Fantasy Football - Footballguys Forums
timschochet

The American Civil War Timeline- 150th Anniversary

Recommended Posts

Seven Pines cont.

Keyes got so involved in the battle that he failed to wire his situation to headquarters or ask for help. When McClellan wired Heintzelman, at 2:30 pm, the 3rd Corps commander's response was that he had heard nothing from Keyes and therefore there were no serious problems, but his actions spoke differently than his words. He ordered Phil Kearney forward and Kearney reported quickly that Keyes was "being driven back."

By three o'clock the Union Army, in fact, had been driven back to the crossroads at Seven Pines where some of the retreating men fell in behind a second set of log works while others, too tired or afraid to fight continued to the rear for safety. Luckily, Darius Couch's division and Phil Kearny's forward brigades took up most of the Yankee line at Seven Pines. Heintzelman did maintain communication with headquarters and gave an acurate description of the battle (as he knew it) to McClellan shortly after 3:00pm. Based on Heintzelman's report McClellan issued an order to Edwin Vose Sumner to advance, but by the time Sumner received the order he had already sent Brigadier General John Sedgwick across Grapevine Bridge with orders to advance to the battle.

Sumner was much like McClellan, cautious to a fault. Fortunately, this time, he took some initiative. Had he waited for orders to send Sedgwick across the river, the last pontoon bridge would have been swept away in the flooding river, which it did shortly after Sedgwick got across. In fact, when the crossing was made, most of the bridge was partially submerged already.

While Casey was holding the Confederate advance as best he could, both of the high commanders were unaware of the severity of the battle. As late as 2:30 p.m., Heintzelman reported to McClellan, still sick in bed, that he had received no word from Keyes. Johnston was only 2 1/2 miles from the front, but an acoustic shadow prevented him from hearing the sounds of cannons and musketry and he and his staff did not know the battle had begun until 4 p.m.

Daniel Harvey Hill had been fighting the Battle of Seven Pines without support. When forward units of Longstreet's Corps arrived under the command of Colonel Micah Jenkins [CS], Hill sent them on a flanking maneuver that took him up to Nine-Mile Road, then crashing down on Keyes left flank. In 5 distinct battles, Jenkins' South Carolinians worked their way behind enemy lines, coming to the Williamsburg Road just before dusk. This caused a less than orderly withdrawal of the Yankees when word reached the Yankee line of Rebels along their path of retreat.

Major General Gustavus W. Smith, to the north of Hill, ordered General Chase Whiting to began moving east shortly after 4:00pm. His lead brigade under Evander Law ran into Darius Couch and his small federal force at Fair Oaks Station and was about to overrun them when Sedgwick's Yankees arrived at 5:30pm. Sedgwick deployed his artillery on both sides as he advanced down the road to Fair Oaks, something Whiting couldn't do - he had failed to bring any artillery in support of his infantry.

As Whiting's brigades arrived they spread out north of Nine Mile Road over the rolling hills south of the Chickahominy. Although they initially outnumbered the federals, as more of Sedgwick's men arrived the numbers evened up and the fight turned into a series of frontal assaults. Soon the federals were pushing the Confederate line back. One of Whiting's brigadiers, Wade Hampton, was wounded and another, Robert Hatton, was killed in the federal advance. Brigadier General James Pettigrew was captured. From a hill just southwest of Fair Oak Station, Joe Johnston watched as the Union line swept forward with surprising speed.

http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/seven...npinesmap2.html

Soldiers near General Johnston warned him that he was not only within range of Sedgwick's artillery, but he was now in range of the advancing Union line. Before he could move, he was struck in the shoulder by a Yankee bullet as his position came in range of the advancing federal line. Moments later an artillery shell exploded in front of him, wounding him and knocking him off his horse. For Joseph E. Johnston, the Battle of Fair Oaks was over, as was his command of the Army of Northern Virginia. While Johnston was being moved to Richmond, G. W. Smith found out about his commander's injuries. Smith, Johnston's second-in-command, was now in charge of the Confederate Army.

Fighting at Seven Pines resumed the following morning, but neither army made much of an effort at it. Brigadier General Oliver O. Howard lost an arm to a bullet during a Rebel assault, but G. W. Smith would not support Hill or James Longstreet, who finally made a belated appearance. At 11:30 the battle of Fair Oaks or Seven Pines ended. Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee arrived at the Hughes home and Davis had Smith turn command of the Army of Northern Virginia over to Lee.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.
While I can't find anything concrete regarding Keyes and McClellan, how about this? Keyes saw action at Lee's Mill, Yorktown, Bottom's Bridge, Savage's Station, Seven Pines (Fair Oaks), Charles City Cross Roads, Malvern Hill, and Harrison's Landing. For gallantry at Fair Oaks, Keyes received the brevet of brigadier general in the regular army. After the Army of the Potomac left the Peninsula, the IV Corps remained behind as a part of Maj. Gen. John Adams Dix's Department of Virginia. Keyes was promoted to major general of volunteers on May 5, 1862. In addition to the IV Corps, he commanded the Yorktown District, VII Corps, and the division at Suffolk. Among Keyes's other actions were the raid to White House, Virginia, on January 7, 1863, and the expedition to West Point, Virginia, on May 7, 1863.During the Gettysburg Campaign in 1863, Keyes fell afoul of General Dix's strategic plan to demonstrate heavily against Richmond in order to divert Confederate reinforcements from General Robert E. Lee's army in Pennsylvania. Keyes retreated from a position near what is now Tallysville, Virginia, in the face of what Dix deemed to be inferior forces, so Dix had Keyes removed from command.Although Keyes asked for an investigation of the charges that led to his removal, the request was never granted. He then served on various boards and commissions, including the board for retiring disabled officers from July 15, 1863, until his resignation and retirement from the army on May 6, 1864. :yes: Keyes recieved a brevet of Brig Gen for gallantry at Fair Oaks (Seven Pines)????? Oh yeah, I think he and little Mac were good buddies. Keyes did NOTHING at Seven Pines. Gallantry my behind. He eventually got fired like McClellan, once his patron was gone. It took time to weed out the lousy generals from the Union Army. Heaven knows, there were enough of them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tim, who will do the 7 days? I think BL had said he would, but he hasn't been around for some time now. Next week my landscaping biz is going to keep me pretty busy with spring cleanups getting started. In fact I'm already busy getting ready to get back at it. That will limit my time too. We could use some help here, I think.

Any volunteers? :lmao:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tim, who will do the 7 days? I think BL had said he would, but he hasn't been around for some time now. Next week my landscaping biz is going to keep me pretty busy with spring cleanups getting started. In fact I'm already busy getting ready to get back at it. That will limit my time too. We could use some help here, I think.Any volunteers? :shrug:

When I'm done with Jackson I'll just keep going. If people want to add stuff, great. If not, that's OK.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Shenandoah, Continued

Jackson's men would need the pride they had developed to keep them going, for even harder marching and fighting lay ahead. The truth of his predicament having dawned on him, Banks retreated at top speed from Strasburg to his base at Winchester 20 miles north. Jackson's tired troops pressed him on May 24, slicing into Banks's wagon train and capturing a cornucopia of supplies. Banks's main body won the race to Winchester, where they turned to fight. At foggy daybreak on May 25, some 15,000 rebels assaulted 6,000 Yankees on the hills south and west of town. After some sharp fighting the Federals broke and streamed northward for the safety of the Potomac 35 miles away. Ashby's undisciplined calvary had disintegrated into looters, plundering Union camps or leading captured horses to the troopers' nearby homes. Without calvary and with worn-out infantry, Jackson could not pursue the routed bluecoats. Nevertheless his victories at Front Royal and Winchester had reaped at least 2,000 prisoners, 9,000 rifles, and such a wealth of food and medical stores that Jackson's men labeled their opponent "Commissary Banks."

Jackson's campaign accomplished the relief of pressure against Richmond that Lee had hoped for. When Lincoln heard on May 24 of Jackson's capture of Front Royal, he made two swift decisions. First he ordered Fremont to push his troops eastward into the Valley at Harrisonburg, from where they could march north and attack Jackson's rear. Second he suspended McDowell's movement from Fredericksburg toward Richmond and ordered him to send two divisions posthaste to the Valley to smash into Jackson's flank. Both McClellan and McDowell protested that this action played into the enemy's hand. It was "a crushing blow to us," McDowell wired Lincoln. "I shall gain nothing for you there, and shall lose much for you here."

I hate to criticize Abraham Lincoln in any way, since he was such an extraordinary leader and, IMO, our greatest president. But it is a mistake for national leaders to get involved in tactical military decisions. It turned out badly for Hitler, also for Churchill, and it wouldn't work for Lincoln either. It is analogous to an NFL owner trying to make personnel decisions or worse, to overrule his coaches and call plays. Even if effective (which is rare) it creates resentment and chaos. Hitler lost Stalingrad, in part, because he overruled his generals. Churchill's continual interference in North Africa helped delay that struggle for two years. And Lincoln's actions in the Shenandoah Valley, as we shall see, were an overreaction to Jackson and played right into his and Lee's hands.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Shenandoah, Continued

Despite his protests, McDowell obeyed orders. Back to the Valley he sent James Shields's division, which Banks had sent to him only a few days earlier. McDowell himself followed with another division. Sitting in the War Department telegraph office in Washington, Lincoln fired off telegrams to the three separate commands of Fremont, Banks, and McDowell, hoping to move them like knights and bishops on the military chessboard. But his generals moved too slowly, or in the wrong direction. Instead of crossing into the Valley at Harrisonburg, Fremont found the passes blocked by small enemy forces and marched 40 miles northward to cross it at a point northwest of Strasburg. This angered Lincoln, for it opened the way for Jackson's 16,000 to escape southward through Strasburg before Fremont's 15,000 and Shields's 10,000 (with another 10,000 close behind) coverged on them from west and east.

That was precisely what happened. After the battle of Winchester, Jackson had marched to within a few miles of Harper's Ferry to give the impression that he intended to cross the Potomac. On May 30 his force was nearly twice as far from Strasburg as the converging forces of Fremont and Shields. Nothing but a few calvary stood in the way of the Union pincers. But a strange lethargy seemed to paralyze the northern commanders. Jackson's foot calvalry raced southward day and night on May 30 while the bluecoats tarried. The rebels cleared Strasburg on June 1 and slogged southward while Fremont and Shields, finally aroused, ripped at their heels. For the next few days it became a stern chase, with Fremont pursuing Jackson on the Valley pike and Shields trudging southward on a parallel course east of Massanutten Mountain.

Turner Ashby's calvalry burned 4 bridges to delay Union pursuit. Several rear-guard calvary fights took place, one of them resulting in the death of Ashby, who had become a romantic hero in the South. Jackson kept pushing his men to the edge of collapse. They won the race to the only undamaged bridge left on the Shenandoah River, at Port Republic near the south end of the Valley where Jackson had launched his epic campaign 5 weeks earlier. During those weeks Jackson's own division had marched more than 350 miles (Ewell's had marched 200 miles) and won 3 battles. Now they stopped to fight again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A Sidebar Post

What Civil War Soldiers Ate

Most people have heard of hardtack, but what was it? It was a simple bread, or thick cracker made from wheat flour, water and salt. It was cheap to make, and was a staple in the Union Army's diet. Both the North and South had a commisary Dept., and their job was to obtain and supply food for their respective armies. The South often used a sort of cornbread, similar to hardtack, but while generally better tasting and palatable, was harder to come by for southern soldiers, while hardtack was not for the north.

Hardtack, when fresh is not at all distasteful and unpalatable. Crispy on the outside, it was about a half inch thick, and softer in the center. As it got older in commisary stockpiles, it hardened much more. It would also become infested with weevils and their larvae. This is what more often than not, was what the Northern soldier got. Soldiers called them "tooth dullers" and "sheet iron crackers" . Sometimes they were infested with small bugs the soldiers called weevils, so they referred to the hardtack as "worm castles" because of the many holes bored through the crackers by these pests. The wooden crates were stacked outside of tents and warehouses until it was time to issue them. Soldiers were usually allowed six to eight crackers for a three-day ration. There were a number of ways to eat them- plain or prepared with other ration items. Soldiers would crumble them into coffee or soften them in water and fry the hardtack with some salt pork grease. One favorite soldier dish was salted pork fried with hardtack crumbled into the mixture. Soldiers called this "skillygallee" , and it was a common and easily prepared meal.

Sometimes soldiers would smash the hardtack up with the butts of their rifles and put it into their coffee. They would then skim the "weevil larvae foam" off the top before drinking the coffee. Another way to eat hardtack was to cook it in pork fat.

Another staple was "salt pork". Usually this was pork belly, but could be any part of the pig. This pork had been dry cured, and the salt was left on the meat for better preservation. The loss of the salt mines in West Virginia by the south would be felt for the entire war. Salt was the only way to preserve meat. Union soldiers would carry both hardtack and salt pork in their haversacks. Salt pork was often called bacon by the men who ate it, but this was not the bacon we know today.

Confederate soldiers did not have as much variety in their rations as Union soldiers did. They usually received bacon and corn meal, tea, sugar or molasses, and fresh vegetables when they were available. While Union soldiers had their "skillygallee", Confederates had their own version of a quick dish on the march. Bacon was cooked in a frying pan with some water and corn meal added to make a thick, brown gravy similar in consistency to oatmeal. The soldiers called it "coosh" and though it does not sound too appetizing, it was a filling meal and easy to fix.

Soldiers were given rations in three-day allotments; before a march or battle, they cooked their raw food so that they could carry it with them. A canvas haversack with a removal lining was used to carry Civil War food on the move. Although soldiers removed the lining and washed it when they had a chance, the haversacks soon smelled of old meat. Sometimes the salted meat given to the soldiers was past its prime, so they nicknamed it "salt horse".

Dry beans were also distributed, but the cooking time is long, and soldiers who did not soak and cook the beans long enough would get serious gastro-intestinal problems. Beans were not on the menu for an army on the move.

The north had coffee, and the south had tobacco. It was not unusual for pickets from both sides to actually exchange these goods, but never when officers were around. The coffee was actually green beans, which the soldier had to first roast over a fire, and then grind before making a brew. The south used other substitutes for coffee,

Dried fruit was also a minmal part of the diet, but like almost everything else, by the time the soldier got it it had spoiled of might be full of maggots. Canned foods were used, but again, this was not something a soldier could keep in his haversack. It was too heavy, so it was hardtack and salt pork for armies on the march.

Keeping an army fed was no small task. Union armies often had cattle herds behind them. That made movement slow and cumbersome, but a lottery win for Confederate soldiers who captured them. Fresh fruit was a special treat for any soldier. Wild peanuts, called beans also surprisingly were a conveint foraging food for both armies. In fact, there were well over 600,000 pigs rummaging around in the south that fed on nuts of all kinds. Most of them were captured and eaten during the war.

