Army of Northern Virginia: February to September 1862

Battle of Shiloh

Why did the Confederates take so long to make their attack?

Johnston and Beauregard set out from Corinth on April 3, 1862. They did not know, but they had achieved complete surprise: the Federals had no idea they were about to be attacked. The spring rains held up the Confederate movement, however. Had they been able to make the march in one day instead of two, the Confederates might have achieved a knockout blow.

Even so, the Confederates managed to preserve the element of surprise. On the evening of April 5, 1862, the Confederate and federal pickets were within a few hundred yards of each other, and the latter did not suspect the former’s presence. Had the Confederates not been so weary from their two-day march, they might have attacked that night: it was decided, instead, to save all their energies for the next day.


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