Manual Shiloh 1862: The Death Of Innocence

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They had issued their troops 5 days of rations just before leaving Corinth, but failure to properly conserve their food intake and the two-day delay left most troops completely out of rations by the time the battle commenced. During the Confederate march, there were several minor skirmishes with Union scouts and both sides had taken prisoners. Positioned only a few miles from the Union Army, the rebel soldiers routinely played their bugles, pounded their drums, and even discharged their muskets hunting for game.

Beauregard , feared that the element of surprise had been lost and recommended withdrawing to Corinth, believing that by the time the battle commenced, they would be facing an enemy "entrenched up to the eyes". But Johnston once more refused to consider retreat. Johnston made the decision to attack, stating "I would fight them if they were a million. The army had spent the entire night making a camp in order of battle within 2 miles 3. Grant wanted to avoid provoking any major battles until the linkup with Buell's Army of the Ohio was complete.

Thus the Union army had sent out no scouts or regular patrols and did not have any vedettes in place for early warning, concerned that scouts and patrols might provoke a major battle before the Army of the Ohio finished crossing the river. Sherman, the informal camp commander at Pittsburg Landing, did not believe the Confederates had a major assault force nearby; he discounted the possibility of an attack from the south. Sherman expected that Johnston would eventually attack from the direction of Purdy, Tennessee , to the west. When Col. Jesse Appler, 53rd Ohio Infantry, warned Sherman that an attack was imminent, the general angrily replied, "Take your damned regiment back to Ohio.

There are no Confederates closer than Corinth. Everett Peabody , commanding Brig. Benjamin Prentiss's 1st Brigade, sent a patrol of infantry men from the 25th Missouri and the 12th Michigan out on reconnaissance patrol, convinced that the constant reports of Confederate contacts over the last few days meant there was a strong possibility of a large confederate force in the area.

The patrol, under the command of Maj.

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James E. Powell, met fire from Confederates who then fled into the woods. Arriving messengers and sounds of gunfire from the skirmish alerted the nearest Union troops, who formed battle line positions before the Confederates were able to reach them; [47] however, the Union army command had not adequately prepared for an attack on their camps. Union forces at Pittsburg Landing were either engaged or moving toward the front line.

The confusing alignment of the Confederate army helped reduce the effectiveness of the attack, since Johnston and Beauregard had no unified battle plan. Earlier, Johnston had telegraphed Confederate President Jefferson Davis his plan for the attack: "Polk the left, Bragg the center, Hardee the right, Breckinridge in reserve. Johnston instructed Beauregard to stay in the rear and direct men and supplies as needed, while he rode to the front to lead the men on the battle line.

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This effectively ceded control of the battle to Beauregard, who had a different concept, which was simply to attack in three waves and push the Union army eastward to the river. Corps commanders attacked in line without reserves, and artillery could not be concentrated to effect a breakthrough. The attack therefore went forward as a frontal assault conducted by a single linear formation, which lacked both the depth and weight needed for success. Units marching through rough uneven terrain were unable to maintain formation integrity and ended up mixing together with regiments from other commands.

Generals ended up having to take command of zones of the battlefield rather than their own assigned divisions. The Confederate assault, despite its shortcomings, was ferocious, causing some of the numerous inexperienced Union soldiers in Grant's new army to flee to the river for safety. Others fought well, but were forced to withdraw under strong pressure from the Confederates, and attempted to form new defensive lines.

Many Union regiments fragmented entirely; the companies and sections that remained on the field attached themselves to other commands. Sherman, who had been negligent in preparing for an attack, became one of its most important elements. He appeared everywhere along his lines, inspiring his raw recruits to resist the initial assaults, despite the staggering losses on both sides.

Sherman received two minor wounds and had three horses shot out from under him. Historian James M. McPherson cites the battle as the turning point of Sherman's life, helping him to become one of the North's premier generals.


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Despite heavy fire on their position and their left flank crumbling, Sherman's men fought stubbornly, but the Union troops slowly lost ground and fell back to a position behind Shiloh Church. McClernand 's division temporarily stabilized the position. Overall, however, Johnston's forces made steady progress until noon, rolling up Union positions one by one. By am, the Confederate advance began to slow down, due to stiff Union resistance, but also due to disciplinary problems as the army overran the Federal camps.

The sight of fresh food still burning on camp fires proved too tempting for many hungry Confederates, and many broke ranks to pillage and loot the camps, putting the army on hold until their officers could get them back into line. Riding into the Union camp, he took a single tin cup and announced "Let this be my share of the spoils today," before directing his army onward.

