View single post by Cleburne
 Posted: Wed Nov 2nd, 2011 11:23 pm
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Joined: Mon Oct 31st, 2011
Location: Boise, Idaho USA
Posts: 15

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I am tossing out a question, for everyone, about the actions of General Howard at the battle of Pickett’s Mill. General Oliver O. Howard’s orders as given to him by General William Tecumseh Sherman were to find the end of the Confederate line, attack it, and drive the enemy from his dug-in position. After bumbling his way into a position to make the ordered attack, Howard apparently decided a reconnaissance-in-force would be the best option he had because it involved sending only a few of his units forward to feel the Confederate defenses. If they were successful, then Howard could order more brigades into action to support a breakthrough. If not, then he could call off his attack with minimal casualties (overall at least) and report the enemy too strong to assault. This would appear to be the course of action Howard decided to take.  Unfortunately, having decided to conduct a mere reconnaissance-in-force by sending in only one brigade under General Hazen with dubious and late support from Colonel Scribner’s brigade, Howard then proceeded to reinforce Hazen when it was obvious the initial attack had failed. In continuing the assault Colonel Gibson’s brigade suffered even more casualties than Hazen. Shortly after he sent Gibson forward (or acquiesced to the division commander, Brigadier General Thomas Wood sending Gibson forward) Howard received an order from Sherman to cancel the attack. This likely influenced the decision to have Colonel Knefler’s brigade advance to cover the other two brigades until nightfall. A prudent decision, but it only added to the casualty rolls and sent many of his men on their way to Andersonville prison when Granbury boldly launched a night attack to clear the ravine to his front. Instead of a feeling the enemy’s defenses, Howard ended up sending a division to attack by individual brigades and piecemeal. Had he stuck to his reconnaissance, only Hazen’s men would have suffered severe casualties.  So my question is: Having decided not to attack with all of his force, why did Howard then send in most of it anyway in a piecemeal fashion after the assault had begun

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