Fantasy Football - Footballguys Forums
timschochet

The American Civil War Timeline- 150th Anniversary

Recommended Posts

Henry - Donelson Campaign Map

On 2 February 1862, Commodore Andrew H. Foote led a Union flotilla from Cairo, Illinois, up the Tennessee River. Four ironclad gunboats preceded three lightly armored "timberclad" gunboats and numerous transports carrying thousands of Union troops commanded by Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant. The Tennessee's strong current made for slow and dangerous progress, but on the 4th, the leading vessels halted some six miles below Confederate-held Fort Henry. Captain Jesse Taylor, commanding the fort's artillery, recalled, "Far as eye could see, the course of the river could be traced by the dense volumes of smoke issuing from the flotilla—indicating that the long-threatened attempt to break our lines was to be made in earnest."

Control of Tennessee was vital to both sides in the Civil War. Its agricultural production was critical to Confederate armies, and Nashville was one of the most important manufacturing centers in the Confederacy. Along the Cumberland River northwest of Nashville lay the South's largest gunpowder mills. The state also contained much of the Confederacy's mineral wealth. The two keys to controlling central Tennessee lay only 12 miles apart along its northern border: Fort Henry on the Tennessee and Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River.

Although Union forces in the Western theater outnumbered the Confederates two to one in the summer of 1861, most Federal commanders were unenthusiastic about a thrust into Tennessee. Reportedly, Confederate defenses were well developed, and the lack of good north-south roads and adequate rail lines presented serious logistical difficulties. Both Major General Henry Halleck, commander of the Department of the Missouri, and Brigadier General Don Carlos Buell, head of the Department of the Ohio, cited logistics and insufficient resources for their failure to advance.

In mid-September General Albert Sidney Johnston took command of the Confederacy's Western forces. Faced with the unenviable task of defending a 500-mile front with inadequate resources, Johnston opted for a broad-front strategy. His defensive line ran east from Columbus, Kentucky, briefly dipped into northern Tennessee before re-entering Kentucky and continuing to the Cumberland Gap. The Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers, the two main tributaries of the Ohio, bisected the line, and where the two rivers were at their closest, the Confederates had built Henry on the east bank of the Tennessee River and Donelson on the west bank of the Cumberland.

Johnston's broad-front strategy was a calculated risk. In September he informed Confederate President Jefferson Davis, "We have not over half the armed forces that are now likely to be required for our security against disaster." Johnston hoped to hold his weak forward line until he could bring up reinforcements, and for six months his gamble paid off. He deployed the bulk of his troops at Bowling Green, Kentucky, where his headquarters was located, and Columbus. The rest of the long defensive line was stretched thin; only 5,500 troops garrisoned Henry and Donelson. Seizure of the forts would force Johnston to retreat from Kentucky and northern Tennessee or risk having his supply lines severed and his entire Army destroyed.

The Gunboat Flotilla

To control the Western rivers, both the Union and the Confederacy built gunboats - broad-beam, shallow-draft vessels that mounted as many as four guns forward and two aft with others in broadsides. The North had superior manufacturing resources, and in early June 1861 the U.S. Navy contracted to buy and convert three wooden side-wheel steamers - the Tyler, Lexington, and Conestoga - that would be under Army control. Strengthened to carry heavy guns and bolstered by 5-inch-thick oak siding to withstand at least small-arms fire, these so-called timberclads were ready by late July.

James Eads, who directed the timberclad conversions, also secured an Army contract to build seven ironclads. Designed by John Lenthall and modified by Samuel Pook and Eads, each was propelled by a stern paddlewheel located amidships. They were called "Pook Turtles" for their rectangular casemates, designed by Pook, that covered the ships with sloped, armored sides. The ironclads, all named for towns on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers—the Cairo, Carondelet, Cincinnati, Louisville, Mound City, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis—were protected with 2.5 inches of armor on the casemate and 1.25 inches on the conical forward pilothouse. When the vessels were completed and commissioned in January 1862, each mounted three 8-inch smoothbores, four Army 42-pounder coast defense rifled guns (7-inch bores), and six 32-pounder rifled guns. Eads also converted a ferry purchased by the War Department into the ironclad Essex, arming her with one 32-pounder, three 9-inch Dahlgren smoothbores, and one 10-inch smoothbore. Like all U.S. warships on inland waters, the vessels would remain under the overall jurisdiction of the Army until October 1862.

In September 1861, U.S. Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles had assigned Foote, a veteran of nearly 40 years of naval service, to command the Western flotilla. Blunt and of implacable resolve, Foote, like Grant—the commander of the District of Cairo, Illinois—believed the way to defeat the enemy was to attack him. He was no less determined an organizer. Certainly, much of the subsequent Union success in the West was attributable to his ability to overcome daunting problems and to his smooth working relationship with Grant. Foote soon proved the flotilla's worth in speeding the movement of soldiers and supplies and providing artillery support for troops ashore.

For some time Grant and Foote had urged Halleck to take action against Fort Henry. Others had also suggested such an operation and, with pressure from President Abraham Lincoln and under threat of rumored Confederate reinforcements, Halleck finally agreed; the expedition set out on 2 February.

The Move against Fort Henry

In December 1861, Brigadier General Lloyd Tilghman had assumed command of Forts Henry and Donelson and quickly realized the weaknesses of the former. Johnston's military engineers confirmed that Henry had been badly sited on low ground and could easily be dominated by high ground across the river. Johnston then ordered the west bank to be fortified. For some reason Tilghman was dilatory in carrying out the work; the west-bank fortifications, known as Fort Heiman, were unfinished when Union troops arrived.

Fort Henry, a solidly built five-sided earthwork, lay in a bend of the Tennessee River and commanded a three-mile straight stretch of water. By February 1862, Henry mounted 17 heavy guns: 12 facing the river and five guarding land approaches. It had eight 32-pounders, two 42-pounders, one 128-pounder Columbiad rifled gun, five long 18-pounder siege guns, and a 6-inch rifled gun. In early February some of the roughly three acres of land within the fort was two feet under water, threatening magazines and even the guns themselves. Moreover, the defenders had no ammunition for their 42-pounders, leaving only nine guns to counter a water approach. Tilghman also had only 2,610 men in two brigades; many were raw recruits armed with only shotguns and hunting rifles.

Late on 5 February, three of the Union gunboats steamed into view of the fort and, according to Taylor, opened a "vigorous and well-directed fire," which killed one defender and wounded three others. The Confederates fired six shots in return, and the gunboats withdrew.

Grant believed that the Confederates would quickly reinforce Fort Henry and therefore ordered a simultaneous land and water attack to begin at 1100 the next day. In readying his vessels, Foote reportedly told the crew of the Essex to "be brave and courageous, and above all to place their faith in Divine Providence."

For the army advance, Grant sent Brigadier General Charles F. Smith and two brigades along the west bank of the river to prevent reinforcement and escape from that direction and to seize Fort Heiman. Most of Grant's men—Brigadier General John A. McClernand's division augmented by Smith's remaining brigade—advanced along the river's east bank, but wretched roads, dense woods, and swampy conditions delayed them.

Although Tilghman had telegraphed for reinforcements, none was sent, and at 1000 on the 6th he ordered all but the artillery company manning the batteries to march to Donelson. Fifty minutes later Foote ordered his gunboats forward, and at 1135 the four ironclads—the Cincinnati, Carondelet, St. Louis, and Essex—formed in line abreast. With no sign of Union troops ashore, Foote decided to begin the battle alone. Soon the fort with its Confederate flag, huts, and earthworks came into view. At 1145, from about 1,700-yard range, Foote's flagship, the Cincinnati, opened fire, and the other gunboats followed suit. At about a mile's range the Confederate water battery responded and the firing became general. The gunboats used only their bow guns as they closed to within 600 yards of the fort. Meanwhile, the timberclads Lexington, Conestoga, and Tyler lobbed shells into the forts from long range.

Behind Henry's earthworks, Captain Taylor ordered each of his gun crews to concentrate on a particular vessel. The defenders knew the ranges to their targets, and their fire was both lively and accurate. Although Fort Henry had only nine guns that could respond, the Confederates hit each gunboat numerous times (59 hits in all), but most damage was slight, save to the Essex. Well into the battle, after she had fired 72 shots from her 9-inch Dahlgren guns, the Essex took a shell in her middle boiler. The resulting blast and steam killed or wounded 32 officers and men, including the captain, Commander William D. Porter, who was badly scalded. Out of control, she drifted downriver.

The Confederates, however, were sustaining the more serious damage. Union fire was very accurate and shell explosions threw up earth around the Rebel guns. At 1235 the 6-inch rifled gun blew up, killing or wounding all its crew. A primer became stuck in the vent of the 10-inch Columbiad, disabling it. Then two 32-pounders were hit. As Taylor described it, "the flying fragments of the shattered guns and bursted shells disabled every man at the two guns." The gunners were dispirited and even Tilghman's example of working one of the guns himself failed to elicit enthusiasm.

With only four guns able to return fire, at 1350 Tilghman mounted the parapet and waved a flag of truce, but heavy smoke obscured the scene. Five minutes later Taylor lowered the Confederate flag, which brought firing to an end. By that time the gunboats were only 200 yards from the fort.

Tilghman had gained two hours for the garrison to escape. Only 94 men, including the commander and 16 men aboard a hospital boat, surrendered. Confederate losses from Federal fire were remarkably light: five dead, 11 wounded, and five missing. Union troops, meanwhile, arrived about an hour after the surrender; clearly the honor of the capture of Fort Henry belonged to the Navy.

Foote quickly capitalized on the victory, sending three timberclads up the Tennessee River to disable the Memphis-Louisville railroad bridge and to conduct raids. His forces destroyed half a dozen Rebel steamers laden with supplies and seized the 670-ton steamer Eastport, which the Confederates had been converting into an ironclad ram. Union naval forces got as far south as Florence, Alabama, where the shallow water of Muscle Shoals stopped the gunboats.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Battle of Fort Donelson Feb 11-16, 1861

The following narrative was written by Brig. Gen. Lew Wallace, better known as the author Ben Hur.

The Capture of Fort Donelson

"It was not possible for brave men to endure more"

It is of little moment now who first enunciated the idea of attacking the rebellion by way of the Tennessee River; most likely the conception was simultaneous with many minds. The trend of the river; its navigability for large steamers; its offer of a highway to the rear of the Confederate hosts in Kentucky and the State of Tennessee; its silent suggestion of a secure passage into the heart of the belligerent land, from which the direction of movement could be changed toward the Mississippi, or, left, toward Richmond; its many advantages as a line of supply and of general communication, must have been discerned by every military student who, in the summer of 1861, gave himself to the most cursory examination of the map. It is thought better and more consistent with fact to conclude that its advantages as a strategic line, so actually obtrusive of themselves, were observed about the same time by thoughtful men on both sides of the contest. With every problem of attack there goes a counter problem of defense....

When General Johnston assumed command of the Western Department, the war had ceased to be a new idea. Battles had been fought. Preparations for battles to come were far advanced. Already it had been accepted that the North was to attack and the South to defend. The Mississippi River was a central object; if opened from Cairo to Fort Jackson (New Orleans), the Confederacy would be broken into halves, and good strategy required it to be broken. The question was whether the effort would be made directly or by turning its defended positions. Of the national gun-boats afloat above Cairo, some were formidably iron-clad. Altogether the flotilla was strong enough to warrant the theory that a direct descent would be attempted; and to meet the movement the Confederates threw up powerful batteries, notably at Columbus, Island Number Ten, Memphis, and Vicksburg. So fully were they possessed of that theory that they measurably neglected the possibilities of invasion by way of the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers. Not until General Johnston established his headquarters at Nashville was serious attention given to the defense of those streams. A report to his chief of engineers of November 21st, 1861, establishes that at that date a second battery on the Cumberland at Dover had been completed; that a work on the ridge had been laid out, and two guns mounted; and that the encampment was then surrounded by an abatis of felled timber. Later, Brigadier-General Lloyd Tilghman was sent to Fort Donelson as commandant, and on January 25th he reports the batteries prepared, the entire field-works built with a trace of 2900 feet, and rifle-pits to guard the approaches were begun. The same officer speaks further of reinforcements housed in four hundred log cabins, and adds that while this was being done at Fort Donelson, Forts Henry and Heiman, over on the Tennessee, were being thoroughly strengthened. January 30th, Fort Donelson was formally inspected by Lieutenant Colonel Gilmer, chief engineer of the Western Department, and the final touches were ordered to be given it.

It is to be presumed that General Johnston was satisfied with the defenses thus provided for the Cumberland River. From observing General Buell at Louisville, and the stir and movement of multiplying columns under General U. S. Grant in the region of Cairo, he suddenly awoke determined to fight for Nashville at Donelson. To this conclusion he came as late as the beginning of February; and thereupon the brightest of the Southern leaders proceeded to make a capital mistake. The Confederate estimate of the Union force at that time in Kentucky alone was 119 regiments. The force at Cairo, St. Louis, and the towns near the mouth of the Cumberland River was judged to be about as great. It was also known that we had unlimited means of transportation for troops, making concentration a work of but few hours. Still General Johnston persisted in fighting for Nashville, and for that purpose divided his thirty thousand men. Fourteen thousand he kept in observation of Buell at Louisville. Sixteen thousand he gave to defend Fort Donelson. The latter detachment he himself called "the best part of his army." It is difficult to think of a great master of strategy making an error so perilous.

Having taken the resolution to defend Nashville at Donelson, he intrusted the operation to three chiefs of brigade-John B. Floyd, Gideon J. Pillow, and Simon B. Buckner. Of these, the first was ranking officer, and he was at the time under indictment by a grand jury at Washington for malversation as Secretary of War under President Buchanan, and for complicity in an embezzlement of public funds. As will be seen, there came a crisis when the recollection of the circumstance exerted an unhappy influence over his judgment. The second officer had a genuine military record; but it is said of him that he was of a jealous nature, insubordinate, and quarrelsome. His bold attempt to supersede General Scott in Mexico was green in the memories of living men. To give pertinency to the remark, there is reason to believe that a personal misunderstanding between him and General Buckner, older than the rebellion, was yet unsettled when the two met at Donelson. All in all, therefore, there is little doubt that the junior of the three commanders was the fittest for the enterprise intrusted to them. He was their equal in courage; while in devotion to the cause and to his profession of arms, in tactical knowledge, in military bearing, in the faculty of getting the most service out of his inferiors, and inspiring them with confidence in his ability-as a soldier in all the higher meanings of the word-he was greatly their superior.

The 6th of February, 1862, dawned darkly after a thunder-storm. Pacing the parapets of the work on the hill above the inlet formed by the junction of Hickman's Creek and the Cumberland River, a sentinel, in the serviceable butternut jeans uniform of the Confederate army of the West, might that day have surveyed Fort Donelson almost ready for battle. In fact, very little was afterward done to it. There were the two water-batteries sunk in the northern face of the bluff, about thirty feet above the river; in the lower battery 9 32-pounder guns and I 10-inch Columbiad, and in the upper another Columbiad, bored and rifled as a 32-pounder, and 2 32-pounder carronades. These guns lay between the embrasures, in snug revetment of sand in coffeesacks, flanked right and left with stout traverses. The satisfaction of the sentry could have been nowise diminished at seeing the backwater lying deep in the creek; a more perfect ditch against assault could not have been constructed. The fort itself was of good profile, and admirably adapted to the ridge it crowned. Around it, on the landward side, ran the rifle-pits, a continuous but irregular line of logs, covered with yellow clay. From Hickman's Creek they extended far around to the little run just outside the town on the south. If the sentry thought the pits looked shallow, he was solaced to see that they followed the coping of the ascents, seventy or eighty feet in height, up which a foe must charge, and that, where they were weakest, they were strengthened by trees felled outwardly in front of them, so that the inter lacing limbs and branches seemed impassable by men under fire. At points inside the outworks, on the inner slopes of the hills, defended thus from view of an enemy as well as from his shot, lay the huts and log-houses of the garrison. Here and there groups of later comers, shivering in their wet blankets, were visible in a bivouac so cheerless that not even morning fires could relieve it. A little music would have helped their sinking spirits, but there was none. Even the picturesque effect of gay uniforms was wanting. In fine, the Confederate sentinel on the ramparts that morning, taking in the whole scene, knew the jolly, rollicking picnic days of the war were over.

To make clearer why the 6th of February is selected to present the first view of the fort, about noon that day the whole garrison was drawn from their quarters by the sound of heavy guns, faintly heard from the direction of Fort Henry, a token by which every man of them knew that a battle was on. The occurrence was in fact expected, for two days before a horseman had ridden to General Tilghman with word that at 4:30 o'clock in the morning rocket signals had been exchanged with the picket at Bailey's Landing, announcing the approach of gun-boats. A second courier came, and then a third; the latter, in great haste, requesting the general's presence at Fort Henry. There was quick mounting at headquarters, and, before the camp could be taken into confidence, the general and his guard were out of sight. Occasional guns were heard the day following. Donelson gave itself up to excitement and conjecture. At noon of the 6th, as stated, there was continuous and heavy cannonading at Fort Henry, and greater excitement at Fort Donelson.... At exactly midnight the gallant Colonel Heiman marched into Fort Donelson with two brigades of infantry rescued from the ruins of Forts Henry and Heiman. The officers and men by whom they were received then knew that their turn was at hand; and at daybreak, with one mind and firm of purpose, they set about the final preparation.

Brigadier General Pillow reached Fort Donelson on the 9th; Brigadier General Buckner came in the night of the 11th; and Brigadier-General Floyd on the 13th. The latter, by virtue of his rank, took command.

The morning of the 13th-calm, spring-like, the very opposite of that of the 6th-found in Fort Donelson a garrison of 28 regiments of infantry: 13 from Tennessee, 2 from Kentucky, 6 from Mississippi, I from Texas, 2 from Alabama, 4 from Virginia. There were also present 2 independent battalions, I regiment of cavalry, and artillerymen for 6 light batteries, and 17 heavy guns, making a total of quite 18,000 electives.

General Buckner's division-6 regiments and 2 batteries-constituted the right wing, and was posted to cover the land approaches to the water-batteries. A left wing was organized into six brigades. Four batteries were distributed amongst the left wing. General Bushrod R. Johnson, an able officer, served the general commanding as chief-of-staff. Dover was converted into a depot of supplies and ordnance stores. These dispositions made, Fort Donelson was ready for battle.

It may be doubted if General Grant called a council of war. The nearest approach to it was a convocation held on the New Uncle Sam, a steamboat that was afterward transformed into the gun-boat Blackhawk. The morning of the 11th of February, a staff-officer visited each commandant of division and brigade with the simple verbal message: "General Grant sends his compliments, and requests to see you this afternoon on his boat." Minutes of the proceedings were not kept; there was no adjournment; each person retired when he got ready, knowing that the march would take place next day, probably in the forenoon.

There were in attendance on the occasion some officers of great subsequent notability. Of these Ulysses S. Grant was first. The world knows him now; then his fame was all before him. A singularity of the volunteer service in that day was that nobody took account of even a first-rate record of the Mexican War. The battle of Belmont, though indecisive, was a much better reference' A story was abroad that Grant had been the last man to take boat at the end of that affair, and the addendum that he had lingered in face of the enemy until he was hauled aboard with the last gang-plank, did him great good. From the first his silence was remarkable. He knew how to keep his temper. In battle, as in camp, he went about quietly, speaking in a conversational tone; yet he appeared to see everything that went on, and was always intent on business. He had a faithful assistant adjutant-general, and appreciated him; he preferred, however, his own eyes, word, and hand. His aides were little more than messengers. In dress he was plain, even negligent; in partial amendment of that his horse was always a good one and well kept. At the council-calling it such by grace-he smoked, but never said a word. In all probability he was framing the orders of march which were issued that night. Charles F. Smith, of the regular army, was also present.... At the time of the meeting on the New Uticle Sam he was a brigadier-general, and commanded the division which in the land operations against Fort Henry had marched up the left bank of the river against Fort Heiman.

