Shiloh Church
The Battle of Shiloh took its
name from a small Methodist
meeting house.
Shiloh National Military Park - Shiloh, Tennessee
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Shiloh National Military Park, Tennessee
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Shiloh National Military Park, Tennessee
Shiloh National Military Park
Cannon aim out over some of the bloodiest ground
in American history, Tennessee's Shiloh battlefield.
The site is now a national park.
The Battle of Shiloh, Tennessee
On April 6-7, 1862, Confederate and Union
forces mauled each other in a massive battle
around Shiloh Methodist Church in southern
Tennessee. For 25,000 of families - North
and South - it was the Battle of Shiloh that for
the first time brought home the true horror of
the Civil War.

The opposing armies had battled repeatedly
during the first year of the war, but casualties
at even such massive engagements as the
Battle of Pea Ridge in Arkansas had been
but mere shadows of what was to come. The
Battle of Shiloh and the estimated 23,746
men it left dead or wounded stunned both
citizens and leaders and revealed for the first
time the bloody price that would be paid
before the war was decided.

In February of 1862, the Union army of
General Ulysses S. Grant had pierced the
Confederate defenses in the West by taking
Forts Henry and Donelson in Tennessee.
Nashville fell and Federal troops pushed
south almost to Mississippi. Hoping to
reclaim the advantage and drive Grant back
to the Ohio River, Confederate General Albert
Sidney Johnston concentrated his forces at
the vital railroad and road junction of
Corinth,
Mississippi.

Aware that the two Union armies occupying
Tennessee had not yet united, Johnston
marched north from Corinth toward Grant's
unsuspecting army which was camped
around Shiloh Church at Pittsburg Landing in
Tennessee.

The Battle of Shiloh began on April 6, 1862,
when the Confederates launched a stunning
three-pronged attack on the Federal forces.
Although they had made the mistake of not
entrenching their camps, the Union soldiers
fought desperately as they were driven back
to a succession of lines.

Johnston directed a series of hammering
assaults against Union forces trying to stand
around a peach orchard, but was shot and
killed as he rode forward trying to locate the
left flank of the Federal lines.

Command of the Confederate army fell to
General P.G.T. Beauregard, a hero of the
Battle of Manassas (Bull Run), and he
pushed forward the attacks. Desperate
fighting developed around an area called the
Hornet's Nest, where 6,000 Union soldiers
led by Generals W.H.L. Wallace and
Benjamin Prentiss held out against Southern
troops led by General Braxton Bragg.

Grant ordered the men in the Hornet's Nest
to hold on to the end, and many did. The
Confederates finally moved forward 62
cannon to pound the position to pieces.
Wallace was killed and more than 2,000 men
- including General Prentiss - were taken
prisoner.

The desperate stand at the Hornet's Nest
gave General Grant the time he needed to
form a final line of defense along the
northern edge of the battlefield. By massing
his men and artillery, and with help from the
U.S. Gunboats
Lexington and Tyler, he was
able to hold out until nightfall. The Southern
army had driven the Federals back for over
three miles but was not able to break this
final line.
While Beauregard hoped to finish the job the
next morning, Grant was reinforced during
the night by the arrival of men from General
Don Carlos Buell's Army of the Ohio as well
as the division of General Lewis Wallace
(later to gain fame as the author of
Ben Hur).

Now reorganized and in control of the battle,
General Grant moved his army forward on
the morning of April 7, 1862.

The Confederates resisted fiercely and
counter-attacked where they could hoping to
reverse the new course of the battle. After a
final attempt at around 2 p.m., Beauregard
knew he would not be able to reclaim the
advantage. He skillfully withdrew his army
from the field and withdrew back to Corinth.

The Battle of Shiloh was the largest ever
fought in America to that point. The losses of
both sides were massive, with more than
3,400 men being killed outright in the two
days of brutal fighting. Many more would die
in the days, weeks and months that followed.

The site of the battle is now preserved at
Shiloh National Military Park. Located on
Highway 22 between Crump, Tennessee,
and Corinth, Mississippi, the park is open
daily from dawn until dusk. Visitor Center
hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The cost to
visit is $3 per individual or $5 for a single
family vehicle.

In addition to the Shiloh battlefield, the park
also includes Shiloh Indian Mounds (on the
main battlefield), Shiloh National Cemetery
and the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center
in Corinth, Mississippi, which interprets both
the Shiloh campaign and the related Battle of
Corinth.
Please click here to visit the park's
official website for more information.
Peach Orchard at Shiloh
Spring blossoms fell like
snow as men battled furiously
in the Peach Orchard.
Bloody Pond
Human blood turned this
pond red as wounded men
crawled there to drink and
wash their wounds.
Photography by Justin Hall
Cannon at Shiloh
Confederates unleashed the
massed fire of 62 cannon on
the 6,000 Federals defending
the "Hornet's Nest."
Shiloh National Cemetery
The two armies lost more
than 24,700 men in killed,
wounded and missing at the
Battle of Shiloh, Tennessee.
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Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
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