The Battle of Shiloh Discussion
This discussion of the Battle of Shiloh began at 2000 hrs EDT in WebAmerica's Civil War Chat Room on 8 June 1997. After a brief introduction by Irish, our moderator, Professor Ernest Butner (a.k.a. Irish) the discussion began. Remember that this is a chat room discussion and there is a time lag between questions. So you may see an answer to a question that was asked several posts back. There are also, at times, several people responding to one question. One other point I should make is that normally in our chat room you would go as far back as you could go in the posts and start reading, working your way to the top to review what has transpired. However, I have rearranged the order of this discussion so all you have to do is to start reading and keeping scrolling down. Hope you enjoy.
BRETZKY: I believe I read that Sherman assigned the camps to units as they arrived and this lead to untested troops being at the front while the veterans were at the rear.
IRISH: Bretzky, I am not certain just how many troops in Sherman's command were veterans. However, Smith located the camp with an idea that the area would supply sanitary needs. Sherman probably placed the troops as they came up.
IRISH: The five-mile area separating the two opposing camps was swampland. The roads were miserable and often under water, so that in bad weather neither part of the divided army could have supported the other on short notice. The Confederates could have gobbled up Wallace at any time they chose, while grant had weakened his own position to about 33,000 men without gaining any offsetting advantage. Moreover, to place both portions of his army with their backs against an unfordable river was extremely hazardous. The only excuse Grant offered for this defiance of common sense was that he intended to wage an offensive campaign, and did not expect to be attacked. His utter carelessness is the harder to comprehend, as he estimated strength of an enemy army, assembled under General A.S. Johnston and P.G.T. Beauregard at Corinth, only 20 miles away, at more than 100,000 men. In fact they numbered about 43,000. Furthermore, he selected Savannah as his headquarters, nine miles down-stream thus making it necessary for him to travel by boat against a rapid current to reach the Shiloh camps.
IRISH: Should not be opposing camps...it is the camps of Wallace and Grant.
BRETZKY: I imagine what veteran units Sherman had were still recuperating somewhat from Ft. Donaldson.
BRETZKY: Irish -- Wallace had been promoted following Ft. Donaldson. Do you think his placement so far from the front reflects a lack of confidence in him on the part of Grant?
KORKY: What intelligence did Grant have that made him think the Confederate Strength was 100,000 men?
MICH: Could it be that Grant, in his desire to mount an offensive towards Corinth, overlooked the possibility of an attack? He did have his engineer check for a suitable defensive line. The best possible line lay to the east of Shiloh but not close enough to the creeks feeding the Tennesse to supply troops with water. After giving this some thought, defensive ideas withered. Grant seemed to exclude the idea that the Confederates would actually leave established positions and attack. He seemed to be quite focused on the arrival of Buell with his troops and the impending campaign against Corinth. This oversight almost cost him his career but for the backing of Lincoln, would have.
IRISH: Grant had no plan at all to fight at Shiloh, when the fighting began each division commander had to do what seemed best to him, and coordination with other commanders had to be improvised on the spur of the moment. I am not certain why Grant thought the combined forces in Corinth numbered 100,000 men. But if that idea was taken seriously by Grant, he placed his troops in harms way for no purpose. Wallace was placed where they could be sacrificed easily if those numbers were accurate, and Smith/Sherman placed troops in an area that was inviting disaster. I have no idea what was on Grant's mind with the initial selection of camps.
SHOTGUN: Why Shiloh (Pittsburg Landing)? Did this meeting just take place? Were the armies accidentally placed on this field? Has this question be answered?
KORKY: "I at once put all the troops at Savannah in motion for Pittsburg Landing, knowing the enemy was fortifying at Corinth and collecting an army there under Johnston. It was my expectation to march against that army as soon as Buell, who had been ordered to reinforce me with the Army of the Ohio, should arrive and the west bank of the river was the place to start from."
