Re: N.B. Forrest v Wilder & Minty
- --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, LWhite64@a... wrote:
> Robert Minty and John Wilder did.Lee,
I accept that my initial question as to whether 5,000 cavalry of
Forrest could be reasonably expected to go toe to toe with 10,000
infantry was a touch ambiguous. However, comparing Forrest's poorly
equipped command with Wilder and Minty seems to be extremely unfair.
Wilder's "Lightning Brigade" were 1,500 men of the 17th and 72nd
Indiana regiments and the 98th and 123rd Illinois. Rosecrans formed
this Brigade after receiving permission to make some of his foot
soldiers mounted infantrymen. As well as being extremely suitable
for fighting as infantry (as that was, what in fact, they were),
Wilder also had them provided with the seven-shot Spencer repeating
rifles directly from the factory after witnessing a demonstration by
the gun's inventor, Christopher Spencer.
More specifically, I am unsure as to what actions your refer to.
However, I refer to several examples that demonstrate why it was
unfair to expect, what has been suggested by several people, Forrest
to halt a force twice his size.
Firstly, I shall deal with Wilder. I presume that your reference was
to Hoover's Gap. Wilder's one Brigade and Captain Lilly's 18th
Indiana Battery held Bates's Brigade and Johnson's Brigade at the
mouth of the gap. The benefit of the Spencer's were amply
demonstrated by General Bate facing such heavy Federal fire that he
believed he was facing a "vastly superior force." Federal casualties
were light, Wilder losng only 14 killed and 47 wounded. Bate lost 23%
of his force.
To compare holding a highly defenceable position, with trained and
experienced infantry using superior weaponry, is not a fair
comparison with what would have faced Forrest. Forrest would have
been in open countryside trying to stop a better equipped force twice
his size. In addition, his troops were cavalry, not trained mounted
Secondly, let's look at Minty. I again am required to assume what
example you refered to. I believe this to be that of Reed's Bridge
at Chickamauga Creek. Whilst he may of held the bridge against
Johnson's Division, he was of course commanding troopers (rather than
traditional cavalry) and was actually pushed back by Hood. At this
time, I am sure that you are aware, that Walker was also pushing back
Wilder at Alexander's Bridge.
As at Hoover's Gap, the area requiring defence was extremely narrow.
We know this is the case because Wilder, prior to his withdrawal, was
able to remove decking from the bridge forcing Walker to wade the
creek at Lambert's Ford a mile to the north. Other than the
differences in terrain, weaponry, etc. noted above Minty failed to
hold the CSA, thus making Minty an irrelevant example.
The issue has been, why didn't Forrest attempt to hold a better
equipped force twice his size in open country. A much greater
percentage of his force would have been in direct line of fire,
increasing the percentage of caualties to be expected in a greatly
reduced period of time. You have used examples where the number of
combatants were relatively small and were generally overcome. This
does nothing to persuade me that Forrest had a realistic chance in
achieving anything noteable, other than the destruction of his
- In a message dated 8/4/2003 10:51:45 AM Central Standard Time, clarkc@... writes:
Hindsight is 20-20, but I wonder if using 4800 men, or more, to delay
or stop 4000 is good command management by the Confederates?
That is of course, relative. It depends what other missions those men were needed for. Since they did not really execute any other missions on the 20th, I think that stopping Granger was a viable plan.