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Did Buell "Save" Grant's Bacon - The Battle of Shiloh - Civil War Talk - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
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 Posted: Sun Nov 4th, 2007 11:23 pm
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ole
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Time to actually talk about the Civil War on civilwarinteractive.com.

Some hold that, had Buell not arrived when he did, Grant would have been overrun on Sunday night. What do you think?

ole



 Posted: Mon Nov 5th, 2007 01:47 am
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Johan Steele
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I don't think he would have been overrun that night but I don't think he would have been able to go over onto the offensive the next morn, Buells men provided a much need morale boost at the most opportune time. W/out them I think the AoT might have broken.



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 Posted: Mon Nov 5th, 2007 12:43 pm
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Johan Steele
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Might have broken, that liast line was braced by a LOT of Cannon. THe CS boys had pretty much shot their bolt by that eve... next morning? They weren't attacking anyone. The AoT bent but didn't break. Might they have if Buell and his men hadn't shown up? They might have but they might not have. Those boys fought and fought well despite the howling horde at the riverfront.

THat last line was quite a bit stronger than the Hornets Nest.



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 Posted: Mon Nov 5th, 2007 02:00 pm
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David White
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I have to wiegh in on Johann's side, don't forget Lew Wallace's Division was fresh except for marching all over the countryside and his division alone probably was enough to insure the Confederates weren't going to push the AotT into their namesake river.



 Posted: Mon Nov 5th, 2007 02:25 pm
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ole
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Thanks, gentlemen. My take: Buell didn't arrive in time to save anything on Sunday. His arrival did help Monday's counteroffensive. With Wallace's arrival, Grant had enough grit to shove the Rebs back to Corinth, but having Nelson's division on hand certainly didn't hurt.

With Wallace there, the rebs didn't have it in them to take the line. They didn't have the supplies for a waiting game and they had only two choices: go for it or go back to Corinth. I'm thinking Bo would have opted to retire gracefully--if he hadn't been attacked.

ole



 Posted: Mon Nov 5th, 2007 02:32 pm
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ole
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What amazes me is that Nelson's men actually crossed the Dill to get at their share of the Confeds. Walked to the bottom of that last year. Wanted to see the Indian Mounds. But the prospect of walking up the other side and then walking down and back up was overly daunting.

ole



 Posted: Fri Aug 1st, 2008 02:13 am
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The Iron Duke
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I don't believe Grant's final line could have been broken. He had a very small perimeter to defend and too much artillery to cover all the approaches. However, I do think it's questionable if Grant could have launched a successful counterattack without Buell's men. After reading Wiley Sword's book on Shiloh I came away convinced that it took a much greater effort to drive the rebels off the field than I think is commonly acknowledged.

Robert.

Last edited on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 02:14 am by The Iron Duke



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 Posted: Sun Aug 3rd, 2008 02:48 am
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Wrap10
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Since the Confederates never launched a serious attack on Grant's Last Line, I think the question of whether Buell's arrival saved Grant's army on the 6th pretty much answers itself. By the time Buell's men arrived on the west side of the river and started getting into line, the danger had largely past. Of course, that's clearer now than it was at the time.

But even though Buell's men didn't save Grant on the sixth, they did provide a huge psychological boost. Just the knowledge that help was on the way played a role in the Union army's mindset on the battle's first day. And their arrival at the end of that day was greeted with a mixture of elation and relief.

Probably the real question concerning Grant is what the difference might have been on the 7th, if Buell's army was not on the scene. There's no way to know for sure, but that never stops me from guessing. :)

First, I don't think Grant would have retreated in any case, unless he felt he absolutely had no choice. It went against his nature as a commander. Even without Buell's army on the scene, I think Grant would have stayed put on the west side of the river, and either defended against a possible attack or gone on the attack himself.

If the Confederates attack first, I think Grant's men would have held out against it. Especially if the Rebels had repeated their main tactic from the day before, and basically charged straight ahead, across Dill Branch Ravine and straight into the strongest part of the Union line. It may have been relatively close to the river, but of all the Union positions at Shiloh, that one was the strongest, far and away in my opinion.

Ole's point about walking down and then back up Dill Branch is very well taken. Imagine having to cross that canyon through perhaps waist-deep water, climb up the other side, and then attack a wall of artillery supported by infantry. In my opinion, the army most likely to be wrecked by such an attack was the Beauregard's, not Grant's.

Maybe the best chance the Rebs had to break that line would have been to hit it on the opposite flank, across Tilghman Branch. Relatively speaking, that was likely the weakest part of the line even after Wallace arrived. But even then I have doubts they could have broken through and won the battle. And Grant could have shifted troops, and even artillery, to meet the threat.

The biggest question might be whether Grant would have attacked on the 7th, in Buell's absence. That's a tougher one to answer, but I do think it would have been possible, and I do think he would have wanted to do this. In fact, I think he would have been chomping at the bit to do it. And if he felt his men were up to it, I think that's the option he would have wanted to take. Grant was an aggressive commander from start to finish. It's just the way he seems to have been wired.

Perry



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