General Lew Wallace and Battle of Shiloh

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General Lew Wallace and the Battle of Shiloh

The March Of Lew Wallace's Division To Shiloh
by Major General Lew Wallace
Battles And Leaders Of The Civil War
Written By Leading Participants
Originally Published in 1884-1887

CIRCUMSTANCES AND CHARACTER OF THE ORDER.

As GENERAL GRANT passed up from Savannah on the Tigress on the 6th of April to the battle-field of Shiloh, he found General Lew Wallace awaiting him at Crump's Landing, the troops of his division having been ordered under arms at the sound of the battle. General Wallace in his official report places the hour at which General Grant reached Crump's at about 9, while General Grant gives the hour of his arrival at Pittsburg Lauding at about 8. Grant left Wallace a direction to hold himself in readiness for orders. In anticipation of the receipt of them, a horse was saddled at Crump's for the use of the expected messenger, the First Brigade having been already sent from Crump's to join the Second at Stony Lonesome (marked A on the map), General Wallace following about 9:15. To this point, at an hour which has been variously stated by the officers of the command at from 11 o'clock to noon (Wallace says, "exactly 11: 30"), came Captain A. S. Baxter, quartermaster on Grant's staff, with the order. Concerning the time, dispatch, and character of this order there is much disagreement. General Grant says that the order was verbal; that it was given after riding out to the front, and that Baxter made a memorandum of it, though he does not say that he saw Baxter. Furthermore Rawlins says that the order was taken by him back to the Landing, half a mile away, and given verbally to Baxter, and afterward dictated to him, at the latter's request, and that Baxter started on the steamer not later than 9 o'clock. Rowley states that Grant gave the order verbally and in person to Baxter at once upon arriving at the Landing, and then rode immediately to the front. Wallace states that Baxter delivered an unsigned order and said that "it had been given to him verbally, but that in coming down the river he had reduced it to writing."

Concerning the circumstances and character of the order Captain Baxter made the following statement in the New-York "Mail and Express" for November 4th, 1886:

"I will give my own recollection of the event at Pittsburg Landing. On Sunday, between the hours of 8 and 9 o'clock A. M., April 6th, 1862, Adjutant-General Rawlins, of General Grant's staff, requested me to go to Crump's Lauding (five miles below) and order General Lew Wallace to march his command at once by the River Road to Pittsburg Landing, and join the army on the right. At the same time General Rawlins dictated the order to General Wallace, which was written by myself and signed by General Rawlins.

"On meeting General Wallace I gave the order verbally, also handed to him the written order. General Wallace said 'he was waiting for orders, had heard the firing all the morning, and was ready to move with his command Immediately--knew the road and had put it In good order."

"My stay with Lew Wallace did not exceed three minutes. I had no further conversation with him, and I returned immediately to Pittsburg Landing."

As to the character of the order: General Grant's statement is that the order as given was "to march immediately to Pittsburg by the road nearest the river." Captain Rowley says, "to march with his division up the river, and into the field on the right of our line, as rapidly as possible." Rawlins says it read "substantially as follows: 'Major-General Wallace: You will move forward your division from Crump's Landing, leaving a sufficient force to protect the public property at that place, to Pittsburg Landing, on the road nearest to and parallel to the river, and form in line at right angles with the river, immediately in rear of the camp of Major-General C. F. Smith's division on our right [W. H. L. Wallace's], and there wait further orders.'" General Wallace says, that as received, it directed him "to come up and take position on the right of the army, and form my line of battle at a right angle with the river," and "to leave a force to prevent surprise at Crump's Landing." Colonel James R. Ross says, "I very distinctly remember that this order directed you to move forward and join General Sherman's right on the Purdy Road, and form your line of battle at right angles with the river, and then act as circumstances would dictate." General Fred. Knefler says, "It was a written order to march and form a junction with the right of the army." Captain Addison Ware says it was "to move your division up and join General Sherman's right on the road leading from Pittsburg Landing to Purdy." General Knefler adds, "The order was placed in my hands as Assistant Adjutant-General; but where it is now, or what became of it, I am unable to say. Very likely, having been written on a scrap of paper, it was lost." 

ROUTE AND LIMIT OF THE MARCH.

