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Lew Wallace Scape Goat of Shiloh? - The Battle of Shiloh - Civil War Talk - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
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 Posted: Tue Aug 26th, 2008 02:26 pm
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5fish
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Lew Wallace Lost at Shiloh...
Wallace's group had been left as reserves near Crump's Landing at a place called Stoney Lonesome to the rear of the Union line. At the appearance of the Confederates, Grant sent orders for Wallace to move his unit up to support Sherman. Wallace took a route different from the one Grant intended (claiming later that there was ambiguity to Grant's order). Wallace arrived at the end of his march to find that Sherman had been forced back and was no longer where Wallace thought he was. Moreover, the battle line had moved so far that Wallace now found himself in the rear of the advancing Southern troops. A messenger arrived with word that Grant was wondering where Wallace was and why he had not arrived at Pittsburg Landing, where the Union was making its stand. Wallace was confused. He felt sure he could viably launch an attack from where he was and hit the Confederates in the rear; after the war he claimed that his division might have attacked and defeated the Confederates if his advance had not been interrupted.[26] Nevertheless, he decided to turn his troops around and march back to Stoney Lonesome. Rather than realign his troops so that the rear guard would be in the front, Wallace chose to march the troops in a circle so that the original order was maintained, only facing in the other direction. Wallace marched back to Stoney Lonesome and then to Pittsburg Landing, arriving at Grant's position about 6:30 or 7 p.m., when the fighting was practically over. Grant was not pleased, and his endorsement of Wallace's battle report was negative enough to damage Wallace's military career severely.[27]

What you have just read is an excerpt from Wiki about Lew Wallace actions on the first day of Shiloh. For his action Gen. Halleck  and Gen. Grant used him as the scape goat for Gen. Grant's being caught with his pants down at Shiloh.  Gen. Grant destroyed a junior officer career to protect and advance his career.

Did Lew Wallace not follow Grant's order to support Sherman at Shiloh?

Did Lew Wallace not take the best route to support Sherman at Shiloh?

Did Lew Wallace do the right thing by returning to where Grant wanted him or should he have been bold and disobeyed Grant and launch an attack against the Confederate rear?

Was Lew Wallace actions at Shiloh justifying being used as a scape goat for Grant's failures at Shiloh?

Why did Halleck go along with using Lew Wallace as a scape goat?

Years Later Lew Wallace ask Grant to set the record strait about his actions at Shiloh and Grant refused. Was Grant being petty refusing to correct the record at Shiloh about Lew Wallace actions?

Off pondering Grant's character issues......

 
 


 

 

 

 

 

Last edited on Tue Aug 26th, 2008 05:55 pm by 5fish



 Posted: Tue Aug 26th, 2008 04:18 pm
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David White
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Going off memory here but Wallace got lost on the way and then countermarched his men instead of reversing the column when the mistake was discovered, he doesn't come off clean but Grant was a little harsh on him too. Grant tended to scapegoat people he didn't like. Think McClernand and Warren too.



 Posted: Tue Aug 26th, 2008 04:33 pm
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ole
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Wallace wasn't lost -- he was marching to where Sherman had been. As for the counter-march: he wanted his leading brigade to remain his leading brigade. "About face, march" wasn't often done during the war, nor during that century.

ole



 Posted: Wed Aug 27th, 2008 01:21 am
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Wrap10
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Ah good, a military topic. ;)

Ole is right - Wallace was never lost, although that is the long-held tradition. He simply took the wrong road. Had Sherman's division not been forced back, he would have come in along the Hamburg-Purdy Road, a little in back of Sherman's battle line around Shiloh Church. But that's a pretty big 'what-if.'

The whole controversy revolves around whether Grant's orders to Wallace specified by which road he was to reach the army. Grant and his staff claimed they did, Wallace claimed they did not. As controversial as the whole episode is, one of the ironies about it to me is that just about everyone involved seemed to agree on virtually everything else about the order. Except for that one point.

Grant's initial order was verbal, and he never saw the written version. So he could only go on the word of Rawlins and the staff member who actually delievered the order, who's name escapes me at the moment. But Wallace and the members of his staff who saw the order claim that it never made mention of what road to take. Just that they were to march to the right of the army and await further orders when they got there.

Wallace later claimed that he briefly considered attacking the Confederaes in the flank, once he had been informed of the true situation and before he finally ordered the counter-march. That claim has been derided as a clumsy attempt to make him look better, in response to all the criticism he faced in the years after the battle. But I'm not so sure he didn't really consider that idea before finally rejecting it. There was a brief period where he does seem to have pondered on the situation, and apparently kept his own council while doing so. If he briefly wondered about attacking, it would have been at this time. I don't know if he did or did not, but I do think it's a good possibility.

