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Battles and Leaders, General Buell on Shiloh 1884

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I am working on a Shiloh project and always go back to the original sources for guidance to start. I was reading in Battles and Leaders, General Buell's Shiloh Reviewed article written in 1884. He slammed Grant and Sherman for re-writing history, their maps, and anyone else who formed an opinion on what Buell called misleading anecdotes and folly. It was very interesting and explains a little more the confusion, the side ways opinions of both Officers and men who fought at Shiloh. One soldier made the statement that if you got two Shiloh Veterans together they could never agree on anything associated with that Battle, and they were there! Professor Tim Smith and other Historians of note tell of the mystique of Shiloh. I say it is a good story from start to finish with a lot of twists and turns. It was victory the Western Confederates needed. That the approach of General Sherman to Richmond-Petersburg in 1865, began in the West. A march that included Shiloh as a Union Victory. Has anyone else read an old book on Shiloh and sees the same, "what ifs"-- and "maybe's" we get all the Shiloh mystique from?

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Thanks for broaching this topic... as I had encountered the above map in Sherman's Personal Memoirs (1889) and was looking for someplace to put it and discuss it. Although there is no credit accorded, I believe it is reasonable to assume that the above depiction was created by General Sherman (or member of his staff); or it was endorsed by Sherman as "close enough to include in my Memoirs." The claim that "Grant and Sherman... re-wrote their maps [to suit a narrative]" I believe is proven without doubt: General Grant's staff officer, then- LtCol James McPherson concocted a map focused on Snake Creek in 1863 that appeared to show Major General Lew Wallace "not getting very far" on his march from Stoney Lonesome, before turning around (countermarching) back to the River Road... but the map does not show the Third Division ever crossing Snake Creek (OR 10 page 183.)

As concerns the above Sherman map, there are at least twenty errors (which is difficult to accept as "accidental" nearly thirty years after the Battle of Shiloh.) Compare to Atwell's 1900 map, or any later map (before the streams were re-routed) and the discrepancies become obvious. Here are a few:

1)  The River Road (a.k.a. Savannah- Pittsburg Landing Road) is indicated WAY too close to the Tennessee River.

2)  The road from Crump's Landing to Adamsville is plotted as dipping 2- 3 miles further south than actual.

3)  Where is Stoney Lonesome? Where is the road south from Stoney Lonesome? (There is a non-existent seasonal stream flowing south from the site of Stoney Lonesome.) [Combined with the poorly plotted River Road, and Adamsville Road, these features could be used to "verify" that Lew Wallace was a chowder head for selecting the "wrong road" and/ or "getting lost."]

4)  Where is the important Dill Branch Ravine?

5)  Where is the Tilghman Branch (in 1862 called Briar Creek)?

6)  On the east side of the Tennessee River, where is the Savannah- Hamburg Road? [This route would have been marched by Jacob Ammen's men if the Battle of Shiloh had not intervened.]

7)  How come no marshes or swamps are indicated?

8 ) Where is the Shunpike?

In 1889, the average person would make use of this map included in Sherman's Memoirs, likely have no better map with which to compare, and "trust" that the narrative was correct. No wonder we still disagree on "what took place during the Battle of Shiloh."



Edited by Ozzy
Seasonal stream and Shunpike inclusion.
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as to #3..the stream in question at stoney lonesome..is a wet weather water-run from the springs north of stage rd and s\does continue south..older people that live along the stage road in this area retell of the large,deep cold swimming holes that they as kids played in..so there is a water feature in this area..also Purdy is more northwest of adamsb\ville than the map shows.


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Mona, Thanks for clarifying the status of the seasonal watercourse in vicinity of Stoney Lonesome. It remains curious that this seasonal stream was deemed significant to include on the map, yet the purpose-built Shunpike is not displayed. (General Sherman stated he had knowledge of all the roads in vicinity of the Pittsburg Camp, and knew the Owl Creek Bridge was strengthened to accommodate passage of artillery, and had elements of the 6th Iowa and Behr's Artillery deployed further west to defend approach to the bridge...) Omission of detail can affect understanding as powerfully as manipulation of facts.

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As regards the "friction" between Buell and Grant, this may be blamed on the lack of an Official Report on the Battle of Shiloh, which should have been written, and then submitted through proper channels by the supreme Federal commander: Ulysses S. Grant. But Major General Grant never submitted this report, and in his Memoirs (page 306) blames, "the lack of reports by Buell and his subordinates [which would have permitted Grant to write a true and full account.]" In essence: Buell did not acknowledge Grant as supreme commander; therefore, Grant was not obligated to share credit for the Union victory at Shiloh with Buell. Lack of sufficient credit for Shiloh, combined with the "Nashville incident" [in late FEB 1862, during which U.S. Grant revealed his new rank as Major General to Brigadier General Buell] festered. And when General Buell was removed from command of the Army of the Ohio (and that force subsequently renamed Army of the Cumberland) Don Carlos Buell appears to have attributed a portion of the blame for failure of his professional career (in particular, lack of credit for Shiloh) at the feet of U.S. Grant. [Of note: General Buell's Chief of Staff during Shiloh, James B. Fry, later became Provost Marshal General of the United States, and became better acquainted with U.S. Grant; and he considered both men to be his friends. After the war, General Fry attempted to "heal the rift" between Grant and Buell; but James Fry was unsuccessful. The sour relations between the two Union leaders remained un-reconciled at the time of Grant's death in 1885.]

To summarize: lack of an official Shiloh report allowed "rumor and supposition" to fill the void and gain currency, resulting in the Real Story of Shiloh only being unearthed (today) with great effort.

https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.$b15913&view=1up&seq=311  Military Miscellanies by James B. Fry (page 305).



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  • 3 weeks later...

Yes--- Grant also said he never was able to see Buell's Official Report of the Battle for years and years. When he did read it--- he came out with that, "totally misunderstood," line that laid the foundation of the "What ifs," and all the rest of the story on Shiloh. Tim Smith is very good on the What ifs!

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