|View single post by Michael C. Hardy|
|Posted: Sat Feb 9th, 2008 04:18 pm||
Michael C. Hardy
|Grant and Meade thought they had done rather well, having turned Lee out of his North Anna line, maneuvered him nearly 20 miles closer to the Confederate capital, and cornered him against Richmond.
Rhea’s statement is misleading. Maneuvering Lee out of the North Anna entrenchments is not the purpose of the campaign. The objective of the campaign is to get Lee out of his entrenchments and into the open where Grant’s superior numbers can be brought into action and crush Lee. While the AofP might be 20 miles closer to Richmond, they are facing the strongest line of entrenchments yet.
Wonder what Davis must have been thinking when those numbers crossed his desk.
Lee and the ANV are fighting a war for their homes and families. It is a war, as they view it, against an invading army. While these losses are sad, these men died in defense against invaders.
Damaged how? The army was still in the field, no mass desertions, Lincoln still gets reelected in the fall (with huge support from the AofP, the very army that is suffering all these casualties). And despite MTL's advice, Grant is still in command.
Lincoln’s reelection lies not with Grant/Meade, but with Sherman. Had Atlanta not fallen, what chances does Lincoln have?
Mac gets no closer to Richmond than he does in 1862 because he's facing Lee when the Seven Days begins.
Ah, but it is not Lee that stops Mac. It is Joe Johnston. After Johnston attacks Mac at Seven Pines, Mac stops his advance. It is Lee who pushed Mac back down the Peninsula.
But I will suggest that Cold Harbor might be a rare situation in that neither side retired from the field
With limited looking, I have found three occasions so far when the AofP failed to carry its objective, and then failed to ask for a truce in a reasonable amount of time to take care of the wounded. I’ll define a "reasonable amount of time" as the day after the engagement. The first I’ve already sited: Fredericksburg. The second; Cold Harbor. The third: Fussell’s Mill (August 16). The attacked began at 1pm, and it was 4pm the next day before the Federals sent a flag of truce to take of the wounded and dead. According to my account, the Federal wounded had already been removed by the Confederates. Do three cases establish a pattern? There are probably more examples, especially around Petersburg, but if I go get more ANV/Virginia stuff off the shelf, my wife is going to cut my internet line.
Has the plight of the wounded at Cold Harbor been exaggerated? I did find these two sources. The first is Freeman’s bio on Lee, volume 3, 392: "It was June 5when Grant sent any message, and then he merely proposed that each army be privileged to put out relief parties when no action was on. Lee had to say, in answer to this unusual proposal, that it would lead to "misunderstanding and difficulty," and that when either army desired to remove victims of battle, it should follow the normal procedure and ask for a suspension of hostilities. "It will always afford me pleasure," he said, "to comply with such a request as far as circumstances will permit." Grant could not bring himself to make this tacit admission of defeat until late in the afternoon of the 6th. The subsequent slow exchange of official communications through the lines delayed the execution of the truce until the evening of June 7. By that time all except the ambulant wounded had died or had been removed at night by comrades."
Second, I found this in a book by Robert E. Denney entitled Civil War Medicine: Care and Comfort of the Wounded. The following quote (page 296) is not documented, but it is interesting: "June 4 (Saturday) Today all was fairly quiet at Cold Harbor. The day was spent collecting the dead and wounded from in front of the confederate entrenchments. An additional 1701 union wounded were recovered and sent to the depot hospital at White House. At the end of the day, a second train of 544 wagons and ambulances carried another 161 sick and 2794 wounded back to White House."