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Ozzy

Unplanned delay at Savannah

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There was a moment when this author entertained the thought that, “Perhaps General Grant intended for Rebels to attack his forces at Pittsburg Landing” [which would explain “no trenches or abatis” – used as bait; seemingly haphazard arrangement of camps at Pittsburg – bait, to lure the Rebels north; lack of extensive cavalry patrols (to avoid bringing on engagement, too far south, which would allow Rebels to fall back to formidable defences at Corinth); and cavalry patrols that were conducted, seemingly without any coordination with infantry pickets…]

But, the more research is conducted, the more apparent becomes the fact: Ulysses S. Grant was caught by surprise. There was no intention; no “offering Federal troops as bait” to lure the Rebels north. The April 6 attack by Rebels upon Grant’s forces at Pittsburg Landing was unanticipated… at least, on April 6. Prior to that bloody Sunday [but, we get ahead of the story...]

When Major General Grant arrived at Savannah Tennessee on 17 March 1862 (released from limbo, and returned to command in the field) he had every expectation of “conducting an operation against the Rebels, further south.” Pittsburg Landing and Crump’s Landing and Savannah were merely temporary sites, staging grounds for assembling and preparing the Federal force that would drive south (at the time and place of General Grant’s choosing.) But, initiation of that operation was anticipated to take place soon. (Sherman’s frequent raids and probes offered potential to initiate more robust offensive action, “requiring” substantial forces from Pittsburg Landing be rushed forward to assist Sherman. But no solid opportunity for increased engagement presented.) Therefore, Grant’s operation at Savannah, Crump’s, Pittsburg evolved over time into, “Wait for Buell.”

But, as time dragged on, General Grant must have realized that, “He had been caught in a trap of his own making.” The situation on April 1st (as Sherman launched yet another raid) revealed Federal troops camped at uncoordinated sites (close proximity to fresh water deemed more important than mutual defense); no trenches or abatis; contrary to Jomini, his force was “on the wrong side of the river” (although use of Lew Wallace’s division as “grand reserve” offset this danger); and Grant’s own HQ was maintained at Savannah (for reasons not adequately explained.) With Rebel moves against Lew Wallace (about April 2nd) and the Picket Skirmish (April 4th) there would have been cause for concern. And Grant would have had time for reflection that, “he had occupied his time – an unexpectedly long time, as it turned out – focused on minutia.” And, there may have been “rising cause for concern” end of March/ early April, as Rebel probes became increasingly aggressive, and Buell remained remarkable for his lack of presence.

The cloud would have lifted on April 3rd with the report by telegraph of Bull Nelson’s arrival at Waynesborough (allowing Grant to view the Picket Skirmish of April 4th through a rosy lens.) And, when Jacob Ammen and Bull Nelson appeared at Savannah on April 5th (with promise of the remainder of Army of the Ohio arriving in short order) any concerns held by General Grant would have evaporated. So confident became General Grant of his invincibility, that he joked with Jacob Ammen about “steamers taking him across the Tennessee River in a few days,” and directed Major General Buell not to hurry, but to report on April 6th.

So confident became Major General Grant (in his apparent safety, and the impending operation against Corinth moving ahead) that he organized an “engagement” that took place Saturday afternoon (mentioned by Grant to Ammen, to which Brigadier General Ammen was not invited.)

 

References:  OR 10 pages 330 – 331 [Jacob Ammen’s diary.]

SDG topic “Why Stay at Crumps?” 14 NOV 2017.

Papers of US Grant vol.5 page 7 “Letter to Julia of 3 April 1862.”

Papers of US Grant vol.5 page 6 “Telegraphic reply to BGen Nelson at Waynesborough.”

Papers of US Grant vol.5 page 9 “4 APR 1862 instruction to BGen Sherman to be prepared to provide support to MGen Lew Wallace, if necessary.”

Papers of US Grant vol.5 page12 “4 APR 1862 instruction to BGen WHL Wallace to be prepared to reinforce MGen Wallace, if necessary.”

Papers of US Grant vol.5 page 13 “5 APR 1862 communication sent from Savannah to MGen Henry Halleck at St. Louis, advising arrival of advance of Buell’s Army, with reported strength of enemy at Corinth.”

Papers of US Grant vol.5 page 16 “5 APR communication from Grant to Buell, advising ‘[Grant] will be hear April 6th to meet you.” [Sent in reply to Buell’s communication, found in Notes, top of page 17.]

 

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I'm really tired of all this Grant bashing on this site. If you review all the commanders at the beginning of the Civil War, you will see they all made errors as they learned and grew into their positions. Some learned, others didn't. Get rid of your anti-Grant bias and you can watch him grow into the great general he was.

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Jim

I value your input -- we just have a difference of opinion...

Discussion is not bashing. Presenting evidence of "anomalies" is merely an effort to make sense, sort out decisions made, and why; and facilitate understanding of the growth of the decision-maker. In the example of Ulysses S. Grant: if he were perfection incarnate, there would be no need to read beyond his Memoirs. Since he was not perfect, the effort to determine how he overcame his imperfections, and developed into the great leader that won the Civil War, has benefit for future Great Leaders.

Every mistake is a potential learning experience. U.S. Grant did a lot of learning after Shiloh.

My opinion

Ozzy

 

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One of the "unexplained periods" of time involving General U.S. Grant in the hours leading up to Battle of Shiloh: "Where was the General after he left Pittsburg Landing, evening of Friday, April 4th (following his horse fall) until 3 p.m. on April 5th (recorded at Jacob Ammen's camp)?" Everything I have read is conjecture: Some suppose he visited Pittsburg Landing on Saturday morning; others claim that Grant "attempted to rest, but without much success, following his horse fall." There is evidence that General Grant's inspection of Prentiss' Sixth Division -- slated for April 5th -- was cancelled. And Colonel McPherson's work on the Snake Creek Bridge was suspended (and the Colonel directed to survey a campsite in vicinity of Hamburg for Don Carlos Buell's troops); but there is no evidence that Grant was in company with McPherson during that survey.

During the period in question, where was General Grant?

 

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