Had the corps been held well in hand, massed and pressed continuously upon the tottering, demoralized foe; had general officers attended to the swing and direction of the great “war-engine” at their disposition, rather than, as it were, becoming “so many heads or battering-rams of that machine,” the battle assuredly would have closed at latest by mid-day.
By that hour, at most, the whole Federal force might have been urged back and penned up, utterly helpless, in the angle formed between the river and Lick (or Snake) Creek, or dispersed along the river bank, between the two creeks; we repeat, that had the Confederate corps been kept in continuity, closely pressed en masse upon the enemy, after the front line had been broken and swept back, the Federal fragments must have been kept in a downward movement, like the loose stones in the bed of a mountain torrent.
Before leaving this part of our subject it is proper, we think, to direct attention to the comparison, drawn by Mr. Davis
, between General Albert Sidney Johnston
and Marshal Turenne
, with reference to the battle of Shiloh
Says Mr. Davis
To take an example far from us, in time and place, when Turenne had, after months of successful manoeuvring, finally forced his enemy into a position which gave assurance of victory, and had marshalled his forces for a decisive battle, he was, when making a preliminary reconnoissance, killed by a chance shot; then his successor, instead of attacking, retreated, and all which the one had gained for France the other lost.
The falsity of the comparison is too flagrant to need more than a passing notice.
First, it was at the suggestion of General Beauregard
that General Johnston
had marched his small army to Corinth
, in order to form a junction there, and fight the battle of Shiloh
, not ‘after months of successful manoeuvring,’ as was the case with Marshal Turenne
, but, on the contrary, after months of irreparable disasters, which had brought the country to the brink of despair, and led General Johnston
to believe that he had lost the confidence of both the people and the army.
Second, it was General Beauregard
—not General Johnston
—who ‘had marshalled our forces for a decisive battle’ at Pittsburg Landing
, as has been already fully and clearly established.
Third, when the commanding general fell, the battle had been in progress fully eight hours. His ‘successor’ continued the attack, with all the vigor and energy possible, as long as daylight and the physical condition of his men allowed him to do so. He renewed the attack the next day; and only began his masterly retreat because the enemy in his front had been reinforced with overwhelming numbers.
Fourth, the victory