Under the Crescent Moon with the XI Corps in the Civil War. Volume 1: From the Defenses of...

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chellers

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James S. Pula (Author)
Savas Beatie (July 19, 2017)

"The Eleventh Corps served in the Army of the Potomac for just twelve months (September 1862-August 1863), but during that time played a pivotal role in the critical battles of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, hastened westward to reinforce a Union army in besieged Chattanooga, and then marched through brutal December weather without adequate clothing, shoes, or provisions to help rescue a second Northern army, this one under siege in Knoxville, Tennessee. Despite its sacrifices in the Eastern campaigns and successes in Tennessee, the reputation of the Eleventh Corps is one of cowardice and failure. James J. Pula sets the record straight in his two-volume study Under the Crescent Moon: The Eleventh Corps in the American Civil War, 1862-1864. Under the Crescent Moon (a reference to the crescent badge assigned to the corps) is the first study of this misunderstood organization. The first volume, From the Defenses of Washington to Chancellorsville, opens with the organization of the corps and a lively description of the men in the ranks, the officers who led them, the regiments forming it, and the German immigrants who comprised a sizable portion of the corps. Once this foundation is set, the narrative flows briskly through the winter of 1862-63 on the way to the first major campaign at Chancellorsville. Although the brunt of Stonewall Jackson’s flank attack fell upon the men of the Eleventh Corps, the manner in which they fought and many other details of that misunderstood struggle are fully examined here for the first time, and at a depth no other study has attempted. Pula’s extraordinary research and penetrating analysis offers a fresh interpretation of the Chancellorsville defeat while challenging long-held myths about that fateful field. The second volume, From Gettysburg to Victory, offers seven entire chapters portraying the Eleventh Corps at Gettysburg, followed by a rich exploration of the corps’ participation in the fighting around Chattanooga, its grueling journey into Eastern Tennessee in the dead of winter, and its role in the Knoxville Campaign. Once the corps’ two divisions are broken up in early 1864 to serve elsewhere, Pula follows their experiences through to the war’s successful conclusion. Under the Crescent Moon draws extensively on primary sources and allows the participants to speak directly to readers. The result is a comprehensive personalized portrait of the men who fought in the “unlucky” Eleventh Corps, from the difficulties they faced to the accomplishments they earned. As the author demonstrates time and again, the men of the Eleventh Corps were good soldiers unworthy of the stigma that has haunted them to this day."

About the Author
James S. Pula is Professor of History at Purdue University Northwest. The author and editor of more than two dozen books on immigration history and the American Civil War, he is currently the editor-in-chief of Gettysburg Magazine. Among his books on Civil War topics are: For Liberty and Justice: A Biography of Brig. Gen. Włodzimierz B. Krzyżanowski (Ethnic Heritage Studies Series distributed by Syracuse University Press, 2008); The Sigel Regiment: A History of the 26th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, 1862-1865.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1611213371/?tag=civilwartalkc-20

Disclaimer: This post is neither a recommendation nor solicitation by CivilWarTalk or Chellers. It is solely for informational purposes.
 

J. Hanger

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It is interesting and well-documented, hopefully forever laying to rest the false wartime accusations of the causes of collapse of the right flank of the AoP at Chancellorsville!

J
 

Saint Jude

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Pula is so biased in favor of the Germans that some of his claims are downright laughable.
 

gettysburgerrn

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Interesting book...while some of the claims were a bit over the top, I think he effectively makes the case for the XI corps at Chancellorsville, and that the debacle that ensued didnt just rest on the shoulders of the German troops

ken
 

Belfoured

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Interesting book...while some of the claims were a bit over the top, I think he effectively makes the case for the XI corps at Chancellorsville, and that the debacle that ensued didnt just rest on the shoulders of the German troops

ken
Granted, but it's hard to say that much is over the top, given the tactical stupidity of Howard and Devens. It cannot be disputed that the XI troops were put in a position from which any of the Army of the Potomac's organizations would have been driven by Jackson's flank attack. And Stonewall's inefficiency in executing the march gave the higher ups plenty of opportunity to deduce what was happening.
 

Saint Jude

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Granted, but it's hard to say that much is over the top, given the tactical stupidity of Howard and Devens. It cannot be disputed that the XI troops were put in a position from which any of the Army of the Potomac's organizations would have been driven by Jackson's flank attack. And Stonewall's inefficiency in executing the march gave the higher ups plenty of opportunity to deduce what was happening.
Neither Devens nor Howard were guilty of "tactical stupidity." Devens was in no shape to be in charge of the right, as he had been injured. McLean knew what was going on but was in passive-aggressive mode and did nothing. Howard was rooted to the position by positive orders from Mr. F.J. Hooker, who was foolish enough to remove Howard's only reserve because he believed Sickles's claim that Lee was retreating. If anyone was tactically stupid, it was Hooker.
 

Belfoured

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Neither Devens nor Howard were guilty of "tactical stupidity." Devens was in no shape to be in charge of the right, as he had been injured. McLean knew what was going on but was in passive-aggressive mode and did nothing. Howard was rooted to the position by positive orders from Mr. F.J. Hooker, who was foolish enough to remove Howard's only reserve because he believed Sickles's claim that Lee was retreating. If anyone was tactically stupid, it was Hooker.
Hooker clearly told Howard that morning to be alert to his flank. Feel free to list the steps Howard took as the day progressed and as reports filtered in from that flank to his HQ. Devens was in "no shape to be in charge"? Devens was involved in surveilling the flank at one point with staff and rejected their input in the delusion that his position would not be the object of the attack. He was not in "no shape to command" - he had a leg injury - but if he were he should have been relieved by Howard and replaced with somebody who was. In addition, around 2 PM Hooker sent an order to Reynolds to have his I Corps close up on Howard. For some reason the courier didn't get to Reynolds until after the attack had started. Hooker has his share of blame for how Chancellorsvile turned out but the "tactical stupidity" on May 2 was Howard's and that of his division commander - both of whom seem not to have trusted intelligence coming back to them from "Dutch".
 

Belfoured

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Interesting book. It's on my list of books
The second volume (Gettysburg to the end) is also worthwhile - it covers the events on July 1, 1863 and then the transfer of the corps (with the XII) to the western theater where they were blended together.
 

Irishtom29

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The second volume (Gettysburg to the end) is also worthwhile - it covers the events on July 1, 1863 and then the transfer of the corps (with the XII) to the western theater where they were blended together.
The story of the 11th Corps in the West sounds more interesting, they did well under better leadership and in a better army.
 

J. Hanger

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I must say, Balfoured does make an interesting and supportive argument in favor of the author's observations. As to German Bias by the author, one cannot legitimately argue with the correctness of his exceedingly well-documented narrative.

Have just started to read Volume II. Hope it is as informative as Volume I
 

Belfoured

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I must say, Balfoured does make an interesting and supportive argument in favor of the author's observations. As to German Bias by the author, one cannot legitimately argue with the correctness of his exceedingly well-documented narrative.

Have just started to read Volume II. Hope it is as informative as Volume I
In the OR, Vol. 25 Part 2 at 360-61, there is a message from Hooker's Aide de Camp Brig. Gen. J. H. Van Alen to Howard and Slocum at 9:30 AM on May 2. It refers to the possibility that the enemy may "throw himself on your flank"; states that "the right of your line does not appear to be strong enough"; adds that the troops are "not as favorably posted as might be"; and concludes with "we have good reason to suppose that the enemy is moving to our right." As the day wore on, there was a growing number of reports from regiment commanders and even a division commander (Schurz) alarmed about troops moving on the flank. But nothing was done - and nothing about where Howard's corps was stationed prevented him from making proper adjustments to meet a flank attack. Instead, all the warnings were simply ignored and the only adjustments made were on a regimental/battery level - which was far from enough.
 

rpkennedy

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The story of the 11th Corps in the West sounds more interesting, they did well under better leadership and in a better army.
The Army of the Potomac was an exceptionally political army and never really accepted the units of the old Army of Virginia (the exception was the First Corps since they were originally members of the AotP and never seemed to be considered "outsiders"). The Eleventh and Twelfth Corps were outstanding in the West; a new start in a new theater was exactly what they needed.

Ryan
 

Belfoured

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The Army of the Potomac was an exceptionally political army and never really accepted the units of the old Army of Virginia (the exception was the First Corps since they were originally members of the AotP and never seemed to be considered "outsiders"). The Eleventh and Twelfth Corps were outstanding in the West; a new start in a new theater was exactly what they needed.

Ryan
No question about that. The XI had the additional disadvantage of having a fair allotment of troops with German background. Officers like Howard and Barlow had some pretty clear biases in that regard.
 

Irishtom29

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No question about that. The XI had the additional disadvantage of having a fair allotment of troops with German background. Officers like Howard and Barlow had some pretty clear biases in that regard.
I assume that soldiers from the Old Northwest generally had a higher opinion of German-Americans than Easterners had.
 

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I suggest you read Theodore Dodge's book on Chancellorsville. Written by a participant in the battle, it's probably the most unbiased treatment available, and I think it, along with a more in-depth study of the people involved (like Schurz), might encourage you to rethink some of what you said here.
 

Belfoured

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I'll go with documented sources for an assessment of what Howard and Devens did (not do). Dodge was a vehement critic of Hooker and defender of Howard. Regarding XI Corps dispositions on May 2, Dodge used statements from Devens and Howard. I'll leave to individuali readers their judgment of credibility.
 

Saint Jude

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Back to the OP, which is about Pula's book. If you value the use of "documented sources," don't expect much from Pula, who often doesn't give any documentation at all to support his conclusions. Re. Dodge, he was a participant in the battle who did a thorough study of it. BTW, all historians quote statements from participants. Pula strings quotes together like popcorn.
 
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