Re: Sherman's Insubordination at Chattanooga
For starters, regarding Cozzens "Shipwreck of their Hopes", the
following are from the archives of this message board. Whether o
rnot you appreciate the editorializing by Brooks and myself, there
are references in these messages to mistakes by Cozzens.
Date: Tue May 22, 2001 1:15 am
Subject: Peter Cozzens's Shipwreck ...
--- In civilwarwest@y..., josepharose@y... wrote:
> Although books such as Cozzens' trilogy might not read as easily as
> these other, more popular biographies and histories, they can be a
> useful antidote to works that contain too many mistakes to be
> considered a reliable source of information.
Let's see what happens if we apply Mr. Rose's claim to Mr. Cozzens's
book on Chattanooga.
Let me give an example. In support of his claim that Grant's orders
for a pursuit were "somewhat contradictory in tone and content,"
Cozzens repriints the texts of Grant's instructions to Sherman and
Thomas, adding that both dispatches "are worth relating in full"
352). Hoverver, if one compares the text of Grant's November 25
letter to Sherman (page 353) with the text as given in *The Papers of
Ulysses S. Grant*, 9:451-52, one notes that Cozzens's text omits a
critical postscript that alters Grant's original instructions to
Sherman and brings them in line with the orders to Thomas.
So what should we make of this? That Cozzens made an error damaging
to Grant because on the whole his four battle studies tend to
disparage Grant? Or do we apply different sorts of criticism to books
who tend to support our own predispositions while lambasting those
whose findings are at variance with our own preferences?
From: "wh_keene" <wh_keene@y...>
Date: Mon Jun 3, 2002 10:00 pm
Subject: Cozzens and Giles Smith Brigade
Continuing with some of my other recent comments, I now wish to gripe
about the way Cozzens describes the movement of the 1st Brigade, 2nd
Divisions, 15th Corps on Nov. 25th. Cozzens describes the movement
of this brigade on pages 241-243 and on the maps on pages 213 and 228.
When Giles Smith is wounded on the 24th, Tupper assumes command. It
is unclear who commands on the 25th as the maps label the force as
Tupper but the text refers to Smith. Is this just poor editing?
Anyway, this brigade occupies the eastern most portion of Sherman's
line, being positioned along the Western & Atlantic railroad as it
curves around the north end of the ridge and passes along the South
Chickamauga Creek. Cozzens boldly states that it came "within rifle
range of cracking the fragile shell of Cleburne's defenses to the
right of Tunnel Hill." I have a hard time telling if Cozzens
believes all this or just thinks his readers are that easy to fool.
First I have a complaint about the map (page 213 and 228 same base
map). The map is cropped such that the Chickamaugua enters the map
at the upper right, but the course of the creek above that point is
not shown. However there is a mysterious shaded area at the right
edge about the middle of the map--This is also the creek. Thus what
is not shown by the maps on 213 and 228 is that the creek curves
sharply and passes along the eastern side of the hill on which Lowrey
is shown in such a way that the banks are very steep on the eastern
side of the hill and that there is no room to pass on the eastern
side of that hill without crossing the creek.
Anyway, this curve of the creek, which is not shown, and the way this
curve steeply hugs the hill, explains why Giles Smith's brigade
would "swing suddenly right". However, Cozzens describes this change
in direction without explanation, in a way that I found suggests it
was an inexplicable command decision. In reality the brigade had no
choice other than to attempt to cross the Chickamauga, where it would
be isolated and opposed by the brigades of Wright and Polk (also not
shown on any map).
Backing up for a moment, Cozzens describes the formation of the
brigade as having the 55th IL and 6th Mo in front and "the remaining
five regiments and one battalion" behind, yet the organization of the
brigade (see listing in back of book) only included four other
regiments and one battalion!
Getting back to what Cozzens sees as the potential for this brigades,
he suggests that it could have come in on the left of Tunnel Hill to
support the attack happening there. But as his map and narrative
show, there (a) wasn't much room for another brigade to assault the
hill and (b) there was a whole lot of opposition in its way. Though
Cozzens down plays any opposition at this point by only referring to
Lowrey, a look at the maps and a careful paying attention to the
narrative shows there is also:
1) Lewis's Brigade"a few hundred feet behind Smith, on the eastern
slope of Tunnel Hill" [page 211], and
2) Govan's Brigade (minus one regiment)"There fronting northward,
Govan was to protect Smith's flank and rear. With a few troops to
spare the Arkansan stretched out a line of skirmishers all the way to
South Chickamauga Creek." [page 153].
Then Cozzens claims that Giles Smith's brigade is "behind enemy
From: "wh_keene" <wh_keene@y...>
Date: Thu May 30, 2002 9:18 pm
Subject: Cozzens, Sherman and November 24, 1863
I know this has been discussed a lot in the past, but I need to vent
my frustration with the way Sherman's action on November 24th, 1863
are portrayed in Cozzens' book Shipwreck of Their Hopes.
Cozzens criticizes Sherman extensively (he seems to seek out any
opportunity to do so throughout the book). The major criticisms of
Sherman seems to be that he delayd before moving forward from the
crossing point, he was slow in moving and his disposiitons at the end
of the day were bad.
Why did it take so long before he moved out from the bridgehead? The
bridge took all morning to build and Sherman wasn't going to move out
until it was done and he had his 3 divisions together. Why did the
bridge take all morning? Cozzen's doesn't look at this, but seems to
me there are good reasons: the river is about a quarter of a mile
wide at this point and was much swollen with rain (in several other
places Cozzen's refers to the rough state of the river, but no
mention is made of it here). Also note the length of time needed by
others to build smaller bridges (those done under Hooker's command
over Lookout Creek or Chattanooga Creek for example). In context,
Sherman's bridge does not take excessive time. Why did Sherman wait
for all three divisions to be across the river before moving out?
What I wonder is why this decision is labeled anything but prudent.
He was isolated from his base with limited intelligence as to enemy
positions and in the middle of constructing a river crossing.
Hindsight tells us that there was no serious threat to the
bridgehead, but that was not the perception at the time.
Sherman is also criticized for moving too slowly once he gets going
since his force crosses less than two miles in two hours. But based
on the uncertain intelligence as to locations of the enemy, constant
expectation of attack, weather conditions that limited movement and
visibility, and the difficulties of terrain, this doesn't seem that
bad. Note that Geary's marching speed up Lookout valley during the
same day is not much faster. Consider that two½ miles per hour is
considered good marching speed for regular road movement under normal
Thus under adverse conditions with expected enemy contact, a slower
speed would be natural.
Time and visibility are key factors here as well. Cozzen's states
that the dawn came at 5:30. I am not sure what his source is for
this, but from my research sunrise was around 7:30 and `civil
twilight' was around 6:30
[http://aa.usno.navy.mil/faq/docs/RST_defs.html]. Add to this that
it is repeatedly pointed out that November 24th was raining, foggy
and generally gray. In discussing the action on Lookout mountain
this is brought up repeatedly indicating how poor visibility is.
Based on weather conditions I find it hard to imagine that there was
much illumination prior to 6:30 and that even at sunrise the
visibility would have been restricted. The question of weather
conditions and visibility is a factor in the later part of the day
too. Cozzen indicates that Hooker decided at 2pm(!) that it was time
to halt his advance because of the worsening weather. This ought to
be kept in mind when considering Sherman's situation. Cozzens says
that only Smith's Texans of Cleburne's Division were seen on Tunnel
Hill. Yet what was really just a brigade would be hard to estimate
if dimly made out across the way. The phrase `fog of war' is doubly
Cozzens bolsters his argument with criticisms of Sherman by W.F.
Smith and Boynton. Both criticisms are weak but Cozzens doesn't
bother to analyze them. Boynton argues that Sherman should have been
knocking on house doors to gather intelligence. There are several
problems with this, a few of which are: was the area between the
bridge and he hills significantly populated? would the local populace
give a warm welcome (or accurate info) to this invader? And prior to
the late afternoon was there awareness that the information and maps
needed supplementing? Cozzens quotes, without questioning, W.F.
Smith saying that Sherman met no resistance. However Cozzens prior
narrative indicates that this is just plain false--clashes occur with
portions of Cleburne's command and with Wright's Brigade.
Cozzens does points out weaknesses in intelligence, reconnaissance
and maps that were all a problem. Yet this is not explored further.
It would have been nice if Cozzens had examined why there was an
information breakdown. [In a side note, Cozzens has Howard meeting
Sherman at the bridge over the Chickamauga. This is a mistake: they
meet at the bridge over the Tennessee.]
Finally, Cozzens says "Sherman deployed his command oddly, in a
manner suited to neither attack nor defend." He goes on to identify
those dispositions accurately, but never explains why it is his
conclusion that it is faulty. I see no obvious reason at all why
Sherman's dispositions are faulty--if anyone wishes to explan this to
me please do. In fact it appears to me that Sherman's dispositions
are excellent: he commands 12 brigadeshe divides them into 3
left/rear; 3 center; 3 right; and 3 reserve. Yet Cozzen's remark
just hangs there unexplained. Cozzens also remarks that Sherman did
not use Davis, though Cozzens provides no suggestion as to what other
duty or position Davis should have been used for. In my opinion
Davis is performing a critical military function at Sherman's
direction (Davis is the 3 left/rear brigades I refer to above).
Sherman has established a bridgehead over a wide river and over a
lesser, yet important, creek and he has advanced his main force about
two miles from that bridgehead. The enemy disposition is imperfectly
known, though he is known to be present east of the Chickamaugua.
Davis is protecting both the bridges and the connection between
Sherman's position and the bridges. It should also be noted that
Davis's Division did not cross the river until afternoon. Thus
Sherman is making full and wise use of Davis.
From: "wh_keene" <wh_keene@y...>
Date: Mon Jun 3, 2002 10:00 pm
Subject: More griping about Cozzens
The maps in Cozzens's books have received praise. In some respect
they are good. But every now and then there are things that make me
bonkers. I previous noted my problem with the way the Tunnel Hill
maps were cropped so that it is unclear what is happening along the
Chickamauga to the east. I am also bothered by the way some of the
maps are cropped at the top and bottom. Look at the Tunnel Hill Map
on page 228: Loomis' men are facing off the map. Look at the
Missionary Ridge Map on page 266the Brigades at the north end are
facing nothing. Actually, theses two forces are facing each other!
But you'd never get that from the maps.
Here's another thing in the book which is typical of how Cozzens
drives me bonkers:
Page 244: " the rebels across the valley enjoyed numerical parity."
Page 248: " approximately sixteen thousand men against an attacking
force of some twenty-three thousand."
Cozzens must be using some fuzzy math whereby 16,000 is numerically
on par with 23,000!
I even have issues with how he comes up with the 16,000 number. He
is talking about the force on the ridge which opposes Thomas's four
divisions. Yet he includes Cheatham's Division which is to the north
of Baird and does not get involved until Baird reaches the top of the
ridge and he includes all of Stewart's Division though two brigades
are detached to the south facing Hooker's approach and Hooker's force
is not includes in the 23,000 number for Thomas. So I think the
16,000 number is too high.
Besides having a 2 to 1 numerical advantage, Thomas also faces an
enemy line which is stretched out so thinly there are no reserves,
neighboring units are not in close support of each other and in fact
there are serious gaps between some units. Compared to Sherman, it
almost looks like Thomas had the easier assignment.
--- In civilwarwest@y..., "Robert\(Bob\) Taubman" <rtaubman@r...>
> Please, for someone who has four of Cozzens' waiting to be read,
> should be noted and in what books? Thanx.
> Bob Taubman
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "wh_keene" <wh_keene@y...>
> To: <civilwarwest@y...>
> Sent: Thursday, August 01, 2002 12:20 PM
> Subject: [civilwarwest] Re: Sherman's Insubordination at Chattanooga
> | --- In civilwarwest@y..., "josepharose" <josepharose@y...> wrote:
> | > Of course, Cozzens makes mistakes. They are, in general, not
> | > and he doesn't tend to play favorites.
> | Wow. I disagree with a great many things Joe says, but this has
> | be one of the biggest. Cozzens plays favorites in a huge way and I
> | think some of his mistakes are major.
> | Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to
- In a message dated 8/8/02 4:25:02 PM, josepharose@... writes:
<< Now, which of the two men, Wood or Grant, had been bending the truth
(if not breaking it)? I think that the evidence heavily points to
Grant. Because I think that he did so, I question his integrity,
here and elsewhere. >>
It appears to me that you cherry pick data to support your presumption that
Grant was a worthless fool. Grant's contemporaries - even enemies - praised
his integrity to the max. So how come that by standing in the dim hindsight
of 150 years you are able to see what they did not see?
Finally please explain why Thomas is incapable of standing on his own merit
and can only be praised by faulting Grant?