Given what the soldiers had to eat, it is no small wonder that they stole chickens, pigs, fruits and vegtables from any farm they could. Just a single carrot thrown in with hardtack and salt pork was a relished treat. Often soldiers would combine their rations and cook together once the day was over. That was called a "mess" and men called each other "messmates". That allowed for each soldier to tend to the campfire in turn, instead of one man cooking for himself for an hour or two.

The vast majority of casualties in the civil war were due to disease and exposure, not from injuries recieved in combat. Contaminated water and food, malnutrition and unsanitary waste borne illnesses took a mighty toll as did exposure. Often soldiers were under clothed, and living in the open even without the benefit of a tent to shield them from the elements.

Many preserved letters from soldiers lamented their meager diets. As the war wore on, men saw fit to take what they pleased, or needed as the spoils of war. Since the war was largely fought in the south, it was the southerners who would suffer the most. There would be food riots in the south before it was over.

Edited by Rovers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Shenandoah, Concluded

On June 8, Fremont's troops advanced against Ewell's division stationed 3 miles north of Port Republic near the tiny village of Cross Keys. Fremont handled this attack poorly. Although outnumbering Ewell by 11,000 to 6,000, he committed only a fraction of his infantry to an attack on the Confederate right. After its repulse, Fremont settled down for an artillery duel that accomplished nothing. Reacting to this feeble effort, Jackson made a typically bold decision. His army of 15,000 was caught between two enemy forces whose combined strength he believed to be at least 50% greater than his own. The safe course was retreat to the nearest defensible pass in the Blue Ridge. But the two Federal armies under Fremont and Shields were separated by unfordable rivers, while Jackson's troops held the only bridge. On the the night of June 8-9, Jackson ordered Ewell to leave a token force confronting Fremont and march the rest of his division to Port Republic. Jackson intended to overwhelm Shields's advance force and then face about to attack Fremont. But the stubborn resistance of Shields's two brigades at Port Republic frustrated the plan. 3,000 bluecoats held off for 3 hours the 8,000 men that Jackson finally got into action. The weight of numbers eventually prevailed, but by then Jackson's army was too battered to carry out the attack against Fremont, who had remained quiescent during this bloody morning of June 9. Both sides pulled back and regrouped. That night Jackson withdrew to Brown's Gap in the Blue Ridge.

Jackson's Valley campaign won renown and is still studied in military schools as an example of how speed and use of terrain can compensate for an inferiority of numbers. Jackson's army of 17,000 men had outmanuevered 3 separate enemy forces with a combined strength of 33,000 and had won 5 battles, in all but one of which (Cross Keys) Jackson had been able to bring superior numbers to the scene of combat. Most important, Jackson's campaign had diverted 60,000 Union soldiers from other tasks and had disrupted two major strategic movements- Fremont's east Tennessee campaign, and McDowell's plan to link up with McClellan's right wing before Richmond. Jackson's victories in the Valley created an aura of invincibility around him and his foot calvary. They furthered the southern tradition of victory in the Virginia theater that had begun at Manassas. Summarizing the Valley campaign, a rebel private wrote: "General Jackson 'got the drop' on them in the start, and kept it." The soldier meant this in a military sense, but it was equally true in a psychological sense. Stonewall became larger than life in the eyes of many northerners; he had gotten the drop on them psychologically, and kept it until his death a year later.

Lincoln's diversion of McDowell's corps to chase Jackson was probably a strategic error- perhaps even the colossal blunder that McClellan considered it. But if Union commanders in the Valley had acted with half the energy displayed by Jackson they might well have trapped and crippled Jackson's army. And even if McDowell's corps had joined McClellan as planned, the latter's previous record offered little reason to believe that he would have moved with speed and boldness to capture Richmond.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A Sidebar Post

What Civil War Soldiers Ate

...

:thumbup:
Thanks Bobby, good to see you back!

Out of curiousity more than anything else, I have looked at the civil war re-enactors groups, in particular the Fighting 69th, as I am from NY and of Irish heritage. If I had the 2 thousand bucks for the uniform and all the equipment, and the time, it looks like it would be fun. They do the whole thing, sleeping in authentic period tents, use a real operational model 1842 Springfield smoothbore .69 caliber musket and are EXtremely loyal to being period correct, right down to underwear and socks. You can only smoke cigars or pipes, cigarettes, even roll yer own types just werent seen during the war.

There seems to be a boatload of re-enactors. I found over 8 groups that represent the 69th, and even 5 groups that represent the 79th NY, the Cameron Highlanders, a Scottish regiment. There are 2 69th's in California alone, and the 79th NY has groups in both VA and TN. I'm sure there are many more. And that is only two regiments out of NY (historically).

What I did notice, was that there is one company that still sells hardtack (on line), fresh of course, and the re-enactors buy it, but they have to substitute other things for salt pork, sometimes slab bacon. I decided I wanted to try hardtack and salt pork. After a lot of snooping around, I think I know how to make authentic salt pork, and have ordered the brining salt for that. I am now even wondering if this could the basis for a very niche oriented biz, selling authentic salt pork to civil war re-enactors. I'm sure it's a nightmare to get started in, but perhaps subcontracting with a meat processor... anyway, it will take a week to get the correct salt and then another 2 or 3 weeks to dry cure the meat before I can try eating it. Hardtack is easy to make. The re-enactors are a pretty dedicated group, and authenticity is one their biggest goals. Real salt pork... if they could buy it, they would.

There must be 20,000 re-enactors out there. Typically each group does 12 events per year, and most of them are weekend camping trips. That's a LOT of pork salt! And no place to buy it.

For those who may be curious as well about the re-enactors, look at the equipment they have to buy:

http://www.69thnysv.org/

Cick on "Military Reenacting", then on "Company A Equipment".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lee takes command

Rovers has described the battle of Seven Pines, which was inconclusive. If either side gained an advantage it was the Federals, who inflicted a thousand more casualties (6,000) than they suffered. The most important southern casualty was Joe Johnston, wounded by a shell fragment and a bullet through the shoulder on the evening of May 31. To replace him, Davis appointed Robert E. Lee, probably Davis's most momentous decision in the American Civil War. It was an appointment which would change American history, delay the outcome of the war for three years, and cement a military legend which lasts to this day. Lee recognized the futility of further fighting by breaking off the engagement on June 1.

When Robert E. Lee took command of the newly designated Army of Northern Virginia, few shared Davis's high opinion of the quiet Virginian. "Evacuating Lee," sneered the Richmond Examiner in recollection of his West Virginia campaign, "who has never yet risked a single battle with the invader. Across the way, McClellan voiced pleasure at the change in southern command, for as he wrote:

Lee is cautious and weak under grave responsibility...he is likely to be timid and irresolute in action.

A psychiatrist trying to understand what made McClellan tick might read a great deal into these words, which described McClellan himself but could not have been more wrong about Robert E. Lee. Lee ignored criticism and set about reorganizing his army for a campaign that would fit his offensive-defensive concept of strategy. Lee's first actions emphasized the defensive. He put his soldiers to work strengthening the fortifications and trenches ringing Richmond, which earned him new derision as "the king of spades." But it soon became clear that Lee's purpose was not to hunker down for a siege. On the contrary, he told Davis, "I am preparing a line that I can hold with part of our forces" while concentrating the rest for a slashing attack on McClellan's exposed right flank north of the Chickahominy.

Lee knew that this flank was "in the air" (unprotected by natural or man-made obstacles such as a river, right-angle fortifications, etc.) because of one of the most remarkable reconnaissance calvary rides in military history, made by one of the most flamboyant characters in the entire war. A biography of this man, and a description of his incredible achievement, is next.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jeb Stuart

James Ewell Brown Stuart was born on February 6, 1833 at Laurel Hill Farm, a plantation in Patrick County, Virginia, near the border with North Carolina. He was the eighth of eleven children and the oldest of the five sons to survive past early age. His great grandfather, Major Alexander Stuart, commanded a regiment at the Battle of Guilford Court House during the American Revolutionary War. His father, Archibald Stuart, was a War of 1812 veteran, slaveholder, attorney, and Democratic politician who represented Patrick County in both houses of the Virginia General Assembly, and also served one term in the United States House of Representatives. Archibald was a cousin of Alexander Hugh Holmes Stuart. Elizabeth Letcher Pannill Stuart, Jeb's mother, who was known as a strict religious woman with a good sense for business, ran the family farm.

Stuart was educated at home by his mother and tutors until the age of 12, when he left Laurel Hill to be educated by various teachers in Wytheville, Virginia, and at the home of his aunt Anne (Archibald's sister) and her husband Judge James Ewell Brown (Stuart's namesake) at Danville. He attended Emory & Henry College when he was 15, from 1848 to 1850. During the summer of 1848, Stuart attempted to enlist in the U.S. Army, but was rejected as underaged. He obtained an appointment in 1850 to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, from Representative Thomas Hamlet Averett, the man who had defeated his father in the 1848 election. Stuart was a popular student and was happy at the Academy. Although not handsome in his teen years, his classmates called him by the nickname "Beauty", which they described as his "personal comeliness in inverse ratio to the term employed." He possessed a chin "so short and retiring as positively to disfigure his otherwise fine countenance." He quickly grew a beard after graduation and a fellow officer remarked that he was "the only man he ever saw that a beard improved."

Robert E. Lee was appointed superintendent of the Academy in 1852, and Stuart became friends with the Lee family, seeing them socially on frequent occasions. Lee's nephew, Fitzhugh Lee, also arrived at the academy in 1852. In Stuart's final year, in addition to achieving the cadet rank of second captain of the corps, he was one of eight cadets designated as honorary "cavalry officers" for his skills in horsemanship. Stuart graduated 13th in his class of 46 in 1854. He ranked tenth in his class in cavalry tactics. Although he enjoyed the civil engineering curriculum at the academy and did well in mathematics, his poor drawing skills hampered his engineering studies, and he finished 29th in that discipline. There is a Stuart family tradition that says he deliberately degraded his academic performance in his final year to avoid service in the elite, but dull, Corps of Engineers.

Stuart was commissioned a brevet second lieutenant and assigned to the U.S. Mounted Rifles in Texas. After an arduous journey, he reached Fort Davis on January 28, 1855, and was a leader for three months on scouting missions over the San Antonio to El Paso Road. He was soon transferred to the newly formed 1st Cavalry Regiment at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas Territory, where he became regimental quartermaster and commissary officer under the command of Col. Edwin V. Sumner. He was promoted to first lieutenant in 1855. Also in 1855, Stuart met Flora Cooke, the daughter of the commander of the 2nd U.S. Dragoon Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Philip St. George Cooke. Burke Davis described Flora as "an accomplished horsewoman, and though not pretty, an effective charmer," to whom "Stuart succumbed with hardly a struggle." They became engaged in September, less than two months after meeting. Stuart humorously wrote of his rapid courtship in Latin, "Veni, Vidi, Victus sum" (I came, I saw, I was conquered). Although a gala wedding was planned for Fort Riley, Kansas, the death of Stuart's father on September 20 caused a change of plans and the marriage on November 14 was small and limited to family witnesses. In 1857, the Stuarts' first child, a daughter, died in childbirth. The couple owned two slaves until 1859, one inherited from his father's estate, the other purchased.

Stuart's leadership capabilities were soon recognized. He was a veteran of the frontier conflicts with Native Americans and the antebellum violence of Bleeding Kansas. He was wounded on July 29, 1857, while fighting at Solomon River, Kansas, against the Cheyenne. Col. Sumner ordered a charge with drawn sabers against a wave of Indian arrows. Scattering the warriors, Stuart and three other lieutenants chased one down, whom Stuart wounded in the thigh with his pistol. The Cheyenne turned and fired at Stuart with an old-fashioned pistol, striking him in the chest with a bullet, which did little more damage than to pierce the skin. Stuart returned in September to Fort Leavenworth and was reunited with his wife. On November 14, 1857, Flora gave birth to a daughter, whom the parents named Flora. The family relocated in early 1858 to Fort Riley, where they remained for three years.

In 1859, Stuart developed a new piece of cavalry equipment, for which he received patent number 25,684 on October 4—a saber hook, or an "improved method of attaching sabers to belts." The U.S. government paid Stuart $5,000 for a "right to use" license and Stuart contracted with Knorr, Nece and Co. of Philadelphia to manufacture his hook. While in Washington, D.C., to discuss government contracts, and in conjunction with his application for an appointment into the quartermaster department, Stuart heard about John Brown's raid on the U.S. Arsenal at Harpers Ferry. Stuart volunteered to be aide-de-camp to Col. Robert E. Lee and accompanied Lee with a company of U.S. Marines from the Washington Navy Yard and four companies of Maryland militia. While delivering Lee's written surrender ultimatum to the leader of the group, who had been calling himself Isaac Smith, Stuart recognized "Old Ossawatomie Brown" from his days in Kansas.

Stuart was promoted to captain on April 22, 1861, but resigned from the U.S. Army on May 3, 1861, to join the Confederate States Army, following the secession of Virginia. (His letter of resignation, sent from Cairo, Illinois, was accepted by the War Department on May 14.) Upon learning that his father-in-law, Col. Cooke, would remain in the U.S. Army during the coming war, Stuart wrote to his brother-in-law (future Confederate Brig. Gen. John Rogers Cooke), "He will regret it but once, and that will be continuously." On June 26, 1860, Flora gave birth to a son, Philip St. George Cooke Stuart, but his father changed the name to James Ewell Brown Stuart, Jr. ("Jimmie"), in late 1861 out of disgust with his father-in-law.

Stuart was commissioned as a lieutenant colonel of Virginia Infantry in the Confederate Army on May 10, 1861. Major General Robert E. Lee, now commanding the armed forces of Virginia, ordered him to report to Colonel Thomas J. Jackson at Harper's Ferry. Jackson chose to ignore Stuart's infantry designation and assigned him on July 4 to command all the cavalry companies of the Army of the Shenandoah, organized as the 1st Virginia Cavalry Regiment. He was promoted to colonel on July 16. After early service in the Shenandoah Valley, Stuart led his regiment in the First Battle of Bull Run, and participated in the pursuit of the retreating Federals. He then commanded the Army's outposts along the upper Potomac River until given command of the cavalry brigade for the army then known as the Army of the Potomac (later named the Army of Northern Virginia). He was promoted to brigadier general on September 24, 1861.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Stuart's Immortal Ride

29 years old, Jeb Stuart had already won modest fame in the war but had an insatiable desire for more. Dressed in knee-high cavalry boots, elbow-length gauntlets, red-lined cape with a yellow sash, and a felt hat with pinned-up brim and ostrich-feather plume, Stuart looked every inch the dashing cavalier he aspired to be. Women were enchanted by him, and it was rumored throughout the war that he had various affairs while taking breaks from combat. He was also a superb leader of cavalry, especially in gathering information about enemy positions and movements. In this as in other tasks assigned to the calvary- screening the army from enemy horsemen, patrolling front and flanks to prevent surprise attacks, raiding enemy supply lines, and pursuing defeated enemy infantry- the rebel troopers were superior to their adversaries at this stage of the war. Having grown up in the saddle, sons of the Virginia gentry quite literally rode circles around the neophyte Yankee horsemen. When Lee told Stuart on June 10 that he wanted a reconnaissance to discover the strength and location of the Union right, Stuart was ready.

