The Campaign Of Shiloh
by G. T. Beauregard, General, C. S. A.
Battles And Leaders Of The Civil War
Written By Leading Participants
Published in 1884-1887
ON the 22d of January, 1862, Colonel Roger A. Pryor, a member of the Military
Committee of the lower branch of the Confederate Congress, visited my headquarters at Centreville, Virginia, and in his own
name, as also for the representatives in Congress of the Mississippi Valley States, urged me to consent to be transferred
from the Army of the Potomac to the command of the Confederate forces at Columbus, Kentucky, within the Department of Kentucky
and Tennessee, under the superior command of General Albert Sidney Johnston,--a transfer which he said Mr. Davis would not
direct unless it was agreeable to me, but which was generally desired at Richmond because of the recent crushing disaster
at Mill Springs, in eastern Kentucky: the defeat and death of Zollicoffer. Against the monitions of some of my friends at
Richmond, and after much hesitation and disinclination to sever my relations with such an army as that of the Potomac, but
upon the assurance that General Johnston's command embraced an aggregate of at least seventy thousand men of all arms, which,
though widely scattered, might, by virtue of the possession of the "interior lines," be concentrated and operated offensively,
I gave Colonel Pryor authority to inform Mr. Davis of my readiness to be thus transferred. Upon the return of Colonel Pryor
to Richmond, I was, on the 26th of January, ordered to proceed at once "to report to General A. S. Johnston at Bowling Green,
Kentucky," and thence as promptly as possible to assume my new command at Columbus, "which," said my orders, "is threatened
by a powerful force, and the defense of which is of vital importance."
Dispatching Colonel Thomas Jordan, my chief of staff, to Richmond, with a
view to secure from the War Department certain aids to the proper organization of the troops I was to command, I left Centreville
on the 2d of February and reached Bowling Green about the 5th. General Johnston, whom I had never seen before, welcomed me
to his department with a cordiality and earnestness that made a deep impression on me at the time. As he informed me, General
Buell's army, fully 75,000 strong, was on the line of Bacon Creek, on the Louisville and Nashville railroad, about 40 miles
from Bowling Green. General Grant had about 20,000 men in hand at or about Cairo, ready to move either upon Fort Henry or
Fort Donelson. General Pope, having a force of not less than 30,000 men in Missouri, was menacing General Polk's positions,
including New Madrid, while General Halleck, exercising command over the whole of this force of 125,000 men of all arms, had
his headquarters at St. Louis.
On the other hand, General Johnston (as he stated, to my surprise) had an
"aggregate effective" of not over 45,000 men of all arms, thus distributed: at Bowling Green, his headquarters, not over 14,000;
at Forts Henry and Donelson, 5500; in the quarter of Clarksville, Tennessee, 8000; besides 17,000 under General Polk, chiefly
at Columbus, and for the most part imperfectly organized, badly armed and equipped. As may be seen from any map of the region,
the chief part of this force occupied a defensive line facing northwardly, the two salient extremities of which were Bowling
Green, some 70 miles by railway in advance of Nashville, and Columbus, about 110 miles west of Bowling Green. This line was
penetrated, almost centrally, by the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers, respectively, at points in Tennessee just south of the
Kentucky line, twelve miles apart, at which Fort Henry had been established on the east bank of the Tennessee, and Fort Donelson
on the west bank of the Cumberland, thus constituting the reŽntering angle of the line. These vital works General Johnston
described as defective in more than one respect and unready, but said that he had sent his chief engineer to improve their
effectiveness as far as possible. So unpromising was the situation and so different from what bad been represented before
I left Virginia, that my first impulse was to return at once; but this idea was abandoned at the earnest request of General
Johnston. However, after an inspection of the works at and around Bowling Green, I found that while strong against any direct
attack, they could be readily turned on their right, and I so stated to General Johnston. His reply was, that in the event
of a serious flank movement he must evacuate the position, having no relieving army to support it. In the face of this self-evident
military proposition, I recommended the immediate evacuation of a position so salient as Bowling Green, that must fall from
its own weight if turned,--leaving there only a cavalry force in observation, and concentrating at once all our available
strength at Henry and Donelson, information having just reached us of the aggressive presence of General Grant on the Tennessee
River. That recommendation was not adopted, for the alleged reason that, in the event of a failure to defeat General Grant
as proposed, our forces thus assembled might be caught and crushed between the armies of Grant and Buell, and that it would
also expose to capture the large stock of military supplies collected so far in advance as Bowling Green and Clarksville,
as well as at Nashville. In this decision sight was certainly lost of the facts that, having no pontoon-train, General Buell
could not possibly throw his army across the Cumberland, between Donelson and Nashville, so as to prevent the Confederates
from falling safely back behind Duck River, or retreating upon Nashville behind the Cumberland, as we would hold the interior
or shorter lines.
Fort Henry having fallen after an ineffective but gallant defense of twenty-four
hours, immediately thereafter the railroad bridge across the Tennessee, about twelve miles southward of the surrendered fortress,
was destroyed. The direct line of communication between our forces eastward of that stream and those at Columbus having thus
been broken, on the 7th of February I again urged as imperative the swift concentration of all our then available forces upon
Donelson. General Johnston, however, asserting that Fort Donelson was not "tenable," would only support the position by directing
the force at Clarksville to cross to the south side of the Tennessee River, and ordered immediate "preparations" to be made
for the "removal" of the army at Bowling Green, "to Nashville, in rear of the Cumberland River." He also prescribed that, "from Nashville, should any further retrograde movement become necessary,"
it should be "made to Stevenson and thence according to circumstances." He
further declared that as "the possession of the Tennessee River by the enemy, resulting from the fall of Fort Henry, separated
the army at Bowling Green from the one at Columbus," henceforth the forces thus sundered must "act independently of each other
until they can again be brought together."
Fort Henry fell on the 6th of February, but General Grant, failing to press
the signal advantage thus gained, did not advance against Fort Donelson until the 12th, and then with but 15,000 men, having
dispatched, at the same time, 6 regiments under General Lew Wallace by water. The investment of the position was not completed,
however, until early on the 13th of February, the Confederate commander having had a whole week for preparation. On the 6th
of February the Confederate garrison at Fort Donelson embraced about 600 artillerists and 3 regiments of infantry, or at most
2350 officers and men; to this force Heiman's brigade and other troops, some 2500 men, were added that night, having been
detached that morning from Fort Henry. Between the morning of the 7th of February and the investment of the position by the
Federal army of 15,000 men, on the morning of the 13th, it was further increased from the troops on the east and north side
of the Cumberland, under Brigadier-General Floyd, to whom the command of the defense was now intrusted, so as to be, in numbers,
about equal to that of the enemy on the land side, until the latter was reŽnforced by General Wallace's division, nearly 10,000
strong, later in the afternoon of the 14th. By that time the evacuation of Bowling Green, determined upon, as I have said,
on the 7th,--and commenced on the 11th of February,--had been completed, the Confederate rear-guard having marched out of
the town at 3:30 P. M. on the 14th.
Satisfied, as affairs stood, that Nashville and the Valley of the Cumberland
could only be defended successfully at Donelson and by the crushing defeat of General Grant in that quarter, an end to which
all other considerations were evidently of minor military importance, I had insisted, as I may repeat, upon that as the one
evident exigent operation. That the resolution to give up Bowling Green and to begin such a movement as early as the 11th
of February ought to have removed every possible objection on the part of General Johnston to going at once in person with
fully ten thousand of his Bowling Green army, I am very sure must be the ultimate professional lesson taught by the history
of that most disastrous Confederate campaign! Nothing were easier in the exigency than the transfer from Bowling Green to
Donelson by the night of the 13th of February of ten thousand men, after General Johnston had decided that the immediate abandonment
of Kentucky was an imperative necessity. Thus, on the morning
of the 14th, General Grant's army of 15,000 men could and should have been confronted with nearly if not quite 25,000 men,
who, promptly handled, must have so effectually beaten their adversary, taken at such disadvantage, before the advent of Lew
Wallace that afternoon, as to have enhanced the victory for the Confederates by the immediate defeat of Wallace also.
What happened from the policy adopted by the Confederate general in chief
may be briefly stated: Fort Donelson was surrendered at 2 A. M. on the 16th of February, and with it 11,600 men. In the expressive
words of General Johnston's telegram, which reached me at Corinth, "We lost all." And as in the business of war, as in all
other material human affairs, "the omission to do that which is necessary seals a commission to a blank of dangers," so was
it now. The failure to employ opportunely all possible available resources against General Grant, and the consequent loss
of Donelson, with its invaluable garrison, carried immediately in its train the irrevocable loss of Nashville also, with the
early abandonment of Middle Tennessee. Another irrevocable consequence was the evacuation of Columbus, with incalculable moral
detriments. And had the stroke consummated at Donelson been vigorously pressed to its proper military corollary,--Buell being
left to look after the remains of Johnston's army,--General Grant's victorious army of 25,000 men, with the resources of transportation
at its disposal, might have been thrown within ten days, at latest, after the fall of Donelson, upon the rear of General Polk's
forces at Columbus and their easy capture thus have been assured.
Going no farther in the direction of Columbus than Jackson, in West Tennessee,
fifty-seven miles north of Corinth, I there established my headquarters, and called thither Colonel Jordan, my chief of staff,
who had gone to Columbus direct from Virginia (with Captain D. B. Harris, my chief engineer) to inspect the command. His report
upon rejoining me about the 17th of February, and that of Captain Harris, regarding the exaggerated extension of the lines,
coupled with a faulty location, imperfect command of the river, and defective organization of the troops, confirmed my opinion
that the place could not be evacuated too soon. General Polk, whom I also called to Jackson, I found possessed with a belief
in the defensive capacity of the position and averse to its abandonment. However, upon my exposition of its saliency, and
the ease with which its communications, both by railway and water, might be broken, he changed his views. As, meanwhile General
Johnston had telegraphed that I must do with respect to Columbus as my "judgment dictates"; and also, that "the separation
of our armies is now complete"; and further, as upon my report of the situation at Columbus the Confederate War Department
had consented, on the 19th of February General Polk was directed to prepare to evacuate the position without delay. It was
only to be held long enough to remove its invaluable ordnance to the batteries erected or under construction at Island Number
Ten and Madrid Bend, to New Madrid and to Fort Pillow, upon which the ultimate defense of the Mississippi River must depend
thereafter. The preparation of these works for the vital service hoped from them was now intrusted to Captain D. B. Harris,
who subsequently left so brilliant a record as a consummate engineer at Charleston and Savannah, Drewry's Bluff and Petersburg.
On the 25th of February commenced the evacuation of a position the attempt
to hold which must have resulted in the loss by capture of the corps of at least 13,000 men thus isolated, or, on the other
hand, if left intact or unassailed by the enemy, must have been rendered wholly unavailable in the formation of a Confederate
army for the recovery of what had been lately lost,--a corps without which no such army could have been possibly assembled
at Corinth as early as the 1st of April, 1862.
Because of a severe bronchial affection contracted by exposure before leaving
Bowling Green, I had not assumed formal command of the military district assigned to me, though virtually directing all the
movements within it, and arduously endeavoring to become acquainted with the chief points within its limits,--a course specially
requested of me by General Johnston through his adjutant-general, in the event that I should not feel "well enough to assume
Meanwhile, threatened by Buell's presence with a large army in front of Nashville,
General Johnston, following the line of retreat (marked out as early as February 7th) to Stevenson, in northeastern Alabama,
had moved as far in that direction as Murfreesboro', where he assembled about 17,000 men by the 23d of February, who were
there subdivided into 3 divisions each of 2 brigades, with a "reserve" under Brigadier-General Breckinridge, and several cavalry
As the system of the "passive defensive" hitherto pursued had only led us
to disaster,--the natural fruits, in fact, of the system,--encouraged by the latitude that was given me in General Johnston's
telegram of February 18th, I resolved to exert myself to the utmost, despite all that was so unpromising, to secure the means
for an aggressive campaign against the enemy, of whose early movement up the Tennessee there were, already such indications
that there should be no doubt as to its objective.
But as General Johnston's projected line of retrograde upon Stevenson must
with each day's march widen the distance between that army and the corps of General Polk, while General Grant, naturally flushed
with his recent signal successes, would be left free at any moment to move up the Tennessee to Hamburg or, indeed, to Eastport,
and thus, by seizing the Memphis and Charleston railroad, effectually separate and virtually neutralize the two Confederate
armies,--my sole force left available for the protection of that important railway, exclusive of General Polk's forces at
Columbus and elsewhere, would be but 2500 men under Chalmers, in the quarter of Iuka, with 3000 men recently arrived at Corinth
from New Orleans, under Ruggles.
With a view to avoiding such a catastrophe as the enforced permanent separation
of our two armies, I urged General Johnston, about the 22d of February, to abandon his line of march toward Stevenson, and
to hasten to unite his army with such troops as I might be able to assemble, meanwhile, at the best point to cover the railroad
center at Corinth together with Memphis, while holding Island Number Ten and Fort Pillow. This plan, of course, required more
troops than our united armies would supply. Therefore, on the 22d of February, I dispatched staff-officers with a circular
addressed to the governors of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee respecting the supreme urgency and import of
the situation, in all its phases, and invoking their utmost exertions to send me, each of them, from 5000 to 10,000 men as
well armed and equipped as possible, enrolled for 90 days, within which period, by timely, vigorous action, I trusted we might
recover our losses, and assure the defense of the Mississippi River. At
the same time I appealed to General Bragg for such troops as he could possibly spare temporarily in such an exigency, from
Mobile and Pensacola; and to General Lovell for the like aid from New Orleans. To General Van Dorn, represented to have an
army twenty thousand strong in Arkansas, I likewise sent, on the 21st of February, a most pressing invitation to come in haste
to our aid with as many men as possible, by way of New Madrid. To him I wrote ("O. R.," VII., 900): "The fate of Missouri
necessarily depends on the successful defense of Columbus and of Island Number Ten; hence we must, if possible, combine our
operations not only to defend those positions, but also to take the offensive as soon as practicable to recover some lost
General Johnston acceded to my views and request, though he did not put his
troops in motion until the 28th of February, and although he regarded the projected attempt to unite his army with mine a
The evacuation of Columbus was successfully completed on the 2d of March,
apparently without any suspicion on the part of our adversary in that quarter that such an operation had been going on, or
without the least show of that vigilance and vigor that were to be apprehended from him after the series of most serious disasters
for the Confederate arms which had characterized the month of February, 1862. About seven thousand men were now placed at
New Madrid, and in the quarter of Island Number Ten, under the command of General McCown, while the rest of General Polk's
force was withdrawn along the line of the Mobile and Ohio railroad as far south as Humboldt, and there held in observation,
with a small detachment of infantry left at Union City, and some five hundred cavalry thrown well out toward Hickman, on the
Mississippi below Columbus, and extending across to the Tennessee River in the quarter of Paris, to watch and report all material
movements upon either river.