Was he made a scapegoat by Grant? For many years that's been the conventional thinking. But recently Stacy Allen has written an essay, I think titled "If He Had Higher Rank," where he casts doubt on that idea, and backs up his case with some pretty good evidence. I believe the essay can be found in one of Tim Smith's books on Shiloh, but I'll have to dig them out to make sure.

Perry



 Posted: Wed Aug 27th, 2008 01:57 am
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The Iron Duke
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James McPherson was the staff officer you speak of Perry. He was an engineer on Grant's staff.



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 Posted: Wed Aug 27th, 2008 03:25 am
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Actually the fellow I was thinking of was Captain A.S. Baxter, Grant's quartermaster. For some reason I seem to have trouble remembering his name, but he's the one who took the original dispatch to Wallace, ordering him to join the rest of the army. You're right that McPherson was also sent for that purpose, together with Rawlins, although it was later in the day.

Perry



 Posted: Wed Aug 27th, 2008 11:44 am
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5fish
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Wrap10,

The issue come down to which road Wallace used. What about a general's discretion? I have read about Generals doing much worst things then taking the wrong road. A wrong road that would have put him in a better place to support Sherman then the other road. I think of Sickles at Gettysburg moving out of his place in line or I have read about generals who refused to do something during a battle causing great harm due to thier discretion. But a road??

Shiloh was a big black eye for the army and Grant and someone had to be fed to the wolfs. They pick Wallace and he got a desk job for the rest of the war. I wonder why Grant picked Wallace of all the Generals to chose from?

 



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 Posted: Wed Aug 27th, 2008 02:29 pm
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5fish
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Bama,

You have read books about the Civil war as  I have.

I can not tell you how many times Generals in Civil War books choose to use their discretion either not do something or to do something and received no reprimand. 

I have read in a middle of a battle of Generals deciding not to attack because of their "discretion"or start the attack then calling it off per "their discretion. In most cases non thing happens to these generals but Lew Wallace chooses to take a different road that got to where he was going faster and in better place to support Sherman, if Sherman had held the line.

So when is Discretion allowed or is it a case to better ask for forgiveness then for permission.  

 

Off ponder to use Discretion or not... 

 

 

 



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 Posted: Thu Aug 28th, 2008 12:35 am
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Wrap10
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5fish wrote: Wrap10,

The issue come down to which road Wallace used. What about a general's discretion? I have read about Generals doing much worst things then taking the wrong road. A wrong road that would have put him in a better place to support Sherman then the other road. I think of Sickles at Gettysburg moving out of his place in line or I have read about generals who refused to do something during a battle causing great harm due to thier discretion. But a road??

Shiloh was a big black eye for the army and Grant and someone had to be fed to the wolfs. They pick Wallace and he got a desk job for the rest of the war. I wonder why Grant picked Wallace of all the Generals to chose from?

 


In a sense, you could probably say that the controversy does revolve around whether Wallace had discretion on which route to take. But he never used that as a reason for his choice, so far as I know. He never said that his orders gave him choice of route. According to Wallace, they simply told him to come up and form on the right of the army, which he understood to mean Sherman.

Grant on the other hand was very specific that he had ordered Wallace to come in by way of the River Road, thus arriving in rear of the army. His orders were verbal, and went through two other people, one of whom wrote them down, before they reached Wallace. So it's possible that the reference to the River Road got lost in transmission, although we'll never really know.

The whole problem apparently stemmed from a prearranged plan worked out between Lew Wallace and W.H.L. Wallace, commanding one of Grant's divisions camped at Pittsburg Landing, and the closest division to Lew Wallace's men. The isolated nature of Lew Wallace's division was a cause of concern for Grant, as he suspected that any attack would be aimed at Wallace and not at the rest of the army. So he had the two Wallace's work out a plan by which Lew Wallace could be supported in case of such an attack. (Actually his orders may have been a bit more general than that, and not directed only at W.H.L. Wallace among the division commanders at the landing. I can't remember about that. But he was apparently the only one to cooperate with Lew Wallace.)

The most direct route was the River Road, but all the rain was causing Snake Creek to overflow the bridge along that road fairly often, so an alternate plan was worked out that involved a longer route, along the road known as the Shunpike. The idea was that W.H.L. Wallace would march out from the landing to the Hamburg-Purdy Road, turn north, and eventually reach Lew Wallace by way of this Shunpike route. In the actual event it worked in reverse, with Lew Wallace taking the Shunpike instead of the River Road. He wasn't lost, as we so often hear. He knew where he was going. It's simply that he wasn't going where Grant wanted him. It wasn't until he was well along the way that he learned of his mistake, and that Grant wanted him at the landing. I don't know that Grant ever knew about the alternate route that had been worked out between the two commanders.

But when Grant issued his orders, his intent was not to have Lew Wallace support Sherman. His intent was that Wallace would support the entire army. My guess is that he intended to use Wallace's men as a general reserve.

