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tv   [untitled]    April 8, 2012 12:00pm-12:30pm EDT

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the same line, slams into clayburn's men and through clayburn's men and the same thing happens. he attacks, is repulsed, and continues to do battle. and then on top of that will be johnston's brigade and slightly to our east is robert russell's brigade, also of polk's corps, combined. they're about the size of clayburn and anderson's brigade, and so in close proximity they're coming into the same landscape, the same sector of the battlefield here in shiloh branch, engaging the same federal troops, which is sherman's division supported by brigade from mcclernand's division and an extra battery from mcclernand was holding the shiloh church ridge and meeting the successive attacks and defeating them in detail. so if you just think about that issue of co-mingling of the confederate commands.
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no longer is it co-mingling of individual brigades, but a bigger problem is they're not brigades even from the same corps, meaning they're not even from the same organization within the confederate army. they're from a different organization of the confederate army and they don't know each other from adam in many respects because that organization at corinth, remember, was a concentration of troops from the gulf coast, troops that had fallen back from kentucky, troops that were coming over from the trans mississippi, troops coming up from new orleans and so they've never been organized together in an army formation and now they're going into their first battle and in doing so, they find themselves based upon the attack plan designed by beauregard engaged in the same point of ground, their commands completely co-mingled, under the federal guns being shot to pieces, and they're losing command and control.
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it was nightmarish for them here. it had to be literally nightmarish. on top of it, they're attacking through this swamp, and that's what clayburn called it. he called it a morass. people go, well, golly, if you hear that story, you have these three brigades here, you have a fifth slightly over to the right. we know that pond's brigade is over further to the west. he's been brought to a halt because he's not really challenging the far right of sherman's division. and here's five brigades now kind of stacked up and, at the same time, a sixth comes into play in support. it's part of the reserve from breckinridge. it's to booze brigade. there's six federal confederate brigades locked up in combat with sherman's division supported just by brigade from mcclernand. you think, what the heck reverses the scene here?
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why does sherman lose shiloh church? because he seemingly has complete control tactically. the answer is, the absence of benjamin mayberry prentiss' division and johnston having now overrun that position at 9:00. between 9:00 when bushrod johnson and robert russell attack, and 10:00, those five brigades that johnston releases to go north by west slam into sherman's left flank, collide into the remainder of mcclernand's division in the rear and that's what turns sherman off this ridge and it turns him off it very fast. he's unable to hold his position. now that he has this huge mass of force in front of him and a
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respectively same sized force now maneuvering astride his left flank, sherman has tracked off shiloh church position like a walnut and his camps are entered after 10:00 and taken possession of by the confederate forces. so we now have the two forward federal divisions within a time frame of five hours since the battle started with the first shots fired by those confederate pickets on the corinth road against powell's patrol, five hours have neutralized prentiss' sixth division and sherman's fifth division from their camps, have overrun those camps, broken the organizations up, caused extreme carnage and sent them reeling to supports in the rear. but at the same time, although the confederates are successful, we see problems. troops stopping to plunder the camps. troops will begin to get tired
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because it's five hours of combat. for the last two hours, it's been really intense mortal combat, and then this co-mingling of commands. so there's a confusion atmosphere. there's a line of authority problem. officers have lost contact with their troops. troops are now commanded by men they have no understanding of who they are and they're having a difficult time recognizing friend from foe. that incident occurs at the height of when you have got five confederate brigades sliding northwest from prentiss' camps and six moving up through sherman's camps and that big friendly fire incident occurs at that point. again, this co-mingling of commands is detrimental to the overall mission of keeping to driving the federalists and crushing them up against owl creek because it slows the process. but the other problem for these confederate brigades is massive carnage because they have been cut to pieces under this federal
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fire because sherman had this entire morass under in fillet. in other words, when the confederates enter it, they have one or both flanks in the air meaning they're under supported or under fire from the federal position and this in fillet fire chews men up. so clayburn, anderson, bushrod johnson and robert johnson suffer heavy casualties. the carnage here is enormous. you can imagine the morass is stacked up with thousands of troops, pulsating attacks to get at the federals. artillery roaring across the valley. tearing into formations. sherman loses his position because of the success against prentiss and the fact that johnston releases, releases a greater part of what he brought to bear against prentiss to participate in this push or drive of sherman against -- excuse me, this driving the
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federals into the owl creek bottom, which sherman is a component of that. the battle here, confederates takes sherman's and prentiss' camps. the battle moves on. it's at this point now, 10:00 to 11:00 time frame, now the battle's dimensions have grown to their extreme of waiting well over three miles from west to east. a struggle across the entire length of the hamburg purdy road to our north. we've moved north a slight distance from the shiloh church, just 0.2 of a mile. we are underneath it in shiloh branch. we're in an area known as the crossroads. it's a crossroads of the corinth road with the hamburg purdy road. hamburg purdy road is the most significant lateral line. when i say lateral, if you think the battle starts on the south
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end of the plateau and ends up on the north end, so it's that lateral west to east line of communication, line of logistics that exists with inside the union encampment. we've come up from the churches because this is where sherman's division retires to. he's retiring back upon his initial support and that's mcclernand's division. shiloh church is due south of our position here. down there, you know, the union front's facing south, southwest against the oncoming confederate attack. as we stand here with north being in this direction, look at the orientation then of this federal line of defense that the monuments basically delineate here. the line i want you to look at is the 14th ohio through these
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illinois regiments stacked up to the far illinois battery you see here to the southwest. and look where their guns are playing. not towards shiloh church and the center of union camps held by sherman's division earlier, but they're orientated towards where prentiss' division had been encamped. i can tell you now what the motivation will be for these troops and who they are deployed to defend against. remember, johnston released five brigades after overrunning prentiss' camps to move north and west against what he and his staff officers comment was the second line of union encampment. that second line is basically comprised of mcclernand's division if we're getting a sense of what he was looking at. so you can see now that this federal front is defending against that movement of five confederate brigades. at the same time, of course, we
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have the six brigades that have forced sherman off of shiloh church ridge and the combination of the two forces moving together. these five getting astride sherman's flank, those six standing in sherman's front. so that will be 11 confederate brigades stretching from the eastern corinth road, eight on front, three in support, all the way to the owl creek bridge crossing which is now from us here roughly a mile to our west. so we've got a two-mile frontage. two-thirds of the confederate army. amazingly, counting now the reserves that are coming into play, troops being sent from second division under will wallace to sherman's assistance, a brigade sent by hurlburt's division to sherman's assistance
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where he will take chanommand o and put in position to our north. they'll be put in position here immediately to our north, as well as regiments that grant will order out from pittsburgh landing, counting the total forces before the battle began, grant will bring half the union army to bear here on this frontage. starting with sherman, mcclernand, all these reserve troops. i speak of them as reserves because they were camped in the rear. they come into play into the fight that will be post the over running of sherman's camps at 10:00, through the 11:00 time frame, through noon on up to 2:00, 3:00 in the afternoon. half of grant's army will contest initially two-thirds of johnston's army on this front. the fact that you see all these monuments, remember i said earlier that the states placed
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monuments at what the veterans interpreted as the most significant action for those individual organizations. when you see all this monumentation and you see the state of illinois, which had 27 regiments of infantry, 10 batteries and six detachments of cavalry engaged in this battle, and then you look across the road and you see the tennessee monument. you see the rear of the tennessee monument in the distance. i can put virtually every tennessee outfit at some point in the battle within a 1/2 mile of this crossroads. tennessee had nearly 14,000 men in the confederate army here. sizeable. the most largest component of the confederate army was from the state of tennessee. so here, just this -- just the massive monumentation immediately should illustrate what the veterans believed the significance of this landscape was based upon the battle.
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and we know shiloh is one big blood letting. it's a huge carnage. it's a massive killing field. monuments bespeak of killing fields and that's a testament to mass meeting mass on the battlefield. confederates will overrun this position by 11:15. they do it with sheer weight of numbers and the fact that sherman's division has begun to fragment. it already had fragmented from its retirement of shiloh church and it's now completely fragmented to a great extent. in fact, he even loses contact with his only intact brigade and that will be mcdowell's brigade to the west. we'll have to drive confederates out of his way to continue his retreat or retirement to the north. so there's a huge, huge overrun of this position. part of the reason we know the confederates are able to do it
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quite easily is that in front of us just beyond the road, the ground folds. it begins to fold down into those tributaries of shiloh branch, and if you can imagine what's missing is confederates are maneuvering beyond what is a huge federal encampment. mcclernand's tents were here. these tents will be positioned in front of them as well. think of them as screening the confederate advance. think of the ground folding off. you can walk down to where the camp markers are for that brigade of mcclernand's division which its right flank was encamped in front of us just beyond the road. you can stand there at the camp marker and look back at the road and that road is at eye level, but you can see over that road into this federal line. but if you stand here and look back, you cannot see those confederate troops standing down there on that deflated position.
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that is where's why marsh's men crumpled in heaps. they were able to maneuver, deliver massive volume of fire, of volley fire into this federal front and actually cut this federal front down and then with a rapid, rapid advance, penetrate it and cut right through it forcing this federal line to fall back on its supports and the thing continued to fall back all the way to jones field three-quarters of a mile north of us. by noon, that's where the federal front is, three-quarters of a mile north of us. the confederates have entered this zone in a huge rush of this massive proportion of johnston's army. and we're a long ways away from places that people commonly associate with shiloh with iconic names like hornet's nest, the peach orchard, and bloody palm. we're here at the crossroads and we're talking about half of grant's available force and
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we're talking about two-thirds of johnston's force meeting in a huge blood letting from 10:00 through noon and beyond on this front here on shiloh's west side. and it's all shaped up from the fact that johnston, with the overrunning of prentiss' camps, believes he's turned grant's left and now commits his troops in this massive push. you see it's working. they have pushed. they have driven the federal force. they are driving it northward. the question is going to be, is if you have half of grant's army here, where is the other half of grant's army. if this is two-thirds of johnson's force against half, that leaves only what? the smaller proportion of his army against what is the other half of the union army, and that other half constitutes grant's
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center and true left flank. we're almost two miles from the crossroads north of shiloh church. that brings us all the way over what is the true union left flank representing grant's army of the tennessee. this is colonel david stewart's brigade of sherman's fifth division. stewart had been detached throughout the encampment period. sherman was the first division to occupy. he was over here guarding the hamburg road from hamburg landing which is four river miles upstream from pittsburgh landing. so this is where his brigade will fight the battle detached from its mother division. prentiss' camps were roughly a mile or a little over from the southwest or to our southwest
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about a mile. that will give you a sense of where prentiss' camps were in relationship to stewart which represents the true union left and what johnston envisioned to be the union left, which was prentiss' camps. stewart fights desperately to hold this flank. stewart will find himself down to just two regiments here, but he will fight on this front from 11:00 through 2:00. no artillery support, just the two regiments alone. no ammunition supply except for what the men carry, and that'll be the biggest issue that they'll have is they'll begin to run out of ammunition. men will be reduced to robbing the dead and wounded to get available rounds to fight. everybody knows about joshua lauren's chambers defense in little round top on the second day of gettysburg. he made that classic. he peeled guys off, over in a blocking position, he holds the end of the line. same thing's happening here.
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stewart will detach a battalion to go further down the ridge to make a blocking position to check confederates trying to work around his left flank and ably accomplishes that mission. this is also a place on the battlefield where people begin to pick up extreme topographical relief. you see here, this ridge. it drops off to our north 60 feet down into the intervening cut which empties off into the tennessee river, which is just, just to our east here. so this is the high ground overlooking the river, but the intervening cuts of the creeks are very pronounced and very deep. naturally defensible ground, but if you lose your ability to hold this position and you have to retire through it, the confederates are on your heels, it can turn into a cul-de-sac of death which is what happens to many of stewart's men when they have to leave this position. the markers that you see here,
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which are in need of some paint, these are burial markers. these are where the initial burials were for these federal troops. they've been recovered and are moved to the national cemetery. and that's what the markers tell you. it tells you it was the burial place of the unit and then the bodies were removed to the national cemetery. it gives you an idea of where they buried the dead in relationship to the battle positions. they buried them almost on top of them. the confederates are buried by the federals and they don't know them from adam. all the confederates are unknown in the sense that they lie in places of unknown, there's no way to know who's there. but stewart defends this front. but stewart defends this front. but stewart defends this front. but stewart defends this front. it's -- you know, if any colonel given the place where he's at, given he's unsupported, given he has no artillery nearby, and given he's confronted by confederate brigade on his front and one off to his right front, plus confederate cavalry trying to work its way around his left
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flank, to decide to get the heck out of dodge, the motivation to get the heck out of dodge had to be here but the determination to hold and fight out the position, you couldn't ask more of anybody in either army. i mean, it's just a spectacular performance, men on the extreme edge and threshold of just being destroyed by the offensive. they held this position up until around 2:00 when they have to abandon the line basically due to attrition and the fact they have no ammunition and three are no support going to come so they have to retire. in that retirement, they unfortunately just get shot to pieces trying to get themselves out of harm's way and up the other side. confederates participating in this fight gaining this ridge. members of chalmers high pressure brigade, call themselves the high pressure
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brigade of the mississippians describe it as a turkey shoot firing at the federals as they retreat. one guy must have had his coat off because the confederate describes hitting him in the back right about where the suspenders crossed. so it wasn't pleasant getting the heck out of here. but they did. the survivors did climb to the far side, work their way northwestward to the river road, the hamburg savannah road, also known as the river road, that ran through the peach orchard sector. there they reformed and march themselves to pittsburgh landing to get ammunition and lick their wounds and they'll go into the line of battle on what is known as grant's last line up near where the national cemetery is located today overlooking pittsburgh landing. move about a half mile east from where we just were on the extreme left where stewart's brigade to the sarah bell farm. sizeable proportion of battles fought here, both on first and second day.
