The battle of Shiloh.
The battle of Shiloh
, or Pittsburg Landing
, fought on Sunday and Monday, the 6th and 7th of April, 1862, has been perhaps less understood, or, to state the case more accurately, more persistently misunderstood, than any other engagement between National and Confederate troops during the entire rebellion.
Correct reports of the battle have been published, notably by Sherman
, and, in a speech before a meeting of veterans, by General Prentiss
; but all of these appeared long subsequent to the close of the rebellion, and after public opinion had been most erroneously formed.
Events had occurred before the battle, and others subsequent to it, which determined me to make no report to my then chief, General Halleck
, further than was contained in a letter, written immediately after the battle, informing him that an engagement had been fought, and announcing the result.
The occurrences alluded to are these: After the capture of Fort Donelson
, with over fifteen thousand effective men and all their munitions of war, I believed much more could be accomplished without further sacrifice of life.
, a town between Donelson
, in the State of Tennessee
, and on the east bank of the Cumberland
, was garrisoned by the enemy.
was also garrisoned, and was probably the best-provisioned depot at the time in the Confederacy
Albert Sidney Johnston
occupied Bowling Green
, with a large force.
I believed, and my information justified the belief, that these places would fall into our hands without a battle, if threatened promptly.
I determined not to miss this chance.
But being only a district commander, and under the immediate orders of the department commander, General Halleck
, whose headquarters were at St. Louis
, it was my duty to communicate to him all I proposed to do, and to get his approval, if possible.
I did so communicate, and, receiving no reply, acted upon my own judgment.
The result proved that my information was correct, and sustained my judgment.
What, then, was my surprise, after so much had been accomplished by the troops under my immediate command between the time of leaving Cairo
, early in February, and the 4th of March, to receive from my chief a dispatch of the latter date, saying: “You will place Major-General C. F. Smith
in command of expedition, and remain yourself at Fort Henry
Why do you not obey my orders to report strength and positions of
I was left virtually in arrest on board a steamer, without even a guard, for about a week, when I was released and ordered to resume my command.
Again: Shortly after the battle of Shiloh
had been fought, General Halleck
moved his headquarters to Pittsburg Landing
, and assumed command of the troops in the field.
Although next to him in rank, and nominally in command of my old district and army, I was ignored as much as if I had been at the most distant point
Outline map of the Shiloh campaign.|
of territory within my jurisdiction; and although I was in command of all the troops engaged at Shiloh
, I was not permitted to see one of the reports of General Buell
or his subordinates in that battle, until they were published by the War Department, long after the event.
In consequence, I never myself made a full report of this engagement.
When I was restored to my command, on the 13th of March, I found it on the Tennessee River
, part at Savannah
and part at Pittsburg Landing
, nine miles above, and on the opposite or western bank.
I generally spent the day at Pittsburg
, and returned by boat to Savannah
in the evening.
I was intending to remove my headquarters to Pittsburg
, where I had sent all the troops immediately upon my reassuming command, but Buell
, with the Army of the Ohio, had been ordered to reinforce me from Columbia, Tenn.
He was expected daily, and would come in at Savannah
I remained, therefore, a few days longer than I otherwise should have done, for the purpose of meeting him on his arrival.
General Lew Wallace
, with a division, had been placed by General Smith
at Crump's Landing, about five miles farther down the river than Pittsburg
, and also on the west bank.
His position I regarded as so well chosen that he was not moved from it until the Confederate
attack in force at Shiloh
The skirmishing in our front had been so continuous from about the 3d of April up to the determined attack, that I remained on the field each night until an hour when I felt there would be no further danger before morning.
In fact, on Friday, the 4th, I was very much injured by my horse falling with me and on me while I was trying to get to the front, where firing had been heard.
The night was one of impenetrable darkness, with rain pouring down in torrents; nothing was visible to the eye except as revealed by the frequent flashes of lightning.
Under these circumstances I had to trust to the horse, without guidance, to keep the road.
I had not gone far, however, when I met General W. H. L. Wallace
and General (then Colonel
coming from the direction of the front.
They said all was quiet so far as the enemy was concerned.
On the way back to the boat my horse's feet slipped from under him, and he fell with my leg under his body.
The extreme softness of
the ground, from the excessive rains of the few preceding days, no doubt saved me from a severe injury and protracted lameness.
As it was, my ankle was very much injured; so much so, that my boot had to be cut off. During the battle, and for two or three days after, I was unable to walk except with crutches.
On the 5th General Nelson
, with a division of Buell
's army, arrived at Savannah
, and I ordered him to move up the east bank of the river, to be in a position where he could be ferried over to Crump's Landing or Pittsburg Landing
, as occasion required.
I had learned that General Buell
himself would be at Savannah
the next day, and desired to meet me on his arrival.
Affairs at Pittsburg Landing
had been such for several days that I did not want to be away during the day. I determined, therefore, to take a
The landing below the house.
From photographs taken in 1884.
Crump's Landing is, by river, about five miles below (north of) Pittsburg Landing.
Here one of General Lew Wallace's three brigades was encamped on the morning of the battle, another brigade being two miles back, on the road to Purdy, and a third brigade half a mile farther advanced.
The Widow Crump's house is about a quarter of a mile above the landing.|
very early breakfast and ride out to meet Buell
, and thus save time.
He had arrived on the evening of the 5th, but had not advised me of the fact, and I was not aware of it until some time after.
While I was at breakfast, however, heavy firing was heard in the direction of Pittsburg Landing
, and I hastened there, sending a hurried note to Buell
, informing him of the reason why I could not meet him at Savannah
On the way up the river I directed the dispatch-boat to run in close to Crump's Landing, so that I could communicate with General Lew Wallace
I found him waiting on a boat, apparently expecting to see me, and I directed him to get his troops in line ready to
execute any orders he might receive.
He replied that his troops were already under arms and prepared to move.
Up to that time I had felt by no means certain that Crump
's Landing might not be the point of attack.
On reaching the front, however, about 8 A. M., I found that the attack on Shiloh
was unmistakable, and that nothing more than a small guard, to protect our transports and stores, was needed at Crump
's. Captain A. S. Baxter
, a quartermaster on my staff, was accordingly directed to go back and order General Wallace
to march immediately to Pittsburg
, by the road nearest the river.
made a memorandum of his order.
About 11 P. M., not hearing from Wallace
, and being much in need of reinforcements, I sent two more of my staff, Colonel James B. McPherson
and Captain W. R. Rowley
, to bring him up with his division.
They reported finding him marching toward Purdy
, or some point west from the river, and farther from Pittsburg
by several miles than when he started.
The road from his first position was direct, and near the river.
Between the two points a bridge had been built across Snake Creek
by our troops, at which Wallace
's command had assisted, expressly to enable the troops at the two places to support each other in case of need.
did not arrive in time to take part in the first day's fight.
has since claimed that the order delivered to him by Captain Baxter
was simply to join the right of the army, and that the road over which he marched would have taken him to the road from Pittsburg
, where it crosses Owl Creek
, on the right of Sherman
; but this is not where I had ordered him nor where I wanted him to go. I never could see, and do not now see, why any order was necessary further than to direct him to come to Pittsburg Landing
, without specifying by what route.
His was one of three veteran divisions that had been in battle, and its absence was severely felt.
Later in the war, General Wallace
would never have made the mistake that he committed on the 6th of April, 1862.
I presume his idea was that by taking the route he did, he would be able to come around on the flank or rear of the enemy, and thus perform an act of heroism that would redound to the credit of his command, as well as to the benefit of his country.1
was a log meeting-house, some two or three miles from Pittsburg Landing
, and on the ridge which divides the waters of Snake
and Lick creeks
, the former entering into the Tennessee
just north of Pittsburg Landing
, and the latter south.
was the key to our position, and was held by Sherman
His division was at that time
New Shiloh Church, on the site of the log chapel which was destroyed after the battle.|
wholly raw, no part of it ever having been in an engagement, but I thought this deficiency was more than made up by the superiority of the commander.
was on Sherman
's left, with troops that had been engaged at Fort Donelson
, and were therefore veterans so far as Western troops had become such at that stage of the war. Next to McClernand
, with a raw division, and on the extreme left,
Shiloh spring, in the ravine south of the chapel.
From photographs taken in 1884.|
The spring is on the Confederate
side of the ravine.
Hard fighting took place here, in the early morning of Sunday, between Sherman
's and Hardee
, with one brigade of Sherman
was in rear of Prentiss
, massed, and in reserve at the time of the onset.
The division of General C. F. Smith
was on the right, also in reserve.
Map of the field of Shiloh.
