Monday, October 15, 2012

Full Frontal Futility

The following report from Col. Edward M. McCook, first cousin of General Alexander McCook provides an accurate account of the retreat of the Confederate Army.  In situations like this, cavalry were primarily used for scouting and engaging the fleeing enemy.  The Colonel's formal education is revealed in his use of the French "Corps d'Armee" when referring to the newly adopted Federal Corps Command structure.  For a review of this famous family from Ohio (via Pennsylvania) , see Wikipedia's page on Fighting McCooks .

The subsequent communications surviving from this day in 1862 are presented to illustrate the physical condition of Buell's Army as they pursued a fleeing Bragg who had adopted a scorched earth policy.  The three days' rations carried by each soldier have run out and there is no forage materiel to be found.  Once again, following the War Department's theory that the army's movement is hindered by an abundance of transportation has brought troop movement to a screeching halt.  For this failure, Buell would be given the credit in his Court of Inquiry.


October [15], 1862.

Major-General CRITTENDEN,
Commanding Second Corps d'Armee:

GENERAL: The enemy have undoubtedly left Lancester. They were passing through all last night; commenced to move yesterday evening, and their rear was still moving this evening. They are going in the direction of Crab Orchard. Both bridges over Hanging Fork were burned by them this afternoon. One regiment of my brigade (Colonel Wolford's) had a skirmish with them to-day on the Lancaster road, repulsing their cavalry and killing and wounding about 30. The Second Indiana also had a skirmish with them on the Dick Robinson road and drove them back.The information concerning their passing through Lancaster all last night is confirmed by the statements of 20 or 30 citizens who came to our lines on the road and I think cannot be doubtful.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Commanding First Cavalry Brigade.                              

                              *  *  *

CRAWFORD STATION, October 15, 1862.
Colonel J. B. FRY, Chief of Staff:

Inclosed please find General Van Cleve's report.

The general desires a fresh division sent forward in time to reach Mount Vernon by daylight, as General Van Cleve's division is completely worn-out and will have to draw rations before marching.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Assistant Adjutant-General.

(It is assumed that the above request to send a fresh division forward in time so that they could reach the city of Mount Vernon, Ky by midnight is a miss-reading of the above letter, but it is likely the only way Buell could have caught up with Bragg, at this point.)

                               *  *  *

If one of McCook's divisions cannot be sent forward the general will send forward Smith's.  

                              *  *  *

OCTOBER 15, 1862 - 10 p. m.
General THOMAS, Second in Command: 

GENERAL: Let the Second Corps push ahead after the enemy at the earliest hour practicable in the morning. The other corps can make no progress, as the road is so crowded, and they will not therefore march to-morrow unless it becomes necessary. If it is possible to collect forage at Mount Vernon have it done. Brigade will move direct to Mount Vernon. The supply trains are being hurried forward.Division commanders should send to Captain Chandler, chief quartermaster, and get supplies if needed.Issues must be made so as to give the men three days in haversacks. Captain Williams, McCook's commissary, is prepared to turn over some rations to Wood's division.

Respectfully, &c.,
Colonel and Chief of Staff.

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