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Should Lee be blamed for "The Lost Order?"

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  • Should Lee be blamed for "The Lost Order?"

    "The Lost Order" wrecked Lee's invasion plans in Maryland. It gave McClellan all the information he needed for a speedy, aggressive attack against the Confederates.

    Lee, of course, had divided his army into 5 seperate detachments—a major break with military teaching, especially since his army was small and tinier still with all the straggling—and he had to scramble to reunite everyone outside Sharpsburg.

    Lee, in fact, proved why disperion of force is an error.

    But Lee based this decision on the fact that McClellan was deliberate to the point of being predictable; there was no way, it seemed, he would ever advance in time to interfere with the disperson of force.

    Of course, McClellan did. He found Special Order No. 191 and attacked with bravado.

    So does Lee deserve blame for this? Should he be blamed for the mistake of one of D.H. Hill's staff officers who wrapped three cigars in the order and left it on the field? Is that the commanding general's responsibility?

    Or should he be credited with reading his opponent and making decisions that may, if everything went to plan, have been considered genius?

    From what I've read, Lee did not express any criticism of Hill or Hill's staff for losing the order.
    "It is a fine fox chase, my boys"

    "It is well that war is so terrible-we would grow too fond of it"

  • #2
    I can't blame Lee for the failure stemming from the order being lost and then found by Union troops. That goes to the person whose careless behavior caused the act.

    However, to credit little Mac with the kind of behavior you are is truly stretching the truth. Wasn't it him who said, paraphrasing here, If I can't whip Lee with this I will resign. Well, at best, on the field at Antietam, Mac fought Lee to a draw despite having a gross superiority of numbers. That really isn't the kind of decisive victory your description implies by any stretch of the imagination. That things turned out as well as they did for the ANV is because Mac failed to adequately supervise his planned assault at Antietam to make sure it was in fact carried out according to plan.

    Regards,
    Dennis
    If stupid was a criminal offense Sea Lion believers would be doing life.

    Shouting out to Half Pint for bringing back the big mugs!

    Comment


    • #3
      The person responsible for losing the 'lost order' is he who lost it. That wasn't Lee's fault.

      Regarding McClellan, this subject has been gone over repeatedly over the past few years and I find it amazing that inaccurate information is still being posted on McClellan.

      The bottom line is that McClellan was an incompetent army commander and was not present for most of the battles the Army of the Potomac fought under his command. When he was present, he did not influence the action and was a mere spectator.

      McClellan's actions in the Antietam campaign were slow and not aggressive. He did not 'attack with bravado' but outnumbered Lee almost two-to-one at Antietam and failed to destroy Lee, who had his back to a river. His attacks were not properly coordinated and allowed Lee to shift troops from one threat to the next and frustrate the Union corps commanders. The saving grace for McClellan, and this was not due to anything he did, was that the Union artillery dominated the field.

      And after the action, McClellan failed to launch a pursuit that could have ended Lee's career as an army commander.

      In short, McClellan failed and was relieved by Lincoln because of it.
      We are not now that strength which in old days
      Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
      Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
      To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by D1J1 View Post
        I can't blame Lee for the failure stemming from the order being lost and then found by Union troops. That goes to the person whose careless behavior caused the act.

        However, to credit little Mac with the kind of behavior you are is truly stretching the truth. Wasn't it him who said, paraphrasing here, If I can't whip Lee with this I will resign. Well, at best, on the field at Antietam, Mac fought Lee to a draw despite having a gross superiority of numbers. That really isn't the kind of decisive victory your description implies by any stretch of the imagination. That things turned out as well as they did for the ANV is because Mac failed to adequately supervise his planned assault at Antietam to make sure it was in fact carried out according to plan.

        Regards,
        Dennis
        I think you're right, concerning the Battle of Antietam.

        But when it came to Lee's invasion as a whole, he had to give up his plans for keeping the war out of Virginia—let alone his plans for advancing into Pennsylvania—and he withdrew to his home state.

        That happened because McClellan read Special Order No. 191 and decided to up his tempo and attack.
        "It is a fine fox chase, my boys"

        "It is well that war is so terrible-we would grow too fond of it"

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Massena View Post
          The person responsible for losing the 'lost order' is he who lost it. That wasn't Lee's fault.

          Regarding McClellan, this subject has been gone over repeatedly over the past few years and I find it amazing that inaccurate information is still being posted on McClellan.

          The bottom line is that McClellan was an incompetent army commander and was not present for most of the battles the Army of the Potomac fought under his command. When he was present, he did not influence the action and was a mere spectator.

          McClellan's actions in the Antietam campaign were slow and not aggressive. He did not 'attack with bravado' but outnumbered Lee almost two-to-one at Antietam and failed to destroy Lee, who had his back to a river. His attacks were not properly coordinated and allowed Lee to shift troops from one threat to the next and frustrate the Union corps commanders. The saving grace for McClellan, and this was not due to anything he did, was that the Union artillery dominated the field.

          And after the action, McClellan failed to launch a pursuit that could have ended Lee's career as an army commander.

          In short, McClellan failed and was relieved by Lincoln because of it.
          I could learn alot about McClellan during these observations.

          But what I am chiefly referring to is how fast his advance was before and after he read Special Order No. 191. Before, he advanced slowly and covered the approaches to Baltimre and D.C. After, he assaulted South Mountain, drove the Confederates from it, and then pursued them to Antietam Creek, where he gave battle.

          That is a big difference in operational conduct.

          I would like to read more about McClellan in command there. Maybe his article in Battles and Leaders, plus his report and those of his corps commanders. But I am a bit swamped at the moment.
          "It is a fine fox chase, my boys"

          "It is well that war is so terrible-we would grow too fond of it"

          Comment


          • #6
            You might want to look up the past discussions on McClellan on TMP. Some are quite long, but they all come to the same conclusion with the usual suspects standing up for McClellan when he doesn't deserve it.

            There are also quite a few books on the Seven Days, the Antietam Campaign, and McClellan, including the material in Battles and Leaders.

            The bottom line is that McClellan was out of his depth as an army commander in the field and ultimately failed.
            We are not now that strength which in old days
            Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
            Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
            To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by American87 View Post

              I think you're right, concerning the Battle of Antietam.

              But when it came to Lee's invasion as a whole, he had to give up his plans for keeping the war out of Virginia—let alone his plans for advancing into Pennsylvania—and he withdrew to his home state.

              That happened because McClellan read Special Order No. 191 and decided to up his tempo and attack.
              Invasion? That is a complete misnomer. We discussed this in your Gettysburg campaign thread, and the events leading to Antietam are no different.. Lee could not maintain himself in Union territory as Union forces could in the south due to the ridiculous disparity in logistics between the two sides. The Union invaded, Lee raided.

              Lee, and you, may call it what you wish, but a true invasion is beyond the dictates of reality. The only real difference between Antietam and Gettysburg is that little Mac could and should have completely destroyed the ANV in 1862, where it was unlikely Meade could have done the same in Pennsylvania.

              Regards,
              Dennis
              If stupid was a criminal offense Sea Lion believers would be doing life.

              Shouting out to Half Pint for bringing back the big mugs!

              Comment


              • #8
                The Confederate supply system was poor, and that is being kind. And the Confederate staff work was poor and was definitely not up to current European standards.

                'The Union invaded, Lee raided' is an accurate assessment.
                We are not now that strength which in old days
                Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
                Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
                To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Massena View Post
                  You might want to look up the past discussions on McClellan on TMP. Some are quite long, but they all come to the same conclusion with the usual suspects standing up for McClellan when he doesn't deserve it.

                  There are also quite a few books on the Seven Days, the Antietam Campaign, and McClellan, including the material in Battles and Leaders.

                  The bottom line is that McClellan was out of his depth as an army commander in the field and ultimately failed.
                  TMP?
                  "It is a fine fox chase, my boys"

                  "It is well that war is so terrible-we would grow too fond of it"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by D1J1 View Post

                    Invasion? That is a complete misnomer. We discussed this in your Gettysburg campaign thread, and the events leading to Antietam are no different.. Lee could not maintain himself in Union territory as Union forces could in the south due to the ridiculous disparity in logistics between the two sides. The Union invaded, Lee raided.

                    Lee, and you, may call it what you wish, but a true invasion is beyond the dictates of reality. The only real difference between Antietam and Gettysburg is that little Mac could and should have completely destroyed the ANV in 1862, where it was unlikely Meade could have done the same in Pennsylvania.

                    Regards,
                    Dennis
                    Which Gettysburg campaign thread? And Lee could sustain himself in the North just as he did in Virginia, but instead of running supplies up the Richmong-Fredericksburg-Potomac line, he could and planned to send them up the Virginia Centrail to Staunton, then down the Valley into the North. In this case, his line would have been protcted by the Blue Ridge Mountains all the way to Harrisburg. Remember, Lee concentrated east of these mountains so he could protect his supply line.
                    "It is a fine fox chase, my boys"

                    "It is well that war is so terrible-we would grow too fond of it"

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by American87 View Post

                      Which Gettysburg campaign thread? And Lee could sustain himself in the North just as he did in Virginia, but instead of running supplies up the Richmong-Fredericksburg-Potomac line, he could and planned to send them up the Virginia Centrail to Staunton, then down the Valley into the North. In this case, his line would have been protcted by the Blue Ridge Mountains all the way to Harrisburg. Remember, Lee concentrated east of these mountains so he could protect his supply line.

                      All your points about logistics were refuted there, and the same applies here. The rebels repeatedly and consistently describe, commanders and the ranks alike, how poorly they were fed and equipped compared to their enemy, including during the Maryland raid. They repeatedly mention in their own correspondence about how much better they ate in the north than they could at home during their brief raids there. So, your point about his supply line being protected is only relevant if he had supplies to move on it, which he did not.

                      Regards,
                      Dennis
                      Last edited by D1J1; 16 Jun 20, 05:31. Reason: Remove my own error in post.
                      If stupid was a criminal offense Sea Lion believers would be doing life.

                      Shouting out to Half Pint for bringing back the big mugs!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by D1J1 View Post

                        This Gettysburg campaign thread that you started last month. https://forums.armchairgeneral.com/f...thern-invasion

                        All your points about logistics were refuted there, and the same applies here. The rebels repeatedly and consistently describe, commanders and the ranks alike, how poorly they were fed and equipped compared to their enemy, including during the Maryland raid. They repeatedly mention in their own correspondence about how much better they ate in the north than they could at home during their brief raids there. So, your point about his supply line being protected is only relevant if he had supplies to move on it, which he did not.

                        Regards,
                        Dennis
                        That's an Antietam thread—Lee's first invastion—and none of the points about logistics were refuted. Lee had a "line of communications," as it was called during the war, running into Pennsylvania. That is why he concentrated his army east of the Blude Ridge Mountains—to protect it.

                        And of course the Confederates were better fed in Pennsylvania. That is one of the major reaons Lee invaded the North in 1862 and '63—to feed his army on Nortern produce. He still obtained food and forage from the Shenandoah Valley and whatever came up the Virginia Central Railroad from further south. He was not starving in Virginia, not at this point anyway.

                        And I see you're sticking with the "raid" word, which actually was reftuted on the other thread, but stick to it for all I care.
                        "It is a fine fox chase, my boys"

                        "It is well that war is so terrible-we would grow too fond of it"

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I stand corrected on the thread topic. The thread did drift into Gettysburg, a topic you took part in. You do hold a minority opinion on invasion, so there is no need to amend that stance.

                          Any goods the rebels obtained in the north are transient items. The lack of needed supplies available in the south is real and permanent. Carry on with a contrary opinion though.

                          Regards,
                          Dennis
                          If stupid was a criminal offense Sea Lion believers would be doing life.

                          Shouting out to Half Pint for bringing back the big mugs!

                          Comment

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