Tag Archives: Army of the Potomac

April 1, 1865: “This has been the most momentous day of the war so far”: Five Forks, Sheridan, Warren, and what Wainwright saw

Colonel Charles S. Wainwright was right place to witness many things on April 1, 1865.  And he minced no words as to his emotions that Saturday on which a campaign turned:

White Oak Road, April 1, 1865, Saturday: This has been the most momentous day of the war so far, I think; a glorious day; a day of real victory. But to begin at the beginning and tell what I saw myself. During the night, that is, soon after five o’clock and before daylight, I was awakened, and on joining [Major-General Gouverneur] Warren, he informed me that he was going to move to [Major-General Phil] Sheridan’s support with all his infantry; that [Major-General Romeyn] Ayres’s division had already gone down the plank, and he was just starting across country with the other two to try for the flank of the force opposed to Sheridan….

Thus Wainwright, and the Federal Fifth Corps, moved towards Five Forks on the morning of April 1, 1865.  Around 1 p.m. that afternoon, Warren called on Wainwright to support the flanking attack with two batteries.  The infantry was not, at that moment, joined with the Confederate line, but closing upon it.  Wainwright moved with two of his New York batteries.

When I got up to Warren the whole of the Fifth Corps was just about to attack at this angle, and along the east flank, swinging around to the west with its pivot of the White Oak road, Ayres’s division held the left, [Brigadier-General Frederick] Winthrop’s brigade crossing the road diagonally.  [Major-General Samuel] Crawford was on Ayres’s right, and [Major-General Charles] Griffin in rear of Crawford. Much of this I have, of course, learned since, mostly from Ayres, who gave me a clear account of the dispositions.

When I reached Warren, he was in conversation with General Sheridan, close behind Ayres’s second line. Our skirmishers were just engaging, the men beginning to advance, and rebel bullets coming over our way somewhat thick.  I waited several minutes for Sheridan to get through what he was saying before I spoke to Warren.  As there was nothing for me to do, I rode back out of the way of stray bullets, to an open ridge south of the road and not far from a small church, called Gravel Run Church, where our hospital was being established.

As our men passed through a narrow belt of woods, I could not see the actual charge on the works, only the smoke of the battle. The cheers of our men, however, told me that all was going well, and long files of prisoners coming in soon shewed that the works were carried….

Wainwright estimated, from the time he left Warren until the first prisoners came down the road, only twenty minutes had elapsed.  As for those prisoners:

These men all moved along cheerfully, without one particle of sullenness which formerly characterized them under similar circumstances. They joked with our men along the line and I repeatedly head them say, “We are coming back into the Union, boys, we are coming back into the Union.” It was a joyful and an exciting sight, seeming to say that the war was about over, the great rebellion nearly quelled.

Wainwright proceeded to Five Forks itself where an administrative duty became his task of the day.

At the Forks, I found two guns, three-inch, just in their works, and [Colonel Alexander] Pennington sitting on one of them.  I stopped here and had a talk with him and several other cavalry officers, formerly light battery commanders.  They told me that they had charged the works at this point and carried them with any number of prisoners. While there Crawford came down the Ford road, from the north, looking for Warren, and told me that there were more guns up the road which his men had taken.

Wainwright went up the road to find three more 3-inch rifles. Always concerned about propriety and not wishing to slight anyone’s honor, Wainwright didn’t want to take possession of any guns until everyone got their due credit.

I turned back and pushed along the White Oak road to find Warren. I must have gone at least two miles, and about one mile west of the end of the rebel works before I found him.  It was growing dark, the sun having already set; the bugles were sounding the recall; the pursuit was over, and the divisions getting together for the night. I told the General about the guns, and asked if I was to look after their removal.  For this he referred me to Sheridan, as he said there might be some jealousy on the part of the cavalry.

We rode back together looking for Sheridan, and found him with his staff about a fire near the west end of the rebel works. Here I waited while General Warren had a short conversation with Sheridan. Then I dismounted, reported to Sheridan the number of guns I had found, and asked if he wished me to remove them; at the same time stating that Pennington claimed to have captured at least two of them.  Sheridan was very pleasant, said that there was glory enough for all, and wished me to look after the guns.

With that, Wainwright rode off to tend to those trophies.  And note that Wainwright places Warren and Sheridan at the the latter’s headquarters apparently having a even tempered conversation.  Leaving Sheridan, Wainwright proceeded to catch up with Warren:

… Warren had ridden on with Bankhead. When I overtook them, they were both dismounted, and Warren talking earnestly. I also got off my horse, told Warren what directions Sheridan had given me, and inquired where the corps headquarters would be for the night. Warren replied that General Sheridan had just informed him that he had relieved him from the command of the corps, and turned it over to Griffin; that he had given no reason for doing, but referred him to General Grant, to whom he was to report for orders.

Wainwright was puzzled by the turn of events.  But his reaction goes to demonstrate some of the personality of Warren:

I was astonished at this news and could not imagine what the trouble was. The only thing that occurred to me was that Warren might have got into one of his ugly fits and said what he ought not to. But in that case he would have been relieved at once instead of it being put off until the fight was all over.  Besides which I had left them just at the commencement of the battle in apparently amicable talk.

Not until the next day did Wainwright learn the justification for Warren’s removal.  Crawford’s division had ventured too far to the right.  After sending staff officers to reign in Crawford, Warren went to the flank himself.  While tending to that task personally, Warren was conspicuously absent from the corps headquarters when Sheridan inquired “Where is Warren?”  Wainwright repeated the opinion of Brigadier-General Joseph Bartlett in that Crawford was to blame for the mix-up.  “[Bartlett] referred to Spotsylvania and one or two other cases where, by his bungling or what not, Crawford had brought him great trouble.”

But what was done was done.  Wainwright expressed his opinion of the new corps commander:

I do not exactly like the idea of serving under Griffin; we have never got along well together, and I do not like him.  It was one o’clock when I got to bed; up at that time and later there was a steady and very heavy cannonade kept up from dark along the old lines in front of Petersburg. We can see the shells burst at times and watch the flight of some of the big bombs.  We start again at daylight.

And they did start again that next day.

(Citations from Charles S. Wainwright, A Diary of Battle: The Personal Journals of Colonel Charles S. Wainwright, 1861-1865, edited by Allan Nevins, New York: Da Capo Press, 1998, pages 510-5.)

Wainwright’s Diary, April 7, 1864: “… we at last have [a day] of warm sunshine…”

Colonel Charles S. Wainwright opened his diary entry of April 7, 1864 providing, with no surprise, a weather report:

April 7, Thursday. After ten days of most disagreeable, wet, snowy, cold weather, we at last have one of warm sunshine; more like what one expects in this latitude for the month of April. But I have not found, and I have been here now at the opening of three springs in succession, that there is so vast a difference between Virginia and New York during the first half of April. On Monday I went up to Bealton Station to look at the batteries there; it was so very muddy, however, that I did not go about much….

Reenlistment entered Wainwright’s thoughts again.  But this time the issue was an option granted to the Army troops to join the Navy:

There are now quite a large number of men in this army applying for transfer to the navy under orders allowing all such to do so whose former calling in life fits them for that service; seven men in Phillips’s battery “E,” Massachusetts, have applied for such transfer….

In the spring of 1864, the US Navy was the largest it would be, in measure of ships and men, than anytime before World War II.  Maintaining the blockade meant putting a large number of hulls in southern waters.  And those ships didn’t sail themselves.  The Navy faced a manpower shortage, and one resolution was to recruit from the Army’s ranks.  Around this same time, the Department of the South received a suggestion to simply transfer those willing to reenlist to the Navy directly to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.  Perhaps a good study waiting to be written is a comparison of Civil War and World War II personnel management in this respect.  And along those lines, we should also debunk the Lost Cause notion that “the Yankees just showed up with a bunch of men…” explanation for 1864-5.

