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Ol'Hickory
07-06-2006, 01:03 PM
Soooo

Any admirers of Generla McLellan?? little Napoleon?

When I visited sharpsburg with JV steve and colin we got talking down the list of generals a quote i rather like is "he who defeat from the jaws of victory"..I forgot what battle we talked about.

Oh we stayed in the visitors centre at sharpsburg and spread the maps out (it was hot and we dident want to sit in the sun) well..this rather large woman walks in and says in a broad southern accent "ooh I dont think this was here at the time of the battle" JV rolled his eyes..I mean she dident THINK it was so a part of her brain was still saying its possible..lee could have parked his horse in the parking lot with a pepsi.

Rubes haha

FWL
07-06-2006, 02:04 PM
Soooo

Any admirers of Generla McLellan?? little Napoleon?

When I visited sharpsburg with JV steve and colin we got talking down the list of generals a quote i rather like is "he who defeat from the jaws of victory"..I forgot what battle we talked about.

Oh we stayed in the visitors centre at sharpsburg and spread the maps out (it was hot and we dident want to sit in the sun) well..this rather large woman walks in and says in a broad southern accent "ooh I dont think this was here at the time of the battle" JV rolled his eyes..I mean she dident THINK it was so a part of her brain was still saying its possible..lee could have parked his horse in the parking lot with a pepsi.

Rubes haha

Dude you've got to get a spell check. I know I'm not perfect with the written word but please after all you're from the birth place of our language.

As for Little Mac I'd rather forget him. But he is what he is. Good organizer, terrible battlefield general and I think a Copperhead to boot. Sharpsburg my favorite battlefield.

Regards

andysmith1989
07-06-2006, 09:07 PM
I do like Little Mac. He was a great man. Their is one reason why when the Army of the Potamac went up in cheers when they heard he was in command again, he valued his men. He was a total 180 of people like Grant and Sherman. Also he was a Copperhead and a member of the Democratic Party.

indguard
07-06-2006, 09:22 PM
Also he was a Copperhead

This is not true, really.

In fact he NEVER said that he would agree to end the war even if he beat Lincoln in 1864! He always said, despite what members of the Peace Democrats claimed, that he would finish the war with a WIN.

So, by his own words you cannot even truthfully say he wanted to end the war by giving in to the South.

He was no "copperhead".

And he still su cked as a general at war!

tompritchett
07-07-2006, 01:39 AM
And he still su cked as a general at war!

More precisely, he lacked the willingness to take risks to be an effective field commander. However, he would have made an excellent Chief of Staff, which is also a General position.

Ephraim_Zook
07-07-2006, 07:10 AM
He served as governor of New Jersey from 1878 to 1881, where he proved himself a better governor than general. According to the quote below, as governor he "was above reproach and of good quality of judgment." He was probably the last governor of NJ about whom this could be said. 8)

"McClellan's service as Governor was above reproach and of good quality of judgment. The State, as well as the rest of the country, was slowly recovering from the results of the depression of 1873 and he had the good sense to see that while it was impossible to legislate prosperity a government can cooperate with constructive economic forces and hasten its return, rather than hinder this by half-baked measures of reform and unwise experiments. He turned his attention for the most part to three things. These were, taxation and public expenditures, public education, and the national guard. All three were efforts in a sound constructive direction, well worthy of a man of his great ability and fine reputation.

McClellan was successful in lessening the State taxes and even in abolishing them in large part. Also, he especially was interested in the advancement of commercial, industrial and agricultural training and especially in technical training for industries such as silk and cotton manufacturing in the northern part of the State, glass-making in the southern part, and for the potteries located at Trenton. Finally, he much improved the discipline, organization and marksmanship of the State militia so that it ranked among the very best in the United States. He much increased his popularity by renting a home in Trenton during a session of the Legislature and by giving his entire attention to his work as Governor. Nevertheless, he was glad when his term was up and he was relieved from the burdens of his office in January, 1881, and was succeeded by Governor Ludlow. He wrote to his mother that he had gotten "through with my governorship all right and am glad to be done with it as it was becoming a nuisance to be obliged to go to Trenton in all matters." As a final judgment upon McClellan as Governor it may be said that he had completed a good piece of administrative work, that was solid, but undistinguished."

from A Study in Personality: General George Brinton McClellan
by William Starr Myers, Ph.D.

