Friday, May 18, 2012

Halleck Not Yet Satisfied

It seems that General Buell has now incurred the displeasure of Major General Halleck and finds himself under the scrutiny of "Old Brains".  Could it be a coincidence that these critical observations are being made only six days after Buell echoed General Morgan's complaints to Secretary Stanton, failing to copy his commander?  In any case, the growing frustration of both generals is demonstrated in the communications from this day in 1862.

Major-General BUELL, in Field:

I have observed to-day that my instructions have not been carried out in two respects.

First. Your army corps does not occupy the position assigned to it. Your right was directed to occupy Driver's and hold the road at that place. As you did not take that position yesterday, General Thomas was obliged to secure it. He will be directed to move to the right at 10 a.m. to-morrow, and it is expected that you will occupy this place at that hour.

Second. In making the advance all the army corps were directed to intrench themselves on the Farmington and Purdy road. I find intrenchments on the right and left wings, but none on the center.


Major-General HALLECK:

I certainly have intended to carry out your instructions, but where they have not been specific I have supposed that you expected me to exercise my own judgment. I did not know that any directions had been given to intrench. I supposed the flanks were doing so on their own judgment, and I considered that, though perhaps essential for them, you might not think it necessary for the center, especially if it held strong ground.

Your dispatch stating that you desired to occupy the Purdy and Farmington road, inquiring when I could move, and adding that it would probably be necessary to intrench on that line, I did not understand as an order to intrench, or even as indicating that you had determined in your own mind in regard to it. The line I now occupy is at certain points, on account of their natural strength, in advance of the Purdy road. Shall I exercise my judgment in regard to the position of the line or will you send an officer to fix it definitely, as well as the character of the intrenchments? General Thomas has his camp somewhat to the left of the Corinth road, but the position of my troops is that with which I expected to rest the right of my line of battle on the road at Driver's.


As for the Seventeenth Kentucky, Nelson later summarized , "On May 18 moved forward on the Farmington road and took up the position which the division encamped on until the evacuation of Corinth; threw up heavy intrenchments on the commanding ground in front of the camps. The pickets were daily skirmishing with those of the enemy. Occasionally the enemy would throw shells into our lines."

*ORE communications courtesy of my Favorite Link, Ohio State's eHistory

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