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Mike

Pope or Grant

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I was pondering this topic last night, and thought I would open this discussion.

Suppose Grant had been transferred to the Eastern Theater in 1862 instead of Pope? How do you think the course of the war would have been altered? Given the machinations of Halleck against Grant after the Fort Donelson and Shiloh battles I realize that Lincoln would have been strongly advised to leave him in the West, but it raises an intriguing alternative if he had placed Grant st the head of the Army of Virginia in July 1862. 

What are your thoughts?

Just the rambling thoughts of a man with too much time on his hands.

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Thought provoking... due to the fact that Ulysses S. Grant benefited from the disappearance of Halleck and Pope from the West. As "senior man left standing," based on 16 FEB 1862 date of rank as Major General, Grant was left to his own devices and execution of initiative to take control and conduct operations in the West as he saw fit (under direction from a commander 1200 miles away) and allow time and experience to culminate in Capture of Vicksburg in July 1863.

As for Grant going East in June 1862:

  • He lacked significant reputation. Because Grant's last celebrated Victory was Fort Donelson in February,  his "star" was eclipsed by John Pope (with successes at New Madrid, Island No.10 and Corinth)
  • Too soon. The Grant & Sherman Team did not fully mature until the Vicksburg Campaign.
  • Stifled development. Grant going east, under continued, too-close supervision of Henry Halleck would not have provided time and opportunity for General Grant to develop his own style of war-fighting (which he brought East after Vicksburg and Chattanooga)
  • The issue of Trust. While Henry Halleck trusted John Pope, Halleck did not trust Grant; and the first setback (such as occurred at Cedar Mountain) may have given Major General Halleck the opportunity to cashier Grant... and bring Pope east;
  • Grant succeeded in spite of Halleck, not because of Halleck. Close supervision stifled Grant.

But most important: Time... to fully develop the relationship with Sherman; to realize the importance of Intelligence (ably provided by Grenville Dodge); and to allow the many "significant competitors" to dash their reputations against the Rock of Public Opinion, resulting in U.S. Grant emerging in the East as the "right man, at the right time."

My take on the proposed "What if..."

Ozzy

 

 

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By the same token, then...imagine if Pope had not gone East and was appointed to command the Army of the Tennessee rather than Grant.

(I warned y'all I had too much time on my hands.)

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Pope in the West

“I am not responsible for the truth of the statements thus communicated… in regard to the number of prisoners and arms taken I telegraphed the exact language of General Pope.” [Telegram of Henry Halleck to SecWar Stanton, sent from Corinth 3 July 1862 – OR 10 p.671]

The above communication begins this post because as commander, Left Wing, during Apr/ May 1862 Siege of Corinth, Major General Pope became the Commander in the Field, responsible for pursuit of the retreating Rebels under General Beauregard. With Rosecrans (commanding Right Wing, now the lead element of the pursuit), Pope to his rear (as coordinator of the pursuit) and Buell (to rear of Pope, providing support, if needed), Pope pressed the pursuit south and kept Halleck, at Corinth, informed of his every movement via the telegraph. (And Halleck sends his own reports, within minutes of Pope’s reports, via telegraph direct to SecWar Stanton… one of which reports, “10000 prisoners and 15000 stand of arms captured” – OR 10 page 669.)

OR 11 pages 236 – 255 makes for remarkable reading, as over the course of four days (and exchange of more than twenty-five telegrams), June 1-4 1862, Major General Pope provides Halleck with his assessment that “the Rebel Army is coming apart” (due to the thousands of wounded Rebels and deserting Rebels encountered during the movement south.) Meanwhile, Henry Halleck, believing the encouraging report, begins to arrange for “movement of cars and locomotives south from Paducah” on June 1st [OR 11 page 236]. Pope orders Rosecrans south through Rienzi, through Booneville and onward towards Baldwyn, where Pope believes the remaining Rebels (perhaps 30,000 men) will make a stand. But as the Union force approaches Baldwyn, Pope begins to get “cold feet,” and advises Halleck that “he does not believe it advisable to push beyond Baldwyn due the difficulty of supplying the command.”

Meanwhile, Don Carlos Buell (the senior Major General of the three engaged in pursuit of the fleeing Rebels) informs Halleck of his discomfort at following the orders of the junior Pope; and Halleck advises Buell that if the situation develops, and Buell’s reinforcements are required, then – naturally – Buell, as senior, will take overall command [OR 11 pp. 253 – 4].

Pope eventually reports to Halleck on June 4th at 6:50 p.m. that, “the enemy is developed in considerable force on the direct road to Baldwyn. As soon as I learn that you have ordered Buell forward, I will advance and force the passage of Twenty Mile Creek.”

A subsequent report sent by Pope to Halleck on June 8th advises that, “the enemy has retreated south of Guntown.” Halleck reports to Stanton, next day, that, “the enemy has fallen back to Saltillo, fifty miles away. General Pope estimates Rebel losses from casualties, prisoners and desertion at over 20,000 and General Buell at between 20 – 30,000… General Buell has been ordered east, to form a junction with Mitchel [near Huntsville Alabama.]”  And a follow-up message to Stanton, also sent June 9th: “General Pope has pursued as far south as Guntown… I do not purpose to pursue the enemy any further [unless ordered by your office]” OR 10 p.671.