Reliable information reached me that while General Pope was on his march on
the Missouri side of the Mississippi, to strike at New Madrid, such was the urgency of the danger impending by way of the
Tennessee River that it threatened the fatal hindrance of the conjunction of our forces, as already arranged about the 23d
of February, in response to my dispatch through my aide-de-camp, Captain Ferguson. Growing profoundly apprehensive, on the
2d of March I dispatched Captain Otey, an assistant adjutant-general on my staff, with a note to General Johnston which contained
these words: "I send herewith inclosed a slip showing intended movements of the enemy, no doubt against the troops in Western
Tennessee. I think you ought to hurry up your troops to Corinth by railroad, as soon as practicable, for [t]here or thereabouts will be fought the great battle of this controversy."
I thus fixed upon Corinth as the Confederate base, because the recent movements
of our enemy up the Tennessee could only be intelligently construed as having the Memphis and Charleston railroad primarily,
and such a railway center as Corinth later, as their immediate objectives.
On the 5th of March I formally assumed command of the district, retaining
my headquarters for the time at Jackson as the most central point of observation and the junction of two railroads. General
Bragg's forces began to arrive at Corinth on the 6th, when they, with the other troops reaching there from other quarters,
were organized as fast as possible into brigades and divisions.
As a material part of the history of the campaign, I might here dwell upon
the perplexing, inexplicable lack of cordial coŲperation, in many ways, in the essential work of organizing the Confederate
army being assembled at Corinth, as efficiently and speedily as possible for the work ahead, that was manifested by the War
Department at Richmond, but it must suffice to say that a drawback was encountered from that quarter which served to delay
us, while helping to make the operation which we finally took in hand fall greatly short of its momentous aim.
Five Federal divisions (reŽnforced a few days later) had reached Savannah,
twelve miles below Pittsburg Landing, on the east bank of the Tennessee, by the 13th of March. This force, aggregating some
43,000 men of all arms, was under the direct command of General C. F. Smith, and embraced the greater part of the army that
had triumphed at Donelson. One division, without landing at Savannah, was dispatched, under General W. T. Sherman, to endeavor
to land, and to reach and cut some trestle-work near Burnsville, on the Memphis and Charleston railroad. Effecting a landing,
short, however, of Eastport, the intervening country was found so inundated as to be seemingly impracticable. So, this expedition,
hardly characterized by a really vigorous effort to reach the railroad, was abortive--a result aided somewhat by the opportune
presence on the ground of Brigadier-General Chalmers with a Confederate force of 2500 infantry. On his way upon this expedition,
General Sherman had wisely sent back from Pittsburg Landing a request that a Federal division should be dispatched at once
to that point, to prevent the Confederate forces from occupying it and obstructing his return; consequently Hurlbut's division
was sent thither, and it was found on its transports at that point by Sherman on his return that far down the river on the
16th of March. Sherman, landing there his own division, made an apparently objectless short march into the interior and back
on the 17th of March. Making his report the same day to General Grant, who had just reached Savannah, General Sherman stated
that he was "strongly impressed with the position" of Pittsburg Landing, "for its land advantages and its strategic character.
The ground itself admits of easy defense by a small command, and yet affords admirable camping-ground for one hundred thousand
men." Unquestionably, it was upon this report that Pittsburg, rather than Hamburg, was made the Federal base; for Hurlbut's
and Sherman's divisions were immediately ordered ashore to encamp upon a prescribed line, while, on the same day General Grant
directed all the other troops at Savannah except one division to be immediately sent to the same point; Wallace's division
being left, however, at Crump's Landing. About the position thus taken by the Federal army, there can hardly be two professional
opinions. It gave their adversary an opportunity for an almost fatal counterstroke such as has rarely been afforded to the
weaker of two belligerents in all the sinews and resources of war. A narrow cul de sac, formed by Snake Creek and Lick
Creek, with the broad bank-full river forming its bottom, tactically as well as strategically it was a false position for
an invading army, and I may add that, having been occupied, the exigent precaution, under the circumstances, of making a place
d'armes of it was wholly overlooked, though it was barely twenty-three miles distant from Corinth, where, according to
the Federal general's reports of the period, a supposed Confederate army of from 50,000 to 60,000 men were concentrated.
Previously, or as early as the 3d of March, Pope, with about 19,000 "present
for duty," had appeared before New Madrid, in Missouri, the essentially weak or most vulnerable point of our upper Mississippi
defenses. Delaying his attack, however, until the 12th,--until siege-guns
could be brought up,--the works there were easily made so untenable that General McCown abandoned them and transferred his
forces, at night, across the river to support the heavy batteries at Madrid Bend and Island Number Ten.
About the time Pittsburg Landing was made General Grant's base, I had collected
within easy marches of Corinth about 23,000 men of all arms of the service, independent of the forces of General Polk,--giving,
with his troops and including those at Forts Pillow and Madrid Bend, an aggregate of at most 44,000 men, of excellent personality
but badly armed--particularly the cavalry, some of whom had no arms at all. The new forces, with the exception of those from
Mobile, Pensacola, and New Orleans, were raw and undisciplined. Made aware by the great number of transports that were now plying up and down the Tennessee of the magnitude of the invasion that
clearly threatened the seizure of the Memphis and Charleston railroad, the delay on the part of the Bowling Green forces filled
both General Bragg and myself with great solicitude. Meanwhile, on the 15th of March, General Johnston addressed me by telegraph:
"Have you had the south bank of the Hatchee examined near Bolivar? I recommend it to your attention. It has, besides the other
advantages, that of being further from the enemy's line,"--that is, Pittsburg Landing. As the essential point for us, however,
was to strike a blow at General Grant so soon as General Johnston's troops were united with mine, but before Buell's junction
with the exposed army at Pittsburg, I could see no possible advantage in the least increase of distance from our real objective
so soon as the advent of General Johnston's troops should give us the power to undertake the offensive. Exposing these features
of the situation, I again urged General Johnston to hurry his forces forward.
On the 22d of March he reached Corinth with his staff, and I went down from
Jackson to meet him. Proceeding at once to explain to him what resources had been collected and all that was known of the
position and numbers of our adversary at Pittsburg, as also my views of the imperative necessity for an immediate movement
against that adversary lest Buell's forces should become a fatal factor in the campaign, to my surprise General Johnston,
with much emotion, informed me that it was his purpose to turn over to me the command of the entire force being assembled
at Corinth, and thereafter confine himself to the duties of department commander, with his headquarters either at Memphis
or Holly Springs, in Mississippi. This course, as he explained, he felt called upon to take in order to restore confidence
to the people and even the army, so greatly impaired by reason of recent disasters. Thoroughly understanding and appreciating
his motives (and about these and his words there could be no possible misinterpretation), I declined as altogether unnecessary
the unselfish tender of the command, but agreed, after some further exchange of views touching the military situation, to
draw up a plan for the organization of our forces, and, as second in command, to supervise the task of organization.
By the 27th of March the last of General Hardee's corps reached the vicinity
of Corinth,--about 8000 men,--while Crittenden's division of 5000 men was halted at Burnsville and Iuka, eastward of Corinth.
