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Another day, another master’s thesis… and this one, submitted by William J. McCaffrey in 1970 is revealing, compelling, shocking. Although 140 pages long, this work grips the student of Battle of Shiloh by the throat, and does not let go. It examines “whether or not there was surprise at Pittsburg Landing on April 6th 1862”…and just who was surprised.

On page three, a list of six items is posted: flawed conditions of readiness, at least one of which must be present to allow a Defender to get surprised by an Attacker. William McCaffrey devotes the remainder of his thesis to providing evidence of the presence of many of those six conditions of “un-readiness” at Pittsburg Landing in the days, hours and minutes leading up to General Albert Sidney Johnston’s attack.

This report contains maps, an excellent list of references, and is constructed by a man concerned about “the lessons of History, and how to avoid the mistakes of History.” Have a read, and decide for yourself how close William McCaffrey, West Point Class of 1958, comes to the mark.

Masters Thesis by William J. McCaffrey (1970) “Shiloh: a case study in Surprise” submitted to U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, KS and on file with National Technical Information Service:  https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/733391.pdf  

 

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