The Battle of Shiloh (known as the Battle of Pittsburg Landing), took place from April 6th to April 7, 1862. It was one of the biggest early activities of the American Civil War of 1861 to 1865. It was majorly an engagement between National and Confederate groups. The Union forces were led by Major General Ulysses S. Grant and Major General Don Carlos Buell while the Confederations forces were led by General Albert Sidney Johnston and General P. G. T. Beauregard. The first activities that sparked the war happened early Sunday morning of April 6, when a Yankee patrol spotted the Confederates positioned for war just a mile away from the main union army. The Yankee patrol scouts spotted Grant's Army, which set up a temporary army base in an area between Shiloh Church and the Tennessee River near Crump Landing. This region later came to be known as the Bloody Pond. The pond was so christened owing to the number of Yankees who bled in the process of fighting the Confederates, the pond was covered completely with blood and the water was substantially turned red in color.
The Confederates, realizing that they had been spotted acted immediately through General Johnston. The Confederates moved silently through the thickets and caught the Union Army by surprise. The Confederate’s attack on the Hornet’s Nest Area, which was a little farm, was the point of the first spark of the battle. Attesting to their unpreparedness, most troops of the Union Army were asleep during the attack. Union General William Nelson was among the prominent figures who lost their lives in the attack. He had just arrived in the Union base the night before and was not well informed of the looming attack by the Confederates and was, therefore, caught unprepared. General Ulysses S. Grant, who was still at his headquarters in Savanna, heard the sounds of gunshots and the rumbling of his troops as they rushed for arms. General Grant in the company of only one of his guards rushed to the battle area across the river and was unfortunately caught by a bullet and died on the spot. His guard was caught by the army and the latter’s body chopped to portions.
General William T. Sherman was severely injured in a separate attack, where he was caught and defeated by Generals Nathan Bedford Forrest and P. G. T. Beauregard who engaged him in a series of hit and run attacks. General Sherman later succumbed as a result of his wounds. The Blood Pond area was filled with scattered bodies and abandoned weapons. The defeat of Sherman left Generals Nathan Bedford Forrest and P. G. T. Beauregard with a chance to attack the Union General W. H. L. Wallace, who by that time was in mid-stream across Tennessee River. He was headed to the warfront to help General Grant's army which seemed overwhelmed by the Confederates forces. Noticing that he could not defeat the two generals in battle and his already wounded body, Wallace opted to surrender. The Union forces had now been overwhelmed in Tennessee. They subsequently called upon General George H. Thomas to command his army from Camp Dick Robinson Kentucky, where they setup their attack down into West Tennessee. This approach was meant to stop the Confederate’s penetration from that side.
The Union Army base was situated near the Shiloh church. The surprise attack launched by the Confederates drove them backwards toward the church. The main mission and war strategy was to trap them against the Tennessee River. The Confederates fought the Union Army the whole day in the process pushing them towards Pittsburgh Landing and threatening to trap them against the Tennessee River. A number of theorists have put up hypotheses to link situational illusions and occurrences that might have sparked the war. The Confederate’s attack was advantaged by General Grant’s scenario tactic of dividing his forces. This left out the part of his forces without experience and those who lacked the skills of war. In comparison to the Confederate’s, the former were not as skilled on the art of war but were conscious of the looming war and, therefore, prepared and ready. This actually resulted to a bigger score of casualties in the Union Army with respect to the number of fallen troops from attacks by the Confederates army.
Moreover, after pushing the Union Army backwards at the early stages of their attack, the Confederates got access to the resources left behind by the Union forces. They acquired more weapons, ammunition, leather goods and medical supplies from the Union stores. This further equipped the Confederate’s Army and heightened their fighting spirits. Furthermore, the geographical layout of the area in which they were pushing the Union forces towards was strategic for trapping them, a move that was stopped in process as the Union forces got reinforcement. As General Johnston concluded his attack with enough signs that the Union forces were already overwhelmed, General Henry W. Halleck, who was General Grant's Commander at the time of the Battle of Shiloh Church commanded his army of about 100,000 soldiers towards the warfront.
The Confederates realized the change of events and developed a strategy involving division of forces in order to attack Halleck’s Army. General Nathan Bedford Forrest was delegated to the North and the West sides of the warfront to attack Halleck's Army from the left. On the other hand, General Beauregard was directed to move to the South and the West, which was to the right of Halleck’s approach. The generals were ordered to move as silently as possible so as to launch a surprise attack from their sides. General Johnston took the initiative to command his section of the troop directly to the front side of the army’s approach.
General John Hunt Morgan's section of the forces was mandated with the most incredible of the responsibilities. His army would provoke Halleck's forces throwing them off balance in a series of hit and run raids against Union supply wagons. This was aimed at causing delays and stretching out and scattering the Union forces to prevent a unified attack against them. General Morgan was by then prominent for his funny strategies in deception, which was literarily what he loved most. His section of the army had smaller and light weaponry, which enhanced their speed in attacking the approaching forces. The simplicity and flexibility of his command enabled his forces to attack the opponent at different points of the Union Army line. General Johnston communicated his strategy to his generals. They were to move as fast and as swiftly as possible so as to position themselves before the enemy arrived.
General Johnston reshuffled his army and prepared for a well-equipped reception. Beauregard and Forrest sent word back to General Johnston that they had positioned their forces and were ready to attack. Halleck believed that the confederates would take a lot of time to recollect and develop a new strategy to counter the danger he posed. He was unaware of the planned silent approach Johnston had initiated. His defeat was owed to the lack of information of his enemy’s plans against his forces. Large numbers of soldiers were killed and his troops were greatly reduced as the Confederates attacked from various directions. The abrupt rapture of war that followed greatly confused Halleck's forces leading to their defeat.
The surprising nature of the Confederate’s attack caught the Union forces unprepared. However, they managed to hold the attack until they got reinforcement. It was evident that many troops from both sides had no experience in the art of war. At Pittsburg Landing, the Union forces were joined by General Buell's army and other troops as reinforcement. The reinforcement diminished the Confederation’s chances of gaining complete victory over the Union forces. Johnston, the Confederate’s leader died in the Sunday afternoon. As he rode forward to command the Confederates attack, he was caught by a stray bullet occasioned a bleeding to death as a result of severe bleeding. He was recorded as the highest ranking commander to be killed during the war. It was already late and General Pierre G. T. Beauregard (1818-93), took over the Johnston’s command position. He halted the attack albeit temporarily as nightfall approached. By that time, the Union forces had been driven two miles backwards but did not disintegrate. In the morning of April 7, Grant had the advantage of numbers through the reinforcement he got by the merger of his troop to the vanguard of the Buell’s army.
Grant launched a counterattack on the Confederates. The Confederate Army was already tired and started retreating backwards from Grant’s attack. However, they fought back in the process of retreating and inflicted heavy injuries and causalities to the Union forces. Grant’s command on the attack took the whole day and by the time nightfall approached, the Confederation forces had retreated back to the Shiloh church. General Grant emerged victorious in the war. The cost of his victory was higher than it had ever been imagined. 13,000 soldiers from his troop were affected by the attack.
Statistics indicate that a good portion of the soldiers were killed while others were injured. There were also records of missing soldiers after the re-count of loses had been done. Furthermore, 62,000 soldiers from General Halleck’s reinforcement army were killed and others wounded. The Union armies won the battle but suffered greater losses as compared to the Confederate forces. This was as a result of the Confederates approach to the battle and the various factors that advantaged them. The total number of casualties of the Battle of Shiloh was far greater as compared to any recorded battle in the history of America.
Concerns of a looming battle had been discussed especially by the political leadership then. It was however explained the the Confederate’s victory on the first day of the battle was blamed on General Grant’s reluctance. It was further reported that his troops were drunk and disorganized even at the time of the war. Analysts have tried to explain the factors behind the massive loss of life in the battle. This was attributed to the advancement in technology which provided the guns. As a matter of fact, the nature of ammunition used in the war contributed largely to the casualty situation of both the Confederates and the Union forces.
Additionally, lack of an established medical background in the forces was a problem. There were no medics and health personnel who could help save the wounded from either bleeding to death or succumbing from infections to their wounds. The war had tremendous effects on the big southern cities and plantations. This actually fuelled an economic depression which followed the war. Both, the Southern and the Northern economies were shaken by the war. The economy took a long time to thrive as the young men who could help drive projects of development perished in the war. Moreover, a great number of those who survived the war had severe wounds and could not help much in economic activities, which was the backbone of the regional economy.
The Shiloh cemetery in America was set up to nurse the memories of those who fought in the war as well as those who lost close relatives. It is actually unbelievable that in two days that number of Americans had lost their lives. There has been contradicting descriptions highlighting the version of events that followed the war and those that were directly linked to the occurrence of the war. The Union forces emerged victorious when the Confederations forces left the battle field with their commander dead.
In conclusion, the events that occurred in those two day have remained as dreadful as they were then in the minds of Americans. Lessons were learnt. The mistakes and errors committed learnt for purposes of avoiding future oversights. As a result of this, military strategies and intense training has been a routine in army bases with the intention of training the soldiers and positioning them with adequate skills for war. However, on humanitarian concerns, Americans prefer to employ alternatives to dispute resolution other than war. To date, the reason for the war has not been uncovered.
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