Tuesday, August 6, 2019

The Hornet's Nest

    The Battle of Shiloh was fought on April 6-7, 1862, on the western bank of the Tennessee River.  The battle was named after a nearby church called Shiloh, which ironically in Hebrew means "Peace".  Forty-two thousand Union troops under General Ulysses S. Grant camped near a place called Pittsburg Landing.  Opposing Grant stood a Confederate Army numbering thirty thousand men.  General Grant decided to wait for another Union army to arrive with an additional seventy thousand men before he would attack.  The rebel army commanded by General Albert Sidney Johnston saw no reason to wait.  The odds seemed even, so he attacked.

The battle extended along a three mile front, but fighting was fiercest in the center.  The rebels came on like demons, a Union soldier said.  By late morning, the center of the Union line was in retreat, relentlessly being pushed back into a small area on the river bank.  There, the battered Northern soldiers made a stand since they could retreat no further.  Twelve times the Confederates stormed the pocket of huddled Federal soldiers.  As many as sixty-two cannons rained fire on the surrounded Union position.  The dead and dying soon covered the field.  It was said a man could cross the battlefield on the corpses alone, and his feet would not so much as touch the ground.  The Union center numbering 2200 finally surrendered.  Today that area of the battlefield is forever remembered as 'The Hornet's Nest'. 

Nightfall brought an end to the day's fighting.  The cries of the dying could be heard calling out for help.  Flashes of lightning revealed feral hogs moving among the dead. Wounded, helpless men cried out for a drink of water.  One soldier said God must have heard them, for the heavens opened and it began to rain.  That night Grant was seen by General Sherman sitting under a distant tree, away from the horrible moans of the dying.  Sherman remarked, "Well Grant, we've had the devil's own day, haven't we?"  "Yes," said Grant. "Lick em tomorrow though."

The next day Major General Buell arrived by steamboat with his army of seventy thousand, and eventually drove the rebel army from the field.  It was a costly, bloody Northern victory. What amazes me about this event is the response and attitude of General Grant.  He had just suffered a horrible defeat on the first day of the battle.  He had no idea that General Buell's army would arrive in the morning to rescue him from further death and defeat.  He was surrounded in the darkness by the agonizing groans of his crushed troops. Yet, his response was, "Lick em tomorrow though."

The Apostle Paul had that same confidence.  Even when Paul was faced with disappointment, danger, and discouragement, he held on to his unshakable trust in God.  At times, problems can seem like the attack of an angry swarm of hornets.  Paul believed that God always has a way to turn things that look impossible around for victory.  Paul understood that God has the final say in any spiritual battle. "You can trust God that He will not allow any temptation from becoming so strong that you can't stand up against it, for He does what He promised, and will do what He says. He will show you how to escape temptations power, so you will be able to endure." 1 Corinthians 10:13

Every day is a new day.  "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."  Psalms 30:5

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