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Officers under Arrest

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When I first encountered mention of 'officers under arrest' in the lead-up to the Battle of Shiloh, I found it unsettling, and difficult to believe. Why would majors, colonels, a BGEN, (and almost a MGEN) be arrested on Grant's orders? Had they plotted to kill someone? Received Government property by engaging in fraud? Conspired to commit mutiny?


In the one, well-publicized instance, we know the answer: Colonel David Moore of the 21st Missouri was held responsible for allowing his men to fire their muskets, while in transit aboard their steamer, while underway up the Tennessee River. Supposedly, they were firing at civilians. So, Col. Moore was placed under arrest, and confined; but found 'Not Guilty' of the most serious charge at his Court Martial, and released (with a reprimand) before April 6th.


But what of the others:

  •      Brig Gen John McArthur          Commander of 2nd Brigade, of 2nd Division
  •      LtCol A.S. Chetlain                  12th Illinois
  •      LtCol William Morgan               25th Indiana
  •      Col  H. Reed                            Cruft's Brigade
  •      Col  James Geddes                 8th Iowa
  •      Maj Gen Lew Wallace              Commander of 3rd Division  (able to talk his way out of difficulty... just)

All charged with 'abusing Halleck's furlough system,' a purge which Grant was forced to carry out. The officers were released on the morning of April 6th, after the attack had commenced, after Grant arrived at Pittsburg Landing.


(For anyone familiar with The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk, and the unforgettable 'Captain Queeg,' (played by Humphrey Bogart in the movie), this is a case of 'Where are my strawberries...!' if ever there was one.)



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And then is Major Reynolds of the Sixteenth WI. He had his sword taken away before the battle and I've never unable to find out what he was charged with. His sword wasn't returned and he allowed to join the battle until about 3 PM when Col. Allen was wounded and Lt. Col. Fairchild had already gone down. I've also never found where he was bothered by the problem (charges?) again.



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The 'Furlough System' and its Abuse


In the second week of March 1862, General Halleck was journeying across town to get to his office, when he encountered a handful of Union infantry officers, wearing uniforms of a regiment that had no business in St Louis. When he stopped the soldiers, and queried them, they indicated they had been sent to St Louis because they were unwell. (They did not seem 'unwell' to Halleck.) When pressed further, each one produced a 'Leave of Absence' card, properly signed, permitting them to remain in St Louis '30 days, or until well enough to return to their duties.' In every case, the soldier was from a regiment falling under Grant's jurisdiction.


A few days later, Halleck received an official complaint from Don Carlos Buell (for the moment, Buell and Halleck were 'equals,' with Buell controlling territory EAST of the Cumberland River in Kentucky, and Halleck controlling the territory WEST of that river; Grant and C. F. Smith were subordinates of Halleck.)  Buell complained that a paddlesteamer full of sick Confederate POWs 'had been dropped off' at Louisville, KY hospitals, in HIS AREA of responsibility, without anyone asking permission.


A day or two later, General Halleck caught wind of another 'boatload of supposedly sick soldiers.' These had definitely come from Grant/Smith, and had arrived at New Albany, Indiana aboard the steamer, Telegraph; but New Albany's hospitals were full (so the Administrator complained to him.) So, Halleck directed the sick soldiers be continued on up the Ohio River to Cincinnati.


It now chrystalized in his brain: those men, on the Telegraph; and those six soldiers Halleck had personally confronted on the street in St Louis... became hundreds of shirkers, bent on abusing HIS furlough system. He fired off a telegram to U.S. Grant, just arrived at Savannah, Tennessee, demanding action.


[All information found in 'The Papers of U.S. Grant, vol. 4,' pp. 384-453; The Scapegoat of Shiloh by Kevin Getchell, pp. 15-69; OR Series 1 vol 10 (part 2) Shiloh pp. 35-65]


And for Jim: I had no luck finding out what Major Reynolds, 16th WI, was charged with, either (although I suspect the information can be found in 'The Derickson Documents,' on file at the U.S. Grant Presidential Library.) But, I did run across an impressive example of the 'Furlough Document' used by State of Wisconsin forces: [Google images  'civil war furlough document'  also available at Flickr as a post of Minnesota Historical Society]



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Because the mission was to take Corinth, or otherwise deny use of the Memphis and Charleston R.R. to the Confederacy, troops were mostly left aboard their steamers, waiting for the order to move further up the Tennessee River and launch the attack. But, with the river in flood, and no suitable/secure place found upriver to disembark an invasion force, the thousands of soldiers under control of General C. F. Smith were landed at Savannah, and Pittsburg, and Crump's.


Within a day of landing his troops, General Lew Wallace knew he had a problem: hundreds of his soldiers were sick (the ailment variously described as 'Camp Fever' or Typhoid Fever.) His Division Hospital was of inadequate size to deal with the number of cases; and it had no medicines. Realizing these men would die without proper care, he loaded them back aboard a steamer, and sent them to the Post Hospital at Savannah. But, Savannah Hospital (an academy taken over for the purpose) was full, and also out of medicines: the steamer full of sick soldiers was returned to Crump's Landing.


Wallace went aboard, and reassured himself that the situation was as bad as he believed: the condition of the sufferers was even worse; some men had died during the brief journey downriver and back.


Fortuitously, an order arrived from General Grant, directing his commanders to unload all men and equipment from the transports, and send the paddlesteamers away, back down the Tennessee. Lew Wallace decided to take advantage of a loophole in the orders, and send these sick men away for proper care. But, away to where? The hospitals at Mound City, Cairo and Paducah were reported to be full. So, he sent the steamer,Telegraph, with 260 desperately sick soldiers on board, to Evansville, Indiana.