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it is the bell orchard that history records as the peach orchard. occupied by federal forces, early in the morning of april the 6th would be the elements of the fourth division under steven hurlburt that advanced down the river road and took positions here in the bell field. those positions were modified within 30 to 45 minutes. hurlburt backed up to a line where we see monuments in the distance on the south edge of the orchard. he would be supported on his left flank by the arrival of elements of john mcarthur's brigade, 9th illinois and 12th illinois from mcarthur's brigade known as the highland brigade. in the late morning attacks by the elements of the confederate army that were not participating in the fight west of the eastern corinth road, johnston would send the brigades of chalmers,
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john k. jackson initially into battle, and they would contest stewart's brigade and mcarthur's force up until noon, and at about noon, they were joined by johnston himself, who had been monitoring this activity from prentiss' captured camps. five brigades in combat against the federals at this position. so in early afternoon, it's a lot of fighting. confederates, you can imagine, are trying to negotiate this open field and troops are making a series of rushes into the field and getting nowhere against the federal fire. the frontal action is just simply not working and stewart is holding firm and mcarthur is still able to check the confederates trying to maneuver through the woods to the east of here. by about 1:30 things have got a little static particularly here on this stretch of the battle
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front. in fact, his brigades is down here in the ravine that's timbered and sheltered just to our south. they have tried about three times to get across the field, got nowhere. so they're now quite positive, i think to a man that, you know, this is just not a good place to be, out in this open field. in fact, they're refusing to attack. word reaches johnston than the men are refusing to attack. he initially sends governor harris over. isham harris was an acting aid on johnston's staff. he was the elected governor of the state of tennessee. remember, the federals had taken nashville. the government of the state of tennessee is in the saddle. harris had to abandon nashville. so he's attached himself to johntson. he's an aide on johnston's staff. he sends the governor to the troops because word is tennessee troops refusing to charge. so the governor comes over to talk to the tennesseans and he
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couldn't get them to budge. so it's breckinridge's force. breckinridge writes back to johnston, telling him he's having difficulty getting them to attack. he says i think you can do it. breckinridge is quite negative he can do anything. johnston says, well, then i will go with you and we will move them. so johnston arrives in amongst the troops. he's been carrying around a tin cup he picked up, his portion of the spoils. he's been using that cup as kind of like a saber for the day. he's not been taking his saber out of here. he's been using the cup. that's what he's been cheering the crews on. as he goes by, if they have bayonets, they've been tapping that. there's a scene of him riding somewhere tapping the bayonets. these must do the work. these must do the work. they're a little stubborn. we have to use the bayonet. when it reaches the center of the brigade, he faces the horse
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to the in the morning, he says, "follow me, i will lead you." well, if you read the accounts of the scene, particularly post war, there's one writer that talks about the entire confederate line now shuddered with anticipation. because that's clearly what the troops needed was some sort of motivation. so by the time johnston gets everybody fixated on moving across the field and gets them rolling forward. he doesn't lead them, he just gets them started, it's about the time stewart backs off. mcarthur has been shown over to the north and now hurlburt is hit with this massive movement. and it works. it knocks the federal front off the static position they've been holding all morning and early afternoon. now the federals don't go far, they just file back into the woods to the north, form a new line, and bring the confederates in check.
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we know johnston's about here when the attack is being made. he rides up to where he could survey down the road to the north and see how things are going. he can see everything to the west and he can get some sort of feel for what's happening over here in the wooded ravines to the east. and he's very happy. he's very elated over the success of this push even though it haen it hasn't driven us completely off the field. he at least has this problem resolved. it's apparent his horse has been wounded. somebody notices that maybe he has too because he's flapping the heel of his boot. says almost put me oars to the combat. the ground had shot off part of a boot. he is unhurt, he says. no, no, problem. all of a sudden he sees confederate troops retreating. he sends aids out to get them to move forward. the colonel sees him now taking a position on the orchard. he sends harris over to staff him and put pressure on the
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federals and put pressure on the federals. other staff officers ride off and he's left alone. you find the general now across the road where the monument stands. riding up to johnston, he says, sir, i've relayed your orders. they have people moving forward. he said he saw johnston reel in the saddle. he reached out and grabbed him. he said, sir, are you wounded? and johnston said, yes, i fear seriously, and that will be the last conscious thought from albert sidney johnston. so harris, assisted by another staff officer, brought johnston down into the ravine, got him off his horse, laid him up against a tree, ripped open his coat, his shirt looking for a wound. of course, they're imagining something up in the, you know, vital part of the body. johnston's wound actually was from the back side around -- had entered just below his right


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