Battle of Fort Donelson and Battle of Shiloh
Grant In The West--Fort Donelson and Shiloh
by W. B. Wood and Major J. E. Edmonds
A History Of The
Civil War In The United States, 1861-1865
Published in 1905
The Western theatre of war
The Confederate position
Advance on Fort Henry
Fall of Fort Henry
Johnston's plan of campaign
on Fort Donelson
Failure of the fleet
The Confederates try to cut their way out
Partial success of the Confederate
Arrival of Grant
Smith's successful attack
The Federals recover the lost ground
Surrender of Fort Donelson
of the surrender
Criticism of Halleck's methods
Reasons for Buell's failure to co-operate
Buell occupies Nashville
The strategical position
Difference between Buell's and Halleck's views
Halleck appointed to the supreme
command in the West
Lincoln's error of judgment
Halleck's plan of campaign
Johnston reorganises the Confederate army
of Grant's army
Position of Buell's army
Battle of Shiloh
Federal right driven back
on Federal centre
Death of Johnston
Federal centre broken
Arrival of Buell
Beauregard calls off his troops
of soldiers and generals
Fighting renewed on the 7th
The Federals recover their lost camps
Pope's success at Island
Halleck advances on Corinth
Beauregard evacuates Corinth
Evacuation of Fort Pillow
Naval battle of Memphis
of the campaign.
|Shiloh and Donelson Map
|1862 Battle of Shiloh and Battle of Donelson in Western Theater of the Civil War Map
of the Alleghanies the campaign of 1862 opened in the beginning of February. The Confederates under Albert S. Johnston held
a line running from Columbus
on the Mississippi to Bowling Green, and by holding this advanced
position retained possession of a considerable part of Kentucky.
Facing them were General Buell, commanding the Department of the Ohio, who had concentrated
the bulk of his forces at Nolin in order to confront Johnston's main force at Bowling
Green, and General Halleck commanding the Department of the Missouri.
The latter had been too much occupied with restoring order out of the confusion which Frémont had left behind him, to be able
to pay much attention to affairs east of the Mississippi.
But one of his lieutenants, Grant, was in command at Cairo.
It was he who, in September of the preceding year, had forestalled the Confederate general Polk by seizing Paducah, and in
November had moved down the Mississippi with a small force, and fought an indecisive battle with some of Polk's troops at
Belmont opposite Columbus: and he fully appreciated the importance of the issue which was about to be fought out in Kentucky
Confederate position was one of considerable danger. Although they held the interior lines, and at that time of year the wretched
condition of the roads and the swollen streams presented almost insuperable obstacles to any large force operating by land,
yet the rivers Cumberland and Tennessee afforded an easy advance by water into the very heart of the Confederate power in
the West. The Confederates were painfully aware of their inferiority on water. The superior mechanical skill of the Northerners
gave them an immense advantage in any combat which might be fought out on the Mississippi
and its tributaries. In the West the Confederates had aimed not so much at building gunboats which might resist the advance
of the Federal vessels as at securing strongly fortified positions on the rivers, which would prevent the ships of their foe
from moving up and down at pleasure on their waters. On the Mississippi, above Memphis, they held strong positions at Fort Pillow,
New Madrid and Island No. 10, and Columbus. On the Cumberland and the Tennessee they had constructed Forts Donelson and
Henry to protect the waterway to Nashville and the Memphis
and Charleston Railway.
|Civil War Map of Fort Donelson and Fort Henry
|Forts Donelson and Henry
with a full appreciation of the military situation, had been throughout the winter urging upon McClellan the advisability
of a combined movement by land and water upon Nashville. But Halleck had been too much occupied with his
own difficulties in Missouri, and McClellan, partly on political grounds, favoured an advance
into East Tennessee. Suddenly Halleck flung aside his old objections, and on the 30th January
sent word to McClellan that he was ordering Grant to move up the Tennessee and capture Fort Henry. It is
not clear why Halleck so suddenly changed his mind. In all probability he had been convinced by the representations of Grant
and Commodore Foote, who was in command of the naval force, that a movement against Forts Henry and Donelson might lead to
great results. He was a man of considerable ambition and anxious to rival the success of Buell, one of whose lieutenants,
G. H. Thomas, had recently gained a victory at Mill Springs and he hoped by despatching Grant on this expedition to force the hand of the
Government and compel McClellan to abandon his cherished scheme against East Tennessee and give him all the assistance that
he could towards effecting the reduction of the Confederate forts.
two fortified posts had been constructed in the summer of 1861 by direction of the authorities of Tennessee. Fort Henry lay on the east bank of the Tennessee,
and twelve miles away was Fort Donelson
on the west bank of the Cumberland. The sites, especially
in the case of Fort Henry,
were not too well chosen, and in both cases the fortifications were too large for defence by a small garrison, and rather
resembled entrenched camps. The two posts, which were under the command of General Tilghman, who had placed
a garrison of 3,000 men in Fort Henry and of 2,000 in Fort Donelson, guarded the bridges, by which the railroad from Bowling
Green to Columbus, connecting the two flanks of the Confederate position, crossed the rivers, and their importance was fully
realised by the Southern commanders.
received his orders on the 1st February; and on the 3rd the expedition started from Paducah,
forty miles below Fort Henry.
Grant was in command of 15,000 men organised into two divisions under McClernand and C. F. Smith, and was supported by a fleet
of seven gunboats under Foote, of which four were ironclad. By the 5th the whole force had arrived, and Smith's division was landed on the
left bank, where it occupied a high bluff overlooking Fort Henry.
only was the Confederate position commanded from the opposite side of the river, but even on its own bank there were heights,
which once secured by the Federals would have rendered the position of the garrison untenable. Under the circumstances Tilghman decided to send all the infantry to Fort Donelson and
to retain in the fort only a company of artillery. His sole object was to gain time for the rest of the garrison to escape.
On the 6th the fleet advanced to the attack and made short work of the Confederate defences. The fort was built so low that
the guns were close to the level of the water. Various accidents befell some of the guns, and after an hour and a half's bombardment
Tilghman surrendered. The infantry made good their retreat to Fort Donelson.
news of the capture of Fort Henry
produced a great effect both in the North and South. It was the first great success won by the Federals, and it had been gained
with startling suddenness. It was hastily assumed, that in its ironclad gunboats the North had an instrument of warfare with
which the Confederate fortified works were powerless to cope. Albert S. Johnston on the following day gave orders for the
abandonment of Bowling Green. He determined with 14,000 men
to fall back to Nashville; at the same time he sent 12,000 men to reinforce the garrison of
Fort Donelson. This latter step was a very strange one. It would probably have been Johnston's wisest course to concentrate as large a force as possible at Fort Donelson and fight Grant before he could
be reinforced. A victory won over Grant would have been the surest means of protecting Nashville.
For if once the Federals got possession of Fort Donelson,
Nashville itself would speedily be at the mercy of their gunboats.
But Johnston, when he sent nearly one half of his army to Fort Donelson, was not contemplating active
operations in the field. He proposed to lock the whole force up within the fortifications, and he relied upon the ability
of his subordinates to extricate their troops, when further resistance seemed useless. It is hardly surprising that General
Floyd, whom he placed in command of the garrison, protested, though vainly, against the whole proceeding.
had hoped to capture Fort Donelson
on the 8th. But the forecast was too sanguine. The fleet had to descend the Tennessee and
ascend the Cumberland. It had also suffered some injuries
from the guns of Fort Henry
and needed to refit. As the rapid success at Fort Henry
had been gained by the naval force, Grant did not feel himself justified in advancing upon Fort Donelson until it was able to co-operate
in the movement. Not till the 12th did he move his infantry, now reinforced by a third division under General Lewis Wallace.
The same night they arrived before Fort Donelson.
The next day witnessed a good deal of skirmishing and desultory fighting, as the Federals were taking up their positions,
trying to gain some knowledge of the ground and feeling the strength of the enemy.
the 14th the fleet attacked, but the result was very different to that anticipated. The batteries, unlike those at Fort Henry, were placed
high above the water and were virtually unassailable. A bend in the river just below the fort enabled all the guns to be brought
to bear upon anything which came within range. After a sharp action, the fleet was forced to retire. Two of the ironclads had
their steering apparatus so damaged that they drifted helplessly out of action, and the other two also received severe injuries.
No impression whatever was made upon the fort. On the 15th Grant left his camp to have a conference with Commodore Foote,
who had been wounded, and it was decided that after the repulse of the gunboats it would be necessary to reduce the fort by
regular siege operations. But on his return to his army Grant found that the situation had entirely altered.
Confederate garrison in Fort Donelson
numbered 18,000 men. But its commanders, Floyd, Pillow, and Buckner, overestimated the strength of Grant's force, and believed
that they were largely outnumbered, though they actually at the moment had a slight superiority in numbers over their assailants. Floyd had all along been opposed to an attempt to hold the fort; and he had
special reasons for not wishing to become a prisoner of war, as he was liable to be tried for high treason for his conduct
as Secretary of War in President Buchanan's Administration, and was actually under indictment at Washington for embezzlement of public funds. On the 14th the three generals decided to try and cut their wayout through the
Federal Iines and reach Nashville. The repulse of the fleet
that day failed to give them any increase of confidence.
attack was to be made on the morning of the 15th by Pillow's division, which was to break through McClernand's lines on the
Federal right, and open the road to Nashville. Pillow was
to be supported by Buckner, and the latter's division was to form the rearguard and cover the retreat. But no definite arrangements
were made concerning the details of the retreat. It was not even settled whether it was to commence as soon as ever the road
to Nashville should be opened, or whether the movement should
be postponed till the night. No attempt was made to organise a train or provide a supply of food for the army.
attack proved successful. McClernand's division was rolled up and thrown back upon the centre, where Wallace's division was
posted, and the road to Nashville stood open. But just at
this point Pillow ordered his victorious troops to return to their own entrenchments. His idea apparently was that when the
road had been opened, the retreat would not take place till after nightfall.
on his arrival promptly took in the situation. Though his right was beaten, he judged (wrongly, as a matter of fact) that
the enemy must be a good deal demoralised by the fact that they had retired. He immediately ordered Smith, who commanded on the left, to assault the enemy's
lines to "save appearances," and sent an earnest message to Foote, begging that the gunboats would at least make a demonstration
against the fort. Evidently he realised the gravity of the situation, but his admirable composure encouraged his subordinates.
Smith advanced with great gallantry, leading the charge himself. The first line of Confederate entrenchments was carried,
being but feebly defended, as the greater part of Buckner's division had been withdrawn to take part in the attack upon McClernand.
The Federals found that they had gained an elevation which was the key to the whole Confederate position. Buckner returning
with his troops from the scene of the earlier fighting made strenuous efforts to regain this all-important point, but without
the same time as Smith advanced to the assault Grant directed McClernand and Wallace to retake the ground which they had lost
in the morning. At nightfall the Confederate position had changed considerably for the worse. The line of their retreat was
again closed to them, and Smith's successful assault had rendered their position in Fort
Donelson untenable. The troops were demoralised and disgusted at having
been recalled after their successful fight; and Grant was receiving reinforments. A Council of War was held that night. Buckner
declared himself unable to hold his position, if the attack were renewed the following morning upon his second line of entrenchments.
The boldest and, under the circumstances, the wisest course would have been to have made during the night all the preparations
possible for a retreat, and in the morning to have made a second attack upon the enemy's right. Though the Federals had reoccupied their old position, yet the troops on the
right were still McClernand's, which had been so severely handled already. It is probable that a considerable part of the
garrison would have succeeded in cutting its way out. But the Confederate Ieaders were in a despairing mood: they had no confidence
in themselves or in their soldiers. Floyd turned over the command to Pillow so as to secure his own escape. Pillow followed
his superior's example.
Buckner was of sterner mould, and determined to stand by his troops. Having accepted the command, he at once sent to Grant
to offer to capitulate on conditions. Grant replied with a demand for unconditional surrender. Buckner had no alternative
but to comply, and on the morning of the 16th Fort Donelson surrendered. Floyd and Pillow left by steamer before the capitulation was concluded,
and with them a certain number of infantry escaped also. Forrest, the cavalry commander, with the greater part of his command,
escaped by road. A considerable number of stragglers also got away, but the number of prisoners of war amounted to nearly
12,000. The fall of Fort Donelson
following that of Fort Henry
within ten days filled the South with consternation. The disaster was all the more sudden, because the last news received
had been a despatch announcing a great Confederate victory. A cry went up for vengeance upon the unsucccssful generals, especially
Johnston, the Commander-in-Chief. But President Davis staunchly refused to dismiss a general whom he regarded with justice
as one of the ablest officers in the Confederacy.
results of the surrender of Fort Donelson,
both material and moral, were enormous. It secured Kentucky to the Federal cause: it laid
Tennessee open to invasion: it necessitated the evacuation of Nashville
and Columbus. The whole of the first line of Confederate defence
in the West was swept away at a single blow. The South, with its feeble resources, coulld ill afford to lose the services
of the thousands who had become prisoners of war. At the North the victory led to the expectation that the days of the Confederacy
were numbered, and intensified the disappointment which was felt, when these earlier successes were not followed up.
|Tennessee Battle and Battlefield Map
|Tennessee Civil War Map
double success, achieved with a rapidity which was in marked contrast to the methods of other Federal generals, laid the solid
foundation of Grant's military reputation. It gained for him the trust and support of President Lincoln, whicii stood him
in good stead afterward. Yet for the moment it was Halleck, the commander of the Department, who gained the chief credit for
the success won by his lieutenant. It secured him shortly afterwards the supreme command in the West.
brilliant as had been the results of the expedition, it was open to severe criticism. When Halleck suddenly made up his mind
to let Grant carry out the scheme, which he persistently advocated, he did not take the trouble to secure either the approval
of McClellan, then Commander-in-Chief of all the Federal forces in the field, or the co-operation of Buell. As he expected,
he forced the hand of the Government. McClellan was obliged to abandon his cherished scheme of an invasion of East Tennessee. But he had
no troops which he could send to Halleck. Buell, who had been led to believe that Halleck would not make any movement up the
Tennessee, had scattered his troops so much that it was no easy task to collect a considerable force, which might be sent
to Grant's aid. Halleck himself imagined that he could spare no troops for the purpose from Missouri. Consequently, after the fall of Fort
Henry, Grant found himself placed, by the ill-judged precipitancy of
his superior officer, in a position of considerable peril. It would have been quite feasible for Johnston to concentrate a superior force against him. Had Beauregard (who had come from the
East to command the troops on the Mississippi under Johnston, with headquarters at Columbus) been commanding the Confederate
forces in the place of Johnston, that would have been the course adopted and a decisive victory would have undone all the
effects of the capture of Fort Henry. Halleck's inconsiderate haste had forced his subordinate to run a great and unnecessary
it caused a great deal to be left undone which ought to have been done. Grant had a large enough force under his command at
Fort Donelson to have pushed up the Cumberland in pursuit of Johnston. But
no attempt was made to follow up the Confederate retreat. For ten days after the fall of Fort Donelson Halleck remained without
any plan at all. He had totally failed to grasp the full significance of Grant's success. So far from pressing on into the
heart of Tennessee, and thereby turning the Confederate positions on the Mississippi,
he was afraid that Beauregard would assume the offensive against Cairo, Paducah,
and Fort Henry.
He ordered Grant not to advance, but to send back the gunboats. But Commodore Foote, acting on his own responsibility, pushed
up the river for thirty miles to Clarksville, which he occupied
without resistance, and Grant sent C. F. Smith's division to take possession of that town.
had taken a long time to make up his mind as to the proper course for him to pursue with reference to Halleck's demands for
help. He was by no means disposed to break up his army and send a considerable part of it to serve under Halleck's command.
A rigid disciplinarian, he had brought the Army of the Ohio
to a high state of efficiency, and was particularly anxious that its esprit de corps, so great an essential in a volunteer
army, should not be impaired by the withdrawal from it of divisions to serve in other armies under other leaders. When he heard that Bowling Green had been evacuated
he determined to send one division by water to Grant, and with the rest of his army to march direct upon Nashville. There can be but little doubt that Buell resented Halleck's action in sending
an expedition against Fort Henry,
and then suddenly calling upon him to send reinforcements to take part in the movement, which Halleck himself had led him
to suppose abandoned. He had a general's natural desire to keep his fine army intact. At the moment of Grant's advance he
was preparing for an advance into East Tennessee, to follow up Thomas' victory at Mill Springs,
and it took him some time to concentrate his troops again for an advance on quite a different line.
the 24th February two of his divisions were in possession of Nashville, which Johnston
evacuated after the fall of Fort Donelson.
The conditions of the roads and streams convinced the Federal generals that it was impracticable to follow Johnston, who had
retreated to Murfreesborough, although their united forces would have brought 90,000 men against the Confederate army of less
than 20,000. On the 2nd March Columbus
was evacuated by Beauregard's orders, and almost all the guns and a considerable part of the garrison were removed down the
river to New Madrid and Island No. 10, in order to prevent the further advance of the Federal fleet. General Pope was sent
by Halleck to attack this new position of the Confederates.
|Mississippi Civil War Battle and Battlefield Map
|Mississippi Civil War Map
the pursuit of Johnston had been abandoned it was necessary for the Federal generals to devise some fresh
plan of action. The right strategical course to adopt was to take such a position that Johnston
would be forced either to fight a battle to save his line of communications, or, if he refused to do that, to abandon the
Confederate cause in the West as hopeless. Above all, it was important to prevent Johnston
at Murfreesborough from uniting with Beauregard, who was concentrating a force at Memphis and
Corinth from the garrisons of the abandoned positions on the Mississippi.
Memphis and Charleston Railroad offered just such a position
as the Federals required. If Johnston refused to fight for its defence, it would be possible
to sever the West from the East and compel the Confederate forces in the West to fall back upon the Gulf States. At the same time the possession of the railway would enable the Federals to
prevent the junction of Beauregard and Johnston. Both Memphis and the posts on the Mississippi above that city still retained by the Confederates would have to be evacuated when once
Halleck and Buell were firmly established on the line, which connected the Mississippi
with the Eastern States in the Confederacy. The Tennessee
provided the Federals with a safe line of advance against the railroad. A movement up that river would bring them into close
proximity to Corinth, a railway junction of extreme importance.
At that point the Mobile and Ohio Railroad connecting the upper waters of the Mississippi
with the Gulf States intersected the direct line of communication
between East and West. A short distance west of Corinth, a second, the Mississippi Central
Railroad, intersected the Memphis and Charleston
line. The two lines from the south, joining at Jackson, ran
northward through Humboldt and formed the overland line of communication, on which the Confederate forces in Island No. 10
and New Madrid depended for their supplies. At Humboldt a third line came in--the Memphis and Ohio Railway--which was already
broken by the capture of Forts Henry and Donelson. Corinth, Jackson, and Humboldt were three points of strategical importance, but the first was by far
the most important, as its capture would compel the evacuation of the other two positions. To the east of Corinth
a tributary of the Tennessee was crossed by the Memphis and
Charleston line near Eastport, and the destruction of the
railway bridge at that point would seriously embarrass the Confederate movements.
formed a correct view of the strategical situation. He wished to unite his army and that of Halleck as far up the Tennessee as possible on the east bank, to cross the river and strike
a blow in force at the railroad. Halleck, on the contrary, proposed to send his army up the Tennessee, but to confine its
operations to making raids on the west bank against the Confederate lines of communication, with the exception of one division,
which he intended to send against the railway bridge near Eastport. But the point on which he specially insisted was that
under no circumstances was a general battle to be brought on; to avoid that, the differennt expeditions were, if necessary,
to retreat. He entirely failed to see that the true objective of all his movements ought to have been the Confederate army
in the West, and that its destruction was the one matter of vital importance.
consequence of these divided counsels was that after the occupation of Nashville
the Federals made a very poor use of their opportunities. Buell's army remained at Nashville
whilst Halleck made attempts against the Confederate lines of communication, which the condition of the roads and the inclemency
of the weather rendered wholly unsuccessful.
the beginning of March, McClellan had been relieved of the command of all the armies of the United
States in the field, in order that he might concentrate his attention upon the Army of the Potomac. On the 11th of the same month President Lincoln yielded to the urgent entreaties of Halleck,
who, ever since the fall of Fort Donelson, had been clamouring for the sole command in the West, and appointed him the commander
of a new Department extending from Knoxville on the east to and beyond the west bank of the Mississippi to be known as the
Department of the Mississippi.
appointment placed Buell under Halleck's orders. Lincoln was
unquestionably right to put an end to the system of dual control established by McClellan. A single commander-in-chief in
the West ensured a much-needed unity of movement in the Federal operations. But as certainly Lincoln made a grave mistake in selecting for the command of the new Department Halleck in
place of Buell.
