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"Siege" of Harpers Ferry?

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  • flagflop
    One of those little irksome items, like seeing triggers pulled or jerked, rather than squeezed (and UNC in Dur m ): I m seeing, it seems, more and more
    Message 1 of 10 , Feb 25, 2006
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      One of those little irksome items, like seeing triggers "pulled"
      or "jerked," rather than "squeezed" (and UNC in "Dur'm"): I'm
      seeing, it seems, more and more refs to the "siege" of HF in
      the "sideshow to the big show" (as Gen Stackpole or someone called
      it). The last straw was seeing that Dennis Frye is speaking on the
      subject in April. (Maybe in the talk he will reject the title.) My
      contention is that this is not a proper use of the term, "siege," in
      the classic military sense (to which Scott's 1861 "Mil Dict" devotes
      some 8 pages).

      Lee did not order a siege, nor was the prospect of a siege operation
      in his concept of operations (or time table). His detached forces
      were not equipped for a siege--they had none of the armament (siege
      guns, mortars), specialty troops (pioneers, engineers), or equipment
      (LOTS of shovels, picks, etc.) for conducting a siege. They did not,
      upon arrival, settle in to "lay siege" on a protracted basis or cut
      off Bolivar Hgts/HF from the outside world (witness the departure of
      Grimes Davis and the Union cavalry).

      I have not seen evidence that the Union commander, Col. Miles,
      considered himself in a siege situation--e.g., that he declared
      martial law for the area, or that his deployment of troops implied
      siege defense. (Clearly he recognized that he was being squeezed by
      a superior force, and that it would be over in a matter of time, if
      nothing else.)

      Per SO 191, McLaws's arty (field guns) on Md Hgts was to have been
      adequate to force the surrender. (Walker's "demi-brigade" was placed
      to block a break-out down-river. Jackson--at Martinsburg--was to
      discourage a break-out to the north. When White chose to shift to
      HF, followed by Jackson, troop deployment created an "investment" of
      HF--a prerequisite to a siege, true, but hardly a siege per se.)

      The components of a classic siege are the surrounding and
      increasingly tighter closing-in on the "fortress," while keeping it
      under fire and guarding against sorties. Usually a siege represents
      a lengthy duration (cf. 7 weeks at Vicksburg vs. a day or so at HF).

      I suggest that we stop using the term, "siege," in respect to HF,
      Sep '62, and gently correct others who do. If you differ,
      please "gently disagree" with me and show me the error of my ways.
    • Harry Smeltzer
      Flagflop, You ve summed it up nicely, I think. One of the biggest screw-ups in describing SO 191 is the simple statement Lee sent Jackson to lay siege to
      Message 2 of 10 , Feb 26, 2006
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        Flagflop,



        You've summed it up nicely, I think.



        One of the biggest screw-ups in describing SO 191 is the simple statement
        "Lee sent Jackson to lay siege to Harper's Ferry." This statement is 100%
        correct, with the exception that the order did not send Jackson to Harper's
        Ferry, did not order a siege, and in fact did not even recognize in its
        timetable the possibility of a siege. The abandonment of the position or
        surrender of the garrison seems to have been a forgone conclusion in Lee's
        mind. The untenable nature of the place was well known to military minds on
        both sides by the fall of 1862 - except maybe to the Lincoln administration
        and Halleck. Per SO 191, the operation was to have been wrapped up by the
        time the order was discovered in Frederick (9/13).



        Harry



        -----Original Message-----
        From: TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com [mailto:TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com] On
        Behalf Of flagflop
        Sent: Saturday, February 25, 2006 10:39 AM
        To: TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [TalkAntietam] "Siege" of Harpers Ferry?



        One of those little irksome items, like seeing triggers "pulled"
        or "jerked," rather than "squeezed" (and UNC in "Dur'm"): I'm
        seeing, it seems, more and more refs to the "siege" of HF in
        the "sideshow to the big show" (as Gen Stackpole or someone called
        it). The last straw was seeing that Dennis Frye is speaking on the
        subject in April. (Maybe in the talk he will reject the title.) My
        contention is that this is not a proper use of the term, "siege," in
        the classic military sense (to which Scott's 1861 "Mil Dict" devotes
        some 8 pages).

        Lee did not order a siege, nor was the prospect of a siege operation
        in his concept of operations (or time table). His detached forces
        were not equipped for a siege--they had none of the armament (siege
        guns, mortars), specialty troops (pioneers, engineers), or equipment
        (LOTS of shovels, picks, etc.) for conducting a siege. They did not,
        upon arrival, settle in to "lay siege" on a protracted basis or cut
        off Bolivar Hgts/HF from the outside world (witness the departure of
        Grimes Davis and the Union cavalry).

        I have not seen evidence that the Union commander, Col. Miles,
        considered himself in a siege situation--e.g., that he declared
        martial law for the area, or that his deployment of troops implied
        siege defense. (Clearly he recognized that he was being squeezed by
        a superior force, and that it would be over in a matter of time, if
        nothing else.)

        Per SO 191, McLaws's arty (field guns) on Md Hgts was to have been
        adequate to force the surrender. (Walker's "demi-brigade" was placed
        to block a break-out down-river. Jackson--at Martinsburg--was to
        discourage a break-out to the north. When White chose to shift to
        HF, followed by Jackson, troop deployment created an "investment" of
        HF--a prerequisite to a siege, true, but hardly a siege per se.)

        The components of a classic siege are the surrounding and
        increasingly tighter closing-in on the "fortress," while keeping it
        under fire and guarding against sorties. Usually a siege represents
        a lengthy duration (cf. 7 weeks at Vicksburg vs. a day or so at HF).

        I suggest that we stop using the term, "siege," in respect to HF,
        Sep '62, and gently correct others who do. If you differ,
        please "gently disagree" with me and show me the error of my ways.















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      • Thomas Clemens
        Agreed. I think TAF makes clear that Lee wanted Miles andthe garrison out of there, but not necessarily captured. Union forces retreating northward and
        Message 3 of 10 , Feb 26, 2006
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          Agreed. I think TAF makes clear that Lee wanted Miles andthe garrison
          out of there, but not necessarily captured. Union forces retreating
          northward and reuniting the Southern army were more in his mind.

          Thomas G. Clemens D.A.
          Professor of History
          Hagerstown Community College


          >>> hjs21@... 02/26/06 7:14 PM >>>
        • NJ Rebel
          Tom; Since you and I both know Joe Harsh and how objectively he studied the entire question, it seems pretty clear that Marse Robt and Ol Jack expected,
          Message 4 of 10 , Feb 26, 2006
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            Tom;

            Since you and I both know Joe Harsh and how objectively he studied the
            entire question, it seems pretty clear that Marse Robt and Ol Jack
            expected, perhaps naively, that the Federal garrisons at Martinsburg
            and HF would retire, post haste, up into Maryland with the approach of
            Confederate forces.

            That this did not and that Ol' Jack decided to press ahead with the
            investment of HF following the Federal retreat from Martinsburg into
            HF rather than into Maryland, almost wrecked the campaign.

            Yr. Obt. Svt.
            G E "Gerry" Mayers

            "....the powers granted under the Constitution, being derived from the
            people of the United States, may be resumed by them, whenever the same
            shall be perverted to their injury or oppression;.."
            Act of State of Virginia adopting the Federal Constitution, 26 June
            1788

            ----- Original Message -----
            From: "Thomas Clemens" <clemenst@...>
            To: <TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com>
            Sent: Sunday, February 26, 2006 10:12 PM
            Subject: RE: [TalkAntietam] "Siege" of Harpers Ferry?


            > Agreed. I think TAF makes clear that Lee wanted Miles andthe
            > garrison
            > out of there, but not necessarily captured. Union forces retreating
            > northward and reuniting the Southern army were more in his mind.
            >
            > Thomas G. Clemens D.A.
            > Professor of History
            > Hagerstown Community College
            >
            >
            >>>> hjs21@... 02/26/06 7:14 PM >>>
            >
            >
            >
            >
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            >
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            >
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          • Thomas Clemens
            Flagflop I think it is clear that Jackson was extemporizing long before that. Notice his slow march on the 10th, only from Frederick to Boonsboro on a 1st
            Message 5 of 10 , Feb 27, 2006
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              Flagflop
              I think it is clear that Jackson was extemporizing long before that.
              Notice his slow march on the 10th, only from Frederick to Boonsboro on a
              1st class road, and then the change in route to Williamsport and not
              Shepherdstown. He decided to "Bag" harpers Ferry, and that was not
              exactly what he was told to do, nor the route to approach to do it.
              Interestingthought here - Jackson's stop at Boonsboro at mid afternoon
              was done I think, to not disclose what road he would take the next day,
              either to Shepherdstown or Williamsport. In other words to deny intell
              to the enemy. Good thought. BUT, in stopping nobody behind him could
              pass him so the whole army was jammed up on the same road. D.H. Hill's
              division didn't leave Frederick because there was no open road for them.
              Given the research by Tim Reese and Joe Harsh, it seems likely Hill's
              copy of SO 191 was lost on the 10th or 11th, east of Frederick, and then
              found on the 13th. IF Jackson had pursued the prescribed route and kept
              marching, might Hill's men have left Frederick, and the order lost never
              lost, or lost in another place, and maybe not found? Etc. Etc.
              Now I am not pushing this to heap blame on Jackson, as I said, his ruse
              was a good one, just adding this as an unponderable but interesting
              possibility.



              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • flagflop
              Ah, the frustration of remote conversation! It has been some time since I studied the order of march and the speed, if that s a proper term. (What happened
              Message 6 of 10 , Feb 27, 2006
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                Ah, the frustration of remote conversation! It has been some time since
                I studied the order of march and the "speed," if that's a proper term.
                (What happened to "Foot cavalry"?) I recall once upon a time
                encountering a letter in McLaws Papers (SHC, Chapel Hill), commenting, I
                believe, on a draft lecture, and explaining that he simply could not get
                his column moving because of Longstreet blocking the way. Finally he
                elected the Jefferson-Burkittsville by-pass approach into Pleasant
                Valley.

                I have thought that, at Boonesboro, Jax was meditating, not on HF, but
                on his assigned objective, Martinsburg--whether White would remain or
                move, and, if the latter, in what direction. The direct route, via
                Shepherdstown and across the Potomac, would bring Jax in below
                Martinsburg, interposing himself between White and Miles, but allowing
                White to escape west or north; whereas, if Jax swung westward to
                Williamsport and came upon White from the NW, either he would simply
                overwhelm him or force him south to HF. (The latter occurred, and has
                been accepted as part of "the plan"--in retrospect.) His little
                counter-intelligence ploy was interesting, but I wonder who it fooled.

                Finally, I continue to be puzzled by the cavalry role in this adventure.
                The published material strikes me as inadequate documentation of what
                Stuart's men were doing where, when, and why. But for now I wanted
                simply to lay out some considerations from the signal communication
                side.

                Thanks to you and Gerry for the feedback.


                --- In TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com, "Thomas Clemens" <clemenst@...>
                wrote:
                >
                > Flagflop
                > I think it is clear that Jackson was extemporizing long before that.
                > Notice his slow march on the 10th, only from Frederick to Boonsboro on
                a
                > 1st class road, and then the change in route to Williamsport and not
                > Shepherdstown. He decided to "Bag" harpers Ferry, and that was not
                > exactly what he was told to do, nor the route to approach to do it.
                > Interestingthought here - Jackson's stop at Boonsboro at mid afternoon
                > was done I think, to not disclose what road he would take the next
                day,
                > either to Shepherdstown or Williamsport. In other words to deny intell
                > to the enemy. Good thought. BUT, in stopping nobody behind him could
                > pass him so the whole army was jammed up on the same road. D.H. Hill's
                > division didn't leave Frederick because there was no open road for
                them.
                > Given the research by Tim Reese and Joe Harsh, it seems likely Hill's
                > copy of SO 191 was lost on the 10th or 11th, east of Frederick, and
                then
                > found on the 13th. IF Jackson had pursued the prescribed route and
                kept
                > marching, might Hill's men have left Frederick, and the order lost
                never
                > lost, or lost in another place, and maybe not found? Etc. Etc.
                > Now I am not pushing this to heap blame on Jackson, as I said, his
                ruse
                > was a good one, just adding this as an unponderable but interesting
                > possibility.
                >
                >
                >
                > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                >
              • Thomas Clemens
                No problem FF, and I agree, Jackson was looking at Martinsburg and White, but not driving them off, capturing them was more on his mind. Harsh, in TAF,
                Message 7 of 10 , Feb 27, 2006
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                  No problem FF, and I agree, Jackson was looking at Martinsburg and
                  White, but not driving them off, capturing them was more on his mind.
                  Harsh, in TAF, suggests Stuart's performance in the MD Campaign was less
                  than stellar.

                  Thomas G. Clemens D.A.
                  Professor of History
                  Hagerstown Community College


                  >>> flagflop@... 02/27/06 9:58 PM >>>
                • Harry Smeltzer
                  That s an understatement. Stuart screwed the pooch in the Maryland Campaign. Harry ... From: TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com
                  Message 8 of 10 , Feb 27, 2006
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                    That's an understatement. Stuart screwed the pooch in the Maryland
                    Campaign.



                    Harry



                    -----Original Message-----
                    From: TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com [mailto:TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com] On
                    Behalf Of Thomas Clemens
                    Sent: Monday, February 27, 2006 10:59 PM
                    To: TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com
                    Subject: Re: [TalkAntietam] Re: "Siege" of Harpers Ferry?



                    Harsh, in TAF, suggests Stuart's performance in the MD Campaign was less
                    than stellar.

                    Thomas G. Clemens D.A.
                    Professor of History
                    Hagerstown Community College


                    >>> flagflop@... 02/27/06 9:58 PM >>>









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                  • NJ Rebel
                    Harry; I agree. Stuart came no where near the level of performance during the Maryland Campaign he showed during the 2nd Manassas Campaign. What Harsh does not
                    Message 9 of 10 , Feb 28, 2006
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                      Harry;

                      I agree. Stuart came no where near the level of performance during the
                      Maryland Campaign he showed during the 2nd Manassas Campaign. What
                      Harsh does not say in TAF though is whether Stuart and his men also
                      were feeling the cumulative affects of constant campaigning since
                      July, and were themselves (horses and men) very badly in need of
                      "recruitment" etc?

                      Yr. Obt. Svt.
                      G E "Gerry" Mayers

                      "....the powers granted under the Constitution, being derived from the
                      people of the United States, may be resumed by them, whenever the same
                      shall be perverted to their injury or oppression;.."
                      Act of State of Virginia adopting the Federal Constitution, 26 June
                      1788

                      ----- Original Message -----
                      From: "Harry Smeltzer" <hjs21@...>
                      To: <TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com>
                      Sent: Monday, February 27, 2006 11:03 PM
                      Subject: RE: [TalkAntietam] Re: "Siege" of Harpers Ferry?


                      > That's an understatement. Stuart screwed the pooch in the Maryland
                      > Campaign.
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > Harry
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > -----Original Message-----
                      > From: TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com
                      > [mailto:TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com] On
                      > Behalf Of Thomas Clemens
                      > Sent: Monday, February 27, 2006 10:59 PM
                      > To: TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com
                      > Subject: Re: [TalkAntietam] Re: "Siege" of Harpers Ferry?
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > Harsh, in TAF, suggests Stuart's performance in the MD Campaign was
                      > less
                      > than stellar.
                      >
                      > Thomas G. Clemens D.A.
                      > Professor of History
                      > Hagerstown Community College
                      >
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                      >>>> flagflop@... 02/27/06 9:58 PM >>>
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                    • Harry Smeltzer
                      I made a series of posts on this on another forum. I don t think Harsh was as tough as he could have been on Stuart. He just let the facts speak for
                      Message 10 of 10 , Feb 28, 2006
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                        I made a series of posts on this on another forum. I don't think Harsh was
                        as tough as he could have been on Stuart. He just let the facts speak for
                        themselves. If you go through TATF and pick out the Stuart stuff, the time
                        line shows him in a very poor light.



                        Harry



                        -----Original Message-----
                        From: TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com [mailto:TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com] On
                        Behalf Of NJ Rebel
                        Sent: Tuesday, February 28, 2006 7:32 AM
                        To: TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com
                        Subject: Re: [TalkAntietam] Re: "Siege" of Harpers Ferry?



                        Harry;

                        I agree. Stuart came no where near the level of performance during the
                        Maryland Campaign he showed during the 2nd Manassas Campaign. What
                        Harsh does not say in TAF though is whether Stuart and his men also
                        were feeling the cumulative affects of constant campaigning since
                        July, and were themselves (horses and men) very badly in need of
                        "recruitment" etc?

                        Yr. Obt. Svt.
                        G E "Gerry" Mayers

                        "....the powers granted under the Constitution, being derived from the
                        people of the United States, may be resumed by them, whenever the same
                        shall be perverted to their injury or oppression;.."
                        Act of State of Virginia adopting the Federal Constitution, 26 June
                        1788

                        ----- Original Message -----
                        From: "Harry Smeltzer" <hjs21@...>
                        To: <TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com>
                        Sent: Monday, February 27, 2006 11:03 PM
                        Subject: RE: [TalkAntietam] Re: "Siege" of Harpers Ferry?


                        > That's an understatement. Stuart screwed the pooch in the Maryland
                        > Campaign.
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        > Harry
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        > -----Original Message-----
                        > From: TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com
                        > [mailto:TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com] On
                        > Behalf Of Thomas Clemens
                        > Sent: Monday, February 27, 2006 10:59 PM
                        > To: TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com
                        > Subject: Re: [TalkAntietam] Re: "Siege" of Harpers Ferry?
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        > Harsh, in TAF, suggests Stuart's performance in the MD Campaign was
                        > less
                        > than stellar.
                        >
                        > Thomas G. Clemens D.A.
                        > Professor of History
                        > Hagerstown Community College
                        >
                        >
                        >>>> flagflop@... 02/27/06 9:58 PM >>>
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