Glimpse of Hope from the Ozarks: A Civil War TL

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by von Mengersen, Jan 8, 2019.

  1. von Mengersen Member

    Sep 26, 2014
    This is my second attempt on a TL after the first one did not receive much attention and I was preoccupied with finishing my university degree. Updates, even if short in nature, are meant to be delivered regularly as far as work and studies permit. Any Feedback is highly appreciated!

    Glimpse of Hope from the Ozarks: A Civil War TL

    I. New leadership

    Maj. Gen. Henry Heth
  2. Arnold d.c Well-Known Member

    Apr 18, 2015
    Wandering around Site-19
    Oh? What’s this, a timeline of the Trans-Mississippi Theater! So if I understand this correctly Earl van Dorn isn’t in command but Henry Heth is?
    Intersting... he gets a lot of flak for Gettysburg, but I think an examination of his entire career as a division commander showed him to be much more than the man who bumbled into Gettysburg. He proved to very adept commanding large formations around Petersburg and on more than one occassion substituted for A.P. Hill quite ably (notably Ream's Station). Though not as flashy as Mahone was during the Petersburg campaign, I think Heth was a good division commander. I hope you give Sam Curtis and his men their due.

    Looking forward to seeing more!
  3. von Mengersen Member

    Sep 26, 2014
    II. Reorganization of an army

    Already before the arrival at his new assignment, Major General Henry Heth concentrated on reorganizing the assembled forces of the Army of the West into a well leadable force and on putting an end to the infighting between Generals Benjamin McCulloch and Sterling Price, that had disabled the army up to that point. The new order was designed as following:

    Army of the West – MG Henry Heth

    Infantry Corps – MG Sterling Price

    Slack’s Division – BG William Y. Slack (promotion from Colonel)

    Little’s Brigade – Col. Henry Little
    2nd Missouri Inf.
    3rd Missouri Inf.

    Rosser’s Brigade – Col. Thomas Rosser
    Bevier’s Missouri Inf. Batt.
    Hughes‘ Missouri Inf. Batt.
    Rosser’s Missouri Inf. Batt.

    Greene’s Brigade – Col. Colton Greene
    Freeman’s Regiment
    Schnable’s Regiment

    Churchill’s Brigade – Col. Thomas Churchill
    1st Arkansas Mounted Rifles (dismounted)
    2nd Arkansas Mounted Rifles (dismounted)
    4th Texas Cavalry Batt. (dismounted)

    Hébert’s Brigade – Col. Louis Hébert
    3rd Louisiana Inf.
    4th Arkansas Inf.
    14th Arkansas Inf.
    15th Arkansas Inf.
    16th Arkansas Inf.
    17th Arkansas Inf.
    19th Arkansas Inf.
    22nd Arkansas Inf.

    Wade’s Battery
    Clark’s Battery
    Jackson’s Battery
    Landis‘ Battery

    Missouri State Guard Division – BG Martin Green

    2nd MSG Division

    3rd MSG Division

    5th MSG Division

    6th MSG Division

    7/9th MSG Division

    8th MSG Division

    Kneisley’s Battery
    Tall’s Battery
    Kelley’s Battery
    Gorham’s Battery
    Guibor’s Battery
    MacDonald’s Battery
    Bledsoe’s Battery

    Cavalry Corps – BG Benjamin McCulloch

    McIntosh’s Division – BG James McIntosh

    McIntosh’s Brigade – Col. William Sims
    9th Texas Cav.
    11th Texas Cav.
    1st Texas Cav. Batt.

    Greer’s Brigade – Col. Elkanah Greer
    3rd Texas Cav.
    6th Texas Cav.
    1st Arkansas Cav. Batt.

