Results 1 to 15 of 15

Thread: The Overland Campaign Reconsidered

  1. #1
    Global Moderator
    Military Professional
    Defense Professional
    Albany Rifles's Avatar
    Join Date
    27 Apr 07
    Location
    Prince George, VA
    Posts
    8,962

    The Overland Campaign Reconsidered

    I am stuck on what I will call this thread….I figure The Wilderness Reconsidered will work.

    I know there is a school of scholarship which chastises US Grant for being “stuck in the Wilderness” and other such. The issues around Spotsylvania also deal with heavy cover and the same could be said all the way to the James.

    But there are 2 points I want to bring out. The first is the area which covers the section of Virginia for the Overland Campaign had about half to a third of the forestation it has today. Old woodlots which were clear cut have grown back and the NPS and locale groups have kept a lot of green space where much did not exist at the time of the War. So much of the Wilderness was more open than it is today.

    The second point is I am convinced that Grant’s attitude about the ability to fight in difficult terrain was colored by his experiences out West; specifically the battles of Port Gibson and Champion’s Hill from the Vicksburg Campaign and the operation against Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain at Chattanooga.

    I just returned from a weeklong tour of the Vicksburg area conducting a tour of the campaign with a friend. I had not been back in 5 years and grew to have a new and better appreciation of the terrain.

    These are photos of the approach road for the site of the Battle of Port Gibson, the first of the battles which made up the Vicksburg Campaign after Grant crossed the river.


    Attachment 28844Attachment 28845Attachment 28846Attachment 28847

    This was called the Old Rodney Road now the Shaifer Road. Grant pushed 2 corps up this road to to attack Bowen's Division southwest of the town.

    The trees were all leafed out at the time and all of the lowland was filled with cane brakes 10 to 20 feet high.
    “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
    Mark Twain

  2. #2
    Global Moderator
    Military Professional
    Defense Professional
    Albany Rifles's Avatar
    Join Date
    27 Apr 07
    Location
    Prince George, VA
    Posts
    8,962
    Here is the ground that Carr's division attacked across....and yes, they employed artillery and both sides pushed artillery forward through this terrain.

    Attachment 28848Attachment 28849

    This was the terrain just to the north of the last position. Osterhaus pushed 2 regiments up this ravine.

    Attachment 28850

    Oh, and the attack began at night.

    I'll post more photos and talk about Champion's Hill and post maps later.
    “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
    Mark Twain

  3. #3
    Staff Emeritus
    Military Professional
    Defense Professional Shek's Avatar
    Join Date
    23 Feb 05
    Location
    Krblachistan
    Posts
    11,636
    Quote Originally Posted by Albany Rifles View Post
    I know there is a school of scholarship which chastises US Grant for being “stuck in the Wilderness” and other such. The issues around Spotsylvania also deal with heavy cover and the same could be said all the way to the James.
    Buck,

    Since you didn't name the specific scholarship, is this school that you're referring focused on the decision to make it the Overland Campaign vice the Peninsular Campaign, Part 2, which was the criticism once the "seige" of Petersburg began (I put "seige" in quotes as it was really the Petersburg Campaign that was marked by static lines to fix the ANV in place punctuated with constant flank maneuvers by Grant using the AoP and AoJ), i.e., McClellan got to basically the same position without generating the same level of Union casualties (and at the same ignoring the operational and strategic impact of the correspondingly higer proportioned ANV casualties)?

    If that's the case, I'd offer that they miss the boat at the operational and strategic levels based on the constraints that Grant was operating under, and the reason for the non-execution of his North Carolina raid strategy that he penned to Halleck prior to assuming the General-in-Chief position. Your comparative terrain analysis provides a good counter at the tactical and operational levels that is fully complementary to the operational/strategic constraints that helped to shape the Overland Campaign's design and execution.
    Last edited by Shek; 18 Apr 12, at 15:43.
    "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

  4. #4
    Global Moderator
    Military Professional
    Defense Professional
    Albany Rifles's Avatar
    Join Date
    27 Apr 07
    Location
    Prince George, VA
    Posts
    8,962
    Shek,

    It is partly that but I wanted to more fully think this out.

    My thinking is that Grant did not consider restrictive terrain as an impediment for maneuvering. And this idea colored his thinking, expectations and execution all the way to the James.

