Saturday, April 6, 2013


April 6, 2013


Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee (JFK+50) Union forces under General Ulysses S. Grant came under attack 151 years ago today, April 6, 1862, near Pittsburg Landing in western Tennessee.

The battle was named Shlioh after a small church located on the battlefield.

                    Map by Hal Jespersen

General Grant's forces had captured Forts Henry & Donelson in February & had made their way southward along the Tennessee River.

Rebel troops under Generals Albert Sidney Johnston & PGT Beauregard launched a surprise attack and by the end of the day had driven Grant's forces back to the river.

But not before Union forces under General Benjamin Prentiss,** made a stand at the Sunken Road where fighting was so intense this area of the battlefield was called "the Hornets Nest."

In a tragic turn of events for the Confederacy, General Johnston was badly wounded in the leg during the afternoon & bled to death on the battlefield.  

*The 2 day battle at Shiloh was fought to a tactical draw but because Confederate forces retreated back into Mississippi, many military historians see it as a Union victory.  

The Battle of Shiloh is known as the "Bloodiest Battle of the Civil War."

                         Shiloh Church 
            Shiloh National Battlefield
            Photo by Donald Wiles (2006)

A recent article by Timothy B. Smith, "Battle of Shiloh: Shattering Myths," argues that the long held view that the Confederates launched a surprise on Grant's Union forces is a myth.  Smith says that newspaper men who were miles away during the battle are responsible for the story.

Another myth, Smith claims, is the idea that had Albert Sidney Johnston** survived the battle, the South would have won it & perhaps even the war.

Mr. Smith writes, "Johnston could probably have pressed the attack no faster" and would have also been "preoccupied with capturing the Hornets Nest."

He adds...

 "By 6 p.m. (on April 6) it is highly doubtful Shiloh could have been a Confederate victory even with Napoleon Bonaparte in command."

*Benjamin Prentiss (1819-1901) was born in Belleville, Virginia & was a rope maker & auctioneer before the Civil War.  He served as a postmaster in Bethany, Missouri after the war.

                     Benjamin Prentiss

**Albert Sidney Johnston (1803-1862) was born in Washington, Kentucky & educated at Transylvania University & West Point.  He lived most of his life in Texas where he served in the army of Sam Houston.  

ASJ was the highest ranking officer to lose his life on either side during the Civil War.

                   Albert Sidney Johnston

                     You Tube Video