Friday, August 15, 2008

Army Command

Last night at the Rocky Mountain Civil War Roundtable we had an interesting meeting about command changes. The presenter followed the Army of Northern Virginia and the various command changes, the cycle of promotions and transfers, etc. He also had a breakdown of the commanders, such as age, experience, state affiliation, etc. I thought is was fascinating and was thinking of doing something similar for the Western armies. And in my manner of overdoing it I think it'd really be useful to do both sides, plus with the way the armies of the west moved around I think you'd almost have to do it by department not just by army. My question for my loyal readers is how should I approach the reorganizations that completely redo the composition of the brigades? For instance when Bragg does his reshuffling of the army after Chickamauga he transfers regiments out of brigades. So New Brigade A might now have two regiments from Old Brigade A, one from B and 3 from C. I haven't examined this in detail yet so not sure exactly how much change we're looking at but I know it did happen. In any respect I think it would be a fun project and even if it didn't become a roundtable presentation I think it would be a useful bit of research to have available for future use.


Sam Elliott said...

Nick, while this doesn't answer your question, the basis of the reorganization of early November, 1863 was effectively the brigade commander's loyalty to Braxton Bragg. The twelve officers who signed the famous anti-Bragg petition were: Longstreet, DH Hill, Buckner, Cleburne, Preston, Gracie, James A. Smith, Stovall, Lucius Polk, Bushrod Johnson, John C. Brown, and Col. Randall Gibson.

In the reorganization, Bragg either removes them, demotes, them, sends (or plans to send) these men off to Knoxville with Longstreet, or puts them under men he trusts. Hill is removed, Buckner essentially demoted from corps to division command, Preston from division to brigade command, Gracie and Johnson go to Knoxville, and Cleburne, Smith and L. Polk are meant to go to Knoxville but are pulled off the train at the last minute by the beginning of Grant's offensive. John C. Brown and his brigade is put under Carter Stevenson, and Stovall and Gibson's brigades are moved to Stewart's Division. Cheatham's Division is basically broken up as an all-Tennessee unit. This last change is reversed by February, 1864, but much of the rest stays the same.

And yes, I think its a good topic.

markerhunter said...

Funny you would mention this. When I was in training to be a database admin, I built out a "play" database that would contain the organization of the Western Theater armies. Basically a set of related tables. One regimental table. One Brigade table. and so on up the chain. Then a table for "commanders." My goal was more to practice good database designs, so I spent less time in data input and more on elegance of the structure. I got as far as Shiloh before I passed that round of exams and moved on. But where it came to rest, if the data was in the tables to support it, one could query a regiment and see the changes over time. Or one could browse down the tree and see who changed jobs and when.

I mention this because when studying the changes of an army structure (particularly at the brigade level), the devil is in the details. Good example is the rather confusing series of changes, leaves of absense, administative leaves, etc. in the Army of the Cumberland between Chickamauga and the following spring.

Don said...


For the purposes of your project, perhaps you could do it in a couple of phases -- pre- and post- Chickamauga? You might need one or two more, but those two would be enough to make it comprehensible.