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2427Re: AoP Cavalry on Maryland Campaign

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  • Brian Downey
    Jan 8, 2006
      Thanks for the details Dave -

      I've been thinking that more important than the control
      McLaws _actually_ had over the Valley, is what Gen McClellan
      understood or believed he was up against at the time.

      I don't know that he'd have had time to recognize his couriers weren't
      getting through to HF. Also, going on memory, Col Davis
      hadn't got to McClellan (if at all) til the 17th with his knowledge of
      Confederate positions. I don't know what intel, if any,
      McClellan had about where his enemy was between the 14th and 17th
      aside from the aging SO191. As Eric W mentioned, McClellan doesn't
      seem to have used his Cavalry much for scouting, at least not in
      Pleasant Valley after breaking through Fox's on the 14th.

      Eric had made a hypothetical (or hindsight) suggestion that McClellan
      should have used his Cavalry to delay AP Hill in his arrival from HF
      on the 17th. I'm thinking McClellan couldn't do that, not because he
      didn't know how to use the arm or because he lacked resources - more
      because it wasn't at all a practical option for him, even if he knew
      that AP Hill would be coming and what his impact would be at
      Sharpsburg ...

      Brian



      > Brian,
      >
      > I think we've credited McLaws with too much control over Maryland
      Hgts/Elk Ridge prior to becoming alarmed at what was going on behind
      him in the Pleasant Valley passes, and drawing his attention. My
      impression is that his men held a fairly narrow approach along the
      ridge line and eastern slope, but had not swept over the western slope
      nor established control over the road under the railroad crossing and
      past Salty Dog...the escape route for the Union cavalry's (Grimes
      Davis') night passage.
      >
      > McLaws' approach march to HF appears to me to have been in three
      columns--one (Kershaw-Barksdale) on Elk Ridge toward Md Hgts, one
      (Anderson) along South Mountain toward Sandy Point, and McLaws' main
      body along the floor of Pleasant Valley, the three probably
      coordinating their advance by signal. With the sounds of firing
      behind, McLaws had to divert attention to his rear guard at the
      passes, while at the same time pushing guns forward toward the south
      end of Md Hgts. It's almost as though no thought was given to the
      western slope or the river road below it.
      >
      > Mac had no telegraphic communication with HF, and the small signal
      unit posted on Md Hgts withdrew ("on their own"), effectively denying
      visual signal communication to the east at the very time its was most
      needed. (I've found no indication that signal communication was
      attempted between McLaws and D.H. Hill, Longstreet, or GHQ either.)
      >
      > Maybe I should save this for "Harpers Ferry on the Web"!
      >
      > Dave Gaddy
      >
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