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Eye Witness Account, W T Sherman

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Head-quarters Military Division of the Mississippi

Prof. Henry Coopee, Philadelphia

Dear Sir: In the June # of the United States Service Magazine I find a brief sketch of Lt. General U S Grant, in which I see you are likely to perpetuate an error, which Gnl Grant may not deem of sufficient importance to correct. To Gnl Buell's noble, able and gallant conduct, you attribute the fact that the disaster of April 6th., at Pittsburg Landing, was received, and made a victory of the following day. Ad Gnl Taylor is said, in his latter days, to have doubted whether he was at the battle of Buena Vista at all, on account of the many things having transpired there, according to historians, which he did not see, so I begin to so doubt whether I was at the battle of Pittsburg Landing of April 6th & 7th, 1862. Gnl grant visited my division about ten A. M., when the battle raged fiercest. I was then on the right, After some general conversation, he remarked that I was doing right in stubbornly opposing the progress of the enemy; and in answer to my inquiry as to cartridges, he told me that he had anticipated their want, anfd given orders accordingly; he then said his presence was more needed at the left. About two P.M. of the 6th, the enemy materially slackened his attack on me, and about four P. M., I deliberately made a line behind McArthur's drill field, placing batteries on chosen grounds, repelling easily a cavalry attack, and watched the cautious approach of the enemy's infantry, that never dislodged me there. I selected that line in advance of a bridge across Snake Creek, by which we had all day been expecting the approach of Lew Wallace's division from Crump's Landing. About five P. M., before the sun set, Gnl Grant again came to me, and after hearing my report of matters, explained to me the situation of affairs on the left, which was not as favorable; still the enemy had failed to reach the landings of the boats. We agreed that the enemy had expended the furore of their attack, and we estimated out loss, and approximately our then strength, including Lewis Wallace's fresh division, expected each minute. He then ordered me to get all things ready, and at daylight the next day to assume the offensive. That was before Gnl Buell had arrived, but he was known to be near at hand. Gnl Buell's troops took no essential part in the first day's fight, and Grant's army, though collected together hastily, green as militia, some regiments arriving without cartridges even, and nearly all hearing the dread sound of battle for the first time, had successfully withstood and repelled the first day's teriffic onset of a superior enemy, well commanded and well handled. I know I had orders from Gnl Grant to assume the offensive before I knew Gnl Buell was on the west side of the Tennessee. I think Gnl Buell, Col Fry. and others of Gnl Buell's staff, rode up to where I was about sunset, about the time Gnl grant was leaving me. Gnl Buell asked me many questions, and got off me a small map, which I had made for my own use, and told me that by daylight he could have 18,000 fresh men, which I knew would settle the matter. I understood grant's force was to advance on the right of the Corinth Rd and Buell's on the left, and accordingly at daylight I advanced my divison by the flank, the resistance being trivial, up to the very spot where the day before the battle had been the most severe, and then waited till near noon for Buell's troops to get up abreast, when the entire line advanced and recovered all the ground we had ever held. I know that with the exception of 1 or 2 severe struggles, the fighting of April 7 was easy, as compared with that of the 6th.

I never was disposed, nor am I now, to question anything done by Gnl Buell and his army , and know that, approaching our field of battle from the rear, he encountered that sickening crowd of laggards and fugitives that excited his contempt and that of his army, who never gave full credit to those in the front line, who did fight hard, and who had at four P. M., checked the enemy, and were preparing the next day to assume the offensive. I remember the fact better than Gnl Grant's anecdote of the Donelson battle, which he told me then for the first time - that, t a certain period of the battle, he saw that either was ready to give way if the other showed a bold front, and he determined to do that very thing, to advance on the enemy when, as he prognosticated, the enemy surrendered. At four P.M., on April 6th, he thought the appearance the same, and he judged, with Lew Wallace's fresh division and such of our startled troops as had recovered their equilibrium, he would be justified in dropping the defensive and assuming the offensive in the morning. And I repeat, I received such orders before I knew Gnl Buell's troops were at the river. I admit that I was glad that Buell was there, because I knew his troops were older than ours, and better systemized and drilled, and his arrival made that certain which before was uncertain. l have heard this question much discussed, and must say that the officers of Buell's army dwelt to much on the stampede of some of our raw troops, and gave us too little credit for the fact that for one whole day, weakened as we were by the absence of Buell's army, long expected; of Lew Wallace's division only 4 miles off, and of the fugitives from our ranks, we had beaten off our assailants for the time. At the same time our Army of the Tennessee have indulged in severe criticism at the slow approach of that army which knew the danger that threatened us from the concentrated armies of Johnston, Beauregard and Braggs that lay at Corinth. In a war like this, where opportunities of personal prowess are as plenty as Backberries to those who seek them at the front, all such criminations should be frowned down; and were it not for the military character of your journal I would not venture to offer correction of a very popular error.