    I have read numerous accounts where Grant is chastised by some for his selection of attacking on some of the locations he chose during the Overland Campaign. The Wilderness jumps out but so are his choices to:

    - Continuously attempt to shift corps from front to front on limited trail networks during the Spotsylvania battles
    - His accepting battle, albeit not on a grand scale, along the North Anna
    - Fighting in pestilential lowland between the Pamunkey and Chickahominy which culminated at Cold Harbor
    - His movements on restricted road networks throughout the Petersburg Campaign.

    Now some of this criticism I have heard first hand from speakers and some guides. Robert Krick comes to mind....so does a talk from Gary Gallagher I attended.

    I believe Grant's experiences at Shiloh and Vicksburg in very restrictive terrain colored his view on trafficability. Or in other words, just because it doesn't have easy access it can't be used as an axis of advance for a corps or more. His troops in the Army of the Tennessee (AOT) were less experienced at that stage of the war than their AOP counterparts. And at Chattanooga he witnessed former AOP troops maneuver and succesfully attack up Lookout Mountain.

    So I guess what I am saying (and not doing a good job) Grant believed that an Army as good as the AOP (and make no mistake about it, in 1864 the AOP was superb) should be able to fight as effectively if not more so when fighting on less restrictive terrain than the AOT. I believe he and his staff could not understand some of the problems the AOP had with maneuver and this could have exacerbated the friction between Grant and Meade as well as their staffs.

    Just some food for thought.

    And I agree with your assessment that he had a singular strategic vision which was matched only by Lincoln's.
    “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
    Mark Twain

  5. #5
    Staff Emeritus
    Military Professional
    Defense Professional Shek's Avatar
    Join Date
    23 Feb 05
    Location
    Krblachistan
    Posts
    11,636
    Quote Originally Posted by Albany Rifles View Post
    My thinking is that Grant did not consider restrictive terrain as an impediment for maneuvering. And this idea colored his thinking, expectations and execution all the way to the James.

    I have read numerous accounts where Grant is chastised by some for his selection of attacking on some of the locations he chose during the Overland Campaign.
    Buck,

    I'll eventually get to the Overland Campaign, but I first would like to frame the constraints that Grant faced to bring everyone onto the same sheet of music, so I'll start off by providing the exchange between him and Halleck to illustrate where he couldn't choose to campaign. It probably won't be until sometime next week that I can offer more, but this should generate some discussion

    CONFIDENTIAL.] HDQRS. MIL. DIV. OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
    Nashville, Tenn., January 19, 1864.

    Major General H. W. HALLECK,
    General-in-Chief of the Army, Washington, D. C.:

    GENERAL: I would respectfully suggest whether an abandonment of all previously attempted lines to Richmond is not advisable, and in lieu of these one be taken farther south. I would suggest Raleigh, N. C., as the objective point and Suffolk as the starting point. Raleigh once secured, I would make New Berne the base of supplies until Wilmington is secured.

    A moving force of 60,000 men would probably be required to start on such an expedition. This force would not have to be increased unless Lee should withdraw from his present position. In that case the necessity for so large a force on the Potomac would not exist. A force moving from Suffolk would destroy first all the roads about Weldon, or even as far north as Hicksford. From Weldon to Raleigh they would scarcely meet with serious opposition. Once there, the most interior line of railway still left to the enemy, in fact the only one they would then have, would be so threatened as to force him to use a large portion of his army in guarding it. This would virtually force an evacuation of Virginia and indirectly of East Tennessee. It would throw our armies into new fields, where they could partially live upon the country and would reduce the stores of the enemy. It would cause thousands of the North Carolina troops to desert and return to their homes. It would give us possession of many negroes who are now indirectly aiding the rebellion. It would draw the enemy from campaigns of their own choosing, and for which they are prepared, to new lines of operations never expected to become necessary. It would effectually blockade Wilmington, the port now of more value to the enemy than all the balance of their sea-coast. It would enable operations to commence at once by removing the war to a more southern climate, instead of months of inactivity in winter quarters. Other advantages might be cited which would be likely to grow out of this plan, but these are enough. From your better opportunities of studying he country and the armies that would be involved in this plan, you will be better able to judge of the practicability of it than I possibly can. I have written this in accordance with what I understand to be an invitation from you to express my views about military operations, and not to insist that any plan of mine should be carried out. Whatever course is agreed upon, I shall always believe is at least intended for the best, and until fully tested will hope to have it prove so.