Personal Memoirs of US Grant
IRISH: Before taking the offensive grant had to await the arrival of Buell with 37,000 men who had been marching from Nashville since March 15, but was making slow headway. It never occurred to Grant that in war both sides can play the same game, and that Johnston and Beauregard might attack him prior to Buell's arrival. To augment his blunders, Grant disobeyed an order by his superior, General Halleck, to fortify his position. Halleck perceived that the Union position was extremely vulnerable. While protected by streams and swamps on three sides, it was wide open in the direction from which the Confederates would come, should they take the initiative. Later Grant offered the alibi that fortifying his camps would have invited an enemy attack, which is like saying that bolted doors tempt burglars to break into a house. Trenches were not yet in vogue, but they were well known, and there had been plenty of time and men to dig them before Buell's arrival. On the other hand, abatis were a standard defensive device, but Grant had provided no axes for his army. He should at least have made his bridgehead at the landing secure , so as to assure Buell's unhindered disembarkment and to protect his base of supplies, yet he neglected to take even this elementary precaution.
BENT: Could not help but wonder about Korky's question, is there any reason to believe Grant really thought 100,000 troops were assembled ? Does anyone know, it does seem inimaginable Grant would do such things if he believed the 100,000 count !
BRETZKY: And from the Confederate viewpoint. Johnson knew he had to attack before Buell joined with Grant's forces.
KORKY: I believe Grant thought the prize in the area was rail junction at Corinth. To Grant's way of thinking this site was strategically important to the Confederacy. Perhaps Grant was surprised by Johnston leaving that important rail center to take the offensive. Certainly Grant was surprised. What was Johnston's estimate of the troops of Grant?
BRETZKY: Korky -- Johnson figured on 40,000, but knew that figure would double with Buell's arrival.
KORKY: Grant in taking both Forts Donnelson and Henry relied heavily on the gunboats to support his infantry. Did Grant expect to get similar support at Pittsburg Landing? If so, might that have made his poor position somewhat more palatable?
TJ: Cointh was a important railroad center, and the first of several similiar sites that Halleck hoped to take during the campaign up the Tennessee River.
IRISH: It appears likely that Shiloh was a point of meeting for Buell and Grant. It was considered with an idea that a union of these two forces could be secured before Johnston and Beauregard could make contact with them. However, the main question for me here, is why did he place Wallace in a position where he could be sacrificed, or not used as an effective reserve if an action took place. The armies were not accidently placed on the field. The Confederates were striking the Federals before a junction could take place. The Union placed troops there as a forward base of operations. Is there any discussion to that proposal?
IRISH: The questions that we have yet to answer are: How did Grant arrive at the 100,000 man mark for Johnston's combined forces. Second, why was Pittsburg Landing considered the place where a forward base of operations would be, and also a meeting place for Buell and Grant? The land certainly was not suitable for such a base.
TJ: Grant did get gunboat support at Pittsburg Landing. It really helped save him from disaster.
KORKY: "The fact is, I regarded the campaign we were engaged in as an offensive one and had no idea the the enemy would leave strong intrenchments to take the initiative when he knew he would be attacked where he was if he remained. This view, however, did not prevent every precaution being taken and every effort made to keep advised of all movements of the enemy."
Personal Memoirs of US Grant
TJ: Irish, in response to your last, I pulled my Boatner. Page 752 states the following: "In order to secure a base for operations against Corinth, [C.F.] Smith had Lew Wallace's division occupy an area on the west bank around Crump Landing. Sherman's division, forced by enemy opposition to abandon its mission of destroying the Big Bear Creek bridge, was put into bivouac around Pittsburg Landing when it returned. Since this was a better bivouac area than Crump Landing it became the main base, and the divisions of Smith, McClernand, and Hurlbut were sent there."
IRISH: I think we have answered questions 1 and 2. Grant did not want to fight a battle at Pittsburg Landing or Shiloh. Johnston did, because he wanted to hit Grant before he could unite with Buell. Johnston knew more about Grant than Grant knew about Johnston. I am not certain if Johnston knew where Wallace was located. Can we go on, or do we need to speak to this some more?
KORKY: "Pittsburg is only about twenty miles from Corinth, and Hamburg landing, four miles further up the river, is a mile or two nearer. I had not been in command long before I selected Hamburg as the place to put the Army of the Ohio when it arrived. The roads from Pittsburg and Hamburg to Corinth converge some eight miles out. This disposition of the troops would have given additional roads to march over when the advance commenced, within supporting distance of each other."
