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7874Re: BLOODY HILL by William Riley Brooksher

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  • carlw4514@yahoo.com
    Sep 1, 2001
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      Actually, Joe, it is Sigel who gets routed while the main body
      of Union troops makes a firm stand. Some officers argued that they
      should continue to hold Bloody Hill rather than retreat, since the
      Rebs hadn't succeeded in pushing them off. I think retreat was a wise
      move as casualties were about even and continued fighting would have
      meant, at an even rate of casualties, the 2 to 1 advantage the Secesh
      troops had would have meant the battle would have come to a point
      where all of a sudden the Yank resistance would have crumbled, IMHO
      (the author does not give himself up to such speculation). It is
      possible that the next move by the Rebs would have been to regroup as
      both sides were low on ammunition, leaving the hill to the Federals,
      but seems to me this would have been a temporary respite.
      As for Sigel, he insisted on the plan to divide the army and
      have his 1200 troops make a surprise attack in the rear of the
      Southerners. Against the advice of all other officers, Lyon agreed to
      the plan, apparently figuring this was the only way to get this
      difficult man to cooperate at all. It turns out that Sigel gets to
      answer the question: "What happens if you cut the supply line of your
      opponent in his rear with a force that is very small?" The answer:
      your outraged foe makes you a top priority and cleans your clock. This
      is what happened, Sigel is routed early on after succeeding with his
      surprise initially; early war confusion about uniforms allowed the
      Rebs to approach within a few paces before opening fire on Sigel,
      rapidly reversing fortunes.
      This is where the Southern troops "get their act together,"
      turning away from the disappearing "Dutch" troops to concentrate on
      Lyon. The whereabouts of Sigel becomes a mystery to the Yanks, causing
      a lot of their problems. Lyon's plan really was to surprise his enemy
      with a smash to send them reeling, then retreat to Rolla, Missouri. He
      totally blamed Freemont's lack of support for his untenable position,
      correctly I think. There was great concern that the withdrawal would
      have been ugly without this attack; it succeeded in this respect, but
      probably only because of the feuding between Price and McCulloch, not
      because the blow was really severe enough to prevent subsequent
      harassment; the Reb cavalry was unused, for example. (Again that's in
      my humble opinion, certainly it was one heck of a fight.)
      Carl


      --- In civilwarwest@y..., hartshje@a... wrote:

      > Carl,
      >
      > In the several versions I have read about Wilson's Creek, the Rebs
      > recover from their surprise, get their act together, force Lyon's
      men
      > back, Lyon is killed trying to rally them, and the line falls apart
      > at that time and is basically routed. Sigel's flanking column
      hardly
      > makes a showing at all, and then retreats when Lyon's force flees
      the
      > scene. Do you know what changed the story? Or am I just
      remembering
      > incorrectly? I visited the battlefield back in 1976. It was fairly
      > pristine at that time. I don't know how much has changed since
      then.
      >
      > Joe H.
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