previous next
[332] guarded by Owl and Snake Creeks, our left by Lick Creek, leaving us simply to guard our front. No stronger position was ever held by an army. . . . But even as we were on the 6th of April, you might search the world over and not find a more advantageous field of battle—flanks well protected, and never threatened, troops in easy support, timber and broken ground giving good points to rally; and the proof is that forty-three thousand men, of whom at least ten thousand ran away, held their ground against sixty thousand chosen troops1 of the South with their best leaders. On Friday the 4th, nor officer, nor soldier, not even Colonel Worthington, looked for an attack, as I can prove.

Now, what forces had he and General Prentiss with which to hold and defend their impregnable positions? Sherman had three of his brigades of infantry, three batteries of six pieces each, and some cavalry, and was reinforced by one brigade of McClernand's division, making in all over nine thousand men; and General Prentiss had three brigades of infantry and two batteries, or about six thousand men—together they had over fifteen thousand men.

Their positions were carried in from one to two hours by Hardee's corps of four brigades, numbering nine thousand and twentyfour infantry and artillery, assisted by Bragg's five brigades, ten thousand seven hundred and thirty-one infantry and artillery, and by two brigades of Polk's corps, about four thousand five hundred men, or, in all, less than twenty-five thousand. Polk's other two brigades and Breckinridge's division of three brigades took no part in this first attack. Is it probable that the Federals, who fought so gallantly during the rest of that day, would have been driven so soon from such a stronghold as is described by General Sherman, if they had not been surprised? But the reports of several of General Sherman's own brigade commanders show conclusively that the Confederate attack, on the morning of the 6th, came upon them quite unexpectedly. A remarkable circumstance is, that General Sherman had then no cavalry pickets in advance of his encampments, having forgotten, apparently, that cavalry is ‘the eye of an army.’ His infantry pickets and guards were so few and close to his first line of sentinels as not to be able to delay our advance, or give timely notice of our approach. General Sherman says also, in his report:

1 The Confederates numbered not quite forty thousand men, and about one third of this force was composed of newly formed regiments, very recently armed.

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 Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Snake Creek (Tennessee, United States) (1)
Owl Creek (Tennessee, United States) (1)
Lick Creek (Tennessee, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

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.
Sherman (5)
Prentiss (2)
L. Polk (2)
Thomas Worthington (1)
McClernand (1)
W. J. Hardee (1)
John C. Breckinridge (1)
Braxton Bragg (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.
April 6th (1)
6th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: