Rather than look at the flanks, which are interesting in their own right, let’s push forward to the final defence on the 6th of April. Grant has organised a last defence running from Pittsburgh Landing on the Tennessee River, west. Here some 50 cannon and many troops from various divisions were arrayed. Today, at Shiloh there some 25 artillery pieces, as well as numerous regimental markers, to draw our inspiration from. In front is the Dill Branch and ravine.
Yesterday I walked along the line, a second time, reading each marker and reviewing the guns representing the Union gun line. Some of the pieces were clearly accurate to the type deployed, while others perhaps less so. Though I’m unfortunately qualified to comment in detail.
The howitzer in the foreground is, I believe an 8″ Siege Howitzer which fired a 64 pound shell. It was manufactured in 1853. The siege guns behind are 1819 models. The first, which is limbered, was manufactured in 1837. The one gun behind that 1828.
Towards the right of the Union line was placed Schwartz’s Battery. Apparently it was the only position on the line where earthworks were erected. A situation which was to change as the war progressed.
But what of the ground the Confederates were attacking across and how would this impact the attack?
I had an impression of what the Dill Branch would look like. Seeing it caught me by surprise. It was an even greater obstacle than I expected. To place the photo in perspective I’m standing on a road way with the Tennessee River behind me. I am yet to drive up to the landing and the gun line. Yet I’m looking down into the ravine. The Dill Branch ravine is much deeper and more of an obstacle than I realised.
Trying to cover aspects of the second day is beyond the time I have. However, a couple of points must be mentioned.
Firstly, a photo of the Bloody Pond. The battery illustrated was positioned here on the 6th, on the 7th Buell’s Army of the Ohio was here and his unit markers are marked in yellow, rather than blue here. However, the photo illustrates the pond more clearly. Placing it in perspective, on the other side of the Wood is Sarah Bell’s Field.
On the opposite flank on the second day Beauregard was personally leading his troops in several furious counterattacks. Confederate infantry repeatedly charged through the water of Water Oaks Pond, visible below. Today it looks to be part of Woolf Field. Walking the area will uncover many markers at battery positions, as with other areas it’s fascinating to walk around these fields reviewing each in detail.
It seems a good point to finish on a quote on the battle at this point by General Beauregard:
Again and again our troops were bought to the charge, invariably to win the position in issue; invariably to drive back their foe. But hour by hour, thus opposed to an enemy constantly re-enforced, our ranks were perceptibly thinned under the unceasing, withering fire of the enemy, and… eighteen hours of hard fighting had sensibly exhausted a large number.
From my perspective Shiloh has been a wonderful battlefield to visit and I have enjoyed my two days exploring the field. It is compact and well documented, but it takes time to explore. Spending the time is however very rewarding.
As almost a postscript however, as I was leaving Savannah the following morning, As was my habit while visiting Shiloh I was having breakfast at a small but very popular establishment that served a wonderful breakfast – “Mollie Monday’s”. A waitress, detecting my accent was not local, engaged me in conversation around my visit. She pointed out the Headquarters of Grant prior to the battle was nearby and promptly enlisted another local to show me the route to Grant’s Headquarters, Cherry Mansion. I am grateful for his guidance, though I suspect he really had little choice in the matter as the waitress was truely determined.
Here of course is a photo of the mansion, on the other side of the mansion is the Tennessee River.
Outside the mansion is a description of the events, which made me smile. Ann Cherry, the wife of the owner, recalled Grant’s reaction to the sound of cannon fire on the 6th:
He was at my breakfast table when he heard the report of a cannon. Holding, untasted, a cup of coffee, he paused … at the report of another cannon he hastily arose, saying to his staff, … ‘Gentleman, the ball is in motion; let’s be off’.
I had been having my own breakfast, each morning of my visit, at “Mollie Monday’s” before heading down to the cannon fire at Shiloh Battlefield…