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Chapter 3:

  • Grant and Sherman
  • -- beginning of their friendship -- Grant goes to Nashville -- is relieved from command by Halleck -- Smith placed in charge of expedition up the Tennessee -- Grant supplies Smith from Fort Henry -- Grant reinstated in command -- Removes his headquarters to Savanna -- Buell ordered to reinforce him -- Buell's delay -- skirmishing at Pittsburg Landing -- the battle of Shiloh -- furious attack of the rebels -- the national forces prepared -- Grant arrives on the field -- Sherman's line breaks -- Sherman's skill and personal gallantry -- terrible fighting all over the field -- the national troops everywhere forced back -- Grant's anxiety for Nelson and Lewis Wallace's support -- those commanders repeatedly ordered up, but do not arrive -- capture of Prentiss -- Buell's arrival in person -- his conversation with Grant -- the last attack of the rebels repulsed -- Grant at Sherman's front -- the situation at close of Sunday -- arrival of Buell's army in the night -- also of Lewis Wallace -- attack by Grant on Monday -- the rebels everywhere repulsed -- Grant leads a regiment -- rebels ask permission to bury their dead -- results of the battle of Shiloh -- Reflections.

On the 15th of February, Grant was assigned to the new military district of West Tennessee, with ‘limits not defined,’1 and Brigadier-General William T. Sherman to the command of the District of Cairo. Sherman had been at West Point with Grant, but graduated three years earlier, and they had not since [58] been intimate; their first official intercourse occurred during the siege of Fort Donelson, when Sherman forwarded troops and supplies to Grant with extraordinary dispatch. Sherman was the senior, but, on the 13th of February, he wrote: ‘I will do every thing in my power to hurry forward your reenforcements and supplies; and if I could be of service myself, would gladly come, without making any question of rank with you or General Smith.’ After the fall of Fort Donelson, Sherman congratulated Grant warmly on his success, and Grant replied: ‘I feel under many obligations to you for the kind terms of your letter, and hope that should an opportunity occur, you will earn for yourself that promotion which you are kind enough to say belongs to me. I care nothing for promotion so long as our arms are successful, and no political appointments are made.’

This was the beginning of a friendship destined thereafter never to flag, to stand the test of apparent rivalry and public censure, to remain firm under trials such as few friendships were ever subjected to, to become warmer as often as it was sought to be interrupted, and in hours of extraordinary anxiety and responsibility and care, to afford a solace and a support that were never lacking when the need arose. On the 21st of February, General C. F. Smith, by Grant's direction, took possession of Clarksville, about fifty miles above Fort Donelson, and Grant wrote to Cullum announcing the fact, and proposing the capture of Nashville, but said, ‘I am ready for any move the general commanding may suggest.’ On the 24th, he reported that Smith was at Clarksville, with four small regiments, and added: ‘I do not purpose send. ing more, until I know the pleasure of General Halleck [59] on the subject.’ On the 25th, he said: ‘I wrote you that General Nelson's division (of Buell's army), had been sent to Nashville; since then, I have learned that the head of General Buell's column had arrived, on Monday evening. The rebels have fallen back to Chattanooga, instead of to Murfreesboro, as stated in a former letter. I shall go to Nashville immediately after the arrival of the next mail, should there be no orders to prevent it. I am getting anxious to know what the next move is going to be.’ He went to Nashville, accordingly, on the 27th. His object was to consult with Buell about the disposition of their troops, the jurisdiction of the two commands having become somewhat confused during the recent movements. On the 28th, he wrote: ‘I have just returned from Nashville this morning. My impression is, from all I can learn, the enemy have fallen back to Decatur or Chattanooga. I have informed General Cullum that General Buell ordered General Smith from Clarksville, to join him at Nashville.’ On the 1st of March: ‘I have informed the general commanding the department, generally through his chief of staff, every day since leaving Cairo, of my wants, what information was obtained of the enemy,’ etc. The same dispatch contained a detailed declaration of the needs of the command, for the information of General Halleck. Up to this time, no hint of dissatisfaction had been received by Grant.

The same day Halleck, with his usual caution, wrote: ‘It will be better to retreat than to risk a general battle. Avoid any general engagement with strong forces.’ He then gave detailed instructions to move the whole command from the Cumberland back to the Tennessee, with a view to an expedition [60] up the latter river to Eastport, and even to Corinth, Mississippi.2 Grant received these instructions on the 2d, and on the 4th, the army was in motion for the Tennessee, and he himself was again at Fort Henry. On the 3d of March, without a syllable of previous explanation or intimation to Grant, Halleck sent the following dispatch to the general-in-chief, at Washington. ‘I have had no communication with General Grant for more than a week. He left his command without my authority, and went to Nashville. His army seems to be as much demoralized by the victory of Fort Donelson as was that of the Potomac by the defeat of Bull Run. It is hard to censure a successful general immediately after a victory, but I think he richly deserves it. I can get no returns, no reports, no information of any kind from him. Satisfied with his victory, he sits down and enjoys it, without any regard to the future. I am worn out and tired by this neglect and inefficiency. C. F. Smith is almost the only officer equal to the emergency.’ The next day, having probably received authority from Washington, he telegraphed to Grant: ‘You will place Major-General C. F. Smith in command of expedition, and remain yourself at Fort Henry. Why do you not obey my orders to report strength and position of your command?’

Grant replied on the 5th: ‘Your dispatch of yesterday is just received. Troops will be sent under command of Major-General Smith, as directed. I had prepared a different plan, intending General Smith to command the forces which should go to Paris and Humboldt, while I would command the [61] expedition upon Eastport, Corinth, and Jackson, in person. . . I am not aware of ever having disobeyed any order from your headquarters—certainly never intended such a thing. I have reported almost daily the condition of my command, and reported every position occupied. . . In conclusion, I will say that you may rely on my carrying out your instructions in every particular to the best of my ability.’

On the 6th, Halleck telegraphed to Grant: ‘General McClellan directs that you report to me daily the number and position of the forces under your command. Your neglect of repeated orders to report the strength of your command, has created great dissatisfaction, and seriously interfered with military plans. Your going to Nashville without authority, and when your presence with your troops was of the utmost importance, was a matter of very serious complaint at Washington, so much so that I was advised to arrest you on your return.’

On the 6th, Grant again, telegraphed:

Your dispatch of yesterday just received. I did all I could to get you returns of the strength of my command. Every move I made was reported daily to your chief of staff, who must have failed to keep you properly posted. I have done my very best to obey orders, and to carry out the interests of the service. If my course is not satisfactory, remove me at once. I do not wish in any way to impede the success of our arms. I have averaged writing more than once a day since leaving Cairo, to keep you informed of my position, and it is no fault of mine if you have not received my letters. My going to Nashville was strictly intended for the good of the service, and not to gratify any desire of my own. [62]

Believing sincerely that I must have enemies between you and myself, who are trying to impair my usefulness, I respectfully ask to be relieved from further duty in the department.

After another rebuke from Halleck, of exactly the same tenor, Grant replied, on the 9th: ‘You had a better chance of knowing my strength, whilst my command was surrounding Fort Donelson, than I had. Troops were reporting daily by your order, and were immediately assigned to brigades. There were no orders received from you till the 28th of February, to make out returns; and I made every effort to get them in as early as possible. I renew my application to be relieved from duty.’ On the 11th, Grant wrote again to Halleck: ‘There is such a disposition to find fault with me, that I again ask to be relieved from further duty, until I can be placed right in the estimation of those higher in authority.’ Other censures were administered for alleged marauding allowed by Grant, in answer to which he said: ‘I refer you to my orders to suppress marauding, as the only reply necessary.’ He had arrested officers for violation of these orders, and sent them to St. Louis to report to Halleck, more than a week previous.

