The Battle of Shiloh (also known as the Battle of Pittsburg Landing) was a battle in the Western Theater of the American Civil War, fought April 6–7, 1862, in southwestern Tennessee. A Union force known as the Army of the Tennessee (Major General Ulysses S. Grant) had moved via the Tennessee River deep into Tennessee and was encamped principally at Pittsburg Landing on the west bank of the Tennessee River, where the Confederate Army of Mississippi (General Albert Sidney Johnston, P. G. T. Beauregard second-in-command) launched a surprise attack on Grant's army from its base in Corinth, Mississippi. Johnston was mortally wounded during the fighting; Beauregard took command of the army and decided against pressing the attack late in the evening. Overnight, Grant was reinforced by one of his divisions stationed further north and was joined by three divisions from the Army of the Ohio (Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell). The Union forces began an unexpected counterattack the next morning which reversed the Confederate gains of the previous day. On April 6, the first day of the battle, the Confederates struck with the intention of driving the Union defenders away from the river and into the swamps of Owl Creek to the west. Johnston hoped to defeat Grant's army before the anticipated arrival of Buell and the Army of the Ohio. The Confederate battle lines became confused during the fighting, and Grant's men instead fell back to the northeast, in the direction of Pittsburg Landing. A Union position on a slightly sunken road, nicknamed the "Hornet's Nest" and defended by the divisions of Brig. Gens. Benjamin Prentiss and William H. L. Wallace, provided time for the remainder of the Union line to stabilize under the protection of numerous artillery batteries. Wallace was mortally wounded when the position collapsed, while several regiments from the two divisions were eventually surrounded and surrendered. Johnston was shot in the leg and bled to death while leading an attack. Beauregard acknowledged how tired the army was from the day's exertions and decided against assaulting the final Union position that night. Tired but unfought and well-organized men from Buell's army and a division of Grant's army arrived in the evening of April 6 and helped turn the tide the next morning, when the Union commanders launched a counterattack along the entire line. Confederate forces were forced to retreat, ending their hopes of blocking the Union advance into northern Mississippi. The Battle of Shiloh was the battle with the highest number of casualties in American history until the Battle of Stones River, which was surpassed by the Battle of Chancellorsville the next year and soon after, by the three-day Battle of Gettysburg, the highest-casualty battle of the war.
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