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 Civil War Commanders and Units    
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Steve Clements
Toronto, ON, Canada
top 20
E-7 Sgt First Class
Moderator
Posts: 425

Re: Lee
Posted on: 3/21/2017 2:04:53 PM

Quote:
Steve.

Do you really think the people of the North in the fall of 1862 had available the correct stats on the battle and each army that you do? They saw the longest Northern casualty list of the war of what was the bloodiest day in US history and that had a major impact and the Southern casualty lists weren't printed in the North. They saw Lee safe back in VA ready to fight another day. They saw their territory not safe from invasion. May I use Tet to remind you about perception, spin and political will.
--John R. Price


What the people of the North knew was that Lee had been defeated, and that the ANV had retreated back across the Potomac. THAT was what was important. As far as casualties, if anything, the northern press exaggerated the ANV losses (again, what else is new).

Richard Slotkin's book, "The Long Road to Antietam" covers, in some detail, how the "press" reacted to little Mac's victory. Either Chapter 16 or 17.... Needless to say, newspaper coverage was generally quite favourable (of course, the papers that supported the Dems were the most positive, the Republican backing papers not as much....not much has changed, eh).....most of the criticism for not following up the victory tended to come later, when it became apparent that the AoP was not going to cross back into Virginia any time soon.

And shortly after Antietam, the AoT was turned back at Perryville (and yes, Buell failed to pursue....) and Van Dorm at Corinth.

Frankly, mid term elections almost always go against the sitting administration. From what I have read, the elections of 1862 were hardly a disaster for Lincoln, given that the Republicans retained their majorities in both the House and in the Senate.

s.c.

Steve Clements
Toronto, ON, Canada
top 20
E-7 Sgt First Class
Moderator
Posts: 425

Re: Lee
Posted on: 3/21/2017 2:06:52 PM
Phil,


Quote:
As Steve reminds us, though, he did move more quickly in the run up to Antietam than is generally acknowledged.


Actually, it was John that made this point. I just agreed with it.... -:)

And it can be argued (and has been argued) that little Mac actually slowed his pursuit AFTER finding the infamous "lost order".

s.c.

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2599

Re: Lee
Posted on: 3/21/2017 3:06:18 PM
As far as casualties, if anything, the northern press exaggerated the ANV losses....

Yes, there were some very extravagant estimates. One such stated Confederate casualties as 3,500 killed, 16,399 wounded and 6,000 taken prisoner.

Note the pernickety figure of 16,399 for the wounded, pitched in to make it look more authoritative !

Even Little Mac might have recoiled from such hyperbole.

Lee's army actually reported just about fourteen thousand killed, wounded and missing in action for the entire campaign : of these, three quarters might legitimately be attributed to the battle of Antietam itself. On top of this, of course, must be reckoned the thousands of stragglers and deserters.

Coming on top of the Seven Days and Second Mannassas, such losses were pretty dreadful in reality.

I wonder if Lee himself had succumbed to some form of PTSD which impaired his judgement. Today, commentators would be falling over themselves to speculate on the psychological and emotional stress of high command in such intense and relentless fighting and campaigning.

An awful lot happened very quickly in the summer of '62 !

Regards , Phil




---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant
Posts: 553

Re: Lee
Posted on: 3/21/2017 11:47:36 PM
Steve,

Why is it that it is on Sept 25, 1862 that Habeas Corpus is suspended and portions of the state militia called up?

Dems were against the war and the ones being shut down with their editors jailed or in some cases tarred and feathered. Wouldn't they then be the negative? Plus excuse me Lincoln wouldn't fire Little Mac until after the election because he was a Democrat and he didn't want to alienate them any more.

I agree they held their majority but they did some redistricting, shut down Dem newspapers while jailing editors and called out the militia in a few states to do so.
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


Steve Clements
Toronto, ON, Canada
top 20
E-7 Sgt First Class
Moderator
Posts: 425

Re: Lee
Posted on: 3/29/2017 12:30:24 PM

Quote:
Steve,

Why is it that it is on Sept 25, 1862 that Habeas Corpus is suspended and portions of the state militia called up?

Dems were against the war and the ones being shut down with their editors jailed or in some cases tarred and feathered. Wouldn't they then be the negative? Plus excuse me Lincoln wouldn't fire Little Mac until after the election because he was a Democrat and he didn't want to alienate them any more.

I agree they held their majority but they did some redistricting, shut down Dem newspapers while jailing editors and called out the militia in a few states to do so.
--John R. Price



John.

I don't really "see" that your reply deals with the question that we are debating: Should Lee have fought at Antietam?

I mean, Habeas Corpus wasn't suspended as a result of the battle of Antietam. The Dems that were against the war, were not against the war "because" of Antietam.

As for firing little Mac after the election, 1) that is just smart politics & 2) Lincoln did feel that he needed to give little Mac time to "do something", before relieving him. If little Mac had made an honest effort to engage the ANV, within a reasonable timeframe, Burnside wouldn't have been commander of the AoP in December '62.

I am more impressed with the fact that the E.P. was issued BEFORE the fall elections....in effect, providing the electorate with an opportunity to vote for or against the Proclamation.

s.c.

John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant
Posts: 553

Re: Lee
Posted on: 3/29/2017 3:01:48 PM
Steve,

I'm using it to refute the idea that Antietam was this obvious major victory for the Union and that it was so obviously apparent as such to all in the North at the time.

No but the casualties sustained were party of the reason and in all probability added to those against the war rather than for it.

He did give Little Mac opportunity, Antietam, and you seem to claim that only a complete incompetent could fail to destroy the ANVA. How did Burnside "doing something" quickly work out? Plus if Antietam was the clear cut victory and perceived as such in the North why does Lincoln need to employ "smart politics" with Little Mac?

And it was at best a luke warm reception with number of votes cast significantly down in just about all states and only New England solidly Republican even with the ground work done to enhance and limit opposition.
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


Steve Clements
Toronto, ON, Canada
top 20
E-7 Sgt First Class
Moderator
Posts: 425

Re: Lee
Posted on: 3/30/2017 10:27:29 AM
John,


Quote:
I'm using it to refute the idea that Antietam was this obvious major victory for the Union and that it was so obviously apparent as such to all in the North at the time.


Well, that is NOT what we have been debating...what you have tried to argue is that Lee was justified in "agreeing" to fight at Antietam. And I have argued that the best case scenario, for Lee, was a drawn battle, with a retreat back across the Potomac. Which argues for NOT fighting at Antietam.

As an aside, I certainly have the understanding that Antietam was viewed - both in the North and in England - as a strategic victory for the North. Certainly, Lincoln thought that victory was sufficiently clear as to "allow" him to issue the E.P.


Quote:
He did give Little Mac opportunity, Antietam, and you seem to claim that only a complete incompetent could fail to destroy the ANVA. How did Burnside "doing something" quickly work out?


Do not believe that I argued that "only a complete incompetent could fail to destroy the ANVA". I think that the general consensus is and was that the opportunity to destroy the ANV was indeed present. I would give little Mac perhaps a "C" or "D+" rating - he did at least engage the ANV ... given that Mac supposedly believed that Lee had 100k men with him, he deserves some credit for that. One could argue that, when comparing Antietam to the disasters that were Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg, Antietam does not look so bad (talk about faint praise/low bar).

The typical criticism leveled at Mac was that he fought the battle one corps at a time...and I think that is very valid. Hooker's had only a slight manpower advantage (500 men??) during his initial attack against Jackson....had Mansfield's corps been brought up the previous night, so that it was in a position to support Hooker...and had Sumner been in position to support both the I and the XII corps...the battle may well have been over by 9:00 a.m. But the piece meal attacks gave Lee a chance to bring his reserves (such as they were) forward, and to largely strip his right, in order to support Jackson's front.

And if Burnside's attack was meant to be a diversion, to keep Lee from stripping his lines in order to support Jackson, then Burnside's attack should have gone off at the same time as Hooker's attack, or at the worst, very shortly after. Although Burnside deserves criticism for being his usual slow self once he received his orders...(and the fault for not knowing exactly where the ford in the river was falls largely on Burnside....largely, but not completely), the order to attack should have come much, much earlier, if it was to do any good.

In addition, by having Hooker cross the Antietam (and get into a dusk fire-fight) on the evening of the 16th, Mac essentially telegraphed his battle plan to Lee, allowing Lee to largely strip his right and use his reserves, in order to support Jackson.

Frankly, Mac ended up with the worst of both worlds, gave away surprise by sending Hooker across in the evening of the 16th, but did not provide sufficient support to the I corps to ensure that the attack had a chance of success.


Quote:
Plus if Antietam was the clear cut victory and perceived as such in the North why does Lincoln need to employ "smart politics" with Little Mac?


1) Cuz Mac was still very, very popular. 2) Arguably, Lincoln would find it pretty difficult to relieve Mac, without giving him a chance to chase after Lee. After all, Mac had just won a major battle ...


Quote:
No but the casualties sustained were party of the reason and in all probability added to those against the war rather than for it.


Don't agree. That the AoP had finally won a battle, and driven Lee back across the Potomac - IMO - way outweighed the casualties taken at Antietam.

s.c.

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2599

Re: Lee
Posted on: 4/1/2017 8:46:04 AM
A few moments ago I was eating lunch in the company of Tom Clemens.

He's over here now, addressing a conference, and I've been absolutely captivated by what he's had to say about Lee's motives in invading Maryland.

A real eye opener : especially in regard to the significance of the Lost Order.

Anyone who seeks to interpret McClellan's generalship in a more sympathetic light will be very gratified by what Tom is telling us here outside London.

Tomorrow, he delivers his talk on the battle of Antietam itself , and I'm so looking forward to it.

Tom's keeping his powder dry in respect of the battle, but he's already dropped what I consider to be a bit of a bombshell : Lee did not seek to fight a battle at Sharpsburg, but was compelled to do so.

More to come.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Steve Clements
Toronto, ON, Canada
top 20
E-7 Sgt First Class
Moderator
Posts: 425

Re: Lee
Posted on: 4/1/2017 11:39:47 AM

Quote:
A real eye opener : especially in regard to the significance of the Lost Order.

Anyone who seeks to interpret McClellan's generalship in a more sympathetic light will be very gratified by what Tom is telling us here outside London.


Phil,

Spill!

What is he saying about the "significance" of the Lost Order? I assume that whatever he is saying, must be different than the interpretation that we are familiar with....

So spill!

And, specifically, what did you hear that makes you want to view McClellan in a more favourable light? I mean, both Rafuse and Harsh are quite sympathetic to McClellan....

s.c.

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2599

Re: Lee
Posted on: 4/1/2017 12:59:25 PM
Tom concludes his talk tomorrow, so I will be better able to give a full rendition then.

But, as of now, the things I carry away from his talk are :

1. The Lost Order was no big deal. This sort of thing happened several times ; JEB Stuart lost his documents a few weeks earlier ; there was another episode Tom cited : but I can't remember.

2. There has been a significant distortion in terms of the time that the order was found. McClellan wired Washington stating the time was " 12.M. " ....this was not midday, but midnight. The charge that Little Mac delayed for precious hours is looking less credible. That order was found later than many have supposed.
Moreover, the implications within the document - especially the allusion to the several sections rejoining the " main body " - imply a much bigger force than Lee actually had. In this sense, McClellan's actions appear more decisive, sharper and quick than they are generally depicted, especially given the understandable supposition that Lee's army was twice the size it really was. Indeed, Mac starts to look pretty bold and aggressive now ; risking battle against a mighty host.

