Civil War: Peninsula Campaign, Shenandoah Valley Campaign, Antietam Lesson 8 Peninsula Campaign

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Civil War: Peninsula Campaign, Shenandoah Valley Campaign, Antietam

  • Lesson 8

Peninsula Campaign

  • George McClellan

    • Among the Army’s best educated officers… “the Young Napoleon”
    • Excellent organizer and administrator
    • Extremely cautious; always wants more troops and more time to prepare
      • Prone to believe enemy is stronger than he really is
    • Mutual distrust with Lincoln
      • McClellan’s failure to make Lincoln confident of Washington’s security will come back to haunt him

Joe Johnston

  • Highest ranking officer to leave the US Army for the Confederacy

  • Difficult relationship with Davis

  • Defensive-minded

Peninsula Campaign

  • McClellan near Washington with 100,000 men

  • Johnston near Centreville with 40,000

    • Pinkerton estimated Johnston had 150,000
  • McClellan prefers an amphibious operation to an overland one in order to avoid Johnston

    • Urbanna Plan developed in Dec

Peninsula Campaign

  • Johnston withdraws behind the Rappahannock River

    • Effectively negates the Urbanna Plan
    • McClellan shifts landing site to Fort Monroe
  • Lincoln removes McClellan from general in chief duties on eve of campaign

Peninsula Campaign

Peninsula Campaign

  • Amphibious movement begins March 17

    • 121,500 men, 14,492 animals, 1,224 wagons, 200 cannon
    • “the stride of a giant”
  • Advance inland begins April 4

    • McClellan stops within 24 hours and begins siege operations
      • “Nobody but McClellan would have hesitated to attack.” (Joe Johnston)
    • Lincoln withholds I Corps to defend Washington

Peninsula Campaign

  • Johnston withdraws May 3

    • Opens up the York and James River to Federal gunboats
    • Forces abandonment of Gosport Naval Yard and scuttling of the Merrimac which opens up the James River to the Federals
    • Federal gunboat advance blocked at Drewry’s Bluff 15 May

Peninsula Campaign: Seven Pines

  • McClellan’s army divided by Chickahominy River

    • Johnston tries to crush southern wing in Battle of Seven Pines May 31
      • Mismanages battle, issues vague orders, and is wounded
    • Robert E. Lee replaces Johnston
      • Effects a “reconcentration of forces” and goes on the offensive

Robert E. Lee

  • Even Johnston admits, “The shot that struck me down is the very best that has been fired in the Confederate cause yet.”

  • Lee previously was serving as Davis’ military advisor

  • Extremely audacious

  • Makes excellent use of intelligence and cavalry

  • Strong advocate of the turning movement

Jackson’s Valley Campaign

  • Shenandoah Valley

    • Agricultural support for Confederacy
    • Controlled Baltimore & Ohio Railroad
    • Avenue of approach into Maryland and Pennsylvania
  • Originally Jackson faced 38,000 Federals with only 4,500 of his own men

    • Federal force grew to nearly 60,000 tied up by Jackson (and therefore not threatening Lee)

Jackson’s Valley Campaign

  • Jomini (1779-1869): Swiss military theorist who influenced many Civil War generals through his Summary of the Art of War

  • Very geometrical and scientific approach to war

    • Stressed interior lines

Jackson’s Valley Campaign

  • Jackson neutralized Federal forces three times larger than his own.

  • Fought six battles between March 23 and June 9: Kernstown, McDowell, Front Royal, Winchester, Cross Keys, and Port Republic.

  • “Jackson’s foot cavalry”

    • 676 miles in 48 marching days; an average of 14 miles a day

Jackson’s Marches

  •  22 March Mount Jackson-Strasburg 22

  •  23 March Strasburg-Kernstown-Newtown 18

  •  24-26 March Newtown-Mount Jackson 35

  •  17-19 April Mount Jackson-Elk Run Valley 50

  •  30 April-3 May Elk Run Valley-Mechum’s River Stn. 60

  •  7-8 May Staunton-Shenandoah Mount 32

  •  9-11 May Bull Pasture Mount-Franklin 30

  •  12-15 May Franklin-Lebanon Springs 40

  •  17 May Lebanon Springs-Bridgewater 18

  •  19-20 May Bridgewater-New Market 24

  •  21 May New Market-Luray 12

  •  22 May Luray-Milford 12

  •  23 May Milford-Front Royal-Cedarville 22

  •  24 May Cedarville-Abraham’s Creek 22

Jackson’s Marches

  •  25 May Abraham’s Creek-Stevenson’s 7

  •  28 May Stevenson’s-Charlestown 15

  •  29 May Charlestown-Halltown 5

  •  30 May Halltown-Winchester 25

  •  31 May Winchester-Strasburg 18

  •  1 June Strasburg-Woodstock 12

  •  2 June Woodstock-Mount Jackson 12

  •  3 June Mount Jackson-New Market 7

  •  4-5 June New Market-Port Republic 30

  •  8 June Port Republic-Cross Keys 5

  •  9 June Cross Keys-Brown’s Gap 16

  •  12 June Brown’s Gap-Mount Meridian 10

  •  17-25 June Mount Meridian-Ashland Station 120

  •  (one rest day)

Jackson’s Marching Rules: Issued May 13, 1862

  • Instructions on filling canteens which would prevent straggling for this purpose,

  • Hourly rest breaks of ten minutes in duration,

  • Mess times,

  • Location of commanders during the march,

  • Procedures for safeguarding weapons,

  • Personnel accountability procedures,

  • Guidance for transporting baggage, and

  • Medical and ambulance support procedures.

