Wrapped in Flames: The Great American War and Beyond

So border changes in the north are likely to be minimal, based on what I think the British would want.
Yeah, you are right. But, I still think that the USA will say goodbye to an island group best known for a war that was going to break over for a shooting of a pig of all things also known as the San Juan Islands, and a giant potato field in Maine, known as Aroostook County.

So far thats been the British demands. Territory wise they've been pretty lenient in what they're looking for. The main end game is, at this point, economic. The British want the war to end, the threats to their trade done, and then some understanding from the US that they won't do this again.
Thanks!
 
Yeah, you are right. But, I still think that the USA will say goodbye to an island group best known for a war that was going to break over for a shooting of a pig of all things also known as the San Juan Islands, and a giant potato field in Maine, known as Aroostook County.


Thanks!
How dare you describe Aroostook County as a giant potato field! It has a lumber industry at this point as well. :)
 
Yeah, you are right. But, I still think that the USA will say goodbye to an island group best known for a war that was going to break over for a shooting of a pig of all things also known as the San Juan Islands,

Oh yes! Way back in Chapter 42 the Pig War (such as it was) came to a decisive end:

…The British meanwhile could call on only the company of Royal Marines at San Juan Island (which was bloodlessly annexed in April) and the detachment of Royal Engineers in British Columbia under Moody, whose numbers were 134 present for duty. However, even with the Marine companies from the fleet, this meant there were only some 300 regular troops available for immediate service without calling further on the resources of the Royal Navy.

Essentially, they control big bites of the Washington Territory as well. Douglas, the de facto leader of the whole of British possessions on the West Coast of North America, would very much like them to stay in British hands. It would be a big boon to his interests, and effectively lock up what he views as a British possession already. Whether anyone in London actually agrees with him remains to be seen...

and a giant potato field in Maine, known as Aroostook County.
How dare you describe Aroostook County as a giant potato field! It has a lumber industry at this point as well. :)

A giant potato field? This makes things even more complicated for who might own the annexed territory in Maine after the war! Prince Edward Island will not take this threat to her premier industry laying down!
 
is there a point to having 10 words and endless space that takes up half a page?​
It's a mobile issue. Believe me, its incredibly annoying. Although, at the moment, I'm having no issues, so perhaps the problem has been resolved.





Edit: The problem is continuing. So it isn't resolved
 
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It does seem like the story is heading towards Rosencranz' overconfidence leading him to commit more and more troops to an unfavourable battle somewhere down the line. Though the Union still has a rather major manpower edge I do believe, even accounting needing forces on more fronts than OTL.
 
It does seem like the story is heading towards Rosencranz' overconfidence leading him to commit more and more troops to an unfavourable battle somewhere down the line. Though the Union still has a rather major manpower edge I do believe, even accounting needing forces on more fronts than OTL.

In all fairness, he has done to Lee what Lee successfully did to McClellan twice, once in 1862 and in 1863, while saving Washington from the threat of a second siege. Driving Lee to his "last redoubt" may be an exaggeration, but if he can break Lee's army at Mine Run then he can start slowly forcing him back to Richmond.

Even if he takes serious casualties, he does have an advantage in that there's more Union troops to call upon.

Currently the Union forces are structured (roughly) as such in the East:

In the Department of New England there are roughly 60,000 men spread from Maine to Connecticut, with 20,000+/- tied up in the Army of New England in Maine and another 40,000 men - which includes a lot of state troops and other formations guarding the harbors and cities - who are simply keeping the guns ready.

The Department of New York (southern New York state, primarily New York City) has about 15,000 men, 12,000 in garrison of the city itself and a spare brigade or so of troops who can be moved around in response to an emergency. I should note that these are almost all state troops who have been placed on duty "for the duration" who don't leave the state unless asked. New York, especially under its new Copperhead Democratic Governor is quite prickly about the whole war.

The Department of the Lakes (Canada West, northern New York, Michigan, Vermont New Hampshire) has roughly 63,000 men. Most of those are the 45,000 men garrisoning Canada West (including the XX Corps) then the much truncated "Army of the Hudson" numbers roughly 15,000 men, mostly involved in garrisoning Albany and staring down the British based north at Ticonderoga. The remaining 3,000 are sundry militia and garrison troops as far ranging between these states and Vermont and New Hampshire.

I already laid out the larger Union forces directly facing Lee on the Potomac in Chapter 84, but suffice to say there are about 123,000* men "in the rear" as it were who could be called upon to replenish any losses that Rosecrans takes. This of course assumes that the war with Britain ends soon, and that they can be moved quickly in response to an emergency.

*I should note these numbers are subject to the same attrition as other units in 1864 with many enlistments expiring, and while on paper starting in January of 1864 that's broadly accurate, probably the number has shrunk by close to 20,000 with expiring enlistments and desertions, so its probably closer to 95-105,000 men who can be looked at as a reserve.

You betchya! Bud the Spud will have a few choice words!

Oh he may! The Spud Wars may be a vicious thing come the peace!
 
Chapter 90: Mine Run
Chapter 90: Mine Run

“Today is the great test of this conflict. We have driven the enemy to their last redoubt and he has no escape from the position he has placed himself in. Today I am asking the soldiers of this mighty host to do their utmost for their nation. It shall be a bloody day, a red day, and surely a victory written in letters of blood. Yet this morning I encourage all men, on to triumph or to Judgement Day! - William Rosecrans, circular to the Army of the Potomac, June 29th, 1864

“The lead up to the battle came on slower than either side expected. Rosecrans heavy guns were far in the rear of his trains, and those had been slowed not only by the terrain, but by Stuart's incessant raiding. The absence of Stoneman’s cavalry, which had done little but a few weeks of raiding before retiring in their own wide turning movement back towards Washington via Yorktown, was of great detriment to Rosecrans. In truth the Cavalry Corps should have returned the way they had come but Stoneman, with no reliable access to new orders and being left in the rear without news of a major battle, had instead decided he would return and hopefully find orders waiting for him.

It was a gross misuse of a valuable resource, one which would most likely haunt Rosecrans for the rest of his days[1]…


GeorgeStoneman01.jpg

The absence of Stoneman's cavalry left Rosecrans blind at a crucial juncture

Rosecrans scouted the lines on the 27th, and determined that this was “Lee’s last bastion, his Masada” which was where he (playing the part of Lucius Flavius Silva) would envelop and crush the Army of Northern Virginia once and for all. This was in spite of some misgivings from his men. His Chief Engineer, Gouvenor K. Warren, believed that the position was too strong to assault, while Hancock cautioned against a frontal assault having seen the disastrous consequences even lightly fortified troops could inflict on men in the open. However, Hooker, Sickles, and Ord all clamored for an assault. Reynolds, more cautiously suggested that they hammer the Confederates like they had outside of Washington, then proceed and break any gaps in their lines.

With the Mine Run creek itself and the hills surrounding it presenting a formidable obstacle, Rosecrans agreed that he was not about to go half cocked into an engagement. He spent the next two days building pontoons to cross the creek and setting up his heavy guns to pound the Confederate entrenchments. His goal for the 29th was to force a crossing and a rupture in Lee’s lines which would allow him to isolate a portion of Lee’s army and destroy it. From there, his goal was a drive on Richmond…

In the days preceding the 29th, Lee had not been idle. While sure in the strength of his entrenchments, he wanted to do more than weather an assault. He wanted to strike back. He was increasingly confident in his ability to do so, especially now that Jackson was returning to the army, and discovering on his left that the Federal lines matched his…

How Rosecrans failed to detect Jackson’s return remains a matter of controversy to this day. The loss of Stoneman’s cavalry on his ineffective raids has long been cited as the root cause, but it was just as much a failure of Lowe’s aeronauts as it was of Sharpe’s military intelligence. No reports were made concerning Jackson’s retreat from the Shenandoah Valley, the remaining intelligence assets were unable to confirm their departure, and even when Jackson’s men were sliding into the far flank of Lee’s army no one seems to have fully noticed as the battle opened on the 29th of June…

By the morning of the 29th, Rosecrans had his forces laid out as such: On the Federal right closest to Raccoon Ford Road, Hancock’s II Corps held the hills with their flank anchored on Raccoon Creek. Reynold’s V Corps held the line to Snider’s Farm, Reynold’s himself headquartered in the farm in the titular hill itself. Immediately to his left was Ord’s IV Corps, his lines running to Rowe’s Ford where it met the flank of Sickle’s XIV Corps which held the pivotal left of the Federal line.

