• I’m reading a book on R.E Lee and the Seven Days Battles have played out. This question was raised in the book. What’s your thoughts?

  • Moderator 2022 2021 '20 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 '13 '12

    Hi Worsham. I am glad you are enjoying your book.
    I do not have any books on the battles of The Seven Days, but think,  despite the near parity in numbers, a victory as comprehensive as Cannae was beyond Lee’s fledgling ANV.
    North Virginia itself was perfect defensive territory and very unforgiving to untrained and badly led troops.
    Lee’s plans were sound, but like many commanders plans early on(McDowell’s at Manassas), too complicated for his subordinates and their men to follow.
    As you know, everything went wrong in the Seven Days. Lee would rectify things after it and his army would become his sword and shield, with Jackson and Longstreet. The rest of 1862 would be most uncomfortable for a string of successive Northern commanders.
    As in most Civil War battles it only took one, or part of one, unit to stymy an advance or prevent a proper breakthrough. Wasn’t it McCall at Glendale?
    The flank attacks never materialised as Holmes held one and Jackson(surprisingly for him) the other. 
    I have not voted as yet. Might have to come back to it.
    Thank you for the question.
    I hope to think more on it.

  • Moderator 2022 2021 '20 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 '13 '12

    Even if Mac’s 100000 had been forced against  the James and forced to surrender to Lee’s 65000 survivors of the Seven Days, Lincoln could still count on Pope’s 40000 further North and the Washington garrison and various smaller detachments. The initiative would have been firmly in Lee’s hands, but defence was far easier than attack.
    Possibly a European intervention would have occurred, but I try not to dwell on that possibility much. (I would rather stick to the battles and what happened.)
    Lee’s march North would have required a few weeks to materialise and this time could have been used to transport Western troops East by rail. (They might even have ended up with Grant a little earlier!)
    Lincoln would not have given up. He would have brought every man East if he could save his Capital and the Union.
    I cannot, thetefore, see how a Cannae like battle, much dreamed of by Lee, would have brought about a Federal collapse.

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