Darkness and Decision: Outcomes

Option A: Retreat under cover of night.
A wise move, General! This is clearly the safe thing to do. But it's not what Grant did. 

Option B: Dig trenches to prepare for a possible attack.

At this point, digging defensive trenches is a good idea. Grant did, in fact, prepare his troops for a possible Rebel attack. But that's not all he did. 

Option C: Issue a counter-attack, while the enemy's quiet. 
Has anyone mentioned that your troops are EXHAUSTED? Even Grant decided against an immediate counter-attack. His army needed time to regroup, and so does yours. 

Grant chose option D: Plan a counter-attack for the morning.
Like you, Grant was a counter-puncher!

Grant simply refused to accept defeat. With fresh troops, he ordered an attack at dawn the next day. By mid-afternoon on April 7, the Union force had regained the ground it lost the day before, and the Rebels went into retreat.



Ranger Tim Smith on Shiloh Church: We're standing here at Shiloh Church, actually a reconstruction of Shiloh Church. It was just dedicated a couple of months ago. To sum up what Grant has done and what you have done in your decision making process: Grant made the correct decisions to attack the second day of battle, April the seventh, 1862, with all of these reinforcements that he's gotten. He's taken the battle to the Confederates, driven the enemy off the battlefield, and back to Corinth, Mississippi. Of course, Grant and other armies will then follow the Confederates, take Corinth, Mississippi in May of 1862, thus securing for the Union forces the goal of the campaign. The whole reason that they're here is to obtain Corinth, Mississippi and that railroad crossing. So, it's very important, Grant's decisions facilitate this taking of Corinth and the winning of this campaign. It's very fitting that we talk about the place, the battle of Shiloh, here at Shiloh Church. Shiloh actually is a Hebrew word meaning "place of peace." So it's a little bit ironic. So many people died here, so many people were killed here at this place of peace. And of course, today it is very much a place of peace. Thousands and thousands of visitors come here each year to pay tribute to these men who gave their lives, not just for themselves, but for our country. So that this country could be united and we could enjoy the fruits of a united country even today.

 


 

Brooks Simpson on Grant Under the Tree
Shiloh is physically taxing on Grant. He's under fire, and he's also lame. He had suffered an accident several days before the battle -- a horse fell on his leg, and, and he in fact mounts his horse with great aid, and carries a sword and crutches around from command post to command post, so he's in considerable pain during the entire day. At the end of the first day's battle, he seeks refuge by the steamboat landing.

First, he goes into a field hospital, and he finds there that the cries of the wounded, the moans of people dying simply too much for him. And so he goes back outside and sits under a tree as the rain pours down, and that's where we William T. Sherman encounters him. Sherman's advice as he saw Grant, was that "Maybe we should plan for a withdrawal." He looked at Grant. He saw the countenance on the general's face, decided not to say anything about that. Just said, "You know, General, we've had the Devil's own due; haven't we today? And Grant looked at him, and said, "Yup." And took a puff of his cigar then said, "Whip 'em tomorrow, though."

 


Conclusion


My American Experience

My American Experience photos

Share Your Story

Do you admire Ulysses S. Grant? Or perhaps Robert E. Lee? Tell us who is your favorite and why.



  • Additional funding for this program was provided by

  • NEH