Grant's Counterattack at Pittsburg Landing
His sword raised, Union general Ulysses S. Grant leads the counterattack against Confederate forces at Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee, at dawn on April 7, 1862. This pro-Union lithograph produced by Currier and Ives in New York City portrays a "heroic Genl. Grant" who led the charge "while cannon-balls were falling like hail around him." The caption goes on to describe how Grant's men "completely routed the Rebels, although they were commanded by their best and bravest Generals Johnston and Beauregard." In fact, Confederate general Albert Sydney Johnston had been killed the previous afternoon, bleeding to death after being wounded in his leg.
This two-day battle commonly known as the Battle of Shiloh was fought on the western side of the Tennessee River, just above the Mississippi state line near a docking point for steamboats called Pittsburg Landing. Roughly 100,000 men took part in the bloody battle—the largest American battle ever fought up to that time—and the dead, wounded and missing totaled nearly 24,000. Fighting through forests, fields, orchards, and swamps, the Confederates succeeded in driving Grant's men to the river landing on the first day of the battle. Confederate general Beauregard, who took command after the death of Johnston, suspended the action at dusk and declared victory. Later critics bemoaned the lost opportunity of pressing the attack, overlooking the problems of exhausted men fighting across broken ground in the dark. Grant, reinforced by riverboat that night, counterattacked at dawn on April 7 and forced Beauregard back to Corinth, Mississippi. There, thousands of men died of typhoid fever and dysentery, as many deaths as had occurred during the battle.