Re: [civilwarwest] Grant's Dishonesty
- Excellent piece of writing, Joseph.
> From: josepharose@...
> To: email@example.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
> 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
> 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
> 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,
> 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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