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Ron

Interview with Woody Harrell

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The Gatehouse bookshop (formerly Moringside Books) has a interview with Woody Harrell on their web site www.gatehouse-com scroll down to see the link. I found it interesting but specially the point he makes about the long slow campaign between Shiloh and Corinth. He suggests that the armies learned at lesson at Shiloh and now were being cautious. Good Point. The plans for the park sound good.

Its natural that Shiloh and Corinth are battlefields managed by the same superintendent as they were part of the same campaign, the tennessee River campaign with the important railroad communications as their goal. This goal was Corinth, Mississippi. The movements of the confederates from Bowling Green to Corinth reflect the importance that the Confederates placed on these movements. The rebels lost every battle, city, fort, bridge railroad between Bowling Green and Corinth without any offsetting victory of any description. How was this possible. Now, what if....................

and

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Ron, on the relationship between Shiloh and Corinth... the first time I visited Corinth, a kind lady informed me that, in her view, we should refer to the battle of Shiloh as "the first battle for Corinth because that's what it was."

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Jim,

Gen. Albert S Johnston wanted to attack Grant before Buell arrived. He wanted to elimenate one before the other added to the problem. Grant was waiting by orders of Halleck for Buell to arrive.

John,

Your kind lady sounds like she was smarter than some of the generals. In many whys it was the first battle of corinth, but lets us still call it the Battle of Shiloh. I still have a tendency to think of the battle by referring to the First Battle of Shiloh, Sunday April 6th and the Second Battle of Shiloh, Monday April 7th.

Ron

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If anyone had of been in charge headed to Corinth after Shiloh except for Henry W. Halleck it would not have been a long slow campaign. Anyone else probably would have gotten there much quicker and not bothered with "putting up breastworks every hundred yards between Shiloh and Corinth". I think, but cannot remember which ones, some of Halleck's subordinate generals (Pope for 1?) had a few opportunities to get their quicker but their progress was retarded by Halleck.

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Tim Smith's new book, Corinth 1862: Siege, Battle, Occupation is due in May from University Press of Kansas. I'm getting a chance to preview it now. It will be a fine, comprehensive view of Corinth's role in the war through the battle of October, 1862.

No doubt Shiloh was the battle for Corinth, but it was also Johnston's great attempt to destroy Grant's army. Johnston did not see his role as strictly defending Corinth. He saw a chance to strike a blow that could help win the war, and he "rolled the iron dice of battle."

In the end both Johnston and Halleck were wrong. No single blow, be it capturing an important point on the map or fighting a single Waterloo-style battle would win the war. The future was grim, and the war would not end until Shiloh was pushed well down the top 10 list of Civil War Horrors.

Needless to say, we will be selling this book. ;)

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It looks like the link to the Woody Harrell interview headed us down the Shunpike instead of the River Road. Fortunately for us, Ron's flock of raging bulls tracked it down and re-routed it in the proper direction. So here you go....

http://www.gatehouse-press.com/?p=746

Be sure to give it a read, as it's quite good.

I'd have to agree with Bjorn that Shiloh was more than a defense of Corinth. That was part of it to be sure, but there was more "offense" than "defense" in what Johnston was doing, as Bjorn suggests. Or maybe we could say it was an offensive campaign within an overall defensive strategy. But Shiloh was basically Johnston's attempt to restore what had been lost in Kentucky, and do it in one mighty blow.

It would not have ended the war of course, and it likely would have taken more than that one victory to restore the status quo prior to Fort Henry. But beyond any question, a Confederate victory at Shiloh would have altered the course of the war, and done so in ways we can only guess at. It almost certainly would have knocked Grant clear out of the war, and possibly Sherman as well.

So the top architect of Union victory in the war, outside of Lincoln, would have been gone by early 1862, and likely be remembered as nothing more than a general who got off to a promising start but threw it all away at Shiloh. And even though a hard road would have still remained, the South would have taken an unmistakable step toward winning the war had they won at Shiloh.

Yes, it's all a what-if. A what-if that had the ability to become, and came incredibly close to becoming, a what-was. A lot of what-if's are unrealistic. Some, like Shiloh, are near-misses so realistic, the realization can almost take your breath away.

Perry

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Jim,

I haven't gotten to the battle of Corinth part yet, but can I assume that just treatment if the 16th Wisconsin for you would read something like: "The 16th Wisconsin came up and won the battle, thus saving the Union, emancipating the slaves, giving the vote to women, putting the Kaiser in his place, overthrowing Hitler and Tojo, inventing the Internet, saving the economy, and giving everybody a 15% raise this year." :D

B

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Well, that would perhaps cover chapter one. One change, though. Just like at Shiloh, the 16th was out front and the battle came to them.

Jim

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