When Shiloh Fell—

The Hornets' Nest was stirred at Shiloh and the blood filled the pond that day. It was not long before the North had control of Missouri and northern Arkansas. And Grant was still after the South's waterways. New Orleans was seized, closing the Mississippi River to southern commerce, Grant's best hopes becoming reality. The Confederacy was slowly deprived of manufacturing capacity. And men. They scrapped for food, clothing, and ammunition. Slowly but surely, they became the ragtags.








April 12, 1862


". . . You watch, Henry, but stay close. I love you, son."
"And I love you, Papa."
With those sentiments expressed, T.G.'s emotions were stirred again. He was gripped by homesickness to an indescribable degree. He turned his back on his son and went inside the tent.
His father had said to stay close, Henry mused. A comforting thought expressed by a faithful father. Henry added some logs to the fire, stoked it good to keep his father warm, and paced back and forth in front of their tent mainly to stay awake until Jonathan returned. It was not long before his brother was making his way through the rows of tents and around the campfires that burned for warmth and light, and as Jonathan approached, Albert Henry could tell from the look on his face the news was not good.
"Henry, Shiloh fell on April 6."
"No, God no! That's too close to home!"
"I know. Pa's going to have a fit."
"What happened? Did you get the story?"
Jonathan told it as he heard it from the wagon master, talking low and fast.
"Earlier this month, the Yanks were near the Mississippi border. General Albert Sidney Johnston's army had strengthened forces to counterattack, and then, the way I understand it, the hot breath of hell blew unforgettably on both sides. Jed described it as one of the fiercest battles fought so far. Henry, a hundred thousand men fought at Shiloh. That's hard for me to imagine. Grant lost over thirteen thousand men and Johnston, over ten thousand. And listen, Henry, General Johnston took a bullet and bled to death right on the battlefield."
"My Lord, my Lord!" Henry said, shaking his head in disbelief. "What a loss for the Rebs!"


Jonathan joined his father in the tent. He would not wake him tonight with the horrendous news of Shiloh. Clearly he needed the sleep. T.G. was lying on his back, and Jonathan could see where tears had dried on his face. He looked old. Jonathan couldn't stand to see his father this way, and the news about Shiloh would only make matters worse. He pulled the blanket over his weary father and lay down beside him.
Henry sat on a camp stool close to the fire.


                                                                 April 12, 1862
Dear Cassie,
I hold fast the lonely moments at the end of each day to write you. The three of us are fine. Pa and Jonathan are asleep in the tent, and I remain outside with my thoughts of you. The nights are still cold but not bitter as in the past. Flowers bloom, assuring us spring is in store, and it gives us pleasure to look forward to fresh food from the gardens when the time comes, for southern farmers' wives will share. Oh, mind you, the biscuits and bacon are plenty sufficient, but . . .


From The Mississippi Boys
Jane Bennett Gaddy, Ph.D.


In March of 1862, Ulysses S. Grant steamed up the Tennessee River and went ashore at Pittsburg Landing. In the meantime, Albert Sidney Johnston had concentrated his forces at the railroad hub in Corinth, Mississippi. Grant's strategic plan was to take Corinth. He waited at Pittsburg Landing for Buell's army to arrive from Nashville.
Fog rose up over the Tennessee River at Pittsburg Landing and hovered close to the ground against the hillside before dawn the morning of April 6. The air was thick with the fragrance of peach blossoms and privet. Dogwoods bloomed on the hillsides, dropping pink and white petals on peaceful green knolls. General Johnston had led his troops
from Corinth into the woods and fields around a little log church called Shiloh Meeting House. When a Union patrol discovered the Confederates, fighting broke out. Johnston seized the opportunity. Grant contested, and the battle was on.




The Bloody Pond.
A sacred place where wounded
and dying soldiers, both North and South, cooled their war-torn bodies and took last breath.






Now stocked with fish that swim and swirl. And we say, If the trees could speak, would they remember the story told in crimson red.


Down the hill and across the gully—


Johnston took a bullet to the leg
that severed an artery.
Another officer found him
sitting on his horse and
led him down the hill and over a stream.
He laid him down beneath
a tree and went to fetch the doctor.
It was too late. The General bled to death—
with a new tourniquet in his pocket.



A day of fierce fighting.
The Hornets' Nest.
Victory.
Then Grant's 77,000 men—
Reinforcements.
Down this hill.
Over the stream.
Under a big oak tree.
A hero died.
Sadness.
Defeat.
And a push-back to Corinth.




Lacy dogwoods and
bees in the old cedar tree
on Fraley Field now
replace the hornets' nest,
first line of defense for the Union Army,
the center of the Union line,
the sunken road, a natural earthworks—
They gave it up that day,
lost to the Confederates.
But only for a day.


Confederate soldiers
buried in at least five trenches
scattered all over Shiloh Battleground.




While Grant would not allow the bodies of Confederate soldiers to be removed from Shiloh Ground for burial someplace else, Union soldiers were buried with markers near the entrance of Shiloh, flanked by Pittsburg Landing on the Tennessee River, away from the Bloody Pond.




Brave of the brave the twice five thousand men
Who all that day stood in the battle's shock,
Fame holds them dear and with immortal pen
Scribes their names on the enduring rock.


And it begs the question—
"If a man die, will he live again?"
Job of old answers.
"For I know that my redeemer liveth,
and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
And though after my skin worms destroy this body,
yet in my flesh shall I see God;
Whom I shall see for myself and mine eyes
shall behold, and not another;
though my reins be consumed within me."
(Job 19:25-27)




Photos by Mike Bennett
New Albany, MS

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