Until every drop of blood is paid - A more radical American Civil War

I think a version of the Liberal Republicans will eventually arise here, but focused on reform and economic change rather than too abandon Blacks to White terrorism in the name of tranquility.
Maybe said alt-Liberal Republicans could be longer-lasting with the post-civil war political divide being between moderate and radical wings of the Republicans?
 
Reynolds was apparently offered the command of the Army of the Potomac after the Battle of Chancellorsville but declined when Lincoln wouldn't guarantee him freedom from politics.
 
Maybe said alt-Liberal Republicans could be longer-lasting with the post-civil war political divide being between moderate and radical wings of the Republicans?
And preferably displace the Democrats in the North. There is a reason I like Seward, he was popular among immigrants due to his pro-migrant position as Governor of NY. He would have kept the GOP competitive in immigrant vote.
 
I'm not sure I can agree with this. As his track record goes, his time as a corps commander was mixed. He is quite aggressive, but I think he has a tendency to micromanage, which is noted in Charles Wainwright's diary. At Fredericksburg, Meade's messenger, who was asking for reinforcements to support Meade's breakthrough, couldn't find Reynolds because Reynolds was helping artillerymen fire on the enemy. At Chancellorsville, he was not really engaged. At Gettysburg, he showed great attention to detail, but his riding with the Iron Brigade into action was beneath his responsibility. As a wing commander, he shouldn't have been charging with the boys when he could have been calling for reinforcements and selecting new positions as new units arrived. Had he survived, he could have used his authority to order Sickles and Slocum to move to Gettysburg early. In fact, he did order Sickles to go to Gettysburg, but the latter hesitated when he heard no further instructions.
Well, it's interesting food for thought.

I'm open to debate on the claim, because I know the limits of my familiarity with all of the AotP generals in question. In broad strokes - as I think most of us know well enough - it's a field of mediocrity or worse, so it's a relatively short list for "the best." I'm certainly open to arguments for Hancock...and perhaps even Humphreys.

I actually don't disagree that he seems to have had a non-delegation streak, though I think it's more understandable, and even at times a virtue, in the context of a hastily assembled citizen, non-professional army. There are things you can take for granted with a professional army that you cannot with the Union Army as it mostly existed in 1861-65, even in its late stages, given the paucity of trained NCO's and junior officers.

To take up the specific points: At Fredericksburg I'm inclined to the majority view that the failure was Franklin's, not Reynolds - it was really Franklin's responsibility at the end of the day, regardless of where Reynolds should have been at that moment. At Chancellorsville Reynolds can hardly be blamed for Hooker's erratic management of his corps - first sent to cross the Rapahannock at Fredericksburg, then suddenly rushed all the way back to join Hooker's main force (but too late to accomplish much of anything in it). At Gettysburg, part of his impulse was that he needed to see the ground, given the high risk strategy he adopted as soon as he arrived - and he was, after all, far from the only corps commander in the battle to get shot while leading from the front. In contrast, this instinct helped him salvage the withdrawal of Pope's army at Second Manassas...

I am not prepared to say that Reynolds was quite, say, Lee's equal; but I think he was what the Army of the Potomac needed. The urgent need for aggressiveness was one he could supply, with a balance of other necessary virtues often absent from his colleagues (like, uh, Meade). As Morris Schaff observed, "Its early commanders had dissipated war's best elixir by training it into a life caution, and the evil of that schooling it had shown on more than one occasion." It would not be until the Appomattox Campaign that that life of caution was really beaten out of it, though that was as much by attrition as it was Grant's and Sheridan's driving leash.

Red in his timeline may find that Reynolds don't suit for political reasons; but of course, that's a whole separate discussion.
 
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Reynolds was apparently offered the command of the Army of the Potomac after the Battle of Chancellorsville but declined when Lincoln wouldn't guarantee him freedom from politics.
Yes, that was at his famous meeting with Lincoln at the White House on June 2, 1863, as the Army of the Potomac was licking its wounds from Chancellorsville. We have no transcript or eyewitness account of the meeting, but it's generally accepted that an offer of some kind was made - and refused.
 
Well, I'm not as concerned about Reynolds position on abolitionists. In this timeline the south is clearly the aggressor and despite his closeness to the Buchanan Administration Reynolds would probably see Buchanan as the poor cousin who never seems to get his act together. :) even if Reynolds is more neutral, a pox on both their houses kind of thing, he would definitely not see abolitionists as the main problem.

