The following account was received from the lips of a brave and pious captain in one of the Western regiments, as some friends who visited Shiloh on the morning after the battle were conveying him to the hospital.
To mansions in the skies,
I’ll bid farewell to every fear,
Summary historical perspective on the battle
Union losses out of 62,000 troops: 13,047
Missing or captured 2,885
Confederate losses out of 45,000 troops: 10,669
Missing or captured 959
In his memoirs in chapter 25 “Remarks on Shiloh” Grant writes “Up to the battle of Shiloh, I, as well as thousands of other citizens, believed that the rebellion against the Government would collapse suddenly and soon, if a decisive victory could be gained over its armies….” But the intensity and cost in man-power changed his perspective: “I gave up all idea of saving the Union except by complete conquest.”
Though the Union losses were greater than the Confederate, the Union victory would allow for him to push deeper into Southern territory to divide the Confederacy in two. Victory came at a high cost.
In the midst of such pain and suffering what should one do? The above account which Horatio Hackett recounts shows some dealt with the harshness of their suffering through the lens of faith. The hymn “When I can Read My Title Clear” by Isaac Watts was first published under the heading "The Hopes of Heaven our Support under Trials on Earth" in his 1707 Hymns and Spiritual Songs:
So there on the Shiloh battlefield where death, pain and sorrow were abundant, for many of the men this well-known hymn became a call to look to Jesus’ promise as a way of dealing with the “storms of sorrow” that night and yet also an offering of praise to Jesus for His willingness to “die a death of agony for me”.
1) Talk about the shift from early war “optimism” that the conflict would be brief and end soon to the “reality” that it was going to be a “long hard road to Richmond”. Explore why human nature often “presumes” desired outcomes more often than realistically thinking through what might happen and exploring ways to overcome the difficulties to accomplish the goal.
2) Would there be many who would join in today if someone started singing a Christian song on a battlefield filled with wounded & dying soldiers? What does that say about our culture today? Does that make you glad or sad?