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New York state election, 1857

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The 1857 New York state election was held on November 3, 1857, to elect the Secretary of State, the State Comptroller, the Attorney General, the State Treasurer, the State Engineer, a Judge of the New York Court of Appeals, a Canal Commissioner and an Inspector of State Prisons, as well as all members of the New York State Assembly and the New York State Senate.

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  • On the McClellan Go Round- George McClellan and the Antietam Campaign (Lecture)
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Transcription

Its one o’clock so we are going to go ahead and get started I want to welcome everyone here to Gettysburg National Military Park I see some familiar faces some friendly faces some faces I don’t recognize that’s great to have everybody here today for our one o’clock winter lecture my name is Dan Vermilya, I’m a park ranger here at Gettysburg I’ve been in the Park Service for about six or seven years now and I spent the first five years of my time with the NPS at Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg, MD, and one of the topics that I was always fascinated by at Antietam was how or how not the popular perceptions of the battle stack up with the some of the things I was learning as a park ranger there learning from some of the ranger staff some of the licensed guides some of the volunteers there I was really learning quite a lot when I started there about the battle and when we had this topic for our lecture series this year the myths and controversies of the war I started thinking well wouldn’t George McClellan just be a perfect fit for this topic plus I wanted to have something that everyone would agree on as I said I learned a lot at Antietam when I started there I wrote a paper back in college about the Army of the Potomac at Antietam where I basically lambasted George McClellan calling him a traitor all sorts of terrible things and when I started at Antietam I learned all these new things about him and started to approach the topic in a different way and in 2012 I actually did a big research project on the Army of the Potomac at the battle, the strength and the experience of it and I’m going to be sharing some of that research with you today some of the details and particulars of the army so our lecture today is going to be kind of half big picture and half details and we are going to be talking about George McClellan as a broad figure and most specifically during the Maryland Campaign of September 1862 as a way of trying to get a better glimpse a better understanding of him because unfortunately through the years George McClellan has been the general we love to hate and it’s not that hard to find negative things about George McClellan these are just a few things that I encountered in doing research for this program an article calling him the Civil War’s most chicken general Stephen Sears wrote in his biography of McClellan when making war George McClellan was a man possessed by demons and delusions Edward Bonekemper has a book McClellan and failure a study of civil war fear incompetence and worse McClellan is featured on countless worst generals in US history lists probably my particular favorite or one of them is from Antietam when a visitor said you know if George McClellan was Robert E. Lee he would have won this battle and my response was sir Lee was Lee and he didn’t win this battle I also had a guy shout balderdash at me once but that’s happened a couple times though our opinion of McClellan today is not as much of a general as of a caricature of a general and I’m going to do probably a winter lecture first in bringing some cartoons into this it seems that one of the ways we view George McClellan is as Wiley Coyote always trying to get that speedy roadrunner, trying to capture Robert E Lee and defeat him but he can never do it he is too foolish and inept almost idiotic in some ways to really seal the deal and defeat Lee in battle McClellan the coward he didn’t want to win he was too timid scared to see his soldiers killed didn’t have the heart for battle and Scar from the Lion King McClellan the villain he was nefarious he was a traitor power hungry and conniving and we have these caricatures of McClellan for so long that he has become the fodder of jokes I know we have had some laughter already but I actually scoured the internet to find some funny pictures on McClellan Little Mac Big Mac that’s kind of obvious with his nickname and then this meme here about him never wanting to attack the Confederacy and we do have a serious topic here today but I think approaching it with some lightheartedness up front helps us to ease into it and understand that it is time to start reevaluating how we think about George McClelland it’s not my goal today that everyone will walk out of here thinking hey that ranger was 100% right McClelland was a brilliant general because that’s not what I’m saying but perhaps just ask yourself why do I think these things about George McClellan perhaps let’s reevaluate some of our assumptions about him as a commander McClellan really has a difficult task in Civil War history in a number of different ways first off he is caught between two legends of the war no matter where you are from North or South you have pretty good reason to dislike McClellan because his two biggest opponents are Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee is his battlefield opponent the man who he never can seem to quite destroy him in combat and Lee is a beloved figure especially for those south of the Mason Dixon line Abraham Lincoln is McClellan’s opponent in the 1864 presidential election and I should also note his opponent while he was actively serving in the army in a number of ways they clashed on many different things McClellan notably called Lincoln in private correspondence the original gorilla it was a moment in November 1861 where Lincoln came to call on McClellan who was out and about and when he came back he didn’t have any time for the president he went to bed without telling the president he didn’t want to see him and Lincoln was sitting there waiting for him for another half an hour they didn’t have a very good relationship so McClellan doesn’t stack up well with these two legends of the war in either way he also doesn’t stack up very well with Grant and Sherman the Unionist interpretation of the war is still pretty prevalent today pretty dominant and Grant and Sherman are the two big heroes of this largely northern view of the war that Lincoln struggled for so many years to find a competent commander and it wasn’t until 1864 when Grant becomes the overall Union army commander and Sherman is commanding forces in the west that Lincoln finally has his leadership team in place McClellan simply cannot stack up with these guys first because he never had the successes that these guys had and moreover for us in the 21st century there is something about Grant and Sherman that is much more accessible to us today how many folks have read the memoirs of Grant and Sherman? They are pretty well written books and we read them and at least I always get this sense of we talk about if the Civil War was a modern war and we read those books and you get this sense of modernity in these generals an aggression that McClellan lacked how many people have read McClellan’s Own Story it’s not as well read a book it’s not as entertaining a book necessarily not one that appeals to us today as much but McClellan really doesn’t stack up very well and the title of this program comes from an article that the late Dr. Joseph Harsh wrote a great Civil War historian specialist on the Maryland Campaign called the McClellan go round for too long historians have only seen McClellan as a caricature his innate slowness and exaggerations of enemy strength have become personality traits in ways that other generals simply don’t have and a psychoanalysis of McClellan based on his private letters to his wife