Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

General McClellan . Too Cautious?

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • copenhagen
    started a topic General McClellan . Too Cautious?

    General McClellan . Too Cautious?

    Again pondering my new readings of the civil war from a basis of not knowing a lot .George McClellan it seems is given a lot of credit for actually creating a trained union army in pretty short order after the slow beginnings in 1861 but seems to get a decent amount of criticism (Including from the POTUS) for not actually using it particularly in 1862 when he transported his army south by boat to then park it not far from Richmond and then just stay put. I know he seems to have been convinced that the CSA had a large force nearby when he in fact outnumbered them ten to one or therabouts but nonetheless looks like he was just too cautious? What's the prevailing thinking from the more well read?

  • 67th Tigers
    replied
    Originally posted by American87 View Post

    In post #90 you wrote, “He hesitated because he was afraid of engaging. He was bluffed in northern Virginia and again in the Peninsula.
    Regarding Northern Virginia; he wasn't bluffed. The numbers commonly quoted were the troops in the whole of Virginia.

    Johnston had the equivalent of 8 standard divisions (i.e. of 3 full strength brigades each). On the same day (8th March) there was the equivalent of a full division in West Va (2 bdes under "Allegheny" Johnson and a brigade under Harry Heth), and an overstrength (4 bde) division each at both Norfolk and on the Peninsula.

    The December returns show 118,306 present in the four largest departments in Va (SW Va and Henrico county are not included in the return) vs. general estimates of around 120,000 (which are explicitly aggregate present). Thus McClellan's numbers are in fact accurate.

    Leave a comment:


  • 67th Tigers
    replied
    Originally posted by American87 View Post
    McClellan did not go on the offensive after Malvern Hill, because it was a rear guard action to cover his retreat. He was preoccupied with protecting the army and drawing up a new plan of operations after he believed his first plan had failed.
    If I may make a couple of points.

    McClellan never intended to fight Malvern Hill at all, and neither did Lee.

    McClellan had intended to halt at the positions he occupied on 30th June, resupply and then counterattack. However, Franklin quit his position without orders. Lt Newhall was sent to find him. Thus there was a desperate scramble during the night to assemble a temporary defensive laager on Malvern Hill.

    Malvern Hill is a bad position. From reasons this map makes clear:

    malvern-jpg.300654.jpg

    Lee intended to envelop Malvern Hill and then it would have been game over.

    As to a post-Malvern Hill advance; the likes of Sears use misquotes to suggest it was possible. In fact Porter indicated that the troops could not hold out another day.

    Leave a comment:


  • Massena
    replied
    And your source is...?

    And why have you not answered the question put to you on the Napoleonic forum on source material?

    The source for the numbers I used is from Battles and Leaders, Volume II, which took them from the Official Records. I didn't get them from Burton.

    Nice try, guess again.

    Leave a comment:


  • 67th Tigers
    replied
    Originally posted by Massena View Post
    You are wrong on many counts.

    For the strengths of the armies in the Peninsula, see Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, Volume II, pages 313-317 for the strengths of the Seven Days; pages 218-219 for Seven Pines.

    Seven Pines:

    Union: 14,000 engaged out of a strength of 93,008.
    Confederate: 16,600.
    For the Federals six divisions were engaged (all of 2nd, 3rd and 4th Corps). It so happens I recently had cause to look this up in a comparison to Shiloh:

    seven-pines-vs-shiloh-png.300657.png
    This is not a fair comparison, as the Federals use PFD, and the rebels (at SP) use "effectives" from the 20th May memo. To convert present multiply by 1.2*. At Seven Pines roughly 64,000 rebels attacked 51,500 Federals.

    * http://67thtigers.blogspot.com/2015/...1-army-of.html

    ANV%2BPFD%2Bvs%2BAP.png

    Seven Days:

    Union: 105,445.
    Confederate: Between 80,000 and 90,000.
    There are no consolidated rebel returns in the OR. You're using Burton's attempt to add self-reported "effectives" up. If you accept them then then you should multiply the Federal figures by 0.8.

    In fact, unit returns do exist, and when they are added up a total of 112,200 effectives or PFD is found, excluding two regiments which joined mid battle. To quote Harsh:

    "In his memoirs, Joseph Johnston referred to Lee’s forces on June 26 as “the largest Confederate army that ever fought.” He estimated Lee’s reinforcements as follows: 15,000 from North Carolina, 22,000 from South Carolina and Georgia and 16,000 from Jackson, for a total of 53,000. When combined with the 73,000 Johnston had on May 31, this would have given Lee 126,000 men. Johnston later admitted his figures were too high. For example, he counted Lawton twice (with Jackson and with Georgia); he included forces that did not arrive until July and August; and he overestimated Holmes by 150%.

    Johnston’s claims affronted that plank of the “Lost Cause” myth that insisted the Confederates had always been heavily outnumbered, and his figures were emphatically rejected by Charles Marshal, Jubal Early, Jefferson Davies, the Reverend J. William Jones, and Walter Taylor, who insisted Lee had 80,000 men or fewer. These defenders of Confederate meagreness indulged in a bad habit of mixing apples and oranges.” They used the figure for their own “effectives”, a stripped down statistic, whilst employing “present for duty” figures for the enemy. Their 80,000 may be fairly effective for Lee’s combat effectives, but then it should be compared to the approximately 70,000 McClellan had in the same category.

    The total of 112,220 present for duty for the Army of Northern Virginia…. Breaks down as follows:

    Attacking Column North of the Chickahominy

    Army of Northern Virginia
    Longstreet: 14,291
    A.P. Hill: 16,411
    D.H. Hill: 12,318
    Stuart: 2,109
    Total: 45,129

    Army of the Valley
    Jackson: 9,604
    Ewell: 6,353
    Whiting: 5,537
    Cavalry: 605
    Total: 22,099

    Confederate defensive forces south of the Chickahominy:
    McLaws: 4,915
    D.R. Jones: 4,503
    Magruder: 5,671
    Huger: 6,160
    Holmes: 9,018
    Reserve artillery: 1,680
    Cavalry: 2,000
    Richmond defenses: 9,136
    Petersburg defenses: 1,909
    Total: 44,992 "

    Leave a comment:


  • Massena
    replied
    You are wrong on many counts.

    For the strengths of the armies in the Peninsula, see Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, Volume II, pages 313-317 for the strengths of the Seven Days; pages 218-219 for Seven Pines.

    Seven Pines:

    Union: 14,000 engaged out of a strength of 93,008.
    Confederate: 16,600.

    Seven Days:

    Union: 105,445.
    Confederate: Between 80,000 and 90,000.

    This material is taken from the Official Records.

    McClellan was wrong (again); Lincoln was correct in ordering him out of the Peninsula because it was a failure and eventually in relieving him.

    From The West Point Atlas of American Wars, Volume I, Map 47:

    'In the campaign, Lee had preserved Richmond and had put his opponent to flight. But the Union army, though somewhat demoralized, remained strong. Under a more energetic and confident commander, it could have again advanced on Richmond. Instead, it remained at Harrison's Landing until August, when it was recalled to the Washington area.'

    Leave a comment:


  • 67th Tigers
    replied
    Originally posted by grognard View Post
    Mac always acted as if he were outnumbered, so he has only himself to blame re accurate reports.
    By June '62 McClellan was outnumbered. For most of the campaign the numbers were approximately equal, with both sides within 10% of each other until shortly before the Seven Days.

    He claimed he had won the 7 days, yet while Lee shifted troops to face Pope, he sat still.
    Lee did not move against Pope until mid-August, when it was clear McClellan's army was being packed up and moved back to Washington.

    At Antietam, he listened to Sumner who was with the routed divisions rather than those on the front line who correctly saw the weakness of Lee's line and urged a follow up.
    Lee's line at the "White Church" was not weak, but incredibly strong. Franklin had 2 brigades available, and wanted to frontally assault the strongest part of the enemy position. It would have been a blunder.

    Also, checkout Lincoln's arc of the chord comments re the advance in the fall of 1862.
    Yes, Lincoln was wrong.

    Leave a comment:


  • 67th Tigers
    replied
    Originally posted by American87 View Post

    I have not read every single document in the official records. I have read orders and correspondence that took place during the period under question, and have posted them for you to see.
    Regarding the estimates of strength; whilst incorrect in places, they were not so wretched as is generally supposed. Certainly during the Yorktown operations every statement of enemy strength McClellan gives is correct.

    When on 26th June McClellan reports the enemy may have 200,000 at Richmond and he is outnumbered, he is only incorrect on scale. Lee's army really was significantly larger than McClellan's. The 200,000 number was composed of three different forces that intelligence said were gathered at Richmond:

    150,000 under Lee (actual number ca. 128,000 present, from ration issues)
    30,000 under Jackson, including forces sent from Richmond to Jackson just prior (essentially correct)
    20,000 from the west under Beauregard (completely incorrect and this was determined to be wrong in July and the force was dropped from estimates)