The map used with General Grant's article on Shiloh, as first printed in The Century Magazine for February, 1885, was a copy of the official map (see page 508) which was submitted by the editors to General Grant and was approved by him. Subsequently General Grant, through his son, Colonel Frederick D. Grant, furnished the editors with a revision of the official map, agreeing in every respect with the map printed in the “Memoirs,” here reproduced.
In response to an inquiry by the editors for the reasons which influenced General Grant in making the substitution, Colonel Grant wrote as follows, under date of Chicago, Ill., March 20th, 1887: |
Father was very ill when the map used with his article, on Shiloh, by “ The Century” Co., was submitted to him. He looked at the topography and found it about as he remembered the ground; but after you published it, he read some of the criticisms upon both the article and the map. Thus having his attention called to the subject, he revised the article, making it more forcible, and directed me to get for his book the map which was in the possession of Colonel Dayton, Secretary of the Society of the Army of the Tennessee, and which he had heard of or seen.
This map proved to be more satisfactoryto him than the one he had first used, as it agreed more perfectly with his statements and recollection of the positions occupied by the troops at the end of the first day's battle.
Therefore, the only reason that can be assigned for General Grant's change of maps is that the one used in his book [Memoirs] was more satisfactory to him, his delicate health having prevented his thorough investigation of the map in the first place.
Major Ezra Taylor
First position of Waterhouse's Battery.
From a sketch made shortly after the battle.|
, General Sherman
's chief of artillery, says in his report: “Captain A. C. Waterhouse
's battery [was placed] near the left of the division [Sherman's]--four guns on the right bank of the Owl Creek
[to the left and front of General Sherman
's headquarters] and two guns on the left bank of Owl Creek
[about 150 yards to the front]. The enemy appearing in large masses, and opening a battery to the front and right of the two guns, advanced across Owl Creek
I instructed Captain Waterhouse
to retire the two guns to the position occupied by the rest of his battery, about which time the enemy appeared in large force in the open field directly in front of the position of this battery, bearing aloft, as I supposed, the American
flag, and their men and officers wearing uniforms so similar to ours that I hesitated to open fire on them until they passed into the woods and were followed by other troops who wore a uniform not to be mistaken.
I afterward learned that the uniform jackets worn by these troops were black.
As soon as I was certain as to the character of the troops, I ordered the firing to commence, which was done in fine style and with excellent precision.”
Both Captain Waterhouse
and Lieutenant A. R. Abbott
were severely wounded.-editors.
sick in bed at Savannah
, some nine miles below, but in hearing of our guns.
His services on those two eventful days would no doubt have been of inestimable value had his health permitted his presence.
The command of his division devolved upon Brigadier-General W. H. L. Wallace
, a most estimable and able officer,--a veteran, too, for he had served a year in the Mexican
war, and had been with his command at Henry
was mortally wounded in the first day's engagement, and with the
Confederate charge upon Prentiss's camp on Sunday morning.
Of the capture of General Prentiss's camp, Colonel Francis Quinn (Twelfth Michigan Infantry) says in his official report dated April 9th: “About daylight the dead and wounded began to be brought in. The firing grew closer and closer, till it became manifest a heavy force of the enemy was upon us. The division was ordered into line of battle by General Prentiss, and immediately advanced in line about one-quarter of a mile from the tents, where the enemy were met in short-firing distance.
Volley after volley was given and returned, and many fell on both sides, but their numbers were too heavy for our forces.
I could see to the right and left.
They were visible in line, and every hill-top in the rear was covered with them.
It was manifest they were advancing, in not only one, but several lines of battle.
The whole division fell back to their tents and again rallied, and, although no regular line was formed, yet from behind every tree a deadly fire was poured out upon the enemy, which held them in check for about one half-hour, when, reinforcements coming to their assistance, they advanced furiously upon our camp, and we were forced again to give way. At this time we lost four pieces of artillery.
The division fell back about one half-mile, very much scattered and broken.
Here we were posted, being drawn up in line behind a dense clump of bushes.”--editors.|
change of commanders thus necessarily effected in the heat of battle, the efficiency of his division was much weakened.
The position of our troops made a continuous line from Lick Creek
, on the left, to Owl Creek
, a branch of Snake Creek
, on the right, facing nearly south, and possibly a little west.
[See map, page 470.] The water in all these streams was very high at the time, and contributed to protect our flanks.
The enemy was compelled, therefore, to attack directly in front.
This he did with great vigor, inflicting heavy losses on the National
side, but suffering much heavier on his own.
The Confederate assaults were made with such disregard of losses on their own side, that our line of tents soon fell into their hands.
The ground on which the battle was fought was undulating, heavily timbered, with scattered clearings, the woods giving some protection to the troops on both sides.
There was also considerable underbrush.
A number of attempts were made by the enemy to turn our right flank, where Sherman
was posted, but every
effort was repulsed with heavy loss.
But the front attack was kept up so vigorously that, to prevent the success of these attempts to get on our flanks, the National
troops were compelled several times to take positions to the rear, nearer Pittsburg Landing
When the firing ceased at night, the National
line was all of a mile in rear of the position it had occupied in the morning.
In one of the backward moves, on the 6th, the division commanded by General Prentiss
did not fall back with the others.
This left his flanks exposed, and enabled the enemy to capture him, with about 2200 of his officers and men. General Badeau
gives 4 o'clock of the 6th as about the time this capture took place.
He may be right as to the time, but my recollection is that the hour was later.
himself gave the hour as half-past 5. I was with him, as I was with each of the division commanders that day, several times, and my recollection is that the last time I was with him was about half-past 4, when his division was standing up firmly, and the general was as cool as if expecting victory.
But no matter whether it was four or later, the story that he and his command were surprised and captured in their camps is without any foundation whatever.
If it had been true, as currently reported at the time, and yet believed by thousands of people, that Prentiss
and his division had been captured in their beds, there would not have been an all-day struggle with the loss of thousands killed and wounded on the Confederate
With the single exception of a few minutes after the capture of Prentiss
, a continuous and unbroken line was maintained all day from Snake Creek
or its tributaries on the right to Lick Creek
or the Tennessee
on the left, above Pittsburg
There was no hour during the day when there was not heavy firing and generally hard fighting at some point on the line, but seldom at all points at the same time.
It was a case of Southern dash against Northern pluck and endurance.
Three of the five divisions engaged on Sunday were entirely raw, and many of the men had only received their arms on the way from their States to the field.
Many of them had arrived but a day or two before, and were hardly able to load their muskets according to the manual.
Their officers were equally ignorant of their duties.
Under these circumstances, it is not astonishing that many of the regiments broke at the first fire.
In two cases, as I now remember, colonels led their regiments from the field on first hearing the whistle of the enemy's bullets.
In these cases the colonels were constitutional cowards, unfit for any military position.
But not so the officers and men led out of danger by them.
Better troops never went upon a battlefield than many of these officers and men afterward proved themselves to be who fled panic-stricken at the first whistle of bullets and shell at Shiloh
During the whole of Sunday I was continuously engaged in passing from one part of the field to another, giving directions to division commanders.
In thus moving along the line, however, I never deemed it important to stay long with Sherman
Although his troops were then under fire for the first time, their commander, by his constant presence with them, inspired a confidence in officers and men that enabled them to render services on that bloody
battle-field worthy of the best of veterans.
was next to Sherman
, and the hardest fighting was in front of these two divisions.
told me on that day, the 6th, that he profited much by having so able a commander supporting him. A casualty to Sherman
that would have taken him from the field that day would have been a sad one for the troops engaged at Shiloh
And how near we came to this!
On the 6th Sherman
was shot twice, once in the hand, once in the shoulder, the ball cutting his coat and making a slight wound, and a third ball passed through his hat. In addition to this he had several horses shot during the day.
The nature of this battle was such that cavalry could not be used in front; I therefore formed ours into line, in rear, to stop stragglers, of whom there were many.
When there would be enough of them to make a show, and after they had recovered from their fright, they would be sent to reenforce some part of the line which needed support, without regard to their companies, regiments, or brigades.
On one occasion during the day, I rode back as far as the river and met General Buell
, who had just arrived; I do not remember the hour, but at that time there probably were as many as four or five thousand stragglers lying under cover of the river-bluff, panic-stricken, most of whom would have been shot where they lay, without resistance, before they would have taken muskets and marched to the front to protect themselves.
This meeting between General Buell
and myself was on the dispatch-boat used to run between the landing and Savannah
It was brief, and related specially to his getting his troops over the river.
As we left the boat together, Buell
's attention was attracted by the men lying under cover of the bank.
I saw him berating.
them and trying to shame them into joining their regiments.
He even threatened them with shells from the gun-boats near by. But it was all to no effect.
Most of these men afterward proved themselves as gallant as any of those who saved the battle from which they had deserted.
I have no doubt that this sight impressed General Buell
with the idea that a line of retreat would be a good thing just then.
If he had come in by the front instead of through the stragglers in the rear, he would have thought and felt differently.
Could he have come through the Confederate
rear, he would have witnessed there a scene similar to that at our own. The distant rear of an army engaged in battle is not the best place from which to judge correctly what is going on in front.
Later in the war, while occupying the country between the Tennessee
and the Mississippi
, I learned that the panic in the Confederate
lines had not differed much from that within our own. Some of the country people estimated the stragglers from Johnston
's army as high as twenty thousand.
Of course, this was an exaggeration.
The situation at the close of Sunday was as follows: Along the top of the bluff just south of the log-house which stood at Pittsburg Landing
, Colonel J. D. Webster
, of my staff, had arranged twenty or more pieces of artillery facing south, or up the river.
This line of artillery was on the crest of a hill overlooking a deep ravine opening into the Tennessee
, with his division intact, was on the right of this artillery, extending west and
Checking the Confederate advance on the evening of the first day.
Above this ravine, near the landing, the Federal reserve artillery was posted, and it was on this line the Confederate advance was checked, about sunset, Sunday evening. The Confederates then fell back and bivouacked in the Federal camps.|
possibly a little north.
came next in the general line, looking more to the west.
His division was complete in its organization and ready for any duty.
came next, his right extending to Snake Creek
His command, like the other two, was complete in its organization and ready, like its chief, for any service it might be called upon to render.
All three divisions were, as a matter of course, more or less shattered and depleted in numbers from the terrible battle of the day. The division of W. H. L. Wallace
, as much from the disorder arising from changes of division and brigade commanders, under heavy fire, as from any other cause, had lost its organization, and did not occupy a place in the line as a division; Prentiss
's command was gone as a division, many of its members having been killed, wounded, or captured.
But it had rendered valiant service before its final dispersal, and had contributed a good share to the defense of Shiloh
There was, I have said, a deep ravine in front of our left.
The Tennessee River
was very high, and there was water to a considerable depth in the ravine.
Here the enemy made a last desperate effort to turn our flank, but was repelled.
The gun-boats Tyler
commanding, with the artillery under Webster
, aided the army and effectually checked their further progress.
Before any of Buell
's troops had reached the west bank of the Tennessee
, firing had almost entirely ceased; anything like an attempt on the part of the enemy to advance had absolutely ceased.
There was some artillery firing from an unseen enemy, some of his shells passing beyond us; but I do not remember that there was the whistle of a
single musket-ball heard.
As his troops arrived in the dusk, General Buell
marched several of his regiments part way down the face of the hill, where they fired briskly for some minutes, but I do not think a single man engaged in this firing received an injury; the attack had spent its force.
General Lew Wallace
, with 5000 effective men, arrived after firing had ceased for the day, and was placed on the right.
Thus night came, Wallace
came, and the advance of Nelson
's division came, but none unless night — in time to be of material service to the gallant men who saved Shiloh
on that first day, against large odds.
's loss on the 6th of April was two men killed and one wounded, all members of the 36th Indiana Infantry.
The Army of the
Present aspect of the old Hamburg road (to the left of the New road) which led up to “the Hornets' Nest.”
from a photograph taken in 1884.|
lost on that day at least 7000 men. The presence of two or three regiments of his army on the west bank before firing ceased had not the slightest effect in preventing the capture of Pittsburg Landing
So confident was I before firing had ceased on the 6th that the next day would bring victory to our arms if we could only take the initiative, that I visited each division commander in person before any reenforcements had reached the field.
I directed them to throw out heavy lines of skirmishers in the morning as soon as they could see, and push them forward until they found the enemy, following with their entire divisions in supporting distance, and to engage the enemy as soon as found.
I told the story of the assault at Fort Donelson
, and said that the same tactics would win at Shiloh
Victory was assured when Wallace
arrived even if there had been no other support.
The enemy received no reinforcements.
He had suffered heavy losses in killed, wounded, and straggling, and his commander, General Albert Sidney Johnston
, was dead.
I was glad, however, to see the reinforcements of Buell
and credit them with doing all there was for them to do. During the night of the 6th the remainder of Nelson
's division, Buell
's army, crossed the river, and were ready to advance in the morning, forming the left wing. Two other divisions, Crittenden
's and McCook
's, came up the river from Savannah
in the transports, and were on the west bank early on the 7th.
commanded them in person.
My command was thus nearly doubled in numbers and efficiency.
