Since completing his father ’ s intended trilogy on the major Civil War battles in the Southwes, he ’ s had a lot of practice in books about other American wars, portraying the houghts and emotions of the likes of Washington in the Revolutionary War, Robert E.
As usual, Shaara provides perspectives from both sides of the struggle, and as in all books since the seque, he adds the important viewpoints of some front line soldiers in addition to generals.
A star in this show is Confederate General Albert Sydney Johnston, a Texan transplant given command of the Western theater by his fellow West Pointer Davis.
rant and William Tecumseh Sherman, the former riding on victories at Forts Donelson and Henry on rivers in western Tennessee and the latter smarting from the panic and failure of is troops at Bull Run. The other two voices in the book include Union Private Willliam Bauer, son of a German butcher from Wisconsin, Confederate Lieutenant James Seeley, a cavalryman under Col. Nathan Bedford Forrest, and Isham Harris, the Governor of Tennessee who serves as a civilian aide-de-camp for Johnston.
Grant ’ s forces decamp 20 miles north in the area around Pittsburg Landing on the ennessee River, and is ordered by the Union Commander for the Western Theater, Henry Halleck, to wait there for the arrival of the Ohio army under General Don Carlos Buell before pursuing the Rebel army.
A sum of the battle is that Brooks ’ s army catches Grant ’ s orces in a surprise attack, drives them back toward Pittsburgh Landing, but reinforcements overnight from a neighboring river landing and from the arrival of some of Buell ’ s army allow Grant to counter attack the next mont, forcing the Confederates to retreat back to Corinth.
Maybe Shelby Foote did a better job in his second book, a novella, in capturing the experience of combat at Shiloh, but Shaara impressed me with this passage from Bauer ’ s erspective: There had been too many horrors that day, no way to erase any of that, his ears still wringing from the astounding volume of musket fire thrown across such tight spaces in never-ending waves, a steady hum and roar like some ungodly swarm of hornets.
How did it come to pass that Johnston was killed in action while leading troops in an ttempt to flank Grant ’ s forc to the east along the river?
How was it that General Beauregard, Johnston ’ s second in command, halted the attack when it was so close to complete success?
And, the first mont, how was it that Grant held back pursuit of the Confederates when he had them on the run?
Right now, I am just that …one of his toys.In the following excerpt, Shaara tries to capture Sherman ’ s willingness to shrug off his failures to Grant at the beginnin of the sixt days of Shiloh, showing some of the ego and chutzpah that allowed him to become such a favored and brutally effective general later in the war: “ The enemy took full advantage, and I had to pull some of my people out of good strong ground, pull ‘ em back, form up as best we could.