All reports agree that the march of the two brigades began at 12 o'clock, along the road A B C. Wallace not arriving at Pittsburg Landing, General Grant sent Captain Rowley of his staff to hurry him forward. Rowley went by the River Road almost to Crump's Landing, and then "a distance of between five and six miles," when he reached the rear of Wallace's division by the road A B C, and passing the resting troops continued to the head of the column, where he found Wallace and delivered the orders, and gave him the first information that the right of the army had been driven back. Wallace then ordered a countermarch of the troops. The point at which this turning took place is fixed by General Wallace at D, half-way between the Purdy crossing and the Owl Creek bridge. (This identification is fully confirmed by letters of October 5th and 6th, 1887, written by Generals Fred. Knefler and G. F. McGinnis, Captains Thomas C. Pursel and George F. Brown, and Dr. S. L. Ensminger, all of whom took part in the march, and the last two of whom examined the ground in 1884 to determine the point.) In the "Official Records" is a sketch map, without scale, by Colonel James B. McPherson, placing the limit of march at C. This was probably intended for the point where Rowley came up with the rear of the column, which must have covered a distance of two miles or more; but if intended for the limit of the advance, it could not have been fixed on McPherson's own knowledge, for when Rawlins and McPherson, who were also sent by General Grant (McPherson says at 2:30) to hasten the movement, following Rowley's course, came up with the division (Rawlins says about 3:30), the First Brigade had passed across toward E and the Second was passing. Some mystery attaches to the inaction of the Third Brigade during the morning. General Wallace states in his report that it was concentrated on the Second, meaning, as he explains to the editors, that the order for the concentration had been sent, and, be presumed, obeyed. Colonel Ross delivered the order to Colonel Charles R. Woods, then in command at Adamsville, and Captain Ware, Wallace's second aid, carried a repetition of it--both during the morning. [Ross to Wallace, January 25th, 1868, and Ware to Wallace, 1868.] Yet Colonel Whittlesey, who during the day, by seniority of commission, succeeded to the command of the brigade, says in his report that three of the four regiments "received orders to march with their trains about 2 P. M., and to advance toward Pittsburg Landing in advance of the trains at 4 P. M." This they did (General Wallace informs us) by the route shown on the map. The fourth regiment went to Crump's to guard the public property.

The "Official Records" (Vol. X., p. 177) also contain a rough sketch map, submitted by General Wallace to General Halleck, accompanying a memorandum dated March 14th, 1863. That map is manifestly imperfect in representing but one bridge between A and the right of the army, the junction of Owl and Snake creeks being placed above the upper Snake creek bridge, instead of below it. General Wallace himself has informed the editors that that map is incorrect, and that its inaccuracy arose from a prevalent confusion of the names of Snake and Owl creeks. That map, however, faithfully represents General Wallace's claim that the bead of his column advanced to within a mile of what had been the right of the army. This confusion of the two creeks has given ambiguity to General Wallace's statement in his report, made five days after the battle, which he informs us should read as bracketed:

"Selecting a road that led directly to the right of the lines, as they were established around Pittsburg Landing on Sunday morning, my column started immediately, the distance being about six miles. The cannonading, distinctly audible, quickened the steps of the men. Snake Creek [Owl Creek], difficult of passage at all times on account of its steep banks and swampy bottoms, ran between me and the point of junction. Short way from it [Owl Creek] Captain Rowley, from General Grant, . . . overtook me. . . . . It seemed, on his representation, most prudent to carry the column across to what is called the 'River Road.' . . . This movement occasioned a counter-march, which delayed my junction with the main army until a little after nightfall."

CHARACTER OF THE MARCH.

Rowley, McPherson, and Rawlins report that they represented the need of haste, and that the march was slow:

"Of the character of the march, after I overtook General Wallace, I can only say that to me it appeared intolerably slow, resembling more a reconnoissance in the face of an enemy than a forced march to relieve a hard pressed army. So strongly did this impression take hold of my mind, that I took the liberty of repeating to General Wallace that part of General Grant's order enjoining haste." [Rowley.]

"After I had reached the head of the column, I must say it seemed to me that the march was not as rapid as the urgency of the case required. Perhaps this arose in a great measure from my impatience and anxiety to get this force on the field before dark...." [McPherson.]

"Colonel McPherson and I came up to him about 3:30 o'clock P.M. He was then not to exceed four or four and a half miles (two and a half miles?] from the scene of action; the roads were in fine condition; he was marching light; his men were in buoyant spirits, within hearing of the musketry, and eager to get forward. He did not make a mile and a half an hour, although urged and appealed to, to push forward. Had he moved with the rapidity his command were able and anxious to have moved after we overtook him, he would have reached you [Grant] in time to have engaged the enemy before the close of Sunday's fight." [Rawlins.]

General Wallace denies this last conclusion and the statement about the condition of the road. General Knefler says [letter to Wallace]: "After some hard marching over execrable roads, we reached our position about dusk." Col. James R. Ross says [letter to Wallace, January 25th, 1868]: "We had to march over the worst road I ever remember to have seen. In many places it was almost impossible to get artillery through."

The head of the column did not arrive at K until after dark, probably at 7:15, sunset being at 6: 30. The total time of the march was about 7 hours. The total distance traveled to the lower bridge (K) was, according to our map, 11 miles. It is possible that a detailed survey of the field would indicate the distance as somewhat greater. General Wallace estimates it as "over 14 miles, of which quite 5 miles were through mire so deep that the axles of my guns left wakes behind them as if mud-scows had been dragged that way." Captain Brown, who studied the route in 1884, estimates it at between 13 and 14 miles. Not considering the comparative difficulties of the two marches, the map indicates little difference in the speed of Wallace's division and that of Nelson's leading brigade (Ammen) from Savannah to Pittsburg Landing (1:30 to 5). Ammen in his diary dwells on the extreme difficulties of his route, which lay largely through swamps impassable by artillery.

DOCUMENTS SUBMITTED BY GENERAL WALLACE.

I.--Letter found on the person of General W. H. L. Wallace, after he had received a mortal wound at Shiloh, and sent by his widow to General Grant [see foot-note, page 468; printed also in THE CENTURY and in the "Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant"]:

"HEADQUARTERS THIRD DIVISION, ADAMSVILLE, April 5th, 1862. GENERAL W. H. L. WALLACE, commanding Second Division. SIR: Yours received. Glad to hear from you. My cavalry from this point has been to and from your post frequently. As my Third Brigade is here, five miles from Crump's Landing, my Second two and a half miles from it, I thought it would be better to open communication with you from Adamsville. I will to-morrow order Major Hayes, of the 5th Ohio Cavalry, to report to you at your quarters; and, if you are so disposed, probably you had better send a company to return with him, that they may familiarize themselves with the road, to act in case of emergency as guides to and from our camps.--I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
LEWIS WALLACE, General Third Division."

General Wallace says: "As I was ignorant of the position of W. H. L.Wallace's camp, this letter was sent by way of Owl Creek. I knew Wallace, and did not know Sherman, whose camp was nearer."

Il.--Letter from General Grant to General Lew Wallace, in 1868, after examining statements by the latter and by the following officers of his command, touching the character of the order and march: Generals Fred. Knefler, George F. McGinnis, Daniel Macauley, Silas A. Strickland, John M. Thayer, Colonel James R. Ross, and Captain Addison Ware:

" HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON, D. C., March 10th, 1868. My DEAR GENERAL: Inclosed herewith I return you letters from officers of the army who served with you at the battle of Shiloh, Tennessee, giving their statement of your action on that occasion. I can only state that my orders to you were given verbally to a staff-officer to communicate, and that they were substantially as given by General Badeau in his book. I always understood that the staff officer referred to, Captain Baxter, made a memorandum of the orders he received, and left it with you. That memorandum I never saw.

"The statements which I now return seem to exonerate you from the great point of blame, your taking the wrong road, or different road from the one directed, from Crump's Landing to Pittsburg Landing. All your subsequent military career showed you active and ready in the execution of every order you received. Your promptness in moving from Baltimore to Monocacy, Maryland, in 1864, and meeting the enemy in force far superior to your own when Washington was threatened, is a case particularly in point. There you could scarcely have hoped for a victory, but you delayed the enemy, and enabled me to get troops from City Point, Virginia, in time to save the city. That act I regarded as most praiseworthy. I refer you to my report of 1865, touching your course there. In view of the assault made upon you now, I think it due to you that you should publish what your own staff and other subordinate officers have to say in exoneration of your course.
--Yours truly, U. S. GRANT, General.
"To MAJOR-GENERAL L. WALLACE."

Ill.--Letter from General Wallace to General Grant, in 1884, referring to the whole controversy. The omissions we made by the editors, for lack of space:

"CRAWFORDSVILLE, IND., September 16th, 1884. DEAR GENERAL: The Century Co. people inform me that they have engaged you to write a paper for them on Pittsburg Landing. Such a contribution from your hand will be important as well as most interesting. Probably I ought not to trouble you touching the subject; still, I trust you will appreciate the anxieties natural to one who has been so bitterly and continuously criticised in the connection, and pardon me a few lines of request.

"The letter of exoneration you gave me some years ago is not permitted to be printed in the volume of reports published by the Government, though I earnestly sought the favor of the Secretary of War. The terrible reflections in your indorsement on my official report of the battle, and elsewhere, go to the world wholly unqualified. It to not possible to exaggerate the misfortune thus entailed upon me. But now you have it in power to make correction, in a paper which will be read far more generally than the compilation of the department. May I hope you will do it?

