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Battle of Shiloh, showing the location of the Union camps
Battle of Shiloh, showing the location of the Union camps, provided by W. T. Sherman during the battle. Map is no longer divided into two parts
Map taken from Battles and Leaders of the Civil War: I: Sumter to Shiloh, p.496-7
Return to Battle of Shiloh/ Pittsburg Landing
Battle Of Shiloh
Battle Of Shiloh Summary: The Battle of Shiloh (aka Battle of Pittsburg Landing) was fought on April 6&ndash7, 1862, in southwestern Tennessee not far from Corinth, Mississippi. General Albert Sidney Johnston, commander of Confederate forces in the Western Theater, hoped to defeat Union major general Ulysses S. Grant’s Army of the Tennessee before it could be reinforced by Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell’s Army of the Ohio, which was marching from Nashville.
Battle of Shiloh: Shattering Myths
Pittsburg Landing Shiloh National Military Park Benjamin Prentiss Library of Congress
The Battle of Shiloh, which took place on April 6-7, 1862, is one of the Civil War’s most momentous fights, but perhaps one of the least understood. The standard story of the engagement reads that Union troops were surprised in their camps at dawn on April 6. Defeat seemed certain, but Union Brigadier General Benjamin M. Prentiss saved the day by holding a sunken road some 3 feet deep. Thanks to the tenacious fighting in that area, it came to be known as the Hornet’s Nest.
Prentiss eventually capitulated, leaving Rebel commander General Albert Sidney Johnston in a position to drive on to victory. General Johnston, however, was soon mortally wounded and replaced by General P.G.T. Beauregard, which cost the Confederates vital momentum. Beauregard made the inept decision to call off the Confederate attacks, and the next day Union counterattacks dealt Rebel hopes a crushing blow.
This standard account of Shiloh, however, is more myth than fact. No less an authority than Ulysses S. Grant, the Union commander at the fight, wrote after the war that Shiloh ‘has been perhaps less understood, or, to state the case more accurately, more persistently misunderstood, than any other engagement…during the entire rebellion. Preeminent Shiloh authority and historian David W. Reed, the first superintendent of the battlefield park, wrote in 1912 that occasionally…some one thinks that his unaided memory of the events of 50 years ago is superior to the official reports of officers which were made at [the] time of the battle. It seems hard for them to realize that oft-repeated campfire stories, added to and enlarged, become impressed on the memory as real facts.
Unfortunately, such misunderstandings and oft-repeated campfire stories have over the years become for many the truth about Shiloh, distorting the actual facts and painting an altered picture of the momentous events of those April days. One has to look no further than the legend of Johnny Clem, the supposed Drummer Boy of Shiloh, to realize that tall tales surround the battle. Clem’s 22nd Michigan Infantry was not even organized until after Shiloh took place. Similarly, the notorious Bloody Pond, today a battlefield landmark, could be myth. There is no contemporary evidence that indicates the pond became bloodstained. In fact, there is no contemporary evidence that there was even a pond on the spot. The sole account came from a local citizen who years later told of walking by a pond a few days after the battle and seeing it stained with blood.
The "Bloody Pond" on the Shiloh Battlefield. Recent research has failed to find evidence that the pond was bloodstained. Rob Shenk
The long-held belief that Grant arrived at Pittsburg Landing only to be greeted by thousands upon thousands of Union stragglers is also a myth. The frontline divisions of Prentiss and Brig. Gen. William T. Sherman did not break until after 9 a.m., the latest time that Grant could have arrived at the landing. It is hard to imagine Prentiss’ troops running over two miles in less than 30 seconds, even though, by all accounts, they were pretty scared.
Cynicism aside, there is a real need to correct such errors. A newspaper columnist recently criticized the Shiloh National Military Park for removing the rotten and crumbling tree under which Johnston supposedly died, saying, So what if Johnston wasn’t exactly at that exact tree. Such an ambivalent attitude toward facts, continued and perpetuated through the years, not only produces false history but also diminishes the record of what actually happened. The most boring fact is always worth more than the most glamorous myth. In an effort to correct historical errors and analyze the myths, here is a brief analysis of several myths about the Battle of Shiloh.
Myth: The opening Confederate attack caught the Union totally by surprise
The matter of surprise is a major topic of discussion among military historians and enthusiasts. It is one of the modern American Army’s nine principles of war that guide military plans, movements and actions. Of course, most military tactics are common sense. When fighting either a bully or an army, who would not want to sneak up on an opponent and get in the first punch?
One of the most famous of all surprises in military history is Pearl Harbor, where Japanese planes attacked the U.S. Pacific Fleet based in Hawaii. The attack on December 7, 1941, was indeed a surprise, with bombs dropping out of a clear blue sky. Shiloh is another well-known example of a supposed surprise attack. On the morning of April 6, 1862, the Confederate Army of the Mississippi under Johnston launched an attack on Maj. Gen. Grant’s Army of the Tennessee near Pittsburg Landing. One author has even gone so far as to call it the Pearl Harbor of the Civil War. In actuality, Shiloh was not all that much of a surprise.
The assertion of surprise came initially from contemporary newspaper columns that described Union soldiers being bayoneted in their tents as they slept. The most famous account came from Whitelaw Reid, a newspaper correspondent for the Cincinnati Gazette. But Reid was nowhere near Shiloh when the Confederates attacked, and he actually penned his nearly 15,000-word opus from miles away.
The idea that Reid perpetuated and that is still commonly believed today is that the Federals had no idea that the enemy was so near. Nothing could be further from the truth. For days before April 6, minor skirmishing took place. Both sides routinely took prisoners in the days leading up to the battle. The rank and file in the Union army knew Confederates were out there — they just did not know in what strength.
Ulysses S. Grant Library of Congress
The problem lay with the Federal commanders. Ordered not to bring on an engagement and convinced they would have to march to Corinth, Miss., to fight the bulk of the Confederate army, the Union leadership did not properly utilize the intelligence gained from the common soldiers on the front lines. Grant was not about to go looking for a fight in early April, certainly not before reinforcements arrived from Nashville in the form of the Army of the Ohio, and certainly not without orders from his superior, Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck.
Thus Grant ordered his frontline division commanders Sherman and Prentiss not to spark a fight, and they made sure their soldiers understood that directive. They sent orders reinforcing Grant’s concern down the line and refused to act on intelligence coming up through the ranks.
As a result, not wanting to prematurely begin a battle, Federal skirmishers and pickets continually withdrew as the Confederates probed forward. Perhaps Sherman said it best when he noted in his report, On Saturday the enemy’s cavalry was again very bold, coming well down to our front, yet I did not believe that he designed anything but a strong demonstration.
The lower echelon leadership was not all that convinced the fight would take place at Corinth, however. For days, brigade and regimental commanders had witnessed Confederates near their camps. Several patrols even went forward, but no major Confederate units were encountered.
Finally, on the night of April 5, one Union brigade commander took matters into his own hands. Sending out a patrol without authorization, Colonel Everett Peabody located the Confederate army at dawn on April 6. His tiny reconnaissance found the advance skirmishers of the Southern force less than a mile from the Union front. The Confederates promptly attacked, and the Battle of Shiloh began.
Because of Peabody’s patrol, however, the Confederate advance was unmasked earlier than intended and farther out from the Union camps than projected. The resulting delay in the Confederate assault on the Union camps allowed the Army of the Tennessee to mobilize. Because of the warning, every single Union unit on the field met the Confederate assault coming from Corinth south, or in advance of, their camps. Peabody’s patrol warned the army and thus prevented total tactical surprise at Shiloh.
Myth: Benjamin Prentiss was the hero of Shiloh
For decades after the battle, Prentiss was hailed as the Federal officer who took it upon himself to send out a patrol that eventually uncovered the Confederate advance and gave early warning of the attack. Likewise, Prentiss was seen as the commander who, ordered by Grant to hold at all hazards, defended the Sunken Road and Hornet’s Nest against numerous Confederate assaults. Prentiss withdrew only after the Confederates brought up 62 pieces of artillery that were organized as Ruggles’ Battery. Finding himself surrounded, however, Prentiss surrendered the noble and brave remnants of his division. Before modern scholarship began to look at new sources and examine the facts, Prentiss’ reputation grew until it reached icon status.
Prentiss’ after-action report was glowing in terms of his own accomplishments. Historians through the years then accepted that report at face value, one even labeling a photo of Prentiss as the Hero of Shiloh. Shiloh National Military Park’s long-running film Shiloh: Portrait of a Battle dramatically paints Prentiss as the chief defender the Union army had on April 6.
In actuality, Prentiss was not as involved as legend has it. He did not send out the patrol on the morning of April 6. As mentioned earlier, one of his brigade commanders, Colonel Peabody, did so in defiance of Prentiss’ orders. Prentiss rode to Peabody’s headquarters when he heard the firing and demanded to know what Peabody had done. When he found out, Prentiss told his subordinate he would hold him personally responsible for bringing on a battle and rode off in a huff.
Likewise, Prentiss was not the key defender of the Hornet’s Nest, as the area adjacent to the Sunken Road came to be called. His division began the day with roughly 5,400 men, only to dwindle to 500 by 9:45 that morning. When Prentiss took his position in the Sunken Road, his numbers were nearly doubled by an arriving regiment, the 23rd Missouri. Prentiss had lost almost his entire division, and could not have held his second line without the veteran brigades of Brig. Gen. W.H.L. Wallace’s division. It was primarily Wallace’s troops who held the Hornet’s Nest.
Prentiss was in an advantageous position to become a hero after the battle, however. Although he remained a prisoner for six months, he was able to tell his story. Peabody and Wallace were both dead from wounds received at Shiloh. Thus Prentiss took credit for their actions and became the hero of the fight. Prentiss never even mentioned Peabody in his report, except to say that he commanded one of his brigades. Likewise, Wallace was not around to set the record straight as to whose troops actually defended the Sunken Road and Hornet’s Nest. Prentiss, the only Federal officer who could get his own record out, thus benefited from public exposure. In the process, he became the hero of Shiloh.
Myth: Major General Don Carlos Buell’s arrival saved Grant from defeat on April 6
Many historians have argued that Grant’s beaten army was saved only by the timely arrival of Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell’s Army of the Ohio near sundown on April 6. The common conception is that Grant’s men had been driven back to the landing and were about to be defeated when the lead elements of Buell’s army arrived, deployed in line and repelled the last Confederate assaults of the day.
Major General Don Carlos Buell Library of Congress
The veterans of the various armies vehemently argued their cases after the war. Members of the Society of the Army of the Tennessee maintained that they had the battle under control at nightfall that first day, while their counterparts in the Society of the Army of the Cumberland (the successor to Buell’s Army of the Ohio) argued with equal vigor that they had saved the day. Even Grant and Buell entered the fight when they wrote opposing articles for Century magazine in the 1880s.
Grant claimed his army was in a strong position with heavy lines of infantry supporting massed artillery. His effort to trade space for time throughout the day of April 6 had worked Grant had spent so much time in successive defensive positions that daylight was fading by the time the last Confederate assaults began, and he was convinced that his army could handle those attacks.
Buell, on the other hand, painted a picture of a dilapidated Army of the Tennessee on the brink of defeat. Only his arrival with fresh columns of Army of the Ohio troops won the day. The lead brigade, commanded by Colonel Jacob Ammen, deployed on the ridge south of the landing and met the Confederate advance. In Buell’s mind, Grant’s troops could not have held without his army.
In reality, the Confederates probably had little hope of breaking Grant’s last line. Situated on a tall ridge overlooking streams known as the Dill and Tilghman branches, Grant’s forces, battered though they were, still had enough fight in them to hold their extremely strong position, especially since they had over 50 pieces of artillery in line. Likewise, the troops were massed in compact positions. Good interior lines of defense also helped, and two Federal gunboats fired on the Confederates from the river. Grant poured heavy fire into the Confederates from the front, flank and rear.
The Confederates never actually assaulted the Federal line, further damaging Buell’s assertion. Only elements of four disorganized and exhausted Confederate brigades crossed the backwater in the Dill Branch ravine as gunboat shells flew through the air. Only two of those brigades undertook an assault, one without ammunition. The Confederates topped the rise and faced a withering fire. They were convinced. Orders from Beauregard to withdraw did not have to be repeated.
In fact, only 12 companies of Buell’s army crossed in time to deploy and become engaged. Grant had the situation well under control and could have fended off much larger numbers than he actually encountered. While Buell’s arrival did provide a morale boost and allowed Grant to take the offensive the next morning, Grant had the battle situation under control by the time Buell arrived.
Pittsburg Landing Shiloh National Military Park
Myth: The South would have won had Beauregard not called off the assaults
For many years after the battle, former Confederates castigated General Beauregard for his actions at Shiloh. Their main complaint was that the army commander, having taken charge of the Confederate forces after Johnston’s death, called off the final Confederate assaults on the evening of April 6. Many argued that the Confederates had victory within their grasp and needed only one last effort to destroy Grant’s army. Beauregard, however, called off his Southern boys and thus threw away a victory. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
Once hailed as the hero of Fort Sumter, P. G. T. Beauregard commanded the troops defending Petersburg in June 1864. National Archives
The controversy had its beginnings while the war still raged. Corps commanders Maj. Gens. William J. Hardee and Braxton Bragg later pounced on Beauregard for calling off the attacks, even though their immediate post-battle correspondence said nothing derogatory about their commander. After the war ended, Southerners began to argue that being outnumbered and outproduced industrially were reasons for their defeat, and also blamed the battle deaths of leaders like Johnston and Stonewall Jackson. Another key element in their argument, however, was poor leadership on the part of certain generals such as James Longstreet at Gettysburg (of course it did not help that Longstreet turned his back on the solidly Democratic South and went Republican after the war) and Beauregard at Shiloh. The sum of all those parts became known as the Lost Cause.
Hardee, Bragg and thousands of other former Confederates argued after the war that Beauregard threw away the victory. Beauregard does bear some blame, but not for making the wrong decision to end the attacks. He made the right decision, but for all the wrong reasons. The general made his decision far behind his front lines, an area completely awash with stragglers and wounded. No wonder Beauregard argued that his army was so disorganized that he needed to call a halt.
Similarly, Beauregard acted on faulty intelligence. He received word that Buell’s reinforcements were not arriving at Pittsburg Landing. One of Buell’s divisions was in Alabama, but unfortunately for Beauregard, five were actually en route to Pittsburg Landing. Based on such spotty intelligence, Beauregard thought he could finish Grant the next morning.
In the end, the decision to call a halt was the right thing to do. Taking into account the terrain, Union reinforcements and Confederate tactical ability at the time, the Confederates probably would not have broken Grant’s final line of defense, much less destroyed the Union army. The castigated Creole did not throw away a victory, he merely put himself in a position to be blamed for the defeat already transpiring.
Myth: The South would have won the battle had Johnston lived
Another Lost Cause myth of Shiloh is that Johnston would have been victorious had not a stray bullet clipped an artery in his leg and caused him to bleed to death. According to legend, Johnston’s death caused a lull in the battle on the critical Confederate right, which slowed progress toward Pittsburg Landing. Just as important, Johnston’s death placed Beauregard in command, who ultimately called off the attacks. The result of both cause and effect situations led to Confederate defeat. To drive the point home, the United Daughters of the Confederacy placed an elaborate memorial at Shiloh in 1917, with Johnston as the centerpiece and death symbolically taking the laurel wreath of victory away from the South. Even modern scholars have sometimes taken this line of reasoning. Johnston biographer Charles Roland has argued in two different books that Johnston would have succeeded and won the battle had he lived. Roland claims that just because Beauregard failed did not mean Johnston would have. His superior leadership qualities, Roland concludes, could have allowed Johnston to spur the tired Confederate troops onward to victory.
Albert Sidney Johnston Monument at Shiloh Rob Shenk
Such a theory of certain victory fails to take many factors into account. First, there was no lull in the battle on the Confederate right because Johnston fell. A continuous rate of fire was not sustainable for several reasons, mostly logistics ordnance departments could not keep thousands of soldiers supplied to fire constantly. Most Civil War battles were stop-and-go actions, with assaults, retreats and counterattacks.
Shiloh’s wooded terrain and choppy hills and valleys gave the soldiers plenty of cover to re-form lines of battle out of the enemy’s sight. The result was that the fighting at Shiloh did not rage continuously for hours at any one time or place. Instead it was a complicated series of many different actions throughout the day at many different points.
There were many lulls on the battlefield, some for as much as an hour’s duration. Some historians point out that a lull occurred when Johnston died, but that was more a result of the natural flow of the battle than Johnston’s death.
Second, the argument that Johnston would have won when Beauregard did not is also faulty. Johnston could probably have pressed the attack no faster than the surviving Confederate commanders on the right did.
In all likelihood, Johnston would also have been preoccupied with capturing the Hornet’s Nest, as happened after his death. Thus Johnston at best would not have been in a position to attack near Pittsburg Landing until hours after Grant had stabilized his last line of defense. As stated above, the heavy guns, lines of infantry, gunboats, exhaustion, disorganization, terrain and arriving reinforcements all were factors — some more than others — in defeating the last Confederate attempts of the day.
The myth that the Confederates would have certainly won the battle had Johnston lived is thus false. By 6 p.m., it is highly doubtful Shiloh could have been a Confederate victory even with Napoleon Bonaparte in command.
Myth: The Sunken Road was, in fact, sunken
Coupled with the Hornet’s Nest, the Sunken Road has become the major emphasis of the fighting at Shiloh. Visitors want to see the Sunken Road and Hornet’s Nest more than any other attraction at the park. While some important fighting did take place at the Sunken Road, the entire story is predicated on the myth of the road being worn below the surrounding terrain and thus providing a natural defensive trench for the Federal soldiers. In fact, there is no contemporary evidence that the Sunken Road was sunken at all.
The road was not a major avenue of travel. The two major routes in the area were the Corinth-Pittsburg Landing Road and the Eastern Corinth Road. What became known as the Sunken Road was a mere farm road used by Joseph Duncan to get to various points on his property. As it had limited use, the road would not have been worn down as many people believe. At most, it might have had ruts several inches deep at various times during wet seasons. Post-battle photos of the road show a mere path, not a sunken trace.
Not one single report in the Official Records mentions the road as being sunken. Likewise, no soldiers’ letters or diaries exist that refer to it as sunken. Many buffs quote Thomas Chinn Robertson of the 4th Louisiana in Colonel Randall L. Gibson’s Brigade as describing the road as 3 feet deep. In reality, that soldier was in no position to see the road. Gibson’s Brigade never reached the Sunken Road and fell back in confusion. Robertson described a tangle of undergrowth that blocked his view, and even remarked that corps commander Bragg stated he would lead them to where they could see the enemy. The unit thereafter moved forward to the right, thus never allowing the quoted soldier to view how deep the road actually was. In all likelihood, the Louisianan was describing the Eastern Corinth Road or possibly even the main Corinth Road, both of which were heavily traveled thoroughfares and thus would have been eroded. Federal regiments were aligned on both roads at times during the battle.
