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 Posted: Sat Feb 9th, 2008 03:21 am
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Texas Defender
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  I'm sure glad that I stayed out of this.  :cool:



 Posted: Sat Feb 9th, 2008 03:31 am
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JoanieReb
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Always the smart one, TD, always the smart one! ;):):D



 Posted: Sat Feb 9th, 2008 04:25 am
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ole
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Lost my last post. Probably not the boards fault, I just got punchy and punched the wrong key. Reproduction follows:

On the other hand (incoming repercussion!), Lee had kicked the federals around for the better part of three years. Grant takes charge and, in 11 months, pushes Lee into a corner and KOs him. That's not a bad rep.

Don't know how to turn that into a NASCAR reference. Sorry.

ole



 Posted: Sat Feb 9th, 2008 04:28 am
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ole
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The weather is here, TD. Wish you were beautiful.

ole;)



 Posted: Sat Feb 9th, 2008 04:38 am
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PvtClewell
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Well, according to the exam score sheet, the answer is: a.) and d.)

And you're the scorekeeper, right? Hmm.



 Posted: Sat Feb 9th, 2008 04:39 am
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Ole-

  I've been going over in my mind all the things I've been called. "Beautiful" isn't on the list. Sorry.  :?



 Posted: Sat Feb 9th, 2008 04:18 pm
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Michael C. Hardy
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Grant and Meade thought they had done rather well, having turned Lee out of his North Anna line, maneuvered him nearly 20 miles closer to the Confederate capital, and cornered him against Richmond.

Rhea’s statement is misleading. Maneuvering Lee out of the North Anna entrenchments is not the purpose of the campaign. The objective of the campaign is to get Lee out of his entrenchments and into the open where Grant’s superior numbers can be brought into action and crush Lee. While the AofP might be 20 miles closer to Richmond, they are facing the strongest line of entrenchments yet.

 

Wonder what Davis must have been thinking when those numbers crossed his desk.

Lee and the ANV are fighting a war for their homes and families. It is a war, as they view it, against an invading army. While these losses are sad, these men died in defense against invaders.

 

Damaged how? The army was still in the field, no mass desertions, Lincoln still gets reelected in the fall (with huge support from the AofP, the very army that is suffering all these casualties). And despite MTL's advice, Grant is still in command.


Lincoln’s reelection lies not with Grant/Meade, but with Sherman. Had Atlanta not fallen, what chances does Lincoln have?

 

Mac gets no closer to Richmond than he does in 1862 because he's facing Lee when the Seven Days begins.

Ah, but it is not Lee that stops Mac. It is Joe Johnston. After Johnston attacks Mac at Seven Pines, Mac stops his advance. It is Lee who pushed Mac back down the Peninsula.

 

But I will suggest that Cold Harbor might be a rare situation in that neither side retired from the field 

With limited looking, I have found three occasions so far when the AofP failed to carry its objective, and then failed to ask for a truce in a reasonable amount of time to take care of the wounded. I’ll define a "reasonable amount of time" as the day after the engagement. The first I’ve already sited: Fredericksburg. The second; Cold Harbor. The third: Fussell’s Mill (August 16). The attacked began at 1pm, and it was 4pm the next day before the Federals sent a flag of truce to take of the wounded and dead. According to my account, the Federal wounded had already been removed by the Confederates. Do three cases establish a pattern? There are probably more examples, especially around Petersburg, but if I go get more ANV/Virginia stuff off the shelf, my wife is going to cut my internet line.

Has the plight of the wounded at Cold Harbor been exaggerated? I did find these two sources. The first is Freeman’s bio on Lee, volume 3, 392: "It was June 5when Grant sent any message, and then he merely proposed that each army be privileged to put out relief parties when no action was on. Lee had to say, in answer to this unusual proposal, that it would lead to "misunderstanding and difficulty," and that when either army desired to remove victims of battle, it should follow the normal procedure and ask for a suspension of hostilities. "It will always afford me pleasure," he said, "to comply with such a request as far as circumstances will permit." Grant could not bring himself to make this tacit admission of defeat until late in the afternoon of the 6th. The subsequent slow exchange of official communications through the lines delayed the execution of the truce until the evening of June 7. By that time all except the ambulant wounded had died or had been removed at night by comrades."

Second, I found this in a book by Robert E. Denney entitled Civil War Medicine: Care and Comfort of the Wounded. The following quote (page 296) is not documented, but it is interesting: "June 4 (Saturday) Today all was fairly quiet at Cold Harbor. The day was spent collecting the dead and wounded from in front of the confederate entrenchments. An additional 1701 union wounded were recovered and sent to the depot hospital at White House. At the end of the day, a second train of 544 wagons and ambulances carried another 161 sick and 2794 wounded back to White House."



