Battle Of Shiloh and General Leonidas Polk

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Battle Of Shiloh, Or Pittsburg Landing,
April 6 And 7, 1862
by Major-General Leonidas Polk,
Commanding First Corps
The Confederate Soldier In The Civil War
Edited by Ben La Bree
Originally Published at Louisville, Kentucky, in 1895

HEADQUARTERS, RIGHT WING,
ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE, Sept. 9, 1862.

I BEG to submit the following account of the part taken by the troops comprising my corps in the battle of Shiloh:
It was resolved by our commander-in-chief, General Johnston, to attack the enemy in his position on the Tennessee River if possible at daybreak on April 5th.

My corps consisted of two divisions, of two brigades each, commanded, respectively, by Major-General Cheatham and Brigadier-General Clark, and, with the exception of three regiments--one from Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas, respectively--was composed of Tennesseeans.

Major-General Cheatham's division was on outpost duty at and near Bethel, on the Mobile & Ohio Railroad, and was ordered to proceed to a point near Pittsburg Landing, on the river, for the purpose of joining in the contemplated attack.

On April 3d I was directed to march so much of my corps as was still at Corinth toward the same point. The route to be taken was that pursued by the corps of General Hardee over the Ridge and Bark roads, and I was ordered to march so as to allow an interval of half an hour between the two corps.

This order I was directed to observe until I reached Mickey's. On reaching Mickey's, my instructions were to halt, to allow the corps of General Bragg--whose route fell into ours at that point--to fall in and follow in the immediate rear of General Hardee. The plan of battle was that the corps of General Hardee should form the front line; that of General Bragg, the second, my corps and that of General Breckinridge to constitute the third, or reserve.

I maintained the interval ordered between General Hardee's and my corps during the night of the 3d and during the following day, and halted the head of my column at the crossroads at Mickey's about dark on the 4th, according to instructions, my column being well up.

At Mickey's we were about two miles and a half from the place at which our line of battle was to be formed, and here the head of General Bragg's corps also bivouacked on the same night.

At 3 o'clock on the following morning (Saturday, the 5th) the whole of my command was under arms in waiting on the road, which it could not take, as it was occupied by the troops of General Bragg, which were filing into the rear of those of General Hardee. It was now manifest that the attack at daybreak could not be made; that the troops could not reach their position in time, and that the failure was owing to the condition of the roads, which were exceedingly bad in consequence of the heavy rains which had fallen.

I took a position early in the morning near the forks of the road to wait for the troops of General Bragg to pass. While there in waiting, at 10 A. M., Generals A. S. Johnston and Beauregard, with their staffs, rode up from the rear, and halting opposite me, gave me orders to move promptly in rear of General Bragg so that I might give the road to General Breckinridge, who was to follow me, coming in from General Bragg's route. I was also ordered to halt my column one mile and a half in rear of the place at which General Bragg's line of battle crossed the road, and to deploy my corps to the left on a line parallel to that of General Bragg, General Breckinridge having been ordered to halt at the same point and deploy his corps to the right, with his left resting on my right.

It was near 2 o'clock before the whole of General Bragg's corps had passed. I then put my column in motion and rode to the front. Proceeding half a mile, I sent Lieutenant Richmond, my aid-de-camp, forward to ascertain the point at which General Bragg's line would cross the road, and to measure back for the place at which I was to halt and deploy. This he did, and on reaching the place Lieutenant Richmond informed me that the road I was pursuing ran into that across which General Bragg was forming at an obtuse angle. It became necessary, then, before I could form, to ascertain the general direction of the line in front of me. To effect this I sent forward my Inspector-General (Blake), and leaving a staff officer to halt my column at the proper place, I proceeded myself to aid in the reconnoissance. I had not advanced far before I came upon General Ruggles, who commanded General Bragg's left, deploying his troops. Having ascertained the direction of the line, I did not wait for him to complete it, but returned to the head of my column to give the necessary orders.

By this time it was near 4 o'clock, and on arriving I was informed that General Beauregard desired to see me immediately. I rode forward to his headquarters at once, where I found General Bragg and himself in conversation. He said, with some feeling, "I am very much disappointed at the delay which has occurred in getting the troops into position." I replied, "So am I, sir; but so far as I am concerned my orders are to form on another line, and that line must first be established before I can form upon it." I continued, "I reached Mickey's at nightfall yesterday, from whence I could not move, because of the troops which were before me, until 2 P. M. to-day. I then promptly followed the column in front of me, and have been in position to form upon it so soon as its line was established." He said he regretted the delay exceedingly, as it would make it necessary to forego the attack altogether; that our success depended upon our surprising the enemy; that this now was impossible, and we must fall back to Corinth.

