The blame for having withdrawn the Confederate
troops too soon from the fight, on the evening of the 6th, ‘just as’—it is alleged—‘a last concentrated effort was about to be made by some of the subordinate commanders,’ has, we think, been conclusively refuted in the narrative of the battle.
That charge is entirely disproved by the reports of brigade and regimental commanders.
The cessation of hostilities was not ordered until ‘a last concentrated effort’ had been made shortly after 4 P. M., under General Beauregard
's own eyes, and not until he was satisfied, from the condition of his troops, that no further attack on our part would meet with success, especially after the opening of Webster
's reserved Federal batteries, supported by reinforcements, as the rolls of infantry fire clearly indicated.
It was not until then, about 6 P. M., shortly before sunset, that the order was given to cease the contest, and collect and reorganize the various commands, before it should be too dark to carry out the order effectually.
But before these instructions could be generally distributed, the fighting had, in reality, ceased on the greater part of the field.
As an additional proof that the order was not given too soon, it is a positive fact that the brigades and divisions of the different commands, especially Bragg
's and Hardee
's, were not collected and reorganized in time to meet the Federal
attack, on the next morning.
The true reason, besides the rawness of our officers and men, why we were not able to complete our victory on the 6th, is correctly given, by the Adjutant-General
of the Confederate army at Shiloh
, in his ‘Campaigns of Lieutenant-General Forrest
,’ p. 151, as follows:
After the combat was at its height, about meridian, those superior officers who should have been occupied with the concentration and continuous projection of their troops in heavy masses upon the shattered Federal divisions, were at the very front and “perilous edge” of the battle, leading forward regiments, perchance brigades, into action, with great individual intrepidity, and doing a great deal, no doubt, by their personal example, to impel small bodies forward.
But, meanwhile, to their rear were left the masses of their respective commands, without direction, and thus precious time was lost.
The Confederates were not kept continuously massed and employed, either in corps or divisions; mere piecemeal onsets were the general method of fighting after 12 o'clock (on the 6th), with this consequence: Sherman was enabled to make several obstinate, powerful stands, by which he protracted the battle