    I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    U. S. GRANT,
    Major-General.
    Several things to point out about Grant in this letter:

    1. He's thinking about what to do to the enemy and how to make the ANV dance to the fiddle of the AoP.
    2. He understands the role of logistics as the vulnerability to the center of gravity of the Confederacy - the ANV.
    3. He understands the that every slave removed from the Confederacy is a blow to the Confederacy.
    4. He's thinking about living off of the land, just as he did with Vicksburg, meaning that he'd have freedom of maneuver to either defeat in detail or pick and choose the field of battle and timing.
    5. He's thinking about continuous battle, preventing the Confederacy from being able to shift forces across interior lines during lulls in battle to better array their forces.
    "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

  6. #6
    Staff Emeritus
    Military Professional
    Defense Professional Shek's Avatar
    Join Date
    23 Feb 05
    Location
    Krblachistan
    Posts
    11,636
    Here’s Halleck’s reply to Grant. While Lincoln had yet to officially nominate Grant for his third star in the newly created position of General-in-Chief, it is clear from the tone of the letter that Halleck knew Grant was going to be his boss. Halleck affirms that the ANV was the center of gravity that must be defeated, but due to political considerations of uncovering Washington (among many considerations), Halleck poo poos the indirect approach that Grant is considering with the NC raid.

    Instead, he advises that the overland route is the best option given the constraint of having to cover Washington with enough troops to defend against another Valley scare (which is exactly what Lee would try in the summer of 1864, although the movement of the XI Corps from south of the James to the outskirts of DC to end Early’s run demonstrated that troops could be shifted in time via the coast).

    Given this exchange as an example of the constraint that Grant was operating under, Grant’s choice for the Overland Campaign should not be used against him. He had to change from an indirect approach designed to attack the critical vulnerability of the ANV, sustainment, to a direct approach designed to confront the ANV directly across terrain that afforded less of an opportunity to play to his strengths of maneuvering and defeating the enemy in detail as they were reacting to his maneuvering. This should not be taken as a counter to Buck’s thesis that Grant saw potential opportunity, just that it was less than ideally suited for operational maneuver to catch the ANV out of position.

    At a later date, I’ll return and set the stage further from both a strategic and operational perspective of the constraints that Grant faced in pursuing the overland approach to Richmond.

    CONFIDENTIAL.
    WASHINGTON, D. C.,
    February 17, 1864.
    Major-General GRANT, Nashville, Tenn.:

    GENERAL: Your letter of the 12th instant is just received. I fully concur with you in regard to the present condition of affairs in East Tennessee. It certainly is very much to be regretted that the fatal mistake of General Burnside has permitted Longstreet's army to winter in Tennessee. It is due to yourself that a full report of this matter should be placed on file, so that the responsibility may rest where it properly belongs.

    The condition of affairs in East Tennessee and the uncertainty of General Banks' operations in Texas and Louisiana have caused me to delay answering your former communication in regard to the operations of the campaign. In one of these you suggest whether it might not be well not to attempt anything more against Richmond and to send a column of 60,000 men into North Carolina. In the first place, I have never considered Richmond as the necessary objective point of the Army of the Potomac; that point is Lee's army. I have never supposed Richmond could be taken till Lee's army was defeated or driven away. It was one of Napoleon's maxims that an army covering a capital must be destroyed before attempting to capture or occupy that capital. And now, how can we best defeat Lee's army-by attacking it between here and Richmond, on our shortest line of supplies, and in such a position that we can combine our whole force, or by a longer line and with a force diminished by the troops required to cover Washington and Maryland?

    Such movement through North Carolina alluded to by you, and also one from Port Royal on Savannah and into Georgia, have been several times suggested here, and pretty fully discussed by military men. It is conceded by those suggesting these expeditions that neither of them can be safely undertaken with a less force than that estimated by you, viz, 60,000 effective men. Some require a still larger force.

    If we admit the advantage of either of these plans, the question immediately arises, where can we get the requisite number of troops?

    There is evidently a general public misconception of the strength of our army in Virginia and about Washington. Perhaps it is good policy to encourage this public error. The entire effective force in the fortifications about Washington and employed in guarding the public buildings and stores, the aqueduct, and railroads does not exceed 18,000 men. We have a few thousand more in the convalescent and distribution camps, and in the cavalry and artillery depots, but thee are mostly fragments of organizations, temporarily here for equipments and distribution, and could contribute very little to the defense of the place. This force is, therefore, less than one-half of what General McClellan and several boards of officers recommended as the permanent garrison. Considering the political importance of Washington, and several boards of officers recommended as the permanent garrison. Considering the political importance of Washington, and the immense amount of military stores here, it would be exceedingly hazardous to reduce is till further.

    The effective force of the Army of the Potomac is only about 70,000. General Meade retreated before Lee with a very much larger force, and he does not now deem himself strong enough to attack Lee's present army.

    Suppose we were to send 30,000 men from that army to North Carolina, would not Lee be able to make another invasion of Maryland and Pennsylvania? But it may be said that by operating in North Carolina we would compel Lee to move his army there. I do not think so. Uncover Washington and the Potomac River, and all the forces which Lee can collect will be moved north, and the popular sentiment will compel the Government to bring back the army in North Carolina to defend Washington, Baltimore, Harrisburg, and Philadelphia. I think Lee would to-morrow exchange Richmond, Raleigh and Wilmington for the possession of either of the aforementioned cities.

    But suppose it were practicable to send 30,000 men from Meade's army to North Carolina, where shall we get the other 30,000? We have there now barely enough to hold the points which it is necessary to occupy in order to prevent contraband trade. Very few of these would be available for the field. Maryland is almost entirely stripped of troops, and the forces in Western Virginia are barely sufficient to protect that part of the country from rebel raids. The only other resource is South Carolina.

    Generals Foster and Gillmore were both of opinion at the commencement of operations against Charleston that neither that place nor Savannah could be taken by a land force of less than 60,000 men. Large land and naval forces have been employed there for nearly a year without any important results. I had no faith in the plan at first, and for months past have ineffectually urged that 10,000 or 15,000 men from Gillmore's command be sent against Texas or Mobile. And now these troops are sent upon another expedition which, in my opinion, can produce no military result.

    I always have been, and still am, opposed to all these isolated expeditions on the sea and Gulf coast. It is true they greatly assist the Navy in maintaining the blockade and prevent contraband trade, but I think the troops so employed would do more good if concentrated on some important line of military operations. We have given too much attention to cutting the toe nails of our enemy instead of grasping his throat.

    You will perceive from the facts stated above that there are serious, if not insurmountable, obstacles in the way of the proposed North Carolina expedition. Nevertheless, as it has much to recommend it, I shall submit it with your remarks to the consideration of the President and Secretary of War as soon as troops enough return from furlough to attempt any important movement in this part of the theater of war.

    Lee's army is by far the best in the rebel service, and I regard him as their ablest general. But little progress can be made here till that army is broken or defeated. There have been several good opportunities to do this, viz, at Antietam, at Chancellorsville, and at Williamsport, in the retreat from Gettysburg. I am also of opinion that General Meade could have succeeded recently at Mine Run had he persevered in his attack.

    The overthrow of Lee's army being the object of operations here, the question arises, how can we best attain it? If we fight that army with our communications open to Washington, so as to cover this place and Maryland, we can concentrate upon it nearly all your forces on this frontier, but if we operate by North Carolina or the Peninsula, we must act with a divided army and on exterior lines, while Lee, with a short interior line, can concentrate his entire force on either fragment.

    And yet, if we had troops enough to secure our position here, and at the same time to operate with advantage on Raleigh or Richmond, I would not hesitate to do so, at least for a winter or spring campaign. But our numbers are not sufficient, in my opinion, to attempt this, at least for the present. Troops sent south of James River cannot be brought back in time to oppose Lee, should he attempt a movement north, which I am satisfied would be his best policy.
    Our main efforts in the next campaign should unquestionably be made against the armies of Lee and Johnston, but what particular lines we shall operate cannot be positively determined until the affairs of East Tennessee are settled, and we can know more nearly time, it will be well to compare views and opinions. The final decision of this question will probably depend, under the President, upon yourself.

