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I am currently reading a book on bad military leaders in history, and this one chapter concerns a man named Nathan Forrest.

I only have very basic knowledge on the US Civil War, so I have trouble understanding the following (second) paragraph. It's supposed to be on September 19.. (I added the first paragraph for context)

On 18 September a stout Union defence at Alexander’s Bridge and Reed’s Bridge provided Rosecrans early warning of Bragg’s attempt to turn his left flank, pushing him away from his base at Chattanooga and potentially leading to his destruction on one of the mountain coves of northern Georgia. Bragg had ordered Forrest to screen the advance and secure the crossing but Forrest had singularly failed to do so, instead transferring most of his available force to meet an imagined threat farther north. As a result, Confederate infantry had to fight for the crossings, costing precious time and enabling Rosecrans to shift more units to the threatened sector. That night Forrest again failed to effectively screen the army’s right flank and gather information about Union dispositions, intelligence that would have revealed a yawning gap in the Union lines. According to David Powell, this was ‘the most significant intelligence oversight of the entire battle’.

The following day Forrest initiated a major engagement in the same area, commandeering rebel infantry and feeding them, along with his own cavalry, into an imbalanced fight piecemeal, wrecking several regiments. As a result, ‘Forrest left Bragg blind that morning.’ The Worst Military Leaders in History

To be specific about my question, what is this "major engagement" and what does it mean to "feed them into an imbalanced fight piecemeal"..

Other sources were insufficient, because they mostly provide summaries of the war like who went where and who won...

If I was knowledgeable enough to elaborate on what I didn't know, I wouldn't be asking this question...

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  • You might want to start with Wikipedia All H:SE questions should address why Wikipedia is insufficient.
    – MCW
    Jan 9 at 2:26
  • I am here after rummaging through the internet for 60 minutes.. :( Jan 9 at 2:45
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    FWIW, I'm not sure that link answers the question either. However, editing into the question some text based on what's there about how it was clearly within that specific 3 day battle (Battle of Chickamauga it appears) would save everyone looking into this a bit of time and trouble.
    – T.E.D.
    Jan 9 at 2:51
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    @MCW Yeah, it looks like that particular haystack doesn't contain that particular needle.
    – Spencer
    Jan 9 at 14:40
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    @historynewbie As you appear to have this book 'in-hand', can you identify the particular author of the section concerning Forrest we are looking at? According to goodreads this book is essentially a collection of the works of 15 different historians' articles, not a coherent work.
    – justCal
    Jan 9 at 16:28

1 Answer 1

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This is about the battle of Chickamauga. This battle is a defeat of the Union but apparently the author wants to show that Forrest was not at all the guy who made it a Confederacy victory.

During the battle of Chickamauga, the Confederates had to fight head on Union forces and failed to outmaneuver them. They won only because there was a bad movement from the Union that led them to open their positions, and the infantry used it.

During this battle, this would have been Nathan Forrest role to prevent the Union to move their units too easily, and his role as well to recon their positions and capture some good positions prior to the Confederacy infantry attacks. The author, in the extract you wrote, explains how Forrest failed to achieve those missions.

So:

  • The author in the extract of the book speaks of the battle of Chickamauga, 09-18-1863
  • On 09-19, Forrest failed repeatedly to play his role, with cavalry forces in the battle
  • This led Confederacy infantry to suffer losses in difficult front assaults, what the author called "an imbalanced fight piecemeal, wrecking several regiments"
  • Eventually the Confederacy still finished victorious

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