On April 4, he had been injured when his horse fell and pinned him underneath. He was convalescing and unable to move without crutches. Grant then took his steamboat, Tigress , to Crump's Landing, where he gave Lew Wallace his first orders, which were to wait in reserve and be ready to move.

Wallace concentrated his troops at Stoney Lonesome, although his westernmost brigade remained at Adamsville. The written orders, transcribed from verbal orders that Grant gave to an aide, were lost during the battle and controversy remains over their wording. Around noon, Wallace began the journey along the Shunpike, a route familiar to his men.

Battle of Shiloh concludes - HISTORY

Rowley told Wallace that the Union army had retreated, Sherman was no longer fighting at Shiloh Church, and the battle line had moved northeast toward Pittsburg Landing. Wallace had to make a choice: he could launch an attack and fight through the Confederate rear to reach Grant's forces closer to Pittsburg Landing, or reverse his direction and march toward Pittsburg Landing via a crossroads to the River Road.

Wallace chose the second option. The move further delayed Wallace's troops as they marched north along the Shunpike road, then took a crossover to reach the River Road to the east, and headed south toward the battlefield.

SHILOH, 1862 - Winston Groom

It formed line on the battlefield about 7 p. Wallace is also now remembered as the author of Ben-Hur. Wallace's divisions established and held a position nicknamed the "Hornet's Nest", in a field along a road, now popularly called the "Sunken Road," although there is little physical justification for that name. Historians' estimates of the number of separate charges range from 8 to Coordination within the Nest was poor, and units withdrew based solely on their individual commanders' decisions. The pressure increased when W.

Wallace, commander of the largest concentration of troops in the position, was mortally wounded while attempting to lead a breakout from the Confederate encirclement. Daniel Ruggles , assembled more than 50 cannons into "Ruggles's Battery", [80] the largest concentration of artillery ever assembled in North America up to that point, to blast the line at close range.

Prentiss surrendered himself and the remains of his division to the Confederates.


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  • A large portion of the Union survivors, an estimated 2, to 2, men, were captured, but their sacrifice bought time for Grant to establish a final defense line near Pittsburg Landing. While dealing with the Hornet's Nest, the South suffered a serious setback with the death of their commanding general. Albert Sidney Johnston had received a report from Breckenridge that one of his brigades was refusing orders to advance against a Union force in a peach orchard.

    Eventually, Johnston's staff members noticed him slumping in his saddle. One of them, Tennessee governor Isham Harris , asked Johnston if he was wounded, and the general replied "Yes, and I fear seriously.

    Before a doctor could be found, Johnston bled to death from a torn popliteal artery that caused internal bleeding and blood to collect unnoticed in his riding boot. Lee emerged as the preeminent Confederate general.

    Battle of Shiloh concludes

    Johnston was the highest-ranking officer from either side to be killed in combat during the Civil War. Beauregard assumed command, but his position in the rear, where he relied on field reports from his subordinates, may have given him only a vague idea of the disposition of forces at the front. This was likely a tactical error, because the Union flanks were slowly pulling back to form a semicircular line around Pittsburg Landing.

    If Beauregard had concentrated his forces against the flanks, he might have defeated the Union army at the landing, and then reduced the Hornet's Nest position at his leisure. The Union flanks were being pushed back, but not decisively.

    Shiloh 1862: The Death of Innocence

    Hardee and Polk caused Sherman and McClernand on the Union right to retreat in the direction of Pittsburg Landing, leaving the right flank of the Hornet's Nest exposed. Just after Johnston's death, Breckinridge, whose corps had been in reserve, attacked on the extreme left of the Union line, driving off the understrength brigade of Col.

    David Stuart and potentially opening a path into the Union rear and the Tennessee River. However, the Confederates paused to regroup and recover from exhaustion and disorganization, then followed the sounds of the guns toward the Hornet's Nest, and an opportunity was lost. Sherman commanded the right of the line, McClernand took the center, and on the left, the remnants of W. Wallace's, Hurlbut's, and Stuart's men mixed with thousands of stragglers [92] who were crowding on the bluff over the landing. The advance of Buell's army, Col.

    Jacob Ammen 's brigade of Bull Nelson's division, arrived in time to be ferried over and join the left end of the line. Withers, attempted to break through the line but was repulsed. Beauregard called off a second attempt after 6 p.