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 (1861-1865) Civil War Battles (Western Theater)
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NYGiant
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Battle of Shiloh begins
4/6/2023 6:39:32 AM
The Civil War explodes in the west as the armies of Union General Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston collide at Shiloh, near Pittsburgh Landing in Tennessee. The Battle of Shiloh became one of the bloodiest engagements of the war, and the level of violence shocked North and South alike.

For six months, Yankee troops had been working their way up the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers. Kentucky was firmly in Union hands, and now the Federals controlled much of Tennessee, including the capital at Nashville. Grant scored major victories at Forts Henry and Donelson in February, forcing Johnston to gather the scattered Rebel forces at Corinth in northern Mississippi. Grant brought his army, 42,000 strong, to rendezvous with General Don Carlos Buell and his 20,000 troops. Grant’s objective was Corinth, a vital rail center that if captured would give the Union total control of the region. Twenty miles away, Johnston lurked at Corinth with 45,000 soldiers.



Johnston did not wait for Grant and Buell to combine their forces. He advanced on April 3, delayed by rains and muddy roads that also slowed Buell. In the early dawn of April 6, a Yankee patrol found the Confederates poised for battle just a mile from the main Union army. Johnston attacked, driving the surprised bluecoats back near a small church called Shiloh, meaning “place of peace.” Throughout the day, the Confederates battered the Union army, driving it back towards Pittsburgh Landing and threatening to trap it against the Tennessee River. Many troops on both sides had no experience in battle. The chances for a complete Confederate victory diminished as troops from Buell’s army began arriving, and Grant’s command on the battlefield shored up the sagging Union line. In the middle of the afternoon, Johnston rode forward to direct the Confederate attack and was struck in the leg by a bullet, severing an artery and causing him to quickly bleed to death. The ball severed an artery, and Johnston quickly bled to death. He became the highest ranking general on either side killed during the war. General Pierre G. T. Beauregard assumed control, and he halted the advance at nightfall. The Union army was driven back two miles, but it did not break.

The arrival of additional troops from Buell’s army provided Grant with reinforcements, while the Confederates were worn out from their march. The next day, Grant pushed the Confederates back to Corinth for a major Union victory.


Battle of Shiloh begins
https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/battle-of-shiloh-begins?cmpid=email-hist-tdih-2023-0406-04062023&om_rid=21539c69abde70e4e3fda02b9d14d1819c3badeaf5a2bcab48a023eefe0cd3d2
The Civil War explodes in the west as the armies of Union General Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston collide at Shiloh, near Pittsburgh Landing in Tennessee. The Battle of Shiloh became one of the bloodiest engagements of the war, and the level of violence shocked North and South alike. For six […]

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A nice battlefield to visit, almost pristine. And very well interpreted. A side trip to Corinth is a must.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 6497
Joined: 2004
Battle of Shiloh begins
4/6/2023 4:40:43 PM
What’s your take on this battle, NYG ?

Was Grant caught with his pants down ?

Was he rescued by Buell ?

Or did he act resolutely and effectively to hold things together and establish salvation by the end of that horrific first day ?

Meade was sharply criticised for not pursuing and exploiting at Gettysburg.

Could the same be applied to Grant at Shiloh ?

Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 6497
Joined: 2004
Battle of Shiloh begins
4/6/2023 4:41:02 PM
DP
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
NYGiant
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Battle of Shiloh begins
4/6/2023 5:52:51 PM
Quote:
What’s your take on this battle, NYG ? it's a nice battlefield to visit and walk. You can probably do it in a day. It was the battle which made grant realize that the civil war was going to drag out and that the South had to be conquered.

Was Grant caught with his pants down ? Grant and Sherman , more likely. Grant relied too much on Sherman. Sherman said "I always acted on the supposition that we were an invading army. . . we did not fortify our army against an attack, because we had no orders to do so, and because such a course would have made our men timid." Despite intelligence about and evidence of Southern forces in the area, Sherman was dismissive. To the Major who reported encountering Confederate troops nearby on April 4, he replied, “You militia officers get scared too easy.”

Was he rescued by Buell ? The Union plan was to join grant's and Buell's Armies and then advance onto Corinth

Or did he act resolutely and effectively to hold things together and establish salvation by the end of that horrific first day ? Grant's response was: "Retreat? No! I propose to attack at daylight and whip them

Meade was sharply criticised for not pursuing and exploiting at Gettysburg. Complicated situation which Lincoln was not aware of.

Could the same be applied to Grant at Shiloh ? It started to rain at 6:30 pm, and the rain turned to hail as the temperature dropped. The battle was over with a huge number of casualties on both sides. And the Rebels did evacuate Corinth. The next day, Union forces did attempt a pursuit but were attacked and fell back to Pittsburgh Landing.

Regards, Phil


Cheers,
NYGiant
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 6497
Joined: 2004
Battle of Shiloh begins
4/7/2023 3:31:22 AM
To what might we attribute the transcendental bloodiness of Shiloh ?

Here I allude specifically to the first day. Three fourths of all the men who were killed or wounded there were victims of that day. The second day was no walk in the park : it was probably on a par with First Bull Run ; but that first day, as Shelby Foote commented, “ came out of nowhere “.

Very few days in the Civil War exceeded the bloodshed of 6 April 1862 ; it was right up there with the second day of Gettysburg, or Chickamauga, or Fredericksburg.

Was there a special resolve exhibited by the rebels who were determined to reverse the fatal defeats that had characterised the union advance up/down the Tennessee River ? A now or never moment to salvage the Confederacy’s prospects ? Did AS Johnston’s personality and style of command impart a certain effectiveness to his soldiers’ fighting ?

As for the yankees, did their desperate predicament, with their backs to the river, produce an existential stubbornness to their resistance ?

Historians have made some startling calculations when it comes to the Shiloh casualty figures: more Americans bled or died there than in several of the nation’s previous wars combined , we are told.

Grant himself was adamant that the Confederates left more than twice as many dead on the field than their official casualty returns acknowledged.

Of the yankees who were confirmed as killed in action, 86% were from Grant’s Army of the Tennessee, and only 14% from Buell’s Army of the Ohio.

Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
NYGiant
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Battle of Shiloh begins
4/7/2023 11:48:36 AM
Infantry tactics of firing in volleys may have been adequate for the musket, but proved deadly now that rifles and the Minie ball were the weapons of choice. Rifling imparts a stabilizing spin to a projectile for better external ballistics, greatly increasing the effective range and accuracy of the gun.

Plus the lack of adequate skirmishing played a role. And the lack of any field fortifications . Evidently, officers felt that once stationed behind field fortifications, the soldiers would not leave them and come out to fight.

When I walked Shiloh, I was impressed by the final Union position on the end of the first day. It was strong and I can see what the Rebels failed to push them back any further.
morris crumley
Dunwoody GA USA
Posts: 3309
Joined: 2007
Battle of Shiloh begins
4/7/2023 12:01:55 PM
Phil, I have always felt that despite the perception of Grant and Sherman as being "great"...they made as many if not more mistakes than their Confederate opponents...the difference being that they had superior numbers that bailed them out of their errors.

Grant suffered from a horse fall at the time, and did not really oversee as much of his dispositions as normally. His men did not entrench..though at this early period of the war, entrenchments were not as fashionable..or as beloved as they would become later on. Many of the troops were green, and it was felt they would benefit more from drilling than digging.

But it was the erroneous hallucination that persisted with both Grant and Sherman that the rebels were still back in Corinth awaiting their attack. Sherman in particular was so arrogant about that ...he was warned numerous times the day before the battle that rebels were in some force to his front, dismissing the reports out of hand. Col. Jesse Appling of the 53thd Ohio was separated from Sherman`s other three brigades in Rhea`s field with a steep ravine between them. Thus his growing concerns...and his attempts to make Sherman pay attention.

Sherman finally told Appling, " Why don`t you just take your damn regiment back to Ohio.?" Sherman and Grant would pay for this arrogance over the course of the next two days.

Respects, Morris
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"You are a $70, red-wool, pure quill military genius, or the biggest damn fool in northern Mexico."
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 6497
Joined: 2004
Battle of Shiloh begins
4/7/2023 12:08:28 PM
Why were so many yankees killed in that battle ?

Firepower bestowed advantage on the defensive, but there must have been a catastrophic failure in the Yankee deployment that gave the rebels some lethal superiority.

The figures would be explicable if it turns out that Grant was right, and that the rebels had understated their loss .

One of the NPS staff opined to me that the rebels were able to develop a converging fire that exacted a deadly toll, as Grant’s men were struggling to hold things together in a hard pressed position.