Judging from the newspapers, New York must have run wild on Monday at the opening of their great Sanitary Fair.  It was made a general holiday; all the troops and what-not turned out, and the flags flaunted in every direction. Mary displayed all my regimental colours in the window in Fourteenth Street.

Harper’s Weekly ran an illustration of Fourteenth Street on its front page for April 9, but didn’t show Wainwright’s colors… excuse me… colours:


The paper called the event “The Metropolitan Fair.”  These “fairs” were, in my opinion, the logical predecessors of the War Bond Rallies seen in later wars.

(Citations from Charles S. Wainwright, A Diary of Battle: The Personal Journals of Colonel Charles S. Wainwright, 1861-1865, edited by Allan Nevins, New York: Da Capo Press, 1998, page 340.)

Wainwright’s Diary, April 3, 1864: “I should fear that they would ruin him as they did McClellan”

Colonel Charles S. Wainwright reported April showers to lead his diary entry on this day 150 years ago:

Culpeper Court House, April 3, Sunday.  The rain which commenced during our review on Thursday continued until Friday night; so that we are now in the full enjoyment of all mud which properly belongs to this season of the year here in Virginia as well as on the Hudson. Today we have a high wind and some little sunshine, for which I am particularly thankful as I want to go up the railroad tomorrow to look a little after my batteries there….

Recall under Hunt’s plan to consolidate the artillery, in conjunction with the Army of the Potomac’s consolidation, Wainwright commanded eight batteries.  Of those, four were part of his old First Corps brigade – Lieutenant James Stewart’s Battery B, Fourth U.S. Artillery; Captain Charles Mink’s Battery H, First New York Artillery; Captain Gilbert Reynolds’ Batteries E and L, First New York Artillery; and Captain James Cooper’s Battery B, First Pennsylvania Artillery.  Three of the batteries came from the Fifth Corps – Lieutenant Aaron Walcott’s Battery C, Massachusetts Artillery; Lieutenant Benjamin Rittenhouse’s Battery D, Fifth U.S. Artillery; and Captain Charles Phillips’ Battery E, Massachusetts Artillery.  Captain George Winsolw’s Battery D, 1st New York Light Artillery came over from the Third Corps as part of the reorganization.  In addition, 2nd Battalion, 4th New York Heavy Artillery, under Major William Arthur, serving as support to the field batteries sans any artillery of their own, rounded out Wainwright’s brigade.

Wainwright added more observations about General U.S. Grant:

General Grant, I believe, has gone off for a time. He kept himself quiet while here; was very little seen or even talked of so far as I can learn. All the newspaper reports about the immense enthusiasm for him are bosh; as well as the stories of his having forbidden sutlers in the army, his living himself on pork and beans, and such stuff. I should fear that they would ruin him as they did McClellan, by leading the people to expect too much of him, were it not that their ideas at home have come down very much within two years as to what a general can do; and there seems to be a determination now to find no fault with Grant whether or no….

Grant was off to Fort Monroe for a meeting with General Benjamin Butler.  While Wainwright made no effort to conceal his fondness for McClellan, at least in his diary, it seemed any affinity felt towards Grant was closely linked to the prospects for success of the cause.  I submit it was possible to be a “McClellan-man” while being a “Grant-man” and even a “Meade-man.”  Read into it what you will.

(Citations from Charles S. Wainwright, A Diary of Battle: The Personal Journals of Colonel Charles S. Wainwright, 1861-1865, edited by Allan Nevins, New York: Da Capo Press, 1998, page 339-40.)

Wainwright’s Diary, March 27, 1864: “… commanding the Artillery Brigade, Fifth Corps”

In his earlier diary entry, a question lingered over Colonel Charles S. Wainwright’s future.  With the Army of the Potomac’s consolidation, where would he go?  That answer came the next day, as he related in his next entry:

March 27, Sunday. My position is now pretty well settled, and I shall hereafter sign myself as commanding the Artillery Brigade, Fifth Corps, though I have yet received no order assigning me there. General [Henry] Hunt told me on Friday that [Major-General Winfield Scott] Hancock had asked for [Colonel John C.] Tidball as his chief of artillery, and that he was coming down with his regiment: this left me no choice….

No offense to Wainwright, but I would have asked for Tidball were I in Hancock’s position.


General Newton issued his farewell order on Friday, and Warren assumed command the same day; he has moved his headquarters to Culpeper, but I have not yet reported to him, being at present in a sort of independent state; my order I am expecting every hour.  Warren has issued his order consolidating the old divisions…. Warren has commenced by ordering all the stray officers out of the village: quite a number had quartered themselves in houses there even among those whose commands lay at a distance. Dr. [E.E.] Heard goes to the Artillery Reserve.

Mentioned, but not transcribed in Wainwright’s entry, was Major-General John Newton’s farewell notice:

General Orders No. 9.
Headquarters First Army Corps,
March 25, 1864.
Upon relinquishing command I take occasion to express the pride and pleasure I have experienced in my connection with you and my profound regret at our separation. Identified by its services with the history of the war the First Corps gave at Gettysburg a crowning proof of valor and endurance, in saving from the grasp of the enemy the strong position upon which the battle was fought. The terrible losses suffered by the corps in that conflict attest its supreme devotion to the country. Though the corps has lost its distinctive name by the present changes, history will not be silent upon the magnitude of its services.
John Newton,
Major-General of Volunteers.

In other news, at last Wainwright saw Lieutenant-General U.S. Grant, though not formally.

When in Culpeper yesterday I got a sight of the new Lieutenant-General as he was poking around the house he has since moved into. He is not so hard-looking a man as his photographs make him out to be, but stumpy, unmilitary, slouchy, and Western-looking; very ordinary in fact.

As for the weather:

It rained on Friday heavily a good part of the day; since then it has been clear and drying. A new order as to inspecting gains us a small step in artillery: hereafter we are to get our horses through General Hunt, and not through the corps quartermaster….

The closing matter, allowing the artillery batteries access to fresh horses in a uniform manner, matched the more evolved system for the cavalry to a degree.

(Citations from Charles S. Wainwright, A Diary of Battle: The Personal Journals of Colonel Charles S. Wainwright, 1861-1865, edited by Allan Nevins, New York: Da Capo Press, 1998, page 338; Newton’s farewell appears in OR, Series I, Volume 33, Serial 60, page 735.)

Wainwright’s Diary, March 24, 1864, Part II: Proposed reorganization of the Volunteer Artillery

In the post earlier today, I looked at the first half of Colonel Charles S. Wainwright’s diary entry for March 24, 1864.  The second half focused on a specific topic – the organization of the artillery in the broad sense.  Wainwright’s concern was the somewhat cumbersome arrangement of  volunteer batteries brought into service:

Many officers of the regular artillery have long been trying to get a reorganization of their arm of the service, doing away with the regiments and making a corps of it, the same as the engineers and ordnance. McClellan and Hunt drew up a plan soon after Antietam, which was then approved by Stanton and Halleck, but nothing more has been heard of it since. Their plan contemplated uniting the artillery and ordnance in one corps, also the pontoniers. I believe I gave an idea of it some time ago. This last winter Barry, Tidball, and others in Washington drew up a proposition, which has now been reported in the Senate by Wilson. It merely does away with the regiments; but does not increase the number of batteries or of field officers; still it is a step in the right direction. Anxious to help on so good a cause, as also to secure more field officers of artillery for this army, I have written a letter to Senator Morgan asking a like organization for the Volunteer Artillery. This I mean to take up with Hunt tomorrow and get him to give me a good letter backing my application. As it was neither brigade nor regimental business I have not entered a copy of my letter anywhere; and as the rough draft in pencil will not keep, shall transcribe it here.

