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 Posted: Thu Sep 25th, 2008 07:33 pm
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pamc153PA
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I'm totally enjoying the threads on Franklin and Nashville, and I've been learning a lot as well. But the Franklin thread made me think about night attacks, since of course Hood's attack didn't start until about 4 p.m., and went on for the next 5 hours, some of it by "torchlight." Many of the things I've read make specific mention that this was a "night attack," in fact. I know they weren't common (for obvious reasons: it was dark), but the only other one I could think of off the top of my head was Culp's Hill at Gettysburg. What are some other night attacks, and was it as uncommon as I think? Also, do you think fighting at night would be a positive for one side or the other, or a negative for both?

Thoughts?

Pam



 Posted: Thu Sep 25th, 2008 08:04 pm
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Scout
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I can't imagine night fighting to be an advantage for either side. Another battle that comes to mind is Wauhatchie. Longstreet sent a few brigades to attempt to close the 'cracker line' after the Confederates on Lookout Mountain discovered what had happened. Fighting went on for several hours at night, but the attacks were ineffective because they could not be coordinated. I'm guessing that the difficulty in coordinating troop units in the dark is why so few events took place.



 Posted: Thu Sep 25th, 2008 08:33 pm
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calcav1
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Spotsylvania, VA., May 12th, 1864. The second major attack on the "Mule Shoe/Bloody Angle" began before dawn and continued for 20 hours.

Tom



 Posted: Thu Sep 25th, 2008 09:02 pm
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Doc C
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Culp's Hill/Cemetery Hill July 2, 1863.

Doc C



 Posted: Thu Sep 25th, 2008 11:36 pm
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PvtClewell
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Pam, Pam, Pam,

Did you forget East Cemetery Hill? Started around 7:30 p.m. and ended in darkness. Rodes, under moonlight, aborted his assault to support Early's right. The 153rd PA was at ECH, you know.:)

Here are some others, depending on what you consider to be night (does darkness qualify?):

• An assault by 400 troops (Marines?) on Ft. Sumter on Sept 8, 1863. It was a night assault that failed miserably, but I can't find an hour for the attack;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Sumter
(Read the first paragraph under the armament chart)

• The Hunley's attack occurred at night. I know, you were thinking of land assaults...

• South Mountain, Sept. 14, 1862, specifically, Turner's Gap. The battle ended around 10 p.m. and the Confederates withdrew around midnight;

http://www.civilwarhome.com/antietamprelude.htm

• Stonewall Jackson was shot at 9 p.m. at night;

• Fort Stedman, March 25, 1865. I don't know if this qualifies, but Lee began his assault at 4:30 a.m. in the morning. It might not have been night, but it was dark.

All in all, still not many attacks at night, I reckon.



 Posted: Fri Sep 26th, 2008 01:38 am
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The Iron Duke
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Cleburne launch two night attacks. One at Chickamauga and another at Pickett's Mill.

"The Texans, their bayonets fixed, plunged into the darkness with a terrific yell, and with one bound were upon the enemy, but they met with no resistance. Surprised and panic-stricken many fled, escaping in the darkness, others surrendered and were brought into our lines. It needed but the brilliancy of this night attack to add luster to the achievements of Granbury and his brigade in the afternoon."

http://www.gastateparks.org/net/content/go.aspx?ran=398730759&s=121726.0.1.5



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 Posted: Fri Sep 26th, 2008 01:48 am
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CleburneFan
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There were significant night escapes. One happened in Tennessee. Schofield's army ( November 1864) was in Spring Hill, TN. Hood thought he had them good. But during the night with the use of artful stealth, Schofield's army escaped in the dark of night sometimes passing within yards of Confederates. It is amazing how they were not heard. Thye escaped to Franklin. When the escape was relaized the next morning, Hood was fit to be tied. The rest is history.

Another night escape of note was during the flight from Gettysburg when Lee's entire Army of Northern Virginia moved by stealth in the dead of night and crossed over the Potomac River at two places. The Confederates creeped along often within earshot of Union soldiers. Such stunts were employed as having ANV bands play to make the Yanks think the Rebels were busy behind their fortifications.

An especially good description of this escape can be found in the book One Continuous Fight by Wittenberg, Petruzzi, and Nugent.

 

 

 

 



 Posted: Fri Sep 26th, 2008 02:10 am
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mikenoirot
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Cleburne Fan:

You mentioned that Hood's Army did not hear Schofield's retreat at Spring Hill.  I have read several books, recently, about Spring Hill/Franklin, and in all the books, the soldiers in Frank Cheatham's Corps heard Schofield's army passing.  The problem was with the Confederate command - Hood was camped southeast of Spring Hill and a general lethargy existed with his corps companders.  They were all concerned about making any major decisions.  Hood's army should have bagged all three of Schofield's corps at Spring Hill.

Mike



 Posted: Fri Sep 26th, 2008 03:13 am
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CleburneFan
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I based my statements on Wiley Sword's book The Confederacy's Last Hurrah: Spring Hill, Franklin, Nashville. I'm having to dig in it now because I haven't read it in a couple of years. I'll have to reread the chapter about the escape from Spring Hill. At a glance, I do see that even with super human efforts to maintain silence, the Union columns and wagon trains did suffer some sporadic attacks during the night.

I will reread this book as soon as I finish Southern Storm. The picture I had after my first reading was of how well the Schofield's troops crept by silently in the night. Rereading the book may change my image of the scenario.



 Posted: Fri Sep 26th, 2008 02:41 pm
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David White
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Chalmers men attacked in the dark on the first day of Shiloh.

The forts below New Orleans were attacked and passed at night.



 Posted: Fri Sep 26th, 2008 03:00 pm
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ole
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Some of the examples given are not technically night battles. They began in the dark to be developed when the sun rises, or they began in the afternoon and had to be finished in the night.

Very frequently (when the troops got their soldier-legs under them), movements were made in the night -- you see numerous incidents when the 0200 wake-up call goes out and the army moves out to open the fight just before dawn.

Night battles were most often fought under desperate circumstances; i.e., they had to be fought. A few were fought because the rewards of a success were too great to resist.

It remains that a night battle was militarily inadvisable and not undertaken lightly.

ole



 Posted: Fri Sep 26th, 2008 11:41 pm
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pamc153PA
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Okay, okay, Clewell, so I guess I should lay off the strong cold medicine when I post, because I forget the absolute obvious. Lately, this cold of mine has felt an awful lot like the action the 153rd faced on East Cemetery Hill, although hopefully a lot less deadly!

I kind of like the "darkness" qualifier, though I hadn't been thinking of that when I first posted. Like Ole said, there were lots of those 2 a.m. wake-ups to march, and then those attacks that started late and went on till after dark. "Under the cover of darkness" sounds like a good way to sneak up on a position, but a truly desperate and dangerous thing to fight in.

And of course, darkness was always a good cover to slip away into, which was used by both the Union and Confederates. It's funny, though, because I would tend to think that slipping away in the night is a sort of. . . wimpy thing to do, but it seems that it was viewed as a tactic, not a cop-out. It makes sense, if you think about it.

Pam



 Posted: Sat Sep 27th, 2008 12:17 am
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CleburneFan
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pamc153PA wrote: And of course, darkness was always a good cover to slip away into, which was used by both the Union and Confederates. It's funny, though, because I would tend to think that slipping away in the night is a sort of. . . wimpy thing to do, but it seems that it was viewed as a tactic, not a cop-out. It makes sense, if you think about it.

Pam

 

When the war started there were many who thought digging entrenchments and fighting behind temporary fortifications, stone walls, mud banks, etc. were whimpy, cowardly ways to fight. As the war wore on, the wisdom of such actions became evident and both sides employed such defensive actions.

I would put slipping away in the night in a similar light. It was smarter to get away alive and fight another day perhaps under more favorable circumstances  than to hang around in an untenable situation risking heavy loss of life, loss or artillery and ordnance, horses and mules and all that an army could lose in an impossible-to-win battle.



 Posted: Sat Sep 27th, 2008 02:19 am
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ole
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I would put slipping away in the night in a similar light.
The war changed a lot of attitudes about the proper way to fight.

ole



 Posted: Sat Sep 27th, 2008 02:25 am
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CleburneFan
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ole wrote: I would put slipping away in the night in a similar light.
The war changed a lot of attitudes about the proper way to fight.

ole

Plus new technology made the attitude changes essential. The methods of Napoleonic warfare became obsolete. 



 Posted: Sun Oct 5th, 2008 02:20 am
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Captain Crow
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The second battle of Cabin Creek, Indian territory, Sept 19, 1864. confederate mixed force of Texas cavalry and Indian troops over 1800 strong begin an assault on a Union supply train valued at over 1.5 million U.S. dollars bound for Fort Gibson. The federals(numbering nearly 1000-only half of which were armed, the others being unarmed recruits) were camped at the stockade on the southern side of Cabin creek along the Texas military road.

The attack commenced at 12:00 A.M. under a waning Gibbous phase moon (84% lit-16% dark.) Gens. Richard Montgomery Gano(formerly attached to Morgan's raiders) and Stand Watie(the only non-white to achieve the rank of Brig. General  on either side) commanded the joint Confederate force while the Union troops, a mixed force of Indian Home Guard, colored infantry, and white cavalry, were led by Major Henry M. Hopkins. After some time during which the Confederate artillery and rifle fire did much damage, the Rebels ceased fire and awaited daylight to reassess the by now confused situation.

The Confederates finished the job at daybreak routing the shaken Federals(whose commander had disappeared), taking many prisoners, and seizing the massive train of badly needed supplies.

As an interesting side note one of Gano's grandsons would go on to achieve notoriety in his own lifetime as one of the United States more noteworthy characters in the 20th century. His name was Howard Hughes.

Last edited on Sun Oct 5th, 2008 02:22 am by Captain Crow



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 Posted: Sun Oct 5th, 2008 06:09 pm
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mikenoirot
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I have just read about a fairly significant night attack, by then brigadier general, N.B. Forrest, during U.S. colonel Abel Steight's Alabama raid. The battle was called Day's Gap, but there were skirmishes at Sand Mountain and Hog Mountain. The battle at Hog Mountain started after sunset and was hard fought.



 Posted: Sun Oct 5th, 2008 06:40 pm
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pamc153PA
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This is not the first time I've heard the battle of Cabin Creek mentioned on the board, but not enough to learn much about it, just enough to be intrigued by it. Any suggestions where I could go to learn more (besides travelling there)? I don't even have an idea as to what prelude or aftermath there was to it, but would like to find out!

Pam



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