What constitutes a surprise?
- Mr. Keene:
You have it backwards. My original post had six paragraphs about
the nature of the Confederate surprise and ended with one free-
standing sentence: "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." These are *not* my criteria of a surprise; these are
what Grant should have had prepared if he had *not* been surprised.
The common criteria of a surprise, just quickly, would be that the
size, makeup, location, movement, and/or intentions of the enemy are
not known with a corresponding lack of preparation to adequately
receive any potential attack.
At Shiloh, Grant did not know the enemy's size, movement, and
location and he totally misread their intentions; he was,
consequently, almost completely unprepared for the ensuing attack.
At Mill Springs, on the other hand, Thomas knew the enemy's location
the day before, and in preparation for a surprise attack, IIRC, had
vedettes a long ways out, backed by pickets, which in turn were
backed by an advance regiment. This gave his force sufficient
notice of the enemy's advance. Federal troops came forward, IIRC,
just as the advance regiment was about to withdraw in the face of
three enemy regiments. With his main body of troops up from their
camps he stopped and then broke the enemy line and then he pursued
and scattered their entire force and captured almost all of their
artillery, camp equipage, and animals.
That's how Grant should have done it, but Grant was surprised and
unprepared and his army paid for it with their lives. If he had
been prepared to receive an attack in a very defensible, unflankable
position by an enemy who only outnumbered his by some 20%, the
Rebels should have been beaten off easily after suffering heavy
losses, and the imminent presence of Buell's army and Wallace's
division should have allowed an overwhelming pursuit.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Will <wh_keene@y...>"
> --- In email@example.com, "josepharose<josepharose@y...>"
> <josepharose@y...> wrote:as
> > ...
> > None of these battles exhibited the level of surprise at Shiloh.
> These battles exhibited similar levels of suprise based on your
> expressed criteria--"a solid front line, supported by sufficient
> artillery and by nearby reserves, the whole led by its commander"
> well as the your comments about tents, etc.Federals
> > At Mills Springs, the Rebels' overnight march ran into the
> > vedettes which were stationed out far enough to prevent anyup
> > significant surprise. This was not at all similar to Shiloh.
> Why not? There was not a solid front line, the tents were still
> in the camp, the commanding general had to be fetched from thecamp,
> > At Stone's River, the extent of surprise probably came closest
> > Shiloh's, but the troops engaged were face-to-face with theenemy
> > and knew that there would be fighting the next day. Theenemy
> > Confederates achieved a good deal of surprise by concentrating
> > on their left and extending past the Federal flank early in the
> > morning.
> Yes, and thereby there was not a solid front line to meet that
> advance. Thus by your criteria, there was significant tacticalimminent.
> > At Chickamauga, there would be a certain amount of surprise any
> > troops came charging out of the forest. Again, however, the two
> > armies were facing each other and knew that fighting was
> > The big problem wasn't any surprise per se, but the positioningof
> > troops along the line.was
> Isn't that your argument abotu Shiloh too?
> When Thomas sent a detachment out on Sept 19 at Chicka maugua, he
> poorly informed as to the presence of the enemy. When the enemy
> attacked, it was not meet with a solid front line with reserves
> nearby and artillery in place.
> Your explanation for why you claimed Shiloh was such a tactical
> suprise seems applicable to all these other battles.
- --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "slippymississippi"
> --- In email@example.com, "slippymississippi"The particular unit I'm thinking of was the 6th Mississippi Infantry
> <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%.
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?