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 (1861-1865) Civil War Battles (Western Theater)
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mikecmaps
CAMARILLO CA USA
Posts: 124
Joined: 2020
Another lost order 1863 Vicksburg
12/7/2021 5:29:14 PM
7 Dec 2021
Another lost order 1863 Vicksburg
Lee’s lost order is a topic of much discussion and note.

Its effects are debated. Did it matter, etc. ?? We know (Sears App.1 p. 381) that Lee was surprised at how quickly McClellan began moving over the mountain from Fredrick. Lee knew that McClellan had suddenly started moving after Lee but he never knew why. He didn’t learn until after the war that an order had fallen into Union hands. The order spelled out in detail Lee’s plan for the coming days (13-16 Sep). McClellan exclaimed “I know what to do!” The order gave the position and planned movements of all of Lee’s divisions.

The other lost order has not received anything like the notice as the one lost by Lee. But its impact was perhaps much more significant and likely benefited the recipients much more directly and decisively. It was again a confederate order this time issued by Johnston to Pemberton 13 May 1863. In this order Johnston told Pemberton when and how he was to join up with Johnston so they could act together in response to Grants move against Jackson Mississippi before moving directly on Vicksburg. First Pemberton said he would comply but quickly changed and held a council of war. Most of his commanders wanted to comply and attempt to link up with Johnston. A few wanted to move south and find Grants line of communication. Pemberton really didn’t agree with either but decided he must do something and choose to move out to cut Grants supply line. Meanwhile Grant had already taken Jackson while Pemberton moved farther from Johnston who had retreated north from Jackson.

Grant had the advantage in having received a copy of Johnston’s first order to Pemberton from one of the confederate couriers who was a union spy. Grant received and read the dispatch, handed it back to the courier, who continued and delivered it to Pemberton. Although Pemberton didn’t comply, the dispatch gave Grant valuable real time information of what to expect and the timing and forces he may face. The knowledge gained from the dispatch fueled Grant’s confidence and he rapidly advanced on Jackson.

While Lee soon had some sense that McClellan was suddenly bolder, neither Johnston nor Pemberton ever had any idea that Grant had read a vital dispatch, Grant knew what Johnston wanted Pemberton to do even before Pemberton had read the order. In contrast to McClellan, having the lost order energized Grant and gave him confidence his plan was working and that his two enemies were struggling to coordinate their actions. Such real time intelligence is rare but certainly a valuable asset in any strategic situation.
(see Woodworth, Davis and His Generals)

Thanks, Mike_C.
mikecmaps
Michigan Dave
Muskegon MI USA
Posts: 6741
Joined: 2006
Another lost order 1863 Vicksburg
12/7/2021 8:56:08 PM
Hi Mike,

Thanks for that, I never knew Grant had the intercepted battle plans of the Confederates at Vicksburg! That explains Grants successful attack out of the blue on Jackson, MS.!

And I thought Grant was a genius!???
Anymore on this? Anyone?

Regards,
MD

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"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."
Steve Clements
Toronto ON Canada
Posts: 828
Joined: 2004
Another lost order 1863 Vicksburg
12/8/2021 2:49:41 PM
Quote:

Its effects are debated. Did it matter, etc. ?? We know (Sears App.1 p. 381) that Lee was surprised at how quickly McClellan began moving over the mountain from Fredrick. Lee knew that McClellan had suddenly started moving after Lee but he never knew why. He didn’t learn until after the war that an order had fallen into Union hands. The order spelled out in detail Lee’s plan for the coming days (13-16 Sep). McClellan exclaimed “I know what to do!” The order gave the position and planned movements of all of Lee’s divisions.


Yes, Lee was "surprised" at how quickly Mac began moving, but it wasn't Mac moving "from" Frederick, but merely the fact that much of the AoP was already in Frederick by the 13th that was the surprise. If anything, finding the #191 caused Mac to hesitate....in Mac's mind, if Lee was willing to split his army into four distinct pieces (five actually, since Longstreet was sent to Hagerstown while DH Hill was left at South Mountain), then Lee must really have overwhelming numbers.

The movements of the AoP towards South Mountain that were initiated on the 13th had been ordered prior to Mac having the Lost Order in his hands (which Hartwig estimates occurred around 2:00 p.m. on the 13th).

Hartwig, in his "To Antietam Creek", is critical of the job that Stuart did.....specifically in terms of making sure that Lee knew just how far from Washington had the AoP actually moved. Hartwig essentially argues that if Lee knew how close the AoP was to the tail of the ANV, that Lee would never have attempted to subdue Harper's Ferry by splitting the ANV into multiple pieces.

Frankly, it strikes me as being remarkably arrogant on Lee's part.

Not that Mac moved very quickly, once he left Washington (I am reading Volume 1 of Carmen right now, and Carmen details how many of the Union corps only moved two or three mile a day etc.), but Lee had expected Mac to stay in Washington for at least several weeks....so any movement out from Washington was catching Lee by surprise.

s.c.

EDIT. Harsh. “Taken at the Flood. Pages 230-237 also gets into the fact that once Mac crossed the Catoctin range on the morning if the 13th ie before the Lost Order was “found”, that Lee was in serious trouble.
John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre PA USA
Posts: 1160
Joined: 2004
Another lost order 1863 Vicksburg
12/13/2021 2:31:02 PM
Mike,

Pemberton never had any intention of following Johnston's idea/plan/orders because doing so would directly disobey his standing orders from Davis. Each Department commander had specific standing orders from Richmond that couldn't be overturned by an order from an officer of higher rank. Pemberton's order was to not uncover Vicksburg.
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A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country. "to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"
mikecmaps
CAMARILLO CA USA
Posts: 124
Joined: 2020
Another lost order 1863 Vicksburg
12/14/2021 2:21:33 PM
John,

Pemberton never had any intention of following Johnston's idea/plan/orders because doing so would directly disobey his standing orders from Davis. Each Department commander had specific standing orders from Richmond that couldn't be overturned by an order from an officer of higher rank. Pemberton's order was to not uncover Vicksburg.

John,
Respectfully, notion of some overriding standing order is a (IMHO) exaggeration/oversimplification.
Dec 62 Johnston was ordered to take over the western theater with direct command over Pemberton and Bragg. And while yes, it was Davis’ desire (policy?) that Vicksburg be held, reality on the ground was that a balance had to be attempted between Tenn. and Miss areas. There was nothing straight forward about that and took the ideas and planning by Davis, Seddon, Johnston, Bragg and Pemberton over period of jan-apr. to make arrangements and respond to what appeared to be the most threatened area at the moment. Johnston had direct control and gave suggestions and directions to Bragg and Pemberton in the fluid situation. None really understood Grant had moved well south and crossed the Miss. R. until days later. Davis’ issuing conflicting orders from 1000 miles away 3-4 days communication process was perhaps the nail that doomed Vicksburg. In early Apr. just days before Grants move, Johnston and Pemberton were arranging movement of troops from miss to Bragg. When Union troops were found to have landed on the east bank Miss R. these were suspended and reversed. This campaign highlights the thoroughly ineffective Confed command “system” and particularly Davis’ chief role of the confused/indecisive in-chief. Standing orders to “hold to the last” rarely have any serious application to real world operations. The How Who what when etc. are decisive and must be put together to be deemed a meaningful effective strategy. Another case of Davis and others not being able to bring that off.

thanks, Mike_C.
mikecmaps


John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre PA USA
Posts: 1160
Joined: 2004
Another lost order 1863 Vicksburg
12/15/2021 12:02:46 PM
Mike,

With respect everything I've read says the standing orders trumped all. Johnston was a commander in chief in name only.

There was in effect a "strategic reserve" of approx 2 divisions that moved back and forth between the two major armies at that point. Think McNown/Walker. That is what troops your talking about.

Both Prmberton and Johnston knew withing hours at the most that Grant had landed. Whirt Adams Cav Reg with attached Miss militia were picketing the East bank and there was a railroad between Jackson and Vicksburg. Plus Gregg's Brigade had just reached Raymond to be soon meet by Green's Brigade.

They also knew he had moved "well south" and was trying to ctoss for days before he actually crossed see the attempt to land at Grand Gulf on the 28 or 29 April which Bowan's arty beat back.


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A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country. "to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"

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