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Grant's Last Line
U.S. Grant's Last Line at Shiloh

The first day of fighting had been disastrous for General Grant's Union Army of the Tennessee. At daybreak the Confederates surprised many of the Federals in their tents. Hastily-formed lines of defense broke. Casualties multiplied. More than 2,000 men surrendered. Reinforcements arrived late. At day's end, Grant's army had fallen back to this location (above) --- his last line.

That evening Union reinforcements arrived, and on the second day fortunes reversed. Grant's desperate "last line" became a strong attack position. The bolstered Union forces pushed the Confederates back to the southwestern end of the battlefield near Shiloh Church.

The Bloody Pond
The Bloody Pond

The Battle of Shiloh was, at its time, the bloodiest conflict this nation had seen. The beautiful spring woods, fields, and orchards were transformed over two days into scenes of death and destruction which eyewitnesses described as horrible, desolate, and heart-rending.

This shallow pond attracted the weary and wounded soldiers of both armies who were engaged in heavy fighting nearby. Some crawled here for their last drink. Observers after the battle reported that the pond was littered with dead soldiers and horses. Blood had turned the water a murkey red.

Water Oaks Pond
Water Oaks Pond

On the second day of fighting, Confederate forces under General P.G.T. Beauregard made their last attempt to check the surge of Union forces counterattacking from Pittsburg Landing. As they advanced, Confederate infantry sloshed through the shallow Water Oaks Pond, above. They gained some ground, but were unable to stop the advance of Grant's Union army which had been heavily reinforced during the night. Accordingly, they retreated back across this pond.

About 2:30 p.m., General Beauregard gave the order for the Confederate army to retreat to Corinth. The Battle of Shiloh was over.


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