    It may be said that if General McClellan failed to take Richmond by the Peninsula route, so also have Generals Burnside, Hooker, and Meade failed to accomplish that object by the shorter and more direct route. This is all very true, but no argument can be deduced from this bare fact in favor of either plan of operations. General McClellan had so large an army in the spring of 1862 that possibly he was justified in dividing his forces and adopting exterior lines of operations. If he had succeeded, his plan would have been universally praised. He failed, and so also have Burnside, Hooker, and Meade on an interior route; but their armies were for inferior in number to that which McClellan had tow years ago. These facts in themselves prove nothing in favor of either route, and to decide the question we must recur to fundamental principles in regard to interior and exterior lines, objective points covering armies, divided forces, &c. These fundamental principles require, in my opinion, that all our available forces in the east should be concentrated against Lee's army. We cannot take Richmond [at least with any miliary advantage], and we cannot operate advantageously on any point from the Atlantic coast, till we destroy or disperse that army, and the nearer to Washington we can fight it the better for us. We can here, or between here and Richmond, concentrate against him more men than anywhere else. If we cannot defeat him here with our combined force, we cannot hope to do so elsewhere with a divided army.

    I write to you plainly and frankly, for between us there should be no reserve or concealment of opinions. As before remarked, I presume, under the authority of the President, the final decision of these questions will be referred to you. Nevertheless, I think you are entitled to have, and that it is my duty to frankly give, my individual opinion on the subject. It will no doubt e received for what it may be intrinsically worth; I can ask or expect nothing more.

    In regard to the operations of our Western armies I fully concur in your views, but I think the condition of affairs in East Tennessee and west of Mississippi River will require some modification in your plans, or at least will very much delay the operations of your proposed spring campaign.

    These, however, are delays and changes which neither of us could anticipate.
    Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    H. W. HALLECK,
    General-in-Chief.
    "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

  7. #7
    Global Moderator
    Military Professional
    Defense Professional
    Albany Rifles's Avatar
    Join Date
    27 Apr 07
    Location
    Prince George, VA
    Posts
    8,962
    Shek,

    I completely agree about Grant's choice.

    My point is from the aspect of OCOKA and Go/No Go terrain.

    He had been succesful a year prior over terrain which was much worse than Central Virginia.

    Agreed he had no choice on his access of advance based strategic and political considerations.
    “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
    Mark Twain

  8. #8
    Administrator
    Lei Feng Protege
    Defense Professional
    Join Date
    23 Aug 05
    Location
    Arlington, VA
    Posts
    14,134
    the frightening thing is that while i was reading both the grant and the halleck letters, in my mind's-eye i turned them into nice little powerpoint presentations. COA 1, COA 2...
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

  9. #9
    Military Professional
    Join Date
    03 Jul 08
    Location
    Baltimore, Maryland
    Posts
    247
    You mean that they did it without Power Point OR reflective belts? Unpossible.

  10. #10
    Staff Emeritus
    Military Professional
    Defense Professional Shek's Avatar
    Join Date
    23 Feb 05
    Location
    Krblachistan
    Posts
    11,636
    Quote Originally Posted by Albany Rifles View Post
    Shek,

    I completely agree about Grant's choice.

    My point is from the aspect of OCOKA and Go/No Go terrain.

    He had been succesful a year prior over terrain which was much worse than Central Virginia.

    Agreed he had no choice on his access of advance based strategic and political considerations.
    Buck,
    I'm tracking - just spending some time to frame the discussion before getting to your point
    "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

  11. #11
    Global Moderator
    Military Professional
    Defense Professional
    Albany Rifles's Avatar
    Join Date
    27 Apr 07
    Location
    Prince George, VA
    Posts
    8,962
    Quote Originally Posted by Shek View Post
    Buck,
    I'm tracking - just spending some time to frame the discussion before getting to your point

    The student has become the master!


    Seriously, the more I walk the ground the more I am convinced we should all STFU regarding what a lot of the decisions which were made.

    More to follow
    “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
    Mark Twain

  12. #12
    Staff Emeritus
    Military Professional
    Defense Professional Shek's Avatar
    Join Date
    23 Feb 05
    Location
    Krblachistan
    Posts
    11,636
    No time for commentary yet, but I at least want to post some Grant's words from his memoirs (written 20 years after the war) that I will comment on in the next few days.

    Chapter XLVII. Grant, Ulysses S. 1885–86. Personal Memoirs

    That portion of the Army of the Potomac not engaged in guarding lines of communication was on the northern bank of the Rapidan. The Army of Northern Virginia confronting it on the opposite bank of the same river, was strongly intrenched and commanded by the acknowledged ablest general in the Confederate army. The country back to the James River is cut up with many streams, generally narrow, deep, and difficult to cross except where bridged. The region is heavily timbered, and the roads narrow, and very bad after the least rain. Such an enemy was not, of course, unprepared with adequate fortifications at convenient intervals all the way back to Richmond, so that when driven from one fortified position they would always have another farther to the rear to fall back into.
    To provision an army, campaigning against so formidable a foe through such a country, from wagons alone seemed almost impossible. System and discipline were both essential to its accomplishment.