The order of organization, signed by General Johnston, was published on the 29th of March. Based on my notes, it had been
drawn up by Colonel Jordan, and subdivided the armies of Kentucky and Mississippi, now united, into three army corps, with
reserves of cavalry, artillery, and infantry, the corps under Major-Generals Polk, Bragg, and Hardee respectively, and the
reserve (two brigades) under Major-General G. B. Crittenden. On the 30th of March, Colonel Mackall having been promoted and
assigned to the command of the river defenses at Madrid Bend, Colonel Jordan was formally announced as the adjutant-general
of the "Army of the Mississippi," and on the following day Brigadier-General Breckinridge was substituted for General Crittenden
in the command of the reserve.
So much longer time than I had anticipated had been taken in effecting the
junction of the "Central Army" with mine, agreed upon as far back as the 23d of February, that we were scarcely as ready for
assuming the offensive as I had hoped to be, at latest by the 1st of April.
However, on the night of the 2d of April, after 10 o'clock, a dispatch from
Brigadier-General Cheatham, in command at Bethel Station, twenty odd miles north of Corinth, reached me through General Polk,
to the effect that he was being menaced by General Lew Wallace's division. Assuming that the enemy had divided his forces
for an operation against the Mobile and Ohio railroad at Bethel, I thus indorsed the dispatch: "Now is the moment to advance
and strike the enemy at Pittsburg Landing." Colonel Jordan was then asked to carry it at once to General Johnston, who, after
reading both dispatch and indorsement, accompanied by Colonel Jordan, went to General Bragg's quarters near by. That officer,
already in bed, immediately agreed with my recommendation. General Johnston presented objections in effect that our forces
were not as yet ready for the movement, and that we could not move up our reserve in time. Colonel Jordan, however, was able
to reassure him on these points by expressing my conviction that we were as ready now as we could hope to be for some time
to come, whereas the union of Buell's forces with Grant, which might be anticipated at an early day, would make any offensive
operation on our side out of the question. Thereupon, General Johnston instructed Colonel Jordan to issue the orders for the
movement. This was done in General Bragg's bed-chamber, in a "circular" to the three corps commanders directing them "to hold
their commands in hand, ready to advance upon the enemy in the morning by 6 A. M., with 3 days' cooked rations in haversacks,
100 rounds of ammunition for small arms, and 200 rounds for field-pieces. Carry 2 days' cooked subsistence in wagons and 2
tents to the company." These orders reached the hands of Generals Polk and Hardee by 1:30 A. M., and General Breckinridge
was notified to the same effect by telegraph that night.
As it had been agreed between General Johnston and myself, the day after his
arrival at Corinth, that all orders relating to our operations in that quarter, as, also, touching reorganization, should
be left in my hands, during the night of the 2d of April I had made notes regulating the order of march from Corinth to Pittsburg,
and the manner of bringing on the battle, which I handed to Colonel Jordan soon after daylight the next morning. Those notes
served as the basis of Special Orders, No. 8 of that date, issued in the name of General Johnston. However, before these orders
were finally written, all the details were explained to and discussed by me with General Johnston, who came early to my headquarters;
next, before 10 A. M., I explained to and instructed Generals Polk, Bragg, and Hardee, also, at my headquarters, in the presence
of General Johnston and of one another, precisely what each of them had to do with their respective corps that day, and they
were severally directed to put their corps in motion by the described roads in the direction of the enemy, by 12 meridian,
without further order.
Though the distance to be traversed was barely twenty-three miles, it was
no easy matter to move an army of thirty odd thousand essentially raw troops, with their artillery, through so densely wooded
a country as that intervening between Corinth and our objective. Of the two narrow country roads that existed, the shorter
was assigned to Bragg's corps, because it was the one immediately contiguous to it; while to Hardee's corps was given the
initiation of the movement, with the longest line of march as well as the front line in the approaching onset, because it
was made up of troops most hardened by long marches, and the best trained in field service. Polk's corps followed Hardee's
necessarily, because there was no other way for it, and next to Hardee's
troops those under Polk had been most seasoned by marching.
Although our troops were under arms at an early hour on the 3d of April, as
prescribed in the "circular" order, it is a part of the history of the campaign that the commanders of the two leading corps
not only failed to put their troops in motion at least as early as meridian on the 3d of April, but did not move until so
late in the afternoon as in effect to cause our army to reach the presence of its objective twenty-four hours later than there
was every reason to expect, considering the shortness of the distance to be overcome. What led to this delay of the outset
of the Second and Third corps has certainly never been explained in any official document which has yet seen the light. Their
preparations necessary for such a movement were of the slightest, or only to cook five days' rations, and to load a few wagons,
for the amount of ammunition to be carried was no more than they had been directed some days previously to have and keep in
possession of the troops. Moreover, Hardee's corps (Polk's also), "with all detached brigades," had been under orders of "readiness
for a field movement" ever since the 1st of April ("Official Records," Vol. X., Part II., p. 381). Be this as it may, Bragg's
corps did not quit the vicinage of Corinth until so late that afternoon that none of it reached Monterey, twelve miles away,
until the next morning at 8:30, and one division (Withers's) was not there until late on the 4th of April. Hardee's corps,
though dilatory in quitting Corinth, would have easily reached its destination early enough on the second day's march to have
been deployed on the same ground that it occupied on the night of the 5th, twenty-four hours later, had not General Bragg
interposed his authority to check its advance. The march on the 4th was unaccountably slow and confused, especially that of
the Second Corps, in view of the numerous staff attached to the headquarters of each corps. The roads were extremely narrow
and rendered excessively bad for artillery in some places by the rains, while the Second Corps was unused to marching; but
all this hardly made it out of the power of that army to reach its objective by the night of April 4th, had there been a closer
personal attention given to the movement during that day by those whose duty it was to execute Special Orders, No. 8. And
the cost was an irremediable loss of twenty-four hours. Another misadventure, that might have brought us sore disaster, was
a cavalry reconnoissance with two pieces of artillery pushed forward without authority on the 4th, from Bragg's corps into
collision with the enemy with such aggressiveness that it ought to have given the Federal general full notice that an offensive
army was close behind it, and led to immediate preparation for our onset, including intrenchments.
After the Third Corps had reached its assigned position, on the afternoon
of the 5th of April, and the other corps were in supporting distance, including the reserve that had encountered a much more
difficult road between Burnsville and Monterey than had been traversed by the other troops, naturally their commanders were
called together at a point not two miles distant from Shiloh Church,--as it turned out, not far in the rear of Hardee's line.
Of course, it was recognized to be too late for an attack that day. Moreover,
it was reported that the First Corps was already nearly out of provisions, and that the ammunition train was still so far
to the rear as to be unpromising. The loss of twenty-four hours, when every hour was precious because of the imminent danger
of Buell's conjunction, the maladroit manner in which our troops had been handled on the march, and the blunder of the noisy,
offensive reconnoissance, coupled with these reports of corps commanders, served to satisfy me that the purpose for which
we had left Corinth had been essentially frustrated and should be abandoned as no longer feasible. The military essence of
our projected operation was that it should be a surprise, whereas, now, I could not believe the enemy was still ignorant of
our near presence with an aggressive intention, and if now attacked would be found intrenched beyond the possibility of being
beaten in assault by so raw and undisciplined an army as ours was, however intrepid. Hence, an imperative prudence that included
the necessity for preserving that army essentially intact for further operations forced me to advise against any attempt now
to attack the enemy in position and to retrace our steps toward our base with the possible result of leading him to follow
us away from his own and thus giving us a probable opening to the retrieval of the present lost opportunity.
General Johnston listened heedfully to what I said, but answered that he hoped
not only we should find our enemy still unready for a sudden onslaught, but that there was yet time for it before Buell could
come up; therefore, he should decide to adventure the enterprise as early after dawn the next day as possible, adding his
opinion that now our troops were partly in line of battle it were "better to make the venture." The opinions of the corps
commanders, I may add, were neither asked nor given. That my views were based on sound military principles it seems to me
could be readily deduced from what followed at the battle of Shiloh itself, were this the place for such a discussion.
So soon as General Johnston's decision was announced, the conference ended
with the understanding on all sides that the battle should be ventured at dawn on the 6th of April, according to the manner
already prescribed in Special Orders, No. 8, to which end every exertion should be made to place our troops in the best shape
possible for the attack. No further conference was held that night by General Johnston with myself, or with the reserve or
corps commanders; nor did he issue any order at all concerning the impending battle.
[First Day - Sunday, April 6, 1862]
At the first flush of dawn on the 6th, the Confederate army was promptly formed
in the three lines directed in Special Orders, No. 8, except that untowardly the left of Hardee's corps, which, reŽnforced
by Gladden's division of Bragg's corps, constituted the advance, did not rest on Owl Creek, as prescribed. Nine thousand and
twenty-four men were in this line, deployed for battle, and formed, as it were, a heavy skirmish line thrown forward to embrace
the whole Federal front. Five hundred yards rearward was Bragg's corps (less Gladden's division), 10,731 men, exclusive of
cavalry, in a line, as far as the nature of the ground admitted, of regiments massed in double columns at half distance--not
deployed in line of battle, as some writers have stated, coupled with criticisms based thereon. General Polk's corps of 9036
men, exclusive of cavalry, came next, some 800 yards behind Bragg in a column of brigades deployed in line of battle on the
left of the Pittsburg road, each brigade having its own battery, and there was cavalry protecting the left of his line. The
reserve, under Breckinridge, of 7062 men, exclusive of cavalry, marched in the rear of Bragg's right or between the Pittsburg
road and Lick Creek. The troops of the third line were to be thrown forward according to the exigencies of the battle. The
total force thus sent forward against the Federal position numbered 40,335 rank and file, of all arms, including 4382 cavalry,
more than half of whom were of no other military value except for observation or outpost service that did not involve skirmishing.
On the other hand, the force to be assailed occupied "a continuous line from
Lick Creek, on the [Federal] left, to Owl Creek, a branch of Snake Creek, on the [Federal] right, facing nearly south, and
possibly a little west," says General Grant. Their first line, reaching from the bridge on Owl Creek to the Lick Creek ford,
was held by the divisions of Generals Sherman and Prentiss; three of Sherman's brigades holding the Federal right, while the
other (Stuart's) was on the extreme left, with its left resting on Lick Creek. This division had from 16 to 18 guns, and also
a cavalry support. Prentiss occupied the intervening space. These two divisions numbered at least seventeen thousand men,
exclusive of cavalry.
About half a mile behind Sherman and Prentiss came McClernand's division of
7028 effectives; nearer the river were the divisions of C. F. Smith, (under W. H. L. Wallace) and of Hurlbut, aggregating
16,000 men with 34 guns. There was also a cavalry force including detachments from two "regular" regiments. Thus the force
encountered must have numbered forty thousand men, infantry and artillery, supported by sixty odd guns. The ground occupied
was an undulating tableland embraced between Owl Creek and Lick Creek, that run nearly in the same general direction and are
about four miles apart at their mouths. This area, rising in some places about one hundred feet above the low-water level
of the river, was from three to five miles broad. Interlaced by a network of ravines, which, near the river, are deep, with
abrupt sides, the ground rises somewhat ridge-like in the quarter of Lick Creek, and recent rains had made all these depressions
boggy and difficult for the movement of artillery across them. A primitive forest, dense with undergrowth, spread over the
whole space except a few scattered farm fields of from fifty to seventy-five acres. Pittsburg Landing, near the mouth of Snake
Creek, was about three miles from that of Lick Creek. The two roads from Corinth, while crossing Lick Creek about a mile asunder,
come together two miles from Pittsburg. A road from Purdy, crossing Owl Creek by a bridge near Sherman's right, gave one way
to reach the field from Crump's Landing, but the shortest road between the two landings was one near the river leading over
a bridge across Snake Creek.
As it has been denied in the highest quarters that the Confederate attack
on the 6th of April was of the nature of a surprise, it belongs to the history of the day's operations to give here these
words of a note from General Sherman to his chief, in the afternoon of the 5th. The "enemy is saucy, but got the worst of
it yesterday. . . . I do not apprehend anything like an attack upon our position." General Grant thereupon wrote to his superior,
General Halleck: "Our outposts have been attacked in considerable force. I immediately went up, but found all quiet. . . .
I have scarcely the faintest idea of an attack upon us." Moreover, at 3 o'clock P. M., having visited the encampment of Colonel
Ammen near Savannah, General Grant informed that officer that water transportation would be furnished for his brigade of Nelson's
division, Army of the Ohio, on the 7th or 8th of April, or some time early in the week, and also that there would be "no fight"
at Pittsburg, but at "Corinth, where the rebels were fortified." Further,
even when leaving Savannah the next morning, General Grant scarcely at first can have believed that his army was being seriously
attacked, for instead of dispatching to the field the whole of Nelson's division by steamers, he ordered it to march thither
by a wretched road, a march that occupied nearly the whole day. Aside, however, from such documentary evidence, or did none
exist, the absence of all those ordinary precautions that habitually shield an army in the field must forbid the historian
from regarding it as other than one of the most surprising surprises ever achieved.
About 5 A. M. the Confederate lines were set in motion. The first collision
was in the quarter of Gladden's brigade, on our right, and with a battalion of five companies of the 21st Missouri of Prentiss's
division dispatched well to the front by General Prentiss, of his own motion, as early as 3 A. M. But for this incident, due
solely to the intelligent, soldierly forethought of an officer not trained to the business of war, the whole Federal front
would have been struck wholly unawares, for nowhere else had such prudence been shown.
Exactly at 6 A. M. Prentiss's whole division was under fire, and the battle
of Shiloh began in earnest.
As soon as the outburst of musketry and artillery gave notice that Hardee's
line was engaged, General Johnston said that he should go to the front, leaving me in the general direction, as the exigencies
of the battle might arise. Then he rode forward with his personal
staff and the chief engineer of the army, Colonel Gilmer, the only officer of the general staff in his suite, Colonel Jordan,
remaining with me. At 7:30 A. M., by which time the battle was in full tide, as was evident from the play of artillery and
the heavy, continuous rattle of small arms, I ordered Generals Polk and Breckinridge to hasten forward, the first to the support
of our now engaged left, and the latter in a like service affecting our right. Adjutant-General Jordan, whom I had early in
the morning directed to impress personally on the corps commanders the value of fighting their artillery massed twelve guns
at a point, was also now dispatched forward to overlook the field and urge on the attack continuously at as many points as
When our attack reached Sherman's division, owing to the failure of Hardee
to keep his left near Owl Creek as was intended, only the left brigade of that division on the Federal right was struck, leaving
intact the other two to the left of our left flank, which were swiftly formed by General Sherman on strong ground with a small
watercourse in his front. But the other stricken brigade was swept out of its encampment, scattered, and took no further part
as an organization in the battle of either day.
While Hardee's left failed to touch the enemy's right, on his own right there
was left a vacant space between it and Lick Creek, to fill which Chalmers's brigade of Withers's division, Bragg's corps,
was ordered up from the second line, with a battery; and a hot, urgent conflict ensued in that quarter, in which General Johnston
was present, after Chalmers had carried at least one encampment. In the same quarter of the field all of Withers's division,
including Gladden's brigade, reŽnforeed by Breckinridge's whole reserve, soon became engaged, and Prentiss's entire line,
though fighting stoutly, was pressed back in confusion. We early lost the services of the gallant Gladden, a man of soldierly
aptitudes and experience, who, after a marked influence upon the issue in his quarter of the field, fell mortally wounded.
His immediate successor, Colonel D. W. Adams, was also soon seriously disabled. Meantime, on our left (Federal right) Ruggles's
division of Bragg's corps was so strenuously pressing the two brigades of Sherman's division, that at the moment McClernand's
division came up, Sherman was giving way with the loss of five or six guns. McClernand could not stay the retrograde, and
the Federal right was forced back to the line of the road from Purdy to Hamburg. There a foothold was gained on a thickly
wooded ridge, with a ravine in front, from which two favorably posted batteries were used with deadly effect for a time upon
our assailing force, now composed of Ruggles's three brigades reŽnforced by several of Polk's. Here, again, the Federal line
had to give way, with the loss of some guns.
By 7:30 Hurlbut, sending Veatch's brigade of his division to the help of Sherman
and McClernand, had gone, in person with his two other brigades, to the support of Prentiss, and with him went 8 companies
of cavalry and 3 batteries. Prentiss's division was met, however, in a somewhat fragmentary condition, but was rallied in
the immediate rear of a line which Hurlbut formed along the edge of a field on favorable ground on the Hamburg road, southward
of the position last taken up by McClernand. Meanwhile (9:30 A. M.) I had advanced my headquarters to a point about a quarter
of a mile in advance of the Shiloh Meeting House, whence I dispatched my staff in all directions to gather reports of the
progress of the battle with its exigencies and needs on our side, as, also, in quest of stragglers, whose numbers had become
dangerously large under the temptations of the abundant stores of food and other articles left in the abandoned Federal camps. In the work of cleaning these encampments of stragglers and dispatching them to the
front, my cavalry escort was also effectively employed.
As designated by Special Orders, No. 8, Hardee's corps having developed the
enemy's position, Bragg's troops first and then Polk's on our left and left center, Withers's division of Bragg's corps and
Breckinridge's reserves on the right, had been thrown forward to fill intervening gaps and to aid the onset. At all points
from the right to the left, the opposing forces had been stoutly engaged on ground in rear of the line of McClernand's encampment
since 9 A. M., when W. H. L. Wallace had carried forward his division into action; a division that, trained by so thorough
a soldier as General C. F. Smith, had done most soldierly work at Donelson, and which Wallace now handled with marked vigor.
Its influence seemed to stiffen the Federal center and left center. Stuart, commanding one of Sherman's brigades strongly
posted on the extreme Federal left, also, had made so obstinate a stand that he was not forced from the position until three
times his numbers, of Withers's division, diverted from the main current of the attack, were brought to bear against him.
For some time General Johnston was with that division, but he shifted to Breckinridge's division about 11 A. M., and remained
closely in rear alternately of either Bowen's or Statham's brigade until mortally wounded near the latter, a little after
2 P. M. He took post and remained on our extreme right, and at no time does it appear from the reports of subordinates in
any other part of the field that, either personally or by his staff, General Johnston gave any orders or concerned himself
with the general movements of our forces. In fact, engrossed as he soon became with the operations of two or three brigades
on the extreme right, it would have been out of his power to direct our general operations, especially as he set no machinery
in motion with which to gather information of what was being done elsewhere, or generally, by the Confederate army, in order
to enable him to handle it intelligently from his position on the field.
Learning about 1 P. M. that the Federal right (Sherman and McClernand) seemed
about to give way, I ordered General Hardee to employ his cavalry (Wharton's Texas Rangers) to turn their flank and cut off
their retreat to the river, an operation not effected because a proper or sufficient dťtour to the left was not made; and
the gallant Texans under a heavy fire became involved in ground impracticable for cavalry, and had to fall back. But Colonel
Wharton soon afterward dismounted half of his regiment and, throwing it forward on foot, drove his adversary from the position.
The falling back of Sherman's and McClernand's troops under stress from several
brigades of Hardee's corps with a part of Ruggles's division of Braggs, aided by some of Polk's troops, left Wallace (W. H.
L.) on the advanced Federal right, where, with Hurlbut and Prentiss on his left, in a strong, sheltered position, well backed
by artillery, and held with great resolution, they repulsed a series of uncombined assaults made against them. Here General
Bragg was directing operations in person; and it was here that, after Hindman had suffered severely in several ineffectual
efforts, Gibson's brigade of Bragg's own corps was employed in four unavailing assaults, when finding himself unable to carry
the position, General Bragg, as he reports, desisted from any further attempt, leaving that part of the field in charge of
a staff-officer with authority to act in his name, and going farther to the right to find that General Johnston was dead.
However, having previously learned, from his aide-de-camp, Colonel Urquhart, that Adjutant-General Jordan was near by, he
requested that officer, through Colonel Urquhart, to collect and employ some of our troops to turn the left of the position
that obstructed his advance toward the river, as just described. Upon that service Colonel Jordan, in a few moments, employed
Statham's brigade, which was fortunately found near by, resting at ordered arms, General Breckinridge, to whom the order was
given, being with it at the time. This happened, be it noted, at 2:30 P. M., or about the moment that General Johnston was
bleeding to death in the covert of a deep ravine a very short distance from Statham's brigade, in the immediate rear of which
it was that his wound had been inflicted.
General Breckinridge quickly became engaged with the enemy in his front, covered
by a thick underbrush that edged an open field over which the Confederate advance was made. The conflict was sharp for a few
moments, but the Federals had to give way. About, this time, under
my orders, Cheatham came up with his Second Brigade on the left of Breckinridge. Moreover, a few moments later, or as early
as 3 P. M., Withers, of Bragg's corps, having found that his adversary (Stuart's brigade) which had so long occupied him on
the extreme right had disappeared toward Pittsburg Landing, and having moved across the intervening ravines and ridges with
his division to where the sound of artillery and musketry showed the main battle was now raging,--was brought opportunely
into coŲperation with Cheatham's and Breckinridge's operations directly upon Hurlbut's left flank--a movement which Hurlbut
resisted stoutly until, justly apprehensive of being cut off, he fell back, after 4 P. M., upon Pittsburg Landing. This left Prentiss's left flank exposed; Wallace, whose unflinching handling of his
division had done so much to keep the Federal army from being driven to the riverside by midday, now also, to avoid being
surrounded, gave orders for it to retire, and soon fell mortally wounded; but a part of his division remained with Prentiss.
Sometime previously I had ordered General Hardee to gather all the forces
he could and press the enemy on our own left. Stragglers that had been collected by Colonels Brent and Chisolm and others
of my staff, were also sent forward extemporized into battalions, and Colonel Marshall J. Smith with the New Orleans Crescent
Regiment was added, with orders to "Drive the enemy into the Tennessee."