On the 13th, Halleck replied: ‘You cannot be relieved from your command. There is no good reason for it. I am certain that all which the authorities at Washington ask, is that you enforce discipline, and punish the disorderly. . . . . Instead of relieving you, I wish you, as soon as your new army is in the field, to assume the immediate command, and lead it on to new victories.’ Grant replied on the next day: ‘After your letter, enclosing copy of an anonymous letter, upon which severe censure was based, I felt as [63] though it would be impossible for me to serve longer without a court of inquiry. Your telegram, of yesterday, however, places such a different phase upon my position, that I will again assume command, and give every effort to the success of our cause. Under the worst circumstances, I would do the same.’ A few days later, Halleck transmitted to Grant copies of the following correspondence:

Headquarters of the army, Adjutant-General's office, Washington, March 10, 1862.
Major-General H. W. Halleck, U. S. A., Commanding Department of the Mississippi, St. Louis:
It has been reported, that soon after the battle of Fort Donelson, Brigadier-General Grant left his command without leave. By direction of the President, the Secretary of War directs you to ascertain, and report, whether General Grant left his command at any time without proper authority, and if so, for how long; whether he has made to you proper reports and returns of his forces; whether he has committed any acts which were unauthorized, or not in accordance with military subordination or propriety, and if so, what.

L. Thomas, Adjutant-General.

headquarters, Department of the Mississippi, St. Louis, March 15, 1862.
Brigadier-General L. Thomas, Adjutant-General of the Army, Washington:
In accordance with your instructions of the 10th instant, I report that General Grant and several officers of high rank in his command, immediately after the battle of Fort Donelson, went to Nashville, without my authority or knowledge. I am satisfied, however, from investigation, that General Grant did [64] this from good intentions, and from a desire to sub-serve the public interests. Not being advised of General Buell's movements, and learning that General Buell had ordered Smith's division of his (Grant's) command to Nashville, he deemed it his duty to go there in person. During the absence of General Grant, and a part of his general officers, numerous irregularities are said to have occurred at Fort Donelson. These were in violation of the orders issued by General Grant before leaving, and probably under the circumstances, were unavoidable. General Grant has made the proper explanations, and has been directed to resume his command in the field; as he acted from a praiseworthy although mistaken zeal for the public service in going to Nashville, and leaving his command, I respectfully recommend that no further notice be taken of it. There never has been any want of military subordination on the part of General Grant, and his failure to make returns of his forces has been explained as resulting partly from the failure of colonels of regiments to report to him on their arrival, and partly from an interruption of telegraphic communication. All these irregularities have now been remedied.

H. W. Halleck, Major-General.

General Halleck, however, neglected to furnish General Grant with a copy of the telegram of March 3d to Washington, and Grant replied to Halleck, on the 24th of March: ‘I most fully appreciate your justness, General, in the part you have taken, and you may rely upon me to the utmost of my capacity for carrying out all your orders.’ In the same letter he remarked: ‘I do not feel that I have neglected a [65] single duty;’ and on the 31st of the month, Halleck informed him: ‘General McClellan directed me to place General Smith in command of the expedition, until you were ordered to join it.’3

It will be remembered that the limits of Grant's command had never been defined, and it was thus for overstepping the unknown boundaries of his district, while in the legitimate discharge of his duties, that on Halleck's report, the general-in-chief advised that officer to place Grant in arrest. Smith took command of the expedition, and while the captor of Donelson remained in disgrace at Fort Henry, the troops were pushed forward as far as Eastport on the Tennessee. Grant, however, made every effort to secure the success of the expedition, and on turning over the command to Smith, congratulated him on his ‘richly deserved promotion:’ ‘No one’ he said, ‘can feel more pleasure than myself.’ On the 9th of March, he wrote: ‘Any thing you may require, send back transports for, and if within my power you shall have it.’ On the 11th, referring to reenforcements that were daily expected: ‘General Halleck telegraphs me. . . when they arrive, I may take the general direction. I think it exceedingly doubtful whether I shall accept; certainly not until the object of the expedition is accomplished.’ Smith replied: ‘I wrote you yesterday, to say how glad I was to find, from your letter of the 11th, that you were to resume your old command, from which you were so unceremoniously, [66] and, as I think, so unjustly stricken down.’4

Halleck, meanwhile, continued his cautions to Grant. On the 13th, he telegraphed: ‘Don't bring on any general engagement at Paris. If the enemy appear in force, our troops must fall back.’ And on the 16th: ‘As the enemy is evidently in strong force, my instructions not to advance, so as to bring on a general engagement, must be strictly obeyed. General Smith must hold his position without exposing himself by detachments, till we can strongly reinforce him.’ The operations, however, were without result, and Smith returned to Pittsburg Landing, on the western bank of the Tennessee. It had been expected, that after cutting the railroad near Eastport or Corinth, he would establish himself at Savanna, a point about nine miles lower down than Pittsburg Landing, and on the opposite side of the river; he, however, selected the spot where the battle of Shiloh afterwards occurred.

The object of the concentration of troops at these places, was to secure positions which would command the navigation of the Tennessee, and, at the same time, form bases for operations in northern Alabama and Mississippi; Corinth, especially, where the two [67] great railroads meet, that traverse the South, and connect the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi with the eastern part of the region then in rebellion, was a position of the first strategic importance, sure to be obstinately defended by the rebels, and the objective point of any operations of the national commanders. It was the key to the whole railroad system of communication between the great states of Tennessee and Mississippi, and, consequently, to the possession of Tennessee itself, covering Memphis and the Mississippi river from the national armies. Pittsburg Landing is nineteen miles from Corinth.

The Tennessee, at this time, flooded all its shores, except the two or three bluffs where landings had been established (Savanna, Hamburg, Crump's, and Pittsburg), so that no foothold could be obtained at any point on the river near Corinth, except at these localities. The obvious advantage which the west bank of the river presented was, that a rapid movement could at any time be made from this base, without the need of pontoons or transports for crossing the troops; of course, the same situation was proportionately exposed to attack, but Smith was a good soldier, and his selection of the site of Pittsburg Landing, has been approved, under the light of all succeeding circumstances, by both Grant and Sherman.

On the 13th of March, Grant was relieved from his disgrace; and on the 17th, he removed his headquarters to Savanna, and wrote to Sherman from that place: ‘I have just arrived, and although sick for the last two weeks, begin to feel better at the thought of being again with the troops.’ The attention of the rebels in this part of the country had now become [68] concentrated upon Grant's forces, which threatened to obtain possession of the entire Southwest, unless speedily opposed. Troops in great numbers were accordingly hurried to Corinth, and the enemy was evidently preparing in his turn to assume the offensive. To counteract this, General Buell's command, was included in that of Halleck, and Buell himself, with five divisions, numbering nearly forty thousand men, was ordered from Nashville, to the support of Grant. And there was imminent need of such support.

The movements of Buell, however, were seldom expeditious. As early as the 16th of March, Halleck had informed Grant: ‘General Buell is marching in this direction;’ and on the 20th, ‘Buell is at Columbia, and will move on Waynesboro with three divisions.’ On the 19th, Grant wrote to Buell: ‘There is every reason to suppose that the rebels have a large force at Corinth, and many at other points on the road towards Decatur.’ On the 26th, he informed Halleck: ‘My scouts are just in with a letter from General Buell. The three divisions coming this way are yet on east side of Duck river, detained bridge-building.’ On the 27th: ‘I have no news yet of any portion of General Buell's command being this side of Columbia.’ On the 31st: ‘Two soldiers from the head of McCook's command (of Buell's army), came in this evening. Some of this command crossed Duck river on the 29th, and established guards eight miles out that night.’ On the same day (the 31st), he sent word to McCook: ‘I have been looking for your column anxiously for several days.’ On the 3d of April, he was finally able to inform Halleck that ‘a dispatch from the [69] telegraphic operator is just in. He states that General Nelson’ (commanding Buell's foremost division), ‘is in sight. The advance will arrive probably on Saturday’ (April 5th). The distance Buell had to march from Columbia, was ninety miles; it took him from the 19th of March to the 6th of April, seventeen days; he was delayed, bridge-building, and by bad roads, and he had no knowledge that Grant was in. any extraordinary danger, or had any immediate intention of attacking the enemy. His usual deliberation was not more liable to criticism at this crisis, than upon all other occasions.

When Grant reassumed immediate command, the rebels were in force at Corinth, their strength variously estimated, sometimes as high as a hundred thousand men; this, however, was an exaggeration. Grant's army consisted of five divisions, under Major-Generals McClernand and C. F. Smith, and Brigadier-Generals Lewis Wallace, Sherman, and Hurlbut. The last two were at Pittsburg Landing, and Lewis Wallace at Crump's Landing, on the left bank of the river, about five miles below; while McClernand and Smith, with about half of the entire command, were in camp at Savanna, or on transports near that landing. The Tennessee river thus separated the two portions of the army. Within an hour after his arrival, Grant issued orders for the concentration of the whole force, sending Smith and McClernand's divisions as fast as boats could carry them, up to Pittsburg. Lewis Wallace was considered to be within supporting distance, at Crump's Landing, on the same side of the river as the bulk of the command, and he was therefore left to guard the Purdy road. McClernand was detained a day or two, by [70] lack of transportation, and Grant himself remained at Savanna, to superintend the organization of troops constantly arriving from Missouri, and because from there he could communicate more readily with Buell, whose deliberate movements had not yet brought him within supporting distance of the Army of the Tennessee. But although his headquarters were thus retained at Savanna, Grant visited the forces at Pittsburg Landing daily.

Brigadier-General Prentiss was ordered to report to Grant at this time, and another division was organized for him, out of the new troops constantly arriving. Six regiments were thus assigned, and sent at once to join the main army, at Pittsburg. But a question of rank was raised at the front, by McClernand, who claimed command in the absence of Grant. The latter was unwilling to trust McClernand with this responsibility; and as the relative rank of the division generals was unsettled, he determined to move his own headquarters to Pittsburg, and obviate the difficulty by assuming command in person.5 He had made his arrangements to this effect, when a message was brought him from Buell, dated the 4th of April, requesting Grant to remain at Savanna, on the 5th, as he would arrive there on that day. ‘I shall be in Savanna myself to-morrow, with perhaps two divisions,’ said Buell; ‘can I meet you there?’ [71] Grant replied on the 5th: ‘Your dispatch just received. I will be here to meet you to-morrow. The enemy, at and near Corinth, are probably from sixty to eighty thousand.’ Buell, however, did not arrive till the 6th, or if otherwise, did not make it known to his superior, and Grant remained to meet him.6

Halleck's instructions to Grant had continued very positive, not to bring on a general engagement until Buell should arrive; and several expeditions, some suggested by Halleck, and others by Grant, were countermanded or forbidden by the former, lest a battle should be provoked. In accordance with these directions, Grant remained strictly on the defensive, although he did not concur with the views of his superior. On the 23d of March, he wrote to Smith: ‘Carry out your idea of occupying, and particularly, fortifying, Pea Ridge. I do not hear one word from St. Louis. I am clearly of the opinion that the enemy are gathering strength at Corinth, quite as rapidly as we are here, and, the sooner we attack, the easier will be the task of taking the place. If Ruggles is in command, it would assuredly be a good time to attack.’

There was skirmishing daily after the 2d of April, and on the 4th, 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, to Sherman's lines, and concurred with him in this judgment. They were both mistaken, for the skirmish was the reconnaissance [72] of the enemy, preliminary to the battle of Shiloh. This affair, however, awoke attention, and put both officers and men on the alert.7 As Grant was riding back from the front to Pittsburg Landing, after dark on the 4th, the night being rainy, his horse slipped in crossing a log, and fell on his rider, who received in consequence a severe contusion. This lamed him for over a week, and also occasioned him acute pain for several days.8

The same day, Lewis Wallace reported eight regiments of rebel infantry, and twelve hundred cavalry at Purdy, and an equal if not larger force at Bethel, four miles further from the river. Grant, accordingly, notified W. H. L. Wallace (in command of Smith's division), to hold himself in readiness to move his entire command to the support of Lewis Wallace. ‘Should you find danger of this sort, reinforce him at once with your entire division.’ To Sherman he wrote: ‘Information, just received, would indicate that the enemy are sending a force to Purdy, and, it may be, with a view to attack General Wallace at Crump's Landing. I have directed W. H. L. Wallace, commanding Second division temporarily, to reenforce General L. Wallace, in case of an attack, with his entire division, although I look for nothing of the kind; but it is best to be prepared. I should advise, therefore, that you advise your advance guards to keep a sharp lookout for any movement in that direction, and, should such a thing be attempted, give all the support of your division, and General Hurlbut's, [73] if necessary. I will return to Pittsburg Landing at an early hour to-morrow, and ride out to your camp.’

On Saturday, April 5th, the enemy's cavalry was again very bold, coming well down to Sherman's front. This day, the head of Nelson's column arrived at Savanna, and Nelson himself reported to Grant, who in person directed him to march his command to a position south of Savanna, and about live miles from the point opposite Pittsburg Landing; there, he was to hold himself in readiness to reinforce the army on the left bank, in case of need. The order was obeyed, and Grant having made all his preparations for removing his headquarters to Pittsburg on the morrow, remained to meet Buell, as that officer had desired.

The battle-field of Shiloh is a thickly-wooded and broken country, interspersed with patches of cultivation, and reaching back from the bluffs at Pittsburg Landing, from two and a half to three miles. Snake creek on the north, and Lick creek on the south, run almost at right angles with the Tennessee, and empty into it about three miles apart. These were the right and left defences of the national line, and between them the battle was fought. Owl creek, a small stream running north, and nearly parallel with the Tennessee, empties into Snake creek, about three miles from the river, and covered part of the right front of the national army. All these streams were flooded. The line faced mainly to the south and southwest; and the enemy, coming from Corinth, was thus compelled to attack almost wholly in front. Sherman was posted on the right, in advance of the rest of the army, and near a log chapel, known as Shiloh meeting-house; [74] his division lay directly across the main Corinth road, but his right was refused, resting on Owl creek and covering the Purdy road. This posi tion became the key-point of the fight, and from Shiloh church the battle took its name. The main effort of the enemy for many hours was to get around this flank, and thus to the rear of Grant's army. On Sherman's left, but somewhat retired, was McClernand's command, his right overlapping Sherman; then came Prentiss, more in advance again, and on the extreme left was Stuart, commanding a detached brigade of Sherman's division, and covering the crossing of Lick creek. Hurlbut was massed and in reserve, to the rear and left of Prentiss. There was a short interval between Prentiss and Stuart, which, however, Hurlbut completely covered. C. F. Smith was ill of a sickness from which he never recovered, and his division was at this time commanded by W. H. L. Wallace; its place was in rear, and to the right of Sherman, supporting the right wing of the army.