General Wallace then got down to the business of preparing for a Confederate attack, that might come from Purdy.


[All information found in 'Wallace Autobiography, vol. 1' pp. 443-453; OR Series 1 vol. 10 (part 2) Shiloh pp. 35-36 and 57; Papers of U. S. Grant, vol 4  pp. 385-405; 'The Shadow of Shiloh: Major General Lew Wallace' by Gail Stephens page 67: (report of Chief Surgeon J. H. Brinton: 'Typhoid Fever epidemic at Pittsburg and Crumps'); 'Scapegoat of Shiloh' by Kevin Getchell (e-book location 510-560)]


n.b.  Even General Grant, in a letter to wife, Julia, written 22 March 1862, admitted 'the sickness here is so great, I am anxious to move, for the health of the men.' (Papers of U. S. Grant, vol. 4, page 406.)



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As pet peeves go, not only did Henry Halleck despise 'shirkers,' he abhorred malingerers: those men who found any excuse to admit themselves to Hospital and take improper advantage of the comfortable beds and better food. Besides, even in those cases where the illness was genuine, Halleck truly believed that 'the sick recovered quicker in camp, than if sent to Hospital, or allowed to convalesce at home.' (Note 1)


But, truth be known, the reinstated field commander, General Grant, had been unwell, himself. He admitted in a letter to wife, Julia, on March 18th, that he had been sick 'for the past two weeks.' (Note 2) On arrival at Savannah, Grant became aware that the Post Hospital was full of patients, and out of medicines. Realizing that his boss, General Halleck, was unusually concerned about sick men being sent out-of-area, Grant knew that his ability to properly care for the elevated number of stricken men, on site in Savannah, was of paramount importance. He sent a message to Headquarters at St Louis on March 22nd, ordering medicines sufficient to re-stock his depleted hospital: enough for 10,000 men. In addition, he requested that two hospital boats be sent, to increase the capacity of his hospital system to function effectively.


General Halleck replied on March 24th: Grant's order for medicines, and request for additional medical support, were disallowed.




Note 1   The Prairie Boys go to War: 5th Illinois Cavalry, 1861-1865, by Rhonda M. Kohl,  Page 58.

Note 2   Papers of U. S. Grant, vol 4, page 389.

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With all of his requests for medical assistance unheeded, and his Post Hospital out of medicines, U. S. Grant, in desperation, sent away his second most senior Surgeon, John Brinton, to argue the case personally to General Halleck. Meanwhile, the telegraphic message traffic, 17-25 March 1862, became a jumbled nightmare: directives and their responses crossed in transit, and follow-up messages were sent, leaving the recipient unsure whether he'd done enough; or was being ordered to do more of the same.


Case in point: Lew Wallace and his sick soldiers. Having received a query from General Grant, asking 'who gave you authorization to send 260 troops out of area, to Evansville?' Wallace replied immediately, and 'took full responsibility for acting on his own authority.' But, his reply was pocketed by one of Grant's aides. (Note 1) While Grant waited, the next blast arrived from Halleck, claiming another steamer from Grant's Army had been sent to Cincinnati. Shortly afterwards, Grant was informed by his boss of the appearance of more steamers full of troops at unauthorized ports: one had arrived at New Albany; the other, at St Louis.


By the time this last message arrived, Halleck was livid, demanding immediate action be taken to stop this abuse of his Furlough System.


In one message received by Grant, was this: 'Officers of companies, regiments, brigades and divisions should be held strictly accountable for the conduct of their men. Where [these officers] fail to prevent such misconduct, they should be arrested and tried for neglect of duty.' -- General Halleck.


Grant had no choice: the purge was about to begin...


Note 1  The Scapegoat of Shiloh by Kevin Getchell, e-book location 494-519.

 Other information from Papers of U. S. Grant, vol 4, pages 395-405; and The Personal Memoirs of John Brinton, pp. 153-155.



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  • 2 weeks later...

As you have figured out by now, the 'three boats,' reported at Evansville, New Albany and Cincinnati, were one and the same: the Telegraph. The boat at St Louis was full of sick soldiers from Paducah, (sent to St Louis in accordance with published procedures.) But, no matter...


Colonel Moore of the 21st Missouri was asked to explain the actions of his troops aboard the J. C. Swon (not Di Vernon) a few days after the incident, on 25 March. On March 26th, he was taken into custody, charged with 'conduct unbecoming an officer.' The same day, Captain W. H. Harland, 6th Iowa, (part of Sherman's Division), was arrested for 'unlawfully taking people into custody,' i.e., failure to follow orders.


On March 27th, a seriously sick officer, Major Brigham of the 44th Indiana, was discovered aboard a steamer bound for Evansville: his documents were signed by Colonel Hugh Reed, also of the 44th Indiana. The colonel was arrested for 'abuse of the furlough system,' (failure to follow orders.)


General Order No. 28 came out next day: 'No leave is to be granted without approval of these Headquarters.' General Grant, himself, had to verify the authenticity of each case, and personally sign every request. That same day, a steamboat headed downriver was boarded, and men were discovered with 'inappropriately-signed travel documents.' As Grant reported to Halleck that evening: 'I have caused boats leaving here to be visited; this course led to the discovery that a number of persons were going north without my authority. In consequence, a brigadier general, two captains and four regiment commanders have been arrested.'


March 29th, General Order No. 29 came into effect: 'Regimental Commanders will make out, and forward to these Headquarters without delay, the names of all absent officers of their respective commands; by what authority absent; and for how long they have been absent.' A long list of names was generated: soldiers away on compassionate leave, due to the death of a wife, or parent; officers suffering dysentery so bad, they required hospitalization... The only infraction discovered: an officer who had requested leave, but had his request disapproved; he departed, anyway. In response, Second Lieutenant Charles Speake, 23rd Indiana, was determined to be AWOL, stripped of his commission, and discharged from the Army.


On 31 March, Colonel C. J. Wright, 13th Missouri, until recently the 'Senior Officer at Clarksville, Tennessee,' was arrested for 'abuse of his authority,' while in charge of that location. About the same time, Major Thomas Reynolds, 16th Wisconsin, was arrested for 'disrespect of a senior officer, not part of his command.' (Note 1)


Most of the above officers remained in custody, awaiting Courts Martial, until the events of April 6th. 





Note 1  Chatham Courier [1907-1913] article 'Around the Camp Fire: Stories of the 16th Wisconsin,' attributed to J. A. Watrous of the Milwaukee Sentinel.


All other information found in Papers of U. S. Grant, vol 4, pages 400-454.

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I think officers put other officers subordinate to them and others under arrest all the time.  Stonewall Jackson was good at it.  When the Maryland Campaign started I think both A. P. Hill and John Bell Hood were under arrest.  When under arrest you were relieved of command and had to march at the rear of your column of troops.

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As regards the general trend of placing officers under arrest, I agree: it was common practice during the Civil War. Especially after battles, when whole groups of incompetent and timid officers were called to account, for 'not performing adequately.' The aftermath to the Battle of Shiloh was no exception.


What was unusual, was to conduct a purge, such as occurred at Pittsburg Landing, in the build-up to the battle. Ten officers were arrested and placed in confinement, awaiting Courts Martial, in the space of just five days. I would be hard pressed to uncover a similar occurrence, anywhere else in the Union Army during the war.



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While Grant was placating Halleck's desire to punish shirkers and discourage malingerers, mostly in response to phantom steamboats full of shadowy furlough abusers, skulking away from the Army of the Tennessee, there was a real medical crisis being played out at Crump's/Pittsburg/Savannah.


But, how bad was it?


John Brinton, who frequently acted as U. S. Grant's surgeon [Note 1], recognized it as a Typhoid Epidemic [Note 2]. But, Surgeon Brinton was forced to act as messenger, tasked with persuading General Halleck that the medical emergency was genuine; messenger, instead of remaining at his post at Savannah, combatting the crisis, where every available medical practitioner was most needed.


D. W. Reed helps expose the immensity of the crisis, without realizing: hidden in plain sight, at the back of his book The Battle of Shiloh and the Organizations Engaged, (1909), pages 90-110, are tables that list the 'returns' for every Union and Confederate unit involved in the battle. Reported a day or two prior to April 6th, each regiment's return lists the following [my terms]: potential strength; men unavailable, due to other duties (guard, cleaning, cooking, etc.); sick; under arrest; effective strength. The difference between 'potentially available' and 'effective strength' is telling.


In first attempting to understand 'normal,' it appears that 40-70 men recorded as 'sick' is the norm, at that time in 1862, giving an average rate of 8-11 percent. An example: the 14th Iowa arrived at Pittsburg Landing in mid-March, and reported as follows: 511 potentially available; 28 other duties; 41 sick; none under arrest; 442 effective soldiers, available for duty (8 percent sick).


Even among Confederate regiments, 8-11 percent appears to be the overall rate of sickness, of those who marched north from Corinth [Note 3].


But, there are two groups that deviate significantly from the norm: new arrivals; and sick-affected units. The 12th Michigan arrived two days before the Battle of Shiloh. In their returns, the regiment records 896 men and officers present; 14 involved in other duties; 50 men sick; 832 available for duty (6 percent sick). A similar story is told by the 16th Iowa (7 percent sick).


In regards to Buell's Army, (considered for our purposes a 'new arrival'), the 19th Ohio records 723 men and officers present; 28 indicated as sick; 695 available for duty (4 percent sick) [Note 4].  Overall, the rate of sickness among Buell's force appears to be 3-5 percent. This lower-than-expected record may be due to the fact that 'really sick' individuals were left behind at Nashville, before commencing the 'Ten Day March.'


Now, we investigate the 'sick-affected units,' those that would have contributed most to filling the Post Hospital at Savannah, prior to April 6th. The 3rd Iowa arrived at Pittsburg Landing as part of Hurlbut's 4th Division, in mid-March 1862. In the days prior to the Battle of Shiloh, the regiment recorded 775 men present; 25 other duties; 190 sick; 560 available for duty (24 percent sick). The 57th Ohio, part of Sherman's 5th Division, arrived on the upper reaches of the Tennessee River in early March. The regiment recorded 804 men present; 50 other duties; 212 sick; 542 available (26 percent sick). One of the worst affected regiments was the 17th Kentucky, assigned to Hurlbut. In the lead-up to battle, this unit recorded 573 potential fighters; 26 other duties; 173 sick; 374 effective soldiers (30 percent sick).


As these records indicate, the elevated rate of sickness among the regiments encamped at Pittsburg and Crump's was real, not a fiction perpetuated by shirkers, as General Halleck so strongly believed. These sick men not only filled the hospital at Savannah to capacity, prior to battle, resulting in no immediately-available beds for use by wounded men requiring urgent care; they were unavailable to do their duty as soldiers, when that time arrived, resulting in many Union regiments being significantly under-strength on April 6th. 




Note 1  John Brinton was closely associated with General Grant, beginning from their shared experience at the Battle of Belmont.

Note 2  In addition, John Brinton helped compile the 6-volume: Medical and Surgical Record of the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865, published by Joseph K. Barnes in 1875. [Personal Memoirs of John Brinton (1914): Typhoid Epidemic assessed page 153].

Note 3  The Battle of Shiloh and the Organizations Engaged, (1909), by D. W. Reed, pages 103-109.  8-11 percent calculated from tables.

Note 4  D. W. Reed (1909), pages 99-102.


Other information from Papers of U. S. Grant, vol 4; iagenweb (Iowa regiment histories); Ohio Adjutant General: Records of the War of the Rebellion; 12th Michigan website; 17th Kentucky website.



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So what?


Why should we care that Henry Halleck misdiagnosed a problem, from his HQ at St Louis; a problem that was 300 miles away, at Pittsburg Landing? Or that U. S. Grant jumped through hoops, trying to 'solve' that problem?


1)  It must be remembered that U. S. Grant was in a 'holding pattern' at Pittsburg/Crump's/Savannah, awaiting the arrival of Buell; after which, it was anticipated the March on Corinth would commence, with every expectation of comprehensive victory: ideally, a crushing out of the rebellion in the West. As Grant waited, he was under strict instructions from Halleck, NOT to bring on a 'general engagement.'[Note 1]  The over-the-top attention Halleck demanded Grant pay to 'Halleck's Phantom Shirkers,'  coupled with the brief period of relief from command after Fort Donelson, would have influenced how Grant responded to ALL of Halleck's commands.


2)  Reaction. The officers and men under General Grant would be aware that something was going on, resulting in the arrest of so many officers; but they would not know WHY. For the most part, men would develop a heightened sense of awareness, of the expectation to follow orders -- to the letter. And keep abreast of changes to orders. And know, immediately, that new orders had been promulgated, and what actions were required to comply with those orders.


3)  Resource management (mismanagement). Denied the ability to move seriously sick soldiers out of area, Grant was forced to concentrate attention on a problem that should not have been his to solve: trying to preserve the function of his hospital system; expand its capacity, if possible; determine what medicines were needed, and take steps to acquire them. The time and energy expended by General Grant in addressing this very real problem (as well as chasing down phantom furlough abusers) was TIME NOT SPENT in more valuable pursuits: being aware of the state of readiness of his divisions; familiarity with the Shunpike; in-depth grasp of his road network.


4)  At the height of a significant health crisis, one of Grant's most capable surgeons was sent away, to act as 'messenger boy.' (Interesting to note: this same practice was repeated on the morning of April 6th, when Captain A. S. Baxter was sent off as a messenger to Lew Wallace, leaving the Quartermaster Department to fend for itself in his absence.) [Note 2]


5)  The already-filled hospital at Savannah resulted in the wounded of April 6th being laid out on the banks and bluffs of Pittsburg Landing, awaiting transport... to nowhere. (Eventually, over sixteen temporary hospitals were established in Savannah and Hamburg, as well as a flotilla of floating hospitals.) These wounded men, present in abundance, in close proximity to the panic-stricken men seeking shelter under the riverbank, gave an impression to Buell's arriving army (and Buell, himself) of thousands and thousands of shirkers. These numbers were remembered, and reported widely in newspapers of the day, affecting the impression of Grant's Army, and its performance during the battle. A performance that continues to be debated, to this day.


6)  Confusion, bewilderment, and the impact on morale, stemming from the Purge. One of those difficult-to-measure quantities: morale. But, over-emphasis of a minor problem has far-reaching consequences. Some men become risk-averse. Others become 'snitches,' reporting the faults of others (in order to deflect attention from themselves.) In general, energy and emphasis is shifted towards survival -- career survival. As opposed to thriving; seeking excellence; improving; preparing for real eventualities. Especially when the selection of 'miscreants' appears random, it can lead to a fatalistic mindset: 'it doesn't matter what I do, fate will decide.' For the risk-averse, the DNO (do-nothing option) finds favor, when it appears as if only those 'doing something' get punished. In severe cases of 'career survival,' some men reduce all effort towards 'the team,' concentrate their effort solely on themselves... and finding their next career. (The co-worker scanning want ads, at his desk, on company time, for example.) Or the officer soliciting transfer to another command...


7)  Prolonged suffering of the sick soldiers at Post Hospital at Savannah, with no medicines and insufficient care. (Ever wonder where all those graves in Shiloh Cemetery, with death dates before April 6, 1862, came from?)


8)  The possible effect on Lew Wallace (subject of my next post.)



Batter up...





Note 1  The Papers of U. S. Grant, vol 4, p. 392.


Note 2  Scapegoat of Shiloh, Kevin Getchell, 2013, e-book location 1673.


Other information sited previous posts, this topic.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The Curious Case of Lew Wallace



In 1885, while writing his Personal Memoirs, U.S. Grant included the following statement in Chapter 24: 'I never could see, and I do not see now, why any order was necessary further than to direct [Lew Wallace] to come to Pittsburg Landing, without specifying what route to take.'


I believe this admission is telling... Now, let's examine what contributed to, what Grant suggests, was 'Lew Wallace' selection of the wrong road.'


From 1885, we jump backwards to Feb/Mar 1862. Grant's Army has just won the heady victories at Forts Henry and Donelson, the latter resulting in the surrender of over 12,000 Rebels... and award of a new nickname: Unconditional Surrender Grant. But, if it had not been for the actions of one of Grant's division commanders 'not complying fully with his orders,' that victory would most likely not have occurred. Lew Wallace acted on his own initiative, agreed to a request from John McClernand for assistance, and in process, helped drive a Rebel breakout attempt back inside Fort Donelson.


I have long wondered: WHAT did General Grant think of this 'disregard of orders,' at the time? And in the immediate aftermath? In particular, WHAT was more important to U.S. Grant: following orders, to the letter; or taking the initiative, if it resulted in victory? (To complete the story of Fort Donelson... After Grant returned from his meeting with Flag Officer Foote, he accurately assessed what was taking place to the south; and raced away north, where he encountered C.F. Smith, and directed him to 'Take That Fort.' Smith was able to overrun the outer works, before most of the Confederate defenders returned from their breakout attempt. The surrender occurred next morning.)


In Lew Wallace' Autobiography, he relates how, in the immediate aftermath of Fort Donelson, 'he felt Grant had 'grown cold' towards him. Soon, a congratulatory letter arrived from Grant's aide, Captain W.S. Hillyer, that began, 'God Bless you! You did save the day on the Right...'  but also includes this chilling statement, 'General Grant intends to give you the opportunity to be shot in every important move.' [Note 1]


Still, Lew Wallace was tapped for promotion to MGEN; and he was selected to accompany W.T. Sherman and C.F. Smith south, where he was ultimately installed at Crump's Landing (acknowledged as a likely target for Confederate cavalry, operating in the vicinity of Purdy and Bethel Station.) It was while unloading his troops at Crump's, that he encountered the dire 'medical situation;' he'd seen it before, during his Mexican War experience. Hundreds of men, suffering a debilitating illness that he had no means to cure: variously described as 'Camp Fever,' or Typhoid Fever. Wallace sent away over 200 sick men to the Post Hospital at Savannah (then under control of Surgeon Hewitt), only to have them all returned to Crump's. [What was he supposed to do with them? Wallace' 3rd Division Hospital had no medicines -- the sick men would most certainly, languish and die.]


 General Wallace exercised personal initiative, and sent the sick men away, beyond the control of Surgeon Hewitt, to Evansville, Indiana. Unfortunately, as we have seen, this action played into Halleck's 'Abuse of the Furlough System' pet peeve [see Posts #3,4,6 and 7.]


[interesting to note: W.T. Sherman dispatched a steamer full of sick soldiers from his division, at about the same time as Wallace: his were admitted to Savannah Post Hospital. (Sherman Memoirs, Ch. 10.)]


Once Halleck got involved, he blasted Grant, by telegram. Grant demanded an explanation from Wallace (but the delivery of the message was delayed by an aide: Captain John Rawlins.) [see Post #6]  Before receiving Lew Wallace' 'tardy' reply, Grant sent an even angrier missive Wallace' way. In the course of this hit-and-miss, often acrimonious exchange (conducted through Captain Rawlins), Lew Wallace attached the following response: 'Do not worry. I will not move my Division without orders.' [Getchell, ebook location 542.]


As suggested in Post #14, Item #2, one goal of the Purge seems to have been directed at 'making men edgy, getting them to follow orders -- to the letter.' Yet, this sort of requirement effectively kills initiative. And disregarding orders, although reluctantly, is what saved the day at Fort Donelson. [but, what some see as 'a man taking initiative,' others deride as 'the actions of a loose cannon.']


Result: Lew Wallace was cautious and conscientious, but he was not cowed. In cooperation with WHL Wallace, he rebuilt the Shunpike: a corduroy road that allowed rapid movement of artillery pieces and troops. The Shunpike connected Stony Lonesome to the Purdy-Pittsburg Landing Road, then crossed the Owl Creek Bridge (guarded by the 6th Iowa, and eventually reinforced by the 6th Indiana Light Artillery, both of Sherman's Division) into the Union encampments near Pittsburg Landing [see Note 2.] It was agreed that the Shunpike would be used by Wallace to reinforce Wallace: either direction. (At the time, and as late as April 4th, it appeared that a Confederate cavalry attack from Purdy, requiring reinforcements from WHL Wallace, was the most likely scenario.) [Papers of US Grant vol. 5, p. 9]


Apparently, U.S. Grant was unaware of this arrangement (refer to the opening statement of this post). His knowledge and awareness of happenings on the opposite side of the river from Savannah may have been affected by: the demand for action, and the time required, in chasing down 'Halleck's Shirkers;' the unexpected need to devote time and personal attention to the operation of his Post Hospital; the 'horse fall' in the evening of April 4th.


My contention: although Grant conducted frequent personal inspections (until April 4th), those inspections did not extend much beyond 'review of the troops.' He never travelled the Shunpike; nor did he ever travel the full length of the rain-affected 'River Road,' with its 'Wallace' Bridge, that was not repaired until April 4th.


On the morning of April 6th, Lew Wallace heard the obvious sounds of battle to the south, and arrayed his Division along the Crump's-Purdy Road, in order to be able to move in any direction ordered by General Grant... then waited aboard his 'commissary boat,' (possibly the John J. Roe ), for Grant to come up from Savannah. Grant arrived from the north, and tied up alongside Wallace' boat; but Grant was unsure  whether a general engagement was occurring south of Pittsburg; or a feint, south of Pittsburg, with goal of attack from Purdy (on Lew Wallace.) Morgan Smith was sent west to assess the happenings in vicinity of Purdy. General Grant steamed away (unknowingly carrying Whitelaw Reid, who had scrambled aboard), and left Lew Wallace with the unsatisfying order, to 'Wait in readiness... to move in any direction.' [Getchell ebook location 1591.]





Note 1  from Lew Wallace Autobiography, pp. 435-440, and Getchell's Scapegoat of Shiloh, ebook location 1591.


Note 2  War Papers Read before the Indiana Commandery, Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, Indianapolis; published by the Commandery, 1898. Segment on 'Shiloh,' provided by BGEN George F. McGinnis, pages 11, 28 and 29 cited.




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In the military, the problem with taking ones own initiative, in direct opposition to orders, is that you had better be damn sure of being right. At Donelson, Wallace was right. His commander would not be happy about it, but nothing like success to cover one's butt. At Shiloh, for whatever reason, Wallace was wrong. Being wrong opens one to all kinds of problems, including becoming an escape goat.


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Some trivia...


While conducting research for the topic 'Officers under Arrest,' I stumbled upon bits and pieces that did not fit into the story, but were too interesting to discard. (If you're not a fan of trivia, exit the site now.)


On April 18, 1862 Grant's Asst Adj Gen, Captain John Rawlins, promulgated Order No. 40: 'A board is appointed to look at the performance of officers during the Battle of Shiloh, with charges against them, to whit: (and their fate, from Papers of US Grant, vol 5, page 50)

  • Capt John Blinn              72nd Ohio                    (resigned)
  • Capt Joseph Clay           55th Illinois                   (dismissed from the service)
  • 2/LT Jonas Buck             55th Illinois                   (dismissed from the service)
  • Col Jesse Appler             53rd Ohio                     (mustered out) 
  • Maj Silas Walker             57th Ohio                     (resigned)


Whitelaw Reid, reporter for the Cincinnati Gazette, stayed with General Lew Wallace at his camp, in the days prior to the Battle of Shiloh. On the morning of April 6th, Reid 'bummed a ride' aboard the Tigress to Pittsburg Landing, gleaned a bit of information about the battle, then zipped away to Cairo to 'get the scoop' on every other reporter. [Wilkie, Pen and Powder, pp. 153-155]


Captain A. S. Baxter, Grant's Quartermaster, resigned 27 April 1862  [Getchell e-book location 3605].


Lieutenant Frank B. Bennett, 2nd Illinois Cavalry, resigned 3 June 1862  [History of Co. A, 2nd Ill Cav, Fletcher & Fletcher (1912)].


Surgeon Henry Hewitt was removed as Medical Director, Post Hospital, Savannah on 20 April 1862  [Papers of US Grant, vol 5, p. 61].



Colonel James McPherson, an Engineer, stayed with General WHL Wallace overnight 5/6 April (probably after completing the repair of the 'Wallace' Bridge over Snake Creek)  [Life and Letters of WHL Wallace, page 181].


General W. T. Sherman was knowledgeable about the 'Shunpike.' In his Memoirs, he admits: 'While camped at [shiloh Church], I kept pickets well out on the roads, and made myself familiar with all the ground inside and outside my lines.' Sherman also says, 'I deemed Shiloh so important that I remained by it.' [OR Series 10 (part 1) Shiloh page 249.]


After the battle opened, April 6th, Captain John H. Hammond (of Sherman's Staff), rode up to Frederick Behr, of the 6th Indiana Light Artillery, and ordered him to send two guns to Owl Creek Bridge. Hammond is reported to have said, 'Hold it at all hazards; because General Lew Wallace is expected to come down the road and make use of that bridge.' [stated by Jacob Bieler, 6th Ind Lt Artillery; confirmed by Lieutenant Louis Kern of Morton's Battery. From War Papers Read before the Indiana Commandery, MOLLUS, page 29].


After assessing the situation IRT the battle to his front (WHL Wallace assist), Grant sent away Rawlins with verbal orders to Lew Wallace (delivered by Baxter.) Shortly afterwards, Grant had all the 'Officers under Arrest' released... with one exception. Grant's aide, Captain Clark Lagow, drafted Special Order No. 47, and the officers were returned their swords, and returned to duty  [Papers of US Grant, vol 5, p.19].


Major Reynolds, 16th Wisconsin, appears to have been left off Special Order #47... so he 'released himself.' His actions, in support of his regiment, were so praiseworthy, he was 'forgiven, after-the-fact' by General Grant; all charges against Reynolds were dropped. [Chatham, NY Courier].


After sending Rawlins away with orders for Lew Wallace, General Grant made his way to see Sherman. Soon after arrival, (between 9:30-10AM) Grant addressed Lieutenant Frank Bennett, 2nd Illinois Cavalry: 'Take your Company A, and go with as much dispatch as possible to Crump's Landing. Present my compliments to General Lew Wallace, and tell him, 'Come immediately, YOU being the escort.'' Bennett took the River Road. [History of Co. A, (Fletcher), page 49-50].


Private Thomas Holiday, 2nd Illinois Cavalry, was Sherman's orderly, KIA the morning of April 6th. [civilwar.illinoisgenweb.org] 


During the morning and afternoon of April 6th, there were five messengers sent to Lew Wallace: [from Life of John A. Rawlins, except 'Frank Bennett,' from Gail Stephens, Shadow of Shiloh, page 87]

  • Capt A. S. Baxter   Grant's QM  (by steamboat, down the Tennessee River to Crump's);
  • Lt Frank Bennett    2nd Ill Cav    (via 'Wallace' Bridge and the River Road);
  • Capt Wm Rowley   Grant's Staff  (via 'Wallace' Bridge and the River Road);
  • Capt John Rawlins  Asst Adj Gen  (travelled with Col McPherson);
  • Col James McPherson  Engineer, on Halleck's Staff, but on detached duty with Grant  (via 'Wallace' Bridge and the River Road).


