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It’s the spring of 1862. The Confederate Army in the Western Theater teeters on the brink of collapse following the catastrophic loss of Fort Donelson near Dover, Tennessee. Commanding Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston is forced to abandon the strategic city of Nashville and rally his troops in defense of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. Hot on Johnston’s trail are two of the Union’s best generals: Ulysses S. Grant, fresh off his career-making victory at Fort Donelson, and Don Carlos Buell. If their combined forces can crush Johnston’s army and capture the railroad, the war in the West likely will be over. There’s just one problem: Johnston knows of the Union plans, and is poised to launch a surprise attack on Grant’s encampment—a small settlement in southwestern Tennessee anchored by a humble church named Shiloh. This battle was one of the war’s bloodiest and most iconic engagements.
Best-selling author Jeff Shaara draws on meticulous research in a discussion of the key actions and decisions of the commanders on both sides: Johnston, Grant, Sherman, Beauregard, and the illustrious Col. Nathan Bedford Forrest. He also examines Shiloh’s history through the eyes of some lesserknown brave participants—the junior officers, conscripts, and enlisted men—who gave their all for their causes in a pitched and shifting battle.
Shaara’s book, A Blaze of Glory (Ballantine), a work of historical fiction on the Battle of Shiloh, is available for signing after the program.
After the battle of Shiloh, some soldiers reported glow in the dark wounds. Learn more on SmithsonianMag.com.
See the Smithsonian Postal Museum's 4-cent Battle of Shiloh commemorative stamp, one of a series marking the 1962 Civil War Centennial Issue.