. The other generals received written orders that were vague and contradictory. He also failed to notify all of the division commanders that Longstreet was in tactical command south of the river. (This missing detail was a serious oversight because both Huger and Smith technically outranked Longstreet.) On Longstreet's part, he either misunderstood his orders or chose to modify them without informing Johnston. Rather than taking his assigned avenue of advance on the Nine Mile Road, his column joined Hill's on the Williamsburg Road, which not only delayed the advance, but limited the attack to a narrow front with only a fraction of its total force. Exacerbating the problems on both sides was a severe thunderstorm on the night of May 30, which flooded the river, destroyed most of the Union bridges, and turned the roads into morasses of mud.

Had Johnston's plan been well executed, it would likely have meant a stunning victory for the South. It counted on coordinated, timed attacks. Instead, it was done in a piecemeal fashion as divisions took the wrong roads and never arrived at their planned locations until long after the engagement had started. Despite that fact, it nearly became that stunning victory, perhaps excepting General Silas Casey and his green troops. Why Keyes put Casey's men in the center of the Union line makes little sense. He had veteran units available for such an important tactical position on the battle field.

On the morning of May 29, the 23rd North Carolina Infantry of Brig. Gen. Samuel Garland's brigade probed Casey's pickets. Taking advantage of a heavy fog, they drove the startled Federals back through the woods to the unfinished abatis. Once the Yankees had re-formed, they counterattacked and drove back the Carolinians. The next day around noon, as the men of the division felled timber, dug trenches and cut firewood, the 23rd North Carolina once again reconnoitered in force and drove the Federal pickets back to the abatis. This time Casey put his entire division on alert while Colonel Bailey's guns shelled the woods. Casey next sent the 100th New York forward to support the outposts and re-establish the picket line.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Seven_Pines.png

At dawn on May 31, 1862, the day of Johnston's grand attack, the already worn-out men of Casey's division were drenched once again. A horrendous rainstorm the night before had flooded trenches and campsites. One soldier remembered that 'the unfinished rifle pits were filled, and every depression in the roads and elsewhere had become tiny lakes.'

This same rainstorm had washed away all but one of the Federal pontoon bridges over the river, but for the one, which was half submerged on the floding river. Although his troops were hungry and miserable, Casey wisely put them back to work. All was quiet until about 9 a.m. when one of Johnston's staff officers accidentally rode into some pickets from the 100th New York. Although the snared Southerner refused to cooperate during his interrogation, Casey surmised that something big was up and notified his superior, General Keyes, of his concerns. Casey's fears were soon realized when Captain Simon Townsend of the 85th Pennsylvania, also manning the picket line, noticed considerable Confederate activity to his front.

Here is an excellent map which shows Casey's pickets in the woods, the first abatis at the edge of the woods, the second defensive line of earthowrks, and the last line, another abatis.

http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/seven...npinesmap1.html

Edited by Rovers

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Seven Pines and General Casey's Stand

The attack was supposed to begin at 9am. DH Hill was in position facing Casey's picket line in the woods, west of the abatis' and Union earthworks in the 800 yard field. Whiting was supposed to be supporting Hill on the right to attack Casy's left flank, and Huger was supposed to do the same to Casey's right flank. Longstreet was suposed to support Hill in reserve. By 1pm, Hill had grown impatient, and ordered his men forward.

D.H. Hill launched his attack with Sam Garland's brigade. The 300-man 2nd Mississippi Battalion led as skirmishers. After they had advanced only several hundred yards, the PA 103rd's Company C opened fire. Outnumbered four to one, the Keystoners quickly yielded to the advancing Rebels and retreated 50 yards to the rest of their regiment. For a few key minutes–which gave the rest of the division at least some time to gather its forces–the 450 or so men from the 103rd Pennsylvania dueled with 2,000 Southerners. The Confederates cascaded forward, and Captain Reynolds Laughlin, on the far right of Gazzam's line, noticed that the regiment was being flanked. He called for the men to fall back as quickly as possible.

The tangled undergrowth prevented the 103rd from falling back in any kind of order. To make matters even worse for the Pennsylvanians, Casey ordered his artillery to shell the woods through which they were retreating. Pushed beyond the breaking point, the 103rd fled. A tree limb hit Major Gazzam in the face, knocking him from his mount, while he was frantically trying to reassemble his men. If not for the courage and dedication of some of his men who quickly pulled him to safety, Gazzam, a former attorney from Pittsburgh, would surely have been snagged as a prisoner.

With the 103rd Pennsylvania and the rest of Casey's picket line smashed, Garland's brigade began to negotiate the abatis. That bought time for Casey to personally lead parts of six regiments from Naglee's and Palmer's brigades, reinforced by Battery H, 1st New York, forward into line about 200 yards behind the abatis. There the desperate Federals dueled with Garland's winded brigade, bringing it to a standstill.

