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JimConley
04-21-2004, 12:14 PM
All Civil War researchers and historians know the story of the grand battle of Shiloh, in particularly, the Hornet's Nest. But, contrary to popular beliefs regarding the fight at the Hornet's Nest, historians have since come up with different interpretations. As history would tell it, U.S. Grant ordered mass graves at the end of the battle. This then implies that the dead would be buried in the vicinity of where they fell. But, historian Stacey Allen stated that after observing the terrain and farming records of Shiloh, much of the popular beliefs are simply wrong. For example, Ambrose Bierce wrote in his excerpt, "What I saw of Shiloh," that "I should not have been surprised to see sleek leopards" describing the lush ground. Allen concluded through farm records and watching spring arise for a few years in southwest Tennessee, that srping came late to Shiloh in 1862. Such evidence shows that the landscape would still have been bare, countering what Bierce claimed.
Now, the Hornet's Nest. History would have us believe that Confederate troops made about 12 charges towards the nest. But modern day evidence shows that the numbers of dead could account for only one charge across Duncan field, not 11 or 12. Allen said that most evidence points most of the fighting towards the boreders of the field.
General Grant once stated that Shiloh was the most misunderstood battle. Things like this may make us realize some truth behind that.

Source: Horwitz, Tony. Confederates in the Attic. New York: Vintage Books, 1998.

Noble Pelican
04-21-2004, 03:06 PM
All Civil War buffs know the story of the grand battle of Shiloh, in particularly, the Hornet's Nest. But, contrary to popular beliefs regarding the fight at the Hornet's Nest, historians have since come up with different interpretations. As history would tell it, U.S. Grant ordered mass graves at the end of the battle. This then implies that the dead would be buried in the vicinity of where they fell. But, historian Stacey Allen stated that after observing the terrain and farming records of Shiloh, much of the popular beliefs are simply wrong. For example, Ambrose Bierce wrote in his excerpt, "What I saw of Shiloh," that "I should not have been surprised to see sleek leopards" describing the lush ground. Allen concluded through farm records and watching spring arise for a few years in southwest Tennessee, that srping came late to Shiloh in 1862. Such evidence shows that the landscape would still have been bare, countering what Bierce claimed.
Now, the Hornet's Nest. History would have us believe that Confederate troops made about 12 charges towards the nest. But modern day evidence shows that the numbers of dead could account for only one charge across Duncan field, not 11 or 12. Allen said that most evidence points most of the fighting towards the boreders of the field.
General Grant once stated that Shiloh was the most misunderstood battle. Things like this may make us realize some truth behind that.

Source: Horwitz, Tony. Confederates in the Attic. New York: Vintage Books, 1998.



I must beg to differ on the statement that only one charge was made. While not giving validation to the 11-12 charge theory, the information below shows that it was not just one. I would tend to believe the people that were there instead of speculation 142 years late.

"Sir....

... Seeing that my men were being rapidly shot down, and having no reason to believe that we were inflicting equal injury upon the enemy, I gave the order to cease firing and to charge bayonets. Officers and men alike obeyed the order promptly. So dense and impenetrable became the thicket of undergrowth that after my men had boldly forced their way 20 or 30 steps into it, and it seeming impossible to make further progress, I again gave the order to commence firing.
The regiment now gradually fell back to the fence. Finding that the enemy were now opening a cross-fire upon us from our left, and seeing a large number of my small command killed and wounded, I deemed it my duty to order the regiment to fall back to the other side of the the little farm, which was accordingly done in good order.
In this unequal conflict - unequal on account of the enemy's local position - the regiment sustained heavy loss. In this one action, out of little less than 300 we had lost in killed and wounded between 40 and 50 ...
Having fallen back beyond the small farm, I halted the regiment and waited in hope that the enemy would leave his covert and give us a fair fight. But he too fully appreciated his great advantage of position to give it up.
Remaining in this position a short time, having had no order from your or our division comander, I recieved an order from General Bragg, transmitted through one of his staff, to advance again and attack the same position from which we had just withdrawn. Of course the order was obeyed without delay; but I requested the officer to say to the general that I thought it impossible to force the enemy from this strong position by a charge from the front, but that with a light battery playing on one flank and a simultaneous charge of infantry on the other the position could be carried with but small loss.
Again we advanced into the little farm, and again when midway the clearing, the enemy opened fire on us. Again we pressed on to the other fence directly in front of his ambuscade. He we remained exposed to his merciless fire for over half an hour, without the power to inflict any apparent injury upon the hidden foe. In justice to my command I again ordered them to fall back, which was done in as good order as before.
In this second attack we lost in killed and wounded 15 men ...It would, under the circumstances, have been madness to have kept my command there longer.
I may be permitted to add, sir, that this formidable position of the enemy, after having withstood the repeated attacks of various regiments, was only carried at last by a charge upon the right flank, supported by a battery on the left.
After the enemy were driven from this stronghold we, with several brigades, moved toward the river. It was then nigh sunset...

