Alternative History

The turning point in the American Civil War that allowed the South to win the war with the North:

The Battle of Shiloh.[]

Um - The Battle of Shiloh was won by the North ... Do your research. NOTE: This is an Alternate History. EoGuy, editor extraordinary.

April 6, 1862 was a bright and beautiful Sunday morning. The Union forces under Grant had been camped at Pittsburg Landing, 37,000 troops waiting for Buell and his 20,000 troops from Nashville. Another 5000 troops were stationed at Crump six miles to the north under Major General Lew Wallace. The men under Grant were not entrenched nor in any way prepared for an attack. They had no idea that the commander of Confederate forces in the West, Albert Sidney Johnston, with about 40,000 Confederates was about to launch an attack on them. None of the Union officers had any idea what was going to happen and would have been taken TOTALLY by surprise but for one suspicious brigade commander: Colonel Everett Peabody. At 3:00 A.M. he sent a patrol out into the woods and at dawn the first shots could be heard between this patrol and Confederate outposts.

It did the Union army no good in the long run. Many men were still having breakfast when the Confederates charged into their camps. General William T. Sherman and Brigadier General Benjamin M. Prentiss did their best to form some kind of defense, but the shock of the first wave of Confederate soldiers soon overwhelmed most of the Union units. With Sherman's death during the early hours of the battle, when the 53rd Ohio's camp was attacked by the 6th Mississippi, Prentiss found himself and his fellow officers being overrun by the Confederate units, which in many cases were able to break through the chaotic battle line and attack strong Union positions from behind. The Union army was trapped between the Tennessee River and Owl Creek which acted like a funnel for Confederate troops. So even confused men ended up going in the right direction - towards the Union lines.

Grant arrived on the battlefield by 9:30 A.M. to find the Union troops "panic-stricken and confused". The stubborn General Prentiss and other Union commanders had tried their best to stem the massive retreat but only the arrival of the vanguard of Buell's army around 4:30 P.M. and the Union gunboats' shelling of the Confederate's right flank foiled Johnston's original plan to cut off the enemy's escape. Nightfall allowed Grant to withdraw what was left of his men.

Casualties at Shiloh are still debated today. Many believe the North lost something from 10,000 to 15,000 men. The South may have lost up to 10,000 men. Neither side had the men to continue the battle. Grant spent the next few days moving what was left of his army a safe distance from the Southern troops while General Beauregard, who had replaced the dead Johnston, realized he was outnumbered (as General Lew Wallace had arrived) and decided to hold his ground. He refused to either advance nor retreat and used his time to reorganize his men, who were tired and lacking supplies, and waited for General Van Dorn's late arrival.

The Failure In The East.[]

With the Battle of Shiloh a CLEAR Union defeat, General Halleck was furious and removed Grant from command. He also asked President Lincoln for over 10,000 reinforcements. President Lincoln understood the need, but could not weaken D.C's defenses. So he took what he needed from General McClellan's massive Army of the Potomac. General McClellan believed that Richmond could only be taken with 100,000 men and instead of having men taken away he demanded even more. Lincoln called this idea "absurd", sent the 10,000 men to the west and started to quietly search for a new commander of all Union forces. This would slow down the complaining General's advance so that he would only get to within six miles of the city of Richmond by late June.

Yet by late June, Robert E. Lee, chief military advisor to Jefferson Davis, had not only strengthened the defenses around Richmond as well as called for reinforcements from Georgia and the Carolinas, but had also brought Jackson's force from the Shenandoah Valley to assist General Joseph E. Johnston (who should not be confused with the dead Johnston in the west).1

The following Battle of the James, from July 4 to July 9, was a superb display of McClellan's talents as an organizer while also showing the Southern commanders' lack of coordination. Longstreet and his men got lost at one point. Help from the cavalry of General Stuart did little to help, besides causing some panic within the Union lines. While the Union army, in the end, beat back all attacks it still was forced to withdraw from their positions around Richmond.2

By the end of the year things had not changed much. Generals Pope and McClellan did not work well under their new Commander, General Halleck, while General J. E. Johnston and General Jackson worked VERY well under Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee. With aid from J. E. B. Stuart, the Battle of Culpepper, was a Southern victory. General J. E. Johnston was an effective commander and was able to counter the Union's moves without much problem.3

The End of the War.[]

The war in the West soon developed into a chess game, mostly a series of small battles around important forts and landings. While the US Navy had taken New Orleans the armies on both sides gained little. In a way, this was a victory for the South, who was able to keep control of a large part of the Mississippi River system and, more importantly, was able to hold the city of Vicksburg.

In 1863 there were more changes behind the battle lines than to the lines themselves. The South had been forced to develop its national economy and industry, not just because of the war, but also because of the Union blockade. Blockade-runners, ironclads and torpedo boats provided some drama but failed to put a dent in the blockade. Therefore, plantations had to replace their rows of cotton with fields of corn, peas and oats while women started to make up a large part of the labor force - both in clerical and industrial roles. Prices increased greatly, but morale was still high.4

The North was starting to lose heart. The Battle of Fredricksburg was just one in a series of such exchanges in which the smaller Confederate forces were able to defeat the larger Union armies. Many within the North were starting to suggest that Negros should be used as soldiers, an idea that caused horrified reactions from leaders and newspapers on both sides. President Lincoln was becoming more and more desperate, waiting for a chance to pass a bill to "abolish slavery within the rebelling states". He would never get his chance, as his military commanders will never give him the great victory he needed.

Relations with Great Britain had also become somewhat strained as the British refused to close their ports to the CSA Alabama and other Southern warships, many of which the British built for the South in the early years of the war. Such powerful ships inflicted some damage to Union shipping, but did more damage to the Northern cause in the newspapers than on the high seas.

By the summer of 1864, President Abraham Lincoln was losing ground to his opposing candidate G. B. McClellan. McClellan believed that Lincoln's weakness in military knowledge was the cause of the army's early failures of the war and made sure the reporters knew it - adding his promise for peace if elected and his victory seemed unavoidable. The war had changed little, with some Union gains in the border states being overwhelmed in the press by Union failures in their operations against Richmond and Vicksburg. No Union commander, not General Halleck, not General Burnside, not General Hooker and not even General Meade was able to handle the trio of Johnston, Jackson and Longstreet.

General Jubal Early's "invasion" in July 12 did little to calm the people's fears. While it failed from lack of support from General Johnston, who believed that the armed forces could only afford to carry out defensive operations, just knowing that Confederate forces were less than a dozen miles away from the capitol dome, burning houses in Silver Spring, did little to help the President gain support among the masses. McClellan was nominated by the Democrat Party and accepted the nomination on September 8. Two months later he is elected by 63% of the voters. In contrast to the Republican's impossible demand for total surrender of the Confederacy, the young Democratic President insisted only on an end to war and that when "any one State is willing to return to the Union, it should be received at once, with full guarantee of all its constitutional rights."

By March 12, 1865, only eight days after taking his oath of office, the new President started peace negotiations with officials of the CSA and the war came to an end.

1) General Beauregard has been blamed for failing to be more aggressive in the following months after the battle. Many believe that he, even with the numbers against him could have easily pushed back General Halleck.

2) Union artillery, bad weather and the Union gunboats also helped to keep the Northern forces from being cut off from Harrison's Landing. The Union's advantage in artillery transportation and resources was one of the factors that Jefferson Davis took into account when planning strategy.

3) Robert E. Lee's plans for invading the North are well known to us today through Jefferson Davis' letters and Lee's own postwar articles. The plans never came to be and if they had carried out Lee's plans many believe it would have done great damage to the CSA, draining the South of supplies and men it needed for defense of its own borders.

4) Many writers compare the CSA during this period of history to Nationalist Spain during the 1930s and 1940s under the League of Nation's blockade. Like Spain, it came out all the more stronger and self-reliant.