The Extent of the Surprise at Shiloh
- The Confederate army which advanced from Corinth to the outskirts of
Grant's camps at Shiloh without being discovered achieved a complete
The Union pickets and patrols--especially the one led by Peabody who
was never given adequate credit by Grant--prevented a complete
tactical surprise. Even though the Federal front-line regiments
formed in front of their camps, there is overwhelming evidence that
a solid tactical surprise had still been gained by the Rebels.
The Federal front was discontinuous; there were large gaps between
Sherman and Prentiss and between Prentiss and Stuart. Even within
the divisions there was a lack of continuity; Appler's regiment was
out in front by itself without any support on either flank. There
was little Federal artillery in position to confront the enemy
There was little or no preparation in the camps to receive an
attack: the tents were still up (which caused some disorder as the
Federal lines were driven back through the camps), and the sick had
not been taken to the rear which might require some of the needed
able-bodied men and would clog the roads leading to the rear..
The three remaining divisions only started forward after the attack
had begun and Prentiss had been fighting for hours before he fell
back to join the men of Hurlbut and Wallace at the Hornet's nest.
Support for the front-line was not nearky ready early in the
morning. On top of all that, the Union commander was not even at the
front until hours after the attack had begun.
The fact that one regiment was at the front without ammunition and
had to be sent back toward the landing as the enemy attacked
suggests the inability of the Federals to properly prepare for an
attack which they had not expected and were not at all ready for.
If the Union army had not been tactically surprised, there would
have been a solid front line, supported by sufficient artillery and
by nearby reserves, the whole led by its commander.
- --- In email@example.com, "slippymississippi"
> --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "slippymississippi"The particular unit I'm thinking of was the 6th Mississippi Infantry
> <slippymississippi@y...> wrote:
> > Try looking at it this way: some CSA regiments suffered almost a
> > 90% casualty rate in killed and wounded, suggesting high unit
> > cohesion.
> That should read 70%.
Regiment under Cleburne. The unit charged Sherman's lines several
times, suffering 70% killed and wounded before retiring in disorder.
Half of the remaining men would reform and fight for the remainder of
the first day.
This was the first time this unit had seen the elephant, yet these
numbers suggest a veteran level unit cohesion. Does anyone have
numbers on how other Confederate units and federal units fared?