Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today we continue a review of the ten most popular posts of our JFK+50 blog since we began in November 2010. This review will include updates and revisions of the original posts.
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THE BLOODY BATTLE OF SHILOH
April 6, 2011, Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee (JFK+50) Union forces under General Ulysses S. Grant came under attack 149 years ago today near Pittsburg Landing here in western Tennessee.
The battle, which was fought on April 6th and 7th, 1862, was named Shiloh after a small church located on the battlefield.
Map by Hal Jespersen
General Grant's forces had captured Forts Henry and Donelson in February. From there, the army marched southward along the Tennessee River.
Rebel troops under Generals Albert Sidney Johnston and PGT Beauregard launched a surprise attack and by the end of the day had driven Grant's forces back to the river.
Union forces under General Benjamin Prentiss*, however, 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 and bled to death on the battlefield.
The two day battle at Shiloh was fought to a tactical draw but because Confederate forces retreated back into Mississippi, military historians see it as a Union victory.
The Battle of Shiloh is known as the "Bloodiest Battle of the Civil War."
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 and 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."
"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 and was a rope maker and auctioneer before the Civil War. He served as a postmaster in Bethany, Missouri after the war.
**Albert Sidney Johnston (1803-1862) was born in Washington, Kentucky and educated at Transylvania University and 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