The Epic Battle of Shiloh

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The Epic Battle of Shiloh

The Epic Battle of Shiloh
By: Brian Semich
Mr. Gavin
HIST 2030 05
Abstract (Summary of Report)
The First Day
April 6, 1862
With the loss of Forts Henry and Donelson in February, General Johnston withdrew his Confederate forces into west Tennessee, northern Mississippi and Alabama to reorganize. In early March, General Halleck responded by ordering General Grant to move his Union Army of West Tennessee on an invasion up the Tennessee River.
Occupying Pittsburg Landing, Grant had no thought of a Confederate attack. Halleck's instructions were that following the arrival of General Buell's Army of the Ohio from Nashville, Grant would move south in a joint offensive to seize the Memphis & Charleston Railroad, the Confederacy's only east-west all weather supply route that linked the lower Mississippi Valley to cities on the Confederacy's east coast.
Assisted by General Beauregard, Johnston shifted his forces and placed almost 55,000 men around Corinth. Strategically located where the Memphis & Charleston crossed the Mobile & Ohio Railroad, Corinth was the western Confederacy's most important rail junction.
On April 3, realizing Buell would soon reinforce Grant, Johnston launched an offensive with his Army of the Mississippi. Moving upon Pittsburg Landing with 43,938 men, Johnston planned to surprise Grant, cut his army off from retreat to the Tennessee River, and drive the Federals west into the swamps of Owl Creek.
In the light of dawn, April 6, a small Federal reconnaissance discovered Johnston's army deployed for battle astride the Corinth road, just a mile beyond the forward Federal camps. Storming forward, the Confederates found the Federal position unfortified. By mid-morning, the Confederates seemed within easy reach of victory, overrunning one frontline Union division and capturing its camp. However, stiff resistance on the Federal right entangled Johnston's brigades in a savage fight around Shiloh Church. Throughout the day, Johnston's army hammered the Federal right, which gave ground but did not break.
Meanwhile, Johnston's attack stalled in front of Sarah Bell's peach orchard and the dense oak thicket labeled the "hornet's nest" by the Confederates. Grant's left flank withstood Confederate assaults for seven crucial hours before being forced to yield ground in the late afternoon. Despite inflicting heavy casualties and seizing ground, the Confederates only drove Grant towards the river, instead of away from it. The Federal survivors established a solid front before Pittsburg Landing and stopped the last Confederate charge as dusk ended the first day of fighting.
The Second Day
April 7, 1862
Shiloh's first day of slaughter also witnessed the death of the Confederate leader, General Johnston, who fell at mid-afternoon, struck down by a stray bulle. At dusk, the advance division of General Buell's Federal Army of the Ohio reached Pittsburg Landing, and crossed the river to file into line on the Union left during the night. Buell's arrival, led by Major General Lewis Wallace, fed over 22,500 reinforcements into the Union lines. On April 7, Grant renewed the fighting with an aggressive counterattack.
Taken by surprise, General Beauregard managed to rally 30,000 of his badly disorganized Confederates, and mounted a defense. Inflicting heavy casualties on the Federals, Beauregard's troops temporarily halted the determined Union advance. However, strength in numbers provided Grant with a decisive advantage. By mid-afternoon, as waves of fresh Federal troops swept forward, pressing the Confederates back to Shiloh Church, Beauregard realized his armies' peril and ordered a retreat.
General Johnston's massive and rapid concentration at Corinth, and surprise attack on Grant at Pittsburg Landing, had presented the Confederacy with an opportunity to reverse the course of the war. The aftermath, however, left the invading Union forces still poised to carry out the capture of the Corinth rail junction. Shiloh's awesome toll of 23,746 men killed, wounded, or missing brought a shocking realization to both sides that the war would not end quickly.


History Project
After living in Tennessee for nineteen years, I finally got in the car and drove the on hundred miles to see the battlefield of Shiloh. As you will see in the pictures that I have with this paper, that this was not a small battlefield at all. This is usually known as the Gettysburg of the South because of how brutal of a battle that was fought there.
Known originally as

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