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timschochet

The American Civil War Timeline- 150th Anniversary

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This is as good a time as any to introduce the Western Theatre campaign map:

Operations in the Western Theater from Belmont (November 1861) to Shiloh (April 1862)

My friend Brett Schulte Hal Jespersen did most of the ACW maps found on Wikipedia. They're simplified, to be sure, but easy to follow.

ETA: crap, wrong civil war bore...middle age memory sucks

Edited by BobbyLayne

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The Ironclads, Part 6

The Monitor actually arrived at Hampton Roads the night of March 8, her crew exhausted from fighting a storm that had almost sunk them on the way from Brooklyn. The prospect of fighting the Virginia, however, started their adrenalin pulsing again. When the Confederate ship steamed out on the morning of March 9 to finish off the Federal fleet, her crew spied a strange craft next to the Minnesota. "We thought at first it was a raft on which one of the Minnesota's boilers was being taken to shore for repairs," said a Virginia midshipman. But then the "boiler" ran out a gun and fired. A Monitor crewman described the Confederate ship's response:

You can see surprise in a ship just as you can see it in a man. There was surprise all over the Merrimack.

The rebels turned their attention from the stranded Minnesota to this strange vessel that began circling the sluggish Virginia "like a fice dog" and hurling 175 pound shot from her 11 inch guns. For two hours the ironclads slugged it out. It was a battle marked by the inability of either ship's guns to pierce the armor of the other ship. The little Monitor kept manuevering around the big Virginia, but could do no real damage. The Virginia struggled mightily and vainly to get itself into position to hurt the Monitor, but on the few occasions it was successful at doing so, it could do no damage either.

The Monitor's havey shot, firing at a much higher rate (because of it's greater speed and ability to maneuver) eventially cracked the Virginia's outside plate in several places, though this in itself did not hurt the bigger ship. Then, trying to turn around, the Virigina grounded. As the shallower-draft Monitor moved in, many aboard the Virginia thought they were finished. But she broke loose and continued the fight, trying without sucess to ram the Monitor, which seemed to dance away. By this time the Virginia's wheezy engines were barely functioning, and one of her lieutenants found her "as unwieldly as Noah's Ark." The Monitor in turn tried to ram the Virginia's stern to disable her rudder or propeller, but just missed. Soon after this a shell from the Virginia struck the Monitor's pilot house, wounsing her captain. The Union ship stopped fighting briefly; the Virginia, in danger of running aground again, steamed back towards Norfolk. The climatic battle was over. And the winner was...

Edited by timschochet

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The Ironclads, Concluded

So who won the Battle of Hampton Roads? Depends on who you ask. According to McPherson and Foote, it was a draw. Yet a draw in this case means a Union victory, since the Monitor's purpose was to neutralize the Virginia, not the other way around. Yet, since I first googled this subject the other day I have found a number of websites that claim a Confederate victory. Is this part of the "Lost Cause" movement? I have no idea. Here's what we do know, based on the records: each crew thought they had won the battle. The men on both sides were exhausted, and when they ceased fighting, it was almost by mutual consent.

This day saw the completion of a revolution in naval warfare begun a generation earlier by the application of steam power to warships. Doomed were the graceful frigates and powerful line-of-battle ships with their towering masts and sturdy oak timbers. When news of the Monitor-Virginia duel reached England, the London Times commented:

Whereas we had available for immediate purposes 149 first-class warships, we now have two, these two being the Warrior and her sister Ironside (Britain's experimental ironclads). There is not now a ship in the English navy apart from these two that it would not be madness to trust to an engagement with that little Monitor.

Of more immediate interest in Washington, the Union fleet at Hampton Roads was saved. For the next two months the Monitor and Virginia eyed each other warily but did not fight. With no ironclads in reserve, neither side could risk losing its indispensable weapon. When McClellan's army invaded the Virginia peninsula and forced the Confederates back toward Richmond in May 1862, Norfolk fell to the Federals and Virginia was stranded. Too unseaworthy to fight her way into open water and too deep-drafted to retreat up the James River, the plucky ironclad was blown up by her crew on May 11, less than 3 months after she had been launched. The Monitor also failed to live until her first birthday. On the last day of 1862 she sank in a gale off Cape Hatteras while being towed south for a blockade assignment.

Despite their defects, the Virginia and Monitor were prototypes for the subsequent ironclads built or begun by both sides during the war: 21 by the Confederacy and 58 by the Union. Many of these never saw action; all were designed for bay and river fighting; none achieved the fame of their progenitors. The existence of rebel ironclads lurking in southern rivers provoked a state of anxiety in the Union navy known as "ram fever", but had little effect on the course of the war. Steam/sail warships built of wood remained the mainstay of the Union's deep-water navy. But in the last third of the 19th century the world's navies converted to iron and steel, incorporating the principal features of Ericsson's folly: low profiles, speed and maneuverability, revolving gun turrets, and a few guns of heavy caliber rather than multiple-gun broadsides.

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Hope you guys enjoyed that. As I wrote earlier, one of my favorite battles. There is something that is very romantic for me about naval battles, and that was really the only good one in the American Civil War.

Next up: a discussion of the Confederacy's diplomatic efforts early on in the war to gain recognition by the European powers, culminating in the Mason/Slidell incident. When I'm done with that, we can get started on the river war.

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Great job, Tim. Since I started researching Shiloh on line, I have also come across some very biased (at least as it appears to me) accounts and opinions on the war. I think it's pretty clear, this chapter of the ironclads was a tactical tie, and a strategic Union victory. The blockade remained, the Virginia became pretty much a non factor. Both ships were somewhat damaged, both disengaged, it was a standoff. I don't see any basis for calling it a Confederate victory. The Virginia was supposed to break the blockade. It didn't. It didn't sink the Monitor, or even knock it out of action. If ever there was a standoff, this battle was it.

What is this "Lost Cause" movement? I've seen several sites that double and even triple the number of federal soldiers for many battles. It's like the north never beat the south, but for when the Confederates were outgunned and outnumbered 10 to 1. I saw one site that said the Union army at Shiloh was 80,000. There may have been that many spread out across Kentucky, Tennessee and surrounding areas, but that number is not at all reflective of the force the Union had at Shiloh.

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What is this "Lost Cause" movement? I've seen several sites that double and even triple the number of federal soldiers for many battles. It's like the north never beat the south, but for when the Confederates were outgunned and outnumbered 10 to 1. I saw one site that said the Union army at Shiloh was 80,000. There may have been that many spread out across Kentucky, Tennessee and surrounding areas, but that number is not at all reflective of the force the Union had at Shiloh.

Something Orange Crush's ancestor dreamed up to piss off Yankees.

:jawdrop:

To be sure, he had plenty of help.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_Cause_of_the_Confederacy

Not sure what specific sites you have encountered, but one thing you have to keep in mind when researching the ACW if a lot of folks just cut and past unedited accounts. Often times three main sources are used: Battles and Leaders, The Official Records, and the Southern Historical Society Papers. All are important primary or secondary historical publications, and if you study the bibliography and citations of any well research book, you see all three used extensively. But taken as a sole source, each has serious limitations and weakness because of errors, faulty memory, or simply outright deception.

I have the five volume series called "Battle and Leaders of the Civil War". You can still find editions in used book stores. It was based on a series of articles contributed by Union and Confederate officers in "The Century Magazine" published from 1884 to 1887. First hand accounts are fascinating to read, but its difficult to rely upon something that was written 20-25 years after the event.

complete online edition of Battles and Leaders

Another favorite resource that is often cited is Official Reports. These ORs are contemporaneous accounts that officers submitted to their superiors (some examples you might find - regimental colonels to brigade generals, brigade to division, division officers to corps commanders, corps to army, and the commanding general of the army to the President or Sec of War). In the 1870s and 1880s, all of these ORs, along with dispatches, were compiled into a comprehensive record by the federal government. You can still buy the War of the Rebellion Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies - its $2,500 for all 70 volumes, 128 parts, 138,000 pages*. Good luck getting through it. Cornell University has the entire work online in a searchable database:

complete and searchable OR

ETA: that's the army version; the naval version is another 31 volumes.

The Southern Historical Society Papers (SHSP) were an unauthorized (e.g., not funded by the U.S. Govt) attempt at preservation undertaken by former Confederate officers and leaders. They began collecting information for posterity in 1869, and wide ranging accounts from generals to privates were published in a monthly periodical from 1876 to 1943. You can purchase the entire 52 volume set for $1,500. I am not aware of a free online repository that has the entire SHSP, but here are selected portions related to Gettysburg:

SHSP (Gettysburg only)

The B & L series is fascinating because they are first hand accounts. But let me tell you, some of those guys had an axe to grind. O.O. Howard and the 11th Corps were routed at Chancellorsville following Stonewall Jackson's brilliant flank march. After 20 plus years of being blamed for one of the most humiliating defeats the Army of Potomac suffered, he wrote an article about it. Think its a reliable account? Lets just say it has a slight slant to it.

The OR is the authorized version of the war, but it is hardly canonical. For instance, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain's Gettysburg OR was allowed to be submitted 15 years after the 20th Maine saved the Union at Little Round Top. It was his third version. When you outlive everybody else and spend 50 years defending your reputation...you get the idea.

The SHSP are the best resource for many aspects of the Confederacy. For instance, all of the sessions of the Confederate congress can be found there. It was also the chief reservoir of the misinformation spread by the Lost Cause.

In addition to those sources, veterans refought the war in newspaper and magazine articles for decades. Abner Doubleday had a mediocre career, but his best day of fighting was Day One at Gettysburg, when he took over the First Corps after Reynolds was killed. It was hardly his fault the Rebels outnumbered him in front and swept his flank from the north, leading to two Union Corps getting routed. But that night Meade fired him. He spent the next 30 years trashing his former commanding general.

When a trained historian researches an ACW subject, he has access to original sources that have never been published - diaries and letters held at universities and historical societies that we'll never see. He has to weigh a primary source like an OR versus a private letter written home the day after the event. Obviously, the earliest source has precedence - especially when it was written before the author has had time to collaborate with others, or reflect on whose reputation might suffer, etc.

A lot of civil war bores hate having to rely upon a historians interpretation. I can appreciate the frustration, and the desire to figure it out by going back to the B&L, OR or SHSP. But its a mistake to think that doing so will give you the big picture. If you tried to understand the Battle of Seven Pines from reading the OR, you'd be completely lost. That's because Joe Johnston and James Longstreet convinced their subordinates to change their after action reports; the former butchered the written orders, and the latter took the wrong road - so they covered up their mistakes.

Rovers - you've probably already run across them, but here are a couple of good sites:

http://www.civilwarhome.com/index.html - click on the battles section. Each major engagement has selected ORs, postwar articles, and various interesting links.

Index of Civil War Information Available on the Internet - LSU site that attempts to track various sources on the interwebs.

Edited by BobbyLayne

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Hope you guys enjoyed that. As I wrote earlier, one of my favorite battles. There is something that is very romantic for me about naval battles, and that was really the only good one in the American Civil War.

Next up: a discussion of the Confederacy's diplomatic efforts early on in the war to gain recognition by the European powers, culminating in the Mason/Slidell incident. When I'm done with that, we can get started on the river war.

"Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" down?

:jawdrop:

For that matter, I'd take the battle between the Alabama and Kearsarge over the clash of the ironclads.

But in popular folklore, its hard to match the draw at Hampton Roads. Helluva fight.

Anybody been to the U.S.S. Monitor museum?

As you are wading through the diplomacy, I may concurrently begin introducing Grant, Belmont, and the strategic importance of the river forts.

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Diplomacy, Part One

Let's start with the basics:

1. The aim of Confederate diplomacy was to gain diplomatic recognition of the Confederate States of America by England and France.

2. The aim of Union diplomacy (during the American Civil War) was to prevent that recognition.

Why was this so important? There is both a tactical and strategic answer. There was of course, some hope that England and France might come in on the Confederate side. But except for a crucial incident which we will get to shortly, this was considered unlikely. But it was considered likely by the South that the European powers would assist in opening up the blockade, especially if there was heavy trade going on. This was the tactical goal. Strategically, of course, recognition, especially by England, would have an incredible morale effect on both South and North- it would energize the growing Copperhead movement in the North (we'll get to them later) who believed the war could not be won.

Cotton was the principal weapon of southern foreign policy. Britain imported 75% of its cotton from the American South. The textile industry dominated the British economy. "What would happen if no cotton was furnished for three years?" asked James Hammond of South Carolina in his famous King Cotton speech in 1858. "England would topple headlong and carry the whole civilized world with her, save the South." The inevitability of British intervention to obtain cotton became an article of faith in the South during 1861. A Charleston merchant told the London Times correspondent a few days after the surrender of Fort Sumter that "if those miserable Yankees try to blockade us, and keep you from our cotton," he said, "you'll just send their ships to the bottom and acknowledge us. That will be before autumn, I think." In July 1861 Vice President Alexander Stephens expressed certainty that "in some way or other the blockade will be raised, or there will be revolution in Europe...Our cotton is the tremendous lever by which we can work our destiny."

To ply this lever, southerners decided to embargo cotton exports. "The cards are in our hands," exulted the Charleston Mercury, "an we intend to play them out to the bankruptcy of every cotton factory in Great Britain and France or the acknowledgement of our independence." The Memphis Argus instructed planters to "keep every bale of cotton on the plantation. Don't send a threa to New Orleans or Memphis till England and France have recognized the Confederacy- not one thread!" Although the Confederate government never officially sanctioned the embargo, so powerful was public opinion that it virtually enforced itself.

The last line which I highlighted is a direct quote from McPherson, and its very illuminating, because other sources which discuss the subject put the onus of the embargo decision squarely on Jefferson Davis who imposed it over a reluctant South. I suspect this is a rather subtle part of the Lost Cause movement. Lee and Jackson are the true gods of this movement and never make a mistake; Davis is a lesser god who makes plenty of mistakes. I went into this post thinking I might discuss a "What if" scenario regarding if anything would have changed if the South had not embargoed its cotton, but McPherson's idea that it was unanimous makes that question rather moot.

So why didn't the embargo work as the South expected it would? We'll discuss that next.

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U.S. Grant (reprise)

1822-1861

1822

April 27: A son, later named Hiram Ulysses Grant, is born to tanner Jesse R. Grant and Hannah Simpson Grant at Point Pleasant, Clermont County, Ohio.

1823

Autumn: Jesse Grant moves his family to Georgetown, Brown County, Ohio. Here their oldest son receives his earliest education.

1836

Autumn 1836 - Spring 1838: Ulysses attends the school of Richeson and Rand at Maysville, Kentucky.

1838

Autumn 1838 - Spring 1839: Ulysses attends the Presbyterian academy at Ripley, Ohio.

1839

March 3: Ulysses is appointed to West Point.

May 29: Ulysses arrives at West Point and discovers that the congressman who appointed him, in doubt about his name, has used his middle name first and has used his mother's maiden name (Simpson) for a middle name. In time, Ulysses will accept U. S. Grant as his true name, insisting that his middle initial stands for "nothing."

1843

June: Grant graduates from West Point, where he excelled as a horseman and also did very well in mathematics. But he ranks twenty-first in a class of thirty-nine.

July 28: Grant learns that he is assigned to duty, beginning September 30, with the Fourth U. S. Infantry at Jefferson Barracks, just outside St. Louis, Missouri. His rank, established automatically by his West Point graduation, will be brevet second lieutenant.

1844

February: Grant had often visited the Dent family farm, White Haven, south of St. Louis. Frederick Dent had been Grant's West Point roommate. Now, Fred's sister, Julia Dent, returns from St. Louis. "After that I do not know but my visits became more frequent; they certainly did become more enjoyable."

May: While on a visit to his parents in Ohio, Grant learns that his regiment has been ordered to Louisiana. When he returns, Julia agrees to marry him.

June: Grant arrives at the camp of the Fourth Infantry near Natchitoches, Louisiana. "There was no intimation given that the removal of the 3rd and 4th regiments of infantry to the western border of Louisiana was occasioned in any way by the prospective annexation of Texas, but it was generally understood that such was the case."

1845

April: Grant obtains leave for twenty days. He travels to St. Louis to see Julia, and to gain her parents' consent to an engagement which has been a secret for almost a year. Colonel Dent doubts that Grant can support a family on a lieutenant's pay, but he likes Grant and cannot deny his daughter's obvious determination.

July: The Fourth Infantry is sent to New Orleans to await orders.

September: Grant sails from New Orleans, bound for Corpus Christi on the Nueces River in Texas. Soon, Grant is promoted to full second lieutenant. The land between the Nueces and Rio Grande Rivers is claimed by both the United States and Mexico.

1846

March 11: Grant begins to march across the disputed territory. General Zachary Taylor's force reaches the Rio Grande on March 28. Small clashes between U. S. and Mexican units lead to a Mexican declaration of war on April 23. He wrote in his memoirs about the war against Mexico: "I was bitterly opposed to the measure, and to this day, regard the war, which resulted, as one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation. Even if the annexation itself could be justified, the manner in which the subsequent war was forced upon Mexico cannot . . . The Southern rebellion was largely the outgrowth of the Mexican war. Nations, like individuals, are punished for their transgressions." One of the few members of Congress who opposed the war was freshman Whig from Illinois named Abraham Lincoln.

May 8: Taylor wins the battle of Palo Alto as Grant finds himself under fire for the first time. "You want to know what my feelings were on the field of battle! I do not know that I felt any peculiar sensation. War seems much less terrible to persons engaged in it than to those who read of the battles... During that night I believe all slept as soundly on the ground at Palo Alto as if they had been in a palace. For my own part I don't think I even dreamed of battles."

August 19: Taylor begins to move toward Monterey. Grant is detailed as regimental quartermaster.

September 21: During the battle of Monterey, Quartermaster Grant is expected to remain behind the lines. Without orders, he rides to the front and charges with his regiment. Grant now replaces the regimental adjutant.

September 23: Heavy fighting continues in Monterey. Short of ammunition, General Garland asks for a volunteer to carry a message to General Twiggs through streets occupied by Mexican forces. Grant runs the gauntlet, riding on the side of his horse with one foot hooked on the cantle of the saddle and an arm around the neck of his horse.

1847

January 11: Grant's Fourth Infantry is ordered to leave General Taylor's force and join that of General Winfield Scott. The troops retrace their route across Mexico to Camp Page on the Gulf.

September 8: Grant participates in the assault on Molino del Rey.

September 13: During the assault on San Cosme Garita, outside Mexico City, Grant orders a howitzer placed in a church belfry where it can be fired effectively. This comes to the favorable attention of General Worth. During the night, civic officials of Mexico City ask for surrender terms.

1848

June 12: The occupation of Mexico ends for Grant as Worth's division marches out of Mexico City. Grant's transport will sail from Vera Cruz on July 16.

July 23: The Fourth Regiment lands at Pascagoula, Mississippi. As soon as another officer is assigned to the quartermaster's duties, Grant hurries on leave to White Haven.

August 22: Grant and Julia Dent are married.

November 17: Grant reports at Detroit, Michigan. He learns that he has been assigned to duty at the dreary outpost of Madison Barracks at Sackett's Harbor, New York, on Lake Ontario. By spring of the following year, Grant has obtained a transfer to Detroit.

1850

May 30: Julia and Ulysses Grant's first child, Frederick Dent Grant, is born.

1851

Spring 1851 - Spring 1852: Grant spends a full year at Sackett's Harbor. Then the Fourth Infantry is ordered to the Pacific Coast. Grant says goodbye to his wife and son, who will be staying with his parents, and reports at Governor's Island, New York, for embarkation on the steamer Ohio.

1852

July 16: The Ohio anchors off Aspinwall (now Colon) on the isthmus of Panama. The trip across steamy and deadly Panama begins.

July 22: While Ulysses is still in transit, his and Julia's second child, Ulysses S. Grant Jr., whom they call Buck, is born.

September 20: Grant arrives at Fort Vancouver, Oregon (later Washington) Territory. Prices are inflated on the Pacific Coast, and Grant's attempts to supplement his captain's pay are unsuccessful. Discouraged and unhappy about the long separation from his family, which now includes the second son he has never seen, and with no prospect of reunion, Grant finds consolation in drink, as fellow officers will later recall. He begins to consider resigning.

1853

September 30: Grant receives notice that he has been promoted to captain as of August 5, to take the place of an officer who had died, along with orders to report at Fort Humboldt, California.

1854

April 11: Grant receives his official commission as captain and writes his resignation from the army the same day. On June 2, the resignation is accepted by Secretary of War Jefferson Davis.

1855

Summer: After living for nearly a year at White Haven with Julia's parents, the Grant family moves to Wish-ton-wish, another farm on the Dent estate. Here their third child, Ellen Grant, whom they call Nellie, is born on July 4.

1856

Summer: The Grant family moves into its own home, built largely by Grant alone. Almost every farm in the neighborhood has a name, often a pretentious one; Grant calls his Hardscrabble.

November: Grant casts his only presidential ballot prior to the time he is himself elected. The nation is deeply divided over the issue of slavery. "It was evident to my mind that the election of a Republican President in 1856 meant the secession of all the Slave States, and rebellion. Under these circumstances I preferred the success of a candidate whose election would prevent or postpone secession, to seeing the country plunged into a war the end of which no man could foretell. With a Democrat elected by the unanimous vote of the Slave States, there could be no pretext for secession for four years. I very much hoped that the passions of the people would subside in that time, and the catastrophe be averted altogether; if it was not, I believed the country would be better prepared to receive the shock and to resist it. I therefore voted for James Buchanan for President."

1857

December 23: Grant pawns his watch, presumably to buy Christmas gifts for his family. The Panic of 1857 has withered crop prices. Only a few weeks later, February 6, 1858, the fourth Grant child, Jesse Root Grant Jr., is born.

1858

Spring: Grant rents out his Hardscrabble farm and himself rents White Haven from his father-in-law. Following another poor season, plagued by poor health, he enters the real estate business in St. Louis.

1859

January: Grant moves into a back room in St. Louis rented from his business partner, while his family temporarily remains at White Haven. In March, his family joins him in a rented cottage in St. Louis. To make ends meet, he sometimes peddles firewood on the street out of cart. During his near impoverished state in St. Louis, James "Old Pete" Longstreet (later one of Lee's most trusted Generals) met him on the street. Grant pressed a five dollar gold piece into his hand, as repayment for a debt nearly 15 years old. Longstreet tried to refuse it, telling Grant that he was more in need of it than himself, but Grant replied saying, "No, you must take it, Pete. I simply cannot live with anything in my possession that is not mine!" The next time the two old army friends will meet in person is at Appomattox Court House in April 1865.

March 29: Despite the financial troubles of the Grant family, there is one remedy Grant refuses to consider. He sets free his slave, William Jones, who had come to him through his wife's family.

August 15: Grant submits his application for the position of County Engineer of St. Louis. Although qualified, Grant will be passed over by politicians who prefer a Republican.

1860

May: After many years of financial disappointment in Missouri, Grant turns to his father for help. He takes a clerkship in a leather goods store owned by his father and operated by his brothers Orvil and Simpson in Galena, Illinois.

November 8: The Republicans of Galena, supporters of Abraham Lincoln, hold a victory celebration in the Grant store. Grant helps his Republican brother Orvil serve oysters and liquor. Grant has not lived in Illinois long enough to be eligible to vote, and is apparently undecided about the merits of Lincoln and his opponent, Stephen Douglas.

1861

April: The local Republican congressman, Elihu B. Washburne, favorably impressed by Grant, arranges for him to preside over a public meeting held in Galena to respond to Lincoln's call for troops after war breaks out between the North and the South at Fort Sumter, South Carolina. Grant drills the company of Jo Davies's Guards raised at the meeting, but declines the captaincy. Instead he travels to Springfield, Illinois to offer his services to Governor Richard Yates. Grant finds temporary employment as a clerk in the adjutant's office.

May 8: Grant is appointed mustering officer. It is a temporary job which ends within two weeks.

May 10: While Grant is in St. Louis seeking a commission, he witnesses the street riot following the capture of Camp Jackson by Unionists under Nathaniel Lyon and Frank Blair.

May 22: Grant finishes his mustering and returns to Galena. Two days later he writes to Adjutant General Lorenzo Thomas: "I feel myself competent to command a Regiment if the President, in his judgment, should see fit to entrust one to me." The letter is never answered.

June: Grant visits the headquarters of General George B. McClellan in Cincinnati, seeking a staff appointment. McClellan does not receive him.

June 15: Grant returns to Springfield and accepts Governor Yates' offer of the colonelcy of the Seventh District Regiment, an unruly group which has driven its first colonel into retirement.

June 16: Grant boards a streetcar in Springfield to ride out to his regiment at Camp Yates.

June 28: Following patriotic oratory from two Illinois Democratic congressmen, John A. Logan and John A. McClernand, 603 members of the regiment volunteer to enter the U. S. service as the Twenty-First Illinois.

July 3: The Twenty-First Illinois begins its first march: from Springfield to Quincy, Illinois, on the Mississippi River.

July: Grant is ordered to proceed from the Salt River against Colonel Thomas Harris, some twenty-five miles south at Florida, Missouri. "As we approached the brow of the hill from which it was expected we could see Harris' camp, and possibly find his men ready formed to meet us, my heart kept getting higher and higher until it felt to me as though it was in my throat. I would have given anything then to have been back in Illinois, but I had not the moral courage to halt and consider what to do; I kept right on. When we reached a point from which the valley below was in full view I halted. The place where Harris had been encamped a few days before was still there and the marks of a recent encampment were plainly visible, but the troops were gone. My heart resumed its place. It occurred to me at once that Harris had been as much afraid of me as I had been of him. This was a view of the question I had never taken before; but it was one I never forgot afterwards." Grant's regiment is soon located at Mexico, Missouri.

July 31: President Lincoln appoints Grant a brigadier general of volunteers following the recommendations of a caucus of Illinois congressmen. Grant is now in command at Ironton, Missouri.

August 17: As Grant prepares to move against the enemy, General Benjamin M. Prentiss arrives to claim command, wrongfully asserting that he outranks Grant. Without prolonged argument, Grant departs for St. Louis, where General John C. Frémont reassigns him to Jefferson City.

August 27: Replaced by Union General Jefferson C. Davis at Jefferson City, Grant again returns to St. Louis. This time he is given command of all troops in southeast Missouri (August 28), with headquarters temporarily at Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

September 4: Grant establishes headquarters at Cairo, Illinois. On September 3, Confederate General Leonidas Polk had violated the self-proclaimed neutrality of Kentucky by occupying Columbus. News reaches Grant on September 5. Grant then occupies Paducah (September 6). His quick action prevents the Confederates from consolidating their defense line in Kentucky.

November 7: Grant leads his troops to Belmont, Missouri, across the Mississippi River from Columbus, Kentucky, in a diversionary movement to prevent Confederate reinforcement of General Sterling Price. The victory and quick reversal at Belmont will be covered in my next post when I get to it - probably Wednesday.

Edited by BobbyLayne

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This is a great thread. I'm kind of Civil War newb but i've been on a kick ever since I read The Killer Angels and visited Gettysburg last year. Pretty amazing stuff, it's like one huge epic story with great characters. I want to read a good non-fiction book on this, what would you guys recommend. How is Battle Cry of Freedom? I also want to read Foote's trilogy but it's seems kind of daunting.

The first Civil War book I read was Shelby Foote's Stars in Their Courses: The Gettysburg Campaign, June-July 1863. Its actually just one chapter out of the middle book of the trilogy. For some reason I thought it was under 200 pages (maybe that's how many pages the chapter is in his Civil War Narrative).

Anyway, the second, third and fourth books I read were Foote's trilogy. IIRC, the first volume took most of one summer, and I got through the next two over the fall/winter. That man is an awesome storyteller, totally gets you hooked.

After that I read everything I could get my hands on by Bruce Catton. Foote is pretty good, one of my favorites. Catton is even better IMO - just a genius at spinning a yarn.

From there I alternated between narratives, battle micro histories, and biographies of leaders and generals.

Walking the ground is where you really acquire a depth of understanding, especially going on battlefield walks with park rangers or licensed battlefield guides. Those guys have to pass tests that are comparable to the CPA exam before they get licensed - its a pretty awesome experience learning from folks who have been doing this for decades.

Yea walking the grounds of Gettysburg was pretty epic, I was amazed at the destruction that happened in one small little town. We were so impressed by it that we had plans to go to Fredericksburg for this Pres Day weekend but the snow put an end to that.
Sometime in the next month or so you should come over to this side of the river and visit the New York Historical Society:

Lincoln and New York (October 9, 2009 - March 25, 2010)

John Brown: The Abolitionist and his Legacy (September 15, 2009 - March 25, 2010)

:lmao:

77th and CPW, right across from AMNH.

This is definitely on my to do list.

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Diplomacy, Part Two

King Cotton diplomacy seemed promising at first. British and French officials exchanged worried views about the probable impact of a cotton famine. Textile magnates in Lanchashire and Lyons talked of shutdowns. "England must break the Blockade, or Her Millions will starve," declared a newspaper speaking for textile workers in September 1861. In October, Prime Minister Viscount Palmerston and Foreign Minister Lord Russell agreed that "the cotton question may become serious by the end of the year...We cannot allow some millions of our people to perish to please the Northern states." British and French diplomats discussed the possibility of joint action to lift the blockade.

There's a lot going on here, and I could literally digress for days on end, but I'm going to try to keep this fairly simple. Palmerston is one of the most important prime ministers in British history. At this time, thanks to the industrial revolution, Britain was the world's superpower, everywhere at once. It was said that if the British PM sneezed, the whole world caught a cold. They were arrogant imperialists who ruled the world and knew it. But the problem was that for a small island nation they were incredibly stretched. Colonies to support everywhere. Having just ended a war with Russia over the Crimea and putting down savage rebellions in India, Ireland, and China, they were now beset with even more troubles in those countries, not to mention troubles in Japan, South America, South Africa, Malaysia, and the never ending brew of central Europe. This last was the most concerning of course; after years of rivalry and antagonism towards France, England was now forced to seek an alliance with the French against the growing menace of Otto von Bismarck, who was just then uniting the German states under Prussia and creating a monolith that would terrify the world for the next century. All of this played into Lincoln's hands, England simply was too busy to deal with the problem. Privately Palmerston sympathized with the Confederacy, though he was an opponent of slavery and the slave trade. He saw the USA as an eventual competitor to Britain, and perceived that its division into two separate countries would greatly serve British interests. But in the end, he was not willing to get involved. Lord Russell agreed. He wrote in 1861, "For God's sake, let us if possible keep out of it," while Palmerston quoted the old aphorism taught to British upper-class school boys:

They who in quarrels interpose,

will often get a bloody nose.

Emperor Louis Napoleon III of France was a different matter. This pompous idiot who thought he was the equal of Bonaparte wanted to get involved, as he wanted to get involved everywhere. (His constant blustering and belief in the superiority of his army would eventually bring about the effective end of France as a Great Power in 1870.) He was sympathetic to the South, mainly because their diplomats sucked up to him. But Napoleon's ministers wisely held him in check in this instance and warned him he could not get involved unless England did first. And this England was not willing to do. In fact, the British deeply resented the cotton embargo and said so publicly, through the Times and Lord Russell. They were able to do so by a queer irony of history: the "King Cotton" which James Hammond had so eagerly boasted of, the cotton boom of 1867-1860, actually created a surplus in the British market which lasted through 1862. By that time, several enterprising businessmen began to produce cotton in Egypt and India, where it was plentiful. The fact was: England could survive without southern cotton.

The Confederate leaders were slow to realize this. In point of fact, they refused to acknowledge it, because it made their whole new country untenable. They were relying primarily on a temporary economic boom as the source of their long term economic well-being. And then Jefferson Davis severely compounded the error by sending William L. Yancey as his representative to London in order to seek diplomatic recognition.

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McClellan reorganizes the West (fall 1861) - Halleck and Buell

Little progress was being made in the western theatre in 1861 beyond securing Missouri and Kentucky to the Union. Wilson's Creek and widespread graft led to Frémont's dismissal on the same day McClellan assumed supreme command of all the Union armies. The Young Napoleon reacted promptly by reorganizing the vast, conglomerate area into two departments.

Kentucky west of the Cumberland was added to Frémont's old Department of the West and placed under the command of Henry W. Halleck; while the remainder of Kentucky and Tennessee formed the Department of Ohio, Don Carlos Buell commanding. Both reported to McClellan, but neither was accountable to the other. Predictably each saw the other as rival for future command of the whole. With Little Mac swamped by his duties in the East, little coordination existed between the armies resting flank to flank on opposite banks of the Cumberland.

Henry Halleck, a major general at forty-six, three years older and one rank higher than his rival, had the advantage at the outset. Among his distinguished accomplishments was authorship of Elements of Military Arts and Science, a highly respected West Point volume issued fifteen years prior, translator of Jomini's Napoleon, authority on international law, he was called Old Brains by his fellow officers, not altogether jokingly.

Don Carlos Buell had one not inconsiderate advantage: Halleck had been a favorite of Winfield Scott and McClellan's chief rival for post of general-in-chief. Perhaps influenced by this, Little Mac considered the younger general superior in practical ability as a soldier in the field.

Instructions given the two commanders on setting out were similar as to policy. Both were told to hold firmly onto all that been gained in Missouri and Kentucky, meanwhile impressing on the people of these border states that army's purpose was the restoration of the Union; abolition of slavery was not even incidentally on the agenda. Halleck was to assemble troops on or near the Mississippi, while Buell massed for an advance into the loyalist mountain region of eastern Tennessee (which shared Unionist sympathy not unlike that found in west Virginia, in the future state of that name). This was Lincoln's fondest project, for strategically an advance to Knoxville through the Cumberland Gap would cut the northernmost east-west Confederate railroad.

From Louisville Buell began to ponder how he could supply his army from the Ohio River without a railroad. A wagon train grinding weary distances over wretched roads and vulnerable throughout its length to raiders gave him pause. Turning his eye on a sixty degree arc, he perceived that Nashville, the Tennessee capital on the Cumberland, a manufacturing center and a transportation nexus, was not only closer to Knoxville, it was even a bit closer than the Cumberland Gap. By taking Nashville, the Confederates in eastern Tennessee would be flanked, forced to fall back. In order to begin, though, he would need cooperation from Halleck and Union gunboats in order to secure the Cumberland River for safe crossing.

McClellan rejected the plan, in part out of political consideration (Confederates had begun hanging Unionists convicted of arson in drumhead trials), but also because he wanted Buell to cut the supply artery feeding into northern Virginia. He also foresaw having Buell on the western flank of Richmond, ready to move forward to maneuver the Confederates out of entrenched positions, and assist in taking Richmond. McClellan urged a prompt movement into eastern Tennessee, but gave his subordinate sufficient wiggle room to do nothing "if there are causes which render this course impossible." He then turned his attention to Halleck to undertake an advance on the rivers in western Kentucky, and was promptly informed nothing could be done at present: "destitute as we are of arms, organization, and discipline, it seems to me madness to remove any of our troops from Missouri."

Halleck had his hands full: Frémont left behind a chaotic system of reckless expenditure and fraud, attending to guerrilla bans in his rear, Price and McCulloch (victors of Wilson's Creek) lurking across the border in Arkansas, and the enormous task of preparing for the inevitable descent of the Mississippi. As if that were not enough, he was having to deal with a mentally upset brigadier, red-haired William Tecumseh Sherman, who was bombarding headquarters with reports of rebel advances from all directions. "Look well to Jefferson City and the North Missouri Railroad," Sherman would wire; "Price aims at both."

Sherman earnestly told the Secretary of War that 200,000 troops would be needed to put down the rebellion in the Mississippi valley alone, which the War Department regarded as "evidence of insanity". Newspapers wrote of alarming symptoms: brooding melancholy broken only by intermittent fits of rage and fright. Superseded by Buell in Kentucky, he was relieved of command and sent to work directly under Halleck in St. Louis. His fidgety manner and tocsin-shrill dispatches led Halleck to believe he was "stampeded", thoroughly demoralized, while McClellan said "Sherman's gone in the head". In the hopes that a few weeks' rest would restore his facilities, Halleck gave an indefinite leave of absence to the distraught Ohioan, whose wife then came down and took him home.

As a sort of counterbalance to the highly nervous Sherman, Halleck had another brigadier who seemed to have no nerves at all. The trouble with U.S. Grant was that, for all Halleck knew, he might not have any brains either.

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BL, there is going to be a lot of discussion here about Union gunboats, which you already referenced. Can you describe what they were like? How many men, size, speed, maneuverabiliity, firepower, armor, etc.?

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BL, there is going to be a lot of discussion here about Union gunboats, which you already referenced. Can you describe what they were like? How many men, size, speed, maneuverability, firepower, armor, etc.?

Thanks for the suggestion. I'll be sure to incorporate that into my discussion of the operations against the river forts (which I will hold off starting until after your discussion on Confederate diplomacy). As I have mentioned before, naval operations, including river squadrons, is not an area of expertise for me. If you want to take that on, feel free to do so.

First, though, I will be discussing Belmont, which occurred November 7, 1861 - probably tomorrow.

Shortly we will be getting into a lot of details about the river systems in the western theatre. Before we do that, though, I think it would be useful to take a step back and understand the vast areas Halleck and Buell were responsible for.

Map of Department of Missouri & Department of Ohio - January 1862

Referencing the map linked above, Halleck had 91,000 troops in Missouri: 41,000 at St Louis and points north, 15,000 each under Curtis at the railhead in Rolla and Pope in central Missouri, and 20,000 under Grant. The latter was stretched out along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers (Commerce, Cairo, Paducah and Smithland). Opposite Grant, at Belmont and Columbus, was Polk with 12,000 rebels in southwest Kentucky. Moving down "The Father of Waters" we see the Confederacy controls the largest river system in North America from the confluence with the Ohio River on down - New Madrid, Island No. 10, and Forts Pillow and Randolph. Halleck's adversary, the esteemed Albert Sidney Johnston, has in total 43,000 troops stretched from Memphis to Dover. Owing to the newly created bastions of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson near the latter, the Confederate armies effectively control the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers as well.

Moving to Buell's Department of Ohio, we see the Union armies have 45,000 troops, with perhaps half that number holding various strategic points, including Bowling Green - on the direct rail line to Nashville, which Buell covets.

Here are two maps depicting the Confederate rail systems, which visually illustrate his dilemma - no rail system exists moving from Louisville (his HQ) to eastern Tennessee and Knoxville. Conversely, you can see the Confederate system feeds from Alabama and Georgia through the region and into southwestern Virginia (the northernmost rail link referenced in my previous post), all the way to Petersburg, just south of the Confederate capitol.

railroads of the Confederacy 1861

railroad gages North and South 1861 (large map)

Hopefully those maps should help clear up the west a bit. We'll be spending awhile here talking about Grant, first in the joint river operations, and later when Rovers narrates the Battle of Shiloh.

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BL just referenced "the esteemed Albert Sidney Johnston", and I want to make a quick comment here, because people don't realize that it was this man, not Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson, whom at the beginning of 1862 was thought to be the military savior of the Confederacy. ASJ was generally considered the finest soldier alive, certainly so by Jefferson Davis, who revered him above all others. I'll do a short bio later on.

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BL just referenced "the esteemed Albert Sidney Johnston", and I want to make a quick comment here, because people don't realize that it was this man, not Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson, whom at the beginning of 1862 was thought to be the military savior of the Confederacy. ASJ was generally considered the finest soldier alive, certainly so by Jefferson Davis, who revered him above all others. I'll do a short bio later on.

:excited: Looking forward to it.His arduous overland trip from the west coast at the beginning of the war has a romantic flair to it. Always thought it would have made a great movie.

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Diplomacy, Part 3

William L. Yancey, it will be recalled, was a notorious fire-eater and in favor of re-opening up the African Slave Trade. Quite possibly Jefferson Davis viewed him as a rival and wanted him out of Richmond, but why entrust this man to a diplomatic effort is mystifying. Yancey's views were unpopular in antislavery Britain, to say the least. Nevertheless, soon after he arrived in London the British government announced an action that misled Americans on both sides of the Potomac to anticipate immediate diplomatic recognition of the Confederacy.

Lincoln had proclaimed the rebels to be insurrectionists. Under international law this would deny the Confederacy status as a belligerent power. But the North's declaration of a blockade constituted an act of war affecting neutral powers. On May 13, 1861, Britain therefore declared her neutrality in a proclamation issued by the Queen. This would seem to have been unexceptional- except that it automatically recognized the Confederacy as a belligerent power. Other European nations followed the British lead. Status as a belligerent gave the Confederacy the right under international law to contract loans and purchase arms in neutral nations, an to commission cruisers on the high seas with the power of search and seizure.

Charles Francis Adams, a descendant of the famous New England family, arrived in London as U.S. Minister. On May 21 he received a dispatch from an angry Seward instructing him to break off relations if the British government had any more dealings with southern envoys. Wrote Seward:

If Britain officially recognizes the Confederacy we from that hour shall cease to be friends and become once more, as we have twice before been forced to be, enemies of Great Britain.

This was tough, threatening language, but Lincoln's only admonition was that Adams would have the discretion whether or not to deliver this message in writing or verbally. (This stuns me. Would Lincoln and Seward really have been willing to go to war with England? Hard to believe.) After reading Seward's bellicose words, Adams decided that in this case discretion was the better part of valor. Adams had been a superb choice for the London legation. His father and grandfather had preceded him there. His reserve and self-restraint struck an empathic chord among Englishmen, who were offended by the braggadocio they attributed to American national character. Lord Russell assured Adams that Britian had no present intention of granting diplomatic recognition to the Confederacy.

It took some time for this message to sink into the minds of the southern envoys, who continued to send optimistic reports to Richmond. In September 1861, however, Yancey grew restless and he resigned. At the same time the Confederate government decided to replace their current emmisaries with men Davis believed would be more suitable: he sent James Mason of Virginia to Longdon and John Slidell of Louisiana to Paris. By taking this action, the South unwittingly set in motion a series of events which brought them the closest they ever got to diplomatic recognition and, indeed, a military alliance with Great Britain.

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BL just referenced "the esteemed Albert Sidney Johnston", and I want to make a quick comment here, because people don't realize that it was this man, not Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson, whom at the beginning of 1862 was thought to be the military savior of the Confederacy. ASJ was generally considered the finest soldier alive, certainly so by Jefferson Davis, who revered him above all others. I'll do a short bio later on.

Good... glad to hear that. I could hardly cover Shiloh without a bio on Johnston first. ;)Oh, by the way... BL, when you cover Donelson, were you considering a bio on Forrest? Great cavalry commander, played a big role in the west and later, but .. very controvesial guy, being the first head of the KKK. If not, I can do it when you start on the river battles. I'm almost done with Shiloh, which has turned into a small book. :lmao: Edited by Rovers

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Oh, by the way... BL, when you cover Donelson, were you considering a bio on Forrest? Great cavalry commander, played a big role in the west and later, but .. very controvesial guy, being the first head of the KKK.

Messrs. Nathan Bedford Forrest and John Morgan Hunt will be entering stage left shortly...and of course you cannot speak of Donelson without a few admiring words for the former. Postwar activities notwithstanding, anyone who goes from enlisted private to one of the most fearsome combat generals the war produced is going to be worthy of a prolonged look back. Edited by BobbyLayne

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Oh, by the way... BL, when you cover Donelson, were you considering a bio on Forrest? Great cavalry commander, played a big role in the west and later, but .. very controvesial guy, being the first head of the KKK.

Messrs. Nathan Bedford Forrest and John Morgan Hunt will be entering stage left shortly...and of course you cannot speak of Donelson without a few admiring words for the former. Postwar activities notwithstanding, anyone who goes from enlisted private to one of the most fearsome combat generals the war produced is going to be worthy of a prolonged look back.
Yeah, Forrest with all due respect to Jeb, may have been the best cavalry commander in the entire war. A constant thorn in Grant's side. More like a knife... or a pen knife... aluding to one of the andctodotes involving Forrest. I've finally finished Shiloh. I'm afraid to even say how many pages it is. Hopefully, it will be a good read, and manage to keep interest. I tend to go overboard at times...

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BL, there is going to be a lot of discussion here about Union gunboats, which you already referenced. Can you describe what they were like? How many men, size, speed, maneuverabiliity, firepower, armor, etc.?

FYI - turns out I had more available to me than I first realized; have unearthed plenty of online materials that will allow me to do a thorough introduction of the timberclad and ironclad gunboats which worked so effectively with Brig. Gen. Grant.

Rovers - I think you'll have a few days to refine your Shiloh research. After I summarize Belmont, we have a number of things to discuss: the state of affairs as 1861 closed, ASJ's defensive arrangements along his 500 mile front, the activities of Messrs. Hunt and Forrest, the construction and fortification of Fort Henry and Donelson (especially Brig. Gen. Lloyd Tilghman's final efforts), and a brief summary of the Battle of Mill Springs. The latter was a small inconsequential affair, but had a galvanizing effect on Grant's superior. Concurrent to all that timschochet will be discussing the remarkably extraordinary events that were unfolding on the diplomacy front.

As I mentioned in my earlier PM, I have introduced the theatre and the respective concentrations, and will hand off the baton once Donelson is complete. While you are covering late February - early March movements and preparations, I will be circling back to McClellan's preparations in the east. Or I may just sit back and eat popcorn while you are posting your microhistory. Either way, we'll move on to the Pennisula Campaign whenever you have completed bloody Shiloh.

I think...timschochet has overall command of the timeline, so all that is pending his approval. He may have some fascinating detour he wants us to meander down. No rush to any of this...we're gonna be at this for years.

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Grant at Belmont, part one

Growing up in a rural section of mid-Michigan that was long on rolling fields of potatoes and short on prosperity, I learned first hand the cruelty of bored school children left to their devices. A favorite joke on the recess playground when encountering a dim witted classmate was, "When God was handing out brains, he thought they said 'trains', so he left." It is doubtful Henry Halleck thought in such crude terms, but he perhaps harbored a similar suspicion about Sam Grant.

There were indications of such a lack. Ulysses S. Grant was a West Pointer and had been commended for bravery in Mexico, but since then his reputation had gone downhill. Stationed out in California, he had had to resign his captain's commission because of an over fondness for the bottle, and the seven following years he had been signally unsuccessful as a civilian. Commissioned a colonel of Illinois volunteers, he had won promotion to brigadier by a political fluke, his congressman claiming it for him as a due share of the spoils. Since then he had done well enough in a straightforward, soldierly way; he had not panicked under pressure, and best of all he had worked with what he had instead of calling for help in each emergency. Aware of his unsavory past, however, Halleck could never be sure when a relapse might come, exposing the basic instability of Grant's character and leaving the army commander to take the blame for having reposed the nation's trust in such a man.

Grant had a seedy appearance. He was five feet eight inches tall and weighed 135 pounds; one eye set a trifle lower than the other, giving his face a somewhat out of balance look; he walked with a round-shouldered slouch, pitching forward on his toes, and a paid as scant attention to the grooming of his beard as he did the cut and condition of his clothes. Despite this he had proved himself a fighter. That could have its drawbacks when it included, as it seemed to do in this case, an element of rashness.

Halleck did not want to be embarrassed by Grant, the way Frémont had been embarrassed by the ill-fated Lyon: with whom, for that matter, in spite of his lack of surface fire, the thirty-nine-year-old Illinois brigadier had shown a disturbing degree of kinship. Wilson's Creek had come within three weeks of Bull Run, and had been fought to the same pattern. Then on the eve of Halleck's arrival, within three weeks of Ball's Bluff, came Belmont.

Even apart from the balanced chronology, East and West, the resemblance was much too close for comfort.

(to be continued...)

Edited by BobbyLayne

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BL, there is going to be a lot of discussion here about Union gunboats, which you already referenced. Can you describe what they were like? How many men, size, speed, maneuverabiliity, firepower, armor, etc.?

FYI - turns out I had more available to me than I first realized; have unearthed plenty of online materials that will allow me to do a thorough introduction of the timberclad and ironclad gunboats which worked so effectively with Brig. Gen. Grant.

Rovers - I think you'll have a few days to refine your Shiloh research. After I summarize Belmont, we have a number of things to discuss: the state of affairs as 1861 closed, ASJ's defensive arrangements along his 500 mile front, the activities of Messrs. Hunt and Forrest, the construction and fortification of Fort Henry and Donelson (especially Brig. Gen. Lloyd Tilghman's final efforts), and a brief summary of the Battle of Mill Springs. The latter was a small inconsequential affair, but had a galvanizing effect on Grant's superior. Concurrent to all that timschochet will be discussing the remarkably extraordinary events that were unfolding on the diplomacy front.

As I mentioned in my earlier PM, I have introduced the theatre and the respective concentrations, and will hand off the baton once Donelson is complete. While you are covering late February - early March movements and preparations, I will be circling back to McClellan's preparations in the east. Or I may just sit back and eat popcorn while you are posting your microhistory. Either way, we'll move on to the Pennisula Campaign whenever you have completed bloody Shiloh.

I think...timschochet has overall command of the timeline, so all that is pending his approval. He may have some fascinating detour he wants us to meander down. No rush to any of this...we're gonna be at this for years.

Refine Shiloh?! LOL... I'm done. I've read through all 18 pages (on MS Word, 102kb) of it 50 times (perhaps an exageration). I went from Johnston's abandonment of Nashville, Buell's ambiguous orders from McClellan, and the creation of the army of Mississippi at Corinth to the taking of Corinth. I really don't want to condense or expand on it, I think it's a fairly good read, if lengthy, but you and Tim can direct me if you like as to how to handle any future narratives any differently.

Shiloh is ready tp post... tell me when, and intersperse anything that works in parallel with the narrative. In fact, it may be good to do that due to it's legnth just for a change of pace. On the other hand, I could post the entire thing uninterupted... I look to you and Tim for direction. You guys are the generals... I'm a 2nd Lt. Maybe even let me do several posts, and choose a direction from there... whatever you guys want is fine by me.

Looking forward to info on the gunboats. Halleck was also blessed with a pretty good guy responsible for the river war.

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Diplomacy, Concluded

The departure of James Mason and John Slidell from Charleston by blockade runner was scarcely a secret. The U.S. Navy was embarrasse by its failure to intercept their ship before it reached Havana, where the diplomats transferred to the British steamer Trent. Captain Charles Wilkes decided (on his own, apparently) to redeem the navy's reputation. A 40 year veteran now commanding the 13 gun sloop U.S.S. San Jacinto, Wilkes was a headstrong, temperamental man who fancied himself an expert on maritime law. Diplomatic dispatches could be seized as contraband of war; Wilkes decided to capture Mason and Slidell as the "embodiment of dispatches." This novel interpretation of international law was never tested, for instead of capturing the Trent as a prize after stopping her on the high seas on November 8, Wilkes arrested Mason and Slidell and let the ship go on.

The northern public greeted Wilkes's act with applause; "the people," reported a journalist, "are glad to see John Bull taken by the horns." The House of Representatives passed a resolution praising Wilkes. But after the first flush of jubilation, second thoughts began to arise. Few expected Britain to take this lying down. The risk of war sent the American stock market into a dive. Government bonds found no buyers. News from Britain confirmed fears of an ugly confrontation. The British expressed outrage at Wilkes's "impressment" of Mason and Slidell. The Union Jack had been flouted. The British press clamored for war. Prime Minster Palmerston told his cabinet, "You may stand for this but damned if I will." The cabinet voted to send Washington an ultimatum demanding an apology and immediate release of the Confederate diplomats. Britain ordered troops to Canada and strengthened the western Atlantic fleet. War seemed imminent.

Although the Anglophobe press in America professed to welcome this prospect, cooler heads recognized the wisdom of Lincoln's reported words: "One war at a time." The Union army relied on saltpeter from India for its gunpowder, and this trade would be threatened by an immediate war. (McPherson makes a big point about this, and he is the only historian I have ever read that has done so. It does seem like a pretty big issue.) Shelby Foote notes that resentment about the British ultimatum existed somewhat among southerners as well, ironically: even though they benefited by such an ultimatum, many in ther South did not like the idea of outsiders interfering in "American" affairs, especially THIS outsider.

Lincoln's problem during these tense weeks of December 1861 was how to defuse the crisis without the humiliation of bowing to an ultimatum. Seward recognized that Wilkes had violated international law by failing to bring the Trent into port for adjudication before a prize court. In an uncharacteristic mood of moderation, Seward expressed a willingness to yield Mason and Slidell on the grounds that Wilkes had acted without instructions. Diplomatic hints had come from London that this face-saving compromise would be acceptable to the British. In a crucial Christmas day meeting, Lincoln and his cabinet concluded that they had no choice but to let Mason and Slidell go. Most of the press had at this point reached the same conclusion, so release would not peril the administration's public support. Mason and Slidell resumed their interrupted trip to to Europe, where they never again came so close to winning foreign intervention as they had done by being captured in November 1861. Their release punctured the war bubble.

The afterglow of this settlement left Anglo-American relations in better shape than before the crisis. This was further strengthened by reports of remarkable Union military victories in the West. It is time to relate those now: take it away, BobbyLayne!

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Albert Sidney Johnston: "A Soldier of Three Republics"

Albert Sidney Johnston was born in Washington, Kentucky, the youngest son of Dr. John and Abigail Harris Johnston. His father was a native of Salisbury, Connecticut. Although Albert Johnston was born in Kentucky, he lived much of his life in Texas, which he considered his home. He was first educated at Transylvania University in Lexington, where he met fellow student Jefferson Davis. Both were appointed to the United States Military Academy, Davis two years behind Johnston. In 1826 Johnston graduated eighth of 41 cadets in his class from West Point with a commission as a brevet second lieutenant in the 2nd U.S. Infantry. He was assigned to posts in New York and Missouri and served in the Black Hawk War in 1832 as chief of staff to General Henry Atkinson. In 1829 he married Henrietta Preston, sister of Kentucky politician and future civil war general William Preston. He resigned his commission in 1834 to return to Kentucky to care for his dying wife, who succumbed two years later to tuberculosis. They had one son, Col. William Preston Johnston, who would also serve in the Confederate Army.

In April 1834, Johnston took up farming in Texas, but enlisted as a private in the Texas Army during the Texas War of Independence against the Republic of Mexico in 1836. One month later, Johnston was promoted to major and the position of aide-de-camp to General Sam Houston. He was named Adjutant General as a colonel in the Republic of Texas Army on August 5, 1836. On January 31, 1837, he became senior brigadier general in command of the Texas Army.

On February 7, 1837, he fought in a duel with Texas Brig. Gen. Felix Huston, challenging each other for the command of the Texas Army; Johnston refused to fire on Huston and lost the position after he was wounded in the pelvis. The second president of the Republic of Texas, Mirabeau B. Lamar, appointed him Secretary of War on December 22, 1838. Johnston was to provide the defense of the Texas border against Mexican invasion, and in 1839 conducted a campaign against Indians in northern Texas. In February 1840, he resigned and returned to Kentucky, where he married Eliza Griffin in 1843. They settled on a large plantation he named China Grove in Brazoria County, Texas.

Johnston returned to the Texas Army during the Mexican-American War under General Zachary Taylor as a colonel of the 1st Texas Rifle Volunteers. The enlistments of his volunteers ran out just before the Battle of Monterrey. Johnston managed to convince a few volunteers to stay and fight as he himself served as the inspector general of volunteers and fought at the battles of Monterrey and Buena Vista. Johnston remained on his plantation after the war until he was appointed by President Taylor to the U.S. Army as a major and was made a paymaster in December 1849. He served in that role for more than five years, making six tours, and traveling more than 4,000 miles annually on the Indian frontier of Texas. He served on the Texas frontier and elsewhere in the West. In 1855 President Franklin Pierce appointed him colonel of the new 2nd U.S. Cavalry (the unit that preceded the modern 5th U.S.), a new regiment, which he organized. As a key figure in the Utah War, he led U.S. troops who established a non-Mormon government in the formerly Mormon territory. He received a brevet promotion to brigadier general in 1857 for his service in Utah. He spent 1860 in Kentucky until December 21, when he sailed for California to take command of the Department of the Pacific.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Johnston was the commander of the U.S. Army Department of the Pacific in California. He was approached by some Californians who urged him to take his forces east to join the Union against the Confederacy. He resigned his commission, April 9, 1861, as soon as he heard of the secession of Texas. He remained in California until June. After a rapid march through the deserts of Arizona and Texas, he reached Richmond, Virginia, on or about September 1, 1861. There Johnston was appointed a full general by his friend, Jefferson Davis. On May 30, 1861, Johnston became the second highest ranking Confederate general (after the little-known Samuel Cooper) as commander of the Western Department. He raised the Army of Mississippi to defend Confederate lines from the Mississippi River to Kentucky and the Allegheny Mountains.

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Nathan Bedford Forrest

Nathan Bedford Forrest was born to a poor family in Chapel Hill, Tennessee. He was the first of blacksmith William Forrest's twelve children with wife Miriam Beck. After his father's death, Forrest became head of the family at age 17. In 1841 Forrest went into business with his uncle in Hernando, Mississippi. His uncle was killed there during an argument with the Matlock brothers. In retaliation, Forrest shot and killed two of them with his two-shot pistol and wounded two others with a knife which had been thrown to him. One of the wounded Matlock men survived and served under Forrest during the Civil War.

Forrest became a businessman, a planter who owned several cotton plantations in the Tennessee Delta, and a slave owner. He was also a slave trader, with a business based on Adams Street in Memphis. In 1858 Forrest, a Democrat, was elected as a Memphis city alderman. Forrest supported his mother and put his younger brothers through college. By the time the American Civil War started in 1861, he was a millionaire and one of the richest men in the South. Forrest had amassed a personal net worth of more than $1.5 million.

Before the Civil War, Forrest was well known as a Memphis speculator and Mississippi gambler. He was for some time captain of a boat which ran between Memphis, Tennessee and Vicksburg, Mississippi. As his fortune increased he engaged in plantation speculation, and became the nominal owner of two plantations not far from Goodrich's Landing, above Vicksburg where he worked some hundred or more slaves. According to his obituary. "He was known to his acquaintances as a man of obscure origin and low associations, a shrewd speculator, negro trader, and duelist, but a man of great energy and brute courage."

After war broke out, Forrest returned to Tennessee and enlisted as a private in the Confederate States Army. On July 14, 1861, he joined Captain J. S. White's Company "E", Tennessee Mounted Rifles. Forrest was trained at Fort Wright. His superior officers and the state Governor Isham G. Harris were surprised that someone of Forrest's wealth and prominence had enlisted as a soldier, especially since major planters were exempted from service. They commissioned him as a colonel and authorized him to recruit and train a battalion of Confederate Mounted Rangers. In October 1861 he was given command of a regiment, "Forrest's Tennessee Cavalry Battalion". Though Forrest had no prior formal military training or experience, he had exhibited leadership qualities and soon exhibited a gift for successful tactics.

Public debate surrounded Tennessee's decision to join the Confederacy. Both the CSA and the Union armies recruited soldiers from the state. More than 100,000 men from Tennessee served with the Confederacy (more per capita than any other state), and 50,000 served with the Union. Forrest posted ads to join his regiment for "men with good horse and good gun" adding "if you wanna have some fun and to kill some Yankees".

At six-foot, two-inches tall and 210 pounds, Forrest was physically imposing and intimidating, especially compared to the average height of men at the time. He used his skills as a hard rider and fierce swordsman to great effect. (He was known to sharpen both the top and bottom edges of his heavy saber.) Historians have evaluated contemporary records to conclude that Forrest may have killed more than thirty-three enemy soldiers with saber, pistol and shotgun.

Forrest's command included his Escort Company (his "Special Forces"), for which he selected the best soldiers available. This unit, which varied in size from 40-90 men, was the elite of the cavalry. Eight of these soldiers were enslaved black men held by Forrest before the war.

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Forrest was as brave as he was crazy. Aside from taking on four members of the Matlock family by himself, in June of 1863 he was shot by a disgrunted subordinate, Andrew W. Gould, and Forrest using his pen knife, killed the man. Earlier, in the battle of Shiloh he would be rifle shot at point blank range and ride away after the bullet had hit his spine.

He was also a contradiction. A slave owner and trader, as Tim said, he had some of his own slaves in his cavalry, including 8 or 9 in his hand picked "Escort Company". Later, he would reportedly massacre an entire garrison of black soldiers at Fort Pillow. After the war, he would be the key organizer of the KKK and be it's first leader.

Forrest once summed up his military theory as "Get there first with the most men."

Edited by Rovers

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My favorite Forrest quote

War means fighting, and fighting means killing

Pretty straightforward and simple, but quite a few generals in this war did not understand it at all.I would take issue with anyone who calls him the greatest cavalryman of the ACW. His commands functioned much more like mounted infantry (i.e., Lightning Brigade).He wasn't great at screening the army or gathering intel or most traditional functions of troopers (except rear guard actions...then he was awesome). What he and his men excelled at was being utilized as shock troops.As with Stonewall Jackson, his name alone struck terror in the enemy - psychologically, worth a division.

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My favorite Forrest quote

War means fighting, and fighting means killing

Pretty straightforward and simple, but quite a few generals in this war did not understand it at all.I would take issue with anyone who calls him the greatest cavalryman of the ACW. His commands functioned much more like mounted infantry (i.e., Lightning Brigade).He wasn't great at screening the army or gathering intel or most traditional functions of troopers (except rear guard actions...then he was awesome). What he and his men excelled at was being utilized as shock troops.As with Stonewall Jackson, his name alone struck terror in the enemy - psychologically, worth a division.
Where would you rank him then? He did a pretty good job of screening at Shiloh, keeping the Union pickets pushed back to the point Johnston was camped with his army only 2 miles away and the Feds never knew it. I defer... you know much more about it than I, and I'm not about to disagree! :thumbup:

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I would rank him ahead of John Wilder if we're talking about great mounted infantry commanders.

:fishing:

Great fighting general, personal heroics are off the charts.

Tremendous soldier operating as and independent command; could live off the land, and charismatic enough that he could (and did) recruit hundreds of Tennesseans merely by showing up.

But the primary function of a Civil War cavalry commander is fulfill what the modern army refers to as G2 staff work - intelligence (scouting), security (screening), and information operations (control maps and geographical info). At these things, no one surpassed Stuart. He was the eyes and ears of General Lee.

aside - at some point I'll do a compare/contrast essay that identifies modern staff functions and the correlation (or some in some cases, non-existence) in ACW armies.

Note as we go through western campaigns how often Bragg was in the dark as to the size and disposition of what was in their front. You can blame that on Wheeler I suppose.

Anyway, as a fighting general at the brigade/division level, he was as good as it gets. I just don't consider him a great cavalryman by a strict purist definition.

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Will post Belmont and wrap up 1861 in the West tonight.

I am in a bit of quandry here. I can't really post several lengthy writeups per day - between work, helping with the little, etc. I don't want to hold us up too much. On the other hand, I felt a bit rushed doing the second half of First Bull Run. So I kind of want to take it slow and steady, one or two posts per day. But that holds up everyone - just getting through the river fort campaigns (3 months in the west only) might take several days.

Feedback/opinions/peanuts/rotten fruit?

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Will post Belmont and wrap up 1861 in the West tonight.I am in a bit of quandry here. I can't really post several lengthy writeups per day - between work, helping with the little, etc. I don't want to hold us up too much. On the other hand, I felt a bit rushed doing the second half of First Bull Run. So I kind of want to take it slow and steady, one or two posts per day. But that holds up everyone - just getting through the river fort campaigns (3 months in the west only) might take several days.Feedback/opinions/peanuts/rotten fruit?

A lot of us are pressed for time to read lots of posts, too. Let's pace ourselves. I don't care if this thread goes on for years.

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BL, understood. I might be able to take more on too. I can break Shiloh out to several days and give you a break. It will be another 3-4 weeks before my seasonal biz starts cranking back up.

Maybe we can also do some things in parallel fashion, even if the timeline gets thrown off a little. Tim is pretty good at that sort of thing, and that should help keep things going at a slow but steady pace? Just got my book on Fredricksburg, bought some lanterns and candles and am ready to lose power for a few days if this storm truns out to be what I think it will be. So, if I don't show up Friday-Saturday... it means no power. If this thing ices all the trees and power lines as some predict, I could potentially be with no power for a week. Maybe I should email my Shiloh narrative to Tim? (no editting Tim!) Then he could do my installments for that battle. If that is what you want to do Tim, let me know by PM with your email. BL is going to be in the middle of this storm too.

Back to Forrest, I'm really a civil war bore wanna be. I have a lot to learn about it, especially tactics. I just know from reading that Forrest was a terror, and Grant considered him to be one of his biggest PITA's of the war. But, I'm pretty good at researching and writing using several sources for what I think are balanced narratives of those topics I take on which I hope readers will enjoy. The narratives aren't hard to do, it's interjecting thoughts and opinions that takes a lot of background knowledge. (Case in point, my thoughts on Forrest)

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Forrest was as brave as he was crazy. Aside from taking on four members of the Matlock family by himself, in June of 1863 he was shot by a disgrunted subordinate, Andrew W. Gould, and Forrest using his pen knife, killed the man. Earlier, in the battle of Shiloh he would be rifle shot at point blank range and ride away after the bullet had hit his spine. He was also a contradiction. A slave owner and trader, as Tim said, he had some of his own slaves in his cavalry, including 8 or 9 in his hand picked "Escort Company". Later, he would reportedly massacre an entire garrison of black soldiers at Fort Pillow. After the war, he would be the key organizer of the KKK and be it's first leader. Forrest once summed up his military theory as "Get there first with the most men."

The Fort Pillow incident was played up by the North, but there are conflicting reports on what happened. The Confederates claimed that the Union soldiers refused to surrender, and never lowered the flag, even though they were hopelessly outnumbered. You can read letters from soldiers on both sides on that Civil war home website Bobby Lane posted. Lot of contradictory stuff, like the Union naval commander who said the Confederates helped carry Union wounded down to the boat.The KKK thing is pointed to a lot, but the original KKK was not at all what it was today. Forrest himself said that he had formed it not to perscute blacks, but to kill Republicans and carpetbaggers. And that's what they did, initially.

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Well...some truth in there TexasFan02...regarding the surrender while escaping, etc...but at a minimum Forrest lost control of his men at Fort Pillow. You cannot explain away the KIA, especially among the black troops, as anything other than a massacre. There is simply no other engagement in the entire war with comparable numbers. But we'll get there eventually. When we do, we'll present all the different arguments and let the reader decide.

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Forrest was as brave as he was crazy. Aside from taking on four members of the Matlock family by himself, in June of 1863 he was shot by a disgrunted subordinate, Andrew W. Gould, and Forrest using his pen knife, killed the man. Earlier, in the battle of Shiloh he would be rifle shot at point blank range and ride away after the bullet had hit his spine. He was also a contradiction. A slave owner and trader, as Tim said, he had some of his own slaves in his cavalry, including 8 or 9 in his hand picked "Escort Company". Later, he would reportedly massacre an entire garrison of black soldiers at Fort Pillow. After the war, he would be the key organizer of the KKK and be it's first leader. Forrest once summed up his military theory as "Get there first with the most men."

The Fort Pillow incident was played up by the North, but there are conflicting reports on what happened. The Confederates claimed that the Union soldiers refused to surrender, and never lowered the flag, even though they were hopelessly outnumbered. You can read letters from soldiers on both sides on that Civil war home website Bobby Lane posted. Lot of contradictory stuff, like the Union naval commander who said the Confederates helped carry Union wounded down to the boat.The KKK thing is pointed to a lot, but the original KKK was not at all what it was today. Forrest himself said that he had formed it not to perscute blacks, but to kill Republicans and carpetbaggers. And that's what they did, initially.
That is why I said "reportedly", and I am far from informed or educated on issues such as Fort Pillow, the KKK and it's beginnings, other than some broadbrush comments I have stumbled upon while looking at Forrest's various bio's on the net. It was also why I really didn't want to do a bio on Forrest, he seems to be a very galvanizing individual. At some point in the future in this thread you would like to attempt a bio on Forrest? That would be an interesting read I think.

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Rovers -

Keep your powder dry for now. Have to finish up Donelson before we can properly move onto to ASJ's concentration, and the pressure he was under to do something.

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Sure, BL, no problem.... it's just this storm is scary. It could be nothing, it could put 100's of thousands into power blackouts that could last a long time. I remember an epic ice storm in Quebec where people lost power for a month. I'm not predicting that sort of catastrophe, but I am preparing for maybe losing power from several days to a week. Just a heads up if I goi MIA this weekend.

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Couple things I want to cover in the Battle of Belmont tonight...

It was Grant's (and his troops) first engagement, and it wasn't much of a fight per se; five regiments versus five regiments with a few cannon thrown in. Yet we see all the classic elements of a Grant campaign in miniature. He is decisive and acts quickly to seize the initiative. He co-ordinates his movement with the river squadron. He delegates tactical operations to trusted subordinates. He involves himself directly in the operation when necessary. We see incidents of his well-documented bravery and superb horsemanship. It didn't seem like much at the time, but we see the seeds of greatness in this small unit action.

One other thing fascinates me about this battle - he lies in his official report and his memoirs about what really happened, and historians bought it hook, line and sinker for 144 years.

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Couple things I want to cover in the Battle of Belmont tonight...It was Grant's (and his troops) first engagement, and it wasn't much of a fight per se; five regiments versus five regiments with a few cannon thrown in. Yet we see all the classic elements of a Grant campaign in miniature. He is decisive and acts quickly to seize the initiative. He co-ordinates his movement with the river squadron. He delegates tactical operations to trusted subordinates. He involves himself directly in the operation when necessary. We see incidents of his well-documented bravery and superb horsemanship. It didn't seem like much at the time, but we see the seeds of greatness in this small unit action.One other thing fascinates me about this battle - he lies in his official report and his memoirs about what really happened, and historians bought it hook, line and sinker for 144 years.

Interesting.... I think he lied in his reports on Shiloh too. Something begins to impress me here, is just how political this war actually was, aside from the polititians of the time. The rivalries between generals on both sides, public perception and opinion, and the willingness to have court marshall hearings after any battle that was deemed to have been lost, or even "poorly" won. Newspaper reporters would write stories about battles that they never witnessed, but condemned generals and their efforts as though they were there. Are there any works that discuss just how the newspapers treated (and affected) the armies and Lincoln's and Davis' actions as a sort of stand alone subject? The press seemed to have an awful lot of power in 1861. I know Greeley sure pushed Lincoln in directions he didn't want to go in, or much earlier than he wanted to. So many of these newspaper reports were pure BS.

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Still helping with the toddler, will post later...but yes, IME any resemblance between a newspaper account and the ACW engagement they are purporting to explain was purely coincidental.

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Battle of Belmont (cont)

Though Bishop Polk had won the race for Columbus, Grant had been by no means willing to admit that this gave the Confederates any permanent claim to the place. Within the week, having occupied Paducah (with help, naturally, from the river gunboats and transport), he had written Frémont: "If it were discretionary with me, with a little addition to my present force I would take Columbus." The Pathfinder made no reply to this, but when he took the field at last, marching against the victors of Wilson's Creek, he had his adjutant order Grant to feint against Polk to prevent that general from reinforcing Sterling Price.

In doing this Grant was to make a show of aggression along both sides of the Mississippi, keeping his troops "constantly moving back and forward...without, however, attacking the enemy." Also in accordance with orders, on November 3 - the day Frémont left Springfield, relieved of command and Winfield Scott left Washington, retired - Grant sent a column southward, west of the river, to assist in an attempt in an attempt to bag or destroy a cavalry force under Jeff Thompson (a Missouri State Guard brigadier who gained fame as "The Swamp Fox of the Confederacy"; his southeastern Missouri troopers were known as "The Swamp Rats"). It was reported they were down near the Missouri boot-heel, in the St. Francis River area. Two days later a dispatch informed him that Polk was definitely sending reinforcements to Price. Marching "back and forward" not having sufficed to immobilize the bishop, Grant was now ordered to make a demonstration against Columbus itself.

Accordingly, on the 6th he loaded five infantry regiments, supported by two cavalry troops, and a six-gun battery, onto four transports - 3114 men in all - and steam down the river, protected by two gun boats, the 'timberclads' Lexington and Tyler. Nine miles below Cairo, tied up for the night against the eastern bank, he received a report that Polk had ordered a column to cut off and destroy the troops Grant had sent to do the same to Thompson. That message arrived at 2 o'clock in the morning, and within the hour Grant made his decision. Instead of a mere demonstration, he would launch a direct, all-out attack on Belmont, the steamboat landing opposite Columbus, where the enemy column was reported to be assembling.