Rosecrans himself was headquartered at Locust Grove with his staff. Alongside him was the reserve of Hooker’s III Corps.

Lee’s army on the 29th was laid out from its left facing off against Hancock’s II Corps to its left facing Sickle’s XIV Corps. Holding the extreme end of the line was the Third Corps under Ewell, with a single division under Jones semi-independent of the main line covering Bartlett’s Ford. The remaining two divisions faced Hancock’s troops over the uneven ground along Mine Run and near Spruitt’s Farm. Longstreet’s Second Corps held the center, Lee trusting his old warhorse to hold in the face of the most strenuous attack. Meanwhile, A. P. Hill’s Fifth Corps held the right flank. Jackson’s First Corps was held near Zoah Church and Lee’s headquarters, waiting to be fed into the line that day.


Mine_Run_4.png

Initial dispositions at Mine Run

The day began with a Federal bombardment, and then Rosecrans moved to assault across the Post Office Road ford and Rowe’s Ford, Ord and Sickles leading the assault, while Reynold’s put pressure on the seam between Longstreet and Ewell’s Corps…

…the early assaults ran up against strong entrenchments, suffering heavy losses. However, by 11am Ord and Sickle’s had both managed lodgements on the far bank. Longstreet was hard pressed to keep his lines strong and was forced to commit his reserves early in the day. Ewell’s men, now less green and with formidable trenches to stiffen them, found themselves fighting well, but successively forced to give ground…

…by 12 o’clock, the surprise came. Reynold’s 1st Division under General Meade, managed to rupture the seam between Longstreet’s Second Corp’s and Ewell’s Third. It was hard to say who was more surprised as Meade’s troops slogged their way across the Mine Run against limited opposition only to find themselves in a natural bowl. In other circumstances, Meade may have marched himself into a killing field, but he had managed to find the seam between Longstreet and Ewell’s lines, with the forces of McClaw’s and Pickett’s divisions distracted between him. Marching further, he surprised a number of Confederate messengers, and established himself on spit of land in the run.

Here he needed support. Messengers flew back to Reynold’s headquarters at Sniders Farm. Reynold’s was incredulous, but upon riding up himself, he saw Meade was correct. He immediately sent word to both Rosecrans and Hancock. Meade was his only available force, with both Whipple and Reno’s divisions engaged, he needed support to exploit this potential breakthrough.

Lee meanwhile, was slow in learning about this sudden, near fatal weakening of his flank. The messengers Meade had captured had been running requests from Ewell to move Jone’s men back to the battle. The fatal threat to the Army of Northern Virginia thus went unnoticed for nearly two hours. That would lead to Lee’s fateful decision to reinforce his right flank over his left.

Lee had been made aware that the Federal left was potentially unsupported as it was matched to A. P. Hill’s flank. However, Lee also knew that Hooker had yet to be committed to the battle and did not wish to squander any advantage until he knew where the Federal blow would fall. Even when the battle was raging for most of the morning, he waited until he felt he was sure that the Union had committed itself to the center.

After their night of rest, Lee ordered Jackson to take his troops and move them to the extreme right of the army, where he would use them to inflict his much desired counterattack on Rosecrans forces. By 2pm Jackson had his troops moving. It was only at 3:30 that the news of Ewell’s potential envelopment reached him.

Lee was faced with the most difficult choice of his entire career. His only reserve was now moving south, while in the north an entire corps was soon going to be cut off as he had cut off and captured Mansfield’s corps in 1863. The only possible reserve was Jones’s division. Lee gave the order that Jones was to attack at once to fix Hancock in place, and Ewell was to hold. Meanwhile he wrote Longstreet that “you are to hold your positions at all hazards.” The die was cast…” - At the Sign of Triumph: The Rapidan Campaign, Dylan Gordon, Boston University Press, 1982

“The events of June 29th 1864 have cast a long shadow on Hancock’s otherwise superb military record. Despite being at the extreme right of the Union line, and holding the potential keys to enveloping Lee’s army completely, his performance has been characterized as lackluster, even shameful, in many accounts. Truthfully his forces had been much depleted since the army began moving south from Washington months prior, and he himself was tired and worn down from the campaigning[2].

However, it remains a mystery to this day why Hancock remained so passive in front of the enemy on the 29th of June. The effects of his indecision would have far reaching consequences…” - Hancock the Superb: The Life of Winfield Scott Hancock, Charles Rivers, Newton Publishing, 2012

“Hooker’s III Corps was ordered forward at 3:30pm to begin marching into the gap. Rosecrans had consulted his maps and Lower’s aeronauts had confirmed the ground could be used to exploit a breakthrough. Rosecrans was more confident at any point in the battle that he finally had Lee trapped, and was ready to inflict a heavy defeat. Cheerful and in an uncommonly loquacious mood, he accompanied Hooker’s troops north. Hooker, though still suffering from the wounds from the Wilderness, was equally talkative.

He would pause at Reynold’s headquarters to recconitor the battle, speaking with Reynolds and exhorting him to drive into Longstreet’s lines. By all indications he was in good cheer…

By 4 o’clock Lee now found himself in a far better understanding of the battlefield than Rosecrans. His defences held, and Ewell’s spirited counterattack in the north had thus far plugged the gap. Aware that he now had an advantage on his right, he meant to ruthlessly exploit it. At 4:41 exactly, he sent word that Jackson should begin his attack…

For his part, Sickles seems to not have realized he had left his flank hanging. Indeed it is excusable as his own left under Couch had been in contact with Hill’s flank for nearly three days. He had no reason to believe that his forces were in any danger. While many at the time have castigated Sickle’s for a ‘dangerous ignorance’ or ‘wreckless attack’ on Hill, it is important for those to remember that not only did Sickle’s have no intelligence that Jackson was present, but when Jackson’s men began moving across the creek, they were masked by Sickles attention being focused on the attack he was supposed to be carrying out at Rowe’s Ford.

So when Jackson’s troops made contact with Sickle’s flank, it was a complete surprise.

It was the advance brigades of Winder’s division, who had seen such bloody battle in the Valley, that crashed into Couch’s unprepared flank. Difficult fighting erupted, but Jackson’s veterans were more than a match for Couch’s men. Supported by Ewell’s counterattack they drove Sickles’s troops back to Rowe Farm where the sharpest action of the day would take place…

…in the midst of the fighting Sickels fell from his horse, gravely wounded. The sudden decapitation of XIV Corps’s command threw the whole flank into confusion. Couch’s division as already breaking, men fleeing as Jackson’s troops rolled them up, with hundreds running to Locust Grove, but hundreds more being pushed into neighboring units and the heavy woods along the shallow creek north of them.

By now Ord’s command was beginning to be caught up in the simultaneous fighting. King’s 2nd Division found itself trapped between Jackson’s advancing troopers and Longstreet’s entrenchments, and was soon fighting for its life…

It was only by 6:33pm that Rosecrans was learning of the unfolding disaster to his south. Having chosen to personally supervise Hooker’s assault, he had been out of communication at Locust Grove, and so messengers sent to request aid found themselves unsure of his location. By the time he was fully aware of the situation, Sickels’s men were unraveling with the general himself being transported to the rear. The IV Corps was being infected by a similar panic, and the only reserve was just preparing to attack into the breach made by Meade.

Rushing south, he found the line in complete disarray, with Ewell and Jackson’s corps having counterattacked across Mine Run. His left flank was collapsing, and Rosecrans issued a series of contradictory orders which began to have a positive unraveling effect on the Army of the Potomac. To Hooker’s confusion, he first counter ordered the assault, then issued orders for him to withdraw. Reynold’s was meanwhile ordered to do the same and form a new line on the little creek which had suddenly become the Union flank. To Hancock, he issued no orders at all.

Reynold’s and Hooker’s troops were now hopelessly intermingled, and the confused fighting both along Mine Run and its tributary creek was driving both officers to confusion, and Ewell’s pressure on their flanks was steadily moving them back. Rosecrans was in the thick of the fighting, dashing along the lines and shouting encouragement, and whacking men who tried to withdraw with the flat of his sword. It had both a moralizing effect on the men in his immediate vicinity, but a demoralizing effect on the army as he could issue no clear orders…

Under his own initiative, cut off from Rosecrans, Ord ordered his men to begin withdrawing to Locust Grove as the XIV Corps had completely disintegrated on his left…

