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[582]

Chapter 34: battle of Shiloh.-Sunday.

Battle of Shiloh.--Sunday:

    I. Morning p. 582

  • a glorious dawn.
  • -- exultation of the commander. -- the issue formulated. -- map. -- Winged words. -- chieftain and clansmen. -- valor and enthusiasm. -- the first gun. -- the start. -- Beauregard's summary. -- difficulties of description. -- skirmishing. -- the first collision. -- the onset. -- Hildebrand routed. -- Prentiss driven back. -- the surprise. -- reinforcements. -- Sherman's stronghold. -- Cleburne's assault. -- a repulse. -- General Johnston on the right. -- rout of Federal front. -- Sherman broken. -- Sherman routed. -- Confederate right. -- Federal left turned. -- plan of battle discussed.

    III. afternoon p. 616

  • dislocation of commands.
  • -- regularity in development of plan. -- Duke's comments. -- map (Third position). -- development of plan. -- regularity and impetuosity. -- impulse of leadership. -- slaughter. -- momentum of success. -- the crisis. -- lull along the line. -- Third engagement. -- Ruggles masses artillery. -- Polk and Bragg against Wallace and Prentiss. -- crushing assault-wallace killed, Prentiss captured. -- Bragg's and Hardee's Summaries. -- the field swept. -- the rout. -- the last assault. -- Buell at Pittsburg Landing. -- a routed army.



I.-morning.

Saturday afternoon, April 5th, the sun, breaking through the mists which drifted away, set in a cloudless sky. The night was clear, calm, and beautiful. General Johnston, tired out with the vigils of the night before, slept quietly in an ambulance-wagon, his staff bivouacking by the camp-fires around him. Some of Hardee's troops having wasted their rations, he and Bragg spent a large part of the night getting up provisions for them. Before the faintest glimmer of dawn, the wide forest was alive with preparations for the mighty contest of the coming day. No bugle-note sounded, and no drum beat the reveille; but men took their hasty morning meal, and looked with sharp attention to the arms that were to decide the fortunes of the fight. The cool, gray dawn found them in motion. Morning opened with all the delicate fragrance and beauty of the season, enhanced by the contrast of the day before. The sky was serene, the air was bracing, the dew lay heavy on the tender green of leaf and herb, and the freshness of early spring was on all around. When the sun rose it was with unclouded brilliancy; and, as it shed its glories over the coverts of the oak-woods, the advancing host, stirred by the splendor of the scene and the enthusiasm of the hour, passed the omen from lip to lip, and welcomed its rising as another “sun of Austerlitz.”

The native buoyancy of General Johnston's self-repressed temper broke its barriers at the prospect of that struggle which should settle for all time by the arbitrament of arms the dispute as to his own military ability and skill and the fate of the Confederate cause in the West. He knew the hazard; but he knew, too, that he had done all that foresight, fortitude, energy, and strategy, could accomplish to secure a victory, and he welcomed with exultant joy the day that was about to decide not only these great questions, but for him all questions, solving the mysteries of life and death. Men who came within his influence on the battle-field felt and confessed the inspiration of his presence, his manner, and his words. As he gave his orders in terse sentences, every word seemed to ring with a presage of victory.

Turning to his staff, as he mounted, he exclaimed, “To-night we will water our horses in the Tennessee River.” It was thus that he formulated his plan of battle. It must not stop short of entire victory. [583]

First position of troops (morning), April 6.

As he rode forward he encountered Colonel Randal L. Gibson, who was the intimate friend of his son. When Gibson ordered his brigade to salute, General Johnston took him warmly by the hand and said: “Randal, I never see you but I think of William. I hope you may get through safely to-day, but we must win a victory.” Gibson says he felt greatly stirred by his words.

Sharp skirmishing had begun before he reached the front. Here he met Colonel John S. Marmaduke, commanding the Third Arkansas [584] Regiment. This officer, in reply to General Johnston's questions, explained, with some pride, that he held the centre of the front line, the other regiments forming on him. Marmaduke had been with General Johnston in Utah, at Bowling Green, and in the retreat to Corinth, and regarded him with the entire affection and veneration of a young soldier for his master in the art of war. General Johnston put his hand on Marmaduke's shoulder, and said to him with an earnestness that went to his heart, “My son, we must this day conquer or perish!” Marmaduke felt himself nerved to a tenfold resolution.

General Johnston said to the ambitious Hindman, who had been in the vanguard from the beginning: “You have earned your spurs as major-general. Let this day's work win them.”

“Men of Arkansas!” he exclaimed to a regiment from that State, “they say you boast of your prowess with the bowie-knife. To-day you wield a nobler weapon — the bayonet. Employ it well.” It was with such words, as he rode from point to point, that he raised a spirit in that host which swept away the serried lines of the conquerors of Donelson.

As he looked around on his soldiers he might well feel more like the chieftain who leads his clansmen to battle than the mere general of an army. Everywhere he beheld men bound to him by ties of ancient friendship or of service on other fields. There was Polk, his life-long friend; Hardee, for the last six years his major, for the last six months his right arm in war; Breckinridge, bound to him by many ties and marked out by him for the highest military distinctions; and Gilmer, his trusted engineer. Around him was a staff who followed him with filial reverence-Preston, Brewster, O'Hara, Jack, and others. Among the younger soldiers were many who had been his pupils in war-Hardcastle, Bowen, Rich, and many more. From the walks of civil life had come to the front a number of ardent and generous young men, without experience, but strong in native character and talent: the dashing Duke, the wily Morgan, Colonel R. A. Johnson, Colonel Ben Anderson, all sons of his early friends; Gibson, his connection, brave, faithful, and accomplished, and many more allied by blood or marriage; and a gallant band of Texans, Wharton, Ashbel Smith, and others; with a multitude besides, known to him personally or by reputation and name as the inheritors of martial virtues. But why multiply names? Regulars were there, who had wintered with him in Utah; Texans who had known him on the border, as patriot leader, statesman, citizen, soldier; the men of Monterey and the Mexican War, and the brave soldiers who had welcomed him with shouts at Columbus, or helped him to guard the line of the Barren River all winter. He regarded all these not as strangers, not as factors to be canceled in the deadly problem of successful combat, but as of his own belonging-his kith and kin by ties almost as strong [585] as those of blood. He looked upon them with the tenderness of a patriarchal regard — of an Abraham or a Jephthah. In the dread holocaust of war, in which perish the bravest and best, he was ready to make his offering, as a sacrifice for his people and for constitutional liberty. In this spirit he sent, in this spirit he led, the sons of the South to the field of death and victory, on which he himself was to fall a victim.

Every one who witnessed the battle of Shiloh testifies to the splendid valor of the Confederate army there, rarely equaled, never surpassed, on any field of any war. It must be remembered, even by the heroes of the Army of Northern Virginia, who repulsed the multitudinous battalions of Grant in the Wilderness, and struck such blows at Chancellorsville and the Second Manassas, that these were the men who drove Grant and Sherman from an almost impregnable stronghold, and crushed one of the best armies the United States ever put in the field into a shapeless mass.

Duke, in his “Life of Morgan” (page 142), says:

Every one who witnessed that scene — the marshaling of the Confederate army for attack upon the morning of the 6th of April-must remember, more distinctly than anything else, the glowing enthusiasm of the men, their buoyancy and spirited impatience to close with the enemy .... When the lines began to advance, the wild cheers which arose made the woods stir as if with the rush of a mighty wind. Nowhere was there any thought of fear-everywhere were the evidences of impetuous and determined valor.

Friend and foe alike testify to the enthusiastic courage and unquenchable ardor of the soldiers that day. Bragg and many others have said that they caught their martial glow from the spirit of their commander. If it is not so, let it be denied now, while soldiers who fought there with the sword or musket yet live to tell of what they know. Would to God that every one of these might have spoken out or made his inarticulate sign of what he saw or felt that day! It would make a record of heroism in officers and men for the ages to read with admiration.

Colonel Munford gives the following animated description of daybreak at headquarters:

Just as day was dawning I was awakened by General Johnston asking for me. I found him and the staff taking a breakfast of coffee and cold biscuit at a little fire. He told me I had better eat something, as he would move upon the enemy in a few moments. Just as I was draining my tin cup of coffee, bangbang-bang went some muskets near the right wing of Hardee's line, and in a moment more boom went a cannon. “There,” said Preston, “the first gun of the battle!” General Johnston turned to him and me, to whom he had before given blank books to note the incidents of the battle, and said, “Note the hour, if you please, gentlemen.” It was precisely fourteen minutes after five o'clock. We mounted, galloped to the front, found the enemy in retreat, and our line just starting in pursuit. [586]

Haydon says that General Johnston had ordered his horse at five o'clock. “We all got off in fine spirits. . . . The generals separated, and the general commanding made his way to where the firing was heaviest.”

General Beauregard's official report of the military operations on Sunday is so brief that it is inserted here as a summary of the battle on that day:

At 5 A. M., on the 6th instant, a reconnoitring party of the enemy having become engaged with our advanced pickets, the commander of the forces gave orders to begin the movement and attack as determined upon, except that Trabue's brigade of Breckinridge's division was detached and advanced to support the left of Bragg's corps and line of battle when menaced by the enemy, and the other two brigades were directed to advance by the road to Hamburg, to support Bragg's right; and at the same time Maney's regiment, of Polk's corps, was advanced by the same road to reinforce the regiment of cavalry and battery of four pieces, already thrown forward to watch and guard Grier's, Tanner's, and Borland's Fords of Lick Creek.

Thirty minutes after 5 A. M., our lines and columns were in motion, all animated evidently by a promising spirit. The front line was engaged at once, but advanced steadily, followed in due order, with equal resolution and steadiness, by the other lines, which were brought successively into action with rare skill, judgment, and gallantry, by the several corps commanders as the enemy made a stand, with his masses rallied for the struggle for his encampments. Like an Alpine avalanche, our troops moved forward, despite the determined resistance of the enemy, until after 6 P. M., when we were in possession of all his encampments between Owl and Lick Creeks but one. Nearly all of his field-artillery, about thirty (80) flags, colors, and standards, over 8,000 prisoners, including a division commander (General Prentiss), and several brigade commanders, thousands of small-arms, an immense supply of subsistence, forage, and munitions of war, and a large amount of means of transportation-all the substantial fruits of a complete victory, such, indeed, as rarely have followed the most successful battles, for never was an army so well provided as that of our enemy.

The remnant of his army had been driven in utter disorder to the immediate vicinity of Pittsburg, under the shelter of the heavy guns of his iron-clad gunboats, and we remained undisputed masters of his well-selected, admirably-provided cantonments, after our twelve hours of obstinate conflict with his forces, who had been beaten from them and the contiguous covert, but only by a sustained onset of all the men we could bring into action.

How all this was done may now be told with more detail. But it must be premised that the writer, in spite of much diligent work among a confused tangle of obscure and contradictory reports, does not claim that his account is absolutely accurate or complete. As no artist can truly paint a skirmish even, where all is motion, so no writer can reproduce all the varying features of a great battle, where a hundred thousand combatants strove for mastery. It must be remembered that [587] each narrator looks from a narrow point of view upon a scene which he reads in the light of every terrible passion which stirs the human breast. He has small chance to rectify errors, and many motives to perpetuate them. The easy, but unfortunate, method of the ordinary historian is to strike an average, irrespective of the credibility of witnesses or the probabilities of the conflicting testimony. But what should be sought is the absolute truth, and this he must tell without fear or favor. I have tried to tell it as I have found it.

The skirmishing began at break of day. General Prentiss, apprehensive at the near approach to his front of what he believed to be an audacious cavalry reconnaissance, had on Saturday evening sent ten companies of infantry, under Colonel David Moore, of the Twenty-first Missouri Regiment, out on the Corinth road for observation and reprisal, and had also subsequently doubled and extended his grand guards. But for these precautions the Federal army would have been taken entirely unawares. Colonel Moore advanced about three o'clock on the morning of the 6th, and cautiously feeling his way along a road that led obliquely to the right, toward Sherman's front, at early dawn encountered Hardee's skirmish-line under Major Hardcastle. The Missourians assailed it vigorously; and thus, unexpectedly to both parties, the battle was begun by the Federals. They had hoped to surprise an outpost — they found an army. The struggle was brief but spirited. The Twenty-first Missouri made a bold attack, but was held in check by Hardcastle's little battalion until relieved by the Eighth and Ninth Arkansas, when, after a sharp contest, Colonel Moore fell severely wounded, and the Federals retreated. Shaver's brigade pursued. In the horror of the recoil the Federal vanguard was swept away by the rapid onset of the Confederate skirmishers. As it fled surprised, the men caught a vision, through the dusky shadows of the forest, of a dark line of troops moving steadily upon them.

Thus it happened that, though the first collision between the two armies was with Prentiss's outpost, it occurred nearer to Sherman's camp than his own ; and, as his line was more retired than Sherman's, the first blow fell upon the left brigade of the latter, under Hildebrand. This lay in the pathway of the impetuous Hindman; and General Johnston was already with him urging him to the assault. The swiftest of the fugitives, scattering through the Federal camps, gave the alarm; and the rattle of musketry also gave sharper notice that it was no common peril that threatened.

The long roll was beaten, the bugles sounded, and brisk volleys gave still sterner warning. There was rallying in hot haste, a sudden summoning to arms, and Sherman's division woke to find the foe pressing right upon them. Hindman, leading Wood's brigades along the direct road to Shiloh, had the advantage of a ridge and of the most favorable [588] ground upon the field for an advance. The ardor of his troops kept pace with his own; and, under the immediate eye of the commander in-chief, they rushed through the woods, driving before them the Federal advance, almost without a halt, until they reached the main line where Hildebrand was posted. Sherman's advance-guards had made what resistance they could, but it was brief and fruitless.

In the mean time, Sherman and Hildebrand had hurriedly formed a line of battle in front of the camp. It was good ground for defense — a low, timbered ridge, with an open valley traversed by a small stream in front. But there was cover on the opposite hill, in which Hindman's skirmishers swarmed; and soon his main line appeared. Sherman and Hildebrand rode to and fro encouraging the men who were firing brisk volleys. To attack them, the Southern brigades had to cross the stream and open field. Just then, General Johnston rode to the front. At that moment, he and Sherman were confronted almost within pistol-shot; the one urging the attack, the other trying in vain to hold his line. Hardee says briefly in his report: “My command advanced. Hindman's brigade engaged the enemy with great vigor in the edge of a wood, and drove him rapidly back on the field toward Pittsburg.”

But the Confederate line, which had hung for a few minutes only on the crest of the hill, like a storm-cloud on the mountain's brow, now burst with a sudden impulse upon Hildebrand's camps. The “rebel yell,” so inspiring to friends, so terrific to foes, rose sharp and shrill from the rushing line of Southern soldiery. Their volleys came pouring in, and the bayonet even was used on some whose heavy slumbers were broken only by the oncoming of their foes. Sherman's orderly was shot dead by his side, and he himself rode away to the right, out of the wreck. Sherman had ordered Colonel Appler, with the Fifty-third Ohio, to hold his ground at all hazards; but it could not stand the charge, and, after firing two rounds, fled, scattered, and was seen no more. Hildebrand says: “This regiment became separated from my command, and its movements throughout the day were general.” The Fifty-seventh Ohio soon followed, and, a little later, Hildebrand's own regiment, the Seventy-seventh Ohio. Sherman, though in error as to the hour, says, “Hildebrand's brigade had substantially disappeared from the field, though he himself bravely remained.” It is due to Hildebrand to say that his discomfiture does not seem to have been due to his personal conduct on the field, which commended itself to his superiors.

While this struggle was going on, Hindman's right brigade, under Colonel Shaver, and Gladden's brigade, burst in upon Prentiss's division. Peabody's brigade, which lay upon the Bark road, was got into position. The Twenty-fifth Missouri, the Sixteenth Wisconsin, and the Twelfth Michigan, were hurriedly pushed forward into line of battle, [589] and the remainder of the division formed in front of their camps; but they were unprepared, confused, and startled. It was not eight o'clock when Shaver's and Gladden's strong line fell fiercely upon them. Here were enacted, though in less measure, the same scenes that had occurred in Hildebrand's camps. Nevertheless, Peabody's brigade made a determined and sanguinary resistance, driving back in confusion some of the advanced regiments, which General Johnston assisted in rallying. General Preston says:

Hindman's brigade was suffering under a heavy fire. Some of the men were breaking ranks, and there were many dead and wounded. General Johnston in person rallied the stragglers, and I rode forward, where I found General Hindman animating and leading on his men. He informed me that he desired support, and, having reported this to the general, I was requested by him to order General Bragg to advance.

