“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 April 6 – 7, 1862, in southwestern Tennessee. A Union army under Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant had moved via the Tennessee River deep into Tennessee and was encamped principally at Pittsburg Landing on the west bank of the river. Confederate forces under Generals Albert Sidney Johnston and P. G. T. Beauregard launched a surprise attack on Grant there. The Confederates achieved considerable success on the first day, but were ultimately defeated on the second day.”
War is bloody business, but the blood shed during Shiloh…my God, my God, it was a devil’s orchard. During the American Revolution, fought from 1775 to 1783 approximately 25,000 American soldiers lost their lives. Shiloh witnessed, in a two-day period, not an eight year period, nearly 24,000 die. Indeed, war is a bloody business, splitting soldiers in two, literally and figuratively. Ironically, the battle was named for a small church set on the battlefield like a lost shoe, Shiloh Church. Shioloh means peace.
After the first day of battle drew to a close, Union General William T. Sherman said to his commanding general, Ulysses S. Grant, ““Well, Grant, we’ve had the devil’s own day, haven’t we?” Indeed they had. They all had, Confederate and Union troops alike.
In my next post, I’ll discuss one of the most tragic deaths, and they all were tragic, that Shiloh produced, the death of Confederate general Albert Sidney Johnston.
Here’s a ballad written about Shiloh, a good way to end.
The Drummer Boy of Shiloh by William S. Hays
On Shiloh’s dark and blood ground, the dead and wounded lay.
Amongst them was a drummer boy, that beat the drum that day.
A wounded soldier raised him up, His drum was by his side.
He clasped his hands and raised his eyes and prayed before he died:
Look down upon the battle field, Oh Thou, our Heav’nly friend,
Have mercy on our sinful souls. The soldiers cried, “Amen.”
For gather’d round a little group, Each brave man knelt and cried.
They listen’d to the drummer boy who prayed before he died.
“Oh Mother!” said the dying boy, “Look down from Heav’n on me.”
Receive me to thy fond embrace, Oh take me home to thee.
I’ve loved my country as my God, To serve them both I’ve tried.”
He smiled, shook hands. Death seized the boy who prayed before he died.
Each soldier wept then like a child, Stout hearts were they and brave.
They wrote upon a simple board these words “This is a guide
To those who mourn the drummer boy who prayed before he died.”