In his first major battle as independent commander Buell was in
over his head,
but still managed to regain control of Kentucky. Not Thomas' finest hour.
From Buell's testimony before the Military Court of Inquiry: "My studies have taught me that battles are only to be fought for some important object; that success must be rendered reasonably certain if possible--the more certain the better; that if the result is reasonably uncertain, battle is only to be sought when very serious disadvantage must result from a failure to fight or when the advantages of a possible victory far outweigh the consequences of probable defeat. These rules suppose that war has a higher object than that of mere bloodshed, and military history points for study and commendation to campaigns which have been conducted over a large field of operations with important results and without a single general engagement. In my judgment the commander merits condemnation who, from ambition or ignorance or a weak submission to the dictation of popular clamor and without necessity or profit, has squandered the lives of his soldiers."
The confusion reining in this battle (making it very
describe) was not due so much to the terrain as to chaotic command
structures in both armies. Bragg could control neither Kirby Smith with
around 10,000 men, nor Polk, who communicated directly with Davis over
Bragg's head. Buell was under attack from his own war department while
some of his junior officers were petitioning for his removal. One of
his corps commanders, Alexander McCook, although personally
courageous, would become erratic under the pressure of command in
battle (and would do so again at Murfreesboro and Chickamauga). Another,
Crittenden, was constrained because Buell had
placed another major general (Thomas) right beside him. In the 3rd
Corps, there was in effect a dual command structure as well, with
Sheridan indisposed to obey his commander Charles Gilbert. True,
Gilbert was technically still a captain but posing as a major general
(a bizzare story, too complicated to recount here, look it up). The 3
of them, Buell, Sheridan, and Gilbert, were having lunch together as
the battle started. In short, a real mess.
After the entry into Corinth, tirelessly insistent Halleck gave Don Carlos Buell an impossible task - with his scattered forces defend Louisville, liberate East Tennessee, keep Nashville safe, occuppy Chattanooga, defeat Bragg, and maintain and protect 500 miles of railroad south and north of the Tennessee river. He was also handicapped by the large numerical superiority of the Confederate cavalry over his own. Given his limited means and multiple assignments, Buell was not able to get to Chattanooga before Bragg did who did an end run through Mobile using railroads. However, Buell's patient organizational work in this period helped lay the groundwork for the future school of the Army of the Cumberland.
When Bragg started north from Chattanooga, Buell was
had to follow. However, he didn't know at first whether Bragg was
heading for Nashville or Kentucky. In addition, Buell overestimated
Bragg's strength, and avoided a battle around Sparta in order to move
toward reinforcements in Louisville. Thomas tried to warn him which way
Bragg was probably heading, and how small Bragg's army was, but Buell
preferred to believe his own intelligence sources. When Bragg's
intentions became clear, namely to go toward Louisville, Buell's army
Bragg's army almost side by side toward the north. Bragg might have
beaten Buell to Louisville had Col. Wilder from Indiana not held Bragg
up for three days at Munfordville with a ruse. This allowed Buell to
catch up, and
the head of his column marched into Louisville on 25 Sept. 1862.
On 23 Sept. the War Department's frustration with Buell
come to a head, and Halleck ordered Thomas to replace Buell. Halleck
then had second thoughts and unsuccessfully tried to stop the messenger
delivering the orders. The messenger arrived in Louisville on the 29th
just after General Davis had shot and killed his commander Nelson (the
founder of Camp Dick Robinson). In the chaos which followed the murder
(Indiana and Kentucky units were rioting), Thomas asked that the order
be "suspended" on the grounds that Buell was about to begin a battle
and he, Thomas, was not fully aware of Buell's plans. At that point in
his career he perhaps didn't feel strong enough to face the politicians
who were bringing Buell down. Some years later he told Van Horne
he didn't want to be used "to do Buell an injury" (Life, pg. 425).
Halleck rescinded his order, and Buell
remained in command, but he knew his days were numbered, and he
couldn't help but feel resentment which may have included Thomas. In
any case, he did not make full use of Thomas in the coming battle and
did not initiate him into his plans, but rather named him second in
command (kind of like Grant's role after Shiloh), assigning him to
oversee Crittenden's corps. Thomas, for his part, surely didn't like
Bragg meanwhile was determined to try and hold on to as
Kentucky as possible, and in pursuit of this goal he decided to
set up a
secessionist government in Frankfort, with governor, flagraising,
martial music, benediction, and everything, which should give him a
"legal" basis for the conscription he surely had already begun. He
had even brought
along weapons for recruits, but the young men stayed away. Bragg's
original plan had
been predicated on a false assumption based upon wishful thinking,
namely that the people of Kentucky generally supported the Confederacy.
Bragg was disabused of this, as his following accurate
assessment of the situation shows:
"The campaign here was predicated on a belief and the most positive assurances that the people of this country would rise in mass to assert their independence. No people ever had so favorable an opportunity, but I am distressed to add there is little or no disposition to avail of it. Willing perhaps to accept their independence, they are neither disposed nor willing to risk their lives or their property in its achievement. With ample means to arm 20,000 men and a force with that to fully redeem the State we have not yet issued half the arms left us by casualties incident to the campaign."
The majority of the people of Kentucky probably wanted no part of the conflict, but neither Washington nor Richmond could accept that. Bragg's plan thus failed, as did Lee's plan (for the same reasons and simultaneously) fail when he also played at being a politician and invaded Maryland. The afternoon of 4 Oct., right after the secessionist governer Hawes been installed, Bragg had to abandon him and the effort due to the approach of some Union troops. In addition, while Bragg was dabbling in politics, Buell was moving south.
On 1 Oct. 1863 Buell's Army of the Ohio had moved out from Louisville, Ky. toward Perryville, Ky. He had prepared an elegant plan of feints to disguise his main thrust and dispersed his forces skillfully. Gen. Sill with a small force remained between Bragg and Louisville and successfully endeavored to make the impression that he was the real effort. At the same time his presence discouraged Kirby Smith from combining with Bragg.
Buell swung his main body with about 55,000 troops around to the west and turned back north in order to cut Bragg off from one of his supply depots, and to try and trap Bragg between himself and Sill. However, he misconstrued the positions and strength of Bragg's forces. Although Bragg only had about 32,500 troops (Kirby Smith having decided to conquer Ohio), he ordered a preemptive attack against Buell's right wing under McCook before Buell could bring to bear the rest of his army. It turned into one of the messiest battles of the war.
It was also not Thomas' finest hour. Sometime during the evening or early morning before the battle he received this communication from Buell's HQ:
(7 p.m, 7 Oct. 1862, OR:2: 581 ) : "When the column [of Crittenden] has got into position you will please report in person at these headquarters with all the information you may have been able to obtain..."
Thomas ignored the order or strong suggestion. There
been much controversy
about why. Some writers condemn him, others try to justify his decision
in one way or another, taking into account that there had been tension
or grounds for tension between the two from the beginning, starting
with Buell's appointment to replace Sherman over Thomas,
and continuing with Buell's apparent lack of appreciation for
Thomas' achievement at Mill Springs. In
addition, in the months prior
to the battle, Buell had repeatedly ignored sound advice from Thomas on
how to best deal with Bragg. To top it off, just before the
battle, Buell's HQ emitted conflicting orders about when to begin
battle. Thomas may have simply given up
on Buell. Einolf (Virginian for the Union, pg.
135) speculates that "Thomas had lost faith in Buell's
ability to lead."
Van Horne (Life, pp. 78-79) put it this way:
The first important contact took place on the evening of
over a contest involving some of Sheridan's men
over some stagnant
pools. There had been little
rain for weeks, and both armies were plagued by a lack of water and
were forced to disperse in search of it. Sheridan was directed to only
secure Doctor's Creek, two miles to the west of Perryville, without
bringing on a general engagement. However, he exceeded his orders by
occupying the heights beyond the creek, and sent in more men the next
morning. Sheridan's forward position was provocative
enough to merit at least some Confederate cannonfire, but it is hard to
determine what finally set Polk and Hardee in motion, neither of whom
liked Bragg very much. Before Buell could get set, they did attack
McCook, and the result
was an afternoon and evening of confused fighting between disoriented
units on both sides.
Most of Buell's army wasn't even
engaged because Buell, due to the phenomenon "acoustic shadow,"
didn't know that the battle was going on. That is, because of a
strong wind blowing that day away from Buell and toward the
battle, the sounds of rifle and cannon fire were muffled, but not
completely shut out, at a short distance from the fighting. In addition, McCook, who bore
the brunt of the attack as it developed, did not report his situation
to headquarters in a timely fashion. As Buell wrote afterward in his
cannonading, which commenced with the partial engagement in the center,
followed by the reconnaissance of the cavalry, under Captain Gay,
extended toward the left, and became brisker as the day advanced but
was not supposed to proceed from any serious engagement, as no report
to that effect was received."
Nevertheless, the Confederates weren't able to make any real progress despite driving back and inflicting heavy casualties on McCook's divisions. By nightfall, other Union units came up to threaten Bragg's left flank, and the situation was stabilized.
Buell was expecting Bragg to square off the following
day. However, Bragg was short of men and supplies, and had withdrawn
during the night in order to begin his retreat through the Cumberland
Gap into East Tennessee where his subordinate commanders could foment
dissent in leisure. During the advance into Kentucky, camp revivals
during which Bragg's soldiers prayed that their enemies would see the
error of their ways. However, before leaving Kentucky, some of Bragg's
soldiers' frustration boiled over, and they hung 12 hostages. How dare
Kenntuckians prefer the Northern invaders over their brothers and
saviors from the South? The Confederate offensive toward the Ohio was
over for good, and the Union definitively controlled Kentucky and
Nashville for the duration of the war, no small achievement for Buell. Estimated
Casualties: 7,407 total (US 4,211; CS 3,196).
Handling a large army in battle is something which has to be learned, and this was Buell's (and Bragg's) first such experience as independent commanders. Others were forgiven their mistakes and, in the case of some, time and time again. Buell was not forgiven because Halleck (Grant's protector) and governors Morton of Indiana and Johnson of Tennessee made sure of it. Buell had opposed Morton's earlier insistance on directly managing Indiana troops, and he had disregarded Johnson's pleas to liberate East Tennessee (Johnson's home), considering it more important and more feasible to get and keep control of Nashville. He was faulted for lack of aggressiveness before the battle and for not pursuing Bragg vigorously enough after the battle, and on 24 Oct. 1862 he was ordered to turn over his command to Rosecrans. The department was reorganized, and the Army of the Cumberland came back into being.
