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General Johnston an 1885 disagreement.

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Confederate Operation against Pittsburg Landing


Thanks for broaching this topic, first because of the date of “disagreement” of 1885 (OR 10 part 2 “communications” was published 1884, as was Alfred Roman's Military Operations of General Beauregard. William Preston Johnston's Life of General Albert Sidney Johnston was published in 1878.) And second, because it provides an opportunity to reassess and discuss “what we know” about actions and plans that resulted in the Battle of Shiloh.

The first preparatory action: Beauregard was sent west (HQ at Jackson Tennessee) while General Albert Sidney Johnston moved south and then west from Nashville. [Beauregard clears out Fort Columbus (Military Ops of General Beauregard by Roman, pp. 234- 235) and uses a portion to garrison Island No.10 and the remainder becomes Beauregard's Army.]

Ruggles moves to Corinth (and is put to work creating the defences there.) Hardee (until September 1861 in Arkansas; afterwards at Bowling Green) is part of Johnston's Army moving south from Nashville. Crittenden occupies Beirnsville. SAM Wood comes down with his force from vicinity of Knoxville. Bragg's Army of Pensacola is ordered north by Secretary of War Judah Benjamin (Bragg's Army concentrates at Corinth while Bragg meets personally with Beauregard at his HQ in Jackson.) Bragg also meets personally with ASJ on March 23rd (upon the General's arrival overnight at Corinth.) Combined with an expeditious recruiting effort in Mississippi and Tennessee, the accumulation of Rebel force congeals along the lines of the M & C R.R. and M & O R.R.

Now that the units that will take part are present and identified, crucial preparations commence: Beauregard recognizes a lack of sufficient leaders, and requests specific men of talent be sent from the east; surveillance of Federal movements on the Tennessee River are conducted; it is recognized that U.S. Grant has established his Main Camp at Pittsburg Landing, and is obviously preparing for an operation against the M & C R.R (possibly to take place at Corinth). This provides an “opportunity,” which is awaited to initiate Confederate pre-emptive strike. It is noted that Lew Wallace is operating north of the main camp at Pittsburg Landing (but within supporting distance of the Main Camp.) As well, frequent expeditions involving substantial numbers of Federal troops are reported: one sent east to Pinhook; another sent towards Purdy; and several (involving W.T. Sherman) sent south towards the M & C R.R., or towards Corinth (and these operations by Sherman convince Confederates that Corinth is intended Federal target.)

Meanwhile, it is recognized by Confederate planners that their problem becomes nearly insurmountable if Don Carlos Buell and his Army of the Ohio are permitted to effect the planned join with Grant's Army. Best if Confederate action can take place before Buell arrives (and as part of Confederate planning, Colonel B.H. Helm is maintaining surveillance of Buell's movement.)

Target of Opportunity arrives. It is reported that Sherman has launched another expedition south about April 1st; and a movement by Lew Wallace of his Division towards Purdy next day is reported by scouts belonging to Cheatham (then at Bethel.) It appears that the “trigger” everyone has been watching for has been pulled: Grant's force is divided, with three gunboats and, perhaps, a brigade moving south, and a whole division moving west (and Buell still days away to the east.)

President Davis has been in constant communication with General Johnston since early March, via telegraph and courier. Davis fully supports a pre-emptive strike, and offers suggestions on how best to accomplish it: President Davis even indicates his hope to travel west and accompany General Johnston in the coming Great Battle (Life of ASJ pages 517 & 520 and especially Letter of 26 MAR 1862 found page 522).

It is obvious that General Johnston recognized and appreciated the recent achievements of General PGT Beauregard: not only at Fort Sumter and Manassas, but with reconstituting sufficient defence of the Mississippi River while “acquiring” the bulk of Polk's Army for “other use.” In addition, it was Beauregard who suggested Corinth as the Place of Concentration (see Military Ops of General Beauregard pp.258- 259). This recognition of talent led to Johnston offering command of the pending operation against Shiloh to General Beauregard; and when Beauregard graciously declines, the suggestion to draw up plans was agreed to by General Beauregard, who re-organizes the combined forces into the Army of the Mississippi (Military Ops of General Beauregard pages 266- 268). Colonel Thomas Jordan (on the Staff of General Beauregard since organizing in Summer 1861 the Spy Ring at Washington, D.C.) was made AAG of the Army of the Mississippi. It was Colonel Jordan, at direction of General Beauregard, (and agreement of General Johnston) who concocted the Attack Plan employed by Confederate forces at Shiloh (see top of page 271 thru 272 & 274 Military Ops of General Beauregard, with further confirmation to be found page 275 Letter of David Urquhart.)


OR 11 (also referred to as OR 10 -- part 2 Correspondence) pages 387 - 392.

SDG topic "Bragg's Memoirs"

SDG topic "Albert Sidney Johnston's Staff"

SDG topic "President Davis and Shiloh" (especially post of 9 June 2017 "The Battle got lost...")

SDG topic "Beauregard's Elephant"

The Military Operations of General Beauregard by Alfred Roman (1884)

The Life of General Albert Sidney Johnston by William Preston Johnston (1878).


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