Battle of Shiloh

APRIL 6-7, 1862

On the morning of April 3, 1862 the Confederate commander Albert Sidney Johnston ordered the Army of Mississippi 43,968 strong to march to Pittsburg Landing or Shiloh which was approximately 20 miles away. Johnston had hoped to attack Grant and his Army of Tennessee, 47,000 strong before Gen. Buell reinforced Grant with 17,000 and Lew Wallace with 6,000 Gen. Johnston expected to begin battle at light on the 5th, but because of rains and bad roads it was postponed to the 6th. At 4:55 a.m., Sunday, the battle began when a reconnoitering party of Prentiss' Union division encountered Hardee's skirmish line. The 3 companies of the 25th Missouri under Maj. James E. Powell [the reconnoitering party] fighting and retreating slowly toward its camp was reinforced by 4 companies of the 16th Wis. and 5 companies of the 21st Missouri. These troops were in turn reinforced by Col. Peabody’s entire brigade. They succeeded in holding the Confederates till about 8:00 a.m. Sherman hearing the skirmish got his division under arms and posted a battery at Shiloh Church and another on the ridge to the south. The left of this hastily formed line received the full impact of the confederate onslaught at about the same time Prentiss' camp did. Soon the whole division fled in panic. Gen. Prentiss rallied about a thousand men on the center of a line that W.H.L. Wallace and Hurlbut were forming with parts of their divisions in a strong position in the rear. This new line, running through a densely wooded area along an old sunken road, proved to be a such a strong position that the Confederates named the place "Hornets' Nest" because of the stinging shot and shell they had to encounter there. Meanwhile Gen. Grant was having breakfast at the Cherry Mansion in Savannah when he heard the guns at Shiloh. He at once sent word to the advance of Buell's army, which had already arrived at Savannah, to march immediately to the point on the river opposite the battlefield. Grant then hurried aboard a steamer "Tigress", moving in close enough to the shore at Crump's Landing to instruct Gen. Lew Wallace to be prepared to execute any order he might receive. Upon arriving at the field, he then dispatched reinforcements to Prentiss and formed 2 regiments near Pittsburg Landing, to arrest the tide of stragglers from the battle and organize them to return. Johnston seeing that the enemy was being driven to its base of supplies rather than from them moved at about noon to the extreme right to direct in person the activities of that wing of his army. There he found his troops exposed to a hail of fire and unable to advance. Determined to move his lines forward, he ordered and led a successful charge. The Union lines recoiled, and the Confederates surged forward for about three-fourths of a mile. As Johnston sat on his horse watching the lines reform, a ball from the gun of an unknown Union soldier struck the Southern commander, severing the large artery in his right leg. No surgeon being near by, he died of loss of blood at 2:30 p.m. The death of the General caused a lull in the battle at the right flank for about an hour. The situation was somewhat relieved by the fact that a second in command was on the field. Gen. Pierre G.T. Beauregard was in charge of headquarters which was near at Shiloh Church. When he was informed of Johnston's death, he assumed command. He sent Gen. Bragg to right of the field and Gen. Daniel Ruggles in command at the center. Gen. Ruggles having witnessed 11 unsuccessful charges ordered a line of 62 pieces to bombard the Union line. The Confederate troops seeing the bombardment attacked with new energy and courage. The Union soldiers on the left and right routed toward the Landing leaving Prentiss and W.H.L. Wallace isolated in the Hornet's Nest. The Confederates then circled around Wallace and Prentiss which who was under fire. Wallace seeing this gave the order to withdraw. To do this they had to pass threw a ravine which was already under the cross fire of the encircling Rebels. Wallace was mortally wounded but 2 of his regiments passed through the valley. Prentiss held out till about 5:30 and then surrendered with 2,200 troops-all that remained of the 2 divisions. The next day Union troops {20,000 strong}; from Generals Lew Wallace and Buell reinforced Grant. Grant with now fresh troops, pushed the tired and worn out Confederates back to where they had started from, taking back all the lost ground. The Confederates put up a good fight, but not having much sleep because of the Union gunboats {Lexington and Tyler} bombarding them all through the night. The Confederates put up many stands against the Union, and because of one struggle known as "Wateroaks Pond" the Rebels held off the enemy by attacking and defending a road that had to be held for a line of retreat. By 4:00 the last of the Confederate Army or what was left of it had started back to Corinth, Mississippi. The Union being worn out from 2 days of fighting did not pursue so the Confederates made it to Corinth.

Union Casualties:

Dead: 1,754

Wounded: 8,408

Missing: 2,885

Total: 13,047

Confederate Casualties:

Dead: 1,728

Wounded: 8,012

Missing: 959

Total: 10,699

Submitted By T. M. Harris

Shiloh National Military Park

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