Army of Northern Virginia: February to September 1862

Battle of Shiloh

When did the Battle of Shiloh begin?

At 4:30 A.M. on April 6, 1862, federal pickets reported noises to the south and southwest of their encampment. An enterprising federal colonel had his men investigate, and the first musket and rifle shots probably went off around 5 A.M. Even so, the woods muffled the sounds, and many Federals slept on for another half hour before learning they were under attack.

General Albert Sidney Johnston had planned his attack well. The Confederates swarmed from the woods and overran the first line of Union defenses. In an unusual oversight, General Ulysses Grant had not ordered his men to entrench their positions. As a result, the Confederates succeeded beyond expectation in the first hour of the battle. As they neared the little church, from which the battle takes its name, sections of the federal line stiffened their defenses. Here is where General William T. Sherman made his stand, using the church as his headquarters.


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