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General McClellan and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Civil War Daily Gazette ^ | April 5, 2012 | Eric

Posted on 04/05/2012 5:10:55 PM PDT by Upstate NY Guy

April 5, 1862 (Saturday) Yorktown, VA

The previous day had been a good one for George Briton McClellan, commander of the Union Army of the Potomac. The Rebels to his front gave up ground quickly as he advanced two columns up the Virginia Peninsula. Though a division had been withheld from him a few days ago, he quickly recovered, taking less than two days to get his entire army of 66,700 on the road.

As the dawn drove out the night, he must have felt a renewed optimism. He was certain that Confederate commander General John Magruder had left his back door open wide enough for one wing of the Army of the Potomac to slip around behind Yorktown, the Confederate stronghold. He was also certain that General McDowell’s First Corps, 10,000-strong, would be joining him in the next couple of days.

But his day went from good to bad possibly even before he left his tent. General Erasmus Keyes, heading up the army’s left column, reported early, saying that the back door was blocked by a “large force with three guns in position and strong breastworks.” McClellan had expected Keyes to face little or no resistance, but it was now Keyes’ opinion “that we shall encounter very serious resistance.” There was no way that he was going to be able to best the Rebels with the force he had, so he called for reinforcements. Though they had done no fighting, his artillery was inexplicably low on ammunition. The same was true for the infantry. Also, he wanted some more artillery, and the roads were bad.

(Excerpt) Read more at civilwardailygazette.com ...


TOPICS: History; Military/Veterans
KEYWORDS: civilwar; mcclellen; peninsula; virginia
150 years ago today Confederate General John Magruder fooled Union Generals Keyes and McClellen into believing his 13,000 troops outnumbered their 67,000.

Not that McClellen ever needed an excuse for inaction.

1 posted on 04/05/2012 5:11:06 PM PDT by Upstate NY Guy
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To: Upstate NY Guy

Exactly....which is why he was eventually fired by Lincoln and replaced by Grant (who had been a total failure as a civilian). Strange how war plucks otherwise-”losers” from obscurity and propels them to greatness at key times in history.


2 posted on 04/05/2012 5:27:24 PM PDT by RightOnline (I am Andrew Breitbart!)
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To: Upstate NY Guy

McClellan had such overwhelming superiority in the Peninsula Campaign, all he had to do was keep moving right up to Richmond but Lee knew him and knew he could and did spook him into thinking he had the superiority in troops.


3 posted on 04/05/2012 5:32:53 PM PDT by AU72
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To: Upstate NY Guy
As inept as McClellan proved to be on the battlefield, his saddle design is the single piece of equipment in longest continuous use by the US military. It (with minor modifications) was in operational use up to the end of WWII, and has been used by ceremonial units ever since.

The USMC Mameluke Sword was adopted earlier, but it was not authorized between 1859 (curiously, the year the McClellan was first adopted) and 1875.

4 posted on 04/05/2012 5:37:34 PM PDT by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: Upstate NY Guy
150 years ago today Confederate General John Magruder fooled Union Generals Keyes and McClellen into believing his 13,000 troops outnumbered their 67,000.

Some credit due to Alan Pinkerton, still famous for his sleuthing skills. Really wish we had a history forum here.

5 posted on 04/05/2012 5:40:27 PM PDT by SJackson (As a black man, you know, Barack could get shot going to the gas station, M Obama)
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To: AU72

Exactly.


6 posted on 04/05/2012 5:41:58 PM PDT by Upstate NY Guy
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To: Joe 6-pack

Interesting. I didn’t know that.


7 posted on 04/05/2012 5:43:08 PM PDT by Upstate NY Guy
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To: Upstate NY Guy

In before the LWAT crowd shows up


8 posted on 04/05/2012 5:45:16 PM PDT by Michael.SF. (When you hear hooves, think horses, not zebras.)
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To: Upstate NY Guy
Upstate NY Guy, thanks for the informative post.

