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Found 1 result

  1. Ozzy

    Axe about Abatis

    In a Letter written from his HQ at Cairo on 7 October 1861, Brigadier General U. S. Grant provided his latest intelligence from Kentucky to Major General Fremont at St. Louis. Of interest: "The Confederates at Fort Columbus are said to have been reinforced to about 45,000 men... They talk boldly about making an attack upon Paducah by the 15th of this month." Turns out, Grant had received the above information from Brigadier General C. F. Smith, in command at Paducah. On 6 OCT 1861 Smith wrote to Grant: "The latest news from Columbus comes through the Roman Catholic priest here, tho' he does not wish it whispered. Columbus is in his division of duties. He was told that the attack on this place might be looked for on or by next Thursday, the 10th, getting this from both officers and soldiers. I give the information for what it is worth. The prevalent idea is to make a feint on the front, and attack on the flanks -- three columns of 7000 each. The trees all round are fast falling to our axes, rendering an advance by the roads a necessity." The above "defensive preparations" (felling of trees for abatis to slow, and redirect the advance of an enemy) took place before the Battle of Belmont; and these measures were taken in spite of the prevailing belief that "no attack on Paducah was seriously threatened." U. S. Grant states in his Memoirs, vol.1 (page 356) that, "At the time of the Battle of Shiloh, the pick and spade had been but little resorted to at the West." And yet, trenches were not the only defensive works available as options to Grant and his Army in the lead-up to Shiloh: the abatis and blinds were also of potential value, yet both were ignored, or actively discouraged... Still a mystery Ozzy References: Papers of US Grant, vol.3 pages 24 - 25. Grant's Memoirs vol.1 page 356.
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