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Ron

Corps commanders were part of the problem

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This topic is in response to the earlier topic of "Beauregard calls off the attack" which is in the subforum "The Battle of Shiloh". The question of General Beauregard calling off the attack against the last union defensive line has been debated ever since this event occurred. Some officers were writing their Official Report of their part in the battle, the very next day. Some supported the decision of Beauregard halting the attack while many others were critical of Beauregard for stopping the attack. I believe Beauregard was right to halt the attack and my belief is now further reinforced by information I found in the Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume 16 of 1888. General Thomas Jordan has presented a article titled the "Battle of Shiloh". His purpose was to refute the "Lost Opportunties" argument",of the evening of April 6th, 1862. The lost opportunty was General Beauregard's order to halt the attack on Grant's final line. His arguments are to say that Beauregard was right in stopping the attack. It is not the purpose here to give the Beauregard's reasoning again, but to present new information.

General Jordan was a colonel and the Adjutant-General of the army at the time of the battle. To give testimony, he quotes from many articles of both confederate and union combat leaders from their Official Reports of their role in the battle. After the surrender of the union General Prentiss with about 2,000 union soldiers, the rebels advanced up to the south rim of the Dill Creek Ravine and here General Withers of the Second Corps ordered forward the brigades of Chalmers and Jackson, down into the ravine to attack the union position on the north rim. They met stiff opposition and were repulsed having receiving no support from the rest of the rebel army. The other advancing confederate units were to the west of Chalmers and Jackson's brigades and were to form for an attack against Grant's "Final Line". The brigade of Colonel Deas extended Jackson's line to the west up out of the ravine. Ruggles' Division also of Bragg's Second Corps was to the left of Deas' brigade. Behind Withers division on the south rim was Breckinridge's Division on the north side of the Cloud field. The division consisted of the Brigades of Trabue, Martin and Statham. The brigades of Cleburne and Woods were further west of these concentration of troops. Additionally, the brigades of Stewart (First Corps), Colonel Russell (First Corps),and Stephens' Brigade (First Corps) were part of this concentration of troops. This means that 14 of the 16 brigades present on the battlefield were part of the forming attack. SURPRISELY, NO ATTACK WAS MADE BY THIS LARGE PORTION OF THE REBEL ARMY TO SUPPORT WITHERS' ATTACK (CHALMER'S AND JACKSON'S BRIGADES). THE TROOPS WERE ON HAND AND AVAILABLE FOR ANOTHER ATTACK AND THERE WAS TIME TO PUSH OFF AN ATTACK. HOWEVER OF THE THREE CORPS COMMANDERS, BRAGG, HARDEE AND POLK, NONE OF THEM HAD THE INITIATIVE TO DIRECT AN ATTACK AROUND THE HEAD OF THE DILL CREEK RAVINE (AVOIDING THE DILL CREEK RAVINE) AGAINST THE CENTER OF GRANT'S lINE ALONG THE PITTSBURG LANDING ROAD.

IF BEAUREGARD WAS WRONG TO CALL OFF THE ATTACK ON GRANT'S FINAL DEFENSIVE LINE, WHY WERE THE THREE CORPS NOT ALSO EQUALLY WRONG BECAUSE THEY DID NOT ORDER AN ATTACK AGAINST THIS UNION POSITION? Yes, its true that when the troops received Beauregard"s order to withdraw, they retired to positions in the rear to rest and reform. But there was a period of time when these rebel troops were Gathered in the cloud and stacy fields, and confederate artillery was moving up and would be available to support an attack. The Corps Commanders displayed a serious lack of action. They ordered troops to come up, to FORM and prepare for a attack, but they did not actually order the attack. Thats where the Corps commanders left the forming troops, exposed to the union gunboats fire. Remember, Prentiss surrendered at 5:30 pm and the rebels moved up to the south rim of the Cloud field and the Stacy field at about 6 pm. This left one hour before darkness at 7 pm. Attacks during the battle lasted on average for 30 minutes. They had 60 minutes remaining to attack the union positions but did nothing instead.

THE MAIN POINT I'M TRYING TO MAKE IS NOT THE POSSIBILITY OF A CONFEDERATE ATTACK BUT THAT THE CORPS COMMANDER, POLK, HARDEE, AND BRAGG,FAILED TO ATTACK THE FEDERAL POSITIONS, AFTER THEY HAD ALREADY REFORMED THE TROOPS. BY FAILING TO ORDER THE ATTACK ON THE UNION POSITIONS, DON'T THEY SHARE IN THE BLAME FOR CALLING OFF THE ATTACK AND WITHDRAWING THE ARMY? BEAUREGARD ISSUED HIS ORDER TO HALT THE ATTACK ABOUT 5:30 PM AND IT WAS RECEIVED ABOUT 6:30 PM. THE CORPS COMMANDERS HALTED THE ATTACK AND STARTED THE WITHDRAWAL OF THE ARMY. EDWARD CUNNINGHAM IN HIS BOOK, SHILOH AND THE WESTERN CAMPAIGH OF 1862, ESTIMATED ONE HOUR STILL REMAINED TO LAUNCH AN ATTACK. MANY REBEL UNITS WERE IN A JUMP-OFF POSITION AS EARLY AS 6 PM, LONG BEFORE DARKNESS. THE CORPS COMMANDERS HAD EARLIER ACTED TO REGROUP AND FORM FOR AN ATTACK BUT DID NOT ACTUALLY ORDER A ATTACK. COULD THIS HAVE BEEN THE "LOST OPPORTUNITY"? I BELIEVE THAT THEY MUST SHARE IN THE BLAME OF A "LOST OPPORTUNITY" ALONG WITH GENERAL BEAUREGARD. In summary, Beauregard ordered any attack to halt and return to camps for the night, while Bragg, Hardee and Polk failed to issue any attack order at all.

AFTER THE WITHDRAWAL, NONE OF THE CORPS COMMANDERS DISAGREED WITH BEAUREGARD'S ORDER TO WITHDRAW THE ARMY AND TO SEEK SHELTER FOR THE TROOPS. LATER, BRAGG, HARDEE AND POLK CAME TO CRITICIZE BEAUREGARD'S ACTIONS. THEIR ACTIONS ON THE EVENING OF APRIL 6TH TENDS TO SHOW THEIR TRUE FEELINGS WHILE THEIR LATER CRITICISM SHOWS THIER AFTER THOUGHTS, RAISED IN ATTEMPTS TO EXCUSE THEIR ACTIONS. I ALSO BELIEVE THAT THEIR ACTIONS OF THE EVENING OF APRIL 6TH, ARE MORE REPRESENTATIVE OF THEIR TRUE THOUGHTS AND FEELING THEN THEIR LATER WORDS AND WRITINGS WHICH WERE MOTIVATED BY OTHER REASONS.

To make the situation worse, Bragg sought out Beauregard by going to his (Beauregard's) encampment on the Shiloh Church plateau. He was no longer with the troops along the River road. Polk went back to rear to his camp site of the evening before (This campsite was in the rear where The Cornith and Bark roads met), and took with him portion of regiments and battalions. The rest of his men were left on the battlefield with no guidance. Finally, General Hardee did not locate his troops and bivouacked with troops of Bragg's Corps (Wither's division), again not with his command.

Your comments please.

Ron

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Perry,

Right back at you. Very well said Perry. I wish I had that thought. It fits perfectly with the thoughts I was trying to make. It becomes obvious the importance of General Albert Sidney Johnston. Yes, He did push the attack against the federal left flank. example of his pushing against the union positions is his 2 pm attack through the Sarah Bell cotton field and up towards the Wicker field.

Again, very well said, Thanks

Ron

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right on Ron it fits perfect with what u said he would have put those men in motion to complete the victory cause he knew it was do or die but he died so went shiloh,vicksburg ,and in my opinion the war

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