Shiloh: A Battlefield Guide

Shiloh: A Battlefield Guide

Shiloh: A Battlefield Guide

Shiloh: A Battlefield Guide

Synopsis

Peabody's Battle Line, McCuller's Field, Stuart's Defense, the Peach Orchard, and Hell's Hollow- these monuments mark some of the critical moments in the battle of Shiloh but offer the visitor only the most meager sense of what happened on the banks of the Tennessee in April 1862. This battlefield guide breathes life into Civil War history, giving readers a clear picture of the setting at the time of engagement, who was where, and when and how the battle progressed. Designed to lead the user on a one-day tour of one of the most important battlefields of the war, the guide provides precise directions to all the key locations in a manner reflecting how the battle itself unfolded. A wealth of maps, vivid descriptions, and careful but accessible analysis makes plain the sweep of events and the geography of the battlefield, enhancing the experience of Shiloh for the serious student, the casual visitor, and the armchair tourist alike.

Excerpt

When Confederates fired on Fort Sumter, South Carolina, in April 1861, the regular U.S. Army numbered scarcely 16,000 officers and men. The Confederacy possessed no regular army at all, merely a few hundred U.S. Army officers who had resigned their commissions to join the South. But both sides would soon employ hundreds of thousands of soldiers, and in doing so face the task of raising large armies almost from scratch. Both sides decided to use the state volunteer system. Each president called on each of his states to provide a certain quota of troops, organized into regiments of about a thousand men. To create these regiments, state governors depended on local politicians or community leaders to raise companies of volunteers. These companies were hometown affairs, made up of “boys” and men who had known each other long before the war. With colorful and warlike names, homemade banners, and homemade uniforms (or no uniforms at all), companies like the Rockford Zouaves (of Illinois) or the Raymond Fencibles (of Mississippi) marched off to battle as representatives and extensions of their hometowns, often with the community leaders who had taken the lead in recruiting now serving as their officers. At large rendezvous camps, often in or near the state capitals, these homespun outfits combined into regiments of ten companies. They packed away their company flags or sent them home—only regiments would carry colors now—and received new names. The Rockford Zouaves, for example, officially became Company F, 11th Illinois Volunteer Infantry. The officers in the various companies then elected a colonel and other field officers from among their number.

All this took a great deal of time and was plagued by errors, confusion, and false starts. Lincoln initially called for only 75,000 volunteers to serve for three months, the legal term established by the Uniform Militia Act of 1792. By the end of the summer of 1861, that term had expired. But by then the Northern states, again at Lincoln’s behest, were raising vastly larger armies of volunteers for two and three years’ service. Some of the three-month regiments reenlisted as a body for three-year terms, among them the 11th Illinois, including the erstwhile Rockford Zouaves. Much larger numbers of troops enlisted for the first time in the fall of 1861. Through that fall, winter, and spring, the North continued to raise its armies and forward them to their jump-off points for offensives into the South. For the Mississippi Valley campaign, that point was Cairo (pronounced “KAY-ro”), Illinois, where the Ohio River joins the Mississippi.

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