I have two ancestors who fought in NY Volunteer Infantry Regiments: the 97th and 13th.

9 posted on 04/05/2012 5:46:45 PM PDT by matt1234 (Bring back the HUAC.)
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To: SJackson
Yup. Pinkerton and McClellen overestimated Confederate troop strength time and time again. Grant and Lincoln seemed to understand that victories were not as crucial as continual battles with roughly equal loses.
10 posted on 04/05/2012 5:54:17 PM PDT by Upstate NY Guy
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To: Michael.SF.

What is a LWAT?


11 posted on 04/05/2012 5:56:36 PM PDT by Upstate NY Guy
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To: matt1234
I have two ancestors who fought in NY Volunteer Infantry Regiments: the 97th and 13th

Interesting. I've lived in NY State my whole life but have ancestors who in the 8th Virginia Cavalry.

12 posted on 04/05/2012 6:03:42 PM PDT by Upstate NY Guy
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To: SJackson

I thought Pinkerton worked for the North.


13 posted on 04/05/2012 6:04:36 PM PDT by Ecliptic
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To: Ecliptic

He did, for McClellan. He was responsible for the vast overestimations of Confederate strength. And became famous. No disrespect intended to Gen Magruder.


14 posted on 04/05/2012 6:08:40 PM PDT by SJackson (As a black man, you know, Barack could get shot going to the gas station, M Obama)
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To: Upstate NY Guy; matt1234
You both may enjoy this...

Free and Green

...that's David Kincaid doing the lead vocals. He's also the lead singer of the rock group "The Brandos" and big time civil war reenactor.

15 posted on 04/05/2012 6:09:58 PM PDT by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: AU72

“McClellan had such overwhelming superiority in the Peninsula Campaign, all he had to do was keep moving right up to Richmond but Lee knew him and knew he could and did spook him into thinking he had the superiority in troops.”

####

Interesting.

In Grant’s autobiography he reveals one of his battle strategy secrets:

Whenever he got apprehensive about the strength and the ability of the enemy, he would refresh his courage by considering that his opponent over the hill, or across the woods, was just as frightened about His army.


16 posted on 04/05/2012 6:23:30 PM PDT by EyeGuy (2012: When the Levee Breaks)
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To: Joe 6-pack

Maybe a little off-topic but here’s another Civil War song by the Brandos.

“Down in Gettysburg”

It makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMb9Uoi0d2M


17 posted on 04/05/2012 6:24:13 PM PDT by SnuffaBolshevik (In a tornado, even turkeys can fly.)
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To: SnuffaBolshevik
Great tune. It came out in 1987...the year I started at Gettysburg College :-)
18 posted on 04/05/2012 6:30:15 PM PDT by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: Joe 6-pack

While in the Navy, I was assigned to a riding stable/ranch attached to NAS Millington (Tenn).

We had a few of the old ‘U.S.’ saddles around. Very comfortable saddle for a long day.


19 posted on 04/05/2012 7:11:45 PM PDT by maine yankee (I got my Governor at 'Marden's')
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To: Joe 6-pack

Cool. Thanks.


20 posted on 04/05/2012 7:34:40 PM PDT by Upstate NY Guy
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To: Upstate NY Guy

The next day Lew Wallace rescued the Union Forces at Pittsburgh Landing, aka Shilo.


21 posted on 04/05/2012 8:11:39 PM PDT by Bringbackthedraft ( WHO WE ELECT AS PRESIDENT IS NOT AS IMPORTANT AS WHO THEY APPOINT.)
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To: Upstate NY Guy

McClellan’s narcissictic letters whining to his wife and complaining that no one appreciated his brilliance reminds me of a certain occupant in Washington DC.


22 posted on 04/05/2012 8:17:41 PM PDT by Thrownatbirth (.....Iraq Invasion fan since '91.)
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To: Joe 6-pack
his saddle design is the single piece of equipment in longest continuous use by the US military.

That is really interesting. Can you point us to some pictures and/or more information on this?

23 posted on 04/05/2012 8:21:41 PM PDT by FoxPro
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To: Upstate NY Guy

Take evasive action! Green Group, stay close to holding sector MD-7.


24 posted on 04/05/2012 8:28:37 PM PDT by smokingfrog ( sleep with one eye open (<o> ---)
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To: Ecliptic
I thought Pinkerton worked for the North.

Yes he did... but he did more good for the South with his alarmism.

Pinkerton was a very cautious man who always overestimated his opponents. But I don't think McClellan would have taken advantage of even totally accurate estimates of enemy strength if he had them.

McClellan was a wonderful parade ground general. He could train troops to be 'the best they could be.' But as to battlefield tactics, he totally sucked. He was overly cautious, not for the sake of the troops, but for his own reputation -- which was all he really cared about.

The only good thing to be said is that he did train the best army the world had ever seen at that point, and US Grant finally utilized that army to its full extent and ended the war that McClellan could have ended two years earlier.

Salute to the Army of the Potomac! They were good soldiers and the best in the world when they finally had a great leader in General Grant.

25 posted on 04/05/2012 8:49:06 PM PDT by Ditto (Nov 2, 2010 -- Partial cleaning accomplished. More trash to remove in 2012)
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To: FoxPro
"Can you point us to some pictures and/or more information on this?"

Sure thing. Wikipedia has a pretty good entry on the McClellan Saddle. The design was exceptionally pragmatic and is still made by a number of saddlery shops to present. In addition to military reenactors it remains popular with a lot of distance/pack riders as well as mounted police units, in one variation or another...


26 posted on 04/05/2012 9:04:51 PM PDT by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: Upstate NY Guy
During the Peninsula campaign George McClellan used the plantation mansion of Benjamin Harrison, one of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, as his headquarters. Benjamin Harrison was a first cousin of Robert E. Lee's mother (so when William Henry Harrison was President, Lee was a second cousin of his Commander-in-Chief...all 31 days of his Presidency).

Tomorrow, April 6, is the 150th anniversary of the first day of the battle of Shiloh...and of the death of Albert Sidney Johnston.

27 posted on 04/05/2012 9:11:51 PM PDT by Verginius Rufus
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To: FoxPro

Also found a neat little video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMWFvQ1VBvo


28 posted on 04/05/2012 9:29:23 PM PDT by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: Ditto

McClellan was certainly overcautious, ridiculously so. But I do think that at that time, no one really appreciated how bloody the war would be. Except perhaps Sherman, who was written off as crazy for his prognostication about the number of troops the North would need.

If McClellan had entered into a confrontation resulting in the kinds of losses that Grant later experienced in several of his battles, he would have been removed from his position and vilified by the northern press.

The web site points out that, at the time that McClellan was moving so cautiously up the peninsula, the battle of Shiloh was about to take place. Shiloh’s losses were a shock to a lot of people, north and south. But the people would be in for a lot of such shocks in the three years ahead of them.


29 posted on 04/05/2012 9:29:31 PM PDT by Rocky (REPEAL IT!)
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To: FoxPro
Here's a pic from 2010 of some troops from the 1st Cav Division Horse detachment...still in their McClellan saddles, 151 years after it was first adopted...


30 posted on 04/05/2012 9:39:45 PM PDT by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: Joe 6-pack

Thank you so much!

I really appreciate this...


31 posted on 04/05/2012 11:19:30 PM PDT by FoxPro
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To: RightOnline

He wasn’t fired by Lincoln and replaced by Grant. He was replaced by Ambrose Burnside. Burnside was replaced by Joe Hooker, and Hooker by George Meade. Meade continued as commander of the Army of the Potomac under Grant, who was general in chief of all Union armies.


32 posted on 04/06/2012 4:31:34 AM PDT by bcsco
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To: FoxPro
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McClellan_saddle
33 posted on 04/06/2012 4:34:49 AM PDT by bcsco
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