    ***

    My general plan now was to concentrate all the force possible against the Confederate armies in the field. There were but two such, as we have seen, east of the Mississippi River and facing north. The Army of Northern Virginia, General Robert E. Lee commanding, was on the south bank of the Rapidan, confronting the Army of the Potomac; the second, under General Joseph E. Johnston, was at Dalton, Georgia, opposed to Sherman who was still at Chattanooga. Beside these main armies the Confederates had to guard the Shenandoah Valley, a great storehouse to feed their armies from, and their line of communications from Richmond to Tennessee. Forrest, a brave and intrepid cavalry general, was in the West with a large force; making a larger command necessary to hold what we had gained in Middle and West Tennessee. We could not abandon any territory north of the line held by the enemy because it would lay the Northern States open to invasion. But as the Army of the Potomac was the principal garrison for the protection of Washington even while it was moving on Lee, so all the forces to the west, and the Army of the James, guarded their special trusts when advancing them from as well as when remaining at them. Better indeed, for they forced the enemy to guard his own lines and resources at a greater distance from ours, and with a greater force. Little expeditions could not so well be sent out to destroy a bridge or tear up a few miles of railroad track, burn a storehouse, or inflict other little annoyances. Accordingly I arranged for a simultaneous movement all along the line.

    ***

    At this time I was not entirely decided as to whether I should move the Army of the Potomac by the right flank of the enemy, or by his left. Each plan presented advantages. If by his right—my left—the Potomac, Chesapeake Bay and tributaries would furnish us an easy hauling distance of every position the army could occupy from the Rapidan to the James River. But Lee could, if he chose, detach or move his whole army north on a line rather interior to the one I would have to take in following. A movement by his left—our right—would obviate this; but all that was done would have to be done with the supplies and ammunition we started with. All idea of adopting this latter plan was abandoned when he limited quantity of supplies possible to take with us was considered. The country over which we would have to pass was so exhausted of all food or forage that we would be obliged to carry everything with us.

    ***

    The criticism has been made by writers on the campaign from the Rapidan to the James River that all the loss of life could have been obviated by moving the army there on transports. Richmond was fortified and intrenched so perfectly that one man inside to defend was more than equal to five outside besieging or assaulting. To get possession of Lee’s army was the first great object. With the capture of his army Richmond would necessarily follow. It was better to fight him outside of his stronghold than in it. If the Army of the Potomac had been moved bodily to the James River by water Lee could have moved a part of his forces back to Richmond, called Beauregard from the south to reinforce it, and with the balance moved on to Washington. Then, too, I ordered a move, simultaneous with that of the Army of the Potomac, up the James River by a formidable army already collected at the mouth of the river.
    http://www.bartleby.com/1011/50.html

    SOON after midnight, May 3d–4th, the Army of the Potomac moved out from its position north Rapidan, to start upon that memorable campaign, destined to result in the capture of the Confederate capital and the army defending it. This was not to be accomplished, however, without as desperate fighting as the world has ever witnessed; not to be consummated in a day, a week, a month, single season. The losses inflicted, and endured, were destined to be severe; but the armies now confronting each other had already been in deadly conflict for a period of three years, with immense losses in killed, by death from sickness, captured and wounded; and neither had made any real progress accomplishing the final end. It is true the Confederates had, so far, held their capital, and they claimed this to be their sole object. But previously they had boldly proclaimed their intention to capture Philadelphia, New York, and the National Capital, and had made several attempts to do so, and once or twice had come fearfully near making their boast good—too near for complacent contemplation by the loyal North. They had also come near losing their own capital on at least one occasion. So here was a stand-off. The campaign now begun was destined to result in heavier losses, to both armies, in a given time, than any previously suffered; but the carnage was to be limited to a single year, and to accomplish all that had been anticipated or desired at the beginning in that time. We had to have hard fighting to achieve this. The two armies had been confronting each other so long, without any decisive result, that they hardly knew which could whip.
    Ten days’ rations, with a supply of forage and ammunition were taken in wagons. Beef cattle were driven with the trains, and butchered as wanted. Three days rations in addition, in haversacks, and fifty rounds of cartridges, were carried on the person of each soldier.
    The country over which the army had to operate, from the Rapidan to the crossing of the James River, is rather flat, and is cut by numerous streams which make their way to the Chesapeake Bay. The crossings of these streams by the army were generally made not far above tide-water, and where formed a considerable obstacle to the rapid advance of troops even when the enemy did not appear in opposition. The country roads were narrow and poor. Most of the country is covered with a dense forest, in places, like the Wilderness and along the Chickahominy, almost impenetrable even for infantry except along the roads. All bridges were naturally destroyed before the National troops came to them.

