The Battle of Shiloh

Grant's dramatic victories and the capture of Nashville stunned the

South. Halleck continued to press his advantage, instructing Grant to pursue Johnston's battered rebel troops. Johnston was forced to retreat all the way to the northern Mississippi town of Corinth. Once he arrived there, however, he combined his army with Confederate troops under the command of Pierre G. T. Beauregard (1818-1893). The addition of Beaure-gard's men gave Johnston a total of approximately forty-four thousand rebel soldiers under his command. Grant, meanwhile, stopped his advance about twenty miles north of Corinth, near a small country church called Shiloh in Tennessee.

Grant's army of forty-five thousand troops stopped at Shiloh to wait for an additional twenty-five thousand soldiers that Buell was bringing from Nashville. When he had all seventy thousand Union soldiers at his disposal, Grant intended to crush Johnston's army once and for all. But as Grant waited for his reinforcements to arrive, he made a serious strategic error. Confident that Johnston's exhausted army would not dare to attack him, Grant never bothered to prepare for such a possibility.

Johnston, meanwhile, decided that the only way he might beat Grant was if he launched a surprise attack before Buell arrived with his additional Union troops. On April 3, Johnston's Confederate troops marched out of Corinth in the direction of Grant's camp. Three days later, on the morning of April 6, a wave of gray-clad Confederate troops charged out of the woods surrounding Shiloh just as Grant's soldiers were settling down to enjoy their morning coffee. The surprise attack delivered brutal punishment to the unprepared Yankee troops, who fell by the hundreds. But Grant rallied his men. In the furious battle that followed, Johnston was killed. When Beauregard learned of Johnston's death, he immediately assumed command of the Southern troops.

Both armies withdrew from the field of battle at nightfall to rest for the next day. During the night, though, Grant received much-needed assistance in the way of troops from Buell's army. Grant ordered a full-scale Union attack the following morning, and the bloody battle resumed. Beau-regard's Confederate troops fought valiantly. But as the day wore on, Grant's advantage in firepower and troop size became increasingly clear. Beauregard finally called for a retreat in order to avoid defeat, and the battered remains of the rebel force limped back to Corinth. Grant made little effort to pursue his foe, for his troops were similarly bruised and exhausted.

When news of the Battle of Shiloh reached the rest of the country, all visions of the war as a glorious and glamorous conflict were shattered. Approximately thirteen thousand Federal soldiers had been killed or wounded in the battle, while the South had lost another ten thousand men. This horrendous toll cast the war in a grim new light and made everyone wonder just how bad the war might yet become.

^^ The Monitor and the Virginia

The most famous naval battle of the Civil War took place in March 1862, when the U.S.S. Monitor fought the C.S.S. Virginia to a draw. The Virginia was the pride of the Confederate Navy. The vessel had formerly been a Union ship known as the Merrimac, but the South had captured it and made major changes in its design. The Confederate Navy added sheets of iron armor to its sides and added iron to its bow (front) so that it could punch big holes in the Union's wooden ships.

On March 8, 1862, the Virginia went into battle for the first time. The Confederate government wanted to break the Union's naval blockade surrounding the harbor at Hampton Roads, Virginia. Confederate officials hoped that the Virginia could wreck the blockade—a gathering of warships designed to prevent other vessels from entering or leaving a harbor—by destroying the Union ships in the area. At first, it looked like the rebel plan might work. The Virginia sank one Union warship by ramming it, then crippled another one with cannon fire. At the same time, the Union ships were unable to do any damage to the Virginia because their shells just bounced off the vessel's iron armor. To happy Confederate sailors, it seemed as if the Virginia might be able to whip the whole Union Navy.

News of the Virginia's performance deeply alarmed Secretary of War Edwin Stanton and other members of the Lincoln administration. Luckily for the Union, however, its navy had recently built a ship that could challenge the Virginia. By the evening of March 8, a Union ship called the Monitor was steaming toward Hampton Roads to fight the Virginia. The Monitor was equipped with iron armor, too, and its top featured two big guns that could revolve in any direction.

The two ships joined in combat on the morning of March 9. The vessels ham-

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