There were many deadly battles that happened in the American Civil War, but the worst one of them all was the Battle of Shiloh. The Confederacy made a surprise attack on Union forces and pinned them to the banks of the Tennessee River. The Union survived the first day of the attack, launched a counter-attack on the second day, and forced the Confederates to retreat. In total, more than 23,000 soldiers died that day.
1. An Act of Compassion
The greatest blow in the Battle of Shiloh for the Confederacy was the lost of General Albert Johnston. While fighting in the afternoon on the first day, he was shot just behind his right knee. His boot began to fill up with blood quickly, but if it had been treated, he would have survived. Because he had ordered his personal doctor to help wounded Union troops, however, there was no one around to help treat him.
2. It Almost Destroyed Grant
The heavy Union losses were blamed on General Ulysses S. Grant. Soon reporters began digging into his lifestyle habits and questioned his mental stability. Many calls were made for his resignation, but Lincoln refused to dismiss him. Eventually Grant would serve as President of the United States after the Civil War.
3. A Famous Book
The author of the iconic novel Ben Hur also fought at the Battle of Shiloh. Lew Wallace, or Major General Lewis Wallace, got his entire unit lost in the woods around the battle site because he encountered a Confederate unit, got confused, and went in the wrong direction. He wouldn’t arrive at the Union camp until 7pm, long after much of the first day of fighting had occurred.
4. Living in Folklore
Many people know about the Sunken Road and the Bloody Pond from the Battle of Shiloh. The only problem is that they likely didn’t exist. The reports of these two phenomenon aren’t given by anyone who survived the battle. It instead comes from someone bystander accounts of those who visited the battlefield several days after.
The Battle of Shiloh was a defining moment of the Civil War. The loss of life was tragic and the disorganization of the Confederacy turned what could have been a defining moment into the war for them into a first step toward eventual defeat.