Rethinking the Hornets Nest
Seems like things has been slowing down a little in the discussion dept..thought I would add a fresh topic.. I have been reading a book titled "The Great Battlefield of Shiloh" "History, Memory, and Establishment of a Civil War National Military Park.. This book in a couple of places has offered some different thoughts to the Battle of Shiloh
I have always been led to believe that the Battle at the Hornets Nest was the only reason that the Confederates did not win the Battle of Shiloh.. Prentiss and the group held out long enough for Grant to establish the final line at the landing.. If Prentiss had not held out Grant and Sherman may not have had the place in history they now have...
Beginning on page 69 the book states.. Despite the emphasis on the Hornets Nest importance a different story probably took place.. Several pieces of evidence offer insight into the Sunken Road and Hornet's nest in the context of the battle as a whole..
The number of dead and wounded in the area show that the Hornets nest did not see the heaviest fighting at Shiloh.. An 1866 document produced by laborers locating bodies on the battlefield stated that the heaviest concentrations of dead lay on the eastern and western sections of the field and that the dead were fairly light in the center where the Hornets Nest was located.. That document states that casualties were fewer in the center where according to legend the heaviest and most important fighting took place.. Supporting this point are casualty figures for the units engaged in the Hornets Nest.. Four Iowa Regiments which held the Hornets Nest and Sunken Road in front of Duncan Field reported 182 killed and wounded.. A number far less than some individual regiments in other parts of the field..
Troop positions also show that for most of the day the critical area on the field was not the Hornets Nest and Sunken Road.. When they went into action Sweeney's brigade of six regiments did not have ample room to deploy .. As a result only two regiments went on line with the other four in reserve most of the day When Union lines began to fall apart on either side of the Hornets Nest he sent these reserve regiments as reinforcements to the more critical areas.. Two Illinois regiments went to the Peach Orchard and one to aid McClernand.. Only one went to the Hornets Nest.. Had the Hornets Nest been a critical point with severe fighting Sweeney probably would not have sent his regiments away from the area...
With these facts in mind it also pretty much downplays the importance of Ruggles Battery as well
This book was written by Tim Smith who is on the staff at Shiloh.. I thought I knew quite a bit about the battle but was really surprised to read this statement.. If these are true this would pretty much turn my and most other folks interpretation of the battle on its ear.. Anyone want to comment on this???
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- In a message dated 9/4/2005 10:37:14 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, dan6764@... writes:
An 1866 document produced by laborers locating bodies on the battlefield stated that the heaviest concentrations of dead lay on the eastern and western sections of the field and that the dead were fairly light in the center where the Hornets Nest was located..This may be true Dan, but remember, as soon as the battle ended, Union troops started gathering up their dead as well as Confederate dead. Those that might have been found after the war was over, were most likely those that were killed in the brush and bramble of the battlefield, whereas, the Hornet's Nest was quite open and bodies were easily found there following the battle.Just a thought of common sense with only documentation of them finding and burying the dead following the battle. IIRC, Grant denied Beauregard access to Confederate dead, since they already had been gathered up and buried.JEJ