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tv   The Civil War 1863 Tullahoma Campaign  CSPAN  January 2, 2020 8:51pm-9:50pm EST

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>> first thing i want to say, if you haven't been on the north end, you have to go, it's spectacular. it's my real pleasure to introduce the next speaker. he is somebody you already know. you have heard him speak somewhere or on t.v. he was born and raised in fredericksburg. he spent his career interpreting and preserving american military history with the national park service, the new york state government, rensselaer county historical society, the civil war preservation trust, kentucky state parks and the u.s. army, do you think he is qualified to speak? he has written and spoken on various aspects of military history and leadership from 1775 to the present. he has published two books with the history press,
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the civil war at perriville and contributing to the emerging civil war bulldog and studied the 1941-42 campaign released in late 2016. in september 2016, the u.s. army published his volumes on the 1862 virginia campaigns as part of its series on the civil war. last year at this event on friday night, i bought this book and by saturday night i spent all night reading it. it is fabulous, this is the battan book, highly recommend it. last about chris, he is a great researcher, he knows an amazing amount of anything military, an excellent writer and most importantly of all, he is a really good guy who will share anything with you, the most important thing. he is getting ready to get married. without further adieu, chris. >> good
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morning, everybody. >> morning. >> i see you all have drunk your coffee this morning judging by the energy by which you respond to me, that's good news. it's great to be here. i have spoken at every single one of these. every year the audience gets larger. i'm not sure we can get >> much larger than this, as far as i'm concerned, that's a great problem to have. if you're here for the first time, raise your hand. that also is fantastic. so welcome and for the rest of you, welcome back. if you like what we do here, we're doing a mini version of this in conjunction with my current employer, the mcarthur memorial in norfolk on september 28 of this year called the reunion of blue and gray personified looking at the mcarthur civil war ancestors which are far more than you may think. there is information on that in your program as well. so i encourage you to take a look at that. how many people have ever been to tullahoma, tennessee? that's actually a lot more than i thought. how many of the rest of you know that there was a before you saw the program that
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there was a place called tullahoma, tennessee? well, that's also really, really good. that must be a bunch of air force people in here, arnold air force base, a lot of scientific testing, the old camp forest from the 1943 ma maneuvers. that's really, really good. i'm glad to see that. i want you to see if you can name this operation, it kurd in late june and early july of 1863. it drove a major confederate army back in defeat and secured a major geographic area for the united states. are there any guesses in the room and that's a rhetorical question because i know in this audience i will get many. i am, of course, referring to the tullahoma campaign of 1863. that's where we'll send the next 45 minutes, 40 to 45 minutes discussing is the tullahoma campaign. now the tullahoma campaign is june 24 to july 4 of 1863. so it is part of what it turns out to be
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a very eventful series of weeks for both sides in the civil war. in many ways, it gets overshadowed and we can discuss that, i will touch on that a little bit later in the conversation. one other piece of logistics before we get going, did everybody get a hand copy of the map. it's the paper copy of this map, i don't expect you to strain your eyes looking at it all the time. you got your own copy now to take a look at it. i will refer to it as we go along. the tullahoma campaign is fought between the army of the cumberland under william stark rose krants, 70,000 men and 45,000 men, the army of tennessee under the command of general braxton bragg. you can see the different corps that they're deployed with. rosekrants will take the cal valerie into the operation. under gordon granger, alexander mccook's 20th court. george thomas's and tommy's core. bragg for his part has
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two infantry corps under polk and william j. hardy plus cavalry under joe wheeler and some other detaches elements. some very prominent people here. a lot of them are familiar with each other. in many ways this is the second round in the series of battles between rosekrantz in middle tennessee, southeastern tennessee and northern georgia through the late fall of 1862 and all the way through the fall of 1863. this is round two in many ways between the two. understand the story of tullahoma. we have to understand the context in which it's fought and the continuum in which it's fought. always remember that it's part of a continuum of the story of that
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particular campaign. a lot of times when you look at campaign histories, oh, it starts this day and ends this day, but you often forget that what has gone before sometimes overshadows and influences what is coming. to having said that, let me now explain the context of tullahoma because in many ways to understand, particularly bragg's army, you got to understand that context. and let me rewind from july of 1863 or june of 1863 back to early january of 1863. january 5, 1863 when bragg leaves stones river, when he leaves the area of mure phreysboro. the yankees have more reinforcements and we have to withdraw. bragg withdraws down southeast about 15 miles or so to the area of the highland rim which is the high ground that you see right there on the map between murphies bro and tullahoma. they will camp there and spend
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time in middle tennessee until the home operation begins in june of 1863. almost immediately confederate press goes after general bragg. on new year's eve, bragg had confidently federals everywhere except on the extreme left and implied that rosekranz was finished. we had this great victory and bragg is retreating, why is that, especially when the armies in mississippi and virginia are won great victories and holding their ground if not advancing. and so newspaper reports and editorials began to come out about general bragg and impugning the performance of the army of tennessee. and that causes general bragg to light a
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fuse, to plant ill seeds that will bear ill fruit, whichever analogy you want to use. on january 11, against the advice of his staff, he sends a message to his corps commanders, you advise me to treat, please publicly say so, put it in writing. we had a conference about it, you told me about it and put it in writing and let us stand together against a program coming from the press. that's a close paraphrase. he also said something else, if i have lost the confidence of my generals, i will retire without a murmur. talk to your brigade commanders as well and get their opinions before responding. i don't care who you are and what organization you are, if you are a c.e.o. and you put yourself in front
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of your sub ordinates, even if you win that vote of confidence, you can't command that same respect. this is a capitol error on the part of broxton bragg. the replies are very quickly coming. polk is on leave. he has a couple of lawyers in his corps. they take a look at this and say is bragg really asking us two questions or asking one. they wait until late january to get back. other commanders get back and say, yes, we advise retreat, we're happy to say that, by the way, we think a change in the command of this army is necessary, unquote. polk gets back at the end of jan and writes back to bragg, is there one request or two. bragg, i only meant one question in
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there, tries to shut it down. polk decides it's a good idea to write to president davis, packages all of this correspondence which they provided copies for, sends a message to davis and packages it all up and says, we didn't give our response about the fitness of the command of the army, but our opinions coincide with those of the other corps, unquote. and when davis gets this, he is angry. it's like what is this? and he says this, why bragg would submit himself to that tribunal is beyond me. he told joe johnston, replace bragg with joe johnston. go to tullahoma and figure out what the heck is going on. in early february joe johnston goes to tullahoma. he talks to the commanders, bragg wanted to be
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relieved at this point, but he doesn't force the issue by resigning. what johnston finds that the morale among rank and file is pretty good. they feel good about going against the dastardly yankees, i'm sure the terms were used at least once to general johnston. he figures out some of that but people are putting on a pretty good face as well. even though bragg maybe a contankerous old codjer, he is not that old, they have to show that to a superior officer. he writes a report and disappears. you think it's smoothed over, right. now is the time for the paperwork and battle reports for the battle just concluded. now it's time to refight the stones river campaign. how many have looked at the official records of
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stones rivers campaign, has anyone looked at that besides drew gruber back there? they're interesting for two parts. several of them allow their feelings about the emancipation proclamation to show up in their description of the enemy. they start talking about the emancipationist friends and a whole bunch of other horrible language that shows up about the enemy that makes sense that these reports are written in february of 1863. for our purposes, the big thing to understand is bragg who gets all of these reports and then writes his own takes the opportunity, he cannot resist the opportunity in his own report to start striking back at those people and painting the people that were most against him in that referendum of sorts in january in the worst possible light. to the point and i have seen this nowhere else in the official records, to the point when john
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breckenridge of kentucky writes his divisional report, bragg writes an attenda and proceeds to use the polite equivalent of lie as much as he can and pointing out where breckenridge was wrong and at fault and pins the whole failure of the battle on john breckenridge. the kentucky campaign the year whether when he advised jeff davis in the fall of 1862, we must leave the garden spot of kentucky to its kupidity. that's how he feels about the bluegrass state and the officers from, breckenridge is from lexington which doesn't help matters. once again it's put publicly this fissure that has opened in the high command. jeff davis at this point decides to act. he tells johnston, go to tullahoma, take command and send bragg to
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richmond for consult ration ation. we can read between the lines on that. bragg is out. johnston is in. joe johnston, pinning it on an overdeveloped sense of honor doesn't like to create the impression, at least my reading, he doesn't like to create the impression he is pulling down a brother officer so he can take the command he really wants which is army command in the field. when he shows up, he has a convenient excuse to not actually execute the honor, why, mrs. bragg is with the army, eliza bragg, she has drunk some bad water and is down with typhoid. she can't travel for a few weeks. so johnston says mrs. bragg can't travel. bragg can't travel to richmond then, we are going to
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suspend the orders for the time being. for the next six weeks until april, 1863 here is the situation in the army of tennessee headquarters in tullahoma. you have joe johnston, supreme commander in the west, nominally in command because he is the senior officer. broxton bragg is present, he is not relieved from the command, everyone knows he should be, but he is still there. who is in charge? i don't think they ever figured it out. now, who is the one person that could referee all of this and cut that knot and solve the whole problem, jefferson davis. the fact that jefferson davis is not is a severe indictment on him as a commander in chief of the confederacy. i call it in my
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book, i do not withdraw the comment now, dereliction of duty. finally when mrs. bragg is ready to travel, it's early april of 1863. the problem is now, judge on sent virginia moves have flared up. he has unfit for field duty, finally, when he is fit for feel duty and mid april, is there anything else in the west that may demand his attention? that is when u.s. grant runs the battery and it becomes very clear that the mississippi front will get active, which it does with the campaign. so johnston is ordered away with elements to counter that, and that will be detachment that will be defeated at the battle of jackson in may of 1863. so where are we as an organization in the army of tennessee at
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this point? do you think this is a functioning, happy organization? will they be able to take the field a good team of leaders? no. emphatically, no. the wound begin to heal over again, once johnson leaves and everyone realizes heartbreak will still be here and we must work together. the wounds begin to heal, and a few weeks later the scalps open again. i invite you to look at the official records, and half of the reports were done in the fall of 1862. the other half were done in the spring of 1863, and the official report was done in the spring of 1863. it rips all of those gaps back off again, and at this point, brag even though he had no reason to act on his own initiative and upending them, practice sides, you know what it going to court
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martial pope. he gathers all the evidence, gets everything together and then at the last-minute decides were not going to court them. i'm hearing some chuckles in the background, that's the only reaction that you can have. you have to laugh because it is a tragedy. so many lives will depend on this ability to function well and you can see what's happening to it. do you know when the last actual correspondents related to the campaign was dated? june 20th, 1863. so this is going on right up to 96 hours before they begin their campaign. and there is a letter in the official record report between polk and hearty dated may of 1863, and hardy tells polk, if you want to rip up the campaign now is
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the time to do it, in other words, the impending court-martial. he writes back to say, it's not the time to do that. you are absolutely right that we need to watch them as well as the others. what does that mean, and why is that important? who is in the row? you need to watch them, because you know that they're going to advance at some point and will fight another battle with them. but who is there? where is the army of tennessee? it's paula houma. so what they are saying is we have to enemies, and enemy in the front, but we have an enemy in the rear as well, our ostensible boss. these seats that were planted in 1863 are bearing bitter fruit and will bear bitter fruit as the campaign progresses, and we
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will talk more about that as we get closer. all it's not well in the united states forces as well, because after january of 1863, does not move, although we will send infiltrating there. a lot of the time they don't but they will be in that area and will move until june of 1863, have you think that looks and washington, by the way? the second largest army does not move for practically six months. it is not look good, does it? he gets in trouble with washington. he can manage people below and around him, but one of the essential elements of the ceo of any leader is the ability to manage relationships above you as well. and your relationship with your superiors. he finds time to lecture the commanding
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general on the secretary of war about warfare. what do you think that that's for them? how well will that go down especially in the wake of what george mcclelland had done? there's evidence that he did not entertain the personal animosity, but nonetheless he is there in 1863, planning a campaign. i will say this, he does have a couple of points. the forces that most of its calgary remounts, they come back from prison having captured the previously year, but he has another problem, and this is something that i think, when people consider the army neglect to point out this one thing. and that is this, how far is the army of the potomac's at one point in his career? 50 miles to washington