    The Richmond force was estimated too high due to Babcock's orbat estimates acquiring 36 extra regiments beyond those actually present. If the orbat hadn't contained these 36 regiments, since regiments were estimated at 700 then the number would be correct (ca. 125,000). Babcock had not worked out that GW Smith had taken ill, and his division had been broken up. For example, on the 27th June, Pinkerton wrote an abstract of his estimates to McClellan to inform McClellan of that attacked at Beaver Dam Creek, and what was coming at Gaines' Mill. This is what he wrote:

    GW Smith: brigades of Whiting, Hood, Hampton, Colston and Pettigrew
    DH Hill: brigades of JR Anderson, Rains, Early, Featherstone, Garland and Rodes
    AP Hill: brigades of Field, "JR Anderson" (the regiments indictate this is actually RH Anderson's bde) and "Pindar" (i.e. Pender)

    As you can see, it is terribly confused. Federal intelligence here is understating that has crossed the Chickahominy. Longstreet's division is not mentioned (although they detected being engaged by two of his bdes, they misassigned them), and apparently they thought it was still at Richmond.

    Although there were mistakes, the important point is that Lee's army was much larger than commonly believed, and indeed was larger than McClellan's.

    Leave a comment:


  • grognard
    replied
    Mac always acted as if he were outnumbered, so he hasonly himself to blame re accurate reports. He claimed he had won the 7 days, yet while Lee shifted troops to face Pope, he sat still. At Antietam, he listened to Sumner who was with the routed divisions rather than those on the front line who correctly saw the weakness of Lee's line and urged a follow up. Those are facts Also, checkout Lincoln's arc of the chord comments re the advance in the fall of 1862.

    Leave a comment:


  • American87
    replied
    Originally posted by Massena View Post
    I know what the Official Records are. Did you use them or just extracts from them to prove your opinion? That's what cherry picking is.

    And you haven't proven your opinion at all. All you've done is post material that is pro-McClellan and have not looked at why he lost. Looking at both sides is called historical inquiry, and you have not done that. What you have done is called revisionism-and your 'method' is revisionism of the worst type.
    I have not read every single document in the official records. I have read orders and correspondence that took place during the period under question, and have posted them for you to see. They are the facts, and my summation of them is accurate: McClellan believed himsel outnumbered two to one; he argued for staying on the Peninsula in order to defend Washington; he asked for reinforcements so he could resume the offensive; and he offered to attack Lee's rearguard and seize Richmond after Lee detached most of his army againt Pope.

    The idea that he was scared or whatever is not in the official records. Please provide the primary source where this claim of yours comes from.

    At the risk of setting up a strawman, I venture to say that your interpretation of McClellan, which is shared by many other casual students of his, is based on a cursory view of battle maps and troop numbers. In other words, you know that McClellan outnumbered Johnston and Lee, and you see him acting as if he has this great big force in front of him-he's cautious, feeling things out, prepping his command before any major advance. You assume he's scared, timid, or some type of incompetent commander. This is false, because the record shows that he took the offensive in West Virginia and won, and that he took the offensive in Maryland and pretty much handed Lee's ass to him. So how do you explain his inaction during the Peninsula Campaign? It doesn't make sense. The truth is that he was misled by his intelligence reports.

    That's not a pro-McClellan stance. I have my criticisms of him. But he did a much better job than McDowell, Burnside, Hooker, and Meade. He would have done Grant's job two years earlier-with far fewer casualties-if he had accurate information. Grant's success strategy was in many ways the same as McClellans, but Grant had Lincoln's support and more reliable intelligence reports.

    Leave a comment:


  • Massena
    replied
    I know what the Official Records are. Did you use them or just extracts from them to prove your opinion? That's what cherry picking is.

    And you haven't proven your opinion at all. All you've done is post material that is pro-McClellan and have not looked at why he lost. Looking at both sides is called historical inquiry, and you have not done that. What you have done is called revisionism-and your 'method' is revisionism of the worst type.

    Leave a comment:


  • American87
    replied
    Originally posted by Massena View Post
    And where did you get your information? Did you actually look into the official records or did you cherry pick what you thought you needed to support your mistakes?

    Did McClellan do nothing to check on the intelligence reports? And he believed the Confederate prisoners?

    There are more ways to acquire intelligence than employ the Pinkertons, who didn't do a creditable job in the first place.

    McClellan was taken in by Johnston twice-in northern Virginia and in the Peninsula. He did not act like an army commander and he was defeated by an inferior army.
    I got my information from the official records. That’s what the abbreviation O.R stands for. I’m not sure what you mean by cherry picking. The primary sources say you’re wrong, and you won’t back up your claims that McClellan was paralyzed by fear, etc., aka the traditional pro-Lincoln politicized narrative.

    Im not sure what McClellan did for all his intelligence. He relied on the Pinkertons, prisoners, and presumably cavalry but I’m not sure.

    What do do you mean Johnston took McClellan? McClellan forced him South from Manassas and then to within twelve miles of Richmond. McClellaN was right on track. He also acted like an army commander-he WAS an army commander. You like commanders who gallop into the fray and cheer on their men. That’s fine. A bit fantasy-esque but fine. McClellan was fine where he was. His decisions were based on poor intelligence.

    Leave a comment:


  • Massena
    replied
    And where did you get your information? Did you actually look into the official records or did you cherry pick what you thought you needed to support your mistakes?

    Did McClellan do nothing to check on the intelligence reports? And he believed the Confederate prisoners?

    There are more ways to acquire intelligence than employ the Pinkertons, who didn't do a creditable job in the first place.

    McClellan was taken in by Johnston twice-in northern Virginia and in the Peninsula. He did not act like an army commander and he was defeated by an inferior army.

    Leave a comment:


  • American87
    replied
    Originally posted by Massena View Post
    Again, what is your source material and do you understand the difference between physical cowardice and moral cowardice?

    And what was McClellan's new plan of operations after Malvern Hill, and after two months in place why didn't he implement it? Further, if he actually had one, why didn't he present it to Halleck when he visited McClellan's headquarters? I sincerely doubt if he had one and presented it to Halleck and it made sense, Halleck would have allowed him to execute it.

    As Lincoln once said of McClellan, he 'had the slows.'
    Prisoners all state that I had 200,000 enemy to fight. A good deal more than two to one, and they knowing the ground
    -McClellan to Lincoln, July 11, 1862
    O.R., vol. 11, part 3, p. 315

    In regard to the force of the enemy, he [McClellan] expressed the opinion that it was not less than 200,000, and I found that in this estimate most of his officers agreed.
    -Halleck to Secretary of War Stanton, July 27, 1862
    O.R. vol. 11, part 3, p. 338

    My opinion is more and more firm that here is the defense of Washington, and that I should be at once re-enforced by all available troops to enable me to advance. Retreat would be disastrous to the army and the cause. I am confident of that.
    -McClellan to Halleck, July 28, 1862
    O.R. vol. 11, part 1, p. 75


    I still feel that our true policy is to re-enforce the army by every available means and throw it again upon Richmond. Should it be determined to withdraw it, I shall look upon our cause as lost and the demoralization of the army certain.
    -McClellan to Halleck, July 30, 1862
    O.R. vol. 11, part 3, p. 342

    It is determind to withdraw your army from the Peninsula to Aquia Creek. You will take immediate measures to effect this...
    -Halleck to McClellan, August 3, 1862
    O.R. vol. 11, part 1, p. 80-1

    One of my general officers, who for five days past has held a position near Malvern Hill, in a letter just received, says:

    The enemy before us is weak, and from all I can learn there is not 36,000 men between this and Richmond, nor do I believe they can get more before we can drive them. * * * I have good guides, &c.

    General Barnard, chief of my engineers, is decidedly in favor of this movement at this time.

    Under these circumstances I consider it my duty to present the foregoing information, and for your consideration, as under existing orders I do not feel authorized to make the movement.

    -McClellan to Halleck, August 12, 1862
    -O.R. vol. 11, part 3, p.372-3.

    There you have it, as it should be done. McClellan believed himself outnumbered two to one; he argued for staying on the Peninusla in order to defend Washington; he planned on reenforcing his army and resuming the offensive; he offered Halleck the chance to strike at Lee's rearguard and the city of Richmond after Lee weakened himself drastically to attack Pope.

    The narrative that McClellan was slow, or timid, or anything like that is groundless. He was deceived by his intelligence reports. That is what the primary sources say. After the war, big-government Republicans would bad mouth McClellan for loving the South and peaceably wanting to restore the Union. McClellan ran against the Emancipation Proclamation, plain and simple. It's politicaly taboo to say nice things about him. The moderators don't want historiographical discussions that focus on modern literature-there's too much politics involved. Therefore this post has to end, but at what expense?

    Leave a comment:


  • Massena
    replied
    Again, what is your source material and do you understand the difference between physical cowardice and moral cowardice?

    And what was McClellan's new plan of operations after Malvern Hill, and after two months in place why didn't he implement it? Further, if he actually had one, why didn't he present it to Halleck when he visited McClellan's headquarters? I sincerely doubt if he had one and presented it to Halleck and it made sense, Halleck would have allowed him to execute it.

    As Lincoln once said of McClellan, he 'had the slows.'

    Leave a comment:

Latest Topics

Collapse

Working...
X