The battle of Shiloh [from the New Orleans, la, Picayune, Sept., 25, 1904.]
And the Shiloh National
[See also Southern Historical Society Papers
XXXI, p. 298, et seq
in his ‘Memoirs’ says: ‘The battle of Shiloh
, or Pittsburg
, has been, perhaps, less understood or, to state it more accurately, more persistently misunderstood than any other engagement between the National
and Confederate troops during the entire rebellion.’
This is as true now as it was when it was written.
Most of those persons who have written of Shiloh
on the Union
side have confined themselves to discussing the comparative achievements in that battle of General Grant
's command, the army of Tennessee, and General Don Carlos Buell
's command, the army of the Ohio.
Most of those who have written from a Confederate standpoint have confined themselves to the discussion of what should have been the final result should General Albert Sidney Johnston
not have been killed, and should General Beauregard
have pressed forward instead of ordering a retreat on the afternoon of the second day's battle.
So that what we have mostly of the battle of Shiloh
from those who write of it is not what was actually done by the two great armies on that field the 6th and 7th of April, 1862, but ‘what might have been.’
was the first great battle that had ever been fought on the American
When the American
colonies entered into the war for independence in 1776, they had only an aggregate population of three millions, scattered along the Atlantic Coast
from the Penobscot river
in what is now the State of Maine
, to the Savannah river
In 1812, when the second war with Great Britain
was begun there were about seven million people in the United States
No great armies were assembled, and no great battles, as measured by great numbers, were fought.
When the war between the States, or Civil War, of 1861-5 began, the United States
had a population of over thirty-one millions.
The official statements show that the battle of Shiloh
, up to the date upon which it was fought, saw the greatest array of men marshaled in hostile conflict that had ever been seen on the Western Hemisphere
; and its results were more disastrous than any known in the history of the continent.
The bloodshed was only exceeded at Gettysburg
, the Wilderness
, Cold Harbor and Chickamauga
, in his history of the war, says of Shiloh
It was in fact, from the date of this battle, that the two armies began to know and respect each other.
Taught by experience thus gained, the generals felt that so long as such armies continued in the field, the struggle between the North and the South would not come to an end.
It is not proposed in this article to undertake an exhaustive or even particular account of the events of that great battle, but rather to give briefly from the official records now published to the world, such a general statement as will lead to an intelligent understanding of the battle, the causes which led to it, and its results.
I must not omit to say that my work has been much aided by the very accurate report of Major D. W. Reed
, Historian and Secretary
of the Shiloh Commission
, published in 1902.
The report on the Confederate
side was made by Genernl G. T. Beuregard
, who succeeded to the command on the death of General A. S. Johnston
made no report further than what was contained in a letter written immediately after the battle to General Hallock
, informing him that an engagement had been fought and announcing the result.
explains the reason of his not making a report as follows:
* * * ‘General Hallock
moved his headquarters to Pittsburg Landing
and assumed command of all the troops in the field.
Although next to him in rank, and nominally in command of my old district and army, I was ignored as much as if I had been at the most distant point of territory within my jurisdiction, and although I was in command of all the troops engaged at Shiloh
, I was not permitted to see one of the reports of General Buell
or his subordinates in that battle until they were published by the War Department, long after the event.
For this reason I never made a full official report of the engagement.’
's ‘Memoirs’ have been consulted in writing this article, as have all reports published in the official records, both Union and Confederate, and the Life of General Johnson
, by his son, the late Colonel William Preston Johnston
, and the writing of others on both sides.
I give a brief resume of General Johnston
's command, and what occurred previously, which led to the battle of Shiloh
Preliminaries to the battle.
On the 10th of September, 1861, General Johnston
was assigned to the command of that part of the Confederate States
which lay west of the Alleghany Mountains
, except the gulf coast; General Bragg
being in command of the coast of west Florida
and General Mansfield Lovell
of the coast of Mississippi
His command was very large in extent, and his powers and discretion as large as the theory of the Confederate government permitted.
He lacked nothing except men, munitions of war, and the means of obtaining them.
The Mississippi river
divided his department into two distinct theatres of war. West of the river Fremont
with a force of from 60,000 to 80,000 troops confronted by Price
in the extreme southwest corner of Missouri
, with 6,000 men, and by Hardee
in the northeastern part of Arkansas
, with several thousand raw recruits, the major part of them suffering from diseases incident to camp life.
East of the Mississippi
the northern boundary of Tennessee
was held in sufferance from an enemy who for various reasons hesitated to advance.
The Mississippi was open to a naval invasion unless it could be defended and held.
was at Cairo
, and had there and at Paducah
about 20,000 men, and to oppose his invasion General Polk
had seized Columbus Ky.
, with about 1,000 Confederates and had placed it in a state of defense.
was divided by the Tennessee river
, and also by the Cumberland
Insignificant works of defense had been erected on both sides at Forts Henry
, near the boundary line, but in fact there was no practical defense against the capture of Nashville
by the Federals
, which was the most important depot of supplies west of the Alleghanies
The defence of the border of Tennessee
first engaged General Johnston
had assumed a position of neutrality, which was abandoned by act of its Legislature in September.
There were about 34,000 Federal volunteers
and 6,000 Home Guards assembled in that State under General Robert Anderson
, of Fort Sumter
fame, and he had with him Generals Sherman
The Confederacy had 4,000 poorly-armed and badly-equipped troops at Cumberland Gap
under General Zollicoffer
, guarding the only line of Communication between Virginia
. Eastern Tennessee
was hostile to the Confederacy
, and required constant guarding and vigilance.
's force there were only about 4,000 available men to protect General Johnston
's line against some 40,000 Federal troops.
His line extended from Cumberland Gap
to Columbus, Ky.
, with Bowling Green
as a salient.
was moving with a small force in Kentucky
, the numbers of which were greatly exaggerated, and created much alarm.
was strongly fortified, and General Johnston
used every means in his power to rally the Kentuckians to his standard.
He brought Hardee
, with 4,000 men, and appealed to the Southern
governors for arms and 50,000 troops.
, of Tennessee
, responded as best he could, but the government at Richmond
was unable to re-enforce him or to arm the troops he had. General Johnston
realized the magnitude of the struggle, and his unprepared condition, but the people of the South
only awoke to it when it was too late.
He was never able to assemble more than 20,000 troops to meet the 100,000 on his front.
On the 7th of November the battle of Belmont
was fought opposite Columbus, in Missouri
, General Grant
commanding the Federal
and General Polk
the Confederate army.
In January, 1862, General Johnston
was confronted by General Halleck
in the west and General Buell
, who had succeeded Sherman
With the exception of the army under General Curtis
, about 12,000 strong, the whole resources of the Northwest
were turned against General Johnston
, with troops at Cairo
, under Generals Grant
and C. F. Smith
, threatened Columbus
, and the defenses at Forts Donelson
and Henry. Buell
's right wing menaced Donelson
and Henry, while his centre was directed against Bowling Green
and his left was advancing against Zollicoffer
at Mill springs
on the upper Cumberland
The campaign opened with the defeat of the Confederates
on the 19th of January, 1862, by General Thomas
at Mill springs
, or Fishing creek
While the loss was not severe, it ended with a rout, which left General Johnston
's right flank exposed.
To then reduce the force
would imperil the Mississippi river
, nor could he hazard the loss of Nashville
, and he, therefore, determined to make the fight at Forts Henry
, and soon Fort Henry
He had determined when the movement against Fort Henry
was made to fall back on the line of the Cumberland
, and make the fight for Nashville
was in his front with 90,000 men, and to save Nashville
he had to fall back on it with a part of his army.
He retained for this purpose some 14,000 men—of whom only 8,500 were effective to confront Buell
's force—and concentrated at Fort Donelson
17,000 men under Generals Floyd
, to meet General Grant
with a force of 25,000 troops.
When, on February 16, General Johnston
learned of the defeat and surrender of the troops at Donelson
, his first object was to save the remnant of his army, and he at once determined to abandon the line of the Cumberland
, and concentrate all his available troops at Corinth, Miss.
, and prepare for a renewed struggle.
On the 25th of March he had assembled an army of 23,000 at Corinth
He was re-enforced by General Bragg
with 10,000 men, and on General Johnston
's arrival at Corinth
his army numbered 50,000 men.
The fall of Forts Henry
and abandonment of Nashville
raised a storm of indignation over the country, and especially in Tennessee
, and a committee of congressmen was sent to President Davis
to ask General Johnston
To the committee Mr. Davis
replied: ‘If Sidney Johnston is not a general, I have none.’
To a friend who urged him to publish an explanation in vindication of his course, General Johnston
replied: I cannot correspond with the people.
What the people want is battle and a victory.
That is the best explanation I can make.
I require no vindication; I trust that to the future.
His plan of campaign was to concentrate at Corinth
, and interpose his whole force in front of the bend of the Tennessee river
, the natural base of the Federal
army, and this effected, to engage and defeat Grant
before the arrival of Buell
This required immediate action, but time was required for the reorganization of the troops of Bragg
This occupied ten days. Hope was entertained of the arrival of General Van Dorn
with reenforce-ments before the arrival of General Buell
, who was marching from Nashville
with 37,000 men to join Grant
, but who did not arrive until two days later.
Hearing of Buell
's near approach on the 2d of April, General Johnston
determined to at once move to the
was assigned to the command of a corps, and also as Chief of Staff
To General Beauregard
was tendered the immediate command of the army in the impending battle, which he declined.
He did this because he had just come into the district which he had assigned to General Beauregard
and was disinclined to deprive him of any reputation he might acquire by the victory, if one should be gained.
This did not mean that he relinquished the supreme command of the army.
's army had been transferred up the Tennessee river
by boats and was concentrated on the western bank at Pittsburg landing
It arrived by divisions, and General Bragg
had proposed to Beauregard
to attack before the arrival of the whole force, but General Beauregard
did not acquiesce.
's plan was for a continued movement of his men and General Buell
With Pittsburg landing
as a base, the army was to occupy north Mississippi
, command the entire railroad system of that section, and take Memphis
in the rear while Halleck
came down the Mississippi river
. General Johnston
suspected the movement and prepared to defeat it. General Grant
's army in camp consisted of 58,000 men, 50,000 of whom were effective, and Buell
was near at hand with 37,000 more.
with 18,000 men was moving against the railroad at Florence, Ala.
, not far distant.
had determined to attack on the 3d of April.
His general plan was to attack by columns of corps and to make the battle a decisive one; to utterly defeat Grant
, and if successful, to contend for the possession of Kentucky
On Saturday afternoon while waiting the dispopition of the troops, a council of war was held, in which Generals Johnston
The Confederate army was in line of battle within two miles of Shiloh Church
, and of General Grant
proposed that the army should be withdrawn to Corinth
He argued that the delay and noise had given the enemy notice of their approach, and that they would be found fully intrenched.
expressed surprise at the suggestion and Generals Polk
expressed their dissent.
closed the conference with the simple remark:
“Gentlemen, we shall attack at daylight to-morrow,” and turning to one of his staff officers, said: ‘I would fight them if they were a million.
They can present no greater front between the two creeks than we can, and the more men they crowd in there the worse we can make it for them.’
Another council was held at General Johnston
's tent that evening, which elicited the same views and same determination of General Johnston
At the dawn of day on the 6th of April as the troops were being put in motion, several of the Generals
again met at the campfire of General Johnston
The discussion was renewed, General Beauregard
still expressing his dissent, when rapid firing in front indicated that the attack had commenced, and General Johnston
closed the discussion by saying:
“The battle has opened, gentlemen; it is too late to change our dispositions.”