for the time, Halleck had achieved his object, and was now Commander-in-Chief of the Federal forces in the West. Missouri,
which had absorbed so much of his attention during the earlier stages of the war, had been permanently secured to the Federal
cause by the victory of General Curtis at Pea Ridge over the Confederate general, Van Dorn, on the 7th and 8th March. Curtis followed up his success by marchiiig through Arkansas
without encountering any serious opposition, and came out on the bank of the Mississippi
in the following July. Halleck, in taking over his new command, had nothing to fear on the west side of the Mississippi. As his attempt to destroy the Confederate lines of communication on the west
of the Tennessee had failed, he determined to carry out
the plan of campaign which from the first had been urged upon him by Buell, now his subordinate. He directed the Army of the
Ohio to move to Savannah on the east bank of the Tennessee with a view to uniting with Grant's army, which was concentrating at Pittsburg Landing, nine
miles above Savannah on the opposite bank. The combined armies
were then to move on Corinth, which wasas twenty miles distant
from Pittsburg Landing. The position for the Federal camp had been selected by C. F. Smith, who had been temporarily in command
of the advance up the Tennessee, owing to a misunderstanding
between Halleck and Grant. It was a strong position, as the flanks were protected by the Tennessee
and its tributaries, and could have been rendered impregnable by a single night's work at entrenching. But the use of entrenchments
had not as yet been recognised by either combatant. There was, however, one cardinal defect about the position. It had no
line of retreat. If the Confederates should concentrate a superior force against Grant before he was reinforced by Buell,
the Federal army if beaten in battle would have no alternative except to capitulate.
and Beauregard were quick to seize the opportunity. They saw a chance of defeating the largely superior forces at Halleck's
disposal in detail. About the 18th March Johnston reached Corinth
with 20,000 men, having marched from Murfreesborough by way of Decatur. He found there General Bragg, who brought a force of 10,000 men from Pensacola. Beauregard ordered his troops to assemble at the same point.
On the 29th March Johnston formally assumed command of the Army of the Mississippi, as it was now styled, numbering about 40,000 men with 1000 pieces of artillery.
Apparently Johnston had lost confidence in himself
after his repeated failures to check the Federal advance, and urged Beauregard, the victor of Bull Run,
to assume the chief command. But the latter refused to supersede his superior officer. The Confederate army was organised
into three Corps under Polk, Hardee, and Bragg, all West Point graduates and soldiers of decided ability, with a reserve of infantry
under Breckinridge, who had been Vice-President of the United States,
when Buchanan was President.
the 1st April Grant had concentrated at and near Pittsburg Landing about 45,000 men. His army was divided into six divisions commanded by W. T. Sherman, Prentiss,
McClernand, Lewis Wallace, Hurlbut, and W. H. L. Wallace--the last named was commanding in place of C. F. Smith, who had injured
his leg so seriously that he was obliged to leave his command, and before the end of April he died of the effects of his accident.
Grant laid himself open to severe criticism by continuing to keep his army at Pittsburg Landing, after the operations against
the enemy's lines of communication had been found to be impracticable. The Landing had been selected as the temporary base
for the operations, but it was the height of imprudence to turn it into a permanent camp within twenty miles of the enemy,
unless it was strongly entrenched. But throughout this part of the campaign Grant displayed a sense of security which was
strangely out of place. His easy successes had made him careless and unduly contemptuous of the enemy. He knew that they were
collecting in force at Corinth. He ought to have realised
that his exposed position gave them an opportunity which such able officers as Johnston and Beauregard were hardly likely
to let slip. Yet he had made up his mind that the Confederates would not venture to assume the offensive. His own headquarters
were at Savannah, nine miles away from his army and on the
opposite bank of the river. No plan of battle had been arranged. The divisional commanders had been allowed to fix their camps,
not with a view to mutual support, but as it suited the convenience of each commander. No systematic cavalry reconnaissances
had been carried out along the roads leading to Corinth. There
was no regular outpost line in front of the camp. Not a single precaution had been taken to guard against a surprise.
must be said that Halleck shared to the full the light-heartedness of his lieutenant. He suffered him to remain in his insecure
position: he gave Buell no hint that the safety of Grant's army depended upon the prompt arrival of his forces. He proposed
to come at his leisure to Pittsburg Landing to assume the command of the two armies concentrated there, and then to commence
the advance on Corinth. He gave the Confederate generals no
credit for enterprise or even common sense; he believed them to be committed to a purely defensive policy.
Johnston was anxious to concentrate as large a force as possible against
Grant, in order that he might inflict a crushing blow. Van Dorn, after his defeat at Pea Ridge, had been ordered to bring
to Corinth all the troops that he could raise from Missouri
and Arkansas. Johnston waited
for his arrival as long as he thought safe; but on the night of the 2nd April, hearing that Buell was moving rapidly towards
Savannah, he ordered an advance the following day. It was his intention to fall upon the Federal camp in the early hours of the
5th, but the wretched condition of the roads and the inexperience of officers and men prevented the troops being in position
at the appointed time. Forrest's cavalry had encountered a certain amount of opposition, whilst leading the advance. Beauregard,
when it became clear that the attack must be postponed, was in favour of abandoning the whole enterprise and of returning
to Corinth, believing that the Federals must know of their
advance and were decoying them into a trap. Johnston, however,
resolved to go on. His army had come to fight and not to retreat: another movement to the rear would destroy the confidence
of the soldiers in their general and fatally impair the moral of his army. The attack was fixed for the morning of
Buell's army of five divisions, numbering about 37,000 men, was drawing near. It had been marching steadily but without undue haste, and had been delayed for
twelve days at Duck River
where a bridge had to be built. How completely Halleck had failed to impress upon Buell the need for promptly joining Grant
is shown by the fact that Buell asked for and actually received permission to take his army not to Savannah,
but to a landing-place opposite Hamburg, a town ten miles
above Pittsburg Landing. It was by a mere accident that the orders to that effect miscarried. About noon of the 5th (Saturday)
the leading division under Nelson reached Savannah. Grant,
however, declined to send it across the river immediately, because he thought there would be be no fighting; some day early
in next week would be time enough.
two miles out from Pittsburg Landing, upon the Corinth road stood Shiloh Church. There Sherman had his headquarters, and his division formed the right of the Federal army: in rear
of him McClernand had pitched his camp. The centre of the position was held by Prentiss' division, half a mile from Sherman's
left, across a second road leading to Corinth, and behind it lay Hurlbut's division, whilst more than half a mile beyond Prentiss,
and resting upon the river, was Stuart's brigade, detached from Sherman's division. W. H. L. Wallace's division was still
further to the rear, and Lewis Wallace's was at Crump's Landing, some five miles further down the river. Two gunboats in the
river served to strengthen the left flank.
|Map of Shiloh Battlefield on April 6, 1862
6 a.m. on the 6th the battle of Shiloh commenced. At 3 a.m. on that Sunday morning Prentiss had sent out a brigade to reconnoitre. This
force suddenly encountered the Confederate advance under Hardee, and was quickly driven in. So swift was the onslaught that
the Federals were quite taken by surprise. The fighting, which lasted throughout the day, was at first a succession of independent
battles waged by the different divisions. The Federal front line, held by Sherman's and Prentiss' divisions, was promptly
driven back upon the divisions in their rear. The ground was thickly wooded, broken by swamps and ravines, and naturally favourable
to the defensive. The Confederates, being raw soldiers and led by inexperienced officers, did not keep their formation very
accurately. A good many seem at once to have left their ranks in order to plunder the captured camps. The Federals consequently
found time to form a second line of defence. But the lack of organisation now made itself felt. Their line was divided into
three distinct sections at some distance from each other, so that the flanks of the respective divisions were open to a turning
movement. On the right Sherman's and McClernand's divisions stubbornly resisted the onslaught of Hardee's and Polk's Corps.
Their right was covered by Owl Creek, but their left flank was completely exposed. As the attacking line extended, the Federals
were forced to fall back from one position to another to escape being driven into the Creek, on which their right rested.
Eventually they took up a position on Snake Creck, into which Owl Creek runs, covering the bridge, by which Lewis Wallace's
division was expected to arrive from Crump's Landing, and this they held to the close of the day's fighting. In McClernand's
report it was stated that this was the eighth position which his troops had occupied since the fighting began.
the centre the divisions of Prentiss, Hurlbut, and W. H. L. Wallace held a very strong position known as the "Hornets' Nest."
Up the wooded slope the Confederate right, composed of Bragg's and Breckinridge's commands, was hurled again and again in
unavailing charges. Johnston had left Beauregard in general
charge of the whole field to take under his own personal direction the movements of the right wing. He directed a succession
of frontal attacks against the Hornets' Nest, which was practically impregnable to any but a flank movement. About 2.30 p.m.
he was killed, and Bragg succeeded to the command of the right wing. He initiated a flanking movement, which was rendered
the easier by the withdrawal of Stuart's brigade, forming the left of the Federal line, about 3 p.m. Hurlbut, whose division
formed the left centre, finding himself outflanked, fell back to the Landing. By his withdrawal Prentiss' left flank became
exposed, and that general was forced to change front. He and Wallace, however, continued to hold their position with great
resolution until about 5 p.m. Polk moved his corps over from the left to Bragg's assistance. Wallace himself was killed, but
nearly all his division made good their retreat. The remnant of Prentiss' division, however, was surrounded and forced to
this obstinate resistance had given time for the sorely needed reinforcements to come up. Nelson's division had been hurried
up from Savannah to a point opposite Pittsburg Landing, and
there was ferried across. By 5:30 p.m. the leading brigade was in position behind a deep ravine covering the Landing. Grant
had got together some twenty guns to hold this last position, and such of his infantry as he had been able to rally. But the
bluff overlooking the river was crowded with an ever-increasing stream of fugitives, whose numbers have been estimated as
high even as15,000.
this last line of the defence Bragg was advancing to complete the defeat of the Federal army. But the sun was already sinking,
and Beauregard, who after Johnston's death had succeeded to
the command, determined to draw his troops off. In his judgment it was too late in the day to hope to gain any further success,
and he wished to give his soldiers a good night's rest in view of the hard fighting which lay before them next day. His orders
reached one of Bragg's divisions in time to prevent its further advance. But the other division, moving before Beauregard's
order arrived, went in to the assault with the utmost gallantry. But it had no supports: the ammunition supply ran short, and all its efforts
were powerless to carry it across the ravine in the face of the heavy artillery fire and Buell's troops, now engaged for the
first time during the day. The gallant but useless struggle was continued until nightfall, when the Confederate division withdrew.
battle of Shiloh, like the First Bull Run, is typical of encounters between volunteer armies.
It was the first pitched battle fought on a large scale in the West. On both sides the lack of discipline and the unrestrained
instinct of the individual to think for himself and to take such steps as seem most likely to secure his own safety were to
be seen in the large number of stragglers, and of men who, not from cowardice but simply from lack of military habit, left
their ranks and moved to the rear when the case seemed hopeless. This was especially noticeable in the case of the Federals.
The stream of fugitives increased with each successive movement of tbe sorely pressed divisions to the rear. It has been estimated
that at the close of the day's fighting Grant had not more than 12,000 men under arms (including Lewis Wallace's division
from Crump's Landing, which took no part in the fighting of the 6th).
feature was not so noticeable on the actual day of battle in the Confederate ranks, as they were acting on the offensive and
buoyed up by the hope of winning a signal victory. And, indeed, the vigour with which the Confederates attacked at Shiloh
contrasts favourably with the methods of the Federals, when they were the attacking force at Bull Run.
But after the fighting was over and it was recognised that the attempt to annihilate Grant's army, before it could be reinforced,
had failed, there was a steady stream of fugitives anticipating on their own responsibility the order for a general retreat
on Corinth, which reduced Beauregard's force for the next day's fighting to 20,000 men.
was the conduct of the commanding officers on either side above criticism. Grant exercised but little personal control over
the course of the battle. He showed himself at the different parts of the field, and did his utmost to encourage and rally
his beaten troops. But throughout the day on the Federal side the absence of a single controlling mind was noticeable.
Johnston also failed to display any marked tactical ability in the handling
of his troops. The original plan had been that the Federal left should be turned, and the whole army thus forced away from
the river, on which their hope of reinforcements depended. But Johnston,
by committing himself to a succession of frontal attacks against the almost impregnable position of the Federal centre, abandoned
the original plan, and caused his troops to suffer very heavy loss without obtaining any counterbalancing advantage.
the night of the 6th Lewis Wallace's division arrived from Crump's Landing. Its late arrival was due to a misunderstanding. Three divisions of Buell's army were also brought across the river, and by the
morning of the 7th Grant had under his command 25,000 fresh troops, who had not borne the burden and toil of the previous
day's fighting. He ordered an advance against Beauregard's sorely tried troops as soon as it was light, and by 5 a.m. the
battle was renewed. Beauregard on this day displayed tactical ability of a high order. He never allowed his army to become
involved in a pitched battle, and yet whilst steadily falling back lost no opportunity of striking a counterblow at any Federal
force which pressed too closely in pursuit. His retreat never degenerated into a rout.
|Map of Shiloh Battlefield on April 7, 1862
|Battle of Shiloh
fiercest fighting of the day was on the Corinth road between the Purdy road and Shiloh
Church. For nearly six hours Bragg held his position there with splendid
tenacity, and prevented the Federals from cutting the line of retreat to Corinth.
Between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. Grant, having regained the positions which his first
line had held at the commencement of the previous day's fighting, desisted from any further attempt to crush the Confederate
army. There was no apparent reason why he should not have pressed the pursuit till nightfall. But of neither of these two
eventful days did Grant rise to the height of the occasion.
losses on both sides were very heavy; in killed and wounded they were nearly equal, the Federal loss being slightly over 10,000,
whilst that of the Confederates was a few hundreds short of that number. But the Federal loss in prisoners and missing was
much heavier than that of their opponents. In Prentiss' division alone 2,200 were taken prisoners.
abandoned the pursuit on the afternoon of the 7th, Grant made no attempt to resume it, but waited at Pittsburg Landing for
Halleck's arrival. The Commander-in-Chief joined his armies on the 11th April. He displayed no eagerness to advance, but preferred
to wait until Pope's army should join him. Pope, with 21,000 men, had been sent to operate against the Confederate position
at Island No. 10 and New Madrid, and after some very arduous work, including the cutting of a canal twelve miles long, forced the surrender of 7,000 Confederates on the 8th April. The only position
on the Mississippi still held by the Confederates above Memphis
was Fort Pillow,
eighty miles below New Madrid. Pope had been originally ordered to continue his movement down the river and attack this post.
But before he had actually commenced operations against it he was recalled to join Halleck, which he did on the 21st April. In spite of this reinforcement, which raised his army to 100,000 men, Halleck
allowed another week to pass by before he commenced a very cautious advance on Corinth.
On the 1st May Beauregard was reinforced by 15,000 men brought from the opposite bank of the Mississippi by Van Dorn. The army under his command now numbered over 50,000, but he did
not venture to give battle to a force double his own strength. Halleck's forward movement was a succession of slow approaches.
He carefully entrenched each position, and impressed upon his lieutenants that under no circumstances were they to allow themselves
to be drawn into a pitched battle. For over a month the operations against Corinth
dragged slowly on until, on the 29th May, Beauregard, finding himself in danger of being hemmed in, evacuated the town in
the night. The movement was quite unexpected by Halleck, and Beauregard withdrew the whole of his army in safety to Tupelo, some fifty miles to the south on the Mobile
and Ohio Railroad. There he had the advantage of an excellent water supply and a salubrious climate; and his army, which had
suffered considerably from sickness in its entrenchments at Corinth,
rapidly recovered its health.
evacuation of Corinth necessitated the abandonment of Fort
Pillow. The garrison was withdrawn on the 3rd June. The Federal fleet
pushed on to Memphis, where, on the 6th, a Confederate fleet of gunboats and rams was encountered
and destroyed, and the same day Memphis, from which the garrison
had already been withdrawn, was occupied by the Federals.
the occupation of Corinth and Memphis,
the spring campaign in the West came to an end. Much had been accomplished. The Federal army was firmly established across
the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. The Mississippi
had been opened to Vicksburg. Kentucky
and West Tennessee were in the hands of the Federals. But there had been also much left undone.
The opportunities for destroying the Confederate army had been signally missed. Before long that army was as strong as ever,
and it was the Confederates who next assumed the offensive in the West.
A keener controversy has raged
over the battle of Shiloh than perhaps over any other battle of the Civil War. In the Federal
ranks the longstanding jealousy between the Armies of the Tennessee and the Ohio
finds free expression in the divergent accounts of the battle, which come from the partisans of one or other, and there has
been no more damaging criticism of Grant's methods than that penned by Buell, commander of the Army of the Ohio. Similarly on the Confederate side, the admirers of Johnston
and the enemies of Beauregard have sought to saddle the latter with the responsibility of the defeat, and have claimed that
Johnston had won a victory, which Beauregard threw away after
the commanding general's death.
first point at issue is the alleged surprise of the Federal army. Though Grant and Sherman have both denied that any surprise
of their troops took place, yet it is impossible to ignore the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. It is probably enough
that Bragg somewhat exaggerated, when he spoke (Johnson and Buel (editors): Battles & Leaders of the Civil War:
p. 558) of many of the enemy being surprised and captured in their tents, but the undeniable fact remains that the Federal
leaders were not expecting an attack, that they had made no preparations for such a contingency, and that the scouting on
the Federal side was so slovenly that a great army was allowed to assemble within two miles of Sherman's headquarters without
its presence as an army being detected. The surprise of the 11th Corps at Chancellorsville was hardly more complete than that
of the Army of the Tennessee at Shiloh, though from a variety
of causes the subsequent course of the fighting on the two fields followed different lines. Halleck, Grant, and Sherman were
all three convinced that the enemy was definitely committed to a defensive policy, and that there would be no serious fighting
until Corinth was reached.
initial advantage in the fight lay then with the Confederates, and was retained by them till almost the close of the day.
The absence of the commanding general during the early stages of the, battle, which commenced before 6 a.m., whilst Grant
did not reach Pittsburg Landing till after 8 a.m. at the earliest, combined withi the total lack of preparation for a possible
battle, as is evidenced by the fact that one of Sherman's brigades was encamped on the extreme left two miles from the division
to which it belonged, prevented the Federals from forming an organised line of battle and enabled the attacking force to defeat
their opponents in detail. Grant, indeed, says (Johnson and Buel (editors): Battles & Leaders of the Civil War:
p. 473) that "with the single exception of a few minutes after the capture of Prentiss, a continuous and unbroken line was
maintained all day from Snake Creek or its tributaries on the right to Lick Creek or the Tennessee
on the left above Pittsburg."
following brief summary of events, taken from Buell's Shiloh Reviewed (Johnson and Buel (editors): Battles &
Leaders of the Civil War: p. 487-526), presents a different, and, it is believed, a more accurate account of the day's
fighting. Skirmisming began with Prentiss' troops. Prentiss drew up his main line about a quarter of a mile in front of his
camp, and held that position till the enemy passed him on the right to attack Sherman, whose left regiment immediately broke.
Prentiss retired, renewed resistance in his camp, and then fell back in still greater confusion to the line, which Hurlbut
and Wallace were forming half a mile to his rear. McClernand, owing to Sherman's
left wing giving away, was unable to form his Iine until he had fallen back some 300 yards with the loss of six guns. Of Sherman's division Hildebrand's brigade on the left very soon disappeared.
Buckland's brigade of the same division made a stout resistance of about two hours at Oak Creek, but with McDowell's on the
right was ordered back to form a line on the Purdy road 400 yards to the rear in connection with McClernand's right. This
effort was defeated; five guns were lost, and Sherman's division
as all organised body disappeared. McDowell's brigade was the last to go, about 1 p.m. McClernand afraid, as all connection
with the left was gone, of being cut off from the river, retired in the direction of the Landing, and about 3 p.m. took up
a fresh position along the River road north of Hurlbut's original headquarters. In the meantime Stuart's brigade on the extreme
Federal left had fallen back to a position in prolongation of and on the left of Hurlbut's, Wallace's and Prentiss' line in
the Hornets' Nest, but without having any connection with it. The Federal centre held their position in the Hornets' Nest
from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. By 3 p.m. the right wing, consisting of Sherman's and McClernand's divisions and one brigade, sent to
its aid by Hurlbut, had given way, and Stuart's brigade on the left had also fallen back. At 4 p.m. Hurlbut, owing to the
pressure on his left in consequence of Stuart's withdrawal, fell back, and the Confederates, massing on both flanks as well
as in the front of the Hornets' Nest, compelled the surrender of Prentiss and 2,200 men shortly after 5 p.m. When the last
Confederate attack was made by Chalmers' and part of Jackson's
brigades, Hutlbut was in line behind a battery of siege-guns posted half a mile from the river, but there was no organised
resistance for a distance of 500 yards from the Landing. A rifled battery had been placed in position there, but the gunners
were leaving their posts when Ammen's brigade of Buell's army arrived and repulsed the Confederate attack. The rifled battery
could effect nothing against the attacking force, which was sheltered in the ravine, and the fire of the gunboats was equally
(Johnson and Buel (editors): Battles & Leaders of the Civil War: p. 475) states that "before any of Buell's troops
had reached the west bank of the Tennessee firing had almost
entirely ceased; anything like an attempt on the part of the enemy to advance had absolutely ceased." In proof of this view
he cites the fact that Buell's loss on the 6th consisted of two killed and one wouiided, all the casualties being in the same
regiment. Buell's contention, however, is that it was the presence of Ammen's brigade which prevented the final charge made
by the two Confederate brigades from cutting off the Army of the Tennessee
from the Landing.
nature of the battlefield, largely covered with wood and intersected by ravines, favoured the defensive and prevented the
Confederates from utilising their cavalry for purposes of pursuit. This circumstance enabled the Federals to hold on till
reinforcements arrived, but those reinforcements came not from Lew Wallace's division at Crump's Landing, but from Buell's
Army of the Ohio.
