are entitled to believe what they saw — if the earlier reports made by Grant
themselves are entitled to any credence — it was an overwhelming surprise.
During the afternoon of the 5th, while the Confederate army was being placed in position, within a mile of the Federal
pickets, nothing transpired to indicate that its vicinity was suspected by its enemy; and although scouts were watching for every symptom which should betray a discovery of its presence, and many Confederates, impelled by curiosity, advanced close to the first camp and observed its inmates, everything showed complete and careless confidence, and no dream of danger.
When the Confederate
lines advanced at daybreak the outposts certainly were not expecting them; and when the first and second camps were reached many men were killed in their tents, or just emerging from them.
No Federal line of battle was formed or met with until Hardee
's corps, which constituted the Confederate
first line, had penetrated a very considerable distance into their encampments.
Nor was the evil effect of surprise remedied in the least by subsequent skillful dispositions by the Federal
On the contrary, under Johnston
's admirable tactical arrangement and supremely energetic conduct, the confusion into which the Federal
army was thrown by the first onset was propagated and continued until he fell.
Advancing with his flanks perfectly protected by the two creeks between which the battle field was enclosed, the enemy could not show a greater front than his own; and the three lines in which his attack was delivered, constantly relieving and supporting each other, persistently beat down the Federal
attempts at formation, and crushed and crowded back their masses upon themselves.
are great soldiers, but they gathered no laurels at Shiloh
's death at the moment that victory had declared itself for him, the consequent suspension of the attack and partial withdrawal of the Confederate
lines before Beauregard
could “gather the reins of the battle,” and the timely arrival of Buell
that night, saved the army they commanded from destruction.
But if the Federal
generalship deserves no eulogy, the valor and stubborn constancy of the Federal
soldiery is worthy of all praise.
Never did troops fight better, and the boldest and most forward Confederates will ever be the frankest to testify to it. At the crisis of this magnificent combat, just when complete triumph was about to vindicate himself, consummate his plans and perhaps make the Confederate
arms and the Confederate
cause permanently successful — for no man can divine to what extent