OR Battle of Belmont map - November 7, 1861

At dawn the downstream approach got under way, the troops experiencing the qualms and elation of facing their first test under fire. Their emotions perhaps would have been less mixed, though probably no less violent, if they had known that none of the conditions their commander assumed existing at or near Columbus were true. Polk had no intention of reinforcing Price, nor was he preparing a column to bag the force that supposed itself to be pursuing Thompson, who for that matter had retired from the field by now. Far from being a staging area, Belmont was only an observation post, a low-lying, three-shack hamlet dominated by the guns on the tall bluff across the river and manned by one regiment of infantry - half of whom were on the sick list - one battery of artillery, and a scratch collection of cavalry. Unaware that the drama in which they were taking part was in fact an Intelligence comedy of errors, Grant's men came off their transports at 8 o'clock, three miles above Belmont, their debarkation concealed by a skirt of timber. While the gunboats continued downstream to engage the batteries on the Columbus bluff, the troops formed a line of battle and marched southward toward the landing, skirmishers out. Presently, the guns of the naval engagement booming hollow across the water to their left, they came under heavy musket fire from out in front.

By now there was more to oppose them than one half-sick infantry regiment. Polk, having learned of the attack, had reinforced the Belmont Garrison with four regiments under Brig. Gen. Gideon Pillow, the Tennessean who had preceded him in command. Ferried across the river, they hurried northward from the landing, scorning the protection of previously constructed fortifications, and took position in path of Grant's advance. It was hard, stand-up fighting, the forces being about equal, five regiments on each side, each force being supported by a battery of light artillery. The Federals had the initiative, however, and they had Grant, who was something rare in that or any war: a man who could actually learn from experience.

Three months before, he had made a similar advance against an enemy position reported held by Colonel Thomas Harris and his command, and as Grant drew closer, mounting the ridge that masked the camp, "my heart kept getting higher and higher until it felt to me as though it was in my throat." He kept his men going, he said, because "I had not the moral courage to halt and consider what to do." Then, topping the rise, he found the camp deserted, the enemy gone. "My heart resumed its place. It occurred to me at once that Harris had been as much afraid of me as I had been of him. This was a view of the question I had never taken before; but I never forgot it afterwards."

He did not forget it now.

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Three months before, he had made a similar advance against an enemy position reported held by Colonel Thomas Harris and his command, and as Grant drew closer, mounting the ridge that masked the camp, "my heart kept getting higher and higher until it felt to me as though it was in my throat." He kept his men going, he said, because "I had not the moral courage to halt and consider what to do." Then, topping the rise, he found the camp deserted, the enemy gone. "My heart resumed its place. It occurred to me at once that Harris had been as much afraid of me as I had been of him. This was a view of the question I had never taken before; but I never forgot it afterwards."

He did not forget it now.

McPherson comments:

It was a lesson that McClellan and many other Union commanders, especially in the East, never learned.

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BL and Rovers: As far as timing, no worries. We are under NO time constraints whatsoever. If things slow down, never fear, I will always be able to add contemporaneous events; there are certainly enough of them.

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Forrest was as brave as he was crazy. Aside from taking on four members of the Matlock family by himself, in June of 1863 he was shot by a disgrunted subordinate, Andrew W. Gould, and Forrest using his pen knife, killed the man. Earlier, in the battle of Shiloh he would be rifle shot at point blank range and ride away after the bullet had hit his spine.

He was also a contradiction. A slave owner and trader, as Tim said, he had some of his own slaves in his cavalry, including 8 or 9 in his hand picked "Escort Company". Later, he would reportedly massacre an entire garrison of black soldiers at Fort Pillow. After the war, he would be the key organizer of the KKK and be it's first leader.

Forrest once summed up his military theory as "Get there first with the most men."

Talk about a contradiction; Wiki adds:

Forrest's personal sentiments on the issue of race, however, were quite different from that of the Klan. Forrest was invited and gave a speech to organization of black Southerners called the "Jubilee of Pole-Bearers" in 1875. In this speech, Forrest espoused a radically progressive (for the time) agenda of equality and harmony between black and white Americans.

At this, his last public appearance, he made what the New York Times described as a "friendly speech" in which he called for reconciliation between the races and called for the admission of blacks into the professional classes from which they had heretofore been excluded.

An absolutely fascinating man.

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Battle of Belmont (concluded)

Leaving five companies near the transports as a rear guard, he put the rest in line and pushed straight forward, his six guns barking loudly all the while. Under such pressure, the Confederates gave ground stubbornly - until, after about two hours of fighting, the Federals roaring down upon them in the vicinity of the camp, they broke, giving way completely, and took off for the rear in headlong panic. Here, on a narrow mud-flat left by the falling river and protected by a steep low bank, they found shelter from the humming bullets. "Don't land! Don't land!" they called out to reinforcements arriving by boat from Columbus. "We are whipped! Go back!"

They spoke too soon. Grant's men, having overrun the camp, had stopped to loot, and their officers, elated by the rout, "galloped about from one cluster of men to another," according to Grant, "and at every halt delivered a short eulogy upon the Union cause and the achievements of the command." Like the whipped men under the river, they thought the battle was over. This was by no means the case, as they presently discovered.

Now that their own men were out of the way, the artillerist on the Columbus bluff could bring their guns to bear: particularly one big rifled Whitworth, which began to rake the captured campsite. What was more, the reinforcements arriving by boat had ignored the cries, "Don't land! Go back!" and coming up during the lull, formed a line of battle, preparing to attack. Disgusted, Grant ordered the camp set afire to discourage the looters and orators, and did what he could to reassemble his command. Meanwhile other Confederate reinforcements were pouring ashore to the north, between Belmont and the transports. Just then an aide rode up, exclaiming, "General, we are surrounded!" Soldiers and officers began to speak of surrender.

"Well," Grant said, "we must cut our way out as we cut our way in."

Polk sent Brig. Gen. B. F. Cheatham with three more regiments and crossed the river himself to see how they fared. With 5000 angry, vengeful Confederates on the field, Grant's elated but disorganized 3000 were going to find out it was considerably harder to "cut our way out," no matter how bravely the words had been spoken, than they had found it to "cut our way in."

In the end, however, that was what they did, though at the cost of abandoning most of their captured material, including four guns, as well as many of the non-walking wounded and one thousand rifles, which the defenders afterwards garnered from the field. Grant had held back no reserves to throw into the battle at critical moments, but he performed more or less as a reserve himself, riding from point to point along his line to direct and animate his troops. Except for one regiment, which ws cut off in the fighting and marched upstream to be picked up later, he was the last man aboard the final transport.

The skipper had already pushed off, but looking back he recognized the general on horseback and ran a plank out for him. (Polk saw him, too, though without recognition. From the nearby skirt of timber that had screened the debarkation, the bishop, seeing the horseman, said to his staff, "There is a Yankee; you may try your marksmanship on him if you wish." But no one did.) Grant had already had one mount shot from under him today, and when he chose another he chose well. The horse - which, Grant said, "seemed to take to the situation" - put its forefeet over the lip of the bank, tucked its hind legs under its rump, and "without hesitation or urging," slid down the 25 foot incline and then trotted up the 12 foot long gangplank.

That ended the Battle of Belmont, and though the casualties were about equal - something over 600 on each side, killed wounded, and captured - it followed in general the pattern of all the battles fought in 1861, the attackers achieving initial success, the defenders giving way to an early panic, until suddenly the roles reversed and the rebels were left in control of the field, crowing over Yankee cowardice. At Belmont as at Bull Run - and especially at Ball's Bluff, which it so much resembled, the repulsed troops narrowly missed annihilation at the end - there were indications of blundering and ineptness.

"The victory is complete," Grant asserted in dispatches, but two days after the battle the Chicago Tribune editorialized:

The disastrous termination of the Cairo expedition to Columbus is another severe lesson on the management of this contest with the rebels. Our troops have suffered a bad defeat...The rebels have elated and emboldened while our troops have been depressed, if not discouraged."

Now began the talk of Grant the butcher. This was no victory; not a single tactical advantage had been won; he just went out and came back, losing about as many as he killed. To what end had the casualties fallen? Yet certain facts were there for whoever would see them.

He had moved instead of waiting for fair weather, had kept his head when things went all against him, and had brought his soldiers back to base with some real fighting experience under their belts. They were having none of the butcher talk. They had watched him alongside them where bullets flew the thickest and had cheered him riding his trick horse up the gangplank, the last man to leave the field.

What was more, they knew the expedition had been designed in the first place to save the lives of their friends in the supposedly threatened column out after Thompson, and they knew now that if ever they were thought to be so trapped, Grant himself would come get them out. Best of all, they had met the rebels in a stand-up fight which proved, for one thing, that blue-bellied Yankees were not the only ones who would panic and scatter and take off for defilade, crying, "We are whipped! Go Back!"

The 3000 troops Grant took to Belmont would form the nucleus of the 21 regiments he would take to Fort Henry in February. The same timberclad gunboats (and many other ironclads and side wheelers) would be present there as well, and at Donelson, and at Shiloh. Eventually they would be folded into the Army of the Tennessee: Grant's army, victorious at Vicksburg, saviors of Chattanooga, and later under Sherman, conquerors of Atlanta, and the 'bummers' who would present Lincoln with the Christmas gift of the city of Savannah. It was the most remarkably successful of all armies in the American Civil War.

That army was born at Belmont.

Edited by BobbyLayne

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Battle of Belmont (concluded)

The 3000 troops Grant took to Belmont would form the nucleus of the 21 regiments he would take to Fort Henry in February. The same timberclad gunboats (and many other ironclads and side wheelers) would be present there as well, and at Donelson, and at Shiloh. Eventually they would be folded into the Army of the Cumberland: Grant's army, victorious at Vicksburg, saviors of Chattanooga, and later under Sherman, conquerors of Atlanta, and the 'bummers' who would present Lincoln with the Christmas gift of the city of Savannah. It was the most remarkably successful of all armies in the American Civil War.

That army was born at Belmont.

McPherson again:

He (Grant) had discovered that his laconic, informal, commonsense manner inspired respect and obedience from his men. Unlike so many commanders, Grant rarely clamored for reinforcements, rarely complained, rarely quarelled with associates, but went ahead and did the job with the resources at hand.

Although the battle of Belmont accomplished little in the larger scheme of war and could hardly be called a Union victory, it taught Grant more valuable lessons and demonstrated his coolness under pressure. Lincoln did not know it yet, but here was the general he had been looking for these past six months.

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The account I have posted is the accepted history of the Battle of Belmont, repeated in the main in countless articles and books. There is no reason to doubt any of the facts of the actual battle itself. But in 2005, historian Stephen Woodworth uncovered an interesting inconsistency about Grant's official report.

Belmont aftermath - the Official Report

Immediately upon boarding the transport, Grant entered a cabin and lay down on a sofa. Hearing heavy firing between the boats and the shore, he got up and went out to see what was happening. Returning to the cabin, he found that a bullet had come through the bulkhead and drilled a hole in the sofa right where he had been lying. It was an apt metaphor for the entire day's experience for Grant.

In his first engagement as a general officer, he had come about as close to ultimate disaster as it was possible to imagine without actually experiencing utter defeat. He had lost control of his army, been surrounded by the enemy, and returned to the transports in inglorious rout. Some of his men, more than he liked to think about, would not be coming back at all. There would be other low points in his career, but never, not even at Shiloh, would he feel the hot breath of complete disaster quite this close to his neck.

That catastrophe had not engulfed Grant and his army that day owed much to luck and much also to his own determination not to fail. He simply would not allow it. Grant's resolve not to allow failure in the affair at Belmont led him, in coming days, months, and years, to labor somewhat uncharacteristically to put the best possible face on what happened there.

Halleck arrived to replace Frémont two days after the Battle of Belmont. Overwhelmed with the administrative chaos the Pathfinder left in his wake, it is understandable why Grant did not immediately burden his new commander with a superfluous written report.

In the spring of 1864, Grant's staff officers, writing his official report of the operation, recounted the curious story of the messages from Frémont on November 5 (ordering the demonstration against Belmont) and from William Wallace received at 2:00 a.m. on the morning of the 7th (the deciding factor that Grant would have to attack Belmont in order to protect the two other Union columns) - messages that seemed not to have existed.