During the night rain fell in torrents, and our troops were exposed to the storm without shelter.
I made my headquarters under a tree a few hundred yards back from the river-bank.
My ankle was so much swollen from the fall of my horse the Friday night preceding, and the bruise was so painful, that I could get no rest.
The drenching rain would have precluded the possibility of sleep, without this additional cause.
Some time after midnight, growing restive under the storm and the continuous pain, I moved back to the log-house on the bank.
This had been taken as a hospital, and all night wounded men were being brought in, their wounds dressed, a leg or an arm amputated, as the case might require, and everything being done to save life or alleviate suffering.
The sight was more unendurable than encountering the enemy's fire, and I returned to my tree in the rain.
The advance on the morning of the 7th developed the enemy in the camps occupied by our troops before the battle began, more than a mile back from the most advanced position of the Confederates
on the day before.
It is known now that they had not yet learned of the arrival of Buell
Possibly they fell back so far to get the shelter of our tents during the rain, and also to get away from the shells that were dropped upon them by the gun-boats every fifteen minutes during the night.
The position of the Union
troops on the morning of the 7th was as follows: General Lew Wallace
on the right, Sherman
on his left; then McClernand
, and then Hurlbut
, of Buell
's army, was on our extreme left, next to the river; Crittenden
was next in line after Nelson
, and on his right; McCook
followed, and formed the extreme right of Buell
My old command thus formed the right wing, while the troops directly under Buell
constituted the left wing of the army.
These relative positions were retained during the entire day, or until the enemy was driven from the field.
In a very short time the battle became general all along the line.
This day everything was favorable to the Federal
We had now become the attacking party.
The enemy was driven back all day, as we had been the day before, until finally he beat a precipitate retreat.
The last point held by him
was near the road leading from the landing to Corinth
, on the left of Sherman
and right of McClernand
About 3 o'clock, being near that point and seeing that the enemy was giving way everywhere else, I gathered up a couple of regiments, or parts of regiments, from troops near by, formed them in line of battle and marched them forward, going in front myself to prevent premature or long-range firing.
At this point there was a clearing between us and the enemy favorable for charging, although exposed.
I knew the enemy were ready to break, and only wanted a little encouragement from us to go quickly and join their friends who had started earlier.
After marching to within musket-range, I stopped and let the troops pass.
The command, “Charge
,” was given, and was executed with loud cheers, and with a run, when the last of the enemy broke.
During this second day of the battle I had been moving from right to left and back, to see for myself the progress made.
In the early part of the afternoon, while riding with Colonel James B. McPherson
and Major J. P. Hawkins
, then my chief commissary, we got beyond the left of our troops.
We were moving along the northern edge of a clearing, very leisurely, toward the river above the landing.
There did not appear to be an enemy to our right, until suddenly a battery
with musketry opened upon us from the edge of the woods on the other side of the clearing.
The shells and balls whistled about our ears very fast for about a minute.
I do not think it took us longer than that to get out of range and out of sight.
In the sudden start we made, Major Hawkins
lost his hat. He did not stop to pick it up. When we arrived at a perfectly safe position we halted to take an account of damages.
's horse was panting as if ready to drop.
On examination it was found that a ball had struck him forward of the flank just back of the saddle, and had gone entirely through.
In a few minutes the poor beast dropped dead; he had given no sign of injury until we came to a stop.
A ball had struck the metal scabbard of my sword, just below the hilt, and broken it nearly off; before the battle was over, it had broken off entirely.
There were three of us: one had lost a horse, killed, one a hat, and one a sword-scabbard.
All were thankful that it was no worse.
After the rain of the night before and the frequent and heavy rains for some days previous, the roads were almost impassable.
The enemy, carrying his artillery and supply trains over them in his retreat, made them still worse for troops following.
I wanted to pursue, but had not the heart to order the men who had fought desperately for two days, lying in the mud and rain whenever not fighting, and I did not feel disposed positively to order Buell
or any part of his command, to pursue.
Although the senior in rank at the time, I had been so only a few weeks.
was, and had been for some time past, a department commander, while I commanded only a district.
I did not meet Buell
in person until too late to get troops ready and pursue with effect; but, had I seen him at the moment of the last charge, I should have at least requested him to follow.
The enemy had hardly started in retreat from his last position, when, looking back toward the river, I saw a division of troops coming up in beautiful order, as if going on parade or review.
The commander was at the head of the column, and the staff seemed to be disposed about as they would have been had they been going on parade.
