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Re: shiloh plan of attack

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  • aot1952
    There were several arguable defects in the Confederate plan of attack at Shiloh. First, from a purely tactical manual point of view the plan called for three
    Message 1 of 14 , Apr 9, 2002
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      There were several arguable defects in the Confederate plan of attack
      at Shiloh.
      First, from a purely 'tactical' manual point of view the plan called
      for three separate but continuous 2 mile long battle lines. All three
      of these lengthy battle lines were to move forward simulatanously
      while maintaining their alignment and the continuity of their
      individual battle lines. Such large continuous battle line
      alignments were never successfully maintained at any time throughout
      the Civil War. To maintain these two mile long battle lines required
      that a private on the left side of Cleburne's Brigade had to step off
      at or near the exact same time that a soldier two miles to the east
      on the righside of Chalmer's Brigade stepped off. Combine the green
      nature of the troops involved with the broken terrain of Shiloh and
      it made the assault column totally unworkable. As things developed
      the other obvious error with the two mile long continuous battle line
      was that it was very hard to get it started. Thus almost an hour
      passed between Peabody's recon discovery of the confederates in
      Fraley Field and the Confedetrate front line 'stepping off' in
      unison. Thus the great Confedwerate strategic surprise tossed away a
      potentionally devastating tactical surprise. In addition the
      alignment of necessity had to envision that at some time the second
      and third lines respectfully would have to "pass though" the first
      line.( i.e. the second line would 'pass though' the first line and
      thus replace the first line as the front line in the assault column)
      This particular "passing though" manuever in Hardee's Light Infantry
      tactics was one of the most difficult and confusing things that
      battalions were ever called upon to perform. Only the most veteran
      and well drilled units were capable of successfully pulling off this
      manuever. None of the Confederate units at Shiloh were well prepared
      or capable of performing this manuever on a parade field let alone
      under enemy fire. Thus instead of maintaining any depth and power
      when the first line was stopped for any time (like in front of Shiloh
      Church) the second and third lines instead of "passing though" the
      first line they simply stacked up on top of the first line.
      It should be noticed that the 'continuous' two long battle line broke
      down almost from the very beginning. Before Cleburne's brigade even
      made initial contact with Sherman's Division around Shiloh Church
      Wood's Confederate Brigade had allready broken away from Cleburne's
      right.
      In addition the initial Confederate Assault formation made no
      provision for Sidney Johnston's stated desire to drive the US forces
      away from Pittsburg Landing back towards the Snake Creek bottoms. The
      actual assault formation made no provision for a stronger assault
      power on the confederate right. A stronger assault column on the
      confederate right would have driven the US forces away from Pittsburg
      Landing instead of towards it as the actual attack formation in fact
      did work. As the bludgeoning actual assault formation in fact worked
      rather than exploiting a weak Union left it in fact just forced the
      entire Union force back onto their base and ultimate point of link up
      with Buell's forces at the Landing.
      Finally as others have indicated Corps wide battle lines made for
      terribly difficult 'command and control' problems, even if the troops
      had been veterans.
      The actual assault formation was the product of Thomas Jordan's
      prolific pen. Jordan was Beauregard's Chief of Staff. He is the same
      man who conceived of the rather complicated and convoluted approach
      to Shiloh march of the Confederate Army.
      Regards-
      Wakefield




      > a couple of our members mentioned that the Confederate plan of
      attack,
      > which was designed by Beauregard, not ASJ, was flawed, but no one
      > expanded on it. What was wrong, exactly?
    • carlw4514
      I knew you would have the answer, AoT, thanx! that makes sense.
      Message 2 of 14 , Apr 9, 2002
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        I knew you would have the answer, AoT, thanx! that makes sense.

        --- In civilwarwest@y..., "aot1952" <wakefield1952@m...> wrote:
        > There were several arguable defects in the Confederate plan of attack
        > at Shiloh.
        > First, from a purely 'tactical' manual point of view the plan called
        > for three separate but continuous 2 mile long battle lines. All three
        > of these lengthy battle lines were to move forward simulatanously
        > while maintaining their alignment and the continuity of their
        > individual battle lines. Such large continuous battle line
        > alignments were never successfully maintained at any time throughout
        > the Civil War. To maintain these two mile long battle lines required
        > that a private on the left side of Cleburne's Brigade had to step off
        > at or near the exact same time that a soldier two miles to the east
        > on the righside of Chalmer's Brigade stepped off. Combine the green
        > nature of the troops involved with the broken terrain of Shiloh and
        > it made the assault column totally unworkable. As things developed
        > the other obvious error with the two mile long continuous battle line
        > was that it was very hard to get it started. Thus almost an hour
        > passed between Peabody's recon discovery of the confederates in
        > Fraley Field and the Confedetrate front line 'stepping off' in
        > unison. Thus the great Confedwerate strategic surprise tossed away a
        > potentionally devastating tactical surprise. In addition the
        > alignment of necessity had to envision that at some time the second
        > and third lines respectfully would have to "pass though" the first
        > line.( i.e. the second line would 'pass though' the first line and
        > thus replace the first line as the front line in the assault column)
        > This particular "passing though" manuever in Hardee's Light Infantry
        > tactics was one of the most difficult and confusing things that
        > battalions were ever called upon to perform. Only the most veteran
        > and well drilled units were capable of successfully pulling off this
        > manuever. None of the Confederate units at Shiloh were well prepared
        > or capable of performing this manuever on a parade field let alone
        > under enemy fire. Thus instead of maintaining any depth and power
        > when the first line was stopped for any time (like in front of Shiloh
        > Church) the second and third lines instead of "passing though" the
        > first line they simply stacked up on top of the first line.
        > It should be noticed that the 'continuous' two long battle line broke
        > down almost from the very beginning. Before Cleburne's brigade even
        > made initial contact with Sherman's Division around Shiloh Church
        > Wood's Confederate Brigade had allready broken away from Cleburne's
        > right.
        > In addition the initial Confederate Assault formation made no
        > provision for Sidney Johnston's stated desire to drive the US forces
        > away from Pittsburg Landing back towards the Snake Creek bottoms. The
        > actual assault formation made no provision for a stronger assault
        > power on the confederate right. A stronger assault column on the
        > confederate right would have driven the US forces away from Pittsburg
        > Landing instead of towards it as the actual attack formation in fact
        > did work. As the bludgeoning actual assault formation in fact worked
        > rather than exploiting a weak Union left it in fact just forced the
        > entire Union force back onto their base and ultimate point of link up
        > with Buell's forces at the Landing.
        > Finally as others have indicated Corps wide battle lines made for
        > terribly difficult 'command and control' problems, even if the troops
        > had been veterans.
        > The actual assault formation was the product of Thomas Jordan's
        > prolific pen. Jordan was Beauregard's Chief of Staff. He is the same
        > man who conceived of the rather complicated and convoluted approach
        > to Shiloh march of the Confederate Army.
        > Regards-
        > Wakefield
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > > a couple of our members mentioned that the Confederate plan of
        > attack,
        > > which was designed by Beauregard, not ASJ, was flawed, but no one
        > > expanded on it. What was wrong, exactly?
      • carlw4514
        Please tell me that this creek did not make a gap somewhere [g] ... [...]
        Message 3 of 14 , Apr 9, 2002
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          Please tell me that this creek did not make a gap somewhere [g]

          --- In civilwarwest@y..., "aot1952" <wakefield1952@m...> wrote:
          [...]
          > Johnston's stated desire to drive the US forces
          > away from Pittsburg Landing back towards the Snake Creek bottoms.
        • FLYNSWEDE@AOL.COM
          Hello wakefield1952@msn.com, In reference to your comment: è The actual assault formation was the product of è Thomas Jordan s prolific pen. Jordan was
          Message 4 of 14 , Apr 10, 2002
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            Hello wakefield1952@...,

            In reference to your comment:

            è The actual assault formation was the product of
            è Thomas Jordan's  prolific pen. Jordan was Beauregard's
            è Chief of Staff. He is the same  man who conceived of
            è the rather complicated and convoluted approach  to
            è Shiloh march of the Confederate Army. Regards-
            è Wakefield

            Thankyou Mr Wakefield.    I keep on having mental blocks (we call them Senior Moments down here) on Jordan's name.  Jordan also was in (going by memory now) in Sherman's class at West Point.

            Wayne
          • aot1952
            Yes Wayne, Thomas Jordan was a member of the Class of 1840. At least for part of his four years he was Sherman s roommate. Wakefield
            Message 5 of 14 , Apr 10, 2002
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              Yes Wayne, Thomas Jordan was a member of the Class of 1840. At least
              for part of his four years he was Sherman's roommate.
              Wakefield
            • hartshje
              ... Wakefield, This was an awesome analysis!! Great job, and thanks! Joe H.
              Message 6 of 14 , Apr 11, 2002
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                --- In civilwarwest@y..., "aot1952" <wakefield1952@m...> wrote:
                > There were several arguable defects in the Confederate plan of
                > attack at Shiloh. ...

                Wakefield,

                This was an awesome analysis!! Great job, and thanks!

                Joe H.
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