Shiloh Campaign Battle of Shiloh Battlefield US Army War College
Study Results Analysis Civil War Battle Position Field Maps Troops Soldiers Strategy Tactics Organization Reconnaissance Attack
Counterattack Defense Flank Federal Confederate Leadership Conclusion Attack Assault Lesson Plan Planning Aftermath Outcome
The Campaign and Battle of Shiloh
by Major Eben Swift
General Staff, U.S. Army War College
presented to the U.S. Army War College
February 8, 1910
|Battle of Shiloh Campaign Battlefield Map
|Civil War Shiloh Campaign Map : Shiloh Civil War Battle Map
FEBRUARY 1, 1862The
Federal troops were posted along the Ohio from Bird's Point to Louisville. The Confederates from Columbus, by Forts Henry
and Donelson, to Bowling Green and Munfordsville.
The Confederates were commanded by Albert Sydney Johnston. The Federals
were under two commands, Halleck at Cairo and Buell at Louisville.
The idea of piercing the Confederate defensive line by the Cumberland and
Tennessee Rivers seems to belong to Buell.
captured Fort Henry on the 6th and Fort Donelson on the 16th, assisted by the fleet under Commodore Foote.
The effect was remarkable. Polk evacuated Columbus and Johnston
fell back through Nashville and finally to Corinth through northern Alabama. Thus all of Kentucky and most of Tennessee fell
into the hands of the Federals.
Still more decisive results might have followed if Grant had moved to the
east, joined with Buell, and attacked Johnston, or if he had moved to the west against Polk, but the divided
commands were probably largely responsible.
The Confederate formed a new line of defense on the Memphis and Charleston
Railroad without molestation by Grant. Halleck then decided to break the Confederate line once more, this time in the vicinity
of Florence. Grant was ordered to send General Sherman up the river in boats and C. E Smith to Savannah. Meanwhile Buell had
been transferred to Halleck's command.
found the country flooded by the spring rains and stopped at Pittsburg Landing which was the only good landing place above
water. It was a shipping point for Corinth, 22 miles to the southwest, where large forces of Confederates were known to be
concentrating. Halleck ordered Buell to Savannah from Nashville.
MARCH 19Two divisions
were camped at Shiloh (Pittsburg Landing). Buell's advanced troops reached Duck River.
Beauregard came as adviser and assistant to Johnston.
Bragg's corps joined from Mobile. Van Dorn was ordered up from Arkansas.
APRIL 1Grant remained
at Savannah with headquarters. He had one division under Lewis Wallace at Crumps Landing and four divisions under Sherman,
W. H. L. Wallace, Prentiss, Hurlbut and McClernand on the Shiloh plateau, between Lick Creek and Owl Creek, at the west of
On the other hand, the Confederate Army was scattered from Burnsville to Bethel
APRIL 3The Confederate
commander learned of the advance of Buell and that he would be at Savannah in a few days, so he planned to attack Grant before
he could be reinforced. At 1 A.M. the order was issued for the concentration of the army at Mickey's, 14 miles from Corinth
and 8 miles from the Landing, on the next day, so as to attack on the morning of the 5th.
As the order was very long, some 1500 words, it could not be issued before
the movement began, so it was explained verbally to the 3 corps commanders who were in Corinth. The army was to concentrate
on Mickey's. Two corps less 1 division were to march by the Bark Road with an interval of a half hour of time, but a third
corps was to be interpolated between the two corps. After reaching Mickey's the command would be corked up, with only one
outlet in the direction of the enemy.
APRIL 5The Confederate
concentration was delayed. The 14 miles between Corinth and Mickey's were not covered. Hardee's corps left Corinth
at 3 P.M., April 3 by Ridge Road; at 7:30 A.M., April 4 his corps had passed through Mickey's.
Bragg's corps did not get through Mickey's till 4:30 P.M. on
the afternoon of April 5.
Polk's corps was under arms from 3 A.M. till 2 P.M. on the 5th
April on the Ridge Road waiting for Bragg's column to pass.
Breckinridge marched from Burnsville to the loop in 2 days with
As a result the time for attack was postponed. During the day the army was
formed in 3 lines about 1 1/2 miles from the Federal camps, on a front of 2000 yards.