also asserts (Johnson and Buel (editors): Battles & Leaders of the Civil War: p. 476) that victory was assured
when Lew Wallace arrived, even if there had been no other support. Apart from the contention that Wallace's division would
have been too late to save Grant's army, had it not been for the intervention of Ammen, the record of the next day's fighting
seems to show, that with only Wallace's division to reinforce his beaten army, Grant would have been hard put to it, even
to hold his ground against Beauregard. On the 7th the fighting on the left was entirely done by the Army of the Ohio, whilst on the right the honours were borne off by McCook's division
of the same army.
an elaborate argument Buell maintains that the official map misrepresents the position of Grant's army on the night of the
6th. He says that this map extends Grant's line full half a mile too far to the west, placing Hurlbut's division on the front
actually occupied by McClernand, McClernand's division on and 400 yards beyond Sherman's ground, and Sherman within the Iines
occupied by the enemy. He goes on to say that the revision of the map made nineteen years later by Sherman is still more misleading,
giving Grant a battle front of 2 1/2 miles instead of one mile at the most, not only extending Grant's line too far to the
west but at least half a mile too far to the south. He considers that Sherman's
line was not more than three-quarters of a mile from the river and more than a mile distant from the bridge over Snake Creek,
by which Lew Wallace's division was expected, and which it could in no practical sense be said to cover.
such conflicting testimony it seems impossible to arrive at any definite conclusion without avowing oneself a partisan of
one side or the other. Ropes (The Story of the Civil War; A Concise Account of the War in the United States of America Between 1861 and 1865. Vol. II, 79-80) expresses himself
very cautiously to this effect: "that this attack [of the two Confederate brigades], might have succeeded if it had been made
before the troops from Buell's army arrived, is by no means improbable." One may perhaps go so far as to say, that without
Buell's reinforcements Grant would not have won the battle of the 7th, whilst his position on the 6th might have been one
of the gravest peril.
the Confederate side the rival claims of Beauregard and Johnston have been urged with a personal animosity happily lacking
in the Federal controversy. Not only facts but also motives are called in question, and no important statement made by the
one side is left uncontradicted by the other. The first point at issue is, to which of the two generals belongs the credit
of conceiving the offensive movement against the Federal army at Pittsburg Landing. Colonel Johnston, A. S. Johnston's son,
who was not himself at Shiloh and in his account of the battle seems to place much reliance upon a monograph furnished him
by General Bragg, written, as, it would seem, with the express purpose of discrediting Beauregard, states that it was his
father who fixed upon Corinth as the point of concentration and determined upon the offensive movement against Grant, whilst
Beauregard, so he asserts, had all along favoured a defensive policy and wished to limit the movement upon Pittsburg Landing
to a reconnaissance in force. On the other hand, Beauregard maintains that from his arrival in the western theatre of war
he advocated an offensive policy, but that Johnston was steadily opposed to it, and that only
with great difficulty did he persuade Johnston to join him at Corinth instead of continuing his intended retreat on Stevenson.
is no doubt that the Confederates were a day late in making their attack, and if it had been made on the 5th, as originally
designed, their chances of success would have been greater. For this delay Colonel Johnston holds Beauregard to blame. He
states that the orders for the march issued from Beauregard's headquarters were not the same as those which Johnston had originally approved, and that the change was the cause of the delay. Beauregard
maintains, and his contention is supported by the evidence of two of his staff, General Jordan, Adjutant-General of the army,
and Colonel Chisolm, that the orders issued on the morning of the 3rd were those approved by Johnston on the previous night, and that the delay was due to the misconduct of the Corps
claims that as soon as fighting commenced on the 6th Johnston
gave him general control of the field and confined his whole attention to the extreme right. On Beauregard's theory Johnston's death did not cause any appreciable Iull in the combat; perhaps
there was an interval of fifteen minutes whilst Bragg was organising a movement to outflank the Hornets' Nest. Colonel Johnston
holds that his father exercised a general control over the whole field of battle up to his death, and speaks of him as being
on different parts of the field at different times. He considers that Johnston's death caused
a lull of over one hour in the battle, and that after that melancholy event there was no longer any sign to be found in the
Confederate ranks of that unity of purpose and combination of movement which the presence of Johnston on the field had thus far ensured.
the capture of Prentiss and his troops Colonel Johnston states that "all the Corps commanders were at the front and in communication:
a line of battle was formed, and all was ready for the last fell swoop." According to Bragg, that final assault was never
made, as Beauregard "at Shiloh, two miles in the rear," sent orders for the withdrawal of
the troops. According to this view it was not Grant's reserve artillery or Ammen's infantry brigade which saved the Federal
army, but Beauregard's fatal order issued under a misconception of the state of affairs at the front.
however, contends that after Prentiss' surrender "no serious effort was made by the Corps commanders to press the victory.
The troops had got out of the hands either of Corps, divisional, or brigade commanders, and for the most part at the front
were out of ammunition. Before the order (for withdrawal) was received, many of the regiments had been withdrawn out of action,
and really the attack had practically ceased at every point." Colonel Chisolm states that he was on the extreme left with
Hardee till almost dark, up to which time no orders had arrived to cease fighting. There seems, however, some doubt as to
the reason which led Beauregard at 6 p.m. to call off his troops. According to his own account he knew that Buell's advance-guard
had crossed the river, and he therefore withdrew his troops to make preparations for the defensive battle which he knew would
take place next day. But according to General Jordan's version, a telegraphic despatch had been received at the Confederate
headquarters to the effect that Buell was marching towards Decatur,
and Beauregard called off his troops because he felt sure of being able to annihilate Grant next day at his leisure.
these two utterly contradictory versions of the battle of the 6th, the evidence seems on the whole to favour Beauregard's.
The animus in Colonel Johnston's narrative is very marked. General Johnston at the opening of the war was regarded as the
ablest soldier of the South. His failure to hold Kentucky and Tennessee caused dismay and astonishment, and his friends and admirers were anxious to represent
their hero as stricken down in the moment of gaining a victory, which would have retrieved all his previous disasters. For
that purpose it was necessary to cast the blame of throwing away the victory, which was as good as won, upon Beauregard.
Reading: Shiloh and the Western Campaign
of 1862. Review: The bloody and decisive two-day
battle of Shiloh (April 6-7, 1862) changed the entire course of the American Civil War. The
stunning Northern victory thrust Union commander Ulysses S. Grant into the national spotlight, claimed the life of Confederate
commander Albert S. Johnston, and forever buried the notion that the Civil War would be a short conflict. The conflagration
at Shiloh had its roots in the strong Union advance during the winter of 1861-1862 that resulted in the capture of Forts Henry
and Donelson in Tennessee. Continued below…
collapsed General Albert S. Johnston advanced line in Kentucky and forced him to withdraw all the way to northern Mississippi. Anxious to attack the enemy, Johnston began
concentrating Southern forces at Corinth, a major railroad center just below the Tennessee border. His bold plan called for his Army of the Mississippi to march north and destroy General Grant's Army of the Tennessee
before it could link up with another Union army on the way to join him. On the morning of April 6, Johnston
boasted to his subordinates, "Tonight we will water our horses in the Tennessee!"
