Did being divided in to four Corps help or hurt the Confederates at the Battle of Shiloh?

major bill

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Johnston had divided his army in to four Corps prior to the Battle of Shiloh/Pittsburg Landing. Lee at this time had his larger army divided in to two Corps. Did the four Corps system help or hurt the Confederates at Shiloh?

I have never been sure why Johnston used the four Corps system. Perhaps he did not believe any of his subordinates could handle a large Corps. Perhaps Johnston thought four Corps provided greater flexibility. Perhaps the real reason was to not offend any of his principal subordinates by forcing them to serve under another general.

So did the four Corps system help or hurt?
 

Eric Calistri

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I don’t think the organization was the problem at Shiloh for the CS army. It was more the battle plan, subsequent intermingling of units, and the killed and wounded officers at the upper levels. Certainly, Grant had it worse on the first day with 5 divisions on the field and 0 corps.

The pushing back of the Federals to the landing helped their organization, while the Confederates ended up more scattered after day one.

As to Lee, what army are you referring to in April 1862? Wasn’t Joe Johnston in command in N Va?
 
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When he took command of the Army of the Mississippi on March 29, 1862, Gen. Sidney Johnston intended to get three corps eventually supported by a small reserve division.
- Maj-Gen. Leonidas Polk as commander of the First Corps
- - - Clark's Div. (troops from Columbus & New Madrid) = Russell's + Stewart's Bdes
- - - Cheatham's Div. (troops from Columbus) = B.R. Johnson's + Stephens' Bdes
- Maj-Gen. Braxton Bragg as commander of the Second Corps (also made chief-of-staff)
- - - Ruggles' Div. (troops from New Orleans) = Gibson's + Patton Anderson's + Pond's Bdes (+ L.P. Walker's, disbanded)
- - - Withers' Div. (troops from the Army of Mobile + Army of Pensacola) = Gladden's + J.K. Jackson's + Chalmers' Bdes
- Maj-Gen. William J. Hardee as commander of the Third Corps
- - - Hardee's/Hindman's Div. (troops from the old Army of Central Kentucky) = Hindman's + Cleburne's + Bdes
- - - Pillow's Div. (troops from the old Army of Central Kentucky) = Wood's + Bowen's Bdes
- - - Breckinridge's Kentucky Bde (from the old Army of Central Kentucky)
- Maj-Gen. George B. Crittenden as commander of the Reserve Division
- - - Carroll's + Statham's Bdes (troops from District of East Tennessee, formerly attached to the old Army of Central Kentucky)

The Third Corps was the core of the old Army of Central Kentucky, splitted into both Third and Reserve Corps after some reorganization. Hardee's command lost almost half of its size and thus the Confederate only had two effective corps (First and Second Corps), supported by two strong-to-average divisions (Third and Reserve Corps).

Leaders' inexperience and those extra formations damaged quite a lot the effectiveness of the assault on April 6, 1862. I don't know the responsability of Gen. Beauregard with this awkward decision of unbalanced corps : maybe the name Corps has a special morale effect on ennemy troops, thinking there were facing more men (a corps should be composed of at least two divisions).

The numbers at Shiloh were approximately 39,350 men:
- 10, 350 for Polk (four brigades, two divisions)
- 13,250 for Bragg (six brigades, two divisions)
- 7,000 for Hardee (three brigades)
- 6,600 for Breckinridge (three brigades)
- 2,150 unattached troops

With one more brigade (either Bowen's or Breckinridge's), Hardee would have at least 8,850 men while the unattached troops (mainly cavalry & artillery) can be attached to Breckinridge's command. Otherwise, the Third Corps lacks punch and Hardee cannot reinforce quickly his front-line.

Johnston could also have chosen to reduce his reserve to only one infantry brigade (Statham's) and one cavalry brigade (Hawe's), in order to stick to the old formation. Hardee would have five brigades in two divisions, respectively led by Hindman and Wood, with Breckinridge's Bde under direct command of Hardee.

- Hindman's Bde : 2,300 + 200 (Shoup's Artillery Bn)
- Cleburne's Bde : 2,550
- Wood's Bde : 1,950
- Breckinridge's/Trabue's Bde : 2,650
- Bowen's Bde : 1,850
- Statham's Bde : 2,100

Hardee's potentially reinforced Third Corps = 11,500
- Hindman's Div. (Hindman's + Cleburne's Bdes) = 5,050
- Wood's Div. (Wood's + Bowen's Bdes) = 3,800
- Breckinridge's Kentucky Bde = 2,650

Reserve units
- Statham's Bde = 2,100
- Hawes' Cavary Bde = 2,100

Concerning the ANV at the time, Joe Johnston's troops were organized into several divisions before the concentration at Yorktown :
- D.H. Hill's Div. :
- - - Early's Bde (from 1st Div., Potomac District)
- - - Rodes Bde (from 1st Div., Potomac District)
- - - G.B. Anderson's Bde (from D.H. Hill's Command)
- Longstreet's Div. :
- - - A.P. Hill's Bde (from 3rd Div., Potomac District)
- - - Pickett's Bde (from 3rd Div., Potomac District)
- - - R.H. Anderson's (from 3rd Div., Potomac District)
- - - Wilcox's Bdes (from 2nd Div., Potomac District)
- Ewell's Div. :
- - - Trimble's Bde (from 4th Div., Potomac District)
- - - Taylor's Bde (from 4th Div., Potomac District)
- - - Elzey's Bde (from 4th Div., Potomac District)
- Magruder's Command :
- - - McLaws' Bde (from Army of the Peninsula)
- - - Rains' Bde (from Army of the Peninsula)
- - - Cobb's Bde (from Dept. Norfolk)
- - - Kershaw's Bde (from 1st Div., Potomac District)
- - - Toombs' Bde (from 2nd Div., Potomac District)
- - - Jones' Bde (from 2nd Div., Potomac District)
- - - Griffith's Bde (from D.H. Hill's Command)
- Huger's Command (Dept. Norfolk)
- - - Mahone's Bde
- - - Armistead's Bde
- - - Blanchard's/Wright's Bde
- - - Colston's Bde (to Longstreet's Div., April 1862 / dissolved June 1862)
- - - Clarke's Bde (dissolved April 1862)
- G.W. Smith's Command (Aquia District)
- - - Field's Bde
- - - Pettigrew's Bde (dissolved June 1862)
- - - S.R. Anderson's Bde (from Valley District)
- - - Whiting's Bde (from Whiting's Div., Potomac District)
- - - Hood's Bde (from Whiting's Div., Potomac District)
- - - Hampton's Bde (from Whiting's Div., Potomac District / dissolved June 1862)
- Jackson's Command (Valley District)
- - - Garnett's Bde
- - - Burks' Bde
- - - Fulkerson's Bde
- Johnson's Command (Army of the Northwest)
- - - Scott's Bde (merged into Elzey's Bde, June 1862)
- - - Conner's Bde (merged into Elzey's Bde, June 1862)
 

Belfoured

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Johnston had divided his army in to four Corps prior to the Battle of Shiloh/Pittsburg Landing. Lee at this time had his larger army divided in to two Corps. Did the four Corps system help or hurt the Confederates at Shiloh?

I have never been sure why Johnston used the four Corps system. Perhaps he did not believe any of his subordinates could handle a large Corps. Perhaps Johnston thought four Corps provided greater flexibility. Perhaps the real reason was to not offend any of his principal subordinates by forcing them to serve under another general.

So did the four Corps system help or hurt?
I sure don't see how it helped. I think the additional problem was the actual attack formation, especially matched against the terrain. Add in Johnston riding about like a brigade commander and massive inexperience. I think your point about flexibility is well-taken.
 

Belfoured

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I don’t think the organization was the problem at Shiloh for the CS army. It was more the battle plan, subsequent intermingling of units, and the killed and wounded officers at the upper levels. Certainly, Grant had it worse on the first day with 5 divisions on the field and 0 corps.

The pushing back of the Federals to the landing helped their organization, while the Confederates ended up more scattered after day one.

As to Lee, what army are you referring to in April 1862? Wasn’t Joe Johnston in command in N Va?
Both Johnston and Lee operated with divisions on the Peninsula (although that became loose terminology after Jackson and the "Valley Army" joined up for the Seven Days). Lee went to two "wings" in August.
 

Ole Miss

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What an interesting and provoking thread! @Gavrilo Sartorys that was an excellent summation of the opposing forces at Shiloh. This was a complicated battle for mostly green enlisted men and officers on both sides. Many Federals were at Fort Donelson but that hardly prepared them for the bloody battle along the Tennessee River.

I don't believe the division and alignment of Confederate forces was as much the problem for the confusion of mixed regiments and confusion as to who was in command. The real problem was the orders designed by Beauregard would have difficult for an experienced army in good weather but not for the inexperienced Confederates in terrible weather!

The Creole mastermind, loved the theatrical movements created by Bonaparte and designed the attack orders for the Army of the Mississippi in that spirit. Having planned for the 4 corps to attack in successive waves in parallel after a 20 mile march along two muddy roads was doomed to failure. Albert Sidney Johnston was at fault for telling Beauregard to draw up the attack plans then adopting it despite having been in Corinth for 10 days! Johnston knew that to defeat Grant he would have to drive the Federals away from Pittsburg Landing. By allowing the planned attack in successive waves instead of attacking in columns, the ability to drive Grant from his base of supplies was lost. Due to the sever terrain on the Union left it was difficult for the Confederates to separate the Army of the Tennessee from the Tennessee River.

Beauregard drafted a poor attack plan that was approved by Johnston, therefore the blame goes to commanding general. Beauregard performed as well as one could after Johnston's death. However by not attempting to reorganizing his lines and resupplying his men he was at fault in my opinion. The lack of tenacity that was prevalent in the early years of the War was evident at Shiloh. Grant and R. E. Lee were the early proponents of Attack, Attack and Attack.

In answer to the original OP, YES attacking in 4 lines doomed the Confederates to defeat.
Regards
David
 

67th Tigers

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Both Johnston and Lee operated with divisions on the Peninsula (although that became loose terminology after Jackson and the "Valley Army" joined up for the Seven Days). Lee went to two "wings" in August.

This was because Army Corps were not authorised by law at the time. The Confederate Congress passed a law authorising army corps and the rank of lieutenant-general to command them on 18th September 1862 (two months after the Union authorised corps).

"The Congress of the Confederate States of America do enact, That the sixth section of the Act to provide for the public defence, approved on the sixth of March, eighteen hundred and sixty-one, be amended by adding after the words "brigades into divisions," the words "and divisions into army corps," and each army corps shall be commanded by a Lieutenant-General, to be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, who shall receive the pay of a Brigadier-General.

APPROVED Sept. 18, 1862."

Like in the Union, the power to create corps and appoint commanders was reserved for the President only.

The divisions of March 1862 were conventional, with typically 3 brigades. On the Warwick line Magruder had his army initially divided into normal sized divisions, but then Johnston reorganised the army into four wings of two divisions each, but at some point each of these wings is designated a division, despite still containing two divisions. To this the Army of the Appomattox (i.e. former Norfolk garrison), Army of the North and some divisions culled from the coast were added.

Despite having "divisions" the same size as Army Corps, and with multiple divisions within the division, the term corps was never used, because there was no legal basis for the formation of army corps, and the regulations (like US regulations in early 1862) set the division at the largest body below an army.

Now, in the West, each of the three numbered "corps" were an independent army (Army of the Mississippi, Army of Mobile and Army of Central Kentucky respectively). Arguably these were still legally three armies.

Similarly, once combined into one body Halleck called his three "armies" corps (Tennessee Army Corps, Ohio Army Corps and Mississippi Army Corps), and stripped a reserve out from the larger two, like Beauregard had. Interestingly, each of these "corps" was roughly the size of one of the pre-reorg Corps on the Peninsula.
 

Grant's Tomb

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What an interesting and provoking thread! @Gavrilo Sartorys that was an excellent summation of the opposing forces at Shiloh. This was a complicated battle for mostly green enlisted men and officers on both sides. Many Federals were at Fort Donelson but that hardly prepared them for the bloody battle along the Tennessee River.

I don't believe the division and alignment of Confederate forces was as much the problem for the confusion of mixed regiments and confusion as to who was in command. The real problem was the orders designed by Beauregard would have difficult for an experienced army in good weather but not for the inexperienced Confederates in terrible weather!

The Creole mastermind, loved the theatrical movements created by Bonaparte and designed the attack orders for the Army of the Mississippi in that spirit. Having planned for the 4 corps to attack in successive waves in parallel after a 20 mile march along two muddy roads was doomed to failure. Albert Sidney Johnston was at fault for telling Beauregard to draw up the attack plans then adopting it despite having been in Corinth for 10 days! Johnston knew that to defeat Grant he would have to drive the Federals away from Pittsburg Landing. By allowing the planned attack in successive waves instead of attacking in columns, the ability to drive Grant from his base of supplies was lost. Due to the sever terrain on the Union left it was difficult for the Confederates to separate the Army of the Tennessee from the Tennessee River.

Beauregard drafted a poor attack plan that was approved by Johnston, therefore the blame goes to commanding general. Beauregard performed as well as one could after Johnston's death. However by not attempting to reorganizing his lines and resupplying his men he was at fault in my opinion. The lack of tenacity that was prevalent in the early years of the War was evident at Shiloh. Grant and R. E. Lee were the early proponents of Attack, Attack and Attack.

In answer to the original OP, YES attacking in 4 lines doomed the Confederates to defeat.
Regards
David
Well he certainly made the mistake of planning the attack based on Napoleon's advance at Waterloo. He even modeled his flank attack at the first battle of Bull Run on Bonaparte's battle plan at Austerlitz.
 
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Ole Miss

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Beauregard was a dreamer who was rudely awakened at Petersburg in 1864. I honestly believe he was enamored with the thought of glorious battle longer than the majority of his other commanders. He was a man born a generation too late.
Regards
David
 
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