By nightfall, though he had managed to stabilize the line, Rosecrans had lost hope. His positions were under constant pressure, V and III Corps were hopelessly intertwined, and his forces were demoralized. He now expected a larger Confederate attack come the dawn, and he had no idea of the dispositions of IV or XIV Corps, and had been informed that Jackson was in his rear. He ordered the retreat to Fredericksburg…

Mine Run has been called Lee’s Guagamela[3], and it is hard to dispute this assertion. Despite the casualties he incurred, Lee inflicted as close to a Cannae he would ever manage on a Northern army. The casualties inflicted on both sides were enormous. The Army of the Potomac had suffered 2,532 men dead, 12,986 wounded, and 8,667 captured. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia had suffered no less crushing losses with 2,382 dead, 9,985 wounded, with another 859 captured or missing. All told the fighting had cost over 37,411 men, making it the bloodiest battle of the war, with only Bardstown in 1862 coming close in terms of casualties inflicted.

Rosecrans force had effectively been shattered, and retreated in a rout north of the Rappahannock. In the first week of July a further 2,000 stragglers would be rounded up by Stuart’s cavalry. The shock of the defeat, and subsequent near hysteria put in its commander rendered the army ineffective. The shock in Philadelphia was even greater.

Lincoln would despair, writing that Rosecrans was “confused and stunned like a duck hit on the head.” and cast about for a replacement. The general was despondent. From his headquarters he wrote reports of a “great Southern host” descending on him, and he seemed blind to any advances he could make. In effect he was a psychologically beaten man. Lee meanwhile, had decisions of his own to consider. How was he to follow up his greatest victory?” - At the Sign of Triumph: The Rapidan Campaign, Dylan Gordon, Boston University Press, 1982


----
1] As laid out in Chapter 89. This is, essentially, what Stoneman did with his cavalry in the OTL Chancellorsville Campaign. Needless to say I do not have a high opinion of him.

2] Hancock’s sluggishness here can be seen as an indication of how exhausted he and his men are after the fighting at the opening of the campaigns. He himself has been rushing basically non-stop and like Jackson on the Peninsula, he’s just exhausted at the wrong time.

3] Thus ensuring every student of American military history will learn about that battle all too often.
 
Chapter 90: Mine Run

“Today is the great test of this conflict. We have driven the enemy to their last redoubt and he has no escape from the position he has placed himself in. Today I am asking the soldiers of this mighty host to do their utmost for their nation. It shall be a bloody day, a red day, and surely a victory written in letters of blood. Yet this morning I encourage all men, on to triumph or to Judgement Day! - William Rosecrans, circular to the Army of the Potomac, June 29th, 1864

“The lead up to the battle came on slower than either side expected. Rosecrans heavy guns were far in the rear of his trains, and those had been slowed not only by the terrain, but by Stuart's incessant raiding. The absence of Stoneman’s cavalry, which had done little but a few weeks of raiding before retiring in their own wide turning movement back towards Washington via Yorktown, was of great detriment to Rosecrans. In truth the Cavalry Corps should have returned the way they had come but Stoneman, with no reliable access to new orders and being left in the rear without news of a major battle, had instead decided he would return and hopefully find orders waiting for him.

It was a gross misuse of a valuable resource, one which would most likely haunt Rosecrans for the rest of his days[1]…


GeorgeStoneman01.jpg

The absence of Stoneman's cavalry left Rosecrans blind at a crucial juncture

Rosecrans scouted the lines on the 27th, and determined that this was “Lee’s last bastion, his Masada” which was where he (playing the part of Lucius Flavius Silva) would envelop and crush the Army of Northern Virginia once and for all. This was in spite of some misgivings from his men. His Chief Engineer, Gouvenor K. Warren, believed that the position was too strong to assault, while Hancock cautioned against a frontal assault having seen the disastrous consequences even lightly fortified troops could inflict on men in the open. However, Hooker, Sickles, and Ord all clamored for an assault. Reynolds, more cautiously suggested that they hammer the Confederates like they had outside of Washington, then proceed and break any gaps in their lines.

