Review: D.W. Reed's Shiloh
- David W. Reed. The Battle of Shiloh and the Organizations Engaged.
Knoxville, TN: The University of Tennessee Press (May 15, 2008). 122
pages, 4 maps (on CD), notes, index. ISBN: 978-1572336179 $33.00
How can an essential âcornerstone of Shiloh historiographyâ remain
unavailable to the general public for so long? Thatâs what I kept
thinking as I was reading this reprint of the 1913 edition of David W.
Reedâs The Battle of Shiloh and the Organizations Engaged. Reed, a
veteran of the battle and the first historian of the Shiloh National
Military Park, was tabbed to write the official history of the battle,
and this book was the result. Reed wrote a short, concise history of
the fighting and included quite a bit of other valuable information in
the pages that followed. The large and impressive maps that
accompanied the original text are here converted into digital format
and included in a CD located within a flap at the back of the book.
Author and former Shiloh Park Ranger Timothy Smith is responsible for
bringing this important reference work back from obscurity. His
introduction to the book also places it in the proper historical
Reedâs history of the campaign and battle covers only seventeen pages
and is meant to be a brief history of the subject. The detail is
revealed in the rest of the book. And what detail there is!
Reedâs order of battle for Shiloh goes down to the regimental and
battery level. He includes the names of the leaders of each
organization where known, including whether or not these men were
killed, wounded, captured, or suffered some other fate. In a touch not
often seen in modern studies, the author also states the original
regiment of brigade commanders. In another nice piece of detail
following the order of battle, staff officers for each brigade and
higher organization are listed.
The bookâs main point and where it truly shines is in the section
entitled âDetailed Movements of Organizationsâ. Reed follows each unit
in their movements during the battle. Reading this section along with
referring to the computerized maps gives one a solid foundation for
future study of Shiloh. Forty-five pages cover the brigades of all
three armies present at Shiloh. For other examples of this approach, I
recommend Bradley Gottfriedâs Brigades of Gettysburg and Lanny K.
Smithâs book on the Union Army at Stonesâ River. The latter author
takes Reedâs technique to another level, following units throughout
the entire Stones River Campaign! Smith promises a second volume on
the Confederates as well.
Wargamers will love the âAbstract of Field Returnsâ. This section
lists Present for Duty, engaged, and casualties for each regiment and
battery in an easy to read table format. Grantâs entire Army of the
Tennessee has Present for Duty strengths. Buellâs Army of the Ohio is
also counted well. The Confederate Army of the Mississippi is counted
less accurately, usually only going down to brigade level and many
times relying only on engaged strengths. That said, buy this book if
you are looking for a good reference work for help with your order of
In what I believe is an unprecedented move in Civil War literature,
the University of Tennessee Press made the somewhat unusual decision
to include Reedâs detailed maps of the campaign and battle in a CD
which is included in a plastic sleeve inside the back cover of the
book. The cost of reproducing the large maps and including them as
foldouts or in a pocket in the book must have been prohibitive,
necessitating this interesting use of a CD. The maps were simple to
view and came in a PDF format. All youâll need is ***** Acrobat
Reader, a free program, to view these. It will be interesting to see
if other publishers follow suit. Maps are an integral part of military
history, and this solution is far better than deciding to include poor
maps or no maps at all. The Read Me file that came with the CD relays
the following information:
The maps contained on this CD are scans of the original oversized maps
printed in the 1913 edition of D. W. Reedâs The Battle of Shiloh and
the Organizations Engaged. The original maps, which were in a very
large format and folded out of the pages of this edition, are of
varying sizes, up to 23 inches by 25 inches. They were originally
created in 1901 by the Shiloh National Military Park under the
direction of its historian, David W. Reed. They are the most accurate
Shiloh battle maps in existence.
The maps on the CD are saved as PDF (Portable Document Format) files
and can be read on any operating system (Windows, Macintosh, Linux) by
utilizing ***** Acrobat Reader. Visit http://www.*****.com to download
Acrobat Reader if you do not have it installed on your system.
Map 1. The Field of Operations from Which the Armies Were Concentrated
at Shiloh, March and April 1862
Map 2. The Territory between Corinth, Miss., and Pittsburgh Landing,
Tenn., Showing Positions and Route of the Confederate Army in Its
Advance to Shiloh, April 3, 4, 5, & 6, 1862
Map 3. Positions on the First Day, April 6, 1862
Map 4. Positions on the Second Day, April 7, 1862
Complete captions appear on the maps.
Timothy Smith has done students of the Civil War an enormous favor by
republishing this important early work on Shiloh. Relied on for
generations by Park Rangers and other serious students of the battle,
The Battle of Shiloh and the Organizations Engaged has been
resurrected for a new generation of Civil War readers. This classic
reference work is an essential book for those interested in the Battle
of Shiloh. Wargamers and those interested in tactical minutiae will
also find Reedâs work to be a very good buy. Highly recommended to all.
Thank you to Tom Post of the University of Tennessee Press.
TOCWOC - A Civil War Blog