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Price-McCulloch feud

Discussion in 'The South & Western Theaters' started by archieclement, Aug 25, 2017.

  1. archieclement

    archieclement Corporal

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    I've always found it odd it seems most historians seem to defend McCulloch, which to me seems odd, because in a lot of cases the facts would seem to me to support Price. a couple of examples

    Price urging to advance on Lyon, obviously they outnumbered Lyon taking the initiative would have been the right course.

    After the battle, Price urges to pursue and finish Schofield, McCulloch cites low ammo and army is tired, Price correctly countered Schofield men were equally low on ammo, in fact that's why they withdrew, and was equally as tired, If anything more so because they were the ones who marched to the battle, And they had the morale edge, Price would appear again right

    McCulloch continuely complains about MO troop quality right up to even PR, fact was the Missourian's bore the brunt of the fighting on bloody hill, and these troops McCulloch continually disparages are considered the best troop they have by every other commander who commands them, Seems questionable judgement by McCulloch

    I really find odd some historians seem to side with McCulloch complaints about the spoils after WC, He himself spent weeks complaining the MO troops weren't well armed, obviously they need the captured arms more then he did, by his own assessment. Seems a questionable complaint.
     
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  3. Harvey Johnson

    Harvey Johnson Sergeant

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    Bloody Hill author William Brooksher agrees with you, particularly because the Rebels had an abundance of fresh cavalry that did little fighting at WC.

    But he adds that McCulloch was also reluctant to linger in Missouri because he did not feel he had the authority to do so from Richmond. He did not want to trigger the kind of disaster that Polk did when he occupied Columbus, Kentucky.

    As you suggest, the Missouri troops proved to be good fighters in later battles as well, such as Lexington, Pea Ridge and Corinth. It was, however, Sturgis that took command after Lyon was killed, not Schofield.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2017
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  4. Patrick H

    Patrick H Captain

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    This will be informative for me. I've been aware that McCulloch and Price didn't like each other, but I didn't know why, or how their feuding affected them militarily.
     
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  5. archieclement

    archieclement Corporal

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    Its odd most historians are especially critical of Price"s personality to the point of even calling him pompous and vain because in large part the McCulloch feud, he also notably didn't get along with Jefferson Davis but it wouldn't seem fair to lay that to personality IMO, Price was a former governor, and pretty popular out west, which along with the northwest confederacy talk made Davis fear him as a rival I think

    Price certainly exhibited some vanity, but that's not unusual with civil war generals so not sure why its piled on him so much by some authors. Its curious that while he obviously didn't get along with McCulloch, he popular with the western people and there probally wasn't another western commander who was as loved by him men.

    Authors love to use McCullochs criticism of lack of discipline to disparage Price. Which seems odd too,because its part of why he was so popular with his men and able to call on them to get the most out of them when needed.

    Price's performance wasn't all that bad till his 64 campaign, but Kirby Smith shouldn't have ever went with an infantry general to lead a calvary raid...........
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2017
  6. jackt62

    jackt62 First Sergeant

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    The fact that Price was technically not a confederate general as was McCulloch, but rather, the commander of the Missouri State Guard, a local militia force, probably contributed to the antagonism between the two.
     
  7. James N.

    James N. Captain Forum Host Civil War Photo Contest
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    I think jackt62 has exactly the right idea, at least in 1861. Missouri hadn't "officially" seceded so no one actually excercised any authority within the borders of the state, especially since at that time Davis & company in Richmond were still "*****-footing" around the question of any kind of Northern invasion. Once the MSG had withdrawn from the state and antagonisms were already in place Davis sent Earl Van Dorn to take charge because he outranked both Price and McCullough and supposedly would make peace between the two. Unfortunately, that worked out to be the inverse of the comment above,"...Kirby Smith shouldn't have ever went with an infantry general to lead a calvary raid...", by putting a cavalry general in charge of a combined-arms operation!
     
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  8. archieclement

    archieclement Corporal

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    I wouldn't really call it a combined arms operation, When Price suggested he lead it, he envisoned it being so, Price wanted an all out invasion, However Kirby Smith scaled it back. the only infantry that went was mounted infanty, Shelby should have been in charge at that point, one of the biggest faults of the 64 raid is its slowness. Price as an infantry commander moves slowly somewhat on purpose, hes wanting to recruit infantry, even to the point of taking unarmed recruits, Shelby however wouldn't have done so
     
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  9. mofederal

    mofederal First Sergeant

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    https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/steveearle/benmcculloch.html

    Feud it might have been, but it did not last long. Well long enough to screw some things up in the Trans-Mississippi. That is until McCulloch pulled his famous lets go look at the Yankees across the field maneuver at Pea Ridge. That ended the feud quickly. I think McCulloch could have done more to support a Confederate in Missouri, but he did not, and the Missourians did well under Price for a time. Lexington, in my opinion made McCulloch seem petty. Why would Price get along with him? He had proved himself no tactical genius, only an average fighter in the Civil War. He might have had friends in Richmond, but plain bad luck in the war. His second in command McIntosh wasn't much better being killed a few minutes after him. Short feud, with all of the consequences going against Missouri where early victories turned into failures for the state, which would remain in Federal control. Steve Earle wrote a song called "Ben McCulloch", on his Train A Comin' album. It wasn't very flattering.

    https://video.search.yahoo.com/sear...=c1fa102aa2ac1444b52739fda22d3323&action=view
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2017
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  10. James N.

    James N. Captain Forum Host Civil War Photo Contest
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    No, no - I'm talking about Van Dorn's messed-up campaign that lead to the Confederate disaster at Pea Ridge in March, 1862!
     
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  11. archieclement

    archieclement Corporal

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    Well as far his as vanity went, he was a Mexician war hero whether justly or not, and by the end of 61 had both WC and Lex feathers in his cap, there wasn't alot of other western generals who could make similar claims...........

    My opinion of McCulloch, certainly was brave as Indian fighter, but seems someone way over promoted, not sure commanding so many bothered him, but certainly in the CW commanding the most men he ever had, never exhibited any aggressiveness or fire at all...guess you could say he did at PR leading to his death, but that was as a subordinate he didn't have to make the call to engage
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2017
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  12. James N.

    James N. Captain Forum Host Civil War Photo Contest
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    Better not let @Nathanb1 hear you say that!
     
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  13. SWMODave

    SWMODave Corporal

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    Battles and Leaders of the Civil War Vol 1 pg 318-19

    Although serving the same cause, there never existed an entente cordiale between the two champions of Missouri and Arkansas; the two men were too different in their character, education, and military policy to understand each other perfectly, to agree in their aims and ends, and to subordinate themselves cheerfully one to the other. McCulloch was a "rough-and-ready" man, not at all speculative, but very practical, to the point, and rich in resources to reach it. In his youth he was a hunter and trapper; he served under Sam Houston, with the artillery, in the battle of San Jacinto, participated in the Mexican war as captain of a company of Texas rangers, and when the war for the Union broke out, he was very active in Texas in securing much war material from the United States troops to surrender. He was a good fighter, energetic in battle, and quick in discerning danger or espying the weak point of his antagonist; and excellent organizer, disciplinarian, and administrator, indefatigable in recruiting and equipping troops. His care for them was proverbial, and his ability in laying out encampments was extraordinary, and challenged the admiration of our troops. In a strategical point in view, McCulloch was more bent to the defense of the Trans-Mississippi region, especially Arkansas and the Indian Territory, which district had been put under his command, than to aggressive movements beyond the borders of Arkansas.

    Price had also had military experience in the Mexican war, which circumstances, combined with his political position, his irreproachable personal character and sincere devotion to the cause which he embraced, after the catastrophe of Camp Jackson, had made him the military head of the secession forces in the State. Brave, and gifted with the talent of gaining the confidence and love of his soldiers, he was undoubtedly the proper man to gather around him and told together the heterogeneous military forces; but, having, no organized State or Government to back him, he seldom could rise above the effectiveness of a guerrilla chief, doing business on a large scale and almost on his own account. His army was an ever-changing body, varying from week to week, advancing and retreating, without stability of quarters and security of resources, and therefore not disciplined in a manner to be desired. Sometimes there were men and no arms for them, or muskets without caps and horse without riders; at other times the army of camp-followers and poorly mounted infantry was almost as large as the fighting force of infantry. No wonder then that in spite of the great popularity of the champion of Missouri, McCulloch became disgusted in meeting the half-starved "State Guards" of Missouri with their "huckleberry" cavalry and their great crowd of unarmed, noisy camp-followers.

    written by Missouri's favorite German general - who learned how to retreat at Wilson's Creek and never forgot how - Franz Sigel.
     
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  14. archieclement

    archieclement Corporal

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    A good example of the biased authorship I was referring to, notice Capt McCulloch, Sam Houston and battle of San Jacinto for one bio, the other just also had experience in the Mexican war......when in fact.....

    Price was a colonel and appointed military governor of New Mexico and personally lead troops to victory at Santa Cruz and Taos while McCulloch was just a capt with an artillery batt, yet from that authors work one would be lead to believe McCulloch had the more illustrious career.........

    And yet the "half-starved "State Guards" of Missouri with their "huckleberry" cavalry and their great crowd of unarmed, noisy camp-followers." went on to a successful offensive while McCulloch took......nothing
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2017
  15. Tennessee_Mountainman

    Tennessee_Mountainman Sergeant

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    That 3rd point you made was quite crucial. Grant himself said something along the lines of "when both armies are exhausted, the one who pushes wins." Probably butchered that quote but still, makes a good point.
     
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  16. Booner

    Booner Sergeant Major

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    McCulloch had a large amount of contempt for the MSG and considered them ill-trained, ill-supplied and ill-lead. But, at least initially, McCullock also had had his orders from the Confed. War Dept. not to invade MO. He did however enter Mo to assist the MSG in what would turn out to be a MSG victory at Carthage, but soon moved back to Arkansas once he learned of the MSG's victory. Soon after the battle, Gov. Jackson met with L. Polk who agreed to send a CSA force into S.E. MO, so that took away McCullock's argument for not being allowed to invade the state. But McCullock remained very disgusted with what he considered their embarrassing (the MSG), action at Dug Springs and refused to operate with them unless he was given over-all command. Price was at first adamant about not giving the command to McCullock. Price was older with more military experience, MO was HIS state, he had more troops than McCullock, and he outranked McCullock, (he was a Maj. Gen of MSG while McCullock was a Brig, Gen (but in the CSA). In spite of themselves, they manage to win the battle of Wilson's Creek, or at least held the ground after the fighting was over with although Lyon being killed was a huge help.
     
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  17. novushomus

    novushomus Corporal

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    I do think Price has gotten somewhat of a bad rap, particularly from the abandonment of Little Rock and the 1864 Missouri Raid. He was actually rather competent for a non professional officer and is only one of three Confederate generals to have won a siege during the war. His wing fought well at Pea Ridge, and he managed to extricate himself from a trap at Iuka where a lesser general might have been invested. Now, Price was a bit vain (modern authors may stereotype it, but there was a historical basis to it) and this may have been what rubbed Davis and McCulloch the wrong way. When his corps arrived at Corinth, Beauregard took him on a tour of the works that had been erected to stop Halleck's army. When asked what he though of them, Price told the Creole general that his Missourians had stormed and captured better works than had been built. Beauregard was not amused. McCulloch, Davis, and Kirby Smith would all share poor opinions of Price as a commander, with Kirby Smith evaluating Price as "not equal to the command [of the District of Arkansas] and I would consider it unfortunate if he were to succeed it."

    These opinions, compiled with the results of his independent campaigns later in the war, have shaped the history of Price as a commander.

    However, I find it noteworthy that inspection reports for the Trans-Mississippi Department would remark that Price was "attentive to his duties." Price's Missourians and even Arkansans who served under him were inspired by "Old Pap" and his charisma and energy.

    I also think McCulloch's reputation has largely been inflated by his early death at Pea Ridge and the chaos that McCulloch's and McIntosh's death and Hébert's capture wreaked on the Confederate Right Wing at Leetown.
     
  18. SWMODave

    SWMODave Corporal

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    Refreshingly balanced and well stated. :thumbsup:
     
  19. archieclement

    archieclement Corporal

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    "I also think McCulloch's reputation has largely been inflated by his early death at Pea Ridge and the chaos that McCulloch's and McIntosh's death and Hébert's capture wreaked on the Confederate Right Wing at Leetown."

    I guess that and his Texas career. never made much sense to me tho, His actual civil war career seems little more then questionable judgment's and poor leadership, Both WC and PR he gets caught up micromanaging a small portion of the battle while ignoring the bigger picture.....
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2017
  20. SWMODave

    SWMODave Corporal

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    McCullough and Price were having breakfast together when they received an initial report from one of Rains cavalry that a Union force was advancing from the rear. Neither responded as both remembered Rains less than stellar performance at Dug Springs a few days prior. When a second report arrived, along with retreating wagons and cavalry, both men jumped into action. Price did not wait for orders from his superior officer, and McCullough didn't offer any. Both knew what needed to be done.

    While Price rallied his Missourian's that had camped on Oak Hill and in the valley below, McCullough crossed the stream to rally the Arkansas and Confederate troops. While there, he took advantage of the Pulaski Battery position, a position that could see much of the battlefield - explaining why this battery was the first Southern response of the battle.

    While Price held the Hill against Lyon, McCullough took care of the flank (cornfield) and the rear (Sigel) and then for the final charge up the hill, he had these troops join Price's far left flank. McCullough probably had a better feel for the "big picture" as you call it, than anyone, considering he took part in all three 'fronts'. Neither Price, Lyon or Sigel can make that claim.

    They may have had their differences before the battle and afterwards, but if they lacked respect for one another before this battle, they would each earn it during those six hours.

    Micro managing? That's a luxury we in the future hold.
     
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  21. Nathanb1

    Nathanb1 Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host Retired Moderator

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    I'm steaming right now and biting my tongue. :smile: :mstickle:
     
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