I will also avail myself of this occasion to correct another common mistake in attributing to Gnl grant the selection of the battlefield. It was chosen by the veteran soldier Maj Gnl C F Smith, who ordered my division to disembark there, and strike the Charleston Railroad. This order was subsequently modified by his ordering Hurlbut's division to disembark there, and mine higher up the tennessee to the mouth of Yellow Creek, to strike the railroad at Burnsville. But floods prevented our reaching the railroad, when Gnl Smith ordered me in person also to disembark at Pittsburg, and take post well out, so as to make plenty of room, with Snake and Lick Creeks the flanks of a camp for the grand army of invasion.

It was Gnl Smith who selected the field of battle, and it was well chosen. On any other we surely would have been overwhelmed, as both Lick and Snake creeks forced the enemy to confine his movements to a direct front attack, which new troops are better qualified to resist than where flanks are exposed to a real or chimerical danger. Even the divisions of that army were arranged in that camp by Gnl Smith's orders, my division forming as it were, the outlying pickets, whilst McClernand's and Prentiss' were the real line of battle, with W H L wallace in support of the right wing, and Hurlbut of the left; Lew Wallace's division being detached. all these subordinate dispositions were made by order of Gnl Smith, before Gnl Grant succeeded him to the command of all the forces up the Tennessee - headquarters at Savannah. If there was any error in putting that army on the W side of the Tennessee, exposed to the superior force of the enemy also assembling at Corinth, the mistake was not Gnl Grant's - but there was no mistake. It was necessary that a combat, fierce and bitter, to test the manhood of the two armies, should come off, and that was as good a place as any. It was not then a question of military skill and strategy, but of courage and pluck, and I am convinced that every life lost to us that day was necessary; for otherwise at Corinth, at Memphis, at Vicksburg, we would have found harder resistance, had we not shown our enemies that, rude and untutored as we then were, we could fight as well as they.

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Sherman's Sleight of Hand

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[Above image of William Tecumseh Sherman dated 1865 and published by Henry Coppee.]

 

 

It began when C.F. Smith and W.T. Sherman ascended the Tennessee River in early March 1862 to conduct an expedition designed to cut Rebel railroads and disrupt Rebel troop movements. Brigadier General Smith was junior to Brigadier General Sherman; yet Smith was assigned command of the Expedition (likely due his well-deserved acclaim following on Fort Donelson) and the fact Sherman was “still recovering” (health and reputation) following removal from command of the Department of the Cumberland late in 1861. As General-commanding, Smith remained in vicinity of Savannah (with his HQ aboard a steamer) while Sherman commanded the Active Force in the Field (and titled his force as the First Division.)

Over time, other brigadier generals arrived with their divisions: Hurlbut and his Fourth; Lew Wallace and his Third; John McClernand and his First... and there was a problem (because McClernand objected to Sherman usurping the designation of First Division.) Eventually, this dispute was decided in McClernand's favor; and Sherman's became the Fifth Division.

On the evening of 12 March General Smith suffered his mortal leg injury; and he notified General Grant of his accident (communication dated 14 March 1862) and likely informed Sherman about the same time. After being thus informed, and before General Grant arrived at Savannah, W.T. Sherman appears to have assumed Acting-command of the Expedition (going so far as to conduct his own reconnaissance by road towards Corinth on 16 March, taking Smith's engineer, James McPherson, along.) McPherson also conducted surveillance towards the west of Shiloh Church (and likely was involved in the strengthening of Owl Creek Bridge for the use of artillery); and when General Grant resumed command it was the combined recommendations of Sherman and McPherson that led him to continue use of Pittsburg Landing as Campground.

With C.F. Smith elevated to Expedition command, the senior brigade commander of the Second Division would have gained acting-command of that division (in Smith's temporary absence.) Sherman records on 18 March: “Colonel McArthur has arrived [at Pittsburg Landing] and is cutting a landing for himself.” Next day, McArthur (out of favor with General Grant) was effectively replaced as acting-commander with the assignment of senior Colonel Jacob Lauman to the 1st Brigade of the Second Division.

Why is the above information important and relevant?

Because it appears that Brigadier General Sherman “fell into” the role of Commandant of Pittsburg Landing Campground; and after Major General McClernand complained about that state of affairs (and demanded his rightful seniority be recognized) Grant and Sherman and Smith and McMichael performed an elaborate ruse to deny McClernand Acting-command. And yet. in conduct of Acting-command, General Sherman found himself saddled with responsibilities:

  • Security of the camp via defensive works erected at the campground

  • Security via pickets and outposts

  • Health and well-being of the “campers” (sufficient access to food, fresh water and hospital care; and the assignment of appropriate camp sites)

  • Coordination and communication with other division commanders at Pittsburg

  • Maintenance of Records for the campground

  • Communication with HQ at Savannah (particularly records indicating the arrival of regiments, and the location of their camps)

  • Conduct of the Fifth Division (which by rights should have had an acting-commander (perhaps Colonel Buckland) in Sherman's absence.

General Sherman later admitted that he “was familiar with all the roads and ground, inside and outside his lines” [much of this familiarity due the fact Sherman continued to act as Commander of the Active Force, attempting to cut railroad lines as originally tasked.] And it appears that on most of these expeditions, Sherman took LtCol James McPherson along [McPherson technically belonged to Henry Halleck, but upon release from Hospital in St. Louis (severe throat infection acquired at Fort Donelson) had been assigned to General C.F. Smith at the start of the Expedition. Once Smith was incapacitated, and laid up in Hospital at Savannah, it appears Sherman took control of McPherson and assigned him to necessary duties; and McPherson operated from Pittsburg Landing, apparently attached to Smith's Second Division... as was Captain McMichael.]

Note: on page 229 of Sherman's Personal Memoirs, he reports, “General C.F. Smith remained back at Savannah, in chief command, and I was only responsible for my own division.”

 

References:

SDG “Failure to Report”

SDG “McArthur (part 2)”

Papers of US Grant vol. 4 page 343 note.

Personal Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman

Army Regulations, 1861.

 

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Critique of General W.T. Sherman's Shiloh Report of 10 April 1862

 

William Tecumseh Sherman submitted his after-action report IRT the Battle of Shiloh on 10 April 1862. It is comprehensive and descriptive, nine pages ( 27 paragraphs) long, and can be found in Sherman's Personal Memoirs, beginning page 235; and is also to be found in OR 10.

Para One. Following the heading to Grant's AAG John Rawlins, General Sherman begins his report by describing the events of Friday, April 4 (the Picket Skirmish.) It is a starting point, only, for merely commencing this report as the details are highly summarized to the point of being incomplete (no mention of use by Rebels of artillery; and no mention of Rebel prisoners taken on that day.) Moving on to the events of Saturday, Sherman admits that Rebel cavalry came up close to the Union front. “But I did not think they designed anything but a strong demonstration.” The contest of Sunday morning (Battle of Shiloh) commences in Para One: “Our advance guard was sent back on the main body at 7 am,” and “I sent word to McClernand, Prentiss and Hurlbut.”

[Critique: Notice no mention of sending word to WHL Wallace, or Lew Wallace, or Colonel Stuart of the 2nd Brigade, separated by two miles, away to the east ….or his Commander, General Grant at Savannah. Would not an Acting-commander be expected to alert the Commander in a timely fashion?]

Para Two. Sherman provides disposition of his 1st Brigade (McDowell) on the right.

Para Three. Sherman's 2nd Brigade (Stuart) is described as “on the extreme left, guarding the ford over Lick Creek.”

[Critique: Stuart was on the extreme left... of the 5th Division? Of the Army? Sherman is expert at omitting inconvenient facts in order to generate desired impressions.]

Para Four. Sherman's 3rd Brigade (Hildebrand) is described.

Para Five: Sherman's 4th Brigade (Buckland) is described.

Para Six. Sherman's three batteries and cavalry initial positions detailed.

[Critique: McClernand's battery (Schwartz) provided to support Sherman NEVER gets mention.]

Para Seven. “Shortly after 7 am the main body of my division took fire in front of Appler's 53rd Ohio camp.”

Para Eight. Description of ground in front and to right of Sherman provided. “This overgrown valley was used for cover by the enemy.”

[Critique: The description of terrain to Sherman's left front must be gleaned from description of Waterhouse battery position, in Para Six.]

Para Nine. “[Although my orderly had been killed just after 7 am] it was not until seeing the bayonets of heavy masses of infantry at 8 am that I became convinced that the enemy intended an attack against our whole camp.”

[Critique: Elements of the Sixth Division had been engaged since about 5 am. And cannon began booming just after 7 am. And Sherman only realizes the attack is serious at 8 am... ]

Para Ten. “I rode to Appler and told him to hold his position.” And General McClernand provided me three regiments for support.

[Critique: By referring to McClernand as “General” (vice Major General) BGen Sherman seeks to avoid messy implications of the seniority question.]

Para Eleven. “The battle opened by the enemy's battery in the woods to our front throwing shells into our camp.” Taylor and Waterhouse responded; and Sherman ordered infantry forward in vicinity of Appler's camp. Enemy troops were observed passing across the field to our left, evidently designed for use against Prentiss and McClernand. “The camps of Prentiss and McClernand were lined up almost parallel with the Tennessee River.”

[Critique: The Sixth Division camp was arrayed perpendicular to the Tennessee River. This lack of awareness may indicate that Sherman never visited the camp of Prentiss' Division during April.]

Para Eleven (Continued). “At about 9 am I could tell that Prentiss was falling back... and about this time Appler's regiment broke in disorder.”

Para Twelve. The three regiments (provided by McClernand) stood for some time. But the enemy's advance was so vigorous, that when Colonel Raith was shot from his horse, these regiments manifested disorder; and the enemy got control of three of Waterhouse's guns.

[Critique: Raith (of McClernand's division) given blame for the loss of Waterhouse (vice Major Taylor, Sherman's Chief of Artillery who was most responsible.) ]

Para Twelve (Continued). “I deemed Shiloh so important that I remained by it, and gave orders to Buckland and McDowell to hold their ground...”

[Critique: In Para Six Sherman indicates, “The Shiloh Meeting House was the center of my position.” But he does not provide further details WHY “Shiloh was so important.” Elsewhere, Sherman makes mention that Shiloh Ridge was key to holding the ground toward Pittsburg Landing; and others make mention that Owl Creek Bridge and the Shunpike were important to enable Lew Wallace and his Third Division to reinforce the Pittsburg Campground. ]

Para Twelve (still continues). “We held this position until 10 am.”

[Critique: Years later, “10 am” remained a crucial time for Sherman at Shiloh, likely due the fact General Grant had visited him just minutes before that time; and Sherman was forced to abandon his initial line just after 10 am. HOWEVER... Sherman could not state that, “General Grant first visited my position at 10 am” because every effort was being made to assert “Grant had arrived early in the morning...” perhaps as early as 7:30 or 8 am.]

Para Twelve (still continues). The loss of Behr's Battery (due directly to Sherman) is revealed. The whole of the Fifth Division is forced to fall back... but Buckland and McDowell's brigades maintain their organization, and join the right of McClernand. This temporary disorder is resolved by 10:30 and for the next four hours “General McClernand and I acted in perfect concert...”

[Critique: It was not Major General McClernand's role, nor duty IAW Army Regulations of 1861 to “act in concert” with BGen Sherman; but instead DIRECT Sherman. However, due to the ruse played by Generals Grant, Smith and Sherman during the previous two weeks whereby Sherman was “installed” as acting-commander of Pittsburg Campground [see Papers of US Grant vol 4 page 425, page 429 notes AND ESPECIALLY page 429 end of Note 2 IRT “Special Orders No.36”] the waters were muddied, and the proper chain of command and command hierarchy broken, due to this unlawful tapping of BGen Sherman as acting-commander. [Sherman obviously knows this, and makes use of deceptive phrases throughout his report that 1) do not refer to himself as “acting-commander of the Pittsburg Campground” nor 2) refer to Major General Grant or Major General McClernand... but instead refers to ALL generals simply as General.]

Para Twelve (final). Sherman makes first mention of General Grant visiting his position (although this is Grant's SECOND visit, which occurred mid-afternoon. The FIRST visit by Grant to Sherman occurred at, or just before 10 am.) “General McClernand and I, on consultation, selected a new line of defense [which covered the route by which Lew Wallace with reinforcements had to approach.]” W.T. Sherman in his Memoirs (page 229) admits that he “knew all the ground inside and outside my lines” and yet SOMEHOW does not know about the Shunpike, or the strengthening of Owl Creek Bridge – the likely route of reinforcements from the north... another inconvenient fact, omitted.]

