Wrapped in Flames: The Great American War and Beyond

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by EnglishCanuck, Mar 29, 2016.

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  1. EnglishCanuck Blogger/Writer/Dangerous Moderate

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    And this afternoon we're at Chapter 55, soon to reach the next hiatus point where I do all the detailing for the campaign with the Army of Canada and the Army of the Hudson.
     
  2. Threadmarks: Chapter 55: The Government Goes North

    EnglishCanuck Blogger/Writer/Dangerous Moderate

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    Chapter 55: The Government Goes North

    “Since the British entry into the war in February of 1862, Stanton had urged some measure of preparedness should it become necessary to evacuate the capital. The specter of Cochrane’s ascent of the Potomac fifty years prior still haunted the Cabinet, and in some places in the Executive Mansion the scorch marks of the British torches were still visible. Lincoln had agreed with this sentiment “
    it would not do to repeat that calamity”, but urged that it be prepared quietly lest they cause a panic in the press or the government. Stanton, almost panic prone himself, agreed with the necessity of secrecy. He began having duplicates of necessary correspondence produced and stored, with preparations for it to be shipped to an as yet unknown location.

    The Board of National Defense proposed many sites for an alternative to Washington. New York was suggested by Dix, but vetoed by the others for being both to close to the sea and for being a stronghold of the Democrats by Stanton. Albany faced the same problem, while Chicago was too far away, which would make a wholesale evacuation difficult. With much wrangling, in April Philadelphia was selected. Farther from the sea, and out of reach of British and Confederate armies it had the advantage of having a symbolic importance as the first capital and being a center of commerce and trade with easy rail and telegraph access to the rest of the nation. Stanton discretely began issuing orders for supplies and documents to be transferred to the city if necessary, while quietly putting the machinery in place to seize various buildings for the benefit of the Federal government…

    …Lee’s invasion, and the subsequent appearance of the Anglo-Confederate fleet in the Chesapeake, stoked fears of an invasion of Washington. While Stanton and Welles believed the target was Baltimore, Blair insisted it was a feint against the capital. However, Stanton reacted properly in putting his contingency plans into motion, ordering men and material immediately transported to Philadelphia on special sealed trains…

    …The most contentious product of the evacuation was that of the president. While Stanton insisted that he was to remain behind while his deputy went to Philadelphia, the President would not budge in the first days. Heated arguments erupted in the White House over his role, and at points the President’s bodyguard Lamon had to physically interject himself between the two men. Lincoln insisted he would not abandon the capital like a thief fleeing in the night. Stanton, damning the president’s stubbornness is alleged to have threatened to have Lincoln carried out of the city by force.

    Finally Lincoln would quip, “I am not the nation.” During that particularly heated debate, Stanton would interject “But you are a symbol. To lose the President is to lose the whole game.” This remark seemed to suitably chasten Lincoln, and he agreed to join his family which was already evacuating to Philadelphia…

    …Stanton had moved swiftly in the spring and summer of 1862 to lay the groundwork for the relocation of the capital. By the summer he had identified, and provided the legal framework, to seize no fewer than a dozen buildings for use by the Federal government in an emergency. Some were donated willingly, while others were donated with bad grace or simply seized…

    When Lincoln arrived in Philadelphia he was ushered into the luxurious Lemon Hill. located on a bluff overlooking the Schuylkill River and Boathouse Row, it had been built in 1800 by Henry Pratt a wealthy merchant, had often opened the house to the public and so it was well known in the area. The city had purchased it in 1844 as part of a general buy up of properties to protect its water supply along the river. When Stanton had inquired about a property to house the president, the city had immediately suggested the property. Lincoln arrived there on the 10th of May, and immediately set about making it his headquarters in absentia…” – The Maryland Campaign, Tom Hutchins, University of Pennsylvania, 1981

    [​IMG]
    Lemon Hill, the temporary Executive Mansion in 1863

    “The Senate established itself in the old Congressional Hall (the modern Court House) while the State Department took over Thomas Jefferson University, with the Navy moving to New York, though Welles himself would stay in Philadelphia with the government and Fox would manage the acquisition and supplies of the navy from New York. The War Department setting up shop at the University of Pennsylvania, and though Stanton remained in Washington, his assistant secretary John Tucker would serve in his capacity advising the president in Philadelphia. Congress takes over the University of the Sciences in Pennsylvania…” To Arms!: The Great American War, Sheldon Foote, University of Boston 1999.
     
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  3. Marse Lee Well-Known Member

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    Very cool! I remember reading Turtledove's series on a Confederate Victory and he too had the Union government move to Philadelphia. Instead of Lemon Hill he has the Powel House becomes the Presidential Residence. Very very cool.
     
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  4. galileo-034 Extreme Centrist Conspirator

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    Given it's said temporary and I don't see Philadelphia taken within the same year (it could also mean the mansion changed place within Philadelphia, but I find more logical to assume a change means also a change of town), I guess the government will return to DC soon enough.
     
  5. New Hampshire Jimmy Dore Banned

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    Youre missing a threadmark for chapter 54. Loving it, keep churning these out please.
     
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  6. The Gunslinger NQLA agent

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    In the greater scheme of things this doesn't mean much, but to Lincoln's opponents (and a few of his supporters) I think it's going to cause real angst.
     
  7. EnglishCanuck Blogger/Writer/Dangerous Moderate

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    Moving the capital to Philadelphia in the TL-191 series post war does make a certain amount of sense. The Confederacy is too close and Washington is frankly indefensible with modern guns and artillery capable of breaching fortresses, and in the opening moves of any new war the chances of holding it are basically nil unless you annex a chunk of Northern Virginia to give it all important depth.

    I chose Lemon Hill because in the 1860s it was owned by the city itself and so any public or finicky purchases and transactions can be overlooked when trying to secretly organize a potential evacuation of the capital.

    Philadelphia is much harder to take than Washington, and even once/if Washington falls the need to march north to dictate terms from Philadelphia really wouldn't exist.

    I'll get right on both of those!

    Moving the capital is something of a symbolic loss. It makes the Union position look weaker, and gives the Confederates and British some golden propaganda. In purely military terms losing Washington would be a disaster of epic proportions since it was the supply depot for the Army of the Potomac and would set back the Union war effort by months if not crippling it completely in the East.

    Lincoln will certainly face flak from this, though how bad it is remains to be seen...
     
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  8. RodentRevolution Chewer of Wires

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    Still plenty of time for the offensive to go tits up
     
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  9. galileo-034 Extreme Centrist Conspirator

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    Anyway, taking DC wouldn't be an easy task. I've read that McClellan had made it one of the most fortified place on the planet at the time, and that's keeping in mind the man has seen the siege of Sevastopol so he might have transposed some of its lessons while building up the Capital's defense, all the more ITTL I suppose because of the threat of a British attack in the rear.
    If we are heading to an American remake of Sevastopol, and I'd love reading that, the British and the Confederates are going to have a very hard time I think.
     
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  10. Threadmarks: Chapter 56: The Grey Tide

    EnglishCanuck Blogger/Writer/Dangerous Moderate

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    Chapter 56: The Grey Tide

    “The joint Anglo-Confederate push up the Chesapeake was perhaps the most audacious movement of the war. Envisioned as a great turning movement which would upend the Federal lines and deliver the great prize of Washington to the Confederate army and allow the co-belligerents to dictate peace on their terms. It involved 36,000 Confederate troops, a brigade of British Royal Marines, a company of Royal Engineers, and twenty vessels of war (13 British, 7 Confederate) alongside numerous steamers and transports seized from the coastal and river trade and shepherded to bring the forces under Whiting to the battlefields east of Washington. Once the plan had been approved in London and Richmond, momentum carried it inexorably onward.

    Despite the optimism with which the admirals and generals placed in it, the political leaders had been somewhat suspect. Though Palmerston, with his cherished but unrealized plan of the army and navy burning Kronstadt in 1855 and marching on St. Petersburg and the successful burning of the Summer Palace in 1860 in mind, knew it could theoretically work, he was constitutionally nervous about open cooperation with the Confederates. His fellow members of the War Cabinet, Gladstone especially, had no such reservations and believed that it was time for their co-belligerent to ‘pull its own weight’ and contribute to the war.

    In Richmond, Davis was exceedingly nervous at putting such a large portion of the army out of contact with Lee’s main army. He was adamant that he must be kept fully informed on the progress of the landing and its accomplishments. For their parts, Mallory and Seddon were both ecstatic to be using their army and navy to accomplish the same sort of invasion which had come against them in 1861 when Northern troops and ships had landed along the coasts of the Carolinas or harassed Florida. “The shoe is at last on the other foot, and we shall see how comfortable Lincoln finds it,” Mallory had said gleefully when the operation began.

    The troops had prepared and embarked at Norfolk, the roughly 40 transports, steamers, tugs and sloops preparing to escort the small Confederate army to its location. The army and navy was composed thusly as it moved out on May 9th:

    Fourth Corps Army of Northern Virginia

    Commanding Officer MG William H. C. Whiting

    Hood’s Division
    Law’s, Robertson’s, and Pender’s brigades

    Holmes Division
    Branch’s, Wise’s and Manning’s brigades

    Ransoms’s Division
    Ransom’s, Taliaferro’s, Evan’s and Hagood’s brigades

    Anderson’s Division (detached from Second Corps)
    Armistead’s, Wilcox’s and Featherston’s brigades

    Confederate Navy, Home Fleet

    Commanding Officer, Admiral Franklin Buchanan

    Virginia(10)[F], South Carolina(10), Florida(9), Shenandoah(11), Raleigh(2), Beaufort(1), Teaser(2), Hampton(2)


    Royal Navy, Chesapeake Squadron

    Commanding Officer: Vice-Admiral Alexander Milne

    Nile(90)[F], Queen(86), Edgar(91), Hero(91), Phoebe(51), Peteral(11), Rifleman(5), Sparrow(5),

    Ironclad Squadron: (Commodore Alexander Cochrane) Defence(22)[F], Terror(16), Aetna(14), Glatton(16), Eurotas(12), Horatio(12)

    Royal Marine Brigade (BG John Fraser)

    3rd, 5th, and 6th Battalions Royal Marines

    The exact landing point had been contentious among the planners. The British, remembering their experience from the 1812 War, pushed for a closer landing zone closer to Washington. They suggested following Cochrane’s original route up the Patuxent River to land nearer to Washington. The Confederates objected, pointing out Cochrane had only 4,000 men, while Whiting was transporting seven times the number of men. They rightly pointed out the flotilla would be going into a confined space, and more area would be needed to land the army. Finally, the two sides had agreed to the seizure of Annapolis.

    The reasoning was two fold, the first was symbolic in the Confederate desire to seize the naval works there and occupy an important portion of Maryland. Secondly, it would allow the army to seize Annapolis Junction, and in doing so cut Washington off from the only real means of resupply now possessed by the Federal army.

    Stanton of course, had reasoned out much the same as the Confederate generals stating: “It is well understood that, although the ultimate design of the enemy is to possess himself of the city of Washington, his first efforts will be directed towards Baltimore, with the intention of cutting our line of communication and supplies, as well as to arouse an insurrection in Maryland, In doing so he would place the City itself under siege without committing his forces to assault the fortifications directly.” In deciding this was so however, he made an error which would cost him greatly in the coming campaign. However, McClellan too had a similar reasoning, which would serve him equally poorly. Before the total control of the Chesapeake by Anglo-Confederate forces was possible, Stanton rightly assumed an army marching overland would of course maneuver against Baltimore, control of the seas opened up new avenues entirely.

    The Union defences of Washington relied, in part, on her fixed defences, but also in the field forces maintained to protect the forts. Those defences in 1863 were under the overall command of George C. Thomas of Maryland, holding a mixed division of Maryland militia and Volunteers alongside Wadsworth’s division which held the defences. Also included in the defences were Rufus Saxton’s brigade of Colored Troops, who were administered as a separate brigade.

