Friday, October 5, 2012

Army of the Ohio Finally in Full Pursuit

After crossing the Salt River, Buell's plan is being executed in the field by his corps commanders.  The particulars for the movement of McCook's First Corps are dutifully reported in a timely manner to General Thomas, Buell's newly appointed Second-in-Command.  Once again, being forced to forage for supplies, the pressing need for water may be the ultimate arbiter of  the corps' path.


Bloomfield, Ky., October 5, 1862.

General THOMAS:

My cavalry have occupied Chaplin, on Beech Fork, since daylight. They report Hardee encamped 6 miles south of Chaplin. I cannot credit it. If a part of the rebel force has gone to Frankfort, if I move to Chaplin and get water it will be 8 miles there and 8 back to get to Shelbyville, 16 miles out of my way. if they concentrate at Harrodsburg, Chaplin is my route. The roads from Chaplin to Lawrenceburg and from Chaplin to Willisburg are rough but practicable roads. General Sill, at Shelbyville, advanced one of his brigades to Claysville; encountered about 1,200 cavalry there. He also had information that the enemy is concentrating at Hardinsville, 12 miles in his front. There were about 50 or 100 cavalry in my front on the Springfield pike this morning. They ran at 10.30 back toward Springfield. I informed General Buell that I would not move to-day. Please keep me advised of your movements, so that I can co-operate. I am blissful ignorance.

Major-General, Commanding First Corps.

Meanwhile, General Buell is pressing his advantage and attempting to coordinate with General Wright, as Bragg has decided to fall back toward his base of supply at Danville.

Ref.:  ibid

BARDSTOWN, October 5, 1862.
Major-General WRIGHT, Cincinnati:

The enemy retreated from this place yesterday morning on the Springfield road, and my troops entered in the evening after a brisk cavalry skirmish. The probability is that they are making for Danville. We are following. Your advance toward Lexington would decidedly affect the movements of the enemy. It is reported that Smith is concentrating on Frankfort.


Later that evening, McCook this report from one of his division commanders.  General Sill is preparing to advance and re-take the state capitol at Frankfort.


October 5, 1862-7 p.m.

Major General A. McD. McCOOK,
Commanding First Corps:

Kirk's brigade bivouacked at Clay Village last night. The rest of the division lay here in accordance with orders not to proceed to Frankfort unless I was certain Kirby Smith was not there in too large force. As all my advices reported a much larger army than ours I preferred to wait. After Kirk's skirmish the enemy, massed at Frankfort to the number of 12,000 to 20,000, began to evacuate. They burned the railroad bridge last night and almost rendered useless the turnpike bridge. I can ford the river and will start at 4 a. m. to-morrow. The enemy in part took the Versailles road and part took the Lawrenceburg road. Dumont has arrived with three brigades of new troops and two batteries of artillery.

your obedient servant,

Similar advances were made by the other corps and recorded in the OREs, (ibid. pp 576-578).  Buell's master plan is running into very little resistance from the terrain or the enemy.  Bragg is falling back toward his base of supply as Buell had predicted.  Kirby Smith is relinquishing the Confederates' hold on the state capitol.  These are all desired outcomes of a successful pursuit, but will merely driving back the Confederate troops be enough to satisfy Buell's detractors in the War Department?  Are they not looking for Buell's army to ultimately confront and defeat Braxton Bragg's Army of Mississippi?

The weakness of Buell's plan is that it provides no means of confronting the Confederates, only of pursuing them.  He has designed no flanking maneuvers to cut off their escape.  If the Battle for Kentucky will be fought, the time and place are to be choosen by the Confederate general.  On the other hand, the Confederate Heartland Offensive ,that Bragg has been conducting since August, could be abandoned and the Army of Mississippi could simply go back to Tennessee, having added thousands of recruits from Kentucky, destroyed massive ammounts of infrastructure and supplies, disrupted civilian authority and caused turmoil in highest levels of the War Department.

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