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Ozzy

Who was In Charge?

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As we all know, General Grant was not present at Pittsburg Landing until some three hours after first contact between Rebel and Union forces (he likely arrived aboard Tigress between 8:45 and 9:30 on Sunday morning.) So the question: "Who was in charge before MGen Grant arrived?"

My selection as person-in-charge:  Ann Dickey Wallace. [Present at Pittsburg Landing before the arrival of General Grant, Mrs. Wallace made just as many decisions, with potential to affect the "flow of the battle" as General Grant... up until about 9 a.m. And, if she had pressed for Brigadier General Wallace to meet her on the steamer; or if she had journeyed from the Minnehaha towards General Wallace's camp, she may have disrupted the flow of the battle at a crucial time, and thus, had potential to affect its outcome. ]

Therefore, Mrs. Wallace, present at Pittsburg Landing, made more important decisions on scene, prior to 9 a.m. than General Grant (who was not on-scene); so Ann Dickey Wallace has a greater claim to "being in charge at Pittsburg Landing" -- prior to 9 a.m. -- than Ulysses S. Grant.

Ozzy

 

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Exercising acting-Command at Pittsburg Landing

The initial post of this topic was presented a bit “tongue in cheek,” because as we all know, the real commander at Pittsburg Landing in absence of U.S. Grant was Major General C.F. Smith. But MGen Smith being away from Pittsburg Landing on Sunday 6 April, the acting-commander should have been John A. McClernand (in fact, McClernand was the ranking Major General to the more junior C.F. Smith.) But, U.S. Grant had gone through extraordinary exertions to get everyone on board with, “Charles Ferguson Smith is in command; but due to his being temporarily away sick, Brigadier General W.T. Sherman is acting at Pittsburg campground on his behalf” [Badeau Page 70 and 79; and US Grant Memoirs p.338; Papers of USG vol.4 p.379].

Of course, General Grant did not consider an attack by Albert Sidney Johnston against Pittsburg Landing as likely; but when that event actually occurred, early on Sunday morning, it left the situation as regards Federal “acting commander” in a sticky mess: McClernand should have taken charge, but was cowed by Grant, coerced into relinquishing command to W.T. Sherman.

But, what is truly disturbing: it could be expected that the “acting-Commander” would greet Major General Grant on the bluff overlooking Pittsburg Landing. That acting commander would give a solid (concise-as-possible, yet comprehensive) report of the situation as it then stood; and then turn over control to MGen Grant in a seamless hand-over, before returning to continue the fight as Commander of the Fifth Division.

But, the above hand-over did not transpire, because W.T. Sherman was a “commander of convenience,” who had been elevated to that status merely because it kept MGen McClernand away from his lawful exercise of command. In the days prior to Shiloh, Sherman’s primary function was as “mouthpiece” for the orders and strategy of General Grant; and as cheerleader/ enforcer to keep the Grand Directive: “Do nothing to bring on a general engagement.” In support of that Directive, Sherman scoffed at suggestions that “a serious force of Rebels was anywhere near,” and admonished and ridiculed individuals who expressed concern (Appler). The support of Grant’s decisions extended to Colonel Worthington (prevented from acquiring equipment for felling trees for abatis, or digging protective trenches.)

Sherman’s “actions” on Sunday morning would be comical, if not of such dire consequence:

·         “Heard a good deal of picket-firing, so had breakfast, and then rode out to see Appler” [Memoirs page 258]

·         “I did not think the enemy intended anything more than a strong Demonstration” [Memoirs page 263]

·         “I offered support if he required it,” said McClernand, “but was told by Sherman to only provide some cavalry. Soon as the cavalry was sent forward, word arrived – from Sherman, himself – that he required support” [OR 10 pp.114 – 5]

·         Sherman, himself: “I sent word to McClernand to support my left.”

·         Sherman, again: “I sent word to Prentiss, alerting him to the presence of the enemy in our front.”

·         Sherman continues: “I sent word to Hurlbut, requesting he support Prentiss…”

Sherman is silent in regard to “anything” sent to C.F. Smith/WHL Wallace; yet would not an “acting commander” have made contact with all of the divisions under his charge? And sent word to “the commander at Savannah” in timely fashion, of “serious action taking place” ?

Following Shiloh, U.S. Grant continued to support Sherman by declaring that officer “the Hero of Shiloh” (and by only endorsing Sherman’s report of events.) Sherman supported Grant by poo-pooing Buell’s claims to “having saved Grant’s Army at Shiloh,” and by helping defuse Lew Wallace’s push for a Board of Inquiry or Court-Martial, in order to “reveal the Truth about Battle of Shiloh.”

In summary, it is my belief that, based on the above evidence, no one was in charge for the Federals at Pittsburg Landing, prior to arrival of Major General Grant, himself, between 8:45 and 9:30 a.m. on Sunday. But, believing it “sounds better” to have someone in charge (instead of asserting that no one was in charge) I settled on Mrs. Ann Dickey Wallace.

Ozzy

 

References:  OR 10

Badeau’s Military History of General U.S. Grant

Sherman’s Memoirs

Grant’s Memoirs

Papers of US Grant  vol.4 (especially page 381, in which Grant states to Sherman that “All troops are to report to you.” ) In meantime, McClernand was kept at Savannah a few days; and when he finally was sent with First Division to Pittsburg Landing, it apparently was “hoped” he would “accept Sherman as being in charge of the campground at Pittsburg Landing.” On pages 386 - 7 a Communication (18 MAR 1862) from Grant to Halleck also stresses, “McClernand is at Savannah; Smith has decided campgrounds at Crumps and Pittsburg, but if I feel they are in any way deficient, I will relocate the camps.” On page 388 (18 MAR 1862) Grant gives instructions to Sherman IRT “brigading of all troops that arrive at Pittsburg with appropriate divisions.” On Page 411 (23 MAR 1862) – the start of the ruse involving “Major General Smith, commanding US Forces at Pittsburg Landing” (in effort to keep McClernand, now assigned to Pittsburg Landing, from exercising acting-Command there in Grant’s absence… including (in notes) the direction from Smith that “Sherman is to act in accordance with my instructions.”) A similar “direction” from Grant to Smith to be found Page 423. McClernand initially complains, sensing “fraud,” [see Page 429 – notes] but after demanding “resolution of the matter of seniority IRT CF Smith and JA McClernand,” McClernand agrees to “go along with the situation” as “he does not have access to the materials that Grant obviously has in making this decision” [Page 430].

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do you think that Sherman was specifcally chosen d/t Grant knowing that he would not likely take action on the reports of the Confederate Army being nearer.But felt if McClernand was in charge he-McClernand would investigate these"demonstrations" which would lead to bringing on an engagement.?

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Mona

Well stated, in regard to "Grant's concern about McClernand." At Fort Donelson, it is obvious that Grant did not put McClernand "in temporary command, in Grant's absence" because he did not trust McClernand. That evaporation of trust is even more profound at Pittsburg Landing (where Grant took extraordinary efforts to keep McClernand away from the levers of power.)

Sherman: as you suggest, Grant likely selected fellow-West Pointer, in-need-of-a-sponsor Sherman, because he knew Sherman (who was still "on his way back" from a nervous breakdown, trying to rejuvenate his career) would do as he was told. And after having promoted and supported all of Grant's decisions -- up to the unexpected moment of Confederate attack on Sunday morning -- U.S. Grant (who valued LOYALTY) was not going to cut his loyal lieutenant loose to "take the consequences" for the surprise at Shiloh. That scapegoat (for a tangential matter) was Lew Wallace; but both Wallace and McClernand were consigned "to the reserve" after Shiloh: as far removed from the levers of power as possible.

Regards

Ozzy

 

 

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