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Re: Belmont Union victory?

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  • Will
    ... Cool! Paper or computer? ... interdicting ... towards the ... For an illustration of this see ftp://anchor.ncd.noaa.gov/views_pc/GIF/CHART/cwbnb.gif Though
    Message 1 of 56 , Nov 26, 2002
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      --- In civilwarwest@y..., Jfepperson@a... wrote:
      > In a previous life I designed a regimental-level wargame on Belmont.

      Cool! Paper or computer?


      > It was never published, but in doing the work I saw that
      interdicting
      > the crossing would have subjected the gunboats --- which were not
      > ironclads --- to severe fire from the heavy guns on the bluff.
      > The river is roughly a backwards L at Belmont. Grant landed
      towards the
      > top of the vertical line, and the Confederates crossed the river at
      > the end of the horizontal line.

      For an illustration of this see
      ftp://anchor.ncd.noaa.gov/views_pc/GIF/CHART/cwbnb.gif
      Though this doesn't show where the Confederate reinforcements went in.
      From my understanding they landed around the field that is close to
      the river north of the camp.

      > ...To even bring their guns to bear on
      > the crossing steamers, the gunboats would have had to position
      themselves
      > at the bend in the L, and this would have put them at close range
      to
      > a lot of firepower. I don't think they could have stood up to it
      for
      > very long.

      As it was, the gunboats made sorties around the bend in the river to
      fire on the batteries and then withdraw. Little damage was suffered
      and little was inflicted. I don't think that the gunboats could have
      survived extended exposure to the shore guns, but their mobility
      might have allowed them a more useful role.


      > Having said this, I have a dim memory of reading an account which
      > criticized the gunboat captains for not doing as much as they could
      > have. (Is this in Hughes's book?)

      Yes it was Hughes. I confess to being heavily influenced by his book.


      > ...Part of the issue may have been
      > one of perception and expectation: Maybe the boats could have stood
      > the fire, but the officers didn't think so and so didn't try. Also,
      > if the gunboats had even lobbed a few inaccurate shells into the
      > crossing steamers it might have intimidated the Confederates into
      > not sending more men across.

      What if the gunboats had been held in reserve until transports were
      seen? They could have stayed away from the shore batteries until
      transports were seen pulling away from the opposite shore and then
      they could attempt to close fast on the transports. However,
      achieving that result would require a coordination of action and
      communication that may be asking too much of those involved. So I am
      unsure if what I am suggesting is realistic or not.


      > And, finally, the act of composing this reminded me that some of the
      > CS troops did cross a little further upstream --- more towards the
      > crook of the L --- and this could indeed have been interfered with
      > by more energetic use of the gunboats.

      That is what I had in mind when composing this idea. Apparenty one
      transport did try to land at the camp, but union fire led it to away
      and go up stream. The rest all went upstream. However, the obvious
      flaw in my counter-factual is that if Polk was concerned about the
      gunboats, then he could have selected a downstream landing, though
      this would not have afforded the opportunity to get between Grant and
      his transports.

      ~Will
    • Will
      ... Cool! Paper or computer? ... interdicting ... towards the ... For an illustration of this see ftp://anchor.ncd.noaa.gov/views_pc/GIF/CHART/cwbnb.gif Though
      Message 56 of 56 , Nov 26, 2002
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        --- In civilwarwest@y..., Jfepperson@a... wrote:
        > In a previous life I designed a regimental-level wargame on Belmont.

        Cool! Paper or computer?


        > It was never published, but in doing the work I saw that
        interdicting
        > the crossing would have subjected the gunboats --- which were not
        > ironclads --- to severe fire from the heavy guns on the bluff.
        > The river is roughly a backwards L at Belmont. Grant landed
        towards the
        > top of the vertical line, and the Confederates crossed the river at
        > the end of the horizontal line.

        For an illustration of this see
        ftp://anchor.ncd.noaa.gov/views_pc/GIF/CHART/cwbnb.gif
        Though this doesn't show where the Confederate reinforcements went in.
        From my understanding they landed around the field that is close to
        the river north of the camp.

        > ...To even bring their guns to bear on
        > the crossing steamers, the gunboats would have had to position
        themselves
        > at the bend in the L, and this would have put them at close range
        to
        > a lot of firepower. I don't think they could have stood up to it
        for
        > very long.

        As it was, the gunboats made sorties around the bend in the river to
        fire on the batteries and then withdraw. Little damage was suffered
        and little was inflicted. I don't think that the gunboats could have
        survived extended exposure to the shore guns, but their mobility
        might have allowed them a more useful role.


        > Having said this, I have a dim memory of reading an account which
        > criticized the gunboat captains for not doing as much as they could
        > have. (Is this in Hughes's book?)

        Yes it was Hughes. I confess to being heavily influenced by his book.


        > ...Part of the issue may have been
        > one of perception and expectation: Maybe the boats could have stood
        > the fire, but the officers didn't think so and so didn't try. Also,
        > if the gunboats had even lobbed a few inaccurate shells into the
        > crossing steamers it might have intimidated the Confederates into
        > not sending more men across.

        What if the gunboats had been held in reserve until transports were
        seen? They could have stayed away from the shore batteries until
        transports were seen pulling away from the opposite shore and then
        they could attempt to close fast on the transports. However,
        achieving that result would require a coordination of action and
        communication that may be asking too much of those involved. So I am
        unsure if what I am suggesting is realistic or not.


        > And, finally, the act of composing this reminded me that some of the
        > CS troops did cross a little further upstream --- more towards the
        > crook of the L --- and this could indeed have been interfered with
        > by more energetic use of the gunboats.

        That is what I had in mind when composing this idea. Apparenty one
        transport did try to land at the camp, but union fire led it to away
        and go up stream. The rest all went upstream. However, the obvious
        flaw in my counter-factual is that if Polk was concerned about the
        gunboats, then he could have selected a downstream landing, though
        this would not have afforded the opportunity to get between Grant and
        his transports.

        ~Will
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