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The AotT at Chattanooga

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  • josepharose@yahoo.com
    Reviewing the OR s (The War of Rebellion--Volume 55, page 361; a.k.a. Series 1, Volume 31, PART II) for the Battle of Chattanooga, I came across the following,
    Message 1 of 8 , Apr 2 12:30 AM
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      Reviewing the OR's (The War of Rebellion--Volume 55, page 361; a.k.a.
      Series 1, Volume 31, PART II) for the Battle of Chattanooga, I came
      across the following, surprising excerpt from General Ewing, the
      commander of Sherman's 4th Division.

      "On the 25th, Corse led his brigade down the gorge and up Tunnel
      Hill, assaulting and carrying it with great gallantry. We drove the
      enemy from his entire intrenchments, and reduced the larger part to
      possession. For the extreme southern point, heavily massing behind it,
      he contended until nightfall, when he abandoned the position. We
      transferred a portion of our artillery to the summit after dark."

      No one else as far as I have ascertained, not even Sherman himself,
      has written that Tunnel Hill was taken on the 25th. Is there
      something that I'm missing, or is there some other excuse for Ewing's
      remarkable misstatement? (As I remember, however, Ewing was Sherman's
      brother-in-law.)

      Joseph
    • FLYNSWEDE@AOL.COM
      In a message dated 4/2/01 3:31:25 AM Eastern Daylight Time, josepharose@yahoo.com writes:
      Message 2 of 8 , Apr 2 8:14 AM
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        In a message dated 4/2/01 3:31:25 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
        josepharose@... writes:

        << "On the 25th, Corse led his brigade down the gorge and up Tunnel
        Hill, assaulting and carrying it with great gallantry. We drove the
        enemy from his entire intrenchments, and reduced the larger part to
        possession. For the extreme southern point, heavily massing behind it,
        he contended until nightfall, when he abandoned the position. We
        transferred a portion of our artillery to the summit after dark." >>

        Ewing's report was in error. I will shortly give you a complete detail of
        that assault to clarify this. The 40th Illinois, of which I am presently
        writing the history of, was the lead attackers of this assault, and in my
        response, I will include the reasons why the attack failed.

        Your obedient servant,

        Wayne Bengston
      • josepharose@yahoo.com
        Wayne, Thank you for your response and your upcoming description of the attack. Could I ask your thoughts about three things? What is your opinion on Ewing s
        Message 3 of 8 , Apr 2 1:15 PM
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          Wayne,

          Thank you for your response and your upcoming description of the
          attack.

          Could I ask your thoughts about three things?

          What is your opinion on Ewing's reason for mistating the results of
          his assault? Did he actually think that no one would notice the
          discrepancy between his and everyone else's reports? It seems a most
          egregious misstatement.

          I have read that on November 24th, according to Henry M. Cist's "The
          Army Of The Cumberland", Maj. Gen. Frank P. Blair, Jr. led the three
          AOtT divisions toward, but not to, Tunnel Hill. This implies to me
          that Sherman stayed by the river until his troops were entrenched on
          Goat Hill. Does this agree with what you have found? When did
          Sherman arrive on the scene? I assume that it was after dark, as he
          didn't realize his mistake until the morning of the 25th.

          Did Grant have just cause to believe that Sherman's force was in a
          "critical" situation--necessitating the demonstration by Thomas? Even
          with a massive Confederate counterattack which might have been able to
          throw back his assaulting troops, I can't imagine Sherman's position
          being in jeopardy what with his six divisions and supporting
          artillery. The center of his force was entrenched on a hill.

          Thanks again for all of your help.

          Joseph


          >
          > Ewing's report was in error. I will shortly give you a complete
          detail of that assault to clarify this. The 40th Illinois, of which I
          am presently writing the history of, was the lead attackers of this
          assault, and in my response, I will include the reasons why the attack
          failed.
          >
          > Your obedient servant,
          > Wayne Bengston
        • FLYNSWEDE@AOL.COM
          In a message dated 4/2/01 4:19:32 PM Eastern Daylight Time, josepharose@yahoo.com writes:
          Message 4 of 8 , Apr 2 3:48 PM
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            In a message dated 4/2/01 4:19:32 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
            josepharose@... writes:

            << What is your opinion on Ewing's reason for mistating the results of
            his assault? Did he actually think that no one would notice the
            discrepancy between his and everyone else's reports? It seems a most
            egregious misstatement.
            >>
            On the 24th, Sherman told his brother-inb-law Hugh Ewing to go ahead and keep
            his lines intact. He also specifically told Ewing, "Don't call for help
            until you actually need it." Ewing, although had available nine brigades,
            decided to use only two for the attack on Tunnel Hill, Corse's and Loomis's.
            Corse was to come up the narrow valley between Ewing's (Alexander's) Hill and
            Tunnel Hill. Loomis was to be on Corse's right and attack via the open
            fields. Matthies's and Raum's brigades were to move forward behind Loomis as
            emergency support. Giles Smith and his brigade was to move up the eastern
            face of Tunnel Hill. Cockrill's and Alexander's brigades were to remain in
            their entrenchments. The advancement of the brigades was to be
            simultaneously. Sherman's reasoning in utilizing a single brigade as the
            striking column was based upon the narrow ridge of Tunnel Hill, which would
            limit the number of troops operating on that ridge. Any one that has ever
            visited the Sherman Reservation at Tunnel Hill knows that the egress to where
            the Confederates were entrenched is not only fairly steep, but also only
            about 75 yards wide. To the west of where the Confederates were, the slopes
            are between 30 degrees and 45 degrees, thus making it extremely difficult to
            scale. That is the area that would be to Corse's right, and to where Loomis
            was to press his attack.

            Ewing told Loomis to hug the hills to the first open field west of Tunnel
            Hill, then to wheel to the left (which would be towards where Swett's
            Mississippi Battery was placed) and push away skirmishers. Ewing also
            directly ordered Loomis not to bring on a general engagement.

            Sherman gave oral orders to Lightborn to send 200 men to occupy Tunnel Hill.
            Lightborn sent Col. Theodore Jones of the 30th Ohio with 170 men and added to
            that strength, 30 men from the 4th West Virginia.

            Halfway down the southern slope of Lightburn's Hill, Jones ran into Captain
            Sam Foster's 24th Texas. Fierce fighting evolved from tree to tree, but
            eventually, Foster fell back to Tunnel Hill. Jones made it to the rebel
            breastworks (perhaps these are breastworks that Ewing refers to in his
            report, which are below Tunnel Hill and the breastworks where Swett's MS
            Battery was placed.) 250 yards from the crest of Tunnel Hill and in full open
            view of Swett's guns.

            Corse and Jones meet and disagree on a plan of attack. Jones then goes back
            and meets with Sherman. Sherman orders charge (which concur with the orders
            given to Corse by Ewing). "I'll give you all you want - more men, more
            artillary," Sherman told Jones.

            The attack was to have begun at 6:30 AM - but with all the disagreements,
            time to run back and forth for clarification, it was just before 9:00 that
            Major Hiram W. Hall's 40th Illinois, with five companies totalling 130 men,
            the lead regiment, started moving forward. Corse's Brigade consisted of the
            40th Illinois, 103rd Illinois, 46th Ohio, and the 6th Iowa . Corse gave Hall
            three companies of the 103rd IL which Hall placed 30 paces behind his five
            companies. The 46th Ohio (with Col Walcutt in command) lined up behind
            these troops and the remainder of the 103rd IL and the 6th Iowa trailed in
            support.

            As Hall pushed forward, he ran into Foster's pickets, but within minutes was
            passing beyond Foster's flanks. They made it to the breastworks that Foster
            had abandoned. Corse had promised Hall support for his advance, but when
            Hall looked around, none was to be seen. His troops in diaries said it was
            the first time they ever heard Hall swear. Hall later wrote, " We could
            easily have driven the enemy back and captured their battery."

            The delay in the advancement allowed Cleburn time to reenforce Smith's
            Brigade (6-10th Tx Inf, 15th, 17th, 18th, 24th, 25th Tx Cav Dismounted), the
            7th Texas under Grandbury, and Swett's MS Battery, with John Brown's
            Tennesseeans and Lewis's Orphan Brigade.

            Corse then ordered a second charge, with again the 40th Illinois in the lead
            but this time, Corse was with them. Smith's riflemen, on top of the hill,
            had begun firing at a range of about four hundred yards. But it was the
            cannister from Swett's guns firing down the throats of the advancing troops,
            made it almost impossible for any troops to withstand it.

            The 40th kept on going forward. Men began dropping by the dozens. Still
            they went forward. Corse and the 40th pushed within 300 yards of the rim
            when suddenly Corse was struck down (some of the men reported he was hit
            slightly in the leg - some authors say he was hit in the head) and removed
            down the hill. The front line now began to waver and halt and with some of
            the men falling back in small groups. Hall once again complained that for
            the want of support, the attack failed.

            Gathering troops together, now under the command of Col. Walcutt who replaced
            Corse, the troops moved forward again only to try to take the Hill. Again,
            with the combination of cannister and rifle fire from the well positioned and
            entrenched rebel troops, and again the brigade kept on going forward.
            Eventually, two men of the 40th made it over the rebel entrenchments but were
            killed immediately. Swett's Battery initially commanded by Lt H. Shannon
            would eventually be commanded by a Corporal and using infantry to act as a
            gun crew. Some of Foster's men jumped over their works, running down the
            hill yelling and started engaging the Union troops in hand to hand fighting.
            Other rebels, exhausting their cartridges, started throwing rocks at the
            Union troops struggling up the hill.

            Needless to say, only two men mentioned before made it over the breastworks
            and they died immediately. The whole affair was a slaughter and Corse's
            brigade was given an impossible task. They failed, but not for trying. Even
            if Sherman had sent additional men, there was not the room for them due to
            the narrow egress terrain. Slopes were steep and slippery due to recent
            rains. The whole operation was doom to failure even before the start.

            Your obedient servant,

            Wayne Bengston
          • josepharose@yahoo.com
            Wayne, You wrote that, The whole affair [assaulting Tunnel Hill] was a slaughter and Corse s brigade was given an impossible task. They failed, but not for
            Message 5 of 8 , Apr 4 7:51 PM
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              Wayne,

              You wrote that, "The whole affair [assaulting Tunnel Hill] was a
              slaughter and Corse's brigade was given an impossible task. They
              failed, but not for trying. Even if Sherman had sent additional men,
              there was not the room for them due to the narrow egress terrain.
              Slopes were steep and slippery due to recent rains. The whole
              operation was doom[ed] to failure even before the start."

              Some authors have suggested that, with up to seven divisions at his
              disposal, Sherman's force far outnumbered Cleburne's and could have
              overwhelmed it. By starting earlier in the day, when the Confederates
              wouldn't have had as much time to prepare entrenchments, and attacking
              en masse from the creek to his far right, Sherman's chances could have
              been quite good.

              Do you think that Sherman could have and should have taken Tunnel Hill
              on the 24th, utilizing a more aggressive advance, employing more of
              his troops, and starting at an earlier time?

              Joseph
            • FLYNSWEDE@AOL.COM
              In a message dated 4/4/01 10:52:31 PM Eastern Daylight Time, josepharose@yahoo.com writes:
              Message 6 of 8 , Apr 4 8:44 PM
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                In a message dated 4/4/01 10:52:31 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
                josepharose@... writes:

                << Some authors have suggested that, with up to seven divisions at his
                disposal, Sherman's force far outnumbered Cleburne's and could have
                overwhelmed it. By starting earlier in the day, when the Confederates
                wouldn't have had as much time to prepare entrenchments, and attacking
                en masse from the creek to his far right, Sherman's chances could have
                been quite good.

                Do you think that Sherman could have and should have taken Tunnel Hill
                on the 24th, utilizing a more aggressive advance, employing more of
                his troops, and starting at an earlier time? >>

                Sherman could have had twenty divisions and it would not have matter. As it
                was, the egress was too narrow, even for a full brigade to charge up it.
                The numbers do not matter. The terrain prohibited a massive number assault.
                Lets face it, Cleburne and Smith chose a fantastic spot to protect Tunnel
                Hill.

                It is a possibility that Sherman could have taken the hill if:
                1. The attack started at 6:30 as planned rather than having Corse and
                Jones argue about how to go about the attack, and then Jones running back to
                Sherman for advice.

                2. Hall almost took the ridge twice, but failed at doing so as a result
                of lack of support from his own brigade when reenforcements were needed.
                It was between these two attacks by Hall and the delay by Corse and Jones,
                that allowed Cleburne to reenforce Smith and Swett's battery. If Hall had
                the support the first time, or even the second time, there was a possibility
                that he could have taken the rebel position. If Corse and Jones hadn't
                argued about how to attack, and just pressed forward, again the possibility
                of them taking the hill since there would be no time delay for Cleburne to
                bring up reenforcements.

                3. Ewing telling Loomis specifically not to bring on a general
                engagement.

                I do not fault Sherman so much in failing to take Tunnel Hill as I do his
                field commanders, Ewing, Corse, Loomis and Jones. Time was of essence. They
                failed to utilize an early attack and their procrastination allowed Cleburne
                to more heavily fortify the hill, not only with troops, but additional
                artillary. Their bungling cost the Union a possible victory, and of course,
                since Sherman was in overall command, the blame for their bungling falls upon
                him by historians. His troops failed to take their objective.
              • Baron VonTecumseh
                On 4-Apr-01, FLYNSWEDE@AOL.COM wrote: In a message dated 4/4/01 10:52:31 PM Eastern Daylight Time, josepharose@yahoo.com writes:
                Message 7 of 8 , Apr 4 8:51 PM
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                  On 4-Apr-01, FLYNSWEDE@... wrote:
                  In a message dated 4/4/01 10:52:31 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
                  josepharose@... writes:

                  << Some authors have suggested that, with up to seven divisions at his
                  disposal, Sherman's force far outnumbered Cleburne's and could have
                  overwhelmed it. By starting earlier in the day, when the Confederates
                  wouldn't have had as much time to prepare entrenchments, and attacking
                  en masse from the creek to his far right, Sherman's chances could have
                  been quite good.

                  Do you think that Sherman could have and should have taken Tunnel Hill
                  on the 24th, utilizing a more aggressive advance, employing more of
                  his troops, and starting at an earlier time? >>

                  Sherman could have had twenty divisions and it would not have matter. As it
                  was, the egress was too narrow, even for a full brigade to charge up it.
                  The numbers do not matter. The terrain prohibited a massive number assault.
                  Lets face it, Cleburne and Smith chose a fantastic spot to protect Tunnel
                  Hill.

                  It is a possibility that Sherman could have taken the hill if:
                  1. The attack started at 6:30 as planned rather than having Corse and
                  Jones argue about how to go about the attack, and then Jones running back to
                  Sherman for advice.

                  2. Hall almost took the ridge twice, but failed at doing so as a result
                  of lack of support from his own brigade when reenforcements were needed.
                  It was between these two attacks by Hall and the delay by Corse and Jones,
                  that allowed Cleburne to reenforce Smith and Swett's battery. If Hall had
                  the support the first time, or even the second time, there was a possibility
                  that he could have taken the rebel position. If Corse and Jones hadn't
                  argued about how to attack, and just pressed forward, again the possibility
                  of them taking the hill since there would be no time delay for Cleburne to
                  bring up reenforcements.

                  3. Ewing telling Loomis specifically not to bring on a general
                  engagement.

                  I do not fault Sherman so much in failing to take Tunnel Hill as I do his
                  field commanders, Ewing, Corse, Loomis and Jones. Time was of essence. They
                  failed to utilize an early attack and their procrastination allowed Cleburne
                  to more heavily fortify the hill, not only with troops, but additional
                  artillary. Their bungling cost the Union a possible victory, and of course,
                  since Sherman was in overall command, the blame for their bungling falls upon
                  him by historians. His troops failed to take their objective.


                  If it was such a bad place for an attack,which it was.Doesn't the blame fall on Grant for picking that spot for the MAIN attack. The Baron



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                • josepharose@yahoo.com
                  Wayne, You note that, on the 25th, Time was of [the] essence. Wasn t the entire premise of Grant s plan based on the concealment of the AotT until they
                  Message 8 of 8 , Apr 4 10:59 PM
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                    Wayne,

                    You note that, on the 25th, "Time was of [the] essence." Wasn't the
                    entire premise of Grant's plan based on the concealment of the AotT
                    until they could make a surprise river crossing in order to make a
                    dash for Tunnel Hill?

                    Two AotT divisions had crossed by daylight, Howard had two which were
                    available by 12:00 (although he only led three regiments to the
                    bridgehead, leaving when it turned out that Sherman didn't want to
                    utilize his corps), and Sherman started the advance with his three
                    around 1:00 PM. As he was only a mile and a half away from Tunnel
                    Hill, he could have occupied it easily before 2:00 PM when Cleburne
                    received his orders to go there himself.

                    Worse, it appears that Sherman stayed at the river until after dark,
                    which is why he did not find out about his mistake until the next morning.

                    All of Sherman's problems on the 25th stem from his failure to
                    successfully accomplish his objective on the 25th.

                    Joseph
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