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History of Cambria County, V.2

HISTORY OF CAMBRIA COUNTY. 49
    It was a bitter struggle. Three of the five divisions of Grant's troops were raw, and their officers were not well qualified. Many of them had never been in a battle, and when the firing began they dropped back and became stragglers. Grant says he did not have more than 25,000 effective men during Sunday, and these were with Sherman and McClernand, whose troops bore the brunt of the fight. In the evening Grant's left had fallen back about a mile and a quarter, while the right was about two-thirds of a mile from where the battle opened. Dur ing this day Company C was coming up the Tennessee river, and arrived during the night.
    On the morning of the 7th McCook's Divsion (Co.C) was on the right of Buell's Army of the Ohio, and on the left of Grant's Army of the Tennessee, being about the center of the line of battle. Grant took the offensive, and began a little after 5 o'clock to gradually drive the enemy back, until 3 o'clock, when they gave way and made a precipitate retreat to Corinth, Mississippi. Shiloh was a great victory for the north, inasmuch as most of the battles fought prior thereto were against it. The only victories it had had were Belmont, Missouri, November 7, and Fort Donelson, February 14-16. They were Grant's.
    Col. W. P. Johnston, a son of Albert Sydney Johnston, admits that the criticism that Grant's army was in an indefensible position because the Tennessee river was at his back, is not sound, and declares that Grant was there "to take the initiative. He had the larger army, under cover, too, of his gun-boats; he was expecting Buell (Co.C) daily; and the ground was admirable for defense. It was a natural stronghold, flanked by Owl and Lick creeks, with their marshy margins, and with his front protected by a swampy valley, he occupied a quadrilateral of great strength. His troops were stationed on wooded heights, generally screened by heavy undergrowth, and approached across boggy ravines or open fields. Each camp was a fortress in itself, and the line of retreat afforded at each step some like point to rally on. He did not fortify his camps, it is true; but he was not there for defense, but for attack." Col. Johnstown adds that the battle was fought precisely as it had been planned by his father, which provided that "every effort should be made to turn the left flank of the enemy so as to cut off his line of retreat to the Tennessee river and throw him back on Owl creek, where he will be obliged to surrender," and believes that his father would have succeded had he lived another day.


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Created: 16 Mar 2003, Last Updated: 30 Mar 2008
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Lynne Canterbury, Diann Olsen and contributors