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This week 150 years: Van Dorn takes command in Mississippi

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  • This week 150 years: Van Dorn takes command in Mississippi

    Continued from: http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forum...d.php?t=127004

    On September 11th, in response to Braxton Bragg's query about the limits of his departmental command, Davis elects to limit Bragg's authority to one army, his own Army of the Mississippi by placing Price's Army under the District command of Van Dorn in Mississippi and affirming Kirby Smith as a separate commander. The lack of coordination that will ensue will be disastrous for the fall Kentucky campaign.

    Price will not recieve the notice of the change in command until September 19th. Having previously quarreled with Davis about being assigned away from his home in Missouri, Price believed the appointment was formal snubbery. The troops of Price's Army of the West reacted with disgust. They blamed Van Dorn (perhaps rightfully so) for the defeat at Pea Ridge and Van Dorn's recent bungling of Beauregard's counteroffensive at Corinth is still on the minds of many Trans-Mississippi Soldiers. Van Dorn had been accused of drunkeness at the latter, which led Bragg to remove him in the first place.

    Some Arkansas Wags even came up with a jingle to celebrate the dubious return of Van Dorn to command:

    Who lost the Battle of Elkhorn? / Van Dorn-Van Dorn
    Who do we wish had never been born? / Van Dorn-Van Dorn


    Van Dorn had ambitious plans for his new troops. In spite of Bragg's wishes that Price's troops join him, Van Dorn planned to strike Corinth and west Tennessee with Price's men and his own district troops under Mansfield Lovell. Price will retain control of his two division Army of the West (also called Price's Corps) while reporting to Van Dorn directly.
    Last edited by semperpietas; 14 Sep 12, 11:42.
    "Hit hard when you start, but don't start until you have everything ready." - Lt. Gen. James Longstreet

    Pyrrhus Travels West:
    Hanno the Infamous, General of Carthage, Rb Mhnt of Sicily

  • #2
    Originally posted by semperpietas View Post
    Continued from: http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forum...d.php?t=127004

    On September 11th, in response to Braxton Bragg's query about the limits of his departmental command, Davis elects to limit Bragg's authority to one army, his own Army of the Mississippi by placing Price's Army under the District command of Van Dorn in Mississippi and affirming Kirby Smith as a separate commander. The lack of coordination that will ensue will be disastrous for the fall Kentucky campaign.

    Price will not recieve the notice of the change in command until September 19th. Having previously quarreled with Davis about being assigned away from his home in Missouri, Price believed the appointment was formal snubbery. The troops of Price's Army of the West reacted with disgust. They blamed Van Dorn (perhaps rightfully so) for the defeat at Pea Ridge and Van Dorn's recent bungling of Beauregard's counteroffensive at Corinth is still on the minds of many Trans-Mississippi Soldiers. Van Dorn had been accused of drunkeness at the latter, which led Bragg to remove him in the first place.

    Some Arkansas Wags even came up with a jingle to celebrate the dubious return of Van Dorn to command:

    Who lost the Battle of Elkhorn? / Van Dorn-Van Dorn
    Who do we wish had never been born? / Van Dorn-Van Dorn


    Van Dorn had ambitious plans for his new troops. In spite of Bragg's wishes that Price's troops join him, Van Dorn planned to strike Corinth and west Tennessee with Price's men and his own district troops under Mansfield Lovell. Price will retain control of his two division Army of the West (also called Price's Corps) while reporting to Van Dorn directly.
    This is as accurate a description of what happened during the Kentucky campaign as could fit on a blog. Jefferson Davis, although having been an army commander, should never have stuck his nose in operations from afar. Price did what he could on his own, not very well, but not awful.

    The surprise the Confederates met was the lack of support from the Kentuckians, they had resolved to remain neutral. Had this stupid campaign not been started. Kentucky would have been a buffer state for the CSA. Now you may argue that the Union was going to take over the state at some point. However it wasted vital resources and warriors, which were in short supply for the CSA during the Vicksburg campaign by the Union.

    BTW. IMHO van Dorn heads the list of the worst civil war generals . Even Braxton Bragg won a victory at Chickamauga, although he wasted an opportunity to turn the victory into a rout and destroy the Union Army of Tennessee (I think it was called that).
    Last edited by Nickuru; 14 Sep 12, 13:45. Reason: syntax
    When looking for the reason why things go wrong, never rule out stupidity, Murphy's Law Nș 8
    Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it. George Santayana
    "Ach du schwein" a German parrot captured at Bukoba GEA the only prisoner taken

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Nickuru View Post
      This is as accurate a description of what happened during the Kentucky campaign as could fit on a blog. Jefferson Davis, although having been an army commander, should never have stuck his nose in operations from afar. Price did what he could on his own, not very well, but not awful.

      The surprise the Confederates met was the lack of support from the Kentuckians, they had resolved to remain neutral. Had this stupid campaign not been started. Kentucky would have been a buffer state for the CSA. Now you may argue that the Union was going to take over the state at some point. However it wasted vital resources and warriors, which were in short supply for the CSA during the Vicksburg campaign by the Union.

      BTW. IMHO van Dorn heads the list of the worst civil war generals . Even Braxton Bragg won a victory at Chickamauga, although he wasted an opportunity to turn the victory into a rout and destroy the Union Army of Tennessee (I think it was called that)
      .
      Kentucky had been thrown into the Union camp in 1861 by Leonidas Polk's seizure of Columbus. Bragg's invasion was primarily to draw Kentucky out of the Union and gain recruits, his initial plan of drawing Buell away from Chattanooga being successful.

      As for Chickamauga, it was the Union Army of the Cumberland, and I credit that victory more to James Longstreet than I do Braxton Bragg.
      "Hit hard when you start, but don't start until you have everything ready." - Lt. Gen. James Longstreet

      Pyrrhus Travels West:
      Hanno the Infamous, General of Carthage, Rb Mhnt of Sicily

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      • #4
        Say what you will about Bragg, he was still one of the hardest hitting generals the south produced, even if the results didn't always turn out in his favor.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by AboveAverage484 View Post
          Say what you will about Bragg, he was still one of the hardest hitting generals the south produced, even if the results didn't always turn out in his favor.
          I have heard more than one military science professor call him En Echelon Bragg because his was the only style of military attack he ever implemented. While he was hard hitting (though subordinate commanders probably played more of a role in developing the attacks and in disposition of troops, such as Hardee at Stones River and Longstreet at Chickamauga), he wasn't imaginative and didn't react well to unexpected developments.
          "Hit hard when you start, but don't start until you have everything ready." - Lt. Gen. James Longstreet

          Pyrrhus Travels West:
          Hanno the Infamous, General of Carthage, Rb Mhnt of Sicily

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          • #6
            Originally posted by semperpietas View Post
            Kentucky had been thrown into the Union camp in 1861 by Leonidas Polk's seizure of Columbus. Bragg's invasion was primarily to draw Kentucky out of the Union and gain recruits, his initial plan of drawing Buell away from Chattanooga being successful.

            As for Chickamauga, it was the Union Army of the Cumberland, and I credit that victory more to James Longstreet than I do Braxton Bragg.
            Longstreet and luck because of the gap

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            • #7
              Originally posted by grognard View Post
              Longstreet and luck because of the gap
              I disagree. I think too many people place to much emphasis on the gap left by Wood. Wood's Division was very small (Two brigades of 2,679 and Barnes attached brigade of 1,202). Against this were eight brigades (By approximation 10,000 infantry). Longstreet explained his tactical thinking to E.P. Alexander in a letter about his column:
              With a column say of four or five brigades, if the 1st and 2nd are broken or dispersed by the assault, the 3rd, in turn, finds tiself in full strength and force, and near enough the enemies lines to break thru. The force is strong in itself to give it confidence as long as it is order
              Johnson's unauthorized shifting of his division in the morning meant that Longstreet was attacking with eight brigades instead of just five like Longstreet intended. So even if Wood repulses Johnson, you have Hood's Division under Law coming up from behind and McLaws' Division under Kershaw after that.

