Grant sallies forth…
Why send Bennett?
The answer to the question, “Where did General Grant go, upon arrival at Pittsburg Landing?’ can be determined by solving the Bennett Problem.
Who was Frank Bennett? In April 1862, he was 1st Lieutenant with the 2nd Illinois Cavalry, Company A. And on the morning of April 6th, he was lined up with the rest of his company, just east of Shiloh Church, when Major General Grant approached and began a communication (more of a chat) with Captain John Hotaling (in command of Company A.) At conclusion of the chat, General Grant put Captain Hotaling on his Staff for the day, charged with “placing and best using Birge’s Western Sharpshooters.”
To Frank Bennett, General Grant stated the following: “You will take your Company A and go with as much dispatch as possible to Crump’s Landing. Present my compliments to General Lew Wallace, and tell him to come immediately, you being the escort” [Fletcher page 50.]
[Upon Frank Bennett meeting Lew Wallace, just before noon; and failing to persuade General Wallace to follow him back to Pittsburg Landing via the River Road, Lieutenant Bennett detached himself from General Wallace and returned directly to his starting point, where he was met by General Grant and Captain William Rowley at 1:20 p.m. (approx.) If it is assumed that Bennett took a bit longer to find Lew Wallace, than to return from meeting Lew Wallace, then the latest time (by Sherman’s watch) that Bennett could have started on his mission as messenger was 10:30 (but more likely, a few minutes earlier.)]
In OR 10 page 184, Captain John Rawlins AAG reports, “First you met with General WHL Wallace… After talking to General Wallace, you then directed me to return to the river and send Captain Baxter [with orders for Major General Lew Wallace.] Grant met WHL Wallace at or near the top of the bluff, overlooking Pittsburg Landing. It does not make sense for this man to be waiting anywhere else (after sending away steamer John Warner, and awaiting Grant’s arrival.) If it is assumed that Tigress arrived at Pittsburg Landing at 9:30, and Grant met briefly with WHL Wallace at 9:40 it is likely that General Grant rode away west and met with “the acting commander of Camp Shiloh,” BGen William Tecumseh Sherman, at or just before 10 a.m. [In Sherman’s Memoirs, he indicates on page 272 that “General Grant and his Staff visited me about 10 a.m.” …a time that was seared into Sherman’s brain, due to the fact “everything was under control, prior to 10 a.m.” and “everything tumbled out of control – for a while, anyway – just after 10 a.m.,” with the loss of Waterhouse’s Battery. ] Badeau, page 79, also claims Grant met with Sherman at 10 a.m.
At this 10 a.m. meeting, Grant may have learned from Sherman that “he was defending the Owl Creek Bridge, because he expected Lew Wallace to march across it when joining the Army.” Sherman would have known that the Bridge had been recently strengthened (to accommodate cavalry and artillery) and likely was aware that the Shunpike had been completed. [ Jacob Bieler and Louis Kern both of Behr’s Morton Artillery, indicated afterwards that they heard Sherman’s AAG Hammond direct Captain Behr to protect the Owl Creek Bridge, “because Lew Wallace is expected to come down the road and make use of the bridge.” ] In Sherman’s Shiloh report OR 10 page 248, he admits to, “Captain Behr was on the extreme right, guarding the bridge on the Purdy Road over Owl Creek.” But later, in one of Sherman’s many classic examples of “double-speak,” on page 250, he reports, “General McClernand and I, upon consultation, selected a new line of defense, with its right covering the bridge by which General Wallace had to approach.” This seamless conflating of one bridge with another (without mentioning the name of the second bridge, or its location over Snake Creek), allows the reader to draw an incorrect conclusion: the bridge over Snake Creek was always the destination of Lew Wallace; he “had to approach” the battlefield via that bridge… which Grant believed, but which was not true. [ I believe Sherman deliberately shaded his Shiloh Report, in successful effort to hide his own knowledge of the likely intended use of Owl Creek Bridge, in order to protect Grant from unwanted criticism.]
If Sherman did not reveal the existence of the Shunpike (and its likely use by Lew Wallace), then the members of the 2nd Illinois Cavalry most certainly did make mention of their own use of the Shunpike to General Grant. Either way, the Poker player Grant maintained his composure, simply directed Lieutenant Bennett to “go north and bring Lew Wallace back to here,” and figured he’d fixed the problem… and must have been extremely surprised, at about 1:20 p.m., to find Frank Bennett, and no Lew Wallace in tow.
Points to consider…
· General Grant most definitely sent away Cavalry Officer Frank Bennett (with verbal orders for Lew Wallace, including the stipulation that, “Lieutenant Bennett act as escort, to guide Wallace and his Division to the battlefield.” ) If Bennett had been sent first, there would be no reason to send Baxter, or anyone else, via the Tennessee River.
· WHL Wallace was the first General officer met upon Grant’s arrival, and that meeting took place in near proximity to the bluff, overlooking Pittsburg Landing. Colonel Tuttle had led the 2nd Division into position along the Sunken Road; and LtCol McPherson was away, placing Cavender’s Missouri Artillery in the most advantageous positions, in support of the Second Division.
· “Something” likely happened to cause a delay to the departure of Tigress, carrying a messenger to Crump’s Landing: Rawlins may have intended to take the orders himself, but got caught up in other things (like establishing the HQ at the Landing); or, Rawlins wanted to send someone more knowledgeable, but no one else was available; or, Baxter was the only man available, and he required more instruction IRT the orders with which he was entrusted (and perhaps time was spent acquiring a horse for Baxter, to ride away from Crump’s Landing… not knowing a horse would be waiting for him, upon arrival at Crump’s Landing? )
· The whole after-battle reporting, especially as regards Lew Wallace, Grant’s late arrival at Pittsburg Landing, and the sending of multiple messengers for reenforcements… smacks of CYA. Times were massaged to make it appear Grant arrived aboard Tigress earlier than he did; “Nelson’s Division was camped south of Savannah, to facilitate Nelson marching that division through the swamp, if necessary” …is hog-wash. Reports were intentionally adjusted, in an effort to deflect blame (for bad decisions made by U.S. Grant.)
· General Grant sending orders to Lew Wallace, in the manner he did via Baxter, only makes sense if Grant was not aware of the availability of the Shunpike. These orders (specifying that Wallace join the right of the Army) were sent away to Lew Wallace after Grant met WHL Wallace, but before Grant met Sherman. Grant sending away Bennett (less than an hour after sending away Baxter) only makes sense if General Grant suddenly realized that more than one option was available to Lew Wallace; an option that Grant only just realized: the Shunpike. [As Grant stated in his Memoirs, “I never could see, and do not now see, why any order was necessary further than to direct him to come to Pittsburg Landing…” U.S. Grant believed, up until the end of his life, that he had ordered Lew Wallace “to Pittsburg Landing,” but in neither of the orders (sent via Baxter or Bennett) did Grant specify Pittsburg Landing: Baxter’s orders directed Wallace to take position on the right of the Army; and Bennett’s verbal orders to Wallace were for Lew Wallace to “follow me to the battlefield” …but Lew Wallace already had trusted guides, capable of leading him to the battlefield, via the Shunpike.]
· Andrew Hickenlooper, Sr. (father to Captain Andrew Hickenlooper, 5th Ohio Independent Light Artillery) was 65 years old, a member of the 5th Ohio Cavalry (assigned to Hurlbut) and became part of General Grant’s bodyguard after Grant left Hurlbut and rode west (to where the 5th Ohio Battery was in position, on the right of Prentiss.) Captain Hickenlooper in MOLLUS (Ohio) vol.5 page 431, makes mention of how he “witnessed General Grant, and the unexpected appearance of his father, riding in company with General Grant” while he was in position with General Prentiss in the Hornet’s Nest. Father and son had time for only a moment’s recognition, before Grant and his party rode away (to the west) and disappeared from sight.
· How could BGen Stephen Hurlbut have learned of the repair of the Shunpike and its bridges? The 5th Ohio Cavalry was the main unit involved in that undertaking (primarily the Battalion under Major Hayes.) Colonel Taylor was in overall command of the 5th Ohio Cavalry; and Colonel Taylor was assigned to Hurlbut’s 4th Division.
· As for Grant “sending away Rawlins” (after the 10 a.m. meeting with Sherman) there is no evidence Rawlins accompanied General Grant beyond his initial meeting with BGen WHL Wallace. The AAG received orders direct from Grant (who then departed to meet with Sherman) while AAG Rawlins made his way to “the log house, at the Landing” to establish an HQ (and in process met Baxter, and sent him on the errand.) Rawlins indicates he was not with Grant when the General met the 2nd Illinois Cavalry, lined up (but reports his knowledge of the sending of Bennett as having been told him by General Grant, in OR 10 page 185, bottom of page.)
SDG “General Grant’s Decisions” 28 DEC 2016
SDG “Grant’s 9:30 arrival at Pittsburg Landing” (for details of the sandy-haired lieutenant, hatless, and with a bloody gash in his forehead, who reported to MGen Wallace)
SDG “From a Jack to a King” 10 APR 2017
SDG “Where was Grant?” 21 DEC 2016
History of Company A, 2nd Illinois Cavalry by Samuel Fletcher
MOLLUS (Ohio) Volume 5
OR 10 (part one)
Military History of U.S. Grant by Adam Badeau