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While reviewing the performance of General Beauregard at Shiloh, one cannot help thinking they are witnessing a "what if" situation, in reverse. This requires explaining: there is no doubt that PGT Beauregard was the most successful Confederate General of 1861 (3-for-3 in the Eastern Theatre.) But, from his arrival at Bowling Green, the highly competent, impressively capable Beauregard was suffering poor health: so debilitated that he should have been declared "unfit for duty." But, the timing of the required Surgeon's Certificate would be important, because no one possessed the required organizational skills besides PGT Beauregard. His creation of the Army of the Mississippi -- from virtually nothing -- was magnificent. Able to persuade local and State political leaders to get on board with providing essential troops, and with such rapidity, was nothing short of amazing. But that initiation of an Army was for all practical purposes completed by end of the Third Week of March. From that moment, General Beauregard should have stepped aside, taken charge of the Post of Corinth, and overseen the scrutiny of intelligence providers. And on the day the Army of the Mississippi departed Corinth, General Beauregard should have saluted and wished General Albert Sidney Johnston well as he led his strike force north to Pittsburg Landing. And the "what if" we're discussing should have been this: "What if General Beauregard had gone north to Shiloh, instead of remaining behind at Corinth?" Ozzy
General Beauregard arrived at Jackson, Tennessee on February 17th and established his Headquarters there for Army of the Mississippi. Why Jackson? In 1862 it was a sizable town with workshops for the Mobile & Ohio Railroad. That rail line -- on mostly new track -- extended north all the way through Humboldt to Fort Columbus in Kentucky, allowing rapid movement of troops by rail; and the adjoining telegraph line permitted instantaneous electronic communications from Fort Columbus to Mobile... and beyond. And the Central of Mississippi Railroad terminated at Jackson: that line connected to the Memphis & Charleston at Grand Junction (where Beauregard ordered a large force of troops in process of organizing the Army of the Mississippi) and the existence of the Central of Mississippi allowed "alternative routing of troops and supplies" in the event the M & O R.R. was cut. From Jackson, General Beauregard made use of the telegraph (and trusted couriers, such as Colonel Thomas Jordan) to communicate with his subordinate generals and order Bragg to Corinth and Polk to Humboldt. Other forces were ordered to Iuka, Biernsville (Burnsville), and Bethel. But equally important: the less-than-fit Beauregard could use Jackson as a "retreat" and attempt to rest and recover from his recent throat surgery, out of sight of prying eyes. Firing off orders via telegraph and courier permitted the General to "stay in close contact" without the need to expose his personal appearance to scrutiny (which could have been disconcerting if "the jaundiced appearance" became too widely known.) PGT Beauregard continued his Headquarters at Jackson (at the home of Judge Milton Brown) until March 27th, when he removed permanently to Corinth. Ozzy References: OR 7 pages 899-901 and OR 11 page 301 http://shilohdiscussiongroup.com/index.php?/topic/1792-the-railroads-part-3/#comment-12045 Railroads at Jackson, Tennessee http://www.nytimes.com/1862/03/25/news/nrws-tenneesee-concentration-rebels-corinth-beauregard-jackson-building-rebel.html March 24th 1862 article in New York Times indicating Northern knowledge of General Beauregard's presence at Jackson, Tennessee (and assistance given by Judge Milton Brown, Superintendent of the Mobile & Ohio Railroad.) N.B. Also, the first contact with General Van Dorn suggesting joint operations in the Mississippi River Valley was made by Beauregard on February 21st from his HQ at Jackson [OR 7 pages 899-901].