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The Rock of Chickamauga?

 
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semperpietas
Corp Commander


Joined: 11 May 2011
Posts: 680

PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2015 12:45 am    Post subject: The Rock of Chickamauga? Reply with quote

Reading Dave Powell's Second Volume of his Chickamauga trilogy, which covers September 20 and the collapse of the Union lines as well as the general stand of the Army of the Cumberland along Horseshoe Ridge.

One of things that recurs in the book (I'm up to Chapter Nine) is that George Thomas had a lot to the Union defeat at Chickamauga. The essence of this thesis is that Thomas was so focused on his flank of the Union army that he influenced Rosecrans (whom trusted Thomas completely in terms of tactics and battlefield control) that he consistently bombarded Rosecrans with demands for reinforcements every time he was attacked.

Starting with the attack of Breckinridge's Division that turned his flank and got into his rear, Thomas began sending demands for Negley's division of his corps (the only division of Fourteenth Corps that wasn't present under Thomas's direction). . Moving Negley created a whole in the Union right that necessitated moving Tom Wood's division out of the reserve and into the position. Latter, at Thomas's numerous request, Rosecrans dispatched Van Cleve's division and Sheridan's division. This stripped the Union right flank of a reserve and left it in the hands of Wood's division and Davis's badly understrength (1,400 rank and file) brigades. Specifically requesting Negley also backfired. Thomas expected Negley to anchor the Union left and restabilize the line after Breckinridge's attack threatened the Union rear. However, Negley failed to do this and in fact performed rather miserably in a performance that was his last ever combat command.

While I'm not disputing that Thomas performed marvelously in saving the army that afternoon on Horseshoe Ridge and provided leadership with Rosecrans, Crittenden, and McCook had fled, it seems that perhaps the army may not have needed saving if Thomas had been more conservative in his requests for reinforcements. While the fault lies with Rosecrans for attempting to give Thomas every division he asked for, Thomas I feel also bears a considerable margin of blame. As a subordinate, he became so focus on his part of the field to the detriment of the larger picture. His tactical tunnel vision in regards to the Union left immensely impacted his superior and set the stage of the fatal events of noon that saw Longstreet's sledgehammer blow unravel the Union army.
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guitarmandanga
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Joined: 02 Dec 2005
Posts: 888
Location: Georgia

PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2015 5:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The "Thomas might have asked for too many reinforcements at Chickamauga" thesis was first postulated by Cozzens in THIS TERRIBLE SOUND, albeit in a more limited form. Dave's work is the penultimate expression of the thesis. In the minds of those who crazy few who absolutely love them some George Henry Thomas, of course, the charge is utter blasphemy (http://www.aotc.net/)...

Dave is one of two people (the other is William Glenn Robertson) outside of the rangers/historians at Chick-Chatt NMP who knows more about that battle than probably anyone else on the planet. I haven't bought his two volumes yet, but I intend to.

Incidentally, Dave co-hosts a "Seminar in the Woods" at Chickamauga every early March, where people walk around the battlefield and look in depth at smaller parts of the fighting. If you're ever in North Georgia at that time of year, it's worth checking out.
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semperpietas
Corp Commander


Joined: 11 May 2011
Posts: 680

PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2015 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

guitarmandanga wrote:
The "Thomas might have asked for too many reinforcements at Chickamauga" thesis was first postulated by Cozzens in THIS TERRIBLE SOUND, albeit in a more limited form. Dave's work is the penultimate expression of the thesis. In the minds of those who crazy few who absolutely love them some George Henry Thomas, of course, the charge is utter blasphemy (http://www.aotc.net/)...

Dave is one of two people (the other is William Glenn Robertson) outside of the rangers/historians at Chick-Chatt NMP who knows more about that battle than probably anyone else on the planet. I haven't bought his two volumes yet, but I intend to.

Incidentally, Dave co-hosts a "Seminar in the Woods" at Chickamauga every early March, where people walk around the battlefield and look in depth at smaller parts of the fighting. If you're ever in North Georgia at that time of year, it's worth checking out.


I actually was at Chickamauga for the sesquicentennial (the fellow who was in a wheelchair), and had a great in-depth discussions with Powell - though the main topic of our discussion was whether or not Wood's division pulling out really mattered that much, given that Davis's division was practically combat ineffective with only 1,400 men and was going to get flanked when Hindman's Division moved forward anyway.
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armchair general
Presidential Candidate


Joined: 18 Feb 2007
Posts: 2278
Location: Maine, USA

PostPosted: Thu Nov 26, 2015 6:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dave is a great guy, too. Easy to talk to, funny, etc.

We both write for Emerging Civil War, so I've had a chance to hang out with him after the past two symposiums that ECW has held in Virginia.

As to his thesis, I just started reading Vol. 2, so I'll come back with thoughts when I get to it in the book.
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