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Pittsburg Landing
April 6-7, 1862


Location: Hardin County, Tennessee

Campaign: Federal Penetration up the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers (1862)

Principal Commanders: Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell [US]; Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston and Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard [CS]

Forces Engaged: Army of the Tennessee and Army of the Ohio (65,085) [US]; Army of the Mississippi (44,968) [CS]

Estimated Casualties: 23,746 total (US 13,047; CS 10,699)

It was General Johnston's purpose to attack Grant's forces in detail. He was delayed some time reorganizing Beauregard's forces, but held himself ready to attack as soon as he should hear of Buell's approach. This intelligence reached him late at night on 2 April, and he began his march next day, hoping to assail Grant unprepared. Heavy rains delayed the march of his troops over twenty miles of bad roads, through a wooded and unknown country, so that, instead of being in position to attack on Friday afternoon, a full day was lost, and his troops were not up until the afternoon of the 5th. Then, in an informal council of war, his second in command, General Beauregard, strenuously protested against an attack, and urged a retreat to Corinth. General Johnston listened, and replied: "Gentlemen, we will attack at daylight." Turning to his staff officer, he said: "I would fight them if they were a million."

Gen. Beauregard twice renewed his protests, but General Johnston, on Sunday morning, as he was mounting his horse to ride forward, gave this final reply: "The battle has opened. It is now too late to change our dispositions." General Johnston said to a soldier friend early in the battle: "We must this day conquer or perish"; and to all about him: "Tonight we will water our horses in the Tennessee river."

His plan was to mass his force against the National left turn it, and crowd it into the angle of Snake creek and the Tennessee river, where it must surrender, and as long as he lived the battle was fought exactly as he planned. the struggle began before dawn on Sunday, 0 April. The Confederates attacked in three lines of battle under Generals Hattee, Bragg, Polk, and Breckinridge. The National army was surprised, and Prentiss's division was broken and driven back. It rallied on its supports, and a tremendous conflict ensued. The struggle lasted all day, and at half-past two o'clock, in leading the final charge, which crushed the left wing of the National army, General Johnston received a mortal wound.

Beauregard took command and nearly succeeded in routing the northern army. The next day, however, the federals having been re-enforced, he was compelled to retreat by General Grant, falling back in good order to Corinth, Mississippi, where he made a successful defense until 29 May when he evacuated the place, destroying all his stores, and retreating southward along the Mobile and Ohio railroad.



The Charleston Mercury

(Correspondence of the Mobile Advertiser.)

BATTLE FIELD OF SHILOH, Monday Night, April 7.

We have had another day of battle and blood. The fight was renewed this morning at eight o'clock by the enemy, who had been reinforced during the night; and with the exception of short breathing spells, it raged with tremendous violence and fury until night separated the combatants. The apprehensions expressed in my letter of last night have been realized. Buell did come up this morning, and with him came large reinforcements. But I am anticipating the events of the day. Let me resume the narrative where my last letter left it, and rehearse the varying fortunes of the day in the order of their occurrence. This is necessary to a proper understanding of the
battle; and until this general sketch or outline is drawn, it will be impossible to enter into those minor details which constitute an interesting feature in the picture. Night alone prevented us from reaping the fruits of our brilliant victory of yesterday. It was quite dark when we chased the foe back to Pittsburg Landing, where he sought protection from his gunboats and river works. Had Beauregard possessed the power of Joshua to command the sun to stand still in the heavens for the space of an hour our victory would have been as complete as that of the great Hebrew warrior. As it was, we expected to be able to capture so much of the Federal army this morning as could not be transferred to the other bank of the river last night, unless large reinforcements should come to their relief. 

The enemy received the most important aid from his gunboats. Indeed, he is indebted to these gunboats for his
escape from certain destruction. They, together with his river works, answered the valuable purpose of fortifications, to which he could retire when beaten on the field. With only our light field pieces, it was impossible to operate at night with any hope of success against these works and boats, or to prosecute during the heavy storm that followed, the work of completing the victory. Our forces had reached the river in one or two places as night came on, and in this way had gained some knowledge of the ground and the nature and position of the enemy defenses. With this knowledge and the enemy driven into close quarters and caught between our lines and the river, there was every reason to believe we would be able to capture the larger part of his forces this morning, provided they were not reinforced during the night or transferred to the other bank of the river.

The boats kept up a constant fire during the night from their heavy guns. It appears that the enemy did not seek to re-cross the river. Knowing that large reinforcements were at hand, he held his position on the river bank until this morning. Gen. Beauregard knew there was a division of 7,000 men at Crump Landing, a few miles below Pittsburg, and he gave orders last night to proceed against them this morning, and to capture them. This division succeeded, however, in forming a junction with the forces at Pittsburg, and at 8 o' clock this morning the Federals, thus reinforced, moved out from the river and offered us battle. They must have known that other reinforcements were at hand, and that they would arrive upon the field at an early hour. The fight was renewed
about a mile and a half from the river, or midway between the river and the Federal encampment. The enemy came up to the work with great spirit and resolution. Appeals had doubtless been made to the men during the night, and the repossession of their camp represented to them as a point of honor from which there could be no escape. The attack was directed against our center; and though vigorous and spirited, and not expected, it
was repulsed, and the enemy driven back with great slaughter. He rallied again, however, and this time he moved with an increased force upon our right wing. Here, too, he was repulsed and forced to retire. His next attempt was directed against our left wing, his attacks growing more vigorous and his forces increasing with each succeeding movement. Indeed it was now evident that he had received large accessions to his ranks, and that we had fresh troops and heavy odds to contend against. But the Confederate nobly did their duty, and the
attack on the left was also repulsed. The enemy again retired, but only for a time; for Buell forces had now come up, and the attack was renewed all along our lines, on the right, center and left. Simultaneously with this, an attempt was made to turn both our wings.

The battle now raged with indescribable fury. I have never  heard or imagined anything like the roar of the artillery, and the incessant rattle of the small arms. The deep thunder bass of the one, and the sharp, shrill tenor of the other, intermingled with the shrieks of bursting shells and the whizzing of cleaving rifled cannon balls, were grand beyond description. It was the awful Hymn of Battle, rolling upward to the skies and literally shaking the earth beneath. It was a solemn anthem, the notes of which were traced in blood, and uttered from brazen throats, that might have satisfied Mars himself.

The Confederates stood their ground against the furious onset, and for the fourth time the enemy was compelled to retire. It was now one o. Our men were greatly exhausted; they had fought eighteen hours, and withal had slept but little, having been engaged much of the preceding night in searching out and taking care of the wounded. It was evident, too, that the enemy had been largely reinforced, and that each succeeding attack was made by fresh troops and overwhelming numbers. In view of these facts, and in order to rest his men, and to prevent an unnecessary loss of life, Gen. Beauregard availed himself of the falling back of the Federals to withdraw his troops to the enemy line of encampment, where we rested last night. This was about a mile and a half from the point where the fight commenced this morning.

The enemy hesitated for some time, but finally came up and renewed the conflict. He was met with undiminished courage and resolution by the Confederates, who displayed the greatest possible gallantry. The battle raged on, and night alone separated the combatants. At length the enemy fell back, and so did the Confederates, both sides badly worsted and severely punished.

Having said thus much, I feel it to be my duty as a faithful chronicler of the times, to refer to a matter here
which had a controlling influence upon the fortunes of the day.

Our attack yesterday was so sudden and successful, that the enemy found it impossible to remove his quartermaster and commissary stores, or even to save the baggage of the men. The temptation thus presented was too great for our troops to resist. Sunday night large numbers of them, supposing there would be no more fighting, set to work to gather up such spoils as the Federal encampment contained. There were arms,
overcoats, caps, shoes, coffee, sugar, provisions, trunks, blankets, liquors, private letters, and numberless other things which the enemy had been compelled to abandon. Such of our troops as were engaged in searching out the wounded and dead, or were not restrained by a sense of duty, wandered from their
respective camps, and spent much of the night in plundering. Orders had been issued by Gen. Beauregard positively prohibiting anything of the kind, but many of the troops are raw, and officers and men were alike elated at our success; and, consequently, the necessary steps were not taken to enforce the orders of the Commander-in-Chief. At an early hour this morning, the men renewed their search after the spoils of
victory, and many of them were separated from their commanders when the enemy renewed the battle. Some of them had even started back to their camps, loaded with such articles as they had been able to find. After deducting the killed and wounded, and those who were engaged in removing the wounded, it would be
no exaggeration to say five thousand sound and able bodied men had thus wandered out of the line, and took no part whatever in the battle today. On the other hand, the enemy had been largely reinforced. Thus, with a diminished force on our part, we had to meet fresh troops and a more numerous army than that
we encountered yesterday. And thus, too, the spoils have prevented us from again driving the enemy back into the Tennessee, notwithstanding the great odds in his favor. It was well enough, while the conflict lasted, that our troops should exchange their smooth bored muskets and shotguns for the splendid arms thrown away by the retreating foe; but there can be no excuse for the disgraceful proceedings to which I have alluded. The spoils of victory are not less demoralizing than defeat and disaster. Such is the lesson taught by history in
all ages of the world, from time when Achan was reduced by  wedge of gold, down to the present day. It is hoped that the experience of this day will not be thrown away either by our officers or soldiers.

RICHMOND, Wednesday, April 16.

As usual, we are indebted to the Yankees for the first 'account of the battle of Shiloh, or Shiloah, as it
is now spelled. Our own official report may be confidently looked for about the 4th of next July. To thank the Lord for a loss of 20,000 killed, wounded and missing, and to reverse the facts in regard to the captured guns and generals, is a proceeding truly Yankeefied and very wonderful, if it had not occurred so uniformly. We may always gauge the enemy loss by his report of our own. Confessing to 20,000 at Shiloh, they put down the rebel loss at 35,000 to 40,000; we may rest satisfied, therefore, with this last statement as an accurate
account of the damage they received. Verily, Johnston and Beauregard hit them a heavy blow.

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