Hurlbut and WHL Wallace moved towards the sound of firing without waiting for orders from Grant. They took up positions on the left and right flank respectively of what would be become the Sunken Road defenses. Both start moving around 9 AM which is about the moment Grant arrives at the Landing. Even though they had not moved before Grant arrived they were ready to move. This is a big step as Civil War regiments cannot be made ready in mere moments, it takes awhile to get a regiment ready, much less brigades or divisions.
If they had waited for orders they might have come into those positions too late and would have had to form a line closer to the landing. Forming a line closer to the landing would have changed that element of the defense. Except for Dill Branch there was very little good defensive ground between the Sunken Road and the landing. If they had been routed from the Dill Branch line it would have proved disastrous. Also if they had initially formed a line along Dill Branch that would have allowed the Confederates to strike Sherman and McClernand’s divisions on the left flank.
Forming a line along the Sunken Road allowed time for a last line of defense to be created. It also protected the left flank of Sherman and McClernand. It is a critical decision for Hurlbut and WHL Wallace to move without orders and secure a defensive line.
This post is a bit out of order. Sorry about that, I wanted to check something before posting it and in the meantime I forged on with other Shiloh posts.
Wheeling WV – Oct. 18, 2016
13 hours ago