Para Thirteen. “The 5th Ohio Battery came up.” Andrew Hickenlooper was in action with the Sixth Division at about 6 am, withdrew with Prentiss to the Hornets Nest and helped hold that position until just after 4 pm when the four remaining guns of Hickenlooper's Battery were ordered to withdraw north by General Prentiss. After TEN Hours of bloody action, Hickenlooper found himself at the junction of Sherman's Last Line with Grant's Last Line, and continued to fight until after nightfall. “Generals Grant and Buell visited me in our bivouac that evening.”

Para 14. “At daylight on Monday I received General Grant's orders to advance and recapture our original camps... I took position to the extreme right of General McClernand's Camp and waited to hear the sound of General Buell's advance along the Main Corinth Road. This occurred about 10 am [after which time] I led the head of my column to General McClernand's right.” [Meanwhile, Lew Wallace and Bull Nelson had been active since sunrise... ]

Para 15. “About 2 pm the enemy had one battery close by Shiloh, and another near the Hamburg Road, both pouring grape and canister upon any column of troops that advanced upon the green point of water-oaks. Willich's regiment had been repulse, but a whole brigade of McCook's division advanced beautifully, deployed, and advanced into this dreaded wood. I ordered my Second Brigade and Fourth Brigade to form on the right of McCook and advance in line [of what proved to be Rousseau's Brigade.] I gave personal direction to the 24-pounder guns, whose well directed fire first silenced the enemy's guns to the left, and afterward at the Shiloh Meeting-house.”

Para 16. “Rousseau's Brigade moved in splendid order steadily to the front, sweeping everything before it, and at 4 pm we stood upon the ground of our original front line [of Sunday] and the enemy was in full retreat. I directed my several brigades to resume at once their original camps.”

Para 17. “General Grant kept the supply of cartridges coming from the rear... but several times the cartridges gave out. At such times I ordered the men, without cartridges to stand fast; because to retire a regiment for any reason has a bad effect on others.”

Para 18. In summing up the two days of the Battle of Shiloh, General Sherman puts forward his belief that the crucial field was fought over by his division (although admitting that McCook's division contributed greatly on Day Two.) “Beauregard commanded here in person, supported by Bragg, Polk and Breckinridge... and I think Albert Sidney Johnston was killed on Sunday morning in front of Bucklands brigade [of Sherman's Division.]”

Para 19. “My division was made up of regiments perfectly new...”

Para 20. The performance of the four brigades making up Sherman's Fifth Division was such as to be expected from green troops: all 1500 men of Hildebrand's brigade disappeared (although Colonel Hildebrand, himself, remained with General Sherman and fought bravely). “Colonel Buckland managed his brigade well.” Colonel McDowell “commanding the 1st Brigade held his ground on Sunday, until I ordered him to fall back... and when ordered, he conducted the attack on the enemy's left in good style.” Colonel Stuart, “commanding my 2nd Brigade, was detached nearly two miles from my headquarters. He had to fight his own battle on Sunday...”

[Critique: In regard to Colonel Stuart and the 2nd Brigade, there is no admission from Sherman : “I detached Stuart in March, and sited his brigade to guard the ford over Lick Creek.” Also, there does not appear to have been ANY attempt during Sunday by Sherman to communicate with his 2nd Brigade: no expectations from the commander (Sherman); no report (from Sherman to Stuart) WHAT was going on; no situation report from Stuart until the end of Sunday's fighting.]

Para 21. Itemized Casualty List (by regiment) for the Fifth Division.

Para 22. Sherman explains that he lost seven guns during the battle; but his division captured seven guns during the battle...

[Critique: The above statement is clever, but false. Sherman's Division lost five guns of Behr, four guns of Waterhouse and four guns of Schwartz (which performed in direct support of Buckland) for a total of thirteen guns lost by the Fifth Division.] "If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull roar..."

Para 22 (continued). Sherman explains that “fatigue of the men prevented his division making a proper pursuit after Monday's battle.”

Para 23. Sherman gives credit to his personal staff, and mentions his best performers by name. Included is Major Ezra Taylor, until a few days prior to Battle of Shiloh attached to Taylor's Battery of McClernand's First Division. Taylor's Battery was transferred to the Fifth Division and renamed Barrett's Battery; and Ezra Taylor was promoted from Captain, and installed as Sherman's Chief of Artillery. During Sunday, Ezra Taylor was responsible for the disaster that befell Waterhouse. And he did not realize Schwartz had been loaned to the Fifth Division by McClernand (so failed to alert Schwartz to the ordered withdrawal north that occurred after 10 am. And failed to include details of Schwartz Battery (during Sunday commanded by Nispel) in his report to General Sherman. The one highlight of Major Taylor's performance of duties on Sunday: he took especial care of his old command, Barrett's Battery (the only battery attached to Sherman that ended the day in possession of all six of its guns.)

Para 24. Sherman's engineer officer, Captain Kossack is accorded credit for a detailed sketch of Pittsburg Landing campground, used during the Battle of Shiloh.

 

Along with this Shiloh Report, Sherman also included his report of the Action at Fallen Timbers (dated 8 APR 1862). Because these two reports appear to have been submitted to Henry Halleck together, the numbering of paragraphs continues:

 

Para 25. “With cavalry and two brigades of infantry, I went out this morning [Tuesday] on the Corinth Road... After passing the enemy's old camps, and countless Hospital Flags set in place by the enemy for his wounded men, I encountered General T. J. Wood's Division already at the road junction to the south. I divided my force, and ordered the cavalry (Dickey) to examine both roads leading to Corinth. Receiving a request for reinforcements from Colonel Dickey, I advanced General Wood up the lefthand road, while I advanced my Third Brigade up the righthand road. About half a mile from the road junction was a clear field, through which the road passed, and immediately beyond, a space of some 200 yards of fallen timber, and beyond that an extensive Rebel camp... With Hildebrand's brigade in the advance, we sent forward skirmishers, and advanced cautiously... I held Dickey's cavalry at the ready... When the enemy's cavalry came boldly at a charge. The ground was admirably adopted for defense (due the fallen trees) by infantry over cavalry; but our infantry broke and ran.”

Para 26. “As the infantry broke, Dickey's cavalry discharged carbines [without effect] and fell into disorder. I instantly sent orders to the rear to form line of battle, which was promptly executed... after rallying on this line, Dickey's cavalry again went forward, advancing over the same ground, and drove the enemy cavalry from the field... I sent for wagons and recovered our dead and wounded.”

Para 27. “We encountered a large Confederate Hospital containing 280 rebel wounded (and fifty of our own men); and nearby were stockpiles of Rebel artillery ammunition (which we destroyed.) We took the surrender of Confederate Medical Director (Lyle) and received a pledge by him to report his medical command as prisoners of war... I am convinced that the enemy has protected his retreat with cavalry (and has moved all of his force south of Lick Creek.)” [A description of abandoned equipment is included in this paragraph.] Without saying so directly, General Sherman concludes by admitting “I ordered my men back to their camps [and brought the pursuit to an end.]”

 

[General Comments: Note that this report was dated 10 APR 1862... the day BEFORE Major General Henry Halleck arrived at Pittsburg Landing from St. Louis. And remember that General Sherman was actively engaged on April 8th with the Action at Fallen Timbers. To get this report compiled in such expeditious fashion, before Halleck arrives... Must have been an exhausting effort. Would it be likely that U.S. Grant had a direct role in the editing of this report?

Of the brigade commanders in Sherman's division: McDowell submitted his report on the 9th; Stuart submitted his on the 10th; Hildebrand 10th; Buckland 9th; Taylor (Artillery) April 10th.

MGen Grant never submitted an Official Shiloh Report (claiming he NEVER received reports from Buell's Army of the Ohio.) Yet Sherman was able to concoct HIS report within hours of Buckland, McDowell, Stuart, Hildebrand and Taylor submitting theirs.

Also, Sherman's was the ONLY Division Officer report endorsed completely by General Grant. Hurlbut's report of April 12th was deemed by Grant to be Fair; McClernand's was deemed Faulty; the report of the Second Division was deemed “Incomplete, due the number of casualties” and Wallace's Third Division was Faulty – Did not correctly address the cause of his delay in getting to the field of battle on Sunday. Prentiss's report was not submitted until November 1862 (and was given directly to the AAG of the U.S. Army at Washington D.C., and avoided Grant's scrutiny.)]

