- File Size: 9992 KB
- Print Length: 606 pages
- Publisher: University Press of Kansas (December 3, 2014)
- Publication Date: January 15, 2015
- Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00U33Z2ZC
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #658,721 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
|Digital List Price:||$26.95|
|Print List Price:||$26.95|
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Shiloh: Conquer or Perish (Modern War Studies) Kindle Edition
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"Smith has provided an easily accessible narrative on how the Battle of Shiloh unfolded. His balanced treatment of both days of combat and his emphasis on how the terrain impacted the proceedings presents an authoritative text valuable for both historians and Civil War enthusiasts."--Register of the Kentucky Historical Society
"Smith's study is unquestionably the new standard treatment of the Shiloh battle. It is very highly recommended reading."--On Point: The Journal of Army History
"Only the dead know Shiloh better than Tim Smith."--Civil War Times
"Smith's exhaustive and uniquely complete study is the first truly great treatment and is unquestionably the new standard bearer of Shiloh battle histories."--Civil War Books and Authors
"One of the nation's leading Civil War historians, Tim Smith has produced what may be his best work yet. This volume is the definitive book on the critical battle of Shiloh. Its stirring prose and exhaustive research will stir the historical imagination of scholars and the general public both."--John F. Marszalek, Executive Director of the Ulysses S. Grant Association's Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library at Mississippi State University
"Well written, highly readable, and a great improvement over previous studies, this is easily the most comprehensive account yet written of the Battle of Shiloh, and it's hard to imagine it being superseded within the next several decades. Indeed, this may still be the definitive account when the battle's bicentennial rolls around."--Steven E. Woodworth, author of Shiloh: Confederate High Tide in the Heartland --This text refers to the paperback edition.
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If you have read books on the battle, biographies of its participants, and perhaps even a fair number of primary sources on the Battle of Shiloh and are asking yourself: "Why another book on Shiloh?" The answer is that this book is iconoclastic in the best sense of the word. Shiloh was so important and so many major historic people took part in it that myths about the battle have become legends that are a permanent part of its history despite the fact that some of them are exaggerated and others have no basis in fact. Tim Smith, a historian and Park Ranger at Shiloh Military Park for 6 years, uses his knowledge of the topography of the battlefield and a detailed investigation of primary sources to clarify what happened. It will challenge many reader's preconceptions about the battle with well-supported contrasting narratives to some long accepted stories. This is arguably the best History of the Battle of Shiloh ever written. Given the depth of the research it is also succinct, and very easy to read. There are 382 pages of text, 20 pages of maps, 20 pages of illustrations (mostly portraits of officers), the order of battle, and 150 pages of notes, references and index.
The maps have just the right amount of detail and are about one-per-chapter. They allow the reader to see the location of the pertinent regiments, brigades, and divisions of both armies on the field. Two of the early maps give a very clear, simple picture of the major features of the battlefield.
The strongest aspect of the book is the firm grasp it gives the reader of the battlefield itself as well as its condition on April 6 & 7, 1862. The physical features of the field greatly favored the Union defense on the first day and the Union's offensive moves on the second day. After reading the book I felt I had a firm grasp on this aspect of the battle for the first time. C.F. Smith and Sherman selected Pittsburg Landing for its qualities as a flood free steamboat landing and campground. Campsites for the troops were selected primarily with regard to water resources and convenience of unloading with little thought of defense but, inadvertently, the location provided for a strong defense as well.
The discussion of the "surprise" of Sherman and Grant on the first day will be familiar to anyone who has read a recent book on Shiloh but those who fault Beauregard for not attacking Grant's last line are blaming him for the wrong error. The weary and disorganized Confederates would have had no chance against this nearly impregnable position on the evening of June 6. However, that Beauregard had not reorganized and positioned his troops as Grant had for the Union attack early the next morning was a great mistake that yielded to the Union forces the most defensible position available for the Southern troops without a fight. On the second morning it was Beauregard who allowed his army to be surprised, as it was he who was not expecting an attack.
Another major strength of the book is a detailed description of the second day of the battle. The second day is often quickly summarized in most histories of the battle and glossed over. Many of Buell's troops were only gradually fed into the Union lines during this day, which allowed the ever-expanding front lines to be filled. Together with the gradual attrition of the Southern forces this created the overlap on the Confederate left flank that Lew Wallace was able to exploit twice. Once the Confederate army reorganized fighting was fierce and fairly even, with numerous frontal assaults by divisions and brigades on both sides, just as it was on the first day. Only the much-maligned Lew Wallace managed to twice finesse flanking movements that forced important retreats by the rebel forces. In the end Beauregard decided to withdraw rather than stand against the ever expanding and well-supplied Union Army. Fortunately for the Southern forces neither Grant nor Buell chose to pursue them during the withdrawal.
Other differences from the standard Shiloh story include: Major reinterpretations of the role of the "Hornet's Nest" and Prentice's roll in that action, the details of the action on the second day, Johnson and Beauregard's relative importance in the battle, whether Buell saves the Union Army and whether Grant's final line could have been assailed. Numerous smaller details also differ from the standard Shiloh Story.
I have been reading about the Battle of Shiloh using various sources for over 20 years and I learned a lot reading this book. I highly recommend it.
The Battle of Shiloh was really fought as a preemptive strike on the Union forces gathering to attack the strategic railroad crossing at Corinth, MS before the Union Army could achieve full strength. After its victory at Shiloh the Union forces moved on Corinth, about 20 miles to the south of Pittsburg Landing, and laid siege to it. The Siege of Corinth is very well described in another of Tim Smith's books: "Corinth 1862: Siege, Battle, Occupation".
Shiloh has the good fortune of being rendered nicely by several authors--such as Daniels, Cunningham, and Groom. What sets this volume apart is the detail. At the same time, some of the other volumes provided a more strategic perspective. Bottom Line, though? Shiloh is well chronicled by good historians. Thus, one can get a well grounded viewpoint on this sanguinary struggle by reading several volumes.
The book begins with the collapse of the Confederate line with the fall of Forts Henry and Donelson. Under the overall command of General Albert Sidney Johnson, a number of units of Confederate forces from throughout the region began to gather in Corinth--with the intent to attack General Ulysses Grant's Army of the Tennessee at Pittsburg Landing in Tennessee. Grant positioned his divisions on the land above the Landing. Neither he nor his colleague, William T. Sherman, had any sense that the Confederate Army might move on them with the intent of attack. A major failure on their (and others') parts. Against all odds (with their troops firing rounds from their guns) the Southern forces attacked, surprising the Union forces.
A strength of this volume is the detailed discussion of the role of many units--down to the regimental level--and the unfolding battle, hour after hour. Although stung at the outset, as the Union forces retreated, the width of the battlefield decreased, increasing their strength in terms of troops per mile. One gets a good view of decisions by division and corps commanders.
The book also does a nice job of capturing key aspects of Day Two--when the Union forces began their own attack, after the Confederates had sputtered out the day before. There is a nice discussion of the role of the much maligned General Lew Wallace, whose flank attacks helped loosen the Confederate lines.
The aftereffects of the battle are well told.
Pluses: order of battle if helpful; the detailed accounting of the battle--down to the regimental level. Minuses: the maps are not as useful as they could be.
All told, a fine volume on a bloody battle. . . .
Mr. Smith details not only the conflict but, almost as importantly, the terrain this conflict flowed over in the two days of, many times, hand to hand combat. The reader is presented with detailed maps as each part of the engagement unfolds and the writing itself is chock full of anecdotes and tales of personal courage. Shiloh was a complex battle (as most "game changing" battles are) and Mr. Smith does a more than admirable job of keeping the reader focused on every segment of the action yet not "drowning" the reader with unnecessary distractions.
"Conquer or Perish", spoken by Confederate General Johnston before the battle, sums up the actions of the two days of Shiloh. With over 24,000 combined casualties, this much written about confrontation has a single volume worthy of the subject.
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As well as the dissertation, I had also ready Larry Daniels' book on Shiloh and watched a two hour video on YouTube by retired head ranger Stacy Allen on the battle. The one thing they have all got in common, apart from all being of top quality, is that they all focus almost entirely on the first day, as if day two were a mere full stop at the end of the story.
At last, Timothy Smith redresses the balance. He describes day one very clearly and in a very readable way, putting events in the true context and allowing the participants to tell their own story as much as possible.
His coverage of the first day is easily a match for previous writers but his coverage of day two makes me wonder why others has virtually ignored it. The fighting was just as fierce as the two sides surged back and forth as more and more blood was spilt and for a long time, the outcome was in doubt. Mr Smith also has some interesting things to say about Lew Wallace.
Even for those who know day one very well, this book, in my view, is THE book to buy for a superb account of the whole battle