Help me find a Point of Divergence

OldReliable1862

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 2, 2017
Location
Georgia
As I look at the Western theater of the war, I've noted a few interesting Points of Divergence (PODs), and I wanted to see which one those here would find most interesting:

September 1861: Both Grant and Polk were planning to invade Kentucky, but what if Fremont had ordered Grant to occupy Paducah before Polk and Pillow made their move? I don't consider it beyond the realm of possibility for this to sway many more Kentuckians to the pro-Southern stance, especially if Fremont extends his emancipation order to Kentucky.

December 1861: Braxton Bragg was offered command of the Trans-Mississippi Department by Davis in December of 1861, but he declined, with the command then offered to Henry Heth before Earl Van Dorn finally accepted it. While Bragg had several significant drawbacks as a commander, he was a superb organizer, and I can't see him making the same mistakes that Van Dorn did at Elkhorn Tavern.

December 1862: As mentioned in @Generic Username's thread on the battle, John Wharton's cavalry had reached the Nashville Pike during Murfreesboro, and could have held it had Wheeler supported him. What happens in the main part of the battle, as McCook's troops begin running dangerously low on ammunition?

May 1863: As is likely well-known to this site's numerous Longstreet enthusiasts, from 11-13 May he held discussions with Lee about taking two of his divisions to middle Tennessee to join Bragg, combining with Johnston's forces, and attacking Rosecrans. It was hoped that a victory here would force Grant to divert his attention from Vicksburg, relieving the pressure there. While I am intrigued by this, I don't know if Longstreet could get his men to Tennessee and defeat Rosecrans before Grant wins at Champion Hill and the Big Black, dooming Vicksburg's defenders.

September 1863: My favorite moment from my favorite battle - D. H. Hill's delayed attack at Chickamauga. Bragg had intended Hill to strike the Union left at sunrise, but a serious of errors led to him attacking five hours late, after the defenders had constructed breastworks. Could a attack launched on time have had any real effect on the battle?
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
The one where I can speak to it the most is probably May 1863. Historically five of Longstreet's brigades arrived in time for Chickamauga (September 20 specifically) after being detached on September 5. We can thus assume that a minimum transit time for Longstreet would be two weeks.

In order for Longstreet to be able to attack and for that to provoke a response before Big Black River Bridge (May 18), Longstreet would have to be moving by May 4. This is actually during the Chancellorsville fighting (which Longstreet was absent for).

I don't think it's feasible, unless you have the Confederate high command actively confident in being able to win Chancellorsville (despite being outnumbered 2:1) and deciding to send Longstreet straight to the Chattanooga area.
 

Luke Freet

First Sergeant
Forum Host
Joined
Nov 8, 2018
I thought I left a comment but guess I didn't..weird.
On the Kentucky Divergence: from what I've read, there wasn't really a chance for Kentucky to fully go Confederate. I've read in places that Polk's preemptive invasion didnt really affect much, that the troops the Confederates got were what they would get even if Grant moved first. Hell, Camp Robinson is already a thing in the state by this point.
As for Bragg in the transmississippi, I imagine he'd certainly have better tactical and operational planning than Van Dorn. Hell, given his performance at Shiloh, I imagine he'd still be in his Charismatic phase at whatever equivalent of Pea Ridge he fights. Plus, I imagine the forces there would be much better organized and trained. However, sending the irritable Bragg to command over McCulloch and Price sounds like a recipe for command dysfunction.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
I think the biggest impact in Kentucky might be if the forts on the Tennessee and Cumberland get sited differently, but I'm not sure the impact would be major. The flood which flooded out Fort Henry is often cited as an error of siting, but I suspect that it was actually an anomalously high flood as a result of the generally terrible weather that winter and spring.
 

John Wolf Smith

Corporal
Joined
Nov 6, 2019
Location
Canada
As I look at the Western theater of the war, I've noted a few interesting Points of Divergence (PODs), and I wanted to see which one those here would find most interesting:

September 1861: Both Grant and Polk were planning to invade Kentucky, but what if Fremont had ordered Grant to occupy Paducah before Polk and Pillow made their move? I don't consider it beyond the realm of possibility for this to sway many more Kentuckians to the pro-Southern stance, especially if Fremont extends his emancipation order to Kentucky.

December 1861: Braxton Bragg was offered command of the Trans-Mississippi Department by Davis in December of 1861, but he declined, with the command then offered to Henry Heth before Earl Van Dorn finally accepted it. While Bragg had several significant drawbacks as a commander, he was a superb organizer, and I can't see him making the same mistakes that Van Dorn did at Elkhorn Tavern.

December 1862: As mentioned in @Generic Username's thread on the battle, John Wharton's cavalry had reached the Nashville Pike during Murfreesboro, and could have held it had Wheeler supported him. What happens in the main part of the battle, as McCook's troops begin running dangerously low on ammunition?

May 1863: As is likely well-known to this site's numerous Longstreet enthusiasts, from 11-13 May he held discussions with Lee about taking two of his divisions to middle Tennessee to join Bragg, combining with Johnston's forces, and attacking Rosecrans. It was hoped that a victory here would force Grant to divert his attention from Vicksburg, relieving the pressure there. While I am intrigued by this, I don't know if Longstreet could get his men to Tennessee and defeat Rosecrans before Grant wins at Champion Hill and the Big Black, dooming Vicksburg's defenders.

September 1863: My favorite moment from my favorite battle - D. H. Hill's delayed attack at Chickamauga. Bragg had intended Hill to strike the Union left at sunrise, but a serious of errors led to him attacking five hours late, after the defenders had constructed breastworks. Could a attack launched on time have had any real effect on the battle?
Sorry for not answering early. I would May of 1863 with Longstreet going to Bragg and fighting Rosecrans or moving the two divisions to Jackson, Mississippi. Also if Bragg did take command of the Trans-Mississippi Department then I do believe that Elkhorn Tavern would be a CSA victory.
 

Desert Kid

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Dec 3, 2011
Location
Arizona
April 1862: On the first day at Shiloh, a cannonball came within ten feet of taking Grant's head off. This was the POD of my timeline.

September 1863: Another one I like, a more beefed up Chickamauga where the Confederates lay siege to Chattanooga.

July 1864: Johnston not being removed at Atlanta, but we got a book series out of that one. LOL!
 
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