Discussion Grant v Lee

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Yet here, with a plan between two columns completely falling apart, with lousy communication between the two columns,... you think one commander should have charged ahead blindly?
No. What I think is that the events at Iuka mean that we cannot necessarily say that (for example) Grant's aggressive tendencies were unaffected by Shiloh.

It is not an example of a lack of aggression, but it is not really a positive example of aggression either; it is effectively a null data point, which does not indicate a presence of pre-existing aggression.

I should also clarify that it's possible to push forward a recce in force without becoming fully involved, at least to my understanding, or rather that you can arrange matters so that if the enemy does react with their whole force you can take on a defensive alignment.



I am in no sense arguing that Ord should have unilaterally brought on a battle with the whole of the enemy force on the 18th or 19th (though doing so under Grant's orders wouldn't be "unilaterally"). I am arguing that there are cases where Ord's actions indicate he was not taking the "most aggressive available reasonable option", as it were.

Similarly, the plan had initially been for Ord (with two divisions on one road) to open the engagement and Rosecrans (two divisions on two roads, as per the plan) to come in afterwards; Grant changed this to be that Rosecrans should open the engagement and Ord should come in afterwards, but as far as I can tell (and I may well have missed a dispatch from Grant to Rosecrans to that effect) he didn't actually tell Rosecrans that. This could feasibly have resulted in a situation where both columns expected the other to open the fighting first.

Ultimately it's basically a case where the coordination collapses owing to Clausewitz' friction.
 

DanSBHawk

1st Lieutenant
Joined
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Location
Wisconsin
No. What I think is that the events at Iuka mean that we cannot necessarily say that (for example) Grant's aggressive tendencies were unaffected by Shiloh.

It is not an example of a lack of aggression, but it is not really a positive example of aggression either; it is effectively a null data point, which does not indicate a presence of pre-existing aggression.

I should also clarify that it's possible to push forward a recce in force without becoming fully involved, at least to my understanding, or rather that you can arrange matters so that if the enemy does react with their whole force you can take on a defensive alignment.



I am in no sense arguing that Ord should have unilaterally brought on a battle with the whole of the enemy force on the 18th or 19th (though doing so under Grant's orders wouldn't be "unilaterally"). I am arguing that there are cases where Ord's actions indicate he was not taking the "most aggressive available reasonable option", as it were.

Similarly, the plan had initially been for Ord (with two divisions on one road) to open the engagement and Rosecrans (two divisions on two roads, as per the plan) to come in afterwards; Grant changed this to be that Rosecrans should open the engagement and Ord should come in afterwards, but as far as I can tell (and I may well have missed a dispatch from Grant to Rosecrans to that effect) he didn't actually tell Rosecrans that. This could feasibly have resulted in a situation where both columns expected the other to open the fighting first.

Ultimately it's basically a case where the coordination collapses owing to Clausewitz' friction.
The whole idea at Iuka for Grant, Ord, and Rosecrans, was not just to attack and defeat Price. It was to cut off his escape as well. Halleck wanted Price blocked from entering Tennessee, Grant wanted him blocked from joining with Van Dorn. They were trying to trap Price. That takes something more than aggression. It requires timing and coordination. It requires forces being in the right place at the right time, blocking the right escape routes.

The Iuka plan fell apart because Rosecrans' knowledge of the area was less than what he claimed. He took too long to get in place, and his plan of coming in on two roads turned out to be unrealistic.

Everything that happened after that has to be viewed in the context of trying to save the original objective of the plan. To trap Price.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
The whole idea at Iuka for Grant, Ord, and Rosecrans, was not just to attack and defeat Price. It was to cut off his escape as well. Halleck wanted Price blocked from entering Tennessee, Grant wanted him blocked from joining with Van Dorn. They were trying to trap Price. That takes something more than aggression. It requires timing and coordination. It requires forces being in the right place at the right time, blocking the right escape routes.

The Iuka plan fell apart because Rosecrans' knowledge of the area was less than what he claimed. He took too long to get in place, and his plan of coming in on two roads turned out to be unrealistic.

Everything that happened after that has to be viewed in the context of trying to save the original objective of the plan. To trap Price.
Yes, it requires more than aggression. But we were speaking in terms of whether Iuka demonstrated that Shiloh hadn't harmed Grant's aggressive demeanour, so aggression is sort of the thing to focus on.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Yes we have the message sent to Rosecrans ordering him to immediately follow the confederate retreat, so as not to leave Hurlbut and Ord to face the confederate force alone.

The battle was over by noon, the confederates retreating.
I want to point out here a distinction, and it's a distinction which is one Grant appears to have tried to obfuscate, which is the distinction between being repulsed and retreating.


To be "repulsed" is to have attacked and been repelled. It involves at least some backwards movement to make up for the forwards movement in the attack - for example, Grant's attack at Cold Harbor was repulsed.
Grant's writing says that the Confederate attack was repulsed by 11AM.

His order (sent at an unknown time) was to follow up the Confederates when they retreated. That retreat began at around 4PM, and if Rosecrans had recieved the dispatch by that time (not necessarily the case - we have evidence his reply was sent significantly after 4PM) then he would have wasted about two to two and a half hours of daylight or navigable light* if he made no move to follow up the retreat.
However, Rosecrans' dispatch does not automatically indicate no move was made to follow up on the retreat, as it indicates knowledge of space a few miles behind the Confederate battle line.


* Solar noon in Corinth on 4th October is 12:45 PM by modern time zones, meaning that the retreat began around 4:45 PM by modern time zones; the end of civil twilight is 7 PM by modern time zones.



If we assume that Rosecrans had begun following the Confederates immediately, he would have had two to two and a half hours of natural light to do so, then would have had to stop (as while you can march away by night, and through rear areas by night, you can't really march to contact) and resume again once navigable light resumes.

I make it about 20 miles from Corinth to Davis Bridge over the Hatchie via the Chewalla area. To me that would be well over one day's march under normal circumstances, and while you can do more than that if you push it's probably best not to expect more.
 

DanSBHawk

1st Lieutenant
Joined
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Location
Wisconsin
I want to point out here a distinction, and it's a distinction which is one Grant appears to have tried to obfuscate, which is the distinction between being repulsed and retreating.


To be "repulsed" is to have attacked and been repelled. It involves at least some backwards movement to make up for the forwards movement in the attack - for example, Grant's attack at Cold Harbor was repulsed.
Grant's writing says that the Confederate attack was repulsed by 11AM.

His order (sent at an unknown time) was to follow up the Confederates when they retreated. That retreat began at around 4PM, and if Rosecrans had recieved the dispatch by that time (not necessarily the case - we have evidence his reply was sent significantly after 4PM) then he would have wasted about two to two and a half hours of daylight or navigable light* if he made no move to follow up the retreat.
However, Rosecrans' dispatch does not automatically indicate no move was made to follow up on the retreat, as it indicates knowledge of space a few miles behind the Confederate battle line.


* Solar noon in Corinth on 4th October is 12:45 PM by modern time zones, meaning that the retreat began around 4:45 PM by modern time zones; the end of civil twilight is 7 PM by modern time zones.



If we assume that Rosecrans had begun following the Confederates immediately, he would have had two to two and a half hours of natural light to do so, then would have had to stop (as while you can march away by night, and through rear areas by night, you can't really march to contact) and resume again once navigable light resumes.

I make it about 20 miles from Corinth to Davis Bridge over the Hatchie via the Chewalla area. To me that would be well over one day's march under normal circumstances, and while you can do more than that if you push it's probably best not to expect more.
The confederates made it to the Hatchie bridge by the next morning. There's no reason why Rosecrans couldn't have been following.

I don't see any obfuscation in Grants message at all. You can parse definitions all you want, but Grant made it explicitly clear that Hurlbut was not strong enough to handle the retreating confederates alone. Rosecrans needed to support Hurlbut immediately.
 

DanSBHawk

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And then the consequences of Rosecrans failure to support Hurlbut and Ord came back to bite him.

When Rosecrans finally went on his tardy pursuit of the confederates, he asked that Grant send Hurlbut to join him. But Hurlbut had to bail out of the operation because of the number of casualties he suffered while waiting for Rosecrans to support him at Hatchie bridge.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
The confederates made it to the Hatchie bridge by the next morning. There's no reason why Rosecrans couldn't have been following.

I don't see any obfuscation in Grants message at all. You can parse definitions all you want, but Grant made it explicitly clear that Hurlbut was not strong enough to handle the retreating confederates alone. Rosecrans needed to support Hurlbut immediately.
It's not Grant's message, it's Grant's subsequent writeup. He points to the repulse at 11AM, but did not clarify that Van Dorn didn't retreat until 4PM.
 

DanSBHawk

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Location
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It's not Grant's message, it's Grant's subsequent writeup. He points to the repulse at 11AM, but did not clarify that Van Dorn didn't retreat until 4PM.
Why do you believe that the confederates waited until 4 to retreat? They began retreating at mid-day. MacArthur's brigade is the only one that even made an effort to pursue in the afternoon of the 4th. Rosecrans spent the afternoon riding around gloating about the victory. And Rosecrans knew they were retreating because they could see the confederates destroying ammunition wagons.
 

DanSBHawk

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Timothy Smith has the battle of Corinth ended by 11:00 am on the 4th.

Here's Smith:
The Confederate army's progress on the afternoon of October 4th was slow. It retreated only partway to Chewalla; some bivouacked there, while the rest camped at points along the road. Desperate for sleep and rest, the troops lay down and took advantage of the respite. At least one officer questioned why they did not move a few more miles and put the Tuscumbia or even the Hatchie river between them and the enemy, but Van Dorn himself called the halt at Chewalla. Fortunately for the beaten army, few federals pursued, so the Confederate's could enjoy their rest.​
 
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Saphroneth

Major
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Feb 18, 2017
I see based on the ORs that Bowen's testimony has the retirement from in front of Corinth beginning at 2PM on the 4th, with Rust covering the rear.
Rust's statement has that he formed line on "the position first taken from the enemy" (blocking the two roads and the rail line to Chewalla) with skirmishers out 3/4 of a mile in front, waited "exactly forty minutes" after Colonel Riley's regiment passed (that being presumably the rear of the rest of the army) and then retreated to the field hospital.

This would suggest to me that, assuming these men are both correct:

- The Confederate movement began at 2PM. (Bowen.)
- It took some non-zero amount of time to elapse. (Given we're talking about 20,000 men and 16 batteries, down a single road it'd take more than an hour; down two roads it's less, assuming they were evenly distributed, but I can't see it being less than 20 minutes.)
- Rust's brigade lingered forty more minutes (Rust), holding a position about two and a half miles from Corinth itself (skirmish line another 1200 yards forward, putting them in the woods), then pulled back another two and a half miles to (and past) the field hospital.

This means Rust's brigade was before Corinth as rearguard until between 3PM and 3:40 PM (the latter number assumes an hour from the start of the retreat to all troops sans Rust being in column and past Rust), then pulled back away from the battlefield.
 
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DanSBHawk

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I see based on the ORs that Bowen's testimony has the retirement from in front of Corinth beginning at 2PM on the 4th, with Rust covering the rear.
Rust's statement has that he formed line on "the position first taken from the enemy" (blocking the two roads and the rail line to Chewalla) with skirmishers out 3/4 of a mile in front, waited "exactly forty minutes" after Colonel Riley's regiment passed (that being presumably the rear of the rest of the army) and then retreated to the field hospital.

This would suggest to me that, assuming these men are both correct:

- The Confederate movement began at 2PM. (Bowen.)
- It took some non-zero amount of time to elapse. (Given we're talking about 20,000 men and 16 batteries, down a single road it'd take more than an hour; down two roads it's less, assuming they were evenly distributed, but I can't see it being less than 20 minutes.)
- Rust's brigade lingered forty more minutes (Rust), holding a position about two and a half miles from Corinth itself (skirmish line another 1200 yards forward, putting them in the woods), then pulled back another two and a half miles to (and past) the field hospital.

This means Rust's brigade was before Corinth as rearguard until between 3PM and 3:40 PM (the latter number assumes an hour from the start of the retreat to all troops sans Rust being in column and past Rust), then pulled back away from the battlefield.
Van Dorn's most beat-up division at Corinth (Maury) was engaged at Hatchie bridge the next day before noon. Rosecrans had divisions that saw very little action (McKean). There's no reason why Rosecrans couldn't have pursued.

Even the next morning was wasted. The only federal force to engage with the confederate rear guard on the Tuscumbia in the afternoon wasn't even Rosecrans. It was McPherson with his two small brigades.

Rosecrans wasted the afternoon of the 4th, and the morning of the 5th. He stayed in Corinth writing a letter to his wife on the morning of the 5th, while his forces stumbled around, getting lost, and obstructing each other.

He disobeyed Grants orders, and he left Hurlbut and Ord alone to face the retreating confederates.
 
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speedylee

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Aug 15, 2017
I think Grant had more significant victories in his career than Lee did. examples would be Shiloh, Vicksburg, maybe Chattanooga. While Lee had some nice victories, were any of them decisive? I can't think of one.
Since the Confederates did not win their independence, then Lee could not have had a decisive victory. Important battlefield victories? Sure. Creative wins through calculated risks? Okay. But you can't have a decisive battlefield win if you don't win the war. Grant had a series of wins that became decisive; Grant's army forced Lee's army to surrender.
 

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