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- The Army of the Cumberland - 5/43 -


attack. The skirmishers rallied by fours to receive this charge. After repeated charges from the cavalry, which were resisted by the Thirty-second--in one of which Colonel Terry was killed--Colonel Willich re-enforced Von Trebra with four additional companies. After maintaining their position under fire for an hour and a half, the Indiana troops repulsed the enemy in every charge, and Hindman's force then withdrew. Colonel Willich had in the engagement only the eight companies of his command, with Cotter's battery. The enemy attacked with a force of 1,100 infantry, 250 cavalry, and 4 pieces of artillery. The Thirty-second Indiana lost 8 men killed and ten wounded. After the fall of Bowling Green, the Second Division reached Nashville on March 3d.

The Third Division in February was ordered to make a demonstration, moving by forced marches against the enemy's position at Bowling Green, to prevent troops being sent from there to reinforce Fort Donelson. The rebels had commenced their retreat from this place to Nashville prior to the arrival of Mitchel's command, but the shells thrown by his artillery on the 14th into the city hastened the movements of the rear guard of Johnston's army. Before their retreat, the enemy burned both bridges over Barren River, and set fire to a large quantity of military stores, railroad cars, and other property. Turchin's brigade, capturing a small ferryboat, crossed over the river, swollen above the high-water mark by the heavy rains, entered the city at five o'clock the next morning, and succeeded in extinguishing the fire and saving a portion of the railroad cars. During the succeeding week Mitchel crossed the greater part of his command over the river, and without his wagons, reached Edgefield opposite Nashville on the evening of the 14th, at the same time that General Buell arrived by rail, the latter using some of the cars captured at Bowling Green. At Edgefield Mitchel found both of the bridges into Nashville destroyed, and his crossing was effected on the steamers that brought Nelson's division to that place.

The Fourth Division was ordered in February to reinforce the Federal troops at Fort Donelson. Nelson, with two brigades, moved from Camp Wickliffe to the Ohio River on February 13th, and there took steamer for the Cumberland River. On his arrival at Fort Donelson, he found it in possession of the Federal troops, and he then proceeded by the boats with his command to Nashville, arriving there on the 25th. Nelson's Third Brigade reported a few days later, having marched direct from Bowling Green.

General Thomas L. Crittenden's command, organizing at Owensboro, had a skirmish with a force of 500 rebels at Woodland. Colonel Burbridge was sent with some three hundred troops of his own command and a small force from Colonel McHenry's regiment. Attacking the enemy, they routed him, inflicting a loss of some fifty killed, wounded, and prisoners. On the 24th, the rebel General Breckenridge made a demonstration with 4,000 men at Rochester, occupying Greenville with his cavalry, Crittenden made such disposition of his troops that the enemy, without risking an attack, returned to Bowling Green. Early in February General Buell ordered Crittenden to send Colonel Cruft with his brigade to report to General Grant. Cruft, however, reached Fort Henry after the surrender, but his brigade was incorporated into Grant's army, and rendered effective service in the reduction of Fort Donelson. Later, the brigade was transferred to General Halleck. Crittenden, soon after this, proceeded by boat with the balance of his division, and reported at Nashville, arriving there at the same time as Nelson's division.

The Sixth division, after aiding in the repair of the railroad, arrived at Nashville March 6, 1862.

General A. S. Johnston, at no time prior to his retreat had sufficient force to meet or to resist the advance of the Federal forces. His long line, extending from Columbus to Knoxville, invited attack, and wherever the attack was made his troops were not able to successfully resist it. Concentrating his command at Bowling Green, after Mill Springs and the fall of Fort Henry, he found that, to save Nashville, it was necessary to make a determined stand at Fort Donelson, and this he re-enforced with all his available troops. The fall of Donelson compelled the evacuation of Nashville. To the Southern people these reverses were a bitter blow to their high hopes and boasting threats that the war was to be carried into the North, and peace was to follow the first victories to their arms. Duke, in his "History of Morgan's Cavalry," says: "No subsequent reverse, although fraught with far more real calamity, ever created the shame, sorrow, and wild consternation that swept over the South with the news of the surrender of Fort Donelson. To some in the South these reverses were harbingers of the final defeat and overthrow of the Confederacy."

With the fall of Donelson, after detaching the troops at Columbus, Johnston's force was reduced to a little over one-half of his total effective strength as reported by him at Bowling Green. In a report to Richmond, he gave the total of his command as barely forty-three thousand men.

General Buell's army amounted to over seventy-five thousand men, not all of these available for field duty, as a very large proportion of the command was needed to maintain his line of supplies, and the farther his advance the greater the drain on his command for railroad guards.

With the fall of Donelson, Johnston modified his plans of operations, and then determined to relinquish the defensive, and to concentrate all available forces of the Confederacy in the southwest for offensive operations. He had, as early as January, 1862, contemplated the possibility of the disasters that had taken place, and the retreat consequent upon them, and at that time indicated Corinth, Miss., as being the proper place to concentrate the troops.

On January 3d General Buell wrote at length to General Halleck, proposing a joint campaign against the enemy in "a combined attack on its centre and flanks," moving the troops by water under protection of the gunboats, striking for the railroad communications of the enemy, and destroying his bridges over the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers, both of which were protected by batteries, the first at Dover--Fort Donelson--and the other at Fort Henry, respectively thirty-one and eighteen miles below the bridges. To this, on the 6th, General Halleck replied that, situated as he was, he could render no assistance to Buell's forward movement on Bowling Green, and advised the delay of the movement, if such co-operation by troops sent to Cairo and Paducah should be deemed necessary to the plan of the campaign, of which he knew nothing, and then adds: "But it strikes me that to operate from Louisville and Paducah or Cairo, against an enemy at Bowling Green, is a plain case of exterior lines, like that of McDowell and Patterson, which, unless each of the columns is superior to the enemy, leads to disaster ninety-nine times in a hundred."

On the 30th of January, Buell received a despatch from Halleck, without particulars, saying that he had ordered an expedition against Fort Henry. On the 15th of February Halleck telegraphed Buell "to move from Bowling Green to Nashville is not good strategy. Come and help me take and hold Fort Donelson and Clarksville, then move to Florence, cutting the railroad at Decatur, and Nashville must be abandoned precisely as Bowling Green has been." After the fall of Fort Donelson, and the occupation of Nashville, General Halleck directed a column of troops under General C. F. Smith to proceed up the Tennessee River by steamer, and to operate as occasion presented, either on Corinth, Jackson, or Humboldt, destroying the railroad communications at these points. At this time Halleck had no thought of the subsequent movement of the command, that Johnston would concentrate at Corinth, or that the Armies of the Ohio and Tennessee should unite at Pittsburg Landing. On the 15th General Smith dropped down the river to Pittsburg Landing, and there placed his troops in camp. On the 11th of March, President Lincoln, by War Order No. 3, created the Department of the Mississippi, consolidating the three departments under Generals Halleck, Hunter, and Buell, and placed General Halleck in command. Halleck at once ordered Buell to march his army to Savannah, and to execute the movements that had already been agreed on by them.

Buell immediately gave his attention to the preparation of his command to carry out these orders. He directed O. M. Mitchel to march south, strike, and hold the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. Organizing the seventh division of his army, Buell assigned General George W. Morgan to this command. This division was formed of four brigades, out of a number of regiments gathered up from different points in Kentucky. General Morgan concentrated his entire command at Cumberland Ford, being directed to take Cumberland Gap if possible and to occupy East Tennessee if able to enter. If not, then to resist any advance of the rebels.

General E. Dumont was placed in command of Nashville. The Twenty-third Brigade under Colonel Duffield, composed of four regiments, was ordered from Kentucky to garrison Murfreesboro, and protect the road from Shelbyville to Lavergne.

Buell designated the First Division under Thomas, the Second under McCook, the Fourth under Nelson, the Fifth under Crittenden, and the Sixth under Wood, to constitute the army under his personal command, which was to join Halleck in the operations against the enemy's position at Corinth. These divisions, with cavalry and artillery attached made a force of 37,000 effective troops. In addition to these, Buell had under his command 36,000 effective men to defend his communications, maintain his line of supply, enforce order within his lines, and to perform any special duty assigned to them. The muster-rolls of his army showed that he had at this time 92 regiments of infantry--not including those sent to Halleck under Cruft. These regiments aggregated 79,334 men. He had 11 regiments, 1 battalion, and 7 detached companies of cavalry, making a total of 11,496 men, and 28 field, and 2 siege batteries, with 3,935 men. The grand total was 94,765 men. His effective force, however, was 73,487 men, comprising 60,882 infantry, 9,237 cavalry, and 3,368 artillery.

Buell's army, after crossing Duck River, pressed rapidly forward. The day before Nelson's arrival at the Tennessee River he was informed by General Grant, to whom he had reported his movements by courier, that he need not hasten his march, as he could not cross the river before the following Tuesday, the 8th. Nelson's entire division, with forced marches, reached Savannah April 5th, the other division closely following. Ammen's brigade of Nelson's division crossed the river on the afternoon of the 6th, and reported to Buell, and was engaged in the battle of that day, aiding in resisting the final attack of Chalmers on the left of Grant's command. Crittenden's and McCook's divisions arrived on the field during the night of the 6th, and took an active part in the fighting of the next day. The rest of the command arrived on the field after the battle.

The movements of the troops of the "Army of the Ohio" in the battle of Shiloh and in the operations against Corinth are treated in Volume II. of this series, and it is not within the purview of this volume to enter further into the narrative of their service than to give a few brief facts as to the disposition of the troops, in order to follow the subsequent events in which the Army of the Ohio


The Army of the Cumberland - 5/43

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