Sunken Road at Shiloh Rob Shenk
Although the Hornet’s Nest was a wartime term, the expression Sunken Road did not appear until the 1881 publication of Manning Force’s From Fort Henry to Corinth. Thereafter, veterans began to embellish the story. The Iowa units manning the position formed a veterans organization that emphasized the Sunken Road. When the national park was established in 1894, the Sunken Road became a major tourist attraction as the park commission began to highlight certain areas to attract attention and visitation. At the same time, the proliferation of veterans memoirs in the 1890s and early 1900s keyed on the growing popularity of this location, which grew deeper with each passing volume, ultimately reaching a depth of several feet. As time passed and more publications appeared, the myth became reality. Today it is one of the best known Civil War icons that never existed.
Over the years, a variety of myths and legends about the battle have crept into American culture, and today are viewed by many as the truth. Several factors account for these falsehoods. The veterans did not establish the park until 30 years after the battle. By that time, memories had become clouded and events shrouded in uncertainty.
Likewise, the original Shiloh National Military Park commission that initially developed the interpretation of the site may have let pride affect its documentation of the Shiloh story. One of the best examples is the heightened importance of the Hornet’s Nest, which was promoted by first park historian David Reed, who had fought in the 12th Iowa in the Hornet’s Nest. Finally, the Lost Cause mentality so prevalent in the postwar South provoked antagonism against Beauregard and laments for Johnston’s death, as well as the idea that the Confederates were simply outnumbered.
Buffs and even some historians who are not very knowledgeable about Shiloh’s history have perpetuated rumors and stories that are not actually based on fact. It is regrettable that over the years the truth about the battle has become distorted. Fortunately, however, today’s historians are looking at the battle from a different perspective. Hopefully, as more research is published, the oft-repeated campfire stories will be phased out and replaced by the reality of Shiloh, which in itself is much grander and more honorable than any of the myths that have grown up about the battle. After all, truth is often stranger than fiction.
Report from the Union Medical Director at the Battle of Shiloh
SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the medical department during and after the battle of the 6th and 7th instant:
I then rode to the front and reported to you. The great number of wounded which I saw being transported to the main depot, and the Almost insurmountable difficulties which I foresaw would exist in providing for them, convinced me that my presence was needed there more than at any other point on the field. After spending an hour in riding a little to the rear of our lines, and seeing as far as possible that there were surgeons in position to attend immediately to the most urgent cases, I returned to the hill above the Landing, and used every exertion to provide for the wounded there. I ordered Brigade Surgeons Gross, Goldsmith, Johnson, and Gay to take charge of the different depots which were established in tents on the hills above the Landing, directing such regimental and contract surgeons as I could find to aid them. Many of the wounded were taken on board boats at the Landing and some of our surgeons were ordered on board to attend them. On Tuesday I had such beats as I could obtain possession of fitted up with such bed-sacks as were on hand and with straw and hay for the wounded to lie upon, and filled to their utmost capacity, and at once dispatched to convey the worst cases to the hospitals on the Ohio River, at Evansville, New Albany, Louisville, and Cincinnati. In removing the wounded we were aided by boats fitted up by sanitary commissions and soldiers' relief societies and sent to the battle-field to convey wounded to the hospitals. Some of these, especially those under the direction of the United States Sanitary Commission, were of great service. They were ready to receive all sick and wounded, without regard to States or even to politics, taking the wounded Confederates as willingly as our own. Others, especially those who came under the orders of Governors of States, were of little assistance, and caused much irregularity. Messages were sent to the regiments that a boat was at the Landing ready to take to their homes all wounded and sick from certain States. The men would crowd in numbers to the Landing, a few wounded, but mostly the sick and homesick. After the men had been enticed to the river and were lying in the mud in front of the boats it was determined in one instance by the Governor to take only the wounded, and this boat went off with a few wounded, leaving many very sick men to get back to their camps as they best could. By the end of the week after the battle all our wounded had been sent off, with but few exceptions of men who had been taken to camps of regiments in General Grant's army during the battle. These have since been found and provided for.
The division medical directors were very efficient in the discharge of their duties, and they report most favorably of the energy and zeal displayed by the medical officers under them in the care of the wounded under most trying circumstances -- of want of medical and hospital stores, and even tents. Owing to the fact that a large majority of the wounded brought in on Monday and Tuesday were from General Grant's army, some of whom had been wounded the day before, it was impossible to attend particularly to those from our own divisions. Many Confederate wounded also fell in our hands, and I am happy to say that our officers and men attended with equal assiduity to all. Indeed, our soldiers were more ready to wait on the wounded of the enemy than our own. I regret to say that they showed incredible apathy and repugnance to nursing or attending to the wants of their wounded comrades, but in the case of the Confederates this seemed in some measure overcome by a feeling of curiosity and a wish to be near them and converse with them.
We were poorly supplied with dressings and comforts for the wounded and with ambulances for their transportation, and it was several days after the battle before all could be brought in. Our principal difficulty, however, in providing for the wounded was in the utter impossibility to obtain proper details of men to nurse them and to cook and attend generally to their wants, and in the impossibility of getting a sufficient number of tents pitched, or in the confusion which prevailed during and after the battle to get hay or straw as bedding for the wounded or to have it transported to the tents. The only details we could obtain were from the disorganized mob which lined the hills near the Landing, and who were utterly inert and inefficient. From the sad experience of this battle and the recollections of the sufferings of thousands of poor wounded soldiers crowded into tents on the wet ground, their wants partially attended to by an unwilling and forced detail of panic-stricken deserters from the battle-field, I am confirmed in the belief of the absolute necessity for a class of hospital attendants, enlisted as such, whose duties are distinct and exclusive as nurses and attendants for the sick, and also of a corps of medical purveyors, to act not only in supplying medicines, but as quartermasters for the medical department.
I append a list of the number of killed and wounded in each regiment, brigade, and division engaged, in all amounting to 236 killed and 1,728 wounded.(*)
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Surgeon, U. S. Army, Medical Director.
Col. J. B. FRY,
Asst. Adjt. Gen. and Chief of Staff, Army of Ohio.
Camp Morton served as a military camp for Union soldiers from April 1861 to February 1862.  Two days after the first shots were fired at Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor, South Carolina, on April 12, 1861, Indiana's governor Morton offered to raise and equip ten thousand Indiana troops in response to President Abraham Lincoln's call for volunteers to suppress the Southern rebellion and preserve the Union.   Morton and his adjutant general, Lew Wallace, chose the site of the Indiana State Fairgrounds for a mustering ground and military camp at Indianapolis.   The site had served as the state fairgrounds since 1859, and had previously been known as Henderson's Grove, named after Samuel Henderson, the first mayor of Indianapolis. The 36-acre (150,000 m 2 ) tract of partially wooded farmland north of the city loosely bordered present-day Central Avenue and Nineteenth, Twenty-second, and Talbott Streets.  
After the fairgrounds were converted into a military camp, it was renamed Camp Morton in honor of Morton, who served as the governor of Indiana from January 16, 1861, to January 23, 1867.  The first recruits arrived at the facility on April 17, 1861, four days after the surrender at Fort Sumter.  The camp's barracks were converted cattle and horse stalls, a hospital was established in the power hall, the dining hall became the commissary, and office space was converted into military offices and guardhouses.  Existing buildings could not house all the incoming troops, so new sheds were built with bunks however, the soldiers had to bathe in Fall Creek.  The hastily built facility had difficulties accommodating so many men with equipment, tents, and food, but order was established within a few weeks. Many residents of Indianapolis saw the camp as a center of attraction.  
Indianapolis's Camp Morton was among the largest of the Union's eight prison camps established for Confederate noncommissioned officers and privates. Other large prison camps included Camp Douglas (Chicago, Illinois), Camp Chase (Columbus, Ohio), and Camp Butler (Springfield, Illinois). General officers for the Confederacy were sent to an island in Boston Harbor, where Fort Warren was located, and lesser commissioned officers from the Confederacy were sent to Johnson's Island in Ohio's Sandusky Bay. 
When Camp Morton was established in 1862, it was initially under state control until the U.S. government assumed responsibility for its prisoners. The camp reopened in 1863 with the intention of housing only infirm prisoners, but others were detained at the facility as well.  From July 1863 until the parole of the last Confederate prisoner on June 12, 1865, the camp's average prison population was 3,214 and it averaged fifty deaths per month. The maximum prisoner population at Camp Morton during that time reach 4,999, in July 1864, and the maximum of deaths reached 133.  
On February 17, 1862, two days after the fall of Fort Donelson, near present-day Clarksville, Tennessee, Morton informed Union general Henry W. Halleck that Indianapolis could, if necessary, hold three thousand Confederate prisoners.  Captain James A. Ekin, assistant quartermaster general of the Union Army, was charged with converting Camp Morton to a prison camp. Stalls were converted into sleeping quarters for the prisoners and additional barracks and latrines were built. A walled palisade was constructed of wood around the perimeter of the camp it also included reinforced gates and a walkway for sentry patrols.   Initially, there was no hospital within the camp other Indianapolis facilities were used to treat the prisoners. 
On February 22, the first Confederate prisoners arrived by train at Indianapolis. Additional prisoners arrived at the camp over the next three days, bringing the number of prisoners to thirty-seven hundred men. Local residents helped provide the necessary food, clothing, and nursing to the incoming prisoners.   The death rate among the unfortunate Confederate prisoners was high. In March 1862, 144 prisoners died at the camp.  By April 1 the camp's inhabitants, including prisoners and guards, numbered five thousand. More prisoners arrived in subsequent months, including a group of a thousand prisoners from the battle at Shiloh. 
Confederate officers who had commissions were separated from their men and quartered in a barracks on Washington Street and elsewhere in the city until they could be moved to the prison camps in Ohio and Massachusetts. Noncommissioned officers and privates were taken to Camp Morton. Poorly clothed, ill fed, unused to the northern climates, and weakened from recent battles, many of the prisoners fell ill and were taken to makeshift facilities outside the camp for treatment. 
Colonel Richard Owen took over as commandant of the prisoner-of-war camp and served in that role until June 20, 1862, when his regiment was called to active duty and he departed Indianapolis with his men. Camp Morton's first prison guards came from the Fourteenth Light Artillery, Fifty-third Regiment of Indiana Volunteers, and the Sixtieth Regiment of Indiana Volunteers. Quarters for the camp's prison guards were established at Camp Burnside, a Union camp located between Nineteenth and Tinker (present-day Sixteenth) Streets, south of Camp Morton. The guards were understaffed and overworked. On May 4, 1862, Owen reported less than one regiment plus 202 men from another were guarding more than four thousand prisoners at Camp Morton. In comparison, two regiments guarded about a thousand prisoners at Camp Chase in Columbus, Ohio. 
Few guidelines were provided for operating Union prison camps, so Owen devised his own, which served as a model for other camps.  Owen's policies were sympathetic to the prisoners' needs. Under his command, camp discipline was strict, but humane, and allowed for self-government among the prisoners, which local leaders criticized on occasion.  Early challenges at the camp included equitable distribution of rations and supplies. A camp bakehouse was erected and in operation by mid-April 1862. It provided prisoners a place to work and the means to earn money to purchase small amenities. A fund established from the cash value of the camp's excess rations provided prisoners with additional supplies.  While trade with unauthorized vendors did occur, most of the items sold to prisoners came from the camp's sutler. 
Recreational activities included music and sports. Prisoners formed musical clubs and theatrical groups and attended band concerts at the camp. Books and periodicals were available in the camp, and a photographer was allowed to make daguerrotypes of the prisoners' likenesses to send to their friends and families in the South. Other pastimes included ballgames and whittling.  No visitors or communication between the prisoners and the camp guards or local citizens were allowed, but mail correspondence and small packages were delivered to prisoners after they had been inspected. Contraband was removed before delivery, and outgoing letters were censored and inspected before they were mailed. Attempts to escape were rare while Owen was commandant. Only thirteen of its forty-two hundred prisoners escaped during his command of the camp. 
Although later expanded, the hospital on Camp Morton's grounds was not large enough to serve all the camp's prisoners. Indianapolis's City Hospital served Union troops only a few Confederate prisoners were taken there until its facilities were expanded in May 1862. In the meantime, additional facilities for Confederate prisoners were established in two buildings on Meridian Street, known as Military Hospital Number 2 and Military Hospital Number 3, set up in an old post office on Meridian Street, near Washington Street. A few prisoners were cared for in private homes. No epidemics swept the camp or area hospitals, but there were reports of dysentery, typhoid fever, and typhoid pneumonia, among other diseases. 
David Garland Rose succeeded Owen as Camp Morton's commandant on June 19, 1862, and tightened the camp's rules. New volunteers from Indiana's military companies served as replacements for the camp's prison guards.  On August 22, 1862, prisoner exchanges were arranged and final orders were given for the removal of the Confederate prisoners at Camp Morton. The prisoners were sent to Vicksburg, Mississippi, where they were exchanged for Union prisoners held in Confederate prison camps. Camp Morton's remaining Confederate prisoners whose names did not appear on the prisoner exchange rolls left the camp by September 1862. Following their departure, Camp Morton was used as a military training ground for Union troops and Indiana volunteers who were sent home on parole. The paroled Union soldiers were not permitted to perform duties that would free other troops for active service. Instead, they guarded and maintained the camp until they were allowed to continue active military service. 
By 1863 Camp Morton's buildings were in need of repair, but little was spent on improvements. Colonel James Biddle, Seventy-first Indiana Volunteers, became commandant of the camp. Most of his regiment had been captured at Muldraugh Hill, Kentucky, where they were paroled on the field, and had been living at Camp Morton awaiting a prisoner exchange. Soldiers from Biddle's regiment were assigned to guard duty at the camp, with the assistance of other military companies. New prisoners from arrived at Camp Morton between January 29 and the end of March 1863. In April 1863, the camp's prisoners were ordered to City Point, Virginia, and in June a new group arrived, this one from Gallatin, Tennessee. 
In July Confederate general John Hunt Morgan, who led Morgan's Raid into southern Indiana and Ohio, caused alarm among the city residents as local military prepared for his arrival, but Morgan turned east, towards Ohio, and never reached Indianapolis. On July 23, 1863, eleven hundred of Morgan's men who had been captured during the raid were brought to Camp Morton. A hundred more arrived a week later. Additional Confederate prisoners came in August 1863, raising the total at the camp to nearly three thousand. In mid-August more than eleven hundred prisoners, including most of Morgan's men, were transferred to Chicago's Camp Douglas. 
Escape attempts were more frequent after Owen's tenure at commandant. Some escape plans were especially elaborate, including tunnels and prisoner uprisings.  A few of these attempts were made with wooden board planks or crude ladders.  Approximately thirty-five men escaped between April and the end of October 1863, but others were unsuccessful.  An extra ration was promised to those who informed their Union captors about escape plans. 
In July 1863 Captain Albert J. Guthridge was placed in charge of the camp when Biddle and his regiment were reassigned to other duties. David W. Hamilton took over as commandant on July 23,  but he was transferred to another post by September 23. Guthridge resumed the duties of commandant until Colonel Ambrose A. Stevens arrived on October 22, 1863. Stevens remained as commandant until the end of the war. 
When Stevens took command, the camp's condition had badly deteriorated. Augustus M. Clark, a medical inspector who filed a report on October 22, indicated the camp had 2,362 prisoners with a mortality rate exceeding 12.45 percent. Clark reported that the prisoners had sufficient food, clothing, and water, but noted the camp's structures were dilapidated and poorly maintained. He also suggested the camp suffered from bad drainage, lax discipline, and poor policing of its grounds.  Stevens helped improve the camp by providing blankets, better food, and medical care,  but the winter of 1863–1864 was bitterly cold, with temperatures falling below zero degrees Fahrenheit. Ninety-one prisoners died in November 1863, and 104 more in December. Conditions at the camp hospital improved over the winter, when the facility was expanded to care for ailing prisoners. Two new, but incomplete, hospital wards were opened in December 1863, increasing the hospital's capacity to 160 patients. More could be accommodated in an emergency.  Prisoner deaths numbered 263 that winter. 
Confederate prisoners from the area around Chattanooga, Tennessee, arrived at the overcrowded camp at the end of 1863. Blankets and clothing were issued to those in urgent need. Camp rations, while deemed sufficient, lacked fresh vegetables. Prisoners cooked for themselves and were allowed to make small purchases of food from the camp to supplement their diet. 
Toward the end of 1863, a new military prison was constructed on the grounds with a capacity of sixty prisoners. In January 1864 thirty men were imprisoned there. Despite the threat of confinement in the new prison, camp's inmates continued to attempt escapes. Punishments included a reduction of rations. 
In July 1864 the Confederate prisoner count at Camp Morton reached 4,999. Overcrowded barracks and the July heat caused more illnesses, including cases of malaria.  Drinking water obtained from Fall Creek contained limestone, which caused diarrhea among the men.  New wards were added to the camp's hospital, but only modest repairs were made to the camp's dilapidated barracks. 
During the final months of the war, in February and March 1865, two thousand of Camp Morton's prisoners left as part of a prisoner exchange. Another six hundred prisoners were soon released. Only 1,408 prisoners remained at the camp in April. Following Confederate general Robert E. Lee's surrender on April 9, many of Camp Morton's prisoners were discharged. Only 308 prisoners were left at the camp on June 1, 1865. The camp's last Confederate prisoners were released on June 12, 1865. In addition to the Confederate prisoners, seven Union deserters who remained in custody at Camp Morton were freed. Forty members of the Veteran Reserve Corps, who were serving time in the prison's guardhouse, were given dishonorable discharges and released without pay.  
It is not known for certain, but it is estimated that approximately 1,700 prisoners died at Camp Morton between 1862 and 1865.  Confederate prisoners were buried in wooden coffins in trenches on five lots purchased near the City Cemetery, which was later expanded and became known as Greenlawn Cemetery. The individual gravesites were marked with wooden boards bearing painted identification numbers that were worn away by the passage of time.  Some of the Confederates buried in Indianapolis's City Cemetery were exhumed and returned to their families however, the remains of 1,616 Confederate prisoners were left at Greenlawn. In 1866 a fire ravaged the cemetery office, destroying the records that gave the precise location of the burials.  
In the 1870s construction of an engine house and additional tracks for the Vandalia Railroad caused the Confederate prisoners' remains to be removed and reburied in a mass grave at Greenlawn.  In 1906 the U.S. government sent Colonel William Elliot to Indianapolis to locate the mass grave, and in 1912 the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument was erected at the site to honor the 1,616 Confederate prisoners of war who were buried at Greenlawn.    The monument was moved to Indianapolis's Garfield Park in 1928.  The remains from the Confederate gravesite were moved to Indianapolis's Crown Hill Cemetery in 1931 and buried in a mass grave in Section 32. The area became known as the Confederate Mound.  In 1993, the names of each fallen Confederate at Camp Morton were inscribed on ten bronze plaques.  
Property remaining at Camp Morton after the last prisoners left was sold at public auction in July 1865 and the buildings were vacant by August 2.  The city allocated three thousand dollars to rehabilitate the property, and the State Board of Agriculture eventually received $9,816.56 in property damages from the federal government. 
The Indiana State Fair returned to the site in 1868 and remained there until 1891, when the State Board of Agriculture sold the grounds in November to three businessmen from Indianapolis for $275,100. [ citation needed ] In 1891 the State Board of Agriculture acquired property for the new state fairgrounds at its present location on property bounded by Thirty-eighth Street, Fall Creek Parkway, Forty-Second Street, and Winthrop Avenue. 
New streets and drainage ditches were constructed on the former Camp Morton site, which was platted and developed as a residential area known as Morton Place.  After 1890 the Herron-Morton Place neighborhood became known for its connections with then-president Benjamin Harrison. 
A bronze bust of Colonel Richard Owen, designed by Belle Kinney Scholz, the daughter of a Confederate soldier, is installed on the main floor of the Indiana Statehouse as a tribute to Owen's service as commandant at Camp Morton in 1862. Southerners contributed $3,000 for the memorial to Owen, who went on to become the first president of Purdue University in 1873.  The memorial, which was dedicated on June 9, 1913, honors his fair treatment of the Confederate prisoners. Its inscription reads:"Tribute by Confederate prisoners of war and their friends for his courtesy and kindness."  Coordinates: 39°47′40.76″N 86°9′8.14″W / 39.7946556°N 86.1522611°W / 39.7946556 -86.1522611
In 1916, students and teachers of Indianapolis Public School 45 erected a stone monument to mark the location of the camp at Alabama and Nineteenth Streets. 
A monument at Indianapolis's Greenlawn Cemetery was erected to honor the Confederate soldiers who were buried there. The monument was moved to Garfield Park in 1928.   
A monument and ten bronze plaques were erected at Confederate Mound, in Section 32 of Indianapolis's Crown Hill Cemetery, to honor the Confederate prisoners of war who were originally buried at Greenlawn. Remains of the prisoners were moved to Crown Hill in 1931 and 1,616 names are inscribed on the plaques.  
In 1962, the Indiana Civil War Centennial Commission erected a state historical marker in the 1900 block of North Alabama Street, near the site of Camp Morton. 
After the Battle of Shiloh, Federal soldiers buried the dead, and medical officers faced the enormous task of caring for the 16,400 wounded. Many were crowded onto steamboats for transport to Northern cities, while others were taken to nearby homes. Some of the wounded received professional medical treatment here.
On this high ground surrounding the farmhouse of Noah Cantrell, medical officers of the Union Army of the Ohio set up a large field hospital under canvas. Tents, bedding, and supplies were secured from the infantry camps to accommodate some 2,500 sick and wounded.
Ordinarily, regiments took care of their own wounded. Here was the first consolidated tent hospital - a forerunner of modern military field hospitals.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil.
Location. 35° 7.694′ N, 88° 19.566′ W. Marker is near Shiloh, Tennessee, in Hardin County. Marker is on Federal Road, on the right when traveling west. Located at tour stop 11 (the Field Hospital) on the driving tour of Shiloh National Military Park. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Shiloh TN 38376, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Stuart (a few steps from this marker) 71st Ohio Infantry (within shouting distance of this marker) a different marker also named 71st Ohio Infantry
(within shouting distance of this marker) Jackson's Brigade (within shouting distance of this marker) Gage's Alabama Battery (about 800 feet away, measured in a direct line) 55th Illinois Infantry (approx. 0.2 miles away) Chalmers' Brigade (approx. 0.2 miles away) a different marker also named 55th Illinois Infantry (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Shiloh.
More about this marker. In the center is a drawing depicting the field hospital in operation. On the night after the battle, surgeons labored to save the victims of Shiloh. An Ohio soldier who walked by here heard, "groans and cries that would have melted a heart of stone."
The Brigade That Never Quit: Chalmers’ Mississippians at Shiloh
Spring Training: The 9th Mississippi spent the early months of the war in relative seclusion at Warrington Navy Yard in Pensacola, Fla. That life of calm turned into one of severe havoc in just two days at Shiloh.
Timothy B. Smith
J ames R. Chalmers was not satisfied. The Mississippian had enjoyed a long, successful life, making his name and fortune as a lawyer and a planter as a vocal member of the Mississippi Secession Convention and then as a Confederate general and after Reconstruction as a multi-term representative in Congress. But by the 1890s, he longed for one more commodity: justice.
Chalmers was famously prickly about his honor and reputation, but self-worth was not his focus now. Rather, he was interested in making sure the men he had commanded got their due, primarily for what they accomplished at the April 1862 Battle of Shiloh. As the 20th century approached, the U.S. government had begun the process of creating national military parks at several sites, including Shiloh, and the Confederate representative on the commission overseeing the work, Robert F. Looney, had contacted Chalmers for input on where the Mississippians of his brigade should be fittingly memorialized. “Please see that justice is done my Brigade in marking its position in the Battle of Shiloh,” came the general’s prompt response.
In an earnest letter to Looney, Chalmers detailed the fighting his men had endured during the battle. Describing a series of actions, he repeatedly declared, “Please mark my Brigade at that place” or “Mark that place.” Other Shiloh commanders would act similarly with their reminiscences to the park commission, of course some even visited the battlefield to mark specific locations. But Chalmers had perhaps a higher claim in this case. In his mind at least, they were rightly the Army of the Mississippi’s “fightenest” brigade at Shiloh.
Bragg organized the brigade under Chalmers in early March, giving it the sobriquet ‘High Pressure Brigade’
The unit that Brig. Gen. James Chalmers led into action at Shiloh on April 6, 1862 (2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 2nd Corps) consisted primarily of Mississippians from across the state—four of its five infantry regiments. The 52nd Tennessee and Captain Charles P. Gage’s Alabama Battery formed the rest of the brigade.
Chalmers and his men had spent the early months of the war with General Braxton Bragg in Florida, but headed for Tennessee after the February 1862 Confederate debacles at Forts Henry and Donelson. Bragg came, too, and organized the brigade under Chalmers in early March, giving it the sobriquet “High Pressure Brigade.” Chalmers’ troops would be part of the massive force that Army of the Mississippi commander Albert Sidney Johnston was assembling for an advance on Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s Army of the Tennessee near Pittsburg Landing, Tenn. Chalmers was sent a few miles north as an advance force at Monterrey, about halfway between Corinth, Miss., and Pittsburg Landing.
When Johnston put his grand gamble in motion on April 3, Chalmers’ Brigade was pulled along as the army passed through Monterrey. But it was a miserable and delayed advance for all, with Chalmers writing that at one point his troops endured “a hard, drenching rain, as the orders to march had been countermanded on account of the darkness and extreme bad weather.” Johnston was forced to order a temporary halt to the operation, a delay many later believed was a big factor in the battle’s outcome. Regardless, by the evening of a comparatively dry April 5, the Confederates were camped not far from Pittsburg Landing, coiled to strike the next morning. Positiioned on the far right of the second line in Brig. Gen. Jones M. Withers’ Division, Chalmers’ Brigade bivouacked “in a little Hollow just South of the…Bark Road.”
Weapon of Choice: The .58-caliber Model 1861 Springfield, such as this one carried by Private George Ditter of the 18th Wisconsin, saw extensive action at Shiloh. (Heritage Auctions, Dallas)
Johnston’s long-awaited attack began at dawn on April 6. The first wave caught the Federals off-guard, but they had begun establishing a response by the time Chalmers’ men moved forward. Chalmers’ men were aligned behind Brig. Gen. Adley H. Gladden’s Brigade, composed mainly of Alabama regiments. Gladden had run into stiff resistance from Brig. Gen. Benjamin Prentiss’ 6th Division in Spain Field, and he would be mortally wounded during the assault.
Chalmers was in the line of fresh troops sent in to turn the tide. He pushed his brigade “by a gradual left wheel” across what 10th Mississippi Colonel Robert A. Smith described as “a thick patch of briars.” Smith, a native of Scotland, advised his men to “divest themselves of their blankets and fix bayonets,” and the other regiments prepared similarly for action.
The Mississippians and Tennesseans had to cross the Locust Grove Branch valley to engage the enemy. “We had to march down this slope to this branch and on top of a little rise just beyond the branch before we was ordered to fire,” remembered a 15-year-old boy in the 52nd Tennessee’s ranks. “[A]s we came down this slant to the branch, we was under heavy fire all the time.” Despite the resistance, Chalmers maneuvered until he could sweep in on Prentiss’ flank, held at the time by the 18th Wisconsin, in Colonel Madison Miller’s 2nd Brigade.
Chalmers sent his men forward but found the resistance stiff, the terrain unforgiving, and the chances of success negligible
Chalmers ordered an attack, but it did not go according to plan. In the 10th Mississippi, Smith instructed his men to shoot only when they were within about 60 yards of the enemy. The Federals fired first, however, and the Mississippians “would not wait to form, but commenced firing and with a loud cheer rushed upon the foe.”
