Sears’ thesis is the Union could have won the war faster. McClellan was an incompetent commander and to take the initiative to attack an defeat the Confederate army. The Army of Northern Virginia, under...
The Union Army was able to match the intensity of the Confederacy, with the similar practice of dedication until death and patriotism, but for different reasons. The Union soldiers’s lifestyles and families did not surround the war to the extent of the Confederates; yet, their heritage and prosperity relied heavily on it. Union soldiers had to save what their ancestors fought for, democracy. “Our (Union soldiers) Fathers made this country, we, their children are to save it” (McPherson, 29). These soldiers understood that a depleted group of countries rather than one unified one could not flourish; “it is essential that but one Government shall exercise authority from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific” (Ledger, 1861).
September 16-18, 1862, outside of the town of Sharpsburg, Maryland, between the Potomac River and Antietam Creek, was the location of the bloodiest battle in American history. Confederate Colonel Stephen D. Lee described it as “Artillery Hell” because of the frightful toll on his gunners and horses from Federal counter battery and infantry fire. (AotW, 2014) The battle of Antietam, or the Battle of Sharpsburg, would collect an estimated 23,100 total casualties (Luvaas and Nelson, 1987). The body count far exceeded any of the other three battles waged in the Maryland Campaign (Harpers Ferry, South Mountain, and Shepherdstown). This battle was a contributing factor in the outcome of our country and the rest of the world. The Union Army desperately needed a victory at Antietam; however, a victory for the Confederate rebels may have very well gained them international recognition as a sovereign country in the eyes of the rest of the world. The Federal Army, which belonged to the Union States, consisted of an all-volunteer army and was a larger army than the Confederate States. Even though the Battle of Antietam was inconclusive, President Lincoln went on to read the Emancipation Proclamation to the country, effectively ending slavery, and ensuring that no foreign nation would intervene on the Confederates behave.
It all started in the year 1862. General George McCellen currently controls the army of the Potomac. When it was determined that McCellen was a bad general, in December of 1862 he was replaced with General Ambrose Burnside. Within a week, Burnside decided on a campaign to the Southern capitol, Richmond. He told his plans to Lincoln and Lincoln approved, but told Burnside the only way for a win was to move quickly. Burnside split his group into three grand divisions, each with two corps. Burnside’s division arrives first at Fredericksburg; when he arrived there weren’t many Confederates. After Burnside’s arrival there was a swarm of Confederates who arrived. The problem was, that while the Confederates moved into position, General Burnside had to wait for pontoon builders so they could cross the Rappahannock River. (See Map1) He had requested pontoons from Harper’s Ferry but they hadn’t arrived yet and came two weeks later. This gave the Confederates time to get an advantageous position over the Union. While Burnside waited he looked at the town from on top of a ridge.
“All up and down the lines the men blinked at one another, unable to realize that the hour they had waited for so long was actually at hand. There was a truce…” Bruce Catton’s Pulitzer prize winning book A Stillness at Appomattox chronicles the final year of the American Civil War. This book taught me a lot more about the Civil War than I ever learned through the public school system. Bruce Catton brought to life the real day to day life of the soldiers and the generals who led them into battle.
The Battle of Antietam could have been a devastating and fatal blow to the Confederate Army if Gen. McClellan acted decisively, took calculated risks, and veered away from his cautious approach to war. There are many instances leading up to the battle and during the battle in which he lacks the necessary offensive initiative to effectively cripple and ultimately win the war. This paper is intended to articulate the failure of Mission Command by GEN McClellan by pointing out how he failed to understand, visualize, describe and direct the battlefield to his benefit.
Washington's selection to be the leader of the Continental Army was the wisest choice that the newly formed Continental Congress could have made. Washington's selection as Commander of the Continental Army did more to win the Revolutionary war than any other decision made during the conflict. His personal character epitomizes perfectly the five traits required in a successful general: wisdom, sincerity, humanity, courage, and strictness. (Sun Tzu p. 65) These five crucial traits will become apparent and Washington's strategy to win the War of Independence is elaborated on further
A successful army requires discipline, but Confederate soldiers refused to concede authority to anyone they did not vote for, at least in the beginning. Confederate soldiers were also prone to shirking duties they deemed menial, and some even left the army without dismissal if they believed they had served long enough. In the uppermost chain of political command, Jefferson Davis proved deficient in quelling the media outlets which railed against his decisions at nearly every turn. Davis gave deference to the right of free speech no matter how damaging it was. Donald then uses these points to highlight the Union Army and Lincoln administration’s successes. The North had the advantage of numerous immigrant conscripts who were used to being ordered around, so the pecking order was easily established from the beginning. In the political realm, Abraham Lincoln did not let Constitutional rights obstruct his goals; Lincoln suspended habeas corpus and threw defamatory journalists into prison. The Union thus had the unity it needed to achieve victory in the face of the South’s
A Southern refugee once reflected, and referred to the Army of the Potomac as the “greatest army in the planet.” Although this is a clear exaggeration, from a Southern perspective following the Battle of Antietam, this was not too far off. Relative to the Army of Northern Virginia, the Federal army was vastly larger, in better spirits, and strategically in better positions. To direct this army of great potential, President Lincoln appointed the reluctant Major General Ambrose Everett Burnside. Almost immediately after receiving command, Burnside adopted a plan; the objective was Richmond. He was convinced that a victory at Richmond would cripple the Confederate’s ability to carry on; whether this would have been true is debatable. What is not arguable however, is Burnside’s neglect of a small city by the name of Fredericksburg, which lied directly in his path. He inherited every advantage a military leader of the time could hope for; however, every one of these advantages was dissolved with his disregard of mission command. The Army of the Potomac’s loss at the Battle of Fredericksburg was a direct result of General Burnside’s failure at conducting the commander’s activities of understanding, describing, leading, and assessing.
It is far easier for us in the present than it was for those at Gettysburg, to look back and determine the path that the leaders should have taken. As students, studying battles such as this, we have the advantage of hindsight, knowing the outcome. Nonetheless, we can still learn valuable lessons from it. To do so, this analysis will explore some of the decisions of the leaders at Gettysburg, and how they were affected by the operational variables. This essay will scrutinize some of the leaders at Gettysburg, and the impact of their actions. The outcome of this analysis will show that what was true in 1863 is still true today. While many variables are vital to a successful army on the battlefield, none should be neglected. Each variable discussed in this examination will prove to be important, but the information battle will be paramount in the battle of Gettysburg.