Today in History, April 7, 1862:
The Battle of Shiloh comes to and end with a Union “Victory”. Union Gen. US Grant had moved his army into Tennessee and was preparing his next campaign.
But Confederate Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston, considered second only to Robert E. Lee by both armies, had different ideas. His troops, in addition to those of CSA Gen. Pierre G. T. Beauregard almost literally caught the Northern Army sleeping….attacking in the morning and routing the Yankees.
The Confederates, always hungry due to their lack of supplies, actually stopped to eat the breakfasts the Union soldiers left in flight. The battle was vicious all through the day. But by the morning of the 7th, Grant had been reinforced by Gen. Buell’s Corps, and Grant quickly turned the rebels back. Shiloh was not so much a victory as a recovery for the North.
But the North nearly lost it’s best commander in the aftermath, as the press excoriated Grant as a drunk who was asleep at the wheel. President Lincoln answered the charges by saying that he could not spare Grant, “he fights” and offering to buy his other generals the brand of whiskey Grant used. In truth Grant had taken to drink when missing his family during his pre-war assignment in California, but was always focused during the Civil War Campaigns.
During the battle, Albert Sydney Johnston was mortally wounded. He died looking in fascination at the sky above.