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The Extent of the Surprise at Shiloh

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  • josepharose <josepharose@yahoo.com>
    The Confederate army which advanced from Corinth to the outskirts of Grant s camps at Shiloh without being discovered achieved a complete strategic surprise.
    Message 1 of 72 , Feb 25, 2003
      The Confederate army which advanced from Corinth to the outskirts of
      Grant's camps at Shiloh without being discovered achieved a complete
      strategic surprise.

      The Union pickets and patrols--especially the one led by Peabody who
      was never given adequate credit by Grant--prevented a complete
      tactical surprise. Even though the Federal front-line regiments
      formed in front of their camps, there is overwhelming evidence that
      a solid tactical surprise had still been gained by the Rebels.

      The Federal front was discontinuous; there were large gaps between
      Sherman and Prentiss and between Prentiss and Stuart. Even within
      the divisions there was a lack of continuity; Appler's regiment was
      out in front by itself without any support on either flank. There
      was little Federal artillery in position to confront the enemy
      assault.

      There was little or no preparation in the camps to receive an
      attack: the tents were still up (which caused some disorder as the
      Federal lines were driven back through the camps), and the sick had
      not been taken to the rear which might require some of the needed
      able-bodied men and would clog the roads leading to the rear..

      The three remaining divisions only started forward after the attack
      had begun and Prentiss had been fighting for hours before he fell
      back to join the men of Hurlbut and Wallace at the Hornet's nest.
      Support for the front-line was not nearky ready early in the
      morning. On top of all that, the Union commander was not even at the
      front until hours after the attack had begun.

      The fact that one regiment was at the front without ammunition and
      had to be sent back toward the landing as the enemy attacked
      suggests the inability of the Federals to properly prepare for an
      attack which they had not expected and were not at all ready for.

      If the Union army had not been tactically surprised, there would
      have been a solid front line, supported by sufficient artillery and
      by nearby reserves, the whole led by its commander.

      Joseph
    • slippymississippi
      ... The particular unit I m thinking of was the 6th Mississippi Infantry Regiment under Cleburne. The unit charged Sherman s lines several times, suffering
      Message 72 of 72 , Mar 6, 2003
        --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "slippymississippi"
        <slippymississippi@y...> wrote:
        > --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "slippymississippi"
        > <slippymississippi@y...> wrote:
        > >
        > > Try looking at it this way: some CSA regiments suffered almost a
        > > 90% casualty rate in killed and wounded, suggesting high unit
        > > cohesion.
        >
        > That should read 70%.

        The particular unit I'm thinking of was the 6th Mississippi Infantry
        Regiment under Cleburne. The unit charged Sherman's lines several
        times, suffering 70% killed and wounded before retiring in disorder.
        Half of the remaining men would reform and fight for the remainder of
        the first day.

        This was the first time this unit had seen the elephant, yet these
        numbers suggest a veteran level unit cohesion. Does anyone have
        numbers on how other Confederate units and federal units fared?
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