With the Mine Run creek itself and the hills surrounding it presenting a formidable obstacle, Rosecrans agreed that he was not about to go half cocked into an engagement. He spent the next two days building pontoons to cross the creek and setting up his heavy guns to pound the Confederate entrenchments. His goal for the 29th was to force a crossing and a rupture in Lee’s lines which would allow him to isolate a portion of Lee’s army and destroy it. From there, his goal was a drive on Richmond…

In the days preceding the 29th, Lee had not been idle. While sure in the strength of his entrenchments, he wanted to do more than weather an assault. He wanted to strike back. He was increasingly confident in his ability to do so, especially now that Jackson was returning to the army, and discovering on his left that the Federal lines matched his…

How Rosecrans failed to detect Jackson’s return remains a matter of controversy to this day. The loss of Stoneman’s cavalry on his ineffective raids has long been cited as the root cause, but it was just as much a failure of Lowe’s aeronauts as it was of Sharpe’s military intelligence. No reports were made concerning Jackson’s retreat from the Shenandoah Valley, the remaining intelligence assets were unable to confirm their departure, and even when Jackson’s men were sliding into the far flank of Lee’s army no one seems to have fully noticed as the battle opened on the 29th of June…

By the morning of the 29th, Rosecrans had his forces laid out as such: On the Federal right closest to Raccoon Ford Road, Hancock’s II Corps held the hills with their flank anchored on Raccoon Creek. Reynold’s V Corps held the line to Snider’s Farm, Reynold’s himself headquartered in the farm in the titular hill itself. Immediately to his left was Ord’s IV Corps, his lines running to Rowe’s Ford where it met the flank of Sickle’s XIV Corps which held the pivotal left of the Federal line.

Rosecrans himself was headquartered at Locust Grove with his staff. Alongside him was the reserve of Hooker’s III Corps.

Lee’s army on the 29th was laid out from its left facing off against Hancock’s II Corps to its left facing Sickle’s XIV Corps. Holding the extreme end of the line was the Third Corps under Ewell, with a single division under Jones semi-independent of the main line covering Bartlett’s Ford. The remaining two divisions faced Hancock’s troops over the uneven ground along Mine Run and near Spruitt’s Farm. Longstreet’s Second Corps held the center, Lee trusting his old warhorse to hold in the face of the most strenuous attack. Meanwhile, A. P. Hill’s Fifth Corps held the right flank. Jackson’s First Corps was held near Zoah Church and Lee’s headquarters, waiting to be fed into the line that day.


Mine_Run_4.png

Initial dispositions at Mine Run

The day began with a Federal bombardment, and then Rosecrans moved to assault across the Post Office Road ford and Rowe’s Ford, Ord and Sickles leading the assault, while Reynold’s put pressure on the seam between Longstreet and Ewell’s Corps…

…the early assaults ran up against strong entrenchments, suffering heavy losses. However, by 11am Ord and Sickle’s had both managed lodgements on the far bank. Longstreet was hard pressed to keep his lines strong and was forced to commit his reserves early in the day. Ewell’s men, now less green and with formidable trenches to stiffen them, found themselves fighting well, but successively forced to give ground…

…by 12 o’clock, the surprise came. Reynold’s 1st Division under General Meade, managed to rupture the seam between Longstreet’s Second Corp’s and Ewell’s Third. It was hard to say who was more surprised as Meade’s troops slogged their way across the Mine Run against limited opposition only to find themselves in a natural bowl. In other circumstances, Meade may have marched himself into a killing field, but he had managed to find the seam between Longstreet and Ewell’s lines, with the forces of McClaw’s and Pickett’s divisions distracted between him. Marching further, he surprised a number of Confederate messengers, and established himself on spit of land in the run.

Here he needed support. Messengers flew back to Reynold’s headquarters at Sniders Farm. Reynold’s was incredulous, but upon riding up himself, he saw Meade was correct. He immediately sent word to both Rosecrans and Hancock. Meade was his only available force, with both Whipple and Reno’s divisions engaged, he needed support to exploit this potential breakthrough.

Lee meanwhile, was slow in learning about this sudden, near fatal weakening of his flank. The messengers Meade had captured had been running requests from Ewell to move Jone’s men back to the battle. The fatal threat to the Army of Northern Virginia thus went unnoticed for nearly two hours. That would lead to Lee’s fateful decision to reinforce his right flank over his left.

Lee had been made aware that the Federal left was potentially unsupported as it was matched to A. P. Hill’s flank. However, Lee also knew that Hooker had yet to be committed to the battle and did not wish to squander any advantage until he knew where the Federal blow would fall. Even when the battle was raging for most of the morning, he waited until he felt he was sure that the Union had committed itself to the center.