Would he be radicalized enough to do the things needed? That depends on what he has seen in the course of the war. He will have seen successful black units and realize that they are quite capable soldiers and will have seen some of the horrible suffering. Any atrocities committed during Lee's attack will enhance this.

Would Reynolds take the position? If his argument is that politicians are just amateurs, well, Lincoln has a counter to that because his moved to protect Washington saved thousands of soldiers who would have probably also been killed or captured by Mcclellan's buffoonery. Lincoln can also point out that his desired strategy, simply pushing forward, was the one that took Washington. The big question is, does Reynolds try to dismiss this or does Reynolds acquiesce? If Reynolds is willing to admit that okay, Lincoln has a point, he will possibly bend enough to take command. If he counters it and expects that Lincoln should stay out, and sees those as just luck, then he will decline.

Meade is capable but unspectacular as you say. He would be a good choice, but how much of his success was having Grant there? He may still be the second best choice, but Burnside is a wild card.

Unlike in our timeline, Burnside has had some successes in the islands of North Carolina and New Orleans. He has probably been radicalized just by seeing the treatment of blacks and hearing stories after liberating New Orleans. He realized he wasn't as good at leading the Army in our timeline but he has had a little more chance to grow and might be okay, but I don't see him being able to get back to the east fast enough if Lee is really planning something big. It's not a video game where you can just insert someone, he would need some time to familiarize himself with the troops. I mean, I suppose he could and in this case he would be playing defense and not trying to attack like a Fredericksburg. The big question is, what do you be able to handle the whole Army? I would put him ahead of Pope and Hancock though.

Maybe there is where you can go away from our timeline though. Meade - or a Reynolds who is seriously injured which is possible – could be replaced later by Burnside who then is a big success. Of course, Meade without Grant would still be a departure from our timeline.
 
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I'm open to debate on the claim, because I know the limits of my familiarity with all of the AotP generals in question. In broad strokes - as I think most of us know well enough - it's a field of mediocrity or worse, so it's a relatively short list for "the best." I'm certainly open to arguments for Hancock...and perhaps even Humphreys.
Wha- What about Horatio G. Wright? The guy who led Sheridan's infantry, the commander who broke Lee's line at Petersburg with a complex column formation?

actually don't disagree that he seems to have had a non-delegation streak, though I think it's more understandable, and even at times a virtue, in the context of a hastily assembled citizen, non-professional army. There are things you can take for granted with a professional army that you cannot with the Union Army as it mostly existed in 1861-65, even in its late stages, given the paucity of trained NCO's and junior officers.
I will gladly admit that Reynold understood that the volunteers were not regulars and needed personal leadership to really get them to work. That served him very well as a brigade/division commander. However, I still do find his record as corps commander to be mixed.
To take up the specific points: At Fredericksburg I'm inclined to the majority view that the failure was Franklin's, not Reynolds - it was really Franklin's responsibility at the end of the day, regardless of where Reynolds should have been at that moment.
I will heartily admit that Franklin was largely at fault for the failed assault, but that doesn't excuse Reynolds for neglecting Meade's progress. When Meade and John Gibbon broke the Southern lines at Fredericksburg, Reynolds was "worrying the artillery about ephemeral details" as Fredericksburg historian Francis A. O’Reilly says. In a letter to his wife, Meade censured Reynolds for failing to support him, which allowed the Rebels to counterattack and close the breach.
At Chancellorsville Reynolds can hardly be blamed for Hooker's erratic management of his corps - first sent to cross the Rapahannock at Fredericksburg, then suddenly rushed all the way back to join Hooker's main force (but too late to accomplish much of anything in it).
Fair enough.
I am not prepared to say that Reynolds was quite, say, Lee's equal; but I think he was what the Army of the Potomac needed. The urgent need for aggressiveness was one he could supply, with a balance of other necessary virtues often absent from his colleagues (like, uh, Meade). As Morris Schaff observed, "Its early commanders had dissipated war's best elixir by training it into a life caution, and the evil of that schooling it had shown on more than one occasion." It would not be until the Appomattox Campaign that that life of caution was really beaten out of it, though that was as much by attrition as it was Grant's and Sheridan's driving leash.
Ok, I'll defend Meade from this jab. As a commander of the Pennsylvania Reserves Division, Meade fought aggressively and displayed valor. As the commander of the V Corps, he saw the folly of Hooker's actions and took the initiative to protect the Army of the Potomac's supply route after the collapse of XI Corps. Meade was the one who proposed counterattacking with I and V Corps, which was rejected by Hooker.
When Meade took over, he was immediately able to plan out a bold yet prudent course to fight Lee, which resulted in the Battle of Gettysburg. Meade fully planned to attack Lee on July 2 (on Ewell) and counterattack on July 3. The former was foiled by a realization that the ground was not conductive for such an attack (and Longstreet's attack) and the latter was foiled by Hancock's injury and the fact that VI Corps was scattered. His pursuit of Lee was more aggressive than public perception. Lincoln's orders to screen Washington constrained him to a less direct route to the Potomac than the one Lee took and Stuart truly put up a magnificent performance. After he crossed the Potomac, he became so aggressive in pursuit of Lee, nearly catching Ewell's Corps at Thoroughfare Gap, that the War Department actually reigned him and specifically ordered him to stop seeking battle with Lee, over his objections.
 