FWL
07-07-2006, 07:41 AM
This is not true, really.

In fact he NEVER said that he would agree to end the war even if he beat Lincoln in 1864! He always said, despite what members of the Peace Democrats claimed, that he would finish the war with a WIN.

So, by his own words you cannot even truthfully say he wanted to end the war by giving in to the South.

He was no "copperhead".

And he still su cked as a general at war!


Points taken, while technically not a Copperhead, I should have said he had stong Copperhead leanings. I do believe this. I don't care what he said, what that man said and what he would end up doing were often two very different things. To me his words have little credibility. I believe he would have sacrificed the union (as we have come to know it or as Lincoln saw it) in order to end the war. Peace before union. If he had won the election that would have been interesting. He probably would not have been able to decide what to do and while he was fretting, old Granny Lee would have had time to get refitted and gain a big victory or at the least a stalemate. I know if he was elected we would have had slavery allot longer and probably a very different end to the war and different union.

Brandon313
07-07-2006, 10:27 AM
It is said that he could have won ANY battle in ANY situation given....on paper. But was one of the worst battlefield commanders to take control of the army of the patomac.

tompritchett
07-07-2006, 11:05 AM
Very interesting I had not been aware of his post-war history. It does not surprise me at all that he was such a good governor. As an officer he was highly intelligent and competent. He just lacked the willingness to risk failure that is needed when commanding large Armies in battle (e.g., Ike when he gave the go-ahead for the D-day landings. Put Bobby Mac in that situation, we would not have landed until the Soviet's secured the beachs for us.)

bob 125th nysvi
07-08-2006, 08:24 PM
Business man before the war.

And would have made an excellent Quartermaster General.

Or Drill Sargent.

And was a very good sandbox strategist (much like Bragg and Johnston for the South).

But at the sharp end of the spear, or in this case the bayonet ............

an unmitigated disaster.

And he proved that TWICE commanding the AOP.

The boys loved him because he fed them but they proobably would have been a lot happier if he had won the war and gotten them home a couple of years earlier.

And they PROVED their feelings for 'lil Mac' by voting for the OTHER GUY during the election.

Like Custer his press is better than his deeds.

Bob Sandusky
Co C 125th NYSVI
Esperance, NY

flattop32355
07-08-2006, 10:19 PM
Like Custer his press is better than his deeds.

Little Mac was very concious of his standing before the army, public and politicians. IMHO, he suffered from a bad case of large ego; all successes were his own while all the defeats were due to the incompetence of others. This was not a trait he developed after attaining command of the AOP; he more than demonstrated it in the Western Virginia campaign, particularly at Rich Mountain. He was an excellent trainer of men, motivator, and logistician, but a mediocre commander in combat.

He seemed to be overly cautious, some say due the what he had seen in the Mexican War, and often believed that he faced more enemy soldiers than there were white men in the entire South. Lee didn't fight the AOP; he fought McClellan, knowing he could always win against him.

If it weren't for Burnside, I'd be hard pressed not to rate him as the worst commander of the AOP, even below Hooker.

tompritchett
07-08-2006, 11:36 PM
Like Custer his press is better than his deeds.

I am assuming that you are talking more about his post Civil War deeds than his service during the war.

BobSullivanPress
07-10-2006, 09:08 AM
Hello,

Well, I’m not a McClellan moonie, but I’ll toss in some Devil’s Advocate opinions here just to add fuel to the argument.

No one in the previous history of the United States Army commanded anything near the number of troops McClellan was put in charge of. He was learning tactics and logistics never before seen in this hemisphere.

When the object was to create an army, McClellan did it.

When the object was to take Richmond, McClellan got the closest. No general got closer until Lee abandoned it without a fight.

