The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Civil War 150th

May 19, 2011

Part 7. ‘Pavement of Dead Men’

   Having captured Forts Henry and Donelson in February 1862, Ulysses Grant and his Army of the Tennessee pushed up the river of the same name as spring came.

   The plan was for Grant and his 40,000 men to hold a few miles from a small log church called Shiloh Meeting House to link up with the Army of the Ohio.

The combined force would then advance deeper into Confederate territory, capturing rail lines at nearby Corinth, Miss., that were vital to the South.

   Meanwhile, Confederate commander Albert Sidney Johnston began organizing his 45,000 troops – many of them as raw as Grant’s recruits – at Corinth. Johnston hoped to strike before those two Union armies merged.
   “I have put you in motion to offer battle to the invaders,” Johnston told his troops, according to historian Shelby Foote, branding the federals “mercenaries sent to subjugate and despoil you of your liberties, property and honor.”

   But bad weather, bad roads and foul-ups among green troops and their commanders turned a planned one-day march by the Confederates into three days.

   For its part, the Union army ignored early signs the Confederates were close. Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman was given a warning by his soldiers about a growing Confederate presence, but dismissed their reports as the result of “jumpy” troops, writes Foote.
   The Confederates hit hard on April 6, and although they were two days behind schedule, they kept the advantage of size and surprise that morning. They drove Grant’s soldiers back toward the Tennessee River throughout the day.

   But in an oak thicket remembered by survivors as the Hornet’s Nest, Union troops held off successive waves of Confederate attack. Southern artillery eventually broke the Union hold late in the day, but not before those men bought time for Grant to set up a further defensive line, and not before Johnston was mortally wounded and confusion began to hamper the Confederate thrust.

   Earlier delays now proved fatal for the South. Having been reinforced during the night, Grant counterattacked the next morning, and with surprise and size on his side, he drove the Confederates from the field.

   When it was all over, nearly 24,000 men from both sides were dead, wounded or missing. 
   Foote quotes a veteran who said he could walk across the battlefield on the dead and wounded and never touch the ground, calling it a “pavement of dead men.”
   Both sides, reeling from casualty counts, were made to realize the war’s death toll was now being counted in the tens of thousands.

Quick Fact: A Name that Means Peace

   Shiloh was a village near the Dead Sea, a sanctuary for the ancient Israelites and the site of a tabernacle where the Ark of the Covenant was kept. It literally means "place of rest," or "place of peace."


Text Only
Civil War 150th
  • 082412newtonia.jpg Living history events will commemorate 1862 Newtonia battle

    One of the oldest and most historic homes in Southwest Missouri — the two-story brick mansion built by Matthew Ritchey about 160 years ago — will be the centerpiece for the 150th anniversary of the first Civil War battle at Newtonia.

    September 1, 2012 2 Photos

  • More Civil War events scheduled for this fall

    The 150th anniversary of the 1862 battle at Newtonia isn’t the only Civil War event slated for the region this fall. A site dedication and sesquicentennial celebration will take place in late October at the Battle of Island Mound State Historic Site near Butler.

    September 1, 2012

  • Confederate Gen. Price led 1864 campaign into Missouri to liberate state, disrupt election

    When former Missouri governor and Confederate Maj. Gen. Sterling Price led an invasion of the state in 1864, he hoped to liberate Missouri from what he believed was Union occupation that had been in place since the first year of the war.

    December 17, 2011

  • PrairieGrove BayonetorRetreat.jpg 'Angel of death'

    Maj. Henry Frisbie of the 37th Illinois — a Union veteran of the campaign that culminated near here in December 1862 — wondered after the Civil War why events in the East so often overshadowed events in the West.

    October 18, 2011 12 Photos

  • painting Civil War: Order No. 11 reduced border to a wasteland

    Solomon Young epitomized everything Americans admire in one of their own: self-made, a restless, westering soul hewing a life out of the wilderness with nothing but “a gun and an ax and two babies and a blanket,” according to family tradition.

    September 24, 2011 1 Photo

  • Battle of Baxter Springs William Quantrill’s legacy remains mixed 150 years after Civil War

    In the spring of 1881 — the American Civil War had been over for 16 years — a newspaper editor from Dover, Ohio, wrote an open letter to Joplin residents, asking them to tell their stories about William Clarke Quantrill.

    September 3, 2011 2 Photos

  • Ricky Dodson Battle of Wilson’s Creek played key role in Civil War

    The Battle of Wilson’s Creek, 150 years ago this week, was a victory for the Confederates. It also resulted in the first death of a Union commander, Brig. Gen. Nathaniel Lyon.

    August 11, 2011 1 Photo

  • Ann Raab Battle of Island Mound marked first time blacks fought in Civil War combat

    In October 1862, Rufus Vann’s journey brought him to the farm of imprisoned bushwhacker John Toothman in Bates County.

    July 30, 2011 1 Photo

  • (8)EliWhitney.jpg Part 8. King Cotton 

    Slavery arrived in the New World before the Pilgrims, and it might not have survived to see Southern secession had it not been for Eli Whitney’s cotton gin.

    May 19, 2011 3 Photos

  • (7)Johnston.jpg Part 7. ‘Pavement of Dead Men’

    Having captured Forts Henry and Donelson in February 1862, Ulysses Grant and his Army of the Tennessee pushed up the river of the same name as spring came.

    May 19, 2011 2 Photos