Re: Grant's orders to Prentiss
- Copy of a message I wrote for the Grant Message Board:
I'm a little baffled by the origin and direction of this argument,
but also I am peturbed by some of the accusations made. In the two
posts above, Brooks responded very ably to some of Joe's comments. I
would like to add my own response. Since one of Joes accusations
is "you have nothing which contradicts Prentiss", I offer this:
Prentiss claims in his report that at the time Hurlbut was forced
back, he and Wallace (WH) "consulted, and agreed to hold our
positions at all hazards."
Two interesting points about this:
1) The fact of consultation indicates there was some question at that
point as to whether or not to "hold our positions at all hazards."
Since Prentiss notes that his decision to hold was based on
consultation and agreement, not simple following of orders, therefore
the order from Grant to which Prentiss earlier refers was not as iron-
clad as has been argued or may not really have been the "final order".
2) Tuttle, one of Wallace's brigade commanders, reports that at this
same time Wallace ordered him to withdraw his brigade, thus
contradicting the idea that Wallace agreed to remain in place.
Here is what I am truely baffled about:
Joe agrees "that there is some basis to *suggest* that "Grant
expected Prentiss to pull back with the other divisions,"".
If he so agrees, then does this not imply that Grant's orders to
Prentiss included the expectation that Prentiss would fall back from
his position when other divisions fell back? Does this not support
I would like to add another prespective to this issue aswell:
According to his report, the position in which Prentiss is in at the
time Grant gives his approval and directs him to hold at all hazards
is "to the right of General Hurlbut, and to the left of Brig. Gen.
W.H.L. Wallace". By his own account his position is defined by its
relationship to the other commands, not by a geographical location.
Thus when Hurlbut is forced back, by not also falling back, Prentiss
is no longer maintaining his relative position. Prentiss acknowledges
this by saying that "This position I did maintain until 4 o'clock
p.m., when General Hulrbut, being overpowered, was forced to
retire.", implying that 4 o'clock was when he stopped
maintaining "This position".
- This has been a most interesting discussion. Based on what Slippy
says, and the general chorus of agreement, am I correct in drawing
the conclusion that the pow-wow between Prentiss and Wallace was not
over whether to retreat, but whether to "shift left"? And how long,
approximately, were Prentiss's men out there on their own before they
--- In civilwarwest@y..., "bjer50010" <bjewell@i...> wrote:
> --- In civilwarwest@y..., "hartshje" <Hartshje@a...> wrote:
> > --- In civilwarwest@y..., "slippymississippi" wrote:
> > >
> > > Hurlbut only states that he notified Prentiss that he was
> > > left, not falling back. At the point that Hurlbut shifts to
> > > the attackers massing to his left , Prentiss speaks with
> > > and together they shift left to cover the position left by
> > > Hurlbut.
> > >
> > > Simultaneous to this, two massive assault columns are moving
> > > through the thickets towards Prentiss' left (Hurlbut) and right
> > > (Wallace). Soon after the shift was completed, Wallace was
> > > dead and his men routed. Hurlbut was thrown back in a near-
> > > At that point, troops were converging on roads *behind*
> > > position. Even if Prentiss had wanted to escape at the instant
> > > that Hurlbut began to withdraw, his path would have been
> > >
> > > The fact of the matter is that Prentiss did *indeed* attempt to
> > > flee the position after realizing his situation. However, the
> > > envelopment was complete and he was unable to cut his way out.
> > > I still maintain that the thickets and smoke prevented Prentiss
> > > from realizing both the urgency of Hurlbut's withdrawal and the
> > > extent to which Wallace's division had disintegrated. In fact,
> > > disintegration was probably more a result of the sudden and
> > > overwhelming artillery bombardment by the entire Confederate
> > > corps than the death of Wallace. At this point, the
> > > reports read that Prentiss' men attempted to fight their way
> > > but were finally overpowered.
> > >
> > > In light of Prentiss' self-serving claim to have saved the day,
> > > his belated attempt to abandon the position, I think his claim
> > > he was sacrificing his command in order to hold the position to
> > > bitter end is a bit overblown.
> > Slippy,
> > I think this is an excellent analysis of the events leading to
> > Prentiss' surrender. Thanks!! I think we should all just give
> > Prentiss credit for a courageous, hard-fought fight which,
> > incidentally, also helped save Grant's butt, whether or not
> > Prentiss' "sacrifice" was intentional.
> > Joe H.
> I completely agree with Joe H. Very interesting description of the
> final stages of Prentiss' stand. It does appear that once the
> gone there was almost no chance for Prentiss to get out. It also
> makes the issue of whether Grant issued orders to withdraw or not
> almost irrelevant. Prentiss and Wallace certainly deserve credit
> a courageous stand, but I do think Prentiss may have overstated his
> case somewhat.
> JB Jewell