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or to one of the river ports in eastern virginia. okay? how about the army and mississippi? they can rely on the united states navy going up and down the mississippi river, right? good, short, secure, lines of supply. what about the army of the cumberland? the army of the cumberland forward base is national, northwest of--. you can supply enter through the cumberland river, but the river is very fickle, shall we say, and there are times when, because they are downstream you cannot get them up as well as you can, so what are the other options? you have the railroad, which parallels interstate 65, which runs southeast and paralyzed by interstate 24, you can see the mark there on the
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map. basically, everything will ride the rails. now, once you leave them, between nashville at 183 miles at best, you are going through neutral territory, even though kentucky has voted to remain loyal, it is at best neutral territory. loyal to the united states, it is at best neutral territory. morgan has made a career at this point of cutting that railroad. you know how much that railroad was fully operation, seven months, 12 days. so almost five full months of that 12-month period, that railroad was not fully operational. and it's not just bridges, it's just not taking up rails. there is a 2,000-foot long tunnel just north of the town of gallatin, tennessee, 30 miles north of nashville that morgan had blown up and burned and blocked and was out of
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commission for two months in the fall of 1862. whenever you think of the army of cumberland, you must remember, why does he operate in fits and starts, why does he spend so much time of building up supplies, it's the tenuous nature of his lifeline, back to nashville and back to louisville. that's why his army always stops to fix the railroad, bring up supplies, that's not just rhetoric or an excuse, he needs it. the other thing about that railroad is, what do you think that does to the army's reserves. the army during the winter of 1862 is down to three days of reserves in their warehouses, ok. this is an army not far away from starvation because of the railroad insecurity. rosekrnz is not going to move before he has good cavalry or sufficient supplies on hand, especially because he has nathan bedford
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forest to his south to the west of shelbiville, to the west of the army of the tennessee, army of tennessee and who does he have on the eastern flank, who does he have over in the hills aiming back to his home state, john hunt morgan, two of the great raiders in the history of the confederate cavalry. joe wheeler is not bad either. i would be worried about my railroad, too, wouldn't you? one of the things that rosekranz bills up is three years of supplies, you can visit part of it today, part of stones river national battlefield. more importantly leave murphy's borough, they'll take 11 days of supplies with them. he is going banking on a big reserve. he's going to ride on a very big cushion of supplies. i think this is very prudent on his part. because he
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knows there's a pretty good chance he is going to lose communications with the rest of the army. or at least railroad communications at some point. now of course what does this look like in washington? what happens in may of 1863? we already happen in mississippi in may of 1863. vicksburg. what happens here in virginia in 1863? the battle of chancellorsville. the hardest and bloodiest battle up to that time in american history.-y by land area, largest single engagement in north american recorded history to be precise. meanwhile, rosencrantz sits in nashville. and by this spring by june of 1863, the ward department threatens him with relief. are you going to move anytime soon? rose trans rights back, if now means tomorrow no. but if it means in say five
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days yes. and that's good enough. rosencrantz looking for the right opportunity, looking for the right amount of supplies, looking for the right way to go, begins to cast his plans to go after general brag. let's take a look at the map because to understand the storm about to tell you, you have to understand something about the geography of middle tennessee. north is at the top. murphy's borrow roughly in the north central part of the map. the major towns, shelby ville which is south from refreeze borough. tell the houma former freeze borough. still a home eight to ten miles to the east, manchester to the north. that's where bonnaroo his have a year now. from tel a homeowner you go down the rail road. into the
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cumberland mountains, at university place, which is now the home of the university of the south. at the time it had been dedicated, the cornerstone had been laid, and then the war intervened, in fact the cornerstone was laid by 1860 by general polk. the big thing that you need to know about this ground, really two things you need to know. the first thing, if you look between shelbyville and murfreesboro and the gaps. that is known as the highland rim. those mountains extend anywhere from 500 to 900 feet and they're very steep. they can only be crossed by those three gaps that you see there on the map. there is one all weather road that runs out of murfreesboro, 41, it runs south through the gap down to manchester and
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continues southeast toward chattanooga. that's the ground that we're going bragg has deployed his army to cover the gaps with his infantry and extend his cavalry in several directions. forrest and wheeler will be west towards the duck river and in the northeast, between woodbury and minville in the top right corner of the map will be morgan, at least until june 20 of 1863 when he embarks on a raid into kentucky and disobeys orders and goes into indiana and ohio and will be captured at buffington island so he'll disappear just before the campaign starts and rosecrans has been waiting for that. polk will be in and around shelbyville covering guy's camp. pat claiborne's
