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Re: One thing about Grant critics I have never understood.

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  • theme_music
    The wrong side of the river argument, which Buell stressed in B&L, has several weaknesses when used against Grant, not the least of which is that both Buell
    Message 1 of 58 , Jan 3, 2002
      The wrong "side of the river" argument, which Buell stressed in B&L,
      has several weaknesses when used against Grant, not the least of
      which is that both Buell and Halleck were aware of Smith establishing
      a tete-du-pont at Pittsburg by about March 14, and neither voiced an
      objection. In fact the plan was that this was to be the point of
      concentration for the move upon Corinth.

      Taking a step back...

      The Mid-March objective was to land forces that would move south and
      destroy the railroads in the vicinity of Cornith or the Bear Creek
      Bridge, without bringing on a general engagement. The flooded nature
      along the river at that time greatly limited the choices of landing
      sites. Pittsburg is described as the best choice, having "high and
      dry" camping for the entire army, a landing still useable in high
      water, and direct roads to Corinth.

      After a few Federal attempts to move on the railroads, it was
      discovered that the rebels were present in force. Any forward
      movement would require a general engagment. Federal plans to isolate
      Polk's forces from AS Johnston's through destruction of the railroads
      had been thwarted.

      At this point Halleck (3/17) orders Buell to Savannah to join up with

      NASHVILLE, TENN., March 17, 1862.
      Major-General HALLECK:
      I have information, which seems reliable, that Beauregard moved last
      Thursday from Corinth and Jackson to some other point not named--
      probably Savannah--to operate against Smith, in anticipation of his
      crossing. A part of the force was to strike the river below Savannah,
      to cut off transportation. The force moving toward Savannah is said
      to number 26,000.
      D.C. BUELL,

      Saint Louis, March 17, 1862.
      General D.C. BUELL,
      Nashville, Tenn.:
      I fully understand these movements. Move on, as ordered to-day, to re-
      enforce Smith. Savannah is now the strategic point. Don't fail to
      carry out my instructions. I know that I am right.
      H. W. HALLECK,

      Also on the 17th, Grant arrived at Savannah:

      Savannah, Tenn., March 17, 1862.
      Capt. N. H. McLEAN,
      Saint Louis, Mo.:
      I have the honor of reporting my arrival but a few minutes since at
      this place. Just as I arrived a report was received from General
      Sherman, which I herewith inclose. (+) A man employed by General
      Smith as scout also came in, reporting the enemy very strong from
      Chickasaw to Corinth. Their number was estimated at 150,000, about
      one-third of them being at Corinth. General Johnston, with his force,
      is said to be with them. The number is of course very much
      exaggerated, and Johnston being there was very much against my
      expectations. <ar11_43>
      This country is so overflowed that but few roads can be traveled, and
      all are most impassable for artillery. A few dry days, however, would
      remedy this, and it is certainly time to look for a change of
      weather. I shall order all the forces here, except McClernand's
      division, to Pittsburg, and send back steamers as rapidly as possible.
      It is with great difficulty that quartermasters at Paducah and Cairo
      can be impressed with the magnitude of our wants in coal and forage.
      We are now short in both these articles. Corn can be procured here
      for a few days, but not for a long period. I would respectfully
      suggest to the general commanding the importance of having funds in
      the hands of the quartermaster to pay the people for such supplies as
      we get from them.
      All the troops of my command, except those left to garrison Forts
      Henry and Donelson, two regiments at Clarksville yet to arrive, and
      McClernand's division, will be at Pittsburg. The accompanying report
      of General Sherman, with the above statement, shows the present
      distribution of my forces. The Fifty-second Illinois, Col. T. W.
      Sweeny commanding, has just arrived.
      U.S. GRANT,

      It is at this point Grant becomes responsible for the troop
      dispositions, which were:

      Savannah, March 18, 1862.
      Maj. Gen H. W. HALLECK,
      Saint Louis, Mo.:
      Your dispatch of the 16th is just received and replied to by
      telegraph from Fort Henry. I arrived here last evening, and found
      that Generals Sherman and Hurlbut's divisions were at Pittsburg,
      partially debarked; General Wallace at Crump's Landing, 6 miles
      below, same side of the river; General McClernand's division at this
      place, encamped, and General Smith's, with unattached regiments, on
      board transports, also here. I immediately ordered all troops, except
      McClernand's command, to Pittsburg, and to debark there at once and
      discharge the steamers, to report at Paducah for further orders.
      All your instructions will be carried out to the best of my ability.
      There is no doubt a large force is being concentrated at Corinth and
      on the line of the railroad......I shall go to-morrow to Crump's
      Landing and Pittsburg, and if I think any change of position for any
      of the troops needed I will make the change. Having full faith,
      however, in the judgment of General Smith, who located the present
      points of debarkation, I do not expect any change will be made....

      Given this situation, what argument does Grant make to Halleck for
      pulling back to the north/east side of River? ie, what reason is
      there to retreat? Conversely, if being at Pittsburg is against
      military principles why does Halleck not order a retreat?

      In the meantime, Grant is aware that Buell's forces have reached
      Columbia on 3/19 (about 60 miles from Savannah). Buell estimates 4-5
      days to repair the bridges so Grant estimates his arrival on the
      Tennessee at about 3/28. I think this point somewhat mitigates
      criticisms for the failure to entrench. Grant expected to be in
      motion by the end of March, and preparing for that move was given a
      higher priority than building defenses. However, Grant is
      responsible for prevailing attitude among the Federals that "no
      battle would be fought closer than Corinth." This attitude is the
      reason for the Federals inablity to "read the tea leaves" and see an
      approaching Rebel army on 4/4 or 4/5. It is almost inexplicable that
      that by the evening of 4/5 the Federal divisions were not all in
      battle line awaiting Johnston's onslaught. IMHO, this more than
      anything else is the reason for the Federal debacle of 4/6, and is
      more the responsiblity of Grant than any of the other issues raised.

      In a message dated 1/18/02 6:31:10 PM Eastern Standard Time, theme_music@yahoo.com writes:
      Message 58 of 58 , Jan 18, 2002
        In a message dated 1/18/02 6:31:10 PM Eastern Standard Time,
        theme_music@... writes:

        << At any rate, Smith commanded the expedition at the time Sherman
        landed at Pittsburg.

        At the time that Sherman with his flotilla and divisision went up the river
        to close to Muscle Shoals and then back to Pittsburg Landing, Smith was not
        with him. Smith might have chosen Sherman to do the scouting and commanded
        him in that manner, but the overall commander of the expedition was Sherman.
        Smith was still back in Savannah when Sherman landed.

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