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I was pondering this topic last night, and thought I would open this discussion.

Suppose Grant had been transferred to the Eastern Theater in 1862 instead of Pope? How do you think the course of the war would have been altered? Given the machinations of Halleck against Grant after the Fort Donelson and Shiloh battles I realize that Lincoln would have been strongly advised to leave him in the West, but it raises an intriguing alternative if he had placed Grant st the head of the Army of Virginia in July 1862. 

What are your thoughts?

Just the rambling thoughts of a man with too much time on his hands.

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Thought provoking... due to the fact that Ulysses S. Grant benefited from the disappearance of Halleck and Pope from the West. As "senior man left standing," based on 16 FEB 1862 date of rank as Major General, Grant was left to his own devices and execution of initiative to take control and conduct operations in the West as he saw fit (under direction from a commander 1200 miles away) and allow time and experience to culminate in Capture of Vicksburg in July 1863.

As for Grant going East in June 1862:

  • He lacked significant reputation. Because Grant's last celebrated Victory was Fort Donelson in February,  his "star" was eclipsed by John Pope (with successes at New Madrid, Island No.10 and Corinth)
  • Too soon. The Grant & Sherman Team did not fully mature until the Vicksburg Campaign.
  • Stifled development. Grant going east, under continued, too-close supervision of Henry Halleck would not have provided time and opportunity for General Grant to develop his own style of war-fighting (which he brought East after Vicksburg and Chattanooga)
  • The issue of Trust. While Henry Halleck trusted John Pope, Halleck did not trust Grant; and the first setback (such as occurred at Cedar Mountain) may have given Major General Halleck the opportunity to cashier Grant... and bring Pope east;
  • Grant succeeded in spite of Halleck, not because of Halleck. Close supervision stifled Grant.

But most important: Time... to fully develop the relationship with Sherman; to realize the importance of Intelligence (ably provided by Grenville Dodge); and to allow the many "significant competitors" to dash their reputations against the Rock of Public Opinion, resulting in U.S. Grant emerging in the East as the "right man, at the right time."

My take on the proposed "What if..."




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Pope in the West

“I am not responsible for the truth of the statements thus communicated… in regard to the number of prisoners and arms taken I telegraphed the exact language of General Pope.” [Telegram of Henry Halleck to SecWar Stanton, sent from Corinth 3 July 1862 – OR 10 p.671]

The above communication begins this post because as commander, Left Wing, during Apr/ May 1862 Siege of Corinth, Major General Pope became the Commander in the Field, responsible for pursuit of the retreating Rebels under General Beauregard. With Rosecrans (commanding Right Wing, now the lead element of the pursuit), Pope to his rear (as coordinator of the pursuit) and Buell (to rear of Pope, providing support, if needed), Pope pressed the pursuit south and kept Halleck, at Corinth, informed of his every movement via the telegraph. (And Halleck sends his own reports, within minutes of Pope’s reports, via telegraph direct to SecWar Stanton… one of which reports, “10000 prisoners and 15000 stand of arms captured” – OR 10 page 669.)

OR 11 pages 236 – 255 makes for remarkable reading, as over the course of four days (and exchange of more than twenty-five telegrams), June 1-4 1862, Major General Pope provides Halleck with his assessment that “the Rebel Army is coming apart” (due to the thousands of wounded Rebels and deserting Rebels encountered during the movement south.) Meanwhile, Henry Halleck, believing the encouraging report, begins to arrange for “movement of cars and locomotives south from Paducah” on June 1st [OR 11 page 236]. Pope orders Rosecrans south through Rienzi, through Booneville and onward towards Baldwyn, where Pope believes the remaining Rebels (perhaps 30,000 men) will make a stand. But as the Union force approaches Baldwyn, Pope begins to get “cold feet,” and advises Halleck that “he does not believe it advisable to push beyond Baldwyn due the difficulty of supplying the command.”

Meanwhile, Don Carlos Buell (the senior Major General of the three engaged in pursuit of the fleeing Rebels) informs Halleck of his discomfort at following the orders of the junior Pope; and Halleck advises Buell that if the situation develops, and Buell’s reinforcements are required, then – naturally – Buell, as senior, will take overall command [OR 11 pp. 253 – 4].

Pope eventually reports to Halleck on June 4th at 6:50 p.m. that, “the enemy is developed in considerable force on the direct road to Baldwyn. As soon as I learn that you have ordered Buell forward, I will advance and force the passage of Twenty Mile Creek.”

A subsequent report sent by Pope to Halleck on June 8th advises that, “the enemy has retreated south of Guntown.” Halleck reports to Stanton, next day, that, “the enemy has fallen back to Saltillo, fifty miles away. General Pope estimates Rebel losses from casualties, prisoners and desertion at over 20,000 and General Buell at between 20 – 30,000… General Buell has been ordered east, to form a junction with Mitchel [near Huntsville Alabama.]”  And a follow-up message to Stanton, also sent June 9th: “General Pope has pursued as far south as Guntown… I do not purpose to pursue the enemy any further [unless ordered by your office]” OR 10 p.671.

What is revealed:

·         Pope and Halleck were “too close,” and their judgment was muddled (based on hopes and expectations – of Rebel army disintegration, the imminent end of rebellion (in the West) and potential for rebuilding railroad lines – and not on facts;

·         Too much reliance on the telegraph, and instant communications (even to the point of SecWar Stanton directing aspects of the pursuit from Washington)

·         OR 10 pages 236 – 278 reveal a General Pope willing to tell his commander “what he wanted to hear,” and perfectly willing to adjust and spin his reports to suit Halleck’s ear (as Pope knew that Halleck wanted to focus on rebuilding railroads, and was in agreement with Halleck’s decision to “keep what was left of the Rebel Army” simply pushed well away to the south, too distant to interfere with rebuilt railroads and telegraph lines)

·         Pope was junior to both Don Carlos Buell and U.S. Grant. Major General Pope in command in the West only works if Buell goes away (which did happen) and Grant resigns (which did not happen)

·         Subsequent to the pursuit south of Corinth being terminated about June 9th (and the welcome arrival of news that Memphis had fallen three days earlier to Union forces) Major General Pope was sent to St. Louis to arrange for railroad cars to be sent to run on the Union-controlled railroad lines in the Occupied South.

·         SecWar Edwin Stanton sent the telegram to John Pope at St. Louis on 19 June 1862 calling him to Washington, D.C. (Halleck’s glowing reports concerning John Pope, combined with Pope’s war record of successes at New Madrid, Island No.10 and Corinth, helped convince Stanton that “Pope was the man needed in the East.”)

References:  OR 10 and 11 (pages as indicated)

SDG topic "See you in Memphis" post of 30 April 2016.



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The above story of John Pope was provided to illustrate that Major General Pope had been in de facto command of Western troops after Corinth... but the opportunity to crush out Rebellion in the West was allowed to go begging by that officer. (With his close connection to Halleck, Pope could have pressed Halleck to continue the pursuit of Beauregard south of Baldwyn, while Halleck's Army yet numbered 100,000 men, but he did not.)

As concerns the July 3rd telegram from Halleck in regard to "the over-estimation of Rebel prisoners" subsequently accorded to Pope... There was a puzzling situation created after John Pope estimated, "no more than 30,000 Rebels could be mustered for battle near Baldwyn," followed by subsequent reports indicating, "30000 Rebels had been counted as deserters, or wounded, or otherwise leaving Confederate service." (Stanton logically put the two estimates together, subtracted 30,000 from 30,000 and got zero.)

Based on Halleck's own reports, Edwin Stanton (still acting with President Lincoln as co- Commander-in-Chief of the Armies) requested Major General Halleck send four divisions East to assist in defence of Washington... and Halleck demurred, claiming "the Rebels in Tennessee are more numerous than you appreciate." This was followed by, "sending away forces from the West now could lead to disaster" ...which must have confused Stanton. And a July 1st telegram from Halleck further claimed that, "the Rebel force under Bragg is not less than 75- 80000 men," resulted in the July 3rd telegram, by which Halleck threw Pope under the stagecoach.

For intriguing reading, see OR 16 part 2 page 9 orders from Halleck to Buell of 11 June 1862; and OR 16 part 2 page 81, 1 July 1862 telegram from Corinth of Halleck to Stanton (and the pages between  9 and 105, to appreciate how fully the Federals deceived themselves after Siege of Corinth.) The following Naval War College report by Louis G. Burgess (1991) is also valuable for understanding what took place after Siege of Corinth: http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a236370.pdf  Bragg's Invasion of Kentucky.





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In the meantime, this is what the newspaper reader "back East" was learning about the War in the West:


Pope's Victory at Island No.10 (with Navy assistance.)


The Capture of the South's largest city occurred in the West (and no one really knew who was responsible, besides Farragut.)


After a campaign many believed would never end, Corinth is in Union hands (an almost bloodless capture, after the Bloody Horror of Shiloh.)


And now Memphis... And all these achievements took place in the West, greasing the wheels for Halleck and Pope to roll East to Washington...

The point: from the successes at Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, through to Island No.10 and Corinth and Memphis, it was becoming known that Henry Halleck had some role in achieving those Victories, and John Pope was accorded success at New Madrid, Island No.10 and Corinth. (Because of the Bloody, hard-won Victory at Shiloh, U.S. Grant had lost favor with much of the public, half of whom held him responsible for the carnage, with many -- including those with family members at Shiloh -- believing he should be Court-Martialed.) Therefore, Pope and Halleck outshone everyone else in the West, and they were rewarded by being called East.

Timing (and perception) sometimes work to one's favor...

[All newspapers found at Library of Congress site, Chronicling America.]


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Of course, all of the blame for the lost opportunity south of Corinth cannot be unloaded on Major General John Pope... because there was another Union General who was supposed to have come up from the south with his troops (most likely to act as anvil to Henry Halleck's hammer, with Beauregard dutifully playing the piece to be worked.) But, this other General did not make an appearance. [Identity of this other General is to be found in OR 6.]


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  • 1 year later...

Who was the Union General?


No guesses on the identity of the Union General anticipated to assist Halleck from the south during the Siege of Corinth?

Here are a few clues:

  • How did Union soldiers from Connecticut and Massachusetts arrive in Louisiana in 1862?

  • Where is Ship Island, Mississippi?

  • Of Navy officers Farragut, Porter and this Army General, who was senior?


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Must be Ben Butler who would have out-ranked those two naval officers.  As I recall (but don't my reference have readily available), Butler was one of the early war commissioned major generals, causing great headaches for the Federals later in the war when their seniority entitled them to commands despite their evident incapacity.

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Well Done, Transylvania!

It was indeed Major General Benjamin Butler, one of the early ”essential Union leaders,” who was responsible for finding a way around Rebel-controlled Baltimore; forcing a beachhead at Annapolis; and arguably responsible for keeping Maryland in the Union. And Butler helped save the Capital at Washington, D.C. during the dark days following surrender of Fort Sumter (with the subsequent Secession of Virginia, and the threatened secession of Maryland.)

Most are unaware of General Butler's role in the clandestine movement of Union troops from Maine and Massachusetts and Connecticut to Ship Island, off the coast of Mississippi, where a force of eighteen powerful U.S. Navy warships (under Farragut) and 21 “mortar sloops” (David D. Porter) were assembled preparatory to the April 1862 assault on Forts Jackson and St. Philip in the Mississippi River below New Orleans. Unfortunately, Farragut (the senior Naval officer) and Butler (the senior Army officer) were given different sets of orders, both of which stressed the vital goal of capturing New Orleans; but afterwards, the secondary and tertiary goals diverged.

Farragut misread his orders and bypassed Vicksburg (instead of taking control of Vicksburg) and focused on joining Davis's Western Flotilla south of Memphis, instead. Butler was left behind at New Orleans when forcing the surrender of the Crescent City proved too difficult a nut to crack for Farragut – and Butler's Army of the Gulf (over 15000 men) remained on Ship Island, or served as occupation troops in New Orleans and Algiers instead of pressing inland to Jackson, Mississippi... where he should have been, as Halleck advanced his Army of the Mississippi south from Pittsburg Landing.



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I found my reference regarding date of rank.  The ranking officers, with dates of rank, are

Winfield Scott                Major General    Regulars                                       25 June 1861
George B McClellan      Major General    Regulars                                       14 May 1861
John C Fremont            Major General    Regulars                                       14 May 1861
Nathaniel P Banks         Major General    Volunteers                                   16 May 1861
John A Dix                       Major General    Volunteers                                   16 May 1861
Benjamin F Butler         Major General    Volunteers                                     16 May 1861

That's an impressive list of officers and shows great perspicacity  on the part of the Administration in their selection.

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Thanks for continuing this discussion, because it is my belief that when it comes to “political generals,” it is easy to say, “He didn't do diddly” or “He was never any good” ...and miss the whole story. What follows is my interpretation of the above six listed generals (and I am more than happy to debate the performance of any of them, provided references are included.)

Beginning with Winfield Scott, the brevet Lieutenant General born in 1786, veteran of the War of 1812 and Commander of the Victorious Army which won the War with Mexico. Made Commander of the Army in 1841, General Scott continued in that role through the Buchanan Administration (and likely made decisions that resulted in Major Anderson being posted to Charleston Harbor in November 1860; sending Captain Don Carlos Buell to Charleston with verbal orders for Major Anderson in 1861; and sending orders to Lieutenant Adam Slemmer at Pensacola Harbor to “Hold the best fort.” There was no doubt that General Scott was past his prime, but “How does one remove an icon and War Hero?” Ask him: “Who should replace you?” Once Robert E. Lee disappeared as candidate for the role, General Scott advocated for Henry Halleck.

George B. McClellan. USMA Class of 1846 and Mexican War hero. Because of victories in minor skirmishes in Western Virginia (and elevation to militia Major General by the State of Ohio) George McClellan came to President Lincoln's notice at a time when he could use all the help he could get. Having survived ten days of terrible uncertainty at Washington D.C. following the Fall of Fort Sumter, and then suffering humiliation at Bull Run, President Lincoln was unwilling to wait for Henry Halleck to arrive from California; George McClellan arrived at Washington July 1861 and was installed as General of the Army (and Winfield Scott retired.) Upon request of President Lincoln, General McClellan provided Lincoln with a detailed “Plan of Offensive Operations” for the conduct of the war. (Meanwhile, Henry Halleck arrived from California and was installed at St. Louis in November, replacing Fremont and Hunter.)

John C. Fremont. A regular Army officer (but not a West Point graduate) Fremont was known as “the Pathfinder” to an adoring public (and as a Traitor by West Point graduates, due to political “interference” in California and the short-lived Bear Republic.) [Note: when California was admitted as a State in 1850, Henry Halleck wrote the State Constitution.] Fremont was married into a powerful Democrat family of Missouri politics; yet John Fremont became one of the original members of the Republican Party (and ran for President in 1856.) Fast forward to November 1860, after Lincoln's election as President, with war clouds gathering to the South. John Fremont met privately with Abraham Lincoln in Springfield Illinois; Fremont met with Lincoln during March 1861 and departed Washington D.C. in April, bound for Europe and a whirlwind series of visits to major arsenals and arms suppliers in Britain, France, Germany and Austria. After buying every serviceable rifle-musket available (and a number of artillery pieces) General Fremont returned to America late June, met with President Lincoln in Washington, and took command of the Department of the West, based at St. Louis in July 1861. The German and Hungarian communities of St. Louis rallied to Fremont; and his ties to the Benton Faction of the Democrat Party helped convince Unionist Missourians to forego the Rebel MVM (which became the State Guard), and join Fremont's Home Guard, instead. Making use of West Point graduate Nathaniel Lyon, offensive operations were conducted that drove Rebel forces away from St. Louis. St. Louis was fortified, protected by a ring of forts. And Fremont made use of Generals Hurlbut, Grant, Pope and Prentiss to commence driving Rebel forces out of Missouri. The loss of Lexington, the near loss of St. Joseph, and the death of Nathaniel Lyon highlighted shortcomings in Fremont's ability as military commander. These shortcomings were overblown by West Point graduates (who took delight in white-anting Fremont.) The “Pathfinder” signed his own Death Warrant when he issued an Emancipation Proclamation... and refused President Lincoln's demand to withdraw it. Fremont was removed from command at St. Louis. And Henry Halleck was installed as Commander, Department of Missouri on 9 NOV 1861.