B.L. Hodge
Colonel, Nineteenth Regiment Louisiana Volunteers"

Source...page 493 - Series 1, Vol. 10, Part 1 - War of the Rebellion, Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

Yellowhammer
04-21-2004, 05:36 PM
Source: Horwitz, Tony. Confederates in the Attic. New York: Vintage Books, 1998.

Mr. Horwitz is neither a historian nor a sociologist though he attempts to do both. Additionally, the details of several events he describes are twisted or excluded to make them more print worthy. For example, comments made sarcastically or in jest by reenactors are printed as if they were said most earnestly.

While entertaining, "Confederates in the Attic" is not a work of history and should not be consulted as such.

JimConley
04-21-2004, 06:29 PM
Gentlemen,
I believe you may have misunderstood the point of my post. I never made any claim that what I posted was fact. Furthermore, I never praised credit to Tony Horwitz. I simply used the information in his book that spoke of his conversations with Stacey Allen, who IS a historian at Shiloh. The point to the post was to start a discussion of interest and get some feedback. I am fully aware what many first hand accounts of the battle state about the horrific fighting at the hornet's nest. Again, I just thought that the information provided by Stacey Allen was something of interest.

Noble Pelican
04-21-2004, 06:40 PM
Thank you very much for saying that, John. Not wanting to outright bash the author of those words only because I did not want to violate any forum rules. Given the number of regiments that assualted that area piecemeal, I am sure that charges on that position may have exceeded the 11-12 stated. Also, I didnt put it because I dont have the source handy, but I recall reading about people digging in their gardens at Shiloh and uncovering mass graves.
Lastly, I take exception to being called a buff as I am sure others do. With the amount of research done by people on this board, I think the term historian is better applied.

DougCooper
04-21-2004, 06:58 PM
My dead g-g-uncle might take issue with the 1 charge idea as well - he was mortally wounded somewhere in the middle of the fight that cost the 18th LA over 200 men. Pond's Brigade was decimated. Gibson was censured for refusing to send his men yet again back into the maw after several attempts.

The sheer amount of time involved make the claim completely ludicrous as well...unless the troops charging were taking one step every few minutes. And "not enough dead for 11-12 charges" is an interesting concept...is there an accepted "dead per charge" ratio?

And of course the term "Hornet's Nest" was coined that day. Not Robin's nest, or honey bee nest or whatever. Was a very bad place to be for what must have seemed like an eternity to the men involved.

Horowitz...fun book but in my opinion it is the very picture of a "little knowledge is a dangerous thing."

hireddutchcutthroat
04-21-2004, 07:11 PM
Mr Conley

It is ironic that I was thinking about this just before you posted it.

The way that Horowitz writes about Allins ideas, makes them sound almost like conspiracy theory. I think the whole idea could be disspelled with some good honest research into wartime diaries and accounts. I find it rather hard to belive that both sides would out in out lie about such a specific part of the battle.

JimConley
04-21-2004, 07:51 PM
My dead g-g-uncle might take issue with the 1 charge idea as well - he was mortally wounded somewhere in the middle of the fight that cost the 18th LA over 200 men. Pond's Brigade was decimated. Gibson was censured for refusing to send his men yet again back into the maw after several attempts.

The sheer amount of time involved make the claim completely ludicrous as well...unless the troops charging were taking one step every few minutes. And "not enough dead for 11-12 charges" is an interesting concept...is there an accepted "dead per charge" ratio?

And of course the term "Hornet's Nest" was coined that day. Not Robin's nest, or honey bee nest or whatever. Was a very bad place to be for what must have seemed like an eternity to the men involved.

Horowitz...fun book but in my opinion it is the very picture of a "little knowledge is a dangerous thing."
Mr. Cooper
Great point about the "Hornet's Nest" term. I never really thought too much about the name, only that it was named that because of multiple whizzing bullets. And though I don't deny that the fighting was horrific to say the least, I believe one must remember that this was the first taste of large scale battle for many of these men. Not to say that the name exaggerates, just another factor to consider.

Noble Pelican
04-21-2004, 08:38 PM
Jim,

I understand the point you make about Stacy Allen making the quotes. However, as was stated above, Horowitz used liberal literary license with quotes by reeanctors, so who is to say that he quoted Allen correctly. I would put more credit in something Allen said directly than "he said this" by a non-historian journalist.
Also, having been in the same position of park ranger as Stacy Allen at another historical military site, I found that at least once a week, somebody would inevitably come in with new historical information that changed the standard view of what happened where and by who. This is evidenced by the statement for many years that Watson's Louisiana Battery did not participate in the Battle of Shiloh. Many claimed that they were miles away. A little digging on my part while an archivist at the Louisiana State Archives uncovered several men of Watson's Battery that were wounded at that battle. That evidence totally refutes the fact they werent involved in action.
In essence, I am trying to convey that as historians we must keep open minds and listen to what our forefathers wrote that day.

hireddutchcutthroat
04-21-2004, 10:49 PM
Here is Ambrose Bierces account;

http://www.civilwarhome.com/shilohbierce.htm

JimConley
04-21-2004, 11:47 PM
Mr. Holloway,
I agree with you 100% I'll take the side of anyone that has done their own research and found evidence as what you have described. Thank you for you feedback and my hat is off to you for your passion on the subject.

markj
04-22-2004, 01:48 PM
Hi,

Check out this NPS website that includes an on-line article discussing use of GPR (Ground Penetrating Radar) at Shiloh :

http://www.cr.nps.gov/seac/civilwar/

A few years ago, there was also an interesting article in "Archaeology" magazine that discussed archaeological surveys at Shiloh NMP.

Finally, by all means check out this interesting book:

Geier, C. R. & Potter, S. R. Archaeological Perspectives on the American Civil War. Gainesville FL: University Press of Florida, 2000. xxxiii, 412 pps, illus.

Nothing specific about Shiloh but there is fascinating information that has come out of digs at Antietam, the Brawner Farm, and Cool Spring, among other places.

Regards,

Mark Jaeger

JimConley
04-22-2004, 02:22 PM
Great link Mr. Jaeger, thank you!

johnnyturncoat
04-22-2004, 03:16 PM
Lastly, I take exception to being called a buff as I am sure others do. With the amount of research done by people on this board, I think the term historian is better applied.

Don't take this as an attack on you Mr, Holloway,
on your profile it states that you are a professional historian, so I'm guessing
that you posses a masters degree in history. How many reenactors do you think have a master degree to merit being called a historian? I guess if I study anatomy as a hobby, and I do my own research, that makes me a doctor now. Until you earn a master degree in History,and have published material to be critized by fellow collegues in accepted journals, you are still a history buff. The Authentic Campaigner is a long shot from being an accepted
'journal.'

Sincerely,
Johnny Jones

Dignann
04-22-2004, 03:32 PM
To get a good understanding of Stacy Allen's real interpretation of the fighting, check out the 1996-1997 Shiloh issues of Blue and Gray Magazine. Allen authored these issues and they were published around the same time as Confederates in the Attic (1998).

Eric

Noble Pelican
04-22-2004, 05:58 PM
Lastly, I take exception to being called a buff as I am sure others do. With the amount of research done by people on this board, I think the term historian is better applied.

Don't take this as an attack on you Mr, Holloway,
on your profile it states that you are a professional historian, so I'm guessing
that you posses a masters degree in history. How many reenactors do you think have a master degree to merit being called a historian? I guess if I study anatomy as a hobby, and I do my own research, that makes me a doctor now. Until you earn a master degree in History,and have published material to be critized by fellow collegues in accepted journals, you are still a history buff. The Authentic Campaigner is a long shot from being an accepted
'journal.'

Sincerely,
Johnny Jones


Mr. Jones,

I believe you misunderstood my post. I feel no personal affront or attack, but was speaking about for the scores of men and women on this board. Many of them have spent countless hours doing research and many have published that research. Some of them dont have masters degrees either, but that doesnt make their work any less valid. I believe that entitles them to be addressed as historians.
You may find it okay to be called a buff and that is fine. But as evidenced by the giggling of my associates when that word is muttered in description of someone who has delved into the subject more deeply than reading an issue of Civil War Times Illustrated, I do find it irritating.
I am saddened that you dont consider this board a valid journal. Many here are respected leaders on various aspects of the War Between the States. You would do good to read some of their findings. I doubt that any college history professor or musem docent could do much better.