ON APRIL 1, 1862, Major General Ulysses S. Grant commanded an army of more than 44,000 men, stationed on the Tennessee River, ready to move against the Confederate railroad center of Corinth, Mississippi, as soon as Major General Don Carlos Buell arrived with his Army of the Ohio. Most of the army was stationed at Pittsburg Landing, Tenn., where Grant had formally established his headquarters, but Grant himself remained at Savannah, nine miles away, to arrange a meeting with Buell. From Pittsburg Landing on April 5, Brigadier General William T. Sherman wrote: "I do not apprehend anything like an attack on our position." Forwarding this message to his superior, Major General Henry W. Halleck, Grant added that he had "scarsely the faintest idea of an attack." As Grant wrote, a Confederate army of nearly equal size was making final preparations for an attack the next morning.
Thus Grant was not even on the field when the battle of Shiloh began. Surprised and disorganized, the U. S. troops fell back to the Tennessee River; yet the next day, aided by the first of Buell's troops to arrive, Grant pushed the Confederates from the field with heavy losses. Controversy soon hung over the field like battle-smoke, with Confederates claiming victory, Buell and his commanders claiming to have rescued Grant's defeated army, and much public opinion aroused about the great bloodshed of the two-day battle. Grant's detractors emphasized unpreparedness, while his defenders emphasized resilience.
A few days after the battle, Halleck arrived to take personal command of a mighty force composed of the armies of Grant, Buell, and Major General John Pope. For nearly three weeks Halleck organized his army; for one month he slowly advanced across the twenty miles separating Pittsburg Landing from Corinth. Gradually separated from