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April 6,1862

The first major Federal Campaign in the Western theater was a thrust south along the Tennessee River

The campaign begain with the capture of Confederate Forts Henry and Donelson if February 1862 by a Federal Force under a newly minted Brigadier General named Ulysses S. Grant, aided by a flotilla of Union ironclad gunboats under Commander Andrew H. Foote.  Next they proceeded 100 miles up the Tennessee, suddenly the Confederates turned on the Union Army near SHILOH Church, 10 miles north of the Mississippi border, setting off the West's first big battle and one of the most violent and bloody fights of the entire War.

Union General Ulysses S. Grant
WBritain 17009

   At dawn on April 6, 1862, the Confederates commanded by General Albert Sidley Johnson attacked catching the Federals off guard.  Within minutes a half-dozed Confederate brigades had smashed their way into the Federal's camps sending two of General Sherman's brigades reeling backwards.  The Federals refused to collapse completely.  Sherman Managed tocobble togather a makeshift defensive line on the crest of a hill.

   By 10:30 a.m., the Federals were firmed up in a strong natural position that was dubbed the "Hornet's Nest" for the  furious fighting that raged there through the day.  The Confederates made a number of attacks across the open fields before the "Hornet's Nest" until about 2:30.  By then four regiments had been wiped out by furious blasts of canister from two Union Batteries and volleys from Union infantry.

   Finally realizing his army was being wasted in futile attacks on the "Hornet's Nest", Confederate General Johnson ordered an attack on the Federals holding a 10-acre peach orchard just to the east of the "Hornet's Nest".  About 4:00 the Federals were under heavy attack from Confederate artillery.  The Union army begain to waver.  By 3:45 he Federal line had disintegrated.  However, General Grant had spent the afternoon forming a new defensive line and by 7:00 the Confederates had lost their chance to destroy Grant.

   Having taken the Hornet's Nest and the peach oechard, the Confederates continued oushing northward for a time, but by then many of the famished, exhausted troops stopped to rummage the well-stocked Federl camps.  General Beauregard, thinking that the battle was won, instructed the Confederate army todisengage for the night.

   On the night of 6-7 April, 1862, believing that Grant was about to flee across the Tennessee, General Beauregard made no attempt during the night to set up a defense.

   At dawn on 7 April, Grant's Federal troops, about 45,000, moved forward.  The battle raged back andforth.  About 2:30, Confederate General Beauregard ordered a withdrawl.  The Federals tired and spent did not pursue.

   The casualties for the two-day battle were shocking and nearly equal,  Each side lost about 1,700 killed and roughly 8,000 wounded.  General Grant was critized for the near defeat.