Thursday, March 28, 2013

Opening paragraphs..............

In the early hours of April 7, 1862, after the terrible first day of the Battle of Shiloh, Brigadier General William Tecumseh Sherman came through the darkness to where his superior, Major General Ulysses S. Grant, stood in the rain.  Sherman had reached the conclusion that the Union forces under Grant's command could not endure another day like the one just ended.  When the massive Confederate surprise attack on the vast federal encampment beside the Tennessee River began at dawn on April 6, Grant's command had numbered thirty-seven thousand men.  Now seven thousand of those were killed or wounded, another three thousand were captured, and more than five thousand were huddled along the bank of the river, demoralized and useless as soldiers.  Sherman, who had been wounded in the hand earlier in the battle, was coming to tell Grant that he thought they should use the transport vessels near them at Pittsburg Landing to evacuate their force so that they could "put the river between them and the enemy , and recuperate."
-Charles Bracken Flood, Grant and Sherman:  The Friendship That Won The Civil War

The history major in me won't let me leave you hanging.  In case you were unaware of what comes next, here are paragraphs two, three, and four:

     Sherman found Grant alone, under a tree.  Hurt in a fall from a horse on a muddy road a few days before, Grant was leaning on a crutch and held a lantern.  He had lit a cigar clenched in his teeth, and ran dripped from the brim of his hat.  Looking at the determined expression on Grant's bearded face, Sherman found himself "moved by some wise and sudden instinct" not to mention retreat and used a more tentative approach.  "Well, Grant," he said, "we've had the devil's own day of it, haven't we?"
     "Yes," Grant said quietly in the rainy darkness, and drew on his cigar.  "Lick 'em tomorrow though."
     That was the end of any thought of retreat.  At first light, Grant threw his entire force at the Confederates under General P. G. T. Beauregard, and after a second bloody day, Grant, with Sherman right beside him, had won the biggest Northern victory of the Civil War's first year.  The author and Confederate soldier George Washington Cable wrote, "The South never smiled after Shiloh."

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