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46233RE: [civilwarwest] JAN -JUN 1862 in the western theater

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  • John D. Beatty
    Apr 13, 2009
      Most CW books aren't going to tell you about the importance of that period in the West except through the lens of McClellan and the Peninsula.  The Shiloh raid in April 1862 was, for the Confederacy, their first strategic offensive and the largest army they would put together west of the Alleghenies until September 1863.  The biggest issue in the West (which is easy to define: Everything west of the Tennessee border) was control of the rivers, being the Cumberland, Ohio, Tennessee, Mississippi and Yazoo, to start.  It was a deal more complex than that, but the most important avenues of transportation at that time were the waterways.  Rails were important and getting more important with every month, but in the period you're talking about it was first rivers, then rails.

      Getting to Shiloh meant displacing the Confederates in Kentucky and middle Tennessee, and that was done by taking Forts Henry and Donelson.  Both were done using waterborne mobility.  Corinth as a rail junction was important to the region, but after the fall of Island #10 and New Orleans it lost its signficance as a transportation hub in the Mississippi Valley.  By the time Hallekc low-crawled Grant's and Buell's combined armies there it was pretty well superfluous.

      Leading the troops doing most of the Union's military maneuvering was indeed Grant, but Charles F. Smith was an important influence on the decision to move on Corinth from Fort Henry amd Nashville via Pittsburg Landing.  Smith died just after Shiloh of sepsis and had no command during the battle, but history seems to ignore him.  Ignored in all of this was the importance of Tennessee itself.  A quarter of the powder production and nearly half the beef and hogs in the trans-Appalacians came from middle and western Tennessee.  Without Tennessee no Confederate army east of the Mississippi and west of Virginia could easily feed itself.

      Maybe this will help...but maybe my book will.

      John D. Beatty
      Co-Author of "What Were They Thinking" from Merriam Press/Lulu
      "History is our only test for the consequences of ideas"

      -------- Original Message --------
      Subject: [civilwarwest] JAN -JUN 1862 in the western theater
      From: "jackdotsmit" <jackdotsmit@...>
      Date: Mon, April 13, 2009 11:14 am
      To: civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com

      I am trying to do a chronological analysis of the western theater from Jan -Jun 1862 and the importance of this period specifically. I have been unable to find good information of this period as to why it is significant; if it is significant and exactly what states defined the western theater in this time frame. Many historians differ on the territory and states considered the western theater. Best I can tell this is where Grant made a name for himself. This particular time in history seems to be left unexamined or I am looking in the wrong books. IT is easy to chronologically list the battles and the 1000 that died, but I want to learn what impact these battles had on the war, the people that fought the battles and the united states as a whole. Was this a turning point? Any insight or direction you can provide for this specific period would be helpful.

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