Keep in mind the Civil War was at that time the largest mobilization of manpower in American history.  A lot of assumptions about how the nation should mobilize for war were set upon experience during smaller wars.  Writing in 1864, Wainwright and others spoke from experience not evident a generation before.

I would point out the Army had already tried consolidating the artillery and ordnance corps in the period between 1821 and 1832 – with mixed results at best. There’s a lot I could say about that period, but will properly relegate it to another day.

Wainwright letter read:

Hon. E.D. Morgan, U.S. Senate. Sir: Seeing by the newspapers that a bill has been introduced in the Senate reorganizing the artillery of the regular army, I take liberty of addressing you on the subject of the organization of the same arm in the volunteer service. I am induced to take this liberty from the fact that our State has furnished a very much larger number of light batteries to the army than any other; and from the great interest you always professed while Governor of New York, in the welfare of the regiment which I now have the honour to command, that raised by the lamented Colonel G.D. Bailey.

The bill I refer to provides for the abolishing of the regimental organization of the artillery, and forming it into one corps, with a certain number of field officers, the battery being taken as the unit of organization. I believe that all our best light artillery officers agree that such a change is expedient. My own experience constantly reminds me of the absurdity of a regimental organization of light batteries, which must necessarily be so widely scattered that the commanding officer of the regiment can have no control over them whatever; while the very fact of their belonging to his regiment makes him to a certain extent responsible for their condition…. My object is to recommend that the proposed organization be adopted for the volunteer light batteries as well as for the regular artillery.

The act of Congress prescribing the organization of volunteer light artillery simply states that it shall in all respects agree with the organization of the Fifth United States Artillery, the only regiment of light artillery, organized as such in the regular army. At this time there are from the states east of Ohio three regimental organizations of light artillery; one from Rhode Island of eight batteries; one from New York of twelve batteries, and one from Pennsylvania of eight batteries; while from the same states there must be in all about a hundred light batteries in service; thus, only providing thirteen field officers for this large command.

Both General Barry and General Hunt while commanding the artillery of this army have frequently complained in their reports of the great want of field officers. Were the light batteries of each state organized into a corps, and provided with field officers in the proportion proposed in the bill referred to above, this want would be provided for. The officers of light batteries also have a claim demanding some such change. No class of officers in our volunteer service stand as high as those of our light batteries. I say without hesitation that they are very far superior as a class in all respects to the officers of the same rank in either the infantry or cavalry. Yet for them there is not at this time any chance for promotion above a simple captaincy, except in the few regiments spoken of. I can point to several cases of captains of light batteries who, from this want of field officers, have for a year past exercised all the authority and borne all the responsibilities of a brigadier-general.

Individually I have nothing to gain by the proposed change, for I already hold the highest rank known in our artillery organization….

I have taken the liberty of submitting the above to Brigadier-General Hunt, Chief of Artillery of this Army; whose opinion on the subject is of more practical value probably than that of any other officer in the service. I beg to submit herewith a copy of his reply fully endorsing the proposed change.

Please understand the nuances here.  Wainwright, and for good measure the regular officers too, proposed a cadre of artillery field-grade officers assigned to an “artillery corps.”  Those officers would be assigned to positions as needed in the field armies.  Batteries would then be assigned as needed to the field armies, without the constraints of a regimental system.  Further note Wainwright was addressing directly the system for field batteries.  He does not mention heavy or garrison artillery.

Morgan ought to take hold of this matter, but I do not know that he will, for he may not see anything to be made out of it. Hunt’s letter, when I get it, I mean to keep; I am sure of his approval, for we have talked the matter over thoroughly.

Hunt provided his endorsement to Wainwright’s letter a couple days later.  I’ll turn to his arguments in favor of this system in the next post on this thread.

(Citations from Charles S. Wainwright, A Diary of Battle: The Personal Journals of Colonel Charles S. Wainwright, 1861-1865, edited by Allan Nevins, New York: Da Capo Press, 1998, pages 336-8.)

Wainwright’s Diary, March 24, 1864, Part I: “The long agony is over” Army consolidation a “fixed fact”

Through the winter months of 1864, Colonel Charles C. Wainwright turned to the topic consolidation and reorganization with the same frequency as recruiting.  And in the last week of that March, all rumors about the Army of the Potomac’s organization ended when orders for the consolidation were posted.  So instead of the weather, on March 24 Wainwright began his diary entry discussing the news of the day:

March 24, Thursday. The long agony is over: consolidation is – not accomplished, but a fixed fact.  The order was issued from Washington yesterday, and from Army Headquarters today.  Bye the by I see that it is “by order of the Secretary of War,” not of General Grant, so he does not mean to fight on that ground, and quarrel with Mr. Stanton at the start.  The order consolidates the First, Second, Fifth, and Sixth Corps into two divisions each; it then transfers the First Corps to the Fifth, the First and Second Divisions of the Third Corps to the Second, and the Third Division of the Third to the Sixth.  This will give four divisions to the Second and Fifth Corps, and only three to the Sixth, but I presume will make them about equal in numbers; which does not look as if there was much truth in the reports of Hancock getting so many recruits. Hancock retains command of the Second Corps, and Sedgwick of the Sixth.  The Fifth is to be under Major-General G.K. Warren. The orders call it a temporary consolidation, and allow the divisions formed of the old First and Second Corps to retain the badges. But temporary will no doubt be be permanent; the consolidating into divisions and retaining old badges is merely a way to let them down easy, for the ting will no doubt cause a great deal of ill feeling in the First and Third Corps.

I am looked on as a sort of traitor here, for having always favoured consolidation, but I tell them that I belong to the Artillery Corps, and not to the First.  A number of general officers are relieved from duty with this army; Corps Commanders Sykes, French, and Newton, and Brigade Commanders Kenly, Spinola, and Meredith. The first is the only one I should think any loss.  The order says nothing about artillery save that [Brigadier-General Henry] Hunt will assign eight batteries to each of the three new corps; tomorrow I shall go up to see the General, get my own position fixed, and see what I can do as to securing the batteries that I want.  I still lean towards Hancock, knowing little of Warren; perhaps, too, I have a penchant for the Second Corps.  But I may not have a choice, and under any circumstances shell be most influenced by what batteries I can get….

A spoiler alert – Wainwright would go to Fifth Corps.  We see again, Wainwright offered the common sense argument in favor of consolidation.  While this amalgamation did not set well with some at the time (and even some today!), the change was necessary for the efficiency of the army’s command structure.  And the reorganization shed some of the less “needed” officers.

Wainwright also posted more observations about the new Lieutenant-General:

General Grant arrived at Culpeper today, and Halleck is with him.  We were ordered to be in readiness to turn out in rear of our camps for inspection by him, if so ordered; but no order came. From what I heard at corps headquarters this evening, there was no enthusiasm shown by the men on the arrival of their new commander. I have not seen the Lieutenant-General yet, but probably shall in the course of a few days.  I expected and rather hoped that we should have a good specimen of Virginia mud to show him when he arrived, for there was four inches of snow fell on Tuesday, more than in all the rest of the winter put together; but it is going off rapidly without rain, and as there is no frost on the ground, the water will soon sink off…

Yes, back to the weather again!

Wainwright’s diary entry for the day continued on with discussion of a proposal sent to Hunt.  As that portion of the entry relates directly to the organization and handling of artillery, and is rather lengthy, I will break at this point and save that section for a “Part II” posting.

(Citations from Charles S. Wainwright, A Diary of Battle: The Personal Journals of Colonel Charles S. Wainwright, 1861-1865, edited by Allan Nevins, New York: Da Capo Press, 1998, pages 335-6.)

