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The Battle of Shiloh April 6 - 7, 1862


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The Battle Of Shiloh

Following fall of Forts Henry and Donelson in February of 1862, the commander of Confederate forces in the West, Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston, was compelled to withdraw from Kentucky, and leave much of western and middle Tennessee to the Federals. Those two Union victories under Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant opened the way for invasion into the Confederate interior. Advancing up the river valleys into central Tennessee and Mississippi, Federal armies could sever Confederate railroads, preventing reinforcements between the rebel armies in Virginia and those in the west, effectively splitting the Confederacy in two.

To consolidate his forces and prepare for operations against Grant, Johnston marshalled his forces at Corinth, Mississippi, a major railroad junction where the east-west Memphis & Charleston Railroad met the north-south Mobile & Ohio. The Confederate retreat was welcomed by Grant, whose Army of the Tennessee would need time to prepare for its own offensive up the Tennessee river. Grant's army camped at Pittsburg Landing 22 miles north of Corinth, where it spent time drilling recruits and awaiting Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell’s Army of the Ohio. Grant was ordered not to engage the Confederates until he had been reinforced by Buell's army marching overland from Nashville to meet him. Once combined, the two armies would advance south on Corinth.

Johnston’s 44,000-man Army of Mississippi was composed of four corps of infantry commanded by Maj. Gens. Leonidas Polk, Braxton Bragg, William J. Hardee and John C. Breckenridge. Anticipating a Federal move against Corinth, Johnston planned to smash Grant's army at Pittsburg Landing before Buell could join him. Johnston placed his troops in motion on April 3but heavy rains delayed his attack. By nightfall on April 5, his army was deployed for battle only four miles southwest of Pittsburg Landing, and pickets from both sides nervously exchanged gunfire in the dense woods that evening.




The official National Park Service orientation film on the April 1862 Civil War Battle of Shiloh.

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