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Civil War Round Table of Kansas City

Battle of Shiloh - 159th Anniversary

Dave Pattison participated in the Shiloh battlefield hikes on April 6-7, 2021. The hikes followed either Union or Confederate troop movements during the battle and were led by Shiloh National Military Park rangers. See page 8 of this newsletter for some of the key points made by park rangers during the hikes. The following are a few photographs taken during the 159th Anniversary hikes:

Key Points Regarding the Battle of Shiloh

  • Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston's plan was to attack Grant's Army of the Tennessee before Grant could be reinforced by Buell's Army of the Ohio.
  • The Confederates wanted to attack Grant on April 4th. However, the attack was delayed until April 6th, which gave Buell's army time to reach Pittsburg Landing late on April 6th.
  • General Johnston's plan was also to turn the Union left and drive Grant's army into flooded Owl and Snake Creeks. Johnston did not know exactly where the Union left was. He did not have a good map and the Confederates did not do adequate reconnaissance prior to the battle.
  • Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard's battle plan was flawed. He stacked up four Corps in parallel lines. This created confusion as units became mixed during the battle.
    During the battle, Johnston thought he had turned the Union left and he over-committed his troops to attack the Union center and right.
  • Grant's army was surprised by the Confederate attack on April 6th. When Grant arrived on the battlefield, he met with his division commanders and realized that the Union aimy was in trouble. Control of Pittsburg Landing was critical.
  • On the Union right, Generals Sherman and McClemand counterattacked the Confederates at noon on April 6th, which slowed the Confederate attack. In the Union center, Generals Prentiss and W.H.L. Wallace defended the Hornets nest for several hours against the Confederates' piecemeal attacks. In both of these cases, Grant's army traded space for time.
  • The Confederates surrounded the Hornets Nest and captured 2,200 Union troops. However, the Union defense of the Hornets Nest allowed Grant time to prepare a final line of defense near Pittsburg Landing.
  • At the end of the first day of battle, Beauregard believed that the Confederates had won a great victory and just needed to wrap up Grant's aimy the next day. However, they had not achieved their goal of defeating Grant's army.
  • On the morning of April 7th, Grant's army, reinforced by Lew Wallace's division, and Buell's army attacked the Confederates. Beauregard had no reinforcements and after another day of intense fighting, he decided to retreat back to Corinth MS.
  • Total casualties at Shiloh were 23,746 killed, wounded, and missing. That was more than all of the previous American wars combined.
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