Personal Memoirs of US Grant
IRISH: Great TJ. Do you think Wallace was put at Crumps Landing by accident, or was there not enough room to keep him with the rest of the Army?
TJ: You've got me there, Irish. I just think that Halleck, Smith & Grant had no thought that they were to encounter the Confederates on anything but their own terms.
IRISH: Ok, Korky, Then the sight was selected so as to have converging lines of assault on Corinth. Grants' Army approaching from Pittsburg Landing, Buell's Army approaching from Hamburg. Makes sense, if you aren't in enemy territory.
KORKY: "On the 1st of April [Johnston's]... cavalry became bold and approached our lines, showing that an advance of some kind was contemplated. On the 2d Johnston left Corinth in force to attack my army."
Personal Memoirs of US Grant
KORKY: So Grant assuming that he dictated how the events would unravel had to take the defensive due to Johnston's offensive choice to attack Grant before Buell came up.
TJ: But Grant didn't really take the defensive once he arrived on the field, except allowing the Confederate momentum of the 1st day come to a halt.
IRISH: With the actions against Sherman prior to his camping at Shiloh, and the actions attributed to Johnston cavalry on the 1st of April should have convinced Grant that he was in a perilous position where he should have entrenched. I have a note here that said he was waiting for steam boats, but none were available. I surmise that the steam boats were for Buell's transportation.
BENT: Is it possible Grant was secure in the knowlege his gunboats were available for protection? If so, does anyone know what kind of range these guns would have had relative to the battlefield.
KORKY: TJ Grant stated:
"At this time a large body of the enemy was hovering to the west of us, along the line of the Mobile and Ohio railroad. My apprehension was much greater for the safety of Crump's landing than it was for Pittsburg. I had no apprehension that the enemy could really capture either place. But I feared it was possible that he might make a rapid dash upon Crump's and destroy our transports and stores, most of which were kept at that point, and then retreat before Wallace could be reinforced. Lew. Wallace's position I regarded as so well chosen that he was not removed."
Personal Memoirs of US Grant
MICH: Gen. Prentiss did make his stand in the Hornet's Nest. I got the impression that this was of his own design, allowing Grant to retreat and establish a defensive line closer to the river.
TJ: Bent, I'm not sure what sort of range the guns had, but I believe that, on the 2nd day, attacking Union troops advanced beyond the range of their guns, affording the Confederates the opportunity to take back some lost ground. In short, the gunboats didn't have the range to cover the entire field.
IRISH: On April 3 Johnston set his army in motion, hoping to launch a surprise attack 48 hours later. On the day his army started out he issued this memorandum to his corps commanders: Every effort should be made to turn the left of the enemy, so as to cut him off from his line of retreat on the Tennessee river and throw him back on Owl Creek, where he would be obliged to surrender. It was a fairly good plan on the day it was proclaimed, because at that time Buell was still supposed to be several days march away, but it obviously became less so with every hour which passed. It had other drawback that made its success doubtful. First, it did not draw attention tot he landing at Pittsburg, which stood out as the crucial point of the forthcoming conflict; for whoever was in possession of it commanded the only route over which Buell could come to Grant's aid. Moreover, Beauregard's duties were not clearly defined, and we have only his word for it that he was to conduct "the general direction as the exigencies of the battle might arise." Whatever this vague directive meant, it certainly did not mean that it was to be shelved in favor of another even before such exigencies could develop.
KORKY: On Friday, April 4th, Grant was injured by his horse slipping and landing on him. The softness of the ground prevented serious injury. As it was, however, Grant suffered a severe injury to his ankle. Thru the battle, Grant walked with the aid of crutches.
How did this affect his decision making given his personal discomfort?
TJ: Mich, I believe Prentiss was able to hold out due to the nature of the ground in the Hornet's Nest, and Grant realized this and ordered him to hold on to the end, in order to stabilize the Union retreat and keep the left (or east) flank from folding. Wasn't Prentiss captured or killed?
TJ: I'm not sure it would have had much of any impact, Korky, given Grant's noted concentration. Remember the great observations re: Grant's character in battle that Porter made.
KORKY: Grant claims that he was uncertain about where the enemy would attack either Crump's or Pittsburg Landing.
TJ: One question I would like to ask, if I may, is what does everybody think would have happened if Van Dorn's 20-25,000 Confederates had reached the field in time on the 2nd day. Would Beauregard have remained in the fight? Would Grant have cut his losses and pulled back to the relative safety of the other side of the Tennessee?
IRISH: If Grant was uncertain about where the enemy would attack, it means also that he expected an attack. Is this correct? If it is, then it means that he was willing to sacrifice Wallace, and also it means that he was being very negligent in not entrenching or posting abatis.
KORKY: Once Grant realized the place of attack was Pittsburg Landing, he ordered Wallace to move his troops to Pittsburg Landing and leave a small guard to protect the stores at Crump's Landing. Grant is critical of Wallace for not coming up quicker. Grant felt that Wallace being a veteran of battle should not have made the mistake.
MICH: TJ The order makes sense, but what an order to receive knowing that you are probably going to be killed or captured. I read of one account that had over 60 cannon focused on his division in those confined quarters.
IRISH: That is a very good question TJ. I have some thoughts on that that I want to discuss just a little later.
BRETZKY: In a note to Halleck on the 4th, Grant stated: "I have scarecly the faintest ideasd of an attack being made on us."
IRISH: Wallace was against the current in the river, and also was separated from Grant by swampy ground. The placement of the troops was Grant's mishap, the movement of Wallace to Grant was partly Wallace's mishap, and partly problems with geography. It is typical to pass the buck following a mistake made in battle.
KORKY: Irish, Grant thought he was going to take the offensive in the campaign. On the 2nd of April, Johnston makes a cavalry offensive that informs Grant that the events will be dictated by Johnston. According to this memoirs, as late as April 5, he still was uncertain where the enemy was going to focus its men. At 8:00am on the 5th, Grant's intelligence told him to expect a movement against Pittsburg Landing. At that point he ordered Wallace to leave Crump's Landing and support him at Pittsburg.
SHOTGUN: Since TJ asked, I'm gonna throw my two cents in. I don't think Beauregard wanted to fight at Shiloh and I think that once he was in command he would leave at the earliest possible convience. Just my opinion.
IRISH: It is my understanding, but I have know way of knowing, since I have read very little of the battle, Grant did not expect attack. If he did he was grossly ill prepared especially posting Wallace away from the main force.
IRISH: Johnston himself, unaware that Beauregard had conceived a plan of his own, would go to the front and inspire the troops, a task for which his magnetic personality was well suited. The effect of this jumbled leadership was that the battle was fought by two generals who held sharply divergent views, and who were not in touch with each other after the fighting begun. Beauregard did not attempt to turn Grant's left flank, as Johnston had only indicated, but not specifically ordered, as he should have done. Instead, he determined to attack simultaneously along the entire front, pressing Grant against the Tennessee River, hoping to end the day there with a glorious victory. In his official report of April 11, 1862, Beauregard did not even refer to Johnston's memorandum, nor did he mention it in any of his subsequent writing. His report was clear, however, in respect to his own plan, which contemplated "a rapid and vigorous attack on General Grant" by which he was to be "beaten back into his transports and the river." Several directions he gave during the battle further prove his complete disregard of Johnston's memorandum, when he ordered the collection of scattered troops to "drive the enemy into the Tennessee."
TJ: Mich, just pulled Boatner again to look and see what happened to Prentiss. He was captured, not killed, at Shiloh. Was released that October, promoted to major general in November, and served on Fitz-John Porter's court martial. He practiced law after the war and died in 1901, and the age of 82.
KORKY: Recall Grant's Memoirs were written in 1884-5 as he faced the certainty of death via throat cancer. His insights have hindsight written all over it but for most part I believe his comments were honest.
TJ: I tend to agree with you re: Beauregard, shotgun. I think, however, that if Van Dorn had arrived, Beaureagard would have been forced, really, to stay and fight. I think Van Dorn's absence was just the excuse Beauregard needed (in addition to the death of Johnston) to call it a fight and withdraw.