3. His delay on the 16th is attributable to the warm water from the Antietam and the relatively cool weather causing a mist to rise that obscured the view ; McClellan needed to know what he was facing .

4. In the event, during the significant skirmish that evening, McClellan was reported to have been personally present and active. The allegation that he stayed away from the battlefield begins to look unfair.

Now, there is a good deal more that I would like to write; but I am due to go to dinner now and must get suited and booted. I intend to engage with Tom in more conversation.

I must add that he sounds very convincing ; like all professionals he knows how to make a good pitch, and his talk was not only informative but entertaining, too.

He has convinced me. Someone else might come along and make me change my mind.

There's a lot about Lee's plans that he spoke about too.

I'll be back posting a more coherent account of it all when I get home tomorrow afternoon/evening.

Editing : I should've mentioned we've also got Peter Cozzens here, doing a similar excercise on the whys and wherefores of Stones River.

To say that I'm having a good time would be something of an understatement !

Regards , Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

scoucer
Berlin, Germany
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 1957

Re: Lee
Posted on: 4/1/2017 8:39:58 PM
I am definitely on the hook. I hope it isn´t a 1st April joke.

Trevor

Edit: And I must add how good it is to have Steve and John debating again. Has been much missed. Enjoy ( and learn) every time.
---------------
`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie

Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.

Lightning
Glasgow, UK
top 20
E-7 Sgt First Class


Posts: 459

Re: Lee
Posted on: 4/2/2017 7:27:25 AM
This is, by a considerable margin, the most interesting thread on MHO at the moment. I wish I could chip in but my knowledge of the subject matter doesn't even come close to the titans in here.

I'm enjoying reading the debate and discussion over several strong cups of tea!

Keep it up, chaps.

Cheers,

Colin
---------------
"There is no course open to us but to fight it out. Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause, each one of us must fight to the end."

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2599

Re: Lee
Posted on: 4/2/2017 11:00:09 AM
Having returned , I want to try and do justice to what I heard at the conference.

If it all sounds a bit breathless, forgive me : I must confess that the sheer conviviality of the thing was all too seductive, and a glass or two of wine amplified the fun. To be in the company of such as Tom Clemens and Peter Cozzens was thrilling for me, and I'm still on a bit of a high.

This is a list of things that I remember as the salient points of Tom's two renditions. I don't like taking notes when people speak, so I rely on memory.

Much of the foregoing is stuff that you've already mentioned, Steve and John, so apologies if I repeat what you already know or what seems the blindingly obvious.

The first talk on Saturday dealt with the aims of Lee in his foray into Maryland.

1. To " liberate " Maryland.

2. To upset northern morale at a crucial political juncture, with the Fall elections looming.

3. To enhance Confederate prestige before the British Parliament reconvened in January 1863, and thereby increase chances of foreign recognition/endorsement.

4. To replenish supplies for the ANV.

5. To draw the Yankees away from Virginia, allowing the crucial harvest to be gathered and help the state's population subsist more easily than it had when surrounded by armies in constant strife.

6. To inflict maximum damage on the enemy, preferably by dint of defeating their army in battle.

7. To coordinate with a multi front Confederate offensive effort : Bragg, Price Van Dorn and Smith out West, Lee in the East.

The Lost Order, I repeat, no big deal according to Tom. He mentioned Stuart's embarrassment at a place called Verdeville as an exemplar of this thing not being unique, or even exceptional. More especially, the timing of the finding of the order and McClellan's subsequent actions has been distorted by the anti McClellan polemicists....Stephen Sears being mentioned more than once.

Lee does not want to fight a battle at Antietam : had he done so, he would have entrenched. He just wants to re-unite his army and continue his campaign. He fights because he has to : in this regard , Little Mac has moved quickly and decisively.

In contrast, McClellan has three goals :

Protect Baltimore and Washington

Expel the enemy from Union soil.

Destroy Lee's army if possible.

He ticks two of the three boxes.

Lee doesn't tick many of his, does he ?

There is, I'm sure, much that I have forgotten here. I'll add as things occur.

Today he described the battle itself, and talks about lost opportunities .

In regard to the latter, he attributes the principal culpability - before the battle - to Franklin for failure to pursue and exploit after Crampton's Gap. He also reminds us that the successes of Fox's and Turner's Gap should be attributed to Burnside : he deserves more credit, and was not as inept as popularly depicted.

Tom Clemens confesses to being a contrarian, and makes a great success of making us think again about the Campaign and the battle.

All mistakes are mine.

To be continued, along with references to Peter Cozzen's equally brilliant exposition on Stones River.

Regards, Phil



---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2599

Re: Lee
Posted on: 4/2/2017 12:33:12 PM
Memories of Tom Clemens on the Battle of Antietam itself :

The Confederates are in desperate trouble in the West Woods sector in the early morning.

The destruction of Sedgwick's division presents Lee with an opportunity to counter attack, and this opportunity was allowed to slip.

Here I confess to being uncomfortable : I had always thought that Confederate units did counter attack, and were heavily punished by yankee artillery which repulsed their advance.

Mansfield performs well but is mortally wounded.

In the meantime, Lee is looking for an escape route to the north....he's getting boxed in, and he doesn't like it. He tries a reconnaissance via a route : sorry, forget name of road or farmland.

Then the crisis comes in the centre. The Sunken Road - Bloody Lane - is not a good defensive position : for one thing, the sides are too steep to afford a clear field of fire until the enemy are virtually upon you. This was a place where rebels fell back into as they withdrew, and, as we know, they are enfiladed.

No mention of the effects of direct fire down the road which had no zig zag protection : that's the bleeding obvious, I suppose.

The Yankees are faced with a powerful array of artillery in this sector and pursuit will invite terrible punishment ...not such a missed opportunity after all, especially after Richardson is fatally struck down.

