Union Flag Carrier U. S. CIVIL WAR
Confederate Flag Carrier

(PAGE 2 OF 8)

Fraley Field
Fraley Field


As dawn approached on Sunday, April 6, 1862, soldiers in the Union camps near Shiloh Church began to stir. While some continued to sleep, others prepared for breakfast. They didn't know that more than 40,000 Southerners with loaded rifle-muskets and bayonets were marching on them from the southwest.

Suspicious of Confederate activity nearby, Col. Everett Peabody, an alert Union brigade commander, sent out a reconnaissance patrol of about 200 men under Maj. James E. Powell. When Powell's patrol entered Fraley Field they stumbled onto the pickets screening the Confederate army. Three shots broke the silence, and here fell the first victims of Shiloh. In the following 34 hours, 3,400 more men would die or be fatally wounded.

The fighting in Fraley Field and the surrounding woods lasted about an hour. The Union patrol was forced to retreat, as the first three waves of the Confederate assault swept forward. Though not decisive in itself, the initial engagement gave Union camps to the northeast warning that a Confederate attack was on the way.

The Sunken Road
The Sunken Road. (The Hornets's Nest is the woods on the left.)

The Iowa Monument
The Iowa Monument on the Sunken Road

Duncan Field
Duncan Field from the Sunken Road
Ruggle Confederate cannon were
near the distant line of trees

After being driven from their camps by attacking Confederates about 9:00 a.m., more than 4,000 Union soldiers retreated to the woods and took position along the "Sunken Road," the dirt wagon trail shown above. Here on high ground commanding Duncan Field and the adjoining woods, Federal infantry took cover behind oak trees, fence rails, and dense undergrowth.

During the next eight hours, Confederate infantry charged the road and the wooded stronghold they called the "Hornets's Nest" eleven times. Repeatedly they were repulsed by swarms of minie balls. This was the scene of some of the most desperate and deadly fighting in the Civil War.

Ruggles Cannon
Gen. Ruggles's Confederate Cannon aimed
at the Sunken Road and the Hornets's Nest

A cannon
The Hornets's Nest and Sunken Road are
in the distance across Duncan Field
in front of this Confederate Cannon.

After six hours of bloody fighting here, it became evident that Confederate Infantry alone would not break the strong Union defenses along the Sunken Road and the thickets beyond. Toward late afternoon, Brig. Gen. Daniel Ruggles brought forward eleven batteries of artillery and placed them in line along the wooded edge of Duncan field and beyond.

According to Ruggles official report, there were 62 cannon---the greatest concentration of field guns seen on a North American battlefield up to that time.

For more than an hour Confederate artillery roared, unleashing a great storm of shot, shell, and canister that kept the Union soldiers in the "Hornets's Nest" pinned down. Confederate Infantry then encircled the "Hornets's Nest" and forced its defenders to surrender.


Home > Civil War Photos > Western Map > Shiloh > Page 2 > 3 > 4 > 5 > 6 > 7 > 8


19th Century Photographs Notes

USA Civil War Site contains 1,428 Photos, 506 Pages, 113 Maps, 30 Prints.
Photo Info    What's New    FAQ   Civil War Definitions    Site Search    Privacy Statement    Contact Us

Except for the items provided with permission to the author of this Site, this complete Site is Copyright Copyright; 2000 - 2017. All Rights are Reserved. No portion of this site, including this index page and any of the separate pages, may be copied, retransmitted, reposted, duplicated or otherwise used without the express written permission of USA Civil War.com.