Saturday, April 8, 2017

Booknotes: Lincoln's Lieutenants

New Arrival:
Lincoln's Lieutenants: The High Command of the Army of the Potomac by Stephen W. Sears (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017).

Lincoln's Lieutenants is "a multilayered group biography of the commanders who led the Army of the Potomac." More from the description: "The high command of the Army of the Potomac was a changeable, often dysfunctional band of brothers, going through the fires of war under seven commanding generals in three years, until Grant came east in 1864. The men in charge all too frequently appeared to be fighting against the administration in Washington instead of for it, increasingly cast as political pawns facing down a vindictive congressional Committee on the Conduct of the War. ... President Lincoln oversaw, argued with, and finally tamed his unruly team of generals as the eastern army was stabilized by an unsung supporting cast of corps, division, and brigade generals."

Freeman's Lee's Lieutenants was published in three relatively thick volumes, but Sears's Lincoln's Lieutenants makes do with one tome of around 900 pages. With his earlier Peninsula, Antietam, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg books, Sears has already covered large patches of ground relevant to Lieutenants, and it makes me wonder how much critical reevaluation (vs. cut-paste integration) of his earlier work went into this new one. The bibliography is fairly modest for a volume of this great scope. At the very least, I plan to read the text up through the end of 1862 to see if anything grabs me.

31 comments:

  1. Great minds must think alike---I had the same thought you did about the work that went into this book (or didn't).

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    1. I don't recall Sears writing about Grant in any substantial way before (is that accurate?), so I guess the 1864-65 sections of this book would be "new" work from him.

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    2. Sears did some chapters in "Controversies and Commanders" from 1864--65. There is on chapter on Five Forks, for example. But I don't recall any major projects of his on that period.

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    3. Yes, the "C and C" chapters on the Dahlgren Raid and Warren-Sheridan controversy are the only ones I can remember, too.

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  2. John FoskettApril 08, 2017

    That makes three of us. When I first read the marketing blurb my immediate question was whether we'll just be getting a recycling of material we've seen before from Sears. I eagerly await Drew's review. I'm not going off the high board until I see that.

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    1. Reading this thing from cover to cover would be such a huge time commitment that an actual review would be unlikely. We shall see, though.

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    2. John FoskettApril 10, 2017

      I'll take a "skim" assessment. :)

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  3. I have not read this yet, and likely will not.

    I respectfully recommend anyone interested in the command of the AOP during the war's first year read Rusell H. Beatie's "Army of the Potomac" (vols. 1-2, Da Capo; vol. 3, Savas Beatie; Vol. 4 will be published posthumously in 2018). Beatie went to the sources and wrote from the ground up. Going in, he wasn't a fan of McClellan's until he examined it all through contemporaneous documents. ("I drank the Kool-Aid," he later told me. It is breath-taking how much we have been spoon-fed just wasn't so.")

    Sears is a great writer, but I am not a fan of his research and ability to extrapolate to proper conclusions.

    -- Ted Savas

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  4. My test was to turn to his section on Glendale. He apparently has gathered additional evidence and sources, but has kept his narrative and conclusions even when the new evidence contradicts him. He has used selective (mis)quotation to achieve this, like how he created the tale of McClellan eating dinner on the Galena when his source says nothing of the sort.

    For example, he quotes the Comte de Paris's journal with la Comte's account that he gave a communication from Heintzelman to McClellan, but then changes the result. In the journal McClellan immediately comes on deck, climbs the mast and starts issuing orders to Marcy for troop movements to counter the attack (with Paris noting Marcy was slightly deaf and couldn't hear what McClellan was saying, and had to have it repeated to him). In this work Sears' account is that McClellan "does nothing". The reports of the signals officers in the SOR and the observations of some of the Galena's officers corroborate the former, and contradict Sears' thesis.

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    1. Read Beatie. See above.

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    2. I've read v1-3 and am extremely happy that v4 will appear. May I ask how far Beatie got in his research? Will this cover the Seven Days etc.?

      I ask as for several years I've been compiling around a dozen versions of "the gunboat story" from observers, and taken holistically we have a very good idea where McClellan was and what he was doing at all time. I was considering writing it up as an article.

      For example, no compiled narrative correctly identifies that McClellan boarded the Galena twice on the 30th June, once at ca. 1645 and once around 2030-2100. Those that saw McClellan leaving put it in the first break in the firing after Galena went into action at 1700, and apparently the first break was very soon after opening fire (because the Galena "dropped short" on the first salvo and got a "cease fire" order via the signals station).

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    3. 67th,
      Publishing your findings in an article would be great to see. BTW, who are you?

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    4. 67th--through Seven Pines (which he told me was utterly different than history leads us to believe on the Union side). It is 1,300 pages (vol. 4) and has to be edited down substantially or separated into two books.

      Hope you will leave reviews for the other three.

      Ted Savas

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  5. Consider the contents of the chapters:

    1. Start of the Civil War
    2. McDowell and Bull Run
    3-11: McClellan
    12: Burnside and Fredericksburg
    13: Hooker and Chancellorville
    14: Meade and Gettysburg
    15: Meade and Mine Run
    16-17: Grant and the Overland Campaign
    18: Grant and the Siege of Petersburg and Appomattox

    Fully half the book is a rehashing of his McClellan stuff. McDowell, Burnside and Hooker get a chapter each. Meade gets two and Grant gets three (1/6th). Sears spends three times the ink on McClellan as he does on Grant....

    I have not read the final chapters (only the Seven Days one), but it seems clear he's rehashing all his old stuff and adding a little bit on the end about Grant. Chapter one at a scan appears to be a rehash of an article he wrote in North and South (vol 10 no 4) and parts of chapter 18 from another N&S (vol 1 no 5, later chapter 10 of Controversies and Commanders).

    Thus really the only new material is his Grant chapters.

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  6. Wow - a tough crowd. I have been on several tours of battlefields in the East covered by Sears where at least 3 respected historians/authors have recommended Sears when asked by tour members of good books to read on the battle(s)in question. I doubt they would have done so if they did not respect his work.

    John Sinclair

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    1. Sears writes fluently and is very readable, as per his training as a journalist. The issue is that he has an editorial line and sticks to it, even when proven wrong.

      For example, Sears repeated Cox's long discredited idea that after receiving SO191 McClellan did nothing for "18 hours", and based this off a telegraphic message in the OR that says 12M (which Cox and later Sears took as midday). However, the original copy is retained in the Lincoln papers and clearly says "12 Midnight", which destroys the entire evidential base. When confronted by this by Gene Thorp Sears refused to accept that his theory was wrong, despite overwhelming evidence.

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    2. Hi John,
      It's no surprise that the guides would recommend Sears to a touring audience. They make for pleasant reading and are popular titles. Plus, there aren't really any ready replacements for books like his Peninsula and Chancellorsville studies.

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  7. John FoskettApril 11, 2017

    All right, let6's give this one more try, Mr. M.

    " In the journal McClellan immediately comes on deck, climbs the mast and starts issuing orders to Marcy for troop movements to counter the attack (with Paris noting Marcy was slightly deaf and couldn't hear what McClellan was saying, and had to have it repeated to him). In this work Sears' account is that McClellan "does nothing". The reports of the signals officers in the SOR and the observations of some of the Galena's officers corroborate the former, and contradict Sears' thesis."

    Give us one order which McClellan sent to anybody in command on the field at Glendale between 4 P.M. and 8 P.M. and which was received by any such officer. There was no such order. In fact, McClellan admitted in his August, 1863 report that he didn't know that Franklin and Heintzelman were withdrawing until a courier stumbled onto that fact and Sumner found himself by his lonesome. Sears got that one correct - McClellan absented himself from the battlefield, left nobody in command, and exerted no influence over the fighting at the crossroads once it started. Sears may be subject to criticism on other points (e.g., the timing of the 9/14 telegram to Washington) but this isn't one of them.

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    1. Few messages were retained, although if you were to go to SOR2, 273 you'd find one between McClellan and Lt McCreary. McCreary was the signals officer at Keyes' HQ (station no. 32 at Haxall's) who spotted the Confederate river column, and records him sending McClellan the news, and receiving the orders for Keyes from McClellan reacting to the crisis, which he retained partially.

      Sadly, orders to the army further north went via station 27 at Malvern House with Lt Birney and Lt Yates manning the channel. Both report they did not preserve the messages they passed. Birney reports that "the messages came so fast that we were unable to send them all. The most important ones, however, were sent....", whilst Yates simply reports he "sent a number of messages but have forgotten them.".

      McClellan, of course, was observed leaving the Galena after his first message packet, due to (by one account of a naval officer on the Galena) a message relayed by station 27 that "McCall is breaking" and that "Sumner is having a hard time".

      However, one needs go no further than the OR to completely undermine Sears' argument that there was no communication by signals. OR11(1), 255-8 contains Myers' report of the action of 30th June, and he notes that in the first lull in the firing (which we've traced to about 1710-15) McClellan communicated with Porter by signals and learning about the state of affairs at the crossroads he left the Galena immediately for the field. Hence when a staff major came aboard the Galena at 1730 to find McClellan he found McClellan had already left.

      No-one denies McClellan went aboard the Galena (although he had good reason to, and no significant attack was underway when he made the journey), but his stay was relatively brief (at most 30 mins) and indeed he was in contact with the rest of the army via Lt Clum's station 31 communicating with station 32 initially, and then station 27 when the Galena moved upriver. We know he issued orders for troop movements to Keyes, and sent other messages further north, the contents of which are partially known (for Couch's two brigades to reinforce the crossroads) and partially unknown (likely a message to Franklin to reinforce the crossroads).

      To defend Sears thesis that McClellan "absented himself from command" you have to somehow make all these messages go away, and then ignore accounts that as soon as he knew there was an attack on the crossroads got himself back there ASAP.

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    2. John FoskettApril 11, 2017

      As you know, we've discussed this before. I'm looking for just one message sent by McClellan and received by one of Sumner, Heintzelman, Franklin, Hooker, Kearney, Slocum or McCall during the battle. McClellan never identified one in his report or in any correspondence. Nor has anyone else. We know that Keyes received one at his locatioon away from the fighting and we know McClellan was with the Galena when it steamed up river and laid some shells on Holmes (who was not at Glendale) but nothing else. McClellan's report regarding his ignorance of, and lack of any role in, the withdrawals of Franklin, Heintzelman, and Sumner is proof. I'm still trying to find the evidence that Sears' conclusion is wrong.

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    3. Yet we have identified communiques to other commanders (Keyes, Couch etc.). We know he knew about the situation at the crossroads after his ca. 1715 signals exchange with Porter, and certainly know he reacted by sending Couch with 2 brigades from Malvern to the rear of the crossroads.

      You use events some six hours (Franklin pulling out) later as evidence that McClellan was absent. That doesn't really fly. Well, Franklin at 2200 gave the order to pull out and sent aides to tell Heintzelman and Sumner. Heintzelman says when he found out he sent "a detailed statement by three of McClellan's staff officers" upto to HQ and then waited for a response. At midnight (maybe 60-90 mins after finding out Franklin was moving) he gave the order for his divisions to pull out, rode over to Sumner's HQ who then gave the same order for his divisions.

      Heintzelman then left for McClellan's HQ at Malvern House about 0100, which took him about an hour, and found McClellan then with some of his staff. His message had got through, and the aides had been sent back to tell Heintzelman and Sumner to pull back. Likely they'd crossed each other (since it took Heintzelman an hour to pick his way to Malvern House in the dark the aides would have been going the same speed and also taken an hour each way). McClellan then rode to sort other stuff out, leaving Heintzelman orders to place his troops as per the positions he'd indicated to Porter and Barnard, but since his troops were still slogging up the hill he says he laid down and slept until dawn.

      In the period connecting 1700 and 2200 McClellan had come back to the field, found out what was happening, written his dispatches for Washington, gone back to the Galena with dispatches, and placed them in the hands of the French princes, who boarded the Jacob Bell and carried them to Fort Monroe, with the Jacob Bell departing 2120 by her log. He then returned to Malvern and was, by his account, writing his orders to renew the fighting in the position at Glendale when news reached him ca. midnight that the right and centre were falling back.

      Let me note that at 1330 hrs on 30th June the signals link between Franklin and HQ was apparently severed as Lt Camp and his group took down their station when Jackson's artillery started and headed down the road for Haxalls. Generally on the 30th Myers notes that the field signals network shut at dark (which they usually did as it they were perfect sniper targets with the lights), although comms to the gunboats remained operational via lights.

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  8. John FoskettApril 11, 2017

    This is much simpler than you're making it. McClellan, in his report, admits that he only found out that they were withdrawing when a courier encountered the withdrawal. In other words, the withdrawal was made without his knowledge (and, obviously, without his direction).

    According to McClellan:

    "It was very late at night before my aides returned to give me the results of the day's fighting along the whole line and the true position of affairs. While waiting to hear from General Franklin, before sending orders to Generals Sumner and Heintzelman, I received a message from the latter that General Franklin was falling back, whereupon I sent Colonel Colburn, of my staff, with orders to verify this, and, if it were true, to order in Generals Sumner and Heintzelman at once. He had not gone far when he met two officers, sent from General Franklin's headquarters, with the information that he was falling back. Orders were then sent to Generals Sumner and Heintzelman to fall back also, and definite instructions were given as to the movement which was to commence on the right. The orders met these troops already en route to Malvern."

    An extremely odd result if McClellan was in active communication and control. Withdrawal from a battlefield would seem to be one of those decisions that ought to be made by an overall commander.Consistent with McClellan's report, Sumner testified that he only learned about this development when he found himself isolated - again, no involvement by McClellan.

    Your own account also contains a significant gap - the time during which the actual fighting took place at the crossroads c. 4 PM - 8 PM. Nothing from McClellan. Franklin, Sumner, et al. were fighting on their own without a directing hand and without any of them being charged with exercising control on the scene. This is one that Sears nailed.

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    1. Again, these are later events occurring some six hours later.

      The events of 2200-0200 aren't really in question. Franklin decided to quit his position without consulting McClellan, and by the time aides made it back to McClellan's CP with the news the whole Federal position had collapsed.

      This of course occurred in the near pitch black as it was night with a 7% moon (new moon was the 27th) in a relatively heavily wooded area. Comms are slow at night, at least until the radio is invented.

      (splitting to get under the character limit)

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    2. Now, as to the attack. As I've explained the entire attack was an accident. When McClellan left the Dew House after receiving Rodger's note at 1600 there was no attack, merely some exchange of artillery fire. Longstreet ordered Jenkins to advance skirmishers to snipe the gunners, but around 1630 Jenkins took his brigade and charged the Federal batteries from the front. Wilcox thought they were attacking and launched his two ready regiments as well. With an ad hoc attack underway Longstreet orders Kemper and Branch to attack at 1700. Kemper launches 1715-30, but Branch's brigade (the one nearest McClellan's CP at the Dew House) had gone into routine and were around their cooking fires; they didn't launch until around 1800. Other "attacks" were launched after 1830, but were essentially demonstrations to cover breaking contact.

      McClellan is down at Haxalls when Jenkins launches, and is on the Galena or on a boat back from the Galena when Kemper launches. By the time Branch launches he is ashore and probably riding up Malvern Hill. He would be back at his CP before AP Hill launched any attacks.

      Let me also note that the column under Holmes that attacked Malvern was Lee's main effort, and we know this because this is where he sent his reserve force (Magruder). The force at the crossroads was merely making a demonstration against the centre to stop McClellan pulling forces from there onto Malvern Hill. Jenkins' unordered attack indeed caused McClellan to react as Lee wanted, he sent forces from Malvern Hill to the crossroads, but Holmes' attack was smothered by artillery and the gunboats and was defeated easily.

      McClellan's signals after he was informed of the attack at the crossroads certainly include orders for reserves to reinforce the centre, as Couch is explicit where the order came from. The question of who ordered the 4 brigades from White Oak is unresolved, and quite possibly everyone did. The two from Sedgwick's brigade we know were en route before the attack, and also received orders from multiple staff officers from various commanders to hurry up. The two brigades from Richardson's division were not ordered to move until after 1800. Meagher had been at Sumner's HQ for a while asking for Sumner to order them to the contact, and after 1800 Sumner did. We have no information about whether Sumner suddenly changed his mind or whether he received orders to that effect we don't know either way.

      Essentially of the seven brigades that moved (or should have) to the New Market crossroads:

      * Two (Dana and Sully) were ordered there well before McClellan left for the Galena, but had been sent over to counter a threat by Huger en route and then proceeded to the crossroads.
      * Two (Howe and Palmer) were absolutely verifiably ordered there by McClellan, with Maj Webb carrying the order.
      * Two (Caldwell and Meagher) were ordered there around 1800 hrs by Sumner under unknown circumstances.
      * One (Wessells) was ordered to the crossroads by McClellan but the aide carrying the order could not find them and so headed on with his other orders

      The order to Howe and Palmer was carried from the signals station by Maj Webb. The order to move Wessells was carried by Maj Hammerstein, who stated he could not spend long looking for him as he "had to move other troops". Which other troops were these? The only other significant troop movement on the field in the hour after this was that of Meagher and Caldwell, and the obvious answer is that he was tasked to move reinforcements down from White Oak Swamp to New Market Crossroads, unless you know of another

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  9. John FoskettApril 12, 2017

    Although I could contribute a multi-paragraph rejoinder to this (pointing out several facts which you studiously avoid or do not have), I think we're exhausting the relevance of all of this to our host's purposes on this site. Suffice to say that you can attribute to McClellan no orders to anyone at the crossroads or White Oak during the battle - all, again, in the context of McClellan failing to designate anyone for overall command there in his stead. I will leave it at this regarding your assessment of Lee's plans and his "main effort" - you and I have a fundamentally different understanding of Glendale. Your assessment may be geared to maximize the importance of Mac riding along on the boat ride to fling potshots at Holmes but it doesn't remotely fit the facts. And you've simply ignored a critical third element of Lee's design' for some reason. Over and out.

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    1. Over and out are two contradictory indications.

      The issue isn't about how to "maximize the importance of Mac...", it's about trying to work out what actually happened.

      Hence you won't find me denying that McClellan went to the Galena. In fact my research shows he actually went twice during the 30th. The questions are:

      * why did he go?
      * how long was he there?
      * what did he do whilst he was there?

      Suffice to say that Sears' argument is contradicted by the most casual perusal of the evidence, and indeed I think he knows it as he winds his neck in in this book - for example he drops the claim that McClellan wasn't in signals communication because the reports in the OR, SOR and essentially every single account admit that he was. The one that denies this is by Bissell, the assistant-surgeon of USS Jacob Bell, and his account appears to be (by comparing it to over accounts) McClellan's second visit to the boats at around 2100 hrs, which Bissell time shifts to 1400 hrs.

      As to "main effort", Lee was trying to interdict the wagon train. By 1600 the trains had cleared New Market Crossroads and the tail of them was ascending Malvern Hill. Hence there was no longer any significant danger at the New Market Crossroads. Lee's most dangerous COA would have been to attack Malvern Hill with all available forces as per his figure:

      https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-pNXU-DCvGnc/WO6bvWRU66I/AAAAAAAABHc/0Z7qqpCu2RwzUHUvTxwEDOqE6xOSCL_xwCLcB/s1600/Lee%2527s%2BCOA%2Bat%2BGlendale.png

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  10. John FoskettApril 13, 2017

    You're playing word games now. Lee's objective wasn't to grab some wagons - it was to prevent the escape of the Army of the Potomac and to cripple it. It was intended as a three-pronged attack. The reason the danger at the crossroads evaporated was a result of desperate fighting there and of Jackson unaccountably staying immobile at White Oak, For what may be the 25th or 30th time you have failed to give us the substance of one - just one - order that was communicated from McClellan to any of Heintzelman, Sumner, Franklin, McCall, Hooker, Kearney, or Slocum during the fighting. That's because there were no such orders. And that's why even after the fighting ended McClellan was so out of touch that his couriers stumbled on to the fact that the three commands were withdrawing from the battlefield. Now work with the cinematic meaning of "over and out". And don't worry about the frequency, Kenneth.

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    1. Not really, Lee's objective was to destroy the enemy army, which means attacking his logistics.

      We know the contents of several sets of orders to several of McClellan's subordinates, but that's a fluke. We know that aides were going from the signals station by the BF Dew House to and from the commanders around Glendale and at White Oak Landing, because the correspondent for the NY Times was at the BF Dew House and reported this. We know McClellan transmitted orders because la Comte de Paris reported such in his journal. We do not know the exact contents of most of the transmitted orders because few have been preserved (at least that have surfaced). Therefore we're into speculation. We no know there was a flow of information, and we do know McClellan ordered troop movements in response to the attack, because two are recorded in the OR (11(3), 284) due to one order not being delivered.

      Thus we know for an absolute fact that McClellan was aware of the fighting and ordered troop movements in response to it. We should assume that if he is absolutely known to be sending orders to Peck's division, to Couch's division and to Porter, that he made additional orders further north. They were likely general.

      Indeed, we know that before he left for Haxall's and Rodgers he had a round of comms with his northern commanders, asking their dispositions and making corrections. We can speculate that he started Sedgwick's two brigades back then.

      Your assertion that "there were no orders" is possible, but unlikely. Your attempt to conflate two completely different events that occurred six hours apart is obviously an example of the formal fallacy of conflation.

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    2. John FoskettApril 19, 2017

      Somebody has to have the last word, right? If McClellan had issued orders during the fighting to anybody involved in the fighting we would know about it. We would know who received them and we would know their content and we would know what influence/effect they had. We have nothing - not from McClellan, not from the three corps commanders, not from any of the division commanders. This doesn't require much in the way of sophisticated reasoning - just common sense. He issued no such orders because he wasn't in a position to know what was happening or to react promptly. You present only speculation - and implausible speculation at that. Last, only a McClellan zealot would blindly dismiss Mac's utter ignorance of his subordinates' withdrawal from the battlefield as irrelevant. He knew nothing about that highly significant maneuver precisely because he was not in effective communication. A commander who is uninformed of what actions his officers are taking and has no role in those actions is simply not in command or in control.

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    3. Of course, McClellan had issued orders to the local commanders before the fighting. He gathered in Franklin, Sumner and Heintzelman for several hours in the morning and rode over the whole position with them. He set up the disposition of the defence for them to enact, with obviously standing orders for contengencies.

      He then headed south and did the same with Porter and Keyes, before riding north to the sound of the guns in Franklin's front. He then checked on the dispositions for defence (and there were a few modifications, like McCall being where Kearny was supposed to be) and left additional instructions (which probably included Franklin releasing Sedgwick's two brigades back to reserve) before heading south again.

      We know after the attack at Glendale that his signals rapidly reported the matter to him, and he sent messages back. The content of the messages to the northern commanders has not been preserved, although of course his orders to the southern sector partially have.

      The sad thing is that our most reliable diarist, Heintzelman, decided to leave his HQ and spent several hours running around managing the battle. Sumner of course sat at his HQ, but essentially nothing of his activities is recorded. Only that Meagher was there (under arrest) and he spent over an hour trying to get Sumner to call in Richardson from White Oak Swamp to reinforce the centre. Why Sumner issued such an order ca. 1800 remains unknown - did he change his mind or did he receive an order from McClellan to that effect?

      Sumner in his (slightly confused) JCCW testimony was explicit that he was ordered to send Sedgwick's two brigades to Franklin (obviously by McClellan). He later states he sent for two brigades from White Oak, but these may be those from Richardson's division - four of Sumner's brigades in two groups of two moved to Glendale, and one of these two Sumner didn't mention. We know explicitly that Sumner issued an order at 1800 for Richardson's two brigade to come down, but the timings of Sedgwick's two indicate they were on the march before the attack at Glendale.

      Again, the fact that it took an hour for messages to pass between corps and army HQs on a nearly moonless night says very little about the speed of communication on a sunny day. Of course after dark comms slow down and become less reliable. Trying to project the situation at midnight on that at 1700 seems to be a false analogy fallacy.

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  11. John FoskettApril 20, 2017

    Let's work with this -

    (1) "The content of the messages to the northern commanders has not been preserved, although of course his orders to the southern sector partially have."

    "Preserved" presumably means "recorded by anyone, at the time or in the 50 years following the battle". That's the problem. It's simply astonishing that the only participants who spoke to this issue at all said nothing - ever - about a single order which they received from McClellan. It's equally astonishing that nowhere in his detailed report of August 3, 1863, in his correspondence, in his B&L article, or anywhere else did Mac ever mention a single such order. He had no such reluctance when it came to, say, Gaines' Mill, where, albeit appropriately with the part of his army which was south of the river, he was in adequate command and control and dispatched reinforcements from that side to Porter while the fighting unfolded.

    (2) "Of course, McClellan had issued orders to the local commanders before the fighting. He gathered in Franklin, Sumner and Heintzelman for several hours in the morning and rode over the whole position with them. He set up the disposition of the defence for them to enact, with obviously standing orders for contingencies.

    He then headed south and did the same with Porter and Keyes, before riding north to the sound of the guns in Franklin's front. He then checked on the dispositions for defence (and there were a few modifications, like McCall being where Kearny was supposed to be) and left additional instructions (which probably included Franklin releasing Sedgwick's two brigades back to reserve) before heading south again."

    I'll ignore more gap-filling speculation in this one ("probably" re Sedgwick and "unknown" re Richardson). Nobody in his right mind would assert that a commander exercises effective command and control over a battle because he has put in place dispositions before the battle starts and then leaves the field. Von Moltke made a pertinent observation about plans and contact with the enemy. This is especially so where the pre-battle dispositions are a stew of units from different commands and include placing a battered unit (McCall's) at what proved to be the key sector of the crossroads defense - with predictable results.

    (3) "The sad thing is that our most reliable diarist, Heintzelman, decided to leave his HQ and spent several hours running around managing the battle. Sumner of course sat at his HQ, but essentially nothing of his activities is recorded."

    This is a window into the problem of McClellan not being in effective command and control and of utterly failing to designate somebody - anybody - to exercise that in his absence.

    You are making a masterful attempt, as always, to dance delicately around the complete absence of what certainly would exist if it happened - a specific account from somebody who was involved regarding a specific order or orders from McClellan during his army's desperate battle. It's similar to Conan Doyle's dog that failed to bark in the night. The arrow points in one direction.

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