Another officer worthy of mention was John A. McClernand, also a brigadier. By profession a lawyer, he was in his first of military service. Brave, industrious, methodical, and of unquestioned cleverness, he was rapidly acquiring the art of war.

There was still another in attendance on the New Uncle Sam not to be passed-a young man who had followed General Grant from Illinois, and was seeing his first of military service. No soldier in the least familiar with headquarters on the Tennessee can ever forget the slender figure, large black eyes, hectic cheeks, and sincere, earnest manner of John A. Rawlins, then assistant adjutant-general, afterward major-general and secretary of war. He had two special devotions-to the cause and to his chief. He lived to see the first triumphant and the latter first in peace as well as in war. Probably no officer of the Union was mourned by so many armies.

Fort Henry, it will be remembered, was taken by Flag-Officer Foote on the 6th of February. The time up to the 12th was given to reconnoitering the country in the direction of Fort Donelson. Two roads were discovered: one of twelve miles direct, the other almost parallel with the first, but, on account of a slight divergence, two miles longer.

By 8 o'clock in the morning, the First Division, General McClemand commanding, and the Second, under General Smith, were in full march. The infantry of this command consisted of twenty-five regiments in all, or three less than those of the Confederates. Against their six field-batteries General Grant had seven. In cavalry alone he was materially stronger. The rule in attacking fortifications is five to one; to save the Union commander from a charge of rashness, however, he had also at control a fighting quality ordinarily at home on the sea rather than the land. After receiving the surrender of Fort Henry, Flag-Officer Foote had hastened to Cairo to make preparation for the reduction of Fort Donelson. With six of his boats, he passed into the Cumberland River; and on the 12th, while the two divisions of the army were marching across to Donelson, he was hurrying, as fast as steam could drive him and his following, to a second trial of iron batteries afloat against earth batteries ashore. The Carondelet, Commander Walke, having preceded him, had been in position below the fort since the 12th. By sundown of the 12th, McCiernand and Smith reached the point designated for them in orders.

On the morning of the 13th of February General Grant, with about twenty thousand men, was before Fort Donelson. We have had a view of the army in the works ready for battle; a like view of that outside and about to go into position of attack and assault is not so easily to be given. At dawn the latter host rose up from the bare ground, and, snatching bread and coffee as best they could, fell into lines that stretched away over hills, down hollows, and through thickets, making it impossible for even colonels to see their regiments from flank to flank.

Pausing to give a thought to the situation, it is proper to remind the reader that he is about to witness an event of more than mere historical interest; he is about to see the men of the North and North-west and of the South and South-west enter for the first time into a strife of arms; on one side, the best blood of Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas, aided materially by fighting representatives from Virginia; on the other, the best blood of Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, and Nebraska.

We have now before us a spectacle seldom witnessed in the annals of scientific war-an army behind field-works erected in a chosen position waiting quietly while another army very little superior in numbers proceeds at leisure to place it in a state of siege. Such was the operation General Grant had before him at daybreak of the 13th of February. Let us see how it was accomphshed and how it was resisted.

In a clearing about two miles from Dover there was a log-house, at the time occupied by a Mrs. Crisp. As the road to Dover ran close by, it was made the headquarters of the commanding general. All through the night of the 12th, the coming and going was incessant. Smith was ordered to find a position in front of the enemy's right wing, which would place him face to face with Buckner. McClernand's order was to establish himself on the enemy's left, where he would be opposed to Pillow.

A little before dawn Birge's sharp-shooters were astir. Theirs was a peculiar service. Each was a preferred marksman, and carried a long-range Henry rifle, with sights delicately arranged as for target practice. In action each was perfectly independent. They never manoeuvred as a corps. When the time came they were asked, "Canteens full?" "Biscuits for all day?" Then their only order, "All right; hunt your holes, boys." Thereupon they dispersed, and, like Indians, sought cover to please themselves behind rocks and stumps, or in hollows. Sometimes they dug holes; sometimes they climbed into trees. Once in a good location, they remained there the day. At night they would crawl out and report in camp. This morning, as I have said, the sharp-shooters dispersed early to find places within easy range of the breastworks.

The movement by Smith and McClemand was begun about the same time. A thick wood fairly screened the former. The latter had to cross an open valley under fire of two batteries, one on Buckner's left, the other on a high point jutting from the line of outworks held by Colonel Heiman of Pillow's command. Graves commanded the first (Kentucky), Maney the second (Tennessee); both were of Tennessee. As always in situations where the advancing party is ignorant of the ground and of the designs of the enemy, resort was had to skirmishers, who are to the main body what antennae are to insects. Theirs it is to unmask the foe. Unlike sharp-shooters, they act in bodies. Behind the skirmishers, the batteries started out to find positions, and through the brush and woods, down the hollows, up the hills the guns and caissons were hauled. Nowadays it must be a very steep bluff in face of which the good artillerist will stop or turn back. At Donelson, however, the proceeding was generally slow and toilsome. The officer had to find a vantage ground first; then with axes a road to it was hewn out; after which, in many instances, the men, with the prolongs over their shoulders, helped the horses along. In the gray of the dawn the sharp-shooters were deep in their deadly game; as the sun came up, one battery after another opened fire, and was instantly and gallantly answered; and all the time behind the hidden sharpshooters, and behind the skirmishers, who occasionally stopped to take a hand in the fray, the regiments marched, route-step, colors flying, after their colonels.

About 11 o'clock Commander Walke, of the Carondelet, engaged the water-batteries. The air was then full of the stunning music of battle, though as yet not a volley of musketry had been heard. Smith, nearest the enemy at starting, was first in place; and there, leaving the fight to his sharp-shooters and skirmishers and to his batteries, he reported to the chief in the log-house, and, like an old soldier, calmly waited orders. McClernand, following a good road, pushed on rapidly to the high grounds on the right. The appearance of his column in the valley covered by the two Confederate batteries provoked a furious shelling from them. On the double-quick his men passed through it; and when, in the wood beyond, they resumed the route-step and saw that nobody was hurt, they fell to laughing at themselves. The real baptism of fire was yet in store for them.

When McClernand arrived at his appointed place and extended his brigades, it was discovered that the Confederate outworks offered a front too great for him to envelop. To attempt to rest his right opposite their extreme left would necessitate a dangerous attenuation of his line and leave him without reserves. Over on their left, moreover, ran the road passing from Dover on the south to Charlotte and Nashville, which it was of the highest importance to close hermetically so that there would be no communication left General Floyd except by the river. If the road to Charlotte were left to the enemy, they might march out at their pleasure. The insufficiency of his force was thus made apparent to General Grant, and whether a discovery of the moment or not, he set about its correction. He knew a reinforcement was coming up the river under convoy of Foote; besides which a brigade, composed of the 8th Missouri and the 11th Indiana infantry and Battery A, Illinois, had been left behind at Forts Henry and Heiman under myself. A courier was dispatched to me with an order to bring my command to Donelson. I ferried my troops across the Tennessee in the night, and reported with them at headquarters before noon the next day. The brigade was transferred to General Smith; at the same time an order was put into my hand assigning me to command the Third Division, which was conducted to a position between Smith and McClernand, enabling the latter to extend his line well to the left and cover the road to Charlotte.

Thus on the 14th of February the Confederates were completely invested, except that the river above Dover remained to them. The supineness of General Floyd all this while is to this day incomprehensible. A vigorous attack on the morning of the 13th might have thrown Grant back upon Fort Henry. Such an achievement would have more than offset Foote's conquest. The morale to be gained would have alone justified the attempt. But with McClernand's strong division on the right, my own in the center, and C. F. Smith's on the left, the opportunity was gone. On the side of General Grant, the possession of the river was all that was wanting; with that Grant could force the fighting, or wait the certain approach of the grimmest enemy of the besieged-starvation. It is now-morning of the 14th-easy to see and understand with something more than approximate exactness the oppositions of the two forces. Smith is on the left of the Union army opposite Buckner. My division, in the center, confronts Colonels Heiman, Drake, and Davidson, each with a brigade. McClernand, now well over on the right, keeps the road to Charlotte and Nashville against the major part of Pillow's left wing. The infantry on both sides are in cover behind the crests of the hills or in thick woods, listening to the ragged fusillade which the sharp-shooters and skirmishers maintain against each other almost without intermission. There is little pause in the exchange of shells and round shot. The careful chiefs have required their men to lie down. In brief, it looks as if each party were inviting the other to begin.

These circumstances, the sharp-shooting and cannonading, ugly as they may seem to one who thinks of them under comfortable surroundings, did in fact serve a good purpose the day in question in helping the men to forget their sufferings of the night before. It must be remembered that the weather had changed during the preceding afternoon: from suggestions of spring it turned to intensified winter. From lending a gentle hand in bringing Foote and his iron-clads up the river, the wind whisked suddenly around to the north and struck both armies with a storm of mixed rain, snow, and sleet. All night the tempest blew mercilessly upon the unsheltered, fireless soldier, making sleep impossible. Inside the works, nobody had overcoats; while thousands of those outside had marched from Fort Henry as to a summer fete, leaving coats, blankets, and knapsacks behind them in the camp. More than one stout fellow has since admitted, with a laugh, that nothing was so helpful to him that horrible night as the thought that the wind, which seemed about to turn his blood into icicles, was serving the enemy the same way; they, too, had to stand out and take the blast. Let us now go back to the preceding day, and bring up an incident of McClernand's swing into position.

About the center of the Confederate outworks there was a V-shaped hill, marked sharply by a ravine on its right and another on its left. This Colonel Heiman occupied with his brigade of five regiments-all of Tennessee but one. The front presented was about 2500 feet. In the angle of the V, on the summit of the hill, Captain Maney's battery, also of Tennessee, had been planted. Without protection of any kind, it nevertheless completely swept a large field to the left, across which an assaulting force would have to come in order to get at Heiman or at Drake, next on the south.

Maney, on the point of the hill, had been active throughout the preceding afternoon, and had succeeded in drawing the fire of some of McClernand's guns. The duel lasted until night. Next morning it was renewed with increased sharpness, Maney being assisted on his right by Graves's battery of Buckner's division, and by some pieces of Drake's on his left.

McClernand's advance was necessarily slow and trying. This was not merely a logical result of unacquaintance with the country and the dispositions of the enemy; he was also under an order from General Grant to avoid everything calculated to bring on a general engagement. In Maney's wellserved guns he undoubtedly found serious annoyance, if not a positive obstruction. Concentrating guns of his own upon the industrious Confederate, he at length fancied him silenced and the enemy's infantry on the right thrown into confusion-circumstances from which he hastily deduced a favorable chance to deliver an assault. For that purpose he reanforced his Third Brigade, which was nearest the offending battery, and gave the necessary orders.

Up to this time, it will be observed, there had not been any fighting involving infantry in line. This was now to be changed....

Down the hill the three regiments went, crashing and tearing through the undergrowth. Heiman, on the lookout, saw them advancing. Before they cleared the woods, Maney opened with shells. At the foot of the descent, in the valley, Graves joined his fire to Maney's. There Morrison reported to Haynie, who neither accepted nor refused the command. Pointing to the hill, he merely said, "Let us take it together." Morrison turned away, and rejoined his own regiment. Here was confusion in the beginning, or worse, an assault begun without a head. Nevertheless, the whole line went forward. On a part of the hillside the trees were yet standing. The open space fell to Morrison and his 49th, and paying the penalty of the exposure, he outstripped his associates. The men fell rapidly; yet the living rushed on and up, firing as they went. The battery was the common target. Maney's gunners, in relief against the sky, were shot down in quick succession. His first lieutenant (Burns) was one of the first to suffer. His second lieutenant (Massie) was mortally wounded. Maney himself was hit; still he staid, and his guns continued their punishment; and still the farmer lads and shop boys of Illinois clung to their purpose. With marvelous audacity they pushed through the abatis and reached a point within forty yards of the rifle-pits. It actually looked as if the prize were theirs. The yell of victory was rising in their throats. Suddenly the long line of yellow breastworks before them, covering Heiman's five regiments, crackled and turned into flame. The forlorn-hope stopped-staggered-braced up again-shot blindly through the smoke at the smoke of the new enemy, secure in his shelter. Thus for fifteen minutes the Illinoisans stood fighting. The time is given on the testimony of the opposing leader himself. Morrison was knocked out of his saddle by a musket ball, and disabled; then the men went down the hill. At its foot they rallied round their flags and renewed the assault. Pushed down again, again they rallied, and a third time climbed to the enemy. This time the battery set fire to the dry leaves on the ground, and the heat and smoke became stiffing. It was not possible for brave men to endure more. Slowly, sullenly, frequently pausing to return a shot, they went back for the last time; and in going their ears and souls were riven with the shrieks of their wounded comrades, whom the flames crept down upon and smothered and charred where they lay.

Considered as a mere exhibition of courage, this assault, long maintained against odds-twice repulsed, twice renewed-has been seldom excelled. One hundred and forty-nine men of the 17th and 49th were killed and wounded. Haynie reported 1 killed and 8 wounded.

There are few things connected with the operations against Fort Donelson so relieved of uncertainty as this: that when General Grant at Fort Henry became fixed in the resolution to undertake the movement, his primary object was the capture of the force to which the post was intrusted. To effect their complete environment, he relied upon Flag-Officer Foote and his gunboats, whose astonishing success at Fort Henry justified the extreme of confidence.

Foote arrived on the 14th, and made haste to enter upon his work. The Carondelet (Commander Walke) had been in position since the 12th. Behind a low output of the shore, for two days, she maintained a fire from her rifled guns, happily of greater range than the best of those of the enemy.

At 9 o'clock on the 14th, Captain Culbertson, looking from the parapet of the upper battery, beheld the river below the first bend full of transports, landing troops under cover of a fresh arrival of gun-boats. The disembarkation concluded, Foote was free. He waited until noon. The captains in the batteries mistook his deliberation for timidity. The impinging of their shot on his iron armor was heard distinctly in the fort a mile and a half away. The captains began to doubt if he would come at all. But at 3 o'clock the boats took position under fire: the Louisville on the right, the St. Louis next, then the Pittsburgh, then the Carondelet, all iron-clad.

Five hundred yards from the batteries, and yet Foote was not content! In the Crimean war the allied French and English fleets, of much mightier ships, undertook to engage the Russian shore batteries, but little stronger than those at Donelson. The French on that occasion stood off 1800 yards. Lord Lyons fought his Agamemnon at a distance of 800 yards. Foote forged ahead within 400 yards of his enemy, and was still going on. His boat had been hit between wind and water; so with the Pittsburgh and Carondelet. About the guns the floors were slippery with blood, and both surgeons and carpenters were never so busy. Still the four boats kept on, and there was great cheering; for not only did the fire from the shore slacken; the lookouts reported the enemy running. It seemed that fortune would smile once more upon the fleet, and cover the honors of Fort Henry afresh at Fort Donelson. Unhappily, when about 350 yards off the hill a solid shot plunged through the pilot-house of the flag-ship, and carried away the wheel. Near the same time the tiller-ropes of the Louisville were disabled. Both vessels became unmanageable and began floating down the current. The eddies turned them round like logs. The Pittsburgh and Carondelet closed in and covered them with their hulls.

Seeing this turn in the fight, the captains of the batteries rallied their men, who cheered in their turn, and renewed the contest with increased will and energy. A hall got lodged in their best rifle. A corporal and some of his men took a log fitting the bore, leaped out on the parapet, and rammed the missile home. "Now, boys," said a gunner in Bidwell's battery, "see me take a chimney!" The flag of the boat and the chimney fell with the shot.

When the vessels were out of range, the victors looked about them. The fine form of their embrasures was gone; heaps of earth had been cast over their platforms. In a space of twenty-four feet they had picked up as many shot and shells. The air had been full of flying missiles. For an hour and a half the brave fellows had been rained upon; yet their losses had been trifling in numbers. Each gunner had selected a ship and followed her faithfully throughout the action, now and then uniting fire on the Carondelet. The Confederates had behaved with astonishing valor. Their victory sent a thrill of joy through the army. The assault on the outworks, the day before, had been a failure. With the repulse of the gun-boats the Confederates scored success number two, and the communication by the river remained open to Nashville. The winds that blew sleet and snow over Donelson that night were not so unendurable as they might have been.

The night of the 14th of February fell cold and dark, and under the pitiless sky the armies remained in position so near to

each other that neither dared light fires. Overpowered with watching, fatigue, and the lassitude of spirits which always follows a strain upon the faculties of men like that which is the concomitant of battle, thousands on both sides lay down in the ditches and behind logs and whatever else would in the least shelter them from the cutting wind, and tried to sleep. Very few closed their eyes. Even the horses, after their manner, betrayed the suffering they were enduring.

That morning General Floyd had called a council of his chiefs of brigades and divisions. He expressed the opinion that the post was untenable, except with fifty thousand troops. He called attention to the heavy reinforcements of the Federals, and suggested an immediate attack upon their right wing to reopen land communication with Nashville, by way of Charlotte. The proposal was agreed to unanimously. General Buckner proceeded to make dispositions to cover the retreat, in the event the sortie should be successful. Shortly after noon, when the movement should have begun, the order was countermanded at the instance of Pillow. Then came the battle with the gunboats.

In the night the council was recalled, with general and regimental officers in attendance. The situation was again debated, and the same conclusion reached. According to the plan resolved upon, Pillow was to move at dawn with his whole division, and attack the right of the besiegers. General Buckner was to be relieved by troops in the forts, and with his command to support Pillow by assailing the right of the enemy's center. If he succeeded, he was to take post outside the entrenchments on the Wynn's Ferry road to cover the retreat. He was then to act as rear-guard. Thus early, leaders in Donelson were aware of the mistake into which they were plunged. Their resolution was wise and heroic. Let us see how they executed it.

Preparations for the attack occupied the night. The troops for the most part were taken out of the rifle-pits and massed over on the left to the number of ten thousand or more. The ground was covered with ice and snow; yet the greatest silence was observed. It seems incomprehensible that columns mixed of all arms, infantry, cavalry, and artillery, could have engaged in simultaneous movement, and not have been heard by some listener outside. One would think the jolting and rumble of the heavy gun-carriages would have told the story. But the character of the night must be remembered. The pickets of the Federals were struggling for life against the blast, and probably did not keep good watch.

Oglesby's brigade held McClernand's extreme right. Here and there the musicians were beginning to make the woods ring with reveille, and the numbed soldiers of the line were rising from their icy beds and shaking the snow from their frozen garments. As yet, however, not a company had "fallen in." Suddenly the pickets fired, and with the alarm on their lips rushed back upon their comrades. The woods on the instant became alive.

The regiments formed, officers mounted and took their places; words of command rose loud and eager. By the time Pillow's advance opened fire on Oglesby's right, the point first struck, the latter was fairly formed to receive it. A rapid exchange of volleys ensued. The distance intervening between the works on one side and the bivouac on the other was so short that the action began before Pillow could effect a deployment. His brigades came up in a kind of echelon, left in front, and passed "by regiments left into line," one by one, however; the regiments quickly took their places, and advanced without halting. Oglesby's Illinoisans were now fully awake. They held their ground, returning in full measure the fire that they received. The Confederate Forrest rode around as if to get in their rear, and it was then give and take, infantry against infantry. The semi-echelon movement of the Confederates enabled them, after an interval, to strike W. H. L. Wallace's brigade, on Oglesby's left. Soon Wallace was engaged along his whole front, now prolonged by the addition to his command of Morrison's regiments. The first charge against him was repulsed; whereupon he advanced to the top of the rising ground behind which he had sheltered his troops in the night. A fresh assault followed, but, aided by a battery across the valley to his left, he repulsed the enemy a second time. His men were steadfast, and clung to the brow of the hill as if it were theirs by holy right. An hour passed, and yet another hour, without cessation of the fire. Meantime the woods rang with a monstrous clangor of musketry, as if a million men were beating empty barrels with iron hammers.

Buckner flung a portion of his division on McClemand's left, and supported the attack with his artillery. The enfilading fell

chiefly on W. H. L. Wallace. McClemand, watchful and full of resources, sent batteries to meet Buckner's batteries. To that duty Taylor rushed with his Company B; and McAllister pushed his three 24-pounders into position and exhausted his ammunition in the duel. The roar never slackened. Men fell by the score, reddening the snow with their blood. The smoke, in pallid white clouds, clung to the underbrush and tree-tops as if to screen the combatants from each other. Close to the ground the flame of musketry and cannon tinted everything a lurid red. Limbs dropped from the trees on the heads below, and the thickets were shorn as by an army of cradlers. The division was under peremptory orders to hold its position to the last extremity, and Colonel Wallace was equal to the emergency.

It was now 10 o'clock, and over on the right Oglesby was beginning to fare badly. The pressure on his front grew stronger. The "rebel yen," afterward a familiar battle-cry on many fields, told of ground being gained against him. To add to his doubts, officers were riding to him with a sickening story that their commands were getting out of ammunition, and asking where they could go for a supply. All he could say was to take what was in the boxes of the dead and wounded. At last he realized that the end was come. His right companies began to give way, and as they retreated, holding up their empty cartridge-boxes, the enemy were emboldened, and swept more fiercely around his flank, until finally they appeared-in his rear. He then gave the order to retire the division.

W.H.L. Wallace from his position looked off to his right and saw but one regiment of Oglesby's in place, maintaining the fight, and that was John A. Logan's 31st Illinois. Through the smoke he could see Logan riding in a gallop behind his line; through the roar in his front and the rising yell in his rear, he could hear Logan's voice in fierce entreaty to his "boys." Near the 3 1 st stood W. H. L. Wallace's regiment, the 11th Illinois, under Lieutenant Colonel Ransom. The gaps in the ranks of the two were closed up always toward the colors. The ground at their feet was strewn with their dead and wounded; at length the common misfortune overtook Logan. To keep men without cartridges under fire sweeping them front and flank would be cruel, if not impossible; and seeing it, he too gave the order to retire, and followed his decimated companies to the rear. The 11th then became the right of the brigade, and had to go in turn. Nevertheless, Ransom changed front to rear coolly, as if on parade, and joined in the general retirement. Forrest charged them and threw them into a brief confusion. The greater portion clung to their colors, and made good their retreat. By I I o'clock Pillow held the road to Charlotte and the whole of the position occupied at dawn by the First Division, and with it the dead and all the wounded who could not get away.

Pillow's part of the programme, arranged in the council of the night before, was accomplished. The country was once more open to Floyd. Why did he not avail himself of the dearly bought opportunity, and march his army out?

Without pausing to consider whether the Confederate general could now have escaped with his troops, it must be evident that he should have made the effort. Pillow had discharged his duty well. With the disappearance of W. H. L. Wallace's brigade, it only remained for the victor to deploy his regiments into column and march into the country. The road was his. Buckner was in position to protect Colonel Head's withdrawal from the trenches opposite General Smith on the right; that done, he was also in position to cover the retreat. Buckner had also faithfully performed his task.

On the Union side the situation at this critical time was favorable to the proposed retirement. My division in the center was weakened by the dispatch of one of my brigades to the assistance of General McClernand; in addition to which my orders were to hold my position. As a point of still greater importance, General Grant had gone on board the St. Louis at the request of Flag-Officer Foote, and he was there in consultation with that officer, presumably uninformed of the disaster which had befallen his right. It would take a certain time for him to return to the field and dispose his forces for pursuit. It may be said with strong assurance, consequently, that Floyd could have put his men fairly en route for Charlotte before the Federal commander could have interposed an obstruction to the movement. The real difficulty was in the hero of the morning, who now made haste to blight his laurels. General Pillow's vanity whistled itself into ludicrous exaltation. Imagining General Grant's whole army defeated and fleeing in rout for Fort Henry and the transports on the river, he deported himself accordingly. He began by ignoring Floyd. He rode to Buckner and accused him of shameful conduct. He sent an aide to the nearest telegraph station with a dispatch to Albert Sidney Johnston, then in command of the Department, asseverating, "on the honor of a soldier," that the day was theirs. Nor did he stop at that. The victory, to be available, required that the enemy should be followed with energy. Such was a habit of Napoleon. Without deigning even to consult his chief, he ordered Buckner to move out and attack the Federals. There was a gorge, up which a road ran toward our central position, or rather what had been our central position. Pointing to the gorge and the road, he told Buckner that was his way and bade him attack in force. There was nothing to do but obey; and when Buckner had begun the movement, the wise programme decided upon the evening before was wiped from the slate.

When Buckner reluctantly took the gorge road marked out for him by Pillow, the whole Confederate army, save the detachments on the works, was virtually in pursuit of McClernand, retiring by the Wynn's Ferry road-falling back, in fact, upon my position. My division was now to feel the weight of Pillow's hand; if they should fail, the fortunes of the day would depend upon the veteran Smith.

When General McClernand perceived the peril threatening him in the morning, he sent an officer to me with a request for assistance. This request I referred to General Grant, who was at the time in consultation with Foote. Upon the turning of Oglesby's flank, McClernand repeated his request, with such a representation of the situation that, assuming the responsibility, I ordered Colonel Cruft to report with his brigade to McClernand. Cruft set out promptly. Unfortunately a guide misdirected him, so that he became involved in the retreat, and was prevented from accomplishing his object.

I was in the rear of my single remaining brigade, in conversation with Captain Rawlins, of Grant's staff, when a great shouting was heard behind me on the Wynn's Ferry road, whereupon I sent an orderly to ascertain the cause. The man reported the road and woods full of soldiers apparently in rout. An officer then rode by at full speed, shouting, "All's lost! Save yourselves!" A hurried consultation was had with Rawlins, at the end of which the brigade was put in motion toward the enemy's works, on the very road by which Buckner was pursuing under Pillow's mischievous order. It happened also that Colonel W. H. L. Wallace had dropped into the same road with such of his command as staid by their colors. He came up riding and at a walk, his leg over the horn of his saddle. He was perfectly cool, and looked like a farmer from a hard day's plowing. "Good-morning," I said. "Good-morning," was the reply. "Are they pursuing you?" "Yes." "How far are they behind?" That instant the head of my command appeared on the road. The colonel calculated, then answered: "You will have about time to form line of battle right here." "Thank you. Good-day." "Good-day."

At that point the road began to dip into the gorge; on the right and left there were woods, and in front a dense thicket. An order was dispatched to bring Battery A forward at full speed. Colonel John M. Thayer, commanding the brigade, formed it on the double-quick into line; the 1st Nebraska and the 58th Illinois on the right, and the 58th Ohio, with a detached company, on the left. The battery came up on the run and swung across the road, which had been left open for it. Hardly had it unlimbered, before the enemy appeared, and firing began. For ten minutes or thereabouts the scenes of the morning were reenacted. The Confederates struggled hard to perfect their deployments. The woods rang with musketry and artillery. The brush on the slope of the hill was mowed away with bullets. A great cloud arose and shut out the woods and the narrow valley below. Colonel Thayer and his regiments behaved with great gallantry, and the assailants fell back in confusion and returned to the entrenchments. W. H. L. Wallace and Oglesby reformed their commands behind Thayer, supplied them with ammunition, and stood at rest waiting for orders. There was then a lull in the battle. Even the cannonading ceased, and everybody was asking, What next?

Just then General Grant rode up to where General McClemand and I were in conversation. He was almost unattended. In his hand there were some papers, which looked like telegrams. Wholly unexcited, he saluted and received the salutations of his subordinates. Proceeding at once to business, he directed them to retire their commands to the heights out of cannon range, and throw up works. Rednforcements were en route, he said, and it was advisable to await their coming. He was then informed of the mishap to the First Division, and that the road to Charlotte was open to the enemy.

In every great man's career there is a crisis exactly similar to that which now overtook General Grant, and it cannot be better described than as a crucial test of his nature. A mediocre person would have accepted the news as an,argument for persistence in his resolution to enter upon a siege. Had General Grant done so, it is very probable his history would have been then and there concluded. His admirers and detractors are alike invited to study him at this precise juncture. It cannot be doubted that he saw with painful distinctness the effect of the disaster to his right wing. His face flushed slightly. With a sudden grip he crushed the papers in his hand. But in an instant these signs of disappointment or hesitation-as the reader pleases-cleared away. In his ordinary quiet voice he said, addressing himself to both officers, "Gentlemen, the position on the right must be retaken." With that he turned and galloped off.

Seeing in the road a provisional brigade, under Colonel Morgan L. Smith, consisting of the 11th Indiana and the 8th Missouri Infantry, going, by order of General C. F. Smith, to the aid of the First Division, I suggested that if General McClernand would order Colonel Smith to report to me, I would attempt to recover the lost ground; and the order having been given, I reconnoitered the hill, determined upon a place of assault, and arranged my order of attack.... These dispositions filled the time till about 2 o'clock in the afternoon, when heavy cannonading, mixed with a long roll of musketry, broke out over on the left, whither it will be necessary to transfer the reader.

The veteran in command on the Union left had contented himself with allowing Buckner no rest, keeping up a continual sharp-shooting. Early in the morning of the 14th he made a demonstration of assault with three of his regiments, and though he purposely withdrew them, he kept the menace standing, to the great discomfort of his vis-d-vis. With the patience of an old soldier, he waited the pleasure of the general commanding, knowing that when the time came he would be called upon. During the battle of the gunboats he rode through his command and grimly joked with them. He who never permitted the slightest familiarity from a subordinate, could yet indulge in fatherly pleasantries with the ranks when he thought circumstances justified them. He never for a moment doubted the courage of volunteers; they were not regulars-that was all. If properly led, he believed they would storm the gates of his Satanic Majesty. Their hour of trial was now come. From his brief and characteristic conference with McClemand and myself, General Grant rode to General C. F. Smith. What took place between them is not known, further than that he ordered an assault upon the outworks as a diversion in aid of the assault about to be delivered on the right. General Smith personally directed his chiefs of brigade to get their regiments ready. Colonel John Cook by his order increased the number of his skirmishers already engaged with the enemy.

Taking Lauman's brigade, General Smith began the advance. They were under fire instantly. The guns in the fort joined in with the infantry who were at the time in the rifle-pits, the great body of the Confederate right wing being with General Buckner. The defense was greatly favored by the ground, which subjected the assailants to a double fire from the beginning of the abatis. The men have said that "it looked too thick for a rabbit to get through." General Smith, on his horse, took position in the front and center of the line. Occasionally he turned in the saddle to see how the alignment was kept. For the most part, however, he held his face steadily toward the enemy. He was, of course, a conspicuous object for the sharp-shooters in the rifle-pits. The air around him twittered with minie-builets. Erect as if on review, he rode on, timing the gait of his horse with the movement of his colors. A soldier said: "I was nearly scared to death, but I saw the old man's white mustache over his shoulder, and went on."

On to the abatis the regiments moved without hesitation, leaving a trail of dead and wounded behind. There the fire seemed to get terribly hot, and there some of the men halted, whereupon, seeing the hesitation, General Smith put his cap on the point of his sword, held it aloft, and called out, "No flinching now, my lads?-Here-this is the way! Come on!" He picked a path through the jagged limbs of the trees, holding his cap all the time in sight; and the effect was magical. The men swarmed in after him, and got through in the best order they could-not all of them, alas! On the other side of the obstruction they took the semblance of re-formation and charged in after their chief, who found himself then between the two fires. Up the ascent he rode; up they followed. At the last moment the keepers of the rifle-pits clambered out and fled. The four regiments engaged in the feat-the 25th Indiana, and the 2d, 7th, and 14th Iowa-planted their colors on the breastwork. Later in the day, Buckner came back with his division; but all his efforts to dislodge Smith were vain.

We left my division about to attempt the recapture of the hill, which had been the scene of the combat between Pillow and McClernand....

Riding to my old regiments-the 8th Missouri and the 11th Indiana--I asked them if they were ready. They demanded the word of me. Waiting a moment for Morgan L. Smith to light a cigar, I called out, "Forward it is, then!" They were directly in front of the ascent to be climbed. Without stopping for his supports, Colonel Smith led them down into a broad hollow, and catching sight of the advance, Cruft and Ross also moved forward. As the two regiments began the climb, the 8th Missouri slightly in the lead, a line of fire ran along the brow of the height. The flank companies cheered while deploying as skirmishers. Their Zouave practice proved of excellent service to them. Now on the ground, creeping when the fire was hottest, running when it slackened, they gained ground with astonishing rapidity, and at the same time maintained a fire that was like a sparkling of the earth. For the most part the bullets aimed at them passed over their heads and took effect in the ranks behind them. Colonel Smith's cigar was shot off close to his lips. He took another and called for a match. A soldier ran and gave him one. "Thank you. Take your place now. We are almost up," he said, and, smoking, spurred his horse forward. A few yards from the crest of the height the regiments began loading and firing as they advanced. The defenders gave way. On the top there was a brief struggle, which was ended by Cruft and Ross with their supports.

The whole line then moved forward simultaneously, and never stopped until the Confederates were within the works. There had been no occasion to call on the reserves. The road to Charlotte was again effectually shut, and the battle-field of the morning, with the dead and wounded lying where they had fallen, was in possession of the Third Division, which stood halted within easy musket-range of the rifle-pits. It was then about half-past 3 o'clock in the afternoon. I was reconnoitering the works of the enemy preliminary to charging them, when Colonel Webster, of General Grant's staff, came to me and repeated the order to fall back out of cannon range and throw up breastworks. "The general does not know that we have the hill," I said. Webster replied: "I give you the order as he gave it to me." "Very well," said 1, "give him my compliments, and say that I have received the order." Webster smiled and rode away. The ground was not vacated, though the assault was deferred. In assuming the responsibility, I had no doubt of my ability to satisfy General Grant of the correctness of my course; and it was subsequently approved.

When night fell, the command bivouacked without fire or supper. Fatigue parties were told off to look after the wounded; and in the relief given there was no distinction made between friend and foe. The labor extended through the whole night, and the surgeons never rested. By sunset the conditions of the morning were all restored. The Union commander was free to order a general assault next day or resort to a formal siege.

A great discouragement fell upon the brave men inside the works that night. Besides suffering from wounds and bruises and the dreadful weather, they were aware that though they had done their best they were held in a close grip by a superior enemy. A council of general and field officers was held at headquarters, which resulted in a unanimous resolution that if the position in front of General Pillow had not been reoccupied by the Federals in strength, the army should effect its retreat. A reconnaissance was ordered to make the test. Colonel Forrest conducted it. He reported that the ground was not only reoccupied, but that the enemy were extended yet farther around the Confederate left. The council then held a ftnal session.

General Simon B. Buckner, as the junior officer present, gave his opinion first; he thought he could not successfully resist the assault which would be made by daylight by a vastly superior force. But he further remarked, that as he understood the principal object of the defense of Donelson was to cover the movement of General Albert Sidney Johnston's army from Bowling Green to Nashville, if that movement was not completed he was of opinion that the defense should be continued at the risk of the destruction of the entire force. General Floyd replied that General Johnston's army had already reached Nashville, whereupon General Buckner said that "it would be wrong to subject the army to a virtual massacre, when no good could result from the sacrifice, and that the general officers owed it to their men, when further resistance was unavailing, to obtain the best terms of capitulation possible for them."

Both Generals Floyd and Pillow acquiesced in the opinion. Ordinarily the council would have ended at this point, and the commanding general would have addressed himself to the duty of obtaining terms. He would have called for pen, ink, and paper, and prepared a note for dispatch to the commanding general of the opposite force. But there were circumstances outside the mere military situation which at this juncture pressed themselves into consideration. As this was the first surrender of armed men banded together for war upon the general government, what would the Federal authorities do with the prisoners? This question was of application to all the gentlemen in the council. It was lost to view, however, when General Floyd announced his purpose to leave with two steamers which were to be down at daylight, and to take with him as many of his division as the steamers could carry away.

General Pillow then remarked that there were no two persons in the Confederacy whom the Yankees would rather capture than himself and General Floyd (who had been Buchanan's Secretary of War, and was under indictment at Washington). As to the propriety of his accompanying General Floyd, the latter said, coolly, that the question was one for every man to decide for himself. Buckner was of the same view, and added that as for himself he regarded it as his duty to stay with his men and share their fate, whatever it might be. Pillow persisted in leaving. Floyd then directed General Buckner to consider himself in command. Immediately after the council was concluded, General Floyd prepared for his departure. His first move was to have his brigade drawn up. The peculiarity of the step was that, with the exception of one, the 20th Mississippi regiment, his regiments were all Virginians. A short time before daylight the two steamboats arrived. Without loss of time the general hastened to the river, embarked with his Virginians, and at an early hour cast loose from the shore, and in good time, and safely, he reached Nashville. He never satisfactorily explained upon what principle he appropriated all the transportation on hand to the use of his particular command.

Colonel Forrest was present at the council, and when the final resolution was taken, he promptly announced that he neither could nor would surrender his command. The bold trooper had no qualms upon the subject. He assembled his men, all as hardy as himself, and after reporting once more at headquarters, he moved out and plunged into a slough formed by backwater from the river. An icy crust covered its surface, the wind blew fiercely, and the darkness was unrelieved by a star. There was fearful floundering as the command followed him. At length he struck dry land, and was safe. He was next heard of at Nashville.

General Buckner, who throughout the affair bore himself with dignity, ordered the troops back to their positions and opened communications with General Grant, whose laconic demand of "unconditional surrender," in his reply to General Buckner's overtures, became at once a watchword of the war.

The Third Division was astir very early on the 16th of February. The regiments began to form and close up the intervals between them, the intention being to charge the breastworks south of Dover about breakfast-time. In the midst of the preparation a bugle was heard and a white flag was seen coming from the town toward the pickets. I sent my adjutant-general to meet the flag half-way and inquire its purpose. Answer was returned that General Buckner had capitulated during the night, and was now sending information of the fact to the commander of the troops in this quarter, that there might be no further bloodshed. The division was ordered to advance and take possession of the works and of all public property and prisoners....

I found General Buckner with his staff at breakfast. He met me with politeness and dignity. Turning to the officers at the table, he remarked: "General Wallace, it is not necessary to introduce you to these gentlemen; you are acquainted with them all." They arose, came forward one by one, and gave their hands in salutation. I was then invited to breakfast, which consisted of corn bread and coffee, the best the gallant host had in his kitchen. We sat at the table about an hour and a half, when General Grant arrived and took temporary possession of the tavern as his headquarters. Later in the morning the army marched in and completed the possession.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Aftermath of Fort Donelson

Casualties and losses

Union - 2,691

(507 killed, 1,976 wounded, 208 captured/missing)

Confederate - 13,846

(327 killed, 1,127 wounded, 12,392 captured/missing)

Everybody was off balance, victors and defeated alike. The capture of the two forts stunned everyone. Both Federals and Confederates had to adjust not merely their plans but their ways of think about their plans: the Federals because they had won, with a single stroke, something which they had thought needed the most elaborate organization and preparation; the Confederates because they suddenly found themselves losing the whole western half of the war. The war which had been moving so slowly had abruptly passed the first of its great turning points. Now it was going full speed, pulling men along with it, setting a pace which would be ruinous to all who could not themselves move with equal speed. Its entire climate had changed.