Future U. S. Senator and Governor of Georgia John B. Gordon, then a colonel of the 6th Alabama regiment, would remember the fighting that day at Fair Oaks as being "...as murderous as any..." he ever saw. The veteran commander of the Raccoon Roughs (boys from Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee) ran into a stubborn Union line (85th New York) and came away with almost 400 casualties out of 700 engaged.

At that juncture, with most of Casey's division engaged in front, Huger's and Whiting's divisions should have been falling on the Federal flanks and Longstreet's troops ready to reinforce Hill's. But because of jealousy, ineptitude and a general lack of coordination, all the follow-up divisions were still bundled up in the rear.

As Garland's brigade exchanged volleys with Casey's second line, Hill's right wing–the brigades of Brig. Gens. Robert Rodes and Gabriel Rains–hurried forward after their advance had been delayed. Rodes' troops exited the woods on the south side of the Williamsburg Stage Road and entered the fray. Hill detached Rains' troops, ordering them to advance around Casey's left flank and take his works from behind. Colonel George B. Anderson's brigade, meanwhile, was working around the northern edge of the field and the Union right. In all, 6,500 Confederates would be sent against 3,500 Federals.

http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/seven...npinesmap1.html

Edited by Rovers

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Seven Pines and Casey cont.

Casey directed a general withdrawal to the redoubt and its adjoining trenches. But Battery H needed time to move its guns to the rear, and the Confederates were coming fast. The division commander therefore ordered General Naglee to have three regiments on the north side of Nine Mile Road–the 104th Pennsylvania, the 11th Maine and the 100th New York–charge and buy time for Battery H. The spoiling attack, one of the first committed by Federal forces in the war, froze the Confederate advance. 'I never saw a handsomer thing in my life than that charge was,' Casey later recalled.

While D.H. Hill waited for his troops to deploy, Casey patched his line together as best he could. He also sent back another frantic request to General Keyes to send up Couch's three brigades, to help solidify his line. Keyes was in fact sending forward reinforcements, but he did so piecemeal, and curiously he did not communicate with either Casey or Couch. As a result, the few regiments that did come to Casey's aid were too little and too late.

In front of Hill's Confederates stood the remains of the smallest division of the Army of the Potomac. The keystone of their final line was the redoubt, manned by six Napoleons from Battery A. Casey's remaining batteries, the 7th and 8th New York, were poorly deployed, however. Colonel Bailey had ineptly positioned the 8th behind Battery A, with no clear targets, and he situated the 7th New York on the far right of the line, behind infantrymen who presented an obstacle and gave the gunners a poor field of fire.

Casey prayed that Keyes would deliver reinforcements before the long Confederate line advanced for the final blow. But then Captain Thomas Carter's King William (Virginia) Artillery began an intense cannonade against Bailey's guns, which were generally ineffective in returning the fire. Soon Rains' troops were in position and firing on the rear of the redoubt. Hill's Confederates advanced to within 60 yards of Casey's line, where they were momentarily stopped by musketry. One Confederate equated the Federal fire with 'unabated fury,' and a soldier from the 85th Pennsylvania similarly remembered: 'We had a full and near view of the enemy and could almost see the whites of their eyes….They presented a most formidable appearance being eight or ten deep….We could take dead aim, and firing in so dense a mass, to miss was almost impossible.'

Knowing that his men could not withstand the fire, Lt. Col. Bryan Grimes of the 4th North Carolina, Anderson's brigade, ordered his regiment to charge. The subsequent attack, which pierced the 85th Pennsylvania's line, was, according to one veteran, 'like an avalanche.' Colonel Bailey, seeing the conflagration developing on his right, ordered the guns in the redoubt spiked.

As he moved forward to help a gunner perform the task, he was shot dead. The cannons from the 8th New York opened up, and one shell burst prematurely over the heads of the 85th New York, killing or wounding several. That only hastened their decision to retreat.

By 3:30 p.m., sheer pandemonium had enveloped Casey's faltering line. Hill's victorious Confederates were swarming in from three directions, Carter's battery was brought forward to rake the redoubt with canister or shot, and what was left of the division was running to the rear for their very lives, despite Casey's desperate attempt to rally them. One officer remembered seeing the general 'raging among his retreating men, hatless, his white hair streaming in the wind.' Another veteran of the battle wrote, 'Old Casey was as brave as a lion, and remained while his men would stand; he lost everything but the clothes he stood in.' At that point, Keyes and two regiments from Couch's division finally arrived on the field. Shocked by the carnage and may-hem, the IV Corps commander quickly ordered all his forces to fall back to Seven Pines and await the arrival of Heintzelman's two divisions.

General Hill again ordered his men to press their advantage. By 5 p.m., they had driven what was left of Keyes' IV Corps and parts of Heintzelman's III and Sumner's II corps out of Seven Pines. It was not until later that evening that Johnston finally arrived down the Nine Mile Road with parts of Whiting's and Longstreet's divisions. Elements of Sumner's II Corps led by Brig. Gen. John Sedgwick and some units of Couch's IV Corps division stopped them, however, about a mile north of the Twin Houses. While observing the twilight battle rage, Johnston was horribly wounded, first in the shoulder by a bullet and then in the chest by a piece of shrapnel, and was quickly evacuated to Richmond.