With 1,200 handpicked men he rode north from Richmond on June 12 and swung east of the headwaters of the Chickahominy, brushing aside the small enemy patrols he encountered. Stuart's progress was helped by the fragmented organization of Union calvary, which was sprinkled by companies and regiments throughout the army instead of consolidated into a separate division as the southern calvary was. Stuart's troopers discovered the location of Fitz-John Porter's 5th Corps, which McClellan had kept north of the Chickahominy while transferring the rest of the army to the other side.

Stuart had accomplished his mission. But he knew that by now the enemy was swarming in his rear. To return the way he had come would invite trouble. To continue on, to make a complete circuit around McClellan's army, might foil the pursuit. Besides, it would be a glorious achievement. In his mind Stuart could already see the headlines. He pushed on, winning skirmishes, capturing 170 enemy soldiers and nearly twice as many horses and mules, destroying wagonloads of Union supplies, traveling day and night over byways guided by troopers who had grown up in these parts, and crossed the swollen Chickahominy on an improvised bridge which the rebels burned behind themselves minutes before pursuing Union calvary reined up impotently on the north bank. Stuart's horsemen evaded further clashes and completed the circuit to Richmond by June 16.

Lee had the information he needed. And Stuart became famous. As his horse trotted through the cheering streets of Richmond, he was greeted with flower petals thrown in his path. Stuart graciously took the acclaim as his due, attended several balls, and eyed many charming women that he would later "encounter". Besides having all the glory he could want, Jeb Stuart gained personal satisfaction from the enterprise, for by one of those coincidences that abound in the American Civil War, it turned out that one of the Union calvary commanders he had opposed was his father-in-law, Philip St. George Cooke, a Virginian whom Stuart considered a traitor to his state and swore vengeance. "He will regret his decision but once," Stuart had vowed, "and that shall be continuously."

Edited by timschochet

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Stuart's Immortal Ride

...

Besides having all the glory he could want, Jeb Stuart gained personal satisfaction from the enterprise, for by one of those coincidences that abound in the American Civil War, it turned out that one of the Union calvary commanders he had opposed was his father-in-law, Philip St. George Cooke, a Virginian whom Stuart considered a traitor to his state and swore vengeance. "He will regret his decision but once," Stuart had vowed, "and that shall be continuously."

Stuart said that in a letter to his brother-in-law (who later became a Confederate Brig Gen).

On June 26, 1860, his wife Flora gave birth to a son, Philip St. George Cooke Stuart, but his father changed the name to James Ewell Brown Stuart, Jr. ("Jimmie"), in late 1861 out of disgust with his father-in-law.

It was just that kind of war...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Stuart's "Grand Ride"

Stuart achieved rock star status with this ride, and I think it was daring yes, but even more reckless than daring. Stuart loved the accolades, too much. He had reconned the Union right. That was what Lee wanted. His way back to Richmond was clear, and he knew it. Instead he attacked a small unit of federal cavalry. Why? Lee thought the Union right flank was vulnerable. It was. But Stuart's actions caused Porter to reinforce it. That was his second mistake, the first being to fulfill his mission, report back to Lee the posistions of the Union right.

His third mistake was to continue east-south-east, where he could have gotten trapped. He knew he would have to cross the rain swollen Chickahominy River, and knew that there were no bridges left on it, they had been burned by Johnston. He was lucky to have found a burnt out bridge with a nearby barn that could be repaired enough to use for a crossing. I think he was very fortunate at this point to not have been attacked by Union infantry.

The granstanding of this drive meant Lee had to wait almost two extra days to get the report he wanted. In the meantime, Porter did what he could do to reinforce the Union right flank, as McClellan foolishly did not send him any help. McLellan once again failed to understand what the southern army was up to. Maybe Stuart's ride all the way around McClellan's army helped to disgiuse Lee's intentions, maybe not. McClellan, as slow as ever would move his precious seige guns closer to Richmond, but would not attack with the force necessary to dislodge the rebels from their defenses at Oak Ridge.

In any case, it would not be the last time Stuart took off on an adventure like this. The next time he did it at Gettysburg would make him that battle's scapegoat (although he took the blame, it remains controversial if the fault actually lied with Stuart). Lee hated when Stuart wasn't nearby. I wonder what Lee might have said to him when he arrived back at Richmond two days late. Did he buy Stuart's story about not being able to return to Richmond on the same route he left it? Stuart dressed like a civil war rock star, ostrich feather in his cap, the the absolute icon of the dashing cavalryman. Rumours of the parties he threw after this, and the women he was able to conquer (they threw themselves at him, reportedly), he was a guy who loved the attention.

I'm not down on Stuart here, he was brilliant at what he did, but he had a wild side, and it would IMO be the one fault he had that would bring him down later on. Perhaps it was this very trait that made him so great as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not down on Stuart here, he was brilliant at what he did, but he had a wild side, and it would IMO be the one fault he had that would bring him down later on. Perhaps it was this very trait that made him so great as well.

Your critique of the ride is correct, and if Stuart just did as ordered and reported back to Lee on each occasion, he would have been a more effective soldier for the South. But let's face it, the reason he is an icon and a Civil War legend is because of the stunts. Stuart wanted above all else to be immortalized, and he is. We remember him and revere him for his recklessness. Wade Hampton was a solid calvaryman who made very few errors. But only Civil War buffs (and South Carolinians) remember him. Everyone's heard of JEB Stuart.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Seven Days Part One

Lee had the information he needed. And he knew whom he wanted to lead the attack: Jackson. He would bring Jackson's army secretly from the Valley to hit Porter's corps on the flank while three divisions of the Richmond army crossed to Chickahominy and simultaneously attacked its front. The danger in this, of course, was that while Lee concentrated 60,000 men against Porter's 30,000 north of the Chickahominy, the 75,000 bluecoats south of the river might smash through the 27,000 Confederates on their front and walk into Richmond. But Lee had already taken McClellan's measure. The Union commander, as usual, believed himself outnumbered south as well as north of the Chickahominy.

All this time McClellan was sending a steady stream of telegrams to Washington explaining why he was not quite ready to launch his own offensive: the roads were too wet; his artillery was not all up; it took time to reorganize the divisions crippled in the Seven Pines fighting, and to incorporate the one division of reinforcements finally received from McDowell; and when, asked McClellan, was the rest of McDowell's corps going to join him? By June 24, McClellan had penetrated the smokescreen to learn of Jackson's approach; on June 25, he wired Stanton:

The rebel force is numbered at 200,000, including Jackson. I shall have to contend against vastly superior odds. If the army is destroyed by overwhelming numbers, the responsibility cannot be thrown on my shoulders; it must rest where it belongs.

Actually, the rebel force was numbered at 90,000, including Jackson. Where McClellan got his numbers (out of his own imagination, perhaps?) is a mystery, but he was always off, and never so much as now. Beyond this, you have to wonder in disgust at a guy who sends a telegram BEFORE the battle stating "It's not my fault". McClellan's performance, combined with his arrogance, reminds me sharply of a World War II general who was also always guilty of vastly overestimating his enemy: Maurice Gamelin. Gamelin could have crushed the Germans easily in 1936 when the Rhineland was attacked, (and ended Hitler's govt.) but he declared that the three brigades in the Rhineland were actually 10 divisions. Later in 1939, France could have burst through the Siegfreid Line when Germany was invading Poland; they had a numerical superiority of 50 divisions against 8. But Gamelin thought he was outnumbered again, and declined to attack. His country would pay dearly for these decisions, just as the Union would pay dearly for McClellan.

The next day, June 26, Lee attacked.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Seven Days Part Two

The fighting began inauspiciously for the rebels. Lee's plan called for Jackson to hit Porter's flank early in the morning. The sun passed the meridian while the silence continued and Lee fretted in frustration. Where was Jackson? Unable to wait longer, the impulsive A.P. Hill sent his division forward in a late-afternoon assault against an equal number of Federals (16,000) entrenched behind Beaver Dam Creek near Mechanicsville, about 6 miles northeast of Richmond. The result was a slaughter: nearly 1,500 rebels killed and wounded by Yankees who suffered only 360 casualties. All this time Jackson's 3 divisions were only a few miles to the north, but their commander made no effort to hasten to Hill's aid.

No single explanation for Jackson's lethargy is satisfactory. Union calvary had harassed his advance. Northern axemen had felled trees across the road and burned bridges across creeks. But Jackson's foot calvary had brushed this sort of thing aside in the Valley; why did it slow them now? The best answer seems to be exhaustion: the weariness of men who had endured the bone-jarring start-and-stop travel on southern railroads followed by marching in unaccustomed lowland heat before they had recovered from the exertions of their Valley campaign; and more significantly the weariness of Jackson himself, a man who seemed to need more than an average amount of sleep but had enjoyed only a few hours of rest during the past several days after 6 weeks of strain in the Valley. Jackson was probably suffering from what today would be called stress fatigue. Intolerant of weakness in others, he refused to recognize it in himself or do anything about it- except to collapse into unscheduled naps at crucial times during the Seven Days' fighting.

Despite having won what he described as a "complete victory" at Mechanicsville, McClellan had no thought of going over to the offensive. Aware of Jackson's arrival near his right flank, he instructed Porter on the night of June 26-27 to fall back 4 miles to an even stronger position on the high ground behind Boatswain's Swamp, near Gaines' Mill. Believing that his rail supply line north of the Chickahominy was threatened by the Confederate drive against his right, McClellan also decided to shift his base and all of his supplies to the James River on the south side of the Peninsula. This meant giving up his original plan of capturing Richmond by a siege and artillery bombardment, fo his siege guns could travel overland only by rail and there was no railroad from the James. McClellan thenceforth fought only to protect his retreat, euphemistically called a "change of base."

Thus while the the battle of Mechanicsville had been a tactical defeat for the South, it turned out to be a strategic victory. It accomplished Lee's first goal of dislodging McClellan's siege operations. It gave the Confederate commander a psychological edge over his adversary- which Lee never yielded. Even though Jackson had failed to attack on June 26, his appearance near the battlefield and his reputation from the Valley gave him the drop on the Yankees once again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This battle was in many ways similar to Seven Pines. At Seven Pines, it was D.H. Hill who got impatient and ordered a frontal assauly when his support on either flank failed to show up. This time it was A.P. Hill who refused to wait. The difference was at Seven Pines, DH got lucky and was attacking a weak spot in the federal line. Not so for AP this time. He ran right into a hailstorm. Six batteries, 32 guns. 16,000 entrenched soldiers with a commanding position on the field. Lee told Hill to wait, but he attacked anyway.

Had Jackson attacked, Porter would have been over run very quickly. His right flank was wide open to Jackson. Jackson would repeat this behaviour the next day as well, and Lee might have been able to capture Porter's entire command. On the other hand, had McClellan reinforced Porter at this time, instead of ordering a retreat to a less defensable position...

McClellan was easilly fooled on the battle field. First, he always wanted to believe he was outnumbered. Secondly, he often relied on Pinkerton and his men, who always told him what he wanted to hear: That the Confederate forces were always twice as large as they actually were. Early in the war the lack of a large cavalry force hurt the Union more than just a little. That too was McClellan's fault. He built and designed the Union Army. He had some cavalry, but they were small units, attached to divisions, which made them ineffective for doing reliable recconoitering, unable to persue a defeated Army and tactically almost useless. McClellan, plainly put, was incompetant. His actions during this time, in my opinion, cost this country 200,000 lives at least in the civil war.

The next day McClellan would all but hang Porter out on a line. Only Jackson's inaction would save Porter's entire command from being destroyed and captured.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Battle of Gaines Mill

With Jackson on his right flank and rear, Porter abandoned his strong position behind Beaver Dam Creek during the nightof 26-27 June. Leaving only a rear guard, the large Union corps retreated southward, closer to the bulk of McClellan's Army of the Potomac, located south of the Chickahominy. McClellan reacted defensively to Lee's unexpected offensive by contracting his lines, ordering an evacuation of his supply base at White House, and directing Porter to withdraw to a strong position near bridges across the Chickahominy.

Porter's corps halted on a plateau south and east of New and Old Cold Harbor near Gaine's Mill. He formed a semicirclular defensive line on the plateau behind Boatswain Swamp. Brig. Gen. George Sykes's division manned the right, Brig. Gen. George W. Morell's division held the left, and Brig. Gen. A. McCall's division acted as a reserve. Porter's ample artillery swept the approaches before the strong position.

The Federals waited throughout the morning for the approaching Confederates. When the latter found Porter's empty works at Mechanicsville early on the 27th, Lee pressed his advance, again ordering a convergence on the Union corps. By midafternoon Maj. Gen. Ambrose P. Hill's leading division reached Gaine's Mill and formed. The impetuous Hill then charged the Union position. Across the boggy ground and ravines, the Confederates attacked. The Union infantry and artillery scorched the open ground, repulsing Hill's troops with heavy losses. Some of Hill's brigades made several attacks but failed against the firestorm.

http://www.mycivilwar.com/images/battle_maps/620627d.jpg

Maj. Gen. James Longstreet's command arrived on Hill's right, but Lee delayed the assault until Jackson arrived on the Confederate left. Jackson, however, as on the day before, was late. His strange behavior during this campaignhas been ascribed to various causes, but his leadership clearly lacked the fire and skill of his recent Shenandoah Valley Campaign.

Even though Jackson was again late, Maj. Gen. D.H. Hill attacked the Federal right and was held off by the division of Brig. Gen. George Sykes; he backed off to await Jackson's arrival. Longstreet was ordered to conduct a diversionary attack to stabilize the lines until Jackson could arrive and attack from the north. In Longstreet's attack, Brig. Gen. George E. Pickett's brigade attempted a frontal assault and was beaten back under severe fire with heavy losses. Jackson finally reached D.H. Hill's position at 3 p.m. and was completely disoriented following a day of pointless marching and countermarching. Believing that Longstreet's attack was underway, he kept his men and those of Hill's out of the fight to avoid friendly fire. Receiving messages from Lee, Jackson began his assault at 4:30 p.m.

Porter's line was saved by Brig. Gen. Henry W. Slocum's division moving into position to bolster his defense. Shortly after dark, the Confederates mounted another attack, poorly coordinated, but this time collapsing the Federal line. Brig. Gen. John Bell Hood's Texas Brigade opened a gap in the line, as did Pickett's Brigade on its second attempt of the day.Finally, about 7:00 P.M., the Confederates launched a coordinated assault against Porter, who had been reinforced with 1 division. While Longstreet and Hill pressed the Union flanks, the brigades of Brig. Gen. John B. Hood and Col. Evander M. Law pierced the Federal center in a riveting, gallant charge. Porter's line cracked, but the Union troops withdrew in an orderly fashion.

