Army of Northern Virginia: February to September 1862
Battle of Shiloh
Meanwhile, what was happening on the Western front?
The Southern efforts in the West had come to grief in so many places that the leaders were on the verge of despair. As recently as the first of January 1862, there had been a strong-looking Confederate line, extending from Columbus, Mississippi, to Bowling Green, Kentucky: that line was now in fragments, because of Ulysses Grant’s successes at Fort Henry and Fort Donelson. Realzing that the defensive line could not be reconstituted, General Albert Sidney Johnston (1803–1862)—not to be confused with Joseph E. Johnston—assembled all the men he could at Corinth, Mississippi, just a few miles south of the border with Tennessee. By the end of April, Johnston had roughly 40,000 men and Pierre Beauregard as his second in command.
Neither Ulysses Grant nor Major-General Henry Halleck suspected the size of the Confederate force at Corinth. Thinking it was perhaps half that number, Grant brought his men down the Cumberland River to a place called Pittsburg Landing. Dropping 35,000 men off, Grant positioned his forces in a two-mile perimeter with its outward section facing a place called Shiloh, a tiny church. It was here that the greatest battle to date would be fought.