Meantime, or shortly after 3 P. M., Governor Harris and Captain Wickliffe,
both of General Johnston's staff, had reached me with information of his death. Staff-officers were immediately dispatched
to acquaint the corps commanders of this deplorable casualty, with a caution, however, against otherwise promulgating the
fact. They were also urged to push the battle with renewed vigor and, if possible, to force a speedy close, to which end my
staff were energetically employed in pushing up the stragglers or regiments or parts of regiments that had become casually
separated from their organizations because of the nature of the battle-field.
As I have said, by five o'clock the whole Federal army except Prentiss's division,
with a part of Wallace's, had receded to the river-bank, and the indomitable force which under Prentiss still contested the
field was being environed on its left by brigades from the divisions of Breckinridge, Cheatham, and Withers in that quarter.
It remains to be said that Prentiss was equally encompassed on the other flank by a part of Ruggles's division, together with
some of General Polk's corps. Thus surrounded on all sides, that officer, whose division had been the first to come into collision
with us that morning, stoutly keeping the field to the last, was now forced to surrender in person, just after 5:30 P. M.,
with some 2200 officers and men.
We had now had more than eleven hours of continuous fighting, fighting without
food except that hastily snatched up in the abandoned Federal encampments. In the meantime Colonel J. D. Webster, the Federal
chief of staff, had massed his reserve artillery, some sixty guns, on a ridge about three hundred yards in advance of the
landing which commanded all the approaches thereto from the landward, with a deep ravine on the side facing the Confederates.
Moreover, much of the ground in front of this position was swept by the guns of the steamers Lexington and Tyler, properly
posted for that purpose. Near by had gathered the remnants of Wallace's, Hurlbut's, and McClernand's divisions, from which
gunners had been taken to man the artillery. At this critical instant, Colonel Ammen's brigade of Nelson's division of Buell's
army was brought across the Tennessee and placed as a support, on the ridge, in a position selected by General Buell himself,
just at the instant that the Confederates attempted to storm this last foothold to which they had finally driven their adversary
after eleven hours of unceasing battle.
This was the situation at 6 P. M., and that the Confederate troops were not
in a condition to carry such a position as that which confronted them at that late hour becomes clearly apparent from the
official reports. After the capture of General Prentiss no serious effort was made to press the victory by the corps commanders.
In fact the troops had got out of the hands either of corps, divisional, or brigade commanders, and for the most part, moreover,
at the front, were out of ammunition. Several most gallant uncombined efforts (notably by Chalmers) were made to reach and
carry the Federal battery, but in every instance the effort failed.
Comprehending the situation as it was, at six P. M. I dispatched staff-officers
with orders to cease hostilities, withdraw the troops from under fire of the Federal gun-boats, and to sleep on their arms.
However, before the order was received many of the regiments had already been withdrawn out of action, and really the attack
had practically ceased at every point.
My headquarters for the night were established at the Shiloh Meeting House,
in the tent that General Sherman had occupied. There several of the corps and division commanders called for orders, and all
evinced and expressed much satisfaction with the results, while no one was heard to express or suggest that more might have
been achieved had the battle been prolonged. All seemed to believe that our troops had accomplished as much as could have
been hoped for.
[Second Day - Monday, April 7, 1862]
OF the second day's battle my sketch shall be very brief. It began with daylight,
and this time Buell's army was the attacking force.
Our widely scattered forces, which it had been impossible to organize in the
night after the late hour at which they were drawn out of action, were gathered in hand for the exigency as quickly as possible.
Generals Bragg, Hardee, and Breckinridge hurried to their assigned positions,--Hardee now to the extreme right, where were
Chalmers's and Jackson's brigades of Bragg's corps; General Bragg to the left, where were assembled brigades and fragments
of his own troops, as also of Clark's division, Polk's corps, with Trabue's brigade of Kentuckians; Breckinridge was on the
left of Hardee. This left a vacant space to be occupied by General Polk, who during the night had gone with Cheatham's division
back nearly to Hardee's position on the night of the 5th of April. But just at the critical time, to my great pleasure, General
Polk came upon the field with that essential division.
By 7 P. M. the night before, all of Nelson's division had been thrown across
the Tennessee, and during the night had been put in position between General Grant's disarrayed forces and our own; Crittenden's
division, carried from Savannah by water and disembarked at midnight, was forced through the mob of demoralized soldiers that
thronged the river-side and established half a mile in advance, to the left of Nelson. Lew Wallace's division of General Grant's
army also had found its way after dark on the 6th across Snake Creek from Crump's Landing to the point near the bridge where
General Sherman had rallied the remains of two of his brigades. Rousseau reached the field by water, at daylight, while two
other brigades of the same division (McCook's) were close at hand. Thus, at the instant when the battle was opened we had
to face at least 23,000 fresh troops, including 3 battalions of regulars, with at least 48 pieces of artillery. On the Confederate side there was not a man who had not taken part in the battle of
the day before. The casualties of that day had not been under 6500 officers and men, independent of stragglers; consequently
not more than 20,000 infantry could be mustered that morning. The Army of the Ohio in General Buell's hands had been made
exceptionally well-trained soldiers for that early period of the war.
The extreme Federal right was occupied by General Lew Wallace's division,
while the space intervening between it and Rousseau's brigade was filled -with from 5000 to 7000 men gathered during the night
and in the early morning from General Grant's broken organizations.
After exchanging some shots with Forrest's cavalry, Nelson's division was
confronted with a composite force embracing Chalmers's brigade, Moore's Texas Regiment, with other parts of Withers's division,
also the Crescent Regiment of New Orleans and the 26th Alabama, supported by well-posted batteries, and so stoutly was Nelson
received that his division had to recede somewhat. Advancing again, however, about 8 o'clock, now reŽnforced by Hazen's brigade,
it was our turn to retire with the loss of a battery. But rallying and taking the offensive, somewhat reŽnforeed, the Confederates
were able to recover their lost ground and guns, inflicting a sharp loss on Hazen's brigade, that narrowly escaped capture.
Ammen's brigade was also seriously pressed and must have been turned but for the opportune arrival and effective use of Terrill's
regular battery of McCook's division.
In the meantime Crittenden's division became involved in the battle, but was
successfully kept at bay for several hours by the forces under Hardee and Breckinridge, until it was reŽnforced by two brigades
of McCook's division which had been added to the attacking force on the field, after the battle had been joined, the force
of fresh troops being thus increased by at least five thousand men. Our
troops were being forced to recede, but slowly; it was not, however, until we were satisfied that we had now to deal with
at least three of Buell's divisions as well as with General Lew Wallace's, that I determined to yield the field in the face
of so manifestly profitless a combat.
By 1 o'clock General Bragg's forces on our left, necessarily weakened by the
withdrawal of a part of his troops to reŽnforce our right and center, had become so seriously pressed that he called for aid.
Some remnants of Louisiana, Alabama, and Tennessee regiments were gathered up and sent forward to support him as best they
might, and I went with them personally. General Bragg, now taking the offensive, pressed his adversary back. This was about
2 P. M. My headquarters were still at Shiloh Church.
The odds of fresh troops alone were now too great to justify the prolongation
of the conflict. So, directing Adjutant-General Jordan to select at once a proper position in our near rear, and there establish
a covering force including artillery, I dispatched my staff with directions to the several corps commanders to prepare to
retreat from the field, first making a show, however, at different points of resuming the offensive. These orders were executed,
I may say, with no small skill, and the Confederate army began to retire at 2:30 P. M. without apparently the least perception
on the part of the enemy that such a movement was going on. There was no flurry, no haste shown by officers or men; the spirit
of all was admirable. Stragglers dropped into line; the caissons of the batteries were loaded up with rifles; and when the
last of our troops had passed to the rear of the covering force, from the elevated ground it occupied and which commanded
a wide view, not a Federal regiment or even a detachment of cavalry was anywhere to be seen as early as 4 P. M.
General Breckinridge, with the rear-guard, bivouacked that night not more
than two miles from Shiloh. He withdrew three miles farther on the 8th, and there remained for several days without being
Our loss in the two days was heavy, reaching 10,699.
The field was left in the hands of our adversary, as also some captured guns,
which were not taken away for want of horses, but in exchange we carried off at least 30 pieces of his artillery with 26 stands
of colors and nearly 3000 prisoners of war, also a material acquisition of small arms and accouterments which our men had
obtained on Sunday instead of their inferior weapons.
Reading: Shiloh and the Western Campaign
of 1862. Review: The bloody and decisive two-day
battle of Shiloh (April 6-7, 1862) changed the entire course of the American Civil War. The
stunning Northern victory thrust Union commander Ulysses S. Grant into the national spotlight, claimed the life of Confederate
commander Albert S. Johnston, and forever buried the notion that the Civil War would be a short conflict. The conflagration
at Shiloh had its roots in the strong Union advance during the winter of 1861-1862 that resulted in the capture of Forts Henry
and Donelson in Tennessee. Continued below…
collapsed General Albert S. Johnston advanced line in Kentucky and forced him to withdraw all the way to northern Mississippi. Anxious to attack the enemy, Johnston began
concentrating Southern forces at Corinth, a major railroad center just below the Tennessee border. His bold plan called for his Army of the Mississippi to march north and destroy General Grant's Army of the Tennessee
before it could link up with another Union army on the way to join him. On the morning of April 6, Johnston
boasted to his subordinates, "Tonight we will water our horses in the Tennessee!"
They nearly did so. Johnston's sweeping attack hit the unsuspecting Federal camps at Pittsburg
Landing and routed the enemy from position after position as they fell back toward the Tennessee River.
Johnston's sudden death in the Peach Orchard, however, coupled
with stubborn Federal resistance, widespread confusion, and Grant's dogged determination to hold the field, saved the Union
army from destruction. The arrival of General Don C. Buell's reinforcements that night turned the tide of battle. The next
day, Grant seized the initiative and attacked the Confederates, driving them from the field. Shiloh
was one of the bloodiest battles of the entire war, with nearly 24,000 men killed, wounded, and missing. Edward Cunningham,
a young Ph.D. candidate studying under the legendary T. Harry Williams at Louisiana
State University, researched and wrote Shiloh and the Western Campaign of 1862 in 1966. Although it remained unpublished, many Shiloh
experts and park rangers consider it to be the best overall examination of the battle ever written. Indeed, Shiloh
historiography is just now catching up with Cunningham, who was decades ahead of modern scholarship. Western Civil War historians
Gary D. Joiner and Timothy B. Smith have resurrected Cunningham's beautifully written and deeply researched manuscript from
its undeserved obscurity. Fully edited and richly annotated with updated citations and observations, original maps, and a
complete order of battle and table of losses, Shiloh and the Western Campaign of 1862 will
be welcomed by everyone who enjoys battle history at its finest. Edward Cunningham, Ph.D., studied under T. Harry Williams
at Louisiana State
University. He was the author of The Port Hudson Campaign: 1862-1863
(LSU, 1963). Dr. Cunningham died in 1997. Gary D. Joiner, Ph.D. is the author of One Damn Blunder from Beginning to End: The
Red River Campaign of 1864, winner of the 2004 Albert Castel Award and the 2005 A. M. Pate, Jr., Award, and Through the Howling
Wilderness: The 1864 Red River Campaign and Union Failure in the West. He lives in Shreveport,
Louisiana. About the Author: Timothy B. Smith, Ph.D., is author of Champion Hill:
Decisive Battle for Vicksburg (winner of the 2004 Mississippi
Institute of Arts and Letters Non-fiction Award), The Untold Story of Shiloh: The Battle and the Battlefield, and This Great
Battlefield of Shiloh: History, Memory, and the Establishment of a Civil War National Military Park. A former ranger at Shiloh,
Tim teaches history at the University of Tennessee.
Reading: The Shiloh Campaign (Civil War Campaigns in the Heartland) (Hardcover). Description:
Some 100,000 soldiers fought in the April 1862 battle of Shiloh, and nearly 20,000 men were killed or wounded; more Americans
died on that Tennessee
battlefield than had died in all the nation’s previous wars combined. In the first book in his new series, Steven E.
Woodworth has brought together a group of superb historians to reassess this significant battle and provide in-depth analyses
of key aspects of the campaign and its aftermath. The eight talented contributors dissect the campaign’s fundamental
events, many of which have not received adequate attention before now. Continued below…
John R. Lundberg examines the role of Albert Sidney Johnston,
the prized Confederate commander who recovered impressively after a less-than-stellar performance at forts Henry and Donelson
only to die at Shiloh; Alexander Mendoza analyzes the crucial, and perhaps decisive, struggle to defend the Union’s
left; Timothy B. Smith investigates the persistent legend that the Hornet’s Nest was the spot of the hottest fighting
at Shiloh; Steven E. Woodworth follows Lew Wallace’s controversial march to the battlefield and shows why Ulysses S.
Grant never forgave him; Gary D. Joiner provides the deepest analysis available of action by the Union gunboats; Grady McWhiney
describes P. G. T. Beauregard’s decision to stop the first day’s attack and takes issue with his claim of victory;
and Charles D. Grear shows the battle’s impact on Confederate soldiers, many of whom did not consider the battle a defeat
for their side. In the final chapter, Brooks D. Simpson analyzes how command relationships—specifically the interactions
among Grant, Henry Halleck, William T. Sherman, and Abraham Lincoln—affected the campaign and debunks commonly held
beliefs about Grant’s reactions to Shiloh’s aftermath. The Shiloh Campaign will enhance readers’ understanding
of a pivotal battle that helped unlock the western theater to Union conquest. It is sure to inspire further study of and debate
about one of the American Civil War’s momentous campaigns.
Recommended Reading: Shiloh--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: 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.
Recommended Reading: Shiloh: The Battle That Changed the Civil
War (Simon & Schuster). From Publishers Weekly: The bloodbath at Shiloh, Tenn. (April 6-7, 1862), brought
an end to any remaining innocence in the Civil War. The combined 23,000 casualties that the two armies inflicted on each other
in two days shocked North and South alike. Ulysses S. Grant kept his head and managed, with reinforcements, to win a hard-fought
victory. Continued below…
general Albert Sidney Johnston was wounded and bled to death, leaving P.G.T. Beauregard to disengage and retreat with a dispirited
gray-clad army. Daniel (Soldiering in the Army of Tennessee) has crafted a superbly researched volume that will appeal to
both the beginning Civil War reader as well as those already familiar with the course of fighting in the wooded terrain bordering
the Tennessee River.
His impressive research includes the judicious use of contemporary newspapers and extensive collections of unpublished letters
and diaries. He offers a lengthy discussion of the overall strategic situation that preceded the battle, a survey of the generals
and their armies and, within the notes, sharp analyses of the many controversies that Shiloh
has spawned, including assessments of previous scholarship on the battle. This first new book on Shiloh
in a generation concludes with a cogent chapter on the consequences of those two fatal days of conflict.
Recommended Reading: 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.