SCHS Header
Link to Homepage
Link to About Us page
Link to Staff & Board page
Link to Ross Center page
Link to Exhibits page
Link to Events Calendar page
Link to Archives page
Link to Online Store
Link to Membership page
Link to Volunteer page
Link to Contact Us page
Historical photo show 100 years ago header

100 Years Ago

Black History
Civil War
Gold Rush
Law and Order


The Battle of Shiloh (also known as Pittsburgh Landing) took place in the hills of Tennessee along the Tennessee River on April 6 and 7, 1862. General Grant and his 42,000 man army had camped there. Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston moved toward Grant over the objections of his staff, who were concerned Grant would soon get reinforcements. Johnston stated, "I would fight him if he were a million."

The rebels, on the march and without food for 24 hours, caught Grant's army by surprise. Eight of ten Union soldiers at Shiloh had never been in a battle, and pandemonium was the reaction. One sergeant recalled a soldier running from the front shouting, "Give them hell, boys, I gave them hell as long as I could!" For the first time, many federal soldiers heard the 'rebel yell' and witnessed the courage of the gray-clad fighters. A Union veteran recalled them coming like 'maddened demons.' Another said that it "seemed almost barbarous to fire on brave men pressing forward so heroically to the mouth of hell." Portions of the battlefield known as the 'sunken road' the 'hornet's nest,' and the 'peach orchard' were scenes of vicious fighting.

The 20th Ohio was pressed into service as part of General Lewis Wallace's division. Dwight later recalled: "The ear was oppressed with the agony of sound. Thousands of muskets pouredbattleofshiloh.gif (80496 bytes) forth a constant roar of fierce wrath. Hundreds of cannon thundered defiance and death. Fragments of words of command were drowned by the clank and clatter of new batteries hurrying into position to the clarion call of the bugle. It was a swift swirling tempest of mad action, beyond imagination and indescribable."

After the first day's battle, the men of the 20th lay on the bare ground, listening to the cries of the wounded in front of them. None dared to help those men in distress, as each movement brought a volley of fire from the enemy. One Union soldier later remembered: "I could hear those poor fellows crying for water...God heard them, for the heavens opened up and the rains came." Dwight and his men then slept in the mud. Throughout the night, federal gunboats shelled the enemy camps. Misery prevailed on both sides. That night, General Sherman said to Grant, "Well, General Grant, we've had the devil's own day, haven't we?"

The next day, General Buell arrived with the Army of the Ohio and 25,000 fresh troops. After another day of fighting, the Confederates fell back. The battle could hardly be called a victory for either side. Shelby County resident William Dalton published his recollections of the battle's aftermath in the "Shelby County Democrat" on March 1, 1907. His sister's husband, Miller Berry of Piqua, was killed. Dalton saw "dead men lying in all conceivable shapes all along the line. Several of our regiment had been killed in their beds the night before. Dead Johnnies lay all around our camp."

All of the major Shelby County regiments saw action at Shiloh. Thirty-five local men were killed, wounded or captured there. Shelby County resident and 20th Ohio soldier Harlan Hall, who left his job as a school teacher to fight, was one of the men killed.

To Lt. Dwight, the battle offered one consolation.   The men of the 20th found enough new Confederate Enfield rifles (made in England for the rebels) to replace their own weapons.

One hundred thousand men had fought at Shiloh.  Nearly one in four was a casualty.  Afterwards, Grant tried to put things in perspective.   "Up to the Battle of Shiloh, I, as well as thousands of other citizens, believed that the rebellion against the government would collapse suddenly and soon if a decisive victory could be gained over any of its armies...but (afterward) I gave up all idea of saving the union except by complete conquest." 

generallewiswallace.gif (46592 bytes)
General Lewis Wallace

'Civil War' segment written in July, 1998 by Rich Wallace


[ Back to Civil War Index ]

Article Footer
SCHS footer Link to Home page Link to About Us Information Link to the Ross Center Information Link to our Events Calendar Information Link to our Archives Information Link to our Online Store / Products Information Link to our Membership Information Link to our Volunteering Information Link to our Contact Information Link to Staff & Board Information Link to our Current & Upcoming Exhibits Information Link to our Donation Information