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Battle of Raymond Thoughts

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  • Tony Gunter
    I have been scouring the Raymond battlefield... wow. There are these thorny vines indigenous to the area that I do not remember ever running across although I
    Message 1 of 8 , Jan 4, 2005
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      I have been scouring the Raymond battlefield... wow. There are these
      thorny vines indigenous to the area that I do not remember ever
      running across although I have lived in Mississippi most of my life.
      These vines are as thick as a ring finger and hang from tree to tree
      about knee high. The thorns on the vines are 1-3 inches long.

      A curious feature on the battlefield is that the branch over which
      the battle was fought is nearly straight for about 200 yards on
      either side of the road (with an S curve right at the road), which
      results in nearly vertical 10-15 foot high banks. The federal units
      to the left of the road appear to have been limited to taking very
      poor shots at the skirmishers on the other side of the creek while
      trying to keep their heads from being shot off as they peeked over
      the bank. The federal unit to the right of the road was the 20th OH,
      whose right flank would have rested on the first turn in the creek.
      Once these units entered the creek, retreat was impossible, as it
      would have required scaling the same vertical dirt wall to their
      rear. The troops on the right flank of the 20th OH were basically
      fighting for survival: if the Texans had ever pushed them out of the
      curve in the creek, the entire 20th OH would have been enfiladed.

      The 68th OH and the left of J.E. Smith's Brigade entered the branch
      in a series of meanders with gently sloping banks that made flight
      easy and were thus later driven from the creek by the charging 7th
      TX.

      The 31st Illinois was detached to guard the right flank, leaving the
      23 IN on the right of Smith's line. Inexplicably, the 23rd IN ended
      up far advanced and to the left of Smith's line and was the only unit
      caught in the trap planned by the 7th TX and the 3rd TN. I am
      curious if the 23rd IN was being used to sweep away the Confederate
      skirmish line. At the point where the 23rd would have entered the
      creek, a 6' deep ditch intersects the branch at a perpendicular
      angle, which would have provided perfect cover for a regiment to
      align on the left flank of the Confederate skirmish line. This is
      the only logical reason I can imagine for the 23rd to have ended up
      so far out of position. The OR's don't indicate why the 23rd was so
      far advanced, nor why it was so far to the left when it had an
      obvious reference point (the branch of 14 Mile Creek).

      Any thoughts?
    • Tony Gunter
      ... unit ... so ... Just a little thing in the O.R. that s interesting... from the 23rd Infantry report: At this time I received your order for the
      Message 2 of 8 , Jan 6, 2005
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        --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "Tony Gunter" <tony_gunter@y...>
        wrote:
        > The 31st Illinois was detached to guard the right flank, leaving the
        > 23 IN on the right of Smith's line. Inexplicably, the 23rd IN ended
        > up far advanced and to the left of Smith's line and was the only
        unit
        > caught in the trap planned by the 7th TX and the 3rd TN. I am
        > curious if the 23rd IN was being used to sweep away the Confederate
        > skirmish line. At the point where the 23rd would have entered the
        > creek, a 6' deep ditch intersects the branch at a perpendicular
        > angle, which would have provided perfect cover for a regiment to
        > align on the left flank of the Confederate skirmish line. This is
        > the only logical reason I can imagine for the 23rd to have ended up
        > so far out of position. The OR's don't indicate why the 23rd was
        so
        > far advanced, nor why it was so far to the left when it had an
        > obvious reference point (the branch of 14 Mile Creek).
        >

        Just a little thing in the O.R. that's interesting... from the 23rd
        Infantry report:

        "At this time I received your order for the skirmishers to be thrown
        farther to the right. While this was being executed, we were attacked
        upon our right and front by the enemy in column, consisting of four
        lines. Owing to the denseness of the thicket, our skirmishers were
        advanced but a short distance before the enemy was upon them,
        advancing rapidly down the hill in our front. They opened fire from
        each line in succession, and at the same time that portion on our
        right fired a volley and charged. Upon our first discovery of them,
        we opened fire and continued until they were within bayonet reach.
        Not having time to fix our bayonets, we attempted to beat them back
        with our muskets, but, being overpowered by numbers, we were obliged
        to fall back, which we did in good order, to the creek. Here the same
        difficulty occurred as before in crossing. Upon regaining the
        opposite bank, and finding it difficult to form my line, I moved out
        of the woods and formed on the Twentieth Illinois regiment, which was
        occupying a position in the edge of the field, and upon which we had
        previously formed our line."

        So J. E. Smith knew the position of the regiment and knew that it was
        aligned facing the flank of the Confederate skirmish line that
        protected the creek. He began to worry that the Confederates may be
        lurking up the hill, and ordered Col. Davis to protect his right
        flank with a skirmish line. Davis had just begun extending a
        skirmish line towards the lurking Confederates when they came pouring
        into the woods in battle line. Davis reports that he was
        attacked "in column" by four lines. Actually, these were the 7th TX
        and 3rd TN moving in line on either side and nearly perpendicular to
        Davis, who was formed in a stretch of woods that extended from the
        creek along a ditch up the hill. When they detected Davis' unit,
        they fired a volley as best they could and then moved by the flanks
        to attack him... striking him from both the front and rear!

        I'm becoming convinced that J.E. Smith ordered the 23rd IN to move
        across the creek, through the ditch, and advance upon the left flank
        of the Confederate skirmish line protecting the creek.
      • William H Keene
        ... To me this indicates that Smith may have felt that the skirmishers of the 23rd were getting too far to the left. They were out of position and needed to
        Message 3 of 8 , Jan 7, 2005
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          --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "Tony Gunter" <tony_gunter@y...> wrote:
          > ...
          > Just a little thing in the O.R. that's interesting... from the 23rd
          > Infantry report:
          >
          > "At this time I received your order for the skirmishers to be thrown
          > farther to the right...."

          To me this indicates that Smith may have felt that the skirmishers of the 23rd were getting
          too far to the left. They were out of position and needed to be moved back to the right.
          Also, just before the part you quoted Davis wrote "I halted about 50 yards from the base of
          a hill in my front, when, not seeing the balance of the line upon my left, I immediately
          sent to ascertain its position." This indicates to me that Davis expected that the rest of
          the brigade would still be on his left. If your theory is right, why would Davis have
          expected the rest of the line to be there?
        • Tony Gunter
          ... 23rd ... thrown ... But the position of the 23rd IN was such that its facing was perpendicular to the Federal and Confederate lines. Too far to the left
          Message 4 of 8 , Jan 10, 2005
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            --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "William H Keene"
            <wh_keene@y...> wrote:
            >
            > --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "Tony Gunter"
            <tony_gunter@y...> wrote:
            > > ...
            > > Just a little thing in the O.R. that's interesting... from the
            23rd
            > > Infantry report:
            > >
            > > "At this time I received your order for the skirmishers to be
            thrown
            > > farther to the right...."
            >
            > To me this indicates that Smith may have felt that the skirmishers
            > of the 23rd were getting too far to the left.

            But the position of the 23rd IN was such that its facing was
            perpendicular to the Federal and Confederate lines. "Too far to the
            left" would suggest that the skirmishers were running into the 20th
            or 68th OH.

            I can see your point. I really need to provide a map to make my
            point here, but I suspect that Davis' skirmish line was in a line of
            woods that extended along a shallow ditch roughly parallel to the
            road and perpendicular to the creek. I think he sent back to J.E.
            Smith that his skirmishers had come to the edge of the woods looking
            out onto the clearing on the Confederate side of the creek, and
            realized that there were no Confederate units behind the Confederate
            skirmish line. I think J.E. Smith came to the sudden realization
            that Confederate units must be lurking in ambush over the hill, and
            issued the order to Davis to extend the skirmish line to the right in
            order to test this hypothesis.

            > Also, just before the part you quoted Davis wrote "I halted about
            50 yards from the base of
            > a hill in my front, when, not seeing the balance of the line upon
            my left, I immediately
            > sent to ascertain its position." This indicates to me that Davis
            expected that the rest of
            > the brigade would still be on his left. If your theory is right,
            why would Davis have
            > expected the rest of the line to be there?

            Because he thought that Dennis' brigade would be moving to cross the
            creek. Instead, Dennis' skirmishers had stopped in the creek, out of
            view to Davis. Just conjecture, of course. I'll try to draw up a
            map and scan it soon.

            Assuming for a second that these are the reasons the 23rd IN got
            mauled the way it did... would Davis and Smith try to cover over the
            set of events that left the 23rd sitting in the air?
          • William H Keene
            ... That is not the understanding I had. ... Or just generally getting in front of the skirmishers from those other units. ... The problem I have with this is
            Message 5 of 8 , Jan 10, 2005
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              --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "Tony Gunter" <tony_gunter@y...> wrote:
              > ...
              > But the position of the 23rd IN was such that its facing was
              > perpendicular to the Federal and Confederate lines.

              That is not the understanding I had.

              > ... "Too far to the
              > left" would suggest that the skirmishers were running into the 20th
              > or 68th OH.

              Or just generally getting in front of the skirmishers from those other units.


              > Because he thought that Dennis' brigade would be moving to cross the
              > creek. Instead, Dennis' skirmishers had stopped in the creek, out of
              > view to Davis. Just conjecture, of course. I'll try to draw up a
              > map and scan it soon.

              The problem I have with this is that Davis has referred to taking a position on the right of
              his own brigade, thus the phrase "the balance of the line upon my left" implies he is
              talking about his own brigade.


              > Assuming for a second that these are the reasons the 23rd IN got
              > mauled the way it did... would Davis and Smith try to cover over the
              > set of events that left the 23rd sitting in the air?

              I don't see why. Neither hid the fact that the 23rd ended up by itself. If there was a
              justification like you suggest, why hide it?

              -Will
            • Tony Gunter
              ... From the OR for the 7th TX: The Third Tennessee were already in line of battle on my left. I advanced skirmishers (leaving Captain Camp s detachment to
              Message 6 of 8 , Jan 10, 2005
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                --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "William H Keene"
                <wh_keene@y...> wrote:
                >
                > --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "Tony Gunter"
                <tony_gunter@y...> wrote:
                > > ...
                > > But the position of the 23rd IN was such that its facing was
                > > perpendicular to the Federal and Confederate lines.
                >
                > That is not the understanding I had.

                From the OR for the 7th TX:

                "The Third Tennessee were already in line of battle on my left. I
                advanced skirmishers (leaving Captain Camp's detachment to protect my
                right flank), under Captains [W. H.] Smith and [J. H.] Collett, the
                line following at a distance of 100 paces."

                From the OR for the 23rd IN:

                "At this time I received your order for the skirmishers to be thrown
                farther to the right. While this was being executed, we were attacked
                upon our right and front by the enemy in column, consisting of four
                lines."

                The Confederates were advancing in line of battle on either side of a
                line of woods that extended along a ditch that intersects the creek
                at a roughly 60 degree angle. Because Davis was on the right,
                directing his skirmishers up the hill, he saw the Confederate charge
                as an attack in column, the 7th TX hitting him "in column" from the
                front and the 3rd TN hitting him "in column" from the right.

                >
                > > ... "Too far to the
                > > left" would suggest that the skirmishers were running into the
                20th
                > > or 68th OH.
                >
                > Or just generally getting in front of the skirmishers from
                > those other units.

                There's the rub... Dennis' Brigade didn't deploy skirmishers.
                Rather, the skirmishers were posted on the edge of the field, and
                when the men began to complain about the Mississippi sun, Logan
                agreed to let the brigade move in line up to the shade at edge of the
                woods with the skirmishers. The Confederate skirmish line was
                detected by soldiers filling canteens in the creek.

                >
                > > Because he thought that Dennis' brigade would be moving to cross
                the
                > > creek. Instead, Dennis' skirmishers had stopped in the creek,
                out of
                > > view to Davis. Just conjecture, of course. I'll try to draw up
                a
                > > map and scan it soon.
                >
                > The problem I have with this is that Davis has referred to taking a
                position on the right of
                > his own brigade, thus the phrase "the balance of the line upon my
                left" implies he is
                > talking about his own brigade.

                Possibly. Regardless of which interpretation you follow, I'm sure he
                started getting seriously concerned when his skirmishers came out of
                the woods in front of the open field behind the Confederate skirmish
                line and detected neither a Confederate line nor a federal line.

                > > Assuming for a second that these are the reasons the 23rd IN got
                > > mauled the way it did... would Davis and Smith try to cover over
                the
                > > set of events that left the 23rd sitting in the air?
                >
                > I don't see why. Neither hid the fact that the 23rd ended
                > up by itself. If there was a justification like you suggest,
                > why hide it?

                If Davis had the idea to get the jump on the Confederate skirmishers
                by popping up on their flank, and J.E. Smith agreed to it, that would
                be much worse than J.E. Smith's statement that "the 23rd, being in
                advance of the line, were suddenly attacked." To me that phrase
                invites scepticism... kinda like saying "mistakes were made." :)

                I'll admit, some of this requires difficult assumptions. But the
                idea that the 23rd was able to move 400 yards out of position while
                the rest of the brigade hadn't even finished moving the 100 yards to
                the creek is a difficult assumption as well.
              • William H Keene
                ... I don t see hopw these quotes show that the 23rd IN was perpendicular to the federal and rebel lines. ... I was thinking of the other units in Smith s
                Message 7 of 8 , Jan 10, 2005
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                  --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "Tony Gunter" <tony_gunter@y...> wrote:
                  > ...
                  > > > But the position of the 23rd IN was such that its facing was
                  > > > perpendicular to the Federal and Confederate lines.
                  > >
                  > > That is not the understanding I had.
                  >
                  > From the OR for the 7th TX:
                  > ...

                  I don't see hopw these quotes show that the 23rd IN was perpendicular to the federal and
                  rebel lines.

                  > > Or just generally getting in front of the skirmishers from
                  > > those other units.
                  >
                  > There's the rub... Dennis' Brigade didn't deploy skirmishers.

                  I was thinking of the other units in Smith's brigade.
                • Tony Gunter
                  ... perpendicular to the federal and ... I used the word perpendicular as an exaggeration, I believe Davis was aligned inside a stretch of woods along a ditch
                  Message 8 of 8 , Jan 10, 2005
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                    --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "William H Keene"
                    <wh_keene@y...> wrote:
                    >
                    > --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "Tony Gunter"
                    <tony_gunter@y...> wrote:
                    > > ...
                    > > > > But the position of the 23rd IN was such that its facing was
                    > > > > perpendicular to the Federal and Confederate lines.
                    > > >
                    > > > That is not the understanding I had.
                    > >
                    > > From the OR for the 7th TX:
                    > > ...
                    >
                    > I don't see hopw these quotes show that the 23rd IN was
                    perpendicular to the federal and
                    > rebel lines.

                    I used the word perpendicular as an exaggeration, I believe Davis was
                    aligned inside a stretch of woods along a ditch that intersects the
                    creek at approximately a 60 degree angle. The 7th TX and 3rd TN were
                    in double line of battle, and began to move apart on either side of
                    this stretch of woods. But when the federals were detected fumbling
                    around in this wood, they both fired a single volley and charged by
                    the left and right flank respectively. Because of the angle of
                    Davis' alignment, these two lines of battle appeared to be four
                    columns, two hitting him directly from the front (7th TX) and two
                    hitting him from the right (3rd TN).

                    As to the possibility of the 23rd IN skirmish line bumping into the
                    other regiments, there's really no record of it. The only record we
                    have from other members of Smith's brigade is the personal account of
                    Ira Blanchard (20th IL), who seems to indicate ("We rested on our
                    arms in the edge of the timber for a short time while our scouts
                    reconnoitered their position") that Smith's brigade was also in line
                    eating lunch without skirmishers deployed.

                    All indications are that the 23rd IN and the 31st IL were the only
                    units actually moving through the woods.
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