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Colonel Worthington’s Shiloh

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Colonel Worthington’s Shiloh
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Author(s): T. Worthington
Date Published: 2009/05
Page Count: 196
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-673-1
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-674-8

A battle badly conducted and the destruction of one brave man

This an account of the battle of Shiloh by one who was present as a colonel of the Ohio Volunteer infantry, but it is also much more than that. In every line of this book the reader feels the anger and vitriol of a deeply offended man. This work transcends history to become an exposure—according to the author's viewpoint—of incompetence, double dealing and cover-up on behalf of the senior officers of the Union Army. The particular target of Worthington's accusation is his superior officer W. T. Sherman. Certainly the two men were enemies—a situation which for Worthington, as the subordinate officer, was to have disastrous consequences. It is now recognised that Worthington's own conduct during the battle itself was exemplary, contributing much to the benefit of the Union action. Nevertheless, Sherman court martialled Worthington after the battle and he was cashiered from the service. Notwithstanding the illegality of his trial and its subsequent over turning by Lincoln himself, Sherman, in concert with Grant, ensured Worthington was never reinstated. This is a vital analysis of a Civil War battle with no holds barred and a story of great injustice done to a man of principle.

General Grant, as has been related, was out at Shiloh Saturday afternoon, and remained on his boat at the landing till near 11 p. m. of that day, the 5th. If it has not been recorded, it may have reference here that Grant, in his history by Badeau, barely mentions that he rode out to Sherman’s lines the day after the 4th, and concurred with him that there was no danger of an attack both had expected, according to Sherman’s evidence, on the 3rd and 4th previous. But to conceal that this was the 5th, he states immediately after, that in returning from the front on the 4th Grant was hurt by a fall from his horse. It is however distinctly to be understood from Badeau that on the 5th, after giving an, order to Nelson, Grant having made all his preparations for removing his headquarters to Pittsburgh on the morrow, did not go out to Shiloh, but remained to meet Buell, as that officer had desired, Buell having, by dispatch on the 4th, desired to meet him at Savannah on the 5th.<br>
Now, with such plain subterfuge, planned with so much secretive care, plain to any narrator seeking for truth, what respect or indulgence can the author of such petty deception merit, whatever his position, and supposing his service as a commander had been anything but worse than negative in its character. Especially when, upon such subterfuge, ignorance is feigned of the occurrences of April 5th, when, with all these occurrences before him, he dispatches to Halleck that day or night that he has not the faintest idea of an attack he evidently has been expecting for at least three days before. He knew everything about the driving in of the pickets on the 5th, and the presence of rebel artillery in sight through the woods, from the Union picket posts within a few hundred yards of the camp. Sherman testifies on oath, and writes to his brother, the Senator, that Grant had taken away his cavalry pickets early Saturday morning, and this is confirmed by Major Ricker, 5th Ohio cavalry. Grant knew also that, as Captain Stuart swears, the artillery of Sherman’s line had, the same morning, been taken to the rear, and Stuart’s was not returned at all.<br>
All this had been done on the morning of the 5th, with the knowledge that on the 4th, as Sherman swears, he knew there were the elements of a hostile army in his front, when their drum beats had been heard, yet these “great commanders were innocent of the destination and purpose of this army,” so welcomed by them to their open front and unsuspecting troops. The cannon and musketry with which Sherman says they announced their presence on the 4th appears and remains at our picket posts all next day to take a regular rest and brush up for attack, and yet a dispatch goes to headquarters that as Sherman says all is quiet along my lines, and Grant repeats, “All’s well,” as it was for the protraction of the war by the destruction of a Union army of 40,000 men. And then, because of the place and power thus attained, it is gravely argued that these commanders must be treated with all the respect and consideration purchased by crimes like these. If there is any other explanation, let it be made known.<br>
Now, to sum this matter up again with truth, and not with fiction, or silence, or concealment, as has been always done, what is the condition of affairs on Saturday night, the 5th of April, 1862, under which the commander at the camp writes to the commander at Savannah that “he does not apprehend an attack on his position?”<br
By his own evidence, well sustained in this case, Sherman had reason to expect an attack on his position on the 3rd of April. He admitted to Buckland apprehension of an attack on the 4th of April, on which day Nelson is informed that he is not wanted till the 8th. The enemy drive in his pickets, and occupy his nearest picket station with their cannon on the 5th, on which day he not only sends no cavalry pickets out, but his cavalry and artillery are withdrawn to the rear. All such active and energetic preparations to meet the enemy are made on the eve of battle, in accordance with the Grant-Shermanic strategy and tactics of keeping all flanks presented to the enemy, and avoiding defences, which invite an attack.<br>
These are the preparations in accordance with the dictates of the protractive policy. Grant knows on the day of these organizations for defeat, i.e. on the 5th, that Nelson’s division of say 7,000 men is at Savannah before noon of that day, spite of advice to keep back and not intrude on his and Sherman’s battle-ground till wanted. And this intrusion is the more impertinent, since Grant and Sherman knew Saturday afternoon that the right flank and rear of the adventurous Southrons is little over a mile (by Badeau) from the Tennessee river at Hamburgh, two miles above our left at Shiloh. Grant knows that by a movement of our army that night, or in early morning, a few miles out on the lower Purdy and west Corinth roads, his troops will be in position to attack the rebel left.<br>
He knows that the divisions of Lew. Wallace at Crump’s, and Nelson with Buell at Savannah, can run up to Hamburgh at any appointed hour of the night of the 5th, or early morning of the 6th of April, 1862, when there will be say 14,000 Union troops on the rebel right and rear, and near 40,000 opposite their left and centre. And he knows that by such simple dispositions of the Union troops the hostile army must be scattered or captured without material bloodshed.
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