The affair of Burnside's Bridge does not indicate dithering and delay by Burnside : he is in action by shortly after nine in the morning. Here Tom reminds us again that it's misleading to divide the battle into three separate fragments of morning, noon and afternoon : the fighting is going on all the time to a greater or lesser degree, with the sectors blending into each other.

Burnside is forced to rely on reconnoitering by infantry because he did not have cavalry to hand [Little Mac's fault ? ] . The delay is not Burnside's fault. But when he gets across, his command is deployed in juggernaut fashion and pushes all before it.

Burnside is not so culpable, but gives a decent account of himself.

AP Hill saves the day. His meeting with DR Jones in Sharpsburg is an astonishing piece of luck : Jones tells him how to get is men to the vital point and save half an hour by going a different route : forget name of road but it's Millers Pike or something like that. That half hour makes all the difference. Serendipity is the word.

Crucial question of Fifth Corps not being committed.....here there is some misleading reporting about what Porter says to McClellan. Most important, this command is not twenty thousand ; more like eight thousand, because large parts of the corps deployed away from the battlefield. Even if it moves, it has to funnel across the narrow Middle Bridge. This is not the chicken hearted refusal to commit that is so often depicted.

Why does Lee not retreat the next day ?

His army is too exhausted to move. Not so much a case of defiance, as sheer inability .

Little Mac has expended nearly all his artillery ammo. He also suffers from a recurrence of the sickness that had afflicted him in the Peninsula.

Lee has every intention of resuming his campaign in Maryland, and a withdrawal from Sharpsburg is - he hopes - a prelude to a further move towards Hagerstown.

Here I confess to being confused : I reckon I'm not remembering correctly what Tom said.

The affair at Sheperdstown is discussed at some length.

This is vitally important, even thought the fight itself entails just a few hundred casualties. It has a disproportionate effect on the decision by Lee to quit his campaign.

I wish I could be more coherent here.

There is a fantastic legacy of exquisite maps of this battle, with unique details of topography, terrain and crops. No other battle has such a fine cartography, and Ezra Carman transcends in this respect.

I ask a question which I think is significant as a criterion of victory/defeat : what proportion of Lee's wounded are left in enemy hands ?

At Gettysburg, very close to half Lee's wounded are abandoned ; how far does Antietam follow that model of defeat ?

Tom ventures a reply, and suggests that, while he doesn't know how many of Confederate wounded are left behind, he knows that there are separate hospitals established for them, and that in some cases the hospitals contained both Rebs and yanks. He opines that perhaps eleven thousand wounded of both armies were left after the ANV retires.

Bearing in mind the official return of 9,549 wounded Federals , this implies to me that no more than fifteen hundred of Lee's wounded were abandoned : this is fewer than one fifth of the 7,754 Confederate wounded that Carman tabulates for the battle.

All mistakes are mine.

Please help me out and fill in the gaps and rectify my errors.



Regards, Phil






---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Steve Clements
Toronto, ON, Canada
top 20
E-7 Sgt First Class
Moderator
Posts: 425

Re: Lee
Posted on: 4/2/2017 3:18:05 PM
Phil,

Cozzens and Clemens....you lucky dog!

I do want to offer up some counterpoints. I am sure that you are shocked -:)


Quote:
1. To " liberate " Maryland.


I think that this would be well down the Lee/Davis list of what was achievable from the ANV's move into western Maryland. Western Maryland wasn't Baltimore, it was (as I understand it) solidly Unionist.


Quote:
The Lost Order, I repeat, no big deal according to Tom.


Certainly, from what I have read, McClellan slowed his advance, if anything, after finding the lost order. As you noted in a previous post, and as I referenced earlier in this thread, if Mac thought that he was outnumbered, Lee's willingness to split his army into four pieces (five actually, although Mac wouldn't know that...) suggested that the consolidated ANV had to be pretty big, if Lee was actually willing to split it up into so many unsupported pieces




Quote:
More especially, the timing of the finding of the order and McClellan's subsequent actions has been distorted by the anti McClellan polemicists....Stephen Sears being mentioned more than once.


The pro McClellan types keep saying that Sears is unfair to little Mac. Okay... My challenge to anyone out there is, what exactly did Sears write that you or, anyone else, feels is "unfair"? Both in Sears account of Antietam, and his biography of McClellan.

I will give Mac a "C" rating at the actual battle of Antietam....I would not have relieved him for the battle that he fought.....at least he fought!! It was his attitude towards the civilian administration, and his general lack of moral courage that really piss me off.

On the moral courage front, we may all have a slightly different version of what "abandonment" means...but IMO, little Mac "abandoned" his beloved (?) AoP, on two separate occasions, during the Seven Days campaign, the first time at Glendale/Frasyer's Farm, the second time at Malvern Hill. Now, John P. and I have gone back and forth on this subject before, but IMO, little Mac should have been cashiered for what I believe is his twice having abandoned the AoP during this campaign.

He lied - to Lincoln - about how many men were left behind to protect Washington, while Mac was down on the Peninsula killing time. And he lied by a wide margin! It's almost as if, as long as Mac had been able to defeat Johnston (which of course never happened), but Washington had been captured, he wouldn't care! His star would be on the rise...even if it cost the Union its capital (and maybe its President).

And despite being ordered to do so, he was beyond remarkably slow at moving his army from the James, back up towards Washington/supporting distance for Pope. His "let Pope get out of his scrape/mess" (I am paraphrasing here....) comment should have put him (IMO) in front of a firing squad. Clearly, from the letters he wrote to his wife, Mac WANTED Pope to be defeated!!! Just what side was Mac on, anyway?

Mac as dictator. Thinking back to 1862, the whole idea of a democracy, where a poor's man vote was equal to a rich man's vote, was still very much a novel experiment. A flame that could have easily died. The idea of a dictator, that would defeat the South, and restore the Union (but maintain slavery), was not that foreign to a lot of Mac's generals. Now, Mac never would have had the balls, IMO, to pull it off...but the cadre of "admirers" that surrounded him (not just generals, but certain politicians) didn't think that it was such a bad idea. And Mac permitting this was hardly a way to wage war.

I strongly recommend reading "The Long Road to Antietam - how the Civil War became a Revolution", by Richard Slotkin. It paints Mac's headquarters as being very anti-Lincoln, very pro-slave, and very much "the President and his cabinet are fools, we need a dictator to return the Union to the way it was". It is, IMO, quite frightening. Yeah, it never happened, but Slotkin paints a very clear picture of how it could have....


Quote:
Lee does not want to fight a battle at Antietam : had he done so, he would have entrenched.


I really do not agree. I don't understand why Lee didn't entrench...God knows he had time....but it wasn't because he didn't want to fight IMO. He had two days to entrench, and choose not to (too rocky??). Frankly, not entrenching is a weak reed to lean on in the "Lee didn't want to fight" argument.

It was either the 13th or the 14th, that Lee actually decided to abandon the entire campaign. He sent couriers to McLaws etc., that the game was up, Mac was coming through South Mountain, and that McLaws etc. should head back to Virginia. But almost as soon as he sent those orders, in came Jackson's message that Harper's F. would fall the next morning...and Lee reversed course, and decided to stay in Maryland. IMO, Lee was not even close to being "forced" to fight at Antietam. He very deliberately chose to....perhaps he didn't think that Mac had the stomach to try and push him out. On the morning of he 18th, he asked Stephen Lee and Jackson, if 50 guns (belonging to Lee) and (what was left of) Jackson's men could force their way past Mac's right flank .... Lee was determined to fight...he may have been smoking banana peels, but he wanted a fight.

IMO, there is absolutely no reason that, on the 15th, for example, he could not have taken his 15k or 18 k men back across the Potomac, and sent messengers to Jackson and McLaws, telling them to stay south of the Potomac, and reunite the entire army in Virginia. If little Mac allowed him to retreat back across the Potomac on the 19th, despite being probably outnumbered 3:1 (both Humphreys and Couch were up by mid day of the 18th), then there is no way that Mac was going to oppose a crossing on the 15th. Or even, apparently, on the morning of the 16th.


Quote:
In regard to the latter, he attributes the principal culpability - before the battle - to Franklin for failure to pursue and exploit after Crampton's Gap.


In Franklin's defense, Franklin (and his two divisions?? maybe 8k/9k?) was not supported by any other of the AoP units (yeah, Couch, but he was a day or so behind....and was not a factor). And Mac himself, despite knowing that Franklin was a cautious commander, warned him to be very, very careful. And perhaps with good reason.... Franklin had no idea just what he was walking into....it could have well been a very large chunk of the ANV....and he was isolated and could have been crushed.

s.c.


Steve Clements
Toronto, ON, Canada
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Re: Lee
Posted on: 4/2/2017 3:28:53 PM

Quote:
Lee has every intention of resuming his campaign in Maryland, and a withdrawal from Sharpsburg is - he hopes - a prelude to a further move towards Hagerstown.

Here I confess to being confused : I reckon I'm not remembering correctly what Tom said.


On the 18th/19th, Lee had Stuart's cavalry guarding another ford further upstream, cuz Lee wanted to try and recross the Potomac and "try again" in Maryland. IMO, Lee was clearly smoking something....


Quote:
Mansfield performs well but is mortally wounded.


Mansfield was mortally wounded before he could do much...but he has been criticized for moving his men (many were green) in a very tight column, that was an easy target for artillery, and a column that could not be moved into a firing line very easily.


Quote:
Burnside is forced to rely on reconnoitering by infantry because he did not have cavalry to hand [Little Mac's fault ? ] . The delay is not Burnside's fault. But when he gets across, his command is deployed in juggernaut fashion and pushes all before it.


I agree that Burnside takes more heat than he might deserve....but even after receiving his orders to attack, the attack is very, very slow in coming. Partially, cuz some of the attacking infantry lands in the wrong place ... several hundred yards from the bridge, and gets into a "across the water" firefight, and also cuz of poor communication regarding the ford. Mac's cavalry did find it the previous day (I believe). But no one told Burnside....and Burnside waited until the order to attack came before anyone from his corps was sent out to find it...that should have been done in the hours that Burnside's corps was sitting on its hands...in addition, Burnside still fancied himself as a "wing commander", despite the fact that the I corps had been pulled away from him. And merely passed on Mac's orders to the next in line (Cox?) general, that Burnside pretended was still commanding the IX corps. IMO, Burnside also needed an attitude adjustment.

s.c.

Steve Clements
Toronto, ON, Canada
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Re: Lee
Posted on: 4/2/2017 3:43:23 PM
Phil,


Quote:
There has been a significant distortion in terms of the time that the order was found. McClellan wired Washington stating the time was " 12.M. " ....this was not midday, but midnight. The charge that Little Mac delayed for precious hours is looking less credible.


There is a lot of back and forth on this from the various historians that have weighed in on the battle.

I cannot find it now, but I believe that it is Sears, in an essay "The Last Word on the Lost Order" that argues that there is a LOT of circumstantial evidence (people making diary notes as to "when" Mac told them he had found it etc.) that suggests that it was, indeed, given to Mac at 12 noon. And not 12 midnight.

I think that the name of the book, with that essay, is "Lost Dispatches from the Army of the Potomac". As I remember it, the book is a series of essays, dealing primarily with the politics within AoP....well worth reading....now if I can just lay my hands on my own copy.


Quote:
4. In the event, during the significant skirmish that evening, McClellan was reported to have been personally present and active. The allegation that he stayed away from the battlefield begins to look unfair.


Mac did "visit" Franklin & Sumner, late morning of the 17th. Franklin (the most cautious of officers) wanted to attack. Sumner, freaked out because of the Sedgwick affair, which was arguably his fault, did not. Guess who Mac listened to.... However, that Mac was with Hooker and his corps AFTER they crossed the upper bridge is news to me. Hooker argued against the move, stating that his corps would be "out there" by itself, without support. And could be gobbled up. Which was not that far from the truth....why Mansfield and Sumner did not also follow Hooker on the night of the 16th is difficult to understand.


Quote:
3. His delay on the 16th is attributable to the warm water from the Antietam and the relatively cool weather causing a mist to rise that obscured the view ; McClellan needed to know what he was facing .


I had read that, although his regiments were mere fractions of what they once were, Lee did have plenty of "regiments" on the 16th...and more importantly, regimental flags. That Mac could count....not knowing that many of the regiments were barely 100 men etc.

I personally have trouble believing that the Antietam, which ain't that big a body of water, would generate so much mist that no one could "see" Lee's defensive positions. Unless someone can dig up several diary entries that allude to this, call me skeptical.

s.c.

Steve Clements
Toronto, ON, Canada
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Re: Lee
Posted on: 4/2/2017 3:49:38 PM

Quote:
I'm enjoying reading the debate and discussion over several strong cups of tea!

Keep it up, chaps.


I read Phil's posts last night, while watching the semi's of the Final Four, and doing some serious damage to a Xmas present (a bottle of very nice sipping tequila), on ice.

s.c.

Phil andrade
London, UK
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Re: Lee
Posted on: 4/2/2017 5:27:05 PM
Steve,

Thanks for your comprehensive and cogent responses to my rather breathless and disjointed narrative.

You will appreciate that I have been so uplifted and excited by the experience : a star struck school kid wouldn't be far from the mark as a description !

The two guys were not only eloquent and persuasive speakers : they were also charming and indulgent people to talk to.

I fear that I've failed to remember important things ; I hope that I've given the sense of enough of it to make a plausible impression.

Clemens is implying that Stanton might well have actively sabotaged McClellan. It's pretty appalling stuff to contemplate.

There will be time for me to reflect and I'm certain that things will get clearer ; then perhaps I'll remember more.

I think that my attempt to remember the contents of the lectures without taking notes is more arrogant than Lee's defiant offer of battle at Antietam !

In the meantime, I'd better do justice to Peter Cozzens's renditions of Stones River.

They were also compelling and made a terrific impression. They did not impart the same contrarian impression as Clemens did ; but, perhaps, that is something that is more reassuring.....there's too much currency in the business of contrarianism.

I had not realised how the Stones River battlefield was so suffused with limestone crags and dismal cedar thickets...it was almost grotesque.

Tom Clemens gave us some wonderful vignettes of how the Antietam battlefield has been restored by devotees of the history .

All very encouraging.

Must give some thought to Murfreesboro .

Regards , Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Phil andrade
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Re: Lee
Posted on: 4/3/2017 3:15:24 AM
Re : Stones River , Peter Cozzens is immensely buoyed up by the success of his new book THE EARTH IS WEEPING.

He is understandably proud and delighted, and his depiction of Stones River was a bit of a trip down Memory Lane for him, because he wrote his book on the battle, NO BETTER PLACE TO DIE, in the 1990s when he was a serving Captain.

He has embarked on his own " contrarian " venture with a sympathetic approach to John Pope : he gave us a few enticing hints and implications about some forthcoming work.

As far as Murfreesboro is concerned, he depicted Rosecrans as able, courageous but prone to bouts of frenzied activity on the battlefield, which stemmed from some kind of hyper mania .

Bragg was lambasted, as usual.

I was virtually a lone voice in the audience, reminding the listeners of Joe Johnston's letter to Senator Wigfall, in which he emphasised how Bragg had been uniquely successful in inflicting disproportionate damage on the enemy in a short time at Murfreesboro.

Cozzens dismissed that - graciously - quipping that at that juncture Johnston would have been only too pleased to praise Bragg in order to escape the poison chalice of commanding the AOT !

He did, however, credit Bragg with organisational ability and even admitted that his plan for the battle was a good one.

Execution went awry.

Cheatham was drunk, and Breckinridge hated Bragg...the same old story of the toxic relationships. I also reminded folks present that this was not confined to the rebels : the fatal duel between Nelson and Davis showed the Yankees had their problems, too. What was it about this Western theatre that allowed such things to flourish ?

I do think that Johnston had a point. The casualties suffered by the Federals at Stones River were immense, and shocking in relative as well as absolute terms.

Was Bragg right to attack before his men had breakfast in that dismal, cold environment ? The sudden collapse of Cleburne's division after such striking initial success attests to exhaustion that ensued after too much had been asked of men without proper sustenance.

OTOH, the rebel success and the resulting Yankee losses were in large measure attributable to them being caught with their pants down while they were having that breakfast.

I believe that Bragg's organisational ability was apparent in much better survival rates among his wounded. The number of Confederates wounded at Shiloh and Stones River were nearly identical - 8,012 and 7,945 respectively : I suspect that the mortality rate had been reduced significantly after Murfreesboro.

Bragg wept when he contemplated the fate of the wounded he had to abandon.

The similarities between those two battles are uncanny.

Regards, Phil

---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Steve Clements
Toronto, ON, Canada
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Re: Lee
Posted on: 4/3/2017 9:46:48 AM
Phil,

First of all, thanks for all your "notes" on the various presentations. Cozzens' work on Chattanooga is one of my favourites....

If possible, I would love you to "flesh out" the below comment.


Quote:
Clemens is implying that Stanton might well have actively sabotaged McClellan. It's pretty appalling stuff to contemplate.


My bias is that Stanton was a McClellan supporter - initially. But that Stanton hit the friggin' roof when Mac did his "let Pope get out of his scrape" routine. And wanted to string little Mac up (as my dad would say...) "by the short hairs". And Stanton fought against Lincoln, when Lincoln effectively put Mac in charge of the AoP, after Second Bull Run.

In terms of "sabotaging" little Mac, my bias (of course, based on what I have read...) is that it was Mac that did his best to "sabotage" Stanton. In part, by feeding "alternative facts" to his supporters in the Democratic media. If Mac didn't respect Lincoln, he really, really hated Stanton, and pushed very hard to have Stanton removed. But Lincoln, to his credit, had Stanton's back.

I really, really don't understand anyone's willingness to cut Mac so much slack. With regard to his battlefield performance, that's okay. But off the battlefield, Mac (IMO) clearly put his interests ahead of his country's interests. And that, to me, is simply unforgivable. Why a number of modern historians are willing to overlook this, is beyond me. And frankly, this "me first, everyone else be damned" is a "trait' that I have seen on more than one occasion in the corporate world...

s.c.

scoucer
Berlin, Germany
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Posts: 1957

Re: Lee
Posted on: 4/3/2017 10:28:16 AM

Quote:



Quote:
3. His delay on the 16th is attributable to the warm water from the Antietam and the relatively cool weather causing a mist to rise that obscured the view ; McClellan needed to know what he was facing .


I had read that, although his regiments were mere fractions of what they once were, Lee did have plenty of "regiments" on the 16th...and more importantly, regimental flags. That Mac could count....not knowing that many of the regiments were barely 100 men etc.

I personally have trouble believing that the Antietam, which ain't that big a body of water, would generate so much mist that no one could "see" Lee's defensive positions. Unless someone can dig up several diary entries that allude to this, call me skeptical.

s.c.--Steve Clements


I live on the Spandauer Canal and you would be surprised. Although I think the terrain at Antietam was rolling hills ( I remember seeing a photo ), much like Southern Belgium, so you can`t see what´s there.

Trevor
---------------
`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie

Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.

morris crumley
Lawrenceville, GA, USA
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Posts: 1301

Re: Lee
Posted on: 4/3/2017 11:40:00 AM
Well, the Union Commanders couldn`t make out the stone wall and Cobb`s Brigade behind it from the town of Fredericksburg! Certainly the rolling nature of terrain can mask a great deal.

Respects, Morris
---------------
"You are a $70, red-wool, pure quill military genius, or the biggest damn fool in northern Mexico."

phil andrade
London, UK
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Re: Lee
Posted on: 4/3/2017 12:37:58 PM

Quote:
Phil,

First of all, thanks for all your "notes" on the various presentations. Cozzens' work on Chattanooga is one of my favourites....

If possible, I would love you to "flesh out" the below comment.


Quote:
Clemens is implying that Stanton might well have actively sabotaged McClellan. It's pretty appalling stuff to contemplate.


--Steve Clements


This is where I must resort to the wriggling of disclaimers : I don't feel too confident about my memory here, but I'll try...

Immediately after the battle, McClellan put in his usual requests for more supplies. He was in need of artillery ammunition especially : that struck me as significant, in so far as it bears out my suggestion that the Yankee artillery was very busy indeed at Antietam.

Clemens gave an anecdote about the supplies being sent to Washington rather than to the troops facing Lee ; the Washington district was officially part of McClellan's command, and Stanton made sure that this bureaucratic interpretation was allowed to prevail to the extent that much of the stuff was left stacked up in DC instead of reaching the army in the field.

I hope that memory serves me here.

Regards, Phil

---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

phil andrade
London, UK
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Re: Lee
Posted on: 4/3/2017 12:50:12 PM
Apropos Stones River, I note that Bragg made the dreadful decision to abandon some of his wounded and sick at Murfreesboro as he withdrew to Tullahooma.

The number, according to Larry Daniel, was twelve hundred wounded and three hundred sick.

This equates to about fifteen per cent of the Confederate wounded.

In his analysis of numbers and losses, Livermore inflated the official number of confederate missing ( 1,027 ) to 2,500, on account of these abandoned sufferers. In effect, he double counted confederate wounded, since these had already been included in Bragg's official return. IMHO, Livermore's statement of 11,739 rebel killed, wounded and missing for the battle is not credible : the official total of 10,266 is accurate ( 9,239 killed or wounded and 1,027 missing )..Bragg was nothing if not pernickety about meticulous casualty reporting.

Cozzens cited the 11,739 total in his lecture. I challenged it, and stated that Livermore had inflated the figures. My point was not addressed.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

scoucer
Berlin, Germany
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Posts: 1957

Re: Lee
Posted on: 4/3/2017 7:03:24 PM
Mist on the Antietam battlefield.




Trevor
---------------
`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie

Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.

Phil andrade
London, UK
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Re: Lee
Posted on: 4/4/2017 2:03:59 AM
Trevor,

Lovely picture, thanks !

Tom Clemens lives on - or around - the battlefield : I would have thought that his suggestion about the mist has validity.....certainly that photo lends it credibility.

I last visited that place twenty seven years ago.

Listening to the talks at the conference, I was suddenly smitten with an intense desire to return.

You have to wonder, though, whether Tom Clemens was displaying what you call " confirmation bias ".

Regards , Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Steve Clements
Toronto, ON, Canada
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Re: Lee
Posted on: 4/4/2017 12:18:44 PM
Phil,

If I remember correctly, it rained the night of the 16th, and there was not insignificant morning fog (not just over the creek) on the 17th. And Mac attacked.

Mist/fog etc. on the morning of the 16th was NOT, IMO, a reason to not attack on the 16th (there may well be other, more 'legitimate' reasons....but that is a separate issue.)



It has been almost two decades since I was at Antietam, and I must confess a desire to go back...and to also explore the South Mountain battlefields.

So Phil, if you do decide to re-visit Sharpsburg, let me know, and I will meet you there!

s.c.

scoucer
Berlin, Germany
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Posts: 1957

Re: Lee
Posted on: 4/4/2017 4:47:12 PM
I just wanted to show that mist was possible even though the creek is small. I´m just following the fascinating thread. I can´t make my mind up.

Trevor
---------------
`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie

Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.

Phil andrade
London, UK
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Re: Lee
Posted on: 4/5/2017 1:44:07 AM
Yes, Trevor....that's the allure, the fascination : the moment our minds are made up, the thing loses that attraction.

Antietam lends itself to this syndrome.

What an excellent thread, Steve !

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

mine run
Halifax Co., VA, USA
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Posts: 97

Re: Lee
Posted on: 4/5/2017 12:51:16 PM
Hello to you all!

This IS a great thread and I finally got around to checking it out. Speaking as a Southerner who between my wife and me had 3 relatives who fought at Antietam ( there are still many where I live who refer to it as Sharpsburg}, I find it fascinating that people from other countries have such an interest in our Civil War and our leaders like Lee. I joined MHOL several years ago to use it as an additional resource in one of my retirement hobbies to meticulously research our several family members, 5 g/g/ grandfathers and 2 g/g/ uncles and the histories of their units which served in Lee's ANV, one of whom was a Class of 1861 graduate of West Point. The purpose of this project is to simply leave this heritage to our younger generation in the form of unpublished manuscripts.

I, too, have toured Antietam as well as all of the major battle sites in the East where they fought. I recall standing at the small marker at Antietam where General Starke was killed, struck by either 3 or 6 bullets simultaneously depending on the account. My maternal g/g/f was a Captain, company commander in Taliaferro's Brigade under Starke. He had just returned to his unit the day after Cedar Mountain, having been at home recuperating from a bullet wound to his left arm sustained at McDowell in May. One of my wife's g/g/f's was a
Sergeant in the 3rd VA cavalry there and in 1863 he became Lee's Chief Courier and served in that capacity until he lost a leg in the battle at Spotsylvania Court House. A few years ago, his artificial leg was donated by the family to a museum.

For your interest regarding Antietam, I am posting an extract from a letter written after the war by another of her family members to a Union officer who was on the other side. This is appears in T. M. Rankin's history of the 23rdVA Infantry.

He is Lt. R. P. Jennings who served in the Company commanded by my g/g/f.:

"Our brigade was reduced to almost a regiment when we went into this fight. I had only 7 men in my Company and 5 of them and myself were wounded before we reached the road that ran between the cornfield and timber.....When the fight commenced, the 23rdVA was laying in the timber....under the brow of a hill and Stonewall Jackson rode with his staff in rear of our line and said to our Colonel "Be ready, we will move up soon." About that time your men threw a load of grape shot just above our heads as we were laying down and one of the grapes struck General Jackson's horse in the leg and one of his aides dismounted and gave him his horse. Our skirmish line was run in between the cornfield and timber, you fellows just mowed us down. I got a gun and a cartridge from off a soldier that was between us that was killed, after my men were wounded and ran for the road that was between us and laid down as flat as I could to protect myself and one of your men jumped upon the fences between us and I could not get a sight, so I raised upward. Just as I shot a shell burst over us and a piece of it struck me and knocked me over on my hands. I rolled a few steps and got behind a large old stump and found Captain Michaels, 23rdVA (?) and a lieutenant of the 48thVA. I laid down by the lieutenant and Captain Michaels on the other side. There was a corporal of some other company standing up by the stump loading and firing and we tried to get him to lie down. Soon a ball passed over my legs which I had down close to the ground and it went through the lieutenants knees, and soon after a shot struck Capt. Michaels in the ankle,
and then the corporal was shot dead and fell right over us, and as he dropped his hands scratched me in the face, and I said to Capt. Micheals "I am going out of here." and he said, "Do not try it Captain (?), or you will be killed before you can reach the timber." I said I had as well be killed running as lying still, so I got up and my hip was very sore, but I did not limp more than three times and the balls flew around me like a swarm of bees, and I just let out and ran like a deer, and made it to the timber, but I was almost scared to death when I got there."

Captain Michaels, a VMI graduate, commanded Co. F, not my ancestor's company.

Lieutenant Jennings was later promoted to Captain in command of a my ancestor's company immediately on the same day my ancestor was killed in action on 11-27-1863. Jennings received his third wound of the war at Ft. Stedman in the closing days of the war and was invalided home. Not too long ago a new tombstone and the Confederate Cross of Honor was placed on Jennings grave in his family cemetery just down the road from us.

I maintain the family cemetery of my ancestor, the Captain, which is on the site of his long gone 998 tobacco plantation whose property line was contiguous with my wife's ancestral home where we now live.

74 PA
Woodbridge, VA, USA
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Posts: 68

Re: Lee
Posted on: 4/5/2017 4:49:44 PM

Quote:

Quote:
As an aside, prior to his death, Reno had earned (it is my understanding...) a very good reputation. One has to wonder what impact that a living Kearney, a living Reno etc. could have had on the AoP in '63 and '64.

s.c.

--Steve Clements


I've always believed that Kearny could have led the AoP.

Trevor --scoucer


Kearney had a good reputation, perhaps, but his performance at 2nd Bull Run was less than stellar, especially when he failed to arrive on Schurz's right flank when Schurz had pushed over the railroad embankment.
---------------
For so long as one hundred men remain alive, we shall never under any condition submit to the domination of the English. It is not for glory or riches or honours that we fight, but only for liberty, which no good man will consent to lose but with his life

scoucer
Berlin, Germany
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E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 1957

Re: Lee
Posted on: 4/5/2017 5:36:46 PM
Good point Bret. Kearny´s anti-german bigotry, probably acquired during his time in France, could/should have got him court-martialed.

Trevor
---------------
`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie

Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.

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