When the head of the column came near where I was standing, it was halted, and the commanding officer
, General A. McD
, rode up to where I was and appealed to me not to send his division any farther, saying that they were worn out with marching and fighting.
This division had marched on the 6th from a point ten or twelve miles east of Savannah
, over bad roads.
The men had also lost rest during the night while crossing the Tennessee
, and had been engaged in the battle of the 7th.
It was not, however, the rank and file or the junior officers
who asked to be excused, but the division commander.2
I rode forward several miles the day after the battle, and found that the enemy had dropped much, if not all, of their provisions, some ammunition, and the extra wheels of their caissons, lightening their loads to enable them to get off their guns.
About five miles out we found their field-hospital abandoned.
An immediate pursuit must have resulted in the capture of a considerable number of prisoners and probably some guns.
was the severest battle fought at the West
during the war, and but few in the East
equaled it for hard, determined fighting.
I saw an open field, in our possession on the second day, over which the Confederates
had made repeated charges the day before, so covered with dead that it would have been possible to walk across the clearing, in any direction, stepping on dead bodies, without a foot touching the ground.
On our side National and Confederate were mingled together in about equal proportions; but on the remainder of the field nearly all were Confederates.
On one part, which had evidently not been plowed for several years, probably because the land was
Ford where the Hamburg road crosses Lick Creek, looking from Colonel Stuart's position on the federal left.
Lick Creek at this point was fordable on the first day of the battle, but the rains on Sunday night rendered it impassable on the second day.|
poor, bushes had grown up, some to the height of eight or ten feet. There was not one of these left standing unpierced by bullets.
The smaller ones were all cut down.
Contrary to all my experience up to that time, and to the experience of the Army I was then commanding, we were on the defensive.
We were without intrenchments or defensive advantages of any sort, and more than half the army engaged the first day was without experience or even drill as soldiers.
The officers with them, except the division commanders, and possibly two or three of the brigade commanders, were equally inexperienced in war. The result was a Union victory that gave the men who achieved it great confidence in themselves ever after.
The enemy fought bravely, but they had started out to defeat and destroy an army and capture a position.
They failed in both, with very heavy loss in killed and wounded, and must have gone back discouraged and convinced that the “Yankee” was not an enemy to be despised.
After the battle I gave verbal instructions to division commanders to let the regiments send out parties to bury their own dead, and to detail parties, under commissioned officers from each division, to bury the Confederate
dead in their respective fronts, and to report the numbers so buried.
The latter part of these instructions was not carried out by all; but they were
by those sent from Sherman
's division, and by some of the parties sent out by McClernand
The heaviest loss sustained by the enemy was in front of these two divisions.
The criticism has often been made that the Union
troops should have been intrenched at Shiloh
; but up to that time the pick and spade had been but little resorted to at the West
I had, however, taken this subject under consideration soon after reassuming command in the field.
, my only military engineer, had been directed to lay out a line to intrench.
He did so, but reported that it would have to be made in rear of the line of encampment as it then ran. The new line, while it would be nearer the river was yet too far away from the Tennessee
, or even from the creeks, to be easily supplied with water from them; and in case of attack, these creeks would be in the hands of the enemy.
Besides this, the troops with me, officers and men, needed discipline and drill more than they did experience with the pick, shovel, and axe. Reenforcemnents were arriving almost daily, composed of troops that had been hastily thrown together into companies and regiments-fragments of incomplete organizations, the men and officers strangers to each other.
Under all these circumstances I concluded that drill and discipline were worth more to our men than fortifications.
was a brave, intelligent officer, with as much professional pride and ambition of a commendable sort as I ever knew.
I had been two years at West Point
with him, and had served with him afterward, in garrison
Bivouac of the Federal troops, Sunday night.|
and in the Mexican
war, several years more.
He was not given in early life or in mature years to forming intimate acquaintances.
He was studious by habit, and commanded the confidence and respect of all who knew him. He was a strict disciplinarian, and perhaps did not distinguish sufficiently between the volunteer who “enlisted for the war” and the soldier who serves in time of peace.
One system embraced men who risked life for a principle, and often men of social standing, competence, or wealth, and independence of character.
The other includes, as a rule, only men who could not do as well in any other occupation.
became an object of harsh criticism later, some going so far as to challenge his loyalty.
No one who knew him ever believed him capable of a dishonorable act, and nothing could be more dishonorable than to accept high rank and command in war and then betray the trust.