Soldier’s Load

  • As a general rule, commanders should limit a soldier’s load to an amount equal to 45% of his body weight in order to retain agility, stamina, alertness, and mobility.

  • For the average soldier this is 72 pounds.

Soldier’s Load

  • In the interest of being able to move rapidly, Jackson kept his soldiers’ load to the minimum.

    • Jackson’s men did not carry extra clothing, overcoats, or knapsacks.
    • They marched with their rifles, ammunition, and just enough food to keep going.
    • Each man carried one blanket or rubber sheet and slept with a comrade for extra warmth.
    • The cooking was done at a common mess so that not everyone had to carry individual frying pans and skillets. Even the skillet handle had been spiked so that on the march it could be stuck in a rifle barrel.

A. P. Hill’s “Light Division”

  • One soldier’s explanation of how Hill picked the name:

  • “Why it was called the Light Division I did not learn; but I know that the name was applicable, for we often marched without coats, blankets, knapsacks, or any other burdens except our arms and haversacks, which were never heavy and sometimes empty.”

      • W. F. Dunaway quoted in William Hassler, A. P. Hill: Lee’s Forgotten General, Garrett and Massie: Richmond, 1962.

Seven Days

  • Jackson’s success allows Lee to concentrate his forces against McClellan

    • Lee will defend Richmond with 20,000 and use 60,000 to attack
  • Plan depended on the timely arrival of Jackson who was to attack Porter from the flank and rear

    • Jackson was inexplicably late
      • Result was Mechanicsville (June 26) turned out to be an unsupported frontal attack rather than an envelopment

Seven Days

  • Gaines’s Mill (June 27)

    • Another poor performance by Jackson limits Confederate victory, but Lee succeeds in causing McClellan to go on the defensive
  • Savage Station (June 29)

  • Frayser’s Farm (June 30)

  • Malvern Hill (July 1)

    • Federal artillery defeats Confederate frontal assault
  • McClellan withdraws to Harrison Landing under protection of Federal gunboats on the James River

Seven Days

The End of Conciliation

  • Many Federal generals had sought to wage war consistent with Winfield Scott’s limited approach in Mexico

  • The idea was to practice a conciliatory policy that held that mild treatment of Southerners, their property, and their institutions would ultimately result in their returning their allegiance to the US

  • McClellan argued for this practice in a letter he gave Lincoln on July 8 stating “A declaration of radical views, especially upon slavery, will rapidly disintegrate our present armies.”

Moves toward Emancipation

  • A few generals such as Ben Butler, John Fremont, and David Hunter however were pushing for emancipation

  • Lincoln too was beginning to move in that direction and on July 22, 1862 he showed his cabinet a preliminary draft of the Emancipation Proclamation

    • Now Lincoln needed a battlefield victory to give him an opportunity to make the Proclamation public

Second Manassas

  • John Pope replaced McClellan as Federal commander and was decisively defeated at Second Manassas in August

  • Lee seizes the opportunity to take the war into Maryland


  • In desperation, Lincoln restores McClellan to command

  • As Lee marched into Maryland he expected the Federals to abandon their 12,000-man garrison at Harper’s Ferry

  • When they didn’t, Lee was forced to divide his army in order to deal with this threat to his rear


  • Lee divides his army into four parts

    • Three of them under Jackson head toward Harper’s Ferry
    • A fourth under Longstreet heads for Boonsboro


  • Lee’s army is now scattered and McClellan has time to organize his forces

    • He’s aided by finding a copy of Lee’s plan
  • Still McClellan lacks the killer instinct necessary to take full advantage of the situation


  • In the actual battle, Mclellan commits his forces piecemeal which allows Lee to shift his outnumbered forces from one threatened point to another


  • The battle is the bloodiest single day of the war

    • The Confederates suffer 13,700 casualties out of 40,000 engaged
    • The Federals lose 12,350 out of 87,000
  • Lee is forced to withdraw back to Virginia

  • It is enough of a victory for Lincoln to issue his Emancipation Proclamation

Emancipation Proclamation

  • Issued September 22, 1862

  • “That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free…”

Emancipation Proclamation

  • The Emancipation Proclamation changed the very nature of the war, giving it a completely new objective

  • Conciliation was no longer an option

  • Represented a move toward total war

    • The North was now not merely fighting to restore a union it thought was never legitimately separated. It was fighting for freedom of a race.
    • The South was no longer fighting merely for independence. It was fighting for survival of its way of life.

Diplomatic Impact

  • The South had longed hoped for European recognition and intervention

  • The Emancipation Proclamation made that virtually impossible because England had abolished slavery in 1833 and France in 1848

Impact of Emancipation Proclamation on Confederate Diplomatic Efforts

  • “… the feeling against slavery in England is so strong that no public man there dares extend a hand to help us… There is no government in Europe that dares help us in a struggle which can be suspected of having for its result, directly or indirectly, the fortification or perpetuation of slavery. Of that I am certain”

    • William Yancey, Confederate politician

Next Lesson

  • Vicksburg

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