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Re: What constitutes a surprise?

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  • josepharose <josepharose@yahoo.com>
    ... ... the ... of ... The Shiloh surprise *did* give the Rebs a tactical advantage. Without a surprise, their attack should have been
    Message 1 of 72 , Mar 2, 2003
      --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "slippymississippi
      <slippymississippi@y...>" <slippymississippi@y...> wrote:
      > --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "josepharose
      <josepharose@y...>"
      > <josepharose@y...> wrote:
      > > Mr. Keene:
      > >
      > >
      > > 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.
      >
      > Generally speaking, if a "surprise" doesn't give you any tactical
      > advantage, it's not a real surprise. Please feel free to enlighten
      > us as to the advantages gained by attacking a superior gunboat-
      > supported federal force directly on its line of supply, on grounds
      of
      > its choosing?

      The Shiloh surprise *did* give the Rebs a tactical advantage.
      Without a surprise, their attack should have been hurled back with
      severe casualties. Instead, they came all too close to destroying
      Grant's army. Even failing to do that, they inflicted many more
      casualties.

      > > 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.
      >
      > So you're saying that Sherman should have disobeyed Halleck's
      direct
      > order and swept the roads with infantry to determine the strength
      > and/or intentions of the enemy?

      If Grant had an army and thought that the enemy has less than a
      brigade, I think that he--not Sherman--should have cleared his front
      to discover what confronted him. Instead, he was surprised.

      > > 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.
      >
      > And how, pray tell, is Grant going to post these vedettes "a long
      > ways out" when the federal cavalry, outclassed already by the
      > superior confederate cavalry, was outnumbered almost 4 to 1?

      Grant thought that the Rebel army was in Corinth. He should have had
      vedettes out from the very beginning--not just on April 4th or 5th.
      If the vedettes were driven in, he should have responded in such a
      way as to either a) sweep away a small force of reconnaissance (as
      Sherman apparently thought they were) or b) discover that you are
      about to be attacked in strength (which is what really happened).

      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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