What is revealed:

·         Pope and Halleck were “too close,” and their judgment was muddled (based on hopes and expectations – of Rebel army disintegration, the imminent end of rebellion (in the West) and potential for rebuilding railroad lines – and not on facts;

·         Too much reliance on the telegraph, and instant communications (even to the point of SecWar Stanton directing aspects of the pursuit from Washington)

·         OR 10 pages 236 – 278 reveal a General Pope willing to tell his commander “what he wanted to hear,” and perfectly willing to adjust and spin his reports to suit Halleck’s ear (as Pope knew that Halleck wanted to focus on rebuilding railroads, and was in agreement with Halleck’s decision to “keep what was left of the Rebel Army” simply pushed well away to the south, too distant to interfere with rebuilt railroads and telegraph lines)

·         Pope was junior to both Don Carlos Buell and U.S. Grant. Major General Pope in command in the West only works if Buell goes away (which did happen) and Grant resigns (which did not happen)

·         Subsequent to the pursuit south of Corinth being terminated about June 9th (and the welcome arrival of news that Memphis had fallen three days earlier to Union forces) Major General Pope was sent to St. Louis to arrange for railroad cars to be sent to run on the Union-controlled railroad lines in the Occupied South.

·         SecWar Edwin Stanton sent the telegram to John Pope at St. Louis on 19 June 1862 calling him to Washington, D.C. (Halleck’s glowing reports concerning John Pope, combined with Pope’s war record of successes at New Madrid, Island No.10 and Corinth, helped convince Stanton that “Pope was the man needed in the East.”)

References:  OR 10 and 11 (pages as indicated)

SDG topic "See you in Memphis" post of 30 April 2016.

 

 

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Mike

The above story of John Pope was provided to illustrate that Major General Pope had been in de facto command of Western troops after Corinth... but the opportunity to crush out Rebellion in the West was allowed to go begging by that officer. (With his close connection to Halleck, Pope could have pressed Halleck to continue the pursuit of Beauregard south of Baldwyn, while Halleck's Army yet numbered 100,000 men, but he did not.)

As concerns the July 3rd telegram from Halleck in regard to "the over-estimation of Rebel prisoners" subsequently accorded to Pope... There was a puzzling situation created after John Pope estimated, "no more than 30,000 Rebels could be mustered for battle near Baldwyn," followed by subsequent reports indicating, "30000 Rebels had been counted as deserters, or wounded, or otherwise leaving Confederate service." (Stanton logically put the two estimates together, subtracted 30,000 from 30,000 and got zero.)

Based on Halleck's own reports, Edwin Stanton (still acting with President Lincoln as co- Commander-in-Chief of the Armies) requested Major General Halleck send four divisions East to assist in defence of Washington... and Halleck demurred, claiming "the Rebels in Tennessee are more numerous than you appreciate." This was followed by, "sending away forces from the West now could lead to disaster" ...which must have confused Stanton. And a July 1st telegram from Halleck further claimed that, "the Rebel force under Bragg is not less than 75- 80000 men," resulted in the July 3rd telegram, by which Halleck threw Pope under the stagecoach.

For intriguing reading, see OR 16 part 2 page 9 orders from Halleck to Buell of 11 June 1862; and OR 16 part 2 page 81, 1 July 1862 telegram from Corinth of Halleck to Stanton (and the pages between  9 and 105, to appreciate how fully the Federals deceived themselves after Siege of Corinth.) The following Naval War College report by Louis G. Burgess (1991) is also valuable for understanding what took place after Siege of Corinth: http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a236370.pdf  Bragg's Invasion of Kentucky.

Cheers

Ozzy

 

 

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In the meantime, this is what the newspaper reader "back East" was learning about the War in the West:

image.png

Pope's Victory at Island No.10 (with Navy assistance.)

image.png

The Capture of the South's largest city occurred in the West (and no one really knew who was responsible, besides Farragut.)

image.png

After a campaign many believed would never end, Corinth is in Union hands (an almost bloodless capture, after the Bloody Horror of Shiloh.)

image.png

And now Memphis... And all these achievements took place in the West, greasing the wheels for Halleck and Pope to roll East to Washington...

The point: from the successes at Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, through to Island No.10 and Corinth and Memphis, it was becoming known that Henry Halleck had some role in achieving those Victories, and John Pope was accorded success at New Madrid, Island No.10 and Corinth. (Because of the Bloody, hard-won Victory at Shiloh, U.S. Grant had lost favor with much of the public, half of whom held him responsible for the carnage, with many -- including those with family members at Shiloh -- believing he should be Court-Martialed.) Therefore, Pope and Halleck outshone everyone else in the West, and they were rewarded by being called East.

Timing (and perception) sometimes work to one's favor...

[All newspapers found at Library of Congress site, Chronicling America.]

 

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Of course, all of the blame for the lost opportunity south of Corinth cannot be unloaded on Major General John Pope... because there was another Union General who was supposed to have come up from the south with his troops (most likely to act as anvil to Henry Halleck's hammer, with Beauregard dutifully playing the piece to be worked.) But, this other General did not make an appearance. [Identity of this other General is to be found in OR 6.]

 

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