The Eve of Battle - Outcomes
Option A: Dig trenches to be ready for a Confederate surprise.
You are a cautious general! Too bad Grant didn't think the way you do, or he might have been better prepared.
Grant chose option B: Prepare for the upcoming attack on Corinth.
Wow. You're a confident one. Ever think there might be the slightest possibility of a Confederate attack? Neither did Grant, so you're in good company.
Grant was so intent on attacking the Confederates that he gave little thought to whether they might attack him first. He also didn't want to give his troops the impression that there was anything to fear. So instead of preparing for any possible surprises, he ordered his officers to drill their men in preparation for the upcoming attack on Corinth.
But this decision put Grant -- and now you -- in a tricky position. Know why?
The Rebels are planning a bold dawn attack to destroy your army before you can meet up with Buell's force. Confederate General Johnston, along with General P. G. T. Beauregard, command roughly the same number of men you do. They're getting a late start, but they'll be there.
Option C: Send out patrols to watch the Confederates.
Good plan, general! Unfortunately, Grant never saw the need to find out what the Rebels were up to. If he had, things might have gone differently.
James McPherson on Grant's mindset before Shiloh
The relative ease with which he and Foote's gunboats had penetrated these Confederate defenses on the Tennessee and Cumberland River, and the success that he enjoyed in capturing a whole Confederate army of 13,000 people, bred in Grant a feeling that the confederacy was something of a hollow shell and maybe one more push and it would collapse.
Grant was probably over-confident. He camped his army and started drilling it at Pittsburg Landing while they waited to be joined by Buell and the Army of the Ohio. He did not fortify his camp because he was confident that he had the initiative, that he was on the offensive. That the Confederates were demoralized and on the defensive. Unbeknownst to him, General Albert Sidney Johnston, reinforced by General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, who had been sent West partly because he couldn't get along with Jefferson Davis in the East, were planning an offensive against Grant at Pittsburg Landing before Buell could join him.
Grant was so concerned at that point about maintaining the initiative, drilling his troops for offensive operations, maintaining the morale for offensive operations that he forgot to think about what the enemy might do to him. So that's the kind of downside of Grant's, of the lessons that Grant learned early in the war. That the enemy might be more afraid of him than he is of the enemy. He should have realized that sometimes. He should have been a little bit more afraid of the enemy and so when the Confederates did attack his troops at Shiloh, near Shiloh Church on the morning of April 6, 1862, Grant wasn't even present. He was at his headquarters seven miles down river at Savannah, because he was so offensive minded. He was so concerned about what he was going to do to the enemy that this one time, at least, he forgot that he should, in fact, be a little bit concerned about what the enemy might do to him.
My American Experience
Do you admire Ulysses S. Grant? Or perhaps Robert E. Lee? Tell us who is your favorite and why.