When the army was defeated and disorganized after Second Manassas, McClellan took over and got the army in fighting in less than two weeks, and fought two major battles in 3 days, something no general in the east did until Grant in 64.

McClellan didn’t follow up his victory at Antietam, but then again, no other general, North or South, followed up a victory either, until the “rules” changed in 1864. Did Lee follow up Second Manassas? Chancellorsville? Fredericksburg?

We can certainly fault him for believing his “intelligence” system, but if you were to fight a campaign in which you seriously believed you were outnumbered substantially, I’d argue that any tactician would fight the same fight.

We say that he was slow. Lincoln said he was slow. Let’s compare him to his contemporaries in 1861.
McDowell – ???
Scott – Said it would take 4 years (of course he was proved right, but McClellan offered to end the war in 2 months)
Halleck – Took twice as long to move half as far against little or no opposition when moving from Pittsburgh Landing to Corinth in 1862.

So, I don’t particularly like him. But if you just turn the glare of the lamp slightly, he doesn’t come off much worse than any other leader of the war, and much better than most.

cblodg
07-10-2006, 09:36 AM
Very well put Bob. Except this one point:


Hello,


McClellan didn’t follow up his victory at Antietam, but then again, no other general, North or South, followed up a victory either, until the “rules” changed in 1864. Did Lee follow up Second Manassas? Chancellorsville? Fredericksburg?


Lee had plans for his invasion of the North, after Chancellorsville which as you know, lead to Gettysburg. Though not a success, he certainly followed it up with some ambitious plans, that did send fear into the those in Pennsylvania at least.

theknapsack
07-10-2006, 10:16 AM
It depends on where and when. 1861 in June-July in West Virginia McClellan took Phillipi, Rich Mountain, Camp Garnett, and Cheat Mountain (and much of the Alleghenies, the latter three being in a matter of days. McClellan literally was the first general to have spools of telegraph wire rolling at his soldiers feet.) McClellan was extremely fast in this campaign, faster than even he thought, which impressed everybody in Washington.
McClellan said he could end the war with 250,000 soldiers that were trained, he just needed the men to do it. I believe he could.
McClellan was given the Army of Virginia (changed the name to Potomac) and reorganized a battered and undisciplined citizens army. That itself is no easy feat. True, he took some time to do his campaigns, but afterall the man was both an engineer and more of an expert in siege warfare than offensive campaigns. McClellan was also known to not want to waste soldiers' lives, which was trait that many of his men loved him for. He cared for even the lowliest private.
I like and dislike him because of it, but he was not a bad man.

BobSullivanPress
07-10-2006, 10:23 AM
Lee had plans for his invasion of the North, after Chancellorsville which as you know, lead to Gettysburg. Though not a success, he certainly followed it up with some ambitious plans, that did send fear into the those in Pennsylvania at least.

Well, I guess when I said follow-up I actually meant "Not letting go", i.e. Wilderness-Spotsylvania-North Anna type stuff. To me, South Mountain-Antietam fits that scenario.

Shortround
07-10-2006, 10:28 AM
McClelland, General Clark of WWII, and the list goes on... wretched generals all. America seems to have a corner on the market.

The famous Prussian General Carl von Clausewitz one said of the America that "God watches over fools, drunkards, and Americans".

Every time a battle that could win the Civil War for the South then something would happen. At Shiloh the commander sent his surgeon to take care of wounded soldiers, was shot, and bled to death. Grant's Army avoided destruction because of it. At Antitian it was pure luck that gave McClelland the complete orders to Lee's advance. The Union privates would have used the orders as toilet paper if they had not seen the priceless cigars wrapped in Lee's operation orders. Lee could have won Gettysburg if Stonewall had still been alive; the rebs would have hit the Round Tops hard on the flanks. However, the combat accident at Chancellorsville led to his death and that crippled the Confederate Army. Every time that strategic victory was in the South's grasp then providence would turn against the south. God was watching over the fool Americans.

This poster has been doing his share of WWI and WWII research lately. The American Army was better than the Italian army. The "Brits" were horrified how the American army had been bested at Kasserine pass.

The single American fighting man is equal to his foreign counterparts. However, his leadership at Division and Corp level could be better.

If McClelland had been in any other army, like the Russian or German, then he would have been shot.

bob 125th nysvi
07-12-2006, 07:11 PM
[QUOTE=BobSullivanPress]
"When the object was to create an army, McClellan did it." - Yes he did and that is the job of the quartermaster and drill instructors.

"When the object was to take Richmond, McClellan got the closest. No general got closer until Lee abandoned it without a fight." - The point is Mac SHOULD have captured it. He had position, numbers and supplies. Grant would have bulled ahead and captured the darn thing. Meade would have at least stood his ground. Remember the next guy to come that close was Butler (1864) and the results were the same. Anybody putting Butler up for any awards.

"When the army was defeated and disorganized after Second Manassas, McClellan took over and got the army in fighting in less than two weeks, and fought two major battles in 3 days, something no general in the east did until Grant in 64." - Again quartermaster/drill stuff. besides the army WASN'T in that bad shape. If it was he couldn't have accomplished what he did.

"McClellan didn’t follow up his victory at Antietam, but then again, no other general, North or South, followed up a victory either, until the “rules” changed in 1864. Did Lee follow up Second Manassas? Chancellorsville? Fredericksburg? " - In my opinion Mac gets a pass at Antietam, Burnside blew that one. But a great general presses his advantage not perform down to the level of the least common denominator.

"We can certainly fault him for believing his “intelligence” system, but if you were to fight a campaign in which you seriously believed you were outnumbered substantially, I’d argue that any tactician would fight the same fight." = He also had info that said he had the numbers on his side. It was his choice which intel to believe. And despite what he believed his subordinates almost won the 7 days for him. It wasn't the AOP Lee beat it was Mac's belief in the AOP (or himself).

"We say that he was slow. Lincoln said he was slow. Let’s compare him to his contemporaries in 1861.
McDowell – ???
Scott – Said it would take 4 years (of course he was proved right, but McClellan offered to end the war in 2 months)
Halleck – Took twice as long to move half as far against little or no opposition when moving from Pittsburgh Landing to Corinth in 1862." - Bad choices all, McDowell actually fought the first major battles with a mostly untrained army. Scott wasn't young enough to command in the field and he knew it. But he was enough of a strategist to accurately predict how long the war was going to take and the strategy that won it. Halleck was a paper pusher.

Mac's job was to WIN the war, not compare favorably with his other bumbling contemporaies. He had on paper a much better army than Grant had. Lee had just taken command of the ANV, his subordinates were not exactly up to snuff either. In WV Mac's subordinates actually won the campaign with him back at HQ.

So was MAc better than some. YEP. Should he have done MUCH better given his opportunites. YEP YEP YEP YES.

You only compare favorably when you lose only when you win.

Bob Sandusky
Co C 125th NYSVI
Esperance, NY

Union Navy
07-13-2006, 12:27 PM
Every time a battle that could win the Civil War for the South then something would happen. At Shiloh the commander sent his surgeon to take care of wounded soldiers, was shot, and bled to death. Grant's Army avoided destruction because of it.
Both Grant and Beauregard, writing at the time, said it was the two US Navy gunboats Tyler and Lexington that prevented a Confederate victory. Don't go looking in the usual history books for this. It has gradually dropped from common knowledge. You have to look to the after action reports and not later memoirs. Beauregard could hardly be classified as a lightweight general, yet he congratulated his men for driving the enemy "from his camps to the shelter of his ironclad gunboats, which alone saved him from complete disaster." The Tyler and Lexington were not actually ironclad, but timberclad (5" of oak planking).
At Malvern Hill the Navy pulled McClellan's butt out of the fire (McClellan wasn't even on the battlefield, but on board the USS Galena, finding yet another pull-back position). McClellan would not acknowledge the Navy's role, but both British observer Col. Garnet Wolselsy and Gen. R. E. Lee did. Lee said "The great obstacle to operations here is the presence of the enemy's gunboats which protect our approaches to him and should we even force him from his positions on his land front, would prevent us from reaping any fruits of victory and expose our men to great destruction."
Since Burnside came up, I'll chime in here also. I don't think he should have such a bad rep. His cooperation with the Navy in the Carolina sounds was essential in securing that area, and he did it well. His operations against Morgan in Indiana and Ohio were swift and energetic, and again he cooperated fully with the Navy. He knew he was not top general material, yet was forced into a position he knew he was unsuited for. He knew his limitations. Wish we could say the same for McClellan and Hallek and Hooker and Fremont and Butler. The war might have been shorter if they had known their limitations.