 

Conclusion: As proof of the time-tested maxim, “The first report submitted must be challenged by every subsequent report” [also known in military aviation as “First pilot to the chalkboard wins the dogfight”] Grant and Sherman threw themselves into generating written reports of the Battle of Shiloh, both ready and available for Major General Halleck when he arrived on April 11th. (The first of the other division commander reports were not ready until April 12th...and these were submitted first to General Grant.) And Grant found official Fault with every one of these other reports, except Hurlbut's (which he judged as “Fair.”) Sherman benefited from his friendship with Henry Halleck; Grant benefited from Sherman's friendship with Henry Halleck. William T. Sherman was adjudged “Best Performer at Battle of Shiloh,” and received promotion to Major General as result. Major General Grant was sidelined for a term, installed as Halleck's Second in Command during the March on Corinth (which Grant found almost intolerable... yet “poor performers” McClernand and Lew Wallace were assigned to the thankless role of “reserves.” Which was worse?)

Sherman's Shiloh report avoids mention of his role as “acting commander of Pittsburg Campground” and thereby avoids discussion of his role as “senior commander” during Grant's four hour absence at the start of the battle. He fails to mention the TIME of his first meeting with General Grant on Sunday, April 6th. He failed to send an alert to the General Commanding at Savannah (advising of the initiation of battle.) He failed to communicate with his own 2nd Brigade (separated by distance, not “detached” as claimed). And General Sherman only communicated one time with other division commanders at Pittsburg Campground... and that was primarily to ask for assistance from McClernand and WHL Wallace. No attempt was made to alert Lew Wallace at Crump's as to what was taking place. Everywhere through Sherman's report, as indicated in the above critique, wording and terms were massaged to present a more favorable impression to the reader; and inconvenient facts were omitted entirely.

Lessons:

It is good to have friends in high places...

The problem with LIES is that over time, they reveal themselves. [Re-read the opening post to this topic, and compare Sherman's Memory of Shiloh as related to Professor Coppee in June 1864 versus his immediate report of Shiloh submitted 10 April 1862.]

“Don't let the FACTS get in the way of a good story.”

 

Edited by Ozzy
Correct date of Coppee article.

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Hello Idaho Native, when was the account you posted originally published? 

Hello Ozzy, yes indeed Sherman engaged in some serious 'CYA' and got away with never really having to answer for his arrogant dismissal of the overwhelming amount of intelligence of an impending attack in the days leading up to April 6th, even going so far as issuing an order to arrest Lieutenant Eagler of the 77th Ohio for his report of seeing the enemy to his front, which was not obeyed. No explanation of why he did not have the men entrench, and something that has always stood out to me, his odd placement of the camp of the 53rd Ohio, all alone with no close support, out in front of the army. Thanks. 

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Roger

Henry Coppee wrote two significant biographies of Ulysses S. Grant, the first a brief summary of three pages that appeared in U. S. Service Magazine of June 1864 (which William T. Sherman objected to and published his rebuttal, at top of this topic) and the FIRST full-length Biography, published 1866 titled Grant and his Campaigns: a military biography https://archive.org/details/granthiscampaign01lccopp/page/n6/mode/2up .

 

Below is the article that Sherman found objectionable:

Lieutenant-General Grant

 

    Born of respectable parents, at Point Pleasant, Clermont county, Ohio, Grant was a clever, self-reliant, but by no means uncommon, Western lad, who was fortunate in procuring an appointment to the Military Academy. He entered that institution in 1839, and while there, was only noted for being a plain, good fellow of great equanimity, contentment, amiability and common sense. He sought no popularity with his fellow-students, but they all liked him. 

 

     Graduating in 1843, he was brevetted a Second Lieutenant in the Fourth Infantry; and during the Mexican War, he participated in every important battle, except Buena Vista. In Mexico, his record is distinguished. Grant resigned his commission in July 1854 and set about the difficult task -- difficult, as a general rule, to army officers who leave the service without independent means -- of gaining a livelihood for himself and his family by hard work. He dealt in wood; he farmed a little; he turned his hand to many things, with no great success.

 

     The war broke out: the echoing cannon of Sumter was Grant's summons to the field. First a colonel of volunteers; then, when several regiments came together, an acting-brigadier, then a full brigadier. As Brigadier-General, he occupied Fort Henry and "moved upon the enemy's works" at Donelson. A great victory, that, to a people anxious and fearful. Who will soon forget the enthusiasm it aroused? For this, he was made major-general of volunteers, and at once given a more important command.

