previous next
[47] his regiments were placed in position; but the enemy made only a feeble renewal of their efforts. The day had been saved by Grant's obstinate resistance, and not by the arrival of Buell's troops.

But all day, while the battle raged, the banks of the river had been crowded with stragglers from the front, some slightly wounded, some never in the battle, but all full of stories of surprise, overwhelming forces, terrible disasters, horrible slaughter, and all the exaggerations of men unused to battle, and of cowards who deserted their posts. Seen from the rear, it looked as if the contest was resulting in utter and irreparable defeat; and colored by these unworthy and untrue reports, the country was made to see the first day's battle at Shiloh as a disaster, which was only saved from utter completeness by Buell's arrival. Buell himself, who arrived in advance of his troops, apparently took a similar view, and as soon as he met Grant inquired, “What preparations have you made for retreating, general?” But he was quickly interrupted by Grant, who exclaimed, with firmness, “I haven't despaired of whipping them yet!” He knew how the brave men at the front were resisting the enemy, and he knew that if he held out through that day, the victory could be won the next, and so he never thought of retreat. Such was his determined spirit in all his campaigns, and in all his battles.

After the battle, it is said — though the anecdote is not so authentic as the above statement — that Buell, in criticising the position of Grant's army, with the Tennessee in their rear, again recurred to the question of retreat, and asked, “Where would you have retreated, general, if beaten?”

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
U. S. Grant (4)
Buell (4)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: