BATTLE OF SHILOH
One of the earlier battles of the Civil War that would shake up the landscape and surprise many with the severity of the fighting was the Battle of Shiloh or, as it’s also called, the Battle of Pittsburgh Landing. This battle took place from April 6 to April 7 in 1862. Prior to Shiloh, the Union forces, led by General Ulysses S. Grant were moving up the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers. The Federalists had control of the entirety of Kentucky and most of Tennessee at this point in the war and Grant had already secured major victories in the area earlier that year. During these battles, Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston was forced to retreat back to Northern Mississippi and regroup their troops in preparation for the next fight.
In the early part of April, General Grant had his eye set on a major transportation center in Corinth, Mississippi. The Federalists believed that if Grant could secure this rail center, Union forces would be in control of the entire region. Johnston was preparing for this fight, having 45,000 soldiers, he knew that he would need to force an attack on Grant (who had an army of 42,000 with 20,000 in reinforcements on the way) quickly if there was a chance of winning the crucial battle. Because the northerners were expecting to be the initiators of the battle, they were completely caught off guard when Johnston’s troops attacked them at Pittsburgh Landing on April 6th.
Although surprised, some of the Union troops were able to show their strength and stand tough throughout the artillery blast by the southerners against the federalist lines. The Union army was surrounded by Johnston’s men, but due to the reinforcements arriving, behind the leadership of Major General Don Carlos Buell, the Federalists were able to maintain their lines as they were continuously bombarded well past night fall. Another key point that would have a dramatic effect on how the battle would turn out was that General Johnston was mortally wounded during the fighting, and command of the battle fell to General P.G.T. Beauregard.
Due to the change in command, the Confederates were now not as organized as they needed to be. Beauregard was unaware that Buell’s forces had arrived, and therefore thought that the Southern army had the Union forces outnumbered. After several attacks and counterattacks during the fighting that was now taking place throughout April 7, Beauregard was forced to retreat back to Shiloh Church and eventually all the way back to Corinth after suffering heavy casualties. It is estimated that the Union forces suffered 13,000 casualties of their 62,000 fighting soldiers, while the Confederates suffered 10,000 casualties of their 45,000. This battle was a depressing reminder that the cost of war would take a major toll on both sides and that there would be many battles similar to Shiloh in the few year war that was to follow.