9 thoughts on “You’re the General: Shiloh

  1. Carl Schenker April 8, 2012 / 6:48 am

    The map given for Saturday, April 5, is inaccurate. WHL Wallace was camped closest to the river and McClernand had the intermediate position behind Sherman. CRS

  2. TF Smith April 10, 2012 / 9:06 pm

    I entrenched on the first day. Call me Gen. Hindsight…

  3. tonygunter April 29, 2012 / 6:57 am

    Brooks, prior to the Confederate attack at Shiloh, McClernand suggested the likelihood of a general Confederate assault and asked that the federal forces be re-aligned to better meet an attack. Why wasn’t McClernand able to make more political hay over Grant’s failure to listen to this suggestion?

    • Carl Schenker April 29, 2012 / 11:51 am

      (1) You raise an interesting question that I can’t purport to answer. I do seem to recall, however, that McClernand did correspond with Lincoln and try to make some trouble for Grant (or at least cast glory on himself). It seems to me that Halleck, as the new commander on the scene, wouldn’t want anything to do with McClernand, as he proved by bringing in George Thomas to run the right wing for the Corinth campaign and relegating McClernand and Lew Wallace to the reserve. By rights, if Grant became second-in-command, McClernand should have had command of the right wing. Further, whether rightly or wrongly (and for whatever reasons), Halleck officially reported that the Union forces had time to form their lines before the general battle commenced.
      (2) Sherman wrote a (private) post Shiloh letter in which he said that McClernand had shown the white feather and had leaned heavily on WTS during Day 1. I don’t know chapter and verse on this subject either but thought I’d toss that in as another McClernand related issue. Of course, I believe that at least some of McClernand’s subordinates would have said (or did say) more or less the opposite.

  4. jfepperson April 30, 2012 / 4:43 am

    McClernand tried to make a lot of trouble for Grant after Grant fired him in 1863, dredging up old accusations of alcohol and such. If McClernand had been less than courageous during Shiloh, that would explain his avoiding that subject.

    • Carl Schenker April 30, 2012 / 8:15 am

      Jim —
      The same thought went through my mind — If Sherman spoke the truth about the white feather, then McClernand had incentive not to make too much noise after the battle. But I’m rather dubious about WTS’s assertion.
      As far as I can tell from Google Books, McClernand biographer Kiper does not discuss the white feather letter. But he rejects the assertion by Adam Badeau that Sherman effectively took over command of McClernand’s troops and gives McClernand good marks for Day 1.
      Also, I noticed last night that Sherman’s “white feather” letter itself dates from April 1863. By that time, Sherman had Vicksburg-related grievances against McClernand. But WTS was also privately critical of McClernand’s Day 1 performance in April 1862, but not so strongly.

      • jfepperson May 1, 2012 / 4:22 am

        The truth or “provability” of WTS’s assertions is not as important to a man of McClernand’s ambitions as the fact he would make them in public.

        • Carl Schenker May 1, 2012 / 8:44 am

          Good point, sir.
          I looked at McClernand’s April 14 letter to Lincoln — it certainly claims a lot of credit for McClernand’s division on Day 1. Also says that the failure to pursue after Day 2 was a “great mistake.” No direct (or even insinuated) criticism about surprise, etc. Buell’s arrival is mentioned as important. (OR I-10-1-113.)

  5. Carl Schenker May 1, 2012 / 9:36 am

    I have been thinking a little more about the topic raised by Tony. Is it possible that McClernand didn’t recriminate about his letter because there had been some advance coordination in response to the letter?

    McClernand’s letter is dated March 27, suggesting that the camps should be formed on a connected plan in view of the proximity of the enemy and the possibility of night attack. (See 4 PUSG.) So far as I know, there was no physical realignment of camps due to JAM’s letter. However, the various division commanders appear to have been in good contact with each other on Day 1 before Grant arrived on the field (and Grant staffer McPherson was overnighting with WHL Wallace). I’ve never seen any details on the exact subject of prebattle coordination among the division commanders at PL, but is it possible the gang did some advance planning after McClernand’s letter to Grant? If so, then JAM couldn’t really leverage a criticism of USG due to his March 27 letter.

    Further, it’s never been entirely clear to me that the camps themselves were so badly situated. It seems to me that the real problem (once again) was lack of fortifications and inadequate gathering of intelligence. But did Grant perhaps coach the boys up to coordinate after getting McClernand’s letter?

    Welcome any thoughts.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s