Each of the divisions in the front line was posted so as to cover the junction of important roads, leading on the left to Hamburg, on the right to Crump's Landing, and those in front to Corinth and Purdy. To the right and rear of Sherman, the Crump's Landing road crosses Snake creek, and here a military bridge had recently been built, principally by Lewis Wallace's troops, by which communication was maintained with Wallace's command, five miles off. Wallace was near Crump's Landing, but his troops were stretched out on the Purdy road, so as to be ready to move either to Pittsburg or Purdy, as circumstances might require. There were no intrenchments, for the Western troops had not yet learned the lesson of de. [75] fence which they afterwards applied so well. The north bank of Lick creek, however, is extremely steep and rugged, and formed a natural cover to the extreme left, while nearly a mile inside of the creek, the landing was again protected by a deep and precipitous ravine.

At daybreak, on the morning of the 6th of April, General Albert Sidney Johnston, in command of the rebel forces, having marched from Corinth three days before, attacked the lines at Shiloh. Grant and his staff were breakfasting early, and their horses were saddled, preparatory to riding out in search of Buell; the heavy firing was heard, of course, for Pittsburg Landing is only nine miles from Savanna, by the river, and not more than six, in a direct line. An order was instantly dispatched to General Nelson,9 to move his entire command to the river bank, opposite Pittsburg; and Grant went aboard a transport at seven o'clock, and started in person for the front, first sending a note to Buell in these words: ‘Heavy firing is heard up the river, indicating plainly that an attack has been made upon our most advanced posi. tions. I have been looking for this, but did not believe the attack could be made before Monday or Tuesday. This necessitates my joining the forces up the river, instead of meeting you to-day, as I had contemplated. I have directed General Nelson to move to the river with his division. He can march to opposite Pittsburg.’ On his way up the river, [76] Grant stopped at Crump's Landing, to see Lewis Wallace, and notified him in person of the undoubted fact, which had not yet been officially reported, that a general engagement had begun, and that Wallace must hold himself in readiness to march to the support of the main army at Pittsburg, or if the attack there should prove a feint, to defend himself against a probable movement upon him, from the direction of Purdy, his situation being isolated, and somewhat exposed. Wallace replied that he would be in readiness for any orders which he might receive. This interview took place on the transport. Grant then hurried on to the landing at Pittsburg, arriving there at about eight o'clock. He rode at once to the front.

The rebel onset had begun in force, and with tremendous vigor. Prentiss was first attacked, and then Sherman; but Prentiss having been warned, had doubled his grand guards the night before, and pushed out his pickets a mile and a half; he formed his division in advance of its camps, and there it received the first assault.10 Sherman, too, having been skirmishing since the 4th, was promptly under arms; and the other division commanders, admonished by the movements of the last few days, had their horses saddled, and were breakfasting early to be ready in case of an attack.11 They at once put their commands [77] into line. The entire national force on the ground at the time of the assault, was thirty-three thousand effective men. Lewis Wallace had about five thousand more, at Crump's landing, making Grant's whole force between fifty and sixty-regiments. Grant estimated the enemy's strength at sixty-five thousand men, or one hundred and sixty-two regiments and battalions. Beauregard afterwards reported it at forty thousand, three hundred and fifty-five.12 The troops, though so furiously at. tacked, as yet held their original ground. Word was instantly sent to Nelson and Lewis Wallace, of the state of affairs, and imperative orders given them to advance at once, and with all speed. To Nelson, the order was in writing: ‘You will hurry up your command as fast as possible. The boats will be in readiness to transport all troops of your command across the river. All looks well, but it is necessary for you to push forward as fast as possible.’ A staff officer was dispatched to General Wallace, with verbal directions for him to march by the nearest road parallel to the river.

The engagement soon spread along the whole line, from Sherman's right to the brigade of Stuart on the extreme left. Prentiss's division being raw, was driven at once from its first position, but took a new line inside its camps. Sherman's troops were also new, and soon gave way; but McClernand promptly moved up a portion of his division to support Sherman's wavering left. Hurlbut, too, was marched forward to the support of Prentiss; and W. [78] H. L. Wallace was taken out of position in the real of Sherman, and moved to the support of the centre and left of the line, where the assault was most determined. Lewis Wallace was directed to come up and connect with Sherman's right, but never came; and after several hours of as desperate fighting as was ever seen on the American continent, the national troops were slowly pushed back from point to point, the distance of one entire mile. Early in the battle, part of Sherman's left brigade broke entirely, and fled to the rear, in great confusion; but the rest of his command stood firm; and he swung what was now his left, around to the rear, moving on his right as a pivot, so that his new line stood almost at right angles with its original direction; and; as the remainder of the whole line was forced back, Sherman connected with McClernand on the left, leaving his own right far advanced, beyond any other portion of the national front. The enemy was never able to get around this flank, but it was eventually withdrawn; still maintaining, however, its relative position to other parts of the command, and always covering the important crossing of Snake creek bridge.

The men who behaved badly were on Sherman's left and Prentiss's right; most of them were entirely raw, and not a few came on the field without cartridges. Prentiss's division had only been organized since the 26th of March, eleven days; and none of it had ever been in battle before. It was Sherman and Prentiss's divisions which were most advanced, and their breaking so easily, gave the enemy a confidence early in the day, which inspired him for afterefforts. Some of the regimental commanders were cowards; and one colonel marched his regiment deliberately [79] off the field; but, in other instances, gallant officers were unable to re-form their yielding battalions. These created a panic, which extended to as many as six thousand or eight thousand men, who fled, not retreated, to the landing, a distance of between two and three miles. Sherman's efforts to restrain them were unceasing but unavailing; he was repeatedly wounded, yet remained at the front. His exertions, however, were not confined to exhibitions of gallantry; his eminent qualities as a general, were never more conspicuous than in this battle. He, in reality, commanded McClernand's division, as well as his own; for McClernand, who possessed both energy and courage, was a novice at soldiering, and with great good sense, sought and followed the advice of the man who was his junior in rank, but his superior in all military knowledge and experience; and Sherman, without stopping for any considerations of jealousy or pique, advised McClernand constantly and efficiently.

