Secessionville, Part 5

by Brett Schulte on September 13, 2005 · 0 comments

Secessionville: Assault On Charleston by Patrick Brennan

Chapter 6
1. In Chapter 6, the Yankees worked to strengthen the defenses of their camps, bringing in heavy guns and building emplacements for them. There were also several sharp skirmishes between June 10 and June 14, with the heaviest at Grimball’s Farm on June 10. The 79th New York also created “Battery Stevens” about 2000 yards SSW of the Tower Battery on the eastern edge of James Island. An all-day artillery duel then occurred on June 14.

2. The 47th Georgia was badly hurt in an ill-advised attack on parts of three waiting Northern regiments in the attack at Grimball’s Farm. The attack was made only because Pemberton demanded some extra room to place a battery in an exposed forward position. This caused some serious friction between Pemberton and Smith, then in command of the James Island defenses. I say “then”, because on June 12 Pemberton ordered “Shanks” Evans and two regiments from Savannah to James Island. Since Evans ranked Smith, he became the new commander on James Island when he arrived on June 14. Incredibly, Pemberton was still tinkering with his command. Friction between Smith, Evans, and Pemberton was inevitable. As Brennan writes, the Confederate command was “top-heavy with too many Generals”.

3. The Federals had command problems of their own. Henry Benham decided on a three-pronged “grand reconnaissance” on June 11 to try to capture some forward Confederate Artillery. Brennan believes that “it was a plan fraught with peril”. The aforementioned Action at Grimball’s Farm on June 10 and David Hunter’s abrupt departure for Hilton Head meant the reconnaissance was canceled. To Isaac Stevens, it was simply more bungling by two men he described as “imbecile, vascillatory, and utterly unfit to command”. Horatio Wright was also disgusted by Benham’s command decisions. When Hunter left, he gave Benham strict instructions not to attack. Brennan says the Union had the opposite problem from the Confederates. In the Yankee case, they had too few men in command.

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