Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Lewis M. Hosea

When Grant wrote in 1885 that Shiloh had been “persistently misunderstood” he was only commenting on the past 23 years of research but the same statement still holds in true some respects today. Since then Shiloh has continued to be misunderstood and is perhaps even more confusing. When the Shiloh Battlefield Commission issued an official history with detailed maps in 1902 it would seem that the major events of the battle would become quite clear and that only the minor regimental actions would remain confusing. It would seem likely that an official history by a more or less impartial organization would be able to determine the most accurate history. In the years after the war several veterans gave presentations about what they did at Shiloh and while interesting to read they lack in a lot of details.

In 1908, however, Lewis M. Hosea made a presentation before the Ohio chapter of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS) that did have many details and also attacked the official history written by park historian Major David Wilson Reed. Hosea, adjutant of the 16th United States Regular Infantry, directly criticized the official history as it concerned Rousseau’s brigade. His first complaint was that the official maps created before the official history was created were wrong. His chief problem with the maps was that on the second day map Wood’s division is shown taking part in the final attack of the day with Rousseau’s brigade, of which the 16th United States Regular Infantry was apart. Several accounts though state that Wood’s division did not arrive in time to do any fighting. Another point of contention for Hosea is that he perceives Buell’s army as not getting its full share of the laurels. In this respect he quotes from the reports submitted by McClernand, Grant, Captain Hugonin of the 12th Illinois and Lew Wallace to support his contention that the fighting on the second day lasted from dawn until at least 4 PM, if not 6 PM.. Hosea further stated that in 1901 he submitted a letter to the Shiloh Battlefield Commission in which he listed “some very serious errors in its official blue print maps,” along with references to “between thirty and forty” official reports. He says he was shocked to see in 1903 that the commission had published an official history. He was shocked because he did not believe it was the job of the Shiloh Battlefield Commission to produce a history. He was even more upset to see that the same errors he had written them about had not been corrected. Hosea states that the official history devotes 16 times the amount of pages to describe the first day’s actions as compared to the second day’s. Ht also states that the official history claims that at 2:30 PM the Confederate army began to withdraw without the knowledge of the Union forces. Hosea’s summary of the official history drips with sarcasm;
When we look at the maps to which we are referred in connection with this
account of the second day’s battle, the astonishing accuracy and completeness of
this contribution to history begins to dawn upon us. There we find that
the Union troops, after a late breakfast, came upon the field and did a little
skirmishing with the enemy, who, as the odds were against them, could not be
expected to stay in the game, and withdrew while the Union forces were at
dinner, without letting us know anything about it. . . . The final touch - "the
Union army returned to the camps it had occupied before the battle" - shows how
negligible a quality, in the mind of these able historians [the commission as a
whole], was the contribution of Buell’s fresh troops, who seem to have been
spectators, but nothing more.[1]

Concerning the numbers of pages devoted to each army Hosea’s complaint is pretty accurate. In the version printed in the Ohio Monument Commission’s Ohio at Shiloh, fourteen pages are devoted to preliminary events. Then nineteen pages are devoted to the battle with the second day being mentioned for only three paragraphs. Then there is an overview provided of what each brigade and division did during the battle. The Army of the Tennessee takes up 28 pages compared to 7 for the Army of the Ohio.[2]

Hosea’s complaints about the second day’s map concern mostly the times listed for certain actions than with the troop positions. Hosea first complaint is that the initial Union position is shown as 8 AM when he claims that his brigade had been fighting much earlier, and this is certainly the case. Nelson’s advance began at dawn and Crittenden’s troops followed soon after. According to the map the two armies are not close enough to be fighting each other until 10 AM, which is again quite false. Then there is a later Union position listed as being in Woolf Field at noon. Hosea’s division fought in this area earlier in the day, a fact stated on the map but not clearly enough for Hosea. The Union position is shown as a nearly solid line at noon except that McCook’s division within that line has its time stated as 11 AM. Thus although McCook’s men were in an advanced position for an hour that fact is not easily seen on the map and ignored in the official history.[3]

Other veterans also complained about the maps. Colonel William T Shaw of the 14th Iowa said, “Thom’s official map of the battlefield does not give the names of all of these roads and creeks, or give their position with any degree of accuracy. The best map of the battlefield I have seen is the map of General Buell in his article on the battle of Shiloh in the Century Magazine.”[4] The interesting part of that quote is that Buell’s map was drawn by Thom and the official map was drawn by Atwell Thompson. Obviously Shaw is confusing the two maps and so it is unclear exactly which map he thought was inaccurate.