In the North there was much rejoicing. Here at last was a victory to make men forget about Bull Run, and with the victory there was a new hero whose appearance was all the more refreshing because up to now no one had paid much attention to him. Grant's laconic "No terms except unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted" note touched precisely the right key - men played with his initials and began to call him "Unconditional Surrender Grant" - and Secretary Stanton asserted that the aggressive spirit that would win the war was expressed perfectly in Grant's threat, "I propose to move immediately on your works."

President Lincoln made Grant a major general of volunteers, and the Senate quickly voted confirmation; now Grant outranked everybody in the west except Halleck himself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Prelude to Shiloh Part One

(Note- my next several posts will be about the background to one of the great battles of the war, Shiloh. When we get to the actual battle, Rovers will take over.)

The strategic consequences of the victory at Fort Donelson were the most important of the war so far. Nearly a third of Johnston's forces in the Tennesee-Kentucky theater were lost. Half of the remainder were at Nashville and half at Columbus, 200 miles apart with a victorious enemy between them in control of the river and railroads. Buell's unbloodied Army of the Ohio was bearing down on Nashville from the north, while a newly organized Union Army of the Mississippi commanded by John Pope threatened Columbus from across the Mississippi River. Johnston had to evacuate Nashville on February 23, making it the first Confederate capital and important industrial center to fall. A few days later the garrison at Columbus also pulled out. All of Kentucky and most of Tennessee came under Union military control- save for guerilla activity and periodic rebel calvalry raids, which thenceforth became endemic in the theater. Confederate forts still guarded the Mississippi along Tennessee's western border, but they seemed doomed as well.

Many rebels were despondent. Souther newspapers and diarists lamented the "disgraceful...shameful...catelogue of disasters." In the midst of these gloomy tidings, Jefferson Davis was inaugerated for his 6 year presidential term on February 22. Davis and his Negro footman in the inaugural process wore black suits. When asked why, the coachman replied dryly: "This, ma'am, is the way we always does in Richmond at funerals and sichlike." The rain that poured down during the ceremony added to the funereal atmosphere. In his inaugural address, Davis conceded that "after a series of successes and victories, we have recently met with serious disasters."

Like Lincoln after Bull Run, however, Davis urged dedication to the task. "Though the tide for the moment is against us," he continued, "the final result in our favor is never doubtful...It was, perhaps, in the ordination of Providence that we were taught the value of our liberties by the price we pay for them." The losses of Fort Henry and Donelson "were for our own good!" according to Richmond newspapers. "Days of adversity prove the worth of men and nations...We must go to the work with greater earnestness than we have yet shown."

But Southerners were fated to endure several more defeats before they could next celebrate a victory. Johnston's defensive line east of the Mississippi had collapsed in February, but a new general had taken command of the rebel forces in Arkansas: a diminutive but hard-bitten Mississippian who had been wounded 5 times in the Mexican War and in frontier Indian fighting. His name was Earl Van Dorn, and Johnston had great faith in him. We will discuss his exploits next.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As is bound to happen when several contributors to a work are involved, there is some overlap and redundancy that is bound to occur. I have also done a short Prelude to Shiloh piece, with more emphasis on the miltary as opposed to political reactions on both sides. Tim has covered things I did not, and perhaps I have some things here that Tim wasn't going to cover. After this, I will wait on Tim to tell me when to pick things up after both armies are in position at Shiloh (Pittsburg Landing).

Prelude to Shiloh

Situation Map, Feb, 1862

http://www.dean.usma.edu/history/web03/atl...CWGIF/ACW06.gif

Campaign Map

http://www.dean.usma.edu/history/web03/atl...CWGIF/ACW07.gif

After the loss of Ft. Donelson to the Union, a wedge had been driven between Columbus KY, where General Polk remained, under the command of Full General P.T.G. Beauregard and Full General’s Albert Sidney Johnston‘s army at Nashville, TN. Grant and Polk had crossed swords as previously mentioned in some minor skirmishes at Belmont Missouri and Columbus KY. Full Gen Albert Sidney Johnston was holding Nashville TN.

Despite the fact that Nashville TN was an important factory town which included ammunition making plants and an armory, Johnston knew he had to consolidate his army. Johnston's forces had been 200 miles apart between Nashville and Columbus with Grant's army between them controlling all rivers and railroads. Maj. General Don Carlos Buell's Union army was threatening Nashville from the NE while Union General John Pope was threatening Polk at Columbus. Johnston evacuated Nashville on February 23, giving this important industrial center to the Union, the first Confederate state capital to fall.

Columbus was evacuated on March 2 by Polk. Most of Tennessee fell under Union control, as did all of Kentucky, although both were subject to periodic Confederate raiding.

Buell's superiors wanted him to operate in eastern Tennessee, an area with Union sympathies and considered important to the political efforts in the war. However, Buell essentially disregarded his orders and moved against Johnston instead, and Buell took Nashville with little to no resistance.

A.S. Johnston marched his army out of Nashville south to the E Tenn and Georgia RR, boarded trains and traveled west to Corinth MS. Beauregard took his army directly south to Corinth. Johnston named his newly assembled force the Army of the Mississippi. He concentrated almost 55,000 men around Corinth, about 20 miles southwest of Grant's position at Shiloh. Of these, 44,699 departed from Corinth on April 3, hoping to surprise Grant before Buell arrived to join forces. They were organized into four large corps, commanded by:

Maj. Gen. L Polk, with two divisions under Brig. Gen. Charles Clark and Maj. Gen. Benjamin Cheatam

Maj. Gen. Braxton Bragg, with two divisions under Brig. Gens. Daniel Ruggles and Jones Withers

Maj. Gen. William Hardee, with three brigades under Brig. Gens. Thomas Hindman, Patrick Cleburne, and Sterling Wood

Brig. Gen. John Breckinridge, in reserve, with three brigades under Cols. Robert Trabue and Winfield Statham, and Brig. Gen. John Bowen, and attached cavalry.

Edited by Rovers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BL, what was the date of this battle description by Lew Wallace? I ask because he speaks so highly of Grant, yet after Shiloh Grant would put much blame on Wallace and essentially end his miltary career. Grant really buried him in his reports. Wallace it seems didn't hold a grudge, unless it was written before Sholih of course. Maybe what Grant did to Wallace after Shiloh wasn't so deserved, after all Wallace showed great initiative to hold his ground instead of consolidating his lines further back from the Confederate positions as Grant had ordered.

Very interesting and detailed account of Donelson by Wallace, one I have not come across before. Super job.

Edited by Rovers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Battle of Pea Ridge

We interrupt the prelude to Shiloh to bring you this battle, which would impact the entire western theater:

Earl Van Dorn had dazzled Albert Sidney Johnston with visions of an invasion through Missouri to capture St. Louis and then to descend on Grant's forces from the north. To do this, however, he first had to defeat a Union army of 11,000 men that had pushed Sterling Price's Missourians out of their home state during the winter. Van Dorn put together a motley force numbering 16,000, consisting of the divisions under Price and Ben McCulloch that had won at Wilson's Creek the previous August plus 3 regiments of Indians from the Five Civilized Nations in Indian Territory. The latter, mostly Cherokees, served under chiefs who had made treaties of alliance with the Confederacy in the hope of achieving greater independence within a southern nation than they enjoyed in the United States- an ironic hope, since it was mostly southerners who had driven them from their ancestral homeland a generation earlier. In any event, with Indian help the old Indian fighter Van Dorn was confident:

I intend to make a reputation and serve my country...I must have St. Louis- then Huzza!

The small Union army standing in Van Dorn's way just south of Pea Ridge on the Arkansas-Missouri border was commanded by Samuel R. Curtis, a colorless but competent West Pointer who had fought in Mexico and subsequently served 3 terms as an Iowa congressman. Rather than attack Curtis's entrenched troops frontally, Van Dorn led his army on a long flanking march to cut Union supply lines and attack them from the rear. Alert northern scouts, including "Wild Bill" Hickok, detected the move. When Van Dorn attacked what he expected to be the enemy rear on the bleak, overcast morning of March 7, he found that Curtis had faced his troops about and was ready for him. On the Union left, artillery fire scattered the Indian regiments while Yankee riflemen killed McCulloch and his second in command and captured the third ranking southern officer on that part of the field, taking all the steam out of the rebel attack. Meanwhile, Union infantry on the right 3 miles to the east, outnumbered by more than two to one, had grudgingly given ground in fierce fighting around Elkhorn Tavern at a critical road junction.

Next morning Van Dorn discovered that when you get in the enemy's rear, he is also in yours. Confederate troops had run short of ammunition but the Union army now stood between them and their ammunition wagons. Both armies concentrated near Elkhorn Tavern, where a Federal artillery barrage knocked out southern batteries that did not have enough shells for effective counterfire. 7,000 Union infantrymen swept forward in a picture-book charge led by Franz Sigel's division of German-American regiments from Missouri and Illinois. The rebels turned tail and ran. It was as inglorious a rout in reverse as Bull Run. Although each side suffered about 1,300 casualties, the battle of Pea Ridge was the most one-sided victory won by an outnumbered Union army during the war. Van Dorn's forces scattered in every direction. It took nearly two weeks to reassemble them. Johnston then ordered Van Dorn to bring his 15,000 men across the Mississippi to Corinth, a rail junction in northern Mississippi. But they did not arrive in time tot take part in the coming battle near a small log church named Shiloh.

Rovers will now, hopefully, continue his own prelude and then narrate the epic battle of Shiloh.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Prelude to Shiloh cont.

Grant’s army, which numbered approximately 49,000, was camped near a church named “Shiloh” which meant “place of peace” in Hebrew. To Grant’s far left was Pittsburg Landing on the Tennessee River, where Buell would eventually begin to cross his reinforcements as darkness descended late on the first day of battle and well into the night and next morning. The area of Grant’s encampment was on a small elevated plateau centered to the east of the church called Shiloh, spread roughly from east to west across about 4 miles more or less facing Corinth and the Rebel army to the south.

At the time of Grant’s control of Pittsburg Landing near Shiloh church, 7,000 of his men were under the command of Brig Gen Lew Wallace, not to be confused with Brig Gen W. H. L. Wallace, both division commanders under Grant in this battle. Lew Wallace was in reserve, occupying an area in the Union rear several hours march to the north of Shiloh church, near a place called Crump’s Landing. He would be a non-factor at Shiloh the first day, and his military career would be shattered in the process. He would best be remembered as the author of Ben Hur.

Just south of the church was a sunken road, but there is no evidence to support the fact it was sunken at all. It was not much more than a path that a local farmer used to travel between his fields in the area, which were scattered irregularly across the otherwise heavily wooded land, filled with small ravines and creeks. This back road simply did not have enough traffic to wear it down as heavily traveled roads tended to be. It was not a sunken road at all. The importance of this is simple. Sunken roads offer some cover and a make shift line of defense. Paths do not.

This road ran roughly east to west as well, south of the church and in front (south) of the wooded area that would later be named the “Hornet’s Nest” by the gray soldiers who attempted to take it. The Hornet’s Nest was east of the church, and further east was a somewhat tangled peach orchard. These four features, the church, the road, the hornet’s nest and orchard will often be referenced during the discussion of the battle.

In the days leading up to the battle, Johnston had received some reports that Buell in fact was moving towards eastern Tennessee, away from Shiloh and Grant‘s army. Buell did in fact send a division to Alabama, but still held the bulk of his army numbering around 18,000, having also left a strong contingent at Nashville. This movement of troops east may have been mistaken for Buell’s entire army. Some reports of the size of Buell’s main force put the number at 22,000, and some others ridiculously (and inaccurately) higher than that. Buell’s army was 50,000 strong, but it was never in the same place at the same time. Buell was spread out across TN and into Alabama as well.

This faulty report of Buell’s movement (or intent to move) may have reduced Johnston’s sense of urgency to start the attack, combined with some unfavorable weather conditions that caused some logistical problems in the advance north, towards Grant.

It is also possible that Johnston’s information came directly from spies in Washington, and the Confederate spies in Washington were very well connected. As mentioned, Buell's superiors wanted him to operate in eastern TN. It was not uncommon for orders such as these to get leaked to the south, however McClellan had worded the order in such a way stating “if circumstances allow”, which Buell used as his excuse to move south on Nashville and beyond. This sort of ambiguous language used in orders would become very common during the war, from the campaign level to the battlefield. They should have taught more English classes at West Point.

(author’s note) On this point, did the USMA ever actually teach these future generals the art of the written word, specifically as it relates to written orders? Were the problems in order writing cultural or technical? I simply will not accept the idea that order writing was not a problem in the war, and sometimes had disastrous effect on the outcome of many battles and very great and unnecessary loss of life.

It seems to me that generals often wrote orders in such a way that they were:

1) Ambiguous

2) Sometimes written to allow for a subordinate to take initiative, but all too often that language allowed some generals to basically disregard orders at the cost of failed battlefield plans and overall war strategy.

3) Not nearly detailed enough, and failed to convey what the overall tactical and strategic goals were.

Edited by Rovers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It seems to me that generals often wrote orders in such a way that they were:

1) Ambiguous

2) Sometimes written to allow for a subordinate to take initiative, but all too often that language allowed some generals to basically disregard orders at the cost of failed battlefield plans and overall war strategy.

3) Not nearly detailed enough, and failed to convey what the overall tactical and strategic goals were.

I think this has to do with individual personalities, and in the case you cited, McClellan. Don't know for sure, but I'm betting that if we move forward to 1864 when Grant has McClellan's job, we will discover more direct, less ambiguous orders.

To summarize the events leading to Shiloh: Albert Sidney Johnston was looking for a way to extricate himself after being blamed for all the defeats in the West. Beauregard, having left the east, helped Johnston concentrate 42,000 men at Corinth, Missisippi: 27,000 from the reunited wings of Johnston's armies, and 15,000 brought up from New Orleans and Mobile, under the command of Braxton Bragg, a quick tempered man who is about to take a major role in this narrative. Bragg's departure from the gulf left that area denuded of infantry and subject to amphibious attack (as we shall see) but Southern strategy deemed it essential to defend Corinth, a main railroaf junction. Beauregard wanted to do more than just defend Corinth; he wanted to attack. "We must do something," Beauregard argued, "or die in the attempt, otherwise, all will be shortly lost." Johnston caught Beauregard's vision and energy. Together they planned an offensive to retake Tennessee.

Meanwhile, Halleck sent Grant forward with 40,000 men to Pittsburg Landing on the Tennessee River, 20 miles north of Corinth. Buell was ordered to join him there with his 35,000 men. Then, with a force of 75,000 men, the plan was for Halleck to lead them all in an attack against Corinth. The rebels meant to hit Grant before Buell arrived. This would even the odds: 42,000 against 40,000.

Beauregard drew up plans for a march by four different corps on converging roads to deploy for battle on Aoril 4. The plans were better suited for veterans than for green troops and inexperienced staff officers. Few of the these southern soldiers had made a one-day march of 20 miles, and fewer still had been in combat. In these respects Johnston's troops resembled the Federals that McDowell had led to Bull Run 9 months earlier. Their inexperience led to a nightmare of confusion on the march with resulted in a two day delay before they were in place to attack. Beauregard panicked at this point, and wanted to call the whole thing off. Surely, he reasoned, that in the two days lost Buell had reinforced Grant? It would be suicide to attack if they were now facing 75,000 men.

But at a council of war on April 5, Albert S. Johnston overruled Beauregard. It did not matter if Buell had arrived. "I would fight them if they were a million men." He told his officers to read the following adress to every man in the regiments:

Gentlemen, we shall attack at daylight tommorow. I pledge to lead you in a decisive victory over agrarian mercenaries, sent to subjugate and despoil you of your liberties, property, and honor. Remember the dependence of your mothers, your wives, yours sisters, and your children on the result. With such incentives to brave deeds, your generals will lead you confidently to the combat.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Shiloh Prelude, cont...

Grant had a tendency to concentrate on his own designs to such an extent, he often ignored what his adversary may be planning. This was the case at Shiloh. Grant would later claim that he felt it more important to drill his troops instead of fortifying his position, the latter being something he completely disregarded. He simply did not expect Johnston to attack. He was patiently awaiting Buell’s arrival and planning an assault on Corinth to the south.

It is this modus operandi that often put Grant and his superior officer, Maj Gen Henry W. Halleck at odds, along with Grant‘s reputation for enjoying good whiskey. Halleck was old school, and an expert on French army tactics and strategies. This does not mean he used aggressive Napoleonic tactics, it means he used tactics that worked in European conflicts, where there were open fields and little foresting. He and many other civil war generals who were taught at West Point liked to use this sort of geometrical movement of blocks of troops, often ignoring the fact that terrain would not allow such geometric formations.

Additionally, Halleck conducted war to gain ground, gain strategic and tactical positions, and only attacked with great caution. He believed in consolidating any advance and securing supply lines before renewing any attack. He was however like McClellan, in that he was a great organizer and logistics genius. (Although the “logistical genius” reputation would be sullied in the disaster at Fredericksburg later in the war)

Grant on the other hand, along with his counterparts like Sherman and Sheridan wanted to destroy an enemy army with whatever means possible. Halleck wanted to capture ground and keep losses at an absolute minimum. Grant wanted to destroy armies and live off the land. This was the start of the idea and strategy of total war, culminating in Sherman’s march to the sea.

These are some excepts from an article written by a Col. Wills De Hass after the war. He was attached to Sherman and was privy to many plans and conversations of the high commanders at Shiloh:

“The disposition of the army, neglect of proper fortifications and general want of precautionary measures, have been subjects of free discussion and condemnation. Whether just or not, can hereafter, perhaps, be better determined. General Sherman says the camp was chosen by General Smith**, and by his orders be (Sherman and Hurlbut) took position. He further says: " I mention for future history that our right flank was well guarded by Owl and Snake creeks, our left by Lick creek, leaving us simply to guard our front. No stronger position was ever held by any army."

“Experienced officers believed that Beauregard and Johnston would strike Grant or the Army of the Tennessee before Buell could unite the Army of the Ohio. We found the army at Shiloh listless of danger, and in the worst possible condition of defense. The divisions were scattered over an extended space, with great intervals, and at one point a most dangerous gap. Not the semblance of a fortification could be seen, The entire front war, in the most exposed condition. One or two sections of batteries at remote points, no scouts, no cavalry pickets, a very light infantry picket within one mile of camp, were all that stood between us and the dark forest then filling with the very flower of the Southern army. To my inexperienced judgment, all this appeared very strange, and I communicated these views to our brigade commander, who expressed himself in the same spirit, but remarked that he was powerless. One day's work in felling trees would have placed the camp in a tolerable state of defense. The men were actually rick from inaction and over-eating. A few hours' active exercise with the axe and shovel would have benefited their health, and might have saved their camp from destruction, with thousands of valuable lives.”

Grant was almost derelict in duty regarding his complete disregard of fortifying his position. It would be a lesson learned, and at a great price, including a demotion, if only temporary. Grant’s later claim of drilling the soldiers being of a higher import that building fortifications it would seem was a fabrication, at least based on Hass’ account of the situation about the days before the battle.

**A note:

Generals Smith and Grant

Gen. Charles Ferguson Smith had taught Grant at West Point. The older Smith was a pragmatic, dignified, unselfish man. The cause was always far more important than his ego. When as a Col. under Grant leading a division in the battle of Fort Donelson, Smith was loyal to his former pupil and was a mainstay for the younger general. Smith was a good field commander, and proved it at Fort Donelson.

During the attack on the Confederate right flank at Fort Donelson, which he led personally, he saw some of his men waver. He yelled to them, "Damn you, gentlemen, I see skulkers! I'll have none here! Come on, you volunteers, come on! This is your chance! You volunteered to be killed for love of country, and now you can be!"

Gen. Smith had replaced Grant as commander when reports of drunkenness reached Halleck after Grant’s meeting with Buell in Nashville, but Halleck reinstated him at the urging of Lincoln, who said “He fights, I cannot spare this man”. Making it easier for Halleck, Gen. Smith had seriously injured his leg while getting into a row boat, and was not fit for field command.

In two bizarre twists of fate, Gen. W.H.L. Wallace would take Smith’s command and die in the “Hornet’s Nest” at Shiloh. Smith would succumb to infections from his injured leg, and die on April 25, 1862. Smith might have had what it took to be a very successful Union General in this war. His untimely death circumvents that discussion to somewhat abstract speculation.

Edited by Rovers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For readers who may be more interested in the conflict in strategic philosophies bewteen Halleck and Grant, this may help to understand how it was a very serious point of contention between the two, something I toched upon in the previous post, so this seems an opportune time to explain it further. For those more interested in the battle itself, that will come very shortly.

The champion of the Confederate strategy was General Robert E. Lee. Determining exactly where Lee learned his exceptional operational skills in battle would be purely speculative. What is known is that he graduated from West Point before the Jominian Revolution (championed by Halleck) in tactical thought took place. According to historian Jay Luvaas, "Lee developed a special interest in Napoleon's campaigns, and the books he is known to have checked out from the West Point library probably contributed more to his military education than any other experience." During the war with Mexico, he served on the headquarters staff of General Winfield Scott, whom he accompanied for the remainder of the campaign. According to Lee's biographer, those were probably the twenty most useful months of his training as a soldier, contributing to his knowledge of strategy and tactics, and where he sat in council when the most difficult operational problems were being discussed. Lee's knowledge of Napoleonic warfare served him well after he assumed command of the Army of Northern Virginia in May of 1862.

His first action upon assuming command was to establish an army corps system modeled after Napoleon's. He found capable corps commanders in generals Stonewall Jackson, James Longstreet and A. P. Hill, and created a cavalry corps under the direction of Major General J.E.B "Jeb" Stuart. Like Napoleon, Lee relied on subordinate officers to fight the battles while he remained in charge of the overall strategic plan. The action that seemed most to represent his understanding of Napoleonic warfare was in his decision to reassign the Confederate troops defending distant borders to field units that could strengthen his forces in fighting his offensive-defensive campaigns. As Lee explained, "It is only by concentration of our troops that we can hope to win any decisive advantage. We must decide between the positive loss of inactivity and the risk of action."

President Lincoln realized that he needed a general who could lead the army to the decisive victory needed to calm the civil and political unrest gripping the North. The longer the war went on, the more bitterness and division it would cause among the civilian population. The man he chose to lead the Army of the Potomac seemed to be the perfect candidate, the general known as "Little Napoleon," George McClellan.

Lincoln expected great things from his "Little Napoleon" and extended him free reign to shape the army in preparation for the decisive victory the president coveted so badly. As the winter of 1861-1862 melted into spring, McClellan had amassed an army of over 100,000 soldiers. Lincoln, Washington politicians and the civilian population demanded that the general take his great army, which he had trained for nine months, and soundly defeat the Confederates. McClellan refused to make a move, even after Lincoln implored him to make "even a diversionary maneuver so as to gain the confidence of the public." The president needed a show of military strength to demonstrate to the northern population that the Union Army was capable of defeating the Confederates and reuniting the nation. McClellan's unwillingness to assume the offensive was the result of Jominian thinking. He, like many other of Lincoln's field commanders, blindly accepted the Jominian doctrine of concentration of force in a defensive posture – not the concentration of forces for offense favored by Lee. McClellan had not planned to invade the South until he had an even greater army. McClellan was a genius when it came to organization and logistics, but his strategy was anything but Napoleonic in conception or application.

The only field commander who seemed to learn from his mistakes and aggressively pursued the enemy in the Napoleonic style was Ulysses Grant – a soldier who accepted the strategy of annihilation espoused by Clausewitz as the prescription for victory in a war of popular nationalism. Grant's actions as head of the army are seen as non-Jominian because they ran counter to the strategies that had been enacted by General Halleck. Halleck's orders to his field commanders were, "Wherever the enemy concentrates we must concentrate to oppose him. We must act with caution and keep our troops well in hand, so as to prevent him from catching us by surprise." However, Grant favored the Jominian idea of concentration of forces to be used in mass attacks – not as a defensive tactic. In fact, his strategic plan was a simple one calling for the concentration of all available forces to be thrown against the Confederate Army in the field. Grant's plan designed to prevent the Confederate Army from concentrating its forces in a strong defense was the same type of plan Jomini proposed to defeat Frederick the Great during the Seven Years' War – one that combined the strategies of attrition and exhaustion.

Grant is credited with fighting in the Clausewitzian style based on his appreciation for the annihilation of the enemy as the means to victory. To defeat Lee, Grant realized that he had to think like Lee. Grant also did not ignore the Jominian idea of territorial gains in war. He realized that it was the threats against the political and logistic centers in Richmond and Atlanta that had forced Lee and his other generals to fight in the past. With a Napoleonic decisive victory in battle no longer possible to end the war, Grant embarked on his strategy of annihilation. His plan followed the dictum of Clausewitz who wrote, "If you want to overcome your enemy, you must match your effort against his power of resistance." To accomplish his plan, he appointed two Union Corps Commanders, Generals William Sherman in charge of the Union Army in the Carolinas, and Phillip Sheridan in charge of the army in the Shenandoah Valley. He ordered both generals, "To strike against [the enemy] and break it up, get into the interior of the enemy's country as far as you can, inflicting all the damage you can upon their war resources." Declaring war on the civilian private property was not a new idea. It had been practiced in counter-insurgency warfare in Europe earlier in the century, but Americans were not used to it. The technique also allowed Sherman and Sheridan's troops to live off the land.

It was Grant who added the new dimension of destroying the South's economic and social capacity to wage war in his strategy of annihilation, but it is General Sherman who was credited for developing the policy of "Total War" during his "March to the Sea." Sherman's marches were not aimed only against the resources of the enemy – he developed a deliberate strategy of psychological terror aimed against the civilian population. Sherman wrote to the Army's Chief of Staff, "We are not only fighting hostile armies, but hostile people [who] must be made to feel the hard hand of war."

Edited by Rovers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Meanwhile, Halleck sent Grant forward with 40,000 men to Pittsburg Landing on the Tennessee River, 20 miles north of Corinth. Buell was ordered to join him there with his 35,000 men. Then, with a force of 75,000 men, the plan was for Halleck to lead them all in an attack against Corinth. The rebels meant to hit Grant before Buell arrived. This would even the odds: 42,000 against 40,000.

Beauregard drew up plans for a march by four different corps on converging roads to deploy for battle on Aoril 4. The plans were better suited for veterans than for green troops and inexperienced staff officers. Few of the these southern soldiers had made a one-day march of 20 miles, and fewer still had been in combat. In these respects Johnston's troops resembled the Federals that McDowell had led to Bull Run 9 months earlier. Their inexperience led to a nightmare of confusion on the march with resulted in a two day delay before they were in place to attack. Beauregard panicked at this point, and wanted to call the whole thing off. Surely, he reasoned, that in the two days lost Buell had reinforced Grant? It would be suicide to attack if they were now facing 75,000 men.

But at a council of war on April 5, Albert S. Johnston overruled Beauregard. It did not matter if Buell had arrived. "I would fight them if they were a million men." He told his officers to read the following adress to every man in the regiments:

Gentlemen, we shall attack at daylight tommorow. I pledge to lead you in a decisive victory over agrarian mercenaries, sent to subjugate and despoil you of your liberties, property, and honor. Remember the dependence of your mothers, your wives, yours sisters, and your children on the result. With such incentives to brave deeds, your generals will lead you confidently to the combat.

A couple of points I'd like to make. It is my firm belief that the size of the force Buell sent to Pittsburg landing is often exagerated and sometimes grossly so. Beull did have command of 50,000, that much is clear. However, Buell had responsibilty for the defense of all of Tennessee and Nashville in particular. He had also sent a division to Alabama. More of his units were in eastern TN. The balance of my reasearch form several sources indicate the force he sent to Shiloh was 18,000 to 22,000 at most. I have found that many sources are biased in the "lost cause" way, always trying to over state the the odds the Sothern Armies faced. I must have cross referenced the size of Buell's forces from at least ten sources, and based on that, my estimation is about 20,000.

I am also not sure that it was Beull's "expected" arrival that made Beauregard nervous. Yes, some of the delays were due to green troops not used to marching, but the weather was terrible, and that was possibly more responsible for the delay of Johnston's movement north.

Based on my research, I think Beauregard's trepidation was more due to his concern that the element of surpirise had been lost, not concern about Buell's arrival. Johnston's intelligence reports seems to have led him to believe that Buell may not show up at all. This idea is suppoorted by the fact that Beauregard did not expect Buell to show up even after the first day of fighting, as he had telegraphed Jefferson Davis that he had achieved complete victory, and halted the attack believing he had Grant right where he wanted him and could finish him off on the second day.

Once the rebels had gotten within 3 miles of the Union campsites at the end of the day of April 5th, still undetected and against orders they test fired their rifles because of the soaking rains they had marched through. Beauregard believed now that Grant knew of their plans. This was why Beauregard wanted to call off the attack. In any case, it is clear the aggressive Beauregard did attempt to talk Johnston out of the attack, and Johnston rejected his objections.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Prelude to Shiloh cont.

Ironically Grant was also injured (see post above regarding Smith). Despite his renowned horsemanship, he had fallen with his horse on top of him, and was convalescing at Savannah, several miles north and downstream on the Tenn River. When the battle began, he was still walking with the aid of crutches on a very badly sprained ankle and he did not arrive by boat at Pittsburg Landing near Shiloh until 8:30 or 9 o’clock, well after the fighting had started.

A rather inauspicious start for Grant, to say the least, but Halleck had his scapegoat well in place. Halleck always tried to deflect blame, but eventually, his inability to command effectively on the field would be exposed in the following month, facilitating his removal to Washington to eventually replace McClelland.

Grant‘s army of 49,000 consisted of 6 divisions under the commands of Maj. Gen. McClernand and Lew Wallace, Brig. Gen. W.H.L. Wallace, Hurlburt, Sherman and Prentiss.

On the eve of battle, Grant's and Johnston's armies were of comparable size, but the Confederates were poorly armed with antique weapons, including shotguns, older model smoothbore muskets, and even some pikes. They approached the battle with very little combat experience; Braxton Bragg's men from Pensacola and Mobile were the best trained.

Grant's army included 32 out of 62 infantry regiments who had combat experience at Fort Donelson. One half of his artillery batteries and most of his cavalry were also combat veterans. However, many of Grant’s troops had only been issued arms and ammunition for the first time only days earlier. They were hardly combat ready troops either. This was still largely the war of the civilian soldier, at least at this early juncture.

Grant had ordered his generals to avoid skirmishes and contact with the enemy. He did not want to provoke a battle until he was ready for one. The sighting of many Confederate pickets, infantry and cavalry alike caused no consternation within the Union high command. Union pickets were under orders to give ground so as not to provoke a battle. Grant failed to use whatever cavalry he had, which was little, and Johnston’s army was camped only 2 to 3 miles away from his position. This large force was never detected.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

More from Col. Hass on the eve of the attack:

About two o'clock P. M., Colonel Jesse Hildebrand, commanding Third Brigade, Sherman's Division, to which my regiment was attached, invited me to accompany Colonel Buckland, commanding Fourth Brigade, same division, Colonel Cockerel, Seventieth Ohio Volunteers, and one or two other officers, on a short reconnaissance. We had not advanced half a mile from camp when we were met by squads of the fatigue party sent out to cut the road, with the startling intelligence that the rebel cavalry were in considerable force in the wood immediately across the old cotton-field. Our pickets extended to the line of the field. We rode to a position commanding the wood referred to, and with a glass saw the enemy in considerable force. We afterward learned they were Forrest's cavalry, and their commander, riding a white horse, was plainly visible.”

“It was manifest their object was not to attack, but watch our movements, and prevent the advance of the reconnoitering parties. The officers (Hildebrand and Buckland) remained some time, then returned to camp to report the situation to General Sherman, and get their respective commands in readiness, as both anticipated an attack. Remaining tinder orders to watch the movements of the enemy, the afternoon wore away. Before leaving it was deemed expedient to strengthen the picket line with three additional companies, charging them not to advance, not to bring on an engagement, but watch closely all movements of the enemy during the night, and report promptly the approach of attack.”

“That evening a free inter change of opinion took place at our tent, where General Sherman called while we were at tea. The full particulars, which have been hurriedly recited, were detailed. He was incredulous that an attack was meditated-believed they were only present to watch our movements; said news had been received that evening that Buell would join us in forty-eight hours, and then we would advance on Corinth.”

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Prelude cont.

Johnston’s pickets, particularly Forrest’s cavalry had effectively pushed the Union pickets back so that even at only 3 miles away, the entire Army of Mississippi remained undetected by Union forces.

Johnston had formulated a plan to attack Grant’s left to cut off both his retreat to Pittsburg Landing and to block the possible arrival of Buell. He wanted Pittsburg Landing. It was a good plan, but it was not unified with his second in command, Beauregard. Johnston had telegraphed Confederate President J Davis that the attack would proceed as: "Polk the left, Bragg the center, Hardee the right, Breckinridge in reserve." His strategy was to emphasize the attack on his right flank to prevent the Union Army from holding it’s position on the Tennessee River, its supply line and avenue of retreat.

He instructed Beauregard to stay in the rear and direct men and supplies as needed, while he rode to the front to lead the men on the battle line. This effectively ceded control of the battle to Beauregard, who had a different concept, simply to attack in three waves and push the Union Army straight eastward into the Tennessee River.

This is an interesting site to visit and a good time to view the battlefield and simplified troop positions. Click on the “animated map”. Keep in mind, some sites, such as this one vastly over estimate Union strength, as in this case, where Buell’s Army of the Ohio is assigned 50,000 troops instead of the roughly 18,000 he actually marched towards Shiloh. Even at that, most of that force didn’t get across the Tennessee River in time to give Grant the tactical advantage that many reports of the day and historians there after credit for saving the day for the Union at Shiloh, but more on that later. Another Shiloh myth to be dispelled.

http://www.historyanimated.com/Shilohh.html

The next of the myths of Shiloh are the completely erroneous reports of Union soldiers being so surprised as to have been bayoneted while they slept in their tents. The fact is, most Federal soldiers knew the attack had started, and many even had the time to eat a hurried breakfast. The surprise was sufficient enough to catch the army unprepared to defend their positions in terms of fortifications, but that was all, other than the shock afforded to the Union upper command. There was ample time for most units to form up into a more defensive posture.

Here is the disposition of the initial attack, courtesy of BL‘s friend and Wiki.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Shiloh_Battle_Apr6am-2.png

Johnston’s attack was planned for April 4, and was delayed until the 6th due to unfavorable weather and logistics. The delay caused Beauregard concern, fearing the loss of surprise, and he encouraged Johnston to fall back to Corinth, which Johnston refused to agree to. The attack would go ahead, but not quite as Johnston planned it, as it would turn out.

Next... the attack begins.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BL, what was the date of this battle description by Lew Wallace? I ask because he speaks so highly of Grant, yet after Shiloh Grant would put much blame on Wallace and essentially end his miltary career. Grant really buried him in his reports. Wallace it seems didn't hold a grudge, unless it was written before Sholih of course. Maybe what Grant did to Wallace after Shiloh wasn't so deserved, after all Wallace showed great initiative to hold his ground instead of consolidating his lines further back from the Confederate positions as Grant had ordered.

Very interesting and detailed account of Donelson by Wallace, one I have not come across before. Super job.

I am not certain when Wallace competed the Shiloh article, but I can find out. It was taken from Battles & Leaders, which was published 1883-87 (I have the 4 volumes at home). Now here is the interesting part about the timing. Ben Hur, the best selling American novel of the 19th century, came out in 1880. Grant's memoirs (and his death) was 1885. It is known that Lew Wallace - who sought to restore his reputation after Shiloh for the remainder of his life - pleaded with Grant "to make things right" in his memoirs. It was fairly well known at that time that Grant was dying and working on his autobiography, and a lot of people made that kind of request. Grant ignored them all.

from Wiki description of Shiloh:

Lew Wallace's lost division

Wallace's group had been left as reserves near Crump's Landing at a place called Stoney Lonesome to the rear of the Union line. At the appearance of the Confederates, Grant sent orders for Wallace to move his unit up to support Sherman. Wallace took a route different from the one Grant intended (claiming later that there was ambiguity to Grant's order). Wallace arrived at the end of his march to find that Sherman had been forced back and was no longer where Wallace thought he was. Moreover, the battle line had moved so far that Wallace now found himself in the rear of the advancing Southern troops. A messenger arrived with word that Grant was wondering where Wallace was and why he had not arrived at Pittsburg Landing, where the Union was making its stand. Wallace was confused. He felt sure he could viably launch an attack from where he was and hit the Confederates in the rear; after the war he claimed that his division might have attacked and defeated the Confederates if his advance had not been interrupted.

Nevertheless, he decided to turn his troops around and march back to Stoney Lonesome. Rather than realign his troops so that the rear guard would be in the front, Wallace chose to march the troops in a circle so that the original order was maintained, only facing in the other direction. Wallace marched back to Stoney Lonesome and then to Pittsburg Landing, arriving at Grant's position about 6:30 or 7 p.m., when the fighting was practically over. Grant was not pleased, and his endorsement of Wallace's battle report was negative enough to damage Wallace's military career severely. Today, Wallace is best remembered not as a soldier, but as the author of Ben-Hur.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rovers -

Couple things:

Essentially Shiloh was a surprise attack by the Confederates on Union camps. A long time ago (10 years?) I attended a round table discussion which explained that Sherman (or whoever was in charge of selecting camp sites) simply placed newly arriving troops - many fresh from being mustered into Federal service, some with not much more than a few weeks of training - at the southern edge of the encampment. Thus, the first units who came into contact with Johnston's army were those with the least experience - either totally green troops, or men who had not fought at Donelson. Is that true?

Second, regarding Buell's role...I am reading a book on the Army of Ohio right now (All for the Regiment), which describes in great detail the attacks on the second day by (from left to right) Nelson, Crittendon and McCook. They didn't run into much for the first mile to a mile and a half because Beauregard had pulled back some. My recollection is that the heaviest day two fighting was on Sherman's front (Buell took the left, Grant took the right, without any co-ordination). Nelson seems like the only Union general in any army who had a sense of urgency before April 6.

Shiloh was soldiers battle. I think the most decisive action taken by any general was Grant getting artillery lined up on the ridge west of the Pittsburg Landing. Because of the woods and broken terrain, no general had control of more than brigade level. There were no tactics to speak of - straight ahead assault, push 'em back, counter attacks, get pushed back, repeat. But one reason the men stood there and took it and kept dishing it out was their brigadiers and colonels were right out front with them; it was a ferocious fight, with countless acts of individual courage and bravery. Seems to me that while he didn't give the order to retreat until mid-afternoon day two (IIRC), Beauregard probably knew the jig was up after he saw that line of artillery at the end of day one.

Anyway, looking forward to your account.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BL, Rovers- any comment on my narrative about Pea Ridge? I don't know much about it, but it seems like an interesting little battle. Van Dorn is quite a character.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Attack Begins

Early that morning Union Colonel Everett Peabody, commanding Prentiss's 1st Brigade, had sent forward part of the 25th Missouri Infantry on a reconnaissance, and they became engaged with Confederate outposts at 5:15 a.m. The spirited fight that ensued did help a little to get Union troops better positioned, but still the command of the Union army did not prepare properly.

