. . . On the 4th (April) the enemy felt Sherman's front in force, but nothing serious came of it, and the opinion of that commander was decided that no probability of an immediate engagement existed. Grant rode out on the day after (the 5th) to Sherman's lines, and concurred with him in this judgment. They were both mistaken, for the skirmish was the reconnoissance of the enemy, preliminary to the battle of Shiloh. This affair, however, awoke attention, and put both officers and men on the alert.These are conflicting statements. How could ‘both officers and men’ be ‘on the alert’—that is to say, ready for an attack on that morning—when the commanding general himself did ‘not anticipate’ any such attack; and when he and General Sherman believed that no immediate engagement was likely to take place? Were ‘the officers and men’ of the Federal army better informed than their commanding generals? A few of them were, and even ventured to suggest their fears to some of their commanders, but they were rebuked for their presumption. The Federal army could not have been ‘on the alert’ and ready, at that time, to meet the onset of the Confederate army, for the simple and additional reason that, when our troops swept into the enemy's encampments, most of the men off duty were found at their morning meal, some loitering about their regimental grounds, some lying in their tents, while others were busily attending to the nearly cooked bread which then filled their well-lit ovens. This utter absence of preparation, obvious to all the first assaulting Confederate columns, shows how secure the enemy thought himself, and how little generals, officers, and men dreamed of an attack on that day.
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1 Vol. i. pp. 71, 72.
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