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Re: Brooks Simpson's Ulysses S. Grant

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  • josepharose@yahoo.com
    To all: In Simpson s book, he stated that Baldy Smith urged Grant to make an all-out attack on the ridge at Chattanooga on 11/8/63 to be led by Thomas.
    Message 1 of 12 , May 2, 2001
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      To all:

      In Simpson's book, he stated that "Baldy" Smith "urged" Grant to make
      an all-out attack on the ridge at Chattanooga on 11/8/63 to be led by
      Thomas. The professor quoted Smith as saying he "instigated" the
      all-out attack. I said, according to all I had read (e.g., Cozzens
      and a Smith quote), that he did not. I suggested that any instigation
      may have referred to the advance on Citico Creek and demonstration
      toward the ridge which Smith did undoubtedly propose.

      Not having Smith's autobiography at hand, can anyone provide me with
      excerpts from it of from other sources which would enlighten us on
      this matter?

      Thanks in advance,
      Joseph

      P.S. If you want to read much more on the subject, my last post stated:
      Professor,
      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 be fair, herewith is the professor's response, starting
      with a quote from my post [so you won't be confused]:
      "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. Simpson also had asked whether I was as critical of other
      authors; I replied:
      As a very critical reader, I find problems with most
      articles and books that cross my path. 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.
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