Shiloh | Apr 6, 1862 | 5:00 am - 9:00 am
At daybreak on Sunday, April 6, 1862. three corps of Confederate infantry commanded by Generals Braxton Bragg, Leonidas Polk and William J. Hardee stormed out of the woods near Pittsburg Landing and swept into the southernmost Federal camps of Gen. Benjamin M. Prentiss’ division. Most of the Union soldiers were unprepared for the onslaught, although Federal pickets were aware of the nearby Confederates but were ordered not to initiate a fight. A detail under Col. Everett Peabody from the 25th Missouri Infantry located the Confederate army at dawn, finding advance skirmishers of the Southern force less than a mile from the Union front.
Polk's men drove toward the Federal right positioned near the tiny Shiloh Church, while Hardee and Bragg's men swung to the right along the Eastern Corinth Road, striking the Federal left. Confusion reigned on both sides. While the Federals were caught unawares, the Confederate formation quickly lost cohesion in the heavy woods bordering the Tennessee River. Still, the Confederates held the advantage in surprise and having the offensive momentum. The bloodiest battle in American history up to that time was underway.