Once the armies had cleared the battlefield, a stark and desolate plot of ground remained. . . and a lingering effluvia (sic) of death."" Sword rises to the desperately poetic seldom, except to draw his lesson: Shiloh was a morass of mistakes, misery, disillusion, disorder and, ultimately, despair. Johnston-Beauregard-Bragg-Polk planning, missing opportunities to devastate the North on one side -- and Sherman-Grant-Wallace-Halleck wrangling, competing intramurally on the other. No towering heroes; no scapegoats, as in so much Civil War special pleading. This is a painstakingly researched book, drawing extensively upon letters, diaries, journals; and never jumping to hasty conclusions and second guesses about who could have been right or wrong or better or worse than whoever was the commander of the moment. Anecdotes abound: the South relying upon Napoleon's Waterloo plans; one Mrs. Inge slipping two sandwiches and a piece of cake into Johnston's coat pocket before he rode off to battle. And sometimes these asides lighten the load. Yet, the liability of chronicle and blow-by-blow is the impending tedium -- a danger Sword does not altogether avoid.