    Pike’s Division – BG Albert Pike

    Stand Watie’s Indian Brigade – Col. Stand Watie
    1st Cherokee Mounted Rifles
    2nd Cherokee Mounted Rifles
    1st Choctwa/Chickasaw Mounted Rifles
    1st Creek Mounted Rifles
    Welch’s Texas Cav. Squadron

    Gates‘ Brigade – Col. Elijah Gates
    1st Missouri Cav.
    Riggins‘ Missouri Cav. Batt.
    Campbell’s Cav. Company
    Shelby’s Cav. Company

    Hart’s Battery
    Provence’s Battery
    Gaines‘ Battery
    Good’s Battery

    OOC: The original order of battle can be compared here
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2019
    Old1812, Odinson and Arnold d.c like this.
  4. von Mengersen Member

    Sep 26, 2014
    Thank you. In fact I plan on a full Civil War TL but the main POD is Heth accepting a command he declined in OTL and the ramification from a confederate victory at Pea Ridge.

    To me, being introduced to the Civil War via the Battle of Gettysburg, Heth is a very interesting persona. Besides his actions there, he was a very reliable division commander and seemed confident with leading larger bodies of men.
    Odinson likes this.
  5. Old1812 Reactionary Monarchist Twit

    Jul 30, 2017
    Georgia, USA
    I'll be watching this with great interest.
    Odinson likes this.
  6. Odinson Talk Nerdy To Me

    Nov 27, 2018
    The Constitutional Monarchy of Virginia
    This seems to be off to a good start
  7. von Mengersen Member

    Sep 26, 2014
    III. A hint of what is to come


    (Traditional, collected by Max Hunter in 1958.)

    It was on March the Seventh in the year of sixty-two,
    We had a short engagement with Abe Lincoln's crew.
    Henry Heth was our commander, as may remembered be.
    The yanks lost thousands of their men near Indian Territory.

    Pap Price came riding up the line. His horse was in a pace,
    And as he gave the word "advance", the joy shone from his face
    "Ten thousand deaths I'd rather die than they should gain the field."
    His booming voice raced down the ranks and the foe was forced to yield.

    At Springfield and Carthage, many a yankee fell.
    At Lexington and Drywood, as near the truth can tell.
    But such an utter carnage as ever I did see
    Happened at old Pea Ridge near the Indian Territory.

    I know you brave Missouri boys were never yet afraid.
    Let's try and form in order, our state is left to be claimed.
    The shout "press foward" was passed around, it caused a vigourous cry
    While Helter-skelter through the woods, like lost sheep those yanks did fly.

    OOC: Rhymes are not my premier strength
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2019
  8. von Mengersen Member

    Sep 26, 2014
    IV. Curtis‘ dilemma and the road to Pea Ridge


    While confederate forces were reorganizing themselves, Union Brigadier General Samuel Curtis, after consolidating his presence in southern Missouri, planned to invade northern Arkansas to push Sterling Price and his Missouri State Guard further south and to disrupt confederate control over the state. During his crossing of the border in early march with 10,500 men in four divisions, he increasingly had to deal with unrest in his troops due to political matters. Curtis had quarreled with german-born Brigadier General Franz Sigel. This proved to be a nuisance, because nearly half of the Army of the Southwest had German origins. Spirits were somewhat lowered even though the Union army had succeeded in throwing confederate forces out of Missouri only a short time before.

    Along Little Sugar Creek in Benton County, Arkansas, Curtis established a solid, fortified defensive line in order not to unnecessarily extend his supply route. He planned to repulse any confederate attack from the south and to counterattack when a possibility would arise.

    After taking command in person, Henry Heth was made aware of Curtis‘ positioning and decided not to take the bait and therefore not to mount a frontal assault. On the contrary Heth proposed flanking Curtis‘ line and to attack from favorable positions near or in the enemy’s rear.

    On the 6th of March, 1862, the confederate Army of the West, moving in two columns, brushed aside Union skirmishers near Bentonville, Arkansas and approached Curtis‘ flank. Heth marched along two parallel roads. Price’s infantry corps, 12,000 strong, in the lead while being shadowed by McCulloch, fielding 4,500 cavalry.

