In The West, April And May, 1862.
The Confederate armies in the West, commanded by Beauregard and Albert Sidney Johnston, were struggling through April and May to sustain the Confederacy against the armies of Halleck's department, while their comrades were as bravely resisting the Federals under McClellan. During the first days of April, when McClellan was slowly forcing the Confederate position at Yorktown, the two military leaders in the West, provoked by the disasters of the preceding months, moved their armies from Corinth to attack Grant and Sherman at Shiloh. Their assault was made immediately on reaching the enemy with such persisting vigor on the first day, April 6th, that the army of Grant was beaten from the field; but the great victory cost the Confederacy the loss of Albert Sidney Johnston's life. The night screened the defeated Federals, the battle ceased, the reinforcements of Buell were hurried to Grant's relief, and on the next day, after a resolute defense against the attack of these new forces, the wearied and unsupported Confederate victors of the day before were withdrawn from the field, taking with them hundreds of captured muskets thirty cannon and nearly 3,000 prisoners. In this battle--one of the engagements that contributed largely to the final result--40,000 Confederates engaged the first day 44,000 Federals; and on the second day the reinforcements of the Federals were sufficient to maintain their first numbers, while the Confederates were reduced by all casualties about one-fourth and were without reserves. It is estimated that on the second day 45,000 was the total of Grant's strength, opposed by less than 30,000 effective Confederates.
The battle of Shiloh, taken into a view that embraces the positions of both armies at the close of the first day and the condition of both after the battle was ended, is properly written down among Confederate victories. It is placed among the engagements on which Confederate fate was suspended, only because the victory was not so complete as to enable the Confederates to regain the command of Fort Donelson and the possession of all Tennessee and Kentucky. Beauregard, succeeding the fallen Johnston, could only take his army unopposed back to Corinth, and Grant could only pause on the battlefield where the fierce fight had raged and inform Halleck, "It is unsafe to remain many weeks without reinforcements." Halleck arrived on the ground ten days after the battle and said to Grant, "Your army is not now in condition to resist attack."
Beauregard's army was strengthened at Corinth by reinforcements from Trans-Mississippi, but it was again rapidly reduced by sickness. Unable to stand against the reinforced armies which Halleck at length brought against him, he retreated safely to Tupelo, where on June 17th his own sickness caused him to turn over the command to Gen. Braxton Bragg.
During the first months of 1862 the entire area of the Confederacy appears as a great field of general battle. In Arkansas the State military were contending against the raids of the Federal General Curtis. John Morgan, with his cavalry, was endeavoring to open the way for the recovery of Kentucky by the Confederates. New Orleans had been forced to surrender to Farragut, and was placed under the military command of Gen. Benjamin F. Butler. Memphis also was captured by the Federals, and the control of the Mississippi fiver was divided. Fort Pulaski, near the mouth of the Savannah river, was taken in April. Numerous incursions, raids and skirmishes, occurring in all directions, accompanied the more massive operations of the great armies.
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