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April 8, 2012
Sue Eckhoff - Grundy County Heritage Museum , Reinbeck Courier

April 6-7 marks the 150th anniversary of the battle of Shiloh. Shiloh means place of peace, yet on these two days in history it was anything but peaceful. During the two day battle, there were an estimated 23,746 casualties, including 1754 killed, 8408 wounded and 2885 missing or captured from the Union side, and 1728 killed, 8012 wounded, and 959 missing or captured from the Confederate side.

As Civil War battles went, Shiloh was important. The capture of Forts Henry Donnellson in Tennessee opened up middle Tennessee for invasion. Grant travelled from Cairo, Illinois. Don Buell was ordered from Nashville. Sherman was already with Grant, and America would soon know this war was for real; in fact the Battle of Shiloh was the bloodiest in U.S. history at the time it was fought, later overshadowed by Second Manassas and Antietam.

On the morning of the battle, General Sherman assured Grant that there was no danger of an enemy attack. However on the same day, Hardee's confederate corps were no more than two miles from Sherman's lines. On the night of April 6, the confederate commander General N.B. Forrest was scouting, and wanted to attack union soldiers in the dark, but no Confederate commander would commit their troops to a night attack.

The greatest Confederate loss was the loss of General Albert Johnston, who was the highest ranking Confederate general. While leading the charge towards the Peach Orchard, he was hit in his leg and bled into his boot. When they found the wound, he had bled to death. Investigation revealed that he was hit with a bullet from an Enfield rifle, and based on this and the direction of the advance, the bullet was probably fired by some of his own troops. General Johnston is the only full general in the history of this nation to be killed in battle.

Today, Shiloh Military Park is a National Shrine that is dedicated to men of both armies, the Confederate and the Union. There are smaller monuments located throughout the park, including 40 for Illinois, 22 for Indiana, 12 for Iowa, and 34 for Ohio. There are 210 cannons located throughout the park. Nineteen different states were represented at the Battle of Shiloh. Of these, fifteen have erected monuments of the battlefield in memory of those who fought and died there.

It is interesting to note that two of the Union Generals who fought there were later elected Presidents of the United States, Grant and Garfield.



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