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Review of Badeau

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Sometimes it is good to return to a reference you have not paid attention to in a while, if only to realize "how much your own knowledge has grown." Sometimes, unexpected revelations are uncovered that were, somehow, missed "the first time around."

Such is the case with the attached work (only that portion detailing the period between Fort Donelson and start of Battle of Shiloh subjected to scrutiny. But for our purposes, that is enough.) The original work was released in time for the Presidential Campaign of 1868.

http://archive.org/details/militaryhistory02badegoog  1885 edition of U. S. Grant Biography by Adam Badeau


Review of Adam Badeau’s “Lead-up to Battle of Shiloh”

(contained in pages 58 – 76 of The Military History of Ulysses S. Grant:

April 1861 to April 1865, Volume One, published 1867)


Adam Badeau (1831 – 1895) was an author and essayist working in New York when the Civil War erupted. In 1862 he decided to “throw in with the Union” and was incorporated onto the Staff of T. W. Sherman (the other General Sherman, Thomas, who until May 1862 was mostly involved “back East.”) To be part of Henry Halleck’s Crawl to Corinth, General T. W. Sherman was called west and placed in command of a Division; and Adam Badeau came, too.

Badeau was later wounded during the Siege of Port Hudson (1863) and was sent home to recover. Finally healed in early 1864, and at the urging of John Rawlins, Adam Badeau was “brought into the Staff Family” of U. S. Grant (and served as “Military Secretary.”) LtCol Badeau developed and maintained a close connection to General (and soon-to-be President) Grant that continued until the end of Grant’s life.

Late in 1867 Adam Badeau published a book (that might be called, “the Authorized Biography of U.S. Grant”) but was instead titled, The Military History of Ulysses S. Grant: from April 1861 to April 1865, Volume One. Because Adam Badeau intended to cover Grant’s entire Civil War career, Volume One did end with Lee’s Surrender at Appomattox (but the extent of material that became available caused Badeau to rework “Grant’s Military History” into a two-volume set, released in 1881 and 1885.) In meantime, “other things” got in the way: Grant ran for President in 1868; and Adam Badeau accepted one official posting after another, putting the “extended version” of Grant’s Authorized Biography on hold, for a while.

Despite the Preface to Volume One claiming, “I have not meant to state one fact unless it came under my own personal observation, or has been told to me by the General or one of his important officers, or unless I know it from Official Papers,” there is evidently a lot of “massaging” that took place before Adam Badeau released this work to the public in 1867. Grant’s “Military Secretary” was a strong supporter (and promoter) of the General: wherever possible, Badeau placed Grant in a favourable light. That being said, it is still worth reading this Biography (if for nothing else, to find out the original source of many of the “Grant claims” that persist to the present day.) Also consider: Badeau was not at Shiloh; so the information presented likely came direct from U.S. Grant and John Rawlins.

[This review covers only the period following Success at Fort Donelson, until commencement of Battle of Shiloh, and is available for free use – Ozzy.]

Beginning Page 58 is to be found, “On February 21st, C. F. Smith took Clarksville.” [Grant had authorized Smith to take Clarksville on 21 FEB 1862, but Smith may not have completed establishing his force there, drawn from the Second Division at Fort Donelson, until the 23rd. Why is this important? Because of the timing of Grant’s trip to Nashville: if the reader assumes Grant inspected Smith’s force at Clarksville on or about February 21st, then General Grant has time to return to Fort Donelson before making the voyage to Nashville, some date closer to the 27th – see OR 7 page 649. ]

[The presentation of the Nashville Visit is of interest because it introduces many of the “tools of massage” made use, later, by Badeau; to include time compression or time extension (as required); sequence of events out of order; omission of inconvenient facts; obfuscation. Outright lies are only resorted to rarely, and usually presented in a cloak of “possibly being true.”]

[See SDG “The Real Story of Nashville” for comparison of two versions of the same Visit to Nashville, remembering it was 100 river miles from Nashville to Fort Donelson.]

Page 59 relates the reaction of U.S. Grant to being “caught in the act” of visiting Nashville without authority: Badeau attempts to persuade the reader that Grant “did nothing wrong” in going to Nashville; he had simply “asked for permission in a novel way” (if permission was not specifically withheld, Grant assumed he had authority to go.) Badeau conveniently leaves out the 25 FEB telegram (recorded in Sherman’s Memoirs) in which Henry Halleck directed General Grant to “move across to Fort Henry and establish your HQ there.”

Grant takes the stance of “wronged party” and states that “his intentions were simply misunderstood” and the unreliable telegraph system delayed receipt of orders, and the sending of his own reports… and, besides, the new District of West Tennessee had no defined boundaries (conveniently ignoring that whatever those boundaries were, they were completely contained within Halleck’s Department of the Missouri... and subject to Halleck’s oversight.) [Halleck was yet to be awarded expansion of his Department; and he needed to keep on friendly terms with Buell. But Grant and Badeau would both know that the average reader was not familiar with the specifics of Army Command Structure.]

[On 11 MAR 1862 Henry Halleck gained “promotion” to an expanded area of responsibility – the Department of the Mississippi. This expanded department incorporated everything Halleck desired west of the Mississippi; and included the absorption of Buell’s District (and continued control over Grant’s District.) This expanded authority gave Henry Halleck ability to formulate and launch operations into southwest Missouri; down the Mississippi River; and along the Cumberland and Tennessee River valleys. And this huge development is simply not mentioned by Badeau (page 62 is where the reader should find this.)]

[Instead, from page 63 there begins a number of pages of seemingly endless exchanges between Halleck and senior officials “back East” which ends with Badeau asserting that “General Grant’s new District had undefined boundaries” ( ...so order is delivered from chaos).]

On page 66, after implying that “General Grant was unjustly removed from command of the Tennessee River Expedition,” Badeau relates Halleck’s reinstatement of Grant to command on March 13th, with the direction, “Do not bring on a general engagement at Paris.” Badeau goes on to relate “conditions and situation at Savannah, Crump’s and Pittsburg,” as Grant found them, upon his arrival March 17th:

·        Pittsburg Landing had been selected by C. F. Smith;

·        C. F. Smith had been unsuccessful at cutting the railroad (and the introduction of Corinth as “a position of first strategic importance” is made known to the reader);

·        Badeau seems to indicate “fore-knowledge” that Grant possessed IRT the Confederate build-up at Corinth being ultimately aimed at an attack against Pittsburg Landing. [The intention is to portray Buell as “tardy” in his arrival at Savannah; but leaves the unintended question: “If Grant suspected they were coming, why no entrenchments?”]

·        Also, if Buell was unnecessarily tardy, why did General Grant tell General Bull Nelson to “expect transport to Pittsburg Landing on Monday or Tuesday, at the earliest” and to General Buell’s request for a meeting on April 5th, reply to that officer “He would be at Savannah to meet him April 6th?” (see OR 10 pages 330 – 331 Jacob Ammen’s Diary; and OR 11 page 91 and Papers of US Grant vol.5 page 16. )

Beginning page 69 is the “difficulty presented by John McClernand,” first by not following orders “issued within two hours of Grant’s arrival at Savannah” for McClernand’s Division to move to Pittsburg Landing. [The reader is left wondering, “How could obviously incompetent McClernand spend a week moving nine miles?”] Next, John McClernand is introduced as the “initiator” of Rank and Seniority problems at Pittsburg Landing. [Never mind that Grant attempted to deny McClernand his rightful position as “acting commander” at Pittsburg in Grant’s absence; or that McClernand was senior to C.F. Smith… and McClernand was responding to an injustice performed by his commander. Or that McClernand’s Division was delayed getting to Pittsburg due to Grant’s own decisions (including the Pinhook Expedition, which had to be authorized by General Grant or General Smith.)]

On page 70 U.S. Grant (through Badeau) provides reasons why he remained at the Cherry Mansion: he had to organize arriving troops; he had to be able to communicate with General Buell. The situation “was on its way to being resolved” (according to Badeau) when Grant released a communication on March 27th indicating his intention to move to Pittsburg Landing; and Grant especially meant to go when John McClernand started causing problems… but something always came up. And then, he had to wait for Buell…

B. M. Prentiss gets his share of massaging [but why?] “March 26th is when the Sixth Division was formed” [but Prentiss was not there until March 30th, at the earliest.] The first reported interaction of Benjamin Prentiss with anyone at Pittsburg Landing occurred on April 1st when Prentiss tasked Madison Miller with command of the 2nd Brigade. [Why was it necessary to artificially extend Prentiss’s time in the field at Pittsburg Landing?]



On page 71, Badeau massages “Do not bring on a general engagement” into “Do not bring on an engagement until Buell arrives.” [Henry Halleck had had communications with both Buell and Grant in which he indicated intention to take personal command and lead the combined Army of Grant and Buell towards Corinth – see OR  11 pages 64, 66, 94 and SDG “Not just pictures” post of 5 July 2017 “Halleck to come after Island No.10 agony is over” – Agate. ]

Also on page 71, Badeau claims, “In accordance with Halleck’s orders, General Grant remained strictly on the defensive…” [without realizing the obvious question that generates: “Then why no defensive works?”]

As to “the surprise” of April 6 – “The frequent skirmishes, beginning April 2nd, kept the men on alert” [found on page 72.]

On April 4th Lew Wallace reported “a big force of Rebels at Purdy and at Bethel” [which is obviously an attempt to justify the orders that came later, at Crump’s Landing on April 6th.] “From Lew Wallace’s report, General Grant notified WHL Wallace to be ready to support Lew Wallace.”

On page 73, Bull Nelson is recorded as having reported to General Grant on April 5th “and Grant marched Nelson south of Savannah in order to be across from Pittsburg Landing, only five miles away, in the event of trouble.” [It gets better…] “Since Lew Wallace’s troops rebuilt the Wallace Bridge over Snake Creek, they should have been familiar with [that route leading to Pittsburg Landing.]” [McPherson restored that bridge, but did not finish the job.]

After issuing orders to Lew Wallace on the morning of April 6th, General Grant “hurried on to Landing at Pittsburg, arriving there at about 8 o’clock” [p. 76.]


References as cited.


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