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"Baldy" Smith on 11/7/63

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  • josepharose@yahoo.com
    To all: On the Grant Homepage Message Board, I have been in discussion with Brooks Simpson, who stated that Smith urged Grant to make an all-out attack on
    Message 1 of 52 , May 2, 2001
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      To all:

      On the Grant Homepage Message Board, I have been in discussion with
      Brooks Simpson, who stated that Smith "urged" Grant to make an all-out
      attack on 11/7/63. I asserted that Smith only proposed a
      demonstration and that it was Grant's idea and impetus for the
      full-scale assault. He quoted Smith's autobiography as having him
      state "I instigated it" in reference to the all-out attack. I assumed
      (always dangerous) that this may have referred only to the
      demonstration. Everything else I have seen on the subject (e.g.,
      Cozzens) suggests that Smith, like Thomas, was surprised and probably
      dismayed by Grant's order for an all-out attack.

      Not having the autobiography at hand, can anyone provide quotes from
      it or from other sources which would resolve this disagreement?

      Thanks in advance,
      Joseph

      P.S. My last post to Professor Simpson (plenty of reading ahead) on
      the affair stated:
      You requested documentation for my assertion that, "Baldy Smith
      did no such thing" in response to your book's statement, "Smith,
      who had urged Grant to order the attack...." regarding Grant's
      peremptory order for Thomas to attack the northern end of
      Missionary Ridge on 11/7/63. As I stated before, "I don't have
      his autobiography present to look it up first-hand." My reading,
      though, had given me adequate confirmation that "Baldy" Smith did
      not share the feelings you ascribed to him.

      As evidence for this conclusion, and in deference to your opinion
      of Smith's reliability as a correspondent, I submit Charles Dana's
      three reports, which are copied below. They seem especially
      acceptable as documentation of the situation, having been written
      before and during the incident and not years after when other
      events may have colored his perspective. The change seen between
      11/5/63, when only an advance to the creek and a demonstration was
      considered, and 11/7/63, when Grant's all-out attack had been
      ordered, is obvious.

      Furthermore, I had quoted the following extract from Baldy Smith
      before: "When it is remembered that eighteen days after this
      Sherman with six perfectly appointed divisions failed to carry
      this same point of Missionary Ridge, at a time when Thomas with
      four divisions stood threatening Bragg's center, and Hooker with
      nearly three divisions was driving in Bragg's left flank (Bragg
      having no more strength than on the 7th), it will not be a matter
      of surprise that the order staggered Thomas." If Smith did urge
      such an attack as you say, he should definitely have been
      surprised if it staggered the very general who he knew was to
      carry it out.

      I would agree with your book's statement that Thomas "paled at the
      notion of a full-scale attack"--psychologically at least, if not
      physiologically. In reality, Grant's plan would have to be
      carried out by a still-hungry Army of the Cumberland--without
      cavalry or horses to draw artillery or a supply train, without
      holding Lookout Mountain or Orchard Knob, with Chattanooga left
      mainly undefended, with Hooker still in Lookout Valley, without
      Sherman's troops, with Johnson's Confederate division still on the
      field, with no advantage of surprise, and with only one day's
      notice. Once accomplished, the troops would take four days
      rations in their haversacks and cut the rail lines some twenty
      miles away. Even if they got that far, Longstreet would have been
      close enough to turn on them. Grant, furthermore, didn't even
      delineate how all of this was to be accomplished; he left that up
      to Thomas.

      Dana to Stanton, 11/5/63 11 AM
      Grant and Thomas considering plan proposed by W. F. Smith to
      advance our pickets on the left to Citico Creek, about a mile in
      front of the position they have occupied from the first, and to
      threaten the seizure of the northwest extremity of Missionary
      Ridge. This, taken in connection with our present demonstration
      in Lookout Valley, will compel them to concentrate and come back
      from Burnside to fight here.

      Dana to Stanton, 11/7/63 10 AM
      Before receiving this information, Grant had ordered Thomas to
      execute the movement on Citico Creek, which I reported on the 5th,
      as proposed by Smith. Thomas, who rather preferred an attempt
      on Lookout Mountain, desired to postpone the operation until Sher-
      man should come up, but Grant has decided that for the sake of
      Burnside the attack must be made at once; and I presume the
      advance on Citico will take place to-morrow morning, and that on
      Missionary Ridge immediately afterward. If successful, this
      operation will divide Bragg's forces in Chattanooga Valley from
      those in the Valley of the Chickamauga, and will compel him either
      to retreat, leaving the railroad communications of Cheatham and
      Longstreet exposed, or else to fight a battle with his diminished
      forces.

      Dana to Stanton, 11/8/63 11 AM
      Reconnaissance of Citico Creek and head of Missionary Ridge
      made yesterday by Thomas, Smith, and Brannan, from the heights
      opposite on the north of the Tennessee, proved Smith's plan of
      attack impracticable. The creek and country are wrongly laid
      down on our maps, and no operation for the seizure of Missionary
      Ridge can be undertaken with the force which Thomas can now
      command for the purpose. That force cannot by any efforts be
      made to exceed 18,000 men. The deficiency of animals, forage, and
      subsistence rendering any attacks by us on Bragg's line of
      communications at Cleveland or Charleston out of the question, it
      follows that no important effort for the relief of Burnside can be
      made.

      P.P.S. To ensure a fair discussion, herewith is Simpson's reply:
      "You requested documentation for my assertion that, 'Baldy Smith
      did no such thing' in response to your book's statement, 'Smith,
      who had urged Grant to order the attack....' regarding Grant's
      peremptory order for Thomas to attack the northern end of
      Missionary Ridge on 11/7/63. As I stated before, 'I don't have
      his autobiography present to look it up first-hand.'"

      Joseph, have you ever seen the book in question? Have you read
      the part under discussion? And how can you assert that I've
      taken something out of context when you do not have the context
      at hand?

      "My reading, though, had given me adequate confirmation
      that 'Baldy' Smith did not share the feelings you ascribed to
      him."

      Well, I think Smith knew better than you what his feelings were,
      and he set them down in his autobiography.

      "As evidence for this conclusion, and in deference to your opinion
      of Smith's reliability as a correspondent, I submit Charles Dana's
      three reports, which are copied below. They seem especially
      acceptable as documentation of the situation, having been written
      before and during the incident and not years after when other
      events may have colored his perspective."

      Exactly. Each dispatch credits Smith with the concept of the
      operation.

      "The change seen between
      11/5/63, when only an advance to the creek and a demonstration was
      considered, and 11/7/63, when Grant's all-out attack had been
      ordered, is obvious."

      Not to Dana; not to Smith.

      "If Smith did urge
      such an attack as you say, he should definitely have been
      surprised if it staggered the very general who he knew was to
      carry it out."

      That's what Smith said in his autobiography.

      "Grant, furthermore, didn't even
      delineate how all of this was to be accomplished; he left that up
      to Thomas."

      True. I've already quoted Grant on this. Don't you think it was
      wise of him to allow Thomas to devise the best way to execute the
      order? And, when Thomas and Smith returned with news that
      Smith's plan wouldn't work, didn't Grant heed Thomas's advice?

      So what's the problem?

      As for authorship of the plan, let's focus on the Dana dispatches:

      Dana to Stanton, 11/5/63 11 AM
      "Grant and Thomas considering plan proposed by W. F. Smith to
      advance our pickets on the left to Citico Creek, about a mile in
      front of the position they have occupied from the first, and to
      threaten the seizure of the northwest extremity of Missionary
      Ridge."

      Note Dana says "plan proposed by W. F. Smith."

      Dana to Stanton, 11/7/63 10 AM
      "Before receiving this information, Grant had ordered Thomas to
      execute the movement on Citico Creek, which I reported on the 5th,
      as proposed by Smith."

      Note Dana says "as proposed by Smith."

      Dana to Stanton, 11/8/63 11 AM
      "Reconnaissance of Citico Creek and head of Missionary Ridge
      made yesterday by Thomas, Smith, and Brannan, from the heights
      opposite on the north of the Tennessee, proved Smith?s plan of
      attack impracticable."

      Note Dana called it "Smith's plan."

      Smith's autobiography and Dana's dispatches settle the matter: it
      was Smith's plan. Thanks for providing us with the additional
      information.

      P.P.P.S. Professor Simpson wondered if I was as critical a reader
      with other books or just his. I noted that here on the CivilWarWest
      e-group, someone mentioned errors in Cozzens' "Shipwreck..." and I
      asked what they were. The individual only mentioned a mistake in
      an officer's rank and one other smallish problem. I have yet to
      finish the book, but I have found two more--what I feel
      are--substantial issues. On page 259, enumerating Thomas' assault
      force, Cozzens writes: "On Granger's right, Palmer's Fourteenth
      Corps was represented solely by Richard Johnson's division." Yet,
      in his appendix (no, not that appendix), it correctly states that
      Palmer's third division is Baird's which was on the opposite end
      of the line. Worse, in my mind, the timing of Hooker's delay at
      the bridge appear to be self-contradictory. On page 244, it
      notes, "It was 1:25 P.M. when the ... advance guard ... bumped up
      against the bank of the creek." On the next page, "[Hooker]
      scribbled a note apprising Thomas that his march had stalled ...."
      On page 247, "[Thomas] had heard nothing from Hooker since 1:30
      P.M., when Hooker had reported his delay at the creek ...." Not
      only would these times give Hooker only five minutes to determine
      his situation, scribble a note, and send it over the creek three
      miles to Orchard Knob, but the time of first encountering the
      creek must have happened much sooner.
    • josepharose@yahoo.com
      Will, Thanks for the compliment. You accused Baldy Smith of misquotation, because he wrote that General Grant proposed to attack the enemy. It s true that
      Message 52 of 52 , Jul 20, 2001
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        Will,

        Thanks for the compliment.

        You accused Baldy Smith of misquotation, because he wrote that
        General Grant proposed "to attack the enemy."

        It's true that the quoted material isn't in Grant's order to Thomas.

        Grant did write, however, in a telegram to Halleck dated 11/7/63,
        that he ordered Thomas "to attack the enemy." [The full text is
        below.] Smith could have also seen other material or heard Geneal
        Grant make remarks to the same effect, as we don't know what other
        sources there may be for such a quote.

        I think that this evidence fully absolves him of your charge.

        Joseph


        CHATTANOOGA, TENN., November 7, 1863-—1.30 p. m.
        (Received 11.50 p.m.)
        Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
        General-in-Chief:
        Enemy have attacked the most eastern of Burnside's stations,
        capturing a battery and about half the garrison of two regiments. In
        addition to the force before threatening Burnside from the west,
        there is but little doubt but Longstreet is moving to join them.
        I have ordered Thomas to attack the enemy at the north end of
        Missionary Ridge, and when that is carried to threaten or attack the
        enemy's line of communication between Cleveland and Dalton. This
        movement will be made by Monday morning.
        I expect Sherman will reach Huntsville to-day. I have repeated
        orders for him to hurry forward with the Fifteenth Corps.
        U.S. GRANT, Major-General.






        From: "William Henry Keene" <wh_keene@y...>
        Date: Fri Jul 20, 2001 2:10 pm
        Subject: Re: Baldy's remarks--this just in

        Joe,

        You have made some good points.

        I agree that Dana's phraseology, whether on the source of the plan or
        the existence of one or two sets of orders, is hardly the last word
        on the subject. Smith's post war denials are hardly definitive
        either. If there is other evidence out there, I don't have it yet (I
        have not read Smith's autobiography, which I have been told supports
        the position that he supported Grant's order). In order to make
        sense of Smith's remarks, we have begun to assume the presence of two
        sets of orders. Alternatively, Smith may have mistated the
        description of the order. Lots of speculation.

        I do think Smith mischaracterizes Grant's order in Battles and
        Leaders. Grant orders Thomas to attack a location, one not thought
        to be a heavily maintained position, for the purpose of attracting
        Bragg. By the order of the 7th, Thomas is not directed to actually
        engage Bragg's army, though this is likely to result once Bragg
        reacts to the threat to his flank and communications. Smith presents
        the order with a different meaning, saying it is a directive for a
        full enegagement with Bragg's army. To me this is a complete
        mischaracterization, topped off by misquotes. (You suprise me again
        by brushing off Baldy Smith's misuse of quotes, but make a big deal
        of Simpson's or Jean Smith's writings, or Sherman's and Grant's. The
        appearance is that you are willing to apply a different judgement
        when it comes to "your" generals.)

        ~Will

        ps: I appreciate you explanation regarding 'sophistry'.
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