Shortround
07-13-2006, 01:50 PM
Loss of initiative after the wounding of Johnston perhaps did more to save Grant's Army than anything else. It gave Grant time to "get the word out" on the attack. Reserves and gun boats were alerted and put into place for support. Beauregard was a good commander for the south. However, combat is a fickle beast. A ten minute pause in attack allows the enemy to regroup and form defense lines. Grant's own words were "we had the devil's own day." The pause in the Confederate attack allowed the Union to get its breath back.

Initiative is everything in combat. If you lose it you will have a hard time getting it back.

Ask the Japanese Navy after Midway. Ask Lee after Gettysburg.

bob 125th nysvi
07-17-2006, 08:25 PM
Very well put Bob. Except this one point:



Lee had plans for his invasion of the North, after Chancellorsville which as you know, lead to Gettysburg. Though not a success, he certainly followed it up with some ambitious plans, that did send fear into the those in Pennsylvania at least.

Is that there was no IMMEDIATE followup that resulted in the destruction of the enemy or pinning the enemy in place. For example after Chancellorsville, Lee gave the AOP enough time to pull itself back together to successfully oppose him at Gettysburg.

Conversely Grant during his Virginia campaign, win lose or draw kept forcing Lee to react to his initiative. He didn't give Lee anytime to seize the initiative or reorganize.

Bob Sandusky
Co C 125th NYSVI
Esperance, NY

tompritchett
07-17-2006, 11:46 PM
For example after Chancellorsville, Lee gave the AOP enough time to pull itself back together to successfully oppose him at Gettysburg.


Two issues here. First, Lee had to reorganize this chain of command due to the loss of Jackson, a very key loss indeed. Second, and probably more importantly, Lee had to let the AOP break contact and withdraw in order to move th ANV in secrecy towards PA. The fact that Lee would have never made such a move while in close proximity with the AOP is shown by Lee's beginning to withdraw from around Harrisburg (which I believe was the true turning point in the campaign) when he learned that Meade had discovered the ANV's move and reacting.

Union Navy
07-18-2006, 11:10 AM
Loss of initiative after the wounding of Johnston perhaps did more to save Grant's Army than anything else. It gave Grant time to "get the word out" on the attack. Reserves and gun boats were alerted and put into place for support. Beauregard was a good commander for the south. However, combat is a fickle beast. A ten minute pause in attack allows the enemy to regroup and form defense lines. Grant's own words were "we had the devil's own day." The pause in the Confederate attack allowed the Union to get its breath back.

Initiative is everything in combat. If you lose it you will have a hard time getting it back.

Ask the Japanese Navy after Midway. Ask Lee after Gettysburg.

Trouble is the South at Shiloh did not lose the tactical initiative like General Lee and Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, both of whom had a large part of their forces put out of action. Beauregard continued to push Grant, Sherman and McClernand back throughout the day, for several hours after Johnston was killed. Grant's defensive liines held, by his own admission, because of the gunboats, who had been looking all day for a clear shot at the Confederates, long before Grant could say anything. They finally got it late in the day, firing up Dill Branch ravine with 32 lb. and 8 inch shells, smashing the Confederate right as it tried to cut Grant off from the Tennessee River and Buell (which was Johnston's original intention). Even Hallek, "in spite of his contempt for the Navy, concluded that only the Union gunboats had kept Grant's army from being destroyed." (Combined Operations of the Civil War, R. Reed, USNI Press, 1978, p. 206).

Nagumo (who led the carrier attack on Pearl Harbor) and the Japanese Navy were especially taken aback, as they had not been decisively defeated in 350 years. The pride of the Japanese Navy, the Kido Butai, had lost all of the carriers present. It literally could not regain the initiative even if the motivation was there.

Ahh, that's why I like going here... the stimulating discussions!

Shortround
07-19-2006, 01:28 PM
[QUOTE=Union Navy] Even Hallek, "in spite of his contempt for the Navy, concluded that only the Union gunboats had kept Grant's army from being destroyed." (Combined Operations of the Civil War, R. Reed, USNI Press, 1978, p. 206).

Nagumo (who led the carrier attack on Pearl Harbor) and the Japanese Navy were especially taken aback, as they had not been decisively defeated in 350 years. The pride of the Japanese Navy, the Kido Butai, had lost all of the carriers present. It literally could not regain the initiative even if the motivation was there.[QUOTE]

We are talking apples and oranges when looking at Shiloh and WWII Naval actions. I confused the issue by referring to tactical and strategic initiative as one and the same.

What I meant to say is Johnston's death slowed down the rebs advance and allowed the Union to alert their troops. I believe a quote from General Forrest was "keep the scare up". Was the Union rattled after the attack? You bet! However, the point is what could have been a Union route turned into a set back of the day. Technically, the gun boats were just a reserve called into action. They helped stop any advances that night.

Now, to WWII Naval Actions.

On a tactical level the Japanese navy was seemless. You have to wonder how WWII would have turned out if the IJN and the Wehrmacht had been able to work together. Imagine a fleet of Japanese cruisers supporting Rommels North African operations instead of the Italian Navy. You would have had Panzers in Palestine by mid-1942.

Do I think Japan could have taken Midway after losing the four carriers? Yes, it would have been expensive, both Yamamoto and Nagumo knew the costs and were unwilling to pay. However, the two surviving carriers, Hornet and Enterprise, were more valuable than Midway to the US. I speculate that Japan could have taken Midway but they would have had a devil of a time taking it. Holding on to it would have been near impossible. From what I've been reading Midway was the "line in the sand" and there was going to be lots of night actions in that area. The Brooklyn light cruisers were fantastic warships and were good once the tactical commanders figured out how to use them (hats off to Arleigh Burke for helping to invent the CIC in '43)

I confused the situation with tactical initiative (Shiloh) and strategic initiative (Pacific war). The wounding of Johnston gave Grant the slight breather he needed to alert his troops and bring in reenforcements. While the timberclads did sterling work it must be remembered they were under the same tactical command. From a combat asset point-of-view they were floating batteries limited to river travel and their job was to support the commander.

Japan never regained the strategic initiative after Midway. Japan had a problem with their strategic planning that caused them to lose the war. When the US Navy was expending cruisers like water at Guadacanal the two most excellent battleships of the Yamato class were burning fuel oil in Turk lagoon and doing nothing. The Japanese Navy failed to concentrate their forces and made the strategic mistake of sending them in piecemeal. By December of 1942 Guadacanal was lost and the forces were withdrawn by early 1943. However, if a proper night attack with all available battleships and a day attack with the remaining carriers could have been done then the airfield at Guadacanal could have been checked and the three modern battleships of the US Navy could have been engaged by superior numbers of Japanese battleships. There would have been no two battleships vs one modernized battlecruiser nor a half dozen cruisers vs one battleship that was to be finished off later by aircraft from Guadacanal.

bob 125th nysvi
07-23-2006, 07:43 PM
Two issues here. First, Lee had to reorganize this chain of command due to the loss of Jackson, a very key loss indeed. Second, and probably more importantly, Lee had to let the AOP break contact and withdraw in order to move th ANV in secrecy towards PA. The fact that Lee would have never made such a move while in close proximity with the AOP is shown by Lee's beginning to withdraw from around Harrisburg (which I believe was the true turning point in the campaign) when he learned that Meade had discovered the ANV's move and reacting.

