Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Failure in the Saddle: Confederate Cavalry at Chickamauga-- Part 6

Braxton Bragg has often been accused of having lost one of the greatest opportunities of the war at the Battle of Chickamauga and considering his record, that probably has a ring of truth to it.  But, at the same time, his two cavalry corps commanders, Joe Wheeler and Nathan Forrest also need to take their shar of the blame according to David Powell.

Bragg himself admitted that he had achieved as big of a victory as might have been because his cavalry let him down.

And, also his Army commanders let him down because of their incessant squabbling among themselves.  The Army of Tennessee had a major reorganization after the battle.

Prior to Chickamauga, Bragg had a high opinion of Forrest,  That opinion is no longer there afterwards.

As for Joe Wheeler, despite his failings at the battle, he got promoted, partly because he refused to criticize Bragg and remained a Bragg loyalist throughout the war.  He ended up in command of all Confederate cavalry in the West.

This was a very interesting and enlightening presentation.  I sure never thought Forrest to be a military failure, ever.  But he sure did not shine at Chickamauga.

--Old Secesh

Monday, October 20, 2014

Failure in the Saddle, Confederate Cavalry at Chickamauga-- Part 5: 3rd Failure

s both sides attacked and counterattacked.  .  On September 20th, a miscommunication among the Union command made a hole in the Union lines just as Longsteet's corps from the Army of Northern Virginia commenced an attack at that very spot.  This resulted in the collapse of the Union line and a general retreat.


On September 21st, Forrest sent out cavalry patrols to Missionary Ridge, south of Chattanooga.  he thought the Federals were in complete disarray and rapidly abandoning Chattanooga, but did nothing.  Actually the part of Missionary Ridge that the Confederates got to was the one spot where Union troops were not.  It was soon found that Rosecrans held a very strong defensive position on Missionary Ridge.

So, Forrest Misreported.  --Old Secesh

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Failure in the Saddle: Confederate Cavalry at Chickamauga-- Part 4: Second Failure

So, Joe Wheeler's failure to cover and obstruct the Union Army crossing the Tennessee River southwest of Chattanooga was the first Confederate cavalry failure in the campaign.

Once the Union Army was across the river, Bragg was forced to leave Chattanooga without any fight. Rosecrans entered the city the following day and the Union held this strategic point for the rest of the war.  It served Sherman ably as a key supply link in his drive on Atlanta the following year.

 Bragg retired to Lafayette, Georgia and over the next week the two armies spent maneuvering.

Then, on September 18th, came the second great Confederate cavalry failure on the first day of tyhe Battle of Chickamauga.  This time it was Forrest's turn to blunder.

The Union Army launched a flank attack at Lee & Gordon Mill and Forrest did not report the move despite the massive amounts of dust put up as the Union Army moved and the myriad of fires used to light their way the night before.

David Powell believes that Forrest should have seen and reported this, but Forrest was not used to cavalry operations with an army where they were to screen and locate the enemy.

--Old Secesh

Friday, October 17, 2014

Failure in the Saddle, Confederate Cavalry at Chickamauga-- Part 3: Battle of Chickamauga

In the summer of 1863, Union General William Rosecrans decided to capture Chattanooga.  He determined a direct attack on the city, considering how easily it could be defended and the close quarters his troops would have to operate in to do so, was not in his best interest so decided to flank attack it.

Braxton Bragg had his Army of Tennessee at Chattanooga, but had his cavalry guarding his flanks. Joe Wheeler was guarding the Tennessee River to Chattanooga's southwest.  Forrest was northeast of the city.

Wheeler had only left about a thousand troops to guard the area nearest to Chattanooga while he and the rest of the corps was at Rome, Georgia, some 60 miles away. His command was having rest and recuperation, preparing for the upcoming campaign.

On August 28-29, 1863, Rosecrans began moving his troops across the Tennessee River to the southwest of the city.  This was easily accomplished with the token cavalry Wheeler had left behind.  Wheeler did nothing to stop it like hurry his command northward and also didn't report the Union move.  Bragg was completely in the dark as to what his enemy was doing.

--Old Secesh

Failure in the Saddle: Confederate Cavaly at Chickamauga-- Part 2: Joe Wheeler

The other Confederate cavalry corps commander, Joseph Wheeler was essentially the complete opposite of Forrest.  He had graduated from West Point (and Bragg preferred West Point grads for his officers, in 1859 after five years.  The additional year was added for extra training in tactics, and Wheeler received him in cavalry.  After commissioning, he spent time at the Carlisle Barracks in Pennsylvania which was the headquarters for U.S, cavalry and then, in the time before the Civil War served in the cavalry in the Southwest.  No doubt about Wheeler having the knowledge.

Bragg picked him for cavalry command.  Wheeler was just 26 in 1863.

He immediately started having conflicts with the older, self-taught cavalryman Forrest.  Plus, Wheeler had other problems with his division commanders, especially John Wharton.

--Old Secesh

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Failure in the Saddle: Confederate Cavalry at the Battle of Chickamauga-- Part 1: Nathan Bedford Forrest

David Powell's presentation at the McHenry County Civil War Round Table in Woodstock on October 14, 2014.

At the Battle of Stones River, Union General Rosecrans realized that he had a serious lack of cavalry when compared with that of the Confederates he faced.  The Union cavalry was outnumbered two to one.  Before that, there had been much emphasis among the Southerners on their cavalry in the West.  But, by the Battle of Chickamauga, that Confederate advantage had shrunk to 9-10,000 Union troopers to 14,00 Confederate.

Regardless of the side, the role of cavalry before a battle was to screen and locate the enemy.

But, the Confederate cavalry had their own problems.  Its two cavalry corps were commanded by two generals who couldn't have been more different and even worse, they didn't like each other.

One corps was commanded by Nathan Bedford Forrest.  Though he was excellent at independent raid command, regular cavalry operations were not to his liking or strong suit.  He was quarrelsome and violent and about as bad of a subordinate as you could get.  He also wasn't much of and effective disciplinarian.  His troops pretty much did as they wanted.

--Old Secesh

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

McHenry County Civil War Round Table Oct. 14th Meeting

I gave them one of my old college Civil War books to raffle off.

Upcoming events for the organization:

NEXT MONTHS PRESENTATION:  November 11th:  The presentation will be on Raids on the B&O Railroad.

BATTLEFIELD TOUR:  Some members will be gone on the 11th for a four-day tour of the Red River Campaign.  It looks like someone would have attempted to have the tour at a different time.  It looks like most of the tour will revolve around land activity.  Too bad as there was a whole lot of naval maneuvering, and, of course, the dam.

CRYSTAL LAKE DISCUSSION GROUP:  On October 25th (always the last Saturday of the month) at Panera Bread.  This month's topic will be political generals.  I wonder if there will be talk about Gen. Ben Butler?

CHRISTMAS PARTY:  Sunday, December 7th at Pinecrest Golf Club in Huntley.

LINCOLN TRAIN SESQUICENTENNIAL:  Members have been visiting Elgin, Illinois, where the funeral car Lincoln's body was in is being built.  The train will be at its final stop in Springfield, Illinois, during the first weekend in May, May 1-3rd where a lot of activities are planned.  Some members already report that some hotels are already booked for those days.

Getting Route 66 and Lincoln at the Same Time.  --Old Secesh

David Powell on Technology and Why He Chose Chickamauga

At the beginning of the presentation, David Powell apologized for no power point or av in his presentation saying he doesn't trust technology.  I'm like him.  I don't trust it and surely don't much understand it.

He did have a four map handout that was very informative.

When asked at the end of the presentation how he came to get so involved with the Battle of Chickamauga, he said he used to be big into the Battle of Gettysburg and made yearly trips there, sometimes more than once.  However, there is such a preponderance of material and books on that battle he decided there was nothing he could add.

Chickamauga, on the other hand, has had very little written about it, despite its size and scope and casualties (some 35,000 on both sides).  He cited three, including Glenn Tucker's great book that came out during the Civil War Centennial in 1961.  It's a wide open field.

--Old Secesh

Chickamauga Expert David Powell at McHenry Civil War Round Table Last Night

Last night, October 14th, we were treated to a presentation by David Powell, who wrote the book  "Failure in the Saddle: Nathan Bedford Forrest, Joe Wheeler, and the Confederate Cavalry in the Chickamauga Campaign."  I sure know a whole lot more about the campaign, battle and aftermath of what Powell regards as the second biggest battle of the war (after Gettysburg, of course).

David Powell is a recognized authority on the Battle of Chickamauga whose battlefield tours of it are considered exceptional by those who have been on them.  (Something for me to think about in the future.)

