Monday, 9 February 2015

Joseph Glatthaar's Paranoid McClellan Part 1

If one reads Joseph Glatthaar's "Partners in Command" one comes across a very strange appendix entitled "McClellan's Tragic Flaws in Light of Modern Psychology". It is mostly idle speculation with no real evidence and no analysis made by someone utterly unqualified in the field he is dabbling. Let us explored his evidence.

 1. The Temerity of a Second Lieutenant

Towards the end of the appendix he present what he thinks is his killer piece of evidence. When "second lieutenant" McClellan was stationed at the USMA in the early 1850's he had the temerity to write to "brigadier-general" Totten about his position. The ranks are deliberately in quotes, as those are the ranks Glatthaar used.

To Glatthaar the arrogance of a mere 2Lt writing to a BG is damning enough he feels no need to perform any analysis. I am a scientist by profession, and I do look for evidence and analyse it. In this case I went to the 1850 Army Register and looked at the USMA entry:

One notes the ranks and positions. McClellan is a brevet Captain* and an assistant-instructor under Capt GW Cullum and the second ranking officer in Company A, U.S. Engineers (the only formed engineer company in the whole U.S. Army). Totten is is a Brevet Brigadier-General and is inspector of the USMA.

Now in 1850 Cullum took a two year leave of absence and went to Europe. No-one was appointed to replace him in Coy A or at the USMA. Being the military his chief subordinate "steps up" and Bvt Capt McClellan found himself acting company commander and the acting instructor of practical engineeering, one of the most important positions at the USMA.

Glatthaar seizes on a situation that here developed where Capt. Brewerton decided to deny Bvt Capt McClellan the right to requisition resources his acting position should have allowed him too. Now, Brewerton is McClellan's immediate superior (his "1 up"), and what do you do when disputes of this nature develop? You send it up another level to Brewerton's superior (McClellan's "2-up"), and that is Bvt Brig. Gen. Totten. Hence in fact writing to Totten is the right thing to do, both practically and according to military protocol.

One must wonder why Glatthaar felt the need to not be consistent (or correct) in his use of ranks. One suspects that the perceptual difference between second lieutenant and captain was too big a lure for his preordained conclusions, following a line of reasoning Rowland calls "specious". 

* Note that the USMA is not a regiment, and hence rank in the army rather than rank in the regiment is correct. In the army McClellan was a captain, and would have been a major except he refused a promotion based on the fact he believed he did not deserve it. Even Ethan Rafuse in a lecture I recently watched of his got the nature of the brevet wrong. It is not "honorary" rank, it is rank in the army greater than that in ones regiment, and is "real" rank.

2. The "squabble" with Rev. Samuel W. Crawford

Glatthaar makes some hay with the fact that McClellan "had a squabble with his teacher" and "claimed fifty years later to be blameless". This is from Sears' "George B. McClellan" (pg 4) as is most of the evidence, and used in the same manner.

Sears of course gives context. Crawford tried to whip McClellan and McClellan defended himself and defeated Crawford. How this is supposed to be evidence of problems with superiors is beyond me. It is more indicative of a strong and courageous young boy who has the courage to stand up for himself rather than meekly be beaten. In fact this is an important aspect of his character we'll come back too.

3. Second in his class

Glatthaar, using Sears as a reference says McClellan was aggrieved to coming second in his class. Glatthaar moves on, but Sears' evidence is this line from a letter reading:

" I must confess that I have malice enough to want to show them that if I did not graduate head of my class, I can nevertheless do something."

Sears and Glatthaar see this as evidence McClellan feels cheated out of his rightful place. Myers gives a larger extract:

"I am the only one of my class (of those who entered the Engineers) who is to go to Mexico, and I must confess that I have malice enough to want to show them that if I did not graduate head of my class, I can nevertheless do something."

Which completely changes the context and meaning. Here McClellan is disappointed to have been pipped at the post, but is happy he will get to go on active service and prove himself. The first four cadets got commissioned in the Corps of Engineers, and their class rank became literal, as the seniority of these four was in that order. The difference of one place could mean the difference of years to obtain a Captaincy (although the three members of the class still in the engineers in 1860 were all promoted to Captain together that year). The class leader, Charles Seaforth Steward, and the third and fourth placed officers (Charles E. Blunt and John G. Foster) got the much desired fortress assignments on the Atlantic coast. McClellan alone asks for a combat deployment, and is assigned as the junior company officer of the newly forming "Company A", US Engineers.

There probably is annoyance here, but McClellan takes it as a challenge to prove himself more than his three rivals, and goes to war whilst his former competition goes off to balls and drinks champagne.


Friday, 6 February 2015

Hacking the Union Army for a Trent Counterfactual

Recently I've become interested in looking at Union Army deployments in the spring of 1862 with regards to a counterfactual with the US invading Canada over the Trent Affair. On examination the Union Army can really be stated to be about 39 infantry "divisions" counting the Washington garrison organised thus:

Eastern Theatre

MG George B. McClellan's Army of the Potomac - 14 divisions
(two generals in this army, McDowell and Banks have the rank of MG in spring '62)

After Corps formed the organisation is:

        1st Corps - MG McDowell
        BG Franklin's Division
        BG McCall's Division (Pennsylvania Reserve Corps)
        BG King's Division (McDowell's division before corps formed)

        2nd Corps - BG Sumner
        BG Richardson (Sumner's division before corps formed, OTL was offered to Kearny, but he refused because he wanted to be promoted to command the division he had a brigade in)
        BG Sedgwick (was the Corps of Observation in the Shenandoah, i.e. Stone's Division put he was arrested)
        BG Blenker ("The German Division")

        3rd Corps - BG Heintzelman
        BG FJ Porter
        BG Hooker (was the observation force on the lower Potomac)
        BG Hamilton (was Heintzelman's, Hamilton was fired for ridiculous incompetence in April)

        4th Corps - BG Keyes
        BG Couch (was Keyes' division)
        BG William F. Smith
        BG Casey (this was the provisional training division and had all the new recruits and wasn't fully equipped until May, it fell apart quite badly on the Peninsula)

        5th Corps - MG Banks (left in the Shenandoah)
        BG Adelphus S. Williams (was Banks' division)
        BG Shields

In the east there are also 4 more static "divisions" used to garrison vital points:

Garrison of Washington (BG Wadsworth with two divisions worth)
        (In May-August '62 the USG stripped the defences to create a reserve division under BG Whipple)

Garrison of Baltimore and Annapolis
        MG John Dix's Division

Garrison of Fort Monroe
        MG John Wool's Division (Wool was very awkward, being the second highest ranking general in the army before the war. Lincoln specifically excluded Wool from McClellan's authority, and Wool expected a higher command)

There are also three expeditionary divisions in the east:

        MG Burnside's Coastal Division of the Army of the Potomac (this was always seen as a AoP division upto April '62, in a Trent scenario it's likely they were not sent to NC)
        BG TW Sherman's Division (around Port Royal)
        MG Ben. Butler's Division (still in New England in March '62)

The District of West Virginia (BG Rosecrans) is strictly speaking part of the Department of the Ohio until Fremont is appoint there, but for completeness there are two divisions worth of troops:

        BG Rosecrans's Division (not truly a division, but a division's worth of troops in the Cheat Mountain valley etc.)
        BG Cox's Kanawha Division (in the Kanawha valley)

Western Theatre

By March '62 MG Halleck had wangled complete control of the west, and his army consisted of the following:

Army of West Tennessee (MG US Grant*)
        MG McClernand's Division*
        MG Charles F. Smith's Division*
        BG Lew Wallace's Division
        BG Hurlbut's Division
        BG WT Sherman's Division (was the district of Paducah)
        BG McKean's Division (was under BG Schofield at St. Louis in early March, could easily be Schofield's division ATL)

Army of the Ohio (MG Buell*)
        BG George Thomas's Division
        BG McCook's Division
        BG Mitchel's Division
        BG Nelson's Division
        BG Crittenden's Division
        BG TJ Wood's Division
        BG George W. Morgan's Division

Army of the Mississippi (MG John Pope*)
        BG EA Paine's Division
        BG DS Stanley's Division
        BG Schuyler's Division

* All these officers were promoted MG in February-March due to their frontier campaigns that would not have necessarily happened.

In Event of War with Britain....

The question of how these forces would be reorganised in the event of a war with Britain (and France) is interesting.

Firstly the expeditionary forces of Butler and Burnside might not make their expeditions. Indeed in the event of a January or February war they're the obvious reserve to sent to the Canadian border. TW Sherman's division might not be able to be withdrawn in time and likely has to surrender when the USN can't supply them. The same probably happens to Wool's division at Fort Monroe.

It is obvious that the planned offensives against Corinth and Richmond are probably no longer viable, as the USG needs to pull divisions to defend their coastal cities and harbours, and the frontier even if they don't plan to invade, thus:

Philadelphia: 1 division (and ideally another for the Delaware peninsula)
New York: 2 divisions (one in NY city and one on Long Island)
Boston: 1 division (and ideally another for Portsmouth etc.)
Portland: 1 division
Detroit: 1 division
Cleveland or Pittsburg: 1 division (maybe 1 each)
Buffalo: 1 division
Rochester and Syracuse: 1 division (maybe 1 each)
Plattsburg (or Saratoga if Plattsburg lost): 1 division

Immediately 10 divisions (but better 14), about a quarter (or a third) of the Union forces are needed just to stop cheap raiding by British forces. These must come from existing formations as new recruiting will take time, or the US must accept the loss of these places.

Two of these divisions can come from Burnside and Butler. The other eight must come from the big field armies. Looking at the Army of the Potomac, they need to keep 2-3 divisions as an "Army of the Shenandoah" in place, Hooker's division on the lower Potomac and the division at Alexandria in place. It then needs a sufficient force to hold the rebels on the Rappahannock. This would be about eight divisions. This leaves one division spare after holding a strict defensive, say Blenker's Germans who can garrison one point.

Thus we must turn to the west and look for nine divisions to be withdrawn just to maintain a defensive. This is more feasible due to a weaker CS Army. The immediately obvious formation to withdraw is Pope's 3 divisions as Mississippi operations are a done deal. Then turning to Grant he can probably maintain a defensive position with a division each at St. Louis, Paducah and Fort Donelson and free up 3 divisions. This leaves the Army of the Ohio to give up 3 divisions which it can do and maintain a defensive.

Thus the need to shuffle divisions to meet the new threat of the British has essentially denuded the Union of their offensive concentrations. If the Union wishes to make an offensive it must "rob Peter to pay Paul" and open themselves to a counterstroke somewhere.

The Effect on the Confederate Army

The CSA is suddenly freed from needing to keep large forces defending their coastal cities in the same manner as the USA needs to do such. In the east with Magruder, Huger and the forces in the Carolinas and Georgia 102,259 (aggregate present and absent) are freed up from holding down Union incursions and gives the Confederates over 200,000 (AP&A) against Washington, which translates to about 150,000 effectives.

In the west, including 20,000 Texans the Confederates now have 178,964 (AP&A) which means they can at least double their major offensive thrust against Halleck to over 100,000 effectives.

One must ask if the mere fact of the British becoming hostile and the Union having to shift forces to meet it might weaken the Federal position so much the Confederates alone can score a win....

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Antietam - McClellan's Options on the 18th

The above map is the positions (roughly) of the two armies at the end of the 17th. The only change Lee made on the night of the 18th was to pull back DH Hill's division and solidify his centre along the Hagerstown Road. Approximate effective infantry and cavalry strengths have been added using Carman's figures (with strengths filled in for units it is not reported) and an estimate of Federal straggling based upon observations of the First Army Corps. Confederate cavalry may be overestimated, but the 6,000 infantry stragglers who rejoined Lee on the night of the 17th-18th are not included.

McClellan shifted Morell to reinforce Burnside on the proviso this was a temporary reinforcement to support him if he were attacked. Burnside used the division to relieve his battleline, putting it west of the Antietam and thus stymieing any thoughts McClellan had about using them in the centre. Couch's division (maybe 5,000 effective infantry) arrived midmorning on the 18th, and was sent to Franklin, where two brigades formed left of Slocum, and another relieved Irwin's Brigade of Smith. Finally Humphreys arrived with his exhausted raw recruits (at most 5,000, and probably less) which McClellan used to try and wrestle Morell back from Burnside - and Burnside promptly put them into his reserve and didn't send Morell back!

With all this in mind, and with many of McClellan's Corps commanders objecting to renewing attack, especially Burnside and Sumner, what was McClellan supposed to do? The only option I can see, given his situation, is to launch an afternoon attack by Franklin on the Dunker Church again. If McClellan manages to get Morell back from Burnside (which might mean relieving Burnside of command) he might get 14,500 effective infantry from 5th, 6th and 12th Corps into action there. However that's essentially just a replay of the assault by 1st and 12th Corps and Sedgwick's Division (2nd Corps) assault of the late morning on the 17th, presumably with similar chances of success.

Campaign wise, if McClellan orders such an assault and it fails his army, and the Union, is in dire straits. Whilst Lee likely won't be able to counterattack, if he moves as he historically did then McClellan won't have fresh forces to block Lee's reentry into Maryland via Williamsport. The campaign may well continue with Lee conducting a turning movement and regaining the advantage, or maybe Lee's troops were too exhausted. Either way the risk must be weighed against the benefits.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Antietam: Would Grant Have Attacked on the 18th?

At the Battle of Antietam (arguably 16th-19th September 1862, depending on whether you include AP Hill's rearguard stand against McClellan's cavalry on the 19th as part of Antietam or Shepherdstown) McClellan on the morning of the 18th suspended a planned attack on the Dunker Church by Franklin. The action on the 17th had ended when Burnside and Cox had refused McClellen's 1815 order to counterattack against AP Hill, and McClellan had originally intended to reinitiate the fighting at dawn with Franklin, but suspended this action awaiting reinforcements.

Critics of McClellan I have conversed with often trot out the argument "Grant would have attacked", so lets test that. I propose the following hypothesis:

"Grant would have made a major assault (on the 18th) the day after having made a major assault".

My methodology is to examine all Grant's assaults where the enemy remained on the field the next day. If the hypothesis is true then we will find major assaults the day after major assaults.