Bragg had already given the order. Haydon says:

Colonel Preston then carried the order to Hindman's brigade, who made a splendid and victorious charge. . . It was while under this fire that Captain Brewster expostulated with General Johnston against his exposing his person. I was not near enough to hear his reply, but it had no effect, for he smilingly rode to the brow of the hill where we could distinctly see the enemy retreating.

There was a gap between Hildebrand and Prentiss's right, and into this poured Hindman's men. His left, too, was assailed by Chalmers's brigade, which was on Gladden's right. Here the Eighteenth Wisconsin, 1,000 strong, was attacked by the Tenth Mississippi, 360 strong, followed by the Ninth and Seventh Mississippi, which dashed at it with the bayonet, and drove it back half a mile. Chalmers was about to charge again, when General Johnston, coming up, ordered him still farther to the right, restoring his order of battle, and brought up Jackson's brigade into the interval. The conflict was severe, but not protracted. Crowded in front, to the right, to the left, by eager antagonists, Prentiss's whole division gave way, and fell back in confusion on its supports. It was not routed, but broken and very badly hammered.

In the first assault upon Prentiss's division, General Gladden, who led the attacking brigade, fell mortally wounded. He was a New Orleans merchant, who had seen service in the war with Mexico, and brought valor, experience, and enthusiasm, to the cause. He was . South Carolinian by birth, and his varied talents were applied to trade, politics, and war. His common-sense and humor were both evinced in his reply to an inquirer, who, struck by their costume, asked him “if he did not prefer Zouaves as soldiers.” “It is very easy to make one,” he replied; “you only want an Irishman and two yards of red flannel.” Gladden's death was a serious loss.

It has been claimed that there was no “surprise” at Shiloh. The [590] subject of the preparation of the Federal army for an attack has already been discussed. The following is General Sherman's own account of the opening of the battle. After mentioning the death of his orderly in front of Hildebrand's line, soon after seven o'clock, he says:

About 8 A. M. I saw the glistening bayonets of heavy masses of infantry to our left front, in the woods beyond the small stream alluded to, and became satisfied for the first time that the enemy designed a determined attack on our whole camp. All the regiments of my division were then in line of battle, at their proper posts.

The attack was made before sunrise, and by eight o'clock Hildebrand had been driven from the field. Sherman's right brigades, however, did succeed in forming and holding their ground for some time. The troops he saw were the columns moving against Prentiss. It is difficult to reconcile his admission that this was the first time he became satisfied that a general attack was intended, with his constant denial that he was surprised.

To appreciate the suddenness and violence of the blow that appalled and overthrew the Federal front, one must read the testimony of eyewitnesses. General Bragg says, in a sketch of “Shiloh,” made for the writer:

Contrary to the views of such as urged an abandonment of the attack, the enemy was found utterly unprepared, many being surprised and captured in their tents, and others, though on the outside, in costumes better fitted to the bed-chamber than to the battle-field.

Jordan says 1 : Officers and men were killed or wounded in their beds, and large numbers had not time to clutch up arms or accoutrements. Nevertheless, few prisoners were taken, nor were many either killed or wounded in the first stage of the battle.

This is true, comparatively speaking; but the loss in Hildebrand's brigade shows severe suffering, the greater part of it in this single onslaughts Three hundred killed and wounded, and ninety-four missing, are reported in that command.

General Preston, in his letter heretofore quoted, says:

General Johnston then went to the camp assailed, which was carried between seven and eight o'clock. The enemy were evidently surprised. The breakfasts were on the mess-tables; the baggage unpacked; the knapsacks, arms, stores, colors, and ammunition, abandoned. I took one stand of colors from the colonel's tent, which was sent by me, next morning, through Colonel Gilmer, to General Beauregard. This, however, was one of Prentiss's camps. [591]

The correspondent of the Cincinnati Gazette, in a letter of April 9, 1862,2 says:

Almost at dawn, Prentiss's pickets were driven in; a very little later, Hildebrand's (in Sherman's division) were; and the enemy were in the camps almost as soon as were the pickets themselves.

Here began scenes which, let us hope, will have no parallel in our remaining annals of the war. Some, particularly among our officers, were not yet out of bed; others were dressing, others washing, others cooking, a few eating their breakfasts. Many guns were unloaded, accoutrements lying pell-mell, ammunition was ill-supplied — in short, the camps were virtually surprised-disgracefully, it might be added, unless some one can hereafter give some yet undiscovered reason to the contrary-and were taken at almost every possible disadvantage. ..

Into the just-aroused camps thronged the rebel regiments, firing sharp volleys as they came, and springing toward our laggards with the bayonet. Some were shot down as they were running, without weapons, hatless, coatless, toward the river. The searching bullets found other poor unfortunates in their tents, and there, all unheeding now, they still slumbered, while the unseen foe rushed on.

At the first alarm, Sherman sent back to McClernand, Hurlbut, and W. H. L. Wallace, for help. McClernand hurried three Illinois regiments --the Eleventh, Twentieth, and another — to the front, which, arriving just as Hildebrand was routed, were unable long to withstand the vigorous attack of Hindman's brigades, as they pushed on in their victorious career, part of Shaver's brigade coming to Wood's assistance, breaking in on the left flank of the Illinois regiments. Assailed, beset, shivered, these gallant Northwestern troops too gave way. In their demolition, Waterhouse's battery fell into the hands of Wood's brigade. It was charged and taken by the Sixteenth Alabama and Twenty-seventh Tennessee. Colonel Williams, of the Twenty-seventh Tennessee, was killed, and Lieutenant-Colonel Brown severely wounded. Major Love was killed next day, so that this regiment lost all its field-officers. The Eighth and Ninth Arkansas, supporting, also suffered heavily, and were, moreover, fired on by the second line of advancing Confederates. What was left of Hindman's command then joined in the general assault on Sherman's heavy lines, as will be narrated hereafter. Colonel Ransom, of the Eleventh Illinois, in his report, says of the three Illinois regiments:

The enemy were immediately in front of us, in greatly superior numbers, advancing, in four ranks and in three columns, steadily upon us. When in good range we opened our fire upon them, which was responded to by a terrific fire from their lines. This fire was kept up on both sides, and told with fearful effect upon my line. My loss here in ten minutes was very heavy. [592] Among the wounded were the colonel, major, two captains, and two lieutenants, of the Eleventh Illinois. They rallied on the line which McClernand had formed.

In the mean time, Wallace had sent McArthur's brigade to support Colonel Stuart on the extreme left, and Wright's Thirteenth Missouri, 450 strong, to Sherman's aid; and Hurlbut had sent him Veatch's brigade. McClernand had also brought up Hare's brigade on his left, with Raith's next to it on the left of Sherman's line. All this time, Sherman had been maintaining well his strong position on the right. With these reinforcements interlocked with and lapping over his left, and with six batteries belching thunders upon the Confederates, Sherman made a good defense that morning. To whatever other criticism this officer may be amenable, his quickness and resource shone out conspicuously on this trying occasion. Rapid and undismayed, he rode from point to point, carrying encouragement to his volunteers, and holding hard to the vantage-ground he was on.

When Hardee's first line of battle was formed, it chanced to be at the narrowest part of the peninsula between Owl and Lick Creeks. As it advanced, gaps were left on the flanks. Chalmers occupied that on the right, near Lick Creek. Cleburne, on the extreme left, leading his brigade against Sherman's right, found such an interval between his left and Owl Creek. Nevertheless, he went at his work, sending back to Bragg for reinforcements. Sherman's strong position has already been described. The ravine that fronted it descended rapidly to Owl Creek, spreading into a marsh filled with undergrowth and tangled vines. The assailants had to cross this, under fire, and charge up a steep acclivity; though more to the right the ground was less difficult. Cleburne's gallant brigade, supported by the Second Tennessee drawn from the third line, attempted to take the heights by assault. As these bold soldiers struggled across the narrow, boggy valley, and in the jungle, and climbed the hill-side, they were exposed to the withering fire of Sherman's division and its supports, lying under cover of the crest, and of logs and trees and some extemporized defenses. Many a brave man died there disputing that ground.

Hardee thus describes the operations under Cleburne:

At the same time, Cleburne's brigade, with the Fifteenth Arkansas deployed as skirmishers, and the Second Tennessee,3 en echelon, on the left, moved quickly through the fields, and, though far outflanked by the enemy on our left, rushed forward under a terrific fire from the serried ranks drawn up in front of the camp. A morass covered his front, and, being difficult to pass, caused a break in this brigade. Deadly volleys were poured upon the men from behind bales of hay and other defenses, as they advanced; and, after a series of desperate [593] charges, they were compelled to fall back. In this charge, the Sixth Mississippi, under Colonel Thornton, lost more than 800 killed and wounded out of an effective force of 425 men. It was at this point that Colonel (now Brigadier-General) Bate fell, severely wounded, while bravely leading his regiment.4

Supported by the arrival of the second line, Cleburne, with the remainder of his troops, again advanced, and entered the enemy's encampment, which had been forced on the centre and right by the dashing charges of Gladden's, Wood's, and Hindman's brigades.

The centre of the morass was impassable, and the brigade split into two parts: the Fifth Tennessee, under Colonel Hill, the Twenty-fourth Tennessee, under Colonel Peebles, and the Second Tennessee, under Colonel Bate, passing to the left; and the Sixth Mississippi, Colonel Thornton, and the Twenty-third Tennessee, Lieutenant-Colonel Neil, attacking on the right, with the Fifteenth Arkansas, Lieutenant-Colonel Patton, which was deployed as skirmishers, and fell back on its supports. Never was there a more gallant attack or a more stubborn resistance. Cleburne's horse bogged down and threw him, so that he got out with great difficulty. He was on the right, and Trigg's battery tried in vain there to maintain its fire against several Federal batteries opposing. Under the terrible fire from Sherman's impregnable line, the Sixth Mississippi and Twenty-third Tennessee suffered a quick and bloody repulse, though the Sixth Mississippi made charge after charge. Its two field-officers, Colonel Thornton and Major Lowry, were both wounded. The impetuous courage and tenacity of this magnificent regiment deserved a better fate. The fighting had been murderous on the left also. The Fifteenth Arkansas had lost its major, J. T. Harris, and many good men. The Twenty-fourth Tennessee had borne itself with steady valor, and the Second Tennessee had been terribly cut up by the iron storm from the hill-top.

Just as Cleburne's line first went forward with loud cheers, General Johnston came up from where he had been urging Hindman's attack. General Preston says:

General Johnston then passed to the left at a point in front of the camps, near two cabins, subsequently used as a hospital. A field of a hundred acres fringed with forest extended to the northeast. Through this General Cleburne's brigade moved in beautiful order, and with loud and inspiring cheers in the direction of the advanced camp. Heavy firing was heard as they neared it.

Finding all apparently going well in that quarter, General Johnston again pursued the track of Hindman's advance, and from there still farther to the right. He did not know the hot work Cleburne was to have, but he nevertheless sent to General Beauregard for two brigades [594] to be moved to his aid. Beauregard hearing, however, that Sherman was giving way, after beginning the movement, countermanded it, and moved the brigades to the right. General Johnston naturally felt a greater security as to Cleburne, because General Beauregard was in this part of the field.

Colonel Drake, describing the charge of the Second Tennessee on the extreme left of Cleburne and the army, says:

With loud cheers it rose the hill and advanced on the level a short distance. ... The fire there encountered was the worst the regiment suffered during the war, except at Richmond, Kentucky, where over two-thirds of its numbers fell killed and wounded in less than ten minutes. The enemy, hidden behind logs and trees, delivered three volleys; when the Second Tennessee broke and retreated. They were rallied on Bragg's line on the opposite hill.

Drake continues:

The mortification of a repulse in our first regular engagement was extreme: some wept, some cursed, and others lamented the death of some of our bravest officers and men, and not a few drifted to the rear.

The major, W. R. Doak, and Captains Tyree and Bate, and two lieutenants, were killed in the assault, besides four more officers and and nearly a hundred men wounded out of 365 men on the field. But the regiment reformed, and the gallant Bate led them again to the charge. As he was crossing the creek at the bottom of the valley, a Minie-ball crushed his leg-bone and wounded his horse. He pressed on until he became too weak, when he retired. The regiment, discouraged, fell back under a heavy fire. Some of the men ran forward to the right and joined the Twenty-fourth Tennessee, which, on more favorable ground, clung to the advanced position it had won. It, too, suffered heavily, losing over 200 in killed and wounded.

Pond's brigade, of Bragg's corps, came up in support, but did not attempt to cross this valley of death. The Confederate artillery was said not to have been brought to bear with sufficient effect here ; and, though the musketry-fire was kept up, no impression was made. The Comte de Paris thinks this ought to have been the chief point assailed by the Confederate army en masse; but, as it was the strongest point on the line and virtually impregnable to a direct attack, the course pursued of turning it on the right seems incomparably more judicious. At all events, being then near that point, General Beauregard ordered to the right the two brigades sent by General Johnston to Cleburne's aid; and he acted with all the lights before him. Cleburne's right aided in this, though with heavy loss. When that was accomplished, the position was no longer tenable.

While Sherman was standing up so stubbornly, McClernand, on his [595] left, had to meet the shock of Hindman's victorious troops, with Polk on their left, and Jackson's fresh brigade on their right. Gladden's brigade, which had suffered severely in its attack on Prentiss, paused after the death of its leader to gather itself up for another contest, and these brigades passed to its front. General Johnston, coming upon Gladden's brigade at this time, ordered it to charge; but, when he learned that it had just lost its leader, he countermanded the order.

General Johnston in person directed the movement of Jackson's brigade, which belonged to the second line, and was now brought up. He gave Colonel Wheeler, of the Nineteenth Alabama, afterward distinguished as a cavalry-general, his orders to charge. He also found here the Second Texas, in which were many of his friends. He threw it against the enemy, and it executed its difficult task with great dash and persistence, under his eye.

Major Haydon makes this note:

As soon as General Johnston discovered we were under the fire of the enemy, he ordered a Texas regiment to charge the camp on the opposite side of the hollow. In descending the hollow the nature of the ground somewhat disordered their lines, but they again formed at the base of the hill, and routed the camp in fine style. I was then sent for General Chalmers, who received orders to push up the road and sweep down the river, to where we heard a heavy firing, supported by Wirt Adams's regiment.

While Jackson's brigade was attacking McClernand's left flank, and Hindman his right, Anderson's brigade had got in on Hindman's left, and Gibson's brigade was trailing at his heels, adding to the momentum of the column. Indeed, Bragg's whole corps was now virtually with the front line, though not yet all actually engaged. The contest with McClernand and Sherman now grew strenuous and deadly; but so impetuous and resolute was the attack, that Hare's and Raith's brigades, sorely pressed in front and on the left flank, gave way, and fell back fighting confusedly, until they found safety in Hurlbut's and Wallace's lines. Captain Behr was shot from his horse, and his battery taken at the point of the bayonet, his gunners barely escaping.

Prentiss's division and Sherman's left were gone; and the Confederates were crowding in where they had stood. While McClernand's command was caving in under the stunning blows delivered against it, Polk led Russell's and B. R. Johnson's brigades upon Sherman's flank. As Polk's corps was advancing, Cheatham was detached, and now General A. S. Johnston himself led A. P. Stewart's brigade farther to the right, and put it into the fight. Stewart, then acting under Bragg's orders, advanced the Fourth Tennessee to take a battery. Stewart asked the gallant Lieutenant-Colonel Strahl if they could take it. “We can try,” answered Strahl, and led the Fourth Tennessee to the charge [596] at a double-quick. Giving one round at thirty paces, they rushed on with a yell, and took the battery, driving off the supports. But they lost 31 men killed and 160 wounded in this charge. The Twelfth Tennessee, Lieutenant-Colonel T. H. Bell commanding, coming up, they were able to repulse a resolute counter-charge.

In the mean time Clark, who was with Russell's brigade, received an order from Bragg to take an enfilading battery to his left. He at once led forward Marks's Eleventh Louisiana at a double-quick. The assault was gallantly made, but was repulsed with severe loss from shot and canister and the musketry-fire of a heavy infantry support. Clark and Russell then led forward the whole brigade, which charged at a doublequick, and helped to drive the enemy some five hundred yards, when pursuit was checked by the supports, and Clark fell, severely wounded in the shoulder. This was part of the simultaneous advance which drove Sherman from his first position, and in which Cleburne's, B. R. Johnson's, and Stewart's brigades joined. B. R. Johnson's brigade moved to the left of Russell's on the main road; his right wing aiding in this attack, his left helping Cleburne to get in. They fought well; Polk's battery, pushed to the front, was nearly disabled, and its commander wounded; Johnson was himself finally wounded. Preston Smith then took command of the brigade. His regiment, the One Hundred and Fifty-fourth Senior Tennessee, and Blythe's Mississippi, had already captured six guns.

The whole Federal front, which had been broken here and there, and was getting ragged, gave way under this hammering process on front and flank, and fell back across a ravine to another strong position behind the Hamburg and Purdy road in rear of Shiloh. But they were not allowed to get away unmolested. The blood of their assailants was up, and they were pursued, driven, and slaughtered, as they fell back. Sherman's route of retreat was marked by the thick-strewn corpses of his soldiers.

Sherman was not allowed to remain in his new position. Polk attacked him with his two brigades, which were soon warmly engaged. Polk, summing up his work, says, “The resistance at this point was as stubborn as at any other point on the field.” The Federals “fought with determined courage, and contested every inch of ground.” The division commander, Brigadier-General Clark, and Brigadier-General B. R. Johnson, were severely wounded. The gallant Colonel Blythe, of Mississippi, was shot through the heart, charging a battery. The loss was severe. But the enemy was dislodged and two batteries captured.

In these attacks Anderson's and Pond's brigades joined with great vigor and severe loss, but with unequal fortune. The former blazoned its blood-stained record with one success after another; the latter suffered a series of disasters. The blue uniforms of some of the regiments [597] twice caused other Confederates to fire upon them, with serious effect; and the commander complained that one of Beauregard's staff, acting in Hardee's name, put the brigade into action in such a way as to subject it to a raking fire and unnecessary loss. Doubtless, however, it contributed its full share to the general result. Sherman, beaten and driven, had to go back again, with McDowell's and Veatch's brigades crushed to pieces, and to be heard of no more in the battle. But Sherman did not finally give way until General Johnston's movement had crushed in and routed the whole front line on the Federal left and was pressing back Hurlbut and Stuart.

While these furious combats, succeeding each other like well-delivered blows from the iron flail of war, were raging along the whole line, General Johnston was carrying forward the movement by which his entire right wing was swung around on the centre, Hindman's brigade, as a pivot, so that every command of the Federals was taken successively, in front and flank, and a crumbling process ensued by which the whole line went to pieces.

At last, pressed back toward both Owl Creek and the River, these broken commands found safety by the interposition on their left flank of W. H. L. Wallace's fresh division, ready to meet the thronging battalions of the South.

Colonel Drake, who was in the pursuit over this hotly-contested field with one of Cleburne's Tennessee Regiments, says:

The enemy's dead began to appear in considerable numbers on the parade-ground, in rear of General Sherman's headquarters, called by him “Shiloh Chapel.” . . . From this point on, the enemy's dead lay thick, and numbers seem to have fallen in retreat.

He picked up General Sherman's order-book, which he afterward deposited with General Cleburne. He says it contained no intimation of the Confederate approach.

General Preston gives the following account of the movements on the Confederate right:

General Hardee reported his men still advancing at this camp about nine o'clock, and conferred with General Johnston, who was reconnoitring a second line of camps near the river, where the enemy were posted in force. They then commenced shelling the first camp, apparently attracted by the presence of the staff and escort, the distance being, I should think, six or eight hundred yards, and shells from the gunboats of large size were thrown. General Johnston received a report and rough draft at this time from Captain Lockett, stating that the enemy were strongly posted on the left in front of our right. Heavy musketry-firing and cannonades indicated that Bragg and Hardee were successfully advancing on our left. General Johnston rode down the hill to escape the shells, and his escort back toward the woods. This was about half-past 9. After pondering a little while, he determined to bring forward Breckinridge's reserve, and, feeling his way to the river, to turn the enemy's left. [598]

The Hon. Jacob Thompson says, in a letter to the writer:

Sunday, 6th of April, between eight and nine o'clock, General Beauregard directed me to seek General Johnston, who was in the front, learn from him the condition of things there, and know of him what order he had to give as to the disposition of the reserves commanded by General Breckinridge. I did so, and rode with speed to the front, where I found General Johnston just as the enemy was making his last stand at the Gin-house 5 before retreating beyond their camps. The battle was then raging furiously. General Johnston was sitting on his horse where the bullets were flying like hail-stones. I galloped up to him amid the fire, and found him cool, collected, self-possessed, but still animated and in fine spirits.

After making known my errand, he said to me: “Say to General Beauregard, we are sweeping the field before us, and in less than half an hour we shall be in possession of their camps, and I think we shall press them to the river. Say, also, I have just learned from a scout, or messenger, that the enemy is moving up in force on our left, and that General Breckinridge had better move to our left to meet him.” I turned my horse to leave, but he called me back, and said: “Do not say to General Beauregard that this is an order, but he must act on what additional information he may receive. The reports to him are more to be relied on than to me.” When I returned, General Breckinridge, with his troops, was started to our left, but soon it was seen that the pressure was upon our right, and his direction was immediately changed, and it was fortunate that it was so ordered.

The movement to which Mr. Thompson refers was most probably that in which Trabue's brigade was detached to the left, and the remainder of the brigade was finally moved to the support of the extreme right.

General Johnston had pushed Chalmers to the right and front, with Clanton's cavalry on his right flank, and thus they swept down the left bank of Lick Creek, driving in pickets, until they encountered Stuart's brigade on the Pittsburg and Hamburg road, supported by McArthur's brigade. Stuart was strongly posted on a steep hill near the river, covered with thick undergrowth, and with an open field in front. McArthur was to his right and rear in the woods. Jackson attacked McArthur, who fell back; and Chalmers went at Stuart's brigade. This command reserved its fire until Chalmers's men were within forty yards, and then delivered a heavy and destructive volley; but, after a hard fight, they were driven back down the river. Chalmers's right now rested on the Tennessee River bottom-lands, and he fought down the bank toward Pittsburg Landing. The enemy's left was completely turned, and the Federal army was now crowded on a shorter line, a mile or more to the rear of its first position. The new line of battle was established before ten o'clock. Thus far all had been successful; and, although there was at no time an absolute cessation of fighting on the line, it may be considered that the first engagement of the day had ended. [599]

The orders of the 3d of April were that “every effort should be made to turn the left flank of the enemy, so as to cut off his line of retreat to the Tennessee River, and throw him. back on Owl Creek,. where he will be obliged to surrender.” It is seen that from the first they were carried out in letter and spirit, and as long as General Johnston lived the success of this movement was complete.

The Comte de Paris, following American writers, both Northern and Southern, and their incorrect topographical descriptions, adopts the view that General Johnston should have massed his army on the Federal right, turned that flank, and driven it up the river into the angle between Lick Creek and the Tennessee. Though somewhat deficient in positive topographical knowledge as to the field, since he had no surveys, yet he had good descriptions from Major B. B. Waddell and others; and he formed his plan of battle either on such information, which he deemed sufficient, or guided by those correct military intuitions which are the surest proofs of a genius for war. Yet that General Johnston was able to modify his strongly-preconceived ideas, if necessary, is seen in the discretion accorded to Beauregard as to the reserves under Breckinridge. Nevertheless, the battle was fought precisely as it was planned. The instructions delivered to his subordinates on the previous day were found sufficient for their conduct on the battle-field. General Chalmers says he received only one order on Sunday, and that was from General Johnston, and that he acted solely on his previous orders. General Johnston in person put Stewart's, Jackson's, Bowen's, and Statham's brigades into the fight, leading them to the right. The Federal left afforded the best grounds for attack. The lay of the land favored both the celerity and the success of the movement by the Confederate right. It pressed its advantage, and turned the Federal left flank with comparative ease, while it is by no means certain that the right next Owl Creek could have been carried at all by direct attack. Sherman's camp was a stronghold, yet in no sense was it the key to the Federal position. But it was easily turned on its left, as was proved. The point of least resistance proved, as anticipated, to be on the Federal left; General Johnston pressed it, broke in on that flank, and piled his reserves there, till it gave way everywhere. It was this ability to see the vital point instantly, and at the exact moment to strike it a mortal blow, that so impressed his officers at Shiloh.


II.-mid-day.

When the battle first began, Hurlbut and W. H. L. Wallace had been apprised, and had sent forward reinforcements, as mentioned. They advanced about eight o'clock, so that Prentiss, when he was driven [600]

Battle of Shiloh. Part II.

back, took refuge between them. McClernand's defense, arresting the Confederate advance on the centre for some time, by half-past 9 or ten o'clock a new and very strong line of battle was formed, and ready to receive the approaching Southerners. Stuart's brigade held the left, resting on the river. Supporting Stuart, came up from Wallace the Ninth and Twelfth Illinois, of McArthur's brigade, but they were routed by 10 A.. M., with a loss of 250 killed and wounded. Then came Hurlbut, with Williams's and Lauman's fresh and veteran brigades and three batteries. On his right, Prentiss's division had rallied, reinforced [601] by the Twenty-third Missouri Regiment, just landed, and the Eighth Iowa. The remainder of McArthur's brigade was also in this part of the field-but probably farther to the right. Wallace had brought up Tuttle's brigade, of four veteran regiments, on his left, and Sweeney's brigade next, of three regiments. Then, to the right of Wallace, were McClernand's and Sherman's confused but unsubdued commands, which rallied and reformed as they reached their supports. The second line formed by the Federals was shorter, stronger, compacter, and more continuous, than the first. It had seized a line of wooded heights, approached only across ravines and difficult ground, and in this formidable position awaited the Confederate attack. Their line was torn, mangled, and in parts utterly routed; but, among the fresh troops and those who stood to their colors, there was an obdurate spirit of defiance that held hard to every point of timber and broken ground.

As the first engagement was closing on the Confederate left, about ten o'clock, in desultory combats with the retreating enemy, a second engagement began on the centre and right with extreme violence. All the troops of both armies, except two of Breckinridge's brigades, were now in the front line. As the Southern army swung round to the left, by the more rapid advance of the right wing, it broke into gaps between the brigades, which were promptly occupied by the troops of the second and third lines.

General Polk says in his report:

The first order received by me was from General Johnston, who had ridden to the front to watch the opening operations, and who, as commander-in-chief, seemed deeply impressed with the responsibilities of his position. It was observed that he entered upon his work with the ardor and energy of a true soldier; and the vigor with which he pressed forward his troops gave assurance that his persistent determination would close the day with a glorious victory.

General Johnston asked Polk for a brigade, and, receiving Stewart's, led it in person and put it in position on Hindman's right. Polk sent General Cheatham with his second brigade, under Colonel William H. Stephens, to the left; but it was soon after ordered by Beauregard to the right. Polk himself advanced with Johnson's, Russell's, and Trabue's brigades down the main road toward Pittsburg. He thus had the left centre, with Pond's and Cleburne's brigades on his left, and Stewart's to his right, acting under Bragg's orders. Patton Anderson adjoined Stewart on the right, and Gibson came next, fighting in concert with Hindman's two brigades; a little later Cheatham brought in Stephens's brigade to Gibson's right; the next was Gladden's, and then Jackson's brigade. When Breckinridge's two brigades came up, under Bowen and Statham, they occupied the ground between Jackson's and Chalmers's, which was on the extreme right. But in the rushing forward [602] of regiments to fill the gaps in the front line or to replace others that hesitated or came limping out of the fight crippled and disheartened, the brigade organization was much broken, and, to some extent, lost. Battles, especially of raw troops, do not present many of the features of a parade. At Shiloh there was much dislocation of commands, but there was little loss of effective force. There was no fancy maneuvering; but command after command of desperate men was hurled with overwhelming power and success against strongholds that looked impregnable. Everybody seems to have assumed authority to command a junior officer, whether a subordinate or not; and as the order was “Help me!” or “Forward!” it was almost always obeyed with alacrity. A common enthusiasm fired all hearts; a common impulse moved officers and men alike. There was not much etiquette, but there was terrible fighting at Shiloh.

Grant spent Saturday night at Savannah. His purpose was to meet and confer with Buell. But the sound of hostile cannon hurried his breakfast; and he went on board a transport, leaving a note for Buell,6 and an order for Nelson to march to the river opposite Pittsburg. Grant sent this order to Nelson.7

Grant stopped at Crump's Landing, to order Lew Wallace to hold himself in readiness to march on Pittsburg or defend himself, according to circumstances. He subsequently condemned Wallace for not coming up until night, but it does not appear that he conveyed him any orders to that effect. Wallace took the direct road to Shiloh; but, learning that Sherman had lost the Owl Creek crossing, he retraced his steps to Crump's Landing, and advanced by the river road toward the Snake Creek crossing.

Grant says he himself got to Pittsburg Landing about eight o'clock, and was with Sherman about ten o'clock. Sherman was then in the confusion of defeat. Commending his stubborn defense, Grant betook himself to rallying the fugitives who were streaming to the rear. Grant seems to have been somewhat stunned by the shock; his subordinates make little mention of his presence on the field, and Buell found him soon after mid-day on a steamboat with his staff. But he seems to have retained the stolid resolution that distinguishes him. If he showed little activity, it is certain that he had no thought of yielding.

During the morning Grant ordered General Wood, one of Buell's [603] division commanders, to hasten to Pittsburg, and later sent the following significant dispatch: commanding officer, Advance Forces, Buell's Army, near Pittsburg:

The attack on my forces has been very spirited from early this morning. The appearance of fresh troops in the field now would have a powerful effect, both by inspiring our men and disheartening the enemy. If you will get upon the field, leaving all your baggage on the east bank of the river, it will be more to our advantage and possibly save the day to us. The rebel forces are estimated at over one hundred thousand men. My headquarters will be in the log-building on the top of the hill, where you will be furnished with a staff officer to conduct you to your place on the field.

General Buell had arrived at Savannah on Saturday evening, the 5th, having telegraphed General Grant to meet him there. This Grant failed to do, intending to see him next day. On Sunday morning, notified by the cannonade of hot work in front, Buell went to Grant's quarters to concert measures for bringing up the troops, but Grant had just gone. Without advices, and in some perplexity, he remained until the distant din of arms made it manifest that a pitched battle was in progress. He then ordered his divisions to push forward by forced marches, while he himself hastened to Pittsburg, where he found Grant between noon and one o'clock.

While these generals were in conference on the boat, the division commanders were engaged in one of the most terrible conflicts of the war. It is difficult to give clearly the details of this gigantic contest. It commenced about the middle of the right wing, and soon raged along the whole line, lasting, with a short intermission, for six hours. It began a mile from Pittsburg. When it ended, the landing was barely covered by one flank; the other was crowded about the crossing of Snake Creek.

The battle was renewed by Gladden's gallant brigade, now commanded by Colonel Daniel W. Adams. Adams took it in with his usual mettle. There was a fierce wrestle; but it was the beating of the wave against the rock. The Confederates wilted under the scathing sheet of flame, faltered, and fell back. Jackson, too, was hammering upon this part of the line; and Chalmers, joining in the onset, turned their flank. At this critical moment, Adams seized the colors of the First Louisiana, and led his men in a desperate and successful charge. The enemy, whose flank had been turned farther to their left, fell back, but in good order. Adams, according to his wont, was wounded; and Colonel Deas took command of the brigade.