At ten A. M., when the battle was raging fiercest, Grant was at Sherman's front, and commended him for so stubbornly opposing the enemy. When Sherman asked for cartridges, Grant replied that he had anticipated this want, and given orders accordingly. It was well that this precaution had been taken so soon; for everywhere on the line, the cartridges gave out early in this furious fight, and amid the confusion and heat of battle, the division generals could organize no means of supplying their commands; but all day long, a train of wagons was passing from the landing to the front, carrying ammunition over the narrow and crowded road.13 [80]

At intervals all day, Grant was engaged in sending deserters back to their commands, and in forming new lines out of those who had straggled too far to rejoin their own regiments. This furnished a species of reinforcement badly enough needed at the front: the only use made of cavalry during the battle was in urging stragglers back into the fight. Grant was on every part of the field in person, constantly under fire, and making unwearied exertions to maintain his position, until Nelson and Lewis Wallace should get up, but the national forces were slowly losing ground each hour. In no place, had the line been pierced, but in no place, had its original position of the morning been retained. The rebels were stunned and retarded, here and there, and the battle raged zigzag for a while, parts of the line being held with more tenacity than others, brigades here, giving way, and there, holding the enemy's advance. Still, if only Nelson and Lewis Wallace would come up, the day might even yet be saved. Messengers were again sent to these delinquent commanders, but although Nelson had been ordered to march at seven in the morning, he did not start till half-past 1, P. M.,14 while the sound of the enemy's cannon was constant in his ears; a reason for this delay has never been assigned. Lewis Wallace, one of Grant's own division commanders, was equally remiss; but he, who had been a month on the ground, excused himself by stating that he had taken the wrong road, marching towards Purdy instead of to Pittsburg; yet, his troops had helped build the bridge over Snake creek, for [81] just such emergencies as had now occurred. He was, however, set right by Captain (afterwards Lieutenant-Colonel) Rowley and Colonel (afterwards Major-General) McPherson, both at the time on General Grant's staff; they put him in the right direction at one o'clock, and it took him till seven that night, to march five miles in the direction of battle, though the cannonading was heard at Nashville, a hundred miles away.15

During the morning, Grant sent the following order to General Wood, another of Buell's division commanders, who, he learned, had arrived at Savanna: ‘You will move your command with the utmost dispatch to the river at this point, where steamboats will be in readiness to transport you to Pittsburg;’ and still later, another dispatch was sent: ‘Commanding officer, advance forces, Buell's army, near Pittsburg: The attack on my forces has been very spirited from early this morning. The appearance of fresh troops in the field now, would have a powerful effect, both by inspiring our men and disheartening the enemy. If you will get upon the field, leaving all your baggage on the east bank of the river, it will be more to our advantage, and possibly save the day to us. The rebel forces are estimated at over one hundred thousand men. My headquarters will be in the log building on the top of the hill, [82] where you will be furnished a staff officer to guide you to your place on the field.’

Midway in the afternoon, General Buell arrived in person. He had reached Savanna with another division, and finding Grant had left, and a violent battle was raging, came on at once to the front, in advance of his troops. Buell was the junior of Grant, but had hitherto enjoyed a more important command; his directions did not make him subordinate to Grant, except in the actual presence of the enemy. He probably felt somewhat chagrined at being obliged to receive orders from one whom he had previously regarded as an inferior; his manner was cold and formal, but he spared no exertions to carry out Grant's directions, and displayed commendable alacrity and earnestness for success. All around the Landing, lay the cravens who had swarmed in from the front, as many do in nearly every battle; these, however, were not stragglers nor laggards, but the panic-stricken mob, who had fled from that danger which so many of their fellows seemed to court. As the two generals were conversing at the Landing, Grant explained the situation of affairs, then apparently at the worst; and Buell inquired: ‘What preparations have you made for retreating, General?’ His remark may not have been concluded, for Grant interrupted him at once, exclaiming: ‘I haven't de-spaired of whipping them yet.’ Buell, perhaps, was no more despondent than Grant, but, at that moment, his own forces were a long way off, and his mind naturally turned to considerations of a defensive sort, while Grant's characteristic mode of defence was the offensive. Buell then busied himself with hurrying up his own army. [83]

Hurlbut's command, on the left, was repeatedly compelled to fall back, but raked the rebels well, each time when they charged. On Hurlbut's right, W. H. L. Wallace made a gallant stand, repelling four separate assaults, but was finally forced to give ground. These two divisions, for a while, stood between the whole army and destruction. All portions of the line were not constantly engaged, but there was no time, from seven in the morning until dark, without heavy firing in some quarters of the field. The fierceness of the fight knew little variety; no splendid tactical science was displayed, but a grim determination on each side to stand up to the last; the rebels steadily driving in the national front, till, by four or five o'clock, the left was within half a mile of the Landing. But only in one instance, was the line really pierced during all the eventful day. Hurlbut and W. H. L. Wallace, being forced to give way, connected on their outer flanks with the other portions of the command; but Prentiss, whose division lay between theirs, was more stubborn, and, although the line had retreated on each side of him, refused to yield his ground. His obstinacy was not good generalship, for he was thus left exposed, his two flanks in the air; and the enemy quickly seeing this, surrounded him; he was taken prisoner himself, along with four regiments. The men had behaved excellently all day, and their misfortune reflects no discredit on their gallantry. This happened at about four o'clock in the afternoon.

A little later, a desperate attack was made on the national left, now crowded back to cover the Landing; the enemy had carried point after point, and ridge after ridge, had reached the river and crossed Lick [84] creek, and the ravine formed the last defence; but, driven to bay, the national troops here offered a superb resistance, and though the enemy flung his lines again and again upon the barrier, again and again they broke, like the sea when it strikes the shore. Had the national soldiers given way now, all would have been lost; but, with their backs to the river, and no cover but the gunboats, discouraged doubtless with the ill success of the day, but grim and resolute still, they made here an unconquerable stand. The rebels, flushed with their triumph, and maddened at the sight of their expected prey, at times almost leaped the ravine, but their fury was all in vain; the assault was finally repulsed, and the disappointed column withdrew, shattered and torn, from the fruitless struggle, like a wounded tiger, whose last fierce onslaught has failed.

A battery of artillery, well posted by Colonel Webster, of Grant's staff, did good service at this juncture, and the gunboats also were of importance, as they had been for some time previous, in checking the advance of the enemy on the extreme left. Both sides were now crippled and both fatigued, the extraordinary efforts of the day telling hard on either army. The rebel commander had fallen, and been succeeded by Beauregard; W. H. L. Wallace had been mortally wounded, on the national side; Sherman was slightly wounded; Grant had been struck, but not hurt, and at least ten thousand men in each army were either killed or wounded. It was nearly five o'clock, when the head of Nelson's column crossed the river; but, after once starting his troops, this commander was prompt in marching them, and the men themselves were eager to get into battle and assist [85] their hard-pushed comrades. Two of Nelson's regiments were put in position by Grant, on the extreme left; and as a final spasmodic attack was made by the rebels, these regiments fired two or three volleys, and lost three men, but it was too late then to affect the fortunes of the day. The exhaustion consequent upon their earlier efforts told upon the rebels, as well as upon the national troops, and no heavy fighting occurred after the arrival of Buell's advance.16

When it was apparent that the battle was waning, Grant was at Sherman's front, and gave orders to renew the attack on the morrow. He considered that the strength of the enemy was nearly spent, and, with his usual tactics, determined in consequence to be the first to assault. I have often heard him declare, that there comes a time, in every hard-fought battle, when both armies are nearly or quite exhausted, and it seems impossible for either to do more; this he believed the turning-point; whichever after first renews the fight, is sure to win. He could not urge his jaded troops that night into any further assault, but his resolution was unshaken, and although Buell's advance was not yet across the river, he gave positive orders to take the initiative in the morning. To Sherman, he told the story of the Donelson battle; how, at a certain period, he saw that either side was ready to give way, if the other showed a bold front; and he determined, in consequence, to do that very thing—to advance at once on the enemy; when, as he had foreseen, the enemy surrendered. At four P. M., on the 6th of April, he thought the appearances the same.17 [86]

When night closed in, Grant's line was in part perpendicular to the river; his left protected by the ravine at the Landing, and his right covering Snake creek bridge, by which it was still hoped that Lewis Wallace might arrive. All the camps originally occupied by the national troops were in the hands of the enemy, but the rebel advance had been checked at every point. The division organization was, however, greatly broken up. Sherman had lost thousands by desertion and straggling; Prentiss had been captured, with twenty-two hundred men; while W. H. L. Wallace's command was nearly destroyed, by casualties and the loss of its chief. The line, as constituted on Sunday night, was simply a mass of brave men, determined to hold their own against the enemy; those who fought, fought wherever they found a commander. The rebel line was equally confused,18 the battle having become one where brilliant manoeuvres were impossible. It was the personal qualities of officers and men on both sides that told, for soldierly traits are of more importance than tactical skill, even in commanding officers, when ten thousand men on a side are straggling.

In the night, the whole of Nelson's column, and nearly all of McCook and Crittenden's divisions, of Buell's army, were ferried across the river, and put in position on the left of the line, relieving the shattered battalions that had borne the brunt of Sunday; this was a reinforcement of at least twenty thousand [87] troops; they were commanded next day by Buell, who received his orders from General Grant. All night long, the gunboats dropped shells inside the rebel lines, and the woods caught fire; no attempt could be made to care for the wounded, who lay on the blazing battle-field, a mile away, and in possession of the enemy; only a merciful storm of rain allayed the anguish of those whom no human help could reach, and relieved them from the danger of being burned alive. The troops slept on their arms, beneath the tempest, but the labor of re-forming some commands, and posting those newly arrived, continued all night. Grant visited each division commander, including Nelson, after dark, directing the new position of each, and repeating in person his orders for an advance at early dawn. He told each to ‘attack with a heavy skirmish line, as soon as it was light enough to see, and then to follow up with his entire command, leaving no reserves.’ Before midnight, he returned to the Landing, and lay on the ground, with his head against the stump of a tree, where he got thoroughly drenched by the storm, but slept soundly, confident of victory on the morrow.

The violent rain rendered the ground extremely unfavorable for the movements of Monday, but early on the morning of the 7th, the attack was made by Grant, along his entire front, now newly composed. W. H. L. Wallace and Prentiss's divisions, having been so much broken up by the events of Sunday, what was left of them was divided among the other commanders of the Army of the Tennessee. Lewis Wallace, too, was put in line on the second day, on the extreme right, where he should have been, eighteen hours before. Sherman, McClernand, and Hurl [88] but were posted next, from right to left; and McCook, Crittenden, and Nelson's divisions of Buell's army, in the same order, had the left of the new national line.

The battle began on Grant's left and centre, Nelson first striking the enemy, and the great accession to the national strength told at once. The rebels had not known of Buell's arrival,19 but nevertheless had not ventured to attack; Beauregard could bring only twenty thousand men into action on Monday,20 and these became disheartened at the discovery of the national reenforcements; they were fatigued, too, with the tremendous exertions of the day before. Still they fought well; the odds were turned, but they displayed nearly the same desperate obstinacy which had been so marked a trait of many of the national troops of yesterday. Ground was lost and won several times, and the rebel and national dead lay side by side; but the enemy was pushed steadily back, till every inch that had been lost on Sunday [89] was regained. Lewis Wallace's men fought well, on the extreme right, relieving themselves from any responsibility for the laggard movements of the preceding day. Sherman renewed the fight for Shiloh church, where Beauregard had slept on Sunday night, and the camps and trophies won from the national troops, were all reclaimed. Buell was constantly and conspicuously engaged, and handled his troops with great ability, as he always did in the presence of the enemy; his forces behaved in every way worthy of their great reputation as disciplined soldiers. There was but little straggling anywhere on Monday. Still, with the exception of one or two severe struggles, the fighting of April 7th was light, when compared with that of Sunday.

As the day wore on, the national victory became more decisive; the enemy was repulsed more vigorously, and his retreat became less orderly, although it was not at any time converted into a rout. By two o'clock, however, the repulse was general, and before night, Beauregard had withdrawn nearly five miles beyond the front which Grant had maintained previous to the battle of Sunday.21

Near the close of the day, Grant met the First Ohio regiment marching towards the northern part of the field, and immediately in front of a position which it was important to take at that particular juncture; another regiment to the left was fighting hard, but about to yield—had, in fact, given way. Grant saw [90] the emergency, and instantly halted the passing force on the brow of a hill, the enemy lying in a wood at its base; he changed the direction of the First Ohio, and himself ordered it to charge, in support of the yielding battalion. The men recognized their leader, and obeyed with enthusiasm, and Grant rode along with them in the line of battle, as much exposed as any private in the ranks. The retreating troops on the left took courage at this sight; they stopped their backward movement, closed up their wavering ranks with cheers, and the two regiments swept the enemy at once from the coveted spot, thus capturing one of the last important positions in the battle of Shiloh.

Grant rode along in the piece of woods, towards the left, where he met Generals McCook and Crittenden. The day was far spent, the rebels effectually repulsed, and still retreating. Grant was anxious to press their broken legions further, and so told the two division commanders of Buell's army. But those officers at once protested. It must be their forces which should pursue, for the men who had been disorganized so greatly, as Sunday's fight would have disorganized the finest soldiers, were in no condition to follow, even in the elation of victory. But McCook and Crittenden declared that their troops, also, were exhausted; they had marched, if they had not fought, the day before, and the two generals assured their commander that the weariness of his reenforcements allowed no pursuit. A heavy rain was falling; it was difficult to follow in the darkness and wet, and the army, fatigued with its exertions, went into camp. Two brigades of Wood's division, of the Army of the Ohio, which had just arrived, and a portion of Sherman's [91] command, were sent out to ascertain the direction of Beauregard's retreat, which did not cease till the rebels got back to Corinth; but the pursuit was short and desultory, and the weary hosts, that had been engaged in battle more than twenty hours, rested from their labors. The national army encamped on substantially the same ground it had occupied before the fight.

The rebels, in this encounter, had intended to overwhelm Grant before the arrival of Buell's reenforcements , and their calculations were well made. Only the tremendous obstinacy and determination with which they were opposed on that first terrible day, frustrated their hopes. As it was, they gained nothing but defeat for their enterprise. They wasted thousands of lives, and gave the prestige of victory to their opponents, retreating to Corinth along the same roads they had marched out on, not one week before, and leaving their dead to be buried by their enemy. Beauregard made application to Grant, on the 8th, for permission to bury his own dead, but Grant had already performed that duty for his fallen foes.22

Grant's loss, including that in Buell's army, was twelve thousand two hundred and seventeen; of these seventeen hundred were killed, seven thousand four hundred and ninety-five wounded, and three thousand and twenty-two missing.23 Two thousand one hundred and sixty-seven of the losses were in the Army of the Ohio. Beauregard reported a total loss of ten [92] thousand six hundred and ninety-nine:24 seventeen hundred and twenty-eight killed, eight thousand and twelve wounded, and nine hundred and fifty-seven missing.

Grant had not anticipated the attack of the rebels on Sunday; on the contrary, he had fully intended to move against them, as soon as Buell should appear; for although Halleck had cautioned him repeatedly against bringing on a general engagement until he was strong enough to beat the enemy, he had also told Grant to go on and ‘win new victories,’ when reenforcements should arrive. On this Grant meant to act, and so informed his subordinates. The delay of Buell, although not absolutely inexcusable, was undoubtedly greater than any necessity existed for. A dozen commanders in the national army would have built bridges, and moved their force with double the rapidity and energy that Buell displayed, especially with troops who knew so well how to march, and were so eager to get into battle, as the Army of the Ohio. But Buell, in his whole career, never got rid of his excessive deliberation. His ordinary characteristics are sufficient explanation of his tardiness in this instance, without attributing it to any unwillingness to serve under one who had hitherto been his junior.

There can be no doubt, however, of the immense advantage that Buell's arrival, when it did occur, afforded to Grant; no doubt that Grant looked long and anxiously for Buell's advance, on that memorable [93] 6th of April; nor is it now possible to say what result might have followed, had Buell still longer delayed. But this much is certain: the rebels were repelled in their last attack, on Sunday, without any assistance from Buell that turned the scale. They did not attack, on Monday, although they were ignorant of Buell's arrival; while Grant gave his orders to renew the fight, before he was aware that the long-looked — for reenforcements had come.

A part of the Army of the Tennessee undoubtedly misbehaved at Shiloh; this, however, occurred only in Sherman and Prentiss's divisions, where the troops were entirely raw. These commands were the most advanced, and received the first shock of the assault. It probably would have been better had the older troops been put in the advance. Still, Sherman's presence at the key-point of the fight, almost compensated for the conduct of his men. No other division commander in Grant's army was a professional soldier, and upon no other did Grant so rely as upon Sherman. The army took tone from them both, and the ignominy of a part only rendered more conspicuous the gallantry and determination of those who remained firm.25

The battle, however, decided little, except the fighting qualities of both combatants. It was the fiercest fight of the war, west of the Alleghanies, and, in proportion to the numbers engaged, equalled any contest during the rebellion. I have heard Sherman [94] say that he never saw such terrible fighting after. wards, and Grant compared Shiloh only with the Wilderness. The ground remained in the hands of Grant, and, with the reenforcements that Buell brought, the national army was doubtless in vastly better condition than the rebels, after the battle. But Halleck arrived on the 9th, and at once took command of all the national forces, and he restrained any advance except behind breastworks; so that, whatever immediate results might have been reaped from the repulse of Beauregard, were lost. The moral effect of the fight was also impaired by this course. In the battle, each party was forced to respect the fighting qualities of the other; the Northerners recognized the impetuous vigor and splendid enthusiasm of the rebels, and the latter found all the tenacity and determination of the North in those who opposed them. This mutual respect remained, but the bad effect of Halleck's policy was, that it caused in the army a depression which should have been known only to the defeated, while it gave to the country an idea that the army had suffered an overthrow. But, whatever injury the spirit of the troops sustained, was the result of the distrust manifested by Halleck, and not of the victory of Shiloh.

Until this battle, Grant had supposed, as nearly every one else did at the North, that one or two victories for the Union would induce the South to return to its allegiance; but, when the rebels recovered so soon from the crushing defeat of Donelson to make the prodigious effort of Shiloh; when even the loss of Nashville, and Bowling Green, and Columbus, and nearly all of Kentucky and Tennessee, appeared not to lessen their energy or overcome their determination, [95] he became certain that the contest was to be prolonged and intense, beyond any thing that had yet been seen. This belief developed his peculiar views of the manner in which the war should be carried on. He thought then, and remained firm in the conviction ever afterwards, that it was not extended territory, nor capital cities, nor fortified places, that should be the prime object of any commander's strategy; for it had been proven that all these could be dispensed with by heroic and determined foes; but that armies and men must become the points of attack; that these should be pursued wherever they moved, regardless, comparatively, of positions and forts; that the armies must not only be defeated, but destroyed; and that, therefore, the policy of merely outwitting or out-manoeuvring the enemy, or forcing the evacuation of strongholds and the abandonment of territory, and allowing him thus to concentrate his real force, was unwise; that every effort should be made to find and fight the rebel armies again and again, and that only when those armies were either subdued or annihilated, would the rebellion end. Upon this idea he thereafter acted, so far as he had control. He did not underrate the value of places, but he was always willing to sacrifice them for armies. He did not depreciate the value of life, but he thought that even life should be freely spent, if so the great object of the war could be attained. He believed, indeed, that life rapidly expended in a vigorous campaign, would prove an economy of life in the end.

This war, too, was fought with a degree of determination and unanimity on the part of the rebels, rarely shown in the history of the world. They themselves rendered necessary the terrible nature of [96] the blows which alone could overcome them. They refused to yield because they had lost their fortresses, or because they had abandoned their cities, or even because one army was surrendered and, here and there, other armies were repelled. There was no course left, if the rebellion was to be suppressed, but to annihilate its strength, and root out the resources that supplied that strength.

From this time, therefore, Grant gave up the idea of saving the resources and sparing the property of the South; the South had made the war avowedly one of the people, and the people being a party must suffer, until the people as well as the soldiers were conquered. Henceforth, he gave his subordinates orders to live upon the resources of the country without stint, whenever their necessities compelled; and he abandoned all desire to protect the institution of slavery, although he himself had been a slaveholder, and had no sympathy with the merely political idea of abolition. Whatever opposed the effort to maintain the unity of the country, must be destroyed.

Until these views were adopted and carried out firmly and persistently, in every part of the theatre of war, the country was not saved. Whatever permanent successes were anywhere achieved, were achieved by acting on these principles.26 [97] [98]


General orders, no. 1.

headquarters, District of West Tennessee, Fort Donelson, February 17, 1862.
By virtue of directions from headquarters, Department of the Missouri, dated February 15, 1862, the undersigned has been assigned to the command of the new military district of West Tennessee. Limits not defined.

(Signed) U. S. Grant, Major-General Commanding.

2 See Appendix for Halleck's instructions in full for this expedition.

3 General Halleck's telegram of the 3d of March was not left on file in the War Department, but was obtained by me after long research and repeated efforts. I have not, however, been able to find General McClellan's reply. The Honorable Edwin M. Stanton assured me that he never heard that General Halleck had been authorized to place Grant in arrest.

4 The relations between Grant and Smith were of a peculiar character. When Smith was commandant at the Military Academy, Grant was there as a cadet; he often told me of the awe he felt for his old commander, and how difficult it was at first to give him an order. Smith, however, perceived this, and with great delicacy said to his chief: ‘I am now a subordinate, and I know a soldier's duty. I hope you will feel no awkwardness about our new relations.’ Grant never had a more subordinate officer, nor one more gallant, despite his age. But Smith was sixty years old, and the exposure he underwent at Fort Donelson produced an illness, which proved fatal before the next summer.


March 27, 1862.
I visited the different divisions at Pittsburg to-day. . . . . News having arrived of the promotion of General McClernand to the rank of major-general, without the date of promotion of either him or General Smith being known, makes it necessary for me to move my headquarters from this place to Pittsburg. I will not go up, however, until something further is heard from General Buell's command, and until full directions are given for their transfer to this place.

6 General Buell's official report states that he arrived at Savanna on the 5th, but Grant was not notified of this, and consequently had no suspicion of the fact.

7 There were several prisoners taken, who threatened that ‘the Yankees would catch hell soon.’

8 This circumstance probably originated the newspaper report that Grant was drunk and thrown from his horse at the battle of Shiloh.