He proposed that all move to the front, and the Generals
promptly rode to their commands.
The front line of the Confederate army was composed of the 3d Corps and Gladden
's Brigade under Hardee
, extending from Owl to Lick creek
, a distance of three miles. Hindman
's Division occupied the center, Cleburne
's Brigade on the left and Gladden
's on the right, having an effective total of 9,024.
The second line was commanded by Bragg
with two divisions—Wither's and Ruggle
's—Wither's on the right and Ruggle
's on the left.
This line was 10,731 strong.
The third line, the reserve under Polk
(the 1st Corps), with three brigades under Breckinridge
's corps was massed in columns of brigades on the Bark Road
, near Mickey
's and Breckinridge
's, on the road from Monterey
toward the same point.
was to advance on the left of the Park
road, at an interval of eight hundred paces from Bragg
's line, and Breckenridge
to the right of that road was to give support whenever necessary.
's corps was composed of two divisions, Cheatham
's on the left, and Clark
's on the right, being an effective force of 9,136 men in infantry and artillery.
It followed Bragg
's line at an interval of eight hundred yards. Breckenridge
's reserve was composed of Trabue
's and Statham
's brigades, with a total of infantry and artillery of 6,439 men. The cavalry, 4,300 strong, guarded the flanks.
The total effective force of all armies was about 39,630.
The Federal army present was about 49,232, or present for duty, 39,830.
's landing, six miles distant, General Lew Wallace
had a force of 5,640 men. General Nelson
's division, of Buell
's army, arrived at Savannah
on Saturday morning, and was about five miles distant; while Crittenden
's division had arrived on the 6th.
The first gun of the battle was heard at 5 o'clock in the morning of the 6th, and General Johnston
and staff at once mounted and rode to the front.
Some skirmishes on Friday had aroused the vigilance of the Federal
Yet, General Grant
had telegraphed General Halleck
Saturday night: ‘The main force of the enemy is at Corinth
; one division of Buell
's column arrived yesterday.
I have scarcely the faintest idea of an attack (general one) being made upon us.’
had, however, thrown forward Colonel Moore
with the 21st Missouri regiment on the Corinth
road, who had encountered Hardee
's skirmish line under Major Hardcastle
, and taking it for an outpost attacked it vigorously.
Thus in reality the Federals
opened the fight.
The struggle was brief.
The 8th and 9th Arkansas regiments came up, and Colonel Moore
was wounded, and his troops gave way.
Briefly, on the first attack by the Confederates
the front line of Grant
's army was driven from its position, excepting two of Sherman
's brigades, whose position intrenched the first line of battle.
These brigades resisted stubbornly, but their flanks becoming exposed, they were compelled to give way and take position on McClernand
's right, which was held until the afternoon, when both divisions were driven back.
arrived on the field at 8 A. M., and ordered Lewis Wallace
up with his division, while he set to work to reorganize his scattered lines.
and W. H. L. Wallace
were now attacked, but repulsed the Confederates
, who, however, continued the assault until 4:30 P. M., when Hurlbut
fell back, and Wallace
, being left to meet the assaults alone, fell back a half hour later.
General Lew Wallace
, who, as before stated, was at Crump
's landing six miles distant, did not reach the field until near night.
The Federal army was then crowded back to the river, leaving all of its encampments and some 3,000 prisoners in possession of the Confederates
; it halted after the falling back of W. H. L. Wallace
, the remaining Federal artillery was hastily assembled by General Webster
, of General Grant
's staff, posted on a ridge covering Pittsburg landing
, and a renewal of the attack by the Confederates
was successfully resisted, two gunboats adding their fire.
's advance had reached Savannah
on the evening of the 5th, and at 6 P. M. on the 6th, Ammen
's brigade crossed just at the close of the day's battle.
