Looking for the best book(s) about Shiloh

Nathan Stuart

Private
Joined
Apr 14, 2020
Larry Daniel's "Shiloh, The Battle that changed the Civil War" & James McDonough's "Shiloh, In Hell Before Night" are two amazing books that I found have the best flow to them, and are easier to follow, in my opinon.

Tim Smith's "Conquer or Perish" is far better if you're looking for an in depth military study of the battle itself, especially on the 2nd day.

Can't go wrong with any of these, though!
Agree with you about James McDonough's book. It flows very well and is easy to follow - an engaging read. It doesn't bog down in military details. Interesting brief anecdotes throughout too.
 

digne

Private
Joined
Jun 27, 2020
As I am unsure of what your objective is in studying this, in depth or lightly, I decided to list a couple of past threads about Shiloh books and sources. Perhaps others may read this thread and find the below sites of interest and assistance.

If I can be of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Regards
David
Probably medium depth. And thank you so much for the links to the old threads. Especially the resources thread!
I have several reasons for my interest in the Civil War and Shiloh specifically.

Generally, the war has been on my mind a lot over the past 2 or 3 years. Everything in our history keeps pointing back to it for good and bad reasons. I'm a history nerd by nature. I especially love to read about leaders at various time in history: presidents, generals, etc… I recently finished a fantastic book about John C. Fremont as well as Doris Kearns Goodwin's book on Theadore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. As I said in my original post I just finished the book about Nathan Bedford Forrest and Ulysses S. Grant. And I know I'm going to want to read more about Grant and Sherman just from that.

More specifically, I have ancestors who fought on both sides in the war. It's interesting that all of them served in the Western Theater. I have found at least one place where I think members of my family were directly shooting at each other at Chickamauga — fortunately, they both survived that.

And so why Shiloh? It really was a turning point for the whole war. The cost of the war was so starkly made. Especially in my family. It's the first big battle where my relatives fought. Although I have another relative who fought at Pea Ridge a month earlier, Shiloh is the first where I know that some of the various blue vs gray sides of my family meet up in battle.

I know of three family members who fought at Shiloh:
— a Confederate under Hardee, Cleburne's brigade (wounded at Shiloh — appears to have troubled him the rest of his life)
— a Federalist under Grant, Hare's Brigade (killed at Shiloh, age 21)
— a Federalist under Buel, Rousseu's brigade (survived — but the war appears to have been the source of his chronic dysentery which he received a pension for. It eventually killed him at age 62)

I'm looking for a book or books that will satisfy my "big picture" needs. Ex.: What was Grant planning? What was Johnson thinking? … But also give me the smaller stories, beyond just the Hornet's Nest, of what it was like for the soldiers in the battle. I want to get a larger sense of troop movements, but I'm not looking for a purely tactical book either. Strategy and story together is what I like.

I've read a few of those regimental histories and diaries soldiers published after the war. Some are better than others — some are definitely more truthful than others. So I know I want to follow those up with something more scholarly.

I think Tim Smith's book sounds like a great big-picture look at the battle. So I've already ordered that.
 

Ole Miss

Captain
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Regtl. Staff Shiloh 2020
Joined
Dec 9, 2017
Location
North Mississippi
Wiley Sword’s book is a really good overall description of the battle, the units that participated, the leaders and conditions that led to the fight

David Reed’s “The Battle of Shiloh and the Organizations Engaged” in the pdf format provides brief discussions of each regiment plus numbers and casualties. Very good and helpful read

If I can help just let me know
Regards
David
 

Study the Past

Sergeant
Joined
Sep 29, 2016
Location
Middle Tennessee via Detroit Rock City
Agree with you about James McDonough's book. It flows very well and is easy to follow - an engaging read. It doesn't bog down in military details. Interesting brief anecdotes throughout too.
Indeed. His book is a nice introduction & overall view of the battle. I know for me for a particular battle or topic, diving right into an almost purely military study can be a bit much and almost far too dry of a read to be able to hold one's attention. Larry Daniel's goes into more detail about the action, but is still very easy to follow without losing a good pace of the read.

Both books were good to get a great feel & understanding of the battle itself to be better established. Anything beyond would be like telling a person wanting to learn more about Gettysburg to jump right to Edward Coddington's "A Study In Command", which can really be dry with a lot of information. By the time I got to Tim Smith's book, the military study aspect of the book didn't overwhelm as much, having read the other 2 books for a good foundation.
 

Ole Miss

Captain
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Regtl. Staff Shiloh 2020
Joined
Dec 9, 2017
Location
North Mississippi
Top