Is a HUGE mistake many generals have made. No one man's loss should be enough to cause the army to give up the initiative. Yes Jackson was the man Lee trusted. And Stuart did a passable job while he temporaily was in command. But the secret to successful operations is that the next guy has to IMMEDIATELY step up and continue to lead. The US Army pounds that into officer's heads today be ready you never know when you are going to be in command.

Lee might have accomplished more if instead of breaking off and trying a grand sweeping manuver he had jumped a couple of rivers and put himself across the AOPs supply lines between them and Washington. he could have grabbed a good piece of ground and forced a battered AOP to attack him or risk having him go directly towards Washington.

But we are battering Mac here not Lee.

But witness Grant was successful because he tried NEVER to let the enemy recover or gain the initiative.

Bob Sandusky
Co C 125th NYSVI
Esperance, NY

tompritchett
07-23-2006, 11:15 PM
Lee might have accomplished more if instead of breaking off and trying a grand sweeping manuver he had jumped a couple of rivers and put himself across the AOPs supply lines between them and Washington. he could have grabbed a good piece of ground and forced a battered AOP to attack him or risk having him go directly towards Washington.

From a strategic point of view, Lee's thrust into PA was a very good move. At the time many Northern governors were getting tired of the war and especially the lack of any noticable progress by the Union generals. Had he crossed the Susquehanna, he could have sacked Harrisburg and threatened Philadelphia, which did not have the defensive forts of DC either directly with his army or indirectly with a portion of Stuart's cavalry. It is likely that these actions could have caused PA to withdraw its support for the Union effort which would not only pull the Union's second largest source of manpower by state, but also could have lead to other states such as New Jersey also pulling their support. Furthermore, by taking Harrisburg he would have cut off the major source of coal for the Union's naval ships. For these reasons, Meade would have had no choice but give battle to Lee regardless of how advantagous the ground that Lee held. Unfortunately, IMHO Lee allowed tactical considerations to override the strategic implications of his original invasion. It would have been very interesting what would have happened if Lee had continued on to Harrisburg rather than getting cold feet and turning back. I personally believe that, had Jackson been alive in late June 1863, the battle of Gettysburg would have never happened because Jackson's corp would have already been across the river by the time that Lee learned that Meade was moving North in pursuit.

As far as the supply issue, even with the railroads from DC being cut, Meade could easily supply his Army from the railroads out of Harrisburg and from boat operating off of the Susquehanna.

bob 125th nysvi
07-24-2006, 08:04 PM
Had excellent strategic reasons to invade the north (Mostly to get the war out of Virginia). His chances of getting across the Susquehanna was just about 0% particularly once the AOP started pursuit. And if Jackson had (been alive) gotten across then Meade could have hit Lee's army when split. Jackson failed at Chancelorville to get the AOP (probably the ANVs only real chance) there is no reason to assume he could have done any better anywhere else. Yes Jackson's death affected the assualt but even without it he probably couldn't have done the job. His troops were blown and disorganized and he was rapidly running out of daylight. Nobody fought night battles back then with good reason.

That is an incredible leap of logic you are making that a 'successful' campaign would have knocked any of the northern states out of the war. PA was providing a HUGE number of soldiers to the Union, soldiers and families who would have voted the governor out of office (if he lived that long) and no politician is taking an action that will get him voted out of office.

The same 'of their getting tired of the war' nonsense has been said about NY (especially after the Draft Riots) and OH yet with PA that was the big three as far as Union manpower was concerned. That means a lot of voters who SUPPORTED the war.

Lincoln wasn't letting the south go he sure as heck wasn't letting any northern state go.

Also Lee didn't have the strength or logistics to HOLD anything he grabbed up north. He was basically one and done. He could win a fight but couldn't stay put. Coal from PA could have easily moved north out of PA over the Eire or D&H then on to NYC so just holding the rail junction would not have long term seriously disrupted traffic.

