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12381Re: OR's - Breckinridge's Report for Stones River

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  • hartshje
    Jul 1, 2002
      Wakefield,

      Yes, Van Cleve was roughly handled and in fact routed. But he, too,
      fought a hard fight on Dec 31st against Cleburne's division. So how
      much did HE suffer the first day? At any rate, Breckinridge had
      considered the assualt doomed because of the massed artillery the
      Yankees had on the west side of the river, and he had 1,000 yards of
      open ground to cover in his attack (Pickett, Pettigrew & Trimble
      could relate!) Breckinridge actually got lucky at first, because the
      Union infantry was not concentrated as it should have been (and was
      expected to be). And once the Yankees were pushed back, Mendenhall's
      guns could not fire without hitting their own men. This is what
      enabled the Confederates to get as far as they did. And yes, you are
      correct that they then overshot the mark, pursuing the fleeing
      Federals toward the ford. But once they topped the hill, they became
      exposed to the enemy artillery, not to mention infantry fire, from
      the west bank. The hill was untenable to begin with. Also, Bragg
      could have easily taken the hill the previous day without an attack.
      It was not manned until later by Union troops, although I think it
      still would have been untenable by the Confederates. If Bragg
      thought the hill so important, why did he wait until the enemy
      occupied it to try taking it?

      As far as the question of believing Breckinridge over Bragg, I can
      only say that I make my decision based on the characters of the two
      men, Bragg's history of bad (or no) decisions, and an intuition that
      tells me a hands-on division commander knows his losses much better
      than an army commander notorious for his ignorance of the front-line
      situation.

      Joe H.



      --- In civilwarwest@y..., "aot1952" <wakefield1952@m...> wrote:
      > P.s.-
      > Also before I forget I think it is also interesting to look at Van
      > Cleve's (Beatty's US Division) losses. This was the Union division
      > that Breckenridge was being asked to assault in what conventional
      > wisdom ( Breckenridge's side of the story)tells us was a 'suicide'
      > attack. This US division's total battle losses were reported as
      > 1526. Now these numbers were not substantially different from
      > Breckenridge's (no matter which set of 'cooked books' one might
      use.)
      > Although the US losses are not presented in a break down form
      between
      > Dec 31 and Jan 2. When comparing these US losses with the CS losses
      > for the assault I think further questions are raised as to exactly
      > how suicidal the CS assault in fact was, I mean looks to me like
      the
      > federals were pretty seriously punished. Of course,another factor
      > that kind of gets lost in Breckenridge's side of this story is that
      > the objective of the assault was in fact over run.
      > Sorry but got to run..
      > Wakefield
      >
      > --- In civilwarwest@y..., "aot1952" <wakefield1952@m...> wrote:
      > > Mr. Joe-
      > > No question about it and I have long agreed with your conclusion
      > that
      > > someone was trying to "cook the books". However, unlike you I am
      > not
      > > as ready to jump to the conclusion that it was Bragg and not
      > > Breckenridge who was the Chef.
      > > Although I also feel that the whole exercise of 'counting' losses
      > to
      > > prove or imply just how determined an assault may or may not have
      > > been may be a little too Hood-like to be particularly revealing.
      > > However, I do think the differing numbers is indicative of the
      fact
      > > that two divergent stories of the January 2 assault were being
      told.
      > > Wakefield,
      > >
      > >
      > > >
      > > > This is what I have found so far. In Vol.20, Chap.32, on
      page
      > > 787
      > > > in Breckinridge's battle report, he states:
      > > >
      > > > "Many of the reports do not discriminate between the losses of
      > > > Wednesday and Friday. The total loss of my division, exclusive
      > of
      > > > Jackson's command, is 2,140 of which I think 1,700 occurred on
      > > > Friday."
      > > >
      > > > So he is saying he lost 440 men on the 31st. He also reported
      a
      > > > strength of 5,663. On page 779, Hardee reports Breck's loss at
      > > 2,068
      > > > (not much difference), but on page 780 reports Breck's strength
      > at
      > > > 6,824. Furthermore, Bragg attached an addendum to Breck's
      report
      > > > (this is on page 789). Bragg states the following:
      > > >
      > > > "The tabular statement No. 7, February 8, 1863, accompanying
      my
      > > > report of the battle, shows the force of this division on
      > > Wednesday,
      > > > December 31, to have been 7,053. The loss of Wednesday, the
      > 31st,
      > > > was 730, not 440 as made by the division commander; and the
      loss
      > on
      > > > Friday, the 2nd, was 1338, not 1,700. The loss of Wednesday,
      > 440,
      > > > stated by the division commander, deducted from his whole
      > strength,
      > > > leaves 6,613. Deducting again the regiment and battery he was
      > > > ordered to leave out, and adding the two batteries of Captain
      > > > Robertson, leaves him still with over 6,000 infantry and
      > artillery,
      > > > instead of 4,500, with which he says he made the attack; and
      > > > correcting his error in making the loss too small on Wednesday
      > and
      > > > too large on Friday, he still has understated his force by more
      > > than
      > > > one-fourth." Braxton Bragg, General, Commanding
      > > >
      > > > Bragg uses Hardee's total casualty figure. Hardee stated the
      > > > difference in strengths reported by him and Bragg was due to
      the
      > > > exchanging of some regiments in reorganization. I find it
      > > > interesting that Jackson's brigade (which lost 303 men) is not
      > > > included with Breck's others in the casualty count. I am
      > thinking
      > > > that it was considered detached (as reported by Hardee), and
      yet
      > I
      > > > think both Hardee and Bragg seem to be including it for
      strength
      > > > purposes, but excluding it in regards to casualties. I find it
      > > > interesting that Bragg states as a fact (without offering any
      > > > evidence) that Breck's loss on the 31st was 730. Where did he
      > get
      > > > that figure? If you add Jackson's 303 to Breck's 440 you would
      > get
      > > > 743!! But Hardee's casualty number of 2,068 does not include
      > > > Jackson's brigade, which is reported seperately as 303.
      > > >
      > > > My opinion, for what it's worth, is Bragg is trying to "cook
      the
      > > > books" in his favor to cover his butt. But then again, in your
      > own
      > > > immortal words Wakefield, "I could be wrong!"
      > > >
      > > > Best Regards,
      > > > Joe H.
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