Here General Johnston came up and asked what was the matter. General Beauregard repeated what he said to me. General Johnston remarked that this would never do, and proceeded to assign reasons for that opinion. He then asked what I thought of it. I replied that my troops were in as good condition as they had ever been, that they were eager for the battle; that to retire now would operate injuriously upon them, and I thought we ought to attack.

General Breckinridge, whose troops were in the rear, and by this time had arrived upon the ground, here joined us, and after some discussion it was decided to postpone further movement until the following day, and to make the attack at daybreak. I then proceeded to dispose of my divisions--Cheatham having arrived--according to an alteration in the programme, and we bivouacked for the night.

At the appointed hour on the morning of the 6th my troops were moved forward, and as soon as they were freed from an obstruction, formed by a thicket of underbrush, they were formed in column of brigades, and pressed onward to the support of the second line.

General Clark's division was in front. We had not proceeded far before the first line, under General Hardee, was under fire throughout its length, and the second, under General Bragg, was also engaged.

The first order received by me was from General Johnston, who had ridden to the front to watch the opening operations, and who, as commander-in-chief, seemed deeply impressed with the responsibilities of his position. It was observed that he entered upon his work with the ardor and energy of the true soldier, and the vigor with which he pressed forward his troops gave assurance that his persistent determination would close the day with a glorious victory.

The order was to send him a brigade to the right for the support of General Bragg's line, then hotly engaged. The brigade of General Stewart, of General Clark's division, was immediately dispatched to him, and was led by him in person to the point requiring support. I was then ordered by General Beauregard to send one of the brigades of my rear division to the support of General Bragg's left, which was pressed by the enemy. Orders were given to that effect to General Cheatham, who took charge of the brigade in person, and executed the movement promptly. My two remaining brigades were held in hand until I received orders to move them directly to the front, to the support of General Bragg's center. These were Colonel Russell's, of General Clark's division, which was directed by that officer, and General Bushrod R. Johnson's, of General Cheatham's division. They moved forward at once, and were both very soon warmly engaged with the enemy. The resistance at this point was as stubborn as at any other on the field.

The forces of the enemy to which we were opposed were understood to be those of General Sherman, supported by the command of General McClernand, and fought with determined courage and contested every inch of ground. Here it was that the gallant Blythe, colonel of the Mississippi regiment bearing his own name, fell under my eye, pierced through the heart, while charging a battery. It was here that Brigadier-General Johnson, while leading his brigade, fell also, it was feared, mortally wounded; and General Clark, too, while cheering his command amid a shower of shot and shell, was struck down and so severely wounded in the shoulder as to disable him from further service, and compel him to turn over a command he had taken into the fight with such distinguished gallantry; and here also fell many officers of lesser grade, among them the gallant Captain Marshal T. Polk, of Polk's battery (who lost a leg), as well as a large number of privates, who sealed their devotion to our cause with their blood.

We, nevertheless, drove the enemy before us, dislodged him from his strong positions, and captured two of his batteries; one of them was taken by the Thirteenth Regiment of Tennessee Volunteers, commanded by Colonel Vaughan; the other by the One Hundred and Fifty-fourth (senior) Regiment, Tennessee Volunteers, commanded by Colonel Preston Smith; the former of Colonel Russell's and the latter of General Johnson's brigade.

After these successes the enemy retired in the direction of the river, and while they were being pressed I sought out General Bragg, to whose support I had been ordered, and asked him where he would have my command. He replied, "If you will take care of the center, I will go to the right." It was understood that General Hardee was attending to the left. I accepted the arrangement, and took charge of the operations in that part of the general line for the rest of the day. It was fought by three of my brigades only--General Stewart's, General Johnson's (afterward Colonel Preston Smith's) and Colonel Russell's. My fourth brigade, that of Colonel Maney, under the command of General Cheatham, was on the right, with Generals Bragg and Breckinridge. These three brigades, with occasionally a regiment of some other corps, which became detached, were fully employed in the field assigned me. They fought over the same ground three times, as the fortunes of the day varied, always with steadiness (a single instance only excepted, and that only for a moment), and with occasional instances of brilliant courage. Such was the case of the Thirty-third Regiment, Tennessee Volunteers, under Colonel A. W. Campbell, and the Fifth Tennessee, under Lieutenant-Colonel C. D. Venable, both for the moment under command of Colonel Campbell.

Shortly after they were first brought forward as a supporting force they found themselves ordered to support two regiments of the line before them, which were Iying down and engaging the enemy irregularly. On advancing they drew the enemy's fire over the heads of the regiments in their front. It was of so fierce a character that they must either advance or fall back. Campbell called to the regiments before him to charge. This they declined to do. He then gave orders to his own regiments to charge, and led them in gallant style over the heads of the regiments lying in advance of him, sweeping the enemy before him and putting them completely to rout.

In this charge Colonel Campbell was severely wounded, but still retained his command.

Such, also, was the charge made by the Fourth Tennessee, Lieutenant-Colonel Strahl. This was against a battery of heavy guns, which was making sad havoc in our ranks, and was well supported by a large infantry force.

In reply to an inquiry by their cool and determined brigade commander, General Stewart, "Can you take that battery?" their colonel said, "We will try;" and at the order Forward, they moved at a double-quick to within thirty paces of the enemy's guns, halted, delivered one round, and with a yell charged the battery, and captured several prisoners and every gun. These prisoners reported their battery was supported by four Ohio and three Illinois regiments.

It was a brilliant achievement, but an expensive one. In making the charge the regiment lost thirty-one killed on the spot and one hundred and fifty wounded; yet it illustrated and sustained the reputation for heroism of the gallant State of which it was a representative.

About 3 o'clock intelligence reached me that the commander-in-chief (General Johnston) had fallen. He fell in the discharge of his duty, leading and directing his troops. His loss was deeply felt. It was an event which deprived the army of his clear, practical judgment and determined character, and himself of an opportunity which he had coveted for vindicating his claims to the confidence of his countrymen against the inconsiderate and unjust reproaches which had been heaped upon him. The moral influence of his presence had, nevertheless, been already impressed upon the army, and an impulse given to its action, which the news of his death increased instead of abated. The operations of the day had now become so far developed as to foreshadow the result with a good degree of certainty, and it was a melancholy fate to be cut off when victory seemed hastening to perch upon his standard. He was a true soldier, high-toned, eminently honorable and just, considerate of the rights and feelings of others, magnanimous and brave. His military capacity was also of a high order, and his devotion to the cause of the South unsurpassed by that of any of her many noble sons who have offered up their lives on her altar. I knew him well from boyhood--none knew him better--and I take pleasure in laying on his tomb, as a parting offering, this testimonial of my appreciation of his character as a soldier, a patriot and a man.

The enemy in our front was gradually and successively driven from his positions and forced from the field back on the river bank.

About 5 P. M. my line attacked the enemy's troops--the last that were left upon the field--in an encampment on my right. The attack was made in front and flank. The resistance was sharp, but short. The enemy, perceiving he was flanked and his position completely turned, hoisted the white flag and surrendered. It proved to be the commands of Generals Prentiss and William H. L. Wallace; the latter, who commanded the left of their line, was killed by the troops of General Bragg, who was pressing him at the same time from that quarter. The former yielded to the attack of my troops on their right, and delivered his sword with his command to Colonel Russell, one of my brigade commanders, who turned him over to me. The prisoners turned over were about two thousand. They were placed in charge of Lieutenant Richmond, my aid-de-camp, and, with a detachment of cavalry, sent to the rear. I take pleasure in saying that in this part of the operations of my troops they were aided by the Crescent regiment of Louisiana, Colonel M. L. Smith.

This command was composed chiefly of young men from the city of New Orleans, and belonged to General Bragg's corps. It had been posted on the left wing in the early part of the day, to hold an important position, where it was detained, and did not reach the field until a late hour. On arriving it came to the point at which I was commanding and reported to me for orders. The conduct of this regiment during the whole afternoon was distinguished for its gallantry both before and after the capture of the command of General Prentiss, in which it actively participated.

Immediately after the surrender I ordered Colonel Lindsay, in command of one of the regiments of cavalry belonging to my corps, to take command of all the cavalry at hand and pursue such of the enemy as were fleeing. He detached Lieutenant-Colonel Miller, of his own regiment, on that service immediately, while he proceeded to collect and take charge of other commands. Colonel Miller dashed forward and intercepted a battery within one hundred and fifty yards of the river--the Second Michigan--and captured it before it could unlimber and open fire. It was a six-gun battery, complete in all its equipments, and was captured--men, horses and guns. A portion of this cavalry rode to the river and watered their horses.

By this time the troops under my command were joined by those of Generals Bragg and Breckinridge, and my fourth brigade, under General Cheatham, from the right. The field was clear; the rest of the forces of the enemy were driven to the river and under its banks. We had one hour or more of daylight still left; were within from one hundred and fifty to four hundred yards of the enemy's position, and nothing seemed wanting to complete the most brilliant victory of the war but to press forward and make a vigorous assault on the demoralized remnant of his forces.

