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RE: [TalkAntietam] Re: US Civil War Factbook

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  • Jeff Beckner (PWC Magazine)
    ... Well, yeah. On the face of it, you give very good reasons for not pursuing offensive actions -- in fact, with the lack of ammo, staying put might not even
    Message 1 of 30 , Jun 11, 2001
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      >Is there a problem with there being a disparity between what McClellan
      >wanted to do and what he felt he was capable of doing?

      Well, yeah. On the face of it, you give very good reasons for not pursuing
      offensive actions -- in fact, with the lack of ammo, staying put might not
      even have been such a good idea. With said reasons, he shouldn't even have
      been considering it under any circumstances. But he was, and it comes
      closely to sounding like you want to play it both ways: He doesn't fight,
      but deserves credit for at least thinking about it.

      >I would imagine that two important things looked different on the
      >morning of the 18th then they did on the evening of the 17th.

      I was talking about the morning of the 17th -- if it was a good time to
      attack then, what changed overnight other than slightly delayed ammo? If
      there were reasons not to attack on the 18th, I would think they'd apply to
      the 17th even more.
    • NJ Rebel
      Jim-- I cut your most excellent post to shorten the bandwith for this message but, in essence, I am in agreement with you on your statements. However, I
      Message 2 of 30 , Jun 11, 2001
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        Jim--

        I cut your most excellent post to shorten the bandwith for this
        message but, in essence, I am in agreement with you on your
        statements.

        However, I believe there is one very valuable thing that Mac did
        with respects to Lee that most historians either overlook or
        simply did not take the time to consider. Harsh goes over this
        from the viewpoint of what Lee could or could not have done on
        September 18th in TATF. Essentially, by remaining "in place"
        where he was on September 18th, Mac effectively shut the door for
        Lee to continue his Maryland campaign. Hence a large part of the
        reason for the ANV retreat to Shepherdstown.

        I wonder, too, if Carman says anything about Mac not attacking on
        September 18th vis Lee and any plans Lee might have had. IIRC,
        Lee was all for attacking on September 18th, but his main
        subordinate commanders were unanimously against it.

        Hope this helps.

        Your humble servant,
        Gerry Mayers
        Co. B, "Tom Green Rifles",
        Fourth Regiment, Texas Volunteer Infantry

        "I know of no fitter resting-place for a soldier than the field
        on which he has nobly laid down his life." --General Robert
        Edward Lee
      • James Rose
        ... McClellan had to stay put. It was absolutely imperative that Lee not be allowed to revive the campaign. As for the ammo situation, if I understand it
        Message 3 of 30 , Jun 11, 2001
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          Jeff Beckner (PWC Magazine) wrote:

          >
          > Well, yeah. On the face of it, you give very good reasons for not pursuing
          > offensive actions -- in fact, with the lack of ammo, staying put might not
          > even have been such a good idea. With said reasons, he shouldn't even have
          > been considering it under any circumstances. But he was, and it comes
          > closely to sounding like you want to play it both ways: He doesn't fight,
          > but deserves credit for at least thinking about it.

          McClellan had to stay put. It was absolutely imperative that Lee not be
          allowed to revive the campaign. As for the ammo situation, if I
          understand it correctly McClellan thought (on the 17th) that he would be
          resupplied in time for the attack on the 18th. That didn't happen, and
          the shipment was delayed until the evening. If you don't want to give
          McClellan credit for intending to attack on the 18th that's fine. It
          doesn't actually matter to me. I personally think that McClellan
          answered the questions about moral cowardice, timidity, and
          unwillingness to fight on the 17th. The fact that McClellan thought
          about attacking on the 18th and then changed his mind doesn't mean
          anything other than he changed his mind.

          >
          > I was talking about the morning of the 17th -- if it was a good time to
          > attack then, what changed overnight other than slightly delayed ammo? If
          > there were reasons not to attack on the 18th, I would think they'd apply to
          > the 17th even more.
          >
          Let me see. What changed during the day of the 17th. Let's start with
          10,000 casualties and go from there. On the morning of the 17th the
          AotP had 6 intact corps' that were capable of offensive operations. By
          evening McClellan was reduced to two corps' capable of offensive
          operations. In the morning there was a full load-out of ammo. By
          evening there were critical shortages (heavy fighting tends to use up ammo).

          There were many reasons not to attack on the 17th. I can think of
          several with straining myself. However, not fighting Lee was out of the
          question. If McClellan did not bring Lee to battle in Maryland it would
          have been as damaging, or even more so, than actually losing the AotP.
          McClellan had to fight Lee at some point, and thanks in part to S.O. 191
          McClellan thought that the ANV was still separated (at least somewhat).
          That means that on the 17th McClellan thought that the odds were
          probably as good as they were going to get. Therefore, he attacked.
          There were many reasons not to attack, but more overriding ones to
          attack on the 17th. By evening those overriding reasons had been muted
          by the battle (i.e. a bloodied ANV leaving Maryland is very different
          than an unscratched ANV leaving Maryland).

          Jim Rose
        • Jeff Beckner (PWC Magazine)
          ... Let me see. I guess all the Yankee bullets missed their marks. Where was this paralyzing lack of ammo in all of our other discussions? Has Dr. Harsh
          Message 4 of 30 , Jun 12, 2001
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            >Let me see. What changed during the day of the 17th. Let's start with
            >10,000 casualties and go from there.

            Let me see. I guess all the Yankee bullets missed their marks.

            Where was this paralyzing lack of ammo in all of our other discussions? Has
            Dr. Harsh written another book?
          • James Rose
            ... You do realize that McClellan had no real idea of how badly the Confederates were hurt during the battle. He could make an educated guess, but that is it.
            Message 5 of 30 , Jun 12, 2001
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              Jeff Beckner (PWC Magazine) wrote:
              Let me see.  What changed during the day of the 17th.  Let's start with
              10,000 casualties and go from there.

              Let me see. I guess all the Yankee bullets missed their marks.
              You do realize that McClellan had no real idea of how badly the Confederates were hurt during the battle.  He could make an educated guess, but that is it.  Basically what you are saying sounds like a paraphrase from a famous politician that goes something like this "Yes your troops are hurt, but so are they.  You are all hurt together."  McClellan understood something that apparently a lot of people miss.  It is easier to defend than it is to attack.  So on the 18th McClellan would only be able to attack with part of his army, but Lee would be able to defend with his entire army.


              Where was this paralyzing lack of ammo in all of our other discussions? Has
              Dr. Harsh written another book?

              Have you read "Taken at the Flood" yet?  As for our other discussions, this is the first time I've been on these groups that I have joined in on a discussion of why McClellan didn't attack on the 18th.  That is why I've never mentioned it.  I've also never said that the ammo situation was "paralyzing".  That word has connotations that do not fit in this instance.  I said that he was critically short of ammo.  Sears acknowledges that lack of Parrot rounds even as he dismisses it as meaningless.  I think that the loss of the 20lb Parrots is far from meaningless.  They represented over 10% of the artillery pieces, and as the largest caliber they probably represented a higher percentage in actual combat power.  Considering that artillery is the one branch that McClellan knows is superior in all respects to the Confederates, such a loss is far from trivial.

              Jim Rose


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