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Grant's six divisions

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As we know, Grant’s Army of West Tennessee consisted of six divisions at the commencement of Battle of Shiloh. Few consider how those six divisions developed:

First Division. After experience with a variety of brigade-sized organizations, Brigadier General Grant reported to Cairo in September 1861, and almost immediately took a handful of infantry regiments and artillery to Paducah (which formed the nucleus of the Second Division.) What remained behind at Cairo, coupled with elements of John McClernand’s brigade, and other units that found themselves at Bird’s Point and Fort Holt, became the First Division. Initially taking command of this division, himself, Ulysses S. Grant, after Battle of Belmont provided all possible assistance to BGen McClernand, for that officer to act as commander of the First Division. And the turnover of command took place by 2 FEB 1862 (prior to that time, John McClernand was commander of Post of Cairo and commander of 1st Brigade.) And General Grant exercised overall command against Belmont as Commander, District of SE Missouri; and against Fort Henry as Commander, District of Cairo.

Second Division. A loose collection of infantry, artillery and company-sized units of United States Cavalry gravitated towards Paducah; and under leadership of Charles Ferguson Smith, former Commandant at West Point and Mexican War veteran, acting as Commander, Post of Paducah, these units were moulded quickly into what became the Second Division (by the time of Belmont, at least two brigade-sized organizations had been organized, one of which conducted a demonstration to the east of Fort Columbus, commanded by Eleazer Paine.) Lew Wallace, who had arrived at Paducah mid-August, was promoted to Brigadier General and took command of the 2nd Brigade before the end of October 1861. And John McArthur replaced the out-of-favor Paine, in command of 1st Brigade.

Third Division. Following success at Forts Henry and Heiman, Grant’s Army of Cairo marched east to envelope Fort Donelson; and General Lew Wallace’s brigade (and other spare troops) were left behind on the Tennessee River to garrison the captured prizes. After a few days, Lew Wallace and most of his force was called east to join the Campaign at Fort Donelson; and upon arrival BGen Wallace was given command of the new Third Division (losing his own brigade to Smith’s Second Division) but gaining Cruft’s Brigade (former 13th Brigade, Buell’s Army of the Ohio) and enough new-arrived units to form a brigade under Colonel John Thayer of Nebraska. The Third Division provided valuable service, in time to stifle the breakout attempt, which helped result in the Confederate surrender on 16 FEB 1862.

Fourth Division. Brigadier General Stephen Hurlbut completed “drying out” at Benton Barracks and was sent to join General Grant at Fort Donelson… but arrived a day or two after the Rebels surrendered. Initially given minor tasks to perform on Grant’s behalf, on 21 FEB 1862 IAW General Orders No.7 BGen Hurlbut was issued command of a complete, three-brigade Division (Fourth Division); possibly the quickest generation of a full division (under four days.) In addition, during Grant’s occasional absences from Fort Donelson (to visit Clarksville and Nashville) Stephen Hurlbut was given acting-Command of Fort Donelson.

Next Division. When William Tecumseh Sherman arrived at Paducah from Benton Barracks in February 1862, he was tasked with forwarding on troops to Grant’s Fort Donelson operation and given authority (from Major General Halleck) to “siphon off” spare troops, in order to create his own division (which Brigadier General Sherman called “First” Division [OR 7 page 595]. By early March enough force had been withheld at Paducah to justify title of Sherman’s Division; and that division was ready to deploy south, up the Tennessee River, in support of BGen Smith’s campaign against Confederate railroads (after Grant’s suspension from field command.) The units assigned to what ultimately became recognized as the Fifth Division were adjusted continually through March and April, especially cavalry and artillery assignments.



Sherman’s Memoirs page 249 (Orders of 13 FEB 1862) and page 253 (taking units for own division at Paducah).

Papers of USG vol.4 page 236 (Hurlbut arrives Fort Donelson) page 241, 252, 254, 276 (note.)

Lew Wallace Autobiography

OR 3 and OR 7

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I suppose you are referring to "the Division that never was..."

Sixth Division Initiation and Development

The following is an attempt to list, by date, the significant occurrences that led to the creation and development of the Sixth Division of Grant’s Army in the lead-up to Battle of Shiloh in March/ April 1862. As factual as possible, with any suppositions clearly indicated (all corrections gladly accepted, as long as reference provided.)

20 MAR           16th Wisconsin arrives Pittsburg Landing; assigned to Smith’s 2nd DIV.

(19 MAR)        Orders issued for 21st Missouri (Moore) to report to General U.S. Grant.

(20 MAR)        Orders issued for 12th MICH to report to General U.S. Grant.

21 MAR           25th Missouri and 14th WISC issued orders to report to General Grant.

25 MAR           21st Missouri arrived Savannah aboard J.C. Swon.

26 MAR           COL David Moore arrested for allowing troops to fire their weapons.

26 MAR           Special Orders No.36 initiates 6th DIV – BGEN Prentiss, commanding.

28 MAR           25th Missouri (Peabody) arrives Savannah aboard Continental. Initial orders to disembark rescinded; 25th Missouri directed on to Pittsburg Landing; IAW guidance from BGEN Sherman, the 25th Missouri becomes first component of Sixth Division present at “Camp Prentiss” (with COL Everett Peabody in acting command.)

28 MAR           12th MICH (Quinn) arrives Savannah aboard Meteor.

30 MAR           16th WISC marches to Camp Printiss – arrived at dark (Dow's spelling.)

31 MAR           61st Illinois arrives Pittsburg Landing aboard Empress (Stillwell.)

[ MAR ]            18th Missouri (Miller) reports to “Adjutant at Camp Prentiss”

1 or 2 APR      COL Miller meets BGEN Prentiss and is assigned as commander of new 2nd Brigade of Sixth Division.

