Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
A main selection in History Book-of-the-Month Club and alternate selection in Military Book-of-the-Month Club.
In the spring of 1862, many Americans still believed that the Civil War, "would be over by Christmas." The previous summer in Virginia, Bull Run, with nearly 5,000 casualties, had been shocking, but suddenly came word from a far away place in the wildernesses of Southwest Tennessee of an appalling battle costing 23,000 casualties, most of them during a single day. It was more than had resulted from the entire American Revolution. As author Winston Groom reveals in this dramatic, heart-rending account, the Battle of Shiloh would singlehandedly change the psyche of the military, politicians, and American people--North and South--about what they had unleashed by creating a Civil War.
In this gripping telling of the first "great and terrible" battle of the Civil War, Groom describes the dramatic events of April 6 and 7, 1862, when a bold surprise attack on Ulysses S. Grant's encamped troops and the bloody battle that ensued would alter the timbre of the war.
The Southerners struck at dawn on April 6th, and Groom vividly recounts the battle that raged for two days over the densely wooded and poorly mapped terrain. Driven back on the first day, Grant regrouped and mounted a fierce attack the second, and aided by the timely arrival of reinforcements managed to salvage an encouraging victory for the Federals.
Groom's deft prose reveals how the bitter fighting would test the mettle of the motley soldiers assembled on both sides, and offer a rehabilitation of sorts for Union General William Sherman, who would go on from the victory at Shiloh to become one of the great generals of the war. But perhaps the most alarming outcome, Groom poignantly reveals, was the realization that for all its horror, the Battle of Shiloh had solved nothing, gained nothing, proved nothing, and the thousands of maimed and slain were merely wretched symbols of things to come.
With a novelist's eye for telling and a historian's passion for detail, context, and meaning, Groom brings the key characters and moments of battle to life. Shiloh is an epic tale, deftly told by a masterful storyteller.
butchery staggered the imagination. In one sense, the battle had settled nothing except to keep the coffin makers busy. For two days, a hundred thousand American boys created a giant corpse factory in the Tennessee backwoods, and when it was over what was left of the Southern boys marched back to where they came from, and what remained of the Northern boys still held their camps and their field—the Yankee army had reached the Deep South, and though it got whipped from time to time it never was
upstream on the Tennessee River. Perhaps the most lucid description of Grant at this weighty juncture in his career was given 31 years later when Mrs. W. H. Cherry, mistress of the house where Grant was staying, replied to a question posed by one T. M. Hurst, assistant postmaster of Nashville; their exchange was ultimately published in the February 1893 issue of the Confederate Veteran. “Dear Sir—Your letter of inquiry concerning ‘Gen. Grant’s physical condition on the morning the battle of
with orders to commanders or to collect information. The fact that a lot of lead and iron was flying through the air did not seem to deter Grant in the least. Among his aides that morning was Capt. Douglas A. Putnam, a paymaster, who had come up on Tigress that morning and volunteered to assist Grant when he got to Pittsburg Landing. Riding after the general with Rawlins, Putnam began to notice the first signs of battle and, “in [his] inexperience,” asked Rawlins if the little pitter-patter he
find his 17-year-old “master” who had gone into battle. Elsie tells of a grandmother who shooed her daughter and two grandchildren to the landing where they cringed under the bluff with the slackers from the Federal ranks. “They stayed under there three days and two nights without food or water, and only came out Tuesday.” In the far southeast of the Pittsburg Landing camp a Yankee picket named William Lowe had stationed himself 50 yards from a house and was lost in lonely meditations as the
Bragg ordered his engineer officer Captain Lockett (who earlier had mistakenly identified Stuart’s lone brigade as an entire Yankee division) to ride out to the Fourth Louisiana and “take its colors and carry them forward.” “The flag must not go back again,” Bragg said. Lockett “dashed through the line of battle, seized the colors from the color bearer, and told him, ‘General Bragg says these colors must not go to the rear.’ ” As he spoke these words, the color bearer was shot down in front of