The Battle of Shiloh, fought in the wilderness of southern Tennessee in April 1862, marked a violent crossroads in the Civil War. What began as a surprise attack by Confederate troops on a Union stronghold to gain control of the Mississippi River Valley became a bloody two-day conflict that would eerily foretell the brutal reality of the next three years. Pitting up-and-coming Union general Ulysses S. Grant against Confederate firebrand Albert Sidney Johnston, the engagement was a perfect storm of advanced weaponry, a West Point–educated officer corps, and a decades-long buildup of hatred that bore devastating consequences. One hundred thousand soldiers clashed in the vicious melee, and losses for both sides totaled nearly 24,000, more than had been lost during the American Revolution and the War of 1812 combined.
Bestselling author and Civil War historian Winston Groom skillfully re-creates the drama of the event in a gripping, eye-opening, and heartrending narrative that highlights the major personalities, politics, and mind-set of the day. But perhaps the most alarming outcome, Groom poignantly reveals, was the realization that for all its horror, the Battle of Shiloh had not vanquished the Rebel army in the West, and the thousands of maimed and slain were merely wretched symbols of things to come.