    In total the Union had 24,000 men defending Washington. At Baltimore another division under BG Henry H. Lockwood composed of a brigade of Home Guards and another of Volunteers. The brigade defending Annapolis was headed by acting Brigadier General John Harris, commanding a brigade of Marines, Volunteers, and artillery. These forces combined added a further 12,000 to the tally defending the region.

    Adding to these defences, were the navy’s Chesapeake Squadron under Rear-Admiral Louis Goldsborough and the Potomac Flotilla under Commodore Andrew A. Harwood.

    The Chesapeake Squadron, responsible for the waters in the Chesapeake Bay, though in reality controlling nothing above Annapolis, would be the primary antagonists of Milne’s fleet. In May 1863 it consisted of the following vessels:

    Minnesota(50)[F], the ironclad Roanoke(6), Cumberland(24), Seminole(18), and the gunboats Mystic(5), Liberty(2), Dragon(2) and Zouave(2)

    The Potomac Flotilla was helmed by the frigate Susquehanna(15) along with over a dozen smaller gunboats of middling value. Though not directly involved in the battle, they, in conjunction with the forts south of Alexandria, defended the river from any attempt by the Anglo-Confederate fleet to attack the city from the south.

    With I and III Corps south at Fredericksburg, the city was held by fewer men than Whiting could call upon when the fleet cast off on the morning of the 8th of May 1862…

    …when reports of the Anglo-Confederate flotilla ascending the Chesapeake reached Washington Stanton had been quick to act. He had ordered Wadsworth’s division ready to march. When Milne’s ships began bombarding Alexandria, and just as Lee’s army was discovered moving North, Stanton believed he had the game firmly in hand. Wadsworth was ordered north to Baltimore, alongside the brigade of Volunteers at Annapolis, and the V Corps in New York was activated, and the brigade of New York Militia under Charles W. Sandford was ordered south to reinforce Annapolis, Stanton firmly believing that this was where the Confederates and British would throw their efforts…

    [​IMG]
    Annapolis, 1860

    The two fleets passed Annapolis on the 10th, the British ships pausing only to shell the guns around Annapolis into silence before continuing north. The Confederate flotilla then, moved into action.

    With numerous tugs and sweeps launching to land his forces, Whiting remained on his de-facto flagship, the steamer SS William G. Hewes overseeing the landing alongside a mixed staff of Confederate and British officers.

    The Federal guns having, for the most part, been silenced, the Confederate gunboats shepherded the sweeps and tugs inshore. Firing on any Union man foolish enough to show himself, the Confederates proceeded to land most of Anderson’s division by the evening. However, Harris’s marines remained a nuisance, skirmishing and sniping the landers until the Royal Marines landed to the south of the city at Londontowne and marched inland. Taking Harris’s troops from the rear the marines were caught between the guns of the Confederate fleet and the troops ashore, though they skirmished until sundown they were forced to surrender. Their actions though, delayed further landings for a crucial day.

    Though the telegraph hummed on the 10th, Stanton paid little attention to the reports. When no messages came on the 11th, he merely thought the Annapolis garrison had been silenced by British shelling. Even reports that Royal Marines had been seen ashore did not worry him unduly. He felt that all Confederate efforts would be concentrated against Baltimore, and so any diversionary raids by the British could be safely ignored or contained by railroad guards in the region.

    By the afternoon of the 13th, Anderson’s and Ransom’s divisions, alongside Imboden’s cavalry, had been landed. Whiting, now anxious to be moving on, ordered them to march inland and seize the junction, lest the Federal army move to block their passage north. Anderson’s men, now the most rested and having their legs back, would lead the advance, with Ransom’s troops following. At 9am the troops began marching inland, moving through the hilly and broken terrain north of the city.

    The march was tense, and as one private from the 9th Virginia wrote afterwards: “I know not what can be said about that march. We passed through deep cuts in the land, gloomy and treacherous looking. At every moment we expected to see the flash and hear the crack of a sudden Federal volley or the thunder of their cannon. But it did not come, and we spent a night at Elk Ridge in anticipation of victory.” Having marched ten miles, Anderson ordered the men to rest, and they would march on the Junction in the morning.