Nathaniel Banks. A political animal with no military exposure, the Massachusetts native was able to become Governor, and was appointed Major General, strictly due to political connections. His record in the field speaks for itself.

John Dix. Born in 1798 this veteran of the War of 1812 had been Treasury Secretary at the end of the Buchanan Administration. Making himself available to President Lincoln, Major General Dix was installed at Baltimore (replacing General Nathaniel Banks.) In May 1862 General Dix was installed at Fortress Monroe (replacing the ageing General John E. Wool, who was two years older than General Scott). General Dix is most noted (and relevant to Battle of Shiloh captives) due to his collaboration with Confederate General D. H. Hill in Spring 1862, resulting in the Dix – Hill Cartel (formalizing a system of prisoner of war exchange).

Benjamin Butler. Politician who commanded the Massachusetts Militia, Brigadier General Butler answered the call and readied Massachusetts volunteers to be sent south after Fort Sumter erupted. After one regiment of Massachusetts men were impeded passing through Baltimore, and Baltimore subsequently closed to passage by any more Northern volunteers, General Butler commandeered a ferry, sailed his force of men to Annapolis, and against the demands of Governor Hicks of Maryland landed his force, defended the U.S. Naval Academy, and sent the Midshipmen away on USS Constitution (to establish the Naval Academy at Rhode Island for the duration of the war.) Butler rebuilt the rail line connecting Annapolis to Washington D.C. and guaranteed occupation of Annapolis (Capital of Maryland) by Union forces for the remainder of the war. “Following” orders from Lieutenant General Scott, in May 1861 Major General Butler occupied Baltimore... with no opposition. For violating his orders, Butler was recalled, and sent to command Fortress Monroe. (And Nathaniel Banks replaced Butler in command of Baltimore.) While attempting to expand the safe Union zone around Fort Monroe, General Butler's force got caught up in the Battle of Big Bethel. Although a Union defeat, the subsequent events at Bull Run overshadowed newspaper readers, and Big Bethel faded into insignificance.

Major General Butler commanded an expeditionary force in August 1861 that captured Forts Hatteras and Clark in North Carolina. Benjamin Butler then departed on recruiting duty in the Northeast... ostensibly to provide troops for another expedition; but in reality, these troops were sent to Ship Island off the coast of Mississippi. In April 1862 much of the combined Naval and Army force accumulated at Ship Island was sent up the Mississippi River in the operation to capture New Orleans. And Butler's 15000 troops were subsequently used to garrison New Orleans, Algiers, Fort Jackson and Fort St. Philip. (And when General Butler was replaced as commander of Occupied New Orleans in December 1862, it was Nathaniel Banks who replaced him.)



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winfield_Scott  Winfield Scott.

https://www.historynet.com/mcclellans-war-winning-strategy.htm  George B. McClellan

https://www.battlefields.org/learn/biographies/nathaniel-lyon   Nathaniel Lyon.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nathaniel_P._Banks   Nathaniel Banks.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_E._Wool   John E. Wool.

http://www.mrlincolnswhitehouse.org/residents-visitors/the-generals-and-admirals/generals-admirals-john-dix-1798-1879/   John A. Dix.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dix–Hill_Cartel   Dix - Hill Cartel

https://www.militarymuseum.org/HistoryCW.html   California Military History [Fremont, Halleck, Sherman, Ord, A.S. Johnston, Bear Republic]

https://www.militarymuseum.org/History Early CA.html   California Military History [Sherman, Ord, Halleck]

https://www.battlefields.org/learn/biographies/benjamin-f-butler  Unflattering bio of Benjamin Butler

https://www.nps.gov/people/benjaminfbutler.htm  Benjamin Butler at Fortress Monroe and "Contraband Decision"

http://www.mrlincolnswhitehouse.org/residents-visitors/the-generals-and-admirals/generals-admirals-benjamin-butler-1818-1893/  Butler and Maryland





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  • 1 month later...

One reason why Pope was selected to command in Virginia was that Lincoln knew him personally and he had never met Grant. Also Pope was a known Republican, whereas Grant's political position was not so well known in the administration.

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Valid points. As Captain John Pope, that officer rode in company with President-elect Lincoln aboard the Inauguration Train from Springfield. John Pope was afterwards installed as Senior Brigadier General from Illinois. And later, John Pope was acknowledged as The Successful Commander at the extremely difficult venture, Island No.10 (which involved coordination with Navy ironclads, Steiner's balloon, special raider operations, marching across thirty miles of swampland, cutting a 9-mile canal for steamboats through that swampland... And then, Major General Pope was accorded credit for "causing the Rebel Army to dissolve before his very eyes" on account of his pursuit of Beauregard's Army 35 miles south of Corinth in June 1862. Despite the fact Pope's (and Halleck's) reports of Unbelievable Success at and after Corinth were inflated, and thus, unbelievable... The co-Commanders-in-Chief of the Union Army (President Lincoln and Secretary of War Stanton) were willing to believe any tales of Success... and especially after McClellan's Peninsula Campaign came to nothing in early July 1862.

Right place, at the right time, for Pope AND Halleck.

Reference: OR 10 pp.236 - 278 make for shocking reading, as Pope and Halleck justify their determination to halt pursuit south of Corinth and concentrate instead on rebuilding the South's damaged railroads.

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  • 2 weeks later...

To be honest, I am more familiar with the John Pope of Second Bull Run than the John Pope of Island No. 10. In that instance, Pope was put in a very difficult position. Of course, he did not necessarily help himself very much either.

What if Grant had been called east in July 1862 instead of Pope? I am not convinced he would have been a whole lot more successful than Pope was. 

In any event, it was a good thing for the North that it was Pope who was called east. If it had been Grant I'm not sure there would have been a Vicksburg.

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There were numerous events that took place during the Civil War that did not directly involve battles: the occupation of New Orleans, the occupation of Fort Pickens, and the occupation of Fort Columbus Kentucky are a few that come to mind. And it is my belief that these events are not studied to the extent they should because they lack the credibility that comes with being labelled “a battle.” Yet each of these was significant to progress of the war in its own way. Other events, actual battles, are neglected because they are too complex, or too difficult to understand, such as the Massacre at New Ulm, the Battle of Iuka, the Attack at Second Jackson, and the operation against Island No.10.

In the case of Island No.10 this complex operation focused on the Rebel fallback position after the evacuation of Fort Columbus. And it was part of Henry Halleck's overall strategy that required 1) driving the organized Rebel forces out of Missouri (accomplished by Pope at New Madrid and Curtis at Pea Ridge Arkansas) 2) success at Island No.10 and 3) mopping up the remnants of the Confederate Army in the West via a last, mighty engagement at Corinth Mississippi. Along the way, Henry Halleck developed an extremely close working relationship with John Pope (and this is evidenced by records in OR 8 in which Halleck reveals his trust in Pope's decisions.) In effect, Pope and Halleck were a Team called east by Stanton and Lincoln to replace the out-of-favor George McClellan: right place, at the right time, with a string of successes in the West attributed to them.

As regards Ulysses S. Grant, he attempted a close working relationship with John A. McClernand but this failed when Grant lost trust in McClernand. As alternative, Grant cultivated an intimate working relationship with William Tecumseh Sherman; and bolstered this Championship Team with the inclusion of James Birdseye McPherson. But this team of Grant, Sherman and McPherson did not mature until the Vicksburg Campaign; there was little likelihood of Grant being called east before success at Vicksburg (recalling that McClellan was reinstalled when Pope failed.) Meanwhile, Grant added Ord, Sheridan, Logan and Dodge to his Team.

And I agree: without support of his Championship Team, U.S. Grant had little chance of success in the east. Timing is everything.


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Since you mention Vicksburg... many people are unaware that subjugation of that Mississippi River “gibraltar” was one of the secondary missions assigned to Naval Officer Farragut; and the initiating event that likely prompted the launch of the combined Army-Navy expedition from Ship Island against the Lower forts (Jackson and St.Philip) was the report by Halleck to Washington of the evacuation of Fort Columbus. Farragut launched his operation, and the Primary objective (Union control of New Orleans) occurred at the end of April 1862. Farragut then set out on his secondary missions, taking Baton Rouge, and Natchez... but when he got to Vicksburg, he realized that sending away Porter's Mortar Fleet to Mobile had been a mistake (Farragut's guns could not reach Rebel positions at the top of the bluff.) So Farragut steamed north past Vicksburg, joined with Davis's Ironclad fleet south of Memphis... and the opportunity to take control of Vicksburg went begging for another year.

[Another secondary objective, mentioned in the Orders of Major General Benjamin Butler, was the occupation of Jackson Mississippi. It appears Butler's 18000 men were anticipated to seize control of Vicksburg, and then march east (while most of the Rebel Army was occupied at Corinth). It may have been hoped that Butler would be in position south of Corinth when Halleck approached Corinth from the north... but because Butler never left New Orleans, we will never know.]


Additional Reference:



Washington, February 23, 1862.


U. S. Volunteers:

GENERAL: You are assigned to the command of the land forces destined to co-operate with the Navy in the attack upon New Orleans. You will use every means to keep your destination a profound secret, even from your staff officers, with the exception of your chief of staff, and Lieutenant Weitzel, of the Engineers. The force at your disposal will consist of the first thirteen regiments named in your memorandum handed to me in person, the Twenty-first Indiana, Fourth Wisconsin, and Sixth Michigan (Old and good regiments from Baltimore). The Twenty-First Indiana, Fourth Wisconsin, and Sixth Michigan will await your orders at Fort Monroe. Two companies of the Twenty-first Indiana are well drilled at heavy artillery. The cavalry force already en route for Ship Island will be sufficient for your purposes. After full consultation with officers well acquainted with the country in which it is proposed to operate, I have arrived at the conclusion that two light batteries, fully equipped, and one without horses, will be all that are necessary. This will make your force 14,400 infantry, 275 cavalry, 580 artillery-total 15,255 men. The commanding general of the Department of Key West is authorized to loan you temporarily two regiments. Fort Pickens can probably give you another, which will bring your force to nearly 18,000.

The object of your expedition is one of vital importance: the capture of New Orleans. The route selected is up the Mississippi River, and the first obstacle to be encountered (perhaps the only one) is in the resistance offered by Forts Saint Philip and Jackson. It is expected that the Navy can reduce these works. In that case you will, after their capture, leave a sufficient garrison in them to render them perfectly secure; and it is recommended that on the upward passage a few heavy guns and some troops be left at the Pilot Station (at the forks of the river), to cover a retreat in the event of a disaster. The troops and guns will of course be removed as soon as the forts are captured. Should the Navy fail to reduce the works, you will land your forces and siege train, and endeavor to breach the works, silence their guns, and carry them by assault.

The next resistance will be near the English Bend, where there are some earthen batteries. Here it may be necessary for you to land your troops to co-operate with the naval attack, although it is more than probable that the Navy, unassisted, can accomplish the result. If these works are taken, the city of New Orleans necessarily falls. In that event it will probably be best to occupy Algiers with the mass of your troops; also the eastern bank of the river above the city. It may be necessary to place some troops in the city to preserve order; but if there appears sufficient Union sentiment to control the city, it may be best, for purposes of discipline, to keep your men out of the city.

