Open main menu

Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/326

This page needs to be proofread.


318 Southern Historical Society Papers.

roads and retarded the movement of the troops. It would seem, however, that the corps commanders, aware of the importance of surprising the enemy, would have used greater efforts to impel the men along. Will anyone believe that Jackson or Forrest would have failed to be thereĀ ?

To explain very clearly how disappointed General Beauregard was over the failure to attack Saturday, we may say that he advised General Johnston to abandon the enterprise. He believed that the enemy was aware of the close proximity of the Confederates, and would, therefore, be found in breastworks.

General Johnston gave grave and earnest attention to his views, and doubtless coincided in them, but said he still hoped the enemy was not looking for them.

Lord Napier said: " That celerity in war depends as much on the experience of the troops as upon the energy of the general."

Forrest said: "Success depends on getting there first with the most men."

Stonewall Jackson said: " Attack as soon as you have come upon the enemy. Do not wait for stragglers to catch up, because it is very likely the enemy straggles also." There can be no doubt, had the Confederates attacked early Saturday morning, the Federal army would have been captured or destroyed. As a matter of fact, on Sunday evening Grant's army was a wrecked and shivering mass, and had Monday dawned upon them without the aid of Buell, the end would have been at hand.

One reason why the battle of Sunday fell short of a complete victory is, that after the battle was at its height, near noon, the corps and division officers, who should have been occupied with keeping their forces concentrated and in order, so as to be able to hurl them in masses against the shattered enemy, were in front of the lines leading regiments and brigades into action. They were inspired by the events of the moment, and, of course, did a great deal by their personal example; they led with great intrepidity, but their place was with the mass of their commands, and not leading the advance regiments.

Everything goes to prove that there was little or no concert of action; each brigade acted for itself, particularly after noon, when the attacks were piecemeal entirely. Had each corps been well in hand, to mass and press on, instead of sacrificing the regiments and brigades singly, who will doubt the resultĀ ? The battle should have