• Exploring American History

Bloody Shiloh

The Battle of Shiloh was the Civil War’s first great confrontation. Concluding on April 7, 1862, it had begun the prior day (Sunday) in the hills of southwestern Tennessee – referred to as the Western Theater of the Civil War. Not only was Shiloh the first great confrontation, it also proved to be one of the bloodiest battles to occur during the Civil War.

Prior to the battle, General Grant had stationed his troops at Pittsburg Landing. Located on the Tennessee River, the landing was a popular stopping place for boats. After they arrived, General Grant was totally caught off guard when he and his forces were suddenly attacked by a group of Confederate troops from Mississippi under the command of General Albert Sidney Johnston. The Confederates' goal was to drive the Union troops into the Owl Creek swamps, west of the river. If the surprise wasn’t bad enough, a heavy downpour added to the ruckus.


By the end of the battle, each side counted their losses to be over 10,000 – including not only those who had died, but also those who were seriously wounded. General Johnston was counted about the Confederate casualties. Following the loss of General Johnston, General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard assumed command of the Confederate troops and immediately relocated them back to Mississippi.

Many Union leaders were furious with General Grant over the immense loss of Union troops during the Battle of Shiloh. They demanded President Lincoln remove him from his position, but Lincoln refused to do so, stating, “I can’t spare this man; he fights.

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