After the rousing capture of Forts Donelson and Henry, General Ulysses S. Grant’s Union Army of the West Tennessee marched down the Tennessee River. Five divisions camped at Pittsburgh Landing, one slightly downriver at Crump’s Landing, while Grant, recuperating from a riding accident, set up his headquarters several miles further downriver. Meanwhile, without any particular urgency, Carlos Buell’s Army of the Ohio was moving from the east to combine with Grant, preparatory to an assault on the key Confederate transport hub of Corinth. Although advance sorties had run into Confederate pickets, Grant believed the enemy, so recently trounced, presented no immediate threat. Reflecting this, the camp at Pittsburg Landing was barely fortified or prepared for battle. Accordingly, Confederate General Albert E. Johnston’s furious assault at dawn on 6 April caught the Union encampment entirely unawares. The attack had actually been delayed for two days by torrential rain, a delay that proved providential for Grant.
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