has informed this opinion of him as a commander it takes an evaluation though of McClellan’s ideas strategies and the circumstances that he faced to understand his generalship and today we are going to use the Maryland Campaign as an avenue towards that Harsh wrote of McClellan “Whatever numerical advantage McClellan may have held on historical battlefields, he has been overwhelmed by the opposition in the historiographical war of words” he also noted “any man deserves to be judged on one level at least by his intended objectives and his own understanding of his responsibilities” now McClellan has a lot of controversial things about him there are a lot of things people don’t like about him the Maryland Campaign and Antietam really stand out to me to be the biggest things about this he is blamed for missing out on his greatest chance to end the war and crush Lee’s army and rather than understanding the MD campaign through McClellan’s personality flaws we are going to look at some of the specifics of it and that is where some of the things I’ve studied with the numbers and experience of the army are going to come into play here just a few things about what has been said about McClellan at Antietam James McPherson wrote “he was reluctant to run his machine the Army of the Potomac at full speed for fear of breaking it” Richard Slotkin wrote “to historians armed with hindsight and a good map it is easy to see how McClellan could have ravaged or even destroyed the Army of northern Virginia on either the 16th or 17th of September 1862” Stephen Sears wrote in the most well-read book on the Maryland Campaign Landscape Turned Red “George McClellan however remained in character so fearful of losing that he would not risk losing. He shrank from his paramount responsibility to command.” He also wrote in a separate article published more recently “one third of the army of the Potomac would not fire a shot on Sept 17 and one leaves this spot so terrible in its eloquence in wonder at the obtuseness of George McClellan” these are a few of the key points we are going to look at for McClellan in the Maryland Campaign we often hear people say things like well McClellan wasn’t much of a battlefield commander but he sure was a good organizer ok so what does this mean what does it mean that he is a good organizer we are going to address that him rebuilding the Army of the Potomac in September 1862 the famed Lost orders of the Maryland Campaign this golden opportunity that McClellan has his actual plan at Antietam does he even want to win the battle his troop strength at Antietam which a lot of this hinges on did he have this massive army that was too big to fail that only he could have found a way to not achieve total crushing victory and on September 18 the day after the battle why doesn’t he continue the fight now to address something here why are you a McClellan apologist I’ve been asked this question before. Why am I defending a general who doesn’t really have a lot of defenders well he is a man of many faults and in a lot of ways he is his own worst enemy if you’ve read his letters and his correspondence and writings this comes out very clearly he is rather arrogant narcissistic too political he loves to complain he doesn’t share Lincoln’s view of the war he opposes the Emancipation Proclamation there’s a lot of reasons to dislike George McClellan and I dislike him for all these reasons but let’s not invent new ones its important to ask questions to determine if our view of history is based on history or our own perceptions so who is George McClellan he is born to wealthy parents in Philadelphia on December 3 1826 he has a great resume a great pedigree as a general he is educated at the University of Pennsylvania and he enters into the military academy at West Point at the age of 15 he speaks seven different languages he is a brilliant man serves in the Mexican War at numerous engineering assignments in the army he is an observer for the US in military operations in Crimea in the mid-1850s he is a railroad executive from 1857 to 1860 it is during that time that he marries Mary Ellen Marcy he becomes a major general in 1861 in April 1861 he is so well respected and so sought after that he accepts the command of all Ohio troops on April 23 1861 only to find out the very next day that New York and Pennsylvania had also offered him command of all their troops three different states saying will you lead all our volunteers from our state he has several military successes in western Virginia in 1861 the early part of the year in the summer some of the first successes for the Union army and these are coming just before the major battlefield defeat at First Manassas or First Bull Run we are not spending a whole lot of time on McClellan’s life leading up to the war and on the early stages of the war because we have a lot to get to about the Maryland campaign but after the defeat at First Manassas McClellan is brought to Washington DC to command Union forces in the east and it is in November of 1861 that he replaces Winfield Scott and becomes the general-in-chief of the United States forces at the age of 34 not bad 34 and he is the general in chief commanding all Union forces now that quote there at the top you will see that a lot when you read things about George McClellan “I can do it all” he is reported to have said that on November 1 1861 when he was given command of all Union forces and it comes across especially knowing how some of his campaigns played out as very arrogant very selfish but it shows the confidence that he brought to the job his goal in the war the way he thought victory could best be achieved and we’ll talk about this a lot today was in one big campaign reduce the number of battles you have to fight, go straight towards the heart of the enemy and for McClellan that was Richmond so after months of waiting and building the Army of the Potomac at the end of 1861 and early 1862 McClellan launches a campaign to get down to the Virginia peninsula to advance towards Richmond from the east and southeast he comes close to Richmond but with Robert E. Lee taking command of Confederate forces outside of the capital that summer McClellan does not seize the city he is eventually recalled back toward Washington it appears as though by August 1862 his military career is all but over and I want to get into this because this is important for understanding his generalship McClellan’s view of the Civil War it is not a view that most of us have today it is a view that is very different from many historians today but McClellan was a Whig a member of the Whig party he sought moderation in politics and he feared that the Civil War would destroy the very fabric of the United States as Joe Harsh wrote the heart of McClellan’s policy was to wage war within the limits of the constitution and to do nothing to render ultimate reconciliation and harmony impossible unless such a course were imperative to secure military success quite simply he wanted to defeat the south through overwhelming force convince them that resistance was futile now the irony about this is that McClellan’s approach ultimately leads to the battle of Antietam which arguably did more to upset the social fabric of the nation than any other with Antietam leading to the Emancipation Promotion and it also showed that he could not avoid casualties as a commander because Antietam was the bloodiest single day of the entire war. Now McClellan was not kind towards those who did not agree with his view of the war he is a highly educated man who comes from the high ranks of society all of his social influences tell him that he is correct he knows how to do this and others are not and that is where he finds big problems with President Abraham Lincoln now both of these men a reformer Whigs members of the Whig party that arose in opposition to Andrew Jackson in the early 1800s believing that moderation was key in politics a check on the strong executive moderation and reason above all but the stories of McClellan and Lincoln veer off in different directions they veer in different