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division of 8,000 will hold liberty gap and the area alexander p. stewart's division of 6,000 men holding that area. there are cavalry, being an alarm force in case the followers decide to move out from murfreesboro. the idea is to warn the infantry. they'll have time to move up into the gaps and stop the followers. that's the basic plan bragg's army has come up with. i want you to follow along on your map. this is rosecrans'plan for the operation. positive information from various sources concurred to show the enemy intended to fight us in his entrenchments at shelbyville should we advance
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by that route and he would be in good position to retreat if beaten and retard our pursuit through winding roads which lead up into the barrens and inflict severe loss towards the mountains of their base. i was determined to render useless their entrenchments and if possible secure their line of retreat by turning their right and moving on the railroad bridge across elk river. where's the railroad bridge across elk river? alsona and estill springs. that is the key ground, the key point to the entire campaign, rosecrans'objective and if he takes that and bragg is still around tullahoma or shelbyville, bragg's army will be in very, very deep trouble. because they will be cut off from chattanooga. rosecrans said that would compel a battle on their own ground or drive them
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in a disadvantageous line of retreat. to accomplish this, it was necessary to make bragg believe he could advance on him by the shelbyville route and keep up the impression if possible until we reached manchester with the main body of the army. let me translate that plan for you. granger's corps, david stanley's cavalry corps, grand total of 25,000 men all told along with alex mccook's corps moving south of murfreesboro will operate in the area southwest of murfreesboro and keep polk thinking they'll try to force guy's gap and liberty gap. meanwhile, the bulk of the army, george thomas'14th corps, 25,000 men and 20,000 men with thomas l. crittenden's corps, will march east of murfreesboro and aim for manchester at which point they'll be in a good position to operate directly
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against tullahoma or down toward the rail ridge across the elk river. what do you think of the plan? good plan, isn't it? it's a good plan. one problem. speed is the vital factor. it's been a real nice dry summer but when these troops start marching out on the morning of june 24, 1863, it starts raining. of the 17 next 17 days, it will rain at least once, and i'm not talking about a sprinkle but a gully washing thunderstorm at least once 14 of those 17 days. so what do you think these roads turn into? and by the way when it's not raining, it's overcast, 90-something degrees with 100% humidity. this is miserable.
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for those of you familiar with the gettysburg retreat, the retreat from gettysburg, the horrible rain they have to go through starting july 4. well, some of that comes from middle tennessee and meets the other armies up in pennsylvania later. this is atrocious weather and should always be remembered when you consider the tullahoma campaign. early morning hours of june 24, the army to cumberland gets in motion. the decoy forces begin to move into their area and do their job. they skirmish with claburn at liberty gap on 24 and 25th of june. the main elements of thomas'corps begin to move southeast towards hoover's gap. in the front is a very special unit of mounted infantry. they don't want to be called cavalry. mounted infantry under the command of intrepid 33-year-old indiana colonel named john wilder. he realized that having tried to chase confederate cavalry by
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marching infantry, this wasn't going to work. i want as many horses and mules as i can and he fronts the money to give them seven shot spencer rifles. and they have gone out and done very good work and they are now in front. of course, some of the real cavalry is like, oh, you're tadpole cavalry. that's the word they use. tadpole cavalry. we know what we're doing. on this day wilder wants to prove himself and they are out front as the rains start to come in and about seven miles out from murfreesboro towards hoover's gap, about the h in the word hoover on the map, they run into the first kentucky cavalry and how do you think these followers federals do charging forward with spencers against confederates with single shot rifles spread out. it's quickly over and the kentucky yans collapse. they lose their battle flag and begin to fall back under the pressure of the federals as they move into hoover's gap. as the confederates try to make a
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stand right there and send a courier riding as fast as they can back towards fairfield to wake up stewart's division, get them moving, wilder realizes the situation and he sends his vanguard unit, his 17th indiana, into the attack. they scatter the confederates and push into the gap itself. his orders only are to stop to take the foot of the gap and wait for the main body of the federal infantry to come up and complete the assault. but wilder realizes, those trenches aren't occupied. and if i wait, they might be occupied by people very unfriendly to me so he orders his men into the gap and through the gap and actually takes position on a rimming on the other ridge on the other side where you see jacob's store, just before jacob's store. it's where if you go there today that's where the confederate cemetery is and the battlefield pavilion they have right off of exit 97 on or 107.
