After an all-night march, the Southern Army lined up to assault the outermost Union troops at dawn on April 6. That day, Johnston had told his officers “tomorrow we will water our horses in the Tennessee River.” He was the highest-ranking Confederate general and the most highly thought of by the government, and his own staff had no doubt that his troops’ dispositions and Southern valor would carry them to victory. Of the seventy-nine regiments in the Confederate line of battle, only 14 had any previous combat experience. The Federal Army, about equal in number, had the advantage in numbers of veteran soldiers, but were unaware of the coming attack, and were mostly asleep when the assault began. The attack proved to be a big surprise. However, man proposes but God disposes.
A map of the Shiloh battlefield, hand drawn in 1865
The Confederate staff officers had little or no experience at war, and to them fell the proper disposition of the soaked and exhausted troops, streaming up the two narrow and foot-deep muddy country roads from Corinth to Pittsburg Landing. Federals on the outer picket lines exchanged fire with Confederate cavalry and infantry and reported to the Division commander William T. Sherman that the Rebel Army was hovering around the Union position. He ignored their warnings. General Johnston had his last dispatch read to the Southern troops along the three-mile long battle front: