View single post by Braggcom19
 Posted: Wed May 4th, 2011 03:57 am
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Joined: Sat Apr 30th, 2011
Location: Arizona USA
Posts: 8

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It is much easier to say what could have happened at Sharpsburg/Antietam than what actually did occur along the banks of Antietam Creek. One of the most studied battles of the war, on both sides of the Mason/Dixon Line. One thing is certain, it would have been difficult for McClellan to have attacked Lee on the 15th.

 Not so on the 16th, the Army of the Potomac was, for the most part up. An all in attack on the 15th would have found no more than 20,000 Johnny Rebs to fight because the following divisions did not arrive until the 17th, the first two early, perhaps 7:30 or eight o'clock and Powell Hill not until late on the 17th.

 McLaws 4 brigades (Kershaw's South Carolinian's, Cobb's Georgians, Barksdale's Mississippians and Semmes' mixed Brigade) along with Andersen's Division of I Corps which contained 6 Brigades, 3 led by Cols; those being Alfred Cumming (Wilcox's), W Parham (Mahone's)  and Carnot Posey Feaatherston"s) and three Brigades led by Brigadiers; those being Armisted's Virginians, Pryor and Wright's mixed Brigades, did not arrive on the field untile early on the 17th and obviously Powell Hill's "Light" Division consisting of 6 brigades; commanded by Lawrence Branch. Maxey Gregg,James Archer and Dorsey Pender, John Brockenbrough and Edward Thomas, did not arrive until late afternoon.

I have read many different numbers for the confederates on the Field on the 16th, ranging from 17,000 to 20,000. Makes little difference, if McClellan had attacked at his earliest on the 16th he would very likely have killed or captured R E Lee himself.

What then did happen; Lee's brilliance at fighting under long odds  and with his back to the wall, Longstreet's tenacity didn't hurt a thing but more importantly McClellan's infamous Inertia played right into the army of Northern Virginia's hands. Newton was right, an object not in motion tends to stay not in motion... especially if that object was named McClellan. Lee later said he hated to see McClellan go... sooner or later they'll find a General I can't figure out. He found a bunch of them a little farther north the the next summer. Too bad Mac didn't sleep in on the 16th and turn the reins of the Army over to any number of aggressive Generals, some still brigadiers such as Winfield Scott Handock who at Sharpsburg/Antietam commanded a Brigade under General Baldy Smith in Franklin's VI corp.

Michael Bragg


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