11527Re: THE BATTLE OF VICKSBURG
- Jun 3, 2002
--- In civilwarwest@y..., "hartshje" <Hartshje@a...> wrote:
I've been (and still am) on vacation, and will try to catch up on a
bunch of different thoughts in one post here.
Regarding comments about interior / exterior lines: Pemberton had
interior lines vis-a-vis Grant's lines, and Johnston had exterior
lines. Insofar as Johnston was concerned, that wasn't a problem,
since the discussed plans (as far as they went) for the Johnston move
on Grant assumed a total concentration (or nearly so) at one point.
Grant had exterior lines to Pemberton, and interior to Johnston.
Neither was much of a help or a hindrance, since he could not move
quickly from any end of his lines to the other, due to terrain.
The terrain / landscape that Grant occupied was the great equalizer,
at least till the 23rd when he was able to dispatch Sherman to
prepare defenses against Johnston.
Timing: This campaign, like no other I've read about, is more
dependent on timing issues. The length of time to transfer messages
from Johnston to Pemberton and vice versa, time for movements, etc.
played havoc with the plans of the participants.
And timing was critical for the Confederates; they had at best a
severely limited window of opportunity for action. Given Joe
Johnston and his tendencies, it was obviously not enough of a window.
> Well Eric, I think you're right about the Union cannonading
> drowning out the sounds of Johnston's attack.
I'm sorry, but while it could be a factor, it wouldn't stop Pemberton
from knowing about Johnston's attack. If nothing else, the attack
would be 1) known from a timing standpoint, and 2) visible in terms
of powder. Remember, it's not like during the first week of June
that Grant could meet Johnston 20 miles away at the Big Black.
> And you are also
> probably right about the lack of cohesion and coordination that
> would have unfolded on the Confederate side, as well as Grant's
I absolutely agree about problems of cohesion and coordination on the
part of the Confederate command. Heck, the entire Vicksburg campaign
typifies that. Pemberton's command at Champion Hill was total
confusion, and the same can be said about Johnston's one offensive
battle to that point, Seven Pines.
*Had it succeeded*, however, I'm not sure what Grant or his vaunted
stubborness could have done. His lines, due to geography and
inability to maneuver, are peeled back like opening a ripe bananna.
And let's face it, we simply don't know how Grant handles that kind
of adverse situation. It hadn't happened, in the same way, except
perhaps at Shiloh. And if we're suggesting his stubborness manifests
itself in the bayous of Chickasaw Bluffs, I frankly don't like his
> So in all
> liklihood, an escape by Pemberton seems to be the most the South
> could hope for.
We're playing hindsight games again, using much of what we know to
rule out options. I personally think that had Pemberton, on say June
5 (in coordination with an advance by Johnston) exits via Hall's
Ferry and the Warrenton Roads, one of the two - Johnston or
Pemberton - is toast. Grant, as soon as Pemberton leaves, can turn
with his 50,000 men and attack one or the other with impunity. And
that, counting on Grant to exhibit aggressiveness, is something I
think we all can agree on.
Me, I'd attack Johnston, and leave Pemberton floundering on the Port
Gibson Road trying to reach Jackson.
> So if Grant captures Vicksburg five weeks earlier,
> and Johnston & Pemberton unite with over 60,000 men at Jackson,
> what happens next?
Once the siege starts, with Pemberton behind the trench lines, any
attempt to break out is going to cost him half his army, IMO.
Between the sick and wounded he has to leave behind, the straggling,
lost guns, and general morale problems, he's toast.
What next? Probably the same thing that happens with Johnston in
reality - he sits staring at Grant, arguing for more troops, and does
nothing. Grant probably goes after Johnston, but the wily Johnston
is always one retreating step ahead of Grant.
But you have to do something with that Confederate army, and
quickly. The one thing the Confederates could *not* do was have any
substantial army sit idle. Probably the best thing would be to unite
with Bragg, but (using hindsight) would an army under Johnston and
Bragg have any better chance? Could the Confederates move their army
from Jackson to Chattanooga any faster than Grant could move via the
waters and rail from Vicksburg to Chattanooga?
> Joe H.
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