Army of the Potomac: McClellans First Campaign, March - May 1862: 3

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The Confederate adversaries are always present but often only in shadowy forms that achieve firm reality only when we meet them face-to-face on the battlefield. Power Over Promotion Fades.

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PursuitAfter a Fashion. The New Plan and the Navy. Banks up the Valley Timidly. Shields Reconnoiters from Winchester.

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Lincoln's experiment undermined his army commander by elevating the wrong men to positions of importance, a sad fact amply demonstrated by the inept leadership displayed before Yorktown and during the important fighting at Williamsburg. Beatie is the first author to deeply investigate and expose the role of the Navy in the Yorktown episode.

Lincoln removes McClellan

His sweeping and convincing conclusion is that if the Navy had done what it promised it would do—what it could have done, but refused to do—Yorktown would have fallen weeks sooner than it did. The Confederate adversaries are always present but often only in shadowy forms that achieve firm reality only when we meet them face-to-face on the battlefield.

If you want to understand the war in the east, this series is essential. It is, in short, as good an account of the ride as we are likely to get.

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Upon taking command of the army in the field, McClellan was relieved of his duties as general in chief. Advancing up the historic peninsula between the York and James rivers in Virginia, McClellan began a monthlong siege of Yorktown and captured that stronghold on May 4, A Confederate rearguard action at Williamsburg the next day delayed the blue-clads, who then slowly moved up through heavy rain to within 4 miles 6 km of Richmond.

Army of the Potomac

Lee promptly renamed the command the Army of Northern Virginia. McClellan counterattacked on June 1 and forced the Southerners back into the environs of Richmond.

The Federals suffered a total of 5, casualties out of a force of nearly ,, while the Confederates lost 6, of about 74, men. McClellan inflicted 20, casualties on Lee while suffering 15, himself.


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  • McClellan felt that he could not move upon Richmond without considerable reinforcement, and his estimates of the men he needed went up and up and up. Against his protests his army was withdrawn from the peninsula to Washington by Lincoln and the new general in chief, Halleck—a man McClellan scornfully considered to be his inferior. American Civil War.

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