Also known as the Battle of Pittsburg Landing, the Battle of Shiloh was the second great engagement of the American Civil War. On April 6, 1862, Confederate generals launched a surprise attack on Ulysses S
In February, Union General Ulysses S. Grant had taken Fort Henry on the Tennessee River and Fort Donelson on the Cumberland. The Confederates had acknowledged the importance of these forts by abandoning their strong position at Columbus, Kentucky, and by evacuating Nashville. Grant's next aim was to attack the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, and to this end he encamped his troops on the Tennessee at Pittsburg Landing. At this point General A.S. Johnston, commanding Confederate forces in the West, and General P.G.T. Beauregard were collecting a force aimed at recovering some of their recent losses. Since Union troops were planning an offensive, they had not fortified their camps. To their surprise, General Johnston seized the initiative and attacked Grant before reinforcements could arrive. The battle was fought in the woods by inexperienced troops on both sides. Johnston was mortally wounded on the first afternoon. Despite a rallying of Northern troops and reinforcements for the South, the battle ended the next day, April 7, with the Union army doing little more than reoccupying the camp it had lost the day before while the Confederates returned to Corinth, Mississippi. Although both sides claimed victory, it was a Confederate failure; both sides were immobilized for the next three weeks because of the heavy casualties—about 10,000 men on each side. The Shiloh National Military Park (established 1894) commemorates the battle.