Sunday, April 8

This Week in The Civil War: Sunday, April 8, 1862

Shiloh’s fallout, First year of war. Lincoln’s early emancipation move

Union Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant sends troops in pursuit of Confederate fighters retreating after the battle at Shiloh, or Pittsburgh Landing, in Tennessee. But a feisty Confederates rearguard led by Nathan Bedford Force thwarts the Union pursuit, allowing the secessionists to slip away. It is a difficult week for the Confederacy as word of their loss at Shiloh reaches Richmond. The news for the secessonists stands in glum contrast to celebrations one year ago this week in the South. The first shots of war were fired April 12, 1861, at Fort Sumter in South Carolina. That Confederate bombardment — and the subsequent Union surrender of that federal garrison at Fort Sumter — kicked off wild celebrations on April 14, 1861 in Charleston. A year later, euphoria has given way to the grim reality of the deadly grind of war. Shiloh’s two days of pitched fighting end with more than 23,000 men killed, wounded or missing on both sides — the bloodiest battle in U.S. history at the time and a portent of big battles to come. The Associated Press reports Shiloh’s outcome in an April 13 dispatch, reporting “the beginning of the fight on that day was a total surprise’’ for the Union as Confederates attacked — “many officers and soldiers being overtaken in their tents and slaughtered or taken prisoners.’’ The dispatch notes the Union attacked back the second day of Shiloh “and the rebels soon gave way.’’ It adds one captured Confederate prisoner told officers the Southern fighters were told a Confederate victory “was a sure thing’’ and that “they could not fail to capture Grant’s army.’’ On April 16, 1862, Abraham Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act freeing thousands of slaves in the nation’s capital. It is an early step during the war that would lead to the formal end of slavery across the U.S. as a result of the conflict.

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