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"Surprise at Shiloh" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP19 Nov 2020 9:22 p.m. PST

"The western battles of 1862 included three surprise attacks, although only one was planned as such. The opening Confederate attacks at Fort Donelson and Stones River caught the Union forces unprepared. Yet, neither caused a scandal, likely because both battles ended in decisive victories. Shiloh by contrast did lead to controversy because the Union forces had ample opportunity to know what was coming.

Tactically speaking, Shiloh was not a complete surprise. Everett Peabody's morning scout had already engaged the 3rd Mississippi Battalion, and the Union had a picket line. When the battle began in earnest, the Rebels found fully formed battle lines waiting to receive them. That said, the Union rear forces were out of position and took time to form for battle.

However, Shiloh was clearly a strategic surprise. The day before the battle, Ulysses S. Grant informed Henry Halleck "I have scarcely the faintest idea of an attack (general one) being made upon us." William Nelson's division, part of Don Carlos Buell's Army of the Ohio, had arrived and could have been sent over. Nelson even requested it, saying he was surprised the Confederates had not attacked Grant. Regardless of Nelson's concerns, he would remain at Savannah across the Tennessee River…"
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