I think the real culprit in the whole affair was probably miscommunication. It's possible that Grant's orders, as written, directed Wallace to come in by the River Road, and Wallace, for whatever reason, elected to ignore that part, and take the Shunpike instead. It's possible that this happened, and I've seen it speculated. But we can never really know. But I think it's just as likely, if not more so, that Wallace simply made an honest mistake.

I think I'd have to disagree somewhat that Shiloh was a "black eye" for Grant's army. The Union won the battle, and Grant, as well as his men, had fought hard and well. But Grant did of course come in for what may very well have been the most severe criticism he faced during the war. This was due in no small part to the stories getting out of Grant being caught so badly off guard by the attack that many of his troops were bayoneted in their tents while they slept. Not so, but that was the story.

Plus, the number of killed and wounded from Shiloh quite simply dwarfed everything that had ever come before, in all of American history. Nothing else was even close. People in the North were stunned by the casualty figures. Keeping in mind here that we're talking the spring of 1862, before the war had evolved into the bloodbath we now think of, the numbers from Shiloh were almost beyond comprehension. Combine those two things - a staggering number of dead and wounded, and reports that Grant allowed his army to be caught totally off-guard - and we can see how, in response, lynchmobs seemingly ruled the day. Someone had to pay for the negligence that led to all that butchery. And that someone was going to be Grant.

As for Grant's treatment of Wallace, the only thing he really had to go by was what he was told by his own officers who were involved, and by what Wallace later wrote. Perhaps it's no surprise, given all that happend on the 6th, that Grant was more inclined to believe his own staff officers rather than Wallace.

To some extent, Wallace turned out to be his own worst enemy here, as he was apparently not very communicative to Grant's staff officers during the infamous counter-march. They would later report, in effect, that Wallace dragged his feet on this march, and did not appear to be concerned for the safety of the army, or see the need for a rapid march. When we view the march from their perspective, it's easy to see why they felt as they did, and in fact it appears they have a valid case. But I also think that every decision Wallace made on that counter-march, from first to last, was made out of a sincere desire to deliver his men to Grant in the best possible shape, and ready to go into battle.

And again, I think Stacy Allen might take issue with the idea that Grant actually tried to make a scapegoat out of Wallace. I haven't been able to track down that essay though, unfortunately.

Perry



 Posted: Thu Aug 28th, 2008 02:12 am
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The Iron Duke
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Wallace didn't man a desk for the rest of the war. He fought at Monocacy in 1864.



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 Posted: Thu Aug 28th, 2008 04:22 pm
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5fish
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The Iron Duke wrote: Wallace didn't man a desk for the rest of the war. He fought at Monocacy in 1864.

So not a true desk but he was in charge of the defense of Cincinnati of the Dept. of Ohio. I know he made it to Monocacy but happenstance gave him one last shoot at command. He was given a dead end job fr the war....

 

He did write Ben-HUR and achieve immortality....



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 Posted: Fri Aug 29th, 2008 01:53 am
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Wrap10
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I finally tracked down that essay by Stacy Allen. You can find it starting on page 63 of Grant's Lieutenants: From Cairo to Vicksburg. The book is a series of essays by various historians, and is edited by Steven Woodworth. Allen's essay on Lew Wallace is titled, "If He Had Less Rank."

Perry



 Posted: Tue Aug 6th, 2013 10:34 pm
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Greetings,
I invite you to consider entirely new information and conclusions about General Lew Wallace at the Battle of Shiloh. My book Scapegoat of Shiloh: The Distortion of Lew Wallace's Record by U.S. Grant is available to order online at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Abe Books and other books sites.
It contains a foreord by Stacy D. Allen the Chief Historian and Ranger of Shiloh National Military Park.

Kevin Getchell



 Posted: Sun Aug 11th, 2013 12:49 pm
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Barlow
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I ordered mine today and if good will send a copy to Ken Hanshell, the best guide at Shiloh, who is having a tough go of it with his health.  He is an expert on Wallace and has traced his steps with me. 



 Posted: Sun Aug 11th, 2013 02:55 pm
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Kevin Getchell
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I think you will find it eye opening, Barlow. Thanks for taking it under consideration. I have been getting good response so far. It is a little daunting to take on entrenched conclusions of a century and a half. It took five years to complete. I tried to prove my conclusions wrong, but every new document I discovered pointed in the same direction.Maybe we can meet at Crump's Landing one day and toast Lew Wallace.
Kevin



 Posted: Tue Aug 13th, 2013 12:46 am
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Barlow
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Sorry I meant Ken Hansgen at Shiloh is the Wallace expert.  Think I will skip the trip to Crump...been there.

You should attend the Taste of Montgomery County in Crawfordsville Indiana on August 24th held at the Lew Wallace Museum and Study grounds.  Sell lots of books.  Everyone attending, including me, will be a Lew Wallace fan.



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