As Shelby Foote has said the north fought the war with one hand tied behind its back. If things got really dicey they just have untied the other hand.

Since Lee's objective was to knock the north out of the war getting between the AOP and Washington would have put that objective a lot closer to reality than taking out Philly. If he had pivoted off of the AOPs flanks and gotten in behind it he might have won the war, either by destroying the AOP or taking Washington.

After all what was Lee's sole objective in 1864? Keep his army between the AOP and Richmond while he tried to drive them off. He knew once Richmond was lost so was the war. And by pressing Lee Grant dictated the campaign.

Bob Sandusky
Co C 125th NYSVI
Esperance, NY

tompritchett
07-25-2006, 12:08 AM
All valid points. This is what makes the "what if" discussions so interesting. Both sides can essentiallly be right yet differ substantially.

However, I would like to make to two clarifications. First, I am not saying that Northen states would have left the Union but rather that the governors would have left the war effort by pulling their troops home. At that time in the war, such a move might have been garnerished considerable public support, especiallly if Lee had just sacked the capital and was threatening the largest city in the state. Second, I am not sure that Lee getting between Meade and DC would have raised the same alarms in 63 as it would have in 61 or 62. By that time, the Union had been building forts around the perimeter of DC and had staffed them with considerable troops. These forts probably would have held Lee's army off long enough for Meade to come in from the rear, thus forcing Lee to flee or risk getting his army pinned between two separate Union forces, one of which was actually entrenched and fortified.

cookiemom
07-25-2006, 01:27 AM
... By that time, the Union had been building forts around the perimeter of DC and had staffed them with considerable troops.
I grew up in DC, essentially "across the street" from one of the "ring forts." It took up a full city block, and the neighborhood had grown up around it. The earthworks could still be located, although trees and vines made the place "jungle-like." Great for hide-and-seek! As kids, we played there all the time, until the "hippies" started using it for drug parties. The fort's still there, and the Park Service finally installed a sign some years ago.

My brothers and I also spent many happy hours digging lumps of iron ("cannonballs!") out of our backyard -- my Dad said that the artillery must have used our hill for target practice, since the Confederates never got that close to our part of town.

bob 125th nysvi
07-25-2006, 08:58 PM
All valid points. This is what makes the "what if" discussions so interesting. Both sides can essentiallly be right yet differ substantially.

However, I would like to make to two clarifications. First, I am not saying that Northen states would have left the Union but rather that the governors would have left the war effort by pulling their troops home. At that time in the war, such a move might have been garnerished considerable public support, especiallly if Lee had just sacked the capital and was threatening the largest city in the state. Second, I am not sure that Lee getting between Meade and DC would have raised the same alarms in 63 as it would have in 61 or 62. By that time, the Union had been building forts around the perimeter of DC and had staffed them with considerable troops. These forts probably would have held Lee's army off long enough for Meade to come in from the rear, thus forcing Lee to flee or risk getting his army pinned between two separate Union forces, one of which was actually entrenched and fortified.

But given the 'speed' at which things moved I doubt the governors screaming for thier trooops back would have done much good. After all after the units were raised they were federalized and the governors lost control over them (witness how fast political cronies with no talent lost their jobs). Even if they had been successful at prying lose some of the troops by the time they moved back into the state the invasion would have been over.

What might have had an effect on 64 was the governors could have withheld replacement regiments weaking the AOP for Grant's campaign. Probably not because then the state would have to foot the WHOLE bill for those units.

Washington was certainly the most heavily fortified city on the continent by 63 but I question the quality of the troops and officers manning those forts. But in reality all they had to do was hold for a day before the AOP would catch up and pin Lee against an anvil.

Maybe Lee had a chance in 62 to 'win' the war but by 63 the best he could do was not 'lose' the war. His position is sort of like Jellicoe's in WWI. He was the only man on either side who could have lost the war in an afternoon. That it took the Union so long to run the Fox to ground is a testament to his abilities.

Bob Sandusky
Co C 125th NYSVI
Esperance, NY