After their night of rest, Lee ordered Jackson to take his troops and move them to the extreme right of the army, where he would use them to inflict his much desired counterattack on Rosecrans forces. By 2pm Jackson had his troops moving. It was only at 3:30 that the news of Ewell’s potential envelopment reached him.

Lee was faced with the most difficult choice of his entire career. His only reserve was now moving south, while in the north an entire corps was soon going to be cut off as he had cut off and captured Mansfield’s corps in 1863. The only possible reserve was Jones’s division. Lee gave the order that Jones was to attack at once to fix Hancock in place, and Ewell was to hold. Meanwhile he wrote Longstreet that “you are to hold your positions at all hazards.” The die was cast…” - At the Sign of Triumph: The Rapidan Campaign, Dylan Gordon, Boston University Press, 1982

“The events of June 29th 1864 have cast a long shadow on Hancock’s otherwise superb military record. Despite being at the extreme right of the Union line, and holding the potential keys to enveloping Lee’s army completely, his performance has been characterized as lackluster, even shameful, in many accounts. Truthfully his forces had been much depleted since the army began moving south from Washington months prior, and he himself was tired and worn down from the campaigning[2].

However, it remains a mystery to this day why Hancock remained so passive in front of the enemy on the 29th of June. The effects of his indecision would have far reaching consequences…” - Hancock the Superb: The Life of Winfield Scott Hancock, Charles Rivers, Newton Publishing, 2012

“Hooker’s III Corps was ordered forward at 3:30pm to begin marching into the gap. Rosecrans had consulted his maps and Lower’s aeronauts had confirmed the ground could be used to exploit a breakthrough. Rosecrans was more confident at any point in the battle that he finally had Lee trapped, and was ready to inflict a heavy defeat. Cheerful and in an uncommonly loquacious mood, he accompanied Hooker’s troops north. Hooker, though still suffering from the wounds from the Wilderness, was equally talkative.

He would pause at Reynold’s headquarters to recconitor the battle, speaking with Reynolds and exhorting him to drive into Longstreet’s lines. By all indications he was in good cheer…

By 4 o’clock Lee now found himself in a far better understanding of the battlefield than Rosecrans. His defences held, and Ewell’s spirited counterattack in the north had thus far plugged the gap. Aware that he now had an advantage on his right, he meant to ruthlessly exploit it. At 4:41 exactly, he sent word that Jackson should begin his attack…

For his part, Sickles seems to not have realized he had left his flank hanging. Indeed it is excusable as his own left under Couch had been in contact with Hill’s flank for nearly three days. He had no reason to believe that his forces were in any danger. While many at the time have castigated Sickle’s for a ‘dangerous ignorance’ or ‘wreckless attack’ on Hill, it is important for those to remember that not only did Sickle’s have no intelligence that Jackson was present, but when Jackson’s men began moving across the creek, they were masked by Sickles attention being focused on the attack he was supposed to be carrying out at Rowe’s Ford.

So when Jackson’s troops made contact with Sickle’s flank, it was a complete surprise.

It was the advance brigades of Winder’s division, who had seen such bloody battle in the Valley, that crashed into Couch’s unprepared flank. Difficult fighting erupted, but Jackson’s veterans were more than a match for Couch’s men. Supported by Ewell’s counterattack they drove Sickles’s troops back to Rowe Farm where the sharpest action of the day would take place…

…in the midst of the fighting Sickels fell from his horse, gravely wounded. The sudden decapitation of XIV Corps’s command threw the whole flank into confusion. Couch’s division as already breaking, men fleeing as Jackson’s troops rolled them up, with hundreds running to Locust Grove, but hundreds more being pushed into neighboring units and the heavy woods along the shallow creek north of them.

By now Ord’s command was beginning to be caught up in the simultaneous fighting. King’s 2nd Division found itself trapped between Jackson’s advancing troopers and Longstreet’s entrenchments, and was soon fighting for its life…

It was only by 6:33pm that Rosecrans was learning of the unfolding disaster to his south. Having chosen to personally supervise Hooker’s assault, he had been out of communication at Locust Grove, and so messengers sent to request aid found themselves unsure of his location. By the time he was fully aware of the situation, Sickels’s men were unraveling with the general himself being transported to the rear. The IV Corps was being infected by a similar panic, and the only reserve was just preparing to attack into the breach made by Meade.