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one of the exits right there on i-24. and take a position right there. they will be there in the afternoon because they can hear the long roll in the distance thanks to acoustics of the confederate infantry coming up and they will withstand several attacks by confederate infantry that afternoon and as one of the illinoisans said in that brigad, they went after shooting. they inflict over 200 confederate casualties and send most of the confederates back. they would hold their own at three-to-one odds. thomas, when he gets up with the main body of the infantry, the battlefield surveys what wilder has done. for those of you who know george thomas, he's not a demonstrative man but comes over to wilder, shakes his hand,
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pumps it, gushes, you've saved me 20,000 men! and then the next day he publishes an order because of their fast move and hard strike, this brigade, wilder's brigade shall ever after be known as the lightning brigade where they get their famous name where they will carry on at greater glory through the georgia campaign of 1864. thomas will consolidate there. both sides expect bragg to make a counter offensive. bragg doesn't make a counter offensive and rosecrans decides to move towards manchester on the morning of the 26th. the largest battle of the campaign in and around a beach grove jacob's store area where thomas'men will basically shove aside much like opening a hole in the line in football, will shove aside the confederates, push them south and begin to progress southeast and reach manchester on the morning of
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the 27th of june where they finally find crittenden's corps. crittenden's boys have had to march up around bradyville, march up a slope like this. no joke. i've driven it even today. 45 degrees. there have been orders put out, decrease your wagon train, decrease your baggage as much as you possibly can. tommy wood, one of the division commanders, obeyed that order to the letter but the guy in front, john palmer, no, i know better. we're taking everything. i don't know what's on the other side of the hills. they are marching through roads that, no joke, are knee high. one of the brigade commanders, william hazon would say, between marching through the fields and on thed radio the road, i didn't know where the road was because of the mud. what do you think happens to those wagons and artillery? even on flat land they start sinking. and it
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takes them two days to get up that height. and how do they do it? you line up infantry men on both sides of the men and then with the teamsters, using their animals as hard as they can, they run up to the hill and as they falter, the infantry men come in, grab the wheels and push and begin to turn and crank them up. literally crank them up the hill. it takes them two days to do that. and one of the officers who had seen many fights on many battlefields would say that was the worst march of the war for us. this distance, dry weather, should only be covered, about 15, 20 miles. 30 miles, excuse me. 30 miles. two days, three days march. right? it takes them four full days. what do you think their condition is when they reach manchester? they're
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exhausted. they are blown. this is also the day, by the way, where bragg finally decides he's going to do something. sends a message to general polk on the 26th. and comes to see general polk and says, look, i have a plan. i want you to take the 15,000 men of your corps and advance up through guy's gap and then i want you to turn right and i want you to fight your way up towards murfreesboro. do we know what's on the other side of those hills? you can take care of it, you'll be fine. the word man trap polk used to describe what bragg was proposing. he said this is nothing short of sending us into a man trap. and he's right. he's absolutely right. bragg gets back to his headquarters, what does he find waiting for him there? he finds waiting for him news of the defeat at beach grove that hardee's men have been shunted
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aside towards fairfield and bragg sends a message and the worked is significant and indicative of bragg's quality of leadership. he said movement proposed for tomorrow is postponed. first of all, he'd ordered the movement. why did he say he was proposing it? now he's postponing it which means it's not canceled and sends a series of questions to polk. should we stand at shelbyville, retreat tullahoma or try to fight it out somewhere? i leave you to unpack that as you see fit. here's where the bitter fruit of january, february, march, april and may come really to roost. makes a bad metaphor. there's another confederate army that has twice in this war will defend behind a major military obstacle, expecting the federals to try to cross that obstacle and will have two or three contingency
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plans ready to engage when the yankees get active. that, of course, is the army of northern virginia, 1863, winter of 62, 63, and winter of 63, 64. lee is ready. he's talked about it with his team and knows what he needs to do but it's a matter of activating the contingency plan. that's called good communication, coordination and collaboration, what a successful organization needs to achieve its objective and get done what it needs to get done. do you think any of that is present in the army of tennessee? absolutely not. you see it in the flat-footed reaction by general bragg. here we are almost 72 hours into an active campaign and bragg is only now thinking of what he needs to do, cobles together, tries to cobble together a counter offensive under a general he just tried to court martial a couple of weeks ago.
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this is one of the saddest stories in confederate military history. in american military history, i would submit to you, as well. but that is they spent so much time in the spring and summer fighting paper battles over what has gone before that they forgot the enemy in front of them wearing blue uniforms and are caught flat-footed. one option i would submit to you is actually the best option that bragg has because once they get out of the highland rim, the advantage is all rosecrans. what bragg should have done is order polk to move from shelbyville up to fairfield and make a dawn attack on the morning of june 27, north to beach grove and try to retake hoover gap. why would you do that? because if you manage to threaten that area, you force rosecrans at manchester to turn around and reopen his line of communications back to
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murfreesboro and if you manage to take hoofers gap, you've now cut the army of the cumberland in two. two corps at manchester and the rest of the army leaderless because rosecrans is with thomas at manchester on the other side of the highland rim. that's a pretty decent plan, isn't it? i'm not fishing for compliments but isn't that a reasonable contingency they might have thought about before the campaign started? there's no evidence they ever even considered that in the events so the night of the 26th bragg orders everybody to concentrate on tullahoma. the rest of the campaign, after they leave the highland rim, at this point is somewhat anti-climactic because with rosecrans at manchester and bragg at tullahoma, bragg is ready to fight it out in the trenches of tullahoma. rosecrans is feeling out bragg and so decides the best way to do that is to send john wilder's mounted infantry men, the lightning brigade, into the confederate rear and it's a day and a half, two-day odyssey
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into the rear for manchester. the dotted lines towards hillsborough, descartes, up towards alsewna. some of the creeks they have to swim the horses across because of the flooding rains. they cut the rail line, probe the bridge and the protection there. they raise a lot of havoc and then find out that bedford forrest is after them and simon buckner with 3,000 men is coming up by train through cowlen and they get back at noon june 30, walks into the headquarters, rosecrans is amazed to see him. he wasn't necessarily expecting to him him and wilder says not only do i have the intelligence that you need, i did it without losing a single soul. without a single casualty. an incredible odyssey in the civil war. on the other flank, by the way, one of the best days i don't have time to get into it one of
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the best days union cavalry has in the war is the battle of shelbyville where they forced joe wheeler to swim for his life june 27, 1863. there's a great chapter about it in my book. bragg at this point, though, is not worried. the railroads reopen as june ticks down and approaches july, he has a council of war with polk and says we're going to fight it out. they have reservations about that and start to talk about that and polk says i thought the railroad was cut. the railroad's reopen! great news! and then polk says this. how do you propose to maintain your communications? well, they'll reopen, i'll string infantry along the railroad, we'll be fine. polk and hardee look at each other. general hardee, polk says, what do you think about this? you can do what you want but i endorse the
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merit of polk's views. bragg says, we're going to fight it out. then he changes his mind overnight. this is june 29, the conversation takes place. june 30, he changes his mind. he says we are going to withdraw. on the night of june 30, the quarter masters move the wagons out of tullahoma and that means one thing, retreat. that night, the confederate army evacuates tullahoma, crosses the rail bridge. the last rear guard passes out in the morning of july 1, 1863, about the time that john reynolds is shot outside of gettysburg, about the time that bragg's rear guard leaves tullahoma. the federals enter the area quickly. rosecrans sets up pursuit, a skirmish at the elk river bridge july 2 and bragg says we are going to fight it out. buckner, polk and hardee say, you know what, we may have to somebody may have to take
