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The Battle of Shiloh, the Turning Point of the American Civil War
August 6, 2020 @ 12:00 am
Civil War fans often point to Antietam or Gettysburg as the turning point of the war, but overlooked is the night of April 6, 1862, when Ulysses S. Grant’s Army of the Tennessee was teetering on the edge of annihilation on the banks of the Tennessee River. The day had begun with a surprise attack by Confederate forces near Shiloh Church and had witnessed the heaviest fighting of the war to date, through places like the Hornets’ Nest and Hell’s Hollow. That evening, Grant’s subordinates all advised an immediate retreat, but he chose to stay and fight, a decision that resulted in the most significant turning point of the Civil War.
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Harry S. Laver is a professor of military history at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, who specializes in the American Civil War and World War II Europe. His recent publications include A General Who Will Fight: The Leadership of Ulysses S. Grant (University Press of Kentucky, 2013), and as co-editor, The Art of Command: American Military Leadership from George Washington to Colin Powell (University Press of Kentucky, 2nd ed., 2017). From 2013 to 2014 he was a Fulbright Scholar at the National University of Ireland at Maynooth. In 2017 he was selected as the Educator of the Year in Department of Military History at the Staff College.