Assignment 4

I chose to track the movements of Lieutenant Cuthbert W. Laing of the 2nd Michigan Battery. He served under Brigadier General Hurlbut, so initial troop positions were still reflected on maps.  However, even using all the tools available to me, it was still difficult to track the movements of Lt. Laing. Laing’s report was very detailed, describing the advancements, holdings, and retreats of his battery and for how long. He also provided details of surrounding landmarks such as a log house, camp, and orchard. These landmarks were incredibly helpful when looking at the maps. It was also useful to know from the animated map from the Civil War Trust that Brig. Gen. Hurlbut was in a formation along with Mcclernand and Nelson, in order to identify where the 2nd Michigan Battery was in the maps. Unfortunately, in some of the maps, there was no picture of the log house to provide context, and the orchard was not pictured on almost any of them. That seems interesting because the orchard is where General Albert Sidney Johnston, commander of the CSA, was killed. Another difficulty was that certain maps either only depicted the initial positions of Hurlbut’s troops near camp or in formation with Mcclernand, Nelson and others. The maps did not display the movements of the troops. However, that is most likely because maps such as those drawn by Buell, were drawn by those who did not have a omniscient point of view of the battle and what had happened. This could only be attempted with complete knowledge and reports from officers of both sides, which could only be completed after the war ended. All of this compiled information, which would be substantiated by each others accounts, might create a more informative and reliable map. This would help historians examine strategic movements and failures of each side and determine the winners and losers.


5 Replies to “Assignment 4”

  1. Hi Megan,

    It is interesting to me that you say LT Laing mentions a log cabin. This was not mentioned in the records I read and I had pictured it as a remote area based on what I had read. I remember seeing a hospital on the map, but I had assumed it was a war hospital, not an established building. I am constantly remembering how wrong assumptions can be when reading history. I wonder if that cabin was occupied at the time?

  2. It sounds like Lt. Laing had some detailed reports, which is very important. I noticed on the maps that I looked at as well that the battery and artillery movements were not tracked very well. It seemed to me that their initial position was recorded and that was it. Being that we are looking at this from a historical perspective, it can be easier to get the fuller picture because we have access to many accounts of the battle. I wonder if you were to look at more maps and reports if you would get a better understanding of his movements.

  3. His reports seemed to be more detailed than most, which helps the reader get a better idea of the surroundings and positioning. From looking at the maps, it was very difficult to understand location because I never saw the battlefield and maps can only detail so much.

  4. Hey Megan,
    I found it interesting that even with all the sources given it was still difficult for you to find your unit. I also had the same problem along with many others I assume. This just shows how hard it is for historians to truly understand what happened during this time and place. I enjoyed reading your Lieutenants experience.

  5. ” This could only be attempted with complete knowledge and reports from officers of both sides, which could only be completed after the war ended.” While I agree with this statement there was also others involved in the battle that could have helped with this. Unfortunately when history is being made, it isn’t captured or realized until after its over. Great Job!

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