Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

What constitutes a surprise?

Expand Messages
  • josepharose <josepharose@yahoo.com>
    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:
    Message 1 of 72 , Feb 28, 2003
    • 0 Attachment
      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.

      Joseph


      --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "Will <wh_keene@y...>"
      <wh_keene@y...> wrote:
      > --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "josepharose
      <josepharose@y...>"
      > <josepharose@y...> wrote:
      > > ...
      > > 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"
      as
      > well as the your comments about tents, etc.
      >
      >
      > > At Mills Springs, the Rebels' overnight march ran into the
      Federals
      > > vedettes which were stationed out far enough to prevent any
      > > significant surprise. This was not at all similar to Shiloh.
      >
      > Why not? There was not a solid front line, the tents were still
      up
      > in the camp, the commanding general had to be fetched from the
      camp,
      > etc.
      >
      >
      > > At Stone's River, the extent of surprise probably came closest
      to
      > > Shiloh's, but the troops engaged were face-to-face with the
      enemy
      > > and knew that there would be fighting the next day. The
      > > Confederates achieved a good deal of surprise by concentrating
      > units
      > > 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
      enemy
      > advance. Thus by your criteria, there was significant tactical
      > suprise.
      >
      >
      > > At Chickamauga, there would be a certain amount of surprise any
      > time
      > > troops came charging out of the forest. Again, however, the two
      > > armies were facing each other and knew that fighting was
      imminent.
      > > The big problem wasn't any surprise per se, but the positioning
      of
      > > troops along the line.
      >
      > Isn't that your argument abotu Shiloh too?
      > When Thomas sent a detachment out on Sept 19 at Chicka maugua, he
      was
      > 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.
      >
      > Will
    • 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
      • 0 Attachment
        --- 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?
      Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.