Thursday, September 13, 2012

Finally, Bragg is Found

General Lovell H. Rousseau, having arrived in Bowling Green has taken command of the defenses and sends this detailed and urgent message to Buell's Chief of Staff which includes a plan to confront Bragg within a few days' time. It is safe to say that General Rousseau had a reputation for neither patience nor caution.

Rousseau, who had a distinguished and active military carreer, is probably best known for his post-war service in the U.S. House of Representatives, from which he resigned in 1866 after being reprimanded for attacking Iowa Congressman Josiah B. Grinnell with his cane following an argument about the establishment of the Freedman's Bureau..  Oddly enough, Rousseau was re-elected that same year in the special election held to fill his own vacant seat.


BOWLING GREEN, KY., September 13, 1862.
Colonel J. B. FRY,Chief of Staff, near Franklin, Ky.: 

It is certain that Generals Polk, Cheatham, and Donelson are at Glasgow with a force not accurately known to me and that a cavalry force is with them. This I hear from a deserter not to be doubted and from others. Bragg entered Kentucky in three division, or army corps, one by way of Tompkinsville, Monroe County, Ky., another between that and Cumberland Gap, and a third between that and Nashville. The central force is doubtless now at Glasgow, and its cavalry has menaced the train at Bell's Tavern to-day and forced it to return. Our supplies are small here, and we must fight in a few days. May I suggest that the forces at Louisville should be moved rapidly down on the rail road to Elizabethtown or by mouth of Salt River, and aid in saving Munfordville and help us in the fight that must take place in a few days?

I can send a messenger to Louisville through Litchfield, Grayson County, perhaps in time, if you will say to General Gilbert that he ought to come. We shall have work enough for our whole army. I think if General Thomas too was with us we could entirely destroy the secesh army in Kentucky and retake without trouble all we abandoned for the sake of a victory over all their armies in the West.The wires are cut between this and Louisville. If Gilbert would move and bivouac, getting meat, bread, and coffee by railroad, we could so manage as to fall upon Polk and company nearly at the same time. We have not the number of rations, 1,200,000 as supposed and reported, but are nearly out. I am foraging for grain, &c., for the stock, and have ordered beef instead of bacon while in camp here, and will send train at daylight in the morning to Franklin for $17,000 worth of flour with guard of 300 men. Have ordered the seizure of 100 barrels of salt now here. I have taken the necessary steps to carry out the orders of to-day relating to ammunition, rations, &c.Please let me know at once whether I shall send a messenger to Louisville carrying you dispatches to General Gilbert. 

I am just told by Colonel Bruce that the 1,200,000 rations are here except bread. We are out of bread, but can get flour, and are preparing to bake for the whole army. I send an engine to convey this.

You ought to be here. Pardon me, but you have to be here. My pickets report hearing them chopping trees toward Glasgow. 

Very respectfully,
Brigadier-General, Commanding.

General Buell, however, makes other plans and orders Thomas to proceed north to reinforce Rousseau at Bowling Green where he is busy rebuilding fortifications on College Hill, the modern site of Western Kentucky University.  He either has no intention of confronting Bragg at this time or is unwilling to ask General Wright for support from his troops at Louisville, a necessity that Rousseau failed to consider, or both.


SEPTEMBER 13, 1862-8 p. m.
General THOMAS: 

March with your own and Paine's division for Bowling Green on receipt of this order. You must reach Bowling Green in three days and a half at most, and will march directly on from there. You must march by 3 o'clock on the morning of the 15th, day after to-morrow, and earlier if possible. Leave the siege artillery and most of the cavalry with Negley. 

It seems quite certain that the whole of Bragg's army is in or marching to Kentucky, and that it will be concentrated at Glasgow to-morrow, it not sooner. If, however, you have positive information that as much as two divisions of Bragg's army are near Nashville, or not moving to cross the Cumberland, you may, if you deem it advisable, leave Paine's division and bring only your own. Post Negley at the defensible works and positions and at the capitol and bridge, and direct him to have twenty day's rations at each point for its garrison. He must defend his position to the last extremity. Bring only wagons enough to carry your ammunition and four days' full rations and the cooking utensils, not exceeding five loaded wagons to each regiment, exclusive of ammunition. You may, however, at your discretion and unknown to the troops, bring 50 empty wagons to each division to cary men who give out on the march. You must, however, start with none but able-bodied men. You will find the best watering places at tyree Springs and at a creek 5 miles north of Mitchellsville and at Cave Spring, 3 miles south of Bowling Green, and it is expected you will be able to make these marches. Explain the urgency of the matter to Governor Johnson. If Bragg's army is defeated Nashville is sage [sic]; if not, it is lost. At any rate bring forage for your animals on the march for three days. 

Chief of Staff.

Now it's time for a pop-quiz in mathematics:

It is nearly 75 miles from Nashville to Bowling Green. If General Nelson receives an order at 8:00 PM on September 13th to reach Bowling Green in 3.5 days and it takes 1.5 days to prepare for the journey, how many miles per day will his division need to march?

Answer: too damn many!  This fact is acknowledged in the suggestion of taking "...50 empty wagons per division to carry the men who give out on the march."

No comments:

Post a Comment