At Shiloh there are divisional information markers for the Army of Ohio that give an overview of what each particular division did during the battle. These markers support the information given on the map. Nelson’s divisional marker says that the division advanced, “early Monday morning . . . and at 9 a.m. became engaged north of the Peach Orchard.” The marker for Crittenden’s division supports this saying, “The division became engaged about 10 a.m., in front of Hurlbut’s headquarters.” Concerning the morning action McCook’s divisional marker states that Rousseau’s and Kirk’s brigades, “arrived upon the field about 8 o’clock . . . and soon after advanced to Duncan Field where the 4th Brigade [Rousseau’s] became engaged.” Of particular interest in the Hosea case is that the marker then states that, “At about noon the division moved forward to the vicinity of McClernand’s headquarters where the 5th Brigade [Kirk’s] relieved the 4th and took position in the front line; the 6th Brigade [Gibson’s] at the same time arriving on the field and taking position on the left of the 5th. The division was engaged beyond Water Oaks Pond until the enemy retired.”[5]

The regimental monuments tell a slightly different story while the brigade markers support the divisional marker inscriptions. The monument for the three United States Regular Infantry Battalions says that they were engaged starting at 9:30. The 6th Indiana monument says that 8 AM they advanced under the fire of a battery of artillery. The 1st Ohio’s monument lists their opening engagement as 10 AM. These three regiments were in the same brigade so it seems very odd that they would list three different times for the opening engagement. It is possible, though somewhat unlikely, that their positions in the advancing line brought different parts of the brigade into combat at different times. According to Rousseau’s report, and supported by markers on the battlefield, the 6th Indiana was on the brigade left, followed by the 1st Ohio, then the US Regular Infantry battalions and finally the 5th Kentucky on the far right.[6] This positioning does not make a gradual left to right engagement of the brigade possible to achieve the times stated on the monuments. The official reports do not clarify the matter any as two regiments, 1st Ohio and 5th Kentucky, did not have reports printed in the Official Records and the other two, 6th Indiana and the three United States Regular units, did not state any particular times.[7]

The first marker for Rousseau’s brigade states that it formed in line in Stacy Field at 8 AM and advanced at 9 AM. The second brigade marker says that they were engaged in Woolf Field at noon. The 5th Kentucky’s marker says that they were “engaged here, in reserve line, from 9 a.m. to 10.30 a.m.”[8] These markers contradict the official map because it lists McCook’s division entering Woolf Field at 11 AM while the markers state the time as noon.

Among the other second day markers at Shiloh there is some agreement and some disagreement with the map. The map places Lew Wallace’s division north of Jones Field at 8 AM but the markers in that area place the time at 10 AM.[9] Three other brigade markers, Ammen’s, Bruce’s and Hazen’s, provide the non specific description that they advanced in the morning.[10] Another three markers place brigades in position at 8 AM and two of them, both in Crittenden’s division, mention fighting at that time. Smith’s brigade marker in Cloud Field says that they, “formed here at 8 a.m. April 7, 1862 and advanced, skirmishing, 500 yards.” The marker for Boyle’s brigade, also in Cloud Field, is nearly identical saying the brigade, “formed here at 8 a.m. April 7, 1862. It advanced, in reserve, 500 yards, and there became engaged.” The marker for Kirk’s brigade places in on the northern edge of Cloud Field at 8 AM but says that it was in reserve.[11] The official map also shows these brigades in the positions mentioned on the markers but the nearest Confederate divisions are nowhere nearby, perhaps half a mile away, and are marked as being held from 6 to 10 AM. In fact there is another set of Union positions between that Confederate position and the 8 AM Union position. According to the map there would be no Confederates for Smith’s and Boyle’s brigade to skirmish with.

The next Army of the Ohio marker in the time line is one for Mendenhall’s battery in Wicker Field. This marker states that they were engaged there from 9 AM to noon but the map puts the battery in Wicker Field from 10 AM to noon but not at 9 AM. The 6th Kentucky, Terrill’s Battery and Bruce’s brigade also have markers in this vicinity but they cite action in the 10 AM to noon period.[12] The final four markers for Army of the Ohio units are all for Kentucky regiments in Crittenden’s division. These markers concern the 11th and 26th Kentucky of Smith’s brigade and the 9th and 13th Kentucky of Boyle’s brigade. All describe fighting beginning at 10:30 AM and lasting an unspecified time.[13] The map does show these units being engaged at that time period.

The officers of the Army of the Ohio were nearly unanimous in their reports at putting the opening of the battle closer to 6 AM than 8 or 10 AM. Buell said that “Soon after 5 o’clock on the morning of the 7th General Nelson’s and General Crittenden’s divisions, the only ones yet arrived on the ground, moved promptly forward to meet the enemy. Nelson’s division, marching in line of battle, soon came upon his pickets, drove them in, and at about 6 o’clock received the fire of his artillery.”[14] Nelson supports Buell’s report and places initial conflict even earlier in the day, “At 5:20 I found them [the Confederates], and the action commenced with vigor. My division drove them with ease, and I followed them up rapidly, when at 6 a.m. I was halted by commands from General Buell, I having gone farther forward than I should have done, my right flank being exposed. The enemy was greatly re-enforced in front of me, and at 7 a.m. my advance, which had been resumed by order of General Buell, was checked. At 7.30 my division began to give ground slowly.”[15] Two of Nelson’s three brigade commanders did little to clarify the time of initial contact. Ammen only mentions that the brigade was in motion at daylight. Hazen mentions no times whatsoever. Bruce, however, claims that his skirmishers were fighting about 5 AM and that “between 9 and 10 o’clock a.m. the Second Kentucky Regiment was ordered to charge a battery on our right.”[16] If the 2nd Kentucky was in position to charge a battery at that time it is very likely that they had been engaged with them for at least a little while before then.

The reports for Crittenden’s division only give information for when the troops were in motion. Crittenden says that Buell led his men into place at 5 AM. Boyle also mentions 5 AM for first movement and Smith places movement at 6 AM. The same holds true for much of McCook’s division. McCook’s report mentions his arrival at Pittsburg Landing at 5 AM but after that he does not provide enough times to decipher when initial contact took place. No reports exist for any units of Kirk’s brigade, possibly because Kirk was wounded during the battle. Gibson’s brigade did not reach Pittsburg Landing until 11 AM so he had no direct knowledge of when initial contact was made. Luckily Rousseau’s report, of which Hosea was part of, offers several times so that the time of initial contact can be determined. He says that the brigade formed in line just after 6 AM. About half an hour later they moved forward 200 to 300 yards and then 30 to 40 minutes after that (now about 7 AM) his skirmishers were forced in by the Confederates.[17] By that chronology Rousseau’s skirmishers were probably attacked some time after 6:30 AM. Combined with reports from Nelson’s division it seems clear that there was skirmishing until about 7 AM when the attack reached the main lines and would have become general. This is at least an hour earlier than the field markers state.

Rousseau adds a bit more information to his report, claiming the designations of some of the units his brigade faced. He claims that they faced, among other units, the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th Kentucky.[18] There are five markers for these units at Shiloh of which two deal with actions of the second day.[19] The first of these markers is in the western edge of Duncan Field and states that Trabue’s brigade was engaged there until 10.30 a.m. when it fell back to near Shiloh Church. Its final marker is near Shiloh Church, now in the modern cemetery for residents of the Shiloh area, and says simply that this was the location of the final engagement for Trabue’s brigade. In the Official Records none of the individual regiments of Trabue’s brigade have reports included, only Trabue’s report is printed. Trabue’s report confirms the placement of the first marker in Duncan Field. He also says that his brigade did fall back to near Shiloh Church for the final action of the day. Trabue does not mention any times so the time of the ending of the battle is still in doubt.[20] Rousseau’s declaration of what units his men faced does confirm the placement of Rousseau’s brigade. It is pretty clear that his brigade fought Trabue’s brigade in the area from Duncan Field to Shiloh Church. This case can be made due to consistencies of the two reports and also because the markers for both brigades are in the same areas. What still remains unclear is when the fighting began and when Rousseau’s brigade entered Woolf Field. It does seem pretty clear though that the initial fighting took place closer to 6 AM then the 8 AM listed on the battlefield markers.

The action at Woolf Field is still in some doubt. From Daniel’s book one would get the impression that Sherman and McClernand got to the field about noon and later Rousseau’s brigade showed up. In this instance it is unclear if Daniel understood the terrain when he wrote, “Only Stanford’s Mississippi Battery, on the eastern edge of Review Field, remained to offer resitance . . . . The Mississippi gunners held their fire until Rousseau’s and Boyle’s troops came within canister range.”[21] Rousseau’s men never ventured south of the road running through the northern end of Duncan Field while Boyle’s brigade moved along a road on the eastern side of Duncan Field. Measuring on a modern map from the northeastern corner of Review Field to the closest positions that Rousseau’s or Boyle’s men would have been in places Rousseau’s brigade about 330 yards away and Boyle’s 500 yards away, hardly what could be called canister range especially considering the trees that would have been between Stanford’s Battery and any Union units advancing on it from the north or east (the most likely origins of attack). The last position marker for Stanford’s Battery is on the western edge of Duncan Field which would give it a clear field of fire to Rousseau’s or Boyle’s brigade and decreased the distance to Rousseau’s men to 200 yards but made the distance to Boyle’s troops about the same. This position marker though does make it less likely that Rousseau’s troops reached Woolf Field at 11 AM as the Reed map and Hosea claim as the marker states that Stanford’s Battery was captured at that spot about 11 AM. Even if Rousseau’s men did not capture that battery, and Stanford’s Battery is one of the three that it is very unclear as to who captured it, they very likely did not bypass the battery en-route to Woolf Field.[22]

As yet another example of the confusion that reigned at Shiloh is from research begun by Colonel William T Shaw of the 14th Iowa. To illustrate his point Shaw compared Union and Confederate reports regarding the early morning fighting on the first day in Buckland’s brigade of Sherman’s division. Shaw quotes Buckland’s report that claims, “The enemy’s loss was very heavy in front of this [Buckland’s] brigade. Eighty-five bodies of the enemy were counted along and at the foot of the ravine flanked by the Seventy-second [Ohio] Regiment, among which was the body of Colonel Mouton, of the Eighteenth Louisiana Regiment. . . . Large numbers of dead bodies were found on the enemy’s line opposite our front, to the left of the Eighty-fifth*, in the ravine. I think I may safely put the number of killed by my brigade in that action at two hundred."[23] Shaw then quotes Colonel Mouton’s report of the fight which closes with the statement, "Company F had one private killed and another wounded.”[24] Clearly Mouton was not among the dead in front of Buckland’s brigade and his regiment lost so little that it likely was not even his men in front of Buckland’s brigade. To cement his point Shaw also quotes the report of the 16th Louisiana, which was on the right of Mouton’s 18th Louisiana. “The participation of the regiment in the action of the 6th, though it was frequently exposed to the fire of the enemy during the morning and was subjected to occasional losses in consequence of its exposure, was not, perhaps, sufficiently important to justify a special notice of its movements till in the afternoon.”[25] Shaw closes by saying that this area of the battlefield is near the Shiloh Church and its small cemetery and that after the battle when he passed by this spot there were many Confederate dead there in rows and more were being carried to there. It is Shaw’s belief that the Confederates either intended to bury their dead at the Shiloh Church cemetery or that it was a convenient place to gather the dead and that this is why Buckland later found so many dead Confederates near where his brigade fought. Shaw also believes that the initial fighting by Buckland’s brigade lasted only ten minutes or so. It appears though that Shaw confused the reference to Mouton as being the main attack on Buckland. The main attack on Buckland came from Cleburne and Buckland was able to halt that advance and hold his position for about two hours. The three modern studies of the battle agree on this point as does a position marker on the battlefield that states that Cleburne's brigade attacked at 8 a.m. “and was repulsed with severe loss. Being reenforced it advanced again and at 10 a.m. drove back the Union line beyond Shiloh Church.”[26]

[1] Hosea, Lewis M. “The Second Day at Shiloh.” In Sketches of War History Read Before the Ohio Commandery Volume 6. (Wilmington, NC: Broadfoot, 1993.) p. 214. The "returned to the camps it had occupied before the battle" was upsetting to Hosea and other veterans of Buell’s army as they had no camps on the battlefield and so it seemed to them that the historian was saying the only troops that fought on the second day were from Grant’s army.
[2] Ohio at Shiloh. pp 80-151. The complete three paragraphs that Reed devotes to the second day’s fighting will appear as a post tomorrow.
[3] Hosea, “The Second Day at Shiloh.” pp. 208-15.
[4] Shaw, “The Battle of Shiloh.” p 185.
[5] Markers K, L & J.
[6] OR 10:1, 308.
[7] OR 10:1, 311-14.
[8] Monuments 29, 77 & 119. Markers 278, 279 & 280.
[9] Markers 292, 293 & 294.
[10] Markers 262, 266 & 269.
[11] Markers 272, 275 & 281.
[12] Marker 289, 270, 265 & 267.
[13] Markers 273, 276, 295 & 296.
[14] OR 10:1, 293
[15] OR 10:1, 324
[16] OR 10:1, 348-9
[17] OR 10:1, 307-8
[18] OR 10:1, 308.
[19] The markers are actually all for Trabue’s brigade which according to the marker also consisted of the 4th Alabama Battalion, 31st Alabama, and Crew’s Tennessee Battalion. According to the Official Records Trabue’s brigade also consisted of Byrne’s Battery and Lyon’s Battery (which might have been Cobb’s Battery). [Ref: OR 10:1, 384] There are no regimental markers for the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th Kentucky. Markers 448, 449, and 469 concern actions of the first day. The other two markers, 454 and 455, are for the second day.
[20] OR 10:1, 617-9.
[21] Daniel, Shiloh: The Battle that Changed the Civil War, p 284.
[22] Measurements on Trailhead Graphics map. Marker 323.
* In Buckland’s official report he does not say “Eighty-fifth,” he instead says “85.” The “Eighty-fifth” reference is not to a regiment but is a the number of bodies he claims to have found. (Ref: OR 10:1, 267.)
[23] Shaw, “The Battle of Shiloh” Iowa MOLLUS Vol 1, p 204.
[24] Shaw, “The Battle of Shiloh” Iowa MOLLUS Vol 1, p 205.
[25] Shaw, “The Battle of Shiloh” Iowa MOLLUS Vol 1, p 206.
[26] Marker 425

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