"Concentration in time" and the ACW (cont.)

Archer Jones, whom we've been discussing, follows ACW writing conventions in treating Bull Run as a singular major event - in all its splendid isolation - that follows the fall of Sumter. It is but an element of Scott's second coordinated offensive of 1861.

The general plan for ACW authors seems to be cover Sumter's capture, mention some fooling around, and then describe the first really big battle, Bull Run; after Bull Run, place the reader in a quiet antechamber to await the next really big battle while waterboarding him with page after page of McClellan's time-wasting preparations until the reader comes to hate GBM as deeply as the author does.

This convention is terribly unjust to the hitory of the early war.

In Scott's first coordinated offensive, in June of 1861 (before Bull Run), the intention of which was to capture Harper's Ferry, he conceived of a successful plan in which Patterson would advance on the main point after being reinforced, while McDowell threatened Centreville with an advance of 12,000 infantry, while Stone advanced on Edward's Ferry menacing Leesburg. This personally directed triple threat was markedly enhanced by peripatetic, undirected activity on the periphery by McClellan in western Virginia and Butler in easter Virginia around Fort Monroe.

Scott commanded and coordinated Stone, Patterson, and McDowell in the offensive - the OR is rich with this material - but we have no orders or correspondence to show whether he issued offensive-related instructions to Butler and McClellan. On the contrary; nevertheless, as mentioned, they played a lucky supporting role, as will be seen.

Here's the point, though: Scott's management of this first offensive exactly satisfies the underlying Jominian dynamic of Archer Jones' "concentration in time" without lapsing into Lincoln's jejeune simultaneity.

There's no common start time for the three columns. There doesn't need to be. Scott's attacks and demonstrations are specifically designed to offset the reinforcing advantage offered by the defenders' interior lines while their timing is left flexible as long as a distraction effect is achieved. We'll look at some orders to see how Scott did this.

We'll also look at a timeline surrounding the first offensive to see how much noise was generated to overload enemy analysis. Stone, did spectacularly well in the noise department while McDowell's demonstration fizzled completely. In the second coordinated offensive, the situation reversed, with Patterson fizzling, McDowell achieving lift off, and Stone static.

The Scott experience shows us that offsetting the advantage of interior lines is a function of offensive coordination NOT simultaneous movement.

"Concentration in time" as reformulated by Jones is therefore the false solution to a Jominian (not Clausewitzian) problem.

For those unfamiliar with the early war, the intense chronology around these offensives should be an eye opener. I'll run the chronology in the next post.