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OhioatPerryville

More on the Unlucky 13th

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Had a read of the above link a few days ago and have been considering how to respond:

1)    A comparison could be made between the after battle treatment given to Myer’s 13th Ohio and Behr’s 6th Indiana (Morton Battery) and why the disparity in treatment occurred.

2)    An examination of the Ohio regiments and leaders accused of poor performance (71st Ohio, 13th Ohio Battery, 53rd Ohio, Colonel Thomas Worthington) could be conducted to determine validity of the charges, and who was to blame.

3)    An assessment of General Hurlbut’s performance on Sunday 6 April 1862 could be conducted to determine if that leader succeeded or failed (and if he failed, decide if the interaction with Myer’s 13th Ohio Battery was the cause of that failure.)

Along which course would you like to proceed?

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Seemingly a study on any unit being reported as having cowardly conduct could be an interesting topic.  The 71st Ohio's story of flight has been fairly well proven to be an exaggeration, and seemingly there is some evidence that the 13th Ohio Battery suffered from an unfair account from Hurlbut as other reports I mention in the two blog posts allude to.  I do not know enough of Hurlbut to surmise if he warrants a pass or fail grade.

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From my reading of the Battle of Shiloh, BGen Hurlbut was required by Sherman to provide him reinforcements: Hurlbut sent Veatch’s Brigade west, and it supported McClernand. BGen Prentiss also requested reinforcement: Hurlbut took personal command of his remaining two brigades and led them south, towards the sound of the guns. Acting-commander Sherman did not order Hurlbut south; and U.S. Grant was yet to arrive by boat from Savannah. BGen Stephen Hurlbut moved his force south, intending to join Prentiss in vicinity of the Sixth Division camps, but Prentiss’ withdrawing men were encountered 1000 or so yards north of Camp Prentiss. So Hurlbut quickly arranged a defensive line to halt the Rebel advance; and that initial defensive line was not ideally placed…
Part of that hurried initial placement was Myer’s 13th Ohio Battery. One source indicates Hurlbut ordered the battery into position, expecting it to take advantage of local terrain, and was surprised when Myer went into battery on the wrong side of the crest. Another source states: “General Hurlbut ordered Myer to that exact position.” And another source indicates Hurlbut ordered Myer’s Battery moved forward to the desired position, via orders sent through an aide who brought Myer and his battery up from the rear.
Will we ever learn the Truth? Unlikely, due the bias of all the key witnesses and participants. 
But based upon Stephen Hurlbut’s subsequent actions, at Shiloh and afterwards, I do not believe he intentionally sacrificed Myer and his 13th Ohio: there was either a communication breakdown; or General Hurlbut assumed Captain Myer knew his job better than was actually the case.


References:  SDG topic “Stephen A. Hurlbut”
Major David W. Reed’s “Battle of Shiloh and the Organizations Engaged”
OR 10 part 1 page 209 [Hurlbut indicates, “Myer positioned his battery too far forward, so as to lose advantage of the slope.” I believe this refers to “wrong side of the military crest” of a hill, or local prominence: by taking position slightly in rear of the true crest (the military crest) the terrain itself provides some protection from enemy fire.] Page 208 – Stephen Hurlbut: “I ordered Captain Myer to come into battery ON THE REVERSE SLOPE OF A CREST OF GROUND…” (emphasis by Ozzy.) Page 208 – Stephen Hurlbut: “The 13th Ohio was brought forward by repeated orders through my aides.”
 

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Perhaps most revealing: on page 210 of OR 10 part 1 General Hurlbut admits, "...the transaction [of the 13th Ohio Battery abandoning their post in disarray] was seen by 4000 brave men, who never showed their backs to the enemy..."

Knowledge of this unpalatable event would have been witnessed, become subject of camp rumours... and more than passing interest would have prompted fellow soldiers (who stood and fought) to enquire... to demand, "What became of them?"

The tragic stampede of the 13th Ohio Battery can be explained, but not excused. To condone such "cowardice" (lack of resolve, dissipating fortitude, failure to hold their post) could be fatal to morale and discipline. However the 13th Ohio Battery ended up in their predicament, the Division commander, BGen Hurlbut, had no choice but to make an example of their unacceptable conduct.

Chinese proverb: "Punish one, teach one hundred."

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