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[329] the front line of battle, to secure unity of action, during what was expected to be a surprise. General Bragg's troops were equally well disciplined as regiments, but were unused to marching by brigades, and many of his regiments had never before been under his orders. It was supposed that, in a broken and wooded country, they might very well follow and support General Hardee's lines, but might not do so well if deployed to form the immediate front. General Polk's command, recently organized, was even less prepared to occupy such a position. Breckinridge's division was composed of excellent material, and could march well, having lately retreated from Kentucky and middle Tennessee, with General Hardee's corps; hence, it was thought advisable, at first, to hold it in reserve for any emergency which might happen on any distant part of the field.

That the commands got very much broken and mixed up during the battle was not surprising, and was due less to the order of battle than to the rawness of the troops, including officers, the broken and wooded nature of the field, and the severity of the contest. General Beauregard is of opinion that any other order of battle would have resulted similarly, under like circumstances. The Federals were also in the same mixed — up condition, according to their own reports, when the battle had lasted only a few hours. At the close of the first battle of Manassas, the Confederates, who had fought on the defensive, in a single line of battle, owing to the want of troops, were nearly as badly disorganized as the army at Shiloh was. General Beauregard says that he has often seen new troops when attempting to manoeuvre, even on level ground, get so thoroughly mixed up in a few moments that a long time was required to disentangle them. It may be true that our reserves were engaged somewhat too early in the action; but this was done to save time, as success depended on the rapid execution of the offensive, and to prevent the enemy from reorganizing and concentrating for the defensive.


Another objection raised against the attack at Shiloh is, that it was made to bear too much on the Federal left, which brought the Confederates in too close proximity to the Tennessee River, where their right flank became exposed to the fire of the enemy's two gunboats.

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W. J. Hardee (2)
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