The 'written order' presented by Captain Baxter to Lew Wallace was passed around/sited by members of Wallace' staff. The slip of paper ended up in the possession of Wallace' Adjutant, Captain Frederick Knefler, who lost it during the march to Pittsburg Landing. [Shadow of Shiloh, (Stephens) p. 85].


Many Confederate soldiers were captured in the days prior to the battle. Most were 'seen' by Sherman or Grant. Yet none revealed A. S. Johnston's pending attack preparations, or expected date of execution. Remarkable fortitude... (WHL Wallace knew of ten prisoners, taken by Sherman [Life and Letters of WHL Wallace (1909) page 180].


A pontoon bridge, ordered by Buell, and delivered by Halleck, arrived at Savannah, a day or two prior to the battle. Since it appears the intention was to move Buell's force across the Tennessee River at Hamburg, that is most likely the location where it would have been set in place... had the battle not arrived before Buell. [Papers of US Grant, vol 5 p. 16].


Most of us are familiar with the Grant/Sherman exchange:

   'Well, Grant, it's been the Devil's own day...'

   'Yes,' admitted Grant. 'Whip 'em tomorrow, though.' [The Civil War, Ken Burns].


US Grant had a similar exchange with Buell; but when pressed, Grant admitted, 'Should it come to defeat, I can set up a 'bridge of boats,' across the river [at Pittsburg], and guard it with artillery [from the gunboats].' [Life of John A. Rawlins, (Wilson) page 89].


During W.T. Sherman's last sortie up the Tennessee River, April 1/2, he made use of the transports Empress and Tecumseh, in company with USS Cairo. The expedition journeyed to the mouth of Indian Creek, and looked in on Chickasaw and Eastport, before returning to Pittsburg Landing. [Sherman Memoirs, Ch. 10] The Cairo is one of the few surviving Civil War water-craft; now on display at Vicksburg. [Ozzy]


Like I said... it's trivia.



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  • 2 weeks later...

The Curious Case of the Second Messenger



On the morning of April 6th, after getting an 'action/status report' from WHL Wallace 'half a mile from Pittsburg Landing,' General Grant sent away his Assistant Adjutant General, John Rawlins, with verbal orders for Lew Wallace. (Rawlins passed those orders on to Captain Baxter, who left Pittsburg Landing about 0930-ish, riding aboard the steamer, Tigress, bound for Crump's Landing.)


General Grant rode west to visit W. T. Sherman, and appears to have arrived before 10AM: in conjunction with that meeting, in the vicinity of Shiloh Church, Grant approached the officer commanding a cavalry detachment, Captain John Hotaling, and 'placed him on his Staff.' Grant then addressed the acting commander of the 2nd Illinois Cavalry, Company  A, thus:  'Lieutenant Bennett, you will take your Company 'A'  and go with as much dispatch as possible to Crump's Landing. Present my compliments to General Lew Wallace, and tell him to come immediately, you being the escort.'


My quandary... Having sent his first messenger (Rawlins-cum-Baxter) only an hour earlier, and with no chance for Lew Wallace to have yet made an appearance, WHY did General Grant feel a need to send LT Frank Bennett?



Online reference here:    http://archive.org/stream/historyofcompany00flet#page/48/mode/2up       pages 46-51.










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  • 6 months later...

The Curious Case of Another Messenger:  Jessie Scout Charles C. Carpenter



While compiling the list of Officers caught up in the Purge of March/April 1862, I ran across reference to Charles Carpenter, but could discover no other information, until now:

  • Captain Charles C. Carpenter
  • Leader of the 'Jessie Scouts,' brought into existence in Missouri by General Fremont (before Halleck replaced him as senior officer at St Louis)
  • Accompanied General C.F. Smith's army to Tennessee
  • Mentioned in Lew Wallace's Autobiography as 'reporting to him'
  • As a scout, dressed as 'a Confederate,' and journeyed widely, in search of information (of military use)


Captain Carpenter came to the attention of MGen Grant on March 25th, 1862. He was travelling north on a steamer, with a horse, on a pass that made no mention of an accompanying horse. The pass was also issued in the name of fellow-scout, L.F. Scott.


Believing the horse to be stolen property, Carpenter was arrested (as was L.F. Scott), and the two men sent away to St Louis (in company of Grant's aide, Captain W.S. Hillyer) on March 29th.


Question:  In the comprehensive prosecution of Halleck's Purge, did U.S. Grant cripple one of his intelligence-collection assets, further limiting the likelihood of early warning of Confederate attack?





N.B.   Captain Hillyer returned to Savannah, Tennessee on April 6th (just after midnight) aboard the steamer Minnehaha.





Papers of U.S. Grant, Volume 4, pages 462-480.

