Dash and Pluck at Shiloh

2nd Tennessee monument at Shiloh

A quick observation to share:

In his account of the battle of Shiloh, Ulysses S. Grant said, “It was a case of Southern dash against Northern pluck and endurance.” Later in the account, he elaborated: “It is possible that the Southern man started in with a little more dash than his Northern brother; but he was correspondingly less enduring.”


From The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, chapters 24 and 25.

4 Responses to Dash and Pluck at Shiloh

  1. Grant’s Memoirs also dip a bit into the self serving in his account of Shiloh. He does a Pinkerton/McClellan, admittedly on a more modest scale, but still asserts the rebels outnumbered him. Grant’s more modest, calculating, style allows him to get away with some interesting “evaluations” of personality and circumstances.

  2. Grant’s comment is a brief evaluation. Here is my interpretation of the longer version: “The Rebels were dug in at Corinth so well, with their extensive fortifications so expertly developed, that no mere mortal would expect such a strong position to be abandoned in order to launch a surprise attack. It requires dash, and the willingness to risk all on one throw of the dice, to attempt the operation set in motion by Albert Sidney Johnston.
    “And as regards Johnston’s opponent… that Federal Leader, although ready for anything, was bemused to witness the aggressive thrust; and subsequently heartened to realize that even with the supreme Federal Leader absent from the field during the initial four hours of contact, his Division Commanders performed correctly: Sherman held his initial position until Grant arrived from Savannah; McClernand marched his men west to the support of Sherman; Hurlbut advanced towards the sound of the guns (and stumbled upon a strong defensive position that negated much of the Rebel’s early aggression.) That position was further strengthened by the arrival of WHL Wallace to Hurlbut’s Right; and by continually increasing numbers bolstering Prentiss’s shattered Division. Much of Prentiss’s Sixth Division had been overwhelmed by the Irrepressible Force that was exerted by the Rebel Army of the Mississippi: thousands of these early combatants fled north to avoid being overrun by the Rebel juggernaut… only the Tennessee River stopped their flight. But other men, bruised from Round One, remained resolute, defiant, and obviously possessed more than an ounce of pluck: they halted their own northern retreat and rejoined Prentiss in his new position, between Hurlbut and WHL Wallace and awaited the start of Round Two.
    “Meanwhile, on the far Left of the Union Line, a lone brigade, detached from Sherman weeks earlier and commanded by a disgraced Colonel from Chicago named David Stuart, performed a slow, grudging withdrawal against a Rebel force three times its size. The same sort of grudging withdrawal was mirrored on the Union Right, with Sherman and McClernand giving up bits of ground in order to gain time; knowing that if Lew Wallace, Don Carlos Buell or night should come, all would be well.
    “Dash versus Pluck… until the Clock signalled an end to play.”

  3. Reminds me of the comment of a 1st Wisconsin soldier about Perryville: “It wasn’t generalship there, it was the fighting, staying quality of the Federal soldier.”

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