And now both armies were in the tumult of mortal endeavor. The Confederate assaults were made by rapid and often unconnected charges along the line. They were repeatedly checked, and often repulsed, by the stubborn resistance of the assailed. Sometimes countercharges [604] drove them back for short distances; but, whether in assault or recoil, both sides saw their bravest soldiers fall in frightful numbers. Over the blue-clad lines of the Federal troops floated the “Stars and Stripes,” endeared to them by the traditions of three-quarters of a century. The Confederates came on in motley garb, varying from the favorite gray and domestic “butternut” to the blue of certain Louisiana regiments, which paid so dearly the penalty of doubtful colors. Over them were flags and pennons as various as their uniforms. Each Confederate regiment had a corps battle-flag. That of Polk's corps was a white cross on a blue field; of Bragg's, a blue cross on a red field; of Hardee's, a white medallion on a blue field. Besides these, or in lieu of them, many of the regiments bore their State flags; and the “Lone Star” of Texas and the “Pelican flag” of Louisiana are mentioned as conspicuous among the emblems of the advancing host. On they came, their banners brightly glinting through the pale green of the foliage, but soon to be riddled, and torn, and stained with the blood of the color-bearers. At each charge there went up a wild, appalling yell, heard high above the roar of artillery; only, the Kentuckians, advancing with measured step, poured out in martial chorus the deep, full notes of their war-song: “Cheer, boys, cheer; we'll march away to battle.”

Polk and Bragg, meeting about half-past 10 o'clock, agreed that Polk should direct the left centre, where part of his corps was grouped, and that Bragg should take command to his right. Bragg says:

Here we met the most obstinate resistance of the day, the enemy being strongly posted with infantry and artillery on an eminence behind a dense thicket. Hindman's command was gallantly led to the attack, but recoiled under a murderous fire.

Hindman himself was severely wounded by the explosion of a shell, and borne from the field. A. P. Stewart then took command of Hindman's brigade, with his own.

This position of the Federals was occupied by Wallace's division, and perhaps by the remains of Prentiss's and other commands. Here, behind a dense thicket on the crest of a hill, was posted a strong force of as hardy troops as ever fought, almost perfectly protected by the conformation of the ground, and by logs and other rude and hastily prepared defenses. To assail it an open field had to be passed, enfiladed by the fire of its batteries. It was nicknamed by the Confederates, by a very mild metaphor, “The Hornets' nest.” No figure of speech would be too strong to express the deadly peril of assault upon this natural fortress, whose inaccessible barriers blazed for six hours with sheets of flame, and whose infernal gates poured forth a murderous storm of shot and shell and musket-fire which no living thing could [605] quell or even withstand. Brigade after brigade was led against it. But valor was of no avail. Hindman's brilliant brigades, which had swept everything before them from the field, were shivered into fragments in the shock of the assault, and paralyzed for the remainder of the day. A. P. Stewart's regiments made fruitless assaults, but only to retire mangled and disheartened.

Bragg now ordered up Gibson's splendid brigade, composed of the First Arkansas, Fourth, Thirteenth, and Nineteenth Louisiana, which moved forward with alacrity. Gibson himself, a knightly soldier, as gentle and courteous as he was unflinching, was aided by colonels three of whom afterward became generals. The brigade made a gallant charge, but, like the others, recoiled from the fire it encountered. A blaze of musketry swept through it from front and flank; powerful batteries also opening upon its left. Under this cross-fire it at last fell back with very heavy loss. Allen's Fourth Louisiana was dreadfully cut up in this charge, and suffered some confusion from a misapprehension that it was fired upon by friends. Gibson asked for artillery to be sent him; but it was not at hand, and Bragg sent orders to charge again. The colonels thought it hopeless; but Gibson led them again to the attack, and they again suffered a bloody repulse.

Gibson, who, assisted by Allen and Avegno, had been leading the Fourth and Thirteenth Louisiana in the first two assaults, learning from the adjutant of Fagan that the regiments on the right had suffered equal disaster, turned over the command of his left wing to Colonel Allen, with directions to execute the orders received from General Bragg. He then proceeded to the right, and helped Fagan to lead the magnificent First Arkansas again to the assault.

“Four times the position was charged; four times the assault proved unavailing.” The brigade was repulsed; but maintained its ground steadily, until Wallace's position was turned, when, again renewing its forward movement in conjunction with Cheatham's command, it helped to drive back its stout opponents. Lieutenant-Colonel Thompson, of the First Arkansas, fell pierced with seven balls. Two of its captains were killed; the major, a captain, and many officers, wounded. In the Fourth Louisiana, Colonel Allen was wounded, and three captains and three lieutenants killed or wounded. Gibson's entire staff was disabled, and his assistant adjutant-general, Lieutenant Ben King, killed. When Gibson went to Fagan, Allen, a very fearless soldier, wrung at his unavailing loss, rode back to General Bragg to repeat the need of artillery, and to ask him if he must charge again. Bragg, impatient at the check, hastily replied, “Colonel Allen, I want no faltering now.” Allen, stung by the reply, said not a word, but, going back to his command, and waving his sword for his men to follow, charged once more-but again in vain. He never forgave Bragg, [606] and the brigade thought they got hard measure in Bragg's orders and in his report.

Patton Anderson's brigade, with the Crescent Regiment, of Pond's brigade, and aided by a regiment, two battalions, and a battery from Trabue's brigade, was eventually more successful farther to the left. His ground also was very difficult, but he caught the enemy more on the flank, and clung to it, rattling them with musketry and artillery, until the movement of the Confederate right broke into this citadel, when he carried his point. But this was not until after hours of manoeuvring and heavy skirmishing, with great loss, and after the enemy's left was turned. The Twentieth Louisiana was badly cut up in the underbrush, and in other regiments many companies lost all their officers. Anderson probably confronted Prentiss. The loss suffered by Pond's brigade has already been mentioned.

General Polk, with Russell's brigade, and with Johnson's under Preston Smith, and during a portion of the time with Stewart's brigade, was engaged in the same sort of heavy work, driving the enemy, and, in turn, losing the ground he had won, until it had been three times fought over. This was with McClernand's troops, and Buckland's brigade of Sherman's division.

Cheatham's division had been formed in the morning on either side of the Pittsburg road, immediately in rear of Clark's division. He was first ordered to the left, with his Second Brigade, under Colonel Stevens, by Polk, to support Bragg, and was ordered thence by Beauregard to the extreme right, to ascertain the point where the firing was heaviest, and there engage the enemy at once.

About 10 A. M. he came upon the enemy, strongly posted on the right, and engaged him in an artillery duel for an hour, when Breckinridge came up and formed on his right. At eleven o'clock, Colonel Jordan ordered Cheatham to charge, which he did across an open field. The enemy occupied an abandoned road, behind a fence, a strong position, and met the attack with a heavy fire. When Cheatham's gallant division reached the middle of the field, a murderous cross-fire from the left arrested their progress. The command fell back in good order. Cheatham, with the Second Brigade, now under Colonel Maney, again, later in the day, attacked on Breckinridge's left in Prentiss's front, when that Federal general was captured.

On the left Hardee was in charge. Here, Colonel Trabue, commanding the Kentucky Brigade, with four of his regiments, assailed part of Sherman's command, which they identified from the prisoners as McDowell's and the Thirteenth Missouri. Duke, who was with Morgan's cavalry, marching in their rear, says that as they went in, horse and foot, they struck up their battle-song, as mentioned, and that “the effect was animating beyond description.” They fought for [607] an hour and a quarter, never losing ground, and several times forcing McDowell back. Finally, bringing up the Thirty-first Alabama, which had been held in reserve, they charged at a double-quick, routing the enemy, and driving them, at a run, from the field. This defeat of the enemy was shared in by Polk's corps and Patton Anderson's brigade. Morgan's cavalry and Wharton's Eighth Texas Cavalry also pursued the routed Federals, but were checked, with loss, in the thick undergrowth. Hardee had assisted in again routing Sherman, by leading four regiments up a ravine on the extreme left, and turning the position. He also put the cavalry in pursuit of him.

After the rout of Sherman, there seems to have been not much heavy fighting on that flank. His division drifted out of the battle, clinging to the banks of Owl Creek, keeping up, however, a desultory resistance to the disconnected and indecisive skirmishing directed against it. Cleburne's brigade had lost so heavily in the morning that only a part of it remained in line. One-third of his men were killed or wounded, as his “butcher's bill” in the Appendix will show. In an assault this is one of the surest signs of honest, hard fighting. With the remnant, however, he continued to press on Sherman's right, which it kept moving, without absolutely crushing it. McClernand's line still maintained itself, and the force of the Confederate attack at the left was turned against it. General Beauregard's headquarters were about this time at Shiloh Church. The situation there seems hard to understand. An extract from Colonel Drake's sketch may throw some light on the condition of things on the left. Drake says:

It was at this juncture that the lines at this point were halted, and a lull in the battle ensued for a considerable length of time. Many supposed the fighting was ended, and scattered over the field on various errands. Entire regiments were seen marching to the rear, and then began on a large scale the pillage of the captured camps, for which our army was so harshly blamed; but the object, so far as my observation went, was not so much to gather the booty as to gratify curiosity, and pick up articles as mementos. Greenbacks were no object then, and the pockets of the dead were not rifled. Shoes, boots, and underclothes, seemed to be in more request than anything else.

Naming many other articles-patriotic envelopes, cheap pictures, caricatures, song-books, etc., he adds:

And yet the Confederate soldiers, who sought after trash, and pillaged sutler-stores, were not so much to blame as the inexperience of the times, as illustrated in field and general officers. No battle of the war — no event in Confederate history — has such a long list of “ifs” and “might have beens” as this battle of Shiloh; it is the saddest story of them all.

Colonel Munford gives the following account, which is a very good summary of the situation on the centre and right : [608]

General Bragg was ordered to attack them at once, and here occurred the most obstinate contest of the whole day. It was full four hours of the severest fighting before the enemy gave way, and then not until General Johnston with the remainder of the active troops had driven all opposition from the entire right and centre of the field far back toward the river. Soon after our left had become so hotly engaged, other scouts brought intelligence that large bodies of the enemy were moving in the direction of Pittsburg Landing on the river. Others reported heavy masses assembled there; and, lastly, that the head of a column had started from that point up the road which turned our right in the direction of Lick Creek. When this information was received, the general looked at his watch, and continued conversing with the members of the staff for twenty or thirty minutes, when, again glancing at his watch, he remarked, “It is now time to move forward.” He gave orders for the formations he desired. The troops in marching order were so arranged that, while all were compactly in hand, every man, horse, and gun-carriage, had necessary room. The beauty of the maneuver did not escape attention even under the circumstances, and in a small way showed how justly the general had been celebrated for the ease with which he handled troops. Just then I was ordered to see that a brigade “went promptly” to the support of Brigadier-General Clark in Bragg's fight, and, in doing so, had an opportunity of witnessing a portion of the hardest fighting I have ever seen. When I overtook General Johnston, he had taken position with his right across the road, up which it was reported the enemy had begun to march, on the very verge of the ridges overlooking Pittsburg Landing. He was in the act of swinging his troops round on his left as a pivot. A brigade under Colonel (afterward Major-General) Chalmers, flanked by a battalion of Wirt Adams's cavalry, constituted the extreme right. We sat on our horses, side by side, watching that brigade as it swept over the ridge; and, as the colors dipped out of sight, the general said to me, “That checkmates them.” I told him I was glad to hear him announce “checkmate,” but that “he must excuse so poor a player for saying he could not see it.” He laughed, and said, “Yes, sir, that mates them.” The completion of this movement faced the troops at an angle of about 45° toward the left, when the forward movement became uniform. We had advanced but a few hundred yards, when we came upon a line of the enemy, strongly posted with their right in a flat covered by a dense growth of shrubs, almost a chaparral, and their centre and left along the hollow through which this flat and the hill-sides were drained. Their bodies were almost entirely protected, but their position enabled them to see the entire persons of our troops, who, when they came in sight, were within easy musket-range and wholly unprotected. They opened upon us a murderous fire. General Johnston moved forward with his staff to a depression about thirty yards behind our front line, where the bullets passed over our heads; but he could see more than half of his line, and, if an emergency arose, could meet it promptly. Hie fought that entire battle on the true philosophic principle which it involved. He was in command of fresh Southern volunteers. He therefore let them stand and fire, only till what is known as the “shoulder-to-shoulder” courage was developed, leaving the impetuous fire of Southern pluck unchilled. His charges were uniformly successful. I saw our line beginning to stagger, not give back, but waver along its whole length like small grain when struck by a breeze. The general passed his eye from the right of the line to his extreme point of vision in the direction of the left, and slowly back again, when he remarked to Governor Harris who was [609] by his side: “Those fellows are making a stubborn stand here. I'll have to put the bayonet to them.” Just then a shell from one of our batteries on the extreme right came flying over the heads of the men in line, passed just in front of us, struck and exploded a little to our left between us and our reserve or second line. The general asked me to correct the position of that battery. When I returned from the discharge of this duty a charge was being executed along the whole line, and the general was gone from the place where I had left him.

The front on which General Johnston was now moving was almost at right angles to his original lines and approaching a perpendicular to the river. Chalmers's brigade, on the extreme right, next the river, was somewhat advanced, so that it continually pressed upon and turned the enemy's left flank. Eight hundred yards to his left and rear, Bowen's brigade came up; and, with a like interval to the left and rear of Bowen's, Statham's strong brigade. These troops advanced en Echelon of brigades. The batteries were in full play; the resistance was vigorous; the contest fierce. Chalmers pushed forward with considerable success; General Johnston had Bowen's brigade deployed, and it advanced with energy. Statham's brigade impinged upon what was an angle in the Federal line, where the Northerners were collected in heavy masses. The locality was probably that held by Hurlbut's brigades, and they opposed a desperate defense to every forward movement. The severe pressure on their left had called the Northern troops to this point, and we find acting Brigadier-General Cruft, after having repulsed four assaults farther to the right, strengthening it. Sweeney also reinforced Hurlbut with three regiments.

There had been four hours of heavy fighting, during which the Federal centre had not been moved. The right had been broken; its left was forced back and doubled up on itself; and Hurlbut had more than once fallen back, retiring his left, in order to correct his alignment. But there his command stood, dealing slaughter on every attempt at advance. His position was evidently the key; and it was necessary to break down the stubborn defense that maintained it. It was for this that Breckinridge's reserves, the only brigades which had not been engaged, were brought forward. General Johnston's purpose was to destroy Grant's army that day. The afternoon was upon him. The final blow must be struck. Statham's brigade was sent in about noon. It was made up of six fine regiments: two of them were raw, four of them knew nothing of war, except the miserable defeat at Mill Spring. The brigade now found itself welcomed by a fearful blaze of musketry and artillery; and, in getting into line, suffered enough to fall into some confusion.

The Federals were posted in a double line of battle, protected by the crest of a wooded hill, and the men seemed to be lying down and [610] firing. Opposite this strong position, one or two hundred yards distant, was another ridge, swept by the Federal fire. Behind it, Statham's troops were comparatively secure; but, to assail the enemy, they had to cross this exposed ridge, descend one slope, and ascend another, commanded and raked by this deadly ambuscade. They stood, therefore, delivering and receiving a fire which, Governor Harris says, was as heavy as any he saw in the war; but they could not drive the enemy from his stronghold by their fire, nor without a charge that meant death for many. Statham's brigade and even particular regiments have to some extent been held responsible for General Johnston's death. It has been held to account, as if it were the only command which on that day failed to carry a position promptly at the point of the bayonet, without first measuring its strength with the foe. But those who have read this narrative must have seen how often good and gallant troops recoiled from positions which they could not take. The measure of resistance is an element of the greatest importance, too often ignored, in estimating the value and courage of an attack.

Major (afterward General) Hodge, who was Breckinridge's adjutant general, and on the spot, gives the following clear description of the attack:

The long slope of the ridge was here abruptly broken by a succession of small hills or undulations of about fifty feet in height, dividing the rolling country from the river-bottom, and behind the crest of the last of these the enemy was concealed; opposite them, at the distance of seventy-five yards, was another long swell or hillock, the summit of which it was necessary to attain in order to open fire; and to this elevation the reserve moved, in order of battle, at a double-quick. In an instant, the opposing height was one sheet of flame. Battle's Tennessee regiment, on the extreme right, gallantly maintained itself, pushing forward under a withering fire and establishing itself well in advance. Lytle's Tennessee regiment, next to it, delivered its fire at random and inefficiently, became disordered, and retired in confusion down the slope. Three times it was rallied by its lieutenant-colonel, assisted by Colonel T. T. Hawkins, and by the adjutant-general, and carried up the slope, only to be as often repulsed and driven back — the regiment of the enemy opposed to it, in the intervals, directing an oblique fire upon Battle's regiment, now contending against overwhelming odds. The crisis of the contest had come; there were no more reserves, and General Breckinridge determined to charge.

The Forty-fifth Tennessee was behind the crest of the hill, and thus protected. The men would advance to a rail-fence, individually, or in squads, deliver an irregular fire, and fall back; but they would not come up to their alignment, nor exhibit the purpose required for a desperate charge. They were not stampeded, but irresolute, and their conduct probably did not fall below the average of the brigade, or below what might be expected from raw troops under like circumstances. But more was required of them and of all. [611]

The following is Governor Harris's account of the circumstances preceding the charge:

Just as day was dawning, on Sunday morning, he (General Johnston) made the attack. For some time our advance was steady and without any serious or obstinate resistance. About one o'clock, p. M., being informed that our extreme right had encountered such resistance as prevented further advance, he repaired to it at once.

We found our right wing posted upon a ridge, while upon a parallel ridge in easy musket-range the enemy was in great force. Here the firing was kept up with great energy by both armies for, perhaps, an hour, during the whole of which time the general remained upon the line, more exposed to the fire of the enemy than any soldier in the line.

After the firing had been thus continued for near an hour, the general said to me: “They are offering stubborn resistance here. I shall have to put the bayonet to them.”

It was in this condition of things that Breckinridge rode up to General Johnston, and, in his preoccupation, not observing Governor Harris, said, “General, I have a Tennessee regiment that won't fight.” Harris broke in energetically, “General Breckinridge, show me that regiment!” Breckinridge, courteously and apologetically, indicated the command, and General Johnston said, “Let the Governor go to them.” Governor Harris went, and with some difficulty put the regiment in line of battle on the hill, whence they could engage in the combat effectively.

After some delay, the wavering of the line still increasing, General Johnston directed that the line be got ready for a charge. Breckinridge soon returned and said he feared that he could not get the brigade to make the charge. General Johnston replied to him cheerfully: “Oh, yes, general; I think you can.” Breckinridge, with an emotion unusual to his controlled and equable temper, told him he had tried and failed. “Then, I will help you,” said General Johnston. “We can get them to make the charge.” Turning to Governor Harris, who had come back to report that the Tennessee regiment was in line, he requested him to return to and encourage this regiment, then some distance to his right, but under his eye, and, to aid in getting them to charge. Harris galloped to the right, and, breaking in among the soldiers with a sharp harangue, dismounted and led them on foot, pistol in hand, up to their alignment, and in the charge when it was made.

In the mean time Breckinridge, with his fine voice and manly bearing, was appealing to the soldiers, aided by his son Cabell and a very gallant staff. It was a goodly company; and, in the charge, Breckinridge, leading and towering above them all, was the only one who escaped unscathed. Major Hodge and Cabell Breckinridge had their horses shot under them; Major Hawkins was wounded in the face, and Captain Allen had his leg torn by a shell. Many eye-witnesses have [612] remarked to the writer on the beautiful composure and serene fidelity with which Cabell Breckinridge, then a mere boy, rode close by his father during all this stirring scene.

General Johnston rode out in front, and slowly down the line. His hat was off. His sword rested in its scabbard. In his right hand he held a little tin cup, the memorial of an incident that had occurred earlier in the day. As they were passing through a captured camp, an officer had brought from a tent a number of valuable articles, calling General Johnston's attention to them. He answered, with some sternness: “None of that, sir; we are not here for plunder!” And then, as if regretting the sharpness of the rebuke, for the anger of the just cuts deep, he added, taking this little tin cup, “Let this be my share of the spoils to-day.” It was this plaything, which, holding it between two fingers, he employed more effectively in his natural and simple gesticulation than most men could have used a sword. His presence was full of inspiration. Many men of rank have told the writer that they never saw General Johnston's equal in battle in this respect. He sat his beautiful thorough-bred bay, “Fire-eater,” with easy command --like a statue of Victory. His voice was persuasive, encouraging, and compelling. It was inviting men to death, but they obeyed it. But, most of all, it was the light in his gray eye, and his splendid presence, full of the joy of combat, that wrought upon them. His words were few. He touched their bayonets with significant gesture. “These must do the work,” he said. “Men! They are stubborn; we must use the bayonet.” When he reached the centre of the line, he turned. “I will lead you!” he cried, and moved toward the enemy. The line was already thrilling and trembling with that tremendous and irresistible ardor which in battle decides the day. Those nearest to him, as if drawn to him by some overmastering magnetic force, rushed forward around him with a mighty shout. The rest of the line took it up and echoed it with a wild yell of defiance and desperate purpose, and moved forward at a charge with rapid and resistless step. A sheet of flame burst from the Federal stronghold, and blazed along the crest of the ridge. There was a roar of cannon and musketry; a storm of leaden and iron hail. The Confederate line withered, and the dead and dying strewed the dark valley. But there was not an instant's pause. Right up the steep they went. The crest was gained. The enemy were in flight — a few scattering shots replying to the ringing cheers of the victorious Confederates.

General Johnston had passed through the ordeal seemingly unhurt. His noble horse was shot in four places; his clothes were pierced by missiles, his boot-sole was cut and torn by a Minie; but if he himself had received any severe wound he did not know it. At this moment Governor Harris rode up from the right, elated with his own success [613] and with the vindication of his Tennesseeans. After a few words, General Johnston sent him with an order to Colonel Statham, which, having delivered, he speedily returned. In the mean time knots and groups of Federal soldiers kept up an angry discharge of fire-arms as they retreated upon their supports, and their last line, now yielding, delivered volley after volley as they sullenly retired. By the chance of war, a Minie-ball from one of these did its fatal work. As General Johnston, on horseback, sat there, knowing that he had crushed in the arch which had so long resisted the pressure of his forces, and waiting until they should collect sufficiently to give the final stroke, he received a mortal wound. It came in the moment of victory and triumph from a flying foe. It smote him at the very instant when he felt the full conviction that the day was won; that his own conduct and wisdom were justified by results, and that he held in his hand the fortunes of war and the success of the Confederate cause. If this was not to be, he fell as he would have wished to fall, and with a happier fate than those who lived to witness the overthrow and ruin of their great cause. He had often expressed to the writer a preference for this death of the soldier. It came sudden and painless. But he had so lived as neither to fear nor shun it. It came to him like an incident of an immortal life-its necessary part, but not its close.

The writer will be pardoned for adding the narrative of Governor Harris, the faithful comrade who was with him at the last. He writes as follows:

Soon thereafter our line slightly wavered with a backward tendency, when the general said, “I will go to the front, order, and lead the charge.” Just as he was in the act of passing through the line to the front, he said to me, “Go to the extreme right, and lead the Tennessee regiment stationed there.” I galloped to the regiment named; and when the charge was ordered, which was only a few moments after, I repeated the order on the extreme right, and moved forward with it.

The charge was successful; the Federal line gave way, and we advanced from a half to three-fourths of a mile without opposition, when we encountered the reserve line of the enemy strongly posted upon a ridge.

The general immediately established his line upon a parallel ridge in easy musket-range of the line of the enemy, and a galling fire was opened upon both sides.

Just as the line of our extreme right (with which I had moved forward) was established, casting my eye up the line to the left I saw General Johnston sitting upon his horse a few feet in rear, and about the centre of his line. He was alone. I immediately galloped to him, to ascertain if, in his new position, he wished to send orders.

I had never, in my life, seen him looking more bright, joyous, and happy, than he looked at the moment that I approached him.

The charge he had led was heroic. It had been successful, and his face expressed a soldier's joy and a patriot's hope. [614]

As I approached him, he said “Governor, they came very near putting me hors de combat in that charge,” holding out and pointing to his foot. Looking at it, I discovered that a musket-ball had struck the edge of the sole of his boot, cutting the sole clear across, and ripping it off to the toe. I asked eagerly: “Are you wounded? Did the ball touch your foot?” He said, “No;” and was proceeding to make other remarks, when a Federal battery opened fire from a position which enfiladed our line just established. He paused in the middle of. a sentence to say, “Order Colonel Statham to wheel his regiment to the left, charge, and take that battery.” I galloped to Colonel Statham, only about two hundred yards distant, gave the order, galloped back to the general where a moment before I had left him, rode up to his right side, and said, “General, your order is delivered, and Colonel Statham is in motion;” but, as I was uttering this sentence, the general reeled from me in a manner that indicated he was falling from his horse. I put my left arm around his neck, grasping the collar of his coat, and righted him up in the saddle, bending forward as I did so, and, looking him in the face, said, “General, are you wounded?” In a very deliberate and emphatic tone he answered, “Yes, and I fear seriously.” At that moment I requested Captain Wickham to go with all possible speed for a surgeon, to send the first one he could find, but to proceed until he could find Dr. Yandell, the medical director, and bring him. The general's hold upon his rein relaxed, and it dropped from his hand. Supporting him with my left hand, I gathered his rein with my right, in which I held my own, and guided both horses to a valley about 150 yards in rear of our line, where I halted, dropped myself between the two horses, pulling the general over upon me, and eased him to the ground as gently as I could. When laid upon the ground, with eager anxiety I asked many questions about his wounds, to which he gave no answer, not even a look of intelligence.

Supporting his head with one hand, I untied his cravat, unbuttoned his collar and vest, and tore his shirts open with the other, for the purpose of finding the wound, feeling confident from his condition that he had a more serious wound than the one which I knew was bleeding profusely in the right leg; but I found no other, and, as I afterward ascertained, he had no other. Raising his head, I poured a little brandy into his mouth, which he swallowed, and in a few moments I repeated the brandy, but he made no effort to swallow; it gurgled in his throat in his effort to breathe, and I turned his head so as to relieve him.

In a few moments he ceased to breathe. I did not consult my watch, but my impression is that lie did not live more than thirty or forty minutes from the time he received the wound.

He died calmly, and, to all appearances, free from pain-indeed, so calmly, that the only evidence I had that he had passed from life was the fact that he ceased to breathe, and the heart ceased to throb. There was not the slightest struggle, nor the contortion of a muscle; his features were as calm and as natural as at any time in life and health.

Just as he expired, General William Preston arrived, and it was agreed that he should remain with and accompany the remains of General Johnston to headquarters, and that I should proceed at once to report the fact of General Johnston's death to General Beauregard.

My own horse having run off when I dismounted, I mounted “Fire-eater,” General Johnston's horse, but found him so badly crippled that I dismounted [615] and examined him, and found upon examination that he was wounded in three legs by musket-balls. I rode him to the rear, where we had left General Johnston's orderly with two fresh horses; left Fire-eater with the orderly, and mounted one of the fresh horses and proceeded to report to General Beauregard.

Other members of the staff confirm all this, with the following slight variations:

Captain Wickham assisted Governor Harris in lifting General Johnston from his horse, and then went for a surgeon. General Preston came up before General Johnston's death. Kneeling by him, he cried passionately, “Johnston, do you know me?” General Johnston smiled faintly, but gave no other sign of recognition. They then tried to administer the brandy, but he could not swallow it. General Johnston soon became utterly unconscious, and quietly passed away. Colonel O'Hara, Major Haydon, and others of the staff, joined the group soon after.

Wrapping his body in a mantle to conceal his death from the army, some of the staff took charge of it and left the field. The others separated to inform General Beauregard and the corps commanders. Colonel Munford says:

Besides the wound which killed him, he was hit three other times: once by a spent ball on the outside and about midway of the right thigh; once by a fragment of shell just above and to the rear of the right hip; and once by a Min16-ball cutting the left boot-sole entirely in two, at which he kicked up his foot, and said, gayly, “They didn't trip me up that time.” But one bullet broke the skin-and that, alas! was fatal.

The mortal wound was from a Min16-ball, which tore the popliteal artery of the right leg, where it divides into the tibial arteries, as Dr. Yandell informs the writer. He did not live more than ten or fifteen minutes after receiving it. It was not necessarily fatal. General Johnston's own knowledge of military surgery was adequate for its control by an extemporized tourniquet, had he been aware or regardful of its nature.

Dr. D. W. Yandell, his surgeon, had attended his person during most of the morning; but, finding a large number of wounded men, including many Federals, at one point, General Johnston ordered Yandell to stop there, establish a hospital, and give them his services. He said to Yandell: “These men were our enemies a moment ago, they are prisoners now; take care of them.” Yandell remonstrated against leaving him, but he was peremptory, and the doctor began his work. He saw General Johnston no more. Had Yandell remained with him, he would have had little difficulty with the wound. It was this act of unselfish charity which cost him his life.

General Beauregard had told General Johnston that morning as he [616] rode off, that, if it should be necessary to communicate with him or for him to do anything, he would be found in his ambulance in bed. Governor Harris, knowing this, and how feeble General Beauregard's health was, went first to his headquarters-just in the rear of where the army had deployed into line the evening before. Beauregard and his staff were gone on horseback in the direction of Shiloh Church. He found them there. The Governor told General Beauregard that General Johnston had been killed. Beauregard expressed regret, and then remarked, “Everything else seems to be going on well on the right.” Governor Harris assented. “Then,” said Beauregard, “the battle may as well go on.” The Governor replied that he certainly thought it ought. He offered his services to Beauregard, and they were courteously accepted. General Beauregard then remained where he was, waiting the issue of events.


Iii.-afternoon.

Up to the moment of the death of the commander-in-chief, the battle presented two features, at first sight incongruous and almost incompatible. The first of these was the dislocation of commands by the pushing forward of the second and third lines into the intervals of the first, and, by the shifting fortunes of the field, resulting in an effect like the shuffling of cards. The other was the most perfect regularity in the development of the plan of battle. In all the seeming confusion, there was the predominance of intelligent design; a master-mind, keeping in clear view its purpose, sought the weak point in the defense, and, finding it on the enemy's left, kept turning that flank. With the disadvantage of inferior numbers, General Johnston brought to bear a superior force on each particular point, and, by a series of consecutive blows, repeated with great rapidity and strength, broke the Federal army to pieces.

General Duke makes the following intelligent comments on the battle. He says:

The corps of Hardee, Bragg, and Polk, were now striving abreast, or mingled with each other. In reading the reports of the Confederate generals, frequent allusion will be found to regiments and brigades fighting without “head or orders.” One commander would sometimes direct the movements of troops belonging to another. At this phase of the struggle, the narrative should dwell more upon “the biographies of the regiments than the history of the battle.” But the wise arrangement of the lines and the instructions given subordinate commanders insured harmonious action and the desired result.

Each brigade commander was ordered, when he became disengaged, to seek and attack the nearest enemy; to pass the flank of every stubborn hostile force [617]

Third position (Sunday), April 6th.

which his neighbors could not move, and, at all hazards, to press forward. General Johnston seemed to have adopted the spirit of the motto, “When fighting in the dark, strike out straight.” He more than once assumed command of brigades which knew not what to do, and led them to where they could fight with effect. The same remark might be made of all the higher officers.

Duke also notes as follows the systematic manner in which the troops were rapidly massed on successive points: [618]

This disposition of the forces and the energetic conduct of the Confederate commanders explain the striking features of the battle, which have been so often remarked — the methodical success of the Confederates upon the first day, the certainty with which they won their way forward against the most determined resistance, the “clock-like” regularity of their advance, the desperate struggle, the Federal retreat, repeated again and again through the day. Taking into consideration the circumstances under which the collision occurred, military savants will some day demonstrate that success ought, with mathematical certainty, to have resulted from the tactics of General Johnston. An army moving to attack an enemy surprised and unprepared, in three lines supported by a reserve, and with its flanks perfectly protected, ought to have delivered crushing and continuous blows. Such a formation, directed by consummate skill and the finest nerve in a commander of troops who believed that to fight would be to win, promised an onset wellnigh irresistible.

Speaking elsewhere of the repeated successful assaults of the Confederates, Duke says:

Those who were in that battle will remember these successive contests, followed by short periods of apparent inaction, going on all day. To use the illustration of one well acquainted with its plans and incidents, “It went on like the regular stroke of some tremendous machine.” There would be a rapid charge and fierce fight — the wild yell would announce a Confederate success-then would ensue a comparative lull, broken again in a few minutes, and the charge, struggle, and horrible din would recommence.

Just when General Johnston was stricken down, the victory seemed complete. The enemy was not merely broken, but, so close were the quarters and so rapid was the charge, that they suffered more than the usual slaughter in a defeat.

Captain Allison, who commanded the Forty-fifth Tennessee in this charge, makes the following statement to the writer:

The impulse given the Confederate line by General Johnston's presence was irresistible. The Federals were ensconced in a deep ravine, and when their assailants closed down on them for the death-struggle, they crowded for escape into a ravine which ran perpendicularly to the rear, hoping thus to avoid the line of fire, which swept the level above them. The steepness of the sides held them in a mass, into which the Forty-fifth Tennessee fired at close range with murderous effect.

Captain Allison adds that he never saw such slaughter during the whole war as took place here. He further says that, when he got orders to fall back in the afternoon, his regiment was within two hundred yards of the enemy's batteries, in fine spirits and organization. He adds some striking incidents, of which want of space prevents the [619] insertion. The Federal reports show that, among the troops who fought here, the Twenty-fifth Kentucky (Federal), Lieutenant-Colonel Bristow, lad but sixty-five men left, and Colonel McHenry reported that his regiment (the Seventeenth Kentucky) was reduced to one-half its numbers.

Now was the time for the Confederates to push their advantage, and, closing in on the rear of Prentiss and Wallace, to finish the battle. But, on the contrary, there came a lull in the conflict on the right, lasting more than an hour from half-past 2, the time at which General Johnston fell. It is true that the Federals fell back and left the field, and the Confederates went forward deliberately, occupying their positions, and thus helping to envelop the Federal centre. But there was no further general direction nor concerted movements. The spring and alertness of the onset flagged; the determinate purpose to capture Grant that day was lost sight of; the strong arm was withdrawn, and the bow remained unbent. The troops who had fought under General Johnston's eye were carried forward by the impulse imparted to them, and the momentum of their own success; but with no visible or definite object. Elsewhere, there were bloody desultory combats, but tending to nothing. Indeed, it may be truly said that General Johnston's death ended the second engagement of the day.

About half-past 3 o'clock, the struggle at the centre, which had been going on for five hours with fitful violence, was renewed with the utmost fury. Polk's and Bragg's corps, intermingled, were engaged in a death-grapple with the sturdy commands of Wallace and Prentiss. The Federal generals had consulted, and had resolved to stand and hold their ground at all hazards, hoping thus to save the rest of the army from destruction; and there is little doubt-that their manful resistance, which cost one his life and the other his liberty, so checked the Southern troops as to gain time, and prevent the capture of Grant's army.

While an ineffectual struggle was going on at the centre, General Ruggles judiciously collected all the artillery he could find, some eleven batteries in all, which he massed against Prentiss's right flank, the centre of what remained. The opening of so heavy a fire, and the simultaneous though unconcerned advance of the whole Confederate line, resulted at first in the confusion of the enemy and then in the defeat of Wallace and the surrender of Prentiss. Patton Anderson's brigade and Marshall J. Smith's Crescent Regiment were especially conspicuous in these closing scenes, the latter being so fortunate as to receive the surrender of a large number of prisoners. But, while the artillery massed by Ruggles, and his division, were so effectual in achieving this result, by hammering down the Federal front, they were not alone in the crushing coil which caught Prentiss in its folds. Polk and Hardee burst through and destroyed the troops occupying the right of Wallace's position, who were thoroughly beaten and driven from the field or captured, [620] with the commander killed in the rout. They thus got in on Prentiss's right flank. Bragg, who had gone to the Confederate right, with Breckinridge, pushed in on Prentiss's left flank; and Chalmers on his rear-and thus intercepted his retreat.

While these movements were being executed, Prentiss determined on a bold course, afterward condemned by his more fortunate superiors, because it failed; but, in the writer's opinion, it saved both Grant and Sherman from capture. He formed his men to make an attack; but the Confederates closed in around him, and he found himself, after a struggle, cut off, encompassed, and at the mercy of his adversaries. With Hurlbut gone and Wallace gone, Prentiss was left isolated. Struck in front, in rear, and on either flank, cut off in every attempt to escape, about half-past 4 o'clock what was left of Prentiss's division surrendered with the Eighth, Twelfth, and Fourteenth Iowa, and the Fifty-eighth Illinois Regiments, of Wallace's division. More than 3,000 prisoners were taken, Prentiss and many officers among them. This division had received the first blow in the morning, and made the last organized resistance in the afternoon.

Each Confederate commander-division, brigade, and regiment-alas his command pounced upon the prey, believed it entitled to the credit of the capture. Breckinridge's, Withers's, Ruggles's, Cheatham's, and other divisions, which helped to encircle and subdue these stubborn fighters, each imagined its own the hardest part of the work-possibly the whole of it. The capture was, in truth, due almost as much to one as to another, as it was the result of the annihilation of Grant's whole line.

A similar instance of self-deception occurs in many-indeed, most of the Federal reports of this battle. According to these, no command ever gives way until its neighbors, on both flanks, have left the field. This, of course, is in the nature of things impossible. It was, as a rule, true of one flank; and the gaps made in the line by casualties and flight left it so ragged on the other flank as to favor, if not to create, the illusion. So many human motives concur to fortify these prejudices that we have no occasion to be astonished at them.

The following particulars of this momentous contest will not be thought out of place. In describing his share in the combat, General Polk says:

The enemy in our front was gradually and successively driven from his positions, and forced from the field back on the river-bank. About 5 P. M. my line attacked the enemy's troops — the last that were left upon the field — in an encampment on my right. The attack was made in front and flank. The resistance was sharp but short. The enemy, perceiving he was flanked and his position completely turned, hoisted the white flag and surrendered.

Commending the conduct of Bragg's troops cooperating with him, and especially of the Crescent Regiment, General Polk says: [621]

General Prentiss delivered his sword with his command to Colonel Russell, one of my brigade commanders, who turned him over to me. The prisoners turned over were about 2,000. They were placed in charge of Lieutenant Richmond, my aide-de-camp, and, with a detachment of cavalry, sent to the rear.

Immediately after the surrender, General Polk ordered such cavalry as he had in hand to charge the fleeing enemy. A detachment under Lieutenant-Colonel Miller “dashed forward and intercepted a battery, within 150 yards of the river, the Second Michigan, and captured it before it could unlimber and open fire. It was a six-gun battery, complete in all its equipments, and was captured, men, horses, and guns. A portion of this cavalry rode to the river and watered their horses.”

In this final struggle, Trabue's brigade, which was now on the left next to Cleburne's, supported by Stewart's brigade, and some fragments of Anderson's, was opposed to the remains of Sherman's and McClernand's commands, including McDowell's brigade. Hardee was giving direction to this part of the line. Trabue ordered his command to fix bayonets and charge at a double-quick, which they did in the handsomest manner, and with complete success. He says:

The enemy, unwilling and unable to stand this charge, ran through their camps into the woods in their rear, whither we followed them. They were, however, too badly routed to make a stand, and for several hundred yards I moved forward without opposition.

Embarrassed by the broken ground and thick undergrowth, by an enfilading fire from a Confederate battery on the right, and the appearance of a Louisiana regiment dressed in blue on the left, Trabue's movement was made cautiously and with some delay. Nevertheless, feeling their way with much hard fighting, and gradually drawing the lines closer, these troops from the left by a slight change of front intercepted, with volleys of musketry, the Federals flying from the impetuous charge of Breckinridge's brigades on the right. A portion of Prentiss's command which surrendered was turned over to them by Hardee, and sent to the rear in charge of Crews's battalion. Colonel Shorter, of Bragg's corps, was detached with another lot of prisoners.

Breckinridge's other brigades, advancing, soon passed to their front; and the Sixth and Ninth Kentucky Regiments availed themselves of the opportunity “hastily to exchange their guns for Enfield rifles, which the enemy had surrendered.” Trabue adds:

I then moved up and rejoined General Breckinridge, who, with Statham's and Bowen's brigades, was occupying the front line, being on the crest of the hill (or high land) overlooking the narrow valley of the Tennessee River, on which, and near by, was Pittsburg Landing.

Having been halted here for more than an hour, we endured a most terrific cannonade and shelling from the enemy's gunboats. [622]

A few of the troops were demoralized by this, and fell back; but there was little loss.

Bragg, having found the Federal position, called “The Hornets' nest,” in front of the Confederate right centre impregnable, had ordered that the troops there, who had suffered greatly, should hold their position. When he learned the fall of the commander-in-chief, he rode rapidly to the extreme right. Bragg says in his report:

Here I found a strong force, consisting of three parts, without a common head: Brigadier-General Breckinridge, with his reserve division, pressing the enemy; Brigadier-General Withers, with his splendid division, greatly exhausted and taking a temporary rest; and Major-General Cheatham, with his division of General Polk's command, to their left and rear. These troops were soon put in motion, responding with great alacrity to the command, “Forward-let every order be forward!” It was now probably past four o'clock, the descending sun warning us to press our advantage, and finish the work before night should compel us to desist.

Fairly in motion, these commands again, with a common head and a common purpose, swept all before them. Neither battery nor battalion could withstand their onslaught. Passing through camp after camp, rich in military spoils of every kind, the enemy was driven headlong from every position, and thrown in confused masses upon the river-bank, behind his heavy artillery, and under cover of his gunboats at the landing. He had left nearly the whole of his light artillery in our hands, and some 3,000 or more prisoners, who were cut off from their retreat by the closing in of our troops on the left under Major-General Polk, with a portion of his reserve corps, and Brigadier-General Ruggles, with Anderson's and Pond's brigades of his division. The prisoners were dispatched to the rear under a proper guard, all else being left on the field that we might press our advantage. The enemy had fallen back in much confusion, and was crowded in unorganized masses on the river-bank, vainly striving to cross. They were covered by a battery of heavy guns, well served, and their two gunboats, which now poured heavy fire upon our supposed positions, for we were entirely hid by the forests. Their fire, though terrific in sound, and producing some consternation at first, did us no damage, as the shells all passed over, and exploded far beyond our positions.

Hardee gives the following brief but spirited summary of the battle in his report:

Nothing could be more brilliant than the attack. The fierce volleys of a hundred thousand muskets and the boom of two hundred cannon receding steadily toward the river, marked, hour by hour from dawn till night, our slow but ceaseless advance. The captured camps, rich in the spoils of war, in arms, horses, stores, munitions, and baggage, with throngs of prisoners moving to the rear, showed the headlong fury with which our men had crushed the heavy columns of the foe.

No Federal division any longer preserved even a show of organization. Parts of regiments, the bravest and coolest of the men, stuck to [623] their colors and strove to rally and form a line of battle wherever they could find a nucleus. There were many such heroic spirits in the crushed and mangled mass which. was huddling back into the angle between Snake Creek and the Tennessee River. Sherman in his report says: “My command had become decidedly of a mixed character. Buckland's brigade was the only one that retained its organization.” Buckland's own report, however, does not sustain this view. He mentions that, in the combat on the Purdy road-The fleeing mass from the left broke through our lines, and many of our men caught the infection and fled with the crowd. Colonel Cockerill became separated from Colonel Sullivan and myself, and was afterward engaged with part of his command at McClernand's camp. Colonel Sullivan and myself kept together, and made every effort to rally our men, with but poor success. They had become scattered in every direction.

They afterward formed a line of battle-what sort of a one may be imagined after reading the foregoing. Colonel Sullivan then marched to the landing for ammunition, and did not join Buckland till next day. This tells the story. It is difficult to see where “the organization” was.

Of the two armies, one was now an advancing, triumphant host, with arm uplifted to give the mortal blow; the other, a broken, mangled, demoralized mob, paralyzed and waiting for the stroke. While the other Confederate brigades, which had shared most actively in Prentiss's capture, were sending back the prisoners and forming again for a final attack, two brigades, under Chalmers and Jackson, on the extreme right, had cleared away all in front of them, and, moving down the riverbank, now came upon the last point where even a show of resistance was made. Two very bold and active brigadiers, they at once closed with the enemy in their front, crossing a deep ravine and difficult ground to get at him. Here Colonel Webster, of Grant's staff, had gathered all the guns he could find from batteries, whether abandoned or still coherent, and with stout-hearted men, picked up at random, had prepared a resistance. Some infantry, similarly constituted, had been got together; and Ammen's brigade, the van of Nelson's division, had landed, and was pushing its way through the throng of pallid fugitives at the landing to take up the battle where it had fallen from the hands of Grant and Sherman. It got into position in time to do its part in checking the unsupported assaults of Chalmers and Jackson.

In describing this final attack, General Chalmers says in his report:

It was then about four o'clock in the evening, and, after distributing ammunition, we received orders from General Bragg to drive the enemy into the river. My brigade, together with that of Brigadier-General Jackson, filed to the right, and formed facing the river, and endeavored to press forward to the [624] water's edge; but in attempting to mount the last ridge we were met by a fire from a whole line of batteries, protected by infantry and assisted by shells from the gunboats. Our men struggled vainly to ascend the hill, which was very steep, making charge after charge without success; but continued the fight until night closed the hostilities on both sides.

During this engagement, Gage's battery was brought up to our assistance, but suffered so severely that it was soon compelled to retire. This was the sixth fight in which we had been engaged during the day, and my men were too much exhausted to storm the batteries on the hill; but they were brought off in good order, formed in line of battle, and slept on the battle-field, where I remained with them/.

Brigadier-General Jackson gives this account:

My brigade was ordered to change direction again, face toward Pittsburg, where the enemy appeared to have made his last stand, and to advance upon him, General Chalmers's brigade being again on my right, and extending to the swamp of the Tennessee River. Without ammunition, and with only their bayonets to rely on, steadily my men advanced, under a heavy fire from light batteries, siege-pieces, and gunboats. Passing through the ravine, they arrived near the crest of the opposite hill, upon which the enemy's batteries were, but could not be urged further without support. Sheltering themselves against the precipitous sides of the ravine, they remained under this fire for some time. Finding an advance without support impracticable, remaining there under fire useless, and believing that any further forward movement should be made simultaneously along our whole line, I proceeded to obtain orders from General Withers; but, before seeing him, was ordered by a staff officer to retire. This order was announced to me as coming from General Beauregard, and was promptly communicated to my command.

General Buell had reached Pittsburg Landing about one o'clock; or, as Badeau states (page 82), “midway in the afternoon.” He says:

I found Grant on his boat, with two or more of his staff, in the ladies' cabin. I proposed we should go ashore, and his horses were accordingly taken ashore.

Buell also arranged with Grant to send steamers to Savannah, to bring up Crittenden's division.

General Buell, in his official report of April 15, 1862, gives the following account of the condition of things at Pittsburg, and of the part taken by himself and his command in the battle of the 6th:

The impression existed at Savannah that the firing was only an affair of outposts, the same thing having occurred for the two or three previous days; but, as it continued, I determined to go to the scene of action, and accordingly started with my chief of staff, Colonel Fry, on a steamer which I had ordered to get under steam. As we proceeded up the river, groups of soldiers were seen upon the west bank, and it soon became evident that they were stragglers from the army that was engaged. The groups increased in size and frequency until, as [625] we approached the landing, they amounted to whole companies, and almost regiments; and at the landing the bank swarmed with a confused mass of men of various regiments. The number could not have been less than four or five thousand, and later in the day it became much greater. Finding General Grant at the landing, I requested him to send steamers to Savannah to bring up General Crittenden's division, which had arrived during the morning, and then went ashore with him. The throng of disorganized and demoralized troops increased continually by fresh fugitives from the battle, which steadily drew nearer the landing; and with these were mingled great numbers of teams, all striving to get as near as possible to the river. With few exceptions, all efforts to form the troops and move them forward to the fight utterly failed.

In the mean time the enemy had made such progress against our troops that his artillery and musketry began to play into the vital spot of the position, and some persons were killed on the bank at the very landing. General Nelson arrived with Colonel Ammen's brigade at this opportune moment. It was immediately posted to meet the attack at that point, and with a battery of artillery which happened to be on the ground, and was brought into action, opened fire on the enemy, and repulsed him. The action of the gunboats also contributed very much to that result. The attack at that point was not renewed, night having come on, and the firing ceased on both sides. In the mean time the remainder of General Nelson's division crossed, and General Crittenden's arrived from Savannah by steamers.

Badeau says (page 84):

A battery of artillery, well posted by Colonel Webster, of Grant's staff, did good service at this juncture, and the gunboats were also of importance, as they had been for some time previous, in checking the advance of the enemy on the extreme left. Both sides were now crippled and both fatigued, the extraordinary efforts of the day telling hard on either army.... It was nearly five o'clock when the head of Nelson's column crossed the river; but, after once starting his troops, this commander was prompt in marching them, and the men themselves were eager to get into battle and assist their hard-pushed comrades. Two of Nelson's regiments were put in position, on the extreme left; and, as a final spasmodic attack was made by the rebels, these regiments fired two or three volleys and lost three men; but it was too late then to affect the fortunes of the day. The exhaustion consequent upon their earlier efforts told upon the rebels as well as upon the national troops.

General Hurlbut, in a letter to the writer, says that he had “at least four thousand steady infantry in line” to the right of the artillery massed under Colonel Webster. He also thinks they could have repelled an attack upon them. . But the contemporaneous reports of his subordinates lead to different conclusions.

General Nelson says in his report that, in obedience to orders from General Grant, reiterated by General Buell, he left Savannah at half-past 1 o'clock, and marched up the bank at Pittsburg Landing, with the head of his column, at five o'clock. He continues: [626]

The Sixth Ohio and Thirty-sixth Indiana had hardly deployed, when the left of our artillery was completely turned by the enemy, and the gunners fled from their pieces. The gallantry of the Thirty-sixth Indiana, supported by the Sixth Ohio, under the able conduct of Colonel G. Ammen, commanding the Tenth Brigade, drove back the enemy and restored the line of battle. This was at half-past 6 o'clock, and soon after the enemy withdrew, owing, I suppose, to the darkness.

This repulse undoubtedly refers to some of Chalmers's later unsupported assaults.

The following, from Nelson's report, also illustrates the demoralization of the Federal army. Nelson says:

I found cowering under the river-bank when I crossed from 7,000 to 10,000 men, frantic with fright and utterly demoralized, who received my gallant division with cries that “we are whipped!” “cut to pieces!” etc. They were insensible to shame and sarcasm, for I tried both on them; and, indignant at such poltroonery, I asked permission to open fire upon the knaves.

The scene at Pittsburg is well pictured in the following extracts from the correspondence of the Cincinnati Gazette:

Our whole army is crowded in the region of Wallace's camps, and to a circuit of one-half to two-thirds of a mile around the landing. We have been falling back all day. We can do it no more. The next repulse puts us into the river; and there are not transports enough to cross a single division till the enemy would be upon us. .... We have lost nearly all our camps and camp-equipage. We have lost nearly half our field-artillery. We have lost a division general, and two or three regiments of our soldiers as prisoners. We have lost --how dreadfully we are afraid to think — in killed and wounded. The hospitals are full to overflowing. A long ridge-bluff is set apart for surgical uses. It is covered with the maimed, the dead, and the dying. And our men are discouraged by prolonged defeat. . . . Meanwhile, there is a lull in the firing. For the first time since sunrise you fail to catch the angry rattle of musketry or the heavy booming of the field-guns. . . . On the bluffs above the river is a sight that may well make our cheeks tingle. There are not less than 5,000 skulkers lining the banks I The correspondent goes on to state that Colonel Webster placed twenty-two guns in all in position, which were served by improvised artillerists. He continues:

Remember the situation. It was half-past 4 o'clock-perhaps a quarter later still. Every division of our army on the field had been repulsed. The enemy were in the camps of four out of five of them. We were driven to within little over half a mile of the landing. Behind us was a deep, rapid river. Before us was a victorious enemy. And still there was an hour for fighting. “Oh, that night or Blucher would come!” “Oh, that night or Lew Wallace would come!” Nelson's division of General Buell's army evidently couldn't cross in time to do us much good. We didn't yet know why Lew Wallace wasn't on the [627] ground. In the justice of our cause, and in that semicircle of twenty-two guns in position, lay all the hope we could see.

He attributes the final repulse to the fire of these batteries, the shelling of the gunboats, and the assistance of Nelson's advance. That these combined means of resistance repulsed the assaults actually made is true. But they do not account for the failure of the Confederates to capture this position and consummate their victory, which was due to General Beauregard's premature recall of his troops at the moment of fate.


Iv.-a victory lost.

General Beauregard's theory of the battle of Shiloh is so different from the writer's that it is due to him to give his version of its close, as set forth in his report and in the writings of his chief of staff, who is indorsed by him.

The following is General Beauregard's telegram to the adjutant-general:

The battle commenced on the 6th of April. We attacked the enemy in a strong position in front of Pittsburg; and, after a severe battle of ten hours, duration, thanks be to the Almighty, we gained a complete victory, driving the enemy from every position. The loss on both sides is heavy, including the commander-in-chief, General A. S. Johnston, who fell gallantly leading his troops into the thickest of the fight.

G. T. Beauregard, General commanding. To General S. Cooper, Adjutant-General.

General Beauregard's brief report of the conclusion of Sunday's battle is as follows:

The chief command then devolved upon me, though at the time I was greatly prostrated and suffering from the prolonged sickness with which I had been afflicted since early in February. The responsibility was one which, in my physical condition, I would have gladly avoided, though cast upon me when our forces were successfully pushing the enemy back upon the Tennessee River, and though supported on the immediate field by such corps commanders as Major-Generals Polk, Bragg, and Hardee, and Brigadier-General Breckinridge commanding the reserve.

It was after six o'clock, P. M., as before said, when the enemy's last position was carried, and his force finally broke and sought refuge behind a commanding eminence, covering the Pittsburg Landing, not more than half a mile distant, and under the guns of the gunboats, which opened on our eager columns a fierce and annoying fire with shot and shell of the heaviest description. Darkness was close at hand. Officers and men were exhausted by a combat of over twelve hours, without food, and jaded by the march of the preceding day through mud and water; it was, therefore, impossible to collect the rich and opportune spoils [628] of war scattered broadcast on the field left in our possession, and impracticable to make any effective dispositions for their removal to the rear.

In accounting for the frustration of an alleged attempt of General Beauregard to consummate the victory, Colonel Jordan, General Beauregard's chief of staff, says:

Unfortunately, however, the Federal encampments were plethoric with food most tempting to hungry men, as well as with clothing and other alluring spoil; the thick woods, too, had greatly disintegrated almost every regiment, so that none of the divisions confronted in an embodied form the last position that remained between them and the deep, broad waters of the Tennessee. The superior officers present, howbeit, collected the men immediately around them of whatsoever corps. Tired, hungry, and exhausted, as were the Confederates, nevertheless a number of determined separate efforts were made by them, during the remaining hour of daylight, to wrench their last foothold from their elsewhere-beaten adversary.

He thus describes the order of withdrawal:

General Beauregard, in the mean time, observing the exhausted, widely-scattered condition of his army, directed it to be brought out of battle, collected and restored to order as far as practicable, and to occupy for the night the captured encampments of the enemy. This, however, had been done in chief part by the officers in immediate command of the troops before the order was generally distributed.

For this last allegation there is not the slightest warrant.

And if General Beauregard, as Jordan also states, after Prentiss's surrender, “urged the forward propulsion of the whole force upon the shattered fragments of the enemy,” these orders must have miscarried, as a diligent search has failed to discover that any such were received by his subordinates. The only orders that reached them were to retire. The operations of the afternoon evince this, as can be seen by the field reports. There was no failure by officers or troops in their duty in this respect.

Furthermore, the final rout and surrender of Prentiss occurred much earlier than six o'clock. This is made evident in the Confederate reports; while the correspondent of the Cincinnati Gazette places the rout of the Federals earlier than half-past 4. As to the order of withdrawal, it was received and in part executed before six o'clock.

Colonel Jordan also says that the gunboats “were used with an effect on our troops to which all will testify who were in the advance and witnessed it.” The testimony of these very people, when adduced, will show the exact reverse of this: that the roar and bursting of the shells, however terrific in the rear, at Beauregard's headquarters, were [629] almost harmless to the troops near the river. This was one of the lamentable features of the day: that what General Beauregard saw at Shiloh Church should be mistaken for the situation at the front; that the trains of wounded and the tide of fugitives should supplant in his eyes those heroic warriors who were still marching onward.

The substance of the statements made by Colonel Jordan is, that the order of withdrawal was issued because the last position of the Federals was impregnable, because it was too late to effect anything decisive, and because the Confederate army was dispersed, disorganized, demoralized, exhausted, and incoherently managed by its superior officers. Further, he maintains that the battle ended by a sort of subsidence of the fight from inanition before the order of withdrawal was received by the brigades.

There is just enough of truth in all this to mislead. Among the new recruits at Shiloh there were, of course, many skulkers. There are in all armies. But there is a marked distinction between these and the reckless soldiers who, careless of the restraints of discipline and prompted by an idle and barbaric curiosity, left their ranks to gather trophies or for other purposes as vain. Big-eyed wonder, more than booty, was their motive; and, at each charge, they rallied round the nearest standard with the zest of a hunt for human game. The only effective use to be made of such men is to keep hurling them at the foe. But they are not to be confounded with those streams of fugitives which, like rivulets from the base of a glacier, trickle or pour to the rear with the refuse and debris of the army.

The troops were tired and-hungry, it is true, and greatly weakened by casualties and straggling. But to say that they were “exhausted” in the sense that they could fight no more is abundantly disproved. It is refuted by numerous positive statements of their officers, and by the vigorous attacks by Chalmers late that evening and early next morning, after five combats and more than average marching. The troops were moving forward with enthusiasm when recalled by General Beauregard's order. To confound such men with the multitude of stragglers is to do a great act of injustice.

To illustrate the desultory nature of the “separate” attacks made by the Confederates, “abortive assaults” with “fruitless results,” as he styles them, Colonel Jordan cites an unsuccessful attempt of Colonel Mouton, of the Eighteenth Louisiana, “to charge a battery on a hill” about four o'clock; when, advancing “unsupported,” he was beaten back with the loss of 207 of his men. With some eighty regiments and battalions on the field, many such attacks must have occurred that day; but the particular case mentioned has no relevancy, as the time at which it was made indicates that it was one of that series of attacks by which the lines of Wallace and Prentiss were crushed, and hence, [630] though “unsupported” and baffled, not “separate,” but part of a general system of assault which was successful. Besides, no argument can be drawn as to the situation after the destruction of those divisions from a combat before that event.

Jordan also cites, as an illustration of the unconcerted movements at the front, the last assaults by Chalmers and Jackson. But these were, in fact, only parts of a well-concerted general movement, which was disconcerted, paralyzed, and brought to naught, by General Beauregard's staff officers at a critical moment withdrawing the cooperating force piecemeal. It came near being successful as it was. Had it been sustained, it would almost certainly have made the victory complete. To use it as a reason or justification for the order of withdrawal is most extraordinary.

Colonel Jordan says that “none of the divisions confronted in an embodied form the last position.” This is true. It would have been an unparalleled case if, after ten hours of continual assault, in a broken and wooded country, divisions had been found entire. But it proves nothing. The severance of commands resulted, as already indicated, from the plan of battle, corps moving in successive parallel lines, and from the nature of the ground. But they had fought in this wise all day; every combat on the field had been thus won; and all the corps, except Hardee's, were more “embodied” after Prentiss's surrender than they had been since 10 A. M. Trabue was reunited to Breckinridge, and Cheatham to Polk, and Bragg had his men more in hand than when charging positions miles apart. The army was not demoralized, as suggested. Weakened but resolute bands of men, animated by duty, discipline, intelligent patriotism, and “the stern joy that warriors feel,” still stood coherent, eager, and fired with the ardor of combat and the exultation of a marvelous success. Nothing remained except to give the finishing stroke.

The real strength and character of the attack made by Chalmers and Jackson, and the measure of the resistance possible under the circumstances by the Federal remnant, may be safely left to the intelligence of the reader who has carefully considered what has been herein recorded from the pens of both Federals and Confederates. According to the writer's view, the actual contest was between the fragments of two Confederate brigades and Webster's guns, supported by Ammen's brigade and a few infantry. What would have been achieved but for General Beauregard's order of withdrawal can only be surmised. But it will be made clear, from contemporary reports and other sources, that the state of facts did not exist on which the order was based; and that, through a total misconception of General Johnston's purposes, and a failure to carry them out, a mighty victory was allowed to glide from the hand of the conqueror. This might have been permitted to pass as [631] a pardonable error of judgment, as indeed it seems to the writer to be, considering the ill-health of General Beauregard, his position upon the field, and the part he took in the battle of Sunday; but it would be unjust to allow to pass into history the claim set up that his order of withdrawal was an act of consummate wisdom, or anything else, indeed, than a fatal blow to the Confederate cause.

Let us see whether General Beauregard's theory, as expounded by himself and his chief of staff, or the writer's view, is verified by the evidence in the case.

Governor Harris writes as follows in a recent letter:

General Johnston's plans had been carried out with signal success up to the moment of his death; and I believed then, as I do now, that the momentum of success already achieved rendered certain a great and decisive victory.

Hardee, in his report, says:

At this moment of supreme interest it was our misfortune to lose the commanding general. ... This disaster caused a lull in the attack on the right, and precious hours were wasted. It is, in my opinion, the candid belief of intelligent men that but for this calamity we would have achieved before sunset a triumph, signal not only in the annals of this war, but memorable in future history ...

Upon the death of General Johnston, the command having devolved upon General Beauregard, the conflict was continued until near sunset, and the advance divisions were within a few hundred yards of Pittsburg, where the enemy were huddled in confusion, when the order to withdraw was received. The troops were ordered to bivouac upon the field of battle.

Speaking elsewhere of Wood's brigade, he incidentally remarks:

This brigade was by my order moved forward later in the afternoon in the direction of the heavy cannonade in front, but about sunset was ordered to withdraw by a staff officer from General Beauregard.

Cleburne, in his report, says:

I again advanced until halted by an aide of General Beauregard, who informed me we were not to approach nearer to the river.

General Polk's report says:

By this time the troops under my command were joined by those of Generals Bragg and Breckinridge, and my fourth brigade, under General Cheatham, from the right. The field was clear; the rest of the forces of the enemy were driven to the river and under its bank. We had one hour or more of daylight still left, were within one hundred and fifty to four hundred yards of the enemy's position, and nothing seemed wanting to complete the most brilliant victory of the war but to press forward and make a vigorous assault on the demoralized remnant of his forces. [632]

At this juncture, his gunboats dropped down the river near the landing, where his troops were collected, and opened a tremendous cannonade of shot and shell over the bank in the direction whence our forces were approaching. The height of the plain on which we were, above the level of the water, was about one hundred feet, so that it was necessary to give great elevation to his guns to enable him to fire over the bank. The consequence was, that shot could take effect only at points remote from the river's edge. They were comparatively harmless to our troops nearest the bank, and became increasingly so as we drew near the enemy, and placed him between us and his boats. Here the impression arose that our forces were waging an unequal contest; that they were exhausted and suffering from a murderous fire; and, by an order from the commanding general, they were withdrawn from the field.

The following is an extract from General Bragg's official report of the battle of Shiloh:

It may not be amiss to refer briefly to the causes it is believed operated to prevent the complete overthrow of the enemy, which we were so near accomplishing, and which would have changed the entire complexion of the war. The want of proper organization and discipline, and the inferiority in many cases of our officers to the men they were expected to command, left us often without system or order, and the large proportion of stragglers resulting weakened our forces, and kept the superior and staff officers constantly engaged in the duties of file-closers. Especially was this the case after the occupation of the enemy's camps, the spoils of which served to delay and greatly to demoralize our men. But no one cause probably contributed so greatly to our loss of time, which was the loss of success, as the fall of the commanding general. At the moment of this irreparable disaster, the plan of battle was being rapidly and successfully executed under his immediate eye and lead on the right. For want of a common superior to the different commands on that part of the field, great delay occurred after this misfortune, and that delay prevented the consummation of the work so gallantly and successfully begun and carried on, until the approach of night induced our new commander to recall the exhausted troops for rest and recuperation before a crowning effort on the next morning.