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Update on Officers Under Arrest

Was recently asked about "the nature of the Purge" conducted by Major General U.S. Grant, beginning late March 1862 and continuing until commencement of Battle of Shiloh on Sunday morning, April 6th. Firstly, these are most (but not all) of the men caught up in that exercise: Brigadier General John McArthur, commander 2nd Brigade of 2nd Division (violation of General Order No.28 of March 28th 1862); LtCol William Morgan, 25th Indiana (violation of General Order No.28); Colonel Hugh Reed of Cruft's Brigade (violation of General Order No.28); Colonel James Geddes, 8th Iowa (violation of General Order No.28); Captain Charles Carpenter of Jessie Scouts (sent to St.Louis for Court-Martial due suspected horse theft); Trooper L.F. Scott of Jessie Scouts (sent to St.Louis for Court-Martial due suspected horse theft); Colonel David Moore, 21st Missouri (Court-Martial early April for "allowing troops belonging to his command to fire from steamer J.C. Swon during transit up Tennessee River, jeopardizing lives and property of innocent civilians. Found guilty of lesser charge and received reprimand from General Grant. Returned to duty); 2/Lt Charles Speake, 23rd Indiana (found to have absented himself without authority during sweep of records belonging to Grant's Army, and discharged from service); Major Thomas Reynolds, 16th Wisconsin (minor disciplinary infraction); Colonel C.J. Wright (senior officer at Clarksville, held responsible for irregularities there); Surgeon Henry Hewitt, Senior Medical Officer at Savannah (believed by Henry Halleck not to have been properly mustered into service, and ordered dismissed by General Grant. Dismissed April 20th); Major General John McClernand, commander First Division (threatened by U.S. Grant with disciplinary action on March 25th due suspected horse theft committed by members of Jessie Scouts "attached to your command" (see Papers of US Grant vol.4 page 421). General McClernand "expressed his mortification" (see page 422) and the matter was dropped; Major General Lew Wallace, commander Third Division, (for as-yet unwritten General Orders No.28: sending away troops under his command, out-of-area, without proper authorization).

Major General Lew Wallace "sparked the Purge" with his actions in mid-March (sending over 200 desperately sick men from the Third Division away north to Evansville, Indiana for medical care; having been denied proper medical care at Savannah.) If Henry Halleck had not taken notice, probably nothing would have happened (see Papers of USG vol.4 page 404 -- and especially page 405). But, "shirkers," and "men abusing the Furlough System" appear to have been pet-peeves of Henry Halleck (who believed that the best cure for most ailments was fresh air and activity.) Having witnessed officers from Grant's command in St. Louis "on properly authorized medical furlough" but evidently not really sick, General Halleck became incensed upon hearing of "multiple steamers from Grant's command" landing sick men at a variety of Ohio River ports. And he telegraphed Grant, demanding not only an explanation, but a stop to the practice of sending men out of his area.

But, there was another problem: General Halleck's telegrams were being sent through Cairo, and during March 1862 "there was a difficulty" (see Papers of US Grant vol.4 pages 400 - 401, telegram from Grant to Halleck of March 21st.) Because General Grant did not reply promptly, Halleck became even more angry. But, once General Grant understood "what had caused Henry Halleck to become so upset," he turned his attention to Lew Wallace. Sometimes sending messages directly to Wallace (and sometimes directing John Rawlins to send messages to Lew Wallace), General Grant demanded an explanation for the sick soldiers "sent away without proper authority" ...and the messages crossed in transit -- see Papers USG v.4 pages 401-2 -- (with Lew Wallace eventually replying, "Do not worry. I will not move my Division without proper orders" -- page 403, top.)

Meanwhile, General Grant (realizing he truly had a serious medical problem) sent a telegram on March 22nd to St. Louis requesting massive quantities of medical supplies (to which Henry Halleck replied, "I cannot fill that request, because your Medical Director, Surgeon Hewitt, is a civilian, and not authorized to request those supplies" -- see Papers USG v.4 pp. 404-5). In response, Grant sent his 2-I-C surgeon, John Brinton, to St. Louis to personally submit the request for medical supplies -- (see Papers page 405, notes at top).

How did "medical issues" and "unauthorized removal of sick troops" lead to a Purge?  A late-arriving telegram sent from Henry Halleck, dated March 17th, expressed Halleck's concerns IRT Grant's command and its "lack of discipline." And, simply, Halleck directed Grant to, "Hold your officers to account for the actions of their men" (see Papers page 415 notes).

And, what is interesting upon review of the list of "officers placed under arrest" ...Colonel Jesse Appler, Captain Joseph Clay and Captain John B. Myers are not on it. The officers whose names are listed tend to be "tough characters with strong wills" (or in the case of McClernand and Lew Wallace, "loose cannons" Grant wanted to rein in.)

The Chinese have a saying: "Punish one, teach one hundred."  I believe Grant's Purge (encouraged by Henry Halleck) was a ham-fisted attempt to instill discipline during the empty days of March and April, expecting to march on Corinth soon as Buell arrived... 


References:  Papers of US Grant volume 4 page 385 (General Orders No.23 of March 18th 1862); pages 386 - 406.

Getchell, Kevin, Scapegoat of Shiloh (2013) ebook locations 498 - 548 "A Medical Matter creates Friction."

http://www.artcirclelibrary.info/Reference/civilwar/1862-03.pdf  Art Circle Library for March 1862 (see pages 37 - 38: Letter of March 12 from soldier of 40th Illinois and published in Chicago Times of March 19th. Reports "Rebel cavalry fired into steamer Argyle during transit up Tennessee River, killing one soldier and wounding two others belonging to 57th Illinois. The commanding officer ordered the steamer put into the bank; and a party of soldiers was sent to the nearby town of Clifton Tennessee. Ten citizens were taken away, and held hostage on the steamer to prevent further firing from the Rebels. The citizens were released once the danger was passed." [Presented, as well as report that the 48th Ohio fired their new guns during transit, as evidence that Colonel David Moore was made a scapegoat for his troops "firing indiscriminately into the river bank" during transit of J.C. Swon. No one in 48th OVI or 57th Illinois were held accountable for similar (or worse) actions.]


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