1 APR              Huge store of munitions arrives aboard Iatan; also LT Derickson 16th WISC.

2 APR              General orders Dress Parade (Dow diary.)

2 APR              COL Moore found guilty of minor charge at Court-Martial. Reprimand from General Grant. 21st Missouri (Moore) assigned to 1st Brigade (Peabody) of Sixth Division (Prentiss) and 18th Missouri transferred from 1st Brigade to 2nd Brigade to make way for Moore’s 21st Missouri.

2 APR              Orders No.33 (Rawlins) assigns artillery of Munch, Hickenlooper and Powell and two battalions of 11th Cavalry to Sixth Division.

3 APR              Orders No.5 (Henry Binmore) assigns LT R. Derickson as AQM 6th DIV.

4 APR              Orders of A.S. Baxter (AQM) recognize assignment of LT Derickson as AQM of 6th DIV and places Iatan at disposal of Sixth Division (Getchell).

4 APR              Communication of LT Clark Lagow to BGEN Prentiss, “The review of your Division [by General Grant] will not take place until Tuesday [8 APR] at 10 a.m.”

5 APR              18th Wisconsin (Alban) arrives Camp Prentiss. Joins 18th Missouri and 61st ILL as part of COL Miller’s 2nd Brigade. [ 18th WISC is present at Camp Prentiss, but not recorded as “brigaded” with Sixth Division… compare to 16th Iowa, which is “officially brigaded” with Sixth Division, but only present “on paper” of Order of Battle.]

5 APR              Artillery belonging to Hickenlooper (5th Ohio) and Munch (1st MINN) arrive at Camp Prentiss and go into camp adjacent to BGEN Prentiss’s HQ.

5 APR              BGEN Prentiss conducts review of Sixth Division. Observation of Rebel troops spectating from a distance results in late afternoon patrols… and…

5/6 APR          Near midnight, BGen John Pope Cook arrived aboard Minnehaha at Savannah, apparently intended as Commander of 3rd Brigade of Prentiss's Division. (General Cook, unwell, remains at Savannah.)

6 APR               The battalion of 11th Illinois Cavalry has reported; likewise, the 15th Michigan and 16th Iowa have reported (but remain at the Landing) and the 15th Iowa and 23rd Missouri have arrived at Pittsburg Landing (but not yet reported.) Captain Powell and his Battery F of the 2nd Illinois Light Artillery are camped on the bluff overlooking Pittsburg Landing (believing the battery is assigned to MGen John McClernand.) As the Picket Skirmish (Major Powell's initial contact) expands into the Battle of Shiloh, the Sixth Division continues to grow... with the 23rd Missouri being the last of the forces designated for inclusion in Prentiss's Division, reporting to BGen Prentiss at the Hornet's Nest mid-morning (although it could be argued that the 8th Iowa Infantry (Geddes, detached from the Second Division) and the 3rd Iowa Infantry (Major Stone, detached from the Fourth Division) became de facto members of the Sixth Division on that April Sunday.

Edited by Ozzy
April 6 additions included.

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Sherman’s Sleight-of-Hand

Was pondering the question, “What caused the Sixth Division to be initiated?” …when the obvious answer presented: “Sherman’s Fifth Division was full.” But, on close examination of that Fifth Division, there were uncovered “idiosyncrasies” that defied explanation:

·         Four complete brigades (while every other division contained 3 brigades)

·         The largest division (by number of men assigned/ present for duty)

·         Improper assignment of brigade commanders.

We are all familiar with the story of the 1st Brigade of Sherman’s Division: BGen Sherman was saddled with Colonel Thomas Worthington (whom Sherman believed unfit, and undeserving of brigade command. And the elaborate story concocted to prevent Worthington getting that brigade command (to which he believed he was entitled, by law)… eventually resolved by the timely arrival of John McDowell (with date-of-rank as Colonel June 1861, compared to Colonel Worthington’s date-of-rank January 1862.)

But, while smiling at Sherman’s clever shunting aside of Worthington (eventually, all the way back to Ohio) no attention is paid to the other brigades of the Fifth Division:

·         2nd Brigade – no problem. Stuart was senior to Mason (71st OVI) and Kilby Smith (54th OVI).

·         3rd Brigade – Jesse Hildebrand was elected Colonel of the 77th Ohio in OCT 1861; but Jesse Appler had date-of-rank 16 SEP 1861. (If Appler was deemed unfit to command a brigade, how was he fit to command a regiment?)

·         4th Brigade – Ralph Buckland was appointed Colonel 72nd Ohio on 30 OCT 1861; but Joseph Cockerill’s date of rank was 2 OCT 1861.

The point: Was brigade command offered to Cockerill and Appler, but they both declined? Or did General Sherman simply select Hildebrand and Buckland to be brigade commanders, without reference to date of rank?

Referencehttps://archive.org/details/briefhistoryof4600wort/page/n159  Brief History of the 46th Ohio Volunteers by Colonel Thomas Worthington (published 1878.) Page 97 of 98 (at archive.org) indicated as Page 4 of section titled, "Facts Developed as to the Battle of Shiloh..." contains a letter from Ohio Senator Thomas Sherman, dated 21 APR 1862, putting the case for moving Worthington's date-of-rank as Colonel to August 1861. This pending adjustment (obviously discussed between Worthington and General Sherman, some time in March 1862) was made O.B.E., overridden by John McDowell's assignment to 1st Brigade of Fifth Division, and subsequent appointment to command of that brigade.


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