WI: Stonewall Jackson in the post-Gettysburg campaigns of the East?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by SWS, Jun 5, 2019.

  1. Fiver Curmudgeon

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    Getting a Second Chancellorsville requires a Joseph Hooker who freezes when things go according to plan. Replacing Early with Jackson does nothing to stop Meade from withdrawing during the night before the scheduled attack.

    Jackson was good at turning movements, but Meade showed he was very good at avoiding turning movements. The battles of the Bristoe Campaign consisted of overaggressive Confederate Corps commanders attacking without support, stubborn defense by the Union forces, and Union withdrawal before the rest of the Confederate army could come up. Jackson might have been more aggressive than Ewell or AP Hill, but that would have resulted in little more than higher Confederate casualties. There was no chance that the Confederates would be able to destroy the Army of the Potomac or even a large portion of it - Meade was too determined to crack under pressure and too canny to make a blunder that would give Lee the chance to destroy the Army of the Potomac.
     
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  2. Fiver Curmudgeon

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    That depends on whether Lee has to give back the Panzer Corps that the ASBs have loaned him.
     
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  3. History Learner Well-Known Member

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    Not at all, Meade's left flank was open and he spent most of the day trying to decide what to do before he pulled out. Lee was already moving to attack it when this occurred, but with an aggressive, experienced Corps commander like Jackson he'll probably do so much faster. This is almost exactly a Chancellorsville, in that Meade had already decided he was whipped and was going to pull back, but now you're throwing in Jackson doing to his flank what he previously did to Hooker.

    I'm not sure what campaign you've been reading on, but it wasn't the Bristoe Campaign; the only example of what you claim was literally just the engagement at Bristoe Station itself.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2019
  4. History Learner Well-Known Member

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    The situation was that Meade had divided the Army of the Potomac into two halves, with a major river between each. He had absolutely no idea where Lee was and only found out that Lee was on his flanks nearly twelve hours after initial contact-and four hours after Lee's army had already begun to move into Meade's rear areas. This is critical because Meade has only the Orange and Alexandria railway upon which to be resupplied and to retreat, literally no other means exist for him. He can't live off the land because the Virginia countryside was destitute, which is one of the main reasons why Lee had went into Pennsylvania earlier in the year.

    So what happens when you don't know where your enemy is until he cuts your only means of resupply and retreat? You get destroyed, no questions.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2019
  5. Jared Voldemort Jnr

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    Joking aside, that actually makes for an interesting scenario. WI ASBs gift Lee a fully armed and fuelled Panzer Corps which he can use until the fuel and ammo runs out but have no way of re-arming or refuelling.
     
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  6. Marc reformed polymath... Donor

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    Does the SS attached to that Panzer unit (and there always were), get to machine gun any Jews they run into on the way?
    rolling eyes...
     
  7. Jared Voldemort Jnr

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    I was assuming that they were under Lee's command, so no, not unless he orders it. (And he wouldn't.)
     
  8. Marc reformed polymath... Donor

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    Perhaps not, just any black soldiers they encounter. No surrendering for them...
    (If you have any doubts, read up on the Battle of the Crater).
     
  9. Zincwarrior Well-Known Member

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    Under the scenario given, Jackson is out of commission for Gettysberg no? Even if he defeats Meade, does that just not accelerate Grant coming East? Beat Grant nine times and he will come back for a tenth time except you won't have an army and he will.

    Jackson is not Napoleon. He is just a good, aggressive commander. There were plenty of good commanders in the ACW. He just didn't have to face them.
     
  10. Fiver Curmudgeon

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    Lee was not already moving to attack when Meade withdrew.

    "After dark, Lee withdrew to prepared field fortifications along Mine Run. The next day the Union army closed on the Confederate position. Skirmishing was heavy, but a major attack did not materialize. Meade concluded that the Confederate line was too strong to attack and retired during the night of December 1-2, ending the winter campaign." - American Battlefield Trust

    "Lee was still positioned east of the creek, in an infamous stretch of trees and tangled underbrush known as the Wilderness, and on the afternoon of November 27, Early's men encountered Warren's Second Corps near Robertson's Tavern (also known as Robinson's Tavern or what Confederate forces referred to as Locust Grove). Several Confederate divisions formed a battle line stretching from the Orange Turnpike to Payne's Farm farther north, and the fighting—which now included French, who had become lost yet again—seesawed, with neither side able to gain a decisive advantage. That night, during a cold rain, Lee pulled back to the west side of Mine Run and onto the high ground. He now was protected by the Rapidan to the north and by Mine Run to the east.

