COMMUNICATION TO THE EDITORS

Created: 9/1/1958

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STUDIES IN

INTELLIGENCE

A collodion ol articles on the historical, operational, doctrinal, and theoretical aspects ol intelligence.

All statements of fact, opinion or analysis expressed in Studies tn Intelligence are those of

the authors They do nol neccssari ly reflect official positions or views of the Central Intelligence Agency or any other US Government entity, past or present. Nothing in the contents should be construed as asserting or implying US Government endorsement of an article's factual statements and interpretations.

Communication to the Editors

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COMMUNICATION TO THE EDITORS

Dear Sirs:

The rather iffy article on the origin and consequences of An-tietam that appeared In the8 issue of Studies merits some comment. In their haste to turn the Confederate tide at Sharpsbuxg, its authors have fallen into significant errors of fact and Interpretation. Several basic facts were not quite as they presented them; certainly, the consequences of An-tietam were at once both minimized and overstated.

It is fair to say that the discovery of Specialrought on the battle at Antietam Creek If this means it got McClellan out of his camp chair and onto his horse. To that extent, at least, the finding of the lost order was an intelligence coup. The authors, unfortunately, have little to say aboutalthough they do hint atthe effect of earlier, falsereports on tbe outcome of thisntietam dem-onstrated the damage that can be done by false intelligence, even long after it is reported.

McClellan's intelligence chief, Allan Pinkerton, had earlier convinced him that Lee's forces greatly outnumbered the Army of the Potomac. Perhaps this false intelligence played in some wayatal flaw in McClellan's character. In any case, it bad permitted General J, B. Magruder's song-and-dance on the road to Richmond during the earlier Peninsula campaign, when the lines before the Confederate capital were held bydrum-beating, bugle-blowing companies marching around and about to raise clouds of dust, while Lee shifted the bulk of his forcestb McClellan's flank. Bemused by bisservice, McClellan saw these play-actorsast army.

'Their!.mi inanuscript. before It was eat for publication' In the Studies at theequest, did la fact touch on these Intelligence failaret, referrlns toeasonod troop* which Plnxsrton reported to be underommand' and noting; that 'Tee's Midler* tended to straggle, and Lee never could count effee-Uvar/ at any given moment on more thanercent of hli total listed forca. ..

Communication to th* Editors

opportunity to win .m

forceduSXuTJB" Stuart-

The authors seem to be wrong also in their fariw

ramlttrt ^of cm^dermtton.

communication to the Editors

that Lee knew nothing of his loss until the publication months

later of McClellan's report on the bottle (R. g. Lee,

ee, then, made his decisions in the light of the

situation as he saw It, and without knowledge that his order

had been lost That romantic document has had more effect

on later generations of scholars than upon the course of events

at Antietam.

It Is not, in my opinion, correct to consider Antietam anUnion victory. It was,talemate. Lee re-remained on thehole day after the battle, awaiting McClellan's attack. McClellan. In his turn, apparentlyLee to take the offensive. The retreat across theresulted from Southern shortage of men and supplies, and from the necessities of maneuver. An army which Inflicted on its adversary casualties equal to one-half of its own strength,ay on the battlefield, and then quickly stampedimid effort at pursuit was not "sent reeling back intoThe men who went back across the river may have damned "Myut they did not consider themselves defeated.

Your authors have likewise misinterpreted the significance of Antietam. It was not the high noon of the Confederacy. The Confederate invasion of the North and the Southern cause were doomed to ultimate failure for reasons more prosaic than Yankee gallantry at Sharpsburg. As early as2 the basic cause of the ultimate Southern defeat wasIn the appearance of the Army of Northern Virginia as it crossed the Potomac: tattered, shoeless men, hungry horses, broken wagons. Inadequate artillery. The only neat thing about these storied "tatterdemalions" was their gleaming muskets. Oneptember, while McClellan deployed along

' Since this letter went to press the writers of lost Order, Loit Cause havemy attention loreeman's later corxclodoo that,

during the night ofeptember. Stuart had notified Lee ofdiscoveryTreeman. Leftppreciate their correction of my oversight. Lee's knowledge of his loss, however, beyond possibly giving greaterto bis decisions, seem* to have played little part Inevents. Be made bis decisiontand la Maryland, rMvertheleaa. McCTellan and his commanders must bear thefor failure to exploit their Intelligence find.R.

Communication to the Editors

Antietam Creek, Lee himself rode down tbe line to caution his artillery against wasting shells In aimless bombardments. Northern industrial strength, coupled with the blockade of Southern ports (the effects of which were alreadynd later Northern ravaging expeditions brought about ultimate Southern defeat Antietam. Gettysburg and Vlcksburg were not themselves decisive battles, but rather reflected the true cause of growing Southern weakness.

Southern straggling must also be considered In any audit of the books of the first invasion campaign. Thousands oftroops did not approve of an invasion of the Union: they had enlisted only to defend their homes. They voted against the campaign simply by remaining behind the river. Other thousands fell out because they could not march on the stone roads of Maryland without shoes. Hard Maryland roadsajor reason for the failure of the first Invasion. An army that0 after Second Bull Run could muster less0 on theew weeks later. It Isalso that the high command of the Army of the Potomac seemed never to take into consideration the mass Southern straggling, at least La Maryland, which must have been evident to many Union sympathizers. Wasn't this,ailure of

I agree that the Army of Northern Virginia failed to arouse great sympathy among invaded Marylanders. Thisrunk, bad three causes: the Uttered condition of Lee's army, the route of Invasion, and the Union occupation of Maryland. Certainly,ary lander must have had second thoughts about Joining this ragged hordeictory for thehe facts ol geography dictated that the Army of Northern Virginia should invade Maryland precisely where Unionwas strongest If the Invasion could have been mounted to the south and east, Its reception might have been different Demonstrations of such Southern sentiment as existed inMaryland were undoubtedly Inhibited by fear of future Unionactor that Lee himself recognised in his dealings with the inhabltanta

Although not the decisive military conflict that your authors claim it to be, Antietam didignificant tatelUgraee role-It servedackdrop for Lincoln's masterpiece of psycholog-

Communication 'o fht Editors

ical warfare: the Emancipation Proclamation. For thatalone, the war was never the same after this battle had been fought. As Bruce Cation puts it, Antietam sounded forth the bugle that never called retreat. It was, if you will, the psychological watershed of the war.hink, lies Its grip on American imagination.

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