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[328] Polk's corps was, besides, rather slow in starting; and we were two days in passing over that short distance.


It has pleased some hypercritical military writers, also, to criticise severely the order of battle adopted at Shiloh. They think that a great mistake was made, in deploying the different corps, in successive lines,1 along the whole front of battle, instead of intrusting a part of that front to each corps, itself formed on several lines.

The first merit of a commander is, to be able to adapt the means at his disposal to the circumstances in which he is placed, and to apply them, in the simplest manner possible, to the accomplishment of the object in view. Our ‘corps’ were thus designated, not only for the purpose of deceiving the enemy as to the number of our troops, which we wished to exaggerate, but also to inspire our own men with greater confidence. The truth is, that these corps were properly ‘divisions,’ at least in size, and were composed only of from four to five brigades, averaging each about two thousand infantry, so that the first line, General Hardee's, consisting of four brigades, contained some eight thousand five hundred bayonets, and the second line—five hundred yards in rear of the first—consisting of five brigades, under General Bragg, had about fifteen hundred more bayonets, or nearly ten thousand in all. General Polk's corps and General Breckinridge's division composed the first of four brigades, numbering not over eight thousand five hundred men, and the second, of about six thousand, gave a total of less than thirty-five thousand infantry. The forces of Generals Polk and Breckinridge were formed in columns of brigades, at proper intervals, in rear of the second line of battle. Our front was therefore of limited extent for one command, compared to many other fronts of battle subsequently used during the war, especially in Virginia, with the corps of Generals Jackson and Longstreet.

General Hardee's command, used to marching and moving as an organized body, under that cool and gallant officer, constituted

1 Only two corps, Generals Hardee's and Bragg's, were thus deployed; the other two, Generals Polk's and Breckinridge's, were in columns of brigades, supporting each wing.

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L. Polk (4)
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