Today marks the 148th anniversary of the second day of fighting at the Battle of Shiloh. On April 6, 1862, CSA General Albert Sidney Johnston’s Army of Mississippi launched a surprise dawn attack on US Major General Ulysses S. Grant’s Army of the Tennessee. The surprise was complete with US brigadier generals William T. Sherman’s Fifth Division and Benjamin Prentiss’ Sixth Division being pushed back to the “crossroads.” The fighting would continue through the afternoon, along a sunken road, in an area that would forever be known as the Hornet’s Nest. After the mortal wounding of Grant’s Second Division commander, Brigadier General William “W.H.L.” Wallace, and the capture of Prentiss, the Federal line gave way with the final Federal stand being made along the Pittsburg Landing Road.
The Confederate Army of Mississippi would suffer the loss of Sidney Johnston. Johnston would bleed to death from a very treatable wound to the back of his leg. He would be the highest ranking officer to be killed in action during the Civil War. With Johnston dead, General P.G.T. Beauregard would take over command of the decapitated Confederate army. While victorious during the first day’s fight the Army of Mississippi would become a tangled, disorganized mass of humanity as it pushed through the Federal Fifth Division camps. Many of the men, who had not eaten a full meal since leaving Corinth several days earlier, could not resist the temptation to raid Sherman’s camp. In many cases they found fresh brewed coffee and breakfast cooking on the campfires.
Beauregard would struggle to assemble a solid, organized line by the close of the first day’s fight. His disorganized army would be further demoralized by heavy Federal Navy ordinance being fired regularly through the overnight hours. While causing relatively few casualties, the loud noise created by the huge naval guns would be frightening and keep the men awake most of the night. On the Federal side, reinforcements began arriving during the late afternoon and overnight hours when US Major General Don Carlos Buell’s Army of the Ohio arrived opposite Pittsburg Landing. These reinforcements would allow Grant to launch his own surprise attack during the early morning hours of April 7. This attack would catch Beauregard’s Army of Mississippi unprepared and would eventually push them from the field.
Last year, on the battle’s anniversary, I wrote a detailed narrative of the battle. It can be read by clicking HERE.
For a complete photo essay on Shiloh National Military Park, check out my Flickr site by clicking HERE.