The corps of Hardee and Bragg began the assault with their divisions in one line, almost 3 miles wide. As these units advanced, they became intermingled and difficult to control. Corps commanders attacked in line without reserves. Artillery could not be concentrated to effect a breakthrough. At about 7:30 a.m. from his position in the rear, Beauregard ordered the corps of Polk and Breckinridge forward on the left and right of the line, diluting their effectiveness.

The attack therefore went forward as a frontal assault conducted by a single linear (horizontal to use layman’s terms) formation, which lacked both the depth and weight needed for success. Command and control in the modern sense were lost from the onset of the first assault.

(author’s note) As I understand the tactics, this was a terrible mistake. While such a formation may make artillery fire less effective, it had little chance of breaking a large hole in the Union defenses. Even if a break in the Federal’s line could be achieved, there would be few soldiers near enough to capitalize on it. It also caused such an intermingling of units that command and control all but disintegrated. Instead of funneling troops through a break in the Union lines and disrupting them, this was more like water through a large colander instead. The result was that it allowed the blue shirts to give ground but not break, and while some units did break, it was not wide spread. I welcome opinions and discussion on this point.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Attack Begins(author’s note) As I understand the tactics, this was a terrible mistake. While such a formation may make artillery fire less effective, it had little chance of breaking a large hole in the Union defenses. Even if a break in the Federal’s line could be achieved, there would be few soldiers near enough to capitalize on it. It also caused such an intermingling of units that command and control all but disintegrated. Instead of funneling troops through a break in the Union lines and disrupting them, this was more like water through a large colander instead. The result was that it allowed the blue shirts to give ground but not break, and while some units did break, it was not wide spread. I welcome opinions and discussion on this point.

So no artillery fire? The Rebs just come charging in, screaming the rebel yell, and attacking? Are they firing their guns, using them like bayonets, and just trying to kill everyone in front of them?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An except from Henry Morton Stanley of “Stanley and Livingston” fame, who was in the Confederate assault, from his autobiography:

"Before we had gone five hundred paces, our serenity was disturbed by some desultory firing in front. It was then a quarter-past five. 'They are at it already,' we whispered to each other. 'Stand by, gentlemen,' - for we were all gentlemen volunteers at this time, - said our Captain, L. G. Smith. Our steps became unconsciously brisker, and alertness was noticeable in everybody. The firing continued at intervals deliberate and scattered, as at target-practice. We drew nearer to the firing, and soon a sharper rattling of musketry was heard. 'That is the enemy waking up,' we said. Within a few minutes, there was another explosive burst of musketry, the air was pierced by many missiles, which hummed and pinged sharply by our ears, pattered through the tree-tops and brought twigs and leaves down on us.”

Stanley and the rest of his rebel comrades successfully advanced and over ran one Union campsite, littered with dead and wounded. It was during this charge that the infamous rebel yell was first heard with the ferocity it became famous for, although perhaps it actually had it‘s beginnings at the battle of Fort Donelson. They continued the advance towards the road and church, and towards deathly peril at the Hornet’s Nest. The federal forces began to stiffen.

Stanley continues:

"After being exposed for a few seconds to this fearful downpour, we heard the order to 'Lie down, men, and continue your firing!' Before me was a prostrate tree, about fifteen inches in diameter, with a narrow strip of light between it and the ground. Behind this shelter a dozen of us flung ourselves. The security it appeared to offer restored me to my individuality. We could fight, and think, and observe, better than out in the open. But it was a terrible period! How the cannon bellowed, and their shells plunged and bounded, and flew with screeching hisses over us! Their sharp rending explosions and hurtling fragments made us shrink and cower, despite our utmost efforts to be cool and collected.

I marveled, as I heard the unintermitting patter, snip, thud, and hum of the bullets, how anyone could live under this raining death. I could hear the balls beating a merciless tattoo on the outer surface of the log, pinging vivaciously as they flew off at a tangent from it, and thudding into something or other, at the rate of a hundred a second. One, here and there, found its way under the log, and buried itself in a comrade's body. One man raised his chest, as if to yawn, and jostled me. I turned to him, and saw that a bullet had gored his whole face, and penetrated into his chest. Another ball struck a man a deadly rap on the head, and he turned on his back and showed his ghastly white face to the sky.”

Stanley would find himself alone on the second day, unaware that his fellows had retreated while he concentrated on fighting. In a very fortunate turn of events, he looked up to find himself alone and surrounded by Yankees, when one ordered him to drop his weapon or die on the spot. Stanley would comply, became a prisoner, and would later go on to great fame. He could have just as easily been shot dead then and there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't imagine how terrfying it would be to participate in one of these battles. Clouds of smoke everywhere, people screaming in agony, blood and guts everywhere, bullets flying over your head?

I don't consider myself a coward (though I don't really know because I've never been involved in anything remotely similar) but my first impulse would simply be to run away as fast as I could...just get the #### out of there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BL, Rovers- any comment on my narrative about Pea Ridge? I don't know much about it, but it seems like an interesting little battle. Van Dorn is quite a character.

I need to get this book.

About all I know is it was one of the few times during the entire war the Rebels marched more men to the scene of the battle; he had more than 15,000, the Union army was a little over 10,000. Van Dorn decided to divide his forces, sending half the army on a flank march. Iowa Colonel Greenville Dodge (a decade later one of the chief builders of the Union Pacific railroad) had done a very effective job blocking the road the flanking column took with felled trees. That threw off the timing, so that when the frontal assault came, the flank attack was still miles to the rear of the Union line.

Pike's Indians took a Union battery early on (attacking with McCullouch's cavalry), but once they came under artillery fire, they started hiding behind trees in the old wilderness fighting tradition, and were ineffective the rest of the battle. McCulloch got killed, as did his chief brigadier, and another got captured...thus his attack petered out.

With a fully trained army and better staff work, Van Dorn could have won Elkhorn Tavern. But Curtis did a good job handling his troops in the piecemeal attacks; the way he spun his army around was brilliant. He counterattacked the next morning, and Van Dorn discovered his wagon master had sent the ammunition train back fifteen miles. There wasn't much to do except retreat, and the Federals were too disorganized to effectively pursue.

Curtis is a fascinating guy. From Catton's Terrible Swift Sword

The man had no eye for glory. When he looked out over the field where so much had been won he could see only the price that had been paid, by his own men and by his enemies. A few days after the battle he spoke his mind in a letter to his brother, writing about "the bald rocky mountain...under whose shadow so many fell," and he brooded thoughtfully: "The scene is silent and sad. The vulture and the wolf now have the dominion, and the dead friends and foes sleep in the same lonely grave." Every general moved to victory across long rows of graves in the trampled earth. Curtis was one who had to look back afterward and think about how those graves had been filled.

Another side note: Sigel should have been cashiered after Wilson's Creek. Here he committed several errors before the battle (the Wiki entry on Pea Ridge summarizes it well), and when the Confederates retreated to the southeast, he pursued to the northeast. To his credit, he performed well in directing the artillery barage and the day two counterattack.

He would be promoted to Major General after Pea Ridge, fighting against Stonewall Jackson in the Valley, and commanded I Corps at Second Manassas, and XI Corps of the AoP over the winter of 1862-62. Sigel developed a well-deserved reputation as an inept general, but his ability to recruit and motivate German immigrants kept him alive in a politically sensitive position.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Attack Begins(author’s note) As I understand the tactics, this was a terrible mistake. While such a formation may make artillery fire less effective, it had little chance of breaking a large hole in the Union defenses. Even if a break in the Federal’s line could be achieved, there would be few soldiers near enough to capitalize on it. It also caused such an intermingling of units that command and control all but disintegrated. Instead of funneling troops through a break in the Union lines and disrupting them, this was more like water through a large colander instead. The result was that it allowed the blue shirts to give ground but not break, and while some units did break, it was not wide spread. I welcome opinions and discussion on this point.

So no artillery fire? The Rebs just come charging in, screaming the rebel yell, and attacking? Are they firing their guns, using them like bayonets, and just trying to kill everyone in front of them?
Remember, this area was heavilly wooded and it was difficult to spot artillery. Even moving artillery would require a road to be cut. The battle field was covered with ravines. Enemy positions were hard to determine. It was also a surpise attack, and any artillery fire to soften up the Union Army would have announced an attack. Even as the front guard and pickets of Johnston's Army began to engage the Feds, the Union upper command was still slow to realize that Johnston was attacking in force. As Hass related earlier, Sherman, Grant, et al were "incredulous" regarding any attack by the rebels. The Union men would answer with some artillery fire with 3 inch rifles, but they first had to be unlimbered and for the most part they were fired blindly into the woods, but at least they were positioned on higher ground. This assault was up close and personal. It wasn't until the musketry intensified to a constant drone of cracks that the Union command realised what was actually happening. So, no, it wasn't a running charge with the rebel yell filling the air, it started with the fringes of both lines beginning to contact each other with sporadic gun fire. As the Confederate infanty got closer, the firing intensified. Some of the forward Federal encampments were over run in the first half hour of the battle, but no Union soldiers got bayoneted in their tents, either. Stanley's account I hope paints a good picture. At first, they began to get fired upon. The closer they got, the heavier the fire. One unit may have ducked for cover under a malestrom of projectiles, while another next to them would find a gap in the lines, flank the Union defenders, and force them to break or fall back. Then Stanley's unit would advance further under no enemy fire at all. This was pretty much the nature of the entire attack over the Union right and middle. Lots of stops and starts, lulls and then fierce fighting again. Polk and Hardee steadilly gained ground against Sherman in this fashion. The Conferates had no defensive fortifications to overcome either. No entrenched Yankees. It was like playing paintball with real weapons, out in the woods. Artillery would come into play later in the battle at the Hornets Nest, but this was primarilly a battle in the woods between infantry.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't imagine how terrfying it would be to participate in one of these battles. Clouds of smoke everywhere, people screaming in agony, blood and guts everywhere, bullets flying over your head? I don't consider myself a coward (though I don't really know because I've never been involved in anything remotely similar) but my first impulse would simply be to run away as fast as I could...just get the #### out of there.

It must have been a terrifying experience.The common phrase to describe your first combat experience in those days was "seeing the elephant". It was easy to determine which units had been in a fight and which ones had not. The rookies wanted to get a piece of the action before it was too late; those that had been through a battle quickly lost all such desires for glory.Edward Porter Alexander describes the armies of 1861 and early 1862 as being like a man reaching for a branding iron that has been resting in a fire. Even with a glove on, you pick it up and immediately drop it...and then repeat it, holding on a little longer each time, until you realize it won't sear your flesh off.Nobody liked to stand there and load a weapon while men a few hundred feet away were firing at you...and early on, regiments would fire a volley, and then fall back to reload. But eventually they learned they were no safer doing that, and less likely to inflict any damage because now the target was further away. So you learned to stand there and do your duty.The other thing is...honor and peer pressure had an enormous impact on how soldiers felt about what they were doing. You stood there and took it because the guys on your left and right were doing the same thing. Chances are, everyone in the company came from the same town or at least the same county. In the back of their minds, they knew if they survived, they would have to go back and live there again. There was nothing more shameful than getting shot in the back.There were skulkers and shirkers and cowards in every battle. They were the same guys in every fight, always looking for an excuse (illness, carrying off a wounded comrade, or simply running away) to not be in the line of battle. But if enough boys stayed in line, you felt compelled to do the same.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BL, Rovers- any comment on my narrative about Pea Ridge? I don't know much about it, but it seems like an interesting little battle. Van Dorn is quite a character.

I don't know much about Pea Ridge at all. Calling Van Dorn a character is well, a little weak, I think he was nuts! That entire affair sounds like a pretty hair brained scheme. More like a mob with some indians thrown in for good measure, attacking an army. BL, I'll see what I can find about the "green troops placement". Hass indicates that many of Sherman's men had only been issued arms and ammo only days before the battle for the first time. It certainly is true that Polk and Hardee made more ground early and then slowed. That could well be a combination of green troops up front and the Union Army forming into better defensive positions with more veteran troops further behind the original Union encampments. Tim, I know exactly what you mean, but time and again, the American men, regular folk, found the constitution within themselves to fight and endure, from Bunker Hill to Valley Forge, Shiloh and Omaha Beach and to the Vietnam War and Iraq.... have always demonstrated incredible bravery. I have a hard time understanding it too, but I think it boils down to fighting for the man next to you. I read these accounts and wonder if I could have done what they did too. Just look at the 101st Airborne. They were regular guys that did extraordinary things. I think, that in war, men find strengths they never imagined they had. Men in war share a bond that can never be broken.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

More from Col. Hass (under Sherman):

“They had already commenced firing on our pickets, and believed, from the rapid firing on Prentiss' line, that he had been attacked in force. Captain Sisson returned to his command, and the writer (Hass) went at once to General Sherman's headquarters. I was met at his tent. The facts related were communicated, and for some minutes we listened to the firing. The General appeared to be in doubt as to attack, but ordered the brigade into readiness for action.”

“Returning to regimental headquarters, the men were found promptly responding to the long-roll and preparing for action. Partaking of a hasty breakfast, they fell into line. . It was now about half-past six o'clock. The fire on our front grew hotter and nearer. The regiment was in line. Colonel Hildebrand was pressed to join in a cup of coffee, remarking that it would better fit him for duty, when, in the very act of taking the co:ffee, a shot from the enemy's gun, unlimbered in the road we cut the day before, in, full view of our camp, told us, as it crashed through the trees over our tent, that the battle had opened! Colonel Hildebrand said: "Colonel, aid me with the brigade; send the major with the regiment; ride at once to the Fifty-third and form them into line."

“The Fifty-third Ohio was alluded to, which constituted part of our brigade. Their camp was across a ravine to the left of the Fifty-seventh Ohio, and some distance from brigade headquarters. It was here where General Sherman rode early in the opening of the battle and lost his orderly -shot by his side-in the ravine near the camp of the Fifty-third. Taylor's battery had a good position to the right of the church, and was ordered to unlimber for action. The Fifty-third formed in their own camp, which was an old peach orchard. They were supported by Waterhouse's battery.”

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The attack, cont...

The assault, despite some shortcomings, was ferocious, and some of the numerous inexperienced Union soldiers of Grant's new army fled for safety to the Tennessee River. Others fought well but were forced to withdraw under strong pressure and attempted to form new defensive lines. Many regiments fragmented entirely; the companies and sections that remained on the field attached themselves to other commands. During this period, Sherman, who had been so negligent in preparation for the battle, became one of its most important elements.

He appeared everywhere along his lines, inspiring his raw recruits to resist the initial assaults despite staggering losses on both sides. He received two minor wounds and had three horses shot out from under him. As Hass mentioned, Sherman’s aide was shot dead right next to him as well. Historian James McPherson cites the battle as the turning point of Sherman's life, which helped to make him one of the North's premier generals. Sherman's division bore the brunt of the initial attack, and despite heavy fire on their position and their right flank crumbling, they fought on stubbornly. The Union troops slowly lost ground and fell back to a position behind Shiloh Church. McClernand’s's division temporarily stabilized the position. Overall, however, Johnston's forces made steady progress until noon, rolling up Union positions one by one.

While Hardee and Polk made good gains against Sherman on the left, and much more so than the Confederate right did in terms of ground captured, it was not how Johnston drew up his battle plan. Instead of driving Sherman north into the swamps, they were driving him northeast, towards Pittsburg landing, instead of away from Johnston’s ultimate tactical goal. This permitted Sherman to turn his flank as he gave ground, allowing the Union line to form up stronger interior lines of defense along the way.

Had Beauregard concentrated more troops on the Union left, Johnston’s plan may have still been successful. Having Hardee and Polk attack in such great force too far to the Union right flank played right into Grant’s hands, allowing him to reform his defenses later on around Pittsburg Landing.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Shiloh_Battle_Apr6am-2.png

Grant sent for Lew Wallace, several hours march to the north, to reinforce Pittsburg Landing where Grant wanted to mount his defense. Instead of marching his 7,000 troops SE to Pittsburg Landing as Grant had wanted, he went directly south, and by the time he arrived, he was actually behind Confederate lines who were pushing due east, towards Pittsburg Landing.

No written proof of the orders Lew Wallace received from Grant were preserved. Wallace believed Grant wanted him to reinforce Sherman, on Grant’s right flank. That was were he headed. Sherman had long fallen back from that position by the time Wallace arrived.

When Grant’s messenger arrived to ask why Wallace had not arrived at Pittsburg Landing, he wanted to attack the Confederate rear, but knew he was in Grant’s dog house at this point. Then, inexplicably, instead of just marching straight back north, he took the time to completely turn his regiment around to maintain the same order of march, like making a U-turn, causing further delay. He marched north again, all the way back to his original position at Crump’s Landing, and then marched SE. For all intents and purposes, this blunder ended Wallace’s military career. He would not arrive at Pittsburg Landing until the day’s fighting was over.

Ambiguity in written orders would plague both sides time and again, but particularly for the Northern Armies. Was Wallace to blame entirely, or does Grant bear some responsibility for Wallace’s failure to contribute on the first day of Shiloh? Wallace was certainly no coward, and he demonstrated that and remarkable initiative at Donelson.

Grant also called for reinforcements from one of Buell’s divisions, Bull Nelson, who was positioned across the Tennessee River at Pittsburg Landing. It took time to get the troops across the river, but they did arrive in time to shore up Grants new line of defense protecting the Landing from the Confederate attack very late in the day. Grant also had two guns ships on the river, the USS Lexington and USS Tyler.

The Tyler was a converted side paddle steamship with two stacks, reinforced with timber, thus being a “timberclad”. It had a 32 pound gun and 6 eight inch guns. It was 180 feet long, with a 45 foot beam and the crew was numbered at 61 officers and sailors.

The Lexington was a single stack side paddle timberclad with 4 eight inch guns and two 32 pounders. It was 177 feet long with a 36 foot beam. Both gunships would survive the war and be sold off at the end of it.

The fire from the gunboats was not particularly effective, but it would harass the southern army all day and then all night as they attempted to sleep that evening of the first battle. Every 15 minutes the gunboats would fire volleys throughout the night, making rest and recovery difficult for both sides, but obviously more so for the rebels.

Next... the death of Geneal Johnston and his plan of attack with him.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To backtrack just a bit, this is what Stanley wrote about the initial assault (which was before the earlier passage about taking cover behind a log):

"After a steady exchange of musketry, which lasted some time, we heard the order: 'Fix Bayonets! On the double-quick!' in tones that thrilled us. There was a simultaneous bound forward, each soul doing his best for the emergency. The Federals appeared inclined to await us; but, at this juncture, our men raised a yell, thousands responded to it, and burst out into the wildest yelling it has ever been my lot to hear. It drove all sanity and order from among us. It served the double purpose of relieving pent-up feelings, and transmitting encouragement along the attacking line. I rejoiced in the shouting like the rest. It reminded me that there were about four hundred companies like the Dixie Greys, who shared our feelings. Most of us, engrossed with the musket-work, had forgotten the fact; but the wave after wave of human voices, louder than all other battle-sounds together, penetrated to every sense, and stimulated our energies to the utmost.

'They fly!' was echoed from lip to lip. It accelerated our pace, and filled us with a noble rage. Then I knew what the Berserker passion was! It deluged us with rapture, and transfigured each Southerner into an exulting victor. At such a moment, nothing could have halted us.