KORKY: Do you think Grant felt that his positon was not that bad since his left and right flanks were protected by Owl Creek and Lick Creek?
IRISH: Beauregard could have claimed that his plan did not run counter to that of his chief, who had exclaimed on the morning of the fight that "Tonight we'll water our horses in the Tennessee," while previously he had predicted that the horses would water in Owl Creek, which was some five miles distant from the big river. this was a hasty and needless boast, and bound to increase the confusion caused by his loose language and generally careless conduct of affairs. On the day of battle Beauregard issued another order: "When needed, the troops should be sent to the sound of the heaviest fighting." This admonition was wholly unnecessary, as it was a mere repetition of a fundamental principle. Nevertheless, its proclamations was destined to help save Grant from almost inevitable disaster.
TJ: Korky, I think Grant felt his position was precarious. Also, Owl Creek (I'm not familiar with Lick Creek) aside, the Confederates could still have turned either Union flank during the day, i.e., it was definitely a possibility, if not a probability.
IRISH: The original plan was to turn the left flank of the enemy force. The way to do this was to attack in echelon. This is a pretty good method when it is masked, which is what Johnston was counting on. The first line of the echelon came out of the woods near the Federal right flank. As is the principle of warfare in the nineteenth century, when in doubt, go to the sound of the guns. What Johnston was hoping for was that the second line of the echelon would not advance too quickly in order to spring the trap. As the firing commenced the Federal forces converged on the sound of firing which greatly exposed their flanks to the second and third lines of the echelon. However, because of the non-cooperation between Beauregard and Johnston, the second and third lines did not spring the trap, they entered the field too quickly thereby exposing the ruse, and allowing the Federals a chance to retreat and pull up their defenses along the sunken road.
TJ: Irish, perhaps this is a good question for you and the room: Was Johnston's plan to turn the Union left (or east) flank a better idea than the other option, that is to attempt to turn the Union right flank. The latter, if a success, would have literally driven the Federals into the Tennessee River.
KORKY: Grant claims that he was quite active on Sunday the 6th, moving back and forth along the line. He attributes much credit to Sherman on the right flank. Sherman's commanding presence helped his green troops get thru the fight. Grant was thankful that Sherman was not taken out of action that day. As it was, "On the 6th, Sherman was shot twice, once in the hand, once in the shoulder, the ball cutting his coat and making a slight wound, and a third passed through his hat. In addition to this he had several horses shot during the day."
Personal Memoirs of US Grant
BENT: TJ, In the end, what prevented the total collapse of the Union left ? Artillery, gunboats, new defensive line, A.S. Johnstons death, darkness ?
FRED: I think that the sending of beauregard to the west was what may have cost the CSA the whole war...if he had not pulled back on the night of 4-6-1862 the CSA army might have held on.
IRISH: This attack in depth as Johnston wanted, soon turned into a full frontal assault. It was at this juncture of the battle, that I believe was the critical place where the South lost the battle. Johnston's ruse was working fine, and Prentiss would not have had time to pull his troops out of harms way had he been hit in flank. When Prentiss and the other commanders who were either coming to the rescue or contemplating coming to the rescue found that they were being assaulted quickly sought out defensive positions. Allowing the Hornets line to become a reality destroyed any chance of a southern victory. Buell's forces arrived, and whether Van Dorn would have gotten there or not, the best that could have happened for the South at that point was a draw. Beauregard reinforced with Van Dorn still would not have been able to assault entrenched troops defended by artillery and gun boats. Of course that is only my opinion.
TJ: My unprofessional opinion would be a little of all the options you present, Bent. The truth is, I believe, that Beauregard, if he had continued the attack of the first day (I believe he halted between 6 & 7 PM, thinking he would have time the next morning to finish the job, i.e., believing Buell wouldn't arrive as soon as he did) could have won a big victory, or at least have significantly changed the course of the battle.
TJ: I don't know, Irish. To be sure, the stand by Prentiss in the Hornet's Nest threw off the timing of the Confederate attack, but they did eventually overcome Prentiss, and though Johnston was dead, Beauregard (if he wasn't Beauregard, if you know what I mean) could still have pressed the issue successfully, I think.
FRED: If anyone recalls the reports on the battle..Beauregard did not even want the battle to get underway. He has proposed to Johnston that the attack be called off the night before.
IRISH: TJ, I believe that turning the left was a good plan, and well conceived. The first attack would come from Hardee, which would have brought the Federal forces into that direction. Waiting for just the right time, Johnston could have sent in Bragg, who would have hit the first line of Federal reinforcements in flank. This surely would have required immediate reinforcements which I believe proably would have come from Prentiss. As Prentiss was approaching the fight, Johnston should have thrown in Polk. If this would have occurred the left would have been hit hard. By bringing up reserves (Breckinridge), the left would have been turned, and the Federals should have been routed away from the natural defenses of where they eventually did retreat to.
IRISH: My feeling about the critical juncture in the battle being the mistaken frontal attack which led to the Hornets Nest was that it did take the steam out of the attack. Johnston was dead or dying, and Beauregard did not want to fight. It is an opinion. When looking at the whole of the battle, when was the crucial time when the battle was won or lost?
TJ: It was a good plan, Irish, I agree, but of course it didn't work in the end. I was only thinking if the alternative was feasible, and attack along the Owl Creek River. Such an attack perhaps could have bypassed the Hornet's Nest area alltogether. But who knows?
IRISH: Also should point out that an attack in depth (echelon) has to be very well coordinated. It was Johnston's plan, and he should have been in position to send the troops forward at exactly the right time. In this he failed.
Mich: Shotgun, Your original format included a any instances that might have been turning points. Perhaps the recognition by Prentiss of the advancing troops, allowing him to establish his Hornet's line and the Confederates determination to stream roll him instead of bypassing, surrounding him and still maintaining the advance was such an instance.
TJ: Irish, I think Johnston's death was big, not necessarily because of Johnston's strength as a commander, but due to the fact that Beauregard didn't seem to have the ability or the heart to press the attack.
FRED: The battle was lost when the attack, even though the army was tired, was pulled back on the first night.
IRISH: A full frontal attack against potentially superior forces (numbers as well as good defensive positions) seldom achieve desired goals quickly. It is my understanding that the Confederates needed a quick victory in order to keep Pittsburg Landing out of the hands of Buell's reinforcing army.
KORKY: What saved the Union Left Flank? One major factor was the arrival of Colonel Jacob Ammen's Brigade of Nelson's Division which had just crossed the river.Grant as Military Commander by General Sir James Marshall-Cornwall page 77.
TJ: Irish, what is your opinion re: a possible Confederate attack of the Union right on the 1st day?
IRISH: I believe all of the points mentioned are very good. It is possible Fred that had the attacks resumed that Grant could have been injured severely, however as bad as his troops had been hit, they still had a very impressive line of artillery backed up by very large ordinance from the two gun boats. The original plan would have kept Prentiss from establishing a defensive position. Also, it goes against the principle of maneuver and battle to leave an effective fighting force in your rear. How many troops would it take to maintain Prentiss in the Hornets Nest as troops progressed forward toward the Tennessee? Not disagreeing, just would like to see your thoughts.
TJ: True, Nelson's brigade was the first of Buell's army to arrive, late on the 1st day. But hadn't Beauregard called things off by then? I'm not sure.
SABER: It is my understanding that Beauregard was performing the same function for A.S. Johnston that Joe Johnston performed for Beauregard at 1st. Manassas. While Johnston was up in front rallying and inspiring the troops Beauregard was feeding reenforcements to critical areas.
FRED: Irish...you are right but they did need the quick victory and had it in their hands but it was ineptitude by it's commanders.
KORKY: Ammen was a part of Nelson's division, Buell's Army
IRISH: I think, that as soon as Grant was able to piece any kind of line together with wheel to wheel artillery along the uneven ground near the Tennessee back up with those very large guns of the Tyler and Lexington, the offensive was no longer possible. Artillery by itself has a great deal of psychological affect. However, large naval guns tend to remove bravery from the most bravest of us. So I guess in my humble opinion, I think as soon as the initial assault bogged down at the Hornets Nest the Battle was not going to be won in the way the Confederates needed it to in order to keep Buell separated from Grant.
SHOTGUN: Folks I know this discussion could and probably will continue well into the night. However, I would like each of you that have participated tonight to give a summation paragraph as to your feelings on the Battle of Shiloh based on the original questions that were posed on "Weekly Discussion." I have been cutting and pasting most of the night and I need to sum it up. Thanks.
IRISH: Saber, you are absolutely right. It should have been the other way around, since Beauregard did not believe in the plan. Fred, I believe they could have achieved a victory had Beauregard or Johnston organized the Attack in echelon properly. I don't think they could win it after the long battle at the Hornets Nest.
FRED: Irish..I agree with you on the question of leaving the fighting force in the Hornets Nest would not be a good idea but still some of the troops could have been cut loose to force the Union left flank to finally break...Also would the war have been different if Grant had been seriously or fatally wounded at Shiloh..Your thoughts.
SABER: In my opinion the action of the Division of Prentiss in the Horent's Nest saved Mr. Grant's command that day. Irish I believe that Beaureguard backed the plan as long as suprise was achieved. He felt that suprise had been lost and that the attack under those circumstances should be called off.
FRED'S SUMMATION: I think that the Battle of Shiloh could and should have been a great victory for the Confederate Army...The problem was that when A.S.Johnston was killed the Confederate cause was turned over to a General who had no confidence in the battle plan and really wanted to stay away..If another General such as Forrest had taken command I think that the battle would have a totally different outcome.
COL STOUGHTON'S SUMMATION: To me, the battle was lost before it was even began, when Beauregard convinced Johnston to attck in line of corps, instead of lines of divisions. Which caused very many confusing incidents that needlessly wasted men, eg. Cleburne's lone attack, and the other piecemeal attacks against the Hornet's nest. If the attacks could have been co-ordinated by a single high commander, then the federals would not have had time to prepare a strong defensive.
KORKY'S SUMMATION: According to Grant, it should have been the Battle of Corinth. Grant and Buell facing off against Johnston's entrenched line at Corinth. Johnston surprized him by attacking instead at Pittsburg Landing. Grant, 8 miles down river at the time of the first firings on April 6th, was certainly surprized. His defensive position was not the best. He had the river at his back, lacked Buell's army, and had two creeks on either flank. Johnston's men gave it all they could on the 6th, but the Arrival of Buell's army by the presence of Nelson's Division, Col Ammen in command proved significant. Buell's army had arrived with fresh troops, Johnston was dead, and on the 7th of April the Union army being reinforced took it to the Confederates.
IRISH'S SUMMATION: My feelings are that battle was not planned on the part of the Federals. A major blunder occurred with Grant, Smith, and Sherman in the placing of the troops. Another blunder was not constructing entrenchments or abatis, and not having suitable vedettes. Johnston blundered by not being the main organizer of "his" plan. Had he sent the troops in the way that he had conceived the plan, then the battle quite possibly would have been won. He blundered by giving this very critical portion of the organization of the battle to a subordinate. Beuregard failed in many ways. First by not endorsing his commander's plan, second by encouraging a full frontal assault instead of the attack in echelon. The battle was lost at the critical moment when the full frontal attack began in that it allowed the Federals to build a strong defensive line at the Hornets Nest. Beauegard's organization of the troops contrary to Johnston's wishes presents an accident that was exploited by Prentiss.
MICH'S SUMMATION: Shiloh was a federalists victory in spite of Grant's tunnel vision regarding defensive strategy, and because of General Prentiss' tenacity in holding up the advancing confederates and the timely arrival of Buell's troops.
SABER'S SUMMATION: Mistakes were made by both sides at Shiloh. Sherman's placement of troops by the priorities of nearness to water and fields the troops could drill in gave no attention to defense. Grant was looking past Pittsburg Landing to the offensive against Cornith. Beauregard's and Johnston's positions on the field should have been reversed. What the legacy of the Battle of Shiloh was is that is showed both the Union and Confederacy that it was going to be a long and terrible blood bath of a war.
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