After obtaining possession of New Orleans it will be necessary to reduce all the works guarding its approaches from the east, and particularly to gain the Pass Manchac. Baton Rouge, Berwick Bay, and Fort Livingston will next claim your attention. A feint on Galveston may facilitate the objects we have in view. I need not call your attention to the necessity of gaining possession of all the rolling stock you can on the different railways and of obtaining control of the roads themselves. The occupation of Baton Rouge by a combined naval and land force should be accomplished as soon as possible after you have gained New Orleans. Then endeavor to open your communication with the northern column by the Mississippi, always bearing in mind the necessity of occupying Jackson, Miss., as soon as you can safely do so, either after or before you have effected the junction. Allow nothing to divert you from obtaining full possession of all the approaches to New Orleans. When that object is accomplished to its fullest extent it will be necessary to make a combined attack on Mobile, in order to gain possession of the harbor and works, as well as to control the railway terminus at the city. In regard to this I will send more detailed instructions as the operations of the northern column develop themselves. I may briefly state that the general objects of the expedition are, first, the reduction of New Orleans and all its approaches, then Mobile and its defense; then Pensacola, Galveston, &etc.

It is probable that by the time New Orleans is reduced it will be in the power of the Government to re-enforce the land forces sufficiently to accomplish all these objects. In the mean you will please give all the assistance in your power to the Army and Navy commanders in your vicinity, never losing sight of the fact that the great object to be achieved is the capture and firm retention of New Orleans.

I am, very respectfully,


Major-General, Commanding in Chief.


[The above General Orders No.20 and Letter of Clarification from MGen McClellan to MGen Butler, both dated 23 FEB 1862 may be found OR 6 pp.694 - 696.]

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Continuing Discussion of Grant

Was thinking about my post of Friday regarding General Grant's readiness to be called east, and thought the question might be addressed another way...

How about if one compiles two lists: What did Grant bring east in 1864? and “What would Grant have brought east in 1862 ?”


  • Grant arrives in Washington as Lieutenant General-select.

  • Grant has impressive successes at Vicksburg and Chattanooga behind him. Everyone (the public, the politicians, and his military peers) accord him credit.

  • The General has honed his no-nonsense persona: fired his former friend William Rosecrans; removed both the meddling John McClernand and the one-time rising star Lew Wallace. [Chinese saying: "Punish one, teach one hundred."]

  • Grant's Circle of Friends – his Champion Team -- is nearly complete (although this will take a major hit with the death of McPherson in July 1864.)

  • Gravitas. Veiled ruthlessness. Determination. Support base consisting of strong personalities in their own right.


  • Grant is just another Major General, junior to some in the east.

  • Grant's greatest success is Fort Donelson (Unconditional Surrender Grant.) The Victory at Fort Henry is the Navy's victory. Shiloh was a tainted victory: many survivors and their families still desired to see Grant forever removed from command. Corinth did not shine as Grant's victory (only Halleck and Pope truly benefited from Corinth.)

  • Grant seriously considered resigning after Corinth (momentary lack of confidence.)

  • Grant has no real Army support base besides Sherman. Eventually that support base will include an Intelligence Expert (Dodge); Fixer (Ord); Go-to guy (Logan); Grant's eyes (Sheridan); Grant's Left arm (McPherson) and Grant's Right arm (Sherman).

  • In 1862 Grant has demonstrated tactical skill, drive, determination and aggression. But he lacks tact; he lacks political savvy, and he allows impatience and boredom to affect the flow of his work.

Further Reading:

https://msstate.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/USG_volume/id/10388/rec/10  Papers of US Grant vol.10 pages 186 – 190 begin with Grant's Nashville Letter to Sherman of 4 MAR 1864 (and includes Sherman's reply Letter of 10 MAR 1864 pp.187 – 188). Have a read and be the Judge: “Could Grant and Sherman have expressed such confidence in Summer 1862?”


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