A battalion of the 5th U.S. Cavalry under Captain Charles J. Whiting attempted to save some of Porter's artillery batteries, but suffered heavy losses and was forced to surrender.

The brigades of Brig. Gens. Thomas F. Meagher and William H. French arrived, too late to help other than as a rear guard for Porter's retreat. The Federals retreated across the river during the night. Defeat at Gaines' Mill convinced McClellan to abandon his advance on Richmond and begin the retreat to James River. Gaines' Mill saved Richmond for the Confederacy in 1862. By 4 a.m. on June 28, Porter withdrew across the Chickahominy, burning the bridges behind him.

For the second day, Magruder was able to continue fooling McClellan south of the river by employing minor diversionary attacks. He was able to occupy 60,000 Federal troops while the heavier action occurred north of the river

Defeat at Gaines' Mill convinced McClellan to abandon his advance on Richmond and begin the retreat to James River. Gaines' Mill saved Richmond for the Confederacy in 1862.

Gaines' Mill was an intense battle, the largest of the Seven Days and the only clear-cut Confederate tactical victory of the Peninsula Campaign. Union casualties from the 34,214 engaged were 6,837 (894 killed, 3,107 wounded, and 2,836 captured or missing). Of the 57,018 Confederates engaged, losses totaled 7,993 (1,483 killed, 6,402 wounded, 108 missing or captured). Since the Confederate assault was conducted against only a small portion of the Union Army (the V Corps, one fifth of the army), the army emerged from the battle in relatively good shape overall. Lee's victory, his first of the war, could have been more complete if it were not for the mishaps of Stonewall Jackson. Historian Stephen W. Sears speculates that it were not for Jackson's misdirected march and his poor staff work, the major assault that Lee unleashed at 7 p.m. could have occurred three or four hours earlier. This would have put Porter in grave jeopardy, without any last-minute reinforcements and the cover of darkness. He quotes Edward Porter Alexander, prominent Confederate artillery officer and postwar historian: "Had Jackson attacked when he first arrived, or during A.P. Hill's attack, we would have had an easy victory—comparatively, & would have captured most of Porter's command."

However, although McClellan had already planned to shift his supply base to the James River, his defeat unnerved him and he precipitously decided to abandon his advance on Richmond and begin the retreat of his entire army to the James. Gaines' Mill and the Union retreat across the Chickahominy was a psychological victory for the Confederacy, signaling that Richmond was out of danger.

Edited by Rovers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The victory at Gaines Mill, which Rovers has just done an excellent job of describing, changed the entire war. Until this point, despite the early Confederate victory at Bull Run, the entire world saw this conflict as the rebellion of a few states which the powerful Union would quickly crush. This was the main reason the Confederacy could not gain international recognition as an independent nation. As the Union gained one victory after another in the West, this view was only confirmed. The occupation of New Orleans was widely seen as the beginning of the end. It was only a matter of days or weeks.

The defeat of McClellan's forces, and the emergence of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson as larger than life military heroes, changed all this. Suddenly, for the first time, the war was on. (Though thousands had died up to this point, it wasn't really thought of in those terms.) Both sides realized, if they hadn't before, that before this struggle was over there would be incredible bloodshed. There was no end in sight.

For the South, despite this realization, Lee and Jackson brought a renewed sense of confidence and belief in their destiny that would sustain them for the next 3 years. Suddenly all things seemed possible, and for the first time the idea of carrying the war into the North emerged as an idea. In addition, it now seemed likely that in the face of this victory recognition from Europe would shortly be forthcoming.

For the North, there emerged a feeling among some Democrats that there was no way to win this war. This was the beginning of the Copperhead movement. Furthermore, Lincoln now had to find a way to prevent the recognition by Britain that the South was hoping for. He needed a moral reason for fighting the war that all of England would support.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

McClellan's decision to divide the calvary up among his infantry rather than make them separate units reminds me strongly of France's decision before World War II to divide its tanks up among the infantry rather than have separate units, as Germany did. This was a key factor in France's defeat in 1940. It seems to me the same rule applies in both cases: Neither McClellan nor the French generals realized the advantage of speed in warfare.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

McClellan's decision to divide the calvary up among his infantry rather than make them separate units reminds me strongly of France's decision before World War II to divide its tanks up among the infantry rather than have separate units, as Germany did. This was a key factor in France's defeat in 1940. It seems to me the same rule applies in both cases: Neither McClellan nor the French generals realized the advantage of speed in warfare.

I find it interesting that the Southern Generals, for the most part, understood Jomonian principles and finding ways to attack in force against inferior numbers, always finding a way to isolate a much larger army and take it on in bites, one at a time. McClennan and Halleck went to the same West Point that the southern commanders did, but they always got stuck in the mud, moving like snails. McClellan was lost without his seige guns. He just didn't know how to attack without them, and they were so big they could only be moved by rail. Lee freaked out when Stuart was not nearby, he understood how to use a large cavalry effectively and used it as his eyes and ears. McClellan was a blind man, stumbling, groping around, never knowing the disposition of his enemy. I seriously wonder if McClellan wasn't paranoid or worse... even a little skitzy. Generals on both sides still didn't understand that frontal assaults were suicidal, their tactics never caught up to the firepower of the newest weapons of the time, but Confederate Generals almost across the board understood the value of mobility and moving quickly in direct contrast to Union Generals and their slow methodical approach to war, like it was a chess game and time meant nothing. Lincoln may have meddled more than he should have, but he didn't trust McClellan, and I find it difficult to blame him for meddling. McClellan was born a century too early. He should have been the founder of Nike, running shoes and all that. Tim, how might you compare Patton to Lee, if at all? Or Patton to Jackson (at least while he was in the valley and not during the Seven Days?) Interesting to compare McClellan to the French. I'll have to dig up that WWII thread. Sounds like it was a good one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tim, how might you compare Patton to Lee, if at all? Or Patton to Jackson (at least while he was in the valley and not during the Seven Days?) Interesting to compare McClellan to the French. I'll have to dig up that WWII thread. Sounds like it was a good one.

I think Patton is comparable to Jackson in their intolerance to weakness from others. Patton slapped a soldier in the hospital and I can see Jackson doing the same thing. Otherwise, they're very different. Patton never once faced a situation in World War II in which the odds were not on his side. It's interesting to speculate what he would have done under such circumstances.As I stated in the World War II thread, the general I would compare most favorably to Lee is Rommel. Though Rommel in general was working with smaller numbers on a less significant stage (or at least a VERY different stage) there are many parallels. Both men constantly faced odds against them, and managed to use better tactics to their advantage, brilliantly winning battle after battle. Both men are seen by military historians as gamblers, but I would argue that circumstances put them in that situation. If you're down by 10 in the 4th quarter, you have to throw the ball. Does that make you a gambler?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Savage's Station

Confederate General Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia began a series of attacks at Beaver Dam Creek on June 26, Gaines' Mill on June 27, and the minor actions at Garnett's and Golding's Farm on June 27 and June 28. The Army of the Potomac continued its retreat toward the James River.

The bulk of McClellan's army concentrated around Savage's Station on the Richmond and York River Railroad, preparing for a difficult crossing through and around White Oak Swamp. It did so without centralized direction because McClellan had personally moved south of Malvern Hill after Gaines' Mill without leaving directions for corps movements during the retreat nor naming a second in command. Clouds of black smoke filled the air as the Union troops were ordered to burn anything they could not carry. Union morale plummeted, particularly so for those wounded, who realized that they were not being evacuated from Savage's Station with the rest of the Army.

Lee devised a complex plan to pursue and destroy McClellan's army. While the divisions of Maj. Gens. James Longstreet and A.P. Hill looped back toward Richmond and then southeast to the crossroads at Glendale, and Maj. Gen. Theophilus H. Holmes's division headed farther south, to the vicinity of Malvern Hill, Brig. Gen. John B. Magruder's division was ordered to move due east along the Williamsburg Road and the York River Railroad to attack the Federal rear guard. Stonewall Jackson, commanding his own division, as well as the divisions of Maj. Gen. D.H. Hill and Brig. Gen. William H. C. Whiting, was to rebuild a bridge over the Chickahominy and head due south to Savage's Station, where he would link up with Magruder and deliver a strong blow that might cause the Union Army to turn around and fight during its retreat.

McClellan's rear guard at Savage's Station consisted of the II Corps, commanded by Brig. Gen. Edwin V. Sumner (two divisions), the III Corps, under Brig. Gen. Samuel P. Heintzelman (two divisions), and the VI Corps, under Brig. Gen. William B. Franklin (one division). McClellan considered his senior corps commander, Sumner, to be incompetent, so he appointed no one to command the rear guard. Once again, McClellan left his army with no one in command. Many historians consider what McClellan did in these next few days to be Derilection of Duty. It would get worse. By the end of the Seven Days, McClellan would watch the last battle from a few miles away on an ironclad called the Galena.

Whether or not McClellan was a coward could be argued. The fact that he acted cowardly now is difficult to dispute. This became know as his "Great Skiddadle". Military historian Stephen W. Sears wrote, "When he deserted his army on the Glendale and Malvern Hill battlefields during the Seven Days, he was guilty of dereliction of duty. Had the Army of the Potomac been wrecked on either of these fields (at Glendale the possibility had been real), that charge under the Articles of War would likely have been brought against him."

http://www.mycivilwar.com/images/battle_maps/620629b.jpg

The Battle

http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/map_item.pl

For four days the battles of The Seven Days had raged north of the Chickahominy as the Army of the Potomac withdrew. Then Richard Ewell reported Dispatch Station and a nearby bridge was burned. J. E. B. Stuart reported destruction of the railroad further east. Robert E. Lee decided it was time to move the fighting south of the river.

About 3:30 am on June 29, 1862, General Lee summoned Magruder to a meeting on Nine-Mile Road east of Richmond, Virginia. Lee's plan called for Magruder to follow the Richmond and York Railroad while Stonewall Jackson crossed the Grapevine Bridge and struck Edwin Vose Sumner from the north. Benjamin Huger would follow Nine-Mile Road in hopes of striking McClellan's column while A. P. Hill and James Longstreet would circle south of Huger, also hoping to strike the retreating Yankees.

Until now, the Army of the Potomac had withdrawn as they had advanced, along the Richmond and York River Railroad. Now they were preparing to withdraw to the safety of Harrison Landing on the James River, where the artillery fire from Union gunboats could protect them. George McClellan had been told to "protect his army" by Abraham Lincoln and the massive retreat (or "change of base" as McClellan called it) had begun. Savage Station would be the last connection to his supply base at White House, on the York River.

It wouldn't hard for Virginia-born Magruder to spot the location of the Union Army - thick, billowing clouds of black smoke told him exactly where the Yankees were. Bluecoats were burning everything in sight that could not be carried. "Hard bread (hard tack or crackers), flour, rice, sugar, coffee, salt and pork," wrote one surgeon, "were thrown upon the burning piles and consigned to the flames." Clothing and shoes were being added as well.

Ordinance, however, was handled differently. Savage's Station sits at the end of the low plateau on which the city of Richmond, Virginia was built. To the east the railroad begins to drop 50 feet in just under two miles to a bridge over a small creek. The munitions were loaded onto a train and each car carefully set on fire before the train was pushed far enough to begin rolling down the hill on its own. Soon the sound of explosions from the train filled the air and set the bridge on fire.

With D. R. Jones to the north and Evander McLaws to the south of the Richmond and York River Railroad, Magruder's division advanced along the railroad tracks themselves. Jones, moving through open fields, advanced more quickly than either McLaws or Magruder, and struck Sumner's Second Corps west of Savage's Station. Jones looked for support from Jackson to his left or Magruder to his right and found neither of them, wisely digging in until the Confederates could advance. This battle was distinct from Savage's Station and commonly called The Peach Orchard or Allen's Farm.

By the time Magruder arrived to Jones's right, Sumner's men had withdrawn. Once again the Rebels began to pursue the retreating Yankee army. Edwin Vose Sumner was sick and tired of McClellan's retreat when they had been close enough to see Richmond church spires three days earlier. Sumner decided to defend a Union hospital established at Savage's Station after the Battle of Beaver Dam Creek. What remained here were 2,500 Union soldiers from the Battle of Gaines Mill too badly injured to walk or be moved.

On Sumner's right, dependable "Baldy" Smith held the line, while on his left Samuel Heintzelman was positioned south of the railroad. The Second Corps withdrawal from The Peach Orchard left Heintzelman thinking his own right flank lay open. He withdrew to his crossing of White Oak Swamp and awaited further developments. About 5:00 p.m. McLaws began the Confederate attack south of the railroad with Joseph Kershaw's brigade. Kershaw's Confederates actually broke through William Burn's Yankee brigade in the federal line. Napoleon (N. J. T.) Dana tried to support Burns during the Confederate attack to no avail. Sumner was finally forced to call up his reserve, William Brooks and his Vermont brigade, to patch the hole created by the South Carolinians.

Meanwhile, Jackson was not advancing as Lee had planned. He was taking time to rebuild bridges over the Chickahominy and he received a garbled order from Lee's chief of staff that made him believe he should stay north of the river and guard the crossings. These failures of the Confederate plan were being matched on the Union side, however. Heintzelman decided on his own that his corps was not needed to defend Savage's Station, Sumner's and Franklin's being sufficient, so he decided to follow the rest of the army without informing his fellow generals.

Where was McClellan?

Magruder was forced to give up the two brigades from Huger's division at 2 p.m. and was faced with the problem of attacking Sumner's 26,600 men with his own 14,000. He hesitated until 5 p.m., when he sent only two and a half brigades forward. Brig. Gen. Joseph B. Kershaw commanded the left flank, Brig. Gen. Paul J. Semmes the center, and Col. William Barksdale (Griffith's Brigade) the right. Franklin and Brig. Gen. John Sedgwick were on a reconnaissance to the west of Savage's Station when they saw Kershaw's brigade approaching. Their immediate assumption was that these were men from Heintzelman's corps, but they soon realized their mistake. This was the first indication of Heintzelman's unannounced departure and Sumner, for one, was particularly outraged, refusing to speak to Heintzelman the following day. Union artillery opened fire and pickets were sent forward to meet the assault.

Magruder's attack was accompanied by the first armored railroad battery to be used in combat. Earlier in June, General Lee had hoped to counter the approach of McClellan's siege artillery by rail by using his own weapon: a 32-pounder Brooke naval rifle, shielded by a sloping casemate of railroad iron, nicknamed the "Land Merrimack." It was pushed by a locomotive at about the speed of the marching infantry. However, even with this impressive weapon, which outgunned anything the Federal artillerists possessed, the results of Magruder's decision to send only part of his smaller force against a much larger enemy were predictable.

