|View single post by Wrap10|
|Posted: Wed Aug 27th, 2008 02:21 am||
|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.