Casey

Casey, with both flanks exposed held off D.H. Hill's men for 2 and a half hours, outnumbered two to one with the smallest, greenest Division in the entire Army of the Potomac. This bought much needed time for the Union Army, as there were other developments going on while Casey stubbornly gave ground to a vastly superior force. During this time, General Sumner was able to get another division across the last remaining pontoon bridge before it washed away and to get into position for the late evening and next day. Casey had performed heroicly, as did most if not all of his men.

The next post will deal with those other developments, but I wanted to follow Casey's story to it's end first. There will also be one more post about Casey and the 103rd PA.

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Silas Casey

Epilogue

I might as well finish Casey's story now, before returning to the Battle of Seven Pines:

If Huger, Whiting and Longstreet had supported D.H. Hill at Seven Pines on the 31st as ordered, or if Casey's outnumbered division had not fought as long as it did, there is little doubt that the III and IV corps of the Army of the Potomac would have been wiped out. All told, the Battle of Seven Pines cost both sides about 6,000 men. The casualty tally of Casey's division was appalling: 177 dead, 934 wounded and 322 missing.

Following the battle, the remnant of Casey's division retreated to White Oak Swamp to guard the extreme left of the army. While there, McClellan relieved Casey of duty, erroneously believing that he and his division had simply let Hill walk through their position, and ordered the dishonored drillmaster back to White House Landing. The division, now commanded by Brig. Gen. John J. Peck, was subsequently consolidated into two brigades, that of Naglee and Wessells.

Casey's career never recovered after Seven Pines. McClellan continued to blame him for the Federal collapse on May 31 and refused to acknowledge the tough fight put up by the old Regular's green division. Though he did get promoted to major general, Casey never again enjoyed a field command and spent much of the rest of the war in charge of troops in the defenses of Washington. He retired from the Army in 1868 after 46 years of service, and died in 1882.

A few weeks after Seven Pines, General Robert E. Lee, Johnston's replacement, attacked McClellan at Mechanicsville and Gaines' Mill, at the beginning of what later became known as the Seven Days' campaign. Casey's old division was kept from the fray, relegated to digging trenches near Harrison's Landing. When the brutal Seven Days were over in July, McClellan held a grand review of the army at Harrison's Landing. As he passed by Casey's former troops, the men purposely turned their backs to him.

In August, when the Army of the Potomac was ordered to evacuate the peninsula, Casey's old division–at McClellan's behest–was separated from the army and sent down to the backwater of Suffolk, Va., to pay penance for their alleged sins at Seven Pines. From there, in 1863, the division was dispatched to the coast of North Carolina, where it performed admirably in several small but important actions near New Bern, Kingston, Whitehall, Goldsboro and Plymouth.

Casey's old troops' misfortunes continued. In April 1864, after many of the men had just re-enlisted and were preparing to go home on a well-deserved furlough, a Confederate division under Maj. Gen. Robert F. Hoke overwhelmed Wessells' brigade at Plymouth. The brigade surrendered and was sent to Andersonville, Ga. Of those men, the infamous 'Plymouth Pilgrims,' less than half ever returned home.

In 1863, General Casey testified before the Joint Committee of the Conduct of the War, a congressional committee that investigated Union military operations, about his role in the Battle of Seven Pines. Casey vigorously defended the mettle of his division and stated: 'In my humble opinion from what I witnessed…I am convinced that the stubborn and desperate resistance of my division saved the army on the right bank of the Chickahominy from a severe repulse, which might have resulted in a disastrous defeat. The blood of the gallant dead would cry to me from the ground on which they fell fighting for their country had not I said what I have to vindicate them from the unmerited aspersions which have been cast upon them.'

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Great story, Rovers, and one that I was not aware of.

I thought so too. Casey is a sort of tragic figure, a hero that McClellan destroyed just to save his own reputation. I know I rant about how much I hate McClellan, but he really was a piece of ****. He should have kissed Casey's buttocks. Casey saved him from an absolute disaster. If McClellan wanted to place blame, he should have blamed Keyes. First off, why put the smallest greenest division in the center of his line? Keyes was like a snail in reacting to what was going on. He failed to properly reinforce Casey, he was slow in asking for other reinforcements, and when he finally did get involved, all he did was order a retreat. He, not Casey left Couch out to dry. If McClellan needed a scape goat, it should have been Keyes. I don't know, but my guess is that Keyes was one of McClellans buddies. He covered for Keyes' mistakes, and Casey took the hit. Casey is one of many unsung heroes of the Civil War. At least they eventually gave him another star on his shoulder. He probably should have had another, too.

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