Pittsburg Landing on the Tennessee River, Shiloh National Military Park, Shiloh, Tennessee
The Battle of Shiloh, also known as the Battle of Pittsburg Landing, was a major battle in the Western Theater of the American Civil War, fought on April 6 and April 7, 1862, in southwestern Tennessee. Confederate forces under Generals Albert Sidney Johnston and P.G.T. Beauregard launched a surprise attack against the Union Army of Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. The Confederates achieved some initial success on the first day but were ultimately defeated on the second day.
On the first day of battle, the Confederates struck with the intention of driving the Union defenders away from the Tennessee River and into the swamps of Owl Creek to the west, hoping to defeat Grant’s Army of the Tennessee before it could link up with Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell’s Army of the Ohio. The Confederate battle lines became confused during the fierce fighting, and Grant’s men instead fell back in the direction of Pittsburg Landing to the northeast. A position on a slightly sunken road, nicknamed the “Hornet’s Nest”, defended by the men of Brig. Gens. Benjamin M. Prentiss’s and W.H.L. Wallace’s divisions, provided critical time for the rest of the Union line to stabilize under the protection of numerous artillery batteries. Gen. Johnston was killed during the first day’s fighting, and Beauregard, his second in command, decided against assaulting the final Union position that night.
Reinforcements from Gen. Buell arrived in the evening and turned the tide the next morning, when he and Grant launched a counterattack along the entire line. The Confederates were forced to retreat from the bloodiest battle in United States history up to that time, ending their hopes that they could block the Union advance into northern Mississippi.
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