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43542Re: McPherson's Flanking Movement at Port Gibson

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  • Tony Gunter
    Apr 29, 2007
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      --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "James W. Durney" <JWD2044@...>
      > In addition, none of these so-
      > called "errors" are more than small details that have little or no
      > impact on history. However, to the attacker, this so-call "error"
      > invalidate some very impressive work becuse they just know they
      > are "right".

      Bearss: McPherson "ran into" the 6th MO Cavalry (US) after it made a
      raid on the railroad to New Orleans. No mention made of effect this
      raid had on Maxey's arrival.

      Reality: McPherson ordered 6th MO Cavalry to raid the railroad, a move
      not without risk since the 6th MO was McPherson's only full regiment of
      cavalry and Grant had plans to detach McPherson to operate
      independently against Jackson. This raid prevented Maxey's 3300 men
      from reaching the Raymond/Jackson area until after Grant was on the
      doorstep of Vicksburg.

      Bearss: McPherson fed his troops in piecemeal.

      Reality: McPherson posted Dennis' Brigade in front and used DeGolyer's
      battery to clear the 35 man picket on the bridge. He used the hilltop
      1/2 mile behind Dennis to hide the deployment of Logan's remaining two
      brigades. Only after he had refused his flank and posted a strong
      reserve did he order his men forward. This unconventional deployment
      would lure Gregg into attacking a force nearly double his size.

      Bearss: The federal line wavered and broke in places.

      Reality: The federal line was ordered out of the thick tangles and back
      to the fence, leading Col. Walker of the 3rd TN to believe he had
      pushed the line out of the woods. Members of the 20th OH reported
      hearing Logan "turn [the 20th Illinois] back to their place in line,"
      but Logan was actually trying to correct for the error made by Manning
      Force in charging forward into the creekbed. The 68th OH, which Bearss
      claims to have fled the field of battle, actually was moved by the left
      flank to the federal extreme left and saw almost no action for the
      duration of the battle.

      Bearss: The federal artillery was posted 1/2 mile back on the ridge-top
      and carried on a long-range artillery duel for the duration of the

      Reality: In Napoleonic style, McPherson used a massed artillery battery
      very close to the front line to refuse his left flank ... eventually
      employing all but 4 of his 22 cannon in this fashion. The Confederates
      never seriously threatened his left flank, but the 1st TN Battalion
      suffered 15% casualties executing a feint in this sector late in the

      Bearss: McPherson failed to pursue the retreating Confederates in any

      Reality: McPherson pushed DeGolyer's battery across Fourteen Mile
      Creek, and unlimbered it within 700 yards of the road along which
      Gregg's men were retreating. Confederate casaulty figures reported
      about 500 men killed, wounded, and missing, but these numbers were
      taken immediately after the initial fight. McPherson's final report of
      Confederate casualties appears to include an additional 300 men who
      simply refused to run this 1/2 mile artillery gauntlet, or were
      snatched up in the cavalry pursuit. After Gregg's men had withdrawn
      into Raymond, they were joined by an ad-hoc brigade of cavalry that
      fought the rearguard. McPherson's single battalion of cavalry fought
      these troopers for two miles before retiring shortly after dark.

      Bearss: McPherson reported that he had faced two batteries and 5000 -
      6000 men who were withdrawing back to Jackson. This indicates that
      McPherson was embarassed that he had allowed a vastly inferior force
      keep him at bay for six hours.

      Reality: McPherson's report would have been based on prisoners picked
      up from the field, beginning with Captain Hall's state troops
      encountered several miles south of Raymond (50 men), Gregg's Brigade
      encountered 2 miles south of Raymond (3000 men and one battery), Wirt
      Adams Cavalry and a regiment of Mississippi Mounted Infantry (1250 men)
      encountered between Raymond and Mississippi Springs, and WHT Walker's
      Brigade (1000 men and one battery), elements of which fought in the
      rearguard action. This totals to 5300 men and two batteries.
      Concerning the duration of the battle, McPherson did not order his men
      forward until noon, and the Confederate retreat began around four.

      All of these points are major problems with Bearss' interpretation of
      the battle, all of these points can be proven in the primary resources,
      and the totality of the differences between what Bearss states and what
      the primary resources show is a 180 degree change in who proved himself
      the tactical master and who proved himself unable to measure up to the
      task at hand.
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