by Fred Skolnik

The American Civil War began on April 12-13, 1861, with the bombardment and capture of Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor by Confederate forces under P.G.T Beauregard. South Carolina had been the first of the Southern states to secede from the Union, on December 20, 1860, following Lincoln's victory in the presidential elections. The remaining ten states of the Confederacy followed suit over the next six months.

The cause of the Civil War was ostensibly the issue of slavery, though Lincoln had declared that he would only ban it in the new states formed out of the western territories. However, resentment in the South ran very deep, fueled by the air of moral superiority assumed by the North and the financial stranglehold of New York and Boston bankers on the rural South. Churchill called the War the most unavoidable in modern history and such, apparently, it was.

After Sumter and the opening skirmishes, rebel forces under Joseph Johnston with Beauregard as his deputy occupied Bull Run Creek, just 25 miles from Washington on the Virginia side of the Potomac. On July 17, Federal forces under the command of Irwin McDowell attacked them and were promptly routed. The North needed a savior and, in George McClellan, Lincoln thought he had one. But the new commander-in-chief of the Union armies, replacing the venerable Winfield Scott, was in no hurry to make war. He spent a leisurely fall and winter preparing his troops and only struck south in March 1862, aiming to capture Richmond, but would be driven back by Robert E. Lee in seven days of fierce fighting (June 25 – July 1) at the gates of the Confederate capitol. By that time, the war in the West was in full swing.

Unlike the Eastern theater of operations, the Western theater was spread over a vast geographical area, ranging from the mountains of eastern Tennessee to the Pacific Coast, and presented a broad range of strategic opportunities, with three great rivers – the Mississippi, the Cumberland and the Tennessee – reaching deep into the soft underbelly of the South, while, on the other hand, two states of doubtful loyalty – Kentucky and Missouri – sat astride a thin layer of Northern states. Therefore, though the burden of conquest was on the North, it was not clear from the outset on whose ground the struggle would be decided.

In Missouri, feelings were mixed. Three-quarters of the state's inhabitants were of Southern origin, and Southern sympathizers, led by Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson, dominated its politics. On the other hand, St. Louis was a hotbed of abolitionist sentiment with an absolute majority of German and Irish immigrants while the state as a whole had a Northern economic orientation owing to its growing industrialization and the railroad that tied it to the east. Therefore its inhabitants wanted in effect to have things both ways, neither to secede from the Union nor join the Northern war effort.

Not so Governor Jackson, who controlled a pro-South militia and had his eye on the Federal armory in St. Louis. When Nathaniel Lyon, a fiercely aggressive officer responsible for one of the worst massacres in the history of America's wars against the Indians, was sent there to take charge of the Federal troops and occupied the hills surrounding the armory, Jackson and his 900 militiamen set up a training base outside the city. On May 10, 1861, Lyon surrounded it with 7,000 volunteers, mostly Germans, and forced its surrender, leading the prisoners through the city to a chorus of angry shouts and curses from Southern sympathizers. Things quickly got out of hand, shots were fired, and 25 civilians were killed and 75 wounded. The next day thousands of Southern sympathizers fled the city. After the two sides failed to reach an understanding about public order, Jackson returned to his capitol at Jefferson City, 100 miles to the south, and issued a call for 50,000 militiamen to defend the state. Lyon immediately struck south. Jackson fell back another 50 miles, to Booneville, where Sterling Price, a former governor of Missouri and now commander of the state militia on Jackson's behalf, tried to organize the volunteers. They then fled toward the Arkansas border, hoping to make contact with Confederate forces. These came up to Wilson's Creek in early August, where Lyon attacked them though he had just 5,400 men compared to the rebel force of 11,000. In the heat of the fighting, after being wounded twice, Lyon took a bullet to the chest and was killed. The rest of the Federal army, which had suffered 1,200 casualties like the rebels, then retreated north. By now John Frémont, the famous Pathfinder of the West and a bit of a blowhard, had arrived to take command, but was content to remain in St. Louis surrounded by an entourage of foreign dignitaries while Price moved north with his men. Finally at the end of September, Frémont began to advance toward Price at a snail's pace with an army of 38,000 men. Price now had just 7,000 volunteers and moved them into the southwest corner of the state. Frémont, guilty not only of military incompetence but also of colossal waste and corruption, was now removed from command and replaced by a new savior from the West, Henry Halleck.

Like Missouri, Kentucky preferred to remain "neutral" in the War Between the States. This did not prevent Kentuckians from organizing rival militias just across state lines or both sides from undertaking warlike measures within its borders. Command of the Cumberland District, which included Kentucky and Tennessee, had been placed in the hands of William Tecumseh Sherman, who had fought at Bull Run. Sherman was one of the most colorful and complex of the figures brought into prominence by the war – a true original whose nonstop talking, wild gesticulating manner, sloppy dress and straw hat were the exterior signs of a volatile and impulsive temperament. Sherman had grown up in Ohio without a father, raised by the all-powerful Thomas Ewing, and had even married the Senator's daughter after leaving the regular army, but all his efforts to support his family had failed. And now the pressure of high command turned out to be more than his nerves could stand and within a month he suffered a complete mental collapse and was sent home to recuperate after reporting to his old friend Henry Halleck.

In the same month of November 1861, another former regular army officer who had not fared too well in civilian or, for that matter, army life was ordered to create a diversion to keep Confederate forces from reinforcing the rebels in Missouri. This was Ulysses S. Grant, of whom it would be said that he only succeeded in two things in his life: in war and in his marriage. Separation from his wife had aggravated his drinking problem and he had had to resign from the army under a cloud in 1854, but the new war brought new opportunities and required a skill that he possessed. First he was given a regiment and within a month was made a brigadier of volunteers and given command of a military district with headquarters in Cairo, Illinois.

Grant knew how to seize an opportunity. Unlike Sherman, who felt that he had to prove himself to his powerful father-in-law and his spoiled daughter, Grant had always had the support of an adoring wife and was entirely at peace with himself despite his failures, and full of self-confidence. Now he decided on his own to turn the demonstration of force he had been ordered to make into a full-fledged military operation, transporting his men down the Mississippi, crossing over to the Missouri side and capturing a rebel outpost at Belmont. While his men were busy looting it, the rebels sent reinforcements across the river from the Kentucky side. Grant set the enemy camp on fire to get his men's attention but realized that it was time to call it quits before they were cut off, and everyone now raced to the transports waiting for them in the river. Grant was the last to make it to the boats, his horse sliding down the embankment on its hind quarters after a furious gallop. Each side lost over 600 men, including the many wounded that Grant left behind. In the North there was not a little criticism of the pointless battle, but Grant had made a name for himself.

Halleck had arrived in St. Louis on November 19 to replace Frémont. Don Carlos Buell had arrived in Louisville, Kentucky, on November 13 to replace Sherman. Between them they now ruled the West, under the very loose reins of the Commanding General, George McClellan, who had problems of his own back East. Halleck was known as "Old Brains," having written a book called Elements of Military Art and Science and translated Jomini's Life of Napoleon. He had gotten rich in California, married Alexander Hamilton's granddaughter, and resigned from the regular army at the age of 40. Looking more like a banker than a general with his bulging eyes, loose jowls and a number of repulsive mannerisms, he treated everyone with contempt and was not too well liked himself.

While Halleck organized, Buell temporized. It was George Thomas, another Old Army officer and destined to become the Rock of Chickamauga, who got Buell to agree to an expedition to Eastern Kentucky, whose loyalty to the Union Lincoln considered of vital importance. Thomas set out on January 1, 1862, and marched 100 miles in rain, mud and snow with 6,500 men, each carrying 20 lbs. of equipment. On January 19, he attacked the rebels at Mill Spring (Logan's Cross Roads), routing them and in effect saving Eastern Kentucky for the Union. Halleck now felt compelled to act as well and agreed to let Grant lead an expedition against the two rebel fortresses, Ft. Henry and Ft. Donelson, 10 miles apart, that controlled the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers in northern Tennessee. Grant organized a force of 17,000 men and a fleet of transports and gunboats to bring them up the Tennessee from Cairo to Ft. Henry. He had planned to surround the fortress, but nature did the work for him, as it had been unwisely located on low ground and was now flooded by the Tennessee, causing the rebels to evacuate it in favor of Ft. Donelson before Grant could organize his assault. Grant announced to Halleck that he would take Ft. Donelson in two days' time, on February 8. Halleck had no choice but to go along, though Grant was moving a little too quickly to suit his cautious nature.

Grant was delayed by heavy rains and only moved out on the 12th. Two divisions, commanded by John McClernand and John Smith, marched overland while the gunboats and transports with additional troops sailed back and this time came up the Cumberland. The weather was fine so without thinking too much the men on the march threw away their coats and blankets. On the morning of the 13th, they reached their destination, waiting now for the boats to arrive.

But there was a very big surprise in store for Grant. Donelson was now defended by 17,000 men, determined to block any Federal advance toward Nashville. Also among Donelson's defenders were 1,300 cavalrymen commanded by Nathan Bedford Forrest, a slave trader who had personally financed the organization of his battalion. Unlike Ft. Henry, Donelson was perfectly positioned, on 15 acres of high ground, surrounded by artillery and defended by creeks or ravines on its flanks and 3 miles of strong fortifications in its front. Grant sent his two divisions forward but they could not make much headway. A little later the gunboats arrived and opened fire on the fortress. The gunfire continued throughout the day. In the night the temperature dropped to -10° and it snowed, burying Grant's men in their summer uniforms. The wounded between the lines who had not been burned to death by the fires ignited in the woods by the exploding shells screamed for mercy during the night. In the morning an additional 10,000 men arrived and Grant attacked in the center while another artillery duel developed. In the night it rained and snowed and the men again stood exposed in the freezing cold.

Inside the fort, the atmosphere was gloomy. The three Confederate commanders – John Floyd, a Virginia politician; Gideon Pillow, A Tennessee lawyer; and Simon Bolivar Buckner, a West Point graduate – agreed that it was impossible to hold on, so on the night of the 14th they decided to break out the following morning and try to reach Nashville. At 6 a.m., when Grant's men were just coming to life and Grant himself was on one of the boats, Pillow's division came out in full force and attacked McClernand on Grant's right with Forrest and his riders, looking like ghosts, in the lead. Pillow came up against Richard Oglesby's brigade on McClernand's right and despite the fierce resistance was able to push it back. Forrest rode into the enemy flank and captured six cannons. By 10 a.m. just a single regiment of Oglesby's remained in the area and McClernand's right was now fully exposed. By 11 a.m. the way to Nashville was open. But here Pillow stopped to celebrate, dispatching a messenger to send out a telegram announcing his victory and then berating Buckner in the center for not fighting hard enough. Then, all of a sudden, the fighting unaccountably ground to a halt. Everyone stood around talking instead of advancing and then it was one o'clock and Grant arrived.

He did not like what he saw and prepared to mount a counterattack, riding over to Smith on the left, but in the meanwhile Pillow surprised everyone by calling off his own attack and ordering Buckner back to the fortress, either having lost his nerve or believing, as he later claimed, that a Federal reinforcement of 20,000 men was on the way. Buckner could not believe what he was hearing. Grant ordered Smith to attack and he now smashed into Buckner's retreating men while McClernand swung around and closed the road to Nashville again.

Back in the fortress, the rebels spent another gloomy night. The three senior officers decided that it would be best to surrender. However, Floyd did not intend to wait around, arguing that with his political past, things would go hard on him as a prisoner, and commandeered one of the transports evacuating the wounded for his escape. Pillow volunteered to join him. Buckner, the junior officer among them, preferred to stay, and in a bizarre ceremony, Floyd transferred command to Pillow and Pillow transferred command to Buckner, each pronouncing the words formally, and Buckner finally saying, "I assume it." Forrest informed them that he had no intention of surrendering his men and before dawn quietly slipped away, letting 200 infantrymen hitch rides on his horses.

Buckner requested a ceasefire from Grant so that they could discuss the terms of the surrender. Grant replied immediately: "No terms except an immediate and unconditional surrender can be accepted. I propose to move immediately on your works." Buckner had no choice but to accept the "ungenerous and unchivalrous" ultimatum from his old army friend whom he had helped out when Grant arrived in New York nearly penniless after resigning from the army. When Grant arrived in the fortress, however, they chatted amiably and Grant joked that Pillow would have had nothing to worry about as he was of more use to the North as a Southern commander than as a prisoner. He also did not mind that hundreds of rebel soldiers slipped out of the fortress and escaped while they were talking, as holding them would have been a hindrance. He informed Halleck that he had taken between 12,000 and 15,000 prisoners, though in the end he probably had no more than 10,000. He had also captured 2,000-4,000 horses, 65 cannons and 20,000 rifles while reporting 2,832 Union losses as opposed to the 2,000 reported by Pillow for the rebels. With the forts in Union hands, the rebels were also forced to abandon Nashville. Grant was now a national hero, known as Unconditional Surrender Grant. Halleck, however, was not one of his admirers, despite the brilliant victory at Fort Donelson, or perhaps because of it, not to mention the residue of seediness that attached to his past. In fact, he would have been happy to get rid of him altogether and in early March ordered Grant to remain in Fort Henry while Smith undertook the next mission that Halleck had in mind: an expedition up the Tennessee River to tear up the railroad and isolate Albert Sidney Johnston and his troops before attacking them.

Grant really did not understand what Halleck had against him and demanded a hearing, also threatening to resign. Word got to Lincoln, who wanted to know what was going on, and Halleck backed down quickly enough, sending Grant south to take command of Smith's force, with the single proviso that he refrain from attacking Johnston until Buell, coming over from Nashville with 50,000 men, linked up with him.

Grant caught up with Smith at Savannah, on the eastern bank of the Tennessee, about 80 miles south of Fort Henry and 20 miles from the Alabama border. Smith had about half his troops with him (three divisions). The rest were a few miles upstream (south), at Crump's and Pittsburg Landing. Smith was also hospitalized at the time with an infection picked up when he scraped his foot (and the 19th century being what it was, died within a month). From Pittsburg Landing, Sherman, back on duty with a division of raw recruits, persuaded Grant that it was an ideal place to mass the troops, so Grant sent him the three divisions at Savannah with instructions to deploy them as he saw fit. Grant, meanwhile, remained where he was, awaiting the arrival of Buell, who had advanced to within 80 miles by March 18 but then allowed himself to be delayed for ten days by a flooded river and a burnt bridge.

Pittsburg Landing consisted of a few cabins and a general store. It was situated about 100 feet above the water, between two marshy creeks 3-5 miles apart. The large plain between them was cut by deep ravines. Sherman placed his own division (minus a brigade) a little to the west of Shiloh Church, 2 1/2 miles from the Landing. He then deployed Benjamin Prentiss's division to his left and his own last brigade about 250 yards to the left of Prentiss, extending it to the southern creek (Lick Creek). Behind Sherman and Prentiss, closer to the river in order to guard the bridge there, were William Wallace (on the right) and Stephen Hurlbut (on the left), and between Wallace and Sherman – John McClernand. Altogether, Sherman had 35,000 men on the plain. Lew Wallace's sixth division was busy tearing up the railroad to the north. The weather was beautiful, the trees were in blossom and a carpet of green covered the ground.

However, though Sherman had ordered all brigades to face west and all regiments to remain in contact with one another in order to be ready for battle, they did as they pleased, facing in every direction and getting as far away from each other as they could. No one, including Sherman, believed that the distant Confederate forces would dare to attack and therefore he did not even order them to fortify their camps. The men settled in as though they were out on a summer excursion, setting up ovens to bake bread and fixing up comfortable beds.

Twenty miles to the southwest, at Corinth, Albert Sidney Johnston, an experienced Old Army officer, was just beginning to get his Army of Mississippi into shape. He had 15,000 of his own men under William Hardee and Nathan Bedford Forrest while his deputy, our old friend Beauregard, who had been shipped out to the West because he could not get along with anyone in the East (being Joseph Johnston's deputy, Secretary of War Judah Benjamin had reminded him, meant being deputy commander of the whole army and not commander of half of it), had scraped together another 25,000, including 10,000 from Pensacola and Mobile under the command of Braxton Bragg, a fierce disciplinarian known for his iron hand and wooden head. Once, as both commander and quartermaster of a company, it was said, he had conducted a spirited correspondence with himself. As commander he had requested certain urgent supplies. As quartermaster he denied the request. His wife too had grown to be somewhat fierce, urging him to place his Tennessee men where his batteries could fire at them if they tried to run away.

Beauregard soon convinced Johnston to attack the Federal army and Johnston was happy to let Beauregard draw up the order of battle, whose key element was to be surprise.

Two roads led from Corinth to Pittsburg Landing. The rebel army was divided between them and ordered to rendezvous where the roads met 5 miles from the Landing, between the two creeks,. Beauregard had his chief of staff write up the orders, which he did with a copy of Napoleon's orders for the Battle of Waterloo at his elbow as a model. The final product was an elaborate document that called for a level of coordination far beyond the capabilities of an inexperienced army. Johnston approved everything without batting an eye.

The army numbered three corps, under Bragg, Hardee and Leonidas Polk, an Episcopalian bishop and descendant of the 11th president. John Breckinridge, vice president of the United States under Buchanan, commanded the reserves and Forrest the cavalry. The basic plan was to attack the enemy in three waves of 10,000 men each with Forrest's 4,000 riders on the flanks, cut off his line of retreat to the river by flanking his left, and drive him toward Owl Creek to the north. Each soldier carried 100 rounds of ammunition and supplies for three days. Supplies for two additional days were kept in the wagons and each artillery piece had 200 rounds of ammunition. Rebel reconnaissance had already ascertained that the Federal camps were unfortified and poorly placed for rapid deployment.

On April 3, Southern forces began to move out, though not without many delays, with the mud, the narrow roads and the thick woods all contributing to the general confusion. Hardee reached the rendezvous point the next morning instead of on the same evening because, he claimed, Polk was in his way. Bragg, for his part, got in Polk's way. On the afternoon of April 4, Hardee ran into Union scouts. It was clear now that the element of surprise had been lost. It rained during the night. Johnston and Beauregard waited impatiently while Bragg went looking for a lost division. "This is perfectly puerile!" Johnston exclaimed. "This is not war!" Bragg found his division but this time it was Polk who got in his way and another day was lost. Beauregard was of the opinion that the entire attack should be called off. Bragg, a pessimist by nature, agreed. Johnston declared: "We shall attack at daylight."

On the night of April 5, Hardee camped around 2 miles west of Shiloh Church. The brigades of Thomas Hindman and Sterling Wood occupied his center, Patrick Cleburne was on his left and Gladden with a brigade from Bragg's corps was on the right. Hindman had fought in Mexico before becoming a Congressman and Cleburne had served in the British army before emigrating from Ireland in 1849. Behind them, Bragg deployed Jonas Withers' division on the right and Ruggles' division on the left. Both were West Point graduates. In the third line under Polk, Frank Cheatham, fighter and drinker, waited far to the left near the railroad, ready to link up with Clark on the right. Breckinridge too was on the right with his 6,000-man reserve.

The utter chaos that had accompanied the rebel advance, including random gunfire, bugle calls, drum rolls and the encounter with the Federal scouts – in a word, everything that had convinced Beauregard that there was not a chance in the world of surprising Grant – did not cause a single eyebrow to be raised among the Federal commanders. When Forrest appeared on his big white horse at the head of a cavalry force, about half a mile away, Sherman assumed that they were just keeping an eye on Federal movements. Grant was still in Savannah, this time with a twisted ankle after taking a fall with his horse, and still waiting for Buell. He too believed that there was no chance of a rebel attack. On April 5 he wrote to Halleck that most of the rebel army, numbering 80,000 men in his estimate, was still at Corinth. When the first of Buell's five divisions (Nelson's) arrived during the day (the last was still 40 miles away), Grant ordered him to wait on the left bank of the river. Buell himself arrived in the evening but Grant did not bother to meet with him. The next morning, as he was having his coffee with his staff, artillery fire like the rumble of distant thunder was suddenly heard from the direction of Pittsburg Landing. Grant kept a poker face. "Gentlemen," he said, "the ball is in motion. Let's be off."

Sherman was not convinced that he was being attacked until he saw the Confederate lines moving toward him in full force. His three brigades were ranged around Shiloh Church in a general southwesterly direction, John McDowell on the right, Buckland in the center and Hildebrand on the left, but with each regiment facing any which way. In truth, there was not really much difference in fighting ability between the rival armies. Many of the men barely knew how to load a gun and not a few were wearing the clownish straw hats that had become so popular since the beginning of the war. Not for nothing did Wiley Sword, in his Shiloh: Bloody April, call the armies "two herds of apprentice killers."

Sherman's commanders were nothing to get excited about either. Buckland was a lawyer, Hildebrand was over 60 years old and John McDowell, Irwin's brother, had no real fighting experience. Prentiss next door was a little more fortunate with his two brigade commanders if not with the quality of his soldiers. Miller had fought in Mexico and Peabody had seen some action in Missouri. But like Sherman, and perhaps influenced by his cavalier attitude, Prentiss too ignored every report of increased enemy activity in his front. Not so Peabody. When his scouts reported seeing enemy campfires and hearing cheers and shouts somewhere in the distance on the night of the 5th, he sent out five companies at three in the morning to make contact with the enemy (though Prentiss laughed off his apprehensions). At five in the morning they ran into rebel pickets in the southwest corner of Fraley field, about half a mile from Prentiss's and Sherman's forward positions. Peabody sent another five companies into the fray, but it was too late. Hardee's entire corps was moving on the Northern camps "like an Alpine avalanche," in Beauregard's words. The battle had begun in earnest.

The first of the rebels to come up against Peabody were the men of the 3rd Mississippi (Wood's brigade), who had camped nearby. Now they exchanged fire until the rest of the brigade arrived on the scene. Hindman's brigade (under the command of R. G. Shaver) came up on Wood's right. Peabody brought up the rest of his brigade (around 1,100 men) and established a 400-yard line of defense on a ridge overlooking a ravine. The rebels advanced to within 75 yards and the two forces opened fire. The two regiments on Wood's right – the 3rd Mississippi and the 55th Tennessee – immediately ran away. At 8:15, Hindman, who now commanded the two rebel brigades as a division, ordered Shaver to charge the enemy line. The rebels crossed the ravine with bayonets drawn and wild screams and overran Peabody's two flanks. The Northerners began to flee toward their camps. Prentiss rode from camp to camp trying to rally the men while Miller led his brigade to Spain field, far to the left, where they ran into Gladden and Chalmers from Withers' division (Bragg's corps). Prentiss then ordered a retreat to the other side of the field, where his men deployed under cover of the woods, backed up by two batteries. Gladden moved into the field with his men at 8:30 and was himself fatally wounded. Adams took command of the brigade, which was now hit by canister fire from Prentiss's guns. When Adams got to the middle of the field, Prentiss doubled the canister load, causing Adams to retreat. But many of Prentiss's men could not take the pressure either and began dropping out of the firing line and moving toward the river together with the wounded. Peabody, on Prentiss's right, rode into one of his camps and there, after being wounded four times in the course of the morning's fighting, he was killed. By 8:45, all of Peabody's camps had been captured by the rebels. In Spain field, Adams was again ordered to attack. Federal batteries kept firing until most of their horses were killed and their crews fled. On Miller's left the 18th Wisconsin was driven back by a bayonet charge by the 10th Mississippi (Chalmers' brigade). Panic now overtook Prentiss's men and a wild flight commenced. Some of the men ran back through their camps to salvage some personal memento from their tents. By 9 in the morning, seven broken regiments were on their way to Pittsburg Landing.

All this while, from 6 a.m., Sherman too had been under attack. The first to make contact with the enemy were the pickets of the 53rd Ohio from Hildebrand's brigade on Sherman's left. The 53rd Ohio, asleep in its camp, was in fact isolated in Rhea field, about 400 yards from the 57th Ohio. Appler, the commander of the 53rd, in great agitation, ordered his men to form a line of defense behind a hill along the northern edge of the field. Sherman arrived on the scene and saw his aide-de-camp shot down beside him by Cleburne's skirmishers, who were coming up the muddy Corinth road in two columns, their rifles cradled in their arms as if they were out partridge hunting. Sherman galloped to the rear to bring up reinforcements. Appler hid behind a tree and when he saw all of Cleburne's brigade coming out of the woods, ran away, as did many of his men. Those who did not opened fire on the two rebel regiments on Cleburne's right – the 6th Mississippi and the 23rd Tennessee – who were now moving up the hill. It was 7:45. The fire was murderous. One of the men swore that he saw the bullets flying overhead like swarms of buzzing bees. An officer riding through the woods toward the battlefield heard a patter in the leaves that he took to be raindrops until he realized they were bullets. Cleburne's two regiments were torn to pieces with the aid of the Northern cannons. The 6th Mississippi regrouped in the abandoned camp of the 53rd Ohio and attacked again. This time only 60 men came back (out of the 425 who had gone into battle). Appler's men did not wait around for the next attack. They too retreated. In their rear, Hildebrand's other two regiments – the 57th and 77th Ohio – who were there to support Appler, lay frozen on the ground behind one of the creeks in the area, not daring to move.

West of the Corinth road, the four regiments on Cleburne's left attacked Buckland's brigade. But Buckland had the advantage of ground and numbers and met them with fierce fire. Cleburne, who had fallen from his horse but continued to lead his men on foot covered with mud, lost 1,000 men in his stubborn assaults. By this time the three rebel waves of attackers were all mixed together. Patton Anderson from Bragg's corps (Ruggles' division) with Russell from Polk's corps (Clark's division) entered Rhea field at around 8:30. They quickly got bogged down in the mud and underbrush and when two of Russell's regiments were hit by a deadly volley and ran for their lives, the panic spread to Anderson's brigade and another three regiments hastened to the rear. Bragg observed "Polk's mob" with disgust. Just then his horse took a bullet in the head and he was forced to use "an inferior animal" to chase the fleeing rebels. In their stead came Bushrod Johnson's men, also from Polk's corps, and two of his regiments together with what was left of Anderson's and Russell's brigades advanced on Waterhouse's cannons, which had previously decimated Cleburne. The attack broke the back of the 57th Ohio and the remnants of the 53rd still in the area, who now joined the Northern troops streaming toward the Landing. Waterhouse was killed. Without the support of infantry, the battery retreated under a flanking attack from the 13th Tennessee (Russell's brigade) and lost three guns. And finally, the 77th Ohio simply melted away and joined the flight. Sherman's left had now ceased to exist.

In the meantime, Julius Raith, sent forward by McClernand to help Sherman, advanced toward Sherman's nonexistent left and ran into Wood, who had continued to advance after routing Peabody, and Alexander Stewart (both from Polk's corps). At the same time, Bushrod Johnson's two remaining regiments along with three of Anderson's moved against another of Sherman's batteries, commanded by Samuel Barrett at Shiloh Church. Sherman ordered Barrett to move back 500 yards to a new line on the Purdy road. Buckland and McDowell were also ordered to take up the new position. However, when Buckland tried to get there he ran into Frederick Behr's battery in full flight to the east as well as the remnants of Hildebrand's brigade fleeing west. In the ensuing confusion, Buckland's brigade dissolved and disappeared from sight. Behr was ordered to the Corinth road junction but was killed and his men abandoned their guns and again fled. Of all of Sherman's troops, only McDowell's brigade still maintained a semblance of order. It was now 10 o'clock.

Sherman took in the scene quite calmly. Four horses had already been shot out from under him, his wounded hand was bleeding and his uniform was in tatters. But in terms of his usual erratic behavior – the compulsive smoking, the nervous talking and the wild arm waving – the battle had had a salutary effect. Adversity brought out the best in him. And then, finally, Grant arrived.

We had left him in Savannah over his morning coffee. However, the moment he heard the distant artillery fire he ordered Nelson to march his division to Pittsburg Landing via the east bank of the river, loaded his staff and their horses onto a steamboat, and set out for the battlefield, leaving behind a note for Buell. "I have been looking for this," he wrote, trying to save face, "but did not believe the attack could be made before Monday or Tuesday." (It was Sunday then.) At 7:30, Grant passed Crump's Landing and shouted across the water to Lew Wallace, future author of Ben Hur, who had been tearing up railroad tracks in the area, to hold his division in readiness. At 9 o'clock he reached Pittsburg Landing, where the sounds of battle were drawing nearer by the minute. Next to the two cabins serving as a field hospital there were already big piles of amputated arms and legs. Grant rode up the river bank with his crutch strapped to his saddle and galloped toward the sound of fire. The signs of battle were all around him: dying men and horses everywhere, smashed wagons, uprooted trees, men marching in different directions, artillerymen calmly firing their artillery pieces and here and there a clash of arms, but most of all the shouts and screams and smoke and fire as far as the eye could see, without any order or logic. Grant in fact beheld a scene of utter chaos and whether he knew it or not was now facing the greatest test of his life. Thousands of soldiers were streaming toward the river to huddle there like sheep under the bluff. Thousands were lying dead and wounded on the battlefield. Grant's entire army looked like it was about to collapse.

Grant sent orders to Lew Wallace to bring up his division as quickly as possible, made sure that ammunition was being properly distributed to the troops in the field, and ordered two Iowa regiments who had just arrived at the Landing to block the flow of men to the rear. Then he made a tour of the battlefield, riding over to William Wallace and Hurlbut and finally to Sherman at 10 o'clock.

Sherman was already deployed on the Purdy road with the remnants of his division and assured Grant that he was all right. Grant did not doubt that Sherman was capable of holding on and therefore continued on his way to find Prentiss, who was also in the midst of establishing a new line of defense. The first troops to take up the new position were two of Hurlbut's brigades who had come up earlier to reinforce Prentiss when he was under attack by Gladden and Chalmers in Spain field. But the two brigades quickly crumpled and Hurlbut ordered the rest of his men to fall back and establish still another line of defense in a 10-acre peach orchard next to "the River Road." By 10 o'clock Prentiss too had rounded up a few of his regiments and deployed them with two batteries in a sunken road to the right of Hurlbut. Finally, William Wallace sent two brigades forward and they took up a position to the right of Prentiss in Duncan field. The new line numbered 11,300 men – Hurlbut at the orchard with 4,500, Prentiss in the center with 1,000, and Wallace on the right with 5,800 men and seven batteries (58 guns). Wallace immediately became engaged in an artillery duel, so loud that a terrified rabbit overcame its natural fear of man and snuggled up to one of the soldiers.

Since the early hours of the morning, the Confederate corps commanders – Hardee, Polk and Bragg – and their commander Albert Sidney Johnston had been riding among their men to urge them on. Beauregard had remained in the rear to send up troops and Breckinridge waited on the right with his reserve. Despite the initial success, the Confederate advance had slowed down somewhat by around 10 o'clock as Union forces began to dig in in their new line of defense while hundreds if not thousands of rebel soldiers looted the abandoned camps and glutted themselves on the culinary delicacies they found there. Opposite Sherman on the right, Pond's brigade (Ruggles' division, Bragg's corps) advanced cautiously while in the center the rebels were content to exchange artillery fire with Wallace and also on the far left, where Sherman had stationed his last brigade to guard the bridge over Lick Creek, they got bogged down. The brigade was commanded by David Stuart, an ambitious lawyer and former Congressman, and numbered 2,800 men. Johnston was convinced that he had a division opposite him there and, fearing that it might outflank him, dispatched Chalmers, who had just finished dealing with Prentiss, and on his heels, John Jackson, who commanded the third brigade in Withers' division (Polk's corps). Chalmers advanced with 2,000 men, The untried soldiers of Stuart's 71st Ohio and 55th Illinois immediately fled. The Zouaves of the 54th Ohio put up a brief fight and then retreated too. Stuart requested reinforcements and received William Wallace's third brigade (John McArthur), which was able to block the rebel advance.

Now the most violent fighting of the day was about to begin, in Bragg's sector. Since rebel units had become hopelessly mixed together, the corps commanders had wisely decided to divide the front among themselves: Hardee opposite Sherman, Polk opposite McClernand and Bragg opposite Prentiss, who was deployed in the sunken road. This was an unused road along a low-lying ridge in a kind of shallow trench or ditch covered with brush – a strong position by any standard. The rebels quickly named it the Hornet's Nest.

The first to try its luck against Prentiss was Stevens' brigade (Cheatham's division, Polk's corps), which had been sent to the right by Beauregard at 9 o'clock as a reinforcement while Cheatham's second brigade (Bushrod Johnson) continued to fight opposite Sherman. Stevens had arrived in front of William Wallace at 10 o'clock and it was he who had engaged his artillery. Thomas Jordan, Beauregard's ubiquitous chief of staff (and a roommate of Sherman's at West Point), arrived at 11 o'clock and in Beauregard's name (but actually on his own initiative), ordered Cheatham, who had also arrived on the scene, to take the battery in Prentiss's rear. Stevens led his men forward for a distance of 300 yards over open ground and when they were 30 yards from the enemy took a murderous volley from the 14th Ohio, which had been waiting patiently on Wallace's left. Stevens' left crumpled while his right was pushed back by Lauman on Hurlbut's right, but not before putting up a fight that lasted half an hour with each of his men firing about 30 rounds. After they had all retreated, Bragg found Randall Gibson's brigade unoccupied in the rear and threw a fit. He ordered it to attack immediately. When the men moved past the remnants of Cheatham's force, the latter fired into their backs, convinced they were enemy soldiers, killing or wounded 105 of them. Gibson continued to advance and at 12 o'clock found himself opposite Prentiss, where he received another round of deadly fire and retreated. Bragg sent him forward again. The men advanced with their shoulders hunched and their heads bent as though walking in a storm and each round of enemy fire caused the rebel force to sway like wheat. As at Bull Run, many forgot to remove their ramrods from their gun barrels and were surprised to see them stuck in the enemy like arrows. This time Gibson got to within shouting distance of the enemy and almost took a battery before being driven off again, leaving behind the best of his men piled up with their guts spilling out on the ground, heads severed from bodies and bodies sliced in half. Bragg ordered a third attack and the rebels were thrown back a third time. Bragg declared that Gibson was a coward. He had lost 700 men. Stevens had lost 500.

At the height of the fighting, Grant rode over to Prentiss and asked him to hold on "at all hazards," because Lew Wallace was on the way. Later, at around one o'clock, he met with Buell, who had arrived at the Landing in a steamboat. It turned out that Nelson was still in Savannah waiting for a guide. There was no sign of Lew Wallace either. While Buell attempted, with little success, to disperse the men cowering under the riverbank, Grant returned to the battlefield. He had been galloping from point to point for three hours now, shifting troops and rallying the men. His calm exterior reflected absolute confidence despite the precarious situation. But with the Hornet's Nest under attack, the entire right wing of the Federal army under Sherman's command again began to collapse. As Sherman fell back to the Purdy road under the attack of Anderson and Bushrod Johnson, Raith fell back to the main Corinth road under attack by Wood and Alexander Stewart, near the Purdy junction. Marsh and Hare (McClernand's division) were sent to Raith's left – Hare to the extreme left, north of the Review Field. Stewart ordered the 4th Tennessee to take the Federal battery behind Marsh. The regiment got to within 30 feet before the Northerners realized that they were enemy forces and then opened fire and overran the two regiments on Marsh's left, the 45th and 48th Illinois. Another two Southern regiments, Wood's 16th Alabama and 27th Tennessee, captured the battery. The 4th Tennessee veered off to the right and captured another gun, from MacAlister's battery, which had been positioned between Marsh and Hare. Another two regiments captured Marsh's third battery. Marsh had in effect been wiped off the map in McClernand's center. Hare was next, dissolving opposite Shaver, who had continued to advance after overrunning Peabody in the morning. In the meanwhile, Wood did not stop with Marsh but continued to move forward until running into Veach on the Corinth road. Veach had been sent there in the morning by Hurlbut to reinforce Sherman. The two regiments on his right were immediately crushed but the other two held on, keeping up steady fire until the rebel advance in their front ground to a halt. The fighting in this sector had lasted 50 minutes. It was now 11 o'clock. Raith, too, at the Purdy-Corinth junction, managed to slow down the rebel advance. Anderson, Bushrod Johnson and two of Russell's regiments (Clark's division) met with fierce resistance and could not continue their pursuit. But then Raith was wounded and his stalwart brigade retreated. All these delays enabled Sherman and McClernand to organize still another line of defense, between Sowell field and the Cavalry Field, about half a mile to the north and even to mount a counterattack. But in the end, this line too collapsed. Sherman retreated to the River Road and McClernand soon joined him.

On the far right of the Southern advance, opposite David Stuart and McArthur, Chalmers waited till noon before mounting another attack. Stuart occupied a ridge and could not be budged. Chalmers took 400 casualties and accomplished nothing. In the meanwhile, Breckinridge's reserve had been called into action. In effect, Stuart and McArthur were anchoring the Union left and keeping the rebels from penetrating deep into the rear in accordance with the original plan of the Confederates to cut off the Federal army from the Tennessee River and drive it toward Owl Creek. Breckinridge arrived at 11 o'clock and deployed his men behind Chalmers and Jackson but could not get them to move, despite the fact that they had been so fired up that morning that no one wanted to stay behind to guard the equipment. Stethis was ordered to move around McArthur and attach Hurlbut in the peach orchard on Prentiss's far left but engaged in desultory movement opposite McArthur for an hour without attacking. Albert Sidney Johnson rode to the front of the brigade, together with Breckinridge and the governor of Tennessee, and made a fiery speech in the accepted style, finally getting the men to move. Another of Breckinridge's brigades (Bowen's), together with Jackson, attacked McArthur and when McArthur's last regiment collapsed with 365 of its 617 men lost and Stuart remained isolated a half mile away on the Union left, Stethis moved up to the orchard and crushed Pugh's brigade. Stuart decided to fall back so that now both the left and right of the Hornet's Nest position were completely exposed.

At 2:30 p.m., Albert Sidney Johnston was killed. He had ridden to Stethis's right, holding a cup that he had taken from one of the Federal camps as "my share of the booty," as he joked. His horse had been shot four times, his uniform was in tatters and a bullet had smashed the heel of his boot, but Johnston seemed to be all right. However, a few minutes after Stethis's assault, his face went pale and he slumped in his saddle. "General," the governor exclaimed. "Have you been hit?" "Yes," Johnston replied, "and I'm afraid it's serious." It is doubtful whether Johnston had even felt the bullet hit him and certainly had not noticed his boot filling up with blood. It turned out that the bullet had cut the artery behind his knee. By the time he was gotten down from his horse he had lost a great quantity of blood and was losing consciousness. In a quarter of an hour he was dead. Everyone was in shock and men rode off to inform Bragg and Beauregard of what had happened.

But the attack continued. Bowen, Jackson and Chalmers began to flank Hurlbut on the eastern side of the orchard. Hurlbut sent Lauman's brigade there. Lauman took up a position in Wicker field and at the same time the Tyler opened fire on the rebels from the river. But the pressure on Lauman continued, until Hurlbut, fearing that he would be cut off from the river, ordered a retreat. Prentiss also fell back, but only slightly, positioning himself facing east with his back to William Wallace, about 150 yards behind Wallace's line in Duncan field. Though Sherman's men had vanished from the right and he was in danger of being encircled, Prentiss held fast, determined to obey Grant's command to hold on at any price. By 4 p.m., the rebels had 62 guns trained on Prentiss and Wallace and rebel forces were moving in from every direction. Breckinridge with Chalmers and Jackson from the east, Anderson, Stevens, Adams and Forest's cavalry from the south, Alexander Stewart from the west, and Russell and Turbue from the north. Prentiss and Wallace continued to fight. A pool of water near the orchard where the wounded and dying crawled to drink turned red and came to be known as the Bloody Pond. Wallace was wounded and his men, like Hurlbut's, began to fall back toward the Landing. Prentiss remained alone with the remnants of seven regiments. One after another they were surrounded and surrendered. By 5:30 p.m., everyone had been taken prisoner, including Prentiss – a total of 2,200 men.

Thanks to Prentiss's courageous stand, Grant had gained precious time – the time needed to establish his last line of defense at the Landing. Sixty cannons were positioned behind the remnants of Wallace and Hurlbut, who now held an 800-yard line facing south between the river and the River Road. On their right, arching toward Snake Creek and facing west along the River Road, were Sherman and McClernand. When asked if the situation was not desperate, Grant replied calmly: "They won't be able to break us tonight – it's too late. Tomorrow we'll attack them with fresh troops and of course we'll drive them back."

Chalmers and Jackson tried to advance against Grant's cannons but failed. At this point, an hour before dark, Beauregard decided to call off the attack, because of the onset of night, the fatigue of the men and the disorder in their ranks, which had been magnified by the fire from Grant's riverboats. Beauregard was convinced that all that remained was to mop up in the morning to complete the victory. Bragg thought differently. From the moment Beauregard issued his orders, he was convinced that the battle was lost. Neither of them knew that the reinforcements that Grant had been impatiently waiting for all day had finally arrived. Nelson reported at the landing at 4:30 and by nine in the evening had extended Grant's line in the direction of the river on his left. At 7:30, Lew Wallace arrived from Crump's Landing and deployed his men to the right of Sherman on the River Road. At 9 p.m., Buell's second division (Thomas Crittenden's) began crossing the river. Wallace arrived with 5,000 men after taking seven hours to march 8 miles, leading them in every conceivable direction. Nelson and Crittenden had 12,000 men and Rousseau's brigade (McCook's division), now also starting to cross the river, numbered 2,250. These replaced the estimated 7,000-10,000 men who had fled the battlefield and huddled near the riverbank and all those lying dead and wounded on the battlefield.

Beauregard of course had no way to make up his losses. His men spent the night looting and glutting themselves and thousands made off for Corinth with their booty. Prentiss, interrogated by his rebel captors, ridiculed them, letting them know what awaited them in the morning. Forrest returned from nighttime reconnaissance and told Hardee that Buell's troops were moving into the Union line and proposed a night attack before the Federal force was sufficiently strengthened and organized – or an immediate retreat. Hardee sent him to Beauregard, but Forrest could not find him. The Northern boats continued to fire at the rebels throughout the night. Beauregard sent a telegram to Jefferson Davis proclaiming "complete victory" and went to sleep in Sherman's tent near Shiloh Church.

Grant slept under the stars. His ankle was swollen. At around midnight a hard rain began to fall so he sought shelter in one of the cabins near the Landing, but the sight of the surgeons amputating limbs drove him back into the rain. The wounded were laid out on the decks of the riverboats or remained on the battlefield in puddles of blood and water. The rain stopped at around 3 a.m. Grant told Sherman that, as at Fort Donelson, when both sides are exhausted, the one who attacks first will win the battle. Nonetheless, like Beauregard, Grant did not think to issue orders. Buell, on the other hand, readied himself for the next day without reference to Grant, of whom he did not have a very high opinion, given the results of the day's fighting. He also considered his command independent of Grant's. The two armies in effect represented the two wings of the Federal line: on the right, from right to left, were Lew Wallace, Sherman, McClernand and Hurlbut; on the left, from left to right, were Nelson, Crittenden and McCook. At dawn, Nelson began to advance.

Beauregard had barely 20,000 battle-ready men and waited in vain for reinforcements from the west. Hardee was on the right with the brigades of Chalmers and Jackson. Breckenridge was on Hardee's left and then Polk with Cheatham's division and Bragg with the rest of his corps and with Clark (Polk's corps). Again it began to rain. Nelson moved south through Hurlbut's camps along the River Road. The ground was covered with the dead and wounded and some of the dying begged to be put out of their misery. In Wicker field, north of the peach orchard, Hazen came up against Chalmers and the two forces traded fire until eight in the morning. In the meanwhile, Crittenden and Rousseau came up on Nelson's right. When Chalmers' men ran out of ammunition they retreated to David Stuart's abandoned camps.

Withers, Chalmers' commanding officer, advanced to the Purdy road with reinforcements at 9 o'clock. On his left was Bowen's brigade (commanded by Martin). Nelson advanced to the orchard. Bruce, on his right, was hit by artillery fire and fell back to the Bloody Pond. Hardee ordered his men to attack. This they did, with Hardee among them on his magnificent black horse and everyone shouting, "Bull Run! Bull Run!" but to no avail. Nelson counterattacked. Facing superior numbers, the rebels were forced to fall back again, but with the arrival of one of Pond's regiments (from Ruggles' division) they regrouped and this time it was Hazen who fell back under Southern artillery fire and also was mistakenly fired on from behind by one of Crittenden's brigades. At the orchard, the 2nd Kentucky (Bruce's brigade) lost two-thirds of its men. Hardee organized three regiments and attacked the exposed right flank of Nelson at 10:30, but the rebels were hit by enemy fire from the edge of the woods and fled. Chalmers returned to the fray at 11 o'clock with two regiments and advanced against Amen on Nelson's left but was pushed back by the 36th Indiana. Amen pursued Chalmers to the Purdy road. At noon, Withers dispatched Maney with remnants of Alexander Stewart's brigade and the 154th Tennessee (Bushrod Johnson's brigade) to the Purdy road to reinforce Chalmers and managed to drive off Amen, But Amen's artillery continued to fire from the woods and was able to slow down the rebel advance. An artillery duel then developed that allowed the exhausted man to rest for a while.

In the area of the Sunken Road near Duncan field, Crittenden was attacked by Trabue (Breckinridge). Trabue was stopped cold, leaving 55 bodies on a patch of ground 30 yards square. Bragg sent the remnants of Trabue and Russell (four regiments) against Rousseau on Crittenden's right. Two attacks were repulsed and now Boyle and Sooey Smith (Crittenden's division) advanced to the Review Field and captured two of the rebel's cannons. The two sides continued to fight desperately. At 1 o'clock Rousseau and Smith again advanced. Trabue fell back, abandoning his cannons after almost all their horses were killed. Rousseau, now out of ammunition, was replaced by Kirk and William Gibson. With the arrival of McCook, the North now had 40,000 men in action. Anderson, Cheatham, Russell and others moved toward Rousseau's abandoned position and tried to flank Gibson but without success. The massive concentration of Federal forces was beginning to turn the tide, slowly pushing back the rebels. By 1 o'clock. Beauregard was already considering a general retreat.

Meanwhile, on the Federal right, Lew Wallace and Sherman had advanced cautiously past Tiligman Creek. At 9 o'clock in the morning they ran into Ruggles in Jones field with Randall Gibson and Wood, driving both back with artillery fire. McClernand and Hurlbut came up on Sherman's left. The remnants of their three divisions barely formed a 400-yard line, numbering just 7,000 men. Cleburne was sent forward but was quickly driven back, as was Cheatham and Anderson. Rousseau, on the left, west of Duncan field, fired into their flank and they all fell back toward Shiloh Church. At 2:30, Beauregard organized a counterattack with Trabue, Pond and others. Beauregard himself bore the battle flag and Bragg joined him, but they too were driven back, by McCook. Beauregard had already issued orders for a general retreat at 2 p.m. By 4, the two armies had broken off contact and all the Southern forces were streaming toward Corinth.

Buell and Hurlbut continued their advance up to Sherman's camps but broke off their pursuit in the face of stiff resistance from the rebel rear guard. Subsequently, Lew Wallace advanced another mile or so, up to a house where rebel wounded were being kept, but also gave up the chase. It rained again in the night, mixed with snow and hale. In the morning, Sherman was ordered to resume the pursuit but ran into Forrest's cavalry, which drove back Sherman's own cavalry and scouts. Sherman too abandoned the chase. Breckinridge kept his reserve corps in the vicinity for three days but did not see any signs on the part of the North that they wished to resume the fighting.

The rebel army was in tatters. About 5,000 wounded men were making their way back to Corinth piled into wagons without any shelter from the rain and snow and hale "like partridge eggs." Mules pulled the wagons through mud and water that came up to their bellies. Others were carried on stretchers or went on foot with torn or broken limbs. In Corinth they were housed in churches and private homes or remained outside. Eight of every ten amputations ended in death and there was chaos everywhere. Grant too licked his wounds. For five full days his men buried the dead. Such horrors had never before been seen on an American battlefield. It was said that acre after acre of ground could be crossed walking on the bodies of corpses. The dead were buried in ditches, one on top of the other. Nelson offered one of his shirts to cover the body of Albert Sidney Johnston, which had been stripped bare by Northern looters. The smell of rotting flesh was everywhere.

Union losses were 13,047, including 1,754 killed, 8,408 wounded and 2,885 captured or missing. The rebels lost 10,699 – 1,728 killed, 8,012 wounded and 959 missing. Of the commanders of Grant's six divisions and 14 brigades, nine had been killed or wounded. Among them was William Wallace, who had stood firm alongside Prentiss at the Hornet's Nest for six hours. That same morning his wife had arrived on one of the riverboats to surprise him and had waited all through the day with mounting anxiety. In the evening she was told that he had remained on the battlefield with a head wound. The next morning he was found and brought to her, shot in the temple and eye but still breathing. For three days he lay in delirium and when he could no longer see he felt her hands to find her wedding band and make sure she was still there, and then he died.

Halleck arrived from St. Louis a few days later to take charge amid the tremendous public outburst of shock and dismay following the publication of the casualty figures. Losses in this single battle were almost as great as those suffered by American troops in all of the country's previous wars combined. But to Halleck's credit it must be said that he defended his officers, and in terms of personal advancement he himself was the greatest beneficiary of the battle. Three months later, after allowing Beauregard to slip away from Corinth, he was called to Washington to replace McClellan as commanding general of all the Union armies. Grant, for his part, went on to his great victories at Vicksburg and Chattanooga in 1863 until he too was called East as general in chief to achieve the final victory against Lee in Virginia while Sherman captured Atlanta and marched to the sea.

The American Civil War claimed 650,000 lives. Grant at Shiloh taught America what war was and the war taught America that it was one nation, creating a sense of nationality that had not existed before. No event in American history has produced such an extensive literature, with over 50,000 books written to date. The Shiloh battlefield reports and correspondence may be read in the two Shiloh volumes of the 128-volume Official Records issued by the U.S. War Department in 1880-1901. Wiley Sword's Shiloh: Bloody April (1974) is a definitive history of the battle. Bruce Catton's Grant Moves South (1960) describes all of Grant's Western campaigns. William S. McNealy's Pulitzer Prize-winning Grant (1981) takes in the entire life, and Grant's own Personal Memoirs covers both the Mexican and Civil Wars. Called by Mark Twain the greatest military memoir since Julius Caesar's Commentaries, it was undertaken by Grant to provide for his family after he was diagnosed with throat cancer and was completed nine days before his death in 1885. It brought the family $450,000.

Copyright 2013
by Fred Skolnik


About the Author

About Fred Skolnik: I am the editor in chief of the 22-volume second edition of the Encyclopaedia Judaica, winner of the 2007 Dartmouth Medal, and have also completed a Hebrew history of the Civil War. I am also the author of the recently published novel The Other Shore (Aqueous Books) and have published dozens of stories and essays in the past few years (in TriQuarterly, The MacGuffin, Minnetonka Review, Los Angeles Review, Prism Review, Gargoyle, Literary House Review, Words & Images, Third Coast, Polluto, Underground Voices, etc.).


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