The Battle of Shiloh
The massive engagement took its
name from a small Methodist
THE BATTLE OF SHILOH
|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.
Shiloh National Military Park
The Battle of Shiloh took place in
southern Tennessee on April 6-7,
1862. The site is now preserved at
Shiloh National Military Park.
The Union and Confederate armies in
the West had battled repeatedly during
the first year of the War Between the
States (or Civil War). Sadly, the
casualties suffered at even massive
engagements like the Battle of Pea
Ridge, Arkansas, had been but mere
shadows of what was to come at Shiloh.
The two day fight left an estimated
23,746 men and boys dead or
wounded. The toll stunned citizens and
In February of 1862, the Union army of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant had pierced the
Confederate defenses in the West by taking Forts Henry and Donelson on the
northern border of Tennessee. Nashville fell and Federal troops pushed south
almost to Mississippi. Confederate Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston hoped to halt
Grant and reclaim the advantage by concentrating his forces at the vital railroad
and road junction of Corinth, Mississippi.
Johnston knew that there were two Union armies in Tennessee and hoped to strike
before they could unite. He marched his army north from Corinth to attack Grant's
unsuspecting army which was camped around Shiloh Church at Pittsburg Landing,
The Battle of Shiloh began on the morning of April 6, 1862. The Confederates
stormed out of the woods in a stunning three-pronged attack. The Union forces
had made the mistake of not entrenching their camps, but fought desperately as
they were driven back time after time.
Johnston directed a series of hammering assaults on Union forces that were trying
to make a stand at a blooming peach orchard. He rode forward to look for the left
flank of the Federal lines but was shot and killed.
Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard, one of the heroes of the Battle of Manassas (Bull Run)
now assumed command of the Confederate army and pushed forward the attack.
Desperate fighting developed around an area called the Hornet's Nest as 6,000
Union soldiers under Gen. W.H.L. Wallace and Gen. Benjamin Prentiss held out
against determined Confederate troops led by Gen. Braxton Bragg.
Grant ordered the men in the Hornet's Nest to hold on to the end as he tried to
reorganize his lines. The Confederates finally broke the stalemate by rolling
forward 62 cannon and pounding the position to pieces. Gen. Wallace was killed
while more than 2,000 Union soldiers were taken prisoner. Gen. Prentiss was
The stand at the Hornet's Nest gave Grant the time he needed to form a final line
of defense along the northern edge of the battlefield. He massed his men and
artillery there and - with help from the U.S. Gunboats Lexington and Tyler was able
to hold out until nightfall. The Confederates had driven the Federals back over
three miles but could not break this final line.
Beauregard hoped to finish the job the next morning but Gen. Don Carlos Buell's
Army of the Ohio arrived to reinforce Grant during the night. Also coming up was
the division of Gen. Lewis Wallace, who would later gain fame as the author of Ben
Gen. Grant now seized the initiative and moved his own army forward on the
morning of April 7, 1862. Beauregard, Bragg and the other Confederates fought
desperately and launched counter-attacks of their own. When a final attempt to
turn the tide of the engagement failed at around 2 p.m., Beauregard knew that he
would not be able to reclaim the advantage. The Confederate army skillfully
withdrew from the field, protected in part by the cavalry of a still little known colonel
named Nathan Bedford Forrest.
The Confederates fell back to Corinth and the largest battle ever fought in America
to that point came to an end. More than 3,400 men were killed outright in the two
days of brutal fighting. Over 20,000 more were wounded or missing. Many of these
would die over the days, weeks and months to come.
The site of the Battle of Shiloh is preserved at Shiloh National Military Park. The
park is located on Highway 22 between Crump, TN and Corinth, MS at 1055
Pittsburg Landing Rd, Shiloh, TN 38376.
The park is open daily (except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's
Day) from dusk until dawn. There is no charge to visit Shiloh.
In addition to the 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 official National Park Service website for more
Peach Orchard at Shiloh
Spring blossoms fell like snow as
men fought for their lives in the
Human blood turned this pond
red as wounded men crawled
there to drink and wash their
|Photography by Justin Hall
Cannon at Shiloh
Confederates unleashed the
massed fire of 62 cannon on the
6,000 Federals holding out in the
Shiloh National Cemetery
The two armies lost more than
24,700 men in killed, wounded
and missing at the Battle of
|Copyright 2011 & 2017 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Last Updated: May 5, 2017
Monument to Gen. Wallace
Gen. W.H.L. Wallace (US) was
one of the more than 3,400 men
killed in action at the Battle of
Shiloh. Confederate commander
Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston
also died in the fighting.