Lee vs. McClellan: The First Campaign

Lee vs. McClellan: The First Campaign

Clayton R. Newell

Language: English

Pages: 325

ISBN: 0895264528

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


An examination of an important campaign between these two generals that set the scene for the pending war.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Porterfield sent his first report back to Garnett, Lee’s adjutant in Richmond, he stated that there were not as many forces or officers present as he had been led to believe, and he requested to be “reinforced by a detachment of not less than 250 men and a few pieces of artillery” from Harpers Ferry as soon as possible. Two days later Porterfield reported that he had managed to gather together some forces, but that they were woefully short of arms. He reported companies forming in Pruntytown,

adequate to the task at hand.18 But with a growing Federal army in Washington, just one hundred miles from Richmond, Lee saw a need to concentrate additional troops at Manassas Junction where Letcher had established a small force before Lee assumed command. Manassas Junction was of great strategic importance because it was where the Manassas Gap Railroad branched from the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. The Manassas Gap Railroad ran west from Manassas Junction over the Blue Ridge to Strasburg,

about western Virginia, leaving Porterfield on his own.4 Porterfield, commanding what Confederate forces there were in northwestern Virginia, had been in Grafton since May 14, raising militia and attempting to destroy the railroad and its bridges. Indeed, it was the Confederate bridge-burnings along the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad between Mannington and Farmington that had finally prompted McClellan to order Federal forces into Virginia. Porterfield actually knew of the Federal advance before it

Beverly. Even as he worked out the tactics of advance against the Confederate positions, McClellan did not forget the strategic military objective of the campaign in western Virginia. He was confident, he wrote to Chase, that he would be able to sweep the enemy “into & across the mountains,” after which he would “sweep the Kanawha & overrun the country with small columns & assure the Union men.”10 When McClellan reached Buckhannon on July 2 he decided to take action against Wise’s advance into

a report from a local surveyor that he had located another route that wound through the mountains from Camp Bartow on the Greenbrier River to a point that overlooked the Federal defenses. The surveyor had twice made the trip to the summit undetected. On the second trip Rust, commander of the Third Arkansas, accompanied him and confirmed to Jackson that the route did indeed lead to a position that would turn the Federal position. Rust and the surveyor reported their findings to Lee and Loring in

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