At this juncture his gunboats dropped down the river, near the landing, where his troops were collected, an opened a tremendous cannonade of shot and shell over the bank in the direction from where our forces were approaching. The height of the plain on which we were, above the level of the water, was about one hundred feet, so that it was necessary to give great elevation to his guns to enable him to fire over the bank. The consequence was that shot could take effect only at points remote from the river's edge. They were comparatively harmless to our troops nearest the bank, and became increasingly so as we drew near the enemy and placed him between us and his boats.

Here the impression arose that our forces were waging an unequal contest; that they were exhausted and suffering from a murderous fire; and by an order from the commanding general they were withdrawn from the field.

One of my divisions (that of General Clark), consisting of Stewart's and Russell's brigades, now under the command of General Stewart, bivouacked on the ground with the rest of the troops, and were among the first to engage the enemy on the following morning. They were actively engaged during the day, and sustained the reputation they had won the day before.

The other division, under General Cheatham--a brigade of which was separated from me at an early hour on the 6th, and was fought throughout the day with a skill and courage which always distinguishes that gallant officer--was moved by him to his camp of the night before. They were taken there to obtain rations and to prepare for the work of the following day. Hearing they had gone thither, I informed General Beauregard I should follow them, to insure their being on the ground at an early hour in the morning. This I did, and gave orders that night in person to General Cheatham to be ready to move at daylight. Before day I dispatched my aid-de-camp (Lieutenant Richmond) to put them in motion.

Their march was stopped for some time, to arrest a stampede which came from the front. They then moved, under the command of General Cheatham, to the field. I sent forward a staff officer to General Beauregard to inform him of their approach, and was directed to post them in the rear of Shiloh Church and hold them until further ordered. This was about 8 A. M.

It was not long before an order from the commanding general was received to move these troops to the support of the line in my front. They were formed in line of battle and moved forward half a mile to the position held by General Breckinridge. Finding he was able to hold his position without assistance, they were moved by the left flank past Shiloh Church to form on left of our line. Here they were formed, under the supervision of General Cheatham, immediately in front of a very large force of the enemy, now pressing vigorously to turn our left flank. They engaged the enemy so soon as they were formed, and fought him for four hours one of the most desperately contested conflicts of the battle. The enemy was driven gradually from his position, and, though re-enforced several times during the engagement, he could make no impression on that part of our line.

During this engagement the command of General Cheatham was re-enforced by a Louisiana brigade under Colonel Gibson, the Thirty-third Tennessee, under Colonel Campbell, and the Twenty-seventh Tennessee under Major Love, all of whom did admirable service, and the last fell mortally wounded. Colonel Preston Smith, commanding a brigade, was at the same time severely wounded, but retained his command.

This force maintained the position it had held for so many hours up to 2:30 o'clock, the time at which orders were received from the general commanding to withdraw the troops from the field. I gave orders accordingly, and the command was retired slowly and in good order in the direction of our camp, the enemy making no advance whatever. In the operations of this morning, as well as the day before, those of my troops who acted under the immediate orders of Major-General Cheatham bore themselves with conspicuous gallantry. One charge particularly was made under the eye of the commander in chief and his staff, and drew forth expressions of the most unqualified applause.

The conduct of the troops of my corps, both officers and men, was of the most gratifying character; many of them had never been under fire before, and one company of artillery--that of Captain Stanford--from the scarcity of ammunition, had never before heard the report of their own guns. Yet, from that facility which distinguishes our Southern people, under the inspiration of the cause which animates them, they fought with the steadiness and gallantry of well-trained troops. The fact that the corps lost within a fraction of one-third of its number in killed and wounded attests the nature of the service in which it was engaged.

To my division commanders, Major-General Cheatharn and Brigadier-General Clark, I feel greatly indebted for their cordial co-operation and efficient support; also to Brigadier-Generals Stewart and Johnson, and Colonels Russell, Maney, Stephens and Preston Smith, commanders of brigades.

My obligations are due to my personal and general staff; to Major George Williamson, my adjutant-general, who had his horse shot under him and was himself wounded; to my inspector-general, Lieutenant-Colonel Blake; to my chief of artillery, Major Bankhead; to Captain Champneys, my chief of ordnance, to whom I am indebted for taking off from the field thirteen of the fourteen guns reported by the general commanding to have been secured by the army from the enemy; also to my aids-de-camp, Lieutenants W. B. Richmond and A. H. Polk; also to Lieutenants Spence, Lanier Rawle and W. M. Porter, who acted on my staff during the battle.

Above all, I feel I am indebted to Almighty God for the courage with which He inspired our troops, and for the protection and defense with which He covered our heads in the day of battle.

L. POLK, Major-General,
Commanding First Corps, Army of the Mississippi.

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Recommended 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…

The offensive 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.

 

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…

Confederate 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…

Drawing on 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.

 

Recommended Reading: The Battle of Shiloh and the Organizations Engaged (Hardcover). Description: How can an essential "cornerstone of Shiloh historiography" remain unavailable to the general public for so long? That's what I kept thinking as I was reading this reprint of the 1913 edition of David W. Reed's “The Battle of Shiloh and the Organizations Engaged.” Reed, a veteran of the Battle of Shiloh and the first historian of the Shiloh National Military Park, was tabbed to write the official history of the battle, and this book was the result. Reed wrote a short, concise history of the fighting and included quite a bit of other valuable information in the pages that followed. The large and impressive maps that accompanied the original text are here converted into digital format and included in a CD located within a flap at the back of the book. Author and former Shiloh Park Ranger Timothy Smith is responsible for bringing this important reference work back from obscurity. His introduction to the book also places it in the proper historical framework. Continued below…

Reed's history of the campaign and battle covers only seventeen pages and is meant to be a brief history of the subject. The detail is revealed in the rest of the book. And what detail there is! Reed's order of battle for Shiloh goes down to the regimental and battery level. He includes the names of the leaders of each organization where known, including whether or not these men were killed, wounded, captured, or suffered some other fate. In a touch not often seen in modern studies, the author also states the original regiment of brigade commanders. In another nice piece of detail following the order of battle, staff officers for each brigade and higher organization are listed. The book's main point and where it truly shines is in the section entitled "Detailed Movements of Organizations". Reed follows each unit in their movements during the battle. Reading this section along with referring to the computerized maps gives one a solid foundation for future study of Shiloh. Forty-five pages cover the brigades of all three armies present at Shiloh.

 

Wargamers and buffs will love the "Abstract of Field Returns". This section lists Present for Duty, engaged, and casualties for each regiment and battery in an easy to read table format. Grant's entire Army of the Tennessee has Present for Duty strengths. Buell's Army of the Ohio is also counted well. The Confederate Army of the Mississippi is counted less accurately, usually only going down to brigade level and many times relying only on engaged strengths. That said, buy this book if you are looking for a good reference work for help with your order of battle.

 

In what I believe is an unprecedented move in Civil War literature, the University of Tennessee Press made the somewhat unusual decision to include Reed's detailed maps of the campaign and battle in a CD which is included in a plastic sleeve inside the back cover of the book. The cost of reproducing the large maps and including them as foldouts or in a pocket in the book must have been prohibitive, necessitating this interesting use of a CD. The maps were simple to view and came in a PDF format. All you'll need is Adobe Acrobat Reader, a free program, to view these. It will be interesting to see if other publishers follow suit. Maps are an integral part of military history, and this solution is far better than deciding to include poor maps or no maps at all. The Read Me file that came with the CD relays the following information: 

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The maps contained on this CD are scans of the original oversized maps printed in the 1913 edition of D. W. Reed's The Battle of Shiloh and the Organizations Engaged. The original maps, which were in a very large format and folded out of the pages of this edition, are of varying sizes, up to 23 inches by 25 inches. They were originally created in 1901 by the Shiloh National Military Park under the direction of its historian, David W. Reed. They are the most accurate Shiloh battle maps in existence.

 

The maps on the CD are saved as PDF (Portable Document Format) files and can be read on any operating system (Windows, Macintosh, Linux) by utilizing Adobe Acrobat Reader. Visit http://www.adobe.com to download Acrobat Reader if you do not have it installed on your system.

 

Map 1. The Field of Operations from Which the Armies Were Concentrated at Shiloh, March and April 1862

 

Map 2. The Territory between Corinth, Miss., and Pittsburgh Landing, Tenn., Showing Positions and Route of the Confederate Army in Its Advance to Shiloh, April 3, 4, 5, & 6, 1862

 

Map 3. Positions on the First Day, April 6, 1862

 

Map 4. Positions on the Second Day, April 7, 1862

 

Complete captions appear on the maps.

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Timothy Smith has done students of the Civil War an enormous favor by republishing this important early work on Shiloh. Relied on for generations by Park Rangers and other serious students of the battle, The Battle of Shiloh and the Organizations Engaged has been resurrected for a new generation of Civil War readers. This classic reference work is an essential book for those interested in the Battle of Shiloh. Civil War buffs, wargamers, and those interested in tactical minutiae will also find Reed's work to be a very good buy. Highly recommended.

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