Interesting, I hadn't realized Meade was that aggressive. It sounds like he would be very good even without Grant over him. Perhaps you could allow him to remain in charge after this battle or series of battles, which would still make it different than our timeline.
 
I would say in Meade's defense that some of the struggles the army had under his tenure in 1863-64 lay in the army he inherited, and the limited leeway (contrasted with Grant) he had in forcing changes in personnel.

Still, I don't think he can avoid some criticism for his slowness in following Lee hard to Falling Waters in the retreat from Gettysburg: Yes, many of his units were horribly mangled; but four of his corps (including the largest, VI Corps) and his cavalry corps had barely been scratched - that's 40,000-45,000 troops right there. And given how much worse shape Lee was in, that would have been enough to inflict serious harm on the rear elements of the ANV, if pushed aggressively.

Similarly, Mine Run remains a rather underwhelming display of the one time Meade actually initiated an offensive of his own. It was a decent plan in conception, but poor in execution. Some of that's on French, who Meade was ready (with justice) to flay alive; but then, we're left to wonder why he put French rather than Sedgwick in the lead on the right flank in the first place. In any event, Meade seems to have had no Plan B agaunst Lee, who was down to only 48,000 men of all arms at that point; nor does he seem to have factored the weather (or his shortage of bridging equipment) into his plan, either. With Longstreet's corps out of the picture, it was a missed opportunity.

That said, Meade *could* be aggressive, and he was not without tactical and administrative skill. He was unflappable on defense. He was not a *bad* general. In the list of Union corps commanders in 1862-63, Meade was in the upper tier. His real flaws were his ferocious rascibility, not just against the press and political leadership in DC, but even many of his own generals further aggravating an army already riven with factions and feuds. Honestly, I think his real ceiling was as a division or corps commander, roles in which he showed some ability. But not the guy to put in top command, certainly not against the Army of Northern Virginia, at any rate.
 
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Still, I don't think he can avoid some criticism for his slowness in following Lee hard to Falling Waters in the retreat from Gettysburg: Yes, many of his units were horribly mangled; but four of his corps (including the largest, VI Corps) and his cavalry corps had barely been scratched - that's 40,000-45,000 troops right there. And given how much worse shape Lee was in, that would have been enough to inflict serious harm on the rear elements of the ANV, if pushed aggressively.
While I will acknowledge that Meade should have replaced Pleasanton for Cavalry Corps commander, I would like to point out that because of Lincoln's orders, Meade had to move east of South Mountain. Such a route is not only longer, but more exhausting. That's 7 infantry corps, 1 cavalry corps, all its artillery and all of its wagon trains moving over a limited road network. Moreover, Lee was retreating to his supply base while Meade was moving was away from his. Meade had ordered the rear areas of his army cleared of obstruction during the battle; this facilitated the rapid movement of troops on interior lines, but didn't aid the pursuit. There's a myriad of logistical factors that hampered Meade, some covered in Kent Masterson Brown's work on the retreat from Gettysburg. If you think Meade could have defeated Lee at Williamsport, see the after action reports of both sides. Just about everyone on the field admitted that Meade made the right call of not attacking Lee's fortified position.

Similarly, Mine Run remains a rather underwhelming display of the one time Meade actually initiated an offensive of his own. It was a decent plan in conception, but poor in execution. Some of that's on French, who Meade was ready (with justice) to flay alive; but then, we're left to wonder why he put French rather than Sedgwick in the lead on the right flank in the first place. In any event, Meade seems to have had no Plan B agaunst Lee, who was down to only 48,000 men of all arms at that point; nor does he seem to have factored the weather (or his shortage of bridging equipment) into his plan, either. With Longstreet's corps out of the picture, it was a missed opportunity.
Meade's mistake of putting French in the lead is indefensible. However, I think we should instead praise Meade for having the moral courage to call off an attack on Lee's fortified line rather than re-enact Fredericksburg. While you say that Lee has been weakened, I ask that you don't forgot that Meade has lost XI and XII Corps to Chattanooga and had just 69,000 troops for the Mine Run campaign. Pitting 69,000 troops against 48,000 in fortified positions is nothing to scoff at. If anything, Meade successfully escaped Lee's trap for him and left Lee disappointed.
 
The main thing I know about Reynolds' politics is that he was offered command of the Army of the Potomac after Chancellorsville, but refused to accept it unless he was given a free hand and allowed to ignore political influences from Washington. Lincoln was unwilling to countenance what amounted to a suspension of the military's subordination to civilian authority, so he gave the job to Meade, who had no such quibbles. In my opinion, the main sticking point was that Reynolds had seen the Army of the Potomac relegated to political generals (McClellan and Burnside primarily, and Hooker to an extent) with such disastrous results that he just wanted the politicians to butt out and let the soldiers get on with the war. Which simply wasn't feasible, because the Army of the Potomac was unavoidably a political army, if only by virtue of it's proximity to Washington. In addition to which, I wouldn't be surprised if Reynolds had a consummate professional's impatience with amateurs, which would doubtless inform his request to be cut loose of any armchair strategists in Washington.
Well, ITTL McDowell was somewhat successful, defeating the Confederates at Baltimore and Second Maryland, while the professional military man McClellan suffered a disastrous defeat in the campaign he planed while the campaign Lincoln meddled in, Anacostia, was a success. That may make him more willing to accept political meddling within the Army. Lincoln himself said to Grant later that he did not want to play armchair strategist but wanted to leave all military aspects of the war to him. Of course, Lincoln did "meddle". At that level it's really impossible to completely separate politics from military affairs.

Since you wanna avoid Hancock becoming a political figure post war why not have him take command but die during what I hope is the armys pursuit of a defeated Lee?
It's a possibility. My main concern is having someone who is not afraid to be hard on war and magnanimous in victory, like Grant. This will be very important when Ku Klux terrorism threatens Southern Reconstruction - someone like Hancock certainly wouldn't make the "Ku Klux Klan shiver in their boots" like Grant would.

1. Your assessmentthat Reynolds was a basically apolitical Democrat lines up with everything I have read about him.
2. I do think your concern is well founded, and I have the suspicion he would turn down the job if those requirements were imposed.
I don't think Lincoln would impose those conditions per se, but rather Reynolds would have to see that there is really no other way. Perhaps since Grant suffered a defeat thanks in large part to Southern partisans Reynolds would be more willing to do what's necessary. After all, if he is not hard with the partisans they just survive to fight and murder another day.

As his track record goes, his time as a corps commander was mixed. He is quite aggressive, but I think he has a tendency to micromanage, which is noted in Charles Wainwright's diary.
This blog I found raises some concerns regarding Reynold's performance. What do think of this?

Maybe said alt-Liberal Republicans could be longer-lasting with the post-civil war political divide being between moderate and radical wings of the Republicans?
I like that. I would like to see a North with Liberals and Republicans and a South with redeemers, new departure (roughly Liberal) and Republicans. This would isolate those who want a return to full on White Supremacy and take the edge off the political assault against Reconstruction. Basically, make Northerners accept Reconstruction as a fait accompli and any Southern attempt to overturn it as a criminal measure they cannot accept.

Well, I'm not as concerned about Reynolds position on abolitionists. In this timeline the south is clearly the aggressor and despite his closeness to the Buchanan Administration Reynolds would probably see Buchanan as the poor cousin who never seems to get his act together. :) even if Reynolds is more neutral, a pox on both their houses kind of thing, he would definitely not see abolitionists as the main problem.

Would he be radicalized enough to do the things needed? That depends on what he has seen in the course of the war. He will have seen successful black units and realize that they are quite capable soldiers and will have seen some of the horrible suffering. Any atrocities committed during Lee's attack will enhance this.
The issue is whether Reynolds is more like Grant (started considering abolitionists as agitators and grew to become a strong defender of Black rights) or Sherman (who, from what I know, maintained his racism to the end and beyond yet was willing to engage in a hard war). I'd be okay with him being something of an Eastern Sherman, although it seems that he was never as contemptuous of Blacks as Sherman was. My question is, then, would it be realistic for Reynolds to see all these events and decide to engage in hard war even if he never becames an egalitarian?
 
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The issue is whether Reynolds is more like Grant (started considering abolitionists as agitators and grew to become a strong defender of Black rights) or Sherman (who, from what I know, maintained his racism to the end and beyond yet was willing to engage in a hard war). I'd be okay with him being something of an Eastern Sherman, although it seems that he was never as contemptuous of Blacks as Sherman was. My question is, then, would it be realistic for Reynolds to see all these events and decide to engage in hard war even if he never becames an egalitarian?
It is a lot harder to project than simply Having a star athlete injured just before his Prime and projecting what their career might have been.

One thing to consider is, how would the others be? Hancock is out for reasons discussed by others and Pope, as you say, is Pope. As for the others, Meade without Grant is still a difference from OTL and might have the benefit of stories from childhood told about the Spanish under Napoleon, both how guerillas would fight and how rough the war would have to be. It seems like he would have the track record to do it. Burnside has already been altered by events that have seen him rise in popularity somewhat and seem to have great potential to make him much more of a hardened war General. But, there is the question of whether he could run the whole Army, and he really is doing well in New Orleans.

It is a tough call.
 
Hey wait a second what about Sheridan? If you find a way for him to become the hero of the war you get a capable general who would be willing to go through with Reconstruction!
 
A point that may be slightly in favor of Reynolds and Meade, plus a few other possibilities:

They are from Pennsylvania, and proud of it. From some hints teased in Red's previous posts, Lee's invasion of the North will be significantly more harsh in many ways than iOTL, which was quite harsh enough. Suppose this invasion reaches Pennsylvania and not just Maryland. Then upon seeing its results firsthand (either before or just-after assuming army command) it may easily serve to harden the attitude of any Pennsylvanian army commander to the level required iTTL. Or at least serve as the necessary butterfly/spark to harden their attitude enough over the ensuing months.
 
This blog I found raises some concerns regarding Reynold's performance. What do think of this?
Gary Gallagher has said something similar, and extended the critique to John Sedgwick, too.

Such heartfelt tributes should not obscure that neither Reynolds nor Sedgwick crafted a sterling record as a corps commander. Both fit comfortably within the culture George B. McClellan created in the Army of the Potomac. That culture prized caution, seldom sought a killing blow to the enemy, and accepted, almost preferred, inaction to any movement that might yield negative results. Yet, their dramatic deaths lifted Reynolds and Sedgwick to a special position in the pantheon of Union generals. As Edward J. Nichols admitted in his biography of Reynolds, “A hero’s death sits well with posterity.”​

I will say that looking at afresh, there does seem to be more of a *pattern* of micromanaging on Reynolds' part than I think I appreciated. No doubt I'd have to study it more closely. It could be I am giving him a wee bit more credit than I should.

But if death helped bolster both men's reputations, I think this was more true of Sedgwick, who was much more deserving of the title "Old Slow Trot" than George Thomas ever was, and more clearly representative of the McClellan school of caution.

What still sets Reynolds apart, I still think, is that gutsy decision to try to fight it out on Seminary Ridge on Day 1, without which I think it's doubtful that the Army of the Potomac could have held on to the Fishhook position, and would have had to fall back to the south. It's hard to see McClellan or Sedgwick doing that. Likewise, had Reynolds been in charge at Chancellorsville, the least we can say is that Reynolds would have stayed south of the river and fought. Of course, the same is true of Meade, too. (We know that because both voted to do so in Hooker's council of war.)

In the end, the Army of the Potomac de facto received likely the best commander of all in Grant - not least because of the greater autonomy he was able to command thanks to his long track record of victories. Reynolds would never have had benefit of that.

But to get back to Red's timeline: I still doubt that Reynolds is then man you want for a really hard war. I think there are some bright lines he would not have crossed.
 
But to get back to Red's timeline: I still doubt that Reynolds is then man you want for a really hard war. I think there are some bright lines he would not have crossed.
Agreed, from your description that sounds like Reynolds is just Meade 2.0. He probably would have done as well as Meade but Meade might be better as far as someone who can really take the bull by the horns.
 
I like that. I would like to see a North with Liberals and Republicans and a South with redeemers, new departure (roughly Liberal) and Republicans. This would isolate those who want a return to full on White Supremacy and take the edge off the political assault against Reconstruction. Basically, make Northerners accept Reconstruction as a fait accompli and any Southern attempt to overturn it as a criminal measure they cannot accept.
Where would the Democratic machines (like Tammany Hall) go? Republicans or Liberals?
 
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