Meade submits the reorganization plan: Army of the Potomac down to three corps

On this day (March 4) in 1864, Major-General George Meade submitted this request to Army Headquarters in Washington:

Washington, D.C., March 4, 1864.
Maj. Gen. H. W. Halleck,
General-in- Chief:

Sir: I beg leave to submit for your consideration and that of the honorable Secretary of War the following plan for the reorganization of the Army of the Potomac:

I propose to reduce the number of corps, now five, to three. In doing this I propose to retain the Second, Fifth, and Sixth Corps, educing the three divisions now in each to two divisions. I then propose to consolidate the two divisions of the Third Corps (constituting the old corps) into one division and transfer it temporarily to the Fifth Corps; this division to retain its corps badges and other distinctive marks, and having understood that when the accession of recruits shall justify the organization of another corps, this division shall resume its position as the Third Corps with such additions as can be made.

In the same manner I propose to consolidate the First Corps into a division, and, with its distinctive marks, &c., assign it to the Second Corps. This would leave the Third Division of the Third Corps, which did not belong to the original corps, but joined after Gettysburg, under Major-General French, which I propose to transfer to the Sixth Corps.

The Second and Sixth Corps, being now commanded by officers assigned by the President of the United States, will continue to be so commanded. The Fifth Corps I propose to have commanded by Major-General Warren, by the assignment of the President.

Of the two corps temporarily broken up, I propose to assign the officers of the general staff to vacancies that may exist in the other corps.

After the above general organization is decided on, general officers will be assigned to divisions and brigades on consultation with corps commanders. The present temporary commanders of the First, Third, and Fifth Corps, it is understood, the Department has decided to relieve. A list of general officers whom in my judgment it is expedient to relieve is herewith furnished, viz: Brig. Gen. J. R. Kenly, Brig. Gen. F. B. Spinola, Brig. Gen. Sol. Meredith.

I should be glad, if this organization is decided upon, that those general officers belonging to the Army of the Potomac and now absent on detached duty be ordered to rejoin, as well as such forces as may have been detached for special purposes.

Respectfully, yours,
Geo. G. Meade, Major-General, Commanding, Army of the Potomac.

From the pure military perspective, the consolidations made sense.  On the battlefield (or even in garrison), the smaller number of subordinate headquarters allowed for simplified control and communication.  Instead of dispatching five sets of orders, Meade could get away with only three.  And much easier to track the progress of three corps when the shooting started.

We also see Meade’s deft handling of personnel matters here (or maybe “command arrangements” would be a better way to put it).  He easily rid himself of some troublesome senior leaders, just by re-arranging the chairs.  Major-Generals John Newton and George Sykes?  Gone, along with three brigadiers.  And so long as the President assigned Major-General Gouverneur Warren to the Fifth Corps post, Dan Sickles … a.k.a. Historicus… was left to pen letters to the newspaper.

Though unlikely, the wording of Meade’s submission allowed for reconstitution of the First and Third Corps.  The men even kept their original badges for symbolic purposes.  Again, shrewd positioning by Meade.  With the leadership at the head of the U.S. Army changing, such allowed the facility to expand the Army of the Potomac.  At the same time, leaders in Washington would find it difficult to pull troops from the Army of the Potomac short of removing an entire Corps.

On the same day, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton inquired if Major-General Winfield Scott Hancock was ready to resume his duties leading the Second Corps.  Hancock responded, “I consider myself able to take the field when ordered,” though he related that his wound had not completely healed.  With Hancock returning, Warren to be assigned permanently to  Fifth Corps, and steady Major-General John Sedgwick leading the Sixth Corps, Meade had three solid corps commanders and a favorable command climate.

One other change was taking place that day.  Major-General Ulysses S. Grant sent a telegraph from Nashville, Tennessee indicating, “I will leave Louisville on Monday for Washington.”  Congress had already approved Grant’s promotion to Lieutenant-General and overall command of the Federal armies.  The pieces for the 1864 campaign season were falling into place.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 33, Serial 60, pages 638-40.)