Assignment 4

I chose to examine Captain Robert H. Sturgess 8th IL. Infantry battle report on his accounts of his regiments movement from camp in Pittsburgh into the Battle of Shiloh. According to Sturgess report, his unit were ordered to take position at 7:33 am on a ridge perpendicular to the camp line of the second brigade. During the day they were left of the 18th IL regiment. The captain of the regiments was shot and forced Sturgess and his men to fall back to regroup. Sturgess in his report describes the terrain as an open field between his regiment and the confederate troops. He also describes his troops advancing forward slowly and on April 7th the regiment were able to hold their position until the day was won.  The map that gave me the best idea of the 8th IL infantry was the map showing positions during the Battle of Shiloh, Tenn from Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918. This map depicted the movement because it showed where the regiment was before the battle began and showed the movement by placing arrows on the map. It also aligns with Sturgess battle report that I read.Additional sources I would consult in order to fill the missing gaps on the maps to the report would be to examine the other regiments report (18th regiment of Illinois) to see what they saw Sturgess men do during the battle. This primary source was important for me to see as I read through the actual report. The animated map was very useful for me to get an idea of how the whole picture looked. This meaning, I was able to see all the regiments and how they moved as the battle progressed during the two days. Although the first hand account of the battle report by Sturgess gave a lot of accurate information, another good source to look at would be the confederate sides report on this area of the battle to see their perspective of the movement of the Union soldiers. This may be more difficult since they may not know which regiment was which but could confirm or add to the 8th Illinois INfantry account of the battle.The biggest challenge historians face when attempting to use primary written accounts about battles is the details that may be left out. This could be a bias of information by a commander by making himself look better when there is victory or loss, depending on the battle. The written account could have some details left out or skewed to create a more “perfect” story for that person. Not all written accounts are wrong or lack detail however historians do need to cipher through the information to get the accurate story.

8 Replies to “Assignment 4”

  1. Hey Brian,

    I liked how you pointed out how there could always be information or details missing or left out. There’s never a full clear picture of history especially when there are two sides being expressed and/or argued that can cause holes in the true understanding of what took place. But there are always two sides to a story right? Maybe having these two sided gaps fills a larger understanding of each sides aspects and thought processes further explaining why certain things began or occurred under the POV if the certain individual?

  2. That is a great thought on seeing the confederate reports and gaining their perspective. Just seeing one side of the battle can be possibly make you draw a very one- sided opinion and the reports from the confederate sides would not only help you fill in the missing gaps for situations where you would not know about but the reports would also help you see a different perspective from the situations you already have a lot of knowledge about.

  3. There had to have been a ton of information that was left out. I’m assuming documenting a battle in real time has to be incredibly difficult. This has made me wonder who documented the wars in the first place. I wonder how much effort was put into it or if those in charge at the time cared at all about how the war was documented.

  4. I also found the same map you used to be the easiest to read and understand. It really helped that there were drawings showing the movement of different units throughout the Battle of Shiloh. Also, I agree with what you said about reports missing certain information. It’s fine to read one battle report, but in order to gain a complete understanding of the battle, historians must consult multiple reports in order to piece together everything that happened so that as little information is missing as possible.

  5. I also thought the arrows were helpful in the map and to help me better understand what actually was going on. I think its great that you found some many details but I’m sure there are so many that don’t make the cut because of the amount of time and place they were documenting this.

  6. “Although the first hand account of the battle report by Sturgess gave a lot of accurate information, another good source to look at would be the confederate sides report on this area of the battle to see their perspective of the movement of the Union soldiers.”

    I’ve always heard the quote “History is told by the victors” and I believe this to be true. However, with a situation like the Civil War, its interesting to have access to both sides’ reports. Having the confederates side of the story is a easy way to get rid of any discrepancies that comes from the victors point of view.

  7. It’s interesting that your report described an open field as placement for one of their positions, as mine did also. Not all the maps had significant terrain detail on them, and who knows how accurate that truly is. I could not determine which open field my report referred to so it’s nice that you did.

  8. I agree that the battle report helped alot. Also The maps i used provided little to no help unless The battle report was read beforehand. Lastly, I agree that many of the events that actually took place were left out in battle reports and or other reports.

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