Army of Northern Virginia: February to September 1862
Battle of Shiloh
Where was Grant?
He had taken a fall from his horse the day before and gone to a nearby plantation, about seven miles upriver, to recuperate (for this he would receive much criticism). As soon as he heard the cannon fire, Grant was on a steamer, headed for the battle site, but in the precious two hours it took, the battle could well have been lost. Grant was fortunate that General John McClernand and his brigade fought like lions in the Union center, holding their position for hours.
When he arrived, Grant found the situation difficult but far from hopeless. The Confederates were attacking in an arc or semicircle that ran from south to southwest, attempting to drive the Union men straight into the Tennessee River. Grant had his gunboats there, and very likely could have made a desperate last stand on the waterfront, but he did not have to. Thanks to Sherman’s adroit defense, and the heroics of McClernand’s brigade, the situation was holding.