    [​IMG]
    Annapolis Junction, circa 1900, target of the Confederate advance

    Their movements inland were noted however, and Stanton, still believing it to be a raiding force, dispatched Saxton’s troops on the afternoon of the 13th to reinforce the 5th Rhode Island guarding the junction. Embarking by train, Saxton brought his four regiments to the Junction, and the men were soon making makeshift breastworks to hold off the expected raiders and give them pause. Though the men of Rhode Island grumbled at serving alongside negroes, they would soon be thankful for their company.

    As dawn broke on the 14th and miles away Sigel’s men fled for their lives from the grey tide, Anderson’s men advanced against the vital rail lines at Annapolis Junction. Though thick woods largely obscured it, Saxton’s men had pickets out, and at 10am they made contact with the advancing troopers of Featherston’s brigade. The bark and crack of rifles alerted the men that something was afoot, and they stood to. The black troops retreated back through the trees towards their breastworks, and Featherston paused to take stock of the situation. Relaying the message that the Federals were dug in, Anderson ordered Armistead’s brigade forward to attempt to envelope the Federal troops and drive them off.

    Featherston’s mixed brigade of Georgian’s, Virginian’s and North Carolinian’s swept to the north while Armistead’s Virginian’s swept to the south, seeking to envelop and drive out the Federals. They were met by hot fire from the infantry and their few guns defending the position. Despite half an hour of hard fighting, they both failed to surround the Union troops or to drive them off. Frustrated, especially once he learned he was fighting black troops, Anderson waited for Ransom’s troops to arrive. Saxton, for his part, awaited word from Washington. When the scale of the Confederate assault had become clear he had dashed off news that he was facing at least a division of troops.

    [​IMG] \
    Saxton's Colored Brigade stands against the advance of Whiting's Corps

    By noon, the two divisions were in place, and they soon moved to launch another enveloping maneuver. Armistead’s men moved north, while Ransom sought to surround them from the south. Here, the heroism of the colored troops proved crucial. The 1st and 4th USCT moved with rapid speed from their entrenchments, skirmishing with Ransom’s brigades, providing ‘fire as hot as a division’ according to one captain in the 5th Rhode Island, holding the Confederates up for a crucial hour. The fighting was hot, and fierce, as each side asked for no quarter. Ransom recorded that his men even took unnecessary casualties fighting with the men of the Colored Brigade.

    However, being outnumbered five to one, the action could have but one outcome. When mounted troops arrived from Washington, they were briefly able to cut a corridor for the troops to evacuate through. They moved south, skirmishing all the way, but the Junction was lost to the Confederate forces.

    Stanton, now seeing the danger that Washington was in, sent messengers galloping north and south, calling for the men he had sent to Baltimore. However, soon the capital was cut off from the outside world, and all he could to was wait for the outcome of the great battle fought on the Monocacy…” – The Maryland Campaign, Tom Hutchins, University of Pennsylvania, 1981
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2019
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  11. EnglishCanuck Blogger/Writer/Dangerous Moderate

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    The plan never survives contact with the enemy after all!

    Washington is actually not quite as well defended as it was in 1863 or 1864 OTL. It is marginally better defended by sea, but that comes at the cost of the landward fortifications. Guns meant for the capital's defences had to go north or to the coasts when they would have been mounted in the forts springing up around the city OTL. Here, the defences are formidable, but no fortification is impervious.

    It could be the American Sevastopol, but Washington has a number of disadvantages in that regard. With British control of the seas supplies and reinforcements can only come overland, while it can only be supplied by the railroad that goes through Baltimore in any meaningful sense. An Army in Washington would be very dependent on keeping that line open, lest it be forced to endure a long siege.

    One of the problems for any besieger of Washington however is that south of the city its not exactly a great time bringing supplies north either. If you control the waterways you can send supplies by sea, but the overland route would be long, arduous, and extremely hazardous. It's not a win-win scenario for either side immediately.
     
  12. New Hampshire Jimmy Dore Banned

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    Is it plausible to see something in the direction of the Cleburne proposal, with the help of British pressure?
     
  13. The Gunslinger NQLA agent

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    The Confederacy was against it when they were under blockade, had their backs to the Wall and we're losing on every front. Why would they more inclined to use it when it appears as though they're winning and not suffering an acute manpower shortage?
     
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  14. galileo-034 Extreme Centrist Conspirator

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    Even disminished compared to OTL, I imagine it's still a very tough nut to crack, way tougher than Portland was.
    So, beyond the question of supplying the siege, it's the siege itself that is going to be a good point for the Union. As in Sevastopol and IOTL Richmond-Petersburg, the fact is that entrenched and fortified defenders will be able to pin down a much larger force.
    And the Confederates, if they don't storm Washinton DC outright, which I doubt (but I can be wrong), would have to settle into a siege. That means immobilizing a sizeable part of their army into a siege corps, and a sizeable artillery, though that would matter more heavy artillery than the lighter one involved in the field campaign. That means that's a force they won't be able to count on to pursue or defend against a federal counter-offensive. That plays into Union hands if they are to launch an offensive to relieve DC from siege.
    Unless of course the British are willing to throw a sizeable contingent of their own into the siege, but though I may have misunderstood, that's not exactly what they wish for, yet.
    Also, by comparison to Crimea, the geography is much more friendly to Union forces if they were to launch an offensive to break the siege (the isthmus of Perekop). They have a much more extended railway system and by extension logistical network, and the new base of the Army of the Potomac would be way closer to DC than the Russians were to Crimea, or so I think.

    On matter of artillery, what the Confederates actually have in terms of heavy artillery for sieges? Because I guess that unless they got that artillery, they won't be able to mount a proper assault before long. And that would mean waiting the British to supply them some.
    And on matter of naval mines, what did the Union into mining the Potomac and Patuxent rivers and the shores of the Chesapeake? I've not yet caught up with the TL (I'm about middle of it and it's great), but I guess they would have had to mine the rivers to impede any supply route the British and Confederates might want to establish to supply a siege of either DC or Baltimore.
     
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  15. galileo-034 Extreme Centrist Conspirator

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    Else, the I and III corps mentionned at Fredericksburg are Federal ones, right?
    If DC is cut off, I figure they would be compelled to retreat to the capital and bolster its defenses. How many men and artillery is that?
    If I followed correctly, much of the Confederate forces except the screen force in front of Fredericksburg, are north of the Potomac, right?
     
  16. EnglishCanuck Blogger/Writer/Dangerous Moderate

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    Sadly, it's even less likely to happen in this scenario. The South only adopted something like the Cleburne proposal when Grant was literally knocking on Richmond's door in 1865, and even then it passed by the thinnest of margins. The British - at the moment - have no real interest mucking about in Southern internal affairs, and are more interested in finishing the war.
     
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  17. EnglishCanuck Blogger/Writer/Dangerous Moderate

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    That's a fairly accurate reading of the situation. Lee's army, a sizable striking force, attacking Washington and not taking it would pin itself down keeping the Army of the Potomac locked up, while the Union would still have forces it could call from out West to help relieve the siege, while the Confederates have put their biggest field force right there in the hopes of taking Washington in one big campaign. Washington, while not as strong as it was historically, does have some 100,000 men who are capable of acting as a garrison. That will make it a tough nut to crack.

    On the matter of artillery, the Confederates don't really have a siege train. It's been something that they've thought about, and they have a de-facto siege train of heavy pieces under Pendleton, but nothing like the dedicated siege train the Allies used to bombard Sevastopol. It's something of an oversight in Confederate thinking which may cost them dearly.

    The Paxutent is mined, but the Chesapeake and Potomac are less so. The Paxutent is easier to mine and block with batteries, while the Chesapeake is too large to effective cut off in that manner. But they have placed obstructions and batteries to make it harder for the British fleet to maneuver with ease in the region.

    I Corps (Mansfield) and III Corps (Hooker) are from the AotP. They were guarding the Rappahannock, but now III Corps is back in Washington taking part in the defence. I Corps is still posted dealing with the now single division under French that is at Fredericksburg which is erroneously believed to be another Confederate Corps. Between the two of them they have 36,000 men and 26 guns.

    You are correct, the sum total of the Confederate forces save for French at Fredericksburg and the garrisons of Richmond and other points are all north of the Potomac.
     
  18. galileo-034 Extreme Centrist Conspirator

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    Judging by the landing position, I imagine that Baltimore is still going to be a key in the siege of DC.
    With the Patuxent and Potomac rivers thoroughly mined and interdicted, it will be hard to supply the siege corps adequately as you implied.

    South of the Potomac river, with the I Corps still in Virginia and only French's division facing it, I'm hardly seeing the Anglo-Confederates opening up an overland route from Virginia. That would require a significant effort to dislodge Mansfield, ie sending back into Virginia and large troop which either Confederates or the British are short of, for now. So, for a while, the investment of DC would be incomplete and limited to the north of the Potomac. Meanwhile, Mansfield's I corps can remain south of the river, to serve as an active defense for DC, prevent a complete investment of the capital, raid into Virginia (once the actual strength of French's forces at Fredericksburg would have been established, which I think should happen soon enough as the extent of Lee's invasion and the Annapolis landing will be properly known), so to distract the Confederates' attention back south of the river and relieve pressure on either DC or the Army of the Potomac, or just to forage supplies for DC.

    So, back north, the only possible venues to supply the siege corps will be either a lengthy overland route from Virginia through the Shenandoah valley and down the road from Frederick, which I think rather impractical given the distances involved, or using the path of the Annapolis invasion route, using the railroad there (and perhaps the route from Annapolis to Bladensburg too). But that route looks a precarious one. That means that to keep the siege of DC on, the Anglo-Confederates will have to defend the railroad from Annapolis to Annapolis Junction they just took. And that's where I come to Baltimore.
    If Baltimore stays in Union hands and the AoP keeps the AoNV from cutting the Philadelphia and Baltimore railroad, there a great chance for the AoP to make it into her new base of operation. So I guess that the key battles of the Maryland campaign will play somewhere north of Baltimore around the Susquehannah and the Philadelphia & Baltimore railroads.
     
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  19. Threadmarks: Chapter 57: The Road to Damascus

    EnglishCanuck Blogger/Writer/Dangerous Moderate

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    Chapter 57: The Road to Damascus

    “McClellan’s retreat to Parr’s Ridge had interposed his army between Lee’s and Baltimore, but in doing so he had left a portion of the road to Washington wide open. Lee sought to use this and directed Jackson to make a diversionary assault on McClellan’s positions. “You must baffle him as to our true intentions so that the army may march on Washington unobserved.” However, as with the campaign in general, the timing of this attack would be off. McClellan had learned from Stanton that he had Confederate troops in his rear, and on the morning of the 19th, just as Lee’s men were filing south towards the Capital, McClellan, alongside Porter and Franklin marched to Washington to aid the defenders, while Rosecrans would stay to delay Lee as long as he could. The much reduced XII Corps under Sigel was sent to Baltimore to provide a force in reserve…

    …Lee moved Longstreet and Magruder up the Rockville Pike, which would take them directly on to Washington. Longstreet would split off at Urbana and move east through Damascus, then shifting southwards to march on Claysville, allowing Jackson to follow along in his rear, hopefully chasing the Federal forces southwards into the city, or cutting it off completely. The audacious turning maneuver would be foiled however, by McClellan’s urgent call back to the city.

    As Longstreet broke away from Lee at Urbana and shift to Damascus, McClellan was riding south, bringing his two corps through Cooksville and towards the city. It is entirely possible the two forces might have missed one another, but both were moving with such speed that a meeting engagement was impossible to avoid…

    The first shots were fired by the leading brigades of Pleasanton’s division which came into contact with Pickett’s troops just to the north of Claysville while the latter foraged for supplies ahead of their march. Soon the mounted troops on both sides were skirmishing, and Longstreet and McClellan were informed of the enemy in their front. Longstreet, alarmed at the sudden appearance of Federal troops, began forming his men for battle as he galloped ahead with his staff. McClellan, desiring speed, chose to only shake out Franklin’s divisions while urging Porter to form column and prepare to march on as Franklin engaged the enemy at Claysville…” – The Maryland Campaign, Tom Hutchins, University of Pennsylvania, 1981