They nearly did so. Johnston's sweeping attack hit the unsuspecting Federal camps at Pittsburg
Landing and routed the enemy from position after position as they fell back toward the Tennessee River.
Johnston's sudden death in the Peach Orchard, however, coupled
with stubborn Federal resistance, widespread confusion, and Grant's dogged determination to hold the field, saved the Union
army from destruction. The arrival of General Don C. Buell's reinforcements that night turned the tide of battle. The next
day, Grant seized the initiative and attacked the Confederates, driving them from the field. Shiloh
was one of the bloodiest battles of the entire war, with nearly 24,000 men killed, wounded, and missing. Edward Cunningham,
a young Ph.D. candidate studying under the legendary T. Harry Williams at Louisiana
State University, researched and wrote Shiloh and the Western Campaign of 1862 in 1966. Although it remained unpublished, many Shiloh
experts and park rangers consider it to be the best overall examination of the battle ever written. Indeed, Shiloh
historiography is just now catching up with Cunningham, who was decades ahead of modern scholarship. Western Civil War historians
Gary D. Joiner and Timothy B. Smith have resurrected Cunningham's beautifully written and deeply researched manuscript from
its undeserved obscurity. Fully edited and richly annotated with updated citations and observations, original maps, and a
complete order of battle and table of losses, Shiloh and the Western Campaign of 1862 will
be welcomed by everyone who enjoys battle history at its finest. Edward Cunningham, Ph.D., studied under T. Harry Williams
at Louisiana State
University. He was the author of The Port Hudson Campaign: 1862-1863
(LSU, 1963). Dr. Cunningham died in 1997. Gary D. Joiner, Ph.D. is the author of One Damn Blunder from Beginning to End: The
Red River Campaign of 1864, winner of the 2004 Albert Castel Award and the 2005 A. M. Pate, Jr., Award, and Through the Howling
Wilderness: The 1864 Red River Campaign and Union Failure in the West. He lives in Shreveport,
Louisiana. About the Author: Timothy B. Smith, Ph.D., is author of Champion Hill:
Decisive Battle for Vicksburg (winner of the 2004 Mississippi
Institute of Arts and Letters Non-fiction Award), The Untold Story of Shiloh: The Battle and the Battlefield, and This Great
Battlefield of Shiloh: History, Memory, and the Establishment of a Civil War National Military Park. A former ranger at Shiloh,
Tim teaches history at the University of Tennessee.
Reading: The Shiloh
Campaign (Civil War Campaigns in the Heartland)
(Hardcover). Description: Some 100,000 soldiers fought in the April 1862 battle of Shiloh, and nearly 20,000 men were killed
or wounded; more Americans died on that Tennessee
battlefield than had died in all the nation’s previous wars combined. In the first book in his new series, Steven E.
Woodworth has brought together a group of superb historians to reassess this significant battle and provide in-depth analyses
of key aspects of the campaign and its aftermath. The eight talented contributors dissect the campaign’s fundamental
events, many of which have not received adequate attention before now. Continued below…
John R. Lundberg
examines the role of Albert Sidney Johnston, the prized Confederate commander who recovered impressively after a less-than-stellar
performance at forts Henry and Donelson only to die at Shiloh; Alexander Mendoza analyzes the crucial, and perhaps decisive,
struggle to defend the Union’s left; Timothy B. Smith investigates the persistent legend that the Hornet’s Nest
was the spot of the hottest fighting at Shiloh; Steven E. Woodworth follows Lew Wallace’s controversial march to the
battlefield and shows why Ulysses S. Grant never forgave him; Gary D. Joiner provides the deepest analysis available of action
by the Union gunboats; Grady McWhiney describes P. G. T. Beauregard’s decision to stop the first day’s attack
and takes issue with his claim of victory; and Charles D. Grear shows the battle’s impact on Confederate soldiers, many
of whom did not consider the battle a defeat for their side. In the final chapter, Brooks D. Simpson analyzes how command
relationships—specifically the interactions among Grant, Henry Halleck, William T. Sherman, and Abraham Lincoln—affected
the campaign and debunks commonly held beliefs about Grant’s reactions to Shiloh’s aftermath. The Shiloh Campaign
will enhance readers’ understanding of a pivotal battle that helped unlock the western theater to Union conquest. It
is sure to inspire further study of and debate about one of the American Civil War’s momentous campaigns.
Recommended Reading: Shiloh: The Battle
That Changed the Civil War (Simon & Schuster). From Publishers Weekly: The
bloodbath at Shiloh, Tenn.
(April 6-7, 1862), brought an end to any remaining innocence in the Civil War. The combined 23,000 casualties that the two
armies inflicted on each other in two days shocked North and South alike. Ulysses S. Grant kept his head and managed, with
reinforcements, to win a hard-fought victory. Continued below…
general Albert Sidney Johnston was wounded and bled to death, leaving P.G.T. Beauregard to disengage and retreat with a dispirited
gray-clad army. Daniel (Soldiering in the Army of Tennessee) has crafted a superbly researched volume that will appeal to
both the beginning Civil War reader as well as those already familiar with the course of fighting in the wooded terrain bordering
the Tennessee River.
His impressive research includes the judicious use of contemporary newspapers and extensive collections of unpublished letters
and diaries. He offers a lengthy discussion of the overall strategic situation that preceded the battle, a survey of the generals
and their armies and, within the notes, sharp analyses of the many controversies that Shiloh
has spawned, including assessments of previous scholarship on the battle. This first new book on Shiloh
in a generation concludes with a cogent chapter on the consequences of those two fatal days of conflict.
Recommended Reading: Shiloh--In Hell before Night. Description: James McDonough has written a good, readable and concise history of a battle that the author
characterizes as one of the most important of the Civil War, and writes an interesting history of this decisive 1862 confrontation
in the West. He blends first person and newspaper accounts to give the book a good balance between the general's view and
the soldier's view of the battle. Continued below…
Particularly enlightening is his description of Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston, the commander
who was killed on the first day of the battle. McDonough makes a pretty convincing argument that Johnston
fell far short of the image that many give him in contemporary and historical writings. He is usually portrayed as an experienced
and decisive commander of men. This book shows that Johnston
was a man of modest war and command experience, and that he rose to prominence shortly before the Civil War. His actions (or
inaction) prior to the meeting at Shiloh -- offering to let his subordinate Beauregard take command for example -- reveal
a man who had difficulty managing the responsibility fostered on him by his command. The author does a good job of presenting
several other historical questions and problems like Johnston's
reputation vs. reality that really add a lot of interest to the pages.
Recommended Reading: Seeing
the Elephant: RAW RECRUITS AT THE BATTLE OF SHILOH. Description: One of the bloodiest battles in the Civil War, the
two-day engagement near Shiloh, Tennessee,
in April 1862 left more than 23,000 casualties. Fighting alongside seasoned veterans were more than 160 newly recruited regiments
and other soldiers who had yet to encounter serious action. In the phrase of the time, these men came to Shiloh
to "see the elephant". Continued below…
the letters, diaries, and other reminiscences of these raw recruits on both sides of the conflict, "Seeing the Elephant" gives
a vivid and valuable primary account of the terrible struggle. From the wide range of voices included in this volume emerges
a nuanced picture of the psychology and motivations of the novice soldiers and the ways in which their attitudes toward the
war were affected by their experiences at Shiloh.