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Sometimes, facts hide in plain sight...

While re-reading the history of events that took place from just after midnight (in the wee hours of April 6th 1862) it occurred to me: General Prentiss in his Shiloh report records sending notice of the attack in progress to Commanders of the 2nd Division and 4th Division, and to Colonel Stuart; and requests for assistance from the 2nd and 4th Divisions. But, Prentiss does not indicate that he informed the Acting Campground Commander (W. T. Sherman) of the Confederate attack.

Why not?

In General Sherman's Shiloh report, he admits to requesting reinforcement from McClernand (1st Division) and to "alerting Hurlbut to the need to reinforce Prentiss" ...and to General Prentiss, "alerting him that the enemy was in our front, in force." As Prentiss's Sixth Division was obviously under attack for some time before Sherman's own 5th Division felt the sting, this "sending of alert to Prentiss" smacks of mild rebuke, "for not informing the Campground Commander -- acting, of what was taking place."

The question:  "Why did not Prentiss notify Sherman?"

 

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"[...I was surprised to find another man] in charge of the division assigned to Major General Smith" -- from Shiloh Report of BGen Benjamin Prentiss.

The identity of that "other man" has been removed, because in the current context, it does not matter: up until April 6th 1862, General Prentiss believed that Major General Charles F. Smith was in active command of the Second Division. If he was not specifically informed that General Smith was upstairs in the Cherry Mansion, recuperating from an injury to his leg, then he had no way of surmising such was the case (the ruse involving Smith's AAG, Captain McMichael, present at Pittsburg Landing and operating as if his General was there, too) may have worked too well, convincing General Prentiss that the Senior Officer, commanding the Second Division, was present on the campground of Pittsburg Landing. Therefore, when Prentiss informed Smith of what was taking place to his front, it was safe to assume Smith would disseminate that information to all those needing it (Sherman, McClernand, Grant) and make more active use of that information, as the on-scene Commander deemed necessary.

The point: not only did the Shell Game (pretending C.F. Smith was senior to McClernand) prevent Major General McClernand from assuming his lawful seniority; and insistent reference to "Smith's Division" likely contributed to confused orders being delivered by Baxter to Lew Wallace... but the belief (by Prentiss) that the senior division commander was present on the field likely resulted in General Prentiss not sending notice to the "accepted acting-commander at Camp Shiloh," William Tecumseh Sherman.

Efforts to deceive can have unintended consequences...

Ozzy

 

N.B.  For those wondering, "What about couriers? Surely a dispatch rider delivering a message to General Smith at the HQ of the Second Division would realize that General Smith was not there." [The likely arrangement: Captain William McMichael took receipt of all communications.]

 

 

 

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I don't have time to do this justice right now, but I think that you are quite correct in indicating that Grant's effort to keep McClernand "down" hurt the establishment of a proper chain of command both before and during the early part of the battle.

Grant had been calling Smith "Major-General" for a long time before April, but he didn't recognize McClernand as even ranking Brigadier-General Sherman, whom Grant had selected to be the de facto commander of the camps around Pittsburg Landing.

And many histories make McClernand the bad guy for disputing the ranking that Grant gave Smith when 1.) McClernand was correct about the true ranking and 2.) McClernand didn't press the matter, but said that he would go along with Grant's error for the good of the army.

Grant's insertion of W.H.L. Wallace into Smith's Second Division and the removal of its de facto commander, Jacob Lauman, who was consequently sent to an unfamiliar brigade in an unfamiliar division, would also certainly have consequences in the battle (although it's impossible to know how things would have turned out differently). Lauman was more experienced in battle and would have known the division's character far better than an outsider who was installed, due to Grant's favoritism, just days before the fight.

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Joe

Thanks for having a look at this topic. In response, I have created a new topic, "Colonel C.F. Smith and Seniority," which lays the groundwork for actual pecking order of General officers during build-up at Pittsburg Landing (and quickly demonstrates the farce of claiming "Smith is senior.")

Regards

Ozzy

 

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Joe

The relative seniority of officers before, during and after Shiloh is presented in “Colonel C.F. Smith and Seniority,” in order to provide support to the following answers to your above questions:

1)       There was always an issue with relative seniority, prior to 21 MAR 1862 because BGen Smith (who had been put in command of the Tennessee River Expedition by MGen Halleck) was junior to every other Brigadier General taking part in the expedition, except Lew Wallace. This technicality could be “rectified” by referring concerns to William Tecumseh Sherman – the senior officer present – who appeared happy to operate under Charles Ferguson Smith.

2)       After 21 MAR there was a problem that arose, after McClernand – Smith – Lew Wallace were promoted to Major General (in the order listed.) John McClernand, with his political connections, likely was aware of the relative seniority attached to his own promotion. And, whether you like him or hate him, MGen McClernand was within his right to seek redress to “being senior officer, forced to serve beneath a junior.” There was no way US Grant was going to allow John McClernand temporary command in Grant’s absence; and the official Army List had not reached Grant (so he was able to claim ignorance of McClernand’s claim, until that official pecking order, which he requested from Halleck, was delivered to him.)

3)       Meanwhile, MGen Grant created an elaborate façade (which I refer to as “Shell Game”) with the following components:

-          MGen Smith assigned to Pittsburg Landing

-          Captain William McMichael, Smith’s AAG, assigned to Pittsburg Landing

-          MGen Grant accords MGen Smith status as Campground commander

-          Due to injury, MGen Smith is temporarily away. During his absence, Smith has designated BGen Sherman to act in his stead as Campground commander.

-          In Smith’s absence, Captain McMichael acts as “place holder,” indicating intention for MGen Smith to “return” to Pittsburg Landing (and meanwhile, conducts affairs as if Smith is actually present)

-          My belief is that General Grant witnessed Henry Halleck do a similar thing (assigning a Brigadier General with less seniority) to command an expedition composed of officers more senior than the commander… and likely assumed, “if Halleck can do it, why not anyone else?”

But, Grant took his subterfuge to an additional level, by installing Jacob Lauman as acting commander of the 2nd Division (in Smith’s absence.) And this version of the Shell Game came unstuck, because a more senior Colonel was part of the 2nd Division (John McArthur) who, likely, was as possessive and aware of his own seniority as Grant and McClernand were of theirs. Even after the promotions to Brigadier General were made (effective 21 March) McArthur was listed as senior to Lauman. BGen McArthur then got caught up in Grant’s Purge (see “Officers Under Arrest”) and this arrest of McArthur was followed up by orders sending McArthur to Lew Wallace’s 3rd Division “when for duty,” and WHL Wallace replaced Lauman as acting commander of the 2nd Division.

 

The only consistent component present with the 2nd Division while this subterfuge was taking place: the AAG, William McMichael… acting for Smith, acting for Lauman and acting for WHL Wallace.

 

References:  SDG “Colonel C.F. Smith and Seniority”

“The Real Story about Nashville” (post of 2 July 2018)

“William McMichael” (post of 6 OCT 2018)

SDG “Grant and McClernand”

SDG “McArthur (part 2)”

Papers of US Grant vol.4 pages 428 and 429.

Life and Letters of  General WHL Wallace page 180 [Letter of 3 APR 1862 in which General Wallace indicates he will remove himself to the 2nd Division tomorrow (April 4th). Provided to illustrate that not only was Jacob Lauman “on the job” commanding a brigade in Hurlbut’s 4th Division for an unbelievably short time prior to Battle of Shiloh, but General WHL Wallace faced a similar experience of, “being thrown into the deep end.”

Cheers

Ozzy

 

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wonder where Grant witnessed Halleck assign an officer with less seniority to command more senior officers?

 

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Good question, Mona... because there were two instances (one of which was likely made known to him by William Tecumseh Sherman.) The first was stated above: due to Grant's questionable performance (visiting Nashville without Halleck's permission) MGen Grant was removed from "command in the field," replaced by Brigadier General C.F. Smith (who was junior in seniority to Generals Sherman, McClernand and Hurlbut on 5 MAR 1862.) Smith was put in charge of the Tennessee River Expedition.

The second instance was likely brought to his attention by Brigadier General Sherman -- who in January 1862 was 7th most senior Brigadier in the entire Volunteer Army, even ranking U.S. Grant and Don Carlos Buell. That "Shell Game" took place at Benton Barracks, shortly after MGen Halleck took command of the Department of the Missouri in November 1861, and involved William T. Sherman (recuperating from nervous breakdown), Stephen Hurlbut (needing to dry out from alcohol over-use) and William K. Strong (who was a businessman requiring more experience in leading military men.) During the three months these three generals served together at Benton Barracks, any one of the three was claimed to be "Commander" at Benton Barracks, to hide the real reason three brigadier generals were there, at a Camp of Instruction. 

References:  OR 52 page 198 -- "General Sherman's mental and physical state is so broken that, for the present, he is unfit for duty" [General Halleck communication to General McClellan on 2 DEC 1861.] OR 8 page 514 -- "General Sherman was placed in command of Benton Barracks."

OR 52 page 227 -- Special Orders No.28 of 21 MAR 1862: "Brigadier General Strong is hereby placed in command of the District of Cairo." [Until this assignment, General Strong had been "present" at Benton Barracks, since December 1861. Assigned to command of Benton Barracks by General Halleck, Strong reported that "when he entered the Commanding Officer's Quarters, where he assumed he was to lodge himself, he found General Sherman already there."]

https://www.loc.gov/resource/mal.1264500/?sp=3  Letter of 24 OCT 1861 from William K. Strong to President Lincoln, detailing his work with General Fremont.

SDG topic "They also serve, who stand and wait..." post of 20 FEB 2018 -- details of W.K. Strong service.

https://www.amazon.com/General-William-K-Strong-Autograph/dp/B00JBNNK04  Letter of 12 NOV 1861 in which General Strong claims he is in command of Benton Barracks.

OR 3 pages 156 - 157, 475 --   In August/ September 1861, Brigadier General Hurlbut got caught up in a shambles of on operation along the line of the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad in Northern Missouri, which resulted in him being placed under arrest and removed from command. Sent home to Illinois by General Fremont to await Court Martial, Hurlbut was still languishing in Illinois when General Halleck took command in Missouri in November. Halleck dropped the charges against Hurlbut, and at the suggestion of William T. Sherman (a close pre-war friend of Henry Halleck and Stephen Hurlbut) General Hurlbut was "assigned to Benton Barracks."

Stephen A. Hurlbut: a Politician Turned General by Jeffrey Norman Lash, page 90. [Hurlbut arrived Benton Barracks on 1 JAN 1862.]

OR 8 page 591 -- Henry Halleck in communication of 5 MAR 1862 to BGen Sherman refers to C.F. Smith as "Major General Smith."

 

 

 

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