The burocratic battle, however, had just begun. From 24 Nov. 62 to 19 May 63 a military court of inquiry sat in Cincinnati and investigated Buell's entire Kentucky and Tennessee campaigns. Note that Grant and Sherman were not subjected to a military court of inquiry during the entire war. The main charge of disloyalty to the Union got no traction in that court. Thomas' reasoned and objective testimony was generally supportive of Buell, but he pointed out that they had disagreed on what Bragg's probable route through Tennessee would have been, and about where the best place to bring Bragg to battle was, and events had proven Thomas right. Thomas admitted, pro forma, that at the time he had less information at his disposal than did Buell. At the end the commission concluded only that both Buell and McCook had made errors at Perryville, that Buell was not sufficiently vigorous in pursuit of Bragg after the battle, and that earlier Halleck had excessively burdened Buell with railroad maintenance. That didn't satisfy Halleck, and he had his own spurious accusations, couched in very strong language, added to the court's findings. The findings were then not published, and no action was taken against Buell, but his active Civil War career was finished.
1. Buell US
2. Buell court of inquiry, findings
3. Thomas US testimony
4. Bragg CS plus correspondence
Other articles on this battle:
1. Thomas Van Horne on the battle of Perryville and its background
2. Excerpt from On the Field of Perryville by Charles C. Gilbert, Majpr-General, USV
3. Excerpt from Notes of a
Staff-Officer at Perryville by J. Montgomery Wright, Major;
plus Opposing Forces
4. The Buell Court of Inquiry, chapter 7 from “General George H. Thomas – A Critical Biography” by Donn Piatt, judge-advocate at that court.
Page 67 - FROM CORINTH TO CHATTANOOGA
Early in June General Wood's and General Nelson's divisions were sent eastward from Mississippi to repair the Memphis and Charleston railroad. General O. M. Mitchel's division was already on that road, having moved south from Nashville early in the Spring. On the 11th of June General McCook's division moved eastward from Corinth and General Crittenden's from Boonesville. These two divisions passed the others on the road and took position at Battle Creek far towards Chattanooga, early in July. As fast as the repair of roads, the accumulation of supplies and other circumstances permitted, other forces moved eastward. General Thomas was left in the rear with his division to guard against the contingency of attacks by the enemy from the west and south-west, until a concentration towards Chattanooga was practicable and imperative. He was then ordered from Tuscumbia to Decherd and soon afterwards to McMinnville. He arrived at the former place August 5th and at the latter on the 19th. He was sent to McMinnville by General Buell to command all the troops that were to operate from that place, either to continue the offensive or to resist the enemy in the event of aggression on his part. By this time there were rumors and indications that General Bragg would advance from Chattanooga, although his objective and line of march had not been developed. If Nashville was his objective he could advance by Battle Creek and Stevenson, or across the mountains to McMinnville or Sparta. If his purpose was to invade Kentucky, he would cross into the Sequatchie Valley, while his presence there would indicate equally such a movement or an advance to Nashville by the more northern route. The fact that he could cover his designs in his first operations, gave General Bragg a decided advantage. On the supposition that he would advance to Nashville, General Buell was to provide against the movement by Stevenson or by
Page 68 - LIFE OF GENERAL GEORGE H. THOMAS
McMinnville, and as the routes were somewhat widely separated, there was danger of his falling upon unsupported divisions or of having an open way to his objective.
On the day that General Thomas reached McMinnville, General Buell discussed the situation in a lengthy despatch : "The enemy crossed three hundred cavalry and three thousand infantry at Chattanooga, yesterday. This may be for the purpose of foraging in Sequatchie Valley, but we must be prepared for more than that. Hold your command in readiness to march at the shortest notice.* * * You should by means of spies and scouts keep yourself thoroughly informed of what is going on between you and Chattanooga. * * * I shall concentrate your division and McCook's at Tracy City or near there, and send Crittenden up the Sequatchie Valley to about the Anderson road. We must be prepared either to fight in detachments or concentrate rapidly, according to circumstances." On the 22nd, General Thomas telegraphed to General Buell: "I have believed for a day or two that the demonstration in this direction is intended to cover the advance of the enemy toward Kentucky. * * * The citizens here think that they will advance into Kentucky." General Buell replied the same day: "From General McCook's information this morning, it seems almost certain that Bragg is marching on McMinnville, his advance was on the top of Waldron's Ridge last night. McCown is said to be crossing at Kingston, and Withers at Harrison. Of course they will expect to unite. What sort of ground can we take by concentrating at McMinnville? How would it do to fight at Altamont? Is the ground such as to give us the advantage of our artillery?"
General Thomas replied the same day: "By all means
The enemy cannot reach Nashville by any other route across the
mountains unless by Sparta. At Altamont, I am positively informed, that
the enemy would have an equal advantage with ourselves. Here we
Page 69 - URGES CONCENTRATION AT McMINNVILLE.
will have a most decided advantage, and by being here, should he march by Sparta, we can meet him either there or at Allen's Ford, across the Caney Fork. He is obliged to pass this place or Sparta to reach Nashville. . . . I cannot think that Bragg is coming here, either by the Hill or Thurman road." In immediate answer General Buell said: "I can hardly think the enemy will attempt to march across to McMinnville - at least, not immediately. It appears to me that he will rather endeavor to get into North Alabama, and perhaps strike across to Decherd. If we advance to Altamont, we may thwart him in both and preserve our communication with Decherd and Nashville. What think you?" General Thomas said in reply also on the 22nd: "We can get neither forage nor water at Altamont. It will be as difficult for us to march across the mountains to Sequatchie Valley as for the enemy to come either to Altamont or this place. I would not advise concentrating here except for battle or for an advance into East Tennessee. I think our connexion with Nashville will be better preserved by holding Decherd with a division to enable us to concentrate either there, if threatened, or at this place. I have also learned that Tupelo, Mississippi, has been abandoned, and most of the enemy at that place have been sent to Chattanooga. I therefore do not apprehend any attempt to seize North Alabama."
The next day General Buell said:
"There is no possibility of our concentrating
McMinnville. We must concentrate in advance and assume the offensive or
fall back, at least, to Murfreesboro. I deem the former the surest, and
we will act accordingly. I wish you, therefore, to move by a forced
march to Altamont, there to form a junction with McCook and Crittenden
and Schoepf.* ...There must be no delay or failure. The enemy's advance
was at the top of Waldron's Ridge, ten miles from Chattanooga, night
before last, and talked of being at McMinnville to morrow: that is
hardly possible; but they must be met at the earliest possible moment."
* General Schoepf was commanding General Thomas' division.
Page 70 - LIFE OF GENERAL GEORGE H. THOMAS
A day later he telegraphed:
"In advancing to Altamont, take the Hickory Creek road, instead of the Thurman road. This will put you on a shorter line of retreat on Murfreesboro' by way of Manchester, and brings us nearer together. . . . In the event of any reverse which makes it necessary for the whole force to fall back, do so by Manchester and Beech Grove, making a stand to check the enemy whenever it can be done to advantage."
On the aqth [?], General Thomas' scouts returned with intelligence that the enemy would advance on McMinnville by two or three routes, and that forces were at Pikeville and in the Sequatchie Valley. He then reported to General Buell that he would move that afternoon in compliance with orders. It is evident, however, from the foregoing quotations, that he was exceedingly reluctant to move to Altamont, and the issue of that movement proved that his reluctance was well founded.
August 25th at 5 P.M. Thomas telegraphed to General Buell from Altamont:
"The enemy no nearer than Dunlap. It is
that there is one brigade there and one at Pikeville. . . . Water
scarce; only one spring here, and not forage enough in the neighborhood
to last for one day. The road up the mountain is almost impassable;
General Wood has been from six o'clock until now, and has not succeeded
in getting his artillery up the road. I deem it next to impossible to
march a large army across the mountains by Altamont on account of the
scarcity of water and forage and the extreme difficulty of passing over
the road. I will therefore return to McMinnville, and await further
orders. As I mentioned in one of my despatches, I regard McMinnville as
the most important point for occupation of any. The occupation of
McMinnville, Sparta and Murfreesboro will, in my opinion, secure the
Nashville and Chattanooga railroad."
Page 71 - ALTAMONT AND McMINNVILLE.
And thus without orders he abandoned a place to which he would not have advanced unless under positive orders issued after his own emphatic protest. In advance of trial, he depicted the exact condition of Altamont as a place for concentration.
The next day General Buell telegraphed: "Keep your position at McMinnville, but make nothing like a permanent establishment. Be always ready to move at a moment's notice. That Bragg is on this side of the river with a large force is beyond all question. It is hardly probable that it is merely for the purpose of demonstration, and we must be prepared to concentrate promptly. Of course the passage of so large a force across the mountains is difficult, but not as much so as you would suppose from the road you took. The Thurman road is very good, and the mountain quite easy of ascent. The descent on this side is easy enough by four roads, all diverging from Altamont; the first going by Beersheba to McMinnville, the second by Hickory Creek to McMinnville or towards Manchester, the third also to Manchester and to Decherd by Pelham, and the fourth by Cowan. The Beersheba road is excellent for a mountain road. The question is, how to meet an advance which may take either of these roads through Altamont. The best position we could take would be McMinnville, Altamont, and on the Thurman road, just this side of Sequatchie Valley. We should not only be able to concentrate against an advance on that road or the Sparta road, but also to threaten his flank if he should attempt to go into North Alabama by Battle Creek- a not improbable thing on many accounts. The difficulty of supplying ourselves on the mountains is, I think, the only objection to the disposition I mention."
On the 28th General Thomas said: "Troops at this place can
direct Chattanooga road, the Dunlap, and the Harrison and Pikeville
roads, and by the system of expresses to be established by Smith, I
think I can give
Page 72 - LIFE OF GENERAL GEORGE H. THOMAS
you intelligence of the enemy before he can cross Sequatchie
Valley." The divergent views of these generals had their foundation in
a radical disagreement as to General Bragg's plans and purposes.
General Buell's suggestions had reference to an advance of the enemy to
Nashville either across the mountains or by Battle Creek and Stevenson;
and General Thomas, rejecting as improbable an advance to Nashville by
way of North Alabama, and believing that the invasion of Kentucky was
to be the outcome of Bragg's operations, would have made provision
against his advance from the Sequatchie Valley in the direction of
Kentucky, and the proposed concentration at McMinnville would have
provided also for the contingency of an advance to Nashville from that
valley. General Buell looked to the right, and General Thomas to the
left, and the subsequent
movements of Bragg's army proved the better discernment of the latter.
General Bragg subsequently demonstrated towards McMinnville, but did this simply to cover his advance into Kentucky. He was most anxious to escape from the mountains without meeting his foe in battle, and for this reason adopted every possible maneuver and artifice to make the impression that he would advance upon McMinnville. And General Buell, acting upon the positive belief that Nashville was his objective, opened the way for him to pass from the Sequatchie Valley and move upon the shortest line to Kentucky.
On the 30th of August General Buell issued an elaborate
defining the movements of each division, to effect a concentration of
his army at Murfreesboro. By this order he placed General Thomas in the
rear with Ammen's* and Wood's divisions, and directed him to keep a
day's march between his forces and the enemy and not to risk a battle.
On the 1st of September he asked General Thomas: "Do any circumstances
present themselves which should make a change in our movements
* General Nelson's division.
Page 73 - MURFREESBORO
Thomas answered: "I think, as the movement has commenced, that it had better be executed." On the day following he told General Buell that he had again heard that the enemy intended to march on McMinnville. He then advised the concentration at Murfreesboro, from which place the main force should be thrown against Bragg's army. He had said on the 30th of August: "If he (the enemy is moving on Murfreesboro by Sparta, I think the sooner we concentrate to meet him and drive him back, the better; and Murfreesboro seems to be the point from which we should operate." But in no way did he intimate that the purpose of concentrating to resist General Bragg's advance should be abandoned. He only, at the last, expressed a preference for Murfreesboro as a base for offense. Doubtless one strong reason for this preference was the expectation that reenforcements would be met at Murfreesboro. Two divisions were marching from Mississippi, and Rousseau's division formerly Mitchel's had moved to Nashville, on the line of the Nashville and Decatur railroad.
During the first three days of September all the divisions
trains of the army were put in motion towards Murfreesboro, General
Thomas with two divisions being in the rear, reaching Murfreesboro on
the 5th. Here General Thomas met an order from General Buell to proceed
to Nashville by rail; and the meaning of this order was the abandonment
of the suggested plan of operations from Murfreesboro. In this General
Buell had not consulted Thomas, but had decided on reaching that place,
although he there met General Jeff. C. Davis' division, General R. B.
Mitchell commanding (sent by General Grant), that he would withdraw his
army to Nashville. It is evident from his persistence in recommending a
concentration, to resist General Bragg, first from McMinnville and
afterwards from Murfreesboro, that had General Thomas been in command
Page 74 - LIFE OF GENERAL GEORGE H. THOMAS
of the army, he would have fought the enemy south or east of Murfreesboro. General Buell withdrew five divisions from McMinnville and contiguous points. He met one other at Murfreesboro. He could have drawn reenforcements from Nashville besides. General Bragg advanced from Chattanooga with five divisions of infantry, and General Buell could have met him in battle by advancing from Murfreesboro with seven divisions, at least.
September 7th, General Thomas was assigned to the command of three divisions and the post of Nashville. These divisions were his own, Negley's, and Paine's division, General John M. Palmer commanding, which arrived at Nashville on the 12th, from General Grant's army. General Buell had, in the meantime, ascertained that General Bragg had not followed him to Nashville, but having crossed the Cumberland River at Carthage, was moving into Kentucky. He therefore moved north from Nashville with six divisions - McCook's, Crittenden's, Ammen's, Wood's, Rousseau's and Mitchell's.
On the 13th General Thomas was ordered by General Buell to
the l5th, into Kentucky, with his own division and Palmer's, but in
view of the fact that General Bragg might have detached a large force
to operate against Nashville, was permitted to leave Palmer's division
at that place if he deemed it necessary. He started from Nashville on
the 15th with his own division, and on the 20th joined the main army at
Prewitt's Knob. All these changes indicated the need of his services
where careful management was required or where fighting was expected.
He was nearest the enemy in the march of the army to Murfreesboro, and
when it became known that General Bragg had moved into Kentucky, went
by order to the front. His transfer from the rearguard to the vanguard
usually indicated a like transfer of emergencies, and in all his
movements and operations, he was at least as rapid as circumstances
demanded or orders required.
Page 75 - ASKS FOR BUELL'S RETENTION.
At Prewitt's Knob he was charged with the alignment of the foremost divisions in anticipation of battle, but General Bragg declined to fight, and diverging to the east from the direct road to Louisville, marched northward. In the march to Louisville from Prewitt's Knob, General Thomas was again in the rear of the army for its safety.
During General Buell's movement from Corinth towards Chattanooga, the President, through General Halleck, commander-in-chief, expressed dissatisfaction with his progress and after the army reached Louisville, this dissatisfaction eventuated in an order relieving General Buell from command of the army and appointing General Thomas as his successor. The command was actually turned over, but General Thomas requested that it should be restored to General Buell. In a despatch to Washington he said: "General Buell's preparations have been completed to move against the enemy, and I respectfully ask that he may be retained in command. My position is very embarrassing, not being as well informed as I should be as the commander of this army and on the assumption of such responsibility." Upon the receipt of this despatch the order relieving General Buell was revoked.
Perhaps no act of his life has been so misapprehended, as
request for the retention of General Buell in command of the army, when
he had been appointed his successor. The people of the country and even
his own friends have attributed this act to his extreme modesty and
distrust of his own ability as a general. His despatch does not sustain
these suppositions, especially as explained by himself. He did not
positively decline the command. He requested that Buell should be
retained. But had this request been denied, he would have accepted the
position, although the assumption of such responsibility on the eve of
battle was by no means inviting or in harmony with his views of justice
to Buell or himself. He considered it unjust to General Buell to remove
him at the culmination of
Page 76 - LIFE OF GENERAL GEORGE H. THOMAS
his operations. His request was based primarily on the fact that Buell had completed his preparations to move against the enemy, and secondly on his own embarrassments in taking the responsibility of commanding an army on the eve of battle. In another connection it has been shown that his perception of the demands of justice, prompted him to protest against his own removal from command in September 1861. It is equally clear that for the same reason he protested against the removal of Buell. Knowing that his action had been attributed to modesty he once said: "I am not as modest as I have been represented to be. I did not request the retention of General Buell in command through modesty, but because his removal and my assignment were alike, unjust to him and to me. It was unjust to him to relieve him on the eve of battle, and unjust to myself, to impose upon me the command of the army at such a time." When responsible for the issue of a battle he desired to give shape to the antecedent operations. He was modest and he was eager for an independent command, but he was not so modest as to underate himself nor so eager for the command of an army, as to desire it, when involving injustice to another general. Had choice been offered to him between himself, as next in rank to General Buell, and an alien general, he would have accepted the command of the army without hesitation, on the ground, that he had claims superior to any general of his rank outside of the Army of the Cumberland, and that embarrassments to a stranger would be greater than to himself.
It should also be stated that while General Thomas desired an
independent command it was not pleasant to him to supersede another
general. His idea of enlarged command was to have his forces multiplied
in his own hands, and thus be promoted without the displacement and
mortification of another commander. This certainly was a noble
aspiration, one that harmonized with the transcendent excellence
attributed to him by his friends.
Page 77 - SECOND IN COMMAND.
Upon resuming command of the army, General Buell named
Thomas as second in command. He had previously organized three
provisional corps, each comprising three divisions, and designated as
"First," "Second" and "Third," and had assigned Major-General A.
McD.McCook, to the command of the "First," Major-General T. L.
Crittenden to the "Second," and Brigadier-General C. C. Gilbert to the
"Third." The command of the Third corps belonged to General Thomas, by
right, since his own division was in it, and General Gilbert was then
only a brigadier-general by appointment of the President and was never
confirmed as such. General Thomas' position was an ambiguous one.
Nominally second in command, in reality, he was simply given the
supervision of General Crittenden's corps, and the small force of
cavalry associated with it. This arrangement placed two major-generals
with one corps, and a brigadier-general of unperfected appointment in
command of another. If the position of second in command had carried
with it authority to act as commander of the army in absence of the
commanding general, or in emergencies beyond his observation, the case
would have been radically different. But Thomas had no more authority
or independence than an ordinary corps commander, and consequently his
position was a false one, being by designation higher than such a
commander, while in authority, only his equal. General Crittenden was
subject to his orders in consequence of defined relations, but no such
relations subjected General McCook or General Gilbert to his orders,
whom by rank alone he could have commanded in certain contingencies.
But he had no knowledge of the plans of the commanding general that was
not revealed by general orders, and consequently his authority was
confined to the corps on the right, and the cavalry on that flank,
except as it might be extended by special instructions or by such
events as usually devolve the chief command upon the general of highest
rank on the field.
Page 78 - LIFE OF GENERAL GEORGE H. THOMAS
The army moved from Louisville on the first day of October. The three corps marched upon as many roads and converged first upon Bardstown, in expectation that the enemy would there be met. From that place they moved as before, to concentrate at Perryville. On the evening of the 7th the three corps were well advanced towards that town, though not abreast. Gilbert's corps in the centre took position about three and a half miles distant, McCook's corps on the left was some distance behind, and so also was Crittenden's corps. At the place designated in orders for the encampment of Crittenden's troops, there was no water. The men had marched all day in thick dust, without water, and in the evening were almost famished. There was no time to consult the commanding general, and acting under a necessity which his orders had entailed, General Thomas used the discretion which his orders did not give, and moved the command to the right to the nearest water that could be found in sufficient quantity for the troops.
In the evening of that day General Buell announced in orders
battle would be fought the next day. He prescribed the movements which
would bring his army into line of battle, and gave special directions
to the corps commanders to provide water, to last with sparing use,
during the expected action. He also directed them to report to him in
person, as soon as their respective commands had attained position. The
corps on the right and left attained position on each side of
Gilbert's, early on the 8th. By noon the whole army was in position,
and in line of battle, except General Wood's division of Crittenden's
corps, which at that hour was two or three miles in the rear, but
marching towards its designated position in the line. General Thomas
had found the enemy in his front early in the morning, and for that
reason he did not report in person when his command had attained
position, but sent Captain Mack of his staff to report to General Buell
the presence of the
Page 79 - PERRYVILLE.
enemy, and ask for instructions. There is but one
this refusal to report in person, as required by positive orders, and
this is, that he considered it so plainly unadvisable, from military
considerations, that he was justified in remaining with his
command. General McCook, who had been informed by the officer in
command of the cavalry on the left that the enemy was not in his front,
reported to General Buell, in compliance with orders, but on his return
to his command found it engaged with the enemy. General Buell had
decided not to fight that day, but had not formally revoked his order
of the previous evening. General Bragg, however, had declined to wait,
and supposing that he could strike and crush the foremost troops of the
National army before they could be supported from the rear, massed
three divisions, all he had in hand, and hurled them first against
General McCook's left division and the flank of the army, and
afterwards upon his other division on the right. General McCook had
only two divisions on the field, General Sill's division having been
sent to the left to operate against General Kirby Smith. General
Jackson's division on the left comprised two brigades of new troops,
and upon these untried soldiers the enemy made his initial attack.
General McCook sent a staff officer to the nearest commander of
Gilbert's corps - General Sheridan - and requested protection to his
right flank, or the right of Rousseau's division, and then gave his
attention to his own left, which was the left of the army as well.
After severe fighting against great odds, General Jackson's division
repulsed the enemy. The loss, however, was very great, including
General Jackson and his brigade commander - General Terrel - and a
large number of officers and men.* Having established his left flank
the corps commander turned to the right to meet a far more threatening
state of affairs. His
* Colonel Webster, commanding General Jackson's second
killed in supporting the left of Rousseau's division later in the day.
Page 80 - LIFE OF GENERAL GEORGE H. THOMAS.
request for support, for the right of Rousseau's division had
been regarded. The troops on the left of Gilbert's corps had moved
away, leaving Rousseau's right in air. General Bragg had sent Buckner's
division up Doctor's Creek to this uncovered flank, where it had been
deployed at right angles to McCook's line of battle, and thus with its
back to the rest of our army, it was moving against his exposed right
flank - exposed to extreme peril, and yet there were six divisions of
infantry behind Buckner's division as it faced towards McCook's line.
This was a situation perhaps without parallel in the history of war.
Three divisions had attacked the left of an army of eight divisions in
line of battle, and yet one of these attacking divisions had wedged
itself between six of these eight divisions on one side and two on the
other, and turning its back upon the six; moved upon the flank of the
other two. And while the conflict on the left of the National army was
waxing hotter and hotter, not an order was given for two hours that
directed support to the two isolated divisions. The fact that three
divisions attacked an army of eight, and escaped severe punishment or
capture, proves that grave errors were committed by responsible
commanders in General Buell's army, and that a great opportunity was
lost. If, when Buckner's division was moving upon the flank of
Rousseau's division at right angles to the general line of battle, the
corps of Gilbert and Crittenden had wheeled to the left, they would
have enveloped Bragg's army, and captured or utterly crushed it. But
General Gilbert's divisions had moved forward and made possible the
situation on the left, and General Thomas was, by assignment, too far
to the right to apprehend the emergency on the left, while General
Buell was too far in the rear to learn through the noise of battle that
his army was engaged; and no member of his staff and no headquarters'
courier bore to the rear tidings of the battle, but Captain Fisher, of
General McCook's staff, who had been sent with a second
Page 81 - PERRYVILLE
request for support from Gilbert's corps, and having failed
secure it, went of his own accord to General Buell and made known the
attack of the enemy and the state of affairs on the left of the army.
General Thomas knew that there was fighting on the extreme left of the
army, but he did not know whether it had resulted from offense or
defense on the part of the enemy. There was a corps comparatively
unengaged on his own left, and he had heard nothing from General Buell
since his orders of the previous evening announcing a battle for that
day, and at no time had his instructions been such as to authorize him
to leave his own command to direct the movements of the other two
corps. General Crittenden had been urgent that his corps should advance
against the enemy, but General Thomas had refused permission for the
assigned reason that he did not
know the plans of the commanding general. General Buell had thrown his army before the enemy to take the offensive himself, but while he was three or four miles in the rear, behind intervening hills, without having authorized General Thomas to take command of the army in the event of an attack by the enemy, all without having given instructions to his corps commanders for the conduct of defensive operations. Had General Crittenden moved forward directly, he would not have aided General McCook, since General Gilbert had so advanced and left McCook's right in air. What Was demanded by the situation was a wheel to the left by Gilbert's and Crittenden's corps, the former maintaining close connection with McCook's right. Had this been done when the enemy first attacked the left of the army, eight connected divisions would have enveloped them, or had the two corps wheeled to the left when Buckner's division was between Gilbert and McCook, the opportunity for the capture or annihilation of Bragg's forces would have been still better. Had this been done, six divisions would have moved to the rear of the three divisions that had been hurled against McCook.
Page 82 - LIFE OF GENERAL GEORGE H. THOMAS
Had General Thomas been second in command in supervision of the whole army, instead of a corps, he would have been responsible for results in the absence of the commander-in-chief. And had he been thus in command, the issue would doubtless have been radically different.
About 4 P. M. Captain Mack returned from General Buell with verbal instructions to General Thomas to hold one division in readiness to reenforce the centre if necessary and to reconnoitre his own front to ascertain if the enemy had reenforced his left or was withdrawing, and to report the facts. Afterwards, he received no orders to advance. After sundown he received the following communication :
October 8, 6.30 p. M.
GENERAL:- The First corps, McCook's, on our left, has been heavily engaged. The left and centre of this corps gained ground, but the right yielded a little. Press your lines forward as much as possible tonight and get into position to make a vigorous attack in the morning. If you have got your troops into position which you deem advantageous, it will not be advisable to make a change for the purpose of complying with the General's instructions for you, sent by Captain Mack. It may be as well to have the division ordered to the centre and let it wait where it is for further orders. The General desires to see you in person as soon tonight as your duties will permit you to come.
J. B. FRY, Colonel and Chief of Staff.
There had not been a strong force in front of General Thomas at any time, but only such a line as General Bragg deemed sufficient to cover his attack with massed forces on the left of the National line.
The verbal instructions sent through Captain Mack in the
and this written communication from Colonel Fry at 6.30 P.M., do not
even intimate that General Thomas was expected to exercise any control
of the troops on the left of his command. His instructions pertained
solely to operations that evening on the right, as preparatory to a
battle the next day. He was directed twice to hold a
Page 83 - BUELL REMOVED FROM COMMAND
division in readiness to move to the centre in the event of necessity, but of the necessity he was not to judge. He was not instructed to ascertain the state of affairs on his left but simply to hold his division in waiting for further orders. Late in the evening, by General Buell's order, troops were directed from the centre to assist General McCook in his unequal contest - Gooding's brigade from Mitchell's division, and Steedman's from Schoepfs were sent to his support, the former brigade as the first to participate in the terrific contest on Rousseau's right was hotly engaged and suffered heavy loss.
There was no action on the 9th and no pursuit until the 12th. As soon as the pursuit, which was fruitless in consequence of its late beginning, was terminated, General Buell left the army with General Thomas and retired to Louisville. On the 26th of October he directed General Thomas to put the army in motion towards Bowling Green and Glasgow.
Up to this time the military authorities, although frequently
differing from General Buell in respect to his actual and proposed
movements, had not restrained him in his operations by peremptory
orders. But after the battle of Perryville, dissatisfaction with its
issue and the pursuit of the enemy, and a new disagreement in regard to
the future operations of the army led to a second and final removal of
General Buell from command.
Originally published in 1887 by Robert Underwood Johnson and
Clarence Clough Buell, editors of the "The Century Magazine".
[scanned, reformatted and corrected; maps and illustrations are ommitted]
Excerpt from ON THE FIELD OF
BY CHARLES C. GILBERT, MAJOR-GENERAL, U. S. V.
*Condensed from General Gilbert's articles in the "Southern Bivouac," and revised by him.- EDITORS.
AS the Army of the Ohio, moving from Bardstown, approached Perryville on the 7th of October, 1862, McCook's corps formed the left, Crittenden's the right, and mine-which was moving on the direct road by the way of Springfield, and was ahead of the others-the center. [See maps, pp. 6 and 24.] In my column, R. B. Mitchell's division had the lead; Schoepft followed, and Sheridan brought up the rear. Our advance was vigorously resisted by Wheeler's cavalry, forming the rear-guard of Hardee corps, which was retiring before us. About 2 o'clock in the afternoon, when the head of the column was nearing the line of Doctor's Creek, a tributary of the Chaplin River, or more properly the Chaplin Fork of salt River, the enemy, in force, was observed lining the crest of the ridge on the farther ban, obviously with the intention of disputing the possession of a few pools of water that remained in the water-course, which was otherwise nearly dry. An excessive drought had prevailed for months in this part of Kentucky. At sight of the enemy, orders were given to form Mitchell's division in order of battle across the Springfield road and along some high ground on the right. When Schoepft came up his division was massed in reserve in Mitchell's rear, on the left of the road, and Sheridan, arriving after Wheeler had been dislodged and was being pressed back toward Perryville, was posted in front and to the right of Mitchell. Before daybreak on the 8th, a position was gained that covered he pools in Doctor's Creek, and these formed our only water-supply for the next two days, or as long as the enemy held the Chaplain River.
During the night General Buell ordered McCook's and Crittenden's corps to march at 3 o'clock in the morning of the 8th, and to form in order of battle on the center corps-my own. The movements of these columns were delayed, and General Buell, apprehensive of an attack while the center corps was isolated, directed me to select a strong position, and my troops were soon moving out of their camps and taking positions for the main attack, which it was supposed would come on about 10 o'clock. As that hour drew near, I observed, in visiting General Sheridan's ground, that a part of it was vacant, and that one of his brigades was in march on the road to Perryville, and the remainder were preparing to follow. On inquiry it was discovered that this movement was in consequence of some misunderstanding of orders. General Sheridan was directed to recall the brigade, resume his position, and limit himself to its defense until a general advance to attack in force should be ordered. To this order was added the explanation that General Buell was particularly solicitous that nothing be done to bring on a general engagement until after the junction of the flank corps.
General Sheridan lost no time in reestablishing his division on the ground to which he had been originally assigned. He had barely accomplished it when he was attacked in force and a fight ensued, in which the loss was severe on both sides. In the meantime the head of General McCook's corps, coming over the Mackville pike, appeared on the high ground marked by Russell's house, due north of Sheridan's position about one mile. This was about 10:30 A. M. Marking out his line of battle, General McCook ordered General Rousseau to form it. Loomis's battery was established on a commanding piece of ground near Russell's house, and to the left of it. General Rousseau had been previously ordered to send a line of skirmishers to the left
and front to examine some wood on that quarter, and Captain Wickliffe, with his company of cavalry, was sent to reconnoiter the ground to the left of this line of skirmishers. At this time there was some light skirmishing going on with Sheridan's division, at the head of the center corps, which was still in column, as previously described; but this soon ceased, and General McCook was satisfied that the enemy he found engaging my corps when he arrived had retired from the field.
McCook's corps, as previously related, had been ordered to march at 3 A. M., but it was 2:30 A. M. before the order reached General McCook, and his march began at 5 A. M. McCook had with him then two divisions, Rousseau's and Jackson's. Rousseau's division took the lead on the march, but when it arrived at Perryville only two of the brigades were present-the remaining one, Starkweather's, having been thrown to the rear by the interposition of Jackson's division, which cut it off at Mackville. Without waiting for the arrival of this brigade, General McCook, after giving his assistant adjutant-general particular instructions to post Jackson's two brigades on a commanding piece of ground immediately to the right of the Mackville and Perryville road, and to hold them in column so that they could be moved in any direction as occasion required, turned over the command to General Rousseau, and galloped off to report to General Buell at headquarters. Buell was in my camp, on the Springfield pike about two and a half miles distant from McCook's position on the Mackville pike. At half-past 12 the Confederates advanced, and in a few moments the skirmishers and artillery were engaged. The attack fell upon Sheridan's division at the head of my corps and upon
Loomis's battery occupied the highest part of the ridge above H. P. Bottom's house, at about the center of Rousseau's line (see map, p. 24). Lytle's brigade extended from the battery across the old Mackville pike to the "burnt barn." Lytle's brigade was assailed from the direction of Bottom's house, and from the right flank. The attack upon the position held by Loomis's battery was made chiefly from the ridge in the middle distance of the picture on page 54. The Confederates gained the north- east side of that ridge by following down the dry bed of Doctor's Creek under the shelter of its west bank.-EDITORS.
the head of McCook's corps, now advancing from its first position at Russell's house down the slope toward Chaplin River.
When General McCook returned to his troops after having reported at headquarters, he found that General Rousseau had advanced the right of the line about eight hundred or a thousand yards, and was occupying a commanding ridge which was to the left of the Mackville, and Perryville pike. The enemy was firing on this line from three batteries, and Loomis's and Simonson's batteries were replying. As there was no Confederate infantry in sight McCook ordered the firing to cease, so as to economize ammunition, and then prepared to make a reconnaissance toward Chaplin River for water, as he had just been ordered to do by General Buell. Riding off to the left, General McCook found a commanding ridge about six hundred yards from the stream and overlooking it. Sending for Generals Jackson and Terrill, he showed them the water, marked his line of battle, and placed a battery on it with strong supports. General Terrill was then ordered to advance a body of skirmishers down the slope to the water as soon as the line was formed. Not being apprehensive of an attack, General McCook then went back to his right. It was now nearly 2 o'clock. At this time the line of the left corps stood with its right on the Mackville and Perryville pike near the crossing of Doctor's Creek and its left near Chaplin River, its direction being about due north and south. It was formed of two brigades of Rousseau's division
(Lytle's and Harris's) and Terrill's brigade of Jackson's division. Webster's brigade of Jackson's division had not yet come into position, and Starkweather's brigade of Rousseau's division had not yet reached the field.
Just previously to this the enemy, in pursuance of his plan of attack, had begun to engage Sheridan's division, the head of the center corps. Mitchell's division was at that time closing up to take position within supporting distance of Sheridan. Caldwell's and Carlin's brigade of this division were to the right and rear, under cover, and Gooding's brigade was north of Doctor's Creek, near the stream. In this position the latter covered Sheridan's left, and watched the interval between the two corps so long as the left corps remained in its place in line of battle and before it advanced to the front. As Mitchell came into his position on the second line, the enemy appeared on his right in force and engaged Carlin's brigade, but were repulsed. It was now nearing half-past 2, and the enemy's entire line, from his left, where the attack began on Sheridan, to his right, where it fell in heaviest force on Rousseau, was in full progress, carrying everything before it. When Sheridan's assailants reached his main line he gave them a reception, cool, effective, and disastrous, and when their repulse was complete a brigade from the second line (Carlin's), which had been called up to assist in the defense, pursued the enemy to Perryville, thus turning his left and establishing itself on his rear. General Sheridan's action was according to the sound principles of the profession, and, as he was amply and promptly supported, the operations on this part of the field, in which he had the lead, were fully successful,
and his conduct here foreshadowed the exceptionally successful career that lay before him.
General McCook was assailed by greatly superior numbers. His brigades, which General Rousseau had put in motion to the front in his absence, were surprised on the march by General Bragg's attack, and were taken in the act of forming, and on ground favorable to the attacking party. Rousseau's right brigade, the extreme right of the left corps, was attacked with great severity and pertinacity. Terrill's brigade on the left, and Starkweather's, which had now arrived, were in turn heavily assailed. Being composed of entirely raw troops, Terrill's brigade in a few moments gave way in confusion, losing Parsons's battery of eight Napoleon guns. General Jackson, who was with this brigade, was killed at the first fire. General Terrill did all in his power to steady his men, but in vain. An hour and a half later, while still striving to rally his broken troops, he was mortally wounded.* Starkweather's brigade and Stone's and Bush's batteries were on the extreme left and rear of Terrill's brigade, and checked the attack.
General McCook, perceiving that he was assailed by at least three times his number, sent an aide-de- camp, Lieutenant L. M. Hosea, to General Sheridan, requesting him to look to the right of his line and see that it was not turned. Just at this time Sheridan had his attention fully occupied with his own right, where two opposing batteries were in position, and troops were massing behind them to attack him front and flank. About half an hour later McCook sent Captain H. N. Fisher, of his staff, to general Schoepf, commanding the reserve of my corps, with an urgent request for reenforcement, reporting that his reserves were all exhausted and his corps upon the point of being compromised. General Schoepf was at the time on the march to the front with two of his brigade (Walker's and Steedman's), and although desirous of rendering assistance, he declined to take the responsibility of changing his line of march. He referred the officer to me, but I was at the time at General Buell's headquarters, where I had been since noon.
Owing to the conformation of the ground and to the limited use of artillery on both sides, on sound of the battle had been heard at General Buell's headquarters until the attack reached General Sheridan's position, which was about half-past 3 o'clock. Then the cannon firing became so continuous and was so well sustained and so different from the irregular shots, at wide intervals, which had characterized the "shelling of the woods" earlier in the day, that it was readily recognized as a battle." It was near 4 o'clock when there came up the valley of Doctor's Creek the sound of rapid artillery firing. It was too heavy and too well sustained to come from merely "shelling the woods." Listening attentively for a moment, General Buell said to me, "That is something more than shelling the woods; it sounds like a fight." I at once mounted and set off at a rapid pace down the
* Colonel Charles Denby, of the 42d Indiana regiment, says:
"It is curious that the night before the battle [of Perryville] Generals Jackson and Terrill and Colonel Webster were discussing the chances of being hit in an engagement. Their opinion was that men would never be frightened if they considered the doctrine of probabilities and how slight the chance was of any particular person being killed. Theory failed, as it has often done before; all three were killed in the next day's fight." EDITORS.
General John C. Starkweather, in his official
report, says that the brigade, consisting at the time of the 24th
Illinois, 1st and 21st Wisconsin, and 79th Pennsylvania, "arrived on
the field of battle at about 1:30 P. M., having marched twelve
miles-about three miles thereof being through fields, woods, etc.
Finding the troops already engaged well on the right, center, and left,
and thinking the extreme left position most accessible, and, from
appearances,one that should be held at all hazards, I placed my command
at once in position facing the enemy's right." General McCook, in his
report on the part taken by Starkweather's brigade, says that the 21st
Wisconsin was stationed "in a corn- field, lying down, awaiting the
approach of the enemy, and when he approached with his overwhelming
force this new regiment poured into his ranks a most withering fire."
road in the direction of the firing. Within a mile I met Captain Fisher coming at full speed and bearing General McCook's message. Instead of sending Captain Fisher back to General McCook with my answer to his appeal for help, I advised him to continue on and bear to General Buell the astounding news, and at once sent orders to Schoepf to go to the interval between the two corps,--on the left of Sheridan,--and to Mitchell to close toward Sheridan's right and support him. Directing my course toward the left, I found Gooding's brigade of Mitchell's division still standing to the left of Doctor's Creek, and at once put it in motion to the right to join the main body of the division and be nearer Sheridan, who had just reported that he was hard pressed in front and that the enemy was driving our left wing. General Schoepf was now on the ground with his leading brigade (Walker's). This he was ordered to deploy, to replace Gooding. In the midst of these movements, another staff- officer, Captain W. T. Hoblitzell, came from the left corps for help, with the information that the troops, though fighting stubbornly, were falling back everywhere, and that if assistance was not speedily afforded they must soon be driven from the field.
Up to this moment the fighting with Sheridan had been growing in intensity, and judging from the sound that it must soon culminate, I detained Captain Hoblitzel to await the issue. It was soon perceived that the firing was diminishing, and as there were no signs of defeat on our side, I turned
to Walker's brigade to send it over to the left wing, when I discovered it had not yet deployed, and, moreover, did not seem to be sufficiently familiar with the tactics to make the simplest movements with promptness and intelligence. Accordingly I sent my adjutant-general, Captain J. E. Stacy, to recall Gooding and order him to proceed under the guidance of Captain Hoblitzell to report to General McCook. Gooding took with him Penney's Wisconsin battery. Within twenty minutes after receiving the order, Gooding made himself felt on the flank of the Confederates,who had thus far been steadily driving Rousseau's troops back toward the Russell House. Within a few minutes after his brigade had started, Sheridan, having repulsed his assailants, turned his guns and opened fire across the valley of Doctor's Creek on Rousseau's assailants, who, in their advance, had come to present their flank within easy range, and from his commanding position he delivered a fire so effective as to force back the enemy in this part of the field, to the great relief of the right of General McCook's line. Just after Sheridan's artillery opened, General Steedman came up with his brigade of Schoepf's division and kept on his course down Doctor's Creek. The enemy had now been so far driven from McCook's front that they were beyond the reach of Steedman's infantry; but, passing under the fire of Sheridan's guns, Steedman halted and opened to the left with Smith's battery of his brigade.
Viewed from the Confederate stand-point, the battle of Perryville appears to have consisted of an attempt to turn to the left flank of the Union line, in which, for the distance of a thousand or twelve hundred yards, the assailants drove all before them. At this juncture, after a fierce fight, the attack came to a stand, having expended its force, and the left of the Confederate line was now itself driven and turned, and its line of retreat threatened. This last the Confederates supposed had been effected by a fresh corps arriving on the field from the direction of Lebanon. In abandoning the battle-ground the Confederates, although obliged to leave their wounded behind, moved without any sense of humiliation, for they had made a good fight, and appeared only to be withdrawing from the presence of a greatly superior force.
From the Union side, the battle takes this appearance: The
corps, arriving on the ground alone on the afternoon of the 7th, met
with considerable opposition in establishing itself in position. This
opposition continued with only a brief interval till about 11 o'clock
on the 8th, when the flank corps bean to arrive on the line abreast of
the center. After the lapse of about an hour four brigades from the
left wing started to the front in quest of water. This movement
coincided with the advance of the Confederates in full force to turn
the left of the Union army. Those brigades were accordingly met and
overpowered and driven back to their places in line, and some of them
beyond it. But they made a most obstinate resistance. In the center
corps the detachments thrown out to watch the approaches to the
position held by the leading division were driven in, and that division
was attacked in strong force and with great determination. But the
assailants were repulsed and driven from the field, and then the center
corps contributed about one-third of its effective force to the relief
of the left wing and saved it from destruction.
Page 60 - Battles and Leaders, Vol. III
excerpt from NOTES OF A STAFF-OFFICER
BY J. MONTGOMERY WRIGHT, MAJOR, ASSISTANT ADJU TANT-GENERAL, U. S. V.
* Condensed from a paper in "The Southern Bivouac."--EDITORS.
THE situation at Louisville in the latter part of September, 1862, was not unlike that at Washington after the first battle of Bull Run. the belief was entertained by many that Bragg would capture the city, and not a few had removed their money and valuables across the Ohio River, not over-assured that Bragg might not follow them to the lakes. Nelson had sworn that he would hold the city so long as a house remained standing or a soldier was alive, and he had issued an order that all the women, children, and non-combatants should leave the place and seek safety in Indiana. He had only raw troops and convalescent veterans, and few citizens believed that he could hold out against an attack. His tragic death occurred a few days later.* Buell's arrival changed the situation of affairs. The uncertain defensive suddenly gave way to an aggressive attitude, and speculation turned from whether Bragg would capture Louisville to whether Buell would capture Bragg.
The country through which Buell's army marched is almost destitute of water, but at Perryville a stream flowed between the contending armies, and access to that water was equally important to both armies. Buell accompanied the center corps (Gilbert's), and the advance reached this stream on the evening of October 7th. From that time until the stream was crossed here was constant fighting for access to it, and the only restriction on this fighting was that it should not bring on an engagement until the time for the general attack should arrive. An incident will illustrate the scarcity of water. I obtained a canteenful, and about dark on October 7th, after giving myself a good brushing and a couple of dry rubs without feeling much cleaner, my careless announcement that I was about to take a tin-dipper bath brought General Buell out of his tent with a rather mandatory suggestion that I pour the water back into my canteen and save it for an emergency. The emergency did not come to me, but on the morning of October 9th that water helped to relieve the suffering of some wounded men who lay between the two armies.
At Buell's headquarters, on the 8th, preparations were going on for the intended attack, and the information was eagerly waited for that Crittenden had reached his position on the right. Fighting for water went on in our front, and it was understood that it extended all along the line, but not battle was expected that day. McCook was at Buell's headquarters in the morning, and received, I believe, some oral instructions regarding the contemplated attack. It was understood that care would be taken not to bring on a general engagement, and no importance was attached to the sounds that reached us of artillery-firing at the front of the center. Of course the young officers of the staff, of whom I was one, were not taken into conference by General Buell, but we all knew that the subject of attention that morning was the whereabouts of Crittenden's corps, and the placing it in position on the right for the general engagement that was to be brought on as soon as the army was in line. We all saw McCook going serenely away like a general carrying his orders with him.
In the afternoon we moved out for a position nearer Crittenden, as I inferred from the direction taken. A message came from the line on the left center to General Buell, and in a few moments Colonel James B. Fry, our chief of staff, called me up, and sent me with an order to General Gilbert, commanding the center corps, to send at once two brigades to reenforce General McCook, commanding the left corps. Thus I came to be a witness to some of the curious features of Perryville.
I did not know what was going on at the left, and Colonel Fry did not inform me. He told me what to say to General Gilbert, and to go fast, and taking one of the general's orderlies with me, I
* The facts in relation to the killing of General William Nelson by General Jefferson C. Davis are recounted by General James B. Fry in his pamphlet, "Killed by a Brother Soldier," from which the following account is condensed: Davis, who had been on sick leave in Indiana, hearing that general officers were needed about Cincinnati and Louisville to assist in repelling the invasion of Kirby Smith and Bragg, volunteered his services, and was sent by General H. G. Wright at Cincinnati to report to Nelson at Louisville. The latter assigned to Davis the work of arming the citizens of Louisville. A day or two afterward Davis called at Nelson's headquarters in the Galt House. Nelson inquired, "Well, Davis, how are you getting along with your command?" Davis replied, "I don't know," and gave similar answers to two or three questions as to the number of regiments and companies he had organized. Nelson, who was angered by his seeming indifference, rose and said, "But you should know. I am disappointed in you. General Davis; I selected you for this duty because you were an officer of the regular army, but I find I made a mistake." Davis replied, deliberately, "General Nelson, I am a regular soldier, and I demand the treatment due to me as a general officer." Dr. Irwin, Nelson's medical director, was called in by Davis to be a witness to the altercation. In his presence Nelson repeated the reprimand, and ordered Davis to report to General Wright at Cincinnati. Davis replied, "You have no authority to order me." Nelson turned to his adjutant-general and said, "Captain, if General Davis does not leave the city by 9 o'clock to-night, give instructions to the provost-marshal to see that he is put across the Ohio." Davis was highly incensed by the manner and bearing of Nelson. He withdrew, and that night reported to Wright in Cincinnati. When Buell reached Louisville on September 25th, Wright ordered Davis to return and report to Buell. He arrived at the Galt House on the morning of September 29th. Nelson, after breakfast, was standing in the hotel office, and was leaning against the counter when he was approached by Davis in company with Governor Oliver P. Morton, of Indiana. Davis accosted Nelson with the remark that Nelson had insulted him at the last meeting and that he must have satisfaction. Nelson told him to go away. Davis pressed his demand and Nelson said, "Go away, you-puppy. I don't want anything to do with you." Davis, who had picked up a blank visiting card and had squeezed it into a ball as he was talking, responded to the insulting words by flipping the card into Nelson's face. Nelson then slapped Davis in the face and said to Governor Morton, "Did you come here, sir, to see me insulted?" "No," replied Morton, whereupon Nelson walked toward his room on the office floor. After the slap Davis asked for a pistol, and a friend borrowed one and handed it to Davis, who started toward Nelson's room and met him in the corridor near the foot of he staircase, apparently on his way to Buell's apartment upstairs. When a yard apart Davis fired. Nelson walked upstairs and fell in the hall near said, "Send for a clergyman; I wish to be baptized. I have been basely murdered." General T. L. Crittenden, who was at the breakfast table, hurried to the corridor, and, taking Nelson's hand, said, "Nelson, are you seriously hurt?" Nelson replied. "Tom, I am murdered." When Surgeon Robert Murray arrived Nelson was lying on the floor of a room near where he had fallen, insensible. The small pistol-ball entered just over the heart. In less than an hour Nelson was dead. General Fry was in the grand hall of the hotel at the time of the encounter. On hearing the sound of the pistol he made his way through the crowed that had surrounded Davis and arrested him in the name of General Buell. Fry took Davis's arm, and they went to Davis's room on an upper floor. When the door was closed Davis said he wanted to relate the facts while they were fresh in his mind, and among other details mentioned the flipping of the paper into Nelson's face. General Gilbert was appointed to succeed Nelson, and two days afterward the army marched for Perryville. Buell could not then spare officers for a court-martial, and suggested to Halleck that a trial by commission appointed from Washington should take place immediately. As no charges were preferred against Davis within the period fixed by military rules, he was released by order of General Wright.
On October 27th, 1862, General Davis was
by a grand jury for manslaughter, and was admitted to bail in the sum
of five thousand dollars. The case was continued from time to time
until May 24th, 1864, when "it was stricken from the docket, with leave
started on my errand. I found General Gilbert at the front, and as he had no staff-officer at hand at the moment, he asked me to go to General Schoepf, one of his division commanders, with the order. Schoepf promptly detached two brigades, and he told me I had better go on ahead and find out where they were to go. There was no sound to direct me, and as I tried to take an air line I passed outside the Union lines and was overtaken by a cavalry officer, who gave me the pleasing information that I was riding toward the enemy's pickets. Now up to this time I had heard no sound of battle; I had heard no artillery in front of me, and no heavy infantry-firing. I rode back, and passed behind the cavalry regiment which was deployed in the woods, and started in the direction indicated to me by the officer who called me back. At some distance I overtook an ambulance train, urged to its best speed, and then I knew that something serious was on hand. This was the first intimation I had that one of the fiercest struggles of the war was at that moment raging almost within my sight.
Directed by the officers in charge of the ambulances I made another detour, and pushing on at greater speed I suddenly turned into a road, and there before me, within a few hundred yards, the battle of Perryville burst into view, and the roar of the artillery and the continuous rattle of the musketry first broke upon my ear. It was the finest spectacle I ever saw. It was wholly unexpected, and it fixed me with astonishment. It was like tearing away a curtain from the front of a great picture, or the sudden bursting of a thundercloud when the sky in front seems serene and clear. I had seen an unlooked-for storm at sea, with hardly a moment's notice, hurl itself out of the clouds and lash the ocean into a foam of wild rage. But here there was not the warning of an instant. At one bound my horse carried me from stillness into the uproar of battle. One turn from a lonely bridle path through the woods brought me face to face with the bloody struggle of thousands of men.
Waiting for news to carry back, I saw and heard some of the
occurrences of Perryville. I saw young Forman, with the remnant of his
company of the 15th Kentucky regiment, withdrawn to make way for the
reenforcements, and as they silently passed me they seemed to stagger
and reel like men who had been beating against a great storm. Forman
had the colors in his hand, and he and several of his little group of
men had their hands upon their chess and their lips apart as through
they had difficulty in breathing. They filed into a field, and without
thought of shot or shell they lay down on the ground apparently in a
state of exhaustion. I joined a mounted group about a young officer,
and heard Rumsey Wing, one of Jackson's volunteer aides, telling of
that general's death and the scattering of the raw division he
commanded. I remembered how I had gone up to Shiloh with Terrill's
battery in a small steamer, and how, as the first streak of daylight
came, Terrill, sitting on the deck near me, had recited a line about
the beauty of the dawn, and had wondered how the day would close upon
us all. I asked about Terrill, who now commanded a brigade, and was
told that he had been carried to the rear to die. I thought of the
accomplished, good, and brave Parsons,-whom I had seen knocked down
seven times in a fight with a bigger man at West Point, without ever a
thought of quitting so long as he could get up, and who lived to take
orders in the church, and die at Memphis of the yellow fever,
ministering to the last to the spiritual wants of his
parishioner,.--and I asked about Parsons's battery. His raw infantry
support had broken, and stunned by the disaster that he thought had
overtaken the whole army, he stood by his guns until every horse and
every man had gone, and the enemy as almost touching him, and had been
dragged away at last by one of his men who had come back to the rescue.
His battery was a wreck and no one knew then where he was. And so the
news came in of men I knew and men with friends about me.
Page 29 - Battles and Leaders, Vol. III
THE OPPOSING FORCES AT PERRYVILLE, KY.,October 8th, 1862.
The composition, losses, and strength of each army as here stted give the gist of all the data obtainable in the Official Records. K stands for killed; w for wounded; m w for mortally wounded; m for captured or missing; c for captured.
THE UNION FORCES.
ARMY OF THE OHIO. - Maj.-Gen. Don Carlos Buell; Maj.-Gen. George H. Thomas, second in command.
Escort: Anderson (Pa.) Troop, Lieut. Thomas S. Maple; 4th U. S. Cav. (6 co's), Lieut-Col. James Oakes. Escort loss: m, 1. Unattached: 7th Pa. Cav. (4 co's), Maj. John E. Wynkoop. Loss: w, 4; m, 3=7.
FIRST ARMY CORPS, Maj.-Gen. Alexander McD. McCook.
THIRD DIVISION, Brig.-Gen. Lovell H. Rousseau. Staff loss: m, 1.
Ninth Brigade, Col. Leonard A. Harris: 38th Ind., Col. Benjamin F. Scribner; 2d Ohio, Lieut.- Col. John Kell; 33d Ohio, Lieut-Col. Oscar F. Moore (w and c), Maj. Frederick J. Lock; 94th Ohio, Col. Joseph W. Frizell; 10th Wis., Col. Alfred R. Chapin; 5th Ind. Battery, Capt. Peter Simonson. Brigade loss: k, 121; w, 419; m, 51=591. Seventeenth Brigade, Col. William H. Lytle (w and c), Col. Curran Pope (m w): 42d Ind., Col. James G. Jones; 88th Ind., Co., George Humphrey; 15th Ky., Col. Curran Pope; 3d Ohio, Col. John. Beatty; 10th Ohio, Lieut.-Col. Joseph W. Burke; 1st Mich. Battery, Capt. Cyrus O. Loomis. Brigade loss: k, 193; w, 606; m, 23=822. Twenty-eighth Brigade, Col. John C. Starkweather: 24th Ill., Capt August Mauff; 79th Pa., Col. Henry A. Hambright; 1st Wis., Lieut.-Col George B. Bingham; 21st Wis Col., Benjamin J. Sweet; 4th Ind. Battery, Capt. Asahel K. Bush; 1st Ky. Battery, Capt. DAvid C. Stone. Brigade loss; k, 170; w, 477; m, 109=756. Unattached: 2d Ky. Cav. (6 co's), Col. Buckner Board; A, C, and H, 1st Mich., Eng'rs and Mech's, Maj. Enos Hopkins. Unattached loss: w, 18; m, 4=22, TENTH DIVISION, Brig.-Gen. James S. Jackson (k). Staff loss: k, 1.
Thirty-third Brigade, Brig.-Gen. William R. Terrill (k), Col. Albert S. Hall: 80th Ill., Col. Thomas G. Allen; 123d Ill., Col. James Monroe; Detachments 7th and 32d Ky. and 3d Tenn., Col. Theophilus T. Garrard: 105th Ohio, Col. Albert S. Hall; Parson's (improvised) Battery, Lieut.-Charles C. Parsons. Brigade loss: k, 100; w, 336 m, 91=527. Thirty-fourth Brigade, Col. George Webster (k): 80th Ind., Lieut.-Col. Lewis Brooks; 50th Ohio, Col. Jonah R. Taylor, Lieut.-Col. Silas A. Strickland; 98th Ohio, Lieut.-Col. Christian L. Poorman; 121st Ohio, Col. William P. Reid; 19th Ind. Battery, Capt. Samuel J. Harris. Brigade loss: k, 87 w, 346; m, 146=579.
SECOND ARMY CORPS, ** Maj.-Gen. Thomas L. Crittenden.
FOURTH DIVISION, Brig.-Gen. William S. Smith.
Tenth Brigade, Col. William Grose: 84th Ill., Col. Louis H. Waters; 36th Ind., Lieut.-Col. O. H. P. Carey; 23d Ky., Lieut.-Col. J. P.Jackson; 6th Ohio, Lieut.-Col. Nicholas L. Anderson; 24th Ohio, Lieut.-Col. Frederick C. Jones; H, 4th U. S. Art'y, Lieut. Samuel Canby; M, 4th U. S. Art'y, Capt. John Mendenhall. Nineteenth Brigade, Col. William B. Hazen: 11th Ill., Col. Thomas S. Casey; 9th Ind., Col. William H. Blake; 6th Ky., Col. Walter C. Whitaker; 27th Ky., Col. C. D. Pennebaker; 41st Ohio, Lieut-Col. George S. Mygatt; F, 1st Ohio Arty's, Capt. Daniel T. Cockerill. Twenty-second Brigade, Brig.-Gen. Charles Cruft: 31st Ind., Lieut.-Col. John Osborn; 1st Ky., Lieut.-Col. David A. Enyart; 2d Ky., Col. Thomas D. Sedgwick; 20th Ky., Lieut.-Col. Charles S. Hanson; 90th Ohio, Col. Isaac N. Ross; B, 1st Ohio Art'y, Capt. William E. Standart. Cavalry: 2d Ky. (4 co's), Lieut.-Col. Thomas B. Cochran.
FIFTH DIVISION, Brig.-Gen. Horatio P. Van Cleve.
Eleventh Brigade, Col. Samuel Beatty: 79th Ind., Col. Frederick Knefler; 9th Ky., Lieut.-Col. George H. Cram; 13th Ky., Lieut.-Col. J. B. Carlie; 19th Ohio, Lieut.-Col. E. W. Hollinsworth; 59th Ohio, Col. James P. Fyffe. Fourteenth Brigade, Col. Pierce B. Hawkins: 44th Ind., Col. Hugh B. Reed; 86th Ind., Col. Orville S. Hamilton; 11th Ky., Lieut.-Col. S. P. Love; 26th Ky., Col. Cicero Maxwell; 13th Ohio, Col. Joseph G. Hawkins. Twenty-third Brigade, Col. Stanley Matthews: 35th Ind., Col. Bernard F. Mullen; 8th Ky., Col. Sidney M. Barnes; 21st Ky., Col. S. Woodson Price; 51st Ohio Lieut.-Col. John E. Cummins. Artillery: 7th Ind., Capt. George R. Swallow; B, Pa., Lieut. Alanson J. Stevens 3d Wis., Capt. Lucius H. Drury.
SIXTH DIVISION, Brig.-Gen. Thomas J. Wood.
Fifteenth Brigade, Brig.-Gen. Milo S. Hascall: 100th Ill., Col. Frederick A. Bartleson; 17th Ind., Lieut.-Col. George W. Gorman; 58th Ind., Col. George P. Buell; 3d Ky., Lieut.-Col. William T. Scott; 26th Ohio Maj. Chris. M. Degenfield; 8th Ind. Battery, Lieut. George Estep. Twentieth Brigade, Col. Charles G. Harker: 51st Ind., Col. Abel D. Streight; 73d Ind., Col. Gilbert Hathaway; 13th Mich., Lieut.-Col. Frederick W. Worden; 64th Ohio, Col. John Ferguson; 65th Ohio, Lieut.-Col. William H. Young; 6th Ohio Battery, Capt. Cullen Bradley. Twenty-first Brigade, Col. George D. Wagner: 15th Ind., Lieut.-Col. Gustavus A. Wood; 40th Ind., Col. John W. Blake; 57th Ind., Col. Cyrus C. Hines; 24th Ky., Col. Louis B. Grigsby; 97th Ohio, Col. John Q. Lane; 10th Ind. Battery, Capt. Jerome B. Cox. Brigadeloss (40th Ind.): w, 2. Unattached: B, E, I, and K, 1st Mich., Eng's and Mech's, Col. William P. Innes; 1st Ohio Cav. (detachment), Maj. James Laughlin.
THIRD ARMY CORPS, Maj.-Gen. Charles C. Gilber.
FIRST DIVISION, Brig.-Gen. Albin Schoepf.
First Brigade, Col. Moses B. Walker: 82d Ind., Col. Morton C. Hunter; 12th Ky., Col. William A. Hoskins; 17th Ohio Col. John M. Connell; 31st Ohio, Lieut.-Col. Frederick W. Lister; 38th Ohio Lieut.-Col. William A. Choate. Second Brigade, Brig.-Gen. Speed S. Fry: 10th Ind., Col. William C. Kise; 74th Ind., Col. Charles W. Chapman; 4th Ky., Col. John T. Croxton; 10th Ky., Lieut.-Col. William H. Hays; 14th Ohio, Lieut.-Col. George P. Este. Brigade loss: k, 4; w, 7=11. Third Brigade, Brig.-Gen. James B. Steedman: 87th Ind., Col. Kline G. Shryock; 2d Minn., Col. James George; 9th Ohio,Col. Charles Joseph; 35th Ohio, Col. Ferdinand Van Derveer; 18th U.S., Maj. Frederick Townsend. Brigade loss: w, 6; m, 8=14. Artillery: 4th Mich., Capt. Josiah W. Church; C, 1st Ohio, Capt. Daniel K. Southwick; I, 4th U.S., Lieut.. Frank G. Smith. Artillery loss: w, 1. Cavalry: 1st Ohio (detachment), Col. Minor Milliken.
NINTH DIVISION, Brig.-Gen. Robert B. Mitchell.
Thirtieth Brigade, Col. Michael Gooding: 59th Ill., Maj. Joshua C. Winters; 74th Ill., Lieut.-Col. James B. Kerr; 75th Ill., Lieut.-Col. ,John E. Bennett; 22d Ind., Lieut.-Col. Squire I. Keith (k); 5th Wis. Battery, Capt. Oscar F. Pinney. Brigade loss: k, 121; w, 314; m, 64=499. Thirty-first Brigade, Col. William P. Carlin: 21st Ill., Col. John W. S. Alexander; 38th Ill., Maj. Daniel H. Gilmer; 101st Ohio, Col. Leander Stem; 15th Wis., Col. Hans C. Heg; 2d Minn. Battery, Capt. William A. Hotchkiss. Brigade loss: w, 10. Thirty-second Brigade, Col. William W. Caldwell: 25th Ill., Lieut.-Col. James S. McClelland; 35th Ill., Lieut.-Col. William P. Chandler; 81st Ind.,
** Of the operations of this corps General Buell says, in his official report: "The corps of General Crittenden closed in, and Wagner's brigade, of Wood's division, became engaged and did good service on the right of Mitchell's division, but knowing nothing of the severity of the fight on the extreme left the rest of the corps did not get into action."-- EDITORS.
Lieut.-Col. John Timberlake; 8th Kan. (battalion), Lieut.-Col. Jehu A. Martin; 8th Wis, Battery, Capt. Stephen J. Carpenter. Cavalry: B, 36th Ill., Capt. Samuel B. Sherer.
ELEVENTH DIVISION, Brig.-Gen. Philip H. Sheridan.
Thirty-fifth Brigade, Lieut.-Col. Bernard Laiboldt: 44th Ill., Capt. Wallace W. Barrett; 73d Ill., Col. James F. Jaquess; 2d Mo., Capt. Walter Hoppe (k); 15th Mo., Maj. John Weber. Brigade loss: k, 22; w, 102; m, 1 = 125. Thirty-sixth Brigade, Col. Daniel McCook: 85th Ill., Col. Robert S. Moore' 86th Ill., Col. David D. Irons; 125th Ill., Col. Oscar F. Harmon; 52d Ohio, Lieut.-Col. D. D. T. Cowen. Brigade loss: k, 7; w, 63; m, 9 = 79. Thirty-seventh Brigade, Col. Nicholas Greusel: 36th Ill., Capt. Silas Miller; 88th Ill., Col. Francis T. Sherman; 21st Mich., Col. Ambrose A. Stevens; 24th Wis., Col. Charles H. Larrabee. Brigade loss: k, 15; w, 124; m, 4 =143. Artillery: I, 2d Ill., Capt. Charles M. Barnett; G, 1st Me., Capt. Henry Hescock. Artillery loss: w, 3.
CAVALRY: Third Brigade, Capt. Ebenezer Gay: 9th Ky. (detachment), Lieut.-CoL John Boyle; 2d Mich., Lieut.-Col. Archibald P. Campbell; 9th Pa., Lieut.-Col.Thomas C. James. Cavalry loss: k, 4; w, 13=17.
Total Union loss: killed, 845; wounded, 2851; captured or missing, 515 = 4211.
The most definite information afforded by the" Official Records" relative to the strength of the Union forces is contained in the testimony given before the Buell Commission by Major J. M. Wright, assistant adjutant-gen-eral at Bach's headquarters. On page 660, Vol. XVI., Part I., he says: "After the battle I do not think there were more than fifty thousand of the army which ap peared in front of Perryville." Adding to this number the 4000 casualties sustained in the battle, would make the entire army at anti about Perryville 54,000 strong.(1)
Perhaps not over one-half of these were actually engaged. General McCook, commanding the First Corps (which bore the brunt of the fight), says that "Rousseau had present on the field 7000; Jackson, 5500; the brigade of Good]rig [from Mitchell's division of Gilbert's corps] amounting to about 1500." The strength of Crittenden's (Second) and Gilbert's (Third) Corps is not anywhere officially, stated. Crittenden did not reach the field of action until the conflict was practically ended, and only parts of Wagner's and Hazen's brigades of his corps became slightly engaged.
(1) In March, 1888, Genera] D.C. Buell wrote to the editors: "Adopting this estimate and adding Sill's Division, say 7000, which moved on the Frankfort road and did not Join until after the battle (l.e., on the 11th), will make the entire army 61,000 before the battle and 57,000 after. The corps were of about equal strength. Gilbert told me recently that he estimated his corps at about 18,000 before the battle. About one-third of the whole were raw troops. Jackson's division was composed almost entirely of raw regiments."-- EDITORS.
THE CONFEDERATE FORCES.
General Braxton Bragg.
ARMY OF THE MISSISSIPPI: Maj.-Gen. LeonidasPolk.
RIGHT WING, Maj.-Gen. Benjamin F. Cheatham.
CHEATHAM'S DIVISION, Brig.-Gen. Daniel S. Donelson. .First Brigade, Col John H. Savage: 8th Ten p., Col. W.L. Moore; 15th Tenn., Col. R. C. Tyler; 16th Tenn., Lieut.-Col. D. M. Donnell; 38th Tenn., Col. John C' Carter; 51st Tenn., Col. Jehn Chester; Tenn. Battery, Capt. W. W. Carnes. Brigade loss: k,68; w,272; m, 7=347. Second Brigade, Brig.-Gen. A. P. Stewart: 4th Tenn., Col. O. F. Strahl; 5th Tenn., Col. C. D.Venable; 24th Tenn., Lieut.-Col. H. L. W. Bratton; 31stTenn., Col. E. E. Tansil; 33d Tenn., Col. W. P. Jones; Miss. Battery, Capt. T. J. Stanford. Brigade loss: k,62; w, 340; m, 26 = 428. Third Brigade, Brig.-Gen. George Maney: 41st Ga., Col. Charles A. McDniel (w),Maj. John Knight; 1st Tenn., Col. H. R. Field; 6th Tenn., Col. George C. Porter; 9th Tenn., Lieut.-Col. John W. Buford (w), Major George W. Kelsoe; 27th Tenn., Lieut.-Col. W. Frierson (w); Major A. C. Allen; Miss. Battery, Lieut. William B. Turner. Brigade loss: k, 136; w, 517; m, 34= 687. CAVALRY BRIGADE, Col. John A. Wharton: 1st Ky. (3 co's), ----; (1) 4th Tenn., ; 8thTex., Brigade loss (not separately reported).
LEFT WING, MAJ.-Gen. William J. Hardee.
SECOND DIVISION, Brig.-Gen. J. Patton Anderson.
First Brigade, Brig.-Gen. John C. Brown (w), Col. William Miller: 1st Fla., Col. William Miller; 3d Fla., ; 41st Miss., ; Palmer's Battery, Brigade loss (not separately reported). Second Brigage, Brig.-Gen. Daniel W. Adams: 13th La., Col. R. L. Gibson; 16th La., Col. D. C. Gober; 20th La., Col. Aug.Richard, Lieut.-Col. Leon yon Zinken; 25th La., Col. S. W. Fisk; 14th Battalion La. Sharp-shooters, Major J. E. Austin; 5th Co. Washington (La.) Art'y, Capt. C. H. Slocomb. Brigade loss: k, 6; w, 78; m, 68 = 152. Third Brigade, Col. Samuel Powell: 45th Ala., ; 1st Ark., ; 24th Miss., Col. William F. Dowd; 29th Tenn.,--; Mo. Battery, Capt. Overton W. Barret. Brigade loss (not separately reported). Fourth Brigage, Col. Thomas M. Jones:27th Miss.,; 30th Miss., ; 37th Miss., -; Ala. Battery (Lumsden's). Brigade loss (not separately reported).
THIRD DIVISION, Maj.-Gen. Simon B. Buckher. First Brigade, Brig.-Gen. St. John R. Liddell: 2d Ark.,--; 5th Ark., Col. L. Featherston; 6th Ark., --; 7th Ark., Col. D. A. Gillespie; 8thArk., Col. John H. Kelly; Miss. Battery (Swett's). Brigade loss: k, w, and m, 71. Second Brigade, Brig.-Gen. P. R. Cleburne (w): 13th Ark.,; 15th Ark.,; 2d Tenn.,; Ark. Battery (Calvert's). Brigade loss (not separately reported). Third.Brigade, Brig.-Gen. Bushrod R. Johnson: 5thConfederate, Col. J. A. Smith; 17th Tenn., Col. A. S. Marks; 23d Tenn., Lieut.-Col. R. H. Keeble; 25th Tenn., Col. John M. Hughs; 37th Tenn., Col. Moses White;44th Tenn., Col. John S. Fulton; Miss. Battery (Jeffer-son Art'y), Capt. Put. Darden. Brigade loss: k, 30; w, 165; m, 9---- 204. Fourth Brigade, Brig.-Gen. S. A.M. Wood (w): 16th Ala.,; 33d Ala.,; 3d Confederate, ----; 45th Miss.,; 15th Battalion Miss. Sharp-shooters, .... ; Ala. Battery, Capt. Henry C. Semple. Brigade loss (not separately reported).
CAVALRY BRIGADE, Col. Joseph Wheeler: 1st Ala., Col. William W. Allen; 3d Ala., Co1. James Hagan; 6th Confederate, Lieut.-Col. James A. Pell; 2d Ga. (battalion), Maj. C. A. Whaley; 3d Ga., CoL Martin J. Crawford; 1st Ky. (6 co's), Maj. J. W. Caldwell. Brigade loss (not separately reported).
Total Confederate loss: killed, 510; wounded, 2635; missing, 251 =3396.
General Bragg reports (" Official Records," Vol. XVI., Pt. I., p. 1092) that "our forces consisted of three divisions of infantry (about 14,500) and two small brigades of cavalry (about 1500)." General Polk reports (p. 1110): "The whole of our force, including all arms, did not exceed 15,000." (2)
(1) The dash indicates that the name of the commanding officer has not been found in the "Official Records."-- EDITORS.
(2) In March, 1888, General Buell wrote to
editors: "This probably did not include the cavalry. It is scarcely
credible that the three divisions of infantry contained only
13,500. However, the important question is as to the force that
Bragg had in the field in Kentucky, for that was the force that was to
be expected in a great battle. That question is not fully determined by
official reports, but a careful study of the published records seems to
place it at not less than 68,000 men."--