At noon the leading division [Nelson's] of Buell's army reached Savannah.
APRIL 6: BATTLE OF SHILOH
Federal army was scattered about in isolated camps. A superior enemy was known to be twenty-two miles away. There was no defensive
line, no point of assembly, no proper outpost, no one to give orders in the absence of the regular commander, whose headquarters
were nine miles away. The greenest troops were in the most exposed position. Sherman had three brigades on the right and one
on the left, with an interval of several miles.
The FieldThe field
of battle was triangular in shape, consisting of between three and four thousand acres of plateau, about 80 feet above the
river. The surface was broken by many deep ravines and on the south, running east and west, was a heavily wooded ridge which
rose one hundred and fifty feet above the plateau. The ground was mostly covered with forest, and sometimes very thick underbrush.
Not more than one-sixth was cultivated. A field of fire of six hundred yards was hard to find.
Two creeks which rise near Monterey and flow into the Tennessee, one above
[Owl Creek] the other below [Lick Creek] the Landing, enclose the field of battle. At the time of which we speak they could
only be crossed at a few places where bridges were maintained. In one respect, therefore, the position was excellent, as it
had its flanks resting on impassible obstacles. The distance from one flank to the other was about five miles in an air line.
These creeks flowed through wide, low, marshy bottoms. Within the limits of the field were several smaller creeks. They were:
Shiloh Branch, Tilghman Branch and Dill Branch.
From the Landing to Corinth the road runs southwest between the two creeks.
It divides about a mile from the Landing and the two come together again about five miles out. Cutting these almost at right
angles are the river road, from Hamburg above to Crump's Landing below on the river, and the Purdy-Hamburg road. Along the
high ridge at the south the Bark road runs east and west.
Near the junction of the Corinth and the Purdy roads was the Shiloh meeting
house, which gave one of the names to the battle.
MapsThe maps used
by both sides were so inaccurate that it is hard to understand how military movements could have been based on them. On the
Federal side the commander of a division six miles away was not able to reinforce the army because he lost the road. Likewise
the road from Grant's Headquarters to the army was unknown, which was the principal reason why another division did not reach
the field till dark.
The TroopsThe war
had been going on for a year. Each side employed its best officers who were aided by all the resources of the country and
the support of the people. Of the two the Confederate army was the best organized and the better led. In the most important
positions there were thirteen graduates of the military academy, having from forty-four to fourteen years' service, of high
reputation and experience in war. Among regimental commanders and staff officers were seventeen men who had served in the
In the federal army Grant and Sherman alone among the higher commanders had
served in the regular army, and both had been out of the service for some years. Sherman had not served in the Mexican War.
There were not more than seven officers in all who had been in the regular army.
Three divisions of Grant's army had fought at Forts Donelson and Henry and
a few regiments were at Belmont. Among the others the average amount of service was about six months.
Grant had about 40,000 men including 3000 cavalry and 123 guns. The Confederate
army was slightly larger.
Confederate army was commanded by a general with another general as second in command, or chief of staff. It was organized
into four [three] corps and a reserve corps, commanded by major-generals. Two corps were divided into two divisions each,
commanded by major-generals and brigadiers. The other corps were not organized into divisions. These were sixteen brigades,
all of which except five were commanded by brigadiers; and five were commanded by colonels. The staffs were fairly complete.
The Federal army was commanded by a major-general with a colonel as chief
of staff. There were no army corps, but instead there were six divisions commanded by two major generals and four brigadiers.
There were eighteen brigades, all but two of which were commanded by colonels. The staffs, as a rule, were not complete. Only
one staff had a quartermaster and a commissary. The cavalry and artillery of both armies were scattered about among divisions
and brigades. There was no chief of artillery and the chief of cavalry was at Halleck's headquarters far to the rear.
Outpost and ReconnaissanceThe
Confederate army approached unobserved by the Federals and bivouacked in several lines of battle on a front of about 2000
yards, between one and two miles in front of the Federal camps. They stood at about 22 men to a yard of front.
A single battalion constituted the main outpost of the Confederate army. It
was about four hundred yards in advance.
The Federals had done some reconnaissance. General Sherman had shown his customary
activity and had, a few days before [April 3], sent a force as far as Monterey. Two days before the battle his scouting party
had encountered troops of the three arms but he did not give it serious consideration. With such a force, wild and alarming
rumors are likely to be prevalent and the General thought it necessary to tone up his command by belittling the question of
danger. It rained on the day before the battle, and General Sherman's cavalry regiment, which he would have sent out that
day, happened to be moving its camp. The balance of the 3000 cavalry seems to have been doing nothing. Not a patrol left the
camp, although the enemy had been very active for a week. It was scattered about in the manner habitual at that day. Prentiss
sent out a patrol of infantry under a colonel on the day before the battle, but it returned after traveling as reported, five
miles, without discovering the enemy which was close in front.
Many stories are told of Confederate cavalry all day watching the camps from
various points in the outskirts of the camp. It is remarkable that there was not a deserter or traitor in that army to betray
For the Federal army the claim has been made that one company from each regiment
was placed one and a half miles out on picket and that vedettes, were still further one mile, but the Confederate line of
battle was within these distances.
In Prentiss' Division there was an old soldier by the name of Major Powell
who went out on the Corinth road with three compames, before daylight of the 6th. He ran into Major Hardcastle who
was posted as outpost for the Confederate army, 400 yards in its front. This started the battle. Powell was killed and his
story has never been told. I have always had an idea that he himself conceived the idea which he executed and that he should
be considered as one of the heroes of Shiloh. This engagement of the outposts took place about 5 A.M. and lasted till about
6:30, when Powell was driven back by the advancing Confederate army.
The BattleAt 7:30
A.M. Prentiss had supported his scouting party and by 7:30 his entire force was formed in advance of his camps. Sherman's
brigades formed at their camps.
Johnston had given the order to attack at daybreak. The first
line consisted of Hardee's corps and Gladden's brigade of Wither's division of Bragg's corps.
There were probably ten or twelve thousand men in this line. Cleburne moved towards Sherman's camp, Wood and Shaver
attacked Prentiss at about 9:30 A.M.
At 8:00 A.M. Gladden and Chalmers got in position in front of
Prentiss, Cleburne in front of Sherman.
At 9:30 A.M. Prentiss was attacked and driven through his camps. Cleburne
attacked and his division [brigade] became dispersed. Anderson and Johnston [Johnson] came up in his rear and
renewed the attack.
The second line under Bragg at 800 yards, somewhat stronger than the
first was thus getting engaged. They took their places in the front line, but as the second was used to extend the line to
the right and left and to fill gaps in the center, the integrity of the commands of Bragg and Hardee was destroyed
at once. The same soon happened with divisions and went down to smaller commands. The higher generals then took command of
any troops in sight and by common consent assigned themselves to certain parts of the field.
Sherman's advanced troops had been driven back at the same time as Prentiss.
McClernand's brigades had formed but had not advanced.
At 9:00 A.M. we simply show the arrival of Russell's brigade, without
At 10:30 A.M. Sherman was being driven to the rear, along with McClernand's
3d brigade. Prentiss rallied about 500 men on a sunken road in rear of the Duncan field, wasjoined by a regiment from the
Landing and by Tuttle's brigade of W. H. L. Wallace's division. Hurlbut had brought up two brigades and formed on Prentiss'
left. Far on the left, Stuart was being driven from his camps. In rear of Sherman, McClernand had formed his remaining brigades;
a brigade of Hurlbut's had taken position in support. Hurlbut's and Wallace's remaining troops were moving to the front. It
was five hours since the firing began. The cannonade brought Grant from Savannah, nine miles away, but the troops in rear
had not gotten up. Prentiss had been driven a mile and had practically lost his division. Sherman's division was about to
go to pieces.
On the Confederate side Chalmers and Jackson, after the capture
of Prentiss' camp, were moved to the extreme right by Johnston's order. Statham and Bowen, with the last
reserves, were coming up to fill the gap. Gibson was coming up to give his four separate attacks on the Hornet's Nest. Stevens
[Stephens] and Stewart had attacked in the center and Pond far on the left had made his advance. Trabue was
alone in rear of the center and left.
At 11:00 A.M. the Confederate reserves were all engaged. The line of battle
was four miles long, from Lick Creek to the Purdy bridge. Both flanks of the Federals were turned and the Confederates were
hammering at the center, throwing brigade after brigade and regiment after regiment in unsupported, isolated attacks.
At 12:00 o'clock the flanks of the Federal army were in full retreat, but
the Confederates were making no impression on the center.
At 4:00 P.M. the Federal right was bent far to the rear. The Confederate commander
in chief, while personally directing Bowen's brigade, was killed, Sherman's entire division had disappeared. McClernand
opposed a feeble resistance to a small force of Confederates but his line dissolved and broke to the rear.
The line did not have the continuity shown on the map. Thousands of stragglers
were wandering about. Various commanders were holding small fractions of their troops at the front, and the Confederates were
closing around the remains of Prentiss', Hurtbut's and Wallace's forces, which had remained together.
At 5:00 P.M. Hurlbut had been driven off. Prentiss was surrounded. Wallace
was killed. About 2000 were captured. The line of battle, which at 1:00 o'clock extended four miles, is now represented by
a small circle around the Hornet's Nest; Grant's fighting force is shown by the 2000 prisoners taken there. The two regiments
furthest to the right and left of the attack, here joined and each captured the remnant of a regiment. Both sides were exhausted
and probably little more could be done on either side.
At 6:00 P.M. Meanwhile from the Landing back to the river road a desperate
effort was being made to rally a sufficient force to oppose another advance of the Confederates. A number of heavy guns were
placed in position and a fragment of about 5000 [actually 18,000-20,000] men was put in line.
It made a formidable line, and would have made a strong defense. General Bragg,
who, upon the death of Johnston, seems to have been the leading element of the Southern side, now made strenuous efforts
to organize another attack. A half dozen remnants of brigades were gotten up, in which I wish to call attention to those of
Chalmers and Jackson of Withers's division, which had made many attacks on that day, still ready for another.
If you consider how some divisions were broken to pieces by one attack you will appreciate this. A feeble attack was made
and orders were received from Beauregard which had been sent several hours earlier to retire for the night.
The Confederate AttackEach
subordinate commander acted as if he were fighting the battle on his own account. All rushed to the front as if afraid the
battle would end before they had a chance to take a part.
The Confederate formation shows the mistake of using extended lines instead
of deep formations for attack. The long lines moving forward spread out to the right and left. Gaps in the forward line were
filled by portions of the lines coming up from the rear. Corps, divisions and brigades were soon mixed in hopeless confusion.
Attacks were made and lost before supporting troops came up. No one knew from whom to take orders. One regiment received orders
from three different corps commanders within a short time. As a result many aimless and conflicting orders were issued which
unnecessarily exhausted and discouraged the troops. The highest commanders, including the adjutant general, went into the
fight and devoted themselves to urging the troops forward without any plan or system. By 11 A.M., there was not a reserve
on the field. Instead of feeding the fight with their own troops the corps commanders finally sought various parts of the
field and took command without regard to the order of the battle. Bragg may be found at the center, at the right and
then at the left. The commander-in-chief was killed at the front doing the work of a brigadier. Beauregard remained
near Shiloh Church, without a reserve, and unable to exercise any influence on the battle.
The front of attack, which was at first less than 2000 yards in length, in
three hours extended from the Tennessee River on the east to Owl Creek on the west, nearly four miles. Bragg's corps
was right, left and center, at the same time. The attack was turning both flanks and breaking the center, all at once. The
Federals, instead of being driven down the river as Johnston's intention was, were driven to the Landing where their
gunboats and supplies were.
The Federal DefensePrentiss
and Sherman occupied the most advanced camps. The former held on for a short time though not attacked by a very superior force;
the latter held on till 10 A.M. and repulsed numerous attacks. But Prentiss rallied a few hundred men and halted on a sunken
road where they defeated many attacks and probably contributed greatly to saving the army; while Sherman's troops after the
stand in the camps did little more on that day.
One division was camped about a mile from Shiloh Church and two divisions
were near the Landing and at 7:30 A.M. they had information of the danger at the front. Prentiss was driven a mile before
he was supported. Sherman, after holding his camps for two hours and more, was driven out of them before he received support,
except by the regiments of McClernand's Division which were in the first line themselves.
