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The Battle of Shiloh by Joseph W. Rich

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The Battle of Shiloh, by Joseph W. Rich, Iowa City, Iowa, published by the State Historical Society in 1911. Less than 150 pages.

 

Included on the 'Shiloh Top Seven' list by vtclark.

 

Not a recent work; no longer in copyright. But due to the magic of the Internet, freely available to interested readers.

 

The author, J. W. Rich, attended the University of Iowa and worked for a number of years as the university librarian. He was at Shiloh as a 24 year old member of the 12th Iowa Infantry Regiment, Co. E. His stated purpose in writing this book: 'to leave a clearer picture of the battle, in the mind of the reader.' Rich had time, and resources, on his side.

 

Rich became aware of the 'politics' behind the scenes; the friction between Halleck and Grant, and the 'turf war' between Halleck and Buell. Much detail, with references, is presented.

 

He was also acutely aware of the 'you were caught in your bed' belief of some writers, and appears to have been moved to write this book after the re-release (in 1895) of the 1867 work, Ohio in the War, by Whitelaw Reid. The restatement of Buell's status as 'Hero of Pittsburg Landing' may have sparked the desire to set the record straight.

 

An acolyte of D. W. Reed, Rich walked the battlefield with him in 1908. This book functions to support and extend Reed's lifelong study of the battle, and his search for truth.

 

The Battle of Shiloh also addresses 'The Lost Opportunity' (A. S. Johnston's death), and Lew Wallace's misadventure during Day 1.

 

Worth a read by every serious student of the battle, it can be accessed <archive.org/details/battleofshiloh00rich>

 

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I read it today and thought "everything that is old is new." Outside of his harsh treatment of Lew Wallace, this very much reads like Tim Smith's argument.  That adds to my contention that a lot of current scholarship, far from being unbiased, is a more detailed version of the Just Cause narrative of the Civil War.

Before anyone chops off my head, Smith's work on Shiloh is first rate and I refer back to it all the time in my work. I also like Sword, Cunningham, and Daniel, and all three of them for different reasons. Hell, even Groom works as an introduction to the battle. Shiloh has been better served by historians and authors than most other battles of the war.

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Joseph Rich was obviously biased against Lew Wallace: a man whose Division had been promised to the 12th Iowa all day, yet failed to deliver. [Although not delivered to POW Camp, Joseph Rich was captured with many other wounded men -- perhaps as many as 300 -- yet left behind, mostly in the Camp of the 3rd Iowa, because it was too much trouble to remove wounded prisoners that could not walk from the battlefield. Two other captured wounded known to have been left behind: David W. Reed (Father of Shiloh NMP) and BGen WHL Wallace.]

Lew Wallace's Division had been promised to most of the other Shiloh defenders, as well. [Apparently, LtCol James B. McPherson knew where Lew Wallace was going to be installed... but he arrived too late, and remained on the far right of the Union line, where the Third Division started Day Two.]

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