    Meade followed Lee to the creek, but attempted no crossing. Warren moved with some success against Lee's right on November 29 but ran out of daylight. He urged Meade to launch a full-scale assault from his end of the line the next day, his confidence bolstered by the arrival of two additional divisions. The next morning, however, with Lee's entrenchments in plain view, he changed his mind. "I would sooner sacrifice my commission … [than] my men," he declared. Meade agreed, and echoed Warren's sentiments in a letter to his wife: "I would rather be ignominiously dismissed, and suffer anything, than knowingly and willfully have thousands of brave men slaughtered for nothing."

    As such, he stayed put until December 2, and then withdrew his Army of the Potomac north." - Encyclopedia Virginia
     
  11. RousseauX Well-Known Member

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    Also when it comes to Lee, he never even managed to destroy even a major -unit- of the AoTP in the entier war
     
  12. History Learner Well-Known Member

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    I'd like to point out how everyone from the common soldier to Lee himself specifically pointed out the effect Jackson would've had on the battle:

    - American Battlefield Trust

    - ESSENTIAL CIVIL WAR CURRICULUM
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2019
  13. Fiver Curmudgeon

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    If you don't know where your enemy is until he cuts your only means of resupply and retreat, then you will fight and either drive your enemy from the field or be destroyed. But Lee never cut off Meade's line of retreat, nor was there any real chance of doing so. At no point did Lee's troops act in an under-aggresive manner - both Stuart and AP Hill were so aggressive they almost got themselves surrounded and destroyed at different times. If Lee had Jackson of the Valley Campaign (as opposed Jackson of the Seven Days), he might have destroyed much of the Union II Corps, but he had no chance of destroying Meade's whole army. And if the ASBs had let Lee destroy the Army of the Potomac, Lee still would have had to turn south due to lack of supplies, instead of rampaging northward without food or winter clothing.

    In October of 1863, Meade's forces were divided due to misleading intelligence, but Meade had repeatedly placed forces so that so that Lee could not get between the Army of the Potomac and Washington and Meade ordered a withdrawal from the Rapidan to the Rappahannock to avoid this. Due to a captured courier, Meade was delayed on finding out that some of Lee's forces were on his flank and threatening his rear, but by that point ii was 11pm and the Confederate advance had stopped. After being nearly killed by his own troops earlier, I doubt Jackson would have pressed on past nightfall. Meade reacted quickly and had his forces moving almost immediately and all on the same side of the river by daybreak. Lee had outrun his supply trains, something Jackson's presence would not have changed, and had to pause for them to come up. JEB Stuart got ahead of the rest of the Confederate forces and probably would have been destroyed of they had been detected. A better Confederate performance at Coffee Hill might have trapped a significant portion of Warren's II Corps, but it had no chance of cutting Meade's line of retreat. "Even before the Rebel columns turned east toward the railroad the I, III and VI Corps were north of Bristoe Station" so there was no chance of Meade's entire army being cut off. AP Hills lead elements caught up with the Union V Corps and Hill attacked before the rest of his own Corps, let alone the Army of Northern Virginia arrived. If Hill had had more forces, he might have been able to cut off the Union II Corp, but the Union V Corps would have escaped and there was no chance of destroying the Army of the Potomac. Lee then retreated due to lack of supply, which he would have had to do even if he had been far more successful in the Bristoe Campaign
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2019
  14. Fiver Curmudgeon

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    The closest the Army of Northern Virigina came to destroying a major part of the AotP was probably on the 1st day of Gettysburg when Ewell ignored direct orders from Lee to "not bring on a general engagement" and attacked the Union flank.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2019
  15. Fiver Curmudgeon

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    Your links show an unnamed staff officer saying “We miss Jackson and Longstreet terribly.” One man is not everyone. That one man was not Robert E Lee. And that one man gave no examples of where or how Jackson (or Longstreet) would have done better than Lee's actual Corps commanders. Even Lee didn't agree with the staff officer, replying “I am too old to command this army. We should never have permitted those people to get away.” That's blaming himself, not the loss of his subordinates.
     
  16. Fiver Curmudgeon

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    That is exactly what happened in the Bristoe Campaign, as I showed in my more detailed response. The battles of the Bristoe Campaign consisted of overaggressive Confederate Corps commanders attacking without support, stubborn defense by the Union forces, and Union withdrawal before the rest of the Confederate army could come up. Jackson might have been more aggressive than Ewell or AP Hill, but that would have resulted in little more than higher Confederate casualties. There was no chance that the Confederates would be able to destroy the Army of the Potomac or even a large portion of it - Meade was too determined to crack under pressure and too canny to make a blunder that would give Lee the chance to destroy the Army of the Potomac.
     
