by Gregory Mertz
El Dorado Hills, Ca.: Savas Beatie, 2019. Pp. xx, 172.
Illus., maps, appends, notes, biblio. $14.95 paper. ISBN: 1611213134
A Fresh Look at Shiloh
Drawing his title from a ironically from very similar phrases uttered by the rival commanders on the opening of the fighting, the Confederacy’s Albert Sidney Johnston on the first day, and Ulysses S. Grant on the second, National Parks Service historian Mertz gives us a short, concise, and quite informative view of the Battle of Shiloh.
Mertz’s text offers a good account of the circumstances and events of the battle. He liberally seasons his account with excerpts from the writings of participants, which are often quite vivid depictions of events, and supplements these with illustrations and maps. There are also little profiles of various actors – mostly commanders – and some observations about the military practice of the day.
Mertz’s treatment of the battle at the tactical level is essentially a guidebook to the battlefield. So is not strictly chronological, although this is not as much of an obstacle to understanding how the events unfolded.
At several important points, Mertz injects into his account some useful analysis, and in a very good appendix parses the frequently questioned movements of Maj. Gen. Lew Wallace, one of the most controversial aspects of the battle.
As a volume in the Savas Beatie series “Emerging Civil War”, Attack at Daylight and Whip Them is primarily intended for the relative novice, but even the veteran student of the war will likely find it interesting and often insightful.
Note: Attack at Daylight and Whip Them is also available in several e-editions.
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