Forthcoming … Part Two of Two

A few years ago the University Press of Kansas asked me if I would help out an old friend whom I’d never met.  The friend in question was Al Castel, who had been working on a manuscript on Union leadership  Of a projected eighteen chapter manuscript, Al had completed thirteen chapters and had provided text for an additional five chapters, but those chapters needed some work.  I agreed to help out, provided everyone understood that this was Al’s book, and he would have to concur with whatever arrangement I proposed.  Thus, as the dust jacket indicates, this is primarily Al Castel’s book, not a coauthored endeavor: at most I could claim a secondary role (thus “with”) as someone who assisted in bringing the manuscript through to publication.

In case you didn’t already know it, Al Castel is the author of a good number of books on the American Civil War, including the Lincoln Prize-winning Decision in the West, a study of the Atlanta campaign.  His books are lively and sometimes controversial.  He does not hold William T. Sherman in as high regard as do some people, and he ranks William S. Rosecrans more highly than is usually the case.  We did not always see eye-to-eye on various subjects (his treatment of Henry W. Halleck is more favorable than mine; he holds the opinion I used to hold about Phil Sheridan, about whom I am now somewhat more ambivalent; I tend to view George B. McClellan more kindly and sympathetically).  Sometimes he made some concessions where I must have been persuasive; in other cases I rested content with the knowledge that I would have my own say elsewhere.

That said, working with Al and Fred Woodward at the University Press of Kansas to bring this book to publication this fall has been a satisfying experience.  The experience has also made me wonder whether it might not be interesting to embark on as yet undefined project where multiple authors debate key issues in Civil War history, engaging each other, exchanging views, and accepting the notion that historians disagree and hold different perspectives.  After all, historians usually question interpretations offered by colleagues, and at times these disagreements can get fairly intense.  Sometimes people say in print what I suspect they dare not say face-to-face, and sometimes it becomes tedious to deal with an author who seems bent on misrepresenting an argument for the sake of countering it (or constructing straw men for the same reason).  It would be interesting to bring people together to chat about various issues and see what happens.


47 thoughts on “Forthcoming … Part Two of Two

    • Brooks D. Simpson June 12, 2011 / 10:23 am

      Holding Halleck in contempt is going over to the dark side? The only credit I give Halleck is for a few letters in 1863; otherwise, frankly, I have little use for him.

  1. Al Mackey June 12, 2011 / 9:03 am

    I’m looking forward to both books, and I think the idea of a historians’ round table discussion to be very compelling to those of us who are passionate about history. I wonder how much interest there would be from the general public.

  2. Ray O'Hara June 12, 2011 / 1:22 pm

    Wasn’t Halleck a paper work wizard ? why waste a useful soldier on clerk work when HH was available.
    I’m sure Lincoln had him sized up as a bullshit artist and ignored any suggestions he might have made on strategy.

    • Brooks D. Simpson June 12, 2011 / 1:25 pm

      Well, the record doesn’t support your assessment of the Lincoln-Halleck relationship. Lincoln had high hopes for Old Brains.

  3. James F. Epperson June 12, 2011 / 1:33 pm

    It ain’t your view of Halleck I’m talking about—but I suspect you know that 😉 It’s all OK, friends can disagree. I look forward to seeing and reading both books.

  4. Ned Baldwin June 12, 2011 / 5:12 pm

    Subtitle of your book is much better. This one is unwieldy

    The “undefined project” idea — are you thinking along the lines of what North & South magazine did several years ago in which 5 or 6 published historians (I remember Woodworth being among them) went back and forth about who were the top generals?

    • Brooks D. Simpson June 12, 2011 / 5:33 pm

      Sometimes subtitles take the form they take because they are asked to shoulder a great deal. In this case, the author liked it. It’s different.

      You want to make sure that there are direct exchanges between people, not simply multiple participants answering the same question.

  5. Tony Gunter June 13, 2011 / 6:32 am

    Those are two names I never imagined would be on the same book. How did you reconcile with his Grant bashing?

    • Tony Gunter June 13, 2011 / 6:34 am

      Doh … I’m still half-asleep. I’m thinking of Cozzens.

  6. John Foskett June 13, 2011 / 7:18 am

    Both of these are on my definite expenditure list (i’d gotten advance notice of the first book but not this one) . In particular I’m always interested in well-reasoned and -argued attempts to show the good side of the Little Napoleon. Harsh, Rafuse, Roland, et al. took solid stabs but haven’t gotten me past my conviction that the guy was a physical coward (welcome to the Galena), borderline traitor, insubordinate, and morally dominated by his opponent, but who knows. It’s all good.

  7. Rob in CT June 13, 2011 / 1:24 pm

    You’ve piqued my interest by mentioning Castel’s favorable view of Rosecrans. I’ve often wondered about him… he started so well.

    • tonygunter June 13, 2011 / 1:53 pm

      Did Rosecrans start out well? I don’t know much about Rosecrans outside of Mississippi, but it seems to me the Battle of Iuka forebode of disaster for any army managed by Rosecrans. He simply didn’t think well on his feet, and he had a nasty habit of alienating people upon whom he depended. After he mismanaged the march south into the Confederate rear, he tried to force his plan into an impossible timeline: arrive at the outskirts of Iuka at 4:30 p.m., fight the enemy, push his men 5 miles across the escape route by sundown (6:00 p.m.).

      The obvious answer in hindsight seems to be to pull up short of Iuka, allow his army time to close up, rest, start again before sunrise the next day (ahem … like the Battle of Raymond). Instead, Rosecrans settled for a quick piecemeal engagement at the end of a hard march … without sending a rider back to the telegraph line with a notice to Grant that the attack was underway … then openly blamed Ord and Grant when his plan unravelled.

      I realize Tullahoma was a masterpiece, but the campaign never resulted in pitched battle. Perhaps Rosecrans would have been better as a staff officer?

      • Ned Baldwin June 13, 2011 / 2:01 pm

        Yet despite our thoughts on the details, the PR after Iuka was all positive for Rosey.
        He was winning the all important campaign of perception.

      • Lyle Smith June 13, 2011 / 3:30 pm

        The Cozzens book on Iuka and Corinth seems to blame Grant for what mistakes (communication failures maybe?) there were at Iuka, and not on Rosecrans. Cozzens, I think, seems to argue that Rosecrans was pretty competent at Iuka, but was let down by Grant’s (others as well) mistakes. Maybe I read it wrong though.

        • Tony Gunter June 13, 2011 / 5:54 pm

          I liked the Cozzens book, but I think his anti-Grant bias was thinly disguised. Rosecrans’ *plan* was very competent … the execution thereof not so much. This one factor may change your mind about how objective Cozzens was in his analysis: did the fact that Rosecrans arrived just over one hour before sunset with his army strung out over 3 miles jump out at you at all from the Cozzens text? Wouldn’t that one factor tend to make you, as a commanding officer, revise the plan towards an attack at first light the next morning? Remember, the distinction between blue and gray is lost at sunset … I have seen estimates that as many as 25% of Rosecrans’ casualties were the result of friendly fire.

          Rosecrans arrived at Iuka with a plan to attack at first contact, but the reality of the situation had rendered the plan inoperable. It seems to me that Rosecrans performed well when the operational situation matched the theory (Tullahoma), but lacked the ability to alter his actions to meet the given parameters when theory diverged from reality (Iuka, Chickamauga).

        • Brooks D. Simpson June 13, 2011 / 6:21 pm

          Well, in his books on Chickamauga, Chattanooga, and Iuka/Corinth, there does seem to be some sort of anti-Grant bias. This has led to the misreading of documents and a failure to seek out certain issues … such as the real reason why Grant turned on Rosecrans: he learned that Rosecrans was using a reporter on his staff as well as his brother (a Catholic bishop) to spread rumors that the reason Grant was not on his toes at Iuka was because he was intoxicated. I’ve highlighted some of these problems in reviews.

          In person Peter Cozzens is a rather nice fellow, and you would never connect some of what he says with his demeanor in person.

  8. David Moore December 23, 2011 / 9:43 pm

    Did Grant even take part in the battles of Iuka and Corinth?
    Did he issue any orders during the battles?
    Did he even know the battle of Iuka was taking place?
    Didn’t he call off, against Rosecrans’ objections, the pursuit after Corinth?
    If Iuka and Corinth had been Union defeats could Grant have survived?
    Didn’t Rosecrans’ actions in the battles. save Grant?

    • Brooks D. Simpson December 23, 2011 / 10:10 pm

      Sounds as if you are already sure of the answers to your questions.

    • Tony Gunter December 29, 2011 / 9:11 am

      I regret causing the discussion to devolve in this direction, but at the same time I’m happy I did. I completely forgot to place my order for this book!

      My favorite Rosecrans moment: Grant ordered McPherson to cobble together an ad-hoc regiment and march to the relief of Rosecrans, but McPherson showed up too late to participate in the battle. So Rosecrans ordered him to have his men up and ready to pursue the enemy at first light the next morning. At mid-morning, Rosecrans was riding through town and saw McPherson at the head of his troops, standing in the middle of town. Rosecrans, exasperated, rode up and inquired what the problem was. McPherson simply repeated the order back to Rosecrans: “Have your men up and prepared to pursue at first light.”


    • Ned Baldwin January 8, 2012 / 11:07 pm

      “If Iuka and Corinth had been Union defeats could Grant have survived?”
      Grant would have; Rosecrans probably would not have.

      “Didn’t Rosecrans’ actions in the battles. save Grant?”
      Not in the slightest.

      • David Moore January 9, 2012 / 10:13 pm

        So if Van Dorn had won at Corinth Grant would have survived even though he took no part in the battle? How or Why?
        Iuka and Corinth were both Union victories Grant, the commanding general, took no part in either of them. So who should get the real credit the general who fought or the general who took NO role? Isn’t it fair to say the general who actually fought and won the battle spared the general in charge from the negative consequences of a defeat?

        • Ned Baldwin January 10, 2012 / 10:23 am

          Grant would have survive for the very reason that he took no part in the battle.

          It is fair to say that Rosecrans spared himself (he was the one in charge at both battles) the negative consequences of defeat, despite having the snot kicked out of him at Iuka and coming very close to disaster at Corinth.

          • David Moore January 15, 2012 / 12:20 am

            I’ll let John Sanborn’s words speak to the question of Rosecrans “having the snot kicked out of him”
            “I certainly would make no comments if it did not seem to reflect upon the officers and soldiers of the brigade that stood up and held that field against twice or three times their number, as well as against those who sacrificed their lives and limbs to maintain the Federal power and supremacy over the Confederacy… and to say that an army is beaten, that holds the fields,buries the enemy’s dead, gathers in quartermasters’ wagons thousands of its small arms, is a great injustice to the memory of those fallen in battle, to the maimed and wounded living and dead.”

            Sanborn was a participant in the battle unlike Grant. Perhaps his opinion about the should be respected more than Grant’s

  9. David Moore December 28, 2011 / 9:05 pm

    And what are your answers to those questions?

    • Brooks D. Simpson December 28, 2011 / 10:27 pm

      I’m not sure why you would ask about matters of fact that are easily discoverable. Surely you know these answers, as you have been claiming for years that you are working on a biography of Rosecrans.

      Grant was not present at Corinth (I don’t know of anyone who says he was), but he did issue orders to Ord during the battle of Iuka, and he sent two aides to Rosecrans. I’m sure you know about the story of the acoustic shadow at Iuka, and Grant called off the pursuit after Corinth. So it puzzles me as to why you would ask about matters of fact. It seems a pointless exercise.

      The other two questions are matters of opinion. One’s a counterfactual, and I don’t see the point of it; I don’t see how Rosecrans saved Grant. I suspect you disagree. After all, you think Stones River was the turning point of the war. Such is the stuff of Civil War military history.

  10. David Moore December 30, 2011 / 9:07 pm

    In the Official Records the last message from Grant to Rosecrans before the battle was sent at 6:45 PM on September 18. There are no records in the OR of messages sent during the battle which began between 4 and 5 pm on Sept 19 . Rosecrans sent a message to Grant telling him about the battle at 10:30 PM on September 19 after the battle had been fought. Grant says in his official report that he received this message at 8:35 on the morning of September 20 and that immediately he sent orders to Ord.
    However there is also a letter from Grant to Ord written at 3:30 AM on Sept 20 which can be found in the Grant Papers edited by John Y. Simon.This would indicate that Grant received Rosecrans’ message well before 8:35 am the time he says he did in his official report. If so it means Grant knew of the battle five hours earlier than he says he did in his report. Grant himself says in the report that on the morning of Sept 20 Ord ,” pushed on with all possible dispatch without waiting orders”. Grant himself marched into Iuka around noon on the Sept 20.
    This is all confusing and there’s no need here to discuss the fact that Grant wrote two official reports of the battle of Iuka a first one favorable to Rosecrans and a second written three weeks later that is unfavorable to Rosecrans. I think it is quite clear that not only did Grant not take part in the battle of Iuka he issued no orders to anyone, including Ord, during the battle. Grant himself says in his official report he did not know of the battle until the next day.
    As far as the two aides, Colonels Lagow and Dickey, there is no record of any order from Grant sending them to Rosecrans. Grant in his report says they, ” had gone around to where General Rosecrans was.” He doesn’t say he sent them and they carried no instructions.
    As you well know there is a great Grant-Sherman/Rosecrans-Thomas divide in Civil War commander evaluation. It cannot be bridged. One really must support one side or the other. The Grant-Sherman side is the one that has been accepted by most historians over time. But there have been exceptions among them Henry Van Ness Boynton, Don Piatt and John Sanborn (all veterans of the war by the way) in the 19th century and more recently Stephen Z. Starr, Albert Castel, Peter Cozzens and the various biographers of George Thomas. I presume you dismiss most of William Lamers’ unique and pioneering biography of Rosecrans.
    This is a topic without a quick resolution. It is also a topic rarely investigated and mostly ignored. I’m sure you are a fair minded scholar and open to provable facts.
    Stay tuned.
    PS Do you think a commanding general who was not present on the field in two battles fought within a month could have maintained his position if he had lost those battles?
    I’m sure you know Lincoln’s quote about Stones River. Also interesting is Gideon Welles’ observation of Grant’s “jealous nature” when on April 14, 1865 Lincoln called that battle a victory and Grant objected. Even more interesting is Welles’ comment that ” there was jealousy manifested towards General Thomas and others who were not satellites.”
    The ninety-ninth anniversary of the Battle of Stones River is tomorrow (December 31).

    • Brooks D. Simpson December 30, 2011 / 9:34 pm

      Reread the post to which you are offering comments. You’ll see that Al Castel and I collaborated on a volume that I helped him finish.

      I’m sure you know that Welles’s comment was inserted in his diary later on, after his falling-out with Grant.

      I’m well aware that there is a divide between some people who write on Grant, Sherman, Thomas, and Rosecrans. I disagree that one has to take sides, although some people (usually the people who like Thomas and Rosecrans) insist that must be the case. Lamers’ biography has its strengths and weaknesses (you would seem to agree if you plan to write one of your own). Others might quibble with some of your assertions, but I’ll let them sit, because I’ve already published my take on this matter. Better, it seems to me, for you to read what I’ve actually written than repeat it here.

      It would have been hard for the Union to lose both Iuka and Corinth, since a defeat at Iuka would have meant a far different situation at Corinth … and perhaps no battle. But could Grant have maintained his command? Of course. Do we know for certain? Such is never the case when it comes to counterfactuals.

  11. David Moore January 7, 2012 / 11:22 pm

    So what do you think happened to Grant from 6:45pm on Sept 18 to 8:30am on
    Sept 20 when he contacted Ord? Where was he on Sept 19?
    It seems to me there are three possibilities:
    He deliberately chose to not contact Rosecrans because Grant changed his plan and he felt Rosecrans didn’t need to know.
    He simply forgot about Rosecrans and the battle.
    He was incapacitated in some manner; perhaps he was sick.
    However knowing that alcohol rumors had touched Grant after Shiloh and if James H Wilson and John Rawlins are to be believed Grant DID have problems with alcohol during the war isn’t it possible that Grant was incapacitated by drink? Isn’t it understandable that Rosecrans might think that was a possibility?
    In regards to the General’s brother did he start rumors or repeat something that had already been printed? Where did the rumors start?
    I’m sure you know of the William Stewart letter accusing Grant of being “dead drunk” of September 23 and the Cincinnati Commercial article of Sept 29 and its reference to “Hellish Whiskey”. Lamers mentions Bishop Rosecrans’ letter to Rosecrans’ wife Annie written on Sept 29th but where all this drunkenness talk started is confusing. Do you know which came first? With all this said do you think it unreasonable that General Rosecrans would wonder where Grant had been during the battle and suspect alcohol played a role? Is there another explanation for Grant’s actions or inaction?

    • Brooks D. Simpson January 8, 2012 / 12:05 am

      I don’t see any evidence that Grant had been intoxicated. However, I strongly suspect that when Grant heard of these rumors and their link to Rosecrans, the relationship was never the same.

      • David Moore January 9, 2012 / 9:58 pm

        So no one has any explanations for Grant’s inaction at Iuka?
        Does anyone deny that Grant did get drunk during the war at other times?
        So is it impossible that he was drunk at Iuka? Again where was Grant for over 36 hours?
        Dr. Simpson I notice in your new book on the first year of the war you have a very nice map of the West Virginia Campaign but no mention (based on the index) of the man who won that campaign.
        Rosecrans is the invisible man of the Civil War. Heck I wouldn’t know about him if I hadn’t stumbled upon his wife’s grave while looking for Mary Surratt’s grave and wondered where he was buried. I got curious about him, read Lamer’s then out of print biography, spent many an evening in the Library of Congress hardly able to believe what I was reading ( especially from those who were contemporaries of all the parties involved) and eventually converted from Grant/Shermanism to Rosecrans/ Thomasism. The key is to keep an open mind and shed preconceived

        • Brooks D. Simpson January 9, 2012 / 10:09 pm

          That your questions have been answered does not mean that you’ll like the answers.

          I guess you are now going to charge the Library of America with conspiring to deprive William S. Rosecrans his due in a book of documents, while overlooking Al Castel’s rather generous assessment of Rosecrans during the same campaign in the book I helped him complete. I can assure you that Rosecrans will be in volume three, especially when it comes to Chickamauga (I don’t edit volume two).

          How’s work progressing on your biography of Rosecrans? How will it mark an improvement upon Lamers’s book?

          As for “Grant/Shermanism” and “Rosecrans/Thomasism,” I think it’s a bad idea to don cheerleader uniforms and root for one side or the other. Perhaps you disagree.

          • David Moore January 9, 2012 / 10:49 pm

            I must have missed the answers (seriously)
            Let’s say someone picks up your new book and sees the map of the West Virginia
            campaign and wants to know who was the commanding general. Don’t you think
            that would have been good info to have in the book?
            No conspiracy just ommision. Rosecrans isn’t high on the Civil War radar. When I visited Rich Mountain for the first time the museum there didn’t have a picture of Rosecrans, the man who won the battle the museum commemorates (I think they do now) They said McClellan is more famous and is the drawing card.They didn’t mean to slight him. They probably knew little about him then.
            I met Albert Castel at a Round Table after he published Decision in the West. The attendees couldn’t believe his opinions of Sherman. He smiled and calmly said “Just look at the records” At the meeting I mentioned Henry Boynton’s book Sherman’s Historical Raid to illustrate that the great divide in the evaluation of Union generals is nothing new. The “rooting” you allude to started in the nineteenth century during the lifetimes of those involved.
            Are you aware of the grassroots movement to get a statue of Rosecrans built in his hometown in Ohio? He has none anywhere.
            Hope to have the book published in the next few months. I really want to spread what I have discovered about Rosecrans among the populace, so the book’s main purpose is documentation. I am not an academic and I expect many in the academy will dismiss what I have to say so documentation is essential.
            I feel the Rosecrans story is a positive one. A rediscovered hero in a tale about which many think nothing new can be said.

    • Tony Gunter January 8, 2012 / 6:53 am

      You cite PUSG a couple of times, but appear to have missed the letter from Dickey to his wife after the battle explaining that he and Lagow had been sent to Rosecrans to explain the new plans.

      • Tony Gunter January 8, 2012 / 10:20 am

        The irony is that Rosecrans complains about how little Grant did during the battle, when if Rosecrans had stopped trying to do so much he would have had a better outcome. Why did Rosecrans need to personally oversee the fighting? Why not hand the battle over to Hamilton for a while and spend some time communicating back to Grant?

        Unfortunately, the lesson seems to have been missed by Rosecrans, whose micromanagement was his undoing at Chickamauga.

        • David Moore January 9, 2012 / 9:22 pm

          Did Grant do ANYTHING during the battle? ANYTHING?
          Wasn’t he the commanding general? Why criticize a subordinate who had heard NOTHING from his superior for over 36 hours. (Sorry for the Caps but I think they are called for in this case)

          • Brooks D. Simpson January 9, 2012 / 9:47 pm

            David … Tony’s already pointed out the actions of the staff officers. Grant and Ord were waiting to hear Rosecrans in action, and the story of the acoustical shadow’s well known.

            So why are caps called for in this case?

          • David Moore January 9, 2012 / 11:28 pm

            So they both just waited for over thirty hours? No messages. No orders? No follow up? No curiosity about what was or wasn’t happening?
            Some in the battle said they did hear cannonading. How about smoke, wouldn’t that have alerted them that a battle had started?
            So Grant known in the public imagination as an irrepressible fighter, decided to wait until he heard from a subordinate who was fighting a battle alone?

          • Tony Gunter January 10, 2012 / 8:49 am

            No messages and no orders? We have clear evidence that he sent orders and the new plan to Rosecrans in care of Lagow and Dickey. If Rosecrans knew that he was responsible for opening the battle, why did he not send word to Grant that he had become engaged? The ball was in Rosecrans’ court, and he dropped it.

            And if Ord had clear orders to attack at the first sign of a general engagement, how is Ord’s failure to attack a black mark on Grant exactly? Shouldn’t your crosshairs be on Ord?

            Yes, some said they heard sporadic cannonading, including Ord if I recall correctly, which is why I think the whole invention of an “acoustic shadow” needs to be dissected with Occam’s Razor. There is a much simpler explanation for what happened at Iuka: only cannonading can be heard from that distance, especially with the wind blowing. But the way the battle unfolded meant that sustained cannon fire, a clear sign of a general engagement, never occurred. An occasional cannon off in the distance usually signaled skirmishing, which is what Ord reported to Grant if I recall correctly.

            So at sundown, Ord reported that he heard skirmishing off in the distance. In what way is this supposed to inspire an attack on Ord’s part exactly?

            As far as Grant’s reputation as an irrespressible fighter … there are many instances of Grant performing administrative tasks miles from the fighting. I’m a Vicksburg obsessionist, and Port Gibson, Raymond, Jackson, and Big Black River Bridge all come to mind. Operating behind the scenes and leaving the nuts and bolts of tactical movement to trusted subordinates is generally what an army commander is supposed to do. Unfortunately, that’s a lesson Rosecrans failed to learn because he was too busy blaming others for his failure at Iuka.

          • David Moore January 15, 2012 / 12:02 am

            Could you cite the wording of the new orders or evidence that Grant sent them to Rosecrans?
            Are they published anywhere?

            Rosecrans telegraphed at 12:40pm on Sept 19 the following to Grant:

            GENERAL: Reached here at 12. Cavalry advance drove pickets from near here; met another stand at about 1 mile from here. Hamilton’s division is advancing; head of column a mile to the front now. Head of Stanley’s column is here. Hatch at Peyton’s Mill; was skirmishing with cavalry; killed orderly-sergeant and brought up his book; belongs to Falkner, numbered 45 men for duty. Cavalry gone east toward Fulton road one hour. One of Hamilton’s brigades went over to Cartersville. It will turn up into Jacinto and Iuka road above Widow Moore’s. Colonels Dickey and Lagow arrived here half an hour ago. Say you have had not skirmishing since 3 o’clock.

            W. S. ROSECRANS,
            Rosecrans mentions Dickey and Lagow in this message but nothing about new orders. Is there evidence Grant sent them or is the one source Dickey’s letter to his wife which was written after the battle on September 21? I assume you summarily dismiss Rosecrans’ account of his meeting with Dickey and Lagow which says nothing about new orders.

            Grant sent the following to Ord on the morning of Sept 19:

            I send you dispatch received from Rosecrans late in the night. You will see that he is behind where we expected him. Do not be too rapid with your advance this morning, unless it should be found that the enemy are evacuating.

            Grant says not to be “too rapid” with an advance not to “attack at the first sign of a general engagement” or open the battle. Where is it written that Rosecrans was to open the battle?

            Rosecrans sent a telegram to Grant at 10:30 pm on Sept 19 and Grant sent a telegram to Ord informing him of the battle at 3:30 am on Sept 20. However in his second report written on Oct 22 Grant says he received the telegram at 8:35 am. Evidence (and John Simon ) seems to be on the side of the
            3:30 time. This raises some questions: Why didn’t Grant move at 3:30? He didn’t enter Iuka until around noon on the 20th after Rosecrans and Ord. It appears even after learning of the battle Grant did nothing. Doesn’t the fact that the erroneous times were in Grant’s second report and in that same report he states he told Ord “not to move on the enemy until Rosecrans arrived or he should hear firing to the south of Iuka” cast doubt on that claim especially since there is no record of such an order?

            Occasional canon fire? Please read about the Eleventh Ohio Battery at Iuka. This short space
            can’t do justice to their heroism.

            No comment about the “dense smoke arising from the direction of Iuka” ?
            That’s not “the first sign of a general engagement”?

            In his first report written on September 20th Grant wrote:

            I cannot speak too highly of the energy and skill displayed by General Rosecrans in this attack and the endurance of the troops under him. General Ord’s command showed untiring zeal, but the direction taken by the enemy prevented them taking the active part they desired.

            Nothing about changed plans, wind inversions, new orders. All that would come
            after Corinth another battle that Grant missed.

          • Tony Gunter January 9, 2012 / 10:23 pm

            Grant established a base convenient to both Rosecrans and Ord, to facilitate communications. He turned over responsibility to Ord. If Rosecrans had thought to do the same, he probably would have had a better outcome.

            In order to facilitate communcations, why didn’t Rosecrans hand over the reigns to Hamilton when Hamilton’s division was the only one on the field? Was Grant, Ord, and Hamilton drunk, all?

            Maybe Rosecrans was the drunk one … drunk with ambition.

          • Ned Baldwin January 10, 2012 / 10:18 am

            Rosecrans was the commanding general in the Battle of Iuka; Grant was the Department commander and was elsewhere at the time of the battle. The reason to criticize a subordinate is for the shortcomings of that subordinate’s performance.

    • Carl Schenker January 8, 2012 / 10:57 am

      FWIW, Iuka was fought Sept 19, 1862. Just over a week later, one Francis Dick wrote to AG Bates reporting that, according to one Harry Blow, Grant had been drunk in St Louis on Friday, Sept 26. Dick stated that this might constitute evidence that USG had been drunk “in command of his army a few days later.” Presumably, he meant “drunk in command of his army a few days earlier.”
      I believe Blow and Dick were both sincere Union men (affiliated with Frank Blair), though they may have had some anti-Grant agenda.
      Grant apparently sent Halleck a letter in response to these charges, but it appears to have been lost to history. Would be interesting if it could somehow be found.
      Beyond what the PUSG has to say, I don’t know how thoroughly this particular drinking allegation has been studied.

      • Tony Gunter January 8, 2012 / 5:48 pm

        Occam’s Razor applies here. There are more logical explanations for what occured, so there’s no reason to assume any impropriety on Grant’s part … and certainly not on Ord’s part … or was Ord drunk as well?

      • Carl Schenker January 9, 2012 / 7:04 am


        Just to be clear, I am not suggesting that Grant was drunk at Iuka. SImply mentioned the Dick letter for those who might be interested. The letter is interesting to me in two ways:

        (1) It may be a reliable report of wartime drinking by Grant, whom Harry Blow described as “tight as a brick.” As noted before, observer Blow and tattle-tale Dick were, to my understanding. good Union men. Dick’s letter to Bates seems a sincere effort to forward the Union cause (though perhaps he had some anti-Grant agenda).

        (2) Whatever the truth about St Louis on Sept 26, this is evidence of Grant as a leader being somewhat handicapped by his reputation.

        Here is the link again, since’s yesterday’s was defective or Goggle “Grant tight as a brick”

        Carl Schenker

      • Brooks D. Simpson January 9, 2012 / 8:52 am

        I mentioned these reports in Triumph over Adversity, page 159 and notes.

  12. Carl Schenker January 9, 2012 / 11:52 am

    Brooks —

    Thanks for posting that citation to “Triumph.” Your take on the whole Bates/Dick/Blow situation seems sensible to me. [Namely, as I take it, that there was enough credibility to Dick’s letter that it may have influenced Lincoln’s empowerment of McClernand’s Vicksburg aspirations.]

    Your post also caused me to do a little Googling, which came up with this post-Chattanooga item from the NY Times. It appears that, by that time, Blow was trying to distance himself from the 1862 post-Iuka criticisms.


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