Savanna, April 6, 1862.
Brig.-Gen. Wm. Nelson, commanding Division in Buell's Army:
An attack having been made on our forces, you will move your entire command to the river opposite Pittsburg. You can easily obtain a guide in the village. By order of Major-General Grant:

John A. Rawlins, A. A. G.

10 See Prentiss's report and rebel reports.


It was well known the enemy were approaching our lines, and there had been more or less skirmishing for three days preceding the battle. The consequence was our breakfasts were ordered at an early hour, and our horses saddled to be ready in case of an attack. Report of Major-General McPherson, dated Lake Providence, La., March 26, 1863.

McPherson at this time was on Grant's staff; he was at W. H. L. Wallace's headquarters on the night of the 5th, and on the morning of the 6th.

12 Grant's estimate was made up from the reports of spies, deserters, and prisoners, who, without exception, set the figures as high as sixty or seventy thousand.

13 Colonel Pride, of General Grant's staff, organized this important train, and forced a way for it along the single narrow road that leads to the landing, swarming, as it was, with fugitives and wounded men, and choked up with artillery and the mass of material that accumulates in the rear of every battle-field.

14 See Nelson and Buell's reports.

15 In a letter on this subject to the War Department, dated April 13, 1863, General Grant says: ‘Had General Wallace been relieved from duty in the morning, and the same orders communicated to Brigadier-General Morgan L. Smith, who would have been his successor, I do not doubt but the division would have been on the field of battle and in the engagement by one o'clock of that eventful 6th of April. There is no estimating the difference this might have made in our casualties.’ When Wallace was finally set right, he absolutely countermarched his entire column, instead of facing it about.

16 See Appendix for extracts from reports of Buell's subordinates, corroboratory of this statement.

17 See Appendix for letter of General Sherman.


Such was the nature of the ground over which we had fought, and the heavy resistance it had met, that the commands of the whole army were very much shattered. In a dark and stormy night commanders found it impossible to find and assemble their troops; each body or fragment bivouacking where night overtook them. Bragg's Report.

19 ‘I accordingly established my headquarters at the church of Shiloh, in the enemy's encampments, with Major-General Bragg hoping, from news received by a special dispatch, that delays had been encountered by General Buell in his march from Columbia, and that his main force, therefore, could not reach the field of battle, in time to save General Grant's scattered fugitive forces from capture or destruction on the following day. . . About six o'clock on the morning of the 7th of April, however, a hot fire of musketry and artillery opened from the enemy's quarters on our advanced line, assured us of the junction of his forces.’—Beauregard's Report.


Our troops, exhausted by days of incessant fatigue, and want of rest, and ranks thinned by killed, wounded, and stragglers, amounting in the whole to nearly half our force, fought bravely, but with the want of that animation and spirit which characterized them the preceding day. Bragg's Report.

Every statement made in this chapter in regard to the force of the rebels, or such of their dispositions as were not from their very nature apparent to the national commanders, is taken from the reports of either Beauregard or Bragg.

21Brigadier-General Breckenridge was left with his command as a rear guard, to hold the ground we had occupied the night preceding the first battle, just in front of the intersection of the Pittsburg and Hamburg roads, about four miles from the former place, while the rest of the army passed in the rear.’—Beauregard's Report.

22 See Appendix for correspondence between Grant and Beauregard.

23 In consequence of the loss or destruction of their rolls, no complete report could be prepared of the losses in McClernand and Prentiss's divisions. The above is as nearly exact as can now be furnished. The other statements are as officially reported to Grant at the time.

24 Grant's estimate of Beauregard's loss was much larger. The burial parties estimated Beauregard's dead at four thousand, which, according to the usual calculation, would make his entire casualties, at least, twenty thousand; but this authority is not sufficiently reliable.

25 It is probable that the straggling on the rebel side was quite as great. Beauregard states in his report, that his strength was forty thousand on Sunday, and gives a loss of ten thousand on both days. But he declares that, on Monday, he could put only twenty thousand men into line. This leaves fifteen thousand, at least, for deserters and stragglers on that day, unless he lost many more than he reported.

26 It has been repeatedly asserted that Grant was surprised at Shiloh, but the evidence to the contrary is incontrovertible. The preliminary fighting of the 3d and 4th of April, necessarily put division and army commanders on the alert. The movements reported by Lewis Wallace, on the 4th, had a similar effect. Sherman had been skirmishing for several days; Prentiss had doubled his pickets the day before, and had a reconnoissance of a regiment out, at three o'clock on the morning of the 6th; he received the earliest assault outside of his camps. W. H. L. Wallace also breakfasted early and had his horses saddled, ‘to be ready in case of an attack.’ These are not the indications of a camp that is surprised. Yet Prentiss, who fought till four o'clock in the afternoon, is said to have been captured at daylight and in his bed. Grant's dispatches of March 28th, 30th, and 31st, as well as those of the 4th and 5th of April, all furnish proof that he was intently watching the enemy. The fall that lamed him on the 4th, was got in returning from the front, whither he had gone to investigate the rumor of an attack, after Sherman's fight. On the 5th, he sent three dispatches to Halleck, reporting the skirmish of the day before, and with one of them enclosed the following note to himself from Sherman: ‘April 5th. I have no doubt that nothing will occur to-day more than some picket firing. The enemy is saucy, but got the worst of it yesterday, and will not press our pickets far. I will not be drawn out far unless with certainty of advantage, and I do not apprehend any thing like an attack upon our position.’ Grant remarked to Halleck on the same date: ‘Our outposts had been attacked by the enemy, apparently in considerable force. I immediately went up, but found all quiet. . . . I have scarcely the faintest idea of an attack (general one) being made upon us, but will be prepared should such a thing take place.’

Private soldiers and inferior officers, very probably, could not read the signs that told so plainly to their commanders the necessity of readiness; such may, very likely, have been surprised at what occurred; but Grant and his division generals, although of course they could not know at what hour or place the rebels might choose to assault, nor indeed that they certainly would assault at all, although they did not really expect an attack, yet knew the propinquity of a great army, and, so far as could be, were prepared to receive it-except in the matter of defensive intrenchments. Up to this time the Western troops had not availed themselves of the spade in war; but after Shiloh, both generals and men, severely taught, resorted to the old Roman tactics, and never failed to intrench themselves after every day's march. Some, indeed, already over-cautious, were schooled into absolute timidity; and in their anxiety to become secure against the enemy, forgot that the first object in war is not safety to one's self, but destruction to the foe. Those who wish to be entirely safe, should stay at home.

In connection with this question of surprise, it is curious to note that Beauregard not only does not claim to have surprised Grant, but says in his official report: ‘At five A. M., on the 6th inst., a reconnoitring party of the enemy having become engaged with the advanced pickets, the commander of the forces’ (A. S. Johnston) ‘gave orders to begin the movement.’ Bragg, also, thought the rebels were attacked on Sunday, for speaking of the first day's fight, he says: ‘The enemy did not give us time to discuss the question of attack, for soon after dawn he commenced a rapid musketry fire on our pickets.’

Again: ‘The enemy was encountered in force at the encampments of his advanced positions.’ And still again: ‘In about one mile, we encountered him in strong force along almost the entire line. His batteries were posted on eminences, with strong infantry supports.’ Now, Bragg was in front of Sherman and McClernand, and it is Sherman who is said to have been surprised. (See Appendix for Grant's correspondence with Halleck, on the 5th, entire.)

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