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RE: [civilwarwest] Woods Gap

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  • Harry Smeltzer
    I know it s not sexy to break things down to simple explanations, and we d all prefer to blame every shortcoming on deep character flaws. However, I think
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 2, 2005
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      I know it's not sexy to break things down to simple explanations, and we'd
      all prefer to blame every shortcoming on deep character flaws. However, I
      think much of Rosecrans's failure can be laid at the foot of sleep
      depravation (Negley too for that matter). He would have been wise perhaps
      to cut short his all-nighters discussing religion with Garfield.


      -----Original Message-----
      From: Rick Moody [mailto:r_moody@...]
      Sent: Sunday, January 02, 2005 6:10 PM
      To: civilwarwest
      Subject: [civilwarwest] Woods Gap

      I have always preferred to read the memoirs of the
      fighting men and certainly the generals of the war.
      They give us a inside view of what was on their minds
      and the strategies they were trying to implement.

      Here are a few excerpts from Sheridans memoirs (from
      the public domain) concerning General Rosecrans and
      the causes for the union losses at Chickamauga.

      excerpts from Chapter XV
      "The manoeuvres by which Rosecrans had carried his
      army over the Cumberland Mountains, crossed the
      Tennessee River, and possessed himself of Chattanooga,
      merit the highest commendation up to the abandonment
      of this town by Bragg on the 8th of September; but I
      have always fancied that that evacuation made
      Rosecrans over-confident, and led him to think that he
      could force Bragg south as far as Rome."

      and more of Chapter XV
      "McCook was almost constantly on the march day and
      night between the 13th and the 19th, ascending and
      descending mountains, his men worried and wearied, so
      that when they appeared on the battle-field, their
      fatigued condition operated greatly against their
      efficiency. This delay in concentration was also the
      original cause of the continuous shifting toward our
      left to the support of Thomas, by which manoeuvre
      Rosecrans endeavored to protect his communications
      with Chattanooga, and out of which grew the intervals
      that offered such tempting opportunities to Bragg. In
      addition to all this, much transpired on the field of
      battle tending to bring about disaster. There did not
      seem to be any well-defined plan of action in the
      fighting; and this led to much independence of
      judgment in construing orders among some of the
      subordinate generals. It also gave rise to much
      license in issuing orders: too many people were giving
      important directions, affecting the whole army,
      without authority from its head. In view, therefore,
      of all the errors that were committed from the time
      Chattanooga fell into our hands after our first
      crossing the Tennessee, it was fortunate that the
      Union defeat was not more complete, that it left in
      the enemy's possession not much more than the barren
      results arising from the simple holding of the ground
      on which the engagement was fought.

      excerpt from Chapter XVI
      On the 19th of October, after turning the command over
      to Thomas, General Rosecrans quietly slipped away from
      the army. He submitted uncomplainingly to his
      removal, and modestly left us without fuss or
      demonstration; ever maintaining, though, that the
      battle of
      Chickamauga was in effect a victory, as it had ensured
      us, he said, the retention of Chattanooga. When his
      departure became known deep and almost universal
      regret was expressed, for he was enthusiastically
      esteemed and loved by the Army of the Cumberland, from
      the day he assumed command of it until he left it,
      notwithstanding the censure poured upon him after the
      battle of

      It is clear to me that Sheridan places blame for the
      defeat at Chickamauga at the foot of Rosecrans. No
      where could I find a criticism of Woods is his

      In the "Army of the Cumberland by Henry M. Cist"
      Chapter XII. The Battle of Chickamauga.
      The author is very critical of Wood is this book and
      definitely suggests a lack of professionalism on his
      part in the "Gap".

      I am inclined to agree with Sheridan, though I doubt
      if he was a party to private conversations, or orders,
      specific or between Wood, Thomas and Rosecrans.

      I believe that Logistics are more important to the
      final outcome of the major battles of a war than
      tactics. The best tactics are often left wanting if
      supplies and manpower are inadequate. General
      Rosecrans was considered a brilliant strategist but
      was frequently over running his supplies and manpower.

      Rosecrans was over his head at Chickamauga and his
      vague orders reflect his short comings.

      Rick Moody

      "Mr. President, I have a cause of grievance. This morning I went to speak to
      Colonel Sherman, and he threatened to shoot me." Mr. Lincoln, who was still
      standing, said, "Threatened to shoot you?" "Yes, sir, he threatened to shoot
      me." Mr. Lincoln looked at him, then at me, and stooping his tall, spare
      form toward the officer, said to him in a loud stage-whisper, easily heard
      for some yards around: "Well, if I were you, and he threatened to shoot, I
      would not trust him, for I believe he would do it."

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