Thursday, March 12, 2009

Untold Story of Shiloh

The Untold Story of Shiloh: The Battle and the Battlefield by Timothy B. Smith.

The best way to describe this book is as a collection of the overlooked things of Shiloh. Smith has chapters on the historiography of the battle, persistent myths of the battle, Alexander P. Stewart's Brigade, the role of the US Navy, the siege of Corinth, the national cemetery, dedication speeches through the years, David W. Reed and DeLong Rice.

I've seen some of these chapters in other publications, most notably his chapter on the myths of the battle. I'm glad to say that on the 10 myths Smith presents I only believed in one. How many do you believe? The ten myths are:
1) The Union was surprised

2) Prentiss was the hero
3) Lew Wallace was lost
4) Buell was the savior
5) The Navy was not important
6) The Hornets Nest was pivotal
7) The Confederates would have won if the final attack had not been called off
8) The Confederates would have won if Johnston had survived

9) The sunken road was sunken

10) Johnston died at the tree marked on the field (or that used to be marked)

The only one I didn't agree with was the the role of the Navy. Smith says its impact was more physiological which I can see. I don't think the Navy contributed much in the way of firepower but completely agree with Smith that the Navy did a ton of logistical work. Logistics are a very important part of battles but usually do not get much press. I'm not sure if that's because its a somewhat dry topic or if the source material is thinner, but it is generally an overlooked part of battles. So I guess on that myth I only think of the Navy doing little when it came time to expend powder.

No comments: