P. G. T. Beauregard: Napoleon in Gray

By T. Harry Williams | Go to book overview
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THREE CREEKS formed an important part of the terrain of the battle of Shiloh. They bounded the area in which the battle was fought. On the south was Lick Creek, which took its rise about twelve miles from the Tennessee, flowed in a northeast direction, and entered the river south of Pittsburg Landing. On the north was Owl Creek, which flowed parallel with Lick and emptied into Snake Creek, which in turn joined the river north of the Landing. Near the river the distance between the streams was five miles; it was three miles at the point where Grant's army was encamped between Owl and Lick. Owl was the stream on which the Confederates intended to drive the Federals and destroy them.

The land between the creeks was a rolling plateau, rising in places to a height one hundred feet above the river. A few farms dotted the area, but most of it was covered with heavy timber and brush and crossed by ravines. The roads were country dirt ones; most of the primary roads ran in an east-west direction, which made for bad communications for the Confederates. About three miles from the Landing and almost in the center of the area was a little log church called Shiloh, from which the battle would take its name.1

On the night of April 5 the two largest armies yet to come together in the war slept within a few miles of each other, the Federal army strangely unaware of the presence of its enemy. As is usually the case with Civil War battles, the estimates of the numbers of the contending forces differ and conflict. It seems certain, however, that Johnston approached the field with close to forty thousand men. In his camps between the creeks Grant had about the same number, possibly a few thousand less. At Crump's Landing four miles downstream (north) from Pittsburg he had another division of about seven thousand. This latter unit did not participate in the fighting on April 6.

Jordan and Pryor, Forrest, 117-18; Battles and Leaders, I, 465-86, 495-98.


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