The Generals of Shiloh: Character in Leadership, April 6-7, 1862

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Larry Tagg
Pub Date:
December 2017
Hardcover, 6 x 9
Images, maps, 312 pp.
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About the Book

“Character is destiny” wrote Greek Philosopher Heraclitus more than twenty-five centuries ago. Douglas Southall Freeman, the Army of Northern Virginia’s preeminent historian, echoed that view when he wrote, “Further study . . . may prove both more profitable and more interesting when it deals with men and morale than where it merely described in new terms the familiar strategy and battles.” Better than any historian of his age, Freeman appreciated the impact character played on Gen. Robert E. Lee’s judgment and actions. Indeed, the foundation of his Pulitzer Prize-winning Lee biography is constructed around this theme.

Most writers of military history stress strategy and tactics at the expense of the character of their subjects. Larry Tagg remedies that oversight with The Generals of Shiloh, a unique and invaluable study of the high-ranking combat officers whose conduct in April 1862 helped determine the success or failure of their respective armies, the fate of the war in the Western Theater and, in turn, the fate of the American union.

Tagg’s new book, which is modeled after his bestselling The Generals of Gettysburg, presents detailed background information on each of his subjects, coupled with a thorough account of each man’s actions on the field of Shiloh and, if he survived that battle, his fate thereafter. Many of the great names tossed up by civil war are found here in this early battle, from U. S. Grant, William T. Sherman, and Don Carlos Buell, to Albert S. Johnston, Braxton Bragg, and P. G. T. Beauregard. Many more men, whose names crossed the stage of furious combat only to disappear in the smoke on the far side, also populate these pages. Every one acted in his own unique fashion and in a manner worthy of study. This marriage of character (“the features and attributes of a man”) with his war record, offers new insights into how and why a particular soldier acted a certain way, in a certain situation, at a certain time.

Nineteenth century combat was an unforgiving cauldron. In that hot fire some grew timid and listless, others demonstrated a tendency toward rashness, and the balance rose to the occasion and did their duty as they understood it. Each of their stories are found within these pages. The Generals of Shiloh will be hailed as both a wonderful read and an outstanding reference work for the general student and scholar alike.



“The format of The Generals of Shiloh is well suited to its purposes of emphasizing leaders, command relationships, and organization… The book also does a good job of shining a bright light upon the great preponderance of highly placed citizen-generals in the Shiloh armies. One might draw from Tagg's descriptions of the Army of the Tennessee's non-professional leadership corps that that army, through all its success from Shiloh onward, represented perhaps the highest pinnacle of the American citizen-soldier ideal and tradition.” - Civil War Books and Authors

 “An invaluable and impressively informative study, The Generals of Shiloh is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to the growing library of American Civil War literature.” – Midwest Book Review

“I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the War in the West, in particular, the Battle of Shiloh. The format gives researchers an ease of use . . . [including] fascinating, well written narrations of what occurred at this conflict.” – Gettysburg Chronicle


Born in Lincoln, Illinois, Larry Tagg graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. A bass player/singer of world renown, Larry co-founded and enjoyed substantial commercial success with “Bourgeois Tagg” in the mid-1980s. He went on to play bass for Todd Rundgren, Heart, Hall and Oates, and other acts. He taught high school English and drama in Sacramento, California. Larry is the author of the bestselling book The Generals of Gettysburg, a selection of the Military Book Club, and The Battles That Made Abraham Lincoln.