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 Post subject: Petersburg in August of 1862?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 26, 2013 4:53 pm 
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At the behest of Stanton and Lincoln one of Halleck's first chores as the newly appointed General-in-Chief of the Union Armies was to visit McClellan at Harrison's Landing on the James River and ascertain if that General had plans to renew his offensive on the Peninsula. If so, Lincoln was ready to give McClellan 20,000 extra men: if not, the troops would go to Pope! This was the culmination of almost a full month of prodding and inquiry on the part of Washington to renew the offensive against Richmond, a month in which McClellan obfuscated and pleaded for reinforcements for the Army of the Potomac. But when Halleck arrived at the end of the month McClellan had apparantly put together something of a scheme to take his army across the James and strike for Petersburg. When queried by Halleck if he felt the plan would succeed, McClellan qualified his answer by stating that he would require at least an additional 30,000 more men to stand a chance. That was not the answer Halleck, Stanton and Lincoln wanted to hear.

Halleck returned to Washington, the plug was pulled on "Little Mac," and he was ordered to embark his troops to join Pope north of the Rappahannock.

But what if McClellan had found his sand, convinced Lincoln and Halleck that the 20,000 additional troops would suit him just fine, promptly spanned the James as Grant did in 1864 and headed southwest for Petersburg? Such a move, theoretically, could not possibly have been effected until mid-August, by which time the Battle of Cedar Mountain had been fought and Lee's entire army, minus 25,000 troops left to guard Richmond, had begun moving north to take up positions on the Rapidan in a prelude to attack Pope's main army.

What do you think might have happened?

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 Post subject: Re: Petersburg in August of 1862?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 26, 2013 6:35 pm 
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In order to begin to make that evaluation we would need to know:

Size of Lee's army & unit quality:
Size of Pope's army & unit quality:

Defense of Richmond 25,000 men [plus cannon plus advantage of entrenchment]
Size of Mac's army & unit quality:

Potential of Union reinforcements (from other fronts)?
Potential of Rebel reinforcements (from other fronts)?

The likely location of all the key officers for both sides. In particular, who would lead the defense of Richmond?

Could you help us to answer your question by supplying some estimates?

We are reminded of Lee's reply to the question of what would happen if Richmond fell. His answer: "We would swap queens." In other words, he would go for Washington. Even without the extra information requested it is a safe bet Pope would lose handily if he faced Lee on equal or poorer numerical terms. Therefore, the matter would boil down to the level of defenses in Washington. Which explains why this question is theoretical - Lincoln was never going to divide his force and leave Washington naked for the reasons just offered.

<salute!>

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 Post subject: Re: Petersburg in August of 1862?
PostPosted: Sat Jul 27, 2013 1:00 am 
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Definitely a theoretical question! I wonder if Davis, then, would have felt the same way about Richmond once McClellan might have made his move.

Then we have the whole question within this supposition of whether McClellan, once he had discovered that Lee was heading North, might have disregarded Petersburg and gone straight for Richmond once more! With Pope between Lee and Washington, might not Lincoln have risked, again, what he has risked before?

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General Jos. C. Meyer,
Union Army Chief of Staff
Commander, Army of the Shenandoah
(2011-2014 UA CoA/GinC)


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 Post subject: Re: Petersburg in August of 1862?
PostPosted: Sat Jul 27, 2013 7:35 am 
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Might the loss of Davis have helped the Confederacy? A lot of his generals would come to think that as the war went on.

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Confederate States of America

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 Post subject: Re: Petersburg in August of 1862?
PostPosted: Sat Jul 27, 2013 12:48 pm 
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If JTS ever produces the Petersburg Campaign, perhaps the designer will include a number of "What If" scenarios built around these 1862 suppositions!

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General Jos. C. Meyer,
Union Army Chief of Staff
Commander, Army of the Shenandoah
(2011-2014 UA CoA/GinC)


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