Southern Victory at Shiloh

  • I just finished a visit to this battlefield. I was left wondering how best could the South had won this battle. What is your thoughts?

    This battle was early in the war I surprised just how ill equipped the Southern army was. The Army, of 40,000, was only equipped with 10,000 Springfield and Enfield rifled weapons. Most were equipped with smooth bored muskets and even shotguns.

  • 2017 '16 '15

    I almost said Johnston remain unwounded, but Buell had another entire army coming up and I just don’t think they could win due to sheer numbers.

    Forrest had the right idea just not enough rank to pull it off.

  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 '13 Moderator

    Morning Worsham.
    I am not sure if it was one thing. The plan was a sound one, the execution failed, but I do not think anyone could have done better. The troops were green and possibly the units were too large and unwieldy for the terrible terrain. It was hard to get Brigades to fight as coordination in the woods was near impossible. The battle was a series of Regimental battles, separate from each other.
    The South won the first day and the best result would have been to pull out at nightfall, before Buell’s four fresh  Divisions arrived on the field. Reinforcements often tip a battle and they proved just what Grant’s battered five Divisions needed and proved too much for Bory’s tired anddepleted army.
    I know there was a problem with the rifles, but suspect that would have counted less in the close proximity of battle. Extra men always help if properly used, but as we know the Southern starting formation(each Corps in line) was a poor one.
    I like Johnston and think he would have done a good job with the army after this. I am not sure he could have made a difference on the day.

  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 '13 Moderator

    Anyway, they were just  a few thoughts I had on the sofa before rushing out of the house to take Maddy to school.

    I know the left and the river were Johnston’s plan and I think Forrest suggested early on that reaching it was possible if the men could have been extricated from the fighting. I am not sure how many fresh Brigades he had on hand to follow Forrest’s Tn Cav Regt and reach and hold it.
    I can’t remember but did Buell’s men not disembark( now I think it was only 3 Divs)at the Landing and the very spot Johnston and Forrest were aiming for?
    If so, would taking it on the 6th, have prevented the reinforcements arriving or only thrown away the Southern troops who reached it?

    You also asked if 15000 men(a similar number to Buell’s first reinforcements) would have made a difference. I think Southern soldiers always did when ably led.
    Can I ask why you said “promised”. Did you mean Van Dorn’s Missouri and mixed Arkansas /Texan troops from Pea Ridge? I think Johnston had hoped to have them, but van Dorn was quibbling and going slow over the transfer. Johnston certainly attacked at the right time. He could not wait.
    I will look again at the subject and post tomorrow or after.

    Thanks as always Worsham, for keeping my thoughts on your war and my mind sharp.

  • I agree Johnston attacked at the right time. Just wanted to give the extra reinforcement option.

    I’m reading a biography of Nathan Bedford Forrest, very good read.

  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 '13 Moderator

    I bet it is. He is certainly a colourful character.
    I have read bits of John Wyeth’s, but was a hard read.
    Someone here suggested Men of Fire and Born to Battle by Jack Hurst.  They are excellent reads.

  • I may post on the Fort Pillow debate soon.

  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 '13 Moderator

    You will have my ear!

    I just read(had forgotten) that Buell’s Divisions disembarked at Savannah, 9 miles North of the Landing. Some marched, some got transports. The 8000 in Crittenden’s 2 Brigades and Nelson’s 3 arrived by 9pm on the 6th. McCook arrived in the morning with his large(7500)man 3 Brigade Division, followed by Wood’s 2 Brigades. Wood’s men saw little action(4 wounded).
    They formed on Grant’s left.
    The Army Of Mississippi defended well, some units really holding up the Northern offensive. Much was due to the temerity of the comanders as well as the greenness of the men. Terrain also helped Bory’s outnumbered  men.

  • @wittmann:

    I bet it is. He is certainly a colourful character.
    I have read bits of John Wyeth’s, but was a hard read.
    Someone here suggested Men of Fire and Born to Battle by Jack Hurst.  They are excellent reads.

    The biography I’m reading is written by Jack Hurst. I have a tradition of picking up a book at every Battlefield gift shop I visit.

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