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command of the army from him. bragg changes his mind, retires, and rosecrans pursues and breaks off the pursuit at university place july 4, 1863. two days later, some of sheridan's troopers below up the cornerstone of the university of south. tullahoma is over. the conquest of middle tennessee has been amazingly cheap. in 11 days of operations from june 24 to july 4, only 570 federals were killed, wounded, captured or missing. bragg's army, never tabulated its losses but confederate personnel returns on july 10 show an effective strength nearly 5,000 men lower than on june 20. half of that number, 2500, covered morgan's raiders which had departed kentucky but still 2500. the federals captured more than 1600 prisoners while stewart's division lost 181 men at hoover's gap. pat claburn
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sustained 121 casualties at liberty gap for a total of 320 men killed or wounded in hardee's corps. the balance of the army of tennessee's loss is about 600 more, consisted of battle casualties, sick or deserters. a lot of those 1600 prisoners i quoted are tennesseans from this area or elsewhere realizing, i don't want to leave home that far behind. it's a sign of the disintegration of the army of tennessee to a certain extent. when this is reported to the war department, edwin stanton congratulates rosecrans and they fire salutes when they get the news of gettysburg and vicksburg and then stanton says this. "you and your noble army now have the chance to give the finishing blow to the rebellion. will you neglect the chances? " and this illustrates right here that tullahoma is obscure even in 1863, as opposed to 2019. this is what
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rosecrans says in reply. i just received the batch announcing the fall of vicksburg and confirming the fall of lee. you do not appear to observe the fact that this noble army has driven the rebels from middle tennessee of which my dispatch has advised you. i beg on behalf of this army that the war department may not overlook so great an event because it is not written in letters of blood. i have now to repeat, that the rebel army has been forced from its strong entrenched position at shelbyville and tullahoma and driven over the cumberland mountains. my cavalry advances within eight miles of the alabama line. no organized rebel force within 25 miles of there nor on this side of the cumberland mountains. bragg's retreat doesn't stop until they're in chattanooga. and never again except for that last death ride of the army of tennessee in 1864 will the army of tennessee penetrate middle or western tennessee with any
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hope of sustained success. that makes campaign a great victory and when you consider the events of the first week of july 1, 1863, gettysburg, vicksburg, tullahoma, port hudson, and you look at the collective body blow that put on the confederacy, that they never fully recover, that makes this campaign just as important an element of the civil war as any of the other three names that i just gave you. and i'll leave you with this. tullahoma is a huge link in that chain of events that leads from the ohio river all the way to savannah, atlantic coast. if you consider the chattanooga, tennessee, the federal presence in chattanooga is the dagger thrust against the vitals of the confederacy, well, before that, the dagger thrust directly into the vitals of chattanooga is the federal army at tullahoma which they
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won over 11 days of hard marching and fighting in the rain and the heat in june and july of 1863. it is not written in letters of blood, rosecrans was right. but the tullahoma campaign does not deserve the obscurity it has been placed into. ladies and gentlemen, i liked to thank you for your attention. if you have any questions, i'll be happy to answer them. thank you very much. we actually don't have time for questions but i will ask my polish brother to comment on one thing as we wrap up. why has this, then, been forgotten? and how much of that is a factor of rosecrans being his own worst enemy? chris: i think everybody views the battles between bragg and rosecrans through the prism of chickamauga and focus on that and it tends to overshadow everything that they go
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through. but in reality, the two rounds before that, stones river and tullahoma deserve far more attention. >> chris will be available to answer questions back at his table. thank you very much, chris kolakowski![captions copyright
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national cable satellite corp. ... 1861. she explained that the conflict, while not widely known, is significant because it was the first major battle west of the mississippi river. this talk was a part of a symposium on "forgotten battles of the civil war" hosted by the "emerging civil war" blog.


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