Describe the different approaches to waging war of Grant and McClellan, utilizing Grant’s campaign in the West and McClellan’s maneuvers in Virginia.
George B. McClellan was regarded as ‘young napoleon’ after bringing rare success for the Union. The Union believed he would bring a solution to the North. His campaigns on Virginia’s peninsula and Antietam failed miserably after failing to take up Richmond as he advanced up the Virginia Peninsula and failed to destroy the Confederate army at Antietam.
McClellan had not joined the Union army yet though he was given chance to be a strategist for fighting the war, he, therefore, was expected to go beyond tactics and operations that would lead to success. His strategy was to wipe out or subdue the Confederate in one campaign. The approach looked promising; however, his shortcomings sabotaged him. He came up with a grand plan; the first of its kind in American history which entailed diplomatic, military, political strategies. It called for continuous and simultaneous action against the Confederates. Furthermore, he suggested asking the Mexicans for their assistance. He planned on submission of the Confederates in one prolonged war with careful preparation. McClellan intended to raise an army under his direct command to deliver the biggest blow to Virginia. Other retaliating actions would be taken after Virginia had been subdued; this entailed driving up farther into the Deep South in union with the western forces. The plan was to capture major Confederate ports with the support of the navy. This was used as a blueprint for the war. The peninsula campaign was put into action with its men landing on the Confederate’s capital. His force again failed to capitalize on its strength believing they were outnumbered. General Lee took control over the confederate forces which resulted in a seven day battle. Lincoln refused to send reinforcement to McClellan hence his army returned to Washington.
He succeeded W. Scott as general in chief of the union army. McClelland was worried about the Confederate army despite having a large fighting force, he believed the confederate army to be stronger, therefore, he was reluctant to send out his force against them. This reluctance annoyed Lincoln and removed McClellan as general in chief and instructed the army of Potomac to move into Confederate territory, saying McClelland needed to focus on attacking the South. He, however, was recalled into action in defense when Lee invaded the north during Maryland campaign and McClelland forces were in battle with confederates at Antietam. McClellan succeeded in controlling the confederate lines he stalled keeping part of his army in reserve giving Lee time to consolidate his army and retreated to Virginia. Battle of Antietam was presented as a union victory in the north while, in fact, it was a draw. McClellan once again failed to destroy Lee and his army, Lincoln officially removed from command.
Grant took control of the western armies where he took personal charge despite suffering effects of a bad fall from his horse. He laid his plans for the armies in simple terms to President Lincoln. He wanted to engage all forces of all the armies continuously and concurrently such that the rebels would have no time to recuperate or reorganize. Grant had grasped one fact that eluded former Union generals: it was not necessary to win the battles, but they would win the war by continually advancing and wearing down their enemies. His goal was to destroy the rebel armies and not necessarily capturing the Confederate capital at Richmond.
Grant’s overland Campaign is when the Army of Potomac was engaged in a murderous fest that took federals from North Virginia to Richmond. Three days of fighting without them gaining ground, Grant put the army in motion. The soldiers had started to lose faith wondering if he was yet another general spilling blood, however, they realized that Grant did not retreat them to the north but retreated to south. The armies fought relentlessly and many soldiers had fallen but still Grant never retreated. Grant’s objective to destroy Lee’s army was fulfilled. Grant used numerical superiority to wear down his opponent. He moved around lee’s right and got south of Richmond where another Union force was already operating. They began a 10 month siege of the Confederate capital and city of Petersburg their main supply base for the region. This hindered the mobility of Lee. The campaign became one of trench warfare presaging that of World War I, fought in a series of costly battles. They finally broke the confederate lines at Petersburg and the city were under the Union’s hands. Lee managed to escape with his beaten force; he surrendered his army to Grant who was unrelenting and uncompromising in pursuit. He extended generous terms to the confederates who had lost.
Ceasar, Julius. Civil War. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1976.
Stanchak, John E. Civil War. New York: Dorling Kindersley Pub., 2000.