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Re: [civilwarwest] Grant's Dishonesty

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  • Fr. Addison Hart
    Excellent piece of writing, Joseph. Addison
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 28 3:26 PM
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      Excellent piece of writing, Joseph.

      Addison

      ----------
      > From: josepharose@...
      > To: civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com
      > Subject: [civilwarwest] Grant's Dishonesty
      > Date: Saturday, April 28, 2001 10:18 AM
      >
      > As threatened, I posted the following, in a slightly different form,
      > on the U. S. Grant Homepage's message board. As you know, I have made
      > several references to Grant's misstatements in earlier posts on this
      > site; this is why.
      >
      >
      > In your website's Personality Profile of General Grant, you assert,
      > "Grant was impossibly honest, and even white lies were an anathema to
      > him. His personal integrity was unassailable and his sense of duty
      > supreme." This seems to be somewhat contradicted by his writings
      > contained in the Official Records of the war and in his memoirs. A
      > few examples from two battles on which I have done much reading
      > include:
      >
      > Two days after the battle at Shiloh, Grant reported, "On Sunday
      > morning our pickets were attacked and driven in by the enemy.
      > Immediately the five divisions stationed at this place were drawn up
      > in line of battle, ready to meet them." There was no "immediately"
      > about it; the troops were surprised due, in part, to his dereliction
      > and it took time for Hurlbut, McClernand, and W.H.L. Wallace to come
      > to the support of Sherman and Prentiss.
      >
      > The memoirs add to this falsehood by implying that there was a line of
      > three divisions with another in reserve, thusly, "McClernand was on
      > Sherman's left, ... Next to McClernand came Prentiss with a raw
      > division, and on the extreme left, Stuart with one brigade of
      > Sherman's division. Hurlbut was in rear of Prentiss, massed, and in
      > reserve at the time of the onset." The troops were still encamped
      > with little thought for defense when the surprise attack struck.
      >
      > Later in the same report as above, Grant noted, "Although severely
      > wounded in the hand the first day his [Sherman's] place was never
      > vacant. He was again wounded, and had three horses killed under him."
      > Sherman's hand was hit by, I believe, buckshot and the wound could
      > not be considered "severe." The second "wound" didn't even break the
      > skin or do any damage. This description seems particularly
      > inappropriate when so many men were killed or seriously wounded
      > during the two-day battle.
      >
      > The memoirs contain an implication which is indicative of a lack of
      > Grant's alleged integrity. He had ordered Prentiss to hold his
      > position "at all hazards." Prentiss did so and helped save Grant's
      > army. Yet Grant declared that, "In one of the backward moves, on the
      > 6th, the division commanded by General Prentiss did not fall back with
      > the others. This left his flanks exposed and enabled the enemy to
      > capture him with about 2,200 of his officers and men." He makes it
      > seem as if Prentiss was derelict in his duty.
      >
      > His next paragraph, "With the single exception of a few minutes after
      > the capture of Prentiss, a continuous and unbroken line was maintained
      > all day from Snake Creek or its tributaries on the right to Lick Creek
      > or the Tennessee on the left above Pittsburg." is also untrue.
      >
      > His memoirs summarize Grant's plan for the battle of Chattanooga
      > incorrectly: "The plan of battle was for Sherman to attack the enemy's
      > right flank, form a line across it, extend our left over South
      > Chickamauga River so as to threaten or hold the railroad in Bragg's
      > rear, and thus force him either to weaken his lines elsewhere or lose
      > his connection with his base at Chickamauga Station." His
      > instructions to Thomas had directed, "Your effort then will be to form
      > a junction with Sherman, making your advance well toward the northern
      > end of Missionary Ridge, and moving as near simultaneously with him as
      > possible. The juncture once formed, and the ridge carried,
      > communications will be at once established between the two armies by
      > roads on the south bank of the river." Thus, the ridge was to be
      > carried--period.
      >
      > Thomas' assault on Orchard Knob was said to be "according to
      > instructions" in the memoirs. Grant didn't issue any instructions.
      > His statement that, "We lost in this preliminary action about eleven
      > hundred killed and wounded, while the enemy probably lost quite as
      > heavily, including the prisoners that were captured." may just have
      > been the result of faulty memory as there were only some 200
      > casualties. After relating Hooker's victory on the 24th--which he
      > later asserted was not worth calling a battle--he noted, "The enemy
      > had evacuated Lookout Mountain during the night, as I expected he
      > would." Unfortunately, his orders that evening were for Hooker to
      > ascend to the mountain's top the next day with all possible force.
      > Decades after the battle when the facts should have been evident,
      > Grant could still write, "From the position I occupied I could see
      > column after column of Bragg's forces moving against Sherman." This
      > had also been disproved.
      >
      > In his report on the battles around Chattanooga, Grant wrote that,
      > "Sherman's attack upon the enemy's most northern and most vital point
      > was vigorously kept up all day." This was an exaggeration, at best.
      > Sherman's attack began late, ended early, wasn't vigorous, and only
      > used a fraction of the troops available to him.
      >
      > As a result of Cleburne's counterattack, Grant stated of the Federal
      > soldiers that, "Being unexpectedly fired into from this direction,
      > they fell back across the open field below them, and reformed in good
      > order in the edge of the timber." I do think that they were routed
      > and some 250 of them captured.
      >
      > His worst misstatement came in the Official Records description of his
      > supposed direction for Thomas to "carry the rifle-pits at the foot of
      > Missionary Ridge, and when carried to reform his lines on the
      > rifle-pits with a view to carrying the top of the ridge." He never
      > ordered any officer to "reform" and assault the ridge. The vast
      > weight of evidence indicates that this was to be merely a
      > demonstration which would relieve Sherman at a critical time. This
      > untruth was compounded by his questioning Thomas and Granger as to who
      > ordered the troops up the ridge and then threatening some unnamed
      > person if it didn't work out. He was the general who ordered these
      > men into a dangerous and untenable position.
      >
      > Lastly, in his memoirs Grant asserts, "To Sheridan's prompt movement
      > the Army of the Cumberland, and the nation, are indebted for the bulk
      > of the capture of prisoners, artillery, and small-arms that day."
      > Wrong. He also noted, "My recollection is that my first orders for
      > the battle of Chattanooga were as fought." Some recollection.
      >
      > I shouldn't even get started on Nashville, much less the rest of the
      > war.
      >
      > Grant certainly had his good qualities, but making him a saint or a
      > paragon of military ability just doesn't wash with me.
      >
      > Happy birthday, anyway,
      > Joseph
      >
      > P.S. I don't mean to be mean-spirited, but there are too many
      > misstatements made about this particular war, in general, and about
      > General Grant, in particular.
      >
      > P.P.S. I could also bring in a wealth of examples in which Grant
      > failed to give proper credit to men he disliked--Prentiss is one, as
      > indicated above--while exaggerating the accomplishments of his friends
      > and allies. That, however, deserves a post of its own.
      >
      > P.P.P.S. I made it a point to post this on the Grant message board
      > after midnight, but as they must be on the West Coast time or
      > something, it was dated three hours earlier, on the 27th.
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
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