In 1861, American Civil War had started. This was a war between the northern states and the southern states. The northern states wanted to end slavery and make the federal government more powerful.
The southern states supported slavery and wanted the states to have maximum power. When Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1861, the southern states broke off from the federation and formed a Confederacy. The northern states grouped together into a Union. And then the war began.
During the Civil War, Union and Confederate armies were fighting in different parts of USA. The Battle of Shiloh took place in the Western theater of the war. Before the battle, the Union army under General Ulysses S. Grant had already taken control of Kentucky and forced the Confederate army to retreat from the western half of the Tennessee state.
Grant and his army then stopped in western Kentucky to await reinforcements from another Union army. Meanwhile, the Confederate army realized that if reinforcements arrived they would have no hope against the Union army. So they decided to attack before the reinforcements could arrive.
The battle took place on April 6 and April 7, 1862. It was fought in western Tennessee where the Hardin County is today. The Union army was larger than the Confederate army. On the first day, the Union army numbered around 41,000 while the Confederate army numbered at 40,000. Next day, the Union army received nearly 20,000 more soldiers and their advantage became great.
The Union army was commanded by Major General Ulysses S. Grant and Major General Don Carlos Buell. The Confederate army was commanded by General Albert Sidney Johnston and General P.G.T. Beauregard.
The fighting began on April 6, 1862. On the first day, the Confederate forces seemed to be successful. They overran Union lines, captured thousands of Union soldiers and were able to break Union battle lines. However, some groups of Union soldiers stood their ground.
The most famous of these were Union soldiers guarding their position at a sunken road. Their hold came to be called the Hornet’s Nest because despite repeated fierce attacks by the Confederate soldiers, the Union soldiers did not lost their position. So although the Confederate army had considerable success on the first day, they didn’t win the battle. However, their commander, General Johnston was shot in the leg and died on the first day. This was a major blow for the Confederate army
The next day, on April 7, reinforcements arrived for the Union army. This increased their numbers significantly. The Confederate army tried to fight but when they realized they were greatly outnumbered, they soon retreated from the battlefield.
The battle resulted in a victory for the Union army. But it was a costly victory. The Union army had lost 1700 soldiers and suffered 13000 casualties. The Confederate army also suffered heavily, losing 1700 soldiers and suffering 1000 casualties.