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Least Studied Fight Between the Major Eastern Armies?

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  • Least Studied Fight Between the Major Eastern Armies?

    After a certain period of time spent studying the major battles between the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia (including the army that became the ANV prior to June 1862), I've found myself more and more frequently turning to lesser known actions, mainly from the later period of the war. With that in mind, I'd like to start a discussion on some of the lesser known and reported on battles of the AotP-ANV. My initial list would include some of the following:
    • The Battle of Williamsburg, May 5, 1862
    • The Battle of Bristoe Station, October 14, 1863
    • The Battle of Jerusalem Plank Road, June 21-24, 1864
    • The First Battle of Deep Bottom, July 27-29, 1864
    • The Battle of Boydton Plank Road, October 27-28, 1864
    • The Battle of Hatcher's Run, February 5-7, 1865


    Of these six, the only one I know of which has even a book-length study devoted to it would be Williamsburg. I'd love to see some prospective or current Civil War authors out there attempt to cover some of these fights. If nothing else, books on these campaigns would be valuable as the only full length coverage of these battles. It amazes me that with the sheer number of Civil War books written each year, none of these battles has received more than a cursory glance from authors.

    Does anyone else have any good candidates to add to a "least studied" list for clashes between the main eastern armies?
    Brett S.

    The Siege of Petersburg Online
    TOCWOC - A Civil War Blog

  • #2
    Originally posted by bschulte View Post
    After a certain period of time spent studying the major battles between the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia (including the army that became the ANV prior to June 1862), I've found myself more and more frequently turning to lesser known actions, mainly from the later period of the war. With that in mind, I'd like to start a discussion on some of the lesser known and reported on battles of the AotP-ANV. My initial list would include some of the following:
    • The Battle of Williamsburg, May 5, 1862
    • The Battle of Bristoe Station, October 14, 1863
    • The Battle of Jerusalem Plank Road, June 21-24, 1864
    • The First Battle of Deep Bottom, July 27-29, 1864
    • The Battle of Boydton Plank Road, October 27-28, 1864
    • The Battle of Hatcher's Run, February 5-7, 1865


    Of these six, the only one I know of which has even a book-length study devoted to it would be Williamsburg. I'd love to see some prospective or current Civil War authors out there attempt to cover some of these fights. If nothing else, books on these campaigns would be valuable as the only full length coverage of these battles. It amazes me that with the sheer number of Civil War books written each year, none of these battles has received more than a cursory glance from authors.

    Does anyone else have any good candidates to add to a "least studied" list for clashes between the main eastern armies?
    To your list, I might add Rich and Cheat Mountain (if you wish to consider that as East), Monocacy (even though recently covered at book length), Ft. Stevens, Winchester (9/19/1864), Brawner's Farm, Crampton's Gap, Ball's Bluff, Cedar Mountain and even Cedar's Creek.
    I come here to discuss a piece of business with you and what are you gonna do? You're gonna tell me fairy tales? James Caan in the movie "Thief" ca 1981

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    • #3
      For campaigns, I would say Burnside's North Carolina Expedition & the Bermuda Hundred Campaign. Here are some individual battles that may or may not be as well known...

      North Carolina Battles:
      Battle of Albemarle Sound
      Battle of Averasborough
      Battle of Fort Anderson
      Battle of Fort Macon
      Battle of Goldsboro Bridge
      Battle of Hatteras Inlet Batteries
      Battle of Kinston
      Battle of Monroe's Cross Roads
      Battle of Morrisville
      Battle of New Berne
      Battle of Plymouth
      Battle of Roanoke Island
      Battle of South Mills
      Battle of Tranter's Creek
      Battle of Washington
      Battle of White Hall
      Battle of Wilmington
      Battle of Wyse Fork

      South Carolina battles:
      Battle of Aiken
      Battle of Anderson
      Battle of Broxton Bridge
      Battle of Charleston Harbor I
      Battle of Charleston Harbor II
      Battle of Congaree Creek
      Battle of Grimball's Landing
      Battle of Honey Hill
      Battle of Pocolatigo
      Battle of Port Royal
      Battle of Rivers' Bridge
      Battle of Secessionville
      Battle of Simmon's Bluff

      Florida battles:
      Battle of Fort Brooke
      Battle of Fort Myers
      Battle of Marianna
      Battle of Gainesville
      Battle of Natural Bridge
      Battle of Olustee
      Battle of Saint John's Bluff
      Battle of Santa Rosa Island
      Battle of Tampa

      Virginia battles:
      Battle of Aldie
      Battle of Amelia Springs
      Battle of Aquia Creek
      Battle of Auburn I
      Battle of Auburn II
      Battle of Berryville
      Battle of Big Bethel
      Battle of Blackburn's Ford
      Battle of Boydton Plank Road
      Battle of Buckland Mills
      Battle of Chaffin's Farm and New Market Heights
      Battle of Chantilly
      Battle of Chester Station
      Battle of Cloyd's Mountain
      Battle of Cockle Creek
      Battle of Cockpit Point
      Battle of Cool Spring
      Battle of Cove Mountain
      Battle of Cross Keys
      Battle of Cumberland Church
      Battle of Darbytown and New Market
      Battle of Darbytown Road
      Battle of Deep Bottom I
      Battle of Deep Bottom II
      Battle of Dinwiddie Court House
      Battle of Dranesville
      Battle of Drewry's Bluff
      Battle of Eltham's Landing
      Battle of Fair Oaks & Darbytown Road
      Battle of Fort Stedman
      Battle of Garnett's & Golding's Farm
      Battle of Globe Tavern
      Battle of Guard Hill
      Battle of Hanover Courthouse
      Battle of Hatcher's Run
      Battle of Haw's Shop
      Battle of High Bridge
      Battle of Jerusalem Plank Road
      Battle of Lewis's Farm
      Battle of Lynchburg
      Battle of Manassas Gap
      Battle of Manassas Station Ops.
      Battle of Marion
      Battle of McDowell
      Battle of Middleburg
      Battle of Mine Run
      Battle of Morton's Ford
      Battle of Namozine Church
      Battle of Old Church
      Battle of Peebles' Farm
      Battle of Piedmont
      Battle of Port Walthall Junction
      Battle of Proctor's Creek
      Battle of Rappahannock Station I
      Battle of Rappahannock Station II
      Battle of Ream's Station I
      Battle of Ream's Station II
      Battle of Rice's Station
      Battle of Rio Hill
      Battle of Rutherford's Farm
      Battle of Saint Mary's Church
      Battle of Salem Church
      Battle of Saltville I
      Battle of Saltville II
      Battle of Sappony Church
      Battle of Sewell's Point
      Battle of Staunton River Bridge
      Battle of Suffolk (Hill's Point)
      Battle of Suffolk (Norfleet House)
      Battle of Sutherland's Station
      Battle of Swift Creek
      Battle of Thoroughfare Gap
      Battle of Totopotomoy Creek
      Battle of Upperville
      Battle of Walkerton
      Battle of Ware Bottom Church
      Battle of Waynesboro
      Battle of White Oak Road
      Battle of Williamsburg
      Battle of Wilson's Wharf
      Battle of Yorktown

      West Virginia battles:
      Battle of Camp Alleghany
      Battle of Carnifex Ferry
      Battle of Charleston
      Battle of Cheat Mountain
      Battle of Droop Mountain
      Battle of Greenbrier River
      Battle of Harpers Ferry
      Battle of Hoke's Run
      Battle of Kessler's Cross Lanes
      Battle of Moorefield
      Battle of Philippi Races
      Battle of Princeton Courthouse
      Battle of Rich Mountain
      Battle of Shepherdstown
      Battle of Smithfield Crossing
      Battle of Summit Point

      Maryland battles:
      Battle of Boonsborough
      Battle of Crampton's Gap
      Battle of Folck's Mill
      Battle of Funkstown
      Battle of Hancock
      Battle of Monocacy Junction
      Battle of Williamsport

      There are far more battles in the West & Trans-Mississippi that are forgotten or rarely talked about.
      The muffled drums sad roll has beat the soldier's last tatoo. No more on life's parade shall meet that brave and fallen few.

      Comment


      • #4
        You guys have expanded the focus a bit from the ANV vs. AotP, but that's cool. Reading some of those reminds me how little covered the 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign has been written about prior to Third Winchester. Scott Patchan is working to rectify that with his book and blog, however.

        There are a couple of books on West Virginia in 1861, but I agree that battle studies of Rich and Cheat Mountains would be interesting to read.
        Brett S.

        The Siege of Petersburg Online
        TOCWOC - A Civil War Blog

        Comment


        • #5
          I think something should be written on McClellan's last campaign (Northern Virginia 1862), it would help people to realise that McClellan had actually defeated Lee by maneouvre and was about to destroy Longstreet when Lincoln intervened.
          "[T]he worst that could be said of the Peninsula campaign was that thus far it had not been successful. To make it a failure was reserved for the agency of General Halleck." -Emory Upton

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          • #6
            Originally posted by 67th Tigers View Post
            I think something should be written on McClellan's last campaign (Northern Virginia 1862), it would help people to realise that McClellan had actually defeated Lee by maneouvre and was about to destroy Longstreet when Lincoln intervened.
            There was a very good article on this in Blue & Gray magazine a few years back that makes this point quite well.

            Interestingly, Meade used nearly the same route of march during the pursuit of Lee's army after Gettysburg.

            Eric
            "If you want to have some fun, jine the cavalry"

            Maj. Gen. James Ewell Brown Stuart

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Eric Wittenberg View Post
              There was a very good article on this in Blue & Gray magazine a few years back that makes this point quite well.

              Interestingly, Meade used nearly the same route of march during the pursuit of Lee's army after Gettysburg.

              Eric
              Eric- Do you remember the issue? I have most of them and the only thing I major thing I recall on McClellan was way back in 1985- issues 13 & 14 were about Antietam and as I look over them here- they were very critical of him (McClellan).

              I don't see him coming up in anything after that....except the 'Antietam Stories'

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by 67th Tigers View Post
                I think something should be written on McClellan's last campaign (Northern Virginia 1862), it would help people to realise that McClellan had actually defeated Lee by maneouvre and was about to destroy Longstreet when Lincoln intervened.
                He survived the Confederate counterattack at Seven Pines, principally through confusion in the Confederate army and the actions of his own subordinates. When Lee attacked him in the Seven Days in late June he failed to take the opportunity to strike at Richmond along the weakly defended south side of the Chickahominy River. Instead he panicked and ordered a dangerous change of base from the York to the James River in the facing of Lee's attacks. Most of the battles fought in the movement were Union successes but the overall outcome of the campaign was negative as a result of McClellan's weaknesses. Safely entrenched at Harrison's Landing he began condemning the War Department, Lincoln, and Stanton, blaming them for the defeat. Finally it was decided in Washington to abandon the campaign and transfer most of McCiellan's men to John Pope's army in northern Virginia. There were charges that McClellan-now called by the press "Mac the Unready" and "The Little Corporal of Unsought Fields"was especially slow in cooperating.


                The Richmond Campaign of 1862: The Peninsula and the Seven Days (Military Campaigns of the Civil War)
                The University of North Carolina Press

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by 67th Tigers View Post
                  I think something should be written on McClellan's last campaign (Northern Virginia 1862), it would help people to realise that McClellan had actually defeated Lee by maneouvre and was about to destroy Longstreet when Lincoln intervened.
                  Study McClellan vs. Lee AFTER Antietam, eh? That's an interesting idea, one which has probably never been done before in book length form due to the lack of a major battle. I can't say I've spent much time on that period either. I'd definitely welcome a book on the topic, to go along with Eric Wittenberg's planned look at Meade vs. Lee after Williamsport and Falling Waters.
                  Brett S.

                  The Siege of Petersburg Online
                  TOCWOC - A Civil War Blog

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Bladerunnernyc View Post
                    Eric- Do you remember the issue? I have most of them and the only thing I major thing I recall on McClellan was way back in 1985- issues 13 & 14 were about Antietam and as I look over them here- they were very critical of him (McClellan).

                    I don't see him coming up in anything after that....except the 'Antietam Stories'
                    I'm 99.9% sure the one you're looking for is
                    VOLUME XVII, 1999-2000
                    98. Little Mac’s Last Stand, post-Antietam.
                    Brett S.

                    The Siege of Petersburg Online
                    TOCWOC - A Civil War Blog

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by bschulte View Post
                      I'm 99.9% sure the one you're looking for is
                      VOLUME XVII, 1999-2000
                      98. Little Mac’s Last Stand, post-Antietam.
                      That's the one, Brett. Thanks!

                      Pat Brennan wrote the article, as I recall, and Pat's a good writer.

                      Eric
                      "If you want to have some fun, jine the cavalry"

                      Maj. Gen. James Ewell Brown Stuart

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by 67th Tigers View Post
                        I think something should be written on McClellan's last campaign (Northern Virginia 1862), it would help people to realise that McClellan had actually defeated Lee by maneouvre and was about to destroy Longstreet when Lincoln intervened.
                        Based on his track record- there is nothing to prove he wouldn't have failed- as he always did.

                        Remember AOP Colonel Ezra Carman (Commander of the 13th New Jersey? Remember his highly praised study of the battle? He served on the Antietam Battlefield Board from 1894 to 1898 and he is acknowledged as probably the leading authority on the battle. It was his work which carefully documented the positions and movements of all the combat units on the field.

                        What did he say?

                        “More errors were committed (At Antietam) by the Union commander than in any other battle of the war.”

                        Longstreet said after Antietam that 10,000 fresh troops at the end of the day would have destroyed the ANV- well- Mac had 20,000 hardly a mile from the front lines.

                        http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415956284/

                        Antietam was the only battle that Mac fought start to finish- and he showed he was a great failure as a battlefield leader/commander. Mac called no council of his generals to explain his intentions, issued no plan of battle, and on September 17 talked at length only with Porter.

                        “Those in whose judgment I rely,” he wrote, “tell me that I fought the battle splendidly & that it was a masterpiece of art.”

                        -Mac said that to his wife- what a fraud! He had the power to end the war and save countless thousands upon thousands. I don't have to rip Mac at Antietam-they do it well enough during the battlefield tours, as well as all the historical documents posted there in the museum hall detailing his great failure with quotes from over twenty officers.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by bschulte View Post
                          I'm 99.9% sure the one you're looking for is
                          VOLUME XVII, 1999-2000
                          98. Little Mac’s Last Stand, post-Antietam.
                          Good call Brett! It figured that I don't have issues 98 and 99-lol.

                          As for Mac, it is true he had a good tactical position.....then again- he had a position at Richmond that seemed impossible to beat- and he beat himself.

                          At Malvern Hill- the Confederates were slaughtered- he was no where to be found- they could have broken Lee and walked into Richmond- where was the flop Mac- taking a cruise? LOL

                          What did Kearny say about the battlefield flop that was McClellan ordering yet another retreat- and he wasn't even anywhere near?

                          I, Philip Kearny, an old soldier, enter my solemn protest against this order for retreat. We ought instead of retreating should follow up the enemy and take Richmond. And in full view of all responsible for such declaration, I say to you all, such an order can only be prompted by cowardice or treason.

                          We can debate tactics, strategy, numbers- even if Mac would have done anything to Longstreet before being relieved after Antietam, or would he have caved in at the last moment and lost his nerve as usual, but nothing can change the fact that anybody who watched Ken B's CW series learned that Mac built the AOP- that he was brilliant at training and motivating them- and that he was a complete failure as a battlefield commander and should have taken Richmond- and should have attacked after Malvern Hill and should have destroyed Lee at Antietam.

                          Kenneth P. Williams called McClellan “a vain and unstable man, with considerable military knowledge, who sat a horse well and wanted to be President.”

                          ‘Was the Seven Days’ battle fought under the direction and orders of General McClellan,’ asked Gooch, ‘or did each corps commander fight his own troops as he thought best?’ Heintzelman replied, ‘The corps commanders fought their troops entirely according to their own ideas.’ Heintzelman’s verdict on the Peninsula campaign was echoed by generals Erasmus D. Keyes, Edwin v. Sumner, John G. Barnard, Silas Casey, and Hooker, who testified that the failure of the Peninsular campaign was due to ‘the want of generalship on the part of our commander.”

                          Joint Congressional Committee on the Conduct of the War

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Bladerunnernyc View Post
                            As for Mac, it is true he had a good tactical position.....then again- he had a position at Richmond that seemed impossible to beat- and he beat himself.
                            I'd suggest you read some of Earl J. Hess' work on the fortifications.

                            At Malvern Hill- the Confederates were slaughtered- he was no where to be found- they could have broken Lee and walked into Richmond- where was the flop Mac- taking a cruise? LOL
                            He was mostly at GHQ at Haxall's Landing, but made several forays to inspect the front, like any good Army Commander.

                            What did Kearny say about the battlefield flop that was McClellan ordering yet another retreat- and he wasn't even anywhere near?

                            I, Philip Kearny, an old soldier, enter my solemn protest against this order for retreat. We ought instead of retreating should follow up the enemy and take Richmond. And in full view of all responsible for such declaration, I say to you all, such an order can only be prompted by cowardice or treason.
                            Well, Kearny was frankly overpromoted as a Colonel. He had very little inclination to act like a General Officer. It's worth noting that Kearny was the sole dissenting voice amongst the senior commanders and would shortly get himself killed "doing a Jones"*.

                            We can debate tactics, strategy, numbers- even if Mac would have done anything to Longstreet before being relieved after Antietam, or would he have caved in at the last moment and lost his nerve as usual, but nothing can change the fact that anybody who watched Ken B's CW series learned that Mac built the AOP- that he was brilliant at training and motivating them- and that he was a complete failure as a battlefield commander and should have taken Richmond- and should have attacked after Malvern Hill and should have destroyed Lee at Antietam.
                            Ken Burns' series is not good history, opting for nostalgia instead. See Toplin (ed.), Ken Burns's The Civil War: Historians Respond for the poor historicity of that series.

                            Kenneth P. Williams called McClellan “a vain and unstable man, with considerable military knowledge, who sat a horse well and wanted to be President.”
                            On this subject Rowland wrote "A specious line of reasoning underlies these conclusions. Many historians have acted on their own prejudices and invoked a form of inductive reasoning to ferrett out evidence for preordained conclusions." before continuing to show that every single charge of psychological dysfunction was trumped up and has no supporting evidence." (Rowland, George B. McClellan and Civil War History)

                            ‘Was the Seven Days’ battle fought under the direction and orders of General McClellan,’ asked Gooch, ‘or did each corps commander fight his own troops as he thought best?’ Heintzelman replied, ‘The corps commanders fought their troops entirely according to their own ideas.’ Heintzelman’s verdict on the Peninsula campaign was echoed by generals Erasmus D. Keyes, Edwin v. Sumner, John G. Barnard, Silas Casey, and Hooker, who testified that the failure of the Peninsular campaign was due to ‘the want of generalship on the part of our commander.”

                            Joint Congressional Committee on the Conduct of the War
                            [/quote]

                            Each Corps Commander is supposed to fight their own Corps. On this very subject Rowland writes "As for being at the front itself, this is a ridiculous expectation for a commanding general. His rightful place was behind the lines so he could command all the units engaged at the front.... McClellan's selection of the Pry's farmhouse was as good as any place at Antietam. In a battle featuring a wide front it afforded him the best possible view of the action unfolding below. Virtually all the wars successful commanders relied on their subordinates to execute the course of their fighting in their own sectors. Grant, for example, never commanded the actual combat in any of his battles once he was the commanding general. Indeed, one of the war's enduring images is that of Grant, sitting on a stump or bench in the Wilderness or at City Point, receiving reports on the battles progress while he aimlessly whittled on a stick and puffed on his cigar.".

                            If you want to damn McClellan for this, then consistancy demands the damning of Grant, Sherman, Lee and a host of other army commanders.

                            * From one of the most dysfunction battalion commanders in recent history, see Fitzgibbon's Not Mentioned in Despatches for the classic study in modern command failure.
                            "[T]he worst that could be said of the Peninsula campaign was that thus far it had not been successful. To make it a failure was reserved for the agency of General Halleck." -Emory Upton

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by 67th Tigers View Post
                              Ken Burns' series is not good history, opting for nostalgia instead. See Toplin (ed.), Ken Burns's The Civil War: Historians Respond for the poor historicity of that series.
                              We know that Ken Burns sometimes got several points wrong during the series. That said, not everything he stated was wrong - including the assessment of McClellan's lack of battlefield prowess - first he'd have to be on one during the fighting to actually attain some of that prowess.

                              Originally posted by 67th Tigers View Post
                              On this subject Rowland wrote "A specious line of reasoning underlies these conclusions. Many historians have acted on their own prejudices and invoked a form of inductive reasoning to ferrett out evidence for preordained conclusions." before continuing to show that every single charge of psychological dysfunction was trumped up and has no supporting evidence." (Rowland, George B. McClellan and Civil War History)
                              No doubt McClellan has some who trumpet his abilities. But by and large those abilities lie with the organization and training of armies, not meeting Lee in the field. But again, the field was not a very common experience for the man - not while the fighting was raging.

                              Originally posted by 67th Tigers View Post
                              Each Corps Commander is supposed to fight their own Corps. On this very subject Rowland writes "As for being at the front itself, this is a ridiculous expectation for a commanding general. His rightful place was behind the lines so he could command all the units engaged at the front.... McClellan's selection of the Pry's farmhouse was as good as any place at Antietam. In a battle featuring a wide front it afforded him the best possible view of the action unfolding below. Virtually all the wars successful commanders relied on their subordinates to execute the course of their fighting in their own sectors. Grant, for example, never commanded the actual combat in any of his battles once he was the commanding general. Indeed, one of the war's enduring images is that of Grant, sitting on a stump or bench in the Wilderness or at City Point, receiving reports on the battles progress while he aimlessly whittled on a stick and puffed on his cigar.".

                              If you want to damn McClellan for this, then consistancy demands the damning of Grant, Sherman, Lee and a host of other army commanders.
                              We've been through this before. Grant, Lee and Sherman were all closer to the front than McClellan. Your argument should not really be McClellan's proximity to the field (because he often was not) but whether he was in effective range to exercise adequate control over events (which he seemed to have delegated to his corps commanders.If a corps commander's job is to fight his own corps as a front (and that is a reasonable assertion) then, it is the army commander's job to orchestrate, choreograph and coordinate the movements of the various corps - and that cannot often be said of Little Mac.
                              I come here to discuss a piece of business with you and what are you gonna do? You're gonna tell me fairy tales? James Caan in the movie "Thief" ca 1981

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