 Posted: Sat Feb 9th, 2008 04:47 pm
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Second, I found this in a book by Robert E. Denney entitled Civil War Medicine: Care and Comfort of the Wounded. The following quote (page 296) is not documented, but it is interesting: "June 4 (Saturday) Today all was fairly quiet at Cold Harbor. The day was spent collecting the dead and wounded from in front of the confederate entrenchments. An additional 1701 union wounded were recovered and sent to the depot hospital at White House. At the end of the day, a second train of 544 wagons and ambulances carried another 161 sick and 2794 wounded back to White House."

Oh yes! That is interesting. Sounds authentic with its detail. Too bad Denney didn't authenticate it with a source.

ole



 Posted: Sat Feb 9th, 2008 06:33 pm
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Michael C. Hardy
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Too bad Denney didn't authenticate it with a source.

Very true. But we might be able to find more by going through the ORs. I'll try and get one of those clones that I had made right on it! ;)



 Posted: Sat Feb 9th, 2008 07:16 pm
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connyankee
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Great thread - I hope it keeps going (on track, too).  It really pleases me to see so much insight from so many folks about one of the most crucial (and costly) campaigns of the war.  Having said so, I'm still convinced the war was won (and lost) in the west.

Back in 1999, I think it was, I atteneded the mega-event Grant & Lee on a portion of the Brandy Station Battlefield.  In it, they did what was referred to as the first large-scale attempt to reenact June 3, 1864 at Cold Harbor.  Must have been 2500 men on the makeshift field and quite impressive.  It was over in about 40 minutes.  The Confederates had no real reason to leave their trenches, which I suppose is my point, if any.

Since then, I've had the opportunity to travel the Overland Campaign - I mean from the Rapidan all the way to Appomattox, 20th century style!  This was one of the most enjoyable, memorable, and informative things I've ever done for myself.  Took me about five years, piecemeal.  Some of Rhea's books weren't written yet.  I know I missed some things along the way (but not much) leading me to the conclusion, LET'S DO IT AGAIN.  I got GPS now and won't get lost as much on Virginia's awkward back roads which are worse (if that's possible) than New Jersey's.  It is no wonder the armies got lost.

I got lost in Richmond once, trying to find the MOC.  It was my own damn fault however.  After being on the road all night avoiding daytime traffic, I thought I'd arrive "fresh" and everything would be opening up when I arrived.  What a miscalculation - not only was I tired and cranky, lost and hungry, I was tentative in movement among people on their way to work. Lesson learned.  After seeing about the third middle finger, I bolted the city that day for more "familiar" roads outside of town at Gaines's Mill, Cold Harbor, Malvern Hill, etc.

I thought I'd add to the discussion this reference to a Staff Ride.  This one is a 3-day ride covering the Overland Campaign from 4 May to 15 June.  I find these publications rather useful for, if nothing else, planning your own visit.  They are generally well written.  http://books.google.com/books?id=qyZepY13ypFC

Of Cold Harbor I would say this- just the name itself runs a chill down my spine. I must have gone there a dozen times now.  The ol' car seems to drift in the direction of Gaines's Mill, Cold Harbor, Malvern Hill, etc. every time I get near Richmond.  They have added a Visitor Shelter and some trails since my first visit.  Unfortunately, the northern section of the 6-7 mile long battle line is gonzo - lost to development.  You are looking at Hoke's line opposite Wright's exhausted Sixth Corps.  The Confederate fortifications along this line are arguably among the strongest of the war.  They were given the luxury of time to construct them.  I honestly believe the Union High Command had no idea how strong these were.  I have a hunch the guys up front did.

By the way, I did finally find the MOC and glad I did.

Regards to all,

connyankee

p.s. I've always been a bit puzzled by the nearly mile-long gap in the Union battle line at Cold Harbor.  Was the ground unfavorable?  Some places tend to be swampy mush in the area.

 



 Posted: Sat Feb 9th, 2008 09:47 pm
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JoanieReb
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Thank you for a very well-written, informative, and enjoyable post, Connyankee.

Can't help you with your question - but you've convinced me:  my summer trip is to Spotsylvania/Cold Harbor, and the vicinity.



 Posted: Sat Feb 9th, 2008 09:50 pm
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JoanieReb
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"Don't know how to turn that into a NASCAR reference. Sorry."


Ole, I'm sure that if you ask nicely, Pvt. Clewell will help you! :D:D:D

Last edited on Sat Feb 9th, 2008 09:51 pm by JoanieReb



 Posted: Sat Feb 9th, 2008 10:07 pm
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JoanieReb
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"On June 5, Grant DID ask Lee if he could recover his dead and dying. Lee rebuffed him twice until he could get Grant to ask for a truce, wording which implied that Grant had lost the field."

