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on the opposite, or eastern side. To this point General Grant moved his headquarters on assuming command of the new field and the new movement. It did not take long to discover the Confederate policy. It was to form another line across the country, with the left resting on Memphis and the right on Chattanooga. This line corresponded very nearly with the southern boundary of the State of Tennessee. It was not so long as the former line from Columbus to Bowling Green had been. A railroad ran east and west its whole length, and from Iuka to Chattanooga it followed the course of the Tennessee river. It was stronger in every respect than the former, commanded the southern termini of all the railroads running northward, and effectually prevented the invasion of Mississippi and Alabama. To establish and defend this line was now a supreme object with the Confederates.
Grant assumed command of operations on March 17th, 1862, at Savannah. He chose the spot on the east side of the river in order the better to keep up communication with Buell in the direction of Nashville. He found Hurlbut and Sherman at Pittsburg Landing with the new regiments which had been sent up from Cairo. Lewis Wallace's division was at Crump's Landing, a short distance below. Smith's and McClernand's divisions, the oldest and best in the army, were at Savannah. Buell had been ordered from Nashville by way of Columbia.
GEN. BUELL. Grant quickly took in the situation. He saw that the very line which the Confederates sought to establish and hold was the best for Federal operations in Alabama and Mississippi. It virtually commanded the Tennessee river, and would eventually command the Mississippi
river as far as Vicksburg perhaps. The railroads running from the north to Memphis, La Grange, Corinth, Eastport, Decatur, and Chattanooga, would facilitate operations if held by Federal troops. By means of them, reinforcements and supplies could be expeditiously sent. Corinth, the crossing-place of the two great railroads that traverse the South and connect the Gulf and the Mississippi with the easterly southern regions, was the grand strategic point on this line. It was the Confederate base of operations. They would fight desperately to hold it. They could attack vigorously from it. They had resolved not to repeat the mistake they had made on their Northern line, to wit, not concentrating early and formidably at Donelson and Henry. Therefore they were, and had been for some time, directing every energy to throwing a powerful army into Corinth, and were even now ready to assume the offensive.
Grant saw that his safety depended on rapid and close concentration. It would not do for him to repeat the error of the Confederates at Donelson. Ratifying the selection of Pittsburg Landing by Smith, he ordered Smith's and McClernand's divisions thither from Savannah. Lewis Wallace was considered as within supporting distance at Crump's Landing. Buell was coming, all too slowly to be sure, from Nashville with his much-needed command of forty thousand men.
Pittsburg Landing was on the side of the river next the enemy. It was therefore a dangerous place to be. But, as against this, it afforded opportunity for moving out boldly to battle, and as a unit, should it be desirable to assume the offensive. On account of the contour of the country, Owl Creek in front, and Lick and Snake Creeks on the flanks, all of which were difficult to pass when the water was high in the Tennessee river, it was a place which could be easily defended.
Buell was moving very slowly and Grant became anxious. Though his march from Nashville began on March 15th, he
was twenty-three days in reaching the Tennessee river, a
Buell's delay became known to the
he urged prompt reinforcement “for,” said he, “the enemy are already from sixty thousand to eighty thousand strong, and are concentrating as rapidly as we are here."
On March 23d, he wrote to Smith, “ Carry out your idea of occupying, and particularly fortifying, Pea Ridge; I do not hear one word from St. Louis. I am clearly of the opinion that the enemy are gathering strength as rapidly as we are, and the sooner we attack the easier will be the task of taking the place. If Ruggles is in command it would assuredly be a good time to attack.”
There was not much time to wait. Confederate skirmishers were in front of the Federal forces on April 2d, and in considerable force.
On the 4th, the enemy felt Sherman's front,
but without effect. On the 5th, Grant rode out to Sherman's lines to consult. They agreed that it was not the enemy's design to attack immediately. But in this they were mistaken. The reconnoissance of the previous day was really the begin
ning of the celebrated battle of Shiloh. (Shiloh Church was just on the edge of the Federal lines, about two and one-half miles S. W. of Pittsburg Landing).
As Grant was riding back from the front to Pittsburg Landing on the very rainy night of the 4th, his horse slipped and fell on him, severely contusing him. This lamed him and gave him great pain and inconvenience for several days. It is on chis circumstance that sensational newspaper reporters doubtless based their heartless story that Grant was drunk and thrown from his horse at the battle of Shiloh. Once for all as to his habits in this respect, there never has been a story respecting his drinking, no matter how persistently or fiendishly circulated, that has not been entirely exploded, and the unqualified judgment of the purest and best to-day is that he was far more abstemious than army officers in general, and never addicted to injurious use of spirits.
On the same day Lewis Wallace reported eight Confederate regiments of infantry and twelve hundred cavalry at Purdy, a short distance away, and an equal, if not larger force at Bethel, four miles beyond. Gen. W. H. L. Wallace, in command of Smith's division, was ordered to hold himself in readiness to support Lewis Wallace. Sherman was similarly notified as well as General Hurlbut. On April 5th, Nelson arrived with his column, Buell's advance, at Savannah and reported to Grant. He was ordered to a point four miles from Pittsburg Landing, on the east side of the river. The country between Snake
GEN. LEW WALLACE. and Lick Creeks, whose mouths are three miles apart, was thickly wooded, with here and there cultivated patches. Next to the river it was bluffy. These creeks