Shiloh: A Novel is an historical novel about the American Civil War battle of that name, written in 1952 by Shelby Foote. It employs the first-person perspectives of several protagonists, Union and Confederate, to give a moment-by-moment depiction of the battle.
Because the novel is divided into chapters, each closely concerned with one of the characters, a summary of the story serves as a character analysis as well.
Chapter One takes place the day before the battle; it is narrated by Lieutenant Palmer Metcalfe, a cocky, 19 year old, aristocrat from New Orleans and a staff officer under Confederate commander Albert Sidney Johnston. He watches as the Confederate army marches through the Tennessee countryside in preparation for a surprise attack upon the Union troops at Pittsburg Landing. His self-satisfaction is evident as he remembers the complicated attack plan he helped draft, and as he thinks back on the struggles Johnston went through in bringing his army together for this decisive blow. The Confederate troops are inexperienced and noisy, and some of Johnston's generals believe the element of surprise has been lost. Johnston, however, insists on fighting whatever the conditions.