Tuesday, March 19, 2013

March 20, 1863 (Sunday): Beauregard Amends His Shiloh Report

The Peach Orchard Shiloh (Civilwaralbum.com)

General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General C. S. Army, Richmond, Va.

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF S. C., GA., AND FLA., Charleston, S. C., March 20, 1863.
    GENERAL: My report of the battle of Shiloh was written without opportunity to consult reports of army corps commanders and of their subordinate officers. These have never been furnished me, except the report and accompanying papers in relation to the operations of the corps under General Braxton Bragg, copies of which were furnished me at this place from your office. I hear that the reports of the corps under Lieutenant-General Polk have been handed in; if so, please have copies sent me as early as practicable; also of the reports of Major-Generals Hardee and Breckinridge, if at your disposition, as these papers are necessary in the preparation of a detailed report, which I find it will be proper for me to prepare and render.
     Respectfully, your obedient,

    General, Commanding.

    General S. COOPER, Adjt. and Insp. Gen., Richmond, Va.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 10, Part 1, Page 392.

Beauregard had written a detailed report on April 11 of the previous year.  But newspaper controversies related to whether he had called off attacks which might have routed the Union army on Day 1 at Shiloh compelled him to ask for further documentation with which to expand on his earlier report and defend himself.  Battle reports in the Official Records were, if written within days of battle, reasonably accurate.  But the further from the fight the farther from the truth, and officers on both sides shaped the truth to their liking.  Afterwards they engaged in arguments in print with their fellow officers over controversies which inevitably ensued, win or lose.

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