The Battle of Shiloh
The Battle of Shiloh is another batttle known by two names. Some know it as the Battle of Shiloh. Others refer to it as the Battle of Pittsburg Landing. Regardless of how you call it, it was two days of blood letting that left both sides shocked at the carnage. It was the bloodiest battle in American History up to that point.
The Battle of Shiloh is considered to be one of the four most important battles of the American Civil War. The reason being that it was a strategic location. Union troops were attempting to reach northern Mississippi and make their way to the Mississippi river. With control of the river, they would have the Confederacy seriously disabled. During the Battle of Shiloh, Confederate troops attempted to turn the Union away from their objective.
In April of 1862, Union troops, lead by Ulysses S. Grant, had moved deep into Tennessee and camped on the western bank of the Tennessee River at Pittsburg Landing. Nearby was a log church, Shiloh Methodist, that would be caught in the midst of the struggle, witnessing human savagery and serving as a hospital for wounded.
|replica reconstructed on the sight of the original building|
Union troops were caught off guard by a surprise attack at dawn on April 6. Led by Johnston and Beauregard, the Confederate objective was to block the Union from advancing into northern Mississippi and thus reaching the Mississippi River. Confederate troops were able to drive Union forces back during the start of the battle, but confusion among Confederate lines resulted in the Union troops being pushed to the northeast back towards Pittsburg Landing, instead of into the swamps to the west as was intended. Union troops were able to entrench in a sunken road, later referred to as the "Hornet's Nest" because of the intense fighting that took place there. Their entrenchment provided enough time for Union troops to pull up reinforcements during the night.
|the sunken road|
During the second day of battle, the tide was turned when Union troops launched a counter attack. Realizing they were low on ammunition and food, and had already suffered over 10,000 casualties, Confederate leaders ordered a retreat.
Two short days of battle left both sides decimated. Union casualties were listed at 13,047 with 1,754 killed, 8,408 wounded, and 2,885 missing. Confederates had not faired much better listing their casualties at 10, 699 with 1,728 killed, 8,012 wounded, and 959 missing. In the aftermath, Ulysses S. Grant was accused by the press of being drunk during battle, leading to accusations of poor performance and responsibility for not being prepared for the attack. His career suffered for a time as a result. Though he was a heavy drinker, the reports of his drunkenness during battle are believed to be false. With time his popularity returned due to his successful leadership. He would later become the leader of the Union army and after the war would be elected the 18th president of the United States
Shiloh National Military Park, though in Tennessee and relatively close to where I grew up, is one of the battlefields I have never visited. I have always wanted to and still have hope to do so one day in the future.
There are always spots at each battle field that became famous for various reasons, such as the Hornet's Nest. One of the more well known spots for this battle is Sarah Bell's Peach Orchard. It was a location of intense fighting near the Hornet's Nest where Confederate General Johnston was killed and where the bodies of the fallen were covered in the soft pink petals of the peach blossoms.
Every time I do one of these posts, I read about the battle on other sights. I know the names, but there are so many details to learn! And every time I research a battle I am overwhelmed by the casualties. How did they manage? What did they do with more than 3,500 dead? How did they tend 16,000 wounded men? How would they even begin to cope, especially in a relatively rural area such as western Tennessee? How did the locals manage with that many soldiers present needing food and medical attention, and so much more? I can't even begin to imagine.
For more reading on The Battle of Shiloh:
For a pictorial tour:
I'm letting you know ahead of time that the next months of my quilt and posts are going to be delayed. I've not had time to put together my quilt squares and it looks like my next home time is already booked with packing and getting things moved to the ranch. So this will be my last installment on my Sesquicentennial blog posts for a time. We may very well have to finish our Civil War posts after the anniversary year is over. But I will finish, I promise myself and you!
Big happenings this weekend! I'm so excited and will share all about it early next week!