"Since my return from Europe I have for the first time read the reports of General Rawlins and McPherson, and Major Rowley; touching my march the first day of the battle. I shall regret all my remaining days not previously knowing their tenor; for I think I could have explained to the satisfaction of those gentlemen every mystery of my conduct during their ride with me the afternoon of the 6th April. They did not understand that there was a mistake in your order as it was delivered to me, and while with them I supposed they knew why l was where they found me. Consequently, no explanation took place between us. I see now, they really supposed me lost, and wandering aimlessly about. Had the correctness of the order been mooted, no doubt the order Itself could have been produced. I would not have rested until my adjutant-general had produced it. Is it to be supposed for an instant that, knowing their thoughts of me during the hours of that ride, I could have been indifferent to them? As it is, you will observe that neither of them pretends to explain my behavior. Neither makes allusion to a theory of explanation. The truth is, I all the time supposed the necessity for the change of direction in my movement was simply due to the bad turn of the battle after the order was dispatched to me. The whole time I was in their company I thought myself entitled to credit for the promptness with which I was obeying your orders. It never occurred to me that there was anything to explain, and I was wholly given up to the movement of the division, which was urgent business in hand.

"With reference to Major Rowley's statement, that I had no knowledge of any other road than that by the old mill, and his other statement, that I retained him as a guide, the explanation is that I was speaking of a cross-road to the River Road. I had no knowledge of such a road. In hopes of finding one, I countermarched instead of facing column to the rear. One of my captains of artillery has since gone over the entire route we took, from Stony Lonesome, the place at which I received your order to march, to Pittsburg Landing, and he finds me mistaken in saying we countermarched back nearly to the initial point of movement. He not only found the cross-road taken, but measured the whole march, chain in hand, making it a little more than fifteen miles....

"As to my requiring a written order from you, I repeat my absolute denial of the statement. The order I acted upon was unsigned, and it is susceptible of proof that when the young Illinois cavalryman overtook me I was already on the march.

"As to the slowness referred to by McPherson, Rawlins and Rowley, please try that point by comparisons...From 11:30 o'clock till just dusk my march was quite fifteen miles. I refer the argument to your calm judgment. I do not wonder my movement seemed slow to your officers. With their anxieties quickened by what they had seen on the field, it must have seemed intolerable to them. They describe me correctly as at the head of the column, and I did several times dismount, but only to wait the closing up of the division and reports of my own staff-officers, who were kept urging the column through the mud and mire.

"There Is another point your officers seem not to have understood, and that was my determination not to send the division piecemeal into the battle. The whole division was what I supposed you wanted, and I was resolved to bring you the whole division. I paid no attention to contrary suggestions from anybody. I think you will justify this pertinacity of purpose by the fact that it was impossible to tell the moment I might be attacked en route. The chances of such an occurrence grew sharper as I drew nearer Pittsburg Landing. For you must remember, general, that from the moment Major Rowley overtook me with the information, then first received, that our army had been driven from the line it occupied in the morning, and was back far towards the river, I supposed it utterly unable to help me. Then whether the enemy attacked me or I them, it was only my division, and not a part of it, that could have achieved your desires...

"At your table at City Point we one day sat listening to the comments of some officers upon the battle of Pittsburg Landing. After a while you remarked to me in a low tone, 'If I had known then what I know now, I would have ordered you where you were marching when stopped.' The remark was made at your table, and in a confidential manner, so that I have never felt at liberty to repeat, much less publish, it. But times innumerable since then I have wished that Rowley had not overtaken me for another hour that afternoon. The enemy had used the last of his reserves. Iwould have taken the bluff on which Sherman had been camped in the morning and, without opposition, effected my deployment. The first of the rebels struck would have been the horde plundering the sutlers and drinking in the streets of the camp. Their fears would have magnified my command, and rushing to their engaged lines they would have carried the word that Buell's army was up and on their lines of retreat. For your sake and my own, general, and for the cause generally, it was unfortunate that Rowley had not lost his way, as it was said I had mine.

"Finally, general, did you ever ask yourself what motive I could have had to play you falsely that day? It couldn't have been personal malice. Only a few weeks before I had been promoted major-general on your recommendation. It couldn't have been cowardice. You had seen me under fire at Donelson, and twice the second day at Pittsburg Landing you found me with my division under fire. It couldn't have been lack of resolution. I certainly showed no failing of that kind at Monocacy Junction, where my situation was quite as trying as at any hour of the 6th of April of which I am writing. The fact is, I was the victim of a mistake. Captain Baxter's omission from the order you gave him for transmission to me--the omission of the road you wanted me to take in coming up--viz., the lower or River Road to Pittsburg Landing, was the cause of my movement at noon. It is also the key of explanation of all that followed. That I took the directest and shortest road to effect a junction with the right of the army, and marched promptly upon receipt of the order, are the best evidence I could have furnished of an actual desire to do my duty, and share the fortunes of the day with you, whether they were good or bad.

"In all the years that have followed I have been patient and uncomplaining, because, as you had shown the will to exonerate me, I believed you would follow it up on all proper occasions. And I submit to you it this is not one of them. For the sake of the hundreds of survivors of my old division, as well as that justice may be finally and completely done to me individually, I presume to present the matter to you in this letter.

"Very respectfully, your friend, LEW WALLACE."

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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: 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--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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