Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Diary of Alexander G. Downing: Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee, Wednesday, April 16, 1862

No news of importance.3

3 There was much discussion among the men over the great battle we had just been through, the battle of Shiloh. The question why the Confederates lost the battle, I should answer as follows: First, they were four hours late in making the general attack on that Sunday morning. The Confederate generals, instead of sending some of their staff officers before daylight to spy out and report to the commanding general what they had seen (according to a report of H. C. Lockett of General Bragg's staff), should have had their first line of battle at the Union picket line by that time, and then charging our pickets and coming in upon the first camps, they could have captured them before they could have dressed; then pushing on to the other commands, they could have put them to rout before they could have formed a line of battle. But their being so late in making the first attack gave our commanders time to form into line. As it was, whenever the Confederates advanced our forces were in shape to fire volleys into them and easily throw them into confusion, thus making their advance slower and more irregular during the day.

In the second place, the Confederates starting four hours late in the morning made them more than six hours late in the afternoon, so in place of being ready to make their last charge of the day at 1 o’clock they did not make it until almost 7 o’clock in the evening. By that time it was too late, since the Union generals had formed a strong line of artillery, supported by all the infantry, who stood loyally by their colors. Then, just before the final charge, one brigade of Buell's army had already arrived and formed in line, and the day was forever lost to the Confederates. — A. G. D.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 44-5

No comments: