Saturday, October 6, 2012

McCook Redirected From Harrodsburg to Perryville

It now appears that General Alexander McDowell McCook's First Corps is to target the Army of Mississippi's main body, either at Harrodsburg or Perryville, depending on the movement of the enemy.  The following two communications are reprinted in their entirety so the reader may get a feeling of the growing sense of urgency as well as the fluidity of this pursuit.  The detailed orders from Buell are consistent with his micro-management style which was hindered by the delays in communication.


OCTOBER 6 [1862]-4.30 p.m.
General McCOOK, Commanding First Corps:

GENERAL: You must march on Harrodsburg and reach the immediate vicinity of that place day after to-morrow, that is, on the 8th instant. If you are satisfied that the road by Willisburg and Cornishville is practicable march by that road, but if you are of the contrary opinion, then take the road by Lawrenceburg and thence along the pike to Harrodsburg. In any event it will probably be best for you train to go by Lawrenceburg. It is reported that the enemy worked the road by Willisburg, and it may be better than is supposed, but do not run the risk of getting involved in any impassable road. General Sill's division must arrive at Harrodsburg at the same time as the rest of your corps, and you must send him orders to this effect. There must be no failure in the arrival of your corps at the place designated and at the time fixed. Dumont's division will remain at Frankfort. You must take cooked rations and get up supplies enough for yourself until we can get a route established by Frankfort and then send your wagons there. Report exactly your condition as regards supplies. Captain Boyld told me he had wagons loaded ready to forward to you from Louisville. Report your progress and your arrival at Willisburg and Cornishville if you take that route, or your arrival at Lawrenceburg if you go that way. Send your couriers via Springfield and on the direct road from Springfield to Peryville. We will probably camp at the Fair-Grounds in Springfield to-night, but if we are not there we will be 4 1/2 miles from Springfield on the Perryville road. The orders given for your movement are based on the report that the enemy has left Frankfort and is moving on Danville or in that direction. If you should have proof that this is incorrect, and that the enemy is still at Frankfort or is threatening Louisville, you must act under the last previous orders sent you. When you approach Harrodsburg you must consider yourself in the presence of the enemy and act accordingly, and communicate with headquarters and the other corps.

Colonel and Chief of Staff.

P. S.-Please send the accompanying dispatch to Dumont at the same time you send orders to Sill.Send orders to Sill as rapidly as possible and the inclosed to Dumont via Shelbyville.

                              *  *  *

OCTOBER 6, 1862-11.30 p.m.
General McCOOK:

Dispatches received from General Dumont this afternoon lead to the belief that General Sill is still at Shelbyville and not at Frankfort, as supposed when I wrote you to-day. It will not do therefore for you to attempt to form a junction with him (Sill) at Harrodsburg. You will consequently march on Perryville instead of Harrodsburg. Captain Williams, the bearer, feels confident that he can conduct your column through by Willisburg or Mackville to within 5 miles of Perryville by to-morrow night. This would be very desirable, as it would put you in position  to take part in anything which may result from the advance on Perryville to-morrow by the other corps.If, however, you think the road will not do, then come by way of the Springfield and Perryville road direct and each the Little Beech, 5 miles from Springfield, to-morrow night. General Sill must make forced marches to join you, moving by Bloomfield, Glenville, and Springfield, and the direct road to Perryville. The provisions for Jackson's division, now at Bardstown, in Captain Williams' 35 wagons, should of course he shared with the other divisions if necessary, and your other trains should be hurried forward and the empty wagons sent for more supplies to Shepherdsville unless otherwise ordered. You must of course be prepared for action at any moment. Report your action on this order, stating which road you take and your progress. We will be on the direct road from Perryville to Springfield, leaving our present camp about 7 a.m.

The movement of Sill's division must depend on the correctness of this report that the enemy have left Frankfort.

Colonel and Chief of Staff.

NOTE BY GENERAL BUELL.- The original dispatch should have added here: "Other information indicates that the enemy will concentrate at Perryville or HarrodsburgJanuary

Recall that General Sill's report to McCook the previous evening stated that he intended to move toward Frankfort at four o'clock this morning.  He had correctly waited at Shelbyville until he confirmed that Frankfort was being abandoned.  For all of it's precision, this second order indicates that, at least on this one point, Buell's information was more than 24 hours delayed.

This decision to cancel the order for McCook to join Sill at Harrodsburg and instead, have Sill  redirected to join McCook at Perryville set the stage for the battle that follows.

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