Shiloh


Grant’s 9:30 a.m. arrival at Pittsburg Landing, April 6, 1862 8 comments

It turns out that I have too kind to General Grant in at least one area. The time of his arrival at Pittsburg Landing—after hearing cannon-fire at his headquarters ten miles downriver in Savannah and boarding his flagship Tigress for the trip upriver—has been a subject of controversy.   Grant and many of his friends and supporters selected earlier-than-actual times (with those of J.F.C. Fuller and William Rowley being absurdly […]


Waiting for (Don Carlos) Godot: a tragicomedy in two acts 4 comments

Of the myriad blunders that needed to be excused or covered up concerning the Battle of Shiloh, one of the most notorious was Ulysses S. Grant’s absence from his army. Maintaining headquarters from approximately March 17th to the start of the battle on April 6th in a mansion at Savannah, Tennessee—ten miles downriver and on the opposite bank from his army at Pittsburg Landing—General Grant took a steamboat up to […]


Log Book of the Civil War Gunboat “Tyler”

In an auction five years ago, the 1861–62 Log Book of U.S.S. Tyler was sold, as it had been in a previous auction in 2005. As this Civil War Gunboat was engaged in the Battles of Belmont, Fort Henry, Fort Donelson, and Shiloh (the logbook apparently ends sometime in April 1862), a transcription or reproduction of its pages should be of huge interest to many in the American Civil War community. It […]


Grant on crutches at Shiloh? 2 comments

Although it is a rather common assertion in many biographies of Grant and in battle histories of Shiloh, there seems to be little reliable evidence that the General was using crutches when he boarded Tigress at Savannah on April 6th and debarked to ride around the battlefield. This may be one of the stories which had their genesis in his Personal Memoirs (“As it was, my ankle was very much […]


Bruce Catton’s reliability, Ulysses Grant, and the Battle of Chattanooga 6 comments

Although Bruce Catton’s books are far better than many others written about the American Civil War, they cannot be said to be free from substantial mistakes. Starting at the bottom of page 295 in the 1956 edition of This Hallowed Ground, Catton outlined General Ulysses Grant’s plan for the battle at Chattanooga: “Grant proposed to hit the two ends of the Confederate line at once. Hooker would strike at Lookout […]


Did General Joe Hooker disrespect Ulysses S. Grant? 2 comments

Yesterday, I helped confirm one of the many smaller points that Grant Under Fire makes. General Joe Hooker is often criticized for trying it on with his superior, Ulysses S. Grant, on November 21, 1863 at Stevenson, Ala., while the latter was on his way to Chattanooga, Tenn. When Hooker sent a staff officer and wagon to take Grant from the railroad station to Hooker’s headquarters, Grant responded: “If Gen. […]


Directions for Lew Wallace at Shiloh on April 6, 1862 1 comment

Although Grant tried to argue that he wanted Lew Wallace merely to march to Pittsburg Landing and had ordered him there, the evidence contradicts him. Even John Rawlins used a different destination while defending Grant and assailing Wallace.The Third Division’s destination was assuredly William Sherman’s right flank. Lew Wallace and four of his subordinates identified the orders’ stated objective as the right of the army, denoting Sherman’s right. Algernon Baxter, […]


National Archives – Lexington log book April 6, 1862, 4 Pages 2 comments

Here is the log book of U.S.S. Lexington for April 6, 1862, the first day of the Battle of Shiloh. It helps to answer some questions about what happened that day, but raises others. The name of the transport, John Raine, is almost assuredly transcribed incorrectly as John Ramm in the Official Records. Whether the boat actually was John Warner is another question altogether. [All images are from the National […]


Who’s to blame for the Hornets’ Nest surrender at Shiloh? 8 comments

The valiant stand in the Hornets’ Nest position at Shiloh by Union generals William H.L. Wallace and Benjamin M. Prentiss helped to save the rest of the Union army from ignominious defeat on April 6, 1862. Instead of honoring their achievement, General Ulysses S. Grant offered two implausible assertions in his Personal Memoirs. First, he unjustly cast blame on one of his subordinates for the surrender: “In one of the […]


Review of “My Greatest Quarrel with Fortune”: Major General Lew Wallace in the West, 1861–1862, by Charles G. Beemer

“My Greatest Quarrel with Fortune”: Major General Lew Wallace in the West, 1861–1862. By Charles G. Beemer, Kent State University Press, 2015 ISBN-10: 1606352369; ISBN-13: 978-1606352366 One hundred fifty years after being denied justice, Lew Wallace is finally receiving a portion of his just due from several historians of the Civil War. And Charles G. Beemer’s new book, “My Greatest Quarrel with Fortune”: Major General Lew Wallace in the West, […]


Did Grant “win” the American Civil War? 1 comment

Certain historians claim that Ulysses S. Grant “won” the American Civil War, a formulation far too simplistic to accurately reflect what actually happened. This chart is a simple reminder that other factors were involved. Grant may have led the Union army for the last year of the war, but Abraham Lincoln served as commander-in-chief of the nation’s entire armed forces, and historians rank him as one of the most effective […]


Fallacies concerning the Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant 1 comment

Michael B. Ballard’s review of Chris Mackowski’s Grant’s Last Battle: The Story Behind the Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant (November 2015 Civil War News Book Review), exemplifies the mind-set that my book, Grant Under Fire, so comprehensively opposes. Grant “did not rewrite history,” Dr. Ballard maintains, “he wrote it as he understood and lived it.” The reviewer does refer to “the accuracy, or lack thereof, of the memoirs,” yet […]


Shiloh, a strategic defeat for the Union?

Grant Under Fire, takes a revisionist view of the Battle of Shiloh, declaring it a strategic defeat for the Union. The text describes John Pope’s and Andrew Foote’s success at Island No. 10 on the Mississippi, and then remarks on how they were next aiming for Fort Pillow and Memphis, Tennessee. It concludes: “Foote expected success within days. Just before the attempt, Halleck summoned Pope’s army to the Tennessee River […]


Grant “Won” the Battle of Shiloh?

Just as Ulysses S. Grant is credited with “winning” the American Civil War, he usually receives the acclaim for Shiloh. A multitude of facts demonstrate why this is wrong. Simply awarding praise to the commanding officer in any engagement would mean that Buell, with his independent army, deserves half (or even more, as Grant was in charge during the losing battle on April 6th). This still completely ignores how they […]


Albert D. Richardson’s problematic biography of Ulysses S. Grant 1 comment

Albert Deane Richardson’s biography, A Personal History of Ulysses S. Grant, originally published in 1868, provided numerous familiar anecdotes about a great and good Grant. The book was republished in 1885 with certain corrections. A scenario in the 1868 edition (pp. 253-54) started with Sherman chasing away the Rebels at Shiloh with some well-aimed artillery: ‘That’s the last of them,’ said Grant. ‘They will not make another stand.’ Then he […]