Battle of Shiloh
Shiloh Civil War History
Battle of Shiloh
Other Names: Pittsburg Landing
Location: Hardin County
Campaign: Federal Penetration via the Cumberland and Tennessee
Date(s): April 6-7, 1862
Principal Commanders: Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell [US]; Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston and Gen.
P.G.T. Beauregard [CS]
Forces Engaged: Army of the Tennessee and Army of the Ohio (65,085) [US]; Army of the Mississippi (44,968) [CS]
Estimated Casualties: 23,746 total (US 13,047; CS 10,699)
Result(s): Union victory
|Battle of Shiloh Map
|Civil War Shiloh Battlefield Map
Description: As a result of the fall of Forts Henry and Donelson, Confederate Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston, the commander in the area, was forced to fall back, giving up Kentucky
and much of West and Middle Tennessee. He chose Corinth, Mississippi, a major transportation
center, as the staging area for an offensive against Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and his Army of the Tennessee;
before the Army of the Ohio, under Maj. Gen. Don Carlos
Buell, could join Grant. The Confederate retrenchment was a surprise, although a pleasant one, to the Union forces. Adjacent
the Tennessee River, Grant and approximately 40,000 men needed time to mount a southern offensive
toward Pittsburg Landing. Grant received orders to await Buell’s Army of the Ohio
at Pittsburg Landing. Grant, consequently, did not fortify his position; since many of his men were raw recruits, “Grant
had his men drilling. “ Johnston originally planned
to attack Grant on April 4th, but delays postponed it until the 6th. Attacking the Union troops on the morning of the 6th,
the Confederates surprised and routed many of them. Some Federal units, however, made a determined stand and by afternoon
they had established a battle line at the sunken road, known as the “Hornets Nest.” Repeated Rebel attacks failed
to carry the Hornets Nest, but massed artillery helped to turn the tide as Confederates surrounded and captured, killed, or
wounded most of the Federals. Johnston had been mortally
wounded earlier and his second in command, Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard, assumed command. The Union troops established another line
covering Pittsburg Landing, anchored with artillery and augmented by Buell’s men who began to arrive and take up positions.
Fighting continued until after dark, but the Federals held.
|Civil War Battle of Shiloh on April 6, 1862, Map
|Shiloh Civil War Battle Map
By the next morning, the combined Federal forces numbered about 40,000; outnumbering Beauregard’s
army of less than 30,000. Beauregard, unaware of the arrival of Buell’s army, launched a counterattack in response to
a two-mile advance conducted by William Nelson’s division of Buell’s army at 6:00 am. Initially, the Confederates
were successful, but Union troops stiffened and began forcing the Confederates back. Beauregard ordered a counterassault,
which stopped the Union advance but did not break its battle line. At this point, Beauregard realized that he could not win
and, having suffered too many casualties, he retired from the field and retreated to Corinth. On the 8th, Grant sent Brig. Gen. William T. Sherman,
with two brigades, and Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Wood, with his division, in pursuit of Beauregard. They smashed into the Rebel
rearguard, commanded by Col. Nathan Bedford Forrest, at Fallen Timbers. Forrest’s aggressive tactics, although eventually
contained, influenced the Union troops to return to Pittsburg Landing. Grant’s mastery
of the Confederate forces continued; he had beaten them once again. The Confederates continued to fall back until launching
their mid-August offensive. (See Battle of Shiloh: Homepage.)
|Shiloh Civil War Battlefield on April 7, 1862, Map
|Shiloh Civil War Battle Map
presidents fought at the Battle of Shiloh. Ulysses S. Grant
commanded the Federal Army of the Tennessee, while James A. Garfield commanded a brigade in the Federal Army of the Ohio.
Aftermath: In the immediate aftermath of the battle, Northern newspapers vilified Grant
for his performance during the battle on April 6. Reporters, many far from the battle, spread the story that Grant had been
drunk, falsely alleging that this had resulted in many of his men being bayoneted in their tents because of a lack of defensive
preparedness. Despite the Union victory, Grant's reputation suffered in Northern public opinion. Many credited Buell with
taking control of the broken Union forces and leading them to victory on April 7. Calls for Grant's removal overwhelmed the
White House. President Lincoln replied with one of his most famous quotations about Grant: "I can't spare this man; he fights."
emerged as an immediate hero, his steadfastness under fire and amid chaos atoning for his previous melancholy and his defensive
lapses preceding the battle. Today, however, Grant is recognized positively for the clear judgment he was able to retain under
the strenuous circumstances, and his ability to perceive the larger tactical picture that ultimately resulted in victory on
the second day.
Nevertheless, Grant's career
suffered temporarily in the aftermath of Shiloh. Henry W. Halleck combined and reorganized
his armies, relegating Grant to the powerless position of second-in-command. In late April and May the Union armies, under
Halleck's personal command, advanced slowly toward Corinth and captured it, while an amphibious force on the Mississippi River
destroyed the Confederate River Defense Fleet and captured Memphis. Halleck was promoted
to be general in chief of all the Union armies, and with his departure for the East, Grant was restored to command. Grant
eventually pushed on down the Mississippi to besiege Vicksburg.
After the surrender of Vicksburg and the fall of Port Hudson in the summer of 1863, the Mississippi River was under Union control and the Confederacy was cut in two. Command of the Army of
Mississippi fell to Braxton Bragg, who was promoted to full general on April 6. In the fall of 1862, he led it on an unsuccessful
invasion of Kentucky, culminating in his retreat from the Battle of Perryville.
|Tennessee Civil War Map of Battles
The two-day battle of Shiloh,
the costliest in U.S.
history up to that time, resulted in the defeat of the Confederate army and frustration of Johnston's
plans to prevent the joining of the two Union armies in Tennessee.
Union casualties were 13,047 (1,754 killed, 8,408 wounded, and 2,885 missing); Grant's army bore the brunt of the fighting
over the two days, with casualties of 1,513 killed, 6,601 wounded, and 2,830 missing or captured. Confederate casualties were
10,699 (1,728 killed, 8,012 wounded, and 959 missing or captured). This total of 23,746 men (counting both sides) represented
more than the American battle-related casualties of the American Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Mexican-American
War combined. The dead included the Confederate army's commander, Albert Sidney Johnston; the highest ranking Union general
killed was W.H.L. Wallace. Both sides were shocked at the carnage. None suspected that three more years of such bloodshed
remained in the war and that eight larger and bloodier battles were yet to come. Grant came to realize that his prediction
of one great battle bringing the war to a close was probably not destined to happen. The war would continue, at great cost
in casualties and resources, until the Confederacy succumbed or the Union was divided. Grant
also learned a valuable personal lesson on preparedness that (mostly) served him well for the rest of the war.
(Sources listed at bottom of page.)
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: Shiloh: A Novel, by Shelby
Foote. Review: In the novel Shiloh, historian and Civil War expert Shelby Foote delivers a spare, unflinching account of the
battle of Shiloh, which was fought over the course of two days in April 1862. By mirroring
the troops' movements through the woods of Tennessee with
the activity of each soldier's mind, Foote offers the reader a broad perspective of the battle and a detailed view of the
issues behind it. Continued below…
becomes tangible as Foote interweaves the observations of Union and Confederate officers, simple foot soldiers, brave men, and cowards and describes
the roar of the muskets and the haze of the gun smoke. The author's vivid storytelling creates a rich chronicle of a pivotal
battle in American history.
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.
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…
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: 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:
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.
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.
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.
Sources: National Park Service; 1913 Report of the Shiloh National Military
Park Commission; Shiloh National Military Park; Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies; Civil War Preservation
Trust; Cunningham, O. Edward, Shiloh and the Western Campaign of 1862 (edited by Gary Joiner and Timothy Smith), Savas Beatie,
2007, ISBN 978-1-932714-27-2; Daniel, Larry J., Shiloh: The Battle that Changed the Civil War, Simon and Schuster, 1997, ISBN
0-684-83857-5; Eicher, David J., The Longest Night: A Military History of the Civil War, Simon & Schuster, 2001, ISBN
0-684-84944-5; Esposito, Vincent J., West Point Atlas of American Wars, Frederick A. Praeger, 1959; Grant, Ulysses S., Personal
Memoirs of U. S. Grant, Charles L. Webster & Company, 1885–86, ISBN 0-914427-67-9; Grimsley, Mark, and Woodworth,
Steven E., Shiloh: A Battlefield Guide, University of Nebraska Press, 2006, ISBN 0-8032-7100-X; Hanson, Victor Davis, Ripples
of Battle: How Wars of the Past Still Determine How We Fight, How We Live, and How We Think, Doubleday, 2003, ISBN 0-385-50400-4;
McDonough, James L., "Battle of Shiloh", Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: A Political, Social, and Military History,
Heidler, David S., and Heidler, Jeanne T., eds., W. W. Norton & Company, 2000, ISBN 0-393-04758-X; Nevin, David, and the
Editors of Time-Life Books, The Road to Shiloh: Early Battles in the West, Time-Life Books, 1983, ISBN 0-8094-4716-9; McPherson,
James M., Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford History of the United States), Oxford University Press, 1988, ISBN
0-19-503863-0; Smith, Jean Edward, Grant, Simon and Shuster, 2001, ISBN 0-684-84927-5; Sword, Wiley, Shiloh: Bloody April,
Morningside Books, 1974, ISBN 0-89029-770-3; Woodworth, Steven E., ed., Grant's Lieutenants: From Cairo to Vicksburg, University
Press of Kansas, 2001, ISBN 0-7006-1127-4; Woodworth, Steven E., Nothing but Victory: The Army of the Tennessee, 1861 –
1865, Alfred A. Knopf, 2005, ISBN 0-375-41218-2.