Jump to content
Shiloh Discussion Group
Sign in to follow this  
Ozzy

Why not just go?

Recommended Posts

It was commonly understood during the 19th Century, that in the absence of orders, "a commander was expected to rush to the sound of the guns of battle." In Lew Wallace's Autobiography, page 459, he indicates his strong belief, early on Sunday, April 6th that he was hearing a roar and rumble that was unmistakeable. "My Staff officers joined me, and there was no disagreement: it was a battle."

Major General Lew Wallace sent the appropriate orders; staged and prepared his Third Division to march... and then waited aboard his commissary boat (Jesse K. Bell) for General Grant "to drop by and give him orders." Yet, in Wallace's mind, he knew there was only one route open: the Shunpike. And he had communicated a recommendation to Brigadier General WHL Wallace, just the previous day, "that in the event of attack, at either Landing, one Wallace would come to the aid of the other, via the Shunpike."

So, the question: "Why did Lew Wallace not simply march his Third Division away down the Shunpike -- in accordance with accepted practice -- and let the chips fall where they might, once the dust had settled?"

Yours to ponder...

Ozzy

Reference No.1:   http://ehistory.osu.edu/books/official-records/010/0189  OR 10 pages 189 - 191.

Reference No.2:  http://digital.library.msstate.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/USG_volume/id/17403/rec/7  Papers of US Grant vol 4 pages 402 - 3.

Reference No.3:  http://archive.org/stream/lewwallaceanaut02wallgoog#page/n479/mode/2up  Autobiography of Lew Wallace, pages 459 - 461.

Reference No.4  http://archive.org/stream/artwar00mendgoog#page/n76/mode/2up/search/tactics  The Art of War by Jomini (pages 70, 72-3 (taking the initiative), 132-3 (use of reserves),  144 (re-taking the initiative from an enemy), 176, 184-5 (operation of reserve force of Army-on-Defense in wresting initiative from the Attacker.)

Reference No.5  "In the absence of any other orders, always march to the sound of the guns"  -- Napoleon.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mona

That may have become true, after 10 a.m. But, at 7 a.m. (the time the booming artillery was heard at Crump's Landing and at Savannah) the placement of Confederate forces on Shiloh battlefield had yet to evolve. (And Lew Wallace had no way of knowing what would be found, upon his arrival.)

But, not wanting to ponder "what might have been, had Lew Wallace arrived at Owl Creek Bridge at 10 a.m.," the real question is: "Why did not Lew Wallace, convinced that a battle was underway, order his Division south down the Shunpike, soon as his battalions were ready to go?" 

Regards

Ozzy

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The key phrase in your proposition is "in the absence of orders." Wallace was ordered by General Grant between 8 and 9 to get ready and wait. The fubar that came after does not figure into your proposition. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

right...his orders were to wait .and so he did...i believe a bit earlier he got "into it" with Grant over sending some sick men back up north after he had sent them down to the hospital ship at pittsburg landing and they were immediately sent back d/t no room

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mona and Rbn3

Thanks for your contributions to this topic. Part of the reason the question is posed (IRT why Lew Wallace did not move before General Grant's visit) stems from the revelation uncovered in Johann Stuber's diary: on April 4th, when the Federal camps in vicinity of Pittsburg Landing became alarmed upon hearing the sounds of the afternoon skirmish taking place in front of Sherman's Division (and many organizations from widely separated divisions were brought into line by trilling of the Long Roll), just a few miles north, the "sounds of battle" were not heard. Johann Stuber's two-line entry for April 4th merely records the visit of a man from Dayton. Yet, on April 6th, Corporal Stuber (serving near Stony Lonesome as member of the 58th Ohio Infantry) recorded the "growing sounds of battle, coming from the south, from early in the morning." The roar of cannons was especially mentioned; and there was no doubt, the sound was coming "from the vicinity of Pittsburg Landing."

Major General Lew Wallace heard those roaring cannons, too. Familiar with "the sound of battle" (most recently, at Fort Donelson) Wallace promptly issued orders and prepared his Division to march south; and then waited at the Landing (Crump's Landing) for General Grant to arrive and issue the "expected orders to march south." But, Grant did not issue those marching orders; instead directing Lew Wallace to "wait in readiness to move in any direction (upon receipt of further orders.)"

If we assume Grant's visit with Lew Wallace took place at 8:15 a.m., the following one... two... three hours must have been excruciating: just waiting, while the sound of battle (according to Corporal Stuber) persisted, unabated. Lew Wallace records in his Autobiography that he concocted a "contingency plan," in accordance with which the men of his Third Division would be granted early Dinner at 11:30; and commence to march south (down the Shunpike) at 12 noon... if no orders were received. Therefore, having met General Grant, face-to-face, Lew Wallace was willing to wait a little over three hours before "taking the initiative."

So, the questions revealed themselves: "How long would Lew Wallace have waited, if General Grant did not "drop by?" And, "Knowing that a battle was in progress -- and having taken the necessary steps to stage his battalions to march -- why did not Lew Wallace order that march (instead of waiting for acquiescence from U.S. Grant?)"

And, I believe Mona provided the answer: during the "weeks of waiting" before commencing the anticipated March on Corinth, General Grant took the opportunity of those empty days to "rein in" his loose cannons, and came down "like a ton of bricks" on any infraction of the rules, in order to instill discipline. In the case of Lew Wallace, it was the "sending away out of area seriously ill troops for hospital care in Indiana" that provoked the wrath of Grant (asserting that he had been embarrassed by Henry Halleck calling attention to the matter.) Lew Wallace, not fully grasping what was taking place, attempted to justify his actions through a lengthy, wordy, missive in late March 1862 (which only brought John Rawlins, Grant's AAG, into the "discussion.") Finally realizing what was really taking place -- that he was being disciplined for its own sake -- Lew Wallace kowtowed... and issued the response (to be found in Reference No.2 Line 2 on page 403, above in first post).

Cheers

Ozzy

Other reference: http://archive.org/stream/meintagebuchuber00stub#page/20/mode/2up  Diary of Johann Stuber, entries for April 4 and 6.

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ozzie:

Where is the best summary and explanation of all the "arrests" that occurred in the days before April 6th? I think General John MacArthur was under arrest.  Did any of those arrests actually lead to court-martial?

Wallace was the guy in the vat that was being slowly heated...he never knew when to scream.

 

rbn3

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×