 

     He fought the battle of Pittsburg Landing on the 6th and 7th of April, 1862. But here, candor compels us to say that but for the immediate and timely appearance of General Buell's forces, and the very noble, able and gallant conduct of that officer, the disaster of the first day might not have been retrieved. Grant had been overpowered. Grant, who has done so much and so brilliantly, will, we are sure, not refuse the chief glory of Shiloh to General Buell, who, we think, richly deserves it.

 

     But, all his former glories pale before the splendor of his Vicksburg campaign. The remarkable letter of President Lincoln is the noblest epitome. He says, "When you got below, and took Port Gibson, Grand Gulf, and vicinity, I thought you should go down the river and join General Banks, and when you turned northward, east of the Big Black, I feared it was a mistake. I have now to make a general acknowledgment that you were right and I was wrong."

 

    We need dwell no longer upon the great actions which illustrate his career. We draw from them a few inferences which cannot be questioned. Premising to our readers that General Grant is an educated and practical soldier, let us look at his chief qualities.

 

    Grant is a brave man:  not only fearless in all necessary exposure of his person in battle, but cool, calculating, and clearly administrative in danger. A splendid horseman, and of great physical endurance, perhaps he is seen to best advantage on the field of battle directing the movements.

 

    He is a true man;  true in his aims, and in his adherence to them; true in speech and in act. He has no torturous policy, no subterranean movements. He does not parade his thoughts, indeed, but he does not mean one thing and say another. He has no talking gift, and he cultivates silence, which, if speech be human, the philosopher has declared to be divine. He is no boaster, no temporizer, no dreamer; he builds no Arcadian castles. He is simply a straightforward actor; between his thoughts and deeds there is an exact accordance; and very often the thought and deed dispense with words -- always, when possible.

 

    He is a man of strong will and great mental endurance; not disheartened by disaster; always ready to repair and retrieve it. Vicksburg in especial demonstrated this. Repulsed at the north, he tried the cut-off. When that would not do, he landed on the south. Threatened by the rebel armies gathering in his rear, he besieged the town. Repulsed in his attempts to storm the works, he pushed forward the siege; and at length Vicksburg fell.

 

     He is a generous man;  ready to give full credit to his co-workers and subordinates. He scorns to receive praise which is their due, and tells of the invaluable aid and co-operation of Sherman, McPherson, and others, with no stinted eulogium. With such a general, men can work; for such a chief they will do all in their power.

 

    He is an unambitious man;  This needs a word of explanation. Ambitious men seek, as the great end of their labor, self-exaltation. Grant has thus far worked for the good of the country. Each battle has been fought without ulterior view. If God sends honest fame as the reward, he does not disdain it; but it must be a sequel, not an aim. Heaven preserve him long from this "last infirmity of noble minds." It ruins all it touches. It has already paralyzed some of our best men.

 

    In a concluding word, he is a strong, iron, living, busy, honest, capable, self-sustained commander, who will plan wisely, fight terribly, follow up his victories, and leave the rest to Providence -- in whom, after all , must be our trust. He has large and varied talents. He has what Guizot calls, "the genius of common sense," and with that the power and determination to "go ahead;" which we have lacked more than any thing else in this war.  As to his personal appearance, we can only refer our readers to the fine engraving which appears as a vignette to this number.

 

by Henry Coppee

editor, United States Service Magazine

 

June 1864

 

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Soldier- Reporter of the 72nd Ohio

 

The following report appeared in the Fremont Ohio Journal of 2 May 1862 on page one col.5 - 6 and was submitted by a member of the 72nd Ohio (Buckland's Brigade) who apologizes for the lateness of his report; but believing “the incorrect record of Shiloh as it had appeared in the papers to date needed to be addressed,” Seventy-Six (as he calls himself) reveals a stinging criticism of “Federal leaders” who allowed themselves to be taken by surprise (without mentioning names.) The contact with Rebel patrols in days prior; the statements of captured Rebels; and this man's own experience during Days One and Two all gain mention in course of the report. [And Buell's Army of the Ohio gets credit for grasping Victory from the jaws of Defeat.]

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image.png  [Return to TOP of post for conclusion of article.]

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