Because of the confusion and since Chalmers personally delivered his directive from the brigade’s extreme right flank, only a portion of the troops heard his command—the 10th Mississippi and then the 9th. The rest advanced later after the first regiments “dashed up the hill, and put to flight the [18th] Wisconsin Regiment,” Chalmers gladly noted. Fortunately, that was enough, and the Wisconsin troops—along with the rest of the Federal brigade and its parent division, Prentiss’—fled to the rear. Smith noted they “did not wait to receive them but broke their line and fled.”
Unfortunately, not all of Chalmers’ troops pursued the retreating Federals. The 52nd Tennessee had bolted during the attack—perhaps because Colonel [Benjamin] Lea’s “horse was shot from under him and he was badly wounded,” remembered one of his men. The Tennesseans, the soldier tried to explain, had been told to withdraw to allow a battery to rake the Union line, but “we stampeded and run up under the mouths of the guns.” Chalmers remembered it much differently, later writing that the regiment “broke and fled in most shameful confusion.” When a new line was formed, only about two Tennessee companies responded.
Elite Ensign: The 10th Mississippi’s flag bears the names of several key battles in which the regiment fought, including Shiloh and Chickamauga. (Courtesy Museum Division, Mississippi Department of Archives & History)
Chalmers followed the Union retreat almost all the way to Sarah Bell’s cotton field, occupied by what Smith described as “the second line of camps.” There Chalmers soon received new orders. General Johnston, having taken position on the high ground in the 18th Wisconsin camp that Chalmers had just attacked, surveyed the field and reacted to new intelligence indicating more Federals were on his right. Realizing he had to neutralize this threat, Johnston at 10:30 a.m. pulled Chalmers and the nearby 3rd Brigade, under Brig. Gen. John K. Jackson, out of line and sent them on a circuitous route to assault the new enemy flank. Reserve troops, then on the way, would replace the two brigades on the front line.
Chalmers and Jackson marched through rough terrain on the Bark Road to a position astride the Hamburg–Savannah Road, from which they could again outflank the enemy. As Chalmers proceeded through a swamp, “advancing rapidly on the right and gradually wheeling the whole line,” he found Colonel David Stuart’s 2nd Brigade, from Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s 5th Division, in a formidable position among the hills and hollows near the Tennessee River. The brigade took fire from all directions, including, as Smith noted, a “heavy cross fire encounter from our own men formed in line on my left and the enemy in retiring in the swamp beyond.”
Chalmers attacked several successive enemy positions over the next few hours but found the going difficult in the harsh terrain, even though the brigade continued moving, he later reported, “in perfect order and splendid style.” Accordingly, the Mississippians pushed Stuart’s outnumbered Illinoisans and Ohioans slowly back from ridge to ridge, the intervening ravines causing great chaos and disorder on both sides. Because the brigade was so close to the river, fire from Union gunboats added to the mayhem. “The men only saved themselves by throwing themselves on the ground,” Smith later noted.
Somehow, Captain Gage’s Alabama Battery kept pace with the brigade, moving horses, guns, limbers, caissons, and other wagons to wherever Chalmers needed them. But it was not easy. As one cannoneer noted: “We used our horses completely up the first day, and the men too, as we were fighting amongst the highest kind of hills it was down one hill and up the other and at the bottom of the hills were the ravines, and they were so boggy that a man could hardly cross them, and, in some cases, we had to build bridges so as to enable our battery to cross.”
The going was indeed slow, but by 2 p.m. Chalmers had driven back the Federals, who also faced relentless pressure from Confederate attacks to the west. Chalmers gave his men a short break to refill their cartridge boxes before he and the rest of the army lurched forward once more. “Moving at a double-quick, over several ravines and hills,” he recalled, “we came upon the enemy and attacked him on his flank.”
Eventually, the Mississippians wheeled to the west and took part in the capture of the Union-defended Hornets’ Nest. “[W]e again came upon the enemy camps,” Smith noted, “where after a few volleys a brilliant charge was made and the enemy driven from the main camp back upon his fast retreating forces now in full retreat.”
As the sun sank, the Confederate high command—now under General P.G.T. Beauregard due to Johnston’s death—repositioned their troops to make a final attempt at breaking through the Federal lines. Chalmers again took position on the far right, meaning he would have to negotiate the harsh terrain of Dill Branch during an attack. Chalmers sent his men forward late in the day, about 6 p.m., but found the resistance stiff, the terrain unforgiving, and the chances of success negligible. It was “the heaviest fire that occurred during the whole engagement,” he noted. One of only a few Tennesseans still with the brigade remembered that “we come out near the river when our line seemed to be shot through lengthways with shells or canon [sic] balls and we were scattered like Sheep.” Added Smith:
“[S]everal ineffectual attempts were made to induce a charge, but the exhaustion of the troops was so great and the force in front of infantry and artillery supported by the gunboats to our right so strong that our now weakened line could not attempt [it] and a retreat to the ravine back out of range was ordered.”
With nightfall, most Confederates simply realized nothing more could be done that day and began to move toward the rear to resupply and rest.
Thus was born the controversy over whether Beauregard, by calling off the attacks at that point, had supposedly thrown away a victory Johnston had potentially had within his grasp. The reality was that Chalmers’ men, like the others who tried to cross the ravine that evening, prudently decided to halt on their own. They did not need to wait for the order that Beauregard had indeed issued but wouldn’t arrive until later in the evening. Nevertheless, Chalmers was proud of his men’s accomplishments that day, writing those decades later to Looney: “Be sure and mark that place for we got nearer to Pittsburg Landing than any other Confederate Brigade.”
‘I have been in many pitched battles, but none ever made the same impression on me’ –rebel soldier
For both sides, it was a long and wretched night. Finding supplies and rest was difficult enough, but a terrible rainstorm and the perhaps unwise shelling from nearby Union gunboats only added to the duress—“a miserable night spent in the rain” was how Smith succinctly remembered it.
Chalmers’ men bedded down as best they could in what had been Prentiss’ camps at the beginning of the battle, but they were alert by dawn the next morning and ready to renew the clash. While fighting broke out at Jones Field, on the battlefield’s western perimeter, Confederate commanders on the right began organizing their lines—and used their best brigade to buy time. Accordingly, the Mississippians were sent well ahead to locate and disrupt any potential Federal advance in this sector. It wasn’t long before Union troops reached Chalmers in Wicker Field.
Major General Don Carlos Buell’s Army of the Ohio had reinforced Grant’s weary army during the night, and was now leading the advance. Although it took some time for Buell’s forces to maneuver across the same daunting terrain of Dill Branch that Chalmers had struggled with the night before, they were at Wicker Field by about 9 a.m. But there they were stopped. Resolute resistance by Chalmers bought enough time for Confederate commanders at both the corps and division levels to meld a line to the south along the Hamburg–Purdy Road.
Chalmers was eventually called back to that main line and asked to confront another daunting challenge. His opponent now was Brig. Gen. William “Bull” Nelson’s 4th Division, from Buell’s army, which had seen no major fighting the day before.
Under the circumstances, Chalmers believed an offensive would be the best approach. But a series of Confederate counterattacks were easily blunted by Nelson’s men. Nevertheless, the fact that the Confederates could mount attacks of any sort after a full day of fighting contradicts the common assertions that have come down through time about the lack of Confederate ability on Shiloh’s second day. It should be pointed out, in fact, that some of those attacks succeeded against the much fresher Federals.
Not surprisingly, Chalmers’ men turned in an impressive performance on April 7. A notable example was a counterattack he led that forced Colonel Jacob Ammen’s 10th Brigade, made up of Ohio and Indiana troops, all the way back toward Bloody Pond.” [W]e advanced firing driving the enemy back to the cover of the woods across the field,” Smith would write.
In the process, Chalmers also drove away Captain William R. Terrill’s Battery H, 5th U.S. Artillery—capturing a caisson and almost the guns. But success was short-lived. The tired Mississippians had to give ground as Nelson and Buell focused more attention and troops on this crisis area.
As the fighting continued to rage, Chalmers at one point took command of a larger group of brigades, leaving his own exhausted regiments under Colonel Smith. “His clarion voice could be heard above the din of battle cheering on his men,” Chalmers later wrote of Smith’s delightful brogue.
Chalmers even made a splendid show of bravery in calling his regiments to attack once more, but, he conceded, “they seemed too much exhausted to make the attempt, and no appeal seemed to arouse them.” When he took in hand the 9th Mississippi’s standard and called for them to follow, however, he declared that “a wild shout [arose and] the whole brigade rallied to the charge.” Unfortunately, Lt. Col. William Rankin, commanding the 9th Mississippi, was mortally wounded during that assault.
Eventually, Beauregard had little choice but to fall back to a new line around the Shiloh Church and Prentiss’ old camps before ordering a withdrawal from the field. The battle had ended. The great Confederate gamble had failed.
Although Shiloh was a harsh loss for the Confederates and claimed one of their most acknowledged generals, Johnston, it won laurels for Chalmers and his brigade. Of the 2,039 men in the ranks the morning of April 6, 1,739 were engaged in the battle, with roughly 445 total casualties. Chalmers had seen action in at least six major firefights on the first day and three or four more on April 7. “Since then I have been in many pitched battles including Perryville, Murfreesboro, Chickamauga & Franklin,” one of Chalmers’ Mississippians later wrote, “but none ever made the same impression on me.” It is no wonder then that Chalmers’ Brigade could be called the “fightenest” in the entire Confederate Army. It is also no wonder why Chalmers, those many years later, was so adamant that Colonel Looney “Mark that place” on the Shiloh National Military Park for his men’s signature contributions.
Timothy B. Smith is author of numerous books, including Shiloh: Conquer or Perish. He is currently working on a book about Benjamin Grierson’s 1863 Union cavalry raid.
Events Leading to the Battle of Shiloh
The next several passages that I will be posting from Isaac’s journal describe the events leading up to the battle.
The Battle of Shiloh was fought on April 6 and 7, 1862 in southwestern Tennessee. It was also known as the Battle of Pittsburg Landing. The above image is a chromolithograph of the battle by Thure de Thulstrup (1848-1930).
The Confederates were forced to retreat from the bloodiest battle in United States history up to that time, ending their hopes that they could block the Union advance into northern Mississippi. The U. S. Army had 13,047 casualties and losses and the Confederate States had 10, 699 casualties and losses.
Isaac Newton Carr was very much affected by this battle at the time, as well as in his later years. Evidently, General Grant’s memoirs touched a nerve with him as you will read in an upcoming post.
Leather pocket diary of 1st Lieutenant Horatio P. Kile, approx. 3.75 x 6 in., 96 pp. Entries are a mix of pen and ink on blue lined pages and are made daily from January 1, 1862 - December 31, 1862. Excellent content includes descriptions of Shiloh, the Siege of Corinth, the Battle of Perryville, and the Battle of Murfreesboro. Diary accompanied by a CDV identified on verso as Captain H. P. Kile with backmark of photographer A.S. Morse, Department of the Cumberland, Nashville, TN.
Horatio Philander Kile (1839-1924), a resident of Geauga County, entered the service in Co. G of the 41st Ohio Volunteer Infantry as a 2nd lieutenant, on September 10, 1861, for a three year enlistment. The 41st was organized in the Cleveland and Northern Ohio area by West Pointer William Babcock Hazen. Under Hazen's leadership, the 41st developed a reputation as a well-oiled and hard-fighting unit. The 41st took an active part in virtually every important engagement in the Western Theater including Shiloh, the Siege of Corinth, Perryville, Murfreesboro, the Tullahoma Campaign, Chickamauga, and Lookout Mountain. Kile was promoted to 1st lieutenant on January 1, 1862, and became captain of Co. H on March 24, 1863. He was wounded at Missionary Ridge on November 25, 1863, and was mustered out of the army on November 10, 1864 at Pulaski, TN.
The diary opens on January 1, 1862: "Today finds me in the service of the U. S. A as 2d Lt. Co. G 41 OV. We are camped about 8 miles from New Haven. Our camp is named Camp Wickliffe. We are about 15,000 strong. " The first few months of 1862 are relatively quiet for Kile as he and his regiment drill in preparation for the inevitable engagements to follow. Kile notes on January 28 his promotion to 1st lieutenant assigned to Co. G., then in the following weeks describes the regiment's difficult journey through Kentucky towards Nashville. Kile is descriptive, noting the impressive sight of Fort Donelson, the towns he passed through along the way, and the conditions they faced. Finally, on February 25, 1862, their initial destination is reached: "This morning finds us in sight of Nashville. No show of resistance. We marched triumphantly through the streets The band playing 'Yankee Doodle' 'Star Spangled Banner" and Dixie Ending Dixie with our flag is then marched outside town and halted on a hill. "
After continuing their journey south through Franklin and Columbia, the 41st engages in its first major engagement at the Battle of Shiloh. Kile did not participate in the battle as Company G was detailed to stay back from the front on guard duty. Writing on Monday, April 7, as the Battle of Shiloh waged on, Kile notes that "Cannonading commenced early. The wounded are coming in by hundreds. Squads of secesh prisoners came in today, many of our men are dieing of wounds I saw their boddies piled into a waggon one upon another and taken to their graves, without a friend knowing their resting place." Losses to the 41st were significant at Shiloh, with Kile noting on April 8th that "The 41 is badly cut to pieces. "
Shiloh was just the beginning of a string of major engagements in the Western Theater in which the 41st would participate over the course of the next three years. Kile provides excellent descriptions of his regiment's activity during the Siege of Corinth, and of the evacuation of the Confederates. He writes on Thursday, May 29th, ". This evening is heard very plain the cheers of the rebels as the cars arrive. They have probably recd reinforcements. The cars run very busyly to night a large fire was seen at Corinth to night." The actual cause of the raucous makes itself plain the following day - "the cause of the unusual noise in Corinth last night was occasioned by the evacuation about 7 o'c' we commenced march toward C. arrived inside their fortifications without a show of resistance and barrels of sugar & molasses flour & c. were all piled up undoubtedly to burn but they did not have time. "
Following Corinth the 41st continues to pursue rebel forces before a rest in Alabama. By August the troops were on the move again and headed back to Kentucky. Regular skirmishes are described including near Perryville, KY. The diary closes in December 1862 with Kile's poignant reflection on the devastating Battle of Murfreesboro (Stone's River): "(Wednes. Dec 31st) About sunrise the rebels came down upon us made desperate by a mixture of gunpowder and whiskey On the right was driven back but we held our position The battle waged furiously all day The 41st in the thick of the fight. Many will never behold the new year of 1863. The dying year expires not alone but with thousands of human beings slaughtered. I have now written daily the occurences of the past year in the service. Shall I have to note the occurrence of another. Time only will determine. I hope I may not. I hope the war to cease."
Overall, a nicely detailed diary. Kile does not simply detail soldiers on duty and engaged in battle, he reminds the reader of the humanity of the soldiers and the exorbitant cost of war. Note that while the diary has no period identification attributing it to Horatio P. Kile, all locations, details of service, and the rank match with Kile's service in the Ohio 41st. Additional research also identified a typed transcription of the diary belonging to descendants of Captain Kile which matches the first page of the diary offered here.
CDV shows Kile wearing his officer's coat with Captain's bars, dating the photo to post March 24, 1863, when he was commissioned to the rank of captain.
Diary is in good condition given age. Three pages have been removed from the front of the diary, however, the entries for the year 1862 begin after these removals. The CDV has expected toning and soil and a minor loss on bottom right corner.
Battle of Shiloh, showing the location of the Union camps - History
A college essay
by Cheryl Carroll
26 April 2012
Shiloh is a Hebrew place name that translates to words like peace, tranquility, safety, and opposition to war. In this spirit, the Shiloh Methodist Meeting House was born. The tiny log building was a place for love, for joy, and for the cleansing of the soul. But the serenity of its picturesque Tennessee countryside would soon—and forever—be broken. In April of 1862, the little church became the center point for one of the bloodiest battles in history.
Major-General Ulysses S. Grant was in charge of the Union’s Army of the Tennessee. He had five divisions camped near Pittsburg Landing, on the Tennessee River, and one division five miles north at Crump Landing. They were waiting for reinforcements from the Army of the Ohio, led by Major-General Don Carlos Buell. Once Buell arrived, they planned to attack Corinth, Mississippi, about twenty miles south, as it was the location of an essential north-south and east-west railroad intersection. Most of the divisions had set up camp around the little Shiloh Meeting House, two miles inland from Pittsburg Landing, giving Buell’s army plenty of room to dock. Grant spent his time going back and forth from Pittsburgh Landing to Savannah, Tennessee, which was on the east bank of the river, down from Crump Landing. Buell was marching from Columbia and expected first at Savannah.
Grant’s army had about 40,000 men, spread out over a few miles of the surrounding area. They had been camped there for three weeks, with orders not to provoke an enemy confrontation. With such a strong force, plus Buell’s 20,000 arriving any moment, they hardly worried about being attacked. The Confederates would not be foolish enough to take them on here. Still, in the days preceding the battle, reconnaissance parties were sent out on a regular basis. Grant would visit the camps daily to receive updates. He was made aware of a few skirmishes, but was not at all concerned about a full-on assault. Grant was so sure that his army would be marching on Corinth that he never ordered a single defensive structure to be built.
The Confederates, under General Albert Sydney Johnston, knew that Grant would not expect them to advance, so with a force almost equal to Grant’s and the element of surprise in their favor, Johnston’s Army of the Mississippi quietly left Corinth and headed toward the Army of the Tennessee’s camp. Their goal was to “crush Grant in battle before the arrival of Buell.” (Battles and Leaders of the Civil War Part One), but it had taken them much longer to get their army organized than expected. They didn’t leave Corinth until Thursday, April 3, and may not have left until later, had Johnston not learned on April 2 that Buell was rapidly approaching. Johnston’s plan was simple—to attack with columns of corps and to achieve victory or die trying.
The orders were to attack on Saturday, at three in the morning, but the conditions of the roads and a heavy downpour caused them to lose a whole day. Throughout the process, Johnston and his second in command, General G. T. Beauregard, discussed their differing views on what should occur. Johnston was firm in his plan to fight until the battle was decided, but Beauregard believed the Confederates to be greatly outnumbered and feared they had lost the element of surprise. At times Beauregard wanted to withdraw altogether and march back to Corinth. The discussions continued, even into the morning of the battle, until rapid gunfire was heard coming from the front. A Union reconnoitering party had met up with the advancing Confederates. Johnston promptly put an end to the talks, noting that it was now too late to change their minds. Together with Major-General Leonidas Polk’s First Army Corps, Major-General Braxton Bragg’s Second Army Corps, Major-General William J. Hardee’s Third Army Corps, and Brigadier-General John C. Breckinridge’s Reserve Corp, they began their all-out assault.
The reconnoitering party had been sent out by Colonel Everett Peabody from Grant’s sixth division, which was being led by Brigadier-General Benjamin M. Prentiss. Prentiss, along with other senior commanding officers, had recent knowledge of a large enemy presence and had stopped sending parties out. Peabody had acted on his own. After sending reinforcements to back up the party, Peabody lined up his brigade, ready for battle. Prentiss rode up to Peabody and said, “Colonel Peabody, I hold you responsible for bringing on this fight.” (Rich) Prentiss couldn’t know at the time that the fight was already coming and Peabody had saved his division—and in fact, the entire Army of the Tennessee—from being completely caught off guard. This was the beginning of the Battle of Shiloh.
One Federal soldier recalls a beautiful morning, an early breakfast, and a walk down the creek to look for spring flowers. Then he hears the sound of faint, but steady fire, and rushes back to camp. He tells of officers shouting, drums beating, men hurrying back and forth, and the noise of the approaching, but totally unexpected battle. He falls in line and nerves himself for “what bid fair to be a dreadful conflict.” (Olney) Later he speaks of wagons full of wounded, and poor, horribly mutilated wretches, and the demoralization of being pushed back to Pittsburgh Landing. He wonders why no attempt was made to fortify their position. He blames it on the inexperience of General Grant and fifth division commander, Brigadier-General William T. Sherman. “They had to learn their art, and the country and their army had to pay the cost of their teaching.”
On the other side, a Confederate drummer boy remembers his army’s advancing line becoming weak from the heavy barrage of lead and the enormous amount of men falling dead and wounded. Their colonel urges them to stand steady and then someone starts the “rebel yell.” He describes the yell as “a voluntary fury of sound” and one that “fixes itself in the minds and hearts of all who ever hear it.” (Reinhardt) The yell inspires him so much that he abandons his drum, grabs his gun, and rushes madly into the enemy line without an ounce of fear at all. And then he tells of the blue line finally wavering, as they look into the faces of those infuriated southern soldiers.
This was the first day. It went almost precisely the way it had been planned. The Confederates steadily pushed and the Union steadily fell back. It might have been a decisive Confederate victory, if not for the death of General Johnston. He had been injured early on, and thinking the injury minor, had sent his doctor to care for the captured Union prisoners. A short while later, he bled to death. The fighting carried on without him until just before dusk, when General Beauregard called it to a close. Both sides had suffered staggering losses, but the Confederates had gained Union ground—ground littered with the bodies of hundreds of men, on both sides, who had sacrificed their lives for the cause. There were so many dead that it would be possible to cross the fields walking on top of them, without ever touching the ground.
The Confederates at the front line were sure they had the Federals pinned, and indeed they did. Three of Grant’s six divisions, including Sherman’s fifth, Major-General John A. McClernand’s first, and Brigadier-General Stephen A. Hurlbut’s fourth, were crowded together at Pittsburgh Landing. Brigadier-General W. H.L. Wallace’s second (Wallace had been killed), and Prentiss’s sixth division had been captured. If Johnston had been there, he would have gone forward with the final push, but Beauregard misjudged the situation. Being in the rear, and receiving fire from the Union gunships, he assumed the front was in trouble, too. With an hour of daylight left, he thought it best to regroup and finish the Federals off the next day.
But Union reinforcements arrived just as Beauregard had made this decision. Brigadier-General William Nelson, leading the fourth division of the Army of the Ohio, was being ferried across the river and they were able to fight in the last minutes. Then Grant’s third division under Major-General Lew Wallace arrived from Crump’s Landing. Wallace had chosen the wrong road to march to the battle and had not arrived in time to help that day, but would be invaluable the next.
On Monday, April 7, the Confederates found themselves facing a Union army bulging with reinforcements and fuming from the unexpected onslaught the previous day. The Rebels were effectively beaten back, inch by inch, by Wallace’s and Buell’s fresh troops and Grant’s reenergized lot, until they had lost all the ground they had taken. With expected reinforcements not coming, Beauregard soon had no choice but to give the order to withdraw and retreat. Grant declined to pursue. Because the Confederates failed in their mission, the Union was able to proceed with their main objective and would later go in and capture Corinth.
It’s estimated there were nearly 24,000 casualties at the Battle of Shiloh, with just under 3500 killed (National Park Service). Because of the warm weather, most of the dead were hurriedly buried in pits, hundreds to each one. After the war, the Federals returned, exhumed their soldier’s bodies, and buried them properly, with their names if they knew them. But the Confederate fallen still lie entombed one on top of another— up to seven bodies deep—in their massive trenches.
Speak the word Shiloh now and for most, it will no longer mean “a place of peace.” In 1894, The Shiloh National Military Park was established, so that the Battle of Shiloh, along with its volumes of unknown victims, can live on in our memories forever. Now the word will conjure pictures of generals and soldiers, blunders and incompetence, horrific carnage, and a landscape filled with unmarked graves. But lest the namesake be forgotten, the Shiloh church, which was destroyed after the battle, now stands again. It hopes—it prays—for peace.
Battles and Leaders of the Civil War Part One. New York: The Century Co, 1887.
Howard, Samuel Meek. The Illustrated Comprehensive History of the Great Battle of Shiloh. Kansas City: Franklin Hudson Publishing Company, 1921.
National Park Service. Shiloh - National Military Park. 2012. http://www.nps.gov/shil/index.htm.
Olney, Warren. "Shiloh" as Seen by a Private Soldier. 1889.
Reinhardt, Vic. A Drummer Boy of Shiloh. Terrell: Vic Reinhardt, 1910.
Rich, Joseph W. The Battle of Shiloh. Iowa City: The State Historical Society of Iowa, 1911.
The Battle of Shiloh was one of the pivotal encounters of the Civil War. Fought in a remote location in south central Tennessee, north of Corinth, Mississippi, the battle showed the nation that the Civil War would be long and difficult. The Battle of Shiloh opened up the western Confederacy to the Union invasion that would ultimately prove its undoing. And the battle resulted in the death of a high-ranking and charismatic Confederate leader, General Albert Sidney Johnston. I read Essays On Shiloh
The Battle of Shiloh was one of the pivotal encounters of the Civil War. Fought in a remote location in south central Tennessee, north of Corinth, Mississippi, the battle showed the nation that the Civil War would be long and difficult. The Battle of Shiloh opened up the western Confederacy to the Union invasion that would ultimately prove its undoing. And the battle resulted in the death of a high-ranking and charismatic Confederate leader, General Albert Sidney Johnston. I read this excellent collection of essays during the anniversary of the Battle of Shiloh, (April 6 -- 7, 1862), and it made me long to visit the Battlefield again.
Compared with other major Civil War battles, Shiloh has received little detailed attention and no collection of essays of which I am aware. This excellent collection of essays by Timothy B Smith helps to rectify the situation. Smith holds a PhD in history from Mississippi State University and is a former ranger at Shiloh National Military Park. He currently teaches at the University of Tennessee. Smith is the author of an earlier study of the establishment of Shiloh National Military Park, "This Great Battlefield of Shiloh." With this book of essays and another book, "Shiloh and the Western Campaign of 1862" soon to be published, Smith is establishing himself as an authority on Shiloh and its aftermath.
This collection consists of nine essays, most of which were published earlier, on various aspects of the Battle of Shiloh and its aftermath, Shiloh National Military Park, and the historiography of the battle. One of the earlier essays, "Oft-Repeated Campfire Stories" examines what Smith describes as the "Ten Greatest Myths of Shiloh." This essay is a good overview of the battle for those with some familiarity with it and with the controversies it has engendered. Other essays dealing with more specific aspects of the battle include an excellent study of the role of the Union Navy during the battle, "Gallant and Invaluable Service", a study of the frequently overlooked campaign against Corinth, Mississippi, which followed the battle, and a study of the role of Confederate General Alexander Stewart and his brigade in the chaos that was the Battle of Shiloh.
The remaining essays in the book deal with the historiography and the commemoration of the Battle of Shiloh. The first essay in the book, "Historians and the Battle of Shiloh" is an overview of the different ways historians have described the events of the battle. Smith identifies three separate views found in the literature before introducing his own view, which emphasizes the topography of the battlefield and which tends to downplay the importance previous historians have given to action at the Hornet's Nest and Sunken Road. Smith further explains his view of the battle in his soon to be published "Shiloh and the Western Campaign" which consists of the text of a PhD dissertation by Edward Cunningham setting out what is becoming an influential account of Shiloh.
Smith's essay "Shiloh Monument Dedication Speeches and the Rhetoric of Reunion" was, for me, the highlight of the collection. It it, Smith quotes extensively from speeches given by Northerners and Southerners at Shiloh from 1902 through the dedication of the Tennessee state monument in 2004. It is important to see this collection of speeches unearthed and explored. Smith emphasizes the themes of national unity and reconciliation that pervade these speeches. He points out that the United States of the present day has little of the spirit of unity that characterize these speeches and he offers thoughts on why that is the case. These speeches, and similar speeches at other Battlefields, deserve further study.
The remaining three essays in the book study the establishment and history of the Shiloh National Cemetery and the lives of two early superintendents at Shiloh: David Wilson Reed, the "Father of Shiloh National Military Park" who was responsible for the historically most influential account of the battle, and Reed's successor, DeLong Rice, whom Smith portrays as Shiloh's "Poet Preservationist".
Smith has written a thoughtful group of essays which will appeal to those readers with an interest in the Civil War and with a special fascination for the Battle of Shiloh.