These things could be explained by the absence of a commander-in-chief, or
of some one to give orders for him, but General Grant says that he arrived on the field about 8 A.M. while Rawlins and McPherson
were there before him.
close of the first day's battle both sides had fought to a standstill. The victorious troops had been demoralized by reckless
attacks which were never supported and thousands of them immediately gave up the battle to pillage the camps. At 5 P.M. Grant
probably had not more than 5000 in line ready to resist a further advance and they were badly shaken up as was seen by the
action of McClernand's troops breaking to the rear after defeating Pond's weak attack. The balance of the fine army
were killed, wounded, prisoners, but mostly stragglers. The same was true of the Confederate army, which had no greater force
in line at the close of the day.
The depletion of the commands on both sides was enormous. Regiments were reduced
to squads [companies], and brigades to battalions [regiments] in many cases, while a number of large commands practically
disappeared from the field.
Lack of ConfidenceAs
a result of the confusion, looseness of tactical bonds, and unfamiliarity with military service, it seemed that mutual distrust
of everybody prevailed. Even while performing the most gallant work a cry of retreat was often raised and sufficient to start
the troops to the rear. No man knew who gave the order, each man blamed his neighbor. The report was easily started and quickly
believed that the troops on both flanks had retired and that the enemy was getting in rear. The reports quite uniformly state
that the author did not retreat until forced to do so by the withdrawal of troops on the right and left. The reports of the
officers on the right and left also make the identical remark, and so on. This lack of confidence is peculiar to raw troops.
Later in the war these things never occurred. The best divisions in 1864 would not move an inch to the rear without orders.
Confederate commanders, General Jones M. Withers seems to have held a greater proportion of his command in hand than
any other and fought six actions. General Sherman on the other side was able to pursue the enemy on the day after the battle
with a brigade that was broken to pieces on the first day. Generals Prentiss and W. H. L. Wallace held the Hornets' Nest until
surrounded by the effective strength of the entire Confederate army except a part of Pond's brigade and lost only 2200
prisoners. The character of the action is well shown here by the fact that the right and left of the Confederate army each
captured prisoners at the Hornets' Nest.
LossesIt is probable
that the heaviest losses occurred in retreat. Tuttle's brigade which held its position in the Hornets' Nest for five hours
against repeated assaults and the fire of sixty guns lost not so many as a number of single regiments which yielded their
The loss of each army was in the neighborhood of 10,000 men, or from 20 to
25 per cent of the men engaged which made it one of the bloodiest battles. About half of the regimental and higher commanders
were killed, wounded and missing. The Sixth Mississippi lost 300 in killed and wounded out of 425. Cleburne's brigade
lost in killed and wounded 1000 out of 2700 and other losses reduced it to 800 men in the evening.
day at Shiloh shows better than any other in our history the kind of work performed by a new army before it has had experience
and discipline. As the result of a year of preparation it is a most instructive lesson.
Reading: Guide to the Battle of Shiloh, by Army War College. Description: As Ulysses S. Grant
and William Tecumseh Sherman prepared their inexperienced troops for a massive offensive by an equally green Confederate army
in April 1862, the outcome of the Civil War was still very much in doubt. For two of the most chaotic and ravaging days of
the War, the Union forces counterattacked and fended off the Rebels. Losses were great--more than 20,000 casualties out of
100,000 Union and Confederate troops. Continued below…
But out of
the struggle, Grant and Sherman forged their own union that would be a major factor in the Union Army's final victory. For
the Confederates, Shiloh
was a devastating disappointment. By the time the siege was over, they had lost both the battle and one of their ablest commanders,
Albert Sidney Johnston. Eyewitness accounts by battle participants make these guides an invaluable resource for travelers
and nontravelers who want a greater understanding of five of the most devastating yet influential years in our nation's history.
Explicit directions to points of interest and maps--illustrating the action and showing the detail of troop position, roads,
rivers, elevations, and tree lines as they were 130 years ago--help bring the battles to life. In the field, these guides
can be used to recreate each battle's setting and proportions, giving the reader a sense of the tension and fear each soldier
must have felt as he faced his enemy. This book is part of the U.S. Army War College Guides to Civil War Battles series.
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.
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.
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
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.
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…
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: 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.