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Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/307

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The Battle of Shiloh. 299

On April 2, 1862, these hostile armies camped within eighteen miles of each other without any barrier between them that is, no river or impassable object.

It will be remembered that the Federal army was greatly elated over the success it achieved at Fort Donelson, while the Confed- erates, painfully reminded of that disaster, were anxious and impa- tient to efface it from the minds of our people.

It was on this day, the afternoon of April 2, that General Johnston decided to attack Grant before Buell, who was moving with all dis- patch with five strong divisions, could effect a junction with him. General Johnston determined, if possible to take Grant by surprise and defeat him before Buell could arrive. General Beauregard co- incided with General Johnston, and urged that the operation be attempted at once.

General Johnston must have felt the great responsibility which rested upon him, because it has been said that he deliberated over his plans until late in the night, weighing with great fairness the reasons in favor of the adventure, as well as considering the objec- tions that were opposed. About midnight he decided to put the army in motion the following day, and trust its fortunes to the un- certainty of battle.

Orders were sent to the corps commanders soon after his decision to hold their troops in readiness to move at a moment's notice, with three days cooked rations and forty rounds of ammunition in the cartridge boxes.

Breckinridge, with his three brigades, was at a little place called Burnsville. He was ordered to move at once to join the main army at Monterey, a cross-roads store.

Forrest, with his regiment of cavalry, was to precede Breckin- ridge. The following morning the place of battle, the march and all the details were discussed and arranged between Generals John- ston and Beauregard.

The country intervening between the opposing forces was thickly wooded, and there were only three narrow roads upon which our army could move. It was a most difficult enterprise, fraught with unavoidable delays and extremely hazardous in any event. The greatest difficulty was in moving the artillery, and the success of the movement also depended upon keeping the enemy in ignorance. It was impossible to keep the men quiet; they were yelling and laugh- ing night and day, and hourly firing off their guns. It must be un-