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Sean Chick

Cleburne at Duncan Field

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One part of the battle I am wondering about is Cleburne's supposed attack at Duncan Field (as found at SNMP Position Marker 427). His report reads as such. (pages 581-582 of the OR)

"Finding my advance on the left wing for the present unemployed, I galloped back to my right. About half of the Twenty-third Tennessee and 60 men of the Sixth Mississippi had reformed. With these I advanced directly to my front, through the enemy’s encampment, the enemy having retreated as soon as my left had broken their right. Colonel Patterson, of the Eighth Arkansas, connected his regiment with my remnants of two regiments, and remained fighting with me until about 12 or 1 o’clock. At this time Captain Harper, commanding the remnant of the Sixth Mississippi, marched it to the rear. Its terrible loss in the morning, the want of all its field and most of its company officers, had completely disorganized it and unfitted it for further service. I saw it no more during the battle, but would respectfully refer you to the reports of Col. J. J. Thornton for its after proceedings. Soon after this I ordered the Twenty-third Tennessee to the rear, with directions to reunite with other portions of the regiment which had got separated from it in the repulse of the morning."

 

A few things.

1. It appears Cleburne thought his left regiments (15 AR plus 2, 5, and 24 TN) broke Buckland's brigade. They of course did not.

2. His men fought to the right of  8 AR.

3. Patterson, commander of 8 AR, makes no mention of Cleburne in his report (598-599). He makes no mention of being involved in the Duncan Field fighting until after Wood was thrown from his horse and he had about one hour to reform his command. He then assisted in expelling Sweeney's men from Duncan Field in the afternoon.

4. Sadly, the 23 TN report is nearly worthless. (590)

I suspect Cleburne was never at Duncan Field with the 6 MS and 23 TN, but rather was involved in the attack on Mars's brigade. Following that, he ordered his men to the rear.

 

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CWLA Maps are...

For a number of years, Civil War Landscapes Association provided maps of Shiloh that covered Days One and Two, with status of brigades and regiments at just about every hour of sunlight on both days. My scrutiny turned up very few errors in those maps; and CWLA organization was expanding their efforts to other battlefields... when they “went dark” about a year ago. Unfortunate, because questions such as, “Where was Cleburne?” at any hour of the day could have been answered by those maps [or at least, regiments mentioned as “in vicinity of Cleburne” could have been investigated to find confirmation, or disproof, of claims.]

That said, have you seen this?  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=It4NxHPGlHM  "Cleburne at Shiloh" by Have History Will Travel.

 

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Thanks. I watched the video and his maps are way off once the attack on Sherman's camp failed.

 

When you say they "went dark" does that mean all their maps are gone?

 

As to the above conundrum, what do you think? The more I think on it, the more I think Cleburne did not charge at Duncan Field. Reed places him there, apparently because some members of the 6th Mississippi were captured in Stewart's attack. My thinking is they were just some of the many who lost their units and joined up with others.

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I agree: the maps start off well, then drift off the grid... much like Cleburne's own brigade. As for the CWLA, they were active ten years ago, then went quiet... then after a silence of about two years, they were up and posting maps again. I am hoping they return, and soon: their work is excellent, and they were expanding onto other battlefields.

As for Patrick Cleburne, he had an experience at Shiloh mirrored on the opposite side by Jesse Hildebrand: beginning with a brigade, each command dwindled to something little more than the horse being ridden by the commander [apologies to Hank.] The problem with tracking a division at Shiloh: does the division still exist when the individual elements go their separate ways [think Prentiss' Sixth Division]? Same with attempting to follow the career of a brigade, and we are left with a single man (the commander). Are we tracking a brigade, or just its leader?

To trace the movements of Patrick Cleburne (the man) during Day One at Shiloh, I would try finding the names of all of his staff officers, and see if any of those wrote letters that still exist, or a diary [only Major J. K. Dixon (Asst Adj and Inspector General), and Powhatan Ellis,Jr. (AAG) are listed.] I would see if any Patrick Cleburne letters from April, May or June are available. Then, I would determine his movements during the month or two previous to Shiloh and see with whom he was in frequent contact, especially if they were also at Shiloh (and survived the experience.) Someone has to have seen him during Day One, and wrote about it: cavalry officer? artillery officer? 

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That could work. The issue is Cleburne's role at Duncan Field, if he was there, is minor. Those sources could be useful, but in my experience they rarely are even for large engagements. Again, worth looking into, but I would not expect a smoking gun. I do wish we had the 6th Mississippi report that Cleburne alludes to and that the 23rd Tennessee report had details.

I checked Stewart's report (428) and he does not mention Cleburne, although to be fair the 4th Tennessee does not even report being in Duncan Field, which indicates their part in the action was minor. Bragg (466) only mentions Shaver's brigade. Shaver (574) does not report anyone else with him when he attacked. The 16th Alabama report (597) indicates that they and 55th Tennessee backed up Shaver. They were likely part of the attack. They might have been with Shaver on his Hornet's Nest attack, but I have my doubts as Wood came up soon after with the rest of the brigade, but did not report seeing the 16th Alabama.

Stewart's attack is a hard one to piece together in the records. Even worse, the action was so minor you hardly see mention of it in post war accounts or articles in Confederate Veteran. That said, I do not think Cleburne was there. His report does not indicate it. Nor does anyone else in the attack mention him in their reports. All I have that places him there is Reed, who I think based it on a few 6th Mississippi soldiers being taken prisoner in the area. These easily could have been stragglers who joined up with the 4th Tennessee, which I infer because Reed has Cleburne on the left of the 4th Tennessee.

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The reason Staff Officers are of value, is that they tended to remain with their General while the action was taking place, writing reports, operating as couriers... Often, by tracking the Staff Officer, the whereabouts of the General at particular points in time are revealed.

And in the case of Cleburne at Shiloh, he was likely also in contact with couriers/ Staff sent from MGen Hardee.

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Good point there. I found this. I thought I might, as I had seen Ellis' name come up in regards to Cleburne and Forrest.

"Ellis, Powhatan, Papers, 1856–1890. 1,592 items. Mss1EL595a.
Contains the papers of Powhatan Ellis (1829–1906) of Richmond. Included in the collection is an undated autobiographical sketch by Powhatan Ellis containing a brief outline of his service during the war on the staffs of Lloyd Tilghman, Bushrod Rust Johnson, Patrick Ronayne Cleburne, William Wirt Adams, William Wing Loring, William Thompson Martin, Leonidas Polk, Stephen Dill Lee, Richard Taylor, and Nathan Bedford Forrest (section 55)."

Link: https://www.virginiahistory.org/collections-and-resources/how-we-can-help-your-research/researcher-resources/guides-researchers-3--4

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