I think it is a shame that it is viewed this way. He successfully moved his command over a large, raging river then advanced to seize the heights in front of him; the next day he attacked a heavily defended position that was geographically strong. There were no "absolute blunders". The fact that he didn’t drive Cleburne off is no surprise considering the forces opposing him and the terrain.I lost some of what little respect I may have had for Uncle Billy after reading about his absolute blunders in the attempt to capture the northern end of Missionary Ridge and dislodge Pat Cleburne.
The very idea that the NPS unit of Chickamauga-Chattanooga NMP there is called the Sherman Reservation in honor of the Yankee who failed utterly to capture it instead of the Cleburne Reservation for the Southerner who successfully defended it is a travesty.
Sherman Reservation stretches along the top of what is referred to as Tunnel Hill. Cleburne held the southern end; Sherman’s men held the northern end from where they charged Cleburne (“Here they come again for about the sixth time, and they come like they were going to walk right over us” – diary of Captain Samuel Foster, 24th TX cavalry). Below are pictures from the Historical Marker Database. The first is from Cleburne's position looking north. The edge of Sherman Reservation is behind the picture taker with everything in forward and beyond within the Reservation. The second picture is from a marker (just visible in the middle of the first picture) which denotes a position held by some of Sherman's men and is looking back at Cleburne's position. The third shows the same marker looking north toward monuments marking locations of Sherman's men. So most of the Reservation was held by Sherman's men and it deserves to be named what it is.
If George Thomas' men hadn't successfully carried the center of Missionary Ridge Sherman may have subsequently been seen in an even less favorable light.
I doubt it. If Sherman hadn’t done what he did. Thomas’ men likely would never have carried the ridge. Concerned about Sherman, Bragg sent about 1/2 his army to stop him (Cleburne was supported by the Stevenson and Gist with Cheatham in reserve) meaning the line facing Thomas was thin.
Sherman's failure to secure his camps at Shiloh/Pittsburg Landing should've drawn down official criticism on his red head, but his friendship and support of Grant seems to have protected him from the calumny he deserved.
Sherman’s camps were secure. He had pickets out and his men prepared defenses. Here are the words of the those who led the first attack against his position -- Hardee: “Deadly volleys were poured upon the men as they advanced from behind bales of hay, logs, and other defenses, and after a series of desperate charges the brigade was compelled to fall back.”; Cleburne: “He was very advantageously posted and overlapped my left flank by at least half a brigade. His line was lying down behind the rising ground on which his tents were pitched, and opposite my right he had made a breastwork of logs and bales of hay. Everywhere his musketry and artillery at short range swept the open spaces between the tents in his front with an iron storm that threatened certain destruction to every living thing that would dare to cross them.” Sherman mounted a successful defense until the division commanders to his left were turned and he had to pull back.