April 6, 1862 (First day at the Battle of Shiloh)
In times of War and not Before,
God and Soldiers Men Adore.
But in Times of Peace
with all Things Righted,
God is Forgotten
and the Soldier Slighted.
– Rudyard Kipling
After the losses of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson to General Grant in February of 1862, Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston withdrew his forces into western Tennessee, northern Mississippi, and Alabama to reorganize. During this time Union Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck removed Grant from his command for insubordination (lack of communications) quickly proven to be false.
Restored to full command Grant was ordered to move his six divisions known as the Army of the Tennessee (Union Army’s were named after rivers) to Pittsburg Landing in Tennessee. At the same time General Don Carlos Buell was ordered to join Grant with his Army of the Ohio. Halleck intended to take the field in person and lead both armies in an advance south to seize the Memphis & Charleston Railroad, a vital supply line between the Mississippi River Valley, Memphis, and Richmond at the junction in Corinth, Mississippi.
Grant’s army of 49k men consisted of six divisions, led by Maj. Gens. McClernand and Lew Wallace, and Brig. Gens. W. H. L. Wallace, Hurlbut, Sherman, and Prentiss. By early April, all six of the divisions were encamped on the western side of the Tennessee River, Lew Wallace’s at Crump’s Landing and the rest farther south at Pittsburg Landing.
General Johnston was fully aware of the positions of all Union troops in Tennesee as the loyal local population kept him well informed. His Army of Mississippi (Confederate Army’s were named after states) had 55k just south of Corinth. On April the 3rd 45K of these men marched to Pittsburg Landing hoping to hit Grant before he could join forces with Buell.
Maj. Gen. Polk, with two divisions under Brig. Gen. Clark and Maj. Gen. Cheatham, Maj. Gen. Braxton Bragg, with two divisions under Brig. Gens. Ruggles and Withers Maj. Gen. Hardee, with three brigades under Brig. Gens. Hindman, Cleburne, and Wood, Brig. Gen. Breckinridge, in reserve, with three brigades under Cols. Trabue and Statham, and Brig. Bowen, and attached cavalry.
Against the advice of his second in command General Beauregard who thought the test firing of weapons had given away their position, Johnston stated that he would “attack them if they were a million”. On the early morning of April 6, 1862 The Army of Mississippi launched the attack straddling the Corinth road hoping to force Grant’s left flank into abandoning Pittsburg Landing and seek refuge in the swamps where it could be destroyed piecemeal. They achieved a virtual tactical surprise and many union soldiers were bayoneted in their tents. Because of the surprise, Johnston’s poorly trained troops quickly fell into disarray (out pacing the supply wagons and stopping to plunder) and the original plan fell apart. Instead of separating the Union from the river they forced them towards it where Grant had a large reserve of Naval Weaponry (the BIG guns and mortars) at his command. The Confederate force became intermingled and command structure was lost. Confederate artillery became ineffective because the troops ran too far forward and would be hit by their own fire. Despite all these tactical blunders the Confederate attack was gaining ground at an alarming rate.
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