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Battle Analysis Fort Mc Allister: Bg William Babcock Hazen

3287 words - 13 pages

BG William Babcock Hazen, a proven combat leader, was able to earn, and sometimes required to demand, the respect of his subordinates. Officers during the Civil War were most often selected and promoted from within their own ranks and “an officer who stepped in to take command from outside the unit faced a far more difficult task.” Units were formed regionally and bonded by homeland associations. In three years (January 3, 1862 to May 23, 1865) Hazen, a native of Vermont, progressed from being appointed the 19th Ohio Brigade Commander to being the 2D Division Commander and finally, to being the XV Corps Commander despite always being viewed as an outsider by his Soldiers. He earned his rank and positions of responsibility not by gaining the popularity of his Soldiers, but by being known as a “consummate professional [S]oldier. A hard worker and strict disciplinarian, he drove himself and his men hard. As a perfectionist he easily found the weakness of others and would fearlessly expose them.” Hazen demonstrated a clear understanding of the eight elements of combat power 148 years before they were codified in Army Doctrine Reference Publication 3-0, Unified Land Operations, during the Battle for Fort McAllister.
Fort McAllister had effectively guarded the Great Ogeechee River, also known as “Savannah’s ‘back door’,” against five naval attacks during a nine month period. However, by December 10, 1864, MG William T. Sherman, Commander of the Army of the Mississippi, had marked it as an obstacle to sustaining his army by naval resupply. Major Henry Hitchcock, General Sherman’s aide de camp, estimated that there were 10 days of provisions for the men but no longer enough fodder for the support animals. Additionally, it was an ideal foothold to project forces with the purpose of occupying the city of Savannah 12 miles to the north.
At dawn on December 13, 1864 BG Hazen and his 2D Division of the XV Corps began their approach of Fort McAllister for its eventual assault just before sunset. Fort McAllister is located five miles inland along the southern bank of the Great Ogeechee River which empties into the Ossaba Sound off the Atlantic Ocean. The successful assault and occupation of Fort McAllister by BG Hazen resulted in all Confederate forces garrisoned there being killed (16) wounded (28) or made prisoners (195) One mortar, 11 siege guns, and 12 field artillery pieces along with 60 tons of ammunition were captured. Immediately useful was the stockpile of commissary goods (i.e., 1,000 pound of bacon, 2,200 pounds of bread, 40 gallons of molasses, 50 pounds of candles, and salt.) Most importantly, communication and supply lines were secured with the “gun-boat fleet and fleet of transports… snugly at anchor in Port Royal Harbor, one hundred miles” to the north. Consequently, the capture of Fort McAllister and establishment of Union logistical support at Savannah’s back door spurred LTG William J. Hardee, Commander of...

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