Major Assaults by Grant
  1. Vicksburg: assault on the 19th May 1863 (3 days after Champion Hill)
  2. Vicksburg: assault on the 22nd May (3 days after previous, no follow up)
  3. Spotsylvania: assault on the 10th May 1864
  4. Spotsylvania: assault on the 12th May
  5. Spotsylvania: assault on the 18th May
  6. North Anna: assault on the 23rd May
  7. Cold Harbor: assault on the 1st June
  8. Cold Harbor: assault on the 3rd June
  9. 2nd Petersburg: assault on the 16th June
  10. 2nd Petersburg: assault on the 18th June
  11. Jerusalem Plank Road: assault on the 21st June
  12. Crater: assault on the 30th July
  13. 2nd Deep Bottom: assault on the 14th August
  14. Globe Tavern: assault on the 18th August
  15. Chaffin's Farm; assault on the 30th September
  16. Peeble's Farm: assault on the 30th September
  17. Peeble's Farm: assault on the 2nd October 
  18. 2nd Fair Oaks: assualt on the 27th October
  19. Boydton Plank Road: assault on the 27th October
  20. Hatcher's Run: assault on the 7th February 1865
  21. Fort Stedman: assault on the 25th March
So with a sample set of 21 it appears Grant never launched a major attack the day after a major attack. There were sometimes some minor affairs, but never an immediate major effort the next day.

Thus given the fact that out of 21 tests Grant did not immediately repeat the attack 21 times I think we can dismiss this canard.

Conclusion: Grant would NOT have attacked at Antietam on the 18th September 1862, as per the other 21 times he was faced with similar situations. He likely would have prepared himself for a day or two for another effort (like Vicksburg, Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor).

Probability of Grant not attacking, assuming a free choice of whether or not to attack = 99.99995%

(Derived as 1- (0.5)^21)

Thursday, 9 October 2014

"Military Calvinism" and General McClellan

Dennis Showalter noted that there is a trend towards secular calvinism in military history, as Ethan Rafuse pointed out on Civil War Talk Radio. In short, there is a tendency to separate characters (usually Generals) in the narrative into the blessèd elect and those who are damned, usually with battlefield success being the judgement that sits upon them.
For the elect, all their sins are wiped clean, every mistake made is forgiven and passed off onto others, usually "stupid" and "incompetent" subordinates, or the weather, or simply dumb luck. The opposite is true for those cast out into the outer darkness, any progress made in achieving their goals is denigrated somehow, often by passing on their achievements onto others, or again, simple dumb luck.

We have this in spades in the historiography of the American Civil War, and the originator is the late Kenneth P. Williams in his unfinished "Lincoln Finds a General" thesis. Here is an extreme example of a calvinist approach, with Grant as the major member of the elect (although almost as if channelling the ghost of Ben Wade he decided to elevate Pope to the elect, leading to an oxymoric "papal calvinism"!). Most other generals are cast down, and the chief devil is of course McClellan, who dared challenge the sanctified Lincoln for the throne of heaven, errr, the Presidency. What K.P. Williams started, Harry T. Williams would continue, in his McClellan, Sherman and Grant - a book so wrapped up in psychodrama and impossibly flimsy evidence that Thomas J. Rowland felt the need to reanalyse the same topic and convincingly overturn the Williams's pet theories.

The treadmill however has accelerated, and the likes of Stephen Sears seethe with vitriol against McClellan and can find only praise for Grant and his friends. They don't let little things like facts get in the way of their ideas.

So, what of McClellan? If I may quote the late Joseph Harsh "He was a competent general who could have won the Civil War for the North... ", and that is absolutely true. McClellan is not so chronically flawed as some would have us believe and came close to actualling winning the whole war for the north in 1862. The reasons why he didn't are an interesting story, but are not as simplistic as the egregious Kevin Kiley would put it "he was a wuss". Great copy for those who don't do their research, and lack curiousity, but very poor history.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Research Exercise - How Many Mistakes in One Paragraph of Sears' "To the Gates of Richmond"

Since I now have obtained a copy of the Comte de Paris' journal I have decided to analyse this paragraph from Sears' "To the Gates of Richmond" (page 280):

"General McClellan, however, would not be sharing any dangers in this battle. Instead he was five miles away, at Haxall's Landing on the James behind Malvern Hill, without telegraphic communications and too distant to command the army. Among general and staff, the Comte de Paris reported, each one expressed great pleasure "upon seeing with his own eyes the goal of our efforts, the end of our retreat." (A newspaper correspondent compared it to what the Greek Xenophon must have felt upon reaching the sea after his epic retreat.) At four o'clock that afternoon, distancing himself even further from the responsibilities of command, General McClellan boarded the gunboat Galena, and forty-five minutes later, with McClellan aboard, the Galena steamed off upriver to shell an enemy column  sighted on the River Road west of Malvern Hill. That evening the general would dine at Commander Rodgers's table aboard the Galena where, the Comte de Paris noted appreciatively, the linen was white and there was "a good dinner with some good wine."

So taking the sentences in order:

General McClellan, however, would not be sharing any dangers in this battle.

Indeed, nor would Grant in any of his battles, or Sherman in any of his. A few stray artillery rounds at Gettysburg caused Meade to flee his headquarters and he was unable to reestablish control for the rest of the day. The expectation that a commanding general should share the dangers of a private soldier are ridiculous in the extreme.

Instead he was five miles away, at Haxall's Landing on the James behind Malvern Hill, without telegraphic communications and too distant to command the army. 

McClellan's command post in the afternoon of the 30th June was not at Haxall's, and wouldn't be until the evening. The Haxall House was the site of Keyes's 4th corps headquarters, and the army HQ did indeed set up there in the evening. McClellan visited Keyes, but then headed up Malvern Hill and commanded from "a house belonging to a former volunteer of the Mexican war who lost a leg in the fighting of the campaign". The Comte de Paris describes the panoramic view the position gave, "This high point enabled us to see all the surroundings." and notes "In front of us, surrounded by a cloud of dust, was our endless convoy of wagons as far as could be seen". This places the CP most likely at the West House, although the Binford and Warren Houses are possibilities. These are about 2 miles from the crossroads, and Haxall's is 3 miles from the crossroads. As google maps showed, the West House is just over the crest of the hill, and affords a good view of the position of the army (google streetview). It also happens to be the location of the signals station, which also suggests the presence of a CP (Myers full report).

As to telegraphic communications - this is flat out contradicted by both the reports of the chief signaller in the OR, and various accounts. 

"during the afternoon and night of June 30, communication [was had] between the forces on the field of battle and the general commanding the army on the United States Steamship Galena, while he remained on that ship"

(from Myer's preliminary report)

Simply not one of the clauses of this sentence stands up to scrutiny.

Among general and staff, the Comte de Paris reported, each one expressed great pleasure "upon seeing with his own eyes the goal of our efforts, the end of our retreat." (A newspaper correspondent compared it to what the Greek Xenophon must have felt upon reaching the sea after his epic retreat.) 

I've read the Comte de Paris's account, and it is significantly different. For a start the timing is different, with Paris giving this as his impression upon approaching Keyes headquarters around midday, before McClellan headed north up Malvern Hill. The full quote is:

"Quelques pas encore et nous sommes au bord de la James River, ou Keyes à établi son quartier général. Il est difficle de dire la plasir que chacun éprouva en voyant de ses yeux le but de nos efforts."

The end clause of the quote; "the end of our retreat", is an insertion. It is absolutely not present in any form in the original. The tenses in the original indicate a sense of celebration amongst everyone observing it.

At four o'clock that afternoon, distancing himself even further from the responsibilities of command, General McClellan boarded the gunboat Galena, and forty-five minutes later, with McClellan aboard, the Galena steamed off upriver to shell an enemy column sighted on the River Road west of Malvern Hill.

The timings are slightly off, maybe. The waters are muddied because only a heavily edited version of the Galenas logbook is available (in the Lincoln Papers, the same one Sears used, link). However it indicates McClellan was aboard about 1645, and they got up steam to go and shell Holmes at 1700. Nowhere is there any timing of 1600 I can locate (including the cited newspaper, which is online at the LoC). As a time it may be right, since observations of Rodgers say he went ashore at 1500, and came back an hour later with McClellan. Charles Edge reported he met Rodgers at Haxall's, who offered him dinner (link).

I of course have read the timings put forward by a "ward room officer" in the NY Tribune on the 20th September 1864 (link), which appear to be out an hour (numerous sources put the sighting of Holmes at 1700, including the extract of the Galena's log). I've also read the Comte de Paris' account, and he relates that he carried the notification of the attack, which may be confused.

That evening the general would dine at Commander Rodgers's table aboard the Galena where, the Comte de Paris noted appreciatively, the linen was white and there was "a good dinner with some good wine.

This is not what the Comte de Paris noted at all. Paris's actually noted:

"Lorsqu'on à mène pendant quelques jours une vie aussi rude, l'on se sent tout dépaysé en arrivant sur un navire ou tout est propre, ou les officers ont ligne blanc et ou l'on trouve subitement un bon dîner et du bon vin."

The word "dépaysé" means disorientated, which is the emotion he is expressing, not approval. He is shocked to see how well the navy officers have life compared to his rough life ("vie rude") in the field. He notes the navy officers get to sleep in clean white bed-linen, and they get good dinners and good wine. It is not a description of McClellan leading the high life, Paris notes "je me hatai de prendre ma part du repas" -  literally "I quickly take my part of the meal" whilst departing McClellan with orders for the army.

One notes Sears has adopted a much more severe position even than 1864 Republican election propaganda, such as Ben Wade's quoting of the above (link). Very little of this paragraph stands up to scrutiny, yet it is accepted unchallenged, and has contaminated the historiography.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

The Comte de Paris' account of the Battle of Glendale

My French is very poor, but with some help I have translated the Comte de Paris' account of the Battle of Glendale from his journal (published in France as Voyage en Amérique - link). It is an interesting account, and it differs in several parts to the only author who has quoted fragments of it in their account of the battle (Sears). I may comment further at a later date, but now I'll simply put it up. Errors expected, obviously.

The Battle of Glendale according to Phillipe, Comte de Paris

The day of the 30th was, I think, the hottest I have ever experienced. In the morning, the General sent me to see the position of the side of White Oak. Smith occupied it. The bridge was destroyed, but the enemy was still showing a few skirmishers. To his left was Slocum, who had taken his place in line since the arrival of Heintzelman and Sedgwick, McCall and Richardson. The troops were in lines in the wood, parallel to the road and a little distance back, giving free passage to the trains.

Once our camp was established we set out for the James River, the General had remained for a while in a neighboring house called Glendale. The heat was stultifying. Hundreds of soldiers lined up at a muddy pit to get a sip of dirty water. The Staff was demoralized. General Marcy, too old for such an exercise, was broken. Colburn was ill and completely annihilated. The rest were growing isolated in a frightening way. Finally, everyone felt that if a panic were to disrupt the Army, the fatal moment had arrived.

The enemy, however, had still not made a serious demonstration, and everyone was wondering what this incessant waiting meant. My uncle Joinville, with his speedy and correct instinct, observed the road from Richmond meeting in New Market Cross Road and opening of the center of our long line. He was convinced that the enemy, once he had information about our march, would descend from Richmond by these roads and, finding no obstacle, would make a great effort to cut in half our line. He had guessed perfectly correctly, and Longstreet himself the next day told McCall, now a prisoner, that such was exactly the plan of Lee.  They hoped thereby to cut off the James River from our rear-guard, so the bridge was the vital and needed to be defended at all costs. My uncle spoke to the General about this, and soon McCall was sent to reinforce the troops that were already occupying that position.

It was about nine or ten in the morning. Here is what our situation was then. It was known that Keyes and Porter had earlier in the morning reached the James River, and had occupied Haxell, Turkey Bend and Malvern Hill. Between them and the rest of the army was an unoccupied space. However, it was discovered to the left of the Quaker Road roads through the woods which formed runs to the edge of the river. Heintzelman had quit his earlier position on the Charles City Road. He had since positioned Kearney between this road and the Cross Road and Hooker was pushed forward on the Quaker Road. Sumner and Franklin were the rear-guard, extending to White Oak Bridge. McCall was ordered to occupy the same Cross Road and connect his right with Kearney, Sumner was ordered to take position on the left of McCall. The General went himself reconnoiter this important position. During this time, he sent me to Hooker. This was the last time I saw this brave soldier. I found him as calm and resolved as he was at Williamsburg and Fair Oaks.

The General joined us and ordered Hooker has to form with his right on the road descending from the Cross Road toward Malvern and was told that Sumner would form on him the extreme left of our line.

Mr. LeClerc, our French domestic, and our Irish grooms (all on horseback and carrying as much food as possible in their saddlebags) formed a column that followed the Army Staff. As no one knew what would happen, and, in the case of a rout, it was necessary to ensure that all our people could get out of the battle. However, no news, no noise heralded any attack by the enemy. The General, after having thus organized the troops who were to cover the march of our trains wanted to go personally reconnoiter the positions by the James River on which he could concentrate his army and ensure the state of affairs in Porter and Keyes. This was because, as the army approached them, and as time went by, these points became more important and the chances of an attack there were increasing. He set off at a trot, and the long and fast ride was sorely felt some members of the Military Staff, especially Wright and Judge Grant whose riding left much to be desired. We continued down the Quaker Road and soon the ground rose, the woods thinned and gave way to a slightly undulating plateau, open and well cultivated. These are the foothills of Malvern Hill. The General examined the field carefully and repeatedly. I heard him say to himself: "Magnificent position, but it would take 30,000 men to defend." A little beyond was Malvern Hill; a wide oval convex hill covered only by a few clumps of Locust Trees which gave shade to the cottages there. Its southern slopes are steep and forested but between the northeast and west, the slopes are gentle and open, admirably adapted to artillery. Upon reaching the top of the hill the road bifurcates. There, we found a picket of cavalry which informed us that the direct route to the right was not yet reconnoitered. We descended and along the foot of the hill was a wooded valley adorned with fresh grass and clear water, we had arrived in the vast glade of Haxall, where we found Couch’s encamped division.

A few more steps and we are on the banks of the James River; here Keyes had established his headquarters. It is hard for us to say but everyone felt the jamboree when their eyes saw the goal of our efforts. This beautiful river like the Rhine at Cologne flowed slowly between two banks lined with high forests; a burning sun gilded his yellow waters such as the Nile and framed the lush scene with a special luster. Three or four gunboats were anchored in the middle of the river flying the Stars and Stripes. A great crowd of stragglers ran to refresh themselves in its waters or on its edges were gathering, simply because they represented for them the impending end of their march, or rather to ascertain for themselves the presence of the ships with the big guns which were seen as the only effective protection against an enemy they expected every moment to appear. The contrast was striking between this oasis of calm and the perilous situation of the army. Indeed, it was necessary to completely disrupt the propagation of this thinking to seek protection under the guns of the fleet, or we would have seen then regiments merge into a tumultuous crowd that lining the banks of the James, who, unable to be effectively protected by a few guns against the attacks of an enemy emboldened by success, would eventually be pushed pell-mell into the cul-de-sac formed by the confluence of the Chickahominy and James. The thought weighed on all commanders and especially on General McClellan that at any moment, a simple accident could magnify into a huge disaster and irreparably damage their clever plans.

However, it was hoped that things would turn out differently. When night arrived, the troops had to retreat and take up the next morning a concentrated position anchored on Turkey Bend, where they could wait with impunity the attacks of the enemy, and our trains could find safety. So if the day went well, if the enemy did not affect us until the evening, then the harsh reality would be that thankfully the retreat would be accomplished, hopefully with fewer losses than the Battle of Gaines' Mill. The army once established in a good position would be proof against further Confederate attacks, and all who knew Americans would predict it to reorganize quickly and quickly return to action after a few days. This marked the opportune moment for us to resume our suspended projects interrupted by the events of previous days. Uncle Joinville spoke to General McClellan about our resignation letters submitted on the 22nd. It was agreed that if the day went well, that is he considered as accomplished the dangerous operation in which we had to share the fate of our comrades, we would leave in the evening on a boat heading to Fort Monroe, acting as couriers for the first dispatches the General sent.

However, we returned to Malvern Hill that was occupied by the remains of the Sykes’ division, and several batteries of reserve. Morell’s division occupied a clearing along the James at the foot of Malvern. Between this clearing and the hill through the thick woods snaked the Quaker Road, already flooded with our trains. At the point the road descends the hill into a wood, where it joined a different path, which I have already mentioned, coming down from Richmond along the banks of the James. It was the middle of a thick wood that these two roads came together. The junction point was important and dangerous. It was likely that Wise’s division, which was known to be encamped for several days at Drewry's Bluff, would come and attack us. This would cause inexpressible trouble to our movement by; taking our troops in flank, threatening the road that led them to James, and appearing in the midst of the trains and crowds of stragglers. Peck was sent to occupy that position. Morell advanced to be within supporting distance.

To Keyes and his Staff was entrusted the difficult task of reassembling and reordering the stragglers who were beginning to arrive on Quaker Road not singly, but in groups of ten, twenty and even forty. Their number increased with frightening rapidity, and when we returned to Malvern Hill, we were not very sure of ever seeing the James River and the gunboats ever again.

At Malvern Hill, we stopped in a house belonging to a former volunteer of the Mexican war who lost a leg in the fighting of the campaign. This high point enabled us to see all the surroundings. In front of us, surrounded by a cloud of dust, was our endless convoy of wagons as far as could be seen; sometimes there is a shudder. The Teamsters are urging their horses, wagons, and disaster seems imminent, then everything falls into place. The rest of the Generals Headquarters joins us, and we learn that a bloody battle has pounded Smith, who successfully defended the passage of White Oak Bridge against Jackson. Our losses have been serious, and in a violent cannonade from one side of the swamp to the other, Mott saw all the guns of his battery successively dismounted. However, Franklin assures us he can hold until the evening.

However, a dull and difficult to distinguish noise seemed to reveal a fight on the side of New Market Cross Road. Soon Radowitz, who has been running around since the morning, joins us. Nothing had troubled him so far, but despite his calm and silence, his countenance promised bad news. I never knew what he told the general, but I think it was a panic in the convoy, caused by some shells astray the battle of New Market Cross Road.

Shortly after, the General mounted his horse. We charged Mr. LeClerc to go with our column, we expect to Haxall along the James, which was the expected rendezvous, and followed the General. To our astonishment the General himself turned that way. I will not judge him on this point, not knowing what information he had. I do not know if he was informed of the bloody and important fight was occurring at the Cross Road. My brother and I were privately annoyed not to have  the satisfaction of attending this last fight, but after having eagerly seized the opportunity to take part in the Battle of Gaines' Mill, we were true soldiers, obedient to duty with complete disregard of danger, but to expose oneself without utility is the mark of an amateur.

So we followed the General to the James. There was a house the Signals Corps had established as a station. I was left there with Hammerstein, while the General was taking my uncle, my brother, very ill then, and General Marcy aboard the Galena, which carried the flag of Rodgers. When important news arrived it was my duty to personally bring it to the General. Some came immediately and I was told it was good. The General was found at a table with the officers of the navy and my message being delivered, quickly took my part of the meal. When you have lead for a few days such a rough life, it feels very out of place arriving on a ship where everything is clean, and the ships officers have white linen bedsheets and can get a good dinner and a good wine on a whim.

The dispatch I brought was from Heintzelman. He announced that the enemy made ​​a terrible attack at the Cross Road, that McCall had broken, but Kearney had restored the fight, and that the enemy had been repulsed with the heavy losses, and that he (Heintzelman) was preparing to make a counter-offensive to reconquer lost ground and cover our movement. To indicate the state of mind of a few people I would note that General Marcy, who is very deaf, having trouble hearing the extended orders the General gave from a high point, thought he understood that Heintzelman and Sumner had been surrounded and taken prisoners with all their forces. He seemed distressed, but not astonished.

I returned ashore with some orders and with the intention of preparing our departure, if things continued to go well. I found our column a little bewildered. Soon, I gave our grooms instructions for giving our horses to the people we had promised them to the last fortnight. I gave them some money and assured them we had the permission of the General, I brought Mr. Leclerc, our domestics and our small luggage aboard the Galena from which we were intended to tranship to another steamer that night.

But as soon as we were aboard, the signals announced that we could see a body of enemy troops moving on the position of Peck, and at the same time a cannonade engaged the side of Malvern Hill. Soon, the Galena and one other gunboat were steaming rapidly up the river. Here it is so deep that the Galena can dock to the banks, but overconfident in this, our driver made ​​a wrong move and planted the bow right into an old pier made of earth and wood. The position was unpleasant because the bank was occupied by the enemy, and fifty sharpshooters in the woods ambushed us and we could not return fire. Fortunately, the Galena pulled away and the two steamers only had paintwork damaged. It was thought that the enemy had concentrated his reserves. The gunboats elevated their big guns at a considerable angle to exceed the rather high banks of the river, and opened fire on the woods, aiming just behind the line indicating the smoke of battle. While the two pieces of Galena, a Parrott of 100 pounds and a [8]-inch Dahlgren were firing, the ship shook with their detonations. Looking down from the crow's nest we could see their projectiles bursting through the trees, we could not believe that they had no effect, and watched the shot like it was a game. The damage caused was not great, but it seems from the tales of the enemy, that the moral effect was considerable. These huge shells arrived without warning, breaking all the trees and bursting with noise, throwing into confusion the troops were which were massing to attack Malvern Hill and the position of Peck. They abandoned the attack and the fight stopped just before sunset.

So too, we have the precise details of everything that occurred during the day. I indicated the position that the troops took before noon, mentioning the murderous attack that pushed Smith.

About four o’clock, the enemy having finally massed between the marsh and the river of considerable force, some from Richmond, the rest probably coming via Gaines Mill, the Chickahominy and through the swamp, made their major attack on the center of our line. This was the decisive action because the actions of Savage and White Oak Bridge were only rear-guard affairs, and Malvern Hill merely a desperate attempt.  The great attack on New Market Cross Road had great chances of success and promised many other results. The corps of AP Hill and Longstreet, who had fought at Gaines Mill, came from the left. Magruder, who had not been committed the foregoing days, came directly from Richmond on the right. All their efforts converged on New Market Cross Road. The attack began on our right. McCall's division, reduced to 6,000 men, which was in advance of all the others, sustained the attack of the enemy alone. This fight was one of the worst of the war, the Confederates advancing on the guns without canister, and only musketry might stop them. The Pennsylvanians did not yield an inch of ground, and more than once it came to bayonets. The batteries were taken and retaken many times. Old Biddle was killed, Meade hurt. Finally, the left of McCall was broken, a number of guns taken and the enemy turned McCall on that side. However they met four brigades of Sumner’s corps (two had stayed at White Oak Bridge) who arrested him and restored the fight. The line formed again. Hill, Longstreet and Magruder resumed the attack at once. In desperate fighting in the woods, without any possibility for maneuver, it all depends on the individual soldier's tenacity. It must be terrible. McCall was pressed on the right and soon after taken prisoner himself. Then Kearney intervened in time and drove the enemy back. Sumner, shaken at this moment in time was reinforced by his last two brigades; the impetuous valor of Magruder could not move Hooker; and gave him the opportunity to make a large number of prisoners.

Finally, the enemy was so fatigued that he stopped the attack, but it was for a renewed effort on our left against Peck and Sykes, but he did so tentatively, and, as I said, the shells of Galena troubled him and he stopped the fight.

In the latter case, one of our English companions, Captain Lamy, who had climbed a Locust Tree to see the country, saw a shell bursting on the same tree trunk. He went down as fast as the proverbial rat and is still talking about this adventure.

The enemy was thus pushing down the line. Our trains had already travelled down to Harrison's Landing and the night was done, allowing the troops to make their last move. Daybreak was sure to see them concentrated in a position they could easily defend against any enemy.

The moment of departure had arrived for us. The sense of honor that had kept us with the Army of the Potomac during this difficult ordeal was satisfied. We had done our duty on this side, and our other duties to the Empire had to be resumed.

[Skip several pages of goodbyes, and his opinions about how Stanton had destroyed the Peninsula campaign]

In the evening, General McClellan left the Galena and established his General Headquarters at Malvern Hill. The success of New Market Cross Road made it, I think, his desire to maintain the line to White Oak rather than retire directly to Harrison's Landing. However Franklin, not expecting to be able to maintain his position, evacuated during the evening. With this news Sumner and Heintzelman found themselves obliged to do so too. It was, I think, a happiness because the line was too extended. The general then decided definitely to concentrate all his army on Malvern Hill.