Rushing south, he found the line in complete disarray, with Ewell and Jackson’s corps having counterattacked across Mine Run. His left flank was collapsing, and Rosecrans issued a series of contradictory orders which began to have a positive unraveling effect on the Army of the Potomac. To Hooker’s confusion, he first counter ordered the assault, then issued orders for him to withdraw. Reynold’s was meanwhile ordered to do the same and form a new line on the little creek which had suddenly become the Union flank. To Hancock, he issued no orders at all.

Reynold’s and Hooker’s troops were now hopelessly intermingled, and the confused fighting both along Mine Run and its tributary creek was driving both officers to confusion, and Ewell’s pressure on their flanks was steadily moving them back. Rosecrans was in the thick of the fighting, dashing along the lines and shouting encouragement, and whacking men who tried to withdraw with the flat of his sword. It had both a moralizing effect on the men in his immediate vicinity, but a demoralizing effect on the army as he could issue no clear orders…

Under his own initiative, cut off from Rosecrans, Ord ordered his men to begin withdrawing to Locust Grove as the XIV Corps had completely disintegrated on his left…

By nightfall, though he had managed to stabilize the line, Rosecrans had lost hope. His positions were under constant pressure, V and III Corps were hopelessly intertwined, and his forces were demoralized. He now expected a larger Confederate attack come the dawn, and he had no idea of the dispositions of IV or XIV Corps, and had been informed that Jackson was in his rear. He ordered the retreat to Fredericksburg…

Mine Run has been called Lee’s Guagamela[3], and it is hard to dispute this assertion. Despite the casualties he incurred, Lee inflicted as close to a Cannae he would ever manage on a Northern army. The casualties inflicted on both sides were enormous. The Army of the Potomac had suffered 2,532 men dead, 12,986 wounded, and 8,667 captured. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia had suffered no less crushing losses with 2,382 dead, 9,985 wounded, with another 859 captured or missing. All told the fighting had cost over 37,411 men, making it the bloodiest battle of the war, with only Bardstown in 1862 coming close in terms of casualties inflicted.

Rosecrans force had effectively been shattered, and retreated in a rout north of the Rappahannock. In the first week of July a further 2,000 stragglers would be rounded up by Stuart’s cavalry. The shock of the defeat, and subsequent near hysteria put in its commander rendered the army ineffective. The shock in Philadelphia was even greater.

Lincoln would despair, writing that Rosecrans was “confused and stunned like a duck hit on the head.” and cast about for a replacement. The general was despondent. From his headquarters he wrote reports of a “great Southern host” descending on him, and he seemed blind to any advances he could make. In effect he was a psychologically beaten man. Lee meanwhile, had decisions of his own to consider. How was he to follow up his greatest victory?” - At the Sign of Triumph: The Rapidan Campaign, Dylan Gordon, Boston University Press, 1982


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1] As laid out in Chapter 89. This is, essentially, what Stoneman did with his cavalry in the OTL Chancellorsville Campaign. Needless to say I do not have a high opinion of him.

2] Hancock’s sluggishness here can be seen as an indication of how exhausted he and his men are after the fighting at the opening of the campaigns. He himself has been rushing basically non-stop and like Jackson on the Peninsula, he’s just exhausted at the wrong time.

3] Thus ensuring every student of American military history will learn about that battle all too often.
This was an absolutely amazing chapter and I really enjoyed it. I was considering that Rosecrans would suffer his Chickamauga fate amplified, but I didn’t expect this fight. I really enjoyed it and I’m excited to see where this goes from here!
 
This was an absolutely amazing chapter and I really enjoyed it. I was considering that Rosecrans would suffer his Chickamauga fate amplified, but I didn’t expect this fight. I really enjoyed it and I’m excited to see where this goes from here!

Many thanks! I've been building towards this battle for a while and we're finally at one of the great pivotal battles of the whole war, the subject of its aftermath will be considered in a few chapters time! But we will be having a very lively September 1864 let me just say...
 
Many thanks! I've been building towards this battle for a while and we're finally at one of the great pivotal battles of the whole war, the subject of its aftermath will be considered in a few chapters time! But we will be having a very lively September 1864 let me just say...
Great read - one note though, I think that the 3 foot note is missing.
 
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