Question of the Week: 1/9/17-1/15/17


Later this week, we have another great post coming up from guest author Doug Crenshaw. Doug is a volunteer interpreter at Richmond National Battlefield, and he’s been taking a look at some of the communications mishaps among commanders during the various campaigns for Richmond. His post later this week will discuss what he believes to be the best chance the Union Army had for taking Richmond.

Before we give you his answer, though, we want to hear your thoughts: What do you think was the Union Army’s best chance to take Richmond?

5 Responses to Question of the Week: 1/9/17-1/15/17

  1. Incompetent generalship in the hard-luck Army of the Potomac resulted in many missed opportunities.

    But the most egregious was the failure in the spring of 1864 by Gens. Smith and Hanock to capture Petersburg, thus cutting off most of Richmond’s RR ties to the rest of the Confederacy. Following on the heels of Grant’s brilliant outflanking march to the James River, the two generals faced almost no opposition to taking Petersburg.

  2. Old Baldy, Old Superb, and the Goggle-Eyed Snapping Turtle missed the best opportunity.

    By assaulting and seizing Petersburg between 15-17 June 1864 those generals would have enjoyed the best chance of forcing the evacuation of Richmond.

    In 1862, McClellan and chief of artillery Barry overestimated the effectiveness of heavy artillery against earthwork fortifications; I do not agree that their direct advance south of the Chickahominy was a more ‘sure thing.’ At best, a siege or more likely a partial blockade would have resulted, with all rail lines available for Confederate reinforcement and supply.

  3. I think the best chance for the Union Army to take Richmond was during the Peninsula Campaign, when they had driven within sight of the spirals of the churches in Richmond, before General Lee took command of the AoNV,

  4. David:
    Thanks for adding Ben Butler (google-eyed snapping turtle) to my list. Butler’s screw ups outside Petersburg came as no surprise. After all, he was more of a politician than a general. But the misfires by Smith and Hancock were different. Grant thought highly – at least for a time in Smith’s case – of both these professional soldiers.

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