    Although in common perception the following engagements are merged into one Battle of Pea Ridge, they were in fact two different battles heavily influencing each other.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2019
    Arnold d.c, SwampTiger and Old1812 like this.
  9. von Mengersen Member

    Sep 26, 2014
    V. The Battle of Leetown

    At 11:00 a.m. on march 7th, confederate Brigadier General McCulloch's cavalry corps marched along Ford Road in the direction of Elkhorn Tavern, near which Price's infantry under Heth's direct supervision already had assembled. Leading units from McIntosh's division already approached the intersection to Leetown Road, when the federals first reaction occurred.

    Union Colonel Peter Osterhaus had gathered his two-brigade division near the small village Leetown when being informed of a large force of rebels passing north of his forces. He immediately ordered a small force of independent cavalry units lead by Curtis' headquarter details under Colonel Cyrus Bussey to intercept the confederates in order to gain time to alert his direct superior, Brigadier General Franz Sigel, whose second division was not yet on the field. Bussey bravely led his men over an open field, but was quickly being countercharged by McIntosh's two brigades under Sims and Greer, fielding each about 1,500 men. Despite the fact that his men were thoroughly routing Bussey's band, McCulloch was temporarily surprised by this unexpected attack and sent word to Heth requesting further orders. While waiting for an answer, McCulloch decided to unlimber his four batteries of artillery along the open ground to shell the village in the distance and to keep the federals from any other rash charges. Soon, several although outnumbered union guns began to reply.

    As soon as Heth recognized the action to the east, he consulted his detailed maps and came to the conclusion, that taking Leetown would allow his cavalry to gain the Telegraph Road and to deny possibilities to retreat for whatever forces of Curtis' army he had already engaged at Elkhorn Tavern. Heth therefore ordered McCulloch to take the village by all reasonable means, but to keep his command intact in the process.

    According to that, McCulloch formed his troops into line of battle parallel to Ford Road. On the left of Leetown Road, McIntosh’s (Sims‘) and Greers brigades, 3,000 strong, advanced against a brigade under Osterhaus‘ direct command. Brigadier General Pike ordered Gates‘ Missouri brigade, only about 700 men backed by most of McCulloch’s artillery, to slowly advance across Oberson’s field in heavy skirmish formation and to confront Osterhaus‘ second brigade under Greusel. Stand Watie’s 800 strong Indian brigade were sent westward to gain Greusel’s flank or rear, because Pike did not trust their effectiveness during a frontal engagement.

    Heavy fighting at first erupted east of the road, where Osterhaus‘ brigade was assaulted several times by McIntosh’s (Sims‘) dismounted force. After beating back the confederates for the third time, Colonel Osterhaus sensed movement to his right. Bursting through the thicket came the troops from Greer’s brigade, forcing Osterhaus to invert his line. Nearing his breaking point, Osterhaus heard three loud „huzzahs“ to his rear. Sigel, at the head of his last brigade, Schaefer’s, had arrived and double-timed down the pike to save Osterhaus‘ right flank. With the support of two light batteries, Greer’s men were temporarily forced to withdraw.

    While the fighting seemed to die down to the right, disaster was quickly befalling the union left flank. After taking a longer detour, Stand Watie’s cherokee, creek and chickasaw warriors approached the extreme left of Greusel’s brigade. With a savage war cry on the tops of their lungs, the native warriors charged the surprised federals after successfully having crept on them. Soon joined by a determined push from Gates‘ now emboldened regiments, Greusel’s terrified men were racing to the few buildings in their rear, discarding weapons and equipment while retreating. Pikes whole division followed swiftly. Upon recognizing the catastrophe and without being able to commit any fresh reserves, Sigel ordered a general retreat in southern direction, that was quickly turned into a rout due to the hard pressing presence of McCulloch’s mounted brigades.