    ***

    It was my plan then, as it was on all other occasions, to take the initiative whenever the enemy could be drawn from his intrenchments if we were not intrenched ourselves.
    Last edited by Shek; 04 May 12, at 02:12.
    "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

  13. #13
    Administrator Tarek Morgen's Avatar
    Join Date
    08 Feb 07
    Location
    Kassel
    Posts
    4,417
    One dumb question..but where did this campaign get its name from? It is not like it is the only one that fits the definition of the term.

  14. #14
    Staff Emeritus
    Military Professional
    Defense Professional Shek's Avatar
    Join Date
    23 Feb 05
    Location
    Krblachistan
    Posts
    11,636
    Quote Originally Posted by Tarek Morgen View Post
    One dumb question..but where did this campaign get its name from? It is not like it is the only one that fits the definition of the term.
    Tarek,

    I'm not sure of the exact origin of the name, but my educated guess would be that it stems from two reasons - 1) the other route to Richmond taken by McClellan ending up being called the Peninsular Campaign and so it was natural to choose a more geographical name for Grant's route (and to start the Peninsular Campaign, you went by boat) and 2) because Grant's focus was not Richmond, but instead, the ANV, a specific geographical name such as the Richmond Campaign wasn't the best descriptor either.

    Once Grant crossed the James after Cold Habor and invested Petersburg with multiple offensives across space and time to stretch and eventually break the ANV lines so he could take the rail lines of Petersburg to sever logistical resupply of Richmond (an indirect approach to defeat the ANV), it was no longer the Overland Campaign as he was at the gates of Richmond and had a different objective in mind - it then became the next campaign, which is commonly referred to as the Petersburg Campaign.
    "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

  15. #15
    Global Moderator
    Military Professional
    Defense Professional
    Albany Rifles's Avatar
    Join Date
    27 Apr 07
    Location
    Prince George, VA
    Posts
    8,962
    Shek is absolutely correct in how it was named by historians; but the term is used more by modern historians than 75+ years ago...it was usually called Grant's 1864 Central Virginia Campaign or by its individual battles.

    The Overland Campaign was augmented by 2 others by the Union.......the Bermuda Hundred Campaign which attacked up the James River and attempted to cut Richmond off from the rail hub of Petersburg and the Shenandoah Valley Campaign, intended keep Confederate forces in the Valley from reinforcing Lee (both ended in failure). As Shek has stated the Overland Campaign transitioned to the 9 month long Petersbrug Campaign after the AOP crossed the James and launched a series of failed assaults against Petersburg in mid June 64.

    The Petersburg campaign ended with the failed Confederate attack against FT Stedman 25 MAR 65. That marked the end of the wintering over and the Union armies shook themselves out fo the winter mud and began the Appomattox Campaign on 29 MAR 65 with the Battle of Lewis Farm, followed quickly by White Oak Road and Five Forks, with the Petersburg lines being broken on 2 APR 65. After that is was a series of run and gun battles to the surrender at Appomattox on 9 APR 65.
    “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
    Mark Twain

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. Boeing Ad Campaign
    By McFire in forum Military Aviation
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 05 Apr 08,, 03:12
  2. Celebrity Campaign Donations
    By Wraith601 in forum American Politics & Economy
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 25 Nov 06,, 08:04
  3. The Catholics: A Cardinal's Campaign
    By Gio in forum World Affairs Board Pub
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 03 Apr 06,, 18:58
  4. New Recruiting Campaign!
    By Shek in forum Europe and Russia
    Replies: 18
    Last Post: 29 Aug 05,, 20:11
  5. US election Campaign videos
    By Trooth in forum International Politics
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 15 Feb 04,, 04:00

Share this thread with friends:

Share this thread with friends:

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •