Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Isolated, Buell on the Offensive

Having concentrated his forces near Bowling Green and located Bragg at Munfordville, Buell is finally on the offensive even though his communications to the north have been severed.


Cincinnati, Ohio, September 19, 1862.

General BUELL:

yours of 15th, via Evansville, received.

I have a force of about 30,000 men at Louisville, mainly raw troops, with which I will co-operate with you I can learn of your movements. it is of the first importance to know what your plans are, that there be no mistake. Nelson is at Louisville in command. Notify him at once. He has orders, so far as I can give them under the uncertainty of your movements. They are to retard enemy as far as he can and to form junction with you, if desirable and practicable. With united forces we ought to whip Bragg, and acting separately, but in concert, we ought, to be able to protect Louisville till movements can be arranged. Will re-enforce Louisville by 10,000 men, and expect addition of five regiments this week and ten more next. Don't fail to communicate; it is of utmost importance.

Yours, most truly,

Editor's Note:  The previous communications, and those that follow, are reprinted in their entirity to allow the reader to gain a sense of what was going on in these general's minds.   Buell and Wright  are commonly derided for their performance, or lack thereof, in these events following the invasion of Kentucky. The reader is left to draw his own colclusions. 
The would of, should of and could of gallery that held court in Cincinnnati on Buell's conduct,and those in Washington that later denied Wright's appointment, as well as a host of historians have all had their say.  
The intent here is to present what can be known of the reality on the ground at the time and the problems of communications and logistics as reported by the men, themselves.


LOUISVILLE, KY., September 19, 1862.
General WRIGHT:

General Bragg has crossed the Green river in force. General Buell was at Dripping Springs on the 17th. He should be at Munfordville to-day. He is following close on the heels of Bragg, with the intention of bringing him to action, but Bragg may be here before that is possible. I want troops. The messenger from Buell has just arrived.


                            *  *  *

LOUISVILLE, KY., September 19, 1862.
Major-General WRIGHT:

I beg leave to send the following message just received from General Buell. Send me all the troops you can at once; it is of the most momentous consequence.



General GILBERT:

I learn that the garrison at Munfordville surrendered this morning and that Bragg immediately threw his entire force across the river. The opinion prevails that he will post rapidly for Louisville, expecting to overpower your new troops without difficulty. If that is his purpose I shall be close upon him, and you should be prepared either for that contingency or to come out if he should take a position to oppose me. My expectation is that he will do the latter, either at Green River or at Muldraugh's Hill; probably the former. I expect to be at Green River early to-morrow. It is impossible to ascertain with any certainty what Bragg's force is; probably between 30,000 and 40,000 independently of Smith, with whom he will expect and no doubt will be able to form a junction. Troops should be concentrated without a moment's delay at Louisville. Cincinnati is not the point of attack.


Arriving at Louisville, Wright finally gains an appreciation of the danger in this, Kentucky's largest city not in rebel hands.  Recall that Kirby Smith entered Lexington earlier this month.

Ref.: ibid

Cincinnati, Ohio, September 19, 1862-8 p. m.

General A. J. SMITH,
Commanding U. S. Forces, Covington, Ky.:

Get ready to send off speedily as possible eight or ten regiments of your command to Louisville, making use of all available transportation by river and railroad. Don't lose a moment in doing this. Bragg crossed the Green River with Buell behind him, and we must meet and check him if we can get the force. Call upon the quartermaster's department and any of my staff for such aid as you may need. I return to-morrow morning.


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