Those savage yells, and the sight of thousands of racing figures coming towards them, discomfited the blue-coats; and when we arrived upon the place where they had stood, they had vanished. Then we caught sight of their beautiful array of tents, before which they had made their stand, after being roused from their Sunday-morning sleep, and huddled into line, at hearing their pickets challenge our skirmishers. The half-dressed dead and wounded showed what a surprise our attack had been. "

The initial attack was greatly successful. Subsequent assaults would meet much more resistance. Obviously, Union troops further back would be better prepared than the men Stanley saw in the initial wave.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Attack, cont...

Johnston’s flanking maneuver stalled in front of Sarah Bell’s peach orchard. Even Johnston had been distracted by the severity of the fighting in the area of the orchard and hornet’s nest. While the Confederates continued a slow advance, it was at a great price. The stand at the Hornet’s Nest gave Grant the time to solidify his defenses around the Landing to such a point that even without any help from Buell, it is highly unlikely the Confederate Army of the Mississippi could have ever mounted an attack strong enough to push Grant’s army into the swamps.

At around 2:30 pm, General Johnston took a minie ball in the leg while leading his assault on Grant’s left, towards the Landing. Believing it was not a serious wound, he directed his surgeon to attend to other wounded. However, it had struck an artery, his boot filled with blood, and he bled to death.

As Johnston bled, his soldiers noticed he was looking very pale. They asked if he was wounded and he sad, yes, badly I fear. He then slumped on his horse. They carried him back from the line, and he died within minutes. Johnston would be the highest ranking officer to die on the battle field on either side in the civil war. The south’s best general was now dead. This was a severe blow to southern morale at the time.

It is difficult to avoid questioning the wisdom of Johnston’s decision to be so close to the fighting for several reasons, but it was not uncommon for generals to behave this way. In Johnston’s case however, it was clearly unwise. He was the highest ranking field General the south had, and by many opinions including Jefferson Davis‘, it’s best General. Simply stated, he was too important to be so close to the line.

Compound this with the fact that Beauregard was too far from the line to be able to evaluate the course of the battle properly and competent command and control on the field was all but gone. Also gone was Johnston’s battle plan. Beauregard attacked with too much force on the Union right. Johnston’s plan called for more of a concentration on the Union left and the goal of capturing Pittsburg Landing.

Beauregard’s orders to attack across the entire Union line was not keeping with Johnston’s plan at all. Instead of driving Grant’s army away from Pittsburg Landing, Beauregard drove them towards it instead. The loss of Johnston left a huge void in command leadership of the South‘s Army. However, two months later another general named Lee would make a name for himself and the South would have a new “best hope“.

There was indeed a lull in the fighting at this point, and many believe it was because of Johnston’s death and the transferring of command to Beauregard, but it was not uncommon for battles to quiet periodically as soldiers rested to catch their breathe and get resupplied with ammunition. More on this later.

With Johnston dead, the southern army became fixated on the hornet’s nest. Wave after wave of men were sent. Beauregard continued these assaults, and even Breckenridge turned his attention to this stubborn group of Yanks, and away from the more tactically important Pittsburg Landing. For 7 hours the men of the north held the position. It was a major tactical blunder by Beauregard to continue these assaults, instead of simply bypassing the stronghold instead.

Although often given the credit, Prentiss was not the key defender of the Hornet’s Nest as the area adjacent to the “Sunken Road” came to be called. His division began the day with roughly 5,400 men, only to dwindle to 500 by 9:45 that morning. When Prentiss took his position in the Sunken Road, his numbers were nearly doubled by an arriving regiment, the 23rd Missouri. Prentiss had lost almost his entire division, and could not have held his second line without the veteran brigades of Brig. Gen. W.H.L. Wallace’s division. It was primarily Wallace’s troops who held the Hornet’s Nest.

W.H.L. Wallace would be killed in the hornet’s nest, and Grant would later refer to him as his best general in the entire war. Prentiss with Wallace’s men would hold the position until completely surrounded, and would eventually surrender himself and 2,500 men. Many historians now do credit Wallace for the stand at the hornet’s nest, but Prentiss was given more credit for many years as he was the only one of the two generals to survive and would self servingly take more credit than he perhaps deserved. Prentiss would spend 6 months as a POW until a prisoner exchange was later agreed upon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Defending Pittsburg Landing

The Union flanks were being pushed back, but not decisively. Hardee and Polk caused Sherman and McClernand on the Union right to retreat in the direction of Pittsburg Landing, leaving the right flank of the Hornet's Nest exposed. Just after the death of Johnston, Breckinridge, whose corps had been in reserve, attacked on the extreme left of the Union line, driving off the under strength brigade of Colonel D Stuart and potentially opening a path into the Union rear area and the Tennessee River. However, they paused to regroup and recover from exhaustion and disorganization, and then chose to follow the sound of the guns toward the Hornet's Nest, and an opportunity was lost.

This decision may have been the turning point of the battle. So much for Johnston’s plan. This marked the end of any real plan of attack the South had. This is the only point in the battle where things may have turned out very differently had Johnston still been alive, may being the key word. Breckinridge lost his chance to disrupt Grant’s defensive consolidation around Pittsburg Landing. That pretty much sealed the eventual outcome of the battle, in Grant’s favor or at least assuring a virtual standoff in terms of determining a victor.

After the Hornet's Nest fell, the remnants of the Union line established a solid three-mile front around Pittsburg Landing, extending west from the Tennessee and then north up the River Road, keeping the approach open for the expected belated arrival of Lew Wallace's division. Sherman commanded the right of the line, McClernand the center, and on the left, remnants of W.H.L. Wallace's, Hurlbut's, and Stuart's men mixed in with the thousands of stragglers who were crowding on the bluff over the landing.

While there was no widespread panic amoung the Union troops, there was some. Here is an eyewitness account as written by Ambrose Bierce, who under Buell's command was ferried across the Tennessee River late that evening:

“Along the sheltered strip of beach between the river bank and the water was a confused mass of humanity - several thousands of men. They were mostly unarmed; many were wounded; some dead. All the camp-following tribes were there; all the cowards; a few officers. Not one of them knew where his regiment was, nor if he had a regiment. Many had not. These men were defeated, beaten, cowed. They were deaf to duty and dead to shame. A more demented crew never drifted to the rear of broken battalions. They would have stood in their tracks and been shot down to a man by a provost-marshals guard, but they could not have been urged up that bank. An army's bravest men are its cowards. The death which they would not meet at the hands of the enemy they will meet at the hands of their officers, with never a flinching.

Whenever a steamboat would land, this abominable mob had to be kept off her with bayonets; when she pulled away, they sprang on her and were pushed by scores into the water, where they were suffered to drown one another in their own way. The men disembarking insulted them, shoved them, struck them. In return they expressed their unholy delight in the certainty of our destruction by the enemy."

Not all men could hold up to the terror of war.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK, experts- suppose Albert Sidney Johnston had not died at Shiloh? What changes would have occurred in Western theater, and in the Civil War in general?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

*** Disclaimer: I do not consider myself to be an expert: just a student***

Johnston, along with Scott were widely considered to be the best soldiers in the country as it entered the war, and it wasn't even close. But were they? No general had commanded armies this large before. It was new ground. They were good generals by reputation, certainly, but that was far from being proven a fact in a war of this scale.

Johnston, like McClellan were imposing figures. Charismatic, dashingly handsome and they commanded a room just by entering it. I beleive these qualities and their magnetic personalities added to the expectations of how sucessful they would be on a battle field.

Unfortunately for Johnston, he was not given command of the western states until after Polk had violated Kentucky's nuetrality. He inherited an elongated front line, which was nearly cut in two by Pope's riverboats. Construction of Forts Henry and Dolelson were not well sighted, but they weren't yet finished, either. Now that Polk had gone into KY, the forts should have been given up and resited further downstream on the Tennessee River. That was IMO his first big mistake.

His second mistake was having two too many generals at Donelson. One would have been enough, three was too many. Next, when he returned to Nashville, he actually did not know the city had been left unguarded. That tells me he did not have a good handle on things, including at least in this case, where his troops were.

His attack plan at Shiloh was a good one, but even he did not follow it. Instead of attacking the far left of Grant's line as per his original plan, he performed a flanking manuveur on the peach orchard instead. That by the way, that was where he took that minie ball in the back of his knee. He should not have been there in the first place. Why did he tell his surgeon to treat other wounded men? (BTW, the lost causers like to say he sent his surgeon to treat Union soldiers, something that strikes me as another Shiloh myth). Another faulty claim was that he didn't know he was wounded. He had recieved a sciatic injury in a duel 25 years prior, but he walked without a cane, or even a limp unless he had really physically exerted himself, and even then, any limp was barely noticable. Modern day doctors having examined his injuries based on extensive research have ruled this entire myth out as well. There was a report that he died with a tourniquet in his pocket. What was he thinking?

He should not have been acting like some regimental general leading a charge into the peach orchard. That was just brave to the point of being stupid. Would Johnston have learned from his mistakes, and lived up to the lofty expectations the South had for him? One of his closest friends was in fact Jefferson Davis, who helped build the expectations up.

Lee made mistakes too, but he learned from them. It's hard to imagine Johnston having been better than Lee, however. I also don't think that the South had any real chance of success in the west, no matter who the general was. It was a matter of when and how the west would be lost. The riverboat flotilla of the North would ensure that. The loss of Johnston may have been more of a loss in morale than anything else, but it's hard to say, it's obviously purely speculative.

Johnston inherited a very bad situation. Once Dolelson was lost, and I think Johnston bears some blame for that, it was just a matter of time and the body count. What may be most important is that IF Johnston had executed his plan at Shiloh, and had beaten Grant before Buell''s arrival, that may have been the end of Grant for good. Now ask what might have happened if Grant was no longer a factor. That would have changed everything.

Edited by Rovers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Defending Pittsburg Landing cont.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Shiloh_Battle_Apr6pm.png

Beauregard's Army was exhausted and completely disorganized. Breckinridge, having deflected his attack away from the river and towards the Hornet's Nest crossed both Bragg's and Polk's units. Basically, it was mass confusion. Any little semblence of command and control that had remained was now completely gone. Units were intermigled. Beauregard had little idea of the situation, and was too far back at Shiloh church to attempt to reorganize his army. What he did see was wounded and straglers retreating. He was blind, and did not know the situation. His men celebrated, having captured thousands of men and a massive amount of equipment and supplies. Beauregard and his men believed they had won the day. Now, they only became concerned with finding food and getting some rest.

Grant on the other hand, had reformed and had a commanding, defensable position. Command and control was perhaps at this point, more coordinated than it had been all day for Grant, owing largely to the stand the Union men under W Wallace and Pretiss had accomplished in the Hornet's Nest which delayed the rebel advance on the Landing for seven hours.

The defensive line included a ring of over 50 cannons and naval guns from the river (the gunboats USS Lexington and USS Tyler). A final Confederate charge of two brigades, one of which was attempted with no ammunition, led by Brig. Gen. Withers attempted to break through the line but was repulsed. Beauregard called off a second attempt after 6 p.m., with the sun setting. The Confederate plan had failed; they had pushed Grant east to a defensible position on the river, not forced him west into the swamps.

This is where the idea that Buell saved the day can be dispelled, at least insofar as the result of the first day of the battle. Keep in mind too, that the Confederates actually outnumbered the Union forces on the field if one takes into account the “Lost Wallace Brigade“. That would mean another 7,000 fresh troops for the next day, even without Buell.

In reality, the Confederates probably had little hope of breaking Grant’s last line. Situated on a tall ridge overlooking streams known as the Dill and Tilghman branches, Grant’s forces, battered though they were, still had enough fight in them to hold their extremely strong position, especially since they had over 50 pieces of artillery in line. Likewise, the troops were massed in compact positions. Good interior lines of defense also helped, and two Federal gunboats fired on the Confederates from the river. Grant poured heavy fire into the Confederates from the front, flank and rear.

The Confederates never actually mounted any real assault on the Federal line in practicality, further damaging Buell’s later assertion of having saved Grant. Only elements of four disorganized and exhausted Confederate brigades crossed the backwater in the Dill Branch ravine as gunboat shells flew through the air, and only two of those brigades even attempted to undertake an assault, as mentioned, one without ammunition. The Confederates topped the rise and faced a withering fire. They were convinced. Orders from Beauregard to withdraw did not have to be repeated.

In fact, only 12 companies of Buell’s army crossed in time to deploy and become engaged. Grant had the situation well under control and could have fended off much larger numbers than he actually encountered. While Buell’s arrival did provide a morale boost and allowed Grant to take the offensive the next morning, Grant had the battle situation under control by the time Buell arrived.

Hardee, Bragg and thousands of other former Confederates argued after the war that Beauregard threw away the victory. Beauregard does bear some blame, but not for making the wrong decision to end the attacks. He made the right decision, but for all the wrong reasons. The general made his decision far behind his front lines, an area completely awash with stragglers and wounded. No wonder Beauregard argued that his army was so disorganized that he needed to call a halt.

Similarly, Beauregard acted on faulty intelligence. He received word that Buell’s reinforcements were not arriving at Pittsburg Landing. One of Buell’s divisions was in Alabama, but unfortunately for Beauregard, five were actually en route to Pittsburg Landing. Brig. Gen. Benjamin Helm had dispatched a report to Beauregard claiming that Buell was marching towards Decatur in northern Alabama. Based on such spotty intelligence, Beauregard thought he could finish Grant the next morning.

In the end, the decision to call a halt was the right thing to do. Taking into account the terrain, Union reinforcements and Confederate tactical ability at the time, the Confederates probably would not have broken Grant’s final line of defense, much less destroyed the Union army. The castigated Creole did not throw away a victory, he merely put himself in a position to be blamed for the defeat already transpiring.

http://www.dean.usma.edu/history/web03/atl...CWGIF/ACW08.gif

Edited by Rovers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK, experts- suppose Albert Sidney Johnston had not died at Shiloh? What changes would have occurred in Western theater, and in the Civil War in general?

BL, care to weigh in on this one? Any counter points with my take on it? I'm interested in your views on this, it's a subject that won't go away in some discussions to this day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Defending Pittsburg Landing cont.

Another Lost Cause myth of Shiloh is that Johnston would have been victorious had not a stray bullet clipped an artery in his leg and caused him to bleed to death. According to legend, Johnston’s death caused a lull in the battle on the critical Confederate right, which slowed progress toward Pittsburg Landing. Just as important, Johnston’s death placed Beauregard in command, who ultimately called off the attacks. The result of both cause and effect situations led to Confederate defeat.

To drive the point home, the United Daughters of the Confederacy placed an elaborate memorial at Shiloh in 1917, with Johnston as the centerpiece and death symbolically taking the laurel wreath of victory away from the South. Even modern scholars have sometimes taken this line of reasoning. Johnston biographer Charles Roland has argued in two different books that Johnston would have succeeded and won the battle had he lived. Roland claims that just because Beauregard failed did not mean Johnston would have. His superior leadership qualities, Roland concludes, could have allowed Johnston to spur the tired Confederate troops onward to victory.

Such a theory of certain victory fails to take many factors into account. First, there was no lull in the battle on the Confederate right because Johnston fell. A continuous rate of fire was not sustainable for several reasons, mostly logistics; ordnance departments could not keep thousands of soldiers supplied to fire constantly. Most Civil War battles were stop-and-go actions, with assaults, retreats and counterattacks.

Shiloh’s wooded terrain and choppy hills and valleys gave the soldiers plenty of cover to re-form lines of battle out of the enemy’s sight. The result was that the fighting at Shiloh did not rage continuously for hours at any one time or place. Instead it was a complicated series of many different actions throughout the day at many different points.

There were many lulls on the battlefield, some for as much as an hour’s duration. Some historians point out that a lull occurred when Johnston died, but that was more a result of the natural flow of the battle than Johnston’s death.

Second, the argument that Johnston would have won when Beauregard did not is also faulty. Johnston could probably have pressed the attack no faster than the surviving Confederate commanders on the right did, although this last opinion remains highly debatable. Johnston did set out with the goal of capturing the Landing, but was also very distracted from this goal by the hornet’s nest and the peach orchard. Might he have bypassed the Hornet's Nest eventually, while Beauregard did not? Would Breckenridge have turned left towards the hornet’s nest and away from Pittsburg Landing if Johnston were alive?

In all likelihood, Johnston would also have been preoccupied with capturing the Hornet’s Nest, as happened after his death. After all, he did indeed get distracted by the peach orchard. Something taught at West Point was to “follow the sound of the guns”. That is what Johnston did at the peach orchard, and what Breckinridge had done at the Hornet’s Nest. Thus Johnston at best would not have been in a position to attack near Pittsburg Landing until hours after Grant had stabilized his last line of defense. As stated above, the heavy guns, lines of infantry, gunboats, exhaustion, disorganization, terrain and arriving reinforcements all were factors — some more than others — in defeating the last Confederate attempts of the day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The evening of April 6 was a dispiriting end to the first day of one of the bloodiest battles in U.S. history. The desperate screams of soldiers dying on the fields between the armies could be heard in the Union and Confederate camps throughout the night. The Confederate army withdrew to the original Union campsites and even slept in their tents.

A thunderstorm passed through the area and shelling conducted every 15 minutes from the Union gunboats made the night a miserable experience for both sides. A famous anecdote encapsulates Grant's unflinching attitude to temporary setbacks and his tendency for offensive action. As the exhausted Confederate soldiers bedded down in the abandoned Union camps, Sherman encountered Grant under a tree, sheltering himself from the pouring rain. He was smoking one of his cigars while considering his losses and planning for the next day. Sherman remarked, "Well, Grant, we've had the devil's own day, haven't we?" Grant looked up. "Yes," he replied, followed by a puff. "Yes. Lick 'em tomorrow, though."

Beauregard sent a telegram to President Davis announcing "A COMPLETE VICTORY" and later admitted, "I thought I had General Grant just where I wanted him and could finish him up in the morning." Many of his men were jubilant, having overrun the Union camps and taken thousands of prisoners and tons of supplies. But Grant had reason to be optimistic, for Lew Wallace's division and 15,000 men of Don Carlos Buell's army began to arrive that evening, with Buell's men fully on the scene by 4 a.m., in time to turn the tide the next day.

Next, the Second day, April 7.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For those who are following this thread, please don't be reluctant to post on any subject. Ask questions, disagree, comment, make suggestions, whatever. In fact, if you are reading the thread, I'd really appreciate any feedback at all. While it is of a narrative nature, more participation would be welcome, speaking for myself. If only 3 of us continue to carry this thing without any feedback, either positive or negative, I don't know if it is sustainable. In other words, is it worth the effort?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For those who are following this thread, please don't be reluctant to post on any subject. Ask questions, disagree, comment, make suggestions, whatever. In fact, if you are reading the thread, I'd really appreciate any feedback at all. While it is of a narrative nature, more participation would be welcome, speaking for myself. If only 3 of us continue to carry this thing without any feedback, either positive or negative, I don't know if it is sustainable. In other words, is it worth the effort?

I'm loving the level of detail. The links are very helpful at visualizing the battles, and having them to refer to when you discuss the "movement on General X's left" is great.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For those who are following this thread, please don't be reluctant to post on any subject. Ask questions, disagree, comment, make suggestions, whatever. In fact, if you are reading the thread, I'd really appreciate any feedback at all. While it is of a narrative nature, more participation would be welcome, speaking for myself. If only 3 of us continue to carry this thing without any feedback, either positive or negative, I don't know if it is sustainable. In other words, is it worth the effort?

Trust me, it is, Rovers. In the World War II thread, there were only two of us after a time that were posting: myself and Ozymandias. At one point I wondered if anyone was reading it and I asked if I should even continue- I immediately got about a dozen posts and nearly that many PMs urging me to continue. People are reading this, even if they're quiet about it. I'm enjoying this very much and determined to see it through.Do you have casualty numbers for Shiloh for the first day? I was also wondering: have you read Shelby Foote's novel about the battle? Is it any good?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For those who are following this thread, please don't be reluctant to post on any subject. Ask questions, disagree, comment, make suggestions, whatever. In fact, if you are reading the thread, I'd really appreciate any feedback at all. While it is of a narrative nature, more participation would be welcome, speaking for myself. If only 3 of us continue to carry this thing without any feedback, either positive or negative, I don't know if it is sustainable. In other words, is it worth the effort?

I'm loving the level of detail. The links are very helpful at visualizing the battles, and having them to refer to when you discuss the "movement on General X's left" is great.
Thanks, Joseph. I guess I needed a pep talk! it does take some time to put it all together and try to tell the stories in an easy to understand way. I am reading a book on Frederickburg now, and the lack of good maps is a real shortcoming. Much more difficult to follow without detailed maps. The author often refers to points and locations that never appear on any of his maps. Very frustrating. I have to find maps on the net to cross reference to as I read the book and even doing that, it isn't enough to fully visualize, there isn't enough detail. Bobby Lane found those USMA maps, and they are very good. They also help me visualize the battlefilds better than the simplified maps from Wikpedia do. That last link to a USMA map in particular demonstrated how Breckinridge's attack on the Hornet's Nest crossed Polk and Bragg's troops which led to so much confusion on the part of the South's command and control. Beauregard had no idea where his troops where. They were so intermingled, it prevented him from mounting any coordinated attack on Pittsburg Landing, and that is where the battle was lost. A picture is worth a thousand words, especially when discussing battles. I appreciate the feedback. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For those who are following this thread, please don't be reluctant to post on any subject. Ask questions, disagree, comment, make suggestions, whatever. In fact, if you are reading the thread, I'd really appreciate any feedback at all. While it is of a narrative nature, more participation would be welcome, speaking for myself. If only 3 of us continue to carry this thing without any feedback, either positive or negative, I don't know if it is sustainable. In other words, is it worth the effort?

Trust me, it is, Rovers. In the World War II thread, there were only two of us after a time that were posting: myself and Ozymandias. At one point I wondered if anyone was reading it and I asked if I should even continue- I immediately got about a dozen posts and nearly that many PMs urging me to continue. People are reading this, even if they're quiet about it. I'm enjoying this very much and determined to see it through.Do you have casualty numbers for Shiloh for the first day? I was also wondering: have you read Shelby Foote's novel about the battle? Is it any good?
I suppose the narrative nature of it discourages people from posting. I felt like I was hearing my own echo. Nope, haven't read Foote. Let me clear this up. I'm no expert. Not even close. What I've done with Shiloh is the result of hours and hours of on line research. I'm a freakin expert on Shiloh now, at least as far as any layman could be. I've read every opinion, every on line account of the battle. I've probably put in twenty hours of writing and research on Shiloh. I must have used at least 50 sources. For the most part, what I've written is an original writing on this battle based on that research and then interjecting my opinions and judgements on it. I only cut and pasted passages that I felt I could not improve upon. There isn't much of that in my narrative. What I know about the CW is a thimbleful compared to the beer keg of knowledge Bobby Lane has on the subject. Having said that, the CW has become my new hobby since this thread started and I took the time to read through it. I knew more about it than the average person before now, maybe much more, but I took this as a way to gain a much deeper understanding of the conflict. But as for Shiloh, few people know as much as I do now about the battle and the generals who were the major players. That is why I took it on in the first place. I wanted to learn more.Bobby Lane has been of immense help too. He directed me towards information I never would have found otherwise, especially about West Point, what tactics it taught, and how each general in the war adopted different philosophies of conducting war. That previous post about Halleck vs. Grant and their conflicting philosophies is like learning how to add and subtract before one can learn algebra. It is fundamental to understanding the generals. I will continue to educate myself on this subject in any case. I find it fascinating.... and brutal. If I post something as fact, I'm ready to back it up. Pretty anal that way. I tend to be more than thorough. I guess I was looking for encouragement. I can study the war without the effort I might put into this thread, which has become rather substantial. I just wanted to know it wasn't a waste of time, in so many words. Seems like it might be worth the effort, so.... attache bayonettes!No, I don't have casualty numbers from the first day, just the totals after the third day. I don't think there was any count. Many wounded men lay between the lines on the night of April 6. I think it is probably safe to say that casualties were near the same on each side, possibly more Northerners than Southerners, but that is guess work. Certainly there were few prisoners taken by Grant that first day, while the South had captured at least 3,000, possibly more. They took 2,500 at the Horent's Nest alone. Edited by Rovers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Second Day

Beauregard was inexplicably unaware of Buell’s arrival. He never came to the front to inspect the strength of the Union lines but remained at Shiloh Church. He also discounted intelligence reports from Col. Nathan Forrest (and bluster from POW Gen. Prentiss) that Buell's men were crossing the river to reinforce Grant. He had also received a dispatch from Brig. Gen. Benjamin Helm in northern Alabama, indicating that Buell was marching toward Decatur and not Pittsburg Landing. Why Beauregard relied on Helm’s intelligence report over that of Forrest and information gotten from Prentiss under questioning is difficult to understand.

Polk's corps retired all the way to the April 5 Confederate bivouac, 4 miles southwest of Pittsburg Landing. No line of battle was formed, and few if any commands were resupplied with ammunition. The soldiers were consumed by the need to locate food, water, and shelter for a much-needed night's rest. Beauregard intended to renew his attack on Grant, not realizing he was now outnumbered. He was very surprised to come under a Union attack in force the next morning.

Lew Wallace's division was the first to see action, at the extreme right of the Union line, crossing Tilghman Branch around 7 a.m. and driving back the brigade of Col. Preston Pond. On Wallace's left were the survivors of Sherman's division, then McClernand's, and W.H.L. Wallace's (now under the command of Col. James M. Tuttle). Buell's divisions continued to the left: Bull Nelson's, Crittenden's, and McCook's.

The Confederate defenders were so badly commingled that little unit cohesion existed above the brigade level. It required over two hours to locate Gen. Polk and bring up his division from its bivouac to the southwest. By 10 a.m., Beauregard had stabilized his front with his corps commanders from left to right: Bragg, Polk, Breckinridge, and Hardee. In a thicket near the Hamburg-Purdy Road, the fighting was so intense that Sherman described in his report of the battle "the severest musketry fire I ever heard."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Shiloh_Battle_Apr7.png

On the Union left, Bull Nelson's division led the advance, followed closely by Crittenden's and McCook's, down the Corinth and Hamburg-Savannah Roads. After heavy fighting, Crittenden's division recaptured the Hornet's Nest area by late morning, but Crittenden and Nelson were both repulsed by determined counterattacks launched by Breckinridge. The Union right made steady progress, driving Bragg and Polk to the south. As Crittenden and McCook resumed their attacks, Breckinridge was forced to retire, and by noon Beauregard's line paralleled the Hamburg-Purdy Road.

In early afternoon, Beauregard launched a series of counterattacks from the Shiloh Church area, aiming to ensure control of the Corinth Road. The Union right was temporarily driven back by these assaults at Water Oaks Pond. Crittenden, reinforced by Tuttle, seized the road junction of the Hamburg-Purdy and East Corinth Roads, driving the Confederates into Prentiss's old camps. Nelson resumed his attack and seized the heights overlooking Locust Grove Branch by late afternoon. Beauregard's final counterattack was flanked and repulsed when Grant moved Col. James Veatch's brigade forward.

Beauregard knew it was over. Breckenridge covered the retreat. The Union troops were equally exhausted. Darkness was coming upon the field, and both sides retired.

There is little written about the second day. It was likely almost as bloody as the first. The Conferate troops were able to repulse some attacks, but their defenses in all cases were short lived. They were short of ammunition and leadership. They had retired believing they had won the battle, and when attacked in force the next day, their will to fight was nearly broken. Beauregard and every one of his generals had failed to prepare for the next day, eerily reminiscent of Grant's failure to be prepared for an attack a day earlier. Over confidence was not a virtue in this battle or any other. Grant would learn that lesson at Shiloh.

Next, the third day, and then Halleck's siege of Corinth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a question about these battles that last over several days- how do they exactly stop at sunset? You wrote: "Darkness was coming upon the field, and both sides retired." I mean it seems so weird, almost like you're fighting and killing, fighting and killing, and then the recess bell sounds and everybody quits.

I understand that both sides are exhausted, but why not wait a few hours and then surprise attack in the middle of the night? Wouldn't that be a tremendous advantage?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a question about these battles that last over several days- how do they exactly stop at sunset? You wrote: "Darkness was coming upon the field, and both sides retired." I mean it seems so weird, almost like you're fighting and killing, fighting and killing, and then the recess bell sounds and everybody quits.I understand that both sides are exhausted, but why not wait a few hours and then surprise attack in the middle of the night? Wouldn't that be a tremendous advantage?

Even in daylight, friendly fire was a problem throughout the war. Black powder weapons made a lot of smoke. Sometimes artillery would cease firing because they couldn't find their targets in the dense smoke. At Fredericksburg one attillery battery would be ordered to run around their guns waving their hands trying to clear the smoke. Command and control was also a problem in daylight, nevermind in darkness. At Shiloh in daylight units became so intermingled they could not be effectively commanded. A night attack would have resulted in mass confusion. Generals usually relied on viewing battles from a height at a distance to better direct their attacks and defenses. That wasn't the case at Shiloh, it was too heavilly wooded, and Grant and Beauregard relied on reports sent by messenger from their units. Night attacks would have resulted in a lot of hand to hand fighting I would presume. It would also be diffuclt to move through the woods quietly at night. It wasn't uncommon to hammer a position all night with artillery however, especially forts. Stopping the fighting as dark approached was also because after fighting all day, troops were exhausted. They needed food and rest. Asking a tired army to attack a defensive position would not likely result in success. Advancing troops would make much better targets than those taking cover in moonlight. Again at Frederickburg there would be night fighting in the town, and rebel sharpshooters positioned in houses could not be seen until their musket flash gave them away, if only for a moment. Union soldiers were easy pickings as they tried to advance through the streets. You can't underestimate the affects that complete exhaustion had on soldiers. In this case they had fought for 12 hours. How many times did they charge during the course of the day? Men had limitations. There was also the problem of keeping men in the front supplied with ammunition. One brigade from the South (what was left of it) actually did attampt to mount a late charge against Pittsburg Landing with no ammunition. They were quickly dispatched. The last reason for stoping is to reform units back into a cohesive fighting unit. Especially at Shiloh, soldiers from both sides often ended up fighting with other untis after losing contact with their own. A general might order a unit to attack believing it was near full strength when it was actually at perhaps 25% or less. Command and control was very difficult to maintain throughout the war. Generals would think a unit is in one location when it wasn't. They might order a unit to advance with an uncovered flank. Reinforcements might show up at the wrong place, like Lew Wallace did at Shiloh. Imagine how many things could go wrong at night time. Night time was for reorganizing, resting, collecting and treating wounded, doing some reconnisance, being resupplied and formualting plans for the next day. That isn't to say there wasn't any night fighting in the war, but there wasn't much of it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Third Day

April 8th

Grant sent Sherman south along the Corinth Road on a reconnaissance in force to access the disposition of the Confederate Army. Grant never did have a sizable cavalry to use at Shiloh, and that is partly why he was so unprepared for an attack in the first place. The lack of a large cavalry force also made it difficult to persue the retreating Army of the Mississippi. Six miles southwest of Pittsburg Landing, Sherman's men came upon a clear field in which an extensive camp was erected, including a Confederate field hospital, protected by 300 troopers of Southern cavalry, commanded by Col. Nathan Forrest.

The road was covered with fallen trees, and the federals attempted to clear the road. Forrest ordered an attack, and Sherman was nearly captured in the process. A brigade under Col Jesse Hilderbrand began forming a line of battle, which rattled the rebel troops and they began to retreat. Forrest was well out in front of his men, and did not realize he was alone even as he got within yards of the Union men.

There are several versions of what happened next. One fact is clear, Forrest was rifle shot at close range, perhaps even point blank, and the bullet actually penetrated his spine. Despite the grave wound, Forrest was somehow able to escape on his horse, and would fully recover. One romantic account of this incident claims Forrest actually picked up a Union soldier and used him as a shield as he galloped away. The myths of Shiloh go on and on.

The Union lost around 100 men in this “Fallen Timbers” skirmish, but Sherman went on to capture the Confederate field hospital, and further reconnoitered the rear of Breckenridge’s force, still in retreat and showing no sign of any renewed attack. He returned to Grant’s line, and the battle of Shiloh had come to an end.

The Conclusion of Shiloh

Northern newspapers would blame Grant for April 6th, and make groundless claims about drunkenness, soldiers being bayoneted in their tents, but rightfully critical of his lack of defensive preparedness. Buell was roundly given credit for saving the day on April 7th. Grant’s public reputation was smeared, and Halleck took field command. This was actually planned, but making Grant his second in command was not. It was yet another demotion. .

Sherman however was to become an instant hero of the north. Only months previously he had been given a leave of absence by Halleck for what could be generally described as “mental instability”. Sherman is a very interesting man. He once said, to paraphrase, "I would rather lead men in battle than manage a parcel of San Francisco swamp." Sherman had trouble handling pressure as a manager, but on the field of battle he felt none. Here he was, months after suffering a "nervous breakdown" in a support position in the army rear, but he bravely, almost recklessly rode all over the battle field at Shiloh encouraging his men without flinching.

Today however, Grant is recognized positively for the clear judgment he was able to retain under the strenuous circumstances, and his ability to perceive the larger tactical picture that ultimately resulted in victory on the second day.

The two-day battle of Shiloh, the costliest in U.S. history up to that time, resulted in the defeat of the Confederate army and frustration of Johnston's plans to prevent the joining of the two Union armies in Tennessee. Union casualties were 13,047 (1,754 killed, 8,408 wounded, and 2,885 missing or captured); Grant's army bore the brunt of the fighting over the two days, with casualties of 1,513 killed, 6,601 wounded, and 2,830 missing or captured.

Confederate casualties were 10,699 (1,728 killed, 8,012 wounded, and 959 missing or captured). This total of 23,746 men (counting both sides) represented more than the American battle-related casualties of the American Revolutionary war, the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War.

Both sides were shocked at the carnage. None suspected that three more years of such bloodshed remained in the war and that eight larger and bloodier battles were yet to come.

Next: Halleck and Corinth

Edited by Rovers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Third Day

There are several versions of what happened next. One fact is clear, Forrest was rifle shot at close range, perhaps even point blank, and the bullet actually penetrated his spine. Despite the grave wound, Forrest was somehow able to escape on his horse, and would fully recover. One romantic account of this incident claims Forrest actually picked up a Union soldier and used him as a shield as he galloped away. The myths of Shiloh go on and on.

Great job, Rovers. Really enjoyed reading the narrative. The bolded was narrated as fact by Shelby Foote in the first volume of his Civil War history. Is it unsubstantiated?

You're going to handle Corinth? Let me know. After that, I need to narrate the story of New Orleans before we head east.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Third Day

There are several versions of what happened next. One fact is clear, Forrest was rifle shot at close range, perhaps even point blank, and the bullet actually penetrated his spine. Despite the grave wound, Forrest was somehow able to escape on his horse, and would fully recover. One romantic account of this incident claims Forrest actually picked up a Union soldier and used him as a shield as he galloped away. The myths of Shiloh go on and on.

Great job, Rovers. Really enjoyed reading the narrative. The bolded was narrated as fact by Shelby Foote in the first volume of his Civil War history. Is it unsubstantiated?

You're going to handle Corinth? Let me know. After that, I need to narrate the story of New Orleans before we head east.

Yeah, I have Corinth already written up. Thanks for the comp.

Sorry, but I cannot buy into this account of Forrest with a bullet in his spine, having been rifle shot at point blank range, scooping up a Union soldier and just galloping away. There weren't any Confederates left around to witness such an event. I think it much more likely that Sherman's men just expected him to fall off his horse, dead. By the time they might have taken to reload their rifles, or even unholster a pistol, Forrest had probably put some space between them and himself. How could a man with a bullet in his spine manhandle a soldier like that?

Forrest was already a legend, bigger than life, and the South needed some things to salvage some encouragement and morale after the battle was lost, even if they had to make stuff up. I believe that was the case here. It was a miracle that Forrest was able to escape, the man had nine lives, but there were and are a lot of myths about Shiloh, this was one more of them.

I have a few more thoughts on Shiloh... I'll do that before Corinth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I really do believe that Johnston had a plan that could work at Shiloh. First, even he deviated from it by "going to the sound of the guns" at the peach orchard where he was shot. Beauregard was never on board with Johnston's plan. He had an entirely different idea, attacking in line instead of an echelon attack. A concentrated echelon attack on Grant's left could have worked, even in the face of the atrillery fire from the gunboats in the Tennessee.

There is something else... the South thought Van Dorn might show up. That was why Grant left Lew Wallace at Crump's landing covering his rear and guarding munitions and supplies stored there. Grant did not know where VanDorn was, but neither did Beauregard or for that matter, Johnston.

The defensive stand at the Hornet's Nest really did save the Union army that day. Will Wallace should get the credit for that, he didn't die until late in the day, but Prentiss still garners too much credit for the stand even today. The Confederates really should have bypassed the Hornet's Nest. Attacking in wave after wave as Beauregard ordered was a needless waste of life and good soldiers.

The South was pretty much doomed from the start. Johnston had one plan of attack, Beauregard another. Again, the orders from Johnston to Beauregard were not nearly concise enough. Then, Johnston trotted off like a regimental general, leading his troops at the front line, leaving behind a general who had a different plan entirely. He left a general in control who just wasn't on the same page. Then, even Johnston did not follow his own plan when he attacked the peach orchard where he was killed. Johnston wanted to drive the Feds AWAY from the river, Beauregard wanted to drive them INTO the river. This sort of confusion based on poorly written and communicated orders, the egos of some generals, disagreement in strategies and even philosophies and little command and control once battles had started would happen time again and time again.

Faulty, inaccurate and the in some cases a complete lack of intelligence regarding the position and movements of enemy forces (and even friendly forces) is something that played a big part at Shiloh. From Grant having no idea Johnston was camped only 2 miles away, to conflicting reports of where and when Buell was heading and additionally, no one knowing where VanDorn was at all, the combatants were left to guess more often than to know the situation.

While Grant was caught with his pants down, he had full command and control on the first day. He executed near perfect management of the battle and had great tactical understanding of events as they unfolded. Beauregard was for the most part, in the dark and did not have a good understanding of what was happening on the field. He was notified that Buell had arrived during the night, but did not for some reason act upon that information. I have read that Forrest reported Buell's arrival to Breckenridge, who seemed to discount the report, but told Forrest to relay that information to Beauregard, which apparently did not happen. Beauregard did question the captured Gemeral Prentiss, who admitted Buell was on his way, but nothing Beauregard did after that indicates he believed Prentiss. The second day could have been a mess for the North however, as Buell and Grant did not coordinate very well, but took command of their own troops instead. If not for having fresh troops, the second day might not have gone so well for the Federals.

The lack of any significant Northern cavalry also proved to be a big factor. That more than anything else allowed Beauregard to make good his retreat to Corinth. Grant had no effective way to persue Beauregard. Even Sherman's recon mission was mostly infantry on the third day.

In the end, it was the Union men who held the Hornet's nest in the face of wave after wave of Confederate charges who carried the day. Thier leader, Will Wallace was the man who led that stallwort group of men. Grant bemoaned the loss of Will Wallace. Even when Grant wrote his memiors, about to die from throat cancer, he said Will Wallace was his best general.