He is a 1983 graduate of the Virginia Military Institute with a BA in History and owns and operates a delivery company in Chicago.  We even had a couple of members of the Chicago Civil War Round Table in attendance.

I was greatly tempted to buy his book, which he had for sale, but didn't as I really should be starting to get rid of stuff instead of buying more (isn't working though).

I will be writing about his presentation beginning tomorrow.

If You get the Chance, Definitely See Him.  --Old Secesh

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

McHenry County Civil Round Table Meeting Tonight

In a little bit I am leaving for Woodstock, Illinois, to attend the Round Table meeting at the Woodstock Library.

Tonight's topic will be "Failure in the Saddle" and apparently will be about Confederate cavalry generals Nathan Bedford Forrest and Joseph Wheeler.

Personally, I'm not sure Nathan Bedford Forrest can be classified as a military failure even though he has certainly come under a lot of attack in these vehement slavery days because of his pre-war career as a slave trader, the massacre at Fort Pillow and his post-war heading up of the Ku Klux Klan.

I have read some about Joseph Wheeler and been to a Battle of Bentonville presentation day where Wheeler's role was a bot questionable.

I look forward to getting some information on these two men.

--Old Secesh

Monday, October 13, 2014

Medal of Honor Winners Honored n Milwaukee-- Part 1

From the May 7, 2014, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "Two Medal of Honor recipients from Civil War honored at Wood Cemetery" by Meg Jones.

A ceremony was held at the cemetery by the local chapter of the Sons of Union veterans of the Civil War and ladies auxiliary.

Lewis Rounds  was buried at the cemetery as was Michael McCormick who was probably buried at Calvary Cemetery.

Rounds' Medal of Honor citation just reads "Capture of Flag."

--Old Secesh

Saturday, October 11, 2014

H. Treadwell, Co. G, 61st N.C.

From the Beaufort County Historical Resources Consortium.

Some information on the unnamed Confederate soldier from the previous post.

H. TREADWELL. CO. G, 61st N.C.

Had been a married turpentine farmer in Sampson County, N.C..  he was wounded and captured at the Battle for Fort Wagner at Charleston Harbor, S.C.,  and died at  Union Hospital No. 4 in Beaufort, S.C. and was buried September 12, 1863.  He died of a gunshot wound to his right thigh and is buried in section 53, Site 6359.

Some of his descendants from North Carolina and Alabama will be attending the dedication ceremony.

--Old Secesh

Friday, October 10, 2014

Confederate Unknown Grave Is Named: H. Treadwell, Co. G, 61st N.C.

From the April 4, 2014, USAV 3 NBC "Civil War Mystery Solved As Unmarked Confederate Grave is Named" by Ashleigh Holland.

An unidentified Confederate soldier buried at Beaufort National Cemetery in South Carolina has been identified after much research by Penelope Holme Parker.  He had been misidentified by the Union as Hayward instead of Haywood Treadwell, a soldier from North Carolina.

This was accomplished by using papers from the William Wigg Barnwell house which was used as a Union hospital during the occupation.  Treadwell was treated there before he died.  He now has a new marker with his name on it instead of the previous one marked with "Unknown."

A special service is planned for May 10th in which he will be honored with a traditional Confederate funeral service.

--Old Secesh

Fort Beauregard, Louisiana

From Wikipedia.

The fort was located on a hill overlooking the Ouachita River protecting Monroe, Louisiana.

Four Union gunboats attacked it on May 10, 1863.  They demanded the fort's surrender and when refused, opened fire.  At least 150 shells fired at Fort Beauregard.

The fort held out, but was evacuated September 4, 1863 and destroyed.  It was reoccupied in 1864.

--Old Secesh

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Confederate General Camille Polignac

From the April 7, 2014, News-Star (Louisiana) "Presentation of Confederate General Camille Polignac.

Will be given by Daniel Frankognoul of Brussels, Belgium. The general was a Frenchman who commanded a brigade of Catahoula and Concordia parishes men and defeated six Union gunboats attacking Fort Beauregard at Harrisonburg, Louisiana, on the Ouachita River.

The presenter has done extensive research over the past 35 years and has met with descendants of participants in the Red River Campaign.  By using diaries, he has come up with new descriptions of the fight at Vidalia, the repairing of Fort Beauregard and other activities in the area.

--Old Secesh