Wallace was in the habit of writing long, information-packed letters to his wife. He wrote one about this operation but said nothing about gaining information troops were crossing from Columbus to Belmont the day before, or of sending it to Grant. Wallace would later criticize Grant in another such strictly private letter to his wife for attacking Belmont for no good reason. It is inconceivable that Wallace would have neglected mentioning the midnight message or failed to understand why Grant would have had to act on it.

Woodworth concludes there never was a midnight message or any 2:00 a.m. change of plans entailing a decision to attack Belmont. According to Woodworth, Grant made that decision before he left Cairo. The story about a message from Wallace in the early hours of November 7, like the message from Frémont two days before, grew out of later exigencies.

Perhaps Grant signed the report his aides prepared more than two years later without scrutinizing its contents. Perhaps memories had grown confused. Nearly a quarter of a century after the Battle of Belmont, Grant would write in his memoirs that after passing out of range of the Confederate guns that evening, he and his troops had gone "peacefully on our way to Cairo, every man feeling that Belmont had been a great victory and that he had contributed his share to it." Soon the men would come to interpret their experiences in that light. Grant would see to it.

But that evening he did not act like a man who felt he had just contributed his share to a great victory. He sat by himself, the transport captain observed, and "said not a word but to the waiter."

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This might be a good time to discuss artillery. I won't spend much time on it personally, I will just cut and paste from two one line sources with links, but it's pretty important backgrond material. These two links do a good job, so without further discussion or contemplation:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Field_artille...rican_Civil_War

Smoothbores

Smoothbore artillery refers to weapons that are not rifled. At the time of the Civil War, metallurgy and other supporting technologies had just recently evolved to a point allowing the large scale production of rifled field artillery. As such, many smoothbore weapons were still in use and production even at the end of the war. Smoothbore field artillery of the day fit into two role-based categories: guns and howitzers. Further classifications of the weapons were made based on the type of metal used, typically bronze or iron (cast or wrought), although some examples of steel were produced. Additionally, the artillery was often identified by the year of design in the Ordnance department references.

The smoothbore artillery was also categorized by the bore dimensions, based on the rough weight of the solid shot projectile fired from the weapon. For instance a 12-pounder field gun fired a 12 pound solid shot projectile from its 4.62-inch (117 mm) diameter bore. It was practice, dating back to the 18th century, to mix gun and howitzers into batteries. Pre-war allocations called for 6-pounder field guns matched with 12-pounder howitzers, 9 and 12-pounder field guns matched with 24-pounder howitzers. But the rapid expansions of both combatant armies, mass introduction of rifled artillery, and the versatility of the 12-pounder "Napoleon" class of weapons all contributed to a change in the mixed battery practices.

Guns

Smoothbore guns were designed to fire solid shot projectiles at high velocity, over low trajectories at targets in the open, although shot and canister were acceptable for use. The barrels of the guns were longer than corresponding howitzers, and called for higher powder charges to achieve the desired performance. Field guns were produced in 6-pounder (3.67 inch bore), 9-pounder (4.2 inch bore), and 12-pounder (4.62 inch bore) versions. Although some older iron weapons were pressed into service, and the Confederacy produced some new iron field guns, most of those used on the battlefields were of bronze construction.

The 6-pounder field gun was well represented by bronze Models of 1835, 1838, 1839, and 1841 early in the war. Even a few older iron Model of 1819 weapons were pressed into service. Several hundred were used by the armies of both sides in 1861. But in practice the limited payload of the projectile was seen as a shortcoming of this weapon. From mid-war on, few 6-pounders saw action in the main field armies.

The larger 9- and 12-pounders were less well represented. While the 9-pounder was still listed on Ordnance and Artillery manuals in 1861, very few were ever produced after the War of 1812 and only scant references exist to Civil War use of the weapons. The 12-pounder field gun appeared in a series of models mirroring the 6-pounder, but in far less numbers. At least one Federal battery, the 13th Indiana, took the 12-pounder field gun into service early in the war. The major shortcoming of these heavy field guns was mobility, as they required eight-horse teams as opposed to the six-horse teams of the lighter guns. A small quantity of 12-pounder field guns were rifled early in the war, but these were more experimental weapons, and no field service is recorded.[5]

By far the most popular of the smoothbore cannon was the 12-pounder Model of 1857, Light, commonly called "Napoleon". The Model 1857 was of lighter weight than the previous 12-pounder guns, and could be pulled by a six-horse draft, yet offered the heavier projectile payload of the larger bore. It is sometimes called, confusingly, a "gun-howitzer" (because it possessed characteristics of both gun and howitzer) and is discussed in more detail separately below.

Howitzers

Howitzers were short-barreled guns that were optimized for firing explosive shells in a high trajectory, but also for spherical case shot and canister, over a shorter range than the guns. While field use alluded to firing at targets consisting of enemy forces arrayed in the open, howitzers were considered the weapon of choice if the opposing forces were concealed behind terrain features or fortifications. Howitzers used lower powder charges than guns of corresponding caliber. Field howitzer calibers used in the Civil War were 12-pounder (4.62 inch bore), 24-pounder (5.82 inch bore), and 32-pounder (6.41 inch bore). Most of the howitzers used in the war were bronze, with notable exceptions of some of Confederate manufacture.

Coupled to the 6-pounder field gun in allocations of the pre-war Army, the 12-pounder field howitzer was represented by Models of 1838 and 1841. With a light weight and respectable projectile payload, the 12-pounder was only cycled out of the main field army inventories as production and availability of the 12-pounder "Napoleon" rose, and would see action in the Confederate armies up to the very end.

As with the corresponding heavy field guns, the heavier howitzers were available in limited quantities early in the war. Both Federal and Confederate contracts list examples of 24-pounders delivered during the war, and surviving examples exist of imported Austrian types of this caliber used by the Confederates. These 24-pounder howitzers found use in the "reserve" batteries of the respective armies, but were gradually replaced over time with heavy rifled guns. Both the 24- and 32-pounders were more widely used in fixed fortifications, but at least one of the later large weapons was with the 1st Connecticut Artillery as late as 1864.

12-pounder Napoleon

The twelve-pound cannon "Napoleon" was the most popular smoothbore cannon used during the war. It was named after Napoleon III of France and was widely admired because of its safety, reliability, and killing power, especially at close range. It did not reach America until 1857. It was the last cast bronze gun used by an American army. The Federal version of the Napoleon can be recognized by the flared front end of the barrel, called the muzzle swell. Confederate Napoleons were produced in at least six variations, most of which had straight muzzles, but at least eight catalogued survivors of 133 identified have muzzle swells. Additionally, four iron Confederate Napoleons produced by Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond have been identified, of an estimated 125 cast.

Rifled guns

Rifling adds spiral grooves along the inside of the gun barrel for the purpose of spinning the shell or shot and enacting gyroscopic force that increases the accuracy of the gun by preventing the shell from rotating along axes other than the axis parallel to the gun barrel. Adding rifling to a gun tube made it more difficult and expensive to manufacture and increased the length of the tube, but it increased the range and accuracy of the piece. While most of the rifled guns in the Civil War were muzzle-loaded, a small number of breech-loaded guns were used.

3-inch ordnance rifle

The 3-inch (76 mm) ordnance rifle was the most widely used rifled gun during the war. Invented by John Griffen, it was extremely durable, with the barrel made of wrought iron, primarily produced by the Phoenix Iron Company of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. There are few cases on record of the tube fracturing or bursting, a problem that plagued other rifles made of brittle cast iron. The rifle had exceptional accuracy. During the Battle of Atlanta, a Confederate gunner was quoted: "The Yankee three-inch (76 mm) rifle was a dead shot at any distance under a mile. They could hit the end of a flour barrel more often than miss, unless the gunner got rattled."

Parrott rifles

The Parrott rifle, invented by Robert Parker Parrott, was manufactured in different sizes, from 10-pounders up to the rare 300-pounder. The 10- and 20-pounder versions were used by both armies in the field. The smaller size was much more prevalent; it came in two bore sizes: 2.9 inch and 3.0-inch (76 mm). Confederate forces used both bore sizes during the war, which added to the complication of supplying the appropriate ammunition to its batteries. Until 1864, Union batteries used only the 2.9-inch (74 mm). The M1863, with a 3-inch (76 mm) bore, had firing characteristics similar to the earlier model; it can be recognized by its straight barrel, without muzzle-swell.

Parrotts were manufactured with a combination of cast iron and wrought iron. The cast iron improved the accuracy of the gun but was brittle enough to suffer fractures. On the Parrott, a large wrought iron reinforcing band was overlaid on the breech. Although accurate, the Parrott had a poor reputation for safety, and they were shunned by many artillerymen. (At the end of 1862, Henry J. Hunt attempted to get the Parrott eliminated from the Army of the Potomac's inventory.) The 20-pounder was the largest field gun used during the war, with the barrel alone weighing over 1,800 pounds (800 kg).

Whitworth

The Whitworth, designed by Joseph Whitworth and manufactured in England, was a rare gun during the war, but was an interesting precursor to modern artillery in that it was loaded from the breech and had exceptional accuracy over great distance. An engineering magazine wrote in 1864 that, "At 1,600 yards (1,500 m) the Whitworth gun fired 10 shots with a lateral deviation of only 5 inches." This degree of accuracy made it effective in counter-battery fire, used almost as the equivalent of a sharpshooter's rifle, and also for firing over bodies of water. It was not popular as an anti-infantry weapon. It had a caliber of 2.75 inches (70 mm). The bore was hexagonal in cross-section, and the projectile was a long bolt that twisted to conform to the rifling. It is said that the bolts made a very distinctive eerie sound when fired, which could be distinguished from other projectiles.

*Ammunition*

Ammunition came in wide varieties, designed to attack specific targets. A typical Union artillery battery (armed with six 12-pounder Napoleons) carried the following ammunition going into battle: 288 shot, 96 shells, 288 spherical cases, and 96 canisters.

Shot (or bolt)

Shot was a solid projectile that included no explosive charge. For a smoothbore, the projectile was a round "cannonball". For a rifled gun, the projectile was referred to as a bolt and had a cylindrical or spherical shape. In both cases, the projectile was used to impart kinetic energy for a battering effect, particularly effective for the destruction of enemy guns, limbers and caissons, and wagons. It was also effective for mowing down columns of infantry and cavalry and had psychological effects against its targets. Despite its effectiveness, many artillerymen were reluctant to use solid shot, preferring the explosive types of ordnance. With solid projectiles, accuracy was the paramount consideration, and they also caused more tube wear than their explosive counterparts.

Shell

Shells included an explosive charge and were designed to burst into a number of irregular fragments in the midst of enemy infantry or artillery. For smoothbores, the projectile was referred to as "spherical shell". Shells were more effective against troops behind obstacles or earthworks, and they were good for destroying wooden buildings by setting them on fire. A primary weakness of shell was that it typically produced only a few large fragments, with fragment count increasing with caliber of the shell.

Spherical shell used time fuses, while rifled shell could be detonated on impact by percussion fuses. Fuse reliability was a concern; and shell that buried itself into the earth before detonating had little anti-personnel effectiveness.

Case (or shrapnel)

Case (or "spherical case" for smoothbores) were anti-personnel projectiles carrying a smaller burst charge than shell, but designed to be more effective against exposed troops. While shell produced only a few large fragments, case was loaded with lead or iron balls and was designed to burst above and before the enemy line, showering down many more small but destructive projectiles on the enemy. The effect was analogous to a weaker version of canister. With case the lethality of the balls and fragments came from the velocity of the bursting projectile itself—the small burst charge only fragmented the case and dispersed the shrapnel. The spherical case used in a 12-pounder Napoleon contained 78 balls. The name shrapnel derives from its inventor, Henry Shrapnel.

The primary limitations to case effectiveness came in judging the range, setting the fuse accordingly, and the reliability and variability of the fuse itself.

Canister

Canister shot was the deadliest type of ammunition, consisting of a thin metal container loaded with layers of lead or iron balls packed in sawdust. Upon exiting the muzzle, the container disintegrated, and the balls fanned out as the equivalent of a shotgun blast. The effective range of canister was only 400 yards (370 m), but within that range dozens of enemy infantrymen could be mowed down. Even more devastating was "double canister", generally used only in dire circumstances, where two containers of balls were fired simultaneously.

Pictures of some examples can be viewed by clicking on the link.

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