In his new book Commanding the Army of the Potomac, Stephen Taaffe breaks with Centennial doctrine – in three out of four cases - to suggest that there was more than date of rank behind Lincoln’s appointment of McClellan’s corps commanders.
I have abstracted all relevant comments on events leading to McDowell's corps appointment from Taaffe. I compare these to the material in Beatie’s Army of the Potomac and material from my own private research. This is the last in the corps commander series, I think, and I urge you to break out the books and compare what past historians have (so lamely) said about these appointments.
As down as I have been on Taaffe, as miserable as his little concessions may appear in comparison with the fuller historical record, let us rejoice in what these concessions represent for Civil War history - the beginnings of an acknowledgement that the record must be considered and that the storyline may not be allowed to trump the facts.
McDowell "never makes the transition" from peacetime to wartime officer * Both Scott [!?!] and Chase lobby for his appointment to the field force that fights Bull Run * The Committee on the Conduct of the War urges Lincoln to replace McClellan with McDowell in 1/62 * Radicals saw him as an alternative to McClellan
(Army of the Potomac, Vol. 1): Chase arranges McD’s promotion to general over the objections of Scott; Ohio Gov. Dennison also backs him * Chase wants McD to have one of the MG slots in the Regular Army but McD demurs * Scott makes an issue of McD’s promotion demanding the same for Mansfield * McDowell and Franklin help Chase draft General orders 15 and 16 in spring, 1861 * (Army of the Potomac, Vol. 2): McDowell urges McClellan on Dennison for the Ohio Volunteers (4/61)* Asked by Scott for ideas on whom to make general, McD suggests McClellan and Buell * McDowell proposes corps to McClellan in September of 1861 * McDowell and Franklin meet in Chase’s Treasury offices to plan the spring campaign (1/11/82); Franklin wants a campaign up the York, McDowell is against it; Franklin suggests informing McClellan, Chase quashes the idea * Chase begins to consider McDowell as a replacement for McClellan in February of 1861 * Rumors in the army say McDowell will replace McClellan; many officers prefer McDowell’s partner Franklin (Beatie here cites a Kearney letter from 2/62)
The following items follow on after McDowell's appointment and may be of interest:
Mrs. Lincoln receives Mrs. McDowell (3/21/62, Lincoln Day by Day) * Lincoln meets with McDowell during the day and again at night (3/21/62, ibid) * Lincoln brings Chase and Stanton to meet with McDowell on Aquia Creek. McDowell does not show up. (4/19/62, ibid) * Lincoln, Chase, and Stanton meet with McDowell on Aquia Creek, then bring McDowell back to Washington with them. (4/20/62, ibid) * McDowell receives a visit in the field from Lincoln (5/23/62, ibid) * Chase receives military affairs telegram from McDowell in the field. (Inside Lincoln's Cabinet) * Lincoln directs Chase to meet with McDowell in Fredericksburg to expedite McD's movements. (5/23/62, ibid) * Chase tells McD that he asked Lincoln to urge McD forward and failed to get Lincoln to issue an order; he then tells McD to act without waiting for orders from Lincoln (6/6/62, Lincoln the President, Vol. 1, J.G. Randall) * McDowell meets with Chase in his office "attributing our ill success to the conduct of McClellan." (9/4/62, ibid) * McDowell visits Chase at home in the evening to plan his military future. (9/5/62, ibid) * McDowell breakfasts with Chase and Lincoln. Lincoln asks McDowell what he will do. Later the same day sees Chase in his office. (9/6/62, ibid) * Meets Chase (Sunday) on the street. Calls on Chase that afternoon at home. (9/7/62, ibid)
Dennison seeks his cousin Irvin McDowell to head the Ohio USV but has to settle for McClellan instead (McClellan’s War by Ethan Rafuse, Donnybrook by Daid Detzer) * Chase relies on advice from McDowell, who proposes more aggressive schemes than his boss Winfield Scott (Donnybrook) * Lincoln invites McDowell and Scott to a Cabinet meeting. (6/29/61, Lincoln Day by Day, Morningside Press) * The Boston newspapers publish reports that McClellan is considering corps (11/61) * Sen. Zach Chandler and the CCW meet with Lincoln and the Cabinet to discuss replacing McClellan with McDowell (1/6/62, Inside Lincoln's Cabinet: The Civil War Diaries of Salmon P. Chase by David Donald) * Lincoln invites McDowell and Franklin to Cabinet meetings (1/10/62, 1/12/62, 1/13/62, Lincoln Day by Day). * McDowell and Keyes see Chase in his office. (1/11/62, Inside Lincoln's Cabinet) * Halleck writes McClellan to warn him of intrigues in Congress and in "the abolition press" to promote their favorites (2/24/62, Lincoln the President, Vol. 1, J.G. Randall)
How to become a corps commander: Taaffe
How to become a corps commander: Heintzelman
How to become a corps commander: Keyes
How to become a corps commander: Sumner
How to become a corps commander: McDowell (this post)
Understanding Keyes and Company
Pinkerton on the corps commanders
Doubleday (on the corps commanders?)
Sprague in a nutshell (tangent: McDowell providing cover for Sprague and Chase)
Spinoffs from this thread:
McClellan and U.S. Cavalry doctrine (tangent = Sumner)
Sumner, McClellan, Johnston, and Davis
Sumner, McClellan, Johnston, Davis, and Hardee
McDowell's brother and hat (tangent = McDowell)
McDowell's hat, revisited
Col. John A. McDowell - brother to Irvin?
Case closed on hat and brother
Tidball remembers McDowell
Topping off "McDowell's obnoxious hat"