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Re: Chickamauga Generals (cont.)

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  • sdwakefield@prodigy.net
    Before everyone corrects me! LOL The young actor was of course -- Kevin Corcoran and not Johnny! ... to ... figure ... a ... like ... to ... east ... total ...
    Message 1 of 4 , May 6, 2001
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      Before everyone corrects me! LOL The young actor was of course --
      Kevin Corcoran and not Johnny!

      --- In civilwarwest@y..., sdwakefield@p... wrote:
      > Well its been awhile since I have had a chance to peek in, having
      to
      > make a living certainly does reduce one's civil war time! Anyway it
      > is a lazy Spring Sunday morning in West Tennessee and I thought I
      > might continue my rambling about battlefield leadership at
      > Chickamauga. I hope you do not mind, (actually I am trying to
      figure
      > out what the heck I am going to say at the muster- YIKES only about
      a
      > month away).
      > At any rate having cited some folks for what I thought was some
      > outstanding tactical leadership at the battle I throught I might
      > continue.
      > Perhaps the most `unsung' Union commander was Robt. Minty. Much
      like
      > John Buford at Gettysburg it may take a movie for people to begin
      to
      > generally appreciate just how critical Minty's delaying actions
      east
      > of Chickamauga Creek on September 18th were to the avoidance of
      total
      > Union disaster. Without the near day long delay of Johnson in
      > crossing the creek the Battle would have started in earnest on the
      > afternoon of September 18th with the Union left anchored at the Lee
      > and Gordon Mill. Although this would have left Granger's folks in
      the
      > Rossville area ( threatening the rear of the Confederate forces
      whose
      > orientation would have been facing south probably directly across
      the
      > Lafayette Road) it would have also meant that the rest of the Army
      of
      > the Cumberland was flanked and very close to being totally cut off
      > from Chattanooga. For those who have studied Buford's defense or
      > delay in depth tactics against Heth's Division you will truly
      > appreciate what Minty did on September 18th against Bushrod
      Johnson's
      > division of infantry. Although Wilder's folks get lots of attention
      > for their September 18th defense of the Alexander Road Bridge ( and
      > they justily deserve much tribute)it was actually Minty's delay at
      > the Reed Bridge that mattered most in my humble opinion. Once the
      > Reed Bridge was captured Wilder's defense at the Alexander Bridge
      > further to the south was flanked and had to be given up. If the
      Reed
      > Bridge crossing had fallen at say 11 am instead of 3 pm the
      > consequences could have been significant.
      > Another Union officer that I think probably deserves a little more
      > good press than he gets is Tom Crittenden. It was he who provided
      > some on the ground over-all leadership and moral support to the
      heavy
      > fighting in the Viniard Farm sector on September 19. In view of the
      > highly fluid command situation on that part of the field I think he
      > merits at least some favorable mention. Although continued Union
      > possession of the LaFayette Road itself was not critical to the
      Union
      > army (the further to the east Dry Valley Road provided a rougher
      but
      > adequate North-South means of communication) Crittenden's
      leadership
      > in this sector was personal and meaningful to the stalling of the
      > eastern drive of the confederate forces in the Vinard Farm- Widow
      > Glenn sector. In addition it is unclear to me at this time what if
      > any role Crittenden may have had in coordinating Wilder's
      > various `spoiling' counter-attacks which were launched in this area
      > that were critical to maintaining the Union defense in the Vinard
      > Farm area.
      > As an aside it is just my opinion but of those Union officers who
      got
      > the ax after the Battle, Crittenden probably was the one most
      > wronged. Mc Cook appears to pretty well have lived up to his
      > description by Union Brigadier General Sam Beatty as a
      `chucklehead',
      > throughout the campaign. Clearly Wood's infamous `gap' had
      McCook's
      > finger prints all over it. In addition McCook's eventual `sacking'
      > was probably long over due for no other reasons than his less than
      > stellar performances at both Perryville and Murfreesboro. Negley's
      > early unannounced abandonment of the Horseshoe Ridge position, at
      > least in my mind was an act which merited severe punishment. While
      > Negley's prior service would have been a strong mitigating factor
      in
      > imposing punishment, his action on September 20th certainly
      justified
      > dismissal — at least in my mind. But for the life of me I really
      can
      > not see exactly what more Tom Crittenden could have reasonably been
      > called upon to do.While it is true that he might have accompanied
      > Davis and Sheridan on their face saving attmpt to return to Thomas
      > via Rossville I really fail to see how such an action would have
      any
      > meaningful impact on the campaign. Of course all three of these
      > officers were `cleared' at their Courts of Inquiry but the
      practical
      > reality was that they were dumped from future command and as I say
      in
      > Tom Crittenden's case I persoanlly feel this was an injustice. In
      > view of their future performances, with the exception of Joe
      Hooker,
      > I do not think that subsequent Corps commanders of the Army of the
      > Cumberland were substantial improvements over Crittenden.
      > On an additional purely personal note I think it is awful easy to
      > admire the battlefield performances of both US brigadiers Hans Heg
      > and William H. Lytle. This admiration for me comes not so much from
      > anything particularly outstanding in their tactics or command
      > decisions but rather because they are such appealing personalities,
      > one a Norweigen former 49er who wrote beautiful letters to his wife
      > and the other a pre-war poet. Both gave their lives in very heroic
      > fashion and continue to stand today as shining examples of the
      > American tradition of citizen-soldiers.
      > On the other side of the Lafayette Road I also find some darn
      > admirable characters. Lucius Polk for lots of reasons remains a
      > personal favoite of mine. At Chickamuaga he was given a nearly
      > impossible task and quietly and persistently went about trying to
      > achieve his objective. His troops' willingness to follow him and to
      > attempt what they were told to try had ramifications far beyond
      what
      > they could see. In addition Lucius appears to have been an
      > aristocratic officer who did not seem to display many of the
      personal
      > negatives that were often displayed by such an officer.
      > Alexander P. Stewart fought his division very ably and without much
      > direction or help from his higher ups. The whole `gang' of
      Tennessee
      > lawyers turned Brigadier Generals (Maney, Strahl, Preston Smith,
      > later Vaughn, and even Marcus Wright) in Cheatham's largely
      Tennessee
      > Division performed well in my opinion. I can not tell you how often
      I
      > have seen Preston Smith's coat on display at the Memphis Pink
      Palace
      > Museum. It is a beautifully made coat of very expensive cloth with
      a
      > gaping hole right over the heart. I often pass by the still
      thriving
      > St. Peter's Catholic Orphanage which in pre-war days, Smith had
      > championed among the Protestant elite of Memphis as a noble cause
      > worthy of their finacicial support- even if it was then run by and
      > primarily for the benefit of Irish and German Catholics of the
      city.
      > (Forrest was the person who donated the land upon which the present
      > facility stands.) As in the case of Heg and Lytle, Smith remains
      for
      > me a shining example of the American tradition of citizen soldiers
      > that have always responded when their country have called even the
      > financially successful who had more than ample opportunities to
      > honorably avoid the danger. Preston Smith is just one of the people
      I
      > often think of when I hear `some' people refer to lawyers as pimps
      > and shysters. A final lesser leader who I can not think of without
      > smiling is the ubiquitious Colonel William C. Oats of the 15th
      > Alabama. Infantry. Yes the same man and troops who did battle with
      > the now lionized Chamberlain and 20th Maine on the slopes of Little
      > Round Top seemed to be everywhere at Chickamauga (Brock Field,
      > LaFayette Road, Dyer Field and Horseshoe Ridge). At least in my
      book
      > any man who led repeated charges against both Little Round Top, and
      > Horseshoe Ridge had a lot of `true grit'.
      > My personal list Chickamauga favorites could go on but I know I am
      > boring the heck out of everyone but I must list one last person.
      This
      > person is the character that first got me hooked on the American
      > Civil War some 40 years ago. The person who actually won the battle
      > and deserved the thanks of the nation- Johnny Lincoln Clem - at
      least
      > that is the way I remember the Walt Disney tv version of the late
      50s
      > or early 1960s! Yes Johnny Clem known as both the Drummer Boy of
      > Chickamauga and of Shiloh. Clem served as the drummer boy/mascot of
      > the 22nd Michigan at both the battles of Shiloh and Chickamauga. I
      > just know I am the only person alive that remembers these two
      Sunday
      > Evening episodes of Walt Disney's great program. Many remember the
      > Swamp Fox, Johnny Tremain, and of course the Davy Crockett episodes
      (
      > how many remember how many of those there were?) But I just know I
      am
      > the only person still living that remembers those two episodes with
      > Johnny Cochran (?) playing Clem and Brain Keith ( all susequent
      roles
      > where down hill) playing his buddy the sergeant. I still rmember
      > General Thomas' frightful reaction when Johnny explained that he
      had
      > discovered that General Longstreet with his whole Cavalry Corps
      from
      > Virginia where now on the field! (VBG) While my older brothers had
      > their coon skin caps a few years later I had my `Johnny Shiloh'
      kepi
      > and musket and to this day those two Christmas presents remain my
      > most memorable chilhood possessions. I can not fully explain how
      > crushed I was when my Uncle Norvel explained to me that Johnny had
      > fought for the wrong side! But I do digress, John Clem and the 22nd
      > Michigan stood tall on Horseshoe Ridge on Setember 20th. For those
      > who attend the muster I promise we will find the 22nd Michigan
      > monument and we will make an appropriate homage! The homage will
      not
      > only be to Clem but to all the soldiers that participated in this
      > monumental "Soldiers' FIGHT"!
      > Sorry to have bored you with these ramblings but it is a lazy
      Sunday
      > morning!
    • BertyBinks@aol.com
      Mr Wakefield, This kind of posting is the very reason I keep my subscription to the mail group, it is without doubt, excellent. Many thanks and best regards
      Message 2 of 4 , May 6, 2001
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        Mr Wakefield,

        This kind of posting is the very reason I keep my subscription to the mail
        group, it is without doubt, excellent.

        Many thanks and best regards

        Berty
      • LWhite64@aol.com
        I agree 100% about Minty s performance, it was critical to the AOC, and he along with several others get lost in the story. I find it very interesting to look
        Message 3 of 4 , May 6, 2001
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          I agree 100% about Minty's performance, it was critical to the AOC, and he
          along with several others get lost in the story.  I find it very interesting
          to look at Gettysburg and how there are so many "little Guy" heros like
          Colonel Chamberlain, etc, but for the Majority Chickamauga gets only Thomas
          and Longstreet.  As already mentioned there were many on par with their
          G-burg counterparts like Minty, Harker,  Hazen, and Brannan who all do a huge
          share in keeping disaster away on the US side and then men like Lucius
          Polk(who redeems the family name in spite of his uncle), AP Stewart(the most
          unsung CS General in my opinion), Bushrod Johnson, Mathew Ector, and Daniel
          Govan.  
                  Also overlooked is what I would also say is a excellent performance
          by Tom Wood after the Gap incident when he along with his brigadier Harker,
          formed a line across North Dyer Field that knocked a large portion of
          Longstreet's Corps out of action and allowed for JB Hood to be shot, possibly
          by his own men.  The loss of Hood was CRITICAL in the sucess of the defensive
          line on Snodgrass Hill, lack of coordination haunted the AOT in this battle
          and in particularly on Snodgrass.  Glad to see a thread close to my heart.

          Lee
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