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  • The new book about Shiloh?

    Has anyone here started reading the new book about Shiloh? I've been reading it for a little while now and it is excellent and eye opening. The history is outstanding and the writing is lucid and intelligent.

    Historians Gary Joiner, PhD and Tim B. Smith, PhD have edited a 40 year old doctoral dissertation by O. Edward Cunningham which hadn't been available to the general public before in published form.

    Tim was our CWRT's guide to Shiloh back in 2005 and much of what he presented to us is in the book. The NPS guys use the dissertation for tours all the time.

    Some of the things that are different about this book is that Cunningham came to the conclusion the old stories about total surprise are hogwash (There was surprise at certain higher levels in terms of believing that an attack was imminent, but people like Major James Powell and Colonel Everett Peabody and their early morning skirmishing denied the Confederates total tactical surprise.)

    Also, the idea that the Hornet's Nest was the main obstacle of the Confederate effort on 4/6/1862 is shown to be false. Dr. Cunningham believed that a mid-afternoon Federal counterattack at a crossroads on the Federal right flank was the event that took the steam out of the Confederate drive. Drs. Smith and Joiner (at least Tim agrees, and I would think that Dr. Joiner does, too) seem to agree (I haven't gotten that far yet, but know its coming) with Cunningham's assertion of that point.

    I know that Tim Smith also believes that Confederates did not "win" the first day of the battle and I think that he and Joiner bring that up later on. Confederate confusion and disorganization stemmed from initial poor deployment (resulting in commingling of Corps) and some stubborn early stands by the Union as well as hunger.

    I've been finding it hard to return to my cube after lunch, I enjoy this book so much.

    I will update as I progress through the book.
    I come here to discuss a piece of business with you and what are you gonna do? You're gonna tell me fairy tales? James Caan in the movie "Thief" ca 1981

  • #2
    What's the title?
    Texas, where we have the death penalty and aren't afraid to use it!

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    • #3
      The myth of total surprise has been refuted for a long time--e.g. Larry Daniel's book
      on Shiloh, and he doesn't see the Confederates as being able to finish off the Yankees with one last charge on April 6. Have to reread to see what he says about the Yankee defensive positions.

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      • #4
        I read the whole section in B&L a few years back and it certainly is a fascinating Battle - so many 'what ifs' surround it.

        Could never understand the Confederate battle plan of spreading their units across the line before the advance - that surely cost them time they didn't really have. Also if A.S.Johnstone had struck one day earlier he would surely have forced Grant into a surrender type situation. Buell was convinced he saved Grant and Sherman their bacon and pretty well accuses of them of porkies re their account the positions they held at dusk on the 1st day of battle.

        IIRC Shelby Foote wrote a novel called 'Shiloh' which was pretty good but its years since I read it.
        http://www.irelandinhistory.blogspot.ie/

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        • #5
          Originally posted by RangerBooBoo View Post
          What's the title?

          Here I am, touting a book, and I forget the most important thing.

          The title is: Shiloh And The Western Campaign Of 1862. It is the original doctoral thesis of O. Edward Cunningham and is edited by Gary Joiner, PhD and Timothy B. Smith, PhD.
          I come here to discuss a piece of business with you and what are you gonna do? You're gonna tell me fairy tales? James Caan in the movie "Thief" ca 1981

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          • #6
            Originally posted by grognard View Post
            The myth of total surprise has been refuted for a long time--e.g. Larry Daniel's book
            on Shiloh, and he doesn't see the Confederates as being able to finish off the Yankees with one last charge on April 6. Have to reread to see what he says about the Yankee defensive positions.
            I have the Daniel book, too. I haven't read it from cover to cover, but I have used it to refute several posters (on another website) who claim that the South won the first day. So, I am aware of what you say above.

            Daniel's book is listed as one of the four major works on Shiloh, along with Sword, MacDonough and this book. In the intro, the editors give a historiography of the battle. They credit Daniel with placing the battle in its proper "political and social light".

            They talk about the various schools of thought on the battle - The Reed (or Veteran's) School which emphasizes the Hornet's Nest as the crux of the battle. There is the Sword (or "Johnston's Death") school which places the Confederate commander's demise as the reason for Southern defeat. Then there is the Revisionist school which states that the crux of the battle was not the Hornest's Nest, nor Johnston's death. The crux was at the intersection of the Corinth-Pittsburg Road and Hamburg-Purdy Road. There, a Federal counterattack was a key to stopping the Confederate advance.
            I come here to discuss a piece of business with you and what are you gonna do? You're gonna tell me fairy tales? James Caan in the movie "Thief" ca 1981

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Wolfe Tone View Post
              I read the whole section in B&L a few years back and it certainly is a fascinating Battle - so many 'what ifs' surround it.

              Could never understand the Confederate battle plan of spreading their units across the line before the advance - that surely cost them time they didn't really have. Also if A.S.Johnstone had struck one day earlier he would surely have forced Grant into a surrender type situation. Buell was convinced he saved Grant and Sherman their bacon and pretty well accuses of them of porkies re their account the positions they held at dusk on the 1st day of battle.

              IIRC Shelby Foote wrote a novel called 'Shiloh' which was pretty good but its years since I read it.
              The weakness of that deployment is mentioned in Cunningham. He wrote: "The corps wre not assigned a specific section of the Union line to shatter. Instead, Hardee and Bragg were to advance in parallel lines, stretching across a front three miles wide. This was a faulty arrangement, since it would make for confusion when the units bacame entangled as the battle progressed."

              Cunningham mentioned that Johnston reported to Jefferson Davis that Polk was on the left, Hardee in the center, Bragg on the right, and Breckinridge in reserve. He added that this would have been more efficient because it would have placed the weight of the attack on the right where it might have had a better chance of dislodging Grant's Army from the Landing.

              It is not mentioned in the book, but I think that Beauregard had a desire to emulate Napoleon. Unfortunately, the green state of his troops, the weather and the terrain did not favor his initial deployment.
              I come here to discuss a piece of business with you and what are you gonna do? You're gonna tell me fairy tales? James Caan in the movie "Thief" ca 1981

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              • #8
                Napoleon never came up with a battle plan that inane, although Waterloo and Borodino may come close.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by grognard View Post
                  Napoleon never came up with a battle plan that inane, although Waterloo and Borodino may come close.
                  And when one thinks of those battles (and some other Napoleonic battles) the image of long lines of men stretching for miles moving forward under fire (I'm imagining the scenes from War And Peace here) towards their objective (and in those 2 battles towards their doom) comes to mind.
                  Last edited by Tom DeFranco; 18 Aug 07, 19:55.
                  I come here to discuss a piece of business with you and what are you gonna do? You're gonna tell me fairy tales? James Caan in the movie "Thief" ca 1981

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                  • #10
                    Long line of men going toward their doom:

                    Fredericksburg
                    Gettysburg
                    Franklin
                    Assaults during seiges
                    even some of the attacks at Antietam

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Tom DeFranco View Post
                      Has anyone here started reading the new book about Shiloh? I've been reading it for a little while now and it is excellent and eye opening. The history is outstanding and the writing is lucid and intelligent.

                      Historians Gary Joiner, PhD and Tim B. Smith, PhD have edited a 40 year old doctoral dissertation by O. Edward Cunningham which hadn't been available to the general public before in published form.

                      Tim was our CWRT's guide to Shiloh back in 2005 and much of what he presented to us is in the book. The NPS guys use the dissertation for tours all the time.

                      <SNIP>

                      Also, the idea that the Hornet's Nest was the main obstacle of the Confederate effort on 4/6/1862 is shown to be false. Dr. Cunningham believed that a mid-afternoon Federal counterattack at a crossroads on the Federal right flank was the event that took the steam out of the Confederate drive. Drs. Smith and Joiner (at least Tim agrees, and I would think that Dr. Joiner does, too) seem to agree (I haven't gotten that far yet, but know its coming) with Cunningham's assertion of that point.

                      <SNIP>

                      I will update as I progress through the book.
                      Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. Confederates in the Attic, which came out several years ago, reported that analysis of mass burials had also suggested that the Hornet's Nest was not so important. I recall that the argument was that Grant's report said that the Confederate dead were buried where they fell and it has been found that the graves are not in the vicinity of the Hornet's Nest. Gen'l Prentiss, an Illinois (?) politician, held the Hornet's Nest and used his account of his gallant defense as a political vehicle.

                      Sounds like the evidence that the Hornet's Nest importance is popularly exaggerated has been around for a long time.

                      Shiloh is my favorite battlefield, but I am ill-read on it. This thread has pointed out some books which I need to read.
                      Don't leave good whiskey for the damn Yankees!" John Hunt Morgan, Eagleport, Ohio, July 23, 1863

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by guthrieba View Post
                        Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. Confederates in the Attic, which came out several years ago, reported that analysis of mass burials had also suggested that the Hornet's Nest was not so important. I recall that the argument was that Grant's report said that the Confederate dead were buried where they fell and it has been found that the graves are not in the vicinity of the Hornet's Nest. Gen'l Prentiss, an Illinois (?) politician, held the Hornet's Nest and used his account of his gallant defense as a political vehicle.
                        Tim Smith, one of the book's editors and a former guide at the park wrote a recent (May 2006) article in America's Civil War and mentions Prentiss' grandstanding and further mentions that the fighting along the crossroads of the Hamburg-Purdy Road and the Corinth-Pittsburg Road as being more important to thhe first day's outcome than the Hornet's Nest. Not only that, but he mentions that the defenders of the Hornet's Nest came primarily from W.H.L. Wallace's Division, and not from Prentiss' Division.


                        Originally posted by guthrieba View Post
                        Sounds like the evidence that the Hornet's Nest importance is popularly exaggerated has been around for a long time.
                        Judging by the age of this guy's doctoral dissertation (1966) at least 41 years. So this info preceded Sword, MacDonough and Daniel, and there doesn't seem to be a mention of it in their works. Yet, the park guides were using this thesis for years.

                        Originally posted by guthrieba View Post
                        Shiloh is my favorite battlefield, but I am ill-read on it. This thread has pointed out some books which I need to read.
                        Drs. Joiner and Smith have an excellent intro discussing the historiography of the battle. For instance they mention that Sword had the best tactical study of the battle. MacDonough was good reading but was a little light on tactical detail and Daniel "breaks new groundwith his new military history slant". Specifically, they later mention that Daniel's book placed the battle in it's correct political and social place.
                        I come here to discuss a piece of business with you and what are you gonna do? You're gonna tell me fairy tales? James Caan in the movie "Thief" ca 1981

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by grognard View Post
                          Long line of men going toward their doom:

                          Fredericksburg
                          Gettysburg
                          Franklin
                          Assaults during seiges
                          even some of the attacks at Antietam
                          Lost in all of this is the simple point that the terrain, the green state of the troops and the weather did not allow for Beauregard's attempt (or supposed attempt) to emulate Napoleon's deployment scheme. Don't try to get me to quote anyone on this - I heard it in passing. I thought I'd pass it on.
                          I come here to discuss a piece of business with you and what are you gonna do? You're gonna tell me fairy tales? James Caan in the movie "Thief" ca 1981

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                          • #14
                            I won't quote you, but I've seen a Napoleon deployment with each corps in line behind another.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by grognard View Post
                              I won't quote you, but I've seen a Napoleon deployment with each corps in line behind another.
                              Yup, I thought I did, too. Although, given the condirions stated above, that deployment was not the best that Beauregard could have used.

                              Besides, given Johnston's initial intentions, it seems he should have weighted the manpower and effort on the right flank and not dissipated the strength across a three mile wide front.
                              Last edited by Tom DeFranco; 23 Aug 07, 23:48.
                              I come here to discuss a piece of business with you and what are you gonna do? You're gonna tell me fairy tales? James Caan in the movie "Thief" ca 1981

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