anarchyintheuk wrote:I think I should clear up the timeline. After Malvern Hill (July 1) Mac sat and did nothing for a month at Harrison's Landing besides requesting reinforcements. He made no move to comply with his original orders to attack Richmond. Halleck finally visited him at the beginning of August (August 1 or 2) and, after returning to Washington, ordered the army back (August 3 or 4?). Mac waited almost 2 more weeks before complying. All during this time Pope was vunerable; having the smaller of the two Union armies (about 1/2 of the AoP), Lee in between them and Mac comatose for a month and a half. The failure to restart the offensive towards Richmond or show any initiative allowed Lee to dispatch first Jackson, then Longstreet towards Pope. Mac's failure to promptly obey his superior meant that Pope would have to be reinforced on the fly (instead of prior to combat) with troops, staff and commanders he wasn't familiar with during 2nd Bull Run. Not an ideal situation.
The vunerability of Washington and/or an army defending it was always a problem with the Peninsula plan. If an army based there didn't do enough to hold Johnston's/Lee's army, it could always get between the AoP and Washington. Mac should have forseen this possibilty and, at the least, move rapidly to get his troops back to Washington when he was ordered so that Lee couldn't take advantage of the situation. He didn't and left Pope hanging, failing to forward Sumner or Franklin when they arrived.
I think it's safe to say that we disagree about Mac's abilities and are unlikely to change each other's mind's. Feel free to reply but I'm done.
Man, don't take arguments so personally, "fee free to reply but I'm done"? I disagree with you. You disagree with me. Some Civil War historians love McClellan, others hate him. Such is the world.
I don't disagree with your time line. It is what it is, but it is easy to sit in judgment in hindsight. McClellan's campaign was over after Malvern Hill. He was not under orders to move towards Richmond. It doesn't matter how long he waited to get his force moving back to Washington, he wasn't going to attack and wasn't under orders to attack. It's easy to see in hindsight how he could have caused Lee a world of hurt if he had moved against Richmond (Lee would have had to split his force up and withdrawn to a more defensible line, I guess), but they didn't know what Lee had, where he had it, etc...
The bottom line is that what we can see today, they could not.
Lastly, McClellan isn't at fault for Lincoln and Halleck not relieving him from command of the AoP. They caused command problems when they created the Army of Virginia (or whatever Pope's army was named). McClellan was not a part of the Army of Virginia's command chain. It wasn't his responsibility to add his forces to Pope's, but Lincoln and Halleck's responsibility. Effectively, once McClellan got to Washington, he wasn't in command of anything but the forces in and around D.C. (meant to defend Washington, not be reserves for Pope).
Lincoln and Halleck failed, not McClellan.