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The current time is: 11/18/2017 1:23:48 AM
 (1861-1865) Civil War Battles (Western Theater)    
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jthlmnn
Milwaukee, WI, USA
top 40
E-4 Corporal


Posts: 168

Shiloh-Did Buell Really Save The Day?
Posted on: 10/26/2017 2:08:03 PM
Critics of U.S. Grant posit that Buell's timely arrival (with the Army of the Ohio) on the evening of April 6-7, 1862 saved Grant from total disaster at Shiloh. Veterans of the Army of the Tennessee, including their commanding general, disputed this claim after the war, and a battle of memories and words ensued with veterans of the Army of the Ohio, including their commanding general. What is your opinion? How bad was the situation for Grant the night of April 6? Could the Army of the Ohio have arrived sooner? If so, why didn't they? If not, why not? How critical was Buell's/Army of the Ohio's role, once he/they arrived? (Feel free to address other, related questions.)

Yours,
JohnT

John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant
Posts: 523

Re: Shiloh-Did Buell Really Save The Day?
Posted on: 10/26/2017 3:27:49 PM
JohnT,

I think the question boils down to how much did the reinforcements mean in the terms of morale to the AOT. How many of the sulkers and stragglers were induced to rejoin the ranks with renewed courage upon seeing the arrival and hearing their taunts that night? It was at the point of stalemate that night and without the reinforcement I don't believe the AOT able to attack as early maybe giving the Confederates the chance to properly reorganize and distribute ammunition. Plus morale is a fickle thing and panic spreads quickly, without the sreadying influence of the reinforcement would more have lost heart?
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2529

Re: Shiloh-Did Buell Really Save The Day?
Posted on: 10/26/2017 5:03:23 PM
From what can be inferrred from the casualty figures, the battle of the second day was nowhere near as intense and bloody as that of the first.

That's not to write it off as a piece of cake : Buell's army alone suffered two thousand casualties on 7 April ; and then there would have been the additional losses suffered by Grant's force that day.

But, all in all, the struggle was so preponderantly weighted toward the first day that one might be tempted to assume that, having survived the ordeal, Grant's army had escaped disaster by its own exertion.

There can be no doubt, however, that Buell's arrival was of crucial importance ; the damage suffered by Grant on the first day had been frightful, and it's understandable that the appearance of affairs around the bluffs at Pittsburgh Landing on the evening of 6 April was shocking for the arriving men of the Army of the Ohio to behold.

We ought,I suppose, to consult the memoirs of the confederate commanders to gauge the impact of Buell's arrival on the morale of the rebels.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant
Posts: 523

Re: Shiloh-Did Buell Really Save The Day?
Posted on: 10/26/2017 7:05:58 PM
Phil,

At the time very few understood Buell was arriving. Forrest saw it and tried to report to PGTB but couldn't find him and when he found Hardee, Hardee told him to go back to bed. The truth is if you find diaries or communication from that night the very large majority thought they had Grant where they wanted him and were going to finish him off in the morning. If you find memories written well after the fact you are going to find a lot of hindsight. I know they didn't understand the impact of the gunboats nor their own disorganization , low state of ammunition and casualties taken.
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2529

Re: Shiloh-Did Buell Really Save The Day?
Posted on: 10/27/2017 7:18:00 AM
Hard to make up my mind about this one : truly a difficult controversy to assess.

The impression I get is that Grant had managed to marshall a decent defensive gun line by the end of the first day ; that the confederate attack had been contained and that the rebel army was not in a condition to exploit the advantage it had gained.

To my regret, I have never visited Shiloh. I wonder about how far the terrain made the appearance of disaster worse than the reality : by this, I allude to bluffs on the riverbank, where frightened and demoralised men were concentrated in large numbers, conveying a sense of despair and alarm that was traumatic to all who beheld it.

Small wonder that Buell's troops, when they disembarked , were convinced that they were rescuing a throughly smashed up army.

The confederates, however, were fought out and disorganised. Many of their men had dispersed, either by choice or by the shock of battle. Their own casualties - at least seven thousand killed or wounded by nightfall on the first day - had been compounded by the death of their commander. Bled white and exhausted, they endured a dreadful night under fire from gunboats.

This , however, must not obscure how desperate that day had been for the yankees. The fight had been an existential one, the peril all too real. Surprised with a river behind them, ten thousand of their men killed, wounded or captured, and thousands more skulking in terror.....horrible.

No way could there have been a counter attack of sufficient force and resolve without Buell.

More reading required on my part !

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2529

Re: Shiloh-Did Buell Really Save The Day?
Posted on: 10/28/2017 2:42:23 AM
John,

How much reliance would you place on Sherman's memoirs as a source when it comes to the story of Shiloh ?

Last night I pulled the book from my shelves and gave it a glance.

His view very much repudiates the depiction of Buell saving Grant.

He endorses my suggestion that the sights and sounds of several thousand desperate yankees cowering in the bluffs conveyed an impression of disaster that made things appear worse than they actually were.

Sherman also reckoned - and, according to his account, actually told Buell at the time of his arrival - that Grant's army had suffered ten thousand casualties on the first day ; but he estimated that there were still eighteen thousand AOT men in position to continue the battle.

Most importantly , he vividly describes Grant's demeanour and comments at nightfall : ready, willing and able to resume battle and mount a counter attack in the morning, exhibiting confidence without being in the least bit complacent.

It's a compelling account, written by one who not only witnessed the battle from beginning to end , but who could legitimately claim to have taken some of its worst shocks.

As to whether this compromises his objectivity , or renders his view suspect.....that, I suppose, is the essence of the historiography.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant
Posts: 523

Re: Shiloh-Did Buell Really Save The Day?
Posted on: 10/28/2017 12:14:43 PM
Phil,

I take all the memoirs with a grain of salt so to speak on every battle. I have no doubt that Grant was "ready willing and able" to resume the battle in the morning but I do wonder without the reinforcement what the outcome would have been Also just how "ready, willing and able" were the majority in the ranks if they didn't know they had the AOO by their side and the stings of derision from the AOO in their ears. How many are saying there were 500 in the regiment yesterday and they drove us for 2-3 miles now there is maybe 200 left and he wants us to attack, what's he smoking in that cigar!
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


jthlmnn
Milwaukee, WI, USA
top 40
E-4 Corporal


Posts: 168

Re: Shiloh-Did Buell Really Save The Day?
Posted on: 11/13/2017 8:59:11 PM
Just to add some further complication:

It is my opinion that Buell inflated his role in the battle. I believe he did so because his decision to move there by land had taken much longer than he anticipated, and his slow progression helped create the circumstances of April 6.

Consider that he had the option to move his army by land or by river. His stated preference (approved by Halleck on March 16) was land. While each had its own set of complications and risks, moving by river would have been faster, and comparatively safer. As it was, it took Buell 3 weeks (March 16- April 7) to move the AOO from Nashville to Savannah, due to delays caused by weather and the destruction of critical bridges.


Quote:
From Gen. Buell to Gen. Halleck, March 19, 1862:
"Our progress has been retarded by heavy rains and high water. I have now 3 divisions at Columbia, or near there, working with all industry on bridges. The endeavor to save the bridges by a forced march of cavalry succeeded with some of them, but failed with one at Columbia and 4 miles this side. They were in flames when the troops arrived. I may be delayed there four or five days, but beyond that I do not expect any interruption, and the march will be pursued with all possible dispatch."



Quote:
From Gen. Buell to Gen. Grant, March 23, 1862:
"Our progress has been retarded by high water and the absence of bridges, almost every one on the road, however small, having been destroyed by the enemy. I shall be at Columbia myself by the time the bridge there is ready for crossing, probably three or four days yet."



Quote:
From Gen. Buell to Gen. Halleck, March 27, 1862:
"I arrived here (Columbia) yesterday. The progress of the bridge over the Duck River has been much slower than I expected, but the difficulties have also been greater than I supposed. I find the bridge cannot be ready for crossing until Monday (March 30)."


Had Buell chosen to move by river, a much larger federal force would have been present at Pittsburg Landing, radically altering the events of April 6.

Yours,

JohnT

John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant
Posts: 523

Re: Shiloh-Did Buell Really Save The Day?
Posted on: 11/17/2017 12:07:43 AM
JohnT,

Don't think it possible because it is my understanding that there weren't enough transports to move both armies and enough supplies to sustain them at the same time. As it was each was pulling multiple barges if I'm not mistaken and were strained just moving Grant's force with supplies.
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant
Posts: 523

Re: Shiloh-Did Buell Really Save The Day?
Posted on: 11/17/2017 9:40:59 AM
JohnT,

Grant required 173 steamboats to transport 42,000 troops and the Army of Ohio was about 37,000 so lets say 160 for them plus the barges each is pulling. Given all the garrisons left along the way using the rivers for supply and communication where are all the transports coming from? Plus what about landing/docking capacity?
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


jthlmnn
Milwaukee, WI, USA
top 40
E-4 Corporal


Posts: 168

Re: Shiloh-Did Buell Really Save The Day?
Posted on: 11/17/2017 10:25:12 PM
Valid questions, John P.

While transports were busy, nothing in the correspondence between Buell and Halleck states any shortage of vessels for the purpose. Buell, on March 15 writes:


Quote:
"Undoubtedly we should use the river to get supplies, but I am decidedly of opinion that my force should strike it by marching. It can move in less time, in better condition, and with more security to our operations than by the river."


From other messages to Halleck, preceding this one, Buell seems to be very concerned with possible rebel operations to the east of Corinth, while Smith, Grant and Halleck are convinced (correctly, as it turned out) that the confederates were concentrating at Corinth. It is my opinion that this perceived threat had more to do with Buell's preference for movement by land than concerns over the availability of river transport.

Be that as it may, Buell certainly did not anticipate being delayed for a solid week awaiting the construction of bridges at Columbia. That was the flaw in his logic - he did not take into account how easily his force could be delayed by the destruction of a few bridges. Had he moved his army by river, how many could have been transported and in place at Pittsburg Landing between March 16 and April 5 (a span of 3 weeks)? If that is more than the 12 companies that arrived and fought in the late afternoon-early evening of April 6, then Buell is partially responsible for the circumstances under which the battle was fought on the first day.

Yours,

JohnT


 (1861-1865) Civil War Battles (Western Theater)    
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