|View single post by PvtClewell|
|Posted: Wed Mar 19th, 2008 03:30 am||
Munching on your fodder for further discussion from earlier in the thread, I agree with most of what you say. Having said that (?), since most of us here are buffs or amateur historians at best, I guess all that most of us have ready access to are secondary sources. And for the purpose of an informal discussion board, I guess that should be enough.
Allow me to use myself as an example. After exhausting myself on the recent Cold Harbor debate on this board, I hurried out and bought Smith's biography on Grant. My home library has about 100 Civil War volumes, including four on Lee, but none on Grant. So this board prompted me do something about that, for which I'm grateful. If nothing else, I've acquired a deeper appreciation for Grant, as well as for the western theater of operations. I may, indeed, be absorbing Smith's bias (here we go again) on his subject, but I've also gained a measure of knowledge and a perspective I didn't have before.
But I still agree with your basic premise. Fodder for discussion, you know.
McClellan was indeed a great organizer (I read that somewhere ), but I feel he also left his imprint of caution and lack of aggressiveness on the AofP that was almost indelible when in fact it probably should have been an army of irresistible force. By the time Grant inherited command, I think the AofP — through its corps and division commanders — had an expectation for caution and defeat, even after Gettysburg (a battle on northern soil, which I think changes the equation). Consequently, this clashed with Grant's own expectations for the AofP. These colliding expectations didn't help Grant's command structure, either. Could Grant have defeated Lee at Spotsylvania if Burnside isn't slow to respond? Could Grant have won at Cold Harbor if it doesn't take Hancock a day to shift his corps (thus giving Lee time to fortify his position)? Why didn't Meade reconnoiter Cold Harbor before the assault? Could Grant have taken Petersburg if Baldy Smith isn't so cautious he's stopped by what essentially is a holding force?
I believe McClellan's legacy actually haunted the AofP long after he was dismissed.