  17. History Learner Well-Known Member

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    If Meade's supply line wasn't threatened, the only other explanation for his actions thereafter are that he is an incompetent coward. He declined battle, despite having the larger force, and retreated all the way to Centreville to boot; that's a retreat of nearly 100 miles from Culpepper. If you disagree with Meade being a coward, the only other explanation is that I am right and that Meade agreed with me that his supply line was seriously under threat. It was not "some" of Lee's forces that had emerged on Meade's flank, but instead the entirety of his infantry. The delay Meade had in knowing this was eleven hours after initial contact, and four hours after Ewell had brushed outside the flank protection Meade had emplaced, and to which you refer, at Sulphur's Spring. Meade thus had no idea his flank was ruptured with Confederates pouring into his rear, and had nothing to stop them with. It's around 10 miles from the Spring to the Orange and Alexandria Railway, if Jackson had been in command and had pulled one of his solid days of march that he displayed throughout 1862 and 1863, he could've put his Corps astride the Railway by nightfall.

    So no, the delay was significant, the rearguard of Meade had failed and, lastly, Ewell IOTL didn't have to stop for provisions until the very next day anyway. As for Lee moving into Maryland, I find the claim that he couldn't odd given he advanced all the way to Centreville IOTL anyway.
     
  18. History Learner Well-Known Member

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    Which is why you need to read both sources instead of just cherry picking one, with the second going into more detail. Specifically, the lack of Ewell and Hill doing anything of note at Mine Run while Longstreet and Jackson both had gained a reputation for strong flanking attacks, which had become their specialty. Lee's comment is also not just blaming himself, but pointing to the fact he can't make up for his subordinates failures on his own.

    No, you're literally taking the single engagement at Bristoe's Station and applying it to the entirety of the campaign. There are literally no other examples of Confederates doing what you claimed, nor even a stubborn defense by the Federals outside of Hill's screw up for which he was castigated for by Lee.
     
  19. Fiver Curmudgeon

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    I never said the Meade's supply line wasn't threatened, I was responding to your statement that "what happens when you don't know where your enemy is until he cuts your only means of resupply and retreat". In Post 33, I showed that if Meade had done nothing, Lee could have cut Meade's supply lines, but Meade acted to prevent that from happening.

    Your statements do not match actual events. The force at Sulphur Springs was not Meade's "rearguard", they were covering Meade's flank. The Confederates captured Sulphur Springs at 5PM of the 12th and by nightfall were "now over the Rappahannock and well on their way into Meade’s rear", not "pouring into his rear". The claim that Meade "had nothing to stop them with". is also incorrect, Meade had both the I and III Corps, with the latter being best positioned to cover the Union flank.

    Perhaps Jackson could have pushed on past nightfall, though I suspect being nearly killed by his own troops at twilight would make Jackson a bit more cautious about nighttime maneuvers. Then, if Jackson managed to avoid getting lost in the darkness and avoiding blundering into the Union III Corps guarding Meade's flank, he could have had his Corps astride the O&A Railroad and in Meade's rear, where the Union I Corps would collide with them before daybreak on the 13th.

    "On the morning of October 13, Lee concentrated his force at Warrenton, where he was again compelled to pause while his supply trains caught up and rations were issued." Jackson's Corps would thus be low on supplies, isolated from the rest of the Army of Northern Virginia, and facing the whole of the Army of the Potomac. Unless Jackson found excellent defensive ground in the darkness, he would be in danger of being overwhelmed by the whole might of the Army of the Potomac, getting himself destroyed and both Stuart and AP Hill nearly managed in OTL. If Jackson is in good defensive ground, he lacks the numbers to cut off Meade's withdrawal, so Meade would still escape while the bulk of the Confederate army resupplied at Warrenton.

    I never claimed that Lee could not have moved into Maryland, I said that "Lee then retreated due to lack of supply, which he would have had to do even if he had been far more successful in the Bristoe Campaign".

    "Despite the fact that he would have liked to hover near the Potomac for an extended period, Lee decided it was time to retreat. His men lacked the winter clothing necessary for a prolonged campaign so far north, and the destitute nature of Northern Virginia precluded living off the country throughout the winter. The only choice was to shorten his supply line by pulling back to the upper Rappahannock."

    So even if the Confederates had been vastly more successful in the Bristoe Camoaign, Lee could not have "emplace batteries along the Potomac, closing it down to riverine traffic" or "occupy Baltimore, closing off the only rail connections into Washington", let alone the Union being forced to abandon Washington DC or Maryland seceding. or "French intervention becomes essentially assured".
     
  20. CalBear Your Ursus arctos californicus Moderator Moderator Donor

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    There are WAY too many "You" statements in this debate. Folks best start playing the ball.

    Now.