              Not to mention that to south of Wood, Davis' Division, which didn't move, was shattered by Hindman's assault. So even if Wood repulses all eight brigades he now has three brigades (including two of the largest in the Army of Tennessee) in a position to roll up his flank. Did Wood's movement aid the Longstreet-Johnson Column? Yes it did. But I don't think it would stopped the attack or dramatically altered the course of the battle.
              "Hit hard when you start, but don't start until you have everything ready." - Lt. Gen. James Longstreet

              Pyrrhus Travels West:
              Hanno the Infamous, General of Carthage, Rb Mhnt of Sicily

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by semperpietas View Post
                I disagree. I think too many people place to much emphasis on the gap left by Wood. Wood's Division was very small (Two brigades of 2,679 and Barnes attached brigade of 1,202). Against this were eight brigades (By approximation 10,000 infantry). Longstreet explained his tactical thinking to E.P. Alexander in a letter about his column: Johnson's unauthorized shifting of his division in the morning meant that Longstreet was attacking with eight brigades instead of just five like Longstreet intended. So even if Wood repulses Johnson, you have Hood's Division under Law coming up from behind and McLaws' Division under Kershaw after that.

                Not to mention that to south of Wood, Davis' Division, which didn't move, was shattered by Hindman's assault. So even if Wood repulses all eight brigades he now has three brigades (including two of the largest in the Army of Tennessee) in a position to roll up his flank. Did Wood's movement aid the Longstreet-Johnson Column? Yes it did. But I don't think it would stopped the attack or dramatically altered the course of the battle.
                I disagree, if Longstreet had been forced to fight at first, the Union forces would not have been swept away, and if that didn't happen, the Lightning brigade, for example is on the field with their repeaters, not being forced to escort Dana away.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by grognard View Post
                  I disagree, if Longstreet had been forced to fight at first, the Union forces would not have been swept away, and if that didn't happen, the Lightning brigade, for example is on the field with their repeaters, not being forced to escort Dana away.
                  Longstreet did fight at first. Johnson's lead brigades still had to deal with part of Buell's Brigade. And Hindman's Division was fully opposed by Davis on Wood's Southern flank. But Hindman shattered Davis and went on to push Sheridan back. And this was with three brigades in two lines, not eight brigades in five lines. This would have put three brigades on Wood's flank. Not to mention that now Hood's Division is attacking Wood from the front with three brigades. And behind that are the fresh troops of BG Kershaw.
                  Last edited by semperpietas; 23 Sep 12, 19:52.
                  "Hit hard when you start, but don't start until you have everything ready." - Lt. Gen. James Longstreet

                  Pyrrhus Travels West:
                  Hanno the Infamous, General of Carthage, Rb Mhnt of Sicily

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by semperpietas View Post
                    Longstreet did fight at first. Johnson's lead brigades still had to deal with part of Buell's Brigade. And Hindman's Division was fully opposed by Davis on Wood's Southern flank. But Hindman shattered Davis and went on to push Sheridan back. This would have put three brigades on Wood's flank. Not to mention that now Hood's Division is attacking Wood from the front with three brigades. And behind that are the fresh troops of BG Kershaw. As this was with three brigades in two lines, not eight brigades in five lines.
                    So the Yanbkees on thre flank of Woods are just doing nothing??????

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by grognard View Post
                      So the Yanbkees on thre flank of Woods are just doing nothing??????
                      The divisions of Brannan and Reynolds on Wood's northern flank had just repulsed Stewart's Division (sent in prematurely by Bragg). To the south of Wood, Davis' brigades of Carlin and Martin were shattered by Hindman's three brigades. At the gap itself, only Johnson's Brigade under Colonel Fulton (less than 800 men), penetrated without resistance. Gregg's Brigade under Colonel Sugg and McNair's Brigade were engaged with Beatty's Brigade of Brannan's Division.

                      The key here is Davis on Wood's right flank. His front is broken by Deas' Brigade at the same time Manigault is flanking him, with Hindman's third brigade under Anderson is coming up from the second line (one of the perks of Longstreet's tactical deployment was that each division was deployed into two lines, thus each attack would have supporting elements).
                      "Hit hard when you start, but don't start until you have everything ready." - Lt. Gen. James Longstreet

                      Pyrrhus Travels West:
                      Hanno the Infamous, General of Carthage, Rb Mhnt of Sicily

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by semperpietas View Post
                        The divisions of Brannan and Reynolds on Wood's northern flank had just repulsed Stewart's Division (sent in prematurely by Bragg). To the south of Wood, Davis' brigades of Carlin and Martin were shattered by Hindman's three brigades. At the gap itself, only Johnson's Brigade under Colonel Fulton (less than 800 men), penetrated without resistance. Gregg's Brigade under Colonel Sugg and McNair's Brigade were engaged with Beatty's Brigade of Brannan's Division.

                        The key here is Davis on Wood's right flank. His front is broken by Deas' Brigade at the same time Manigault is flanking him, with Hindman's third brigade under Anderson is coming up from the second line (one of the perks of Longstreet's tactical deployment was that each division was deployed into two lines, thus each attack would have supporting elements).
                        Basically you're saying nothing changes no matter where Woods" division is, that's what I have trouble with.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by grognard View Post
                          Basically you're saying nothing changes no matter where Woods" division is, that's what I have trouble with.
                          Not necessarily. I just think that Wood holding his place doesn't automatically mean Longstreet's assault fails or the Union line holds like some people suggest. The fact is that only one brigade penetrated the gap without resistance. Even if Wood did repulse Johnson, Hindman still would have shattered Davis and turned Wood's flank, on top of Hood's Division coming behind Johnson. The Union line still collapses, but perhaps in a different direction.
                          Last edited by semperpietas; 24 Sep 12, 10:20.
                          "Hit hard when you start, but don't start until you have everything ready." - Lt. Gen. James Longstreet

                          Pyrrhus Travels West:
                          Hanno the Infamous, General of Carthage, Rb Mhnt of Sicily

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by semperpietas View Post
                            Not necessarily. I just think that Wood holding his place doesn't automatically mean Longstreet's assault fails or the Union line holds like some people suggest. The fact is that only one brigade penetrated the gap without resistance. Even if Wood did repulse Johnson, Hindman still would have shattered Davis and turned Wood's flank, on top of Hood's Division coming behind Law. The Union line still collapses, but perhaps in a different direction.
                            But some troops like Wilder did not collapse, with a different scenario, they are still available to at least stem the breakthrough.
                            The line may ro may not hold, or Wooed just facing one brigade, swings his other one to support the crumbling troops.
                            Longstreet doesn't fail automatically, but neither to the Yankees panic automatically.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by grognard View Post
                              But some troops like Wilder did not collapse, with a different scenario, they are still available to at least stem the breakthrough.
                              The line may ro may not hold, or Wooed just facing one brigade, swings his other one to support the crumbling troops.
                              Longstreet doesn't fail automatically, but neither to the Yankees panic automatically.
                              What Brigade can Wood spare? Davis is collapsing as Wood is being hit from the front by Johnson with three brigades. Then you have Hood's division moving up behind Johnson, meaning there is no left to shift troops to deal with the situation. Not to mention Kershaw supporting Hood directly, or Longstreet's reserve division under Preston.
                              "Hit hard when you start, but don't start until you have everything ready." - Lt. Gen. James Longstreet

                              Pyrrhus Travels West:
                              Hanno the Infamous, General of Carthage, Rb Mhnt of Sicily

                              Comment

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