There is also the trope that a precipitous retirement is one of the most lethal of all battlefield predicaments , and in the opening stages of the fighting at Shiloh this might have been the case as the Union troops were pushed back.

There are many accounts of rebel frontal attacks being repulsed, and these, along with extravagant claims of thousands of rebel dead being counted and buried, leave me wondering what the real balance of carnage was in this frightful battle.

Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
Michigan Dave
Muskegon MI USA
Posts: 8302
Joined: 2006
Battle of Shiloh begins
4/7/2023 6:24:01 PM
Hi Phil,

Some facts on the Battle of Shiloh that might in part answer your questions!

1) Obviously the Rebs surprise the Union by attacking before light in the early morning, (4am) while most Union troops were still in bed!? So the early success was due to surprise!

2) the Union forces were more inexperienced than the Rebs.! That would change as the battles in the West would continue, with eventually the Union gaining control of the Mississippi cutting the Confederacy in 2!

3 ) weapons were in short supply especially for the Confederates, but in this battle the Rebs. Picked up a lot of Union weapons, also just before the battle the Confederates were issue new Enfield Rifles fresh from the British!?

4) At this time the South's Cavalry out preformed the Union's!? Later in the CW that would change!

5) The Union's artillary for the 1st time used Parrot Guns, it had greater range & accuracy!!

6) Because of his turning the battle around on day two, Grant's prominence grew, Grant & Sherman would eventually dominate in the West! True they had the advantages but they used them!!

7) Reb. Commander Albert S Johnston was killed during the battle, costing the South one of it's leading Generals!?

8) Up to this time this was the bloodiest battle of the Civil War, tactics, & weapons were to blame!?

9) this Union victory encouraged Lincoln to try more aggressive tactics, Grant with larger troop numbers, & supplies was able to implement them!

10) The Unions 1st land success in implementing the Anaconda Plan, also using the Union navy through out the Mississippi Campaign!?

Just a few facts or factors involved with Shiloh!
Regards,
MD

BTW of course Shiloh Battlefield is a National Park! I would love to tour it!?
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"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 6497
Joined: 2004
Battle of Shiloh begins
4/8/2023 2:35:10 AM
Thanks for joining in here, Morris and Dave.

This was an undoubted Union victory in strategic terms , but very flawed in its tactical conduct .

I’ll revisit Sherman’s memoirs and see what he has to say.

His repudiation of alarming warnings from his picketts reminds me of Stalin’s foul mouthed dismissal of intelligence reports that the Germans were about to attack the Soviet Union in June 1941.

Millions of Russian soldiers and hundreds of Yankee soldiers paid with their lives for this error on the part of their leaders.

Sherman saw his aide shot dead at his side and shouted “ My God, we’re attacked! “. He then conducted himself with courage and determination, taking a painful wound to the hand himself.

Failure to entrench must be a reason for those terrible Union casualties.

Do you remember that Hollywood movie Spartacus ?

There’s a memorable scene in that when an infuriated Roman politician - played by Lawrence Olivier - turns on a cowering Roman commander who has to account for the defeat of his soldiers who were surprised by Kirk Douglas’s army of rebel slaves.

“ Did you make stockade? “ demands Olivier, meaning “ did you entrench? “. The whimpering Roman general shakes his head, whereupon he receives a terrible blow to his face and has to flee for his life.

When I saw that episode in the film, I thought of Shiloh!

Amazing what an impact our interest in the American Civil War has on our perceptions, isn’t it ?

Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 6497
Joined: 2004
Battle of Shiloh begins
4/8/2023 1:48:49 PM
An unforgettable anecdote grips my imagination when I think of Shiloh .

To my dismay, although I remember it and reflect on it frequently, I can’t remember the source !

If anyone recognises the story, please enlighten me.

As the rebel onslaught gained momentum, the Yankees marshalled their ranks for battle and made ready to make their stand.

It was a terrifying ordeal, as the green troops contemplated what was to come.

The fugitives were streaming back, yelling that all was lost.

The wounded began to make their appearance, some walking, others being carried.

In an effort to reassure the men under their command, two Yankee officers addressed the men of a certain regiment, and regaled them with reassuring statistics, illustrating how the odds of being killed were astonishingly low.

In the battle that followed, both those officers were killed !

Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

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