CSA vs. USA intelligence - a problem shunned (1/4)

It is a staple of early war history that McClellan thought the Rebels knew his plans or could easily learn them if he shared too much.

This is generally presented as "McClellan thought" never as "McClellan knew." The most-prized historians offer it as yet another tile in their colorful mosaic of paranoid schizophrenia.

The publishing wave of Civil War letters and diaries that began in the 1990s validate McClellan. The oddity of prizewinners not understanding the impact of these letters and diaries upon their own doctrines is a deep subject covered here in postings past. Suffice it to say, the big men at the top are not reading contemporary stuff carefully enough, nor do they seem able to process what they are reading.

The overwhelming pattern in AoV early war memoirs and letters is an awareness of Union plans deep in Rebel ranks - down to company level in places. This is not consistent across all documents but it is persistent even if intermittent.

I read for this - used to actually log examples in a database that is no more. I invite you to do the same. What does the diarist or memoirist know? How does he know it?

The studies of Civil War intel I know of number only two, they are Union-centric, and they are feeble at best, to put it kindly. It may be a measure of Confederate excellence in this field that no studies have been written about their intelligence gathering (I set aside biographies of individual spies here).

It seems to me that historians generally fail to note that Southerners know Northern plans without Northerners knowing Southern plans. (Exception: McClellan's foreknowledge of Jackson's move from the Valley to turn his flank on the Peninsula; but this exception seems also unknown to historians.) Those who note the disparity don't care enough about it to investigate or filter their analysis accordingly.

A new biography of Stephen Dodson Ramseur, CSA, contains comments elaborating in detail on McClellan's Peninsula strategy made while Ramseur was a regimental grade officer. These will bear a closer look in later posts.