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Ozzy

To Hell before Night

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Not the 1977 book by James Lee McDonough, the title to this post refers to a quote found in the Elgin (Illinois) Weekly Gazette [April 30th 1862, page 1, column 6, half-way down column] titled "Fifteenth -- Camp Hurlbut, near Pittsburg, Tennessee."  In the two columns of Diary entries recorded at Shiloh -- for 5-15 April -- the one of particular interest is dated "Sunday, 6th."  Near the end of that day's entry is recorded:  "An incident occurred this P.M. which showed the metal of General Grant. [Confederate General] Beauregard sent in a Flag of Truce with an order for Grant to surrender, or he would "blow us all to Hell before night."  Grant, turning to the messenger and tearing up the order, said "What in Hell does he think I care for that demand." That was all the reply Grant sent."

I'd suspected, but never seen detail of Beauregard demanding Grant surrender late in the First day at Shiloh. Has anyone else seen this "surrender demand" by General Beauregard recorded?

Ozzy

 

Reference:  http://www.idaillinois.org/cdm/ref/collection/newgailbord01/id/13945   Elgin Weekly Gazette for 30 APR 1862 [provided by Illinois Digital Archive, a service of Illinois State Library and Office of the Illinois Secretary of State]

 

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I'm more than a little certain that while this makes for a good story, it never happened. The language for one thing is out of character for both men, especially in an official correspondence. The quote attributed to Grant on the night of the 6th - "Not licked yet by a damn sight" - would qualify as swearing a blue streak for him. But that aside, I know of no primary source claiming that Beauregard sent in a surrender demand to Grant. Certainly neither man mentions it in their post-battle reports, or anywhere else that I'm aware. Grant certainly would have done so, as well as his staff officers who learned of it, if for no other reason than to help deflect the onslaught of criticism following the battle.

My guess is that it was something that got started as a rumor somehow, and maybe got embellished a little as it kept getting re-told. 

Good find, though. Those early newspaper reports are always interesting to read.

Perry

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Perry

Thanks for having a look at this post and the supporting newspaper article. I ran across the article by accident while searching for information about Major Henry Stark of the 52nd Illinois Infantry; and while I have yet to find any supporting evidence for the article as written (by a member of the 15th Illinois, calling himself "Fifteenth") it doesn't read as an attempt at fabrication:

  • extract of a diary, from 5-15 April 1862 (who lies to themselves?)
  • the message from Beauregard reads similar to Beauregard's communications (including use of "Hell");
  • the response (verbal dismissive response) from Grant, re-using Beauregard's word "Hell" in reply to messenger, seems plausible; in fact, the perfect response would be to throw a few gunboat shells in Beauregard's direction... all night long;
  • the proximity of newspaper article in time and place to Battle of Shiloh (less than two weeks after battle concluded doesn't give a lot of time to "make something up" that General Grant might read for himself);
  • the remainder of the diary extract reads true (why fabricate that one portion IRT the Rebel messenger under Flag of Truce?)

Some other points: the writer (Fifteenth) alludes to the response of Stephen Hurlbut to the beating the 15th Illinois took at Shiloh (the 15th Illinois Co.B was originally Captain Hurlbut's Boone Rifles; the writer mentions accurate time of arrival of Buell's Army of the Ohio on Day 1 (so must have been in close proximity to Grant's Last Line, near the Landing, with opportunity to observe General Grant). 

Anyway, I had never before seen mention of a "messenger under Flag of Truce from Beauregard" -- and have no evidence that the story is true. But will continue to search and see if the rest of "Fifteenth's" diary is out there (possibly the work of Lucius Barber, Charles Barber, David Baker, Daniel Clark or Lemuel Gilman.) Or see if a second witness to the occurrence exists...

Cheers

Ozzy

 

 

 

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Something else just occurred to me... For a while, I have puzzled over Colonel Forrest's inability to be directed to General Beauregard on the evening of April 6th (by Hardee or Breckinridge) with his reconnaissance report detailing arrival of Buell's Army of the Ohio. But, if a messenger from Beauregard arrived near Pittsburg Landing under Flag of Truce, and observed the presence of Buell and/or arrival of his troops (or heard cheering Federal soldiers indicate their arrival), he may have reported that information to General Beauregard... who then directed his subordinates that he not be disturbed.

Just a thought...

Ozzy

 

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No, I'm not saying it's a fabrication. I'm not doubting that the writer believed the story. But I am saying that I don't believe the story at all. There's zero supporting evidence given, and I rather suspect that's because there's zero supporting evidence to do so. I can see something like a solider witnessing Grant reading a dispatch of some kind, passes that information on, and before long it ends up being a surrender demand. There were a lot of rumors flying around that day. This might have been one of them.

But if someone can provide proof that Beauregard sent Grant a surrender demand and Grant tore it up while swearing, I'll turn this board over to someone else and never visit here or the park ever again. That's how much stock I put in the story. 

On Forrest being unable to track down Beauregard, that speaks to the incredible chaos of that day, and the unfamiliarity of the area for those men. It was hard enough to find your way around during the day, let alone in the dark, after an entire solid day of fighting.

But "if" someone went through the lines with a surrender demand for Grant, and "if" they saw Buell's men arriving, and "if" they reported all this back to Beauregard, and "if" he then left orders that he not be disturbed, and "if" that's why Forrest couldn't locate him.......where's the evidence, or any evidence at all, to support all of this iffing?

Perry

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Still thinking out loud...

Since there is no certainty that "Fifteenth's" diary entries were made "on the day of occurrence," it is possible that Beauregard's Flag of Truce messenger of April 8th (requesting permission to bury Confederate dead) was spun into a "Surrender-or-die" story, later; and that story was added to "Fifteenth's" diary, at a later date.

Having just uncovered the story today, I have no idea whether it is true or not... which is why it is reported as "a newspaper story." And why I have spent the morning (Adelaide time) trying to figure out who "Fifteenth" might be, to see if I can track down their diary (or other witnesses). I believe any "new information" such as this should be investigated: and evidence revealed to prove or disprove. I have no stake in the outcome, and merely present a 154-year-old newspaper report as an item of curiosity. To illustrate that "the Story of Shiloh" is not settled; not in this age of the Internet, with new (or newly revealed) information coming to hand all the time.

One more thing: I had no idea (until about 18 months ago) that a piloted Federal balloon operated in the Western Theatre during the Civil War. Ran across the rumour by accident... researched the available info... and it turned out to be true.

Yours in seeking the truth,

Ozzy

 

 

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A noted Oklahoman once said, "I only know what I read in the papers."

Unfortunately, the papers are only good for learning of newsworthy stories; they are not sufficient for divining truth. After a detailed search (as far as the Internet and archived references will permit), I have weighed the following:

  • Is "Fifteenth" a trusted source?  [No. He is an anonymous source.]
  • Is there a second witness/ second source to confirm the report of the "surrender demand" as true?  [No.]
  • Is the timing of the event plausible?  [Yes. Appears the event took place after Prentiss surrendered, and before sunset.]
  • Is the location of the event plausible?  [Yes. Appears to take place on the Bluff above Pittsburg Landing.]
  • Are the chief actors known?  [US Grant: yes. "Messenger from Beauregard" -- no. This Confederate messenger could be Colonel Thomas Jordan, Alfred Roman, or a trusted cavalry officer... or it could be a phantom.]
  • Is it possible this report is the result of "imperfect perception of reality,"  i.e., there was an actual meeting between General Grant and a Confederate officer that was misinterpreted?  [Yes. One possibility:  the Confederate officer was a prisoner who attempted to have a joke at Grant's expense... but failed.]

Given the above (and the fact that the report from "Fifteenth" stands in isolation from supporting evidence) it is only fair to conclude that the "Demand for surrender of Grant's Army on the afternoon of April 6th 1862" did not take place. The report in the Elgin Weekly Gazette is a curiosity... a conversation-starter that serves merely as evidence of "imperfect perception, due to the fog of war."

My perception of The Truth

Ozzy

 

 

 

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Jim

When I first ran across the newspaper report, it put me in mind of a situation that occurred eighty-two years later, at Bastogne, Belgium (during Battle of the Bulge) when German messengers under Flag of Truce approached the American position, provided notice from the German commander that the position was surrounded; and demanded immediate surrender or "suffer complete annihilation of all U.S. troops in and near Bastogne." The acting commander of the 101st Airborne and senior officer at Bastogne, General Anthony McAuliffe, read the written demand, and replied, "Nuts!"

I believe McAuliffe's "Buell" was George S. Patton. Bastogne was saved.

Ozzy

 

 

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From "Book Of Anecdotes", a story told of former President and General, U.S. Grant that still circulates in Galena today:

Undistinguished and often shabby in appearance, Ulysses S. Grant did not recommend himself to strangers by looks. He once entered the Desoto House at Galena, Illinois, on a stormy winter's night. A number of lawyers, in town for a court session, were clustered around the fire. One looked up as Grant appeared and said, "Here's a stranger, gentlemen, and by the looks of him he's travelled through hell itself to get here."

"That's right," said Grant cheerfully.

"And how did you find things down there?"

"Just like here," replied Grant, "lawyers all closest to the fire."

However:

Lorenzo Dow (October 16, 1777 – February 2, 1834), an evangelist of the 19th century, was on a preaching tour when he came to a small town one cold winter's night. He entered the local general store to get some warmth, and saw the town's lawyers gathered around the pot-bellied stove discussing the town's business. Not one offered to allow Dow into the circle.

Dow told the men who he was, and that he had recently had a vision where he had been given a tour of Hell, much like the traveler in Dante's Inferno. When one of the lawyers asked him what he had seen, he replied, "Very much what I see here: all of the lawyers, gathered in the hottest place."

Maybe Grant had heard the story before and was given the irresistible opportunity to repeat it, or maybe it never happened. But it should have.  I'll ask John Rawlings about it next time I see him.

Then there is this:

Galena, Ill., Jan. 26.

I noticed a short paragraph a few days since referring to Gen. Grant's profanity. I happen to know the General pretty well, having  been with him as one of his staff at different times during the war, and I never but once heard him make use of any word that could be called profane, and that was "dog on it." The article reminded me of a little incident that came to my notice at Memphis just previous to the General's going to Young's Point, above Vicksburg. I was smoking a cigar with the General in his room when a dispatch arrived which provoked Gen. Rawlins, the chief of staff, and which Rawlins read to the General, and with some pretty rough oaths urged him to take summary measures with a prominent General who had, I believe, disobeyed or transcended orders. The General, in his good-humored way turned to me and asked: "Do you know what I keep Rawlins for?" I replied no, unless it was on account of his valuable services. "I'll tell you what for. I never swear myself, so I keep him to do it for me when occasion needs." The time I refer to when he said "dog on it" was at Lexington, Ky., on our ride from Knoxville, when a certain mule contractor wanted to escort the General through the town with a band of music, to avoid which we got out of the hotel by a back way and drove incognito to the Louisville train. After being seated in the car the man came and undertook to remonstrate with Gen. Grant for giving him the slip. The General was angry and annoyed, and said: "Dog on it, Sir, do you want to show me around like a circus?" Very respectfully,

EDWARD D. KITTOE, M. D.

[New York Times, Feb. 7, 1885]

 

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i also,have never heard nor read of these surrender request.But as newspaper reporters can "twist' the facts today may be there was some of this done back then to sensationalize the story.I recall many years ago i was interveiwed by a local reporter...and the story that was printed was NO where near the actual conversation.

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13 hours ago, Ozzy said:

A noted Oklahoman once said, "I only know what I read in the papers."

He was pretty good about not believing everything he read in those papers though. :)

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