The Generals of Shiloh, Character in Leadership, April 6 – 7, 1862, by Larry Tagg, 236 pages, Savas Beatie, 2017.
Reviewed by Arley McCormick
Author Larry Tagg introduces the General Officer leadership in the Army of the Tennessee, the Army of Ohio, and the Army of the Mississippi in the context of the Battle at Shiloh. General Ulysses Grant, General Don Carlos Buell, General Albert Sidney Johnston, General P.G.T. Beauregard, General Braxton Bragg, General Leonidas Polk were mostly inexperienced commanders of large formations in battle. But, what of the other Generals that fought? Many demonstrated acceptable and commendable leadership and were recognized by their leaders and historians. Others were disgraced by their conduct at Shiloh and other battlefields during the war. Many, possibly the majority, are less recognizable names that essentially are relegated to footnotes indicating they were there, and if nowhere else, were heroes in their hometowns and states.
The author does a commendable job with narratives that explain where and how they reached the level of General in such a short period of time. Even Larry Tagg struggles to find sufficient information on many that would endear them to the Civil War enthusiast and spark energetic research.
The author describes their leadership in the fog of battle where it is not uncommon for orders and directions to be confusing, absent, delayed, or just wrong. During a drama surrounded with piercing noise, obscuring smoke and debris he illustrates how they may have seen the battle unfold and how they reacted.
Each officer is described from the origin of their appointment to their role at Shiloh. A commendable effort that any Civil War enthusiast will appreciate and want to add to their understanding of Generalship in battle.