The first Union unit to engage was one of Sedgwick's brigades, Philadelphians led by Brig. Gen. William W. Burns, but his defensive line proved inadequate to cover the two brigade front of Kershaw and Semmes. Sumner managed this part of the battle erratically, selecting regiments for combat almost at random. He sent in two of Burns's regiments, and then the 1st Minnesota Infantry from another brigade in Sedgwick's division, and finally one regiment each from two different brigades in Brig. Gen. Israel B. Richardson's division. By the time all of these units reached the front, the two sides were at rough parity—two brigades each. Although Magruder had been conservative about his attack, Sumner was even more so. Of the 26 regiments he had in his corps, only 10 were engaged at Savage's Station.

The fighting turned into a bloody stalemate as darkness fell and strong thunderstorms began to move in. The Land Merrimack bombarded the Union front, with some of its shells reaching as far to the rear as the field hospital. The final actions of the evening were by the Vermont Brigade, commanded by Colonel William T. H. Brooks, of Brig. Gen. William F. "Baldy" Smith's division. Attempting to hold the flank south of the Williamsburg Road, the Vermonters charged into the woods and were met with murderous fire, suffering more casualties of any brigade on the field that day. The brigade as a whole took 439 casualties; the 5th Vermont regiment, commanded by Lt. Col. Lewis A. Grant, lost nearly half of its men, 209 of 428.

The battle was a stalemate at the cost of about 1,500 casualties on both sides, plus 2,500 previously wounded Union soldiers who were left to be captured when their field hospital was evacuated. Stonewall Jackson eventually crossed the river by about 2:30 a.m. on June 30, but it was too late to crush the Union Army, as Lee had hoped. Most of the Army of the Potomac crossed White Oak Swamp Creek unmolested by noon on June 30. General Lee reprimanded Magruder in a dispatch: "I regret much that you have made so little progress today in the pursuit of the enemy. In order to reap the fruits of our victory that pursuit should be most vigorous. ... We must lose no more time or he will escape us entirely." However, the fault for the lost opportunity must be shared equally with the poor staff work at Lee's own headquarters and a less than aggressive performance by Jackson. The Seven Days continued with the much larger Battle of Glendale and the Battle of White Oak Swamp on June 30

Edited by Rovers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry about that last post.... I cleaned it up. Had some repitition in it. I try to use several sources, and sometimes they get intermingled... sorry about that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Awesome stuff guys. Been reading and enjoying quite a bit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Glendale- Frayser's Farm

As Edwin Vose Sumner withdrew to the south following White Oak Swamp Road after the Battle of Savage's Station, Confederate forces under James Longstreet, A. P. Hill and Stonewall Jackson crossed the Chickahominy River. Benjamin Huger and John Magruder, who had been responsible for holding the Union Army at bay south of the Chickahominy since Mechanicsville, were relieved by the presence of additional forces.

The Union retreat from Savage's Station took Sumner's II Corps to a crossing of the White Oak Swamp River north of Glendale, Virginia. This wide river would provide an excellent natural barrier to protect the Army of the Potomac from Stonewall Jackson, who had drawn pursuit duty. Other federal forces had begun arriving at this roadway hub of the Virginia peninsula on June 29th. They formed a line south of the river that turned south west of the bridge.

Robert E. Lee wanted to continue his push forward, so before the echos at Savage's Station stopped, Huger began moving east along the Charles City Road. One of the best opportunities to trap a significant portion of the Army of the Potomac on Virginia's Lower Peninsula was missed because Huger was overly cautious on the evening of June 29, 1862. He received word that Phil Kearny was due north and preparing to cross White Oak Swamp (a river) at Jordan's Ford, but the information was outdated; Kearny checked the ford hours earlier and decided to continue along New Road to the bridged crossing of White Oak Swamp at White Oak Road.

George McClellan was holed up at Haxall's Landing, east of the Army of the Potomac's destination, Harrison's Landing, without a telegraph. William B. Franklin was trying the best he could to keep the army in order, but in general the Union leaders on the battlefield had been privy to the same mis-intelligence McClellan had and all were concerned about an enemy that outnumbered them by 3-to-1. Actually, Lee's forces never exceeded the Army of the Potomac, but moving towards Glendale Lee had more than 70,000 men against an enemy of 60,000 defending the small town.

With the Yankees on the run, Lee advanced Theophilus Holmes along the River Road to the site of a federal encampment at Malvern Hill. Lee's plan on June 30 called for the rest of his army to split the Yankees, encircling the men near Glendale. The plan counted on the timely arrival of Huger's South Carolinians and Jackson's Army of the Valley, both of which would fail Lee. McClellan was forced to defend Glendale mostly because of the condition of the roads on the peninsula. His wagon train of supplies moved rather slowly and was trying to make it to the James.

Huger's men were delayed by felled logs blocking the road while Jackson, exhausted after nearly 12 hours of chasing Sumner had fallen asleep under a tree. Joining Longstreet at the head of his column Lee and Jefferson Davis discussed plans with the Georgian as they rode down Darbytown Road. Ahead, Powell Hill and Robert Anderson organized the Rebel vanguard for an attack. Lee had heard from Huger, who would be delayed, so Lee ordered Magruder to rest his men. He still had not heard from Jackson.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Seven_Days_June_30.jpg

As Edwin Vose Sumner withdrew to the south following White Oak Swamp Road after the Battle of Savage's Station, Confederate forces under James Longstreet, A. P. Hill and Stonewall Jackson crossed the Chickahominy River. Benjamin Huger and John Magruder, who had been responsible for holding the Union Army at bay south of the Chickahominy since Mechanicsville, were relieved by the presence of additional forces.

The Union retreat from Savage's Station took Sumner's II Corps to a crossing of the White Oak Swamp River north of Glendale, Virginia. This wide river would provide an excellent natural barrier to protect the Army of the Potomac from Stonewall Jackson, who had drawn pursuit duty. Other federal forces had begun arriving at this roadway hub of the Virginia peninsula on June 29th. They formed a line south of the river that turned south west of the bridge.

Robert E. Lee wanted to continue his push forward, so before the echos at Savage's Station stopped, Huger began moving east along the Charles City Road. One of the best opportunities to trap a significant portion of the Army of the Potomac on Virginia's Lower Peninsula was missed because Huger was overly cautious on the evening of June 29, 1862. He received word that Phil Kearny was due north and preparing to cross White Oak Swamp (a river) at Jordan's Ford, but the information was outdated; Kearny checked the ford hours earlier and decided to continue along New Road to the bridged crossing of White Oak Swamp at White Oak Road.

George McClellan was holed up at Haxall's Landing, east of the Army of the Potomac's destination, Harrison's Landing, without a telegraph. William B. Franklin was trying the best he could to keep the army in order, but in general the Union leaders on the battlefield had been privy to the same mis-intelligence McClellan had and all were concerned about an enemy that outnumbered them by 3-to-1. Actually, Lee's forces never exceeded the Army of the Potomac, but moving towards Glendale Lee had more than 70,000 men against an enemy of 60,000 defending the small town.

With the Yankees on the run, Lee advanced Theophilus Holmes along the River Road to the site of a federal encampment at Malvern Hill. Lee's plan on June 30 called for the rest of his army to split the Yankees, encircling the men near Glendale. The plan counted on the timely arrival of Huger's South Carolinians and Jackson's Army of the Valley, both of which would fail Lee. McClellan was forced to defend Glendale mostly because of the condition of the roads on the peninsula. His wagon train of supplies moved rather slowly and was trying to make it to the James.

Huger's men were delayed by felled logs blocking the road while Jackson, exhausted after nearly 12 hours of chasing Sumner had fallen asleep under a tree. Joining Longstreet at the head of his column Lee and Jefferson Davis discussed plans with the Georgian as they rode down Darbytown Road. Ahead, Powell Hill and Robert Anderson organized the Rebel vanguard for an attack. Lee had heard from Huger, who would be delayed, so Lee ordered Magruder to rest his men. He still had not heard from Jackson.

Bad news came from the forces of Theoplius Holmes. The Union columns were moving past Malvern Hill, which would put them within range of the Union gunboats on the James River. Lee ordered Longstreet to begin the attack on the Union line east of Glendale. Longstreet sent three brigades forward, hitting the Union Army on a farm belonging to R. H. Nelson. Prior to Nelson purchasing the property a man named Frayser had owned it and locals still refered to it as Frayser's Farm.

Straddling Long Bridge Road (the road Longstreet and Powell Hill were advancing down), General George Meade who, as part of George McCall's division had been heavily engaged over the first five of the Seven Days. On McCall's left was Joe Hooker, who had been earning a reputation as a dependable division commander, and on his right was Phil Kearny, another dependable commander. Further north on Kearny's right was Henry Slocum. This mixed command (Hooker and Kearny were under Samuel Heintzelman while McCall was under Fitz-John Porter), would bear the brunt of the Confederate attack late in the afternoon of June 30.

After an artillery duel softened up both Union and Confederate lines, Longstreet's men advanced with Lawrence Branch from A. P. Hill's division in close support. Longstreet held back the rest of Hill's men to give chase when he broke the Union line. The Confederate assault was concentrated against a one-half mile section of the Union line, with Longstreet replacing brigades as they tired.

George McCall's Pennsylvanians were once again in the thick of battle, and as Longstreet swept across Frayser's Farm weak spots developed in the line. The line fell back, coming nearer to Quaker Road - the lifeline to five divisions of men fighting to prevent Rebels from striking the exposed wagon train. Lee, however, lacked the men to accomplish his goal. As the fighting spread south along McCall's line Fighting Joe Hooker got involved. At midday Joe had been scouting for battery positions; by six o'clock he was ordering guns forward to these locations.

Longstreet never exploited Hooker's line, choosing inside to hit Kearny's troops to the north. A veteran of several battles both in the Mexican American War and the Civil War, Kearny called the Rebel onslaught by a mixed division including Maxcy Gregg from Powell Hill one of the largest he had ever witnessed. When Gregg finally hit Kearny's line it nearly broke, but Kearny had moved nearer the battle and he rallied his men from a position not far behind the Union line. Gregg's men began spreading out along Kearny's line as if searching for weakness.

Samuel Heintzelman went looking for support and found it in Henry Slocum's division. Slocum's anticipated battle with Benjamin Huger never developed, so when Kearny's old brigade was ordered forward to support their former commander they literally ran into action, with the brigade commander's aide trying to catch them.

A division from Edwin Vose Sumner under John Sedgwick moved into line in some woods west of Quaker Road. As McCall's men withdrew under pressure of Longstreet's attack, Sumner and Sedgwick prepared to advance. In the line a young captain, Oliver Wendell Holmes, checked his men, tightened up his line and looked out towards the oncoming Rebels. As they moved forward Captain Holmes glanced at his watch. It was 8:30 pm. Sumner, Sedgwick and Holmes came up against Brigadier Generals Dorsey Pender and Charles Fields. Slowly, Sedgewick's men began to gain back ground that had been lost earlier in the evening. A Union battery that had been overrun minutes before by Confederates fell back into Union hands.

McCall decided to attempt to reorganize his men. They had been pushed back by repeated Confederate attacks, then swept up in federal counterattacks. As a result, almost all his units were randomly spread across the battlefield. He rode up to a group of men and ask "Who is your commanding officer?" The men responded "General Fields," to which McCall replied "I don't know a General Fields." The alert Rebels captured General McCall, their biggest prize of the day.

Opposite Sedgwick, A. P. Hill was about to send his final reserve into battle. Following Pender, Joseph R. Anderson was ordered to advance cheering and "making as much noise as possible." Although a few vollies continued from both sides, the Union troops also began to cheer, recognizing the end of battle for the day, at least near Long Branch Road.

Even as the day was winding down for troops in the center of the line, Kearny's men to the north were still being battered by stubborn Rebels, who may have known they were close to breaking the Yankee line. Kearny's old brigade had shored up his line, at least briefly, but an attack by Maxie Gregg was once again pushing Kearny back. Additional support from William B. Franklin came in the form of Colonel Francis Barlow. Franklin, stationed south of the White Oak Swamp Bridge had not been attacked and figured he could spare Issac Richardson's division. When the order came, Barlow did not wait to form, he ordered his New Yorkers to advance to the sound of battle. Barlow looked for a general officer when he arrived and that happened to be John Robinson, commander of Kearny's First Brigade. Robinson ordered them to attack. Barlow had them draw bayonets, and as sundown turned to dusk they were fighting Confederates. Darkness quickly made fighting impossible, and the Union generals began drawing up plans to move south, closer to the James

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I repeat some of this now because there are some revisionist historians who like to paint McClellan as something he was not.

In a telegram to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, reporting on these events, McClellan blamed the Lincoln administration for his reversals. "If I save this army now, I tell you plainly I owe no thanks to you or to any other persons in Washington. You have done your best to sacrifice this army." Fortunately for McClellan's immediate career, Lincoln never saw that inflammatory statement (at least at that time) because it was censored by the War Department telegrapher. Too bad, because McClellan should have been removed at this time. If Stanton and Lincoln ever got that telegram, Little Mac would have been gone long before he was.

McClellan was also fortunate that the failure of the campaign left his army mostly intact, because he was generally absent from the fighting and neglected to name a second-in-command to control his retreat. Military historian Stephen W. Sears wrote, "When he deserted his army on the Glendale and Malvern Hill battlefields during the Seven Days, he was guilty of dereliction of duty. Had the Army of the Potomac been wrecked on either of these fields (at Glendale the possibility had been real), that charge under the Articles of War would likely have been brought against him." (During Glendale, McClellan was five miles (8 km) away behind Malvern Hill, without telegraph communications and too distant to command the army. During the battle of Malvern Hill, he was on a gunboat, the U.S.S. Galena, which at one point was ten miles away down the James River. During both battles, effective command of the army fell to his friend and V Corps commander Brigadier General Fitz John Porter. When the public heard about the Galena, it was yet another enormous embarrassment, comparable to the Quaker Guns at Manassas. Editorial cartoons during the 1864 presidential campaign would lampoon McClellan for preferring the safety of a ship while a battle was fought in the distance.

McClellan maintained his estrangement from Abraham Lincoln by his continuous call for reinforcements and by writing a lengthy letter in which he proposed strategic and political guidance for the war, continuing his opposition to abolition or seizure of slaves as a tactic. He concluded by implying he should be restored as general in chief, but Lincoln responded by naming Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck to the post without consulting, or even informing, McClellan. Lincoln and Stanton also offered command of the Army of the Potomac to Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside, who refused the appointment.

Burnside would eventually agree to the aforementioned appointment, since it had become clear that McClellan had been fired, and another general would be appointed. If Burnside refused, it would fall to Hooker, whome Burnside despised.

McClellan, even after his dismal performance in Virginia had the unmittigated gall to attempt to tell Lincoln not just how to fight the war, but what Lincoln's political strategies should be as well. Was there ever a more arrogant general than this man?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Malvern Hill, Last Battle of the Seven Days

Situation

Lee’s frustration at McClellan’s June 30 escape boiled over on the next morning. He snapped at innocent questions and chafed at delays. His chance to inflict a really crushing, war-changing defeat on the Union army had passed. Now the Federals had stopped atop Malvern Hill, in easy range of the James, and prepared for defense. The men in blue hoped that Lee would be imprudent enough to attack their new position, giving them an opportunity to exact revenge for their weeklong series of defeats.

Malvern Hill is more suitable for defense than most spots in central Virginia. In 1862 the nearest body of Confederate-held trees stood approximately 800 yards from the crest of the hill, and in most directions the distance was closer to a full mile. When Lee’s men finally attacked late in the afternoon, most of them spent a deadly ten or fifteen minutes ascending gently rising, open ground. Union artillerists rejoiced at their opportunity and delivered cannon fire of unprecedented violence on the Confederate infantry.

http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/malve...n-hill-map.html

General Lee had no intention of making a frontal assault directly up the dangerous hill. Initially he developed a scheme where his artillery, deployed at widely separated spots, would drop a converging fire on the Union batteries at the crest of Malvern Hill and silence the menacing guns. Only then did Lee feel that his infantry stood a good chance of carrying the hill by direct assault. The crossfire bombardment failed badly, yet Lee’s men attacked anyway, thrown into the charge after a series of misunderstandings and bungled orders. Lee seems not to have been on the battlefield when the main attacks started. Instead, he was off looking for a non-existent way to get around McClellan’s army and cut him off from the James River.

Lee also believed that his soldiers were in better fighting shape than their Union counterparts, despite the six preceding days of hard fighting and marching. (A number of the Union Corps had in fact not yet participated in direct combat, which was an indictment of McClellan's generalship, but worked out well for this final battle.) Lee's plan was to attack the hill from the north on the Quaker Road, using the divisions of Maj. Gens. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, Richard S. Ewell, D.H. Hill, and Brig. Gen. William H.C. Whiting. Maj. Gen. John B. Magruder was ordered to follow Jackson and deploy to his right when he reached the battlefield. Maj. Gen. Benjamin Huger's division was to follow as well, but Lee reserved the right to position him based on developments. The divisions of Maj. Gens. James Longstreet and A.P. Hill, which had been the most heavily engaged in the Battle of Glendale the previous day, were held in reserve.

Battle

The Confederates had a serious shortage of artillery moving south from Frasier Farm. Malvern Hill was close enough to the James River that the Union's sea-based guns could be used against the approaching Confederates, although their effectiveness is debated. Using flag signals, spotters would communicate positions of Rebel artillery to the offshore boats who would respond with appropriate artillery fire. Combined with the field artillery, and nearby siege guns the Union had a distinct advantage in long-range arms.

As a result of the combine naval and land strength of the artillery, Longstreet recommended keeping the main batteries back. Jackson established his to the north of Western Run while Magruder was west of Western Run opposite Willis Church. Less than 20 batteries were ready as the Confederates lined up for attack.

About 3:00 pm, just as Magruder was finally getting into position, Yankee skirmishers opened fire on the center of the Confederate line. Lewis Armistead felt obliged to respond and sent three regiments forward. They easily drove off the skirmishers and advanced to the cover of a small creek at the bottom of the Crew House.

Sitting elevated on a plateau almost immediately in front of the Rebel lines, the Crew House seemed to be an ideal location for an attack. It was visible to most of Magruder's and Huger's men, Armistead's regiments did not seem to have much of a problem getting to a ravine below the house, and Lee had reports that the Yankees near the house were withdrawing (this was a small group of Bull Sumner's men whom he had recalled). Originally planning an attack on the left (in the weak area that McClellan had spotted), Lee abandoned his original plan and decided to strike the Crew House as the start of a general advance.

Magruder told Lee he could muster 15,000 men for the attack on the Crew House. (see map, Crew House located to the SW part of Malvern Hill) Just before 6:00 p.m. 5,000 men stepped out of the woods and moved towards the Crew House. Supporting the attack were only 4 Confederate artillery batteries, but since the Rebels were on the move, the effect of the gunboat's artillery was minimized. As "Little Billy" Mahone pulled out in support of the Rebel attack, Rans Wright's brigade moved forward with the Rebel yell. Samuel Garland heard Daniel Harvey Hill remark, "This must be the start of the general assault.

Around the Crew House Charles Griffin's artillery switched from shell to canister as the Confederates drew closer. Behind the artillery, Griffin's men halted the Rebel advance with musket fire.

By the time "Little Billy" Mahone reached the area in front of the Crew House, Daniel Harvey Hill was advancing his division on either side of Willis Church Road. As Morrell's men were turning back Mahone's Rebels, the first brigade of Hill's graybacks were coming under heavy fire from the Yankee right - John Brown Gordon had run into Darius Couch's now veteran division. Unfortunately, Hill's attack was poorly coordinated, so just as Magruder's attack was brigade by brigade, so was Hill's.

One North Carolina soldier struggled to explain just how awful it was, finally resorting to the ultimate superlative: “The enemy opened the most terrific and destructive fire…that ever any troop met since the world began.” On Couch’s front, wrinkles on the front slope of Malvern Hill could have permitted aggressive Confederates to get within rifle range of the Union cannon. Couch blocked that eventuality by putting his own infantry there, producing short-range firefights with some of Stonewall Jackson’s men.

But the Union artillery line set the tempo for the defense. With room for only about 30-35 cannon on the slender crest of the hill, General Porter still had plenty of firepower to produce repel the rebel assaults. The exposed approach up the hill afforded the Confederates no shelter. As infantry brigades advanced they stalled in front of a wall of cannon fire and fell back. Too often they collided with advancing reenforcements, producing countless cases of “friendly fire” and unnecessary loss. A Georgia survivor with bitter memories wrote about brigades dashing seriatim into the maelstrom, “and those coming last, not knowing who were in front, fired with deadly effect into our friends, very naturally causing a panic in the front brigades, who of course thought they were flanked.”

Still, the attack brought Couch's line under tremendous pressure. Gordon, who would become governor of Georgia and later its Senator, led Robert Rodes brigade towards the Yankee line from the Rebel right. Gordon made the advance, then looked for the support Harvey Hill had promised him, but none was to be found. Gordon's men took cover in a forest and awaited darkness.

Behind Gordond, Hill moved Samuel Garland, G. B. Anderson, Colquitt and Ripley to support the advance of Gordon. During the heaviest part of the Rebel attack, Darius Couch asked Fitz-John Porter for reinforcements, afraid his line of three brigades would not be able to withstand the 8,400 men moving towards him. The normally reticent Porter, commander of the 5th Corps, passed the message along to the other Corps commanders. Quickly, Heintzelman and Sumner responded with a brigade each and its accompaning artillery, but Couch was probably no happier than when Francis Barlow and his two regiments began forming on his front line. Gordon's men had been laying fire into the Union line near the West House and Barlow's men began returning their fire. Gordon thought Barlow might try to attack, but Barlow only kept Gordon busy while Couch battled Hill's incoming Confederate attackers.

Meanwhile, on the far left of the Confederate line Stonewall Jackson did not commit his men to the battle, as both Lee and McClellan expected. Jackson considered the Union position impregnable. Near dusk Lafayette McLaws managed to scrap together enough men for one final attempt against the Crews House. He was easily repulsed by the Union cannon.

With the Confederate attack now muted the Army of the Potomac began withdrawing to Harrison Landing on the James. By the time the withdrawal was complete the following morning around 10:00 am, Rebels were clearing their dead and finding their wounded. Ambulances made up the majority of traffic on the roads to the battlefield from the north while the Union wagon train pushed further south.

Two defining themes emerged from the battle: the absence in the Confederate army, on that day, of what the modern armed forces term “command and control”; and the influence of the landscape on the course of the battle. Poor staffwork, bad communication, wretched tactics, and the erosion of battlefield discipline all characterize the Confederate condition on July 1. They were ingredients in the dreadful recipe that produced defeat for Lee’s army.

Estimated casualties:

Confederates 5355

Federals 3214

McClellan would leave southern Virginia with a victory, but it was one he did not see or even command. He was dining with the Captain of the USS Galena on the James River, miles away, with his only means of communication with his army by way of signal flags to the shore. I present to you the gallant General George B. McClellan:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:McClella...ate_Cartoon.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Malvern Hill, Last Battle of the Seven Days

...

McClellan would leave southern Virginia with a victory, but it was one he did not see or even command. He was dining with the Captain of the USS Galena on the James River, miles away, with his only means of communication with his army by way of signal flags to the shore. I present to you the gallant General George B. McClellan:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:McClella...ate_Cartoon.jpg

That cartoon is from the 1864 Presidential campaign. What actually happened is McClellan boarded the Galena in the morning but was on Malvern Hill by 3 pm, where he conferred with Porter. He and his staff then rode to the extreme right flank. A message from Porter found him there at 6:10 p.m. (you can find dispatches in the OR).

Anyway, in 1864 McClellan was reluctant to correct the record about Malvern Hill, because if he did, then he might have to explain Glendale. On June 30, the day before Malvern Hill, he steamed ten miles upstream. That episode was a true dereliction of duty.

Colonel Francis Barlow (61st New York) wrote three days after Malvern Hill "I think the whole army feel that it was left to take care of itself and was saved only by its own brave fighting."

Malvern Hill was a brutal slaughter, not quite the "murder, not war" that took place at Cold Harbor three years later, but pretty close.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Malvern Hill, Last Battle of the Seven Days

...

McClellan would leave southern Virginia with a victory, but it was one he did not see or even command. He was dining with the Captain of the USS Galena on the James River, miles away, with his only means of communication with his army by way of signal flags to the shore. I present to you the gallant General George B. McClellan:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:McClella...ate_Cartoon.jpg

That cartoon is from the 1864 Presidential campaign. What actually happened is McClellan boarded the Galena in the morning but was on Malvern Hill by 3 pm, where he conferred with Porter. He and his staff then rode to the extreme right flank. A message from Porter found him there at 6:10 p.m. (you can find dispatches in the OR).

Anyway, in 1864 McClellan was reluctant to correct the record about Malvern Hill, because if he did, then he might have to explain Glendale. On June 30, the day before Malvern Hill, he steamed ten miles upstream. That episode was a true dereliction of duty.

Colonel Francis Barlow (61st New York) wrote three days after Malvern Hill "I think the whole army feel that it was left to take care of itself and was saved only by its own brave fighting."

Malvern Hill was a brutal slaughter, not quite the "murder, not war" that took place at Cold Harbor three years later, but pretty close.

I had read that McClellan was there in the morning only, so thanks for the correction. Yeah, I know the cartoon was from his presidential run in 1864. I am admittedly biased when it come to McCellan. I think the 2,500 wounded who were abandoned at Glendale did not have to be given up, and again, I primarilly blame McClellan. It almost seems like he had given up hope, and thought his army would be lost, especially with what he said in that censored telegram. I still would like to ask him why he was on the Galena at all that day and not with his army at Malvern Hill. And why he did not assign a commander in his absence. Because he thought Sumner was incompetant? Maybe if the Union knew the horrors awaiting prisoners at Andersonville, they would have done more to evacuate them.

Yes, the Republicans wanted McClellan out, since he was not in favor of abolition, but he got paranoid. Washington did not want to see him fail.

Agreed about Malvern Hill, the rebels despite their difficulties did seroiusly threaten that day, not like Fredersicksburg and some other battles. They still inflicted over 3000 casualites on the Union that day.

BL, have you ever read the book he partially wrote after the war?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have not read (nor was I aware) of McClellan's attempt at a memoir.

Just a point of information - Andersonville, IIRC, was established in 1864. The problems with prison overcrowding and poor conditions came about in large measure because the parole of captured soldiers and the prisoner exchange program ceased during the last two years of the war.

McClellan is an easy target, and he deserves much of the criticism that is heaped upon him. But one thing to keep in mind that for all his flaws, he created the Army of the Potomac. He made that army what it was, for good or ill, and those soldiers loved him as much as any army has ever felt affection for a commander. For proof, just read about the reaction after he was put back in command after they were whupped at Second Manassas, or the rumors that were started on July 1 at Gettysburg that he had replaced Meade.

Its interesting, in all the time McClellan was in charge, the only time he planned a battle was Antietam - and even then it took him two days to get started, even though he had vastly superior numbers and artillery. Yorktown was a month of incessant delays, Williamsburg they stumbled into Johnston making a stand to get the wagons clear, Seven Pines and Seven Days they were on the defensive.

Seven Days was the first battle that saw Robert E. Lee in action. When he finally got around to writing his Official Report that winter, I believe he stated "Under ordinary circumstances the Federal army should have been destroyed." What he had accomplished was remarkable - the Union army was within six miles of Richmond, close enough to hear the church bells - he completely changed the campaign and the war itself. However, he was really disappointed the marches took so long and they were unable to coordinate their attacks. With Lee the war took a dramatic turn; he was the X factor no one had counted on. Because he was what he was, the war lasted much longer and was fought much harder than seemed likely at the beginning of June 1862.

Up until then, there were many (not just McClellan) who thought a limited war would bring the southern states back into the fold. Once Robert E. Lee took charge, nothing less than the total war that Grant, Sherman and Stanton eventually advocated would suffice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I read that he wrote a book, but the only copy was lost in a fire. He then restarted it, but died before he was half way done. It was then finished with letters he had written. I forget the details, but I think I read about it on Wiki's bio page on him.

Yes, I am well aware of how much most of his soldiers loved him. The 103rd PA would be a major exception to that. I wonder what the wounded at Glendale thought of him when he left them, abandoned. Burnside loved him too, McClellan had given him a job before the war when Burnside was practically indigent. I just can't bring myself to forgive him... what he did to General Casey, his constant whining, his ego, his failure to attack at the right time, his incessant over estimations of the forces that faced him, and not least, calling Lincoln an ape. He really did think he was Naploean. He wasn't.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not going to waste any calories defending Little Mac, but I do think he is at times a convenient scapegoat.

Context is an important part of understanding history. In the spring of 1862 - just a couple days before Shiloh - Secretary of War Stanton sent out General Order No. 33, which closed all federal recruiting offices. Figured the war would be over in a few months.

That is but one example of how many viewed the war at that point in time. It was serious business to be sure, but nobody realized how long it was going to go on or the price that was to be paid. We can look back through the wrong end of a telescope and declare that Sherman saw the thing with clarity in the fall of 1861, but when he told Cameron they needed 200,000 men for the Mississippi Valley alone, that was grounds for calling the man insane.

McClellan was the wrong man for the job, but the fact is nobody realized in the summer of 1862 what it was going to take to preserve the Union. How the war was prosecuted in 1861-62 was not entirely up to George B. McClellan.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Campaign of Northern Virginia

After the collapse of McClellan's Peninsula Campaign in the Seven Days Battles of June 1862, President Abraham Lincoln appointed John Pope to command the newly formed Army of Virginia. Pope had achieved some success in the Western Theater, and Lincoln sought a more aggressive general than McClellan. Pope did not endear himself to his subordinate commanders—all three selected as corps commanders technically outranked him—or to his junior officers, by his boastful orders that implied Eastern soldiers were inferior to their Western counterparts. Some of his enlisted men were encouraged by Pope's aggressive tone.

The Union Army of Virginia was constituted on June 26, 1862, from existing departments operating around Virginia, most of which had recently been outmaneuvered in Jackson's Valley Campaign: Maj. Gen. John C. Frémont's Mountain Department, Maj. Gen Irvin McDowell's Department of the Rappahannock, Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks's Department of the Shenandoah, Brig. Gen. Samuel D. Sturgis's brigade from the Military District of Washington, and Brig. Gen Jacob D. Cox's division from western Virginia. The new army was divided into three corps of 51,000 men, under Maj. Gen. Franz Sigel, replacing Frémont, who resigned in disgust following Pope's appointment (I Corps); Banks (II Corps); and McDowell (III Corps). Sturgis's Washington troops constituted the Army reserve. Cavalry brigades under Col. John Beardsley and Brig. Gens. John P. Hatch and George D. Bayard were attached directly to the three infantry corps, a lack of centralized control that had negative effects in the campaign. Parts of three corps (III, V, and VI) of McClellan's Army of the Potomac and Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside's IX Corps (commanded by Maj. Gen. Jesse L. Reno), eventually joined Pope for combat operations, raising his strength to 77,000.

On the Confederate side, General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia was organized into two "wings" or "commands" (the designation of these units as "corps" would not be authorized under Confederate law until November 1862) of about 55,000 men. The "right wing" was commanded by Maj. Gen. James Longstreet, the left by Maj. Gen. Stonewall Jackson. The Cavalry Division under Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart was attached to Jackson's wing. The Confederate organization was considerably simpler than the one Lee inherited for the Seven Days and was the result of his removal of a few division commanders whom he considered ineffective and the consolidation of the remaining divisions under Jackson and Longstreet.

Pope's mission was to fulfill a few objectives: protect Washington and the Shenandoah Valley, and draw Confederate forces away from McClellan by moving in the direction of Gordonsville. Pope started on the latter by dispatching cavalry to break the Virginia Central Railroad connecting Gordonsville, Charlottesville, and Lynchburg. The cavalry under Hatch got off to a slow start and found that Stonewall Jackson had already occupied Gordonsville on July 19 with over 14,000 men. (After a subsequent second failure to cut the railroad on July 22, Pope removed Hatch from his cavalry command and reassigned him to command an infantry brigade in Brig. Gen. Rufus King's division of the III Corps.

Pope had an additional, broader objective, encouraged by Abraham Lincoln. For the first time, the Union intended to pressure the civilian population of the Confederacy by bringing some of the hardships of war directly to them. Pope issued three general orders on the subject to his army. General Order No. 5 directed the army to "subsist upon the country," reimbursing farmers with vouchers that were payable after the war only to "loyal citizens of the United States." To some soldiers, this became an informal license to pillage and steal. General Orders 7 and 11 dealt with persistent problems of Confederate guerrillas operating in the Union rear. Pope ordered that any house from which gunfire was aimed at Union troops be burned and the occupants treated as prisoners of war. Union officers were directed to "arrest all disloyal male citizens within their lines or within their reach." These orders were substantially different from the war philosophy of Pope's colleague McClellan, which undoubtedly caused some of the animosity between the two men during the campaign. Confederate authorities were outraged and Robert E. Lee labeled Pope a "miscreant."

Vexed by Pope's alarming proclamations against Southern civilians, Lee quickly dispatched Jackson to Gordonsville with the grave order: "I want Pope to be suppressed."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You might want to circle the field in a holding pattern for awhile, Rovers. There are a couple documents we need to discuss first.

One, McClellan's remarkable letter to the President from Harrison Landing, contains his unsolicited advice on how the war should proceed overall. It is a great resource because it accurately reflects the desired policy of the conservative (Democratic) opposition party. If we're going to discuss the Civil War, part of that discussion has to include an understanding of soft war versus hard war, and why the Copperhead movement came about.

The second is the central document of the American Civil War. Any telling of it must include Lincoln's evolving views on the peculiar institution of slavery. It was drafted in July of 1862 but remained unreleased in his desk drawer. Once it became public policy, it changed everything. I'll let timschochet post the narrative for the Emancipation Proclamation.

If I have time this evening I'll post a narrative on the Harrison Landing letter.

I also want to head out west briefly to tell the story of the Battle of Booneville. It wasn't much of a battle in terms of the butcher's bill - the total casualties from the skirmish were just over 100 - but it was a hot little fire fight that won a star for Colonel Phil Sheridan. His badly outnumbered force had no business holding the field, but that is exactly what they did. Mostly, though, I just want to cover it because it was the place where my great-great-great-great-grandfather had a close call. Like most cavalrymen, he wasn't often required to fight dismounted or for long periods. Booneville was a near thing, and it was only the sheer audacity of Sheridan that saved the day.

Edited by BobbyLayne

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bobby, that's great. I know I was skipping things, but they are not what I would call my "area of expertise", if in fact I even have an "area of expertise"! This thread needs continued contributions from others if it is to be any good, especially from yourself and Tim. There were some events with the American Indians out west, more things going on with McClellan and Washington and other developments which should not be over looked.

I suppose I am trying to keep the story going with a post or two on a daily basis, but maybe that is too ambitious. I am no where near expert enough to know which events can be glossed over, and which should be covered. I look to youself and Tim for that sort of direction.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You mentioned the American Indians...just thinking out loud, it would be really interesting if someone could research and post about events that happened 1861-65 completely separate from the ACW. I heard a lecture one time speaking about this...all the things that were accomplished in the north and out west while the war was going on...the point being that it illustrates the enormous capacity of the resources available to the Federal government.

Obvs if you were in Missouri, Tennessee, or Virginia, the war was all-consuming, and it was a struggle to subsist. But for a good portion of the country the war was something going on somewhere else that didn't directly affect you or your family or your community.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

General George B. McClellan to President Abraham Lincoln

Head Quarters, Army of the Potomac Camp near Harrison's Landing, Va. July 7th 1862

Mr. President

You have been fully informed, that the Rebel army is in our front, with the purpose of overwhelming us by attacking our positions or reducing us by blocking our river communications. I can not but regard our condition as critical and I earnestly desire, in view of possible contingencies, to lay before your Excellency, for your private consideration, my general views concerning the state of the rebellion; although they do not strictly relate to the situation of this Army or strictly come within the scope of my official duties. These views amount to convictions and are deeply impressed upon my mind and heart.

Our cause must never be abandoned; it is the cause of free institutions and self government. The Constitution and the Union must be preserved, whatever may be the cost in time, treasure and blood. If secession is successful, other dissolutions are clearly to be seen in the future. Let neither military disaster, political faction or foreign war shake your settled purpose to enforce the equal operation of the laws of the United States upon the people of every state.

The time has come when the Government must determine upon a civil and military policy, covering the whole ground of our national trouble. The responsibility of determining, declaring and supporting such civil and military policy and of directing the whole course of national affairs in regard to the rebellion, must now be assumed and exercised by you or our cause will be lost. The Constitution gives you power sufficient even for the present terrible exigency.

This rebellion has assumed the character of a War: as such it should be regarded; and it should be conducted upon the highest principles known to Christian Civilization. It should not be a War looking to the subjugation of the people of any state, in any event. It should not be, at all, a War upon population; but against armed forces and political organizations. Neither confiscation of property, political executions of persons, territorial organization of states or forcible abolition of slavery should be contemplated for a moment. In prosecuting the War, all private property and unarmed persons should be strictly protected; subject only to the necessities of military operations. All private property taken for military use should be paid for or receipted for; pillage and waste should be treated as high crimes; all unnecessary trespass sternly prohibited; and offensive demeanor by the military towards citizens promptly rebuked. Military arrests should not be tolerated, except in places where active hostilities exist; and oaths not required by enactments -- Constitutionally made -- should be neither demanded nor received. Military government should be confined to the preservation of public order and the protection of political rights.

Military power should not be allowed to interfere with the relations of servitude, either by supporting or impairing the authority of the master; except for repressing disorder as in other cases. Slaves contraband under the Act of Congress, seeking military protection, should receive it. The right of the Government to appropriate permanently to its own service claims to slave labor should be asserted and the right of the owner to compensation therefore should be recognized. This principle might be extended upon grounds of military necessity and security to all the slaves within a particular state; thus working manumission in such [a] state -- and in Missouri, perhaps in Western Virginia also and possibly even in Maryland the expediency of such a military measure is only a question of time. A system of policy thus constitutional and conservative, and pervaded by the influences of Christianity and freedom, would receive the support of almost all truly loyal men, would deeply impress the rebel masses and all foreign nations, and it might be humbly hoped that it would commend itself to the favor of the Almighty. Unless the principles governing the further conduct of our struggle shall be made known and approved, the effort to obtain requisite forces will be almost hopeless. A declaration of radical views, especially upon slavery, will rapidly disintegrate our present Armies.

The policy of the Government must be supported by concentrations of military power. The national forces should not be dispersed in expeditions, posts of occupation and numerous Armies; but should be mainly collected into masses and brought to bear upon the Armies of the Confederate States; those Armies thoroughly defeated, the political structure which they support would soon cease to exist.

In carrying out any system of policy which you may form, you will require a Commander in Chief of the Army; one who possesses your confidence, understands your views and who is competent to execute your orders by directing the military forces of the Nation to the accomplishment of the objects by you proposed. I do not ask that place for myself. I am willing to serve you in such position as you may assign me and I will do so as faithfully as ever subordinate served superior.

I may be on the brink of eternity and as I hope forgiveness from my maker I have written this letter with sincerity towards you and from love of my country.

Very respectfully your obdt svt

Geo B McClellan

Maj Genl Comdg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Early on July 1, before the fighting began on Malvern Hill, General McClellan telegraphed Washington City that if the government planned to reinforce him at all it should do so at once, and liberally: "I need 50,000 more men, and with them I will retrieve our fortunes. More would be well, but that number sent to me at once will, I think, enable me to assume the offensive."

President Lincoln responded that the government just did not possess, east of the mountains and outside of McClellan's army, more than 75,000 men altogether. "Thus, the idea of sending you fifty thousand, or any other considerable force promptly, is simply absurd."

During June the government had quietly reopened the recruiting stations, and Lincoln had extracted a levy of three hundred thousand more troops (to be added to the 637,000 troops they had already contributed in the first fifteen months of the war). Lincoln explained the military necessity of the hour to the 18 Governors: hold all that had been won in the west, open the Mississippi, take Chattagnooga and eastern Tennessee, and raise at least 100,000 new troops so that Richmond could be captured. This would substantially end the war, the President believed; and then, in characteristically, he went on to adorn his plea with a frank statement of his own bedrock determination:

"I expect to maintain this contest until successful, or till I die, or am conquered, or my term expires, or Congress or the country forsake me; and I would publicly appeal to the country for this new force, were it not that I fear a general panic and stampede would follow - so hard is it to have a thing understood as it really is. I think the new force should be all, or nearly all, infantry, principally because such can be raised most cheaply and quickly."

It was hard, as Mr. Lincoln said, to get a genuine understanding of reality. The reality here was that the war had grown larger than it had been, and that a larger effort from a people who were just learning that the energy which had won part of the war was not enough to win all of it; and the effort would be called for by a President who had just defined his will to win as absolute. Here was the clearest possible warning that with this man in the White House there would not be a peace without victory, that a restored union would be fought for but not battered for, that whatever needed to be done would be done. The government was going to get 300,000 men. In the end the shock of the Seven Days would be as significant a turning point as the shock of Bull Run had been a year earlier.

On July 8 Mr. Lincoln showed up at Harrison's Landing to have a talk with General McClellan. The Army of Potomac commander had drafted the letter in the previous post on the day prior, and he hand delivered it to the commander in chief.

Some time earlier the general had asked leave to submit a paper on the general state of military affairs, but this document - if indeed it had any connection with that request - was pure politics: advice from a general to a President on the kind of war the President ought to be conducting. It was in substance a flat restatement of the conservative Northern Democratic position on the war.

Mr. Lincoln read the paper, thanked him for it, and put it in his pocket.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Letter from Harrison Landing - McClellan's paper on war aims - was at sharp contrast with President Lincoln's own personal views on the war.

In place of the larger effort which Mr. Lincoln was demanding it called for a more moderate effort. In effect it proposed that the administration act as if somebody else had won the presidential election of 1860. Define war, with Clausewitz, as a simple extension of politics: here was a bland proposal to make this war an extension of the politics of the losers rather than the victors. It rested on the assumption that the war had not, in 15 desperate months, changed the base for any man's thinking, and it was aimed at victory-by-consent and restoration of the status quo.

It would be easy - and convenient - to dismiss this document as mere McClellan fantasy. That viewpoint would dismiss the reality that was the Army of the Potomac, the most political of any army this country has ever witnessed.

The paper meant more than it openly said, but its interpretation was no problem for anyone who knew how the conservative officers in the AoP were talking. Quite openly, these men were saying that the administration wanted McClellan to fail so that it could impose anti-slavery doctrine on the South. This, they said, meant final disruption of the Union, because no matter how badly the Southern states were beaten they would never come back into the Union unless the government promised not to touch slavery. The Union could not possibly be restored by sheer force. Secession needed a beating, but it also needed a reassurance, kind words, and a lot of coaxing. The officers attitudes toward their own government comes out in indignant letters written to family and friends...

Gen Gouverneur K. Warren, regular army professional, heor of Gettysburg, corps commander under Grant/Meade in the Overland Campaign:

President Lincoln ought to discard the New England and Greeley abolitionists entirely; this would remove the cause for resistance from the masses South, and we could crush the Secession leaders."

Gen Fitz John Porter, the favorite corps commander of Little Mac, writing to the strongly Democratic New York World:

I wish you would put the question. Does the President (controlled by an incompetent Secy) design to cause defeat here for the purpose of prolonging the war?"

Alexander S. Webb, rising young staff officer, inspector general for the army's chief of artillery, in a letter home:

...the fools in Washington are determined that General G.B. McC must be 'subalternized'. WAS THERE EVER SUCH A GOVERNMENT, SUCH FOOLS, SUCH IDIOTS. I tell you father I feel as if every drop of blood I have should be poured out in punishing these men. I hate or despise them more intensively than I do the Rebels."

In a letter to his wife on July 10, McClellan shared he had actually come to feel that his recent defeat might really have been a blessing. "If I had succeeded in taking Richmond now the fanatics of the North might have been too powerful & reunion impossible." The next day he confided, "I have commenced receiving letters form the North urging me to march on Washington & assume the Govt!" He writes often of his visceral hatred of Stanton, comparing him to Judas Iscariot and warning "I may do the man injustice."