directions when slavery starts becoming more and more involved in national politics Lincoln was always more democratic than McClellan one of these men attended the University of Pennsylvania and West Point, the other one was largely self-taught entirely different backgrounds entirely different ways of approaching things McClellan saw increasing attempts to bring slavery to the forefront of national debate as upsetting the country upsetting the delicate balance Lincoln became a Republican in the mid-1850s believing in stopping the westward expansion of slavery McClellan thought positions like that left no room for compromise we can see before the war they are taking different paths and diverging in different ways and that is going to have an effect later on now early on in the war Lincoln has pretty conservative war aims he is not out to free the slaves in 1861 he is out to try to restore the Union that is the big rallying cry at the start of the war and McClellan’s thinking that’s great, that’s my goal restore the Union but as the war progresses Lincoln realizes that he is going to have to exert more and more of his leadership and his vision for where the country is going to go while Lincoln’s early conservative approach was based around pragmatism, McClellan’s was based around ideology and this is important to understand the split that these two men are going to have the irrevocable split later on all of this leads us to September 1862 perhaps the lowest point in the war for the North in September 1862 John Pope had just received a stunning defeat at Second Manassas on August 28, 29, and 30 at that time Confederates are making gains in the West pressing into Kentucky and across the Atlantic England and France are on the verge of recognizing the South as a separate independent nation McClellan gets his second chance at command at this crucial time and this is where the great organizer comes into play he is often described as a great organizer so what does that actually mean well on September 1 as Pope’s defeated army is streaming back towards the capital McClellan is given command of the defenses of Washington by Lincoln and Halleck the next day it is made clear that he is to command all of the troops around Washington including John Pope’s army this is September 2 1862 and McClellan puts on a fancy uniform he rides out and he greets some of these guys coming back to the capital some of these guys who had their spirits and their moral broken and they start to cheer him and poor John Pope has to watch now McClellan wasn’t enthusiastic about helping Pope during the second Manassas battle he said let Pope get out of his own scrape this is probably because he is frustrated at having his own army pulled off the Peninsula and he wanted to keep troops near Washington doesn’t make him right or wrong but that is the thinking going into that decision now at this time the status of the army was very bad there are thousands of stragglers all around Washington McClellan estimated that there were maybe 20,000 stragglers around the city on September 1 John Pope writes to McClellan saying “you have hardly an idea of the demoralization among officers of high rank in the Potomac army” now Lincoln’s cabinet was very much against McClellan being placed back in command and being given charge again but Lincoln really doesn’t see another option at this time it is a crisis moment for the Union “I must have McClellan to reorganize the army and bring it out of chaos” Lincoln writes that to Gideon Welles on September 5 and making matters worse as of September 3 and 4 intelligence is coming to Washington saying that Lee is preparing a move across the Potomac because even Robert E. Lee knew how bad things were at that time Lee knew that the Union army had just sustained a major defeat he knew that they were going to have to reorganize and he knew that thousands of new soldiers who had just answered the call to serve in the summer of 1862 would soon be on their way towards Washington so he wanted to strike while the iron was hot and move into Maryland early in September so while Lee is moving his army toward and across the Potomac George McClellan is building an army again he had to do this once built the original Army of the Potomac that took months the second time its going to take him five days starts on September 2 I’ve always struggled with a good way to describe what he is trying to do here you could say he has to take five different cars that are broken down on the side of the road and strip them all for spare parts and use those to fix one car you could say he is taking five different jigsaw puzzles dump all the pieces out on the table and combine them into one because McClellan is taking five different army pieces and taking the best parts from each one and building a new army a brand new army he is taking the best of the old Army of the Potomac that he had on the Peninsula Campaign he is taking two out of the three corps that John Pope had with him in the Army of Virginia at Second Manassas and he is taking the Kanawha Division commanded by Jacob Cox from Western Virginia he is taking a division from Isaac Stevens which had been in South Carolina and he is taking two divisions which had served under Ambrose Burnside’s North Carolina expedition he is building these all together into one new command now the Ninth Corps is going to be Burnside’s North Carolina expedition Cox’s Kanawha division and Stevens’s South Carolina command that is going to have some real organizational difficulties but in the midst of all this there are stragglers everywhere there are camps rounding up stragglers McClellan believes that he is going to have to out of the sheer necessity of the moment build this army and get it ready for the field some of his officer shad been arrested on charges by John Pope such as Fitz John Porter who I believe you heard about last weekend from ranger Matt Atkinson and William Franklin were brought up on charges by Pope after Second Manassas so on the day that Lee is coming in MD McClellan is writing Halleck for permission to have some of his officers to serve with him in the field again McClellan’s goals for the campaign are rooted in the condition of his army he knows that this is not an army that is a good fighting force but this is the best that he has its going to have to make do his goal for the campaign was to at the very least get Lee out of Maryland that was his goal if he stopped Lee then he could have some time to properly rebuild this army and launch a new effort aimed at stopping the war and as Joseph Harsh wrote in his book Taken at the Flood on Confederates in the campaign “the size of an army is but part measure of its strength of course just as important is its ability to fight rosters do not kill a single enemy and numbers alone do not gain victories” experience matters for these armies so what kind of experience does McClellan’s army have in the Maryland campaign these are some comparative slides here the simple version is it doesn’t stack up well to Lee’s army over 60 percent of the Army of Northern Virginia in the Maryland Campaign had been in three or more major battles less than ten percent of the Army of the Potomac had been in three or more major battles you will see here no combat experience, pretty much the entire Confederate army were veteran soldiers in this campaign for the Union army about 20 percent had no combat experience probably about 25 percent these were all soldiers who were for the most part added or answered the call in the summer of 1862 to serve in the army at that time some of these guys enlisted in mid-August and now they are marching in the field with McClellan in the MD campaign there is a significant portion of McClellan’s army in September 1862 that has less experience than Irvin McDowell’s army at First Manassas there are reports from soldiers who do not know how to fire their weapons there are reports of soldiers in the 12th corps who did not know how to go from line of march into line of battle these are things being said by their officers in the days leading up to the Battle of Antietam but it’s the best that McClellan can do what about commander experience who are the men leading these sometimes inexperienced soldiers well some of these guys are inexperienced themselves as well for the corps commanders three out of the six Union corps commanders at Antietam had never led a corps before for the Confederates we’re taking James Longstreet and Stonewall Jackson as corps commanders they weren’t officially corps commanders at that time but they were more or less acting in that capacity for brigade commanders this is key only 29 percent of Union brigade commanders had ever led a brigade in combat before and a lot of decision sin battle are made at the brigade level 75 percent thirty out of the forty Confederate brigades were led by experienced officers and you had officers in all different ranks and levels dealing with big problems for example Joseph Hooker takes command of the Union First Corps he had been a division commander in the Third Corps in the Peninsula Campaign now he is commanding the Union first corps well his correspondence leading up to Antietam is covering things like how he wants to replace one of his brigade commanders because he says he is totally unfit to lead he needs an officer of physical and intellectual force to replace him the corps sis so thinned out by battle losses and disease that he wants to consolidate all the regiments from the same states together to build up stronger regiments he is furious when he finds out that John Reynolds one of his division commanders is called north into Pennsylvania to command emergency militia that had bene raised believing that Reynolds was the only good division commander that he had he is encountering some big problems in the 9th corps all four division commander in the 9th corps in the Army of the Potomac in the Maryland campaign took command of those division in September 1862 one of them Orlando Wilcox wrote correspondence on September 10 1862 a week before Antietam asking for a list of the other division commanders in the corps he didn’t even know who the other division commanders were a week before the battle I’m seeing some faces looking at me like really? That’s true some big experience problems here of those brigade commanders 40 percent of the brigade commanders in the Army of the Potomac took command of their brigades in September 1862 so the simple point here is that George McClellan does not have a shiny brand new corvette he does not have a muscle car he has a car that is broken down on the side of the road its hood is up steam is coming out of the engine and it is up on four cinder blocks and he has to use this because it’s all that he has just interesting things to consider but September 7 McClellan begins moving his army out of DC begins moving them into the field during the campaign again he wrote he was moving forward “simply to meet the necessities of the moment by frustrating Lee’s invasion “now as he is moving through the campaign through Maryland he is receiving different intelligence reports saying that Lee has anywhere from 80-120,000 soldiers and this is important to note because you hear a lot that McClellan is himself inflating Confederate strength well yes there is some of that but he is only as good as the numbers he is being given by his cavalry officers and by officers in other ranks and other positions by September 12 and 13 the Union army is reaching Frederick MD and on September 13 Union forces make an important discovery they are given a copy of Lee’s marching orders Special Orders 191 now this is often hailed as the intelligence find of the war McClellan had Lee’s battle plan for Antietam I hear that quite often any other general would have found these and the war would have been instantly over so what actually does he have with these special orders 191 what is the reality of this situation well when Lee was in Frederick MD on September 9 he needed to get rid of a Union garrison at Harpers Ferry so he wrote out orders dividing his army and sending different pieces to get rid of Union forces at Harpers Ferry and Martinsburg in Western Virginia this operation was supposed to be wrapped up by September 12 McClellan gets these orders on September 13 so they’re four days old they’re already out of date they say nothing of Confederate troop strength only referring to things like the main body of the force which would supposedly be near Boonsboro and the orders are not accurate there have been some different movement of troops sine then so the troops weren’t where they were according to the orders it wasn’t an accurate picture of the Confederate army at that time so it’s not the intelligence find of the war perhaps it’s just a blurry picture that McClellan can use to get a little bit better understanding about what Lee is doing at that time doesn’t have anything to do with the actual fighting at Antietam it is a week before the battle when those orders were written but McClellan uses this knowledge that the Confederate army is indeed divided he takes several hours to send out scouts and cavalry patrols to try to verify the veracity of this information and at 6 pm on the 13th he issues orders for the Battle of South Mountain which would be fought the following day on some of the most difficult terrain of any Civil War battlefield McClellan has a victory at South Mountain on September 14 he attacks at several different mountain passes he gains those passes this battle changes the campaign taking momentum away from Lee and giving it to the Federals McClellan views it as a big success that he has effectively stopped Lee’s campaign and stopped his northward movement and his right in that regard because on the night of September 14 Lee is intent on retreating from MD back into Virginia perhaps McClellan was even too aggressive with his battle plan at south Mountain that’s right you just heard the words McClellan and too aggressive in the same sentence McClellan’s plan called for the Union 6th corps to burst through Campton’s Gap come down here and help liberate the Union garrison at Harpers Ferry and then if they could head north through Pleasant valley and help out at Turners and Fox’s Gaps not really realistic but it leads to a victory at South Mountain Lee ends up stopping his retreat toward Virginia near the town of Sharpsburg and he sets up there on September 15 and 16 he decides to stay in MD upon learning that Stonewall Jackson had secured the surrender of Union forces at Harpers Ferry on September 15 McClellan’s army makes their way down from the mountain and they arrive near the banks of Antietam Creek late in the day on September 15 they begin arriving there late on the 15th on the 16th of September a heavy fog is obscuring the creek that morning McClellan cant launch a battle plan without seeing where the other army is so when the fog lifts he comes up with his plan and Union forces begin moving into action and on September 17 the terrible Battle of Antietam is fought with over 23,000 people killed, wounded, or missing in action in one day the bloodiest single day in American history so Antietam what are some traditional points on the battle itself well normally when you talk about Antietam you hear things like the battle was a draw the Union army failed to use their massive reserve of soldiers two or three to one times what Lee had to destroy his army McClellan arrived on the 15th and waited two days before attacking but as I noted there was fog on the morning of the 16th and he can’t see enemy forces when the fog lists he moves his troops into action McClellan allowed Lee to escape on the 18th Confederate commanders were superior but a lot of this hinges on the idea that George McClellan had an army so big and so massive that only he could have found a way to not destroy lee and win the war so what was McClellan’s plan at Antietam and exactly how big was his army well his plan at Antietam again he draws it up on September 16 he is going to use different parts of his army newer parts of his army on the flanks of his attack he is going to take the Union 9th corps under Ambrose Burnside what you heard about last week from my buddy John Hoptak and he is going to use them on the Union left to get across Antietam Creek and press Lee’s right he is going to send the corps of Joseph Hooker and soon Joseph Mansfield 1st and 12th corps both new to McClellan the majority of the army is new to him he is using units he has not worked with before on the flanks of his battle plan. The idea is open the battle with the 1st and 12th corps against Lee’s left use right wing jabs into the left flank of the Confederate line once those jabs have either weakened Lee’s flank or forced him to take troops form other parts to reinforce that flank use Burnside and the 9th corps as a left wing hook to knock Lee out of the battle and if all is going well use the veteran reserves of the 2nd and 5th corps to push up the center of the line now that’s not exactly how the battle went when the battle begins at 6 am Joe Hooker is hammering away in the Cornfield soon Mansfield and the 12th corps are fighting there as well and the 2nd corps is sent across the creek as well the bulk of the battle is here on the Northern end of the field leaving Ambrose Burnside on his lonesome here on the southern end I’m sure John talked your ear off about Burnside last week we won’t talk about him too much today I see John laughing in the back but this shows which parts of the army McClellan is familiar with so he did have a battle plan that was pretty good the plan was designed to at least push Lee back toward the Potomac and at the best destroy his army all together but what kind of army is McClellan using to implement this plan was his army to borrow a phrase that was popular during the big financial crisis “too big to fail” while different estimates of Union strength at Antietam they vary most say that McClellan had at least 75,000 troops or more there in Landscape Turned Red Stephen Sears says about 72,000 in later articles you see numbers like 100,000 soldiers there the consensus seems to be that McClellan had at least 80,000 men there at Antietam which would seem to say that he has a two to one advantage over Lee but when we’re talking about numbers and armies we need to talk some specifics what do we mean there are two categories combat effectives and present for duty combat effectives counts the number actually fighting in battle this is the number often used for Confederate forces it is lower than present for duty it is the most accurate count of an army’s fighting strength the present for duty number that is often used for Union forces so you can see this is not an easy exercise we’re using two different categories of numbers this counts everybody in the army all the soldiers in the ranks and its often an overestimate of combat strength some in regards it is like comparing apples and oranges here for these two categories and just to summarize a few things before we get into the details of it what does the Union army actually look like in the Maryland Campaign how are these generals and Georg McClellan understanding how many men they can bring to the fight well throughout the campaign and this is true for all commanders getting accurate numbers was very difficult in fact during the campaign Lee is writing correspondence saying things like I haven’t yet gotten my full list of casualties from Second Manassas there are record books for companies that are inaccurate or missing it is tough to piece all this together straggling is a big problems for forces during the campaign for both sides its more reported for the Confederates but there was significant straggling for Union troops as well the numbers are changing dramatically during the campaign the army is at its strongest on the 10th and 30th before and after the battle at no one point before the battle was the entire Union army gathered together in the campaign McClellan never had unified strength until after the battle the highest estimate for Federal strength is about 90,000 present for duty on September 10 on that same day, according to the work of Joseph Harsh in Taken at the Flood Confederate Present for Duty strength is around 70,000 significant straggling would bring numbers down for each army this is how the numbers are fluctuating throughout the campaign using present for duty numbers on the 10th and 30th and then the combat effective strength as best we can tell on the day of the battle and these are all interesting particulars because if we are going to see McClellan was a bad general because he didn’t use this massive army we need to know if that army was quite as massive as we think and just to give you a few details about what these numbers actually look like for the army during the campaign in the Union 1st corps anybody see a pattern here declining rapidly right? Look at the day after the battle only 6,000 men in the Union first corps while at the start of the campaign they had over 15,000 men strong the numbers are dropping through the campaign getting weaker and weaker as they get to the battle of Antietam in the Union 5th corps one that was sent to McClellan as reinforcements during the campaign McClellan is famous for having a habit of constantly asking for reinforcements form his superior officers well on September 11 and 12 Lincoln and Halleck the higher ups in Washington DC they said alright McClellan alright we are going to send you the Union 5th corps they’ve got over 20,000 soldiers after all look at this return here for September 10, says they’ve got over 20,000 men we’re sending o you in the field in McClellan correspondence he is saying alright we’ve got over 20,000 reinforcements coming this is good except the problem is if you actually look at these numbers there is no way the 5th corps has over 20,000 men on that day the generals themselves inside the command are struggling to understand the strengths they have a lot of these soldiers that they thought were being sent out actually weren’t being sent out to McClellan in the field at all inaccurate reports of strength from Lincoln all the way down to corps and division commanders one thing to note this is all based off of different corps returns from the National Achieves and on September 10 the 5th corps lists you can see there 23,000 men in its ranks for the division of George Morrell on the corps report it says he has over 8,000 men but on Morrell’s own division report it says he has just under 7,000 so within the army corps there are inaccurate pictures of strength as well what does all this mean it means that when McClellan gets these soldiers in the field he probably doesn’t know exactly how many men that he has nor how many men the Confederates have another thing you hear about McClellan at Antietam is that he’s not using a vast majority of the soldiers under his command different books say that there are as many as 30,000 Union soldiers who are completely unused at Antietam well this is a percentage view of how McClellan is using his army the only part of the army that isn’t actively used in combat that day on Sept 17 1862 is Union cavalry and part of the Union fifth corps the Union sixth corps is holding the line from basically the sunken road to the North Woods on the afternoon of Sept 17 holding about a mile and a half to two miles of territory they have combat losses the 9th corps on the southern end of the field the 1st 12th and 2nd corps are chewed up on the morning of the battle there is far less than 20 percent of the Union army that is held in reserve at Antietam now what’s the total figure for the Union forces there well in coming up with this number I had to use the work of Ezra Carman how many folks in here are familiar with the name Ezra Carman ok a good number of you for those who aren’t Ezra Carman was a colonel in the 13th NJ at the battle of Antietam and he is basically Antietam’s version of John Bachelder who we had here at Gettysburg he is the first real historian of Antietam years after the battle he is compiling a history of Antietam from accounts from all sorts of different veterans and he is coming up with roughly how many soldiers each side had and writing a history of the battle well I noticed when going through Carman’s numbers some of them weren’t quite accurate they were leaving something out so I used some of the corps and division returns from the National Archives and I came up with this for the breakdown for the Union army about 70,000 soldiers overall for the Union army at Antietam effective strength but here’s the catch I don’t think McClellan knows how many men he has and this is an area where McClellan is his own worst enemy in his official report on the Antietam Campaign McClellan gives his strength at 87,000 men in the McClellan papers in the Library of Congress there is a detailed chart listing the strength of the Army of the Potomac at Antietam listing it at 101,000 men that’s a lot higher than 70,000 I think if McClellan actually had known that he had fewer than 87,000 well let me ask you do you think George McClellan if he had known that he had fewer soldiers than everybody else thought do you think he would have kept that a secret no I think he would have been writing letters to Lincoln saying don’t you realize what I just did with far fewer soldiers than anybody else thought I had I don’t think McClellan realizes how low his army actually was due to straggling due to various things and on the day of the battle his strength is fluctuating wildly this is something we encounter here at Gettysburg when we are talking about total troop strength for the battle we give figures like 90,000 for the Army of the Potomac or 70,000 for the Army of Northern Virginia but was there ever a time when all those soldiers were ever here at once? No there are not all here at once on July 1 and by the time the rest of those troops have arrived there have been significant battle losses weakening the armies so how many men does McClellan have at the start of the day about 54,000 soldiers are present halfway through the battle of Antietam more reinforcements have arrived for him the Union 6th Corps the rest of the Union 5th corps or another division of the Union fifth corps but his strength really hasn’t risen that much because he has lost so many troops in battle so his overall strength is about 70,000 but he never had more than 60,000 there at any one time hopefully this is beginning to give us a little bit clearer picture of what George McClellan was really facing as an army commander at Antietam he had an army with significant experience problems an army that was actually weaker than even he thought with strength’s fluctuating throughout the day so I would say his army really isn’t this massive force that history has made it out to be well what about September 18th why does he not attack well at the end of the day on the 17th with over 23,000 casualties on the field McClellan’s impulse that night is to continue the battle the next day continue on the fight he takes stock of his army that night notices heavy losses in the 1st 2nd 9th and 12th army corps the attack would have to rely on the 5th and 6thcorps the 5th corps wasn’t all there yet they were hoping for reinforcements to arrive from Humphreys’s division but by the time these reinforcements and others arrived they had made a night march up and over mountains they really weren’t in any condition to fight now this note here this is something very interesting that I came across years ago in the McClellan papers on the top it has a list of soldiers in the Union 5th corps and the division of Darius Couch about 21,000 soldiers the one thing these soldiers all have in common is none of them were used in combat on the 17th of September down below you have a list of officers with things like killed mortally wounded or wounded badly next to them from the best that I can tell there is no date on this this is someone on McClellan’s staff or McClellan himself on the night of the 17th or early on the 18th coming up with a list on what the army has left whether in fresh troops or making a list of the different officers the army has lost so you can see here there is a calculation of trying to figure out who was killed who was wounded one reason why I think this was right after the battle is it says here George Hartsuff mortally wounded he didn’t die he survived his wounds and Rodman it says wounded badly he did die of his wounds a week or two after the battle so this must have been soon after the battle otherwise those labels would be switched so its more proof that McClellan is working through different things gears are turning in his mind trying to figure out whether he is going to attack on the 18th ultimately with this list of officers killed his reinforcements arriving exhausted he doesn’t believe that this is strength enough for him to continue the fight and as D. Scott Hartwig wrote a name familiar to many here had McClellan attacked again on the 18th a major element of his attacking force would have been the newly arrived division of Andrew Humphreys which consisted of seven raw regiments and one trained regiment hardly an assault force to give a commanding general confidence so perhaps we should think twice before labeling McClellan’s decision to not renew the fight on the 18th an act of cowardice perhaps we should think twice before saying he blew a huge golden chance to win the war and consider some of these particulars so what was McClellan’s perspective what kind of things do we need to think about here well studying the Army of the Potomac in the Maryland Campaign provides a much clearer picture of the realities of September 1862 it’s important to understand a general’s army that he is using to fight if we are going to form opinions of that general especially critical opinions the Army of the Potomac was not a well-oiled machine in the MD campaign we often don’t take these things into account when forming our judgments of commanders McClellan was certainly far from a perfect commander but he is not the caricature that history has painted him out to be I could do a long list of different things that McClellan didn’t do right in this campaign but a lot of people are already familiar with those things one of them is McClellan doesn’t write out his battle orders at Antietam doesn’t give everybody a unified plan to work off of he has communication problems he has personality problems as you heard last week he doesn’t get along very well with Burnside after the battle trying to push off blame on Burnside but he is not the caricature history has made him out to be so what is McClellan’s perspective at Antietam in early September he quickly rebuilt the Army of the Potomac in a time of great stress he likely did not know the exact number of his army at the battle and to be honest we probably don’t know the exact number today either if McClellan did have a two to one advantage neither he nor his army officers knew it he did not have 70,000 soldiers together to fight until after the battle he did know the army was in rough shape due to straggling new commanders he only believed his army was ready for the field because of necessity and why doesn’t he risk more this is a crucial question why doesn’t he push the envelope why doesn’t he risk more during the campaign its for all the reasons we’ve just described he has an army that lacks experience has strength problems lacks experience with commanders all sorts of issues with the army he believes this army is only good enough to push Lee out of Maryland and that’s about it now we can disagree with him but its important to take his own calculations into account here now after the battle McClellan keeps his army in Western Maryland for quite some time Lincoln famously comes to visit him in early October and quips that the Army of the Potomac is just General McClellan’s bodyguard we are all familiar with the Lincoln-McClellan spat with the quips back and forth Lincoln asking McClellan what have your horses done since the battle of Antietam to be fatigued of anything things of that sort but there is something to be said of McClellan performing well in the Maryland Campaign he rebuilt this army quickly he moved it through the state of Maryland in the span of ten days he had two victories at South Mountain and Antietam and when Confederates are going back across the Potomac he pursues them there is a battle at Shepherdstown West Virginia on the 19th and 20th of September Lee responds pretty fiercely at Shepherdstown pushes back McClellan’s response and pursuit and Lee gets safely away back into VA but it should be noted there is a pursuit after Antietam that leads to the Battle of Shepherdstown McClellan was able to stop Lee’s campaign achieve his own strategic goals pivot and prepare for a new campaign but here is the problem he doesn’t keep his job because as I just said he meets his own strategic goals this is where we get back to what we were talking about earlier with Lincoln and McClellan as Whigs Abraham Lincoln wants more he is the commander in chief five days after Antietam he issues the Emancipation Proclamation the preliminary version declaring that all slaves in those southern states would be then thenceforward and forever free McClellan’s not a big fan of that McClellan sees the Emancipation Proclamation as inviting servile insurrection in his opinion the war is already going to end with the death of slavery why do something like this to upset the balance why do something like this to push the south further away it doesn’t go along with McClellan’s conciliation ideas his ideas of a soft war and much as there is a big fracture in this photograph their relationship is fractured see I didn’t want one of the clean ones without the fracture in it cause I thought I’m going to use that see what I did there but their relationship has a fracture in it and I would say after the preliminary emancipation Proclamation has been issued even though McClellan did a good job in the Maryland Campaign he had a victory at Antietam he is no longer fit to be the commander of this army because he does not agree fundamentally with Lincoln this is a disagreement that goes back to their political philosophies before the war let alone their personality differences a new campaign is soon launched Lincoln wants McClellan to get in-between Lee and Richmond he wants to block off his communication McClellan will reluctantly move into the Loudon Valley moving down to try to get in between Lee and Richmond but once Lee is able to get James Longstreet to Culpepper to block off the route that Lincoln wanted McClellan to take that was it for George McClellan really at that point it’s only a waiting game after the mid-term elections Lincoln can finally fire this very popular general and on November 7 McClellan is in his tent late that evening writing a letter home to his wife halfway through the letter he has to pause because he receives his orders removing him from command this was not something that a lot of soldiers in the Army of the Potomac wanted a lot of them were very upset that their beloved George McClellan was relieved of command and for the next several months even into the Gettysburg Campaign you can read accounts of these rumors popping their way up saying McClellan is back in command and the troops will throw their hats in the air and rejoice again because he was very popular with his men they loved him but he is no longer the commander fit to lead the Army of the Potomac despite him doing better than we often give him credit for in the Maryland Campaign because of his strategic and philosophical differences with the president the president sets the policy the generals in the field follow it McClellan is dismissed he has several days saying goodbye to the different officers under his command there is a reception for his staff on November 9 on November 10 there is a final review of his men perhaps history “would do justice to the Army of the Potomac even if the present generation does not” I would say that history has not done justice to the Army of the Potomac in the Maryland Campaign they achieved far more with far less than we often give them credit for it should be noted that you hear sometimes talk about an uprising in the army whether McClellan could have led a coup against the administration form within the army different voices of discontent for all the talk McClellan never ever acted on it he never did anything and the thought that he ever would lead an overthrow of the government using the army to push Lincoln out of power is fundamentally opposed to his core beliefs this is a guy who doesn’t want to upset things too much is he really going to lead the army in an overthrow of the government? No that is against his core beliefs as a Whig he believes in moderation and reason not passion and violence the rest of the story as Paul Harvey would say he is the Democratic presidential nominee in 1864 he never again has an active service in the Civil War he travels to Europe he is the Chief engineer of the New York City department of docks he works in the railroads again becomes the Governor of New Jersey tries to make a play for a national political spot supports Grover Cleveland for president in 1884 never gets that national political post he is writing his memoirs when in 1885 he dies at the age of 58 and his memoirs are published posthumously in 1887 so in wrapping up what are some things others have said about George McClellan what about the two most famous generals of the war well for Lee once when he was asked by his cousin Cassius Lee which Union commander he thought to have been the greatest Lee responded McClellan by all odds now I’ve heard it said by some that this is Lee being sarcastic but to me that strikes me as a little odd because I don’t think of Lee as a man making sarcastic snide remarks what about Grant in the late 1870s he said of McClellan “he is to me one of the mysteries of the war it has always seemed to me that the critics of McClellan do not consider this vast and cruel responsibility the war was a new thing to all of us the army new everything to do from the outset with a restless people in congress McClellan was a young man when this devolved upon him and he did not succeed it was because the conditions of success were so trying if McClellan had gone into the war as Sherman Thomas or Meade had fought his way along and up I have no reason to suppose that he would not have won as high a distinction as any of us reminds us that McClellan skyrocketed to general in chief at the age of 34 he doesn’t have much time to learn while he is on the job and the last word on the campaign comes from historian Joe Harsh if you’ve never read Joe Harsh’s books go read them they are excellent also another great book on this is McClellan’s War by Ethan Rafuse provides a different perspective on all this but Joe Harsh his books have been very important for me and my learning curve as I said when I started at Antietam I thought McClellan was an absolute traitor I thought he was horrible but it was when I began to read these books by Joe Harsh and go on tours with people like John Hoptak corrupting my mind that I began to second guess my own opinions and really that’s all I’m asking for here today perhaps just reevalute why we think the things that we think I will leave you with these two quotes from Joe Harsh the first one from his article on the McClellan Go Round Civil War History 1973 “It seems more honest, more human, and more historical to view McClellan as a man with at least some control over his own conduct and some commitment to ideas beyond his own selfishness and ambition. It ought not be necessary for our present generation to agree with McClellan’s conservative aims in order to understand them—and him—and to get him off of his merry-go-round of make believe controversy” and the second one from Harsh’s book Taken at the Flood on Confederate strategy in the Maryland Campaign “Soldiers are not brightly colored pins, and the hills they climb and the rivers they wade are not the flat, smooth paper of maps. Commanding a large 19th century army and getting it to do what was wanted when it was wanted, and staying in good shape while doing it, was not an easy task—not for George McClellan and not for Robert E. Lee” Thank you very much thanks for coming out

Contents

History

The Democratic state convention met on September 10 and 11 at Syracuse, New York. Gideon J. Tucker (Tammany) was nominated for Secretary of State "by acclamation" after a first informal ballot showed a large majority for him and the other candidate George B. Wood was withdrawn. Sanford E. Church (Soft) was nominated for Comptroller "unanimously" after a first informal ballot showed a large majority and the other candidates Alfred M. Wood and Thomas B. Mitchell were withdrawn. Lyman Tremain, Benjamin Bailey and Francis Kernan were proposed for Attorney General but Tremain (Hard) was nominated by acclamation. Isaac V. Vanderpoel, Joseph M. Lyon and Thomas Osborne were proposed for Treasurer, but Vanderpoel (Soft) was nominated unanimously. John M. Jaycox (Hard) was nominated for Canal Commissioner. The nomination for State Engineer caused much excitement when Charles R. Graham was proposed and had his party allegiance questioned when it was remembered that he had chaired a Whig convention in New York City four years previously. After much controversy, including speeches by Daniel E. Sickles and Mayor Fernando Wood, Van Rensselaer Richmond (Soft) was nominated on the first ballot. William C. Rhodes (Hard) was nominated unanimously on the first ballot for Prison Inspector. The re-nomination of Hiram Denio caused another even bigger controversy. Ex-Governor Horatio Seymour rose to urge Denio's nomination, Mayor Fernando Wood spoke fiercely against it, because Denio had made decisions against Wood, and was accused of not being a Democrat. Replying to Wood, Sickles defended Denio in a speech and John Cochrane also endorsed Denio who was nominated on the first ballot with 67 out of 117 votes cast.[1]

The American state convention met on September 15 at Syracuse, New York.[2]

The Republican state convention met on September 23 at Wieting Hall in Syracuse, New York. Almon M. Clapp was Temporary Chairman until the choice of Abijah Mann, Jr. as President. Timothy Jenkins was nominated for the Court of Appeals on the second ballot after much debate on the proposal to endorse Democrat Hiram Denio which course was defended by David Dudley Field (first ballot: Jenkins 119, Henry Wells 50, William B. Wright 45, Denio 12, E. G. Chase 4, H. H. Shankland 2, Ward Hunt 1, this was a small majority for Jenkins, but after much debate if the nomination could be made "unanimous", the roll was called again; second ballot: Jenkins 129, Wright 24, Wells 13, Denio 9). William Curtis Noyes was nominated for Attorney General, and Robert Denniston for Comptroller by acclamation. Almon M. Clapp was nominated for Secretary of State on the ballot (informal ballot: William W. Campbell 91, Clapp 85, John T. Hogeboom 49; first ballot: Clapp 121, Campbell 92, Hogeboom 30; second ballot: Clapp 152, Campbell 64). John T. Hogeboom was nominated for Treasurer by acclamation. Ariel S. Thurston was nominated for Canal Commissioner on the third ballot (first ballot: Thurston 74, Alexander B. Williams 64, Samuel H. Barnes 51, Ansell Bascom 16, William Mallory 15, George Geddes 11; second ballot: Thurston 98, Williams 78, Barnes 52, Bascom 3, Mallory 1; third ballot: Thurston 120, Williams 59, Barnes 58). George Geddes was nominated for State Engineer on the first ballot (vote: Geddes 140, Silas Seymour 94, scattering 4). Thomas Kirkpatrick was nominated for Prison Inspector on the second ballot (first ballot: Kirkpatrick 62, Norwood Bowne [incumbent] 39, David P. Forrest 26, Luther Caldwell 25, some more scattering; second ballot: Kirkpatrick 102, Bowne 40, Caldwell 27, Forrest 16).[3]

Results

The whole Democratic state ticket was elected with a plurality of less than 20,000 votes over the Republican ticket while only in New York County, the stronghold of Tammany Hall, the ticket had a plurality of about 24,000 votes.

The incumbent Denio was re-elected.

15 Republicans, 14 Democrats, two Americans and one Independent Republican were elected to a two-year term (1858–59) in the New York State Senate.

61 Republicans, 58 Democrats and 9 Americans were elected for the session of 1858 to the New York State Assembly.

1857 state election results
Office Democratic ticket Republican ticket American ticket
Secretary of State Gideon J. Tucker 195,482 Almon M. Clapp[4] 177,425 James O. Putnam 66,882
Comptroller Sanford E. Church 195,138 Robert Denniston 178,038 Nathaniel S. Benton 67,030
Attorney General Lyman Tremain 195,186 William Curtis Noyes 178,335 Henry H. Ross 65,519
Treasurer Isaac V. Vanderpoel 195,153 John T. Hogeboom 178,194 Lyman Odell 66,737
State Engineer Van Rensselaer Richmond 195,284 George Geddes 178,152 Roswell Graves 65,583
Judge of the Court of Appeals Hiram Denio 196,016 Timothy Jenkins 175,325 Hiram Ketchum[5] 64,299
Canal Commissioner John M. Jaycox 194,958 Ariel S. Thurston[6] 177,888 Goldsmith Denniston 66,328
Inspector of State Prisons William C. Rhodes 195,167 Thomas Kirkpatrick 177,718 John M. Stevens 66,862

Sources

Notes

  1. ^ Democratic State Convention at Syracuse in NYT on September 14, 1857
  2. ^ The American State Convention in NYT on September 17, 1857
  3. ^ Republican State Convention in NYT on September 24, 1857
  4. ^ Almon M. Clapp (1811-1899), Editor of the Buffalo Express
  5. ^ Hiram Ketchum (1792-1870) Obit in NYT on September 17, 1870
  6. ^ ran also for Treasurer on the Soft ticket in 1855

See also

This page was last edited on 13 June 2018, at 15:42
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