Assignment 4

The commander I selected is Pierre G. T. Beauregard, who was General of the Confederate forces after General Johnston was killed. His tenacious plan of action was clearly depicted in McPherson’s account. At the beginning of the battle, Beauregard concentrated 42,000 troops in Corinth, Mississippi. He intended to march all the way north and sweep the union out of Tennessee. Beauregard was unexpectedly greeted by the Union forces, and consequently suffered some 23,000 casualties. It wasn’t difficult to follow the movement of his troops on the battle map located on page 411 when paired with the text. Though the battle map alone was slightly confusing to follow.

 

On April 5th, it was said the Beauregard marched his troops in a flank, intended to surprise the Union troops. This was very easy to follow on the map in McPherson’s account. The Battle of Shiloh map found on the Library of Congress website was slightly confusing to follow only because it seems to be hand written. When paired with Bearegard’s battle plan, I was able to decipher the map and follow the movement of his troops. The map given by the Civil War Trust was difficult to read because the printing was very light, and the map itself was not detailed. Even with the scale and legend, the terrain features are not clearly depicted. It was difficult to distinguish between the Union and Confederate forces.

 

The secondary maps were easier to follow because they were much clearer, and included more detail. It may be beneficial to read through journals or letters written by troops to fill in any gaps there might be when referring to the battle plans written by commanders. I think the biggest challenge for historians when it comes to explaining the way a battle was won through personally written accounts is the fact that people don’t always remember everything that happened, especially with the stress and pressure of war. It’s ultimately up to the discretion of the writer, and the interpretation of the reader to determine what exactly happened when it comes to hand written accounts.

5 thoughts on “Assignment 4”

  1. It was a good idea to pick a popular enough general to have most of his movements depicted on the maps– I went with a less known leader to read a different perspective but ended up having trouble matching exact movements.

    Anyway, I agree with what you say about the effects of stress and pressure on soldier’s accounts. Accounts taken right after battle may be skewed due to the overwhelming trauma of the previous day, but accounts taken months after run the risk of people simply forgetting details over time. I wonder if some of the battle reports are noticeably exaggerated or emotional allowing historians to determine the soldier’s account may not be totally reliable.

  2. It’s lucky to find a report which can be easier followed on maps. But I think the scale and legend could be a problem for almost every map we use to study the reports. Also, combined with the journals and letters written by troops is a great idea to help recreat the details of a battle. Getting more imformation and matching them with the reports and the maps can be more efficient for historians.

  3. I really agree with your point about how it is difficult for historians to make sound facts as its reliant on the memory of the person reporting the events. I think this could lead to either over or under reporting as some may want to make a specific battle more or less violent for example. Reporting these kinds of events accurately is difficult because it is tough to cross check a primary source such as a troop or brigade leader against anything else.

  4. I completely agree with your statement that, “the biggest challenge for historians when it comes to explaining the way a battle was won through personally written accounts is the fact that people don’t always remember everything that happened, especially with the stress and pressure of war”. This presents a big issue in determining the accuracy of these primary battle reports. It just goes to show hard historians have it and how much cross referencing they have to do in order to validate reports like this.

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