Next morning all of Nelson
's and McCook
's divisions had crossed, and with Lew Wallace
's command, some 25,000
fresh troops were available.
had fallen about 2:30 P. M. on the 6th, and the command developed upon General Beauregard
At daylight on Monday General Grant
attacked along the whole line, but was stubbornly resisted, the battle continuing until about 4 P. M. The Union line of the previous day and thirty captured guns were regained.
The arrival of Buell
's army with its fresh troops made the contest unequal, and though stubbonly contested for a time, at about 2 o'clock General Beauregard
ordered the withdrawal of his army.
To secure this he placed Colonel Robert F. Looney
, 38th Tennessee regiment, augmented by detachments from other regiments at Shiloh Church
, and directed him to charge the centre of the Union
In this charge Colonel Looney
's headquarters and pressed the Union
line back to Purdy road. At the same time General Beauregard
sent artillery across Shiloh Branch
, and placed the guns in battery on the high ground beyond.
With these arrangements Beauregard
, at 4 o'clock, safely crossed Shiloh Branch
with his army, and placed his rear guard under General Breckenridge
in line upon the ground occupied by him Saturday night. The Confederate army returned leisurely to Corinth
, while the Union
army returned to the camps it had occupied before the battle.
No general pursuit of the Confederates
was made, General Halleck
having issued orders forbidding it, and the Confederates
were allowed to retire to Corinth
while the Union
army occupied itself in burying the dead and caring for the wounded.
Soon after General Halleck
's arrival and assumption of command was inaugurated the ‘advance on Corinth
,’ in which the most conspicuous and leading part was played by the spade.
reported a loss of 1,728 killed, 8,012 wounded, and 959 missing. The Union's loss was reported at 1,754 killed, 8,408 wounded, and some 2,855 prisoners. Revised statements make the total loss in both armies killed, 3,482; wounded, 16,420; missing, 3,844; total, 23,746.
The Shiloh National military Park.
I have stated that the battle of Shiloh
is less known or understood than any of the great battles of the war, and gave, what I think, are the reasons.
So, also, the Shiloh National Military Park
is much less known
or Chickamauga Parks
, partly on account of its inaccessibility by reason of remoteness from railroads.
The only public means of reaching it is by boats on the Tennessee river
The nearest railroad points are Selma
, on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, about eighteen miles westward, and Corinth
, at the junction of the Mobile
and Southern (formerly Memphis
) Railroads, some twenty miles south.
A gravel road, of which twenty-five miles is of very excellent character, has been constructed within the park, extended to either Corinth
would greatly facilitate travel, and doubtless add many visitors to the park.
The Commissioners have recommended this, naming Corinth
as the point, and a bill is now pending in Congress for its construction.
A survey has been made by the Illinois Central Railroad from Jackson, Tenn.
, by way of the park to Tuscumbia
If this is built it will help the present facilities; but even with this railroad, there should be a wagon road.
The park was established by an act of Congress, approved December 27, 1894, and lies wholly in Hardin county
, on the west bank of the Tennessee river
The Secretary of War
appointed as Commissioners, Colonel Cornelius Cadle
, of Cincinnati
, for the Army of the Tennessee, Chairman
; General Don Carlos Buell
, of Paradise, Ky.
, for the Army of Ohio; Colonel Robert F. Looney
, of Memphis, Tenn.
, for the Army of the Mississippi; Major D. W. Reed
, of Chicago
and Historian, and Captain James W. Irwin
, of Savannah, Tenn.
, Agent for the Purchase of Land.
The Commission organized April 2, 1895, at Pittsburg Landing
, and at once entered on its duties.
Mr. James W. Riddell
was appointed clerk of the Commission.
Mr. Atwell Thompson
, of Chattanooga, Tenn.
, civil engineer
, was employed to take charge of the work.
He at once began surveys, and ran parallel lines across the field from north to south every two hundred feet, upon which stakes were placed two hundred feet apart.
From these surveys levels were taken, and a contoured topographical chart made of all land within the limits of the park.
From official maps and reports, information received from residents, personal recollections of survivors of the battle, etc., roads, fields and camps were restored, battle lines and positions of troops located and shown on the map, and marked by historical tablets on the ground.
General Don Carlos Buell
died in November, 1898, and Major J. H. Ashcraft
, 26th Kentucky Volunteers, was appointed to his place.
Colonel Robert F. Looney
died November 19, 1899, and Colonel
, of Memphis, Tenn.
, 1st Alabama Cavalry, succeeded to his place.
's death followed soon afterwards (Feb. 12, 1904), and General Basil W. Duke
, of Louisville, Ky.
, was appointed.
As before stated, twenty-five miles of excellent road has been constructed, the undergrowth has been cut out, such of the original trees as remained, preserved, and a fine growth of trees forty-two years old, grown since the battle, adorn the park.
The park embraces, in round numbers, 3,675 acres of ground upon which there was actual fighting.
Of this area the government has purchased 3,325.05 acres. About 350 acres more are needed for marking correctly the positions of all the troops.
With this addition the government would own all the land upon which there was any fighting, including the Union
camps and General Hardee
's line of battle Saturday night.
The monuments in the park erected by States, are as follows:
has erected 38 regimental monuments, and one very handsome State monument; Ohio
23, Iowa 11 regimental and one State monument.
The latter in beauty of design, excellent workmanship and solidity of construction, is unexcelled.
has one monument to its one regiment engaged; Wisconsin
will soon erect a monument.
General William B. Bate
, of Tennessee
, who commanded the 2d Regiment at Shiloh
, has raised the necessary money, and will soon have erected a monument to that regiment.
This, when in place, will be the first Confederate monument on the field.
The Commissioners have placed monuments to the general officers
on both sides, and officers commanding brigades who were killed in battle.
On the Confederate
side Generals Albert Sidney Johnston
and A. H. Gladden
were killed, and of the Union Army
, General W. H. L. Wallace
and Colonels Julius Raith
and Everett Peabody
These are uniform in size and shape.
Though plain, they are quite imposing.
They are made with concrete foundation and base twenty feet square with pyramids of cannon-balls on each of the four corners.
A concrete second base in the centre is surmounted by a 24-pounder parrott gun set on end. On this is a bronze shield with the inscription.
The inscription on Genera Johnston
's monument is as follows:
General Albert Sidney Johnston
Commanding the Confederate Army,
Was Mortally Wounded
Here at 2:30 P. M., April 6, 1862.
Died in Ravine Fifty Yards East at
2:54 P. M.
The place in the ravine where he died is plainly marked, the tree under which his volunteer aid-de-camp, Governor Isham G. Harris
, laid him, still standing there.
The inscription on the other mortuary monuments are of a like character.
The headquarters of general officers of divisions and brigades are marked by pyramids of shells, with inscriptions giving names of the officers.
The lines of all organizations are plainly marked, so that it is easy to recognize the ground over which any body of troops passed during the battle.
The Confederates who fell at Shiloh
are buried in large trenches, five in number, near where they fell.
The Commission has placed them in fine order and adorned them with shells similar to the adornment of the monuments just mentioned.
I was there on the 30th day of May last (Decorative Day). The Commissioners invited me to a seat in their carriage, and we passed to all these resting places of Confederates, and on arrival at each burying place the Commissioners
alighted and decorated them.
Hereafter it is expected that there will be a general decoration of Confederate graves, as is usual at other places.
The National cemetery.
This adjoins the park, and is on a bluff 120 feet high, immediately on the Tennessee river
It was laid out in 1866, and contains ten and a half acres. There are buried in the cemetery the bodies of 1,239 known and 2,375 unknown Union soldiers.
It is handsomely laid out, and under the superintendence of Mr. John W. Shaw
is kept in admirable order.
There is a very good hotel near the offices of the Commissioners
, and a general store, where almost any article usually found in such places can be had.
Altogether, the park is a most beautiful one, and the work done by the Commissioners
reflects credit on their good judgment and business capacity.