Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Confederate commitment to Hornet’s Nest

In one particular portion of the Union's Sunken Road defenses it came to be known as the Hornets' Nest. This was an area that the Confederates assaulted about 7 times. Some sources have listed as many as 12 charges in this area but 7 is probably closer to the truth. None of these assaults drove the Union from this area. It was not until the Union flank near the Peach Orchard was turned that this sector had to retreat. In retrospect it seems clear that the Confederates devoted too much attention to this area.

It seems clear that at some point Johnston, or some other high ranking general, should have stopped these attacks and put these men to better use in another area of the battlefield. Some men would have had to stay opposite the Hornet's Nest so that the Union did not advance from there or shift troops elsewhere. There would have been some Confederates freed up to make attacks on either of the flanks of the Sunken Road. This may have allowed the Confederates to turn those flanks earlier and given them more time to attack elsewhere.

This was a critical decision because it should have been clear after the second or third assault that this position was not going to be taken by frontal assault. The Confederates would have been put to better use elsewhere on the battlefield.

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