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The Peninsula Campaign of 1862

A Military Analysis

Kevin Dougherty

Publication Year: 2005

The largest offensive of the Civil War, involving army, navy, and marine forces, the Peninsula Campaign has inspired many history books. No previous work, however, analyzes Union general George B. McClellan's massive assault toward Richmond in the context of current and enduring military doctrine. The Peninsula Campaign of 1862: A Military Analysis fills this void. Background history is provided for continuity, but the heart of this book is military analysis and the astonishing extent to which the personality traits of generals often overwhelm even the best efforts of their armies.

The Peninsula Campaign lends itself to such a study. Lessons for those studying the art of war are many. On water, the first ironclads forever changed naval warfare. At the strategic level, McClellan's inability to grasp Lincoln's grand objective becomes evident. At the operational level, Robert E. Lee's difficulty in synchronizing his attacks deepens the mystique of how he achieved so much with so little. At the tactical level, the Confederate use of terrain to trade space for time allows for a classic study in tactics.

Moreover, the campaign is full of lessons about the personal dimension of war. McClellan's overcaution, Lee's audacity, and Jackson's personal exhaustion all provide valuable insights for today's commanders and for Civil War enthusiasts still debating this tremendous struggle. Historic photos and detailed battle maps make this study an invaluable resource for those touring the many battlegrounds from Young's Mill and Yorktown through Fair Oaks to the final throes of the Seven Days' Battles.

Kevin Dougherty, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, is professor of military science at the University of Southern Mississippi. He is the author of The Coastal War in North and South Carolina. J. Michael Moore, Yorktown, Virginia, is the registrar of Lee Hall Mansion.

Published by: University Press of Mississippi

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii

On March 17, 1862, Major General George McClellan launched an amphibious movement from Alexandria to Fort Monroe, Virginia. His intention was to turn the Confederate defenses and to advance on Richmond. Upon landing, the Federals enjoyed a four-toone numerical superiority...

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pp. 3-35

Among the many factors that shape a battle's outcome are the individual personalities of the commanders involved and the doctrine they use to prosecute the war. One cannot appreciate the German blitzkrieg of World War II without also...

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pp. 36-63

Shortly after replacing Winfield Scott as general in chief of the Federal army on October 31, 1861, McClellan met Colonel Rush Hawkins of the Ninth New York, who was making a report to the cabinet. Hawkins had just returned from a successful amphibious operation against Hatteras Inlet, North Carolina...

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pp. 64-97

On April 1, the day after McCleUan left Alexandria, Brigadier General James Wadsworth, commander of Washington's defenses, reported to Secretary Stanton that the force to defend the city was inadequate in size and quality. He specifically complained about having to send four thousand...

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pp. 98-139

McClellan epitomized caution, Robert E. Lee epitomized audacity. Audacity is one of the army's four characteristics of offensive operations. It is "a simple plan of action, boldly executed [to] produce decisive results" (FM 3-0 7-...

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pp. 140-162

The great nineteenth-century military theorist Antoine- Henri de Jomini felt that there were three kinds of military history: a pure version that recounts in minute and pedantic terms all aspects of a given battle, an analytical version that uses the battle to examine general principles, and a political...

Chronology of Events

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pp. 163-164

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Touring the Battlefields Today

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pp. 165-170

The Peninsula Campaign sites encompass three geographical areas: Hampton Roads, Yorktown, and Richmond. The Hampton Roads area sites include Fort Monroe, the Monitor-Merrimack Overlook, and the Mariners' Museum. The Yorktown area sites include Lee Hall Mansion, Lee's Mill, Skiffes Creek, Dam no. 1, Endview...

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Tips for Conducting a Staff Ride

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pp. 171-172

The Staff Ride by William Robertson is perhaps the most comprehensive guide to the conduct of staff rides available. In it, Robertson writes, "A staff ride consists of systematic preliminary study of a selected campaign, an extensive visit to the actual sites...


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pp. 173-176


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pp. 177-183

E-ISBN-13: 9781604730616
E-ISBN-10: 1578067529
Print-ISBN-13: 9781578067527

Publication Year: 2005