    Nearly 1,000 prisoners, mainly from Greusel’s and Osterhaus‘ brigades were gathered while Pike had to put in all of his authority to prevent a slaughter of the surrendered by his determined native allies. Union losses beside those captured were 300 killed and 200 wounded, while the confederates themselves lost about 500 men in total.

    While Gates‘ brigade forced Sigels remainders farther south, the rest of McCulloch’s troops, Greer’s lightly engaged brigade in the lead, pushed up the Telegraph Road in north-eastern direction.

    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
  10. Unknown Member

    Jan 31, 2004
    Corpus Christi, TX
    This is interesting...waiting for more...
  11. Odinson Talk Nerdy To Me

    Nov 27, 2018
    The Constitutional Monarchy of Virginia
    This seems pretty interesting.

  12. GTStinger Well-Known Member

    Apr 10, 2012
    Loved the Pea Ridge scenario in the Across Five Aprils war game.
    Bragg accepting command before Van Dorn is an ATL I thought about but never acted on.
    Curious how similar your ideas will be to mine.
    Great job so far!
  13. Hoyahoo9 Well-Known Member

    May 18, 2009
    Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, USA
    I'm enjoying this too. I don't recall ever seeing a Trans Mississippi-centric TL before
    KaiserWilhelm likes this.
  14. GTStinger Well-Known Member

    Apr 10, 2012
    Now is Heth is in the west, where does Van Dorn wind up? He was an early favorite of Davis.
    Does he stay in Virginia and get a corps command?
  15. Old1812 Reactionary Monarchist Twit

    Jul 30, 2017
    Georgia, USA
    I think Van Dorn would do much better in the cavalry branch, either in Virginia or the West.
  16. GTStinger Well-Known Member

    Apr 10, 2012
    Agreed, his best sucess was as a cavalry commander.
  17. Old1812 Reactionary Monarchist Twit

    Jul 30, 2017
    Georgia, USA
    It may too late, but I'm wondering if something can be done about Forts Henry and Donelson. Either have Albert Sidney Johnston order them evacuated to save his strength for later, or have him send enough men to make a serious effort to defend them. The failure at the forts and the loss of Nashville could be considered the beginning of the end for Confederate hopes in the West. I don't know if Nashville can be saved by this point, but it's worth a shot. Grant had plenty of time and men (and experience) to prepare for the siege of Vicksburg, but a siege at Nashville could be much more difficult. You could also have Davis give ASJ the Gulf troops under Bragg earlier, giving him more men at a critical time.

    If Grant has his strength sapped too much by sending men to stabilize the Trans-Miss, he could wind up without enough men to take Donelson or Nashville depending on where ASJ decides to fight.
    GTStinger likes this.
  18. GTStinger Well-Known Member

    Apr 10, 2012
    Assuming Pea Ridge is a decisive CSA victory with a US rearguard captured and the rest forced to leave equipment behind as they retreat down the poor roads to the east. (Much as Van Dorn did OTL)

    Does Heth get ordered to Tennessee as Van Dorn was or does he follow up with a move into Missouri?

    If the former, they will arrive significantly earlier than OTL. Maybe early enough to impact Shiloh.
    If the latter, will Heth have the logistics to support an army in central Missouri?

    There are also possibilities for a split force:

    Pike's troops return to Indian territory.
    Heth marches north on a raid with a cavalry heavy force.
    The balance of troops sent to Tennessee with whichever generals Heth finds most annoying.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2019
  19. Old1812 Reactionary Monarchist Twit

    Jul 30, 2017
    Georgia, USA
    To combine this with my own post, if ASJ still has the troops he lost at Donelson with him he'll have about 52,000-56,000 men against Grant and Buell's combined strength of 63,000 (with no detachments). As such, Heth may not have to send any detachments to Tennessee.
  20. GTStinger Well-Known Member

    Apr 10, 2012
    Grant and Buell will probably have less than 52-56k because some brigades get sent to Missouri.