Back to this!  Will someone please tell me where it says that asking for a truce to collect the dead and wounded is the equivalent of losing the field?  I've read that perhaps Grant felt it was in this particular instance - after all, he was Unconditional Surrender Grant, so his thinking might have been skewed like that. 

Also - Grant was the only one who had any dead and dying to recover, and he kept ignoring that fact, and refusing to follow protocal.  Saying to Lee, in essence,  Golly gee, we both have dead and wounded, what say we go get them, old chap.  Not the way to deal with Lee.

Please reconsider my point that Lee would have been humoring Grant and looking out for the well-being of Grant's men when Grant himself wouldn't do so - each of which would have been counter-productive to Lee's war effort.  But, Had Grant followed protocal, Lee would have certainly allowed him to care for his men.  Grant was just trying to weasle out of any blame he thought he might have incurred.

Last edited on Sat Feb 9th, 2008 10:08 pm by JoanieReb



 Posted: Sat Feb 9th, 2008 10:33 pm
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Michael C. Hardy
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Grant’s omission of defeat.

This afternoon, I found this letter from Grant to Halleck, dated June 5. It is from the Official Records, Series 1, vol. 36, part 1, page 11:

“...My idea from the start has been to beat Lee’s army, if possible, north of Richmond, then, after destroying his lines of communication north of the James River to transfer the army to the south side and besiege Lee in Richmond, to follow him south if he should retreat. I now find, after more than thirty days trial, that the enemy deems it of the first importance to run no risk with the armies they how have.... Without a greater sacrifice of human life than I am willing to make, all cannot be accomplished that I had designed outside the city.

Grant also used these same lines in his official report written on July 22.



 Posted: Sat Feb 9th, 2008 10:51 pm
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JoanieReb:

I went through the army regulations (US, revised 1863) and could find nothing regarding communications with the enemy when you want to bury the dead and care for the wounded. As with so many cases, there are things that they did that we simply do not understand. My guess is that this "procedure" dates to some other period of history.

Brooks Simpson, in his bio on Grant, writes on page 329:

"That both sides needed to engage in such negotiations was due to the persistence of firefights for days after the repulse on June 3. Meade noted that the Confederates "made a furious attack" on the evening of June 5..."

So, it might be easy to conclude that the time consumed with the delivery of messages was due to the attacks and sharpshooting that continued after the battle.

 

Found another record of a truce between the lines. This one occurred on August 1, 1864, to buried the Federal dead from the Crater fiasco.



 Posted: Sat Feb 9th, 2008 11:20 pm
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Many thanks, Michael!



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 Posted: Sun Feb 10th, 2008 03:51 am
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Sorry guys, I've been in wireless-free land most of the day and only now can I reply.

Before we hammer the final nail, Joanie asks this:

Will someone please tell me where it says that asking for a truce to collect the dead and wounded is the equivalent of losing the field?

I was basing much of my argument on the previously annotated segment from Shelby Foote, quoting a Federal staff colonel: 'An impression prevails in the popular mind (I interpret 'popular mind' to mean custom), and with some reason perhaps, that a commander who sends a flag of truce asking permission to bury his dead and bring in his wounded has lost the field of battle. Hence the resistance upon our part to ask a flag of truce.'

Joanie originally asked about a week ago (so it seems) what kind of man was Grant to be so callous. The above was the best answer I could find and appears to explain his reasoning.

I've stated on two other occasions that this issue is an argument I'm not really comfortable making and feel like I'm mostly on shaky ground at best. But the implication is that Grant was exceedingly uncaring about his men, which I cannot accept. We've learned that the Union waited at least two days after Fredericksburg to call for such a truce, yet Burnside/Franklin are not castigated for it. So why is Grant for Cold Harbor? Lee is still on the field the fourth day of Gettysburg waiting for a counterattack, but the only truce he calls for (that I know of, anyway) is for an exchange of prisoners (Coddington). From everybody's contributing research here (which I appreciate), it seems truces were not all that common in the war, at least at the command level. I suspect there are plenty of instances where casualties were left on the field for days on end — on both sides — that aren't documented. So why is it Grant alone draws this kind of ire?

I also found this, which comes from the post-war diary of Cpl. M. Harrison Strong of the 72nd Illinois. Strong fought under Grant at Donelson, Shiloh and Vicksburg, but never made close contact with Grant until he became an acting adjutant on Grant's staff: 'Another thing that makes me want to hit someone is this notion of Grant the butcher. Nothing could be further from his character. It was exactly the opposite of what he was inside. His goodness was extreme. But he was always alone, totally alone and seemingly lonesome. He bore a terrific, awful responsibility all by himself.'

Not all of Grant's men thought he was bad.

Give me the hammer. I'll be more than happy to drive in that final nail in this episode.

On to other matters:

Rhea’s statement is misleading.

Rhea's statement is factual. The purpose of the battle is to continue to pressure Lee. The purpose of the campaign is to force Lee's surrender. Maneuvering is one way to do that. Anyway, it was originally asked if Grant might have thought his plan wasn't working and clearly, he never thought that.

Lee and the ANV are fighting a war for their homes and families. It is a war, as they view it, against an invading army. While these losses are sad, these men died in defense against invaders.

Grant is fighting to preserve the Union. Invasion? What invasion? Grant was trying to quell a rebellion. (This one could lead to about 100 different threads, 50 of them by Joanie alone).

Lincoln’s reelection lies not with Grant/Meade, but with Sherman. Had Atlanta not fallen, what chances does Lincoln have?

I know that and made reference to that in a previous post. But it was mentioned that the losses at Cold Harbor damaged the Northern war effort, and I don't see how. I mentioned the support the AofP gave Lincoln to illustrate that even though the army suffered horrendous casualties, it still voted overwhelmingly to keep the present administration and thus continue its war aims. I don't see that as damage to the war effort.

Ah, but it is not Lee that stops Mac. It is Joe Johnston. After Johnston attacks Mac at Seven Pines, Mac stops his advance. It is Lee who pushed Mac back down the Peninsula.

Technically, that's correct. But I'll argue that it was Lil' Mac who stopped Lil' Mac. The Lil' Turd spent most of the battle in bed and supplied no leadership at all. Johnston, meanwhile, screws up an opportunity to destroy the Federal left wing and then tries to blame Benjamin Huger for it. Now there's leadership for you. Lee was the best thing that happened to the Confederacy. Or the worst, if you want to consider his war-long casualty rate, which, if I remember correctly, also included a futile frontal assault somewhere in Pennsylvania.

...but if I go get more ANV/Virginia stuff off the shelf, my wife is going to cut my internet line.

Don't I know it, brother. It's aggravating how often I have to surrender the 'puter to QVC research. :(

Last edited on Sun Feb 10th, 2008 05:02 am by PvtClewell



 Posted: Sun Feb 10th, 2008 06:00 am
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JoanieReb
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"Give me the hammer. I'll be more than happy to drive in that final nail in this episode."

Yeppers, I've said all I've got to say, and in some cases, twice!  Unless I come up with something new, concrete, and of value, I'm done.

As you say Pvt. Clewell, on to other things.

You know, we still haven't addressed my original two questions:  should the battle have been fought, and what were Grant's alternatives?

Well, all good things in their time; I like the way this discussion is developing and following it's own route thru the wilderness of fact and opinion.

If we can keep up our scholarly advance, we might even out-do a NASCAR thread or two....That would be cool!

(JUNIOR WINS the Budweiser shoot-out.  Ole must be ecstatic! =+++)


 

Last edited on Sun Feb 10th, 2008 06:03 am by JoanieReb



 Posted: Sun Feb 10th, 2008 07:43 am
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JoanieReb
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"'Although Grant and his subordinates were frustrated at their inability to pierce Lee's lines at Cold Harbor, they did not consider the reverse any more serious than Lee's previous rebuffs. Reviewing the week's operations, Grant and Meade thought they had done rather well, having turned Lee out of his North Anna line, maneuvered him nearly 20 miles closer to the Confederate capital, and cornered him against Richmond. The attempt to punch through Lee's works at Cold Harbor had failed, but the campaign still had fair prospects for ultimate success.' (p. 387)"

I am wondering exactly whom Rhea is referencing when he speaks of Grants subordinates.  It would be interesting to see exactly what his officers had to say about it all.  When I can get to the university library, think I'll spend some time looking into this.

At the lowest level, the fighting men themselves, your good friend James McPherson seems to disagee in his discussions of what he calls "Cold Harbor syndrome". 

In looking for Grant's reasons to fight at Cold Harbor in the manner he so chose, I came across this, from James Mc:

"Grant's purpose was not a war of attrition - though numerous historians have mislabled it thus.  From the outset, he had tried to maneuver Lee into open-field combat, where Union superiority in numbers and firepower could cripple the enemy.  It was Lee who turned it into a war of attrition by skillfully matching Grant's moves and confronting him with an entrenched defense at every turn."  (Illus BCF 642)

Don't know quite where it fits in, but it is interesting.  Maybe the idea that Grant & Co. thought they had done rather well, manuvering Lee, when it sounds as if Lee had more control of the strategy than the above quote would lead one to believe.



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