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Ozzy

Surprising Indiana

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Sometimes when you least expect it, you come across a real gem...

 

Indiana at Shiloh, by John W. Coons, published at Indianapolis by the Indiana Shiloh National Park Commission, 1904.

 

It is a State Battlefield Commission report that goes the extra mile... to inform, commemorate, enlighten and entertain. Beginning with the premise that Indiana contributed 22 regiments (and parts of regiments) to the two days of conflict, the book presents three pages of 'history' for each of those units (from inception, through to involvement at Shiloh.) Along the way, the reader discovers that the 23rd Indiana had numbers of its soldiers 'impressed' as crew aboard USS Essex at the Battle of Fort Henry (the ironclad that took a shot through the steam boiler.) In the bio of the 25th Indiana, a letter is included, written on the evening of April 7th 1862, by acting-commander, Major John Foster to his Father. The descriptions are vivid, raw and untainted by 'political re-working,'  leaving unvarnished truth. (The 25th was part of Veatch's Brigade, Hurlbut's Division, and so is insightful in exposing developments -- via first-hand description -- of action in that corner of the battlefield.)

 

 After describing 'involvement' of the eight or nine regiments that were part of Grant's Army, the resource moves on to Buell's Army of the Ohio, describing the 36th Indiana's role in Days One and Two; then concentrates on the role of the remaining dozen regiments during Day Two. [ For SDG members, who bemoan the fact that Day 2 gets short shrift, here is a chance to read about what happened, from units that were there.]

 

Other elements that make this reference appealing:

  • Over two dozen photographs, taken before 1904, providing a needed visual connection to Shiloh National Military Park 'as it was' -- before the loss of the A.S. Johnston Tree; before the 1909 tornado; before the roads were paved.
  • An address by General Lew Wallace. Probably one of his last public outings (he died in 1905), Wallace addresses Grant's leadership; his own attempt to reach the battlefield on Day One; the performance of his Division on Day 2; the contributions of Indiana to the success of the battle -- especially in vicinity of the Hornet's Nest.
  • An address by former Confederate Colonel Josiah Patterson... (You can read it yourself: I found it inspiring, full of meaning, and relevant.)

Indiana at Shiloh is a work of 310 pages -- quite a large tome for a State Battlefield Commission report. But much of the added heft is due the inclusion of Major D.W. Reed's work, Battle of Shiloh and the Organizations Engaged, written in 1902. It was a pleasant surprise to find this valuable reference included; it allows the reader to develop a complete picture of the Battle of Shiloh: Indiana's involvement, AND everyone else.

 

In sum: a real gem. Highly recommended. Available, free of charge, at HathiTrust.

 

 

Ozzy

 

http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.$b61606;view=1up;seq=9 >  (Indiana at Shiloh by John W. Coons)

 

 

N.B.  If the link is broken, search for 'Indiana at Shiloh by John W. Coons' on your favorite search engine, and scroll down until you find the HathiTrust description.

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Good stuff!  I went on a hike led by Bjorn Skapteson on April 6, 2014, which followed the fighting of Veatch's Brigade and the 25th Indiana.

 

For next Spring's trip to the battlefield, I may print out the pictures of the regimental monuments in this book so that I can compare the vegetation in them to that which we have today.

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Hi Ozzy.......

 

Funny, you should mention the Indiana at Shiloh book.  I'm pretty sure that's one of the original old print books (published around the turn of the 20th century) that I bought Perry one Christmas. 

 

I have practically all the original "at Gettysburg" books published by the various northern state commissions to commemorate their regiments.  My favorite is New York at Gettysburg's three-volume set with fold out maps still in the pockets inside the book covers.  There is also a personalized presentation signature inside the cover that says, "Hon. E. H. Butler compliments of Henry W. Hill".  They have the regimental histories of the battle, programs and speeches for the dedication of their monuments and wonderful old photographs of the park, monuments and veterans.  These old books were more than likely the property of a civil war veteran which make them very special to me.

 

Getting back to Shiloh, I noticed you mentioned Lew Wallace's address about Grant's leadership.  I recently read the book, "Scapegoat of Shiloh:  The Distortion of Lew Wallace's Record by U.S. Grant" by Kevin Gretchell.  While I recognize that Lew did not get "lost", there are some questionable statements in the book, I just don't buy.  The author pretty much blames Grant (through Rawlins) for sending Quartermaster Baxter to Crump's Landing to order Lew Wallace and his men to Pittsburg Landing.  While Baxter was on his errand, Gretchell says many regiments ran out of ammunition and could not be resupplied in Baxter's absence.  As a result, high numbers of men died.  Despite the confusion of battle, surely there was someone left in charge in Quartermaster Baxter's absence.  In the rank and file, there is always someone stepping in for killed, wounded, disabled and/or absent officers.  Why did Rawlins send Baxter, of all people?  Was there a hidden agenda?  I guess we'll never really know.

 

Thanks for another interesting, thought provoking post, Ozzy.

 

THE MANASSAS BELLE

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Transylvania

 

Thanks for making reference to the 2014 hike, conducted by Bjorn Skaptason. I believe the Park Rangers have performed an outstanding service, conducting their hikes and introducing enthusiasts to aspects of the Park, the Battle, and individuals -- of which many folks are only vaguely aware. Tony Willoughby, by recording those 'mobile lectures' for posterity, has also done a valuable service: hopefully, enterprising History Teachers are making use of them, now and in the future.

 

Regards

 

Ozzy

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Belle

 

I've had a look at several other Battlefield Commission reports, and as you say, some are very good (like the one created for Indiana: I found that once I started reading, I could not put it down.)  Others are 'good to know they exist, but otherwise unremarkable.'  Depends on who was in charge of putting the Handbook together, I suppose...

 

Now, about Lew Wallace and that march:  I agree that Kevin Getchell writes in a provocative way, and many of his assertions are difficult-to-impossible to prove. But the primary value in the book: it provokes readers to seek out other references (supporting Grant as well as Wallace) and see  if they can determine the truth. As more and more information becomes available, especially via the Internet, we are getting closer to that truth.

 

One comment you made, IRT a basic tenet of military operations: always having someone in charge.  Due to the nature of battle, someone is always getting killed or incapacitated, and someone else must be able and willing to step into their shoes, immediately. [if senior, I will take command.] At Shiloh, once 'the Ball was in motion,' there is abundant evidence of this 'replacement requirement' occurring. However...

 

U.S. Grant seems to have had an aversion to 'putting someone in charge, during his absence.'  This was witnessed at Fort Donelson (when Grant went away to visit Flag Officer Foote); and Lew Wallace makes reference in his 1903 Address to  'absence of the commander  required five Federal Division Officers on the Field to offer assistance, and request support from one another; they were in reasonably good shape, and meeting the threat, before Grant arrived (about 9am.)'

 

But, it wouldn't be Shiloh, if there were no controversy...   :)

 

Ozzy

 

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Ozzy.......

 

Shiloh wasn't the only battle with controversy, to be sure.  

 

I remember the first book I was handed early in my Federal government career.  It was entitled, "How to Lie with Statistics".   It wouldn't surprise me if an earlier version of that book was floating around during the time of the civil war.  I'm sure even then, there were folks who at one time or another managed to stretch the truth to their advantage using such tactics.

 

It's always fun to analyze events and misdeeds, but sometimes we'll never know the real truth......but, we keep on searching!  ;)

 

THE MANASSAS BELLE

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Belle

 

You do not need a book... All you need is EGO and an AGENDA.

 

Consider this: in 1862, America had only had sixteen Presidents. Prior to Abraham Lincoln, it had been common for a General to become the Top Office-holder in the Land. And, in 1862 the people with 'political aspirations' would have been keenly aware of this fact. After the war was over (of course) there could, perhaps, maybe... if they did not appear too keen... be an opportunity to be called for further service.

 

Here is the list:  George Washington; Andrew Jackson; William Henry Harrison; Zachary Taylor; Franklin Pierce.

 

Not pointing any fingers, but...

 

 

Yours in seeking the Truth

 

Ozzy

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Ozzy, "Lew Wallace makes reference in his 1903 Address to  'absence of the commander  required five Federal Division Officers on the Field to offer assistance, and request support from one another." Actually, Grant had put Sherman in charge, but the arrival of McClernand would have made him senior, so Grant was planning on moving to Pittsburg Landing and take charge. At the battle's beginning, McClernand would have been in command until Grant's arrival. It is also common to request support from nearby units during battle instead of going through the chain of command due to the immediacy of the situation.

 

Jim

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Jim

 

I am willing to admit that W.T. Sherman performed reasonably well, in vicinity of his encampments, after the events of April 6th 1862 got underway...

 

And, I can accept that some believe that 'more senior generals' were kept clear of Pittsburg Landing, in order to 'not muddy the waters' about WHO was in charge (when Grant was not present.)

 

But...

 

It appears to me, that prior to April 6th, Sherman was primarily in charge of promoting the belief:  'No Confederates within cooey of here.'

 

 

Just a thought...

 

Ozzy

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Ozzy.......

 

Shiloh, while important, is only a small piece of the puzzle in figuring out these "political aspirants".  One needs to study the entire  civil war to see the subtle and not so subtle attempts made to shift their position to give them the best career advantage.  Ego and agenda certainly did play a part.  While not related to the Western Theater, who can forget the pomposity of Generals Sickles and McClellan?

 

THE MANASSAS BELLE

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Belle

 

I take your point that the entirety of the Civil War, its causes and aftermaths, cannot be deduced by focusing solely on Shiloh. However...

 

Present at Shiloh were four generals with 'Presidential aspirations.' (Although one or two of them may not have quite realized it yet   :) )

 

Attached link is interesting.

 

Regards

 

Ozzy

 

http://www.mrlincolnswhitehouse.org/inside.asp?ID=133&subjectID=1     (Concern about a general)

 

 

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When I encountered the Report of the Indiana Shiloh Commission, with its inclusion of Reed's Battle of Shiloh and the Organizations Engaged, I believed it was unique, not something done by other State Shiloh Commissions. However...

 

I ran across a post by 'Rebel,' dated May 2008, titled '77th Pennsylvania at Shiloh,' and had a look: the Pennsylvania Shiloh Battlefield Commission also included Reed's work in their pamphlet, with the remark, 'An accurate and impartial description of the Battle of Shiloh, compiled after much research and labor by Major David W. Reed.' The Commission Chairman, John Obreiter, went on to add: 'We have attempted, in compiling this record, to achieve absolute truth and correctness.' Pretty lofty goals, and especially when you consider the 77th Pennsylvania was part of Buell's Army of the Ohio...

 

The 77th Pennsylvania at Shiloh is available, via 'archive.org,' here: http://archive.org/details/seventyseventhpe03penn

 

 

Ozzy

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