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    Jackson moves

    “The meeting engagement at Claysville was entirely unexpected by both sides, but McClellan had the numbers. Longstreet, despite a valiant effort to break Franklin’s lines, failed to dislodge the former from Claysville, and seeing the troops of Porter’s corps marching by, assumed he was going to be outflanked, and withdrew in the direction of Leesborough to try and move to link up with Magruder…

    …as Lee’s forces drew themselves up outside Washington on the 20th of May, McClellan’s army was streaming in to add its strength to the beleaguered defenders who had already stood off one assault by Whiting with the timely arrival of Hooker’s III Corps from Fredericksville. Both Jackson and Rosecrans would link up with their respective armies across the 21st to 22nd, and this would keep the lines fluid for the next week. However, with Whiting holding possession of Annapolis Junction, Washington was effectively cut off from the remainder of the United States.

    With our army to their north in possession of its only means of supply and communications, and only a hostile and much bereaved country to the south, the surrender of the City is only a matter of time and mathematics.” Lee would write to Davis on the 24th. The news brought celebrations in Richmond, and church bells were wrung across the nation from Charleston, South Carolina to sleepy Galveston, Texas on the Gulf coast. Davis would declare the 24th a day of celebrations and sending the news immediately to his ambassadors abroad.

    However, he desired to encircle the city properly, and so recalled Griffith’s from Fredericksburg to bring Magruder’s troops up to strength. Whiting was charged with distracting the defenders to the east, placing his forces along the Anacostia River, near Bladensburgh. Jackson stretched his corps out from there, headquartering himself at the Maryland Agricultural College, while Longstreet was between the two and Magruder who was positioned at Cabin John Branch, only a mile back from Tennalleytown. Despite constant bombardments and skirmishing, Lee now circled the city with 112,000 men.

    McClellan, even with the losses suffered at Monocacy and those in the battles of Claysville and Annapolis Junction still retained 95,000 men in Washington itself. At Baltimore, with XII Corps, the men under Lockwood’s command and the division under Sandford from New York, there were another 30,000 men, but they were out of contact with their commander and had no clear indication of who was in charge at the city either. Sigel claimed command of the troops by way of rank, but Sandford claimed he would only obey orders from the government, and Lockwood iterated he was charged with defending the city from the still present British threat. The unclear lines of communications between militiamen, regulars and Volunteer soldiers made the whole situation problematic, and so it would fall on Lincoln to make the final call…” To Arms!: The Great American War, Sheldon Foote, University of Boston 1999

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    The Confederate pickets before Washington

    “The situation facing Lincoln in those dreary summer days of 1863 were unimaginable. Washington was besieged, and for all the world knew, it had fallen. “Editorials were printed, it seems, hourly, about the fate of the nation and the loss of the capital.” George Temple would write gloomily in his diary. An assistant recalled seeing the normally pugnacious Horace Greely coming to work “ashen faced and shaking” upon the receipt of the news.

    Lincoln for his part, would sit in brooding silence, taking the news of the campaign with increasing severity…

    There seemed little to do then but to try and find a commander, or at least reinforcements for the campaign out East, but where were the men to come from? The troops in Maine could not be moved for fear of allowing the British to achieve greater mischief there. The Army of the Hudson was engaged and could not be weakened. The only men remaining to the government would have to be some body of troops from the West. Lincoln cast about for some commander, a “leader of men” who could right the rocky ship of the nation. With much searching, he finally settled on George Thomas commanding the IX Corps in the West. He would be moved East at all speed with a division of troops and directed to take command of the “Army of the Chesapeake” with all speed…” – Snakes and Ladders: The Lincoln Administration and America’s Darkest Hour, Hillary Saunders, Scattershot Publishing, 2003
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2019
    TrashMan, Icedaemon, Old1812 and 10 others like this.
  20. EnglishCanuck Blogger/Writer/Dangerous Moderate

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2011
    Location:
    The Commonwealth
    And so we come to the end of the Maryland Campaign for now. Next I take some time to work out the campaign in Canada before bringing us out West again!
     
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