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16984Re: What constitutes a surprise?

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  • josepharose <josepharose@yahoo.com>
    Mar 2, 2003
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      --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "slippymississippi
      <slippymississippi@y...>" <slippymississippi@y...> wrote:
      > --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "josepharose
      <josepharose@y...>"
      > <josepharose@y...> wrote:
      > > Mr. Keene:
      > >
      > >
      > > The common criteria of a surprise, just quickly, would be that
      the
      > > size, makeup, location, movement, and/or intentions of the enemy
      > > are not known with a corresponding lack of preparation to
      > > adequately receive any potential attack.
      >
      > Generally speaking, if a "surprise" doesn't give you any tactical
      > advantage, it's not a real surprise. Please feel free to enlighten
      > us as to the advantages gained by attacking a superior gunboat-
      > supported federal force directly on its line of supply, on grounds
      of
      > its choosing?

      The Shiloh surprise *did* give the Rebs a tactical advantage.
      Without a surprise, their attack should have been hurled back with
      severe casualties. Instead, they came all too close to destroying
      Grant's army. Even failing to do that, they inflicted many more
      casualties.

      > > At Shiloh, Grant did not know the enemy's size, movement, and
      > > location and he totally misread their intentions; he was,
      > > consequently, almost completely unprepared for the ensuing attack.
      >
      > So you're saying that Sherman should have disobeyed Halleck's
      direct
      > order and swept the roads with infantry to determine the strength
      > and/or intentions of the enemy?

      If Grant had an army and thought that the enemy has less than a
      brigade, I think that he--not Sherman--should have cleared his front
      to discover what confronted him. Instead, he was surprised.

      > > At Mill Springs, on the other hand, Thomas knew the enemy's
      > > location the day before, and in preparation for a surprise
      attack,
      > > IIRC, had vedettes a long ways out, backed by pickets, which in
      > > turn were backed by an advance regiment.
      >
      > And how, pray tell, is Grant going to post these vedettes "a long
      > ways out" when the federal cavalry, outclassed already by the
      > superior confederate cavalry, was outnumbered almost 4 to 1?

      Grant thought that the Rebel army was in Corinth. He should have had
      vedettes out from the very beginning--not just on April 4th or 5th.
      If the vedettes were driven in, he should have responded in such a
      way as to either a) sweep away a small force of reconnaissance (as
      Sherman apparently thought they were) or b) discover that you are
      about to be attacked in strength (which is what really happened).

      Joseph
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