Mr. Lincoln of course never saw these letters, but he did know that there was a bottomless chasm between his Secretary of War and his principal field commander, and he also knew that the general's letter of advice on war policy did not fit at all with his own determination to drive on for victory at any cost; and on July 11 he signed an order naming Major General Henry W. Halleck (aka "Old Brains") General-in-Chief of the armies of the United States and ordering him to report at once to Washington City.

The limited war had been tried, and the effort proved a failure. The time had come not only for unlimited war, but also to restate the meaning of why the war was being fought.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is much to cover here, and I'm leaving the battles aside for the moment, (though BobbyLayne and Rovers will likely continue with these as well.) Here is a list of topics I plan on narrating:

Southern aftermath of the Seven Days

A discussion of military tactics developed during the Seven Days

The nurses of the South

The nurses of the North

The effects of disease

The question of slavery and emancipation (this will be a long and detailed discussion if we're going to do this right.)

The next set of battles that needs to be discussed involves the invasion of Kentucky and the battle of Perryville, before returning to the eastern theater and second Manassas. Rover and BL, you guys are welcome to discuss these battles while I'm busy with the other stuff; otherwise, I'll get to it when I'm done, whenever that is. As in the World War II thread, we're dealing with several important events occuring at the same timeline.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Southern aftermath of the Seven Days

BL and Rovers have done an excellent job of explaining the effects of the Seven Days on command decisions in the North. But how did it affect the South? 20,000 Southerners- nearly a quarter of the Army of Northern Virginia, had fallen dead and wounded during that week, twice the Union total. Though the result was a strategic southern victory, Robert E. Lee was dissatisfied. "Our success has not been as great or as complete as I could have desired," he wrote. "Under ordinary circumstances the Federal Army should have been destroyed." Destroyed! This Napoleonic vision would continue to govern Lee's strategic thinking until that moment a year later when the vision was itself destroyed on the gentle slope of Cemetary Ridge near a small Pennsylvania town.

The Southern people did not share Lee's discontent. "The fatal blow has been dealt this 'grand army' of the North" wrote a Richmond diarist. "Lee has turned the tide, and I shall not be surprised if we have a long career of successes." Of course, these comments were generally felt by the same people who after Manassas were proclaiming the end of the war a year earlier. Once again, optimism had replaced grave pessimism in the mood of southerners.

Lee became the hero of the hour. No more was heard of the King of Spades or Evacuating Lee. The Richmond Whig proclaimed that the quiet Virginian "amazed and confounded his detractors by the brilliancy of his genius...his energy and daring. He has established his reputation forever, and has entitled himself to the lasting gratitude of his country."

These commentators, of course, could not forsee the profound irony of Lee's achievement. If McClellan's campaign had succeeded, the war would likely have ended. The Union probably would have been restored with only minimal destruction in the South. Slavery would have survived in a slightly modified form, at least for a time. By defeating McClellan, Lee assured a prolongation of the war until it destroyed slavery, the Old South, and nearly everything the Confederacy was fighting for.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Military Tactics, Part One

The 30,000 men killed and wounded in the Seven Days equaled the number of casualties in all the battles in the western theater-including Shiloh-during the first half of 1862. The Seven Days established a pattern for harder fighting and geater casualties in battles between the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac between any other armies. The number of combat deaths in the Army of the Potomac was greater than in all of the other Union armies combied. In the South, Lee had the highest casualty rate.

One reason for this was Lee's concept of the offensive-defensive, which he applied to tactics as well as strategy. Lee probably deserves his reputation as the war's best tactician, but his success came at a great cost. In every one of the Seven Days' battles the Confederates attacked and consequently lost a higher proportion of killed and wounded than the defenders. The same was true in several of Lee's subsequent battles. Even in 1864-65, when their backs were to the wall and they had barely strength enough to parry their adversary's heavier blows, the Army of Northern Virginia essayed several offensive counterstrokes. The incongruity between Lee's private character as a humane, courteous, reserved, kindly man, the very model of a Christian gentlemen, and his daring, aggressive, but costly tactics as a general is one of the most striking contrasts in the history of the war.

Several battles in the western theater, of course, also produced a ghastly harvest of death. One reason for the high casualties of Civil War battles was the disparity between traditional tactics and modern weapons. The tactical legacy of 18th Century and Napoleonic warfare had emphasized close-order formations of soldiers trained to maneuver in concert and fire by volleys. These tactics stressed the offensive. Assault troops advanced with cadenced step, firing volleys on command and then double-timing the last few yards to pierce the enemy line with a bayonet charge. Napoleon used his artillery in conjunction with infantry assaults, moving the field guns forward with the foot soldiers to blast holes in enemy ranks and soften them up for the final charge. Americans used these tactics with great success in the Mexican War. West Point teaching stressed the tactical offensive. Most of the top Civil War officers had fought in Mexico and/or had attended West Point; from both experiences they had absorbed the message that the tactical offensive based on close-order infantry assaults supported by artillery won battles.

In Mexico this happened without high casualties because the basic infantry weapon was the single-shot muzzle loading smoothbore musket. The maximum range of this weapon was about 250 yards; its effective range (the distance at which a good marksman could hit a target with any regularity) was about 80 yards on a still day. The close-order formation was therefore necessary to concentrate the firepower of these inaccurate weapons; artillery could accompany charging infantry because cannoneers were relatively safe from enemy musket fire until they came within a couple of hundred yards or less; bayonet charges could succeed because double-timing infantry could cover the last 80 yards during the 25 seconds it took defending infantrymen to reload their muskets after firing a volley.

As I'll explain in my next post (likely not until tommorow, it's getting late) all of this changed in the 1850s. The problem was, none of the generals realized it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This post has little to do with the narrative of the Civil War, but is presented as an attempt to illustrate what the war means to me and my family, and perhaps explain in part why I am fascinated with learning as much as I can about it.

My great-great-great-great-grandfather enlisted in the fall of 1861 with the Company F of the 2nd Michigan Cavalry. In four years of service he never rose above the rank of private. At the age of 25, he had left his farm, wife, and six children to quietly do his duty. In March, 1864, he re-enlisted 'for the duration' with 366 other men, and went home to Kent County on a 30-day furlough. After he came home in the late summer of 1865, he went back to farming, and fathered five more children. Of their eleven children, only four would live to see adulthood. Life in the mid-19th century was hard.

The 2nd Michigan Cavlary was involved in about 100 expeditions and skirmishes (no joke - the regimental history is called "A Hundred Battles in the West"); some of the better known operations:

Siege and capture of Island No. 10, Mississippi River, March 15- April 8.

Siege of Corinth, Miss., April 29-May 30.

Battle of Booneville July 1.

Ordered to Louisville, Ky., September. Near Louisville September 30. Pursuit of Bragg to Wild Cat, Ky., October 1-7. Near Perryville October 6-7.

Battle of Perryville October 8.

Carter's Raid from Winchester and Nicholasville, Ky., into East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia December 20, 1862, to January 5, 1863.

Middle Tennessee (or Tullahoma) Campaign June 23-July 7.

Occupation of Middle Tennessee until August 16.

Passage of the Cumberland Mountains and Tennessee River, and Chickamauga (Ga.) Campaign August 16-September 22.

Rawlinsville, Ala., September 5. Destruction of Salt Works.

Reconnaissance from Alpine toward Rome, Ga., September 10-11.

Alpine September 12.

Dirt Town, Lafayette Road, near Chattooga River, September 12.

Reconnaissance from Lee and Gordon's Mills towards Lafayette September 13.

Battle of Chickamauga September 19-21.

Operations against Wheeler and Roddy September 29-October 17.

Regiment reenlisted March 28, 1864, and on Veteran furlough April to June.

Atlanta Campaign May 1-June 29.

Battle of Resaca May 14-15.

Operations about Marietta and against Kenesaw June 10-29.

Moved to Franklin, Tenn., June 29.

Duty Railroad Defenses of the District of Nashville until August 29.

Rousseau's Pursuit of Wheeler September 1-3.

Pursuit of Forrest September 25-October 5.

Battle of Franklin November 30.

Nashville December 15-16.

Raid through Mississippi January 17-21, 1865.

Wilson's Raid to Macon, Ga., March 22-April 24.

Trion April 1. Selma April 2. North Port, near Tuscaloosa, April 3. Occupation of Tuscaloosa April 4. Lanier's Mills, Sipsey Creek, April 6. Talladega April 22. Mumford's Station April 23.

Camp at Macon May 1 to July 17.

Mustered out August 17, 1865.

Regiment lost during service 4 Officers and 70 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 2 Officers and 266 Enlisted men by disease. Total 342 (out of 1163).

The Second Cavalry was organized by the Honorable F.W. Kellogg* of Grand Rapids, then a member of congress, authority being given him by the Secretary of War, subject to the approval of the Governor of Michigan. The Regiment was rendezvoused at Grand Rapids, its recruitment being completed October 2, 1861.

The Regiment left its rendezvous under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Davis, on November 14, 1861, with orders to report to St.Louis, MO, where on its arrival, was stationed at Benton Barracks. There, Captain Gordon Granger, of the U.S. Army, who had just been commissioned a Colonel, assumed command. Soon after its arrival, they were assigned to General Pope's Army, taking part in the operations at and about New Madrid, Mo and Island #10, having skirmishes with the Confederates at Point Pleasant, on March 9th., also at Tipton Station the same month. They were actively engaged with the investment of Island #10, which finally led to its surrender. After the capture of the Island, they moved with the army, under Pope, to Farmington, MS, and being in the advance, it encountered the Confederates at Pine Hill, May 2nd., then at Monterey on the 3rd., followed by Farmington on the 5th. During the Siege of Corinth, they were actively engaged in scouting and picket duty in the surrounding country, accomplishing much hard service.

While at Corinth, Captain P.H. Sheridan, of the U.S. Army, was commissioned Colonel and took command at Pittsburgh Landing, immediately setting out for Boonville.

*The three term congressman was a lumberman who raised three Michigan civil war regiments; he is not related to the Battle Creek family that founded the cereal maker.

Following the battle at Shiloh in April, and before the Confederate evacuation of Corinth that October, Confederate forces concentrated at Tupelo, about 50 miles south of Booneville. To protect the movement of Confederate infantry to that city, Brig. Gen. James R. Chalmers feinted, clashing with 2 cavalry regiments under Col. Philip H. Sheridan a few miles west of Booneville.

When Sheridan's advance guard made contact, he immediately supported it, sending 4 companies to hit the Confederate rear. Stubborn but indecisive fighting continued all day, until Chalmers' superior force retired. At 5:00 P.M., Sheridan requested a battery of artillery, with which he thought he "might be able to follow up the enemy", but at 9:30 A.M. the next morning he reported that "the enemy has skedaddled."

Sheridan wrote that his men had fought doggedly, in hand-to-hand combat. Sheridan asserted that "loss of the enemy must have been severe," later estimating the number of Confederate dead at 65.

Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans immediately recommended that "Sheridan ought to be made a brigadier. He would not be a stampeding general!" Brig. Gen. Alexander S. Asboth telegraphed to Washington that "he is worth his weight in gold," while Brig. Gen. Gordon Granger praised "the excellent management of the troops by Col. Sheridan...". Ten weeks later Sheridan got his promotion, backdated to the day of the battle at Booneville.

The Battle of Booneville is important to me for two reasons. First, the encounter gave the Union one of its most relentless and effective cavalry generals. On a more personal level, Private Philo T. Peck escaped unharmed, though a ball had penetrated his haversack and became lodged in the sliding top of a small wooden box his wife had mailed to him for keeping personal effects (razors, pencil and paper for letter writing, etc). The box had been fashioned by his oldest son with help from his grandfather. For my 40th birthday, my uncle presented me with that box, the remains of the spent minié ball still in the crude sliding top. It is my most cherished possession.

Here is how Henry Hempstead (Company M) described the Battle of Booneville in his diary:

"On the morning of the first of July 1862 at daylight our pickets a couple of miles in advance were attacked by the Rebel cavalry in force.

"Reveille had sounded and we were out attending roll call when a messenger from the pickets dashed in bringing in the report of the attack. Boots and saddles rang through the camps and both Regts. were soon in line and proceeding to the point of attack. Were soon judiciously posted.

"The fighting was desultory but at times quite close and sharp. The Enemy consisting of 8 Regts. of cavalry under General Chalmers made repeated efforts to break our lines at different points, sometimes forcing our men back, but always being obliged to recoil with heavy loss, the revolving rifles of the Michigan and the Sharp’s carbines of the 2nd Iowa doing fearful execution along their ranks.

"Col. Sheridan was at all points of danger and by judicious management met their overwhelming force by a firm front at all points. Later in the day four Companies (Lt. H. of our Regiment) who still retained their sabers were sent by a circuitous route to attack the enemy in the rear. They charges among their wagons, ambulances and wounded, gaining some advantage at first but were finally repulsed with some loss, but the movement seemed to have a discouraging effect upon the enemy who drew off about three o’clock p.m. leaving us masters of the field.

"Our loss was about 35 killed and wounded, theirs was reported at over 100. Chalmers himself being wounded.

"This fight placed a star upon Phil Sheridan’s shoulder, his commission as Brig. General dating from this day."

Wasn't much of a fight in the grand scheme of things, but I am thankful my ancestor made it through in one piece.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is much to cover here, and I'm leaving the battles aside for the moment, (though BobbyLayne and Rovers will likely continue with these as well.) Here is a list of topics I plan on narrating:

Southern aftermath of the Seven Days

A discussion of military tactics developed during the Seven Days

The nurses of the South

The nurses of the North

The effects of disease

The question of slavery and emancipation (this will be a long and detailed discussion if we're going to do this right.)

The next set of battles that needs to be discussed involves the invasion of Kentucky and the battle of Perryville, before returning to the eastern theater and second Manassas. Rover and BL, you guys are welcome to discuss these battles while I'm busy with the other stuff; otherwise, I'll get to it when I'm done, whenever that is. As in the World War II thread, we're dealing with several important events occuring at the same timeline.

:boxing:

Looking forward to it.

You can do the narratives for Bragg's invasion. Good stuff here on the big one:

http://www.battleofperryville.com/

Rovers is welcome to do anything he has time for; if he is unavailable because of work, I would be happy to do Jackson's flank march through the gap to Manassas Junction, Battle of Brawner's Farm, and the two-day Second Manassas. One of my favorite campaign studies.

But I'm equally happy being a spectator if Rovers or anyone else wants a turn at the helm.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That is so cool, BL. That is amazing.

I have no family members that were involved in the war in any way. My ancestors on both sides were Jewish immigrants who arrived in this country several decades after the events described here. Yet I hope you'll understand when I write that I feel as strong a link with this war, in my own way, as you do. I think that all Americans should. I see this war as the key event in American history, the event which shaped the country we are today.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.