Shiloh, 1862 by Winston Groom
Winston Groom, author of Forrest Gump upon which the movie is based, uses his skill as a fiction writer to make a military history read very interesting. His background research on battlefield leaders as well as eyewitness accounts by soldiers and civilians on both sides of the conflict keeps this from being another dry historical accounting of troop movements on the battlefield. Green troops, untried leadership, and a terrain that would been have a challenge to our modern military leads to a knock-down drag-out battle that wakes up both the North and South that this was not going to be the war that everyone had envisioned. After all the carnage on both sides, it’s a wonder that the soldiers on both sides did not just throw down their weapons and run for home. Groom lets you see the development of this battle through the leaders' eyes and then he lets you experience the impact of the battle’s aftermath on civilians at home as well as those who lived next to the battlefield. The troops on both sides called going into combat as “seeing the elephant.” The ones who survived Shiloh saw a massive herd of elephants as this was the first major battle of the Civil War.