As soon as our troops could be again formed and put in motion, the order was given to move forward at all points and sweep the enemy from the field. The sun was about disappearing, so that little time was left us to finish the glorious work of the day — a day unsurpassed in the history of warfare for its daring deeds, brilliant achievements, and heavy sacrifices.

Our troops, greatly exhausted by twelve hours incessant fighting, without food, mostly responded to the order with alacrity, and the movement commenced with every prospect of success, though a heavy battery in our front, and the gunboats on our right, seemed determined to dispute every inch of ground. Just at this time an order was received from the commanding general to withdraw the forces beyond the enemy's fire. As this was communicated in many instances direct to brigade commanders, the troops were soon in motion and the action ceased. The different commands, mixed and scattered, bivouacked at points most convenient to their positions and beyond the range of the enemy's guns. All firing, except a half-hour's shot from the gunboats, ceased, and the whole night was passed by our exhausted men in quiet. Such as had not [633] sought shelter in the camps of the enemy were again drenched before morning by one of those heavy rain-storms which seemed to be our portion for this expedition.

But General Bragg is still more explicit in his sketch of “Shiloh,” communicated to the writer. After discussing the events up to the time of General Johnston's death, which, he says, “sealed the fate of the South, and destroyed the liberties of this country,” Bragg says:

The command devolved, of course, on General Beauregard, the nest in rank, who, in feeble health, as previously stated, was with his carriage, where the commanding general had assigned him, far in the rear of the strife, directing the movements of the reserves. The fall of Johnston produced a sort of temporary paralysis with the troops under his immediate command on our right. But, after a short respite, which they improved to replenish their haversacks and cartridge-boxes from the enemy's rich stores, they resumed their victorious march under the direction of General Bragg, who had promptly repaired to this part of his command on receiving notice of General Johnston's death.

The troops promptly and enthusiastically responded to the command “Forward! Let every order be forward!” The rapid and near approach, at this time, of all our troops to the enemy's last stronghold, immediately on the bank of the river, where we had completely enveloped all that was left to him from five of his six divisions, indicated that the end was inevitable and near at hand. Concurring testimony, especially that of the prisoners on both sides-our captured being present and witnesses to the demoralization of the enemy, and their eagerness to escape or avoid further slaughter by surrender-left no doubt but that a persistent, energetic assault would soon have been crowned by a general yielding of his whole force. About one hour of daylight was left to us. The enemy's gunboats, his last hope, took position opposite us, in the river, and commenced a furious cannonade at our supposed position. From the elevation necessary to reach the high bluff, on which we were operating, this proved “all sound and fury signifying nothing,” and did not in the slightest degree mar our prospects or our progress. Not so, however, in our rear, where these heavy shells fell among the reserves and stragglers; and, to the utter dismay of the commanders on the field, the troops were seen to abandon their inspiring work, and to retire sullenly from the contest when danger was almost past, and victory, so dearly purchased, was almost certain ....

What followed is a part of the sad history of the country, and need not be recapitulated. Had the first shot of the 5th, on the skirmish-line, killed Sidney Johnston, the battle of Shiloh would not have been fought and won by the Confederates. Had the fatal shot which struck him down on the 6th not been fired, Grant and his forces would have been destroyed or captured before sundown, and Buell would never have crossed the Tennessee.

A few days after our great disaster, the Secretary of War telegraphed General Bragg that the President had nominated, and the Senate had confirmed him, as general in the Confederate States Army, to fill the vacancy caused by Sidney Johnston's death. To that dispatch the following reply was sent: “I feel greatly honored at my selection by the President to succeed Sidney Johnston — no one can fill the vacancy.” [634]

Colonel Jordan, after saying that the officers in immediate command of the troops were withdrawing before General Beauregard's order to retire was generally distributed, adds in a note ( “Life of Forrest,” page 134):

This was especially the case with Bragg's corps. Yet, oddly enough, General Bragg, in his own official report, ventures to state that his men, though greatly exhausted, were about to charge with great alacrity upon the last position, and most probably would have carried it, when Beauregard's order was received recalling them.

He says further (page 150):

His order really was not distributed before the greater part of the Confederate troops had already given up the attempt for that day to carry the ridge at the landing.

As it might appear from these dicta that Bragg's report was baseless, the following extracts are given from the reports of his subordinates.

Major-General Withers, in his official report of June 20, 1862, says:

This division was then advanced to the Pittsburg edge of the field, in which the enemy had stacked their arms, and halted for a supply of ammunition. Most of the regiments were supplied from the camps of the enemy. The order was now given by General Bragg, who was present on the right during the fierce fight which ended in the capture of Prentiss, to “sweep everything forward!” This division was moved promptly forward, although some regiments had not succeeded in getting a supply of ammunition, and had just entered a steep and precipitous ravine, when the enemy opened a terrific fire upon it. Staff officers were immediately dispatched to bring up all the reinforcements to be found, and the order was given to brigade commanders to charge the batteries. These orders were being obeyed, when, to my astonishment, a large portion of the command was observed to move rapidly by the left flank from under the fire of the enemy. Orders were immediately sent to arrest the commanding officers, and for the troops to be promptly placed in position for charging the batteries. Information was soon brought, however, that it was by General Beauregard's orders, delivered thus directly to brigade commanders, that the troops were being rapidly led from under the fire of the enemy's gunboats. Thus ended the fight on Sunday, and thus was this command disorganized, an evil sorely felt during the next day.

Major-General Ruggles, Bragg's other division commander, makes the following statement in his report:

Subsequently, while advancing toward the river, I received instructions from General Bragg to carry forward all the troops I could find, and, while assembling a considerable force ready for immediate action, I received from Colonel Augustin notice of General Beauregard's orders to withdraw from the further pursuit; and, finding soon afterward that the forces were falling back, I retired with them, just as night set in, to the open field in the rear; and, as I received [635] no further orders, I directed General Anderson and Colonel Gibson to hold their troops in readiness, with their arms cleaned and cartridges supplied, for service the next morning.

By reference to Jackson's report of his last charge (page 624), it will be seen that he was thus withdrawn. General R. L. Gibson, commanding one of Ruggles's brigades, commenting in an unofficial letter, writes as follows:

From all I have been able to gather, the conception, or plan of battle, was excellent. It was a complete surprise; and, at the moment of General Johnston's fall, so far as I could learn, we were successful all along the lines. The enemy was broken and routed, and in full retreat. I was riding with General Cheatham, when the news of his death was confirmed. We were moving our commands toward the river, with nothing in sight to oppose our easy march. When within a few hundred yards of the river, the gunboats opened an aimless fire in the direction we were moving. We halted and formed line of battle, and sent forward scouts and skirmishers, preparatory to attacking or resuming the march toward the river. While at this, I met my general of division, General Ruggles, and he told me the order was to halt. It was yet light. I am not sure the sun was down. You could see as well as at mid-day. It was before twilight. I think we had at least one good battle-hour remaining.

My conviction is that, had General Johnston survived, the victory would have been complete, and his army would have planted the standard of the Confederacy on the banks of the Ohio.

General Johnston's death was a tremendous catastrophe. There are no words adequate to express my own conception of the immensity of the loss to our country. Sometimes the hopes of millions of people depend upon one head and one arm. The West perished with Albert Sidney Johnston, and the Southern country followed.

General Gilmer, in a letter to the writer, dated September 17, 1872, gives the following statement in regard to the battle:

It is my well-considered opinion that, if your father had survived the day, he would have crushed and captured General Grant's army before the setting of the sun on the 6th. In fact, at the time your father received the mortal wound advancing with General Breckinridge's command, the day was ours. The enemy having lost all the stormed positions on that memorable field, his troops fell back in great disorder on the banks of the Tennessee. To cover the confusion, rapid fires were opened from the gunboats the enemy had placed in the river; but the shots passed entirely over our devoted men, who were exultant and eager to be led forward to the final assault, which must have resulted in a complete victory, owing to the confusion and general disorganization of the Federal troops. I know the condition of General Grant's army at the moment, as I had reached a high, projecting point on the bank of the river about a mile above Pittsburg Landing, and could see the hurried movements to get the disordered troops across to the right bank. Several thousand had already passed, and a confused mass of men crowded to the landing to get on the boats that were employed in crossing. I rode rapidly to General Bragg's position to report [636] what I had seen, and suggested that if he would suspend the fire of his artillery, and marshal his infantry for a general advance, the enemy must surrender. General Bragg decided to make the advance, and authorized me and other officers to direct the commanders of the batteries to cease firing.

In the midst of these preparations, orders reached General Bragg from General Beauregard directing the troops to be withdrawn and placed in camp for the night — the intention being to resume the contest in the morning. This was fatal, as it enabled General Buell and General Wallace to arrive on the scene of action; that is, they came up in the course of the night. Had General Beauregard known the condition of the enemy, as your father knew it, when he received the fatal shot, the order for withdrawal would certainly not have been given, and, without such order, I know the enemy would have been crushed.

General Duke, in his “Life of Morgan,” takes the following view of these events (page 154):

It is a point conceded now on all sides that, had the Confederate army pursued its success on the evening of the first day, the army under General Grant would have been annihilated, and Buell never could have crossed the river. Had General Johnston survived, the battle would have been pressed vigorously to that consummation. Then, what would have been the situation? The army, remaining upon the banks of the Tennessee for a few days, would have been reorganized and recovered from the exhausting effects of the battle. The slightly wounded, returning to the ranks, would have made the muster-roll full thirty thousand effectives. Price and Van Dorn, coming with about fifteen thousand, and the levies from all quarters which were hastening to Corinth, would have given General Johnston nearly sixty thousand men.

Duke then goes on to consider the results, which he concludes must have transferred the seat of war to Kentucky, perhaps to the Northwestern States.

Finally, I shall take the liberty of quoting Colonel Jordan in reply to himself ( “Life of Forrest,” page 134). In giving the deeds of Forrest and his men in the fray, he says:

They assisted in the capture of General Prentiss's men, and, being mounted, as well as comparatively fresh, led the advance upon the ridge, where the battery was established. Despite the efforts of the Federal officers, such was the confusion prevalent as Forrest began to skirmish vigorously, that he sent a staff officer to report to General Polk (from whom he had last received orders), that by a strong, rapid, forward movement, the enemy might be driven into the river.

Jordan also says in a note (page 135), that Willie Forrest, a boy of fifteen--with two other comrades of the same age, happening to get detached, made their way to the river, near which they came upon fifteen or twenty Federal soldiers. Firing upon the group with their shot-guns, these boys then charged, and captured and led away some fifteen prisoners, whom they delivered to the provost-marshal. [637]

Could a more striking illustration be given of the demoralization of the Federal army; and this, too, under “a raking fire from the gunboats, and the artillery of both sides playing over their heads!”

Another incident of the battle, in connection with General Forrest and his son, deserves to be remembered as illustrative of the condition of our undisciplined troops after the fight, and as showing how much was lost by a failure to press forward while our men were together, and before night and the demoralization of victory, with its rich spoils, had scattered them; and it is thus told by General Chalmers:

When night put a stop to my efforts to take the last hill above Pittsburg Landing, I fell back, and found to my great surprise that our whole army had fallen back. I bivouacked my men in line on the ground where Prentiss surrendered, and about midnight was awakened by Colonel (afterward General) Forrest, who was searching for his son, whom he supposed to have been killed.

He asked me first for the headquarters of General Beauregard, then of Bragg, Polk, and Hardee; and I told him I did not know where any of them were. He asked then where my command was; and I answered, “Sleeping in line before me with their guns by their sides.” He replied, “You are the first general I have found to-night who knows where his men are, and if the enemy attack us in the morning they will whip us like hell!” He said, “I will put out a picket in front of you.” And he did, and gave me timely notice, before day, that the enemy was preparing to advance.

It is thus seen that, so far from General Bragg's corps withdrawing before the distribution of the order, both Jackson and Withers concur that this order came direct from General Beauregard; while Chalmers, who did not receive any order to retire, continued the fight alone until dark.

Chalmers says, in a memorandum to the writer:

One more resolute movement forward would have captured Grant and his whole army, and fulfilled to the letter the battle-plan of the great Confederate general, who died in the belief that victory was ours, and that his own reputation was fully redeemed.

General Beauregard sums up his theory of the plan of battle in his report in the following language:

By a rapid and vigorous attack on General Grant, it was expected he would be beaten back into his transports and the river, or captured in time to enable us to profit by the victory, and remove to the rear all the stores and munitions that would fall into our hands in such an event before the arrival of General Buell's army on the scene. It was never contemplated, however, to retain the position thus gained and abandon Corinth, the strategic point of the campaign.

Why, then, did he stop short in his career? Sunday evening, it was not a question of retaining, but of gaining Pittsburg Landing. On that day there was no strategic point for Confederates under all the [638] heavens except the heart and vitals of Grant's army, which crouched throbbing, pierced, mangled, and bleeding, under the bluffs at Pittsburg Landing.

That General Beauregard's view of General Johnston's plans is fallacious, must be apparent to the reader of these pages. It is unhappily only too plain that he misinterpreted the vast purpose of his commander. What were the consequences of that mistake?

The last attack of the day was about to be made, and in sufficient force to insure its success. Most of the Confederate brigades were swarming to the front, converging their lines upon the sole point of defense. Their ability to take it seems scarcely to admit a doubt. That little screen thrown down, the Federal army lay at the absolute mercy of its antagonist. The Confederates, in possession of the heights, could have poured concentrated destruction and slaughter into the confused mass below, and compelled instant surrender. All the fruits of victory seemed within the grasp of the Confederate army, when the prize so dearly bought was suddenly snatched away. It was as in those dreams where visions of untold riches, and power, and splendor, loom before the sleeper, when a word rudely awakens him to the hard realities, it may be even to the cruel afflictions, of actual life. The Confederates saw Grant crushed, annihilated; Buell checked, retreating; the tide of war rolled back and pouring across the border; Kentucky, Missouri, aroused, instinct with martial fervor, and springing into the ranks with their sisters of the South; renewed prestige, restored confidence, increased credit, strength, and means of warfare; peace, prosperity, and independence; and a young and strong Confederacy, a martial virgin --a helmeted Minerva-among the nations, entering on a long and splendid career, in which liberty and order, justice and tradition, power and peace, should uphold the fabric of the state. The omen of the name was to be fulfilled. At “Shiloh,” “he whose right it is” was about to prevail. But, in the sad significance of the result, the fulfillment remained as obscure as the oracle was ambiguous. After all, it was only a dream, in which bearded men and red-handed warriors saw, through the smoke of the battle-field, and the mists of blood-reeking forest-lands, an idea grow into life. But the spell was broken, the scene dissolved; all these fair promises of the future “are melted into air, thin air” --

And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
... this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind.

All was shattered by one word. “On!” would have made it history; but the commanding general said, “Retire.” Oh, the power of a general-in-chief! It was all over. That bloody field was to mean [639] nothing in all time but a slain hero, and 25,000 dauntless soldiers stretched upon a bloody field-and another day of purposeless slaughter, with broken bands of desperate men mangling and slaying to no visible end in all God's plan of setting up the right. The great forest tract was sinking into darkness, stained, trampled, and echoing with groans. But the victory-its very hope — was gone. “They had watered their horses in the Tennessee River;” but, when he fell who spoke the word, the prediction had lost its meaning.

1 Life of Forrest, p. 121.

2 Rebellion record, vol. IV., p. 388.

3 Of B. R. Johnson's brigade, Polk's corps.

4 The Second Tennessee.

5 A cotton-gin house.

6 Badeau, in his “Life of Grant,” vol. i., p. 75, gives this note thus: “Heavy firing is heard up the river, indicating plainly that an attack has been made upon our most advanced positions. I have been looking for this, but did not believe the attack would be made before Monday or Tuesday. This necessitates my joining my forces up the river, instead of meeting you to-day as I had contemplated. I have directed General Nelson to move to the river with his division. He can march to opposite Pittsburg.”

7 Badeau's “Life of Grant,” vol. i., p. 75.

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