previous next
[278] intrenched to the eyes, and ready for our attack; that it was unwise to push, against breastworks, troops so raw and undisciplined as ours, badly armed and worse equipped, while their antagonists, besides the advantage of number, position, discipline, and superiority of arms, were largely composed of men lately victorious at Forts Henry and Donelson; that, from his experience in the war with Mexico and, more recently, at Manassas and Centreville, he considered volunteers, when well commanded and occupying strong defensive positions, equal to regulars, if attacked in front, as the Federals would be by us;1 that, under these circumstances, and for the further reason that the enemy, being on the alert, Buell's junction would no doubt be hastened, he was no longer in favor of making the attack, but favored inviting one by turning this offensive movement into a reconnoissance in force, to draw the enemy after us nearer to our base—Corinth—and thereby detach him further from his own, at Pittsburg Landing. Somewhat similar strategy had been resorted to by Wellington in 1810, when, advancing to attack Massena at Santarem, he unexpectedly found that able officer on his guard, ready for battle, on ground of his own choosing, and much stronger than he had anticipated. After making some demonstrations in front of his wily adversary, to draw him away from his stronghold, Wellington did not hesitate to retire without giving battle.

General Beauregard's views produced a visible effect on all present. General Johnston, although shaken, after some reflection

1 General Sherman, in his ‘Memoirs,’ says of the Federal position: ‘The position was naturally strong, with Snake Creek on our right, a deep, bold stream, with a confluent (Owl Creek) to our right front, and Lick Creek, with a similar confluent, on our left, thus narrowing the space over which we could be attacked to one and a half or two miles. At a later period of the war we could have rendered this position impregnable in one night, but at this time we did not do it.’

The fact is, that the position was not strong, except that it could not be flanked, but might have been readily made impregnable in one night to the assault of so raw a force as ours. We knew, from the careful examination of Colonel Crocket, the Federal officer captured on the 4th, that, up to the evening of that day, there were no breastworks; but the several warnings given by the conflict in which he was captured, the noisy incidents of the next day's march and reconnoissance, and our presence in full force on the field for fifteen hours before the attack, were facts which forced General Beauregard to believe the Federals would surely use the ample time they had, during that night, to throw up intrenchments sufficient for the repulse of our raw troops.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Wellington (2)
G. T. Beauregard (2)
Sherman (1)
Massena (1)
A. S. Johnston (1)
J. D. Crocket (1)
Buell (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1810 AD (1)
4th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: