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10250Re: Snake Creek--reply to Lee

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  • pcallen3
    Apr 1, 2002
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      --- In civilwarwest@y..., David Woodbury <woodbury@s...> wrote:
      > At 6:34 PM +0000 3/31/02, pcallen3 wrote:
      > >"But McPherson faltered and hung back, indeed after penetrating
      > >a mile of Resaca he actually returned, because, as I understood, he
      > >was not supported, and feared if we turned back suddenly upon him
      > >Dalton he would be cut off, as doubtless would have been the
      > The operative phrase is "if we turned back suddenly upon him." Since
      > Johnston was caught completely off guard, there was never any
      > contemplation of turning on McPherson. McPherson had withdrawn
      > Johnston was able to react. I understand the point about McPherson's
      > apprehension, but that has no bearing on whether or not Johnston was
      > caught off guard. It merely explains why McPherson made the
      > judgements he made.

      I don't contend, as Will does, that Johnston was not caught off guard.
      I am in complete agreement with you there. My contention has always
      been that McPherson was unjustly criticized by Sherman for "missing
      the oportunity of a lifetime". I believe that the operative phrase
      to Cleburne's report was in reference to McPherson's lack of support.
      He mentions it not once, but twice.

      > >Had McPherson been able to take the rail line
      > >and hold it with 60,000, then I think Johnson's goose would have
      > >cooked, as Cleburne suggests.
      > True. But it's not a "what-if" that strikes me as very sustainable.
      > It assumes Johnston would not have noticed 60,000 troops headed for
      > Snake Creek Gap, as opposed to a size about 1/3rd that large.

      You may denigrate my argument by calling it a "what-if", but it is one
      that I dare say all of the historians you mentioned in your earlier
      post have discussed at length. It is key to our understanding of
      Snake Creek Gap. I agree that once the bulk of Sherman's troops are
      arrayed in front of Rocky Face Ridge that any large movement in
      support of McPherson will be detected by Johnston's intelligence
      sources. Johnston demonstrated this effectively by holding his troops
      at Dalton for days after McPherson was reported threatening his rear.
      It was not until the bulk of Sherman's troops were pulled out that
      Johnston pulled up stakes and headed for Resaca. No doubt he was
      hoping against hope that Sherman would assault his fortifications at
      Rocky Face Ridge a la Fredricksburg or Missionary Ridge. But, if
      when the Union forces have taken Taylor's Ridge, and are approaching
      Rocky Face Ridge, they divert forces masked by Taylor's Ridge to Snake
      Creek Gap then they stand the best chance of truly trapping the

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