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Cavalry Expert

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Soon after arriving in the West, General Beauregard identified the need for a "cavalry expert" in order to better control and coordinate Confederate cavalry operations in Department No.2 ...and Beauregard sent an urgent request to Richmond, which named the officer required. However, Richmond denied the transfer of the man requested and instead designated another officer to be promoted to brigadier general and given the Cavalry role.

Who was the man Beauregard requested?

Who was the man given to Beauregard, instead?




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This position, Chief of Cavalry is difficult to identify who was the army Chief of Cavalry.  Difficult because who ever was selected did not last long.  Colonel James M Hawes had served as colonel of the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry just before the outbreak of the civil war.  Earlier he served a two year tour of duty at the cavalry school in Saumur, France.  General Albert Sidney Johnston requested Colonel Hawes' promotion to Brigadier General to fill this position, chief of cavalry.  He was appointed to this rank and this command on March 5, 1862.  He record as chief of cavalry for the one month he held this command was spotty.  After the Battle of Shiloh, he requested assignment to a infantry command.  His further service was in Tennessee, in Arkansas and in Mississippi during the Vicksburg campaign.  Later he was in command at Galveston Island Texas, where he was at the end of the war. 

The position of Chief of Cavalry was not filled until later when officers like, Forrest, Wheeler, Wharton, Wirt Adams became available.       

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Well done on identifying the man appointed to control and coordinate Confederate cavalry operations within Department No.2 in March 1862. His is an interesting story...  Graduating from West Point in 1845, he was employed as cavalry officer and saw service in Mexico during the War of 1846. Following on that war experience, Lieutenant Hawes became instructor of Cavalry Tactics (and Infantry Tactics and Mathematics) at West Point. And at the conclusion of that posting, James Morrison Hawes was sent to Ecole de cavalerie at Saumur, France to further his knowledge of advanced cavalry tactics.

On the face of it, and given his credentials (which included being the son of Richard Hawes of Lexington Kentucky, who became Governor of Confederate State of Kentucky after the death of George W. Johnson) Brigadier General Hawes should have been an outstanding selection. Yet, one of the few records of his involvement with Shiloh indicates he was "Commander of the Cavalry Reserve" [OR 11 page 371]. And after Shiloh, as you indicate, Hawes resigned from Command of the Cavalry Reserve and was given command of an infantry brigade, prior to Siege of Corinth.

All the best



References:  OR 11 page 371







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  • 2 weeks later...

Robert Ransom was the cavalry expert from North Carolina, requested by General Beauregard (via communications with Richmond) to take charge of cavalry operations in Department No.2 ...but James Hawes was provided, instead. The significance of this substitution lies not in who Ransom or Hawes were; but the importance derives from the belief (by PGT Beauregard) that this was "one more example" of unnecessary meddling by Richmond in "adjusting or modifying Beauregard's program" (in fact, Beauregard thought he saw President Davis's hand at work.)

The "opportunity to take ten or twelve officers West with him" was seen by PGT Beauregard as one of the conditions (agreed by Richmond) necessary for the General to accept the offer to go West. [The other two conditions: that the number of troops reported as available for service in the West matched reality; and once Beauregard completed his assignment with Department No.2 he would be permitted to return to his Army of the Potomac.] However, the Surrender of Fort Donelson awakened in General Beauregard the realization that he would have to build an Army of the Mississippi (much as he had built the Army of the Potomac.) In accordance with his understanding, and to assist with the building of that new Army, Beauregard wired Richmond with "requests" for the following officers:  Colonel William W. Mackall; Colonel R. B. Lee; Colonel Samuel Jones; Major George W. Brent; Colonel Charles Winder; Colonel Samuel Garland; A. P. Hill; Colonel John Pegram; Colonel Daniel Ruggles; and Robert Ransom.

The War Department at Richmond, believing the terms agreed by Beauregard to transfer to Department No.2 involved him taking 10 or 12 officers -- including existing members of his Staff from the Army of the Potomac -- were not so keen to agree to Beauregard's demands... at least, Richmond saw no urgency in meeting the General's demands. Of those officers requested:

  • Major George W. Brent arrived early March 1862 and joined Beauregard's Staff as Acting AIG
  • General Daniel Ruggles was called up from New Orleans by Beauregard and took charge of the Post of Corinth (and that decision was accepted by Richmond)
  • Colonel R.B. Lee arrived in theatre end of March and joined Beauregard's Staff as Chief of Subsistence.

Richmond substituted the following officers:

  • General James Hawes (for Ransom); but arrived too late to provide effective service at Shiloh
  • General John S. Bowen arrived end of March and took command of the 2nd Brigade of Breckinridge's Corps
  • James E. Slaughter arrived March and joined A. S. Johnston's Staff as Assistant Inspector General (AIG)
  • Lucius M. Walker was promoted from Polk's Corps, and sent to Island No.10

[The last two officers -- Slaughter and Walker -- are symptomatic of the view apparently held by Richmond that "officers sent anywhere in Department No.2 contributed to Beauregard's direct request for assistance."]  Continuing:

  • William W. Mackall was taken from A.S. Johnston's Staff, promoted Brigadier General (acting Major General) and sent to Island No.10 end of March (and became POW on April 8th)
  • General John B. Villepigue was removed from Bragg's command and sent to command Fort Pillow in March
  • Samuel Jones:  initially denied to Beauregard (because his services were needed at Mobile); he arrived in time to resist the Siege of Corinth.

As can be seen, General Beauregard requested ten officers, and was given "four and a half" (counting Hawes), to be used in building his Army of the Mississippi in the weeks prior to Battle of Shiloh.



References:  http://archive.org/stream/jeffersondavisex02davirich#page/190/mode/2up  Varina Davis biography of Jefferson Davis, pages 221- 240.

http://archive.org/stream/risefallofconfed02daviuoft#page/76/mode/2up  Rise and Fall of the Confederacy by Jefferson Davis, pages 51- 55.

http://archive.org/stream/generalbeauregar00lemo#page/n3/mode/2up General Beauregard at Shiloh by Y. R. LeMonnier

http://archive.org/stream/milloperations01romarich#page/306/mode/2up  Roman's Military Operations of PGT Beauregard, pages 212, 252, 253, 509- 514, and 524.

N.B.  Ben Helm was also promoted to Brigadier General in April 1862; and A.S. Johnston made use of this officer and his cavalry as scouts -- intelligence collection, primarily focused on Army of the Ohio -- while based in vicinity of Decatur, Alabama.


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