When I came into command of the army, in 1864, I requested the Secretary of War
to restore General Buell
After the war, during the summer of 1865, I traveled considerably through the North
, and was everywhere met by large numbers of people.
Every one had his opinion about the manner in which the war had been conducted; who among the generals had failed, how, and why. Correspondents of the press were ever on hand to hear every word dropped, and were not always disposed to report correctly what did not confirm their preconceived notions, either about the conduct of the war or the individuals concerned in it. The opportunity frequently occurred for me to defend General Buell
I believed to be most unjust charges.
On one occasion a correspondent put in my mouth the very charge I had so often refuted — of disloyalty.
This brought from General Buell
a very severe retort, which I saw in the New York World some time before I received the letter itself.
I could very well understand his grievance at seeing untrue and disgraceful charges apparently sustained by an officer who, at the time, was at the head of the army.
I replied to him, but not through the press.
I kept no copy of my letter, nor did I ever see it in print, neither did I receive an answer.
General Albert Sidney Johnston
, who commanded the Confederate forces at the beginning of the battle, was disabled by a wound in the afternoon of the first day. His wound, as I understood afterward, was not necessarily fatal, or even dangerous.
But he was a man who would not abandon what he deemed an important trust in the face of danger, and consequently continued in the saddle, commanding, until so exhausted by the loss of blood that he had to be taken from his horse, and soon after died.
The news was not long in reaching our side, and, I suppose, was quite an encouragement to the National
I had known Johnston
slightly in the Mexican
war, and later as an officer in the regular army.
He was a man of high character and ability.
His contemporaries at West Point
, and officers generally who came to know him personally later, and who remained on our side, expected him to prove the most formidable man to meet that the Confederacy
Nothing occurred in his brief command of an army to prove or disprove the high estimate that had been placed upon his military ability.
was next in rank to Johnston
, and succeeded to the command, which he retained to the close of the battle and during the subsequent retreat on Corinth
, as well as in the siege of that place.
His tactics have been severely criticised by Confederate writers, but I do not believe his fallen chief could have done any better under the circumstances.
Some of these critics claim that Shiloh
was won when Johnston
fell, and that if he had not fallen the army under me would have been annihilated or captured.
defeated the Confederates
There is little doubt that we would have been disgracefully beaten if
all the shells and bullets fired by us had passed harmlessly over the enemy, and if
all of theirs had taken effect.
are liable to be killed during engagements; and the fact that when he was shot Johnston
was leading a brigade to induce it to make a charge which had been repeatedly ordered, is evidence that there was neither the universal demoralization on our side nor the unbounded confidence on theirs which has been claimed.
There was, in fact, no hour during the day when I doubted the eventual defeat of the enemy, although I was disappointed that reinforcements so near at hand did not arrive at an earlier hour.
The Confederates fought with courage at Shiloh
, but the particular skill claimed I could not, and still cannot, see; though there is nothing to criticise
Wounded and stragglers on the way to the landing, and ammunition-wagons going to the front.|
except the claims put forward for it since.
But the Confederate
claimants for superiority in strategy, superiority in generalship, and superiority in dash and prowess are not so unjust to the Union
troops engaged at Shiloh
as are many Northern writers.
The troops on both sides were American, and united they need not fear any foreign foe. It is possible that the Southern
man started in with a little more dash than his Northern brother; but he was correspondingly less enduring.
The endeavor of the enemy on the first day was simply to hurl their men against ours-first at one point, then at another, sometimes at several points at once.
This they did with daring and energy, until at night the rebel troops were worn out. Our effort during the same time was to be prepared to resist assaults wherever made.
The object of the Confederates
on the second day was to get away with as much of their army and material as possible.
Ours then was to drive them from our front, and to capture or destroy as great a part as possible of their men and material.
We were successful in driving them back, but not so successful in captures as if further pursuit could have been made.
As it was, we captured or recaptured on the second day about as much artillery as we lost on the first; and, leaving out the one great capture of Prentiss
, we took more prisoners on Monday than the enemy gained from us on Sunday.
On the 6th Sherman
lost 7 pieces of artillery,
8, and Hurlbut
On the 7th Sherman
captured 7 guns, McClernand
3, and the Army of the Ohio 20.
the effective strength of the Union
force on the morning of the 6th was 33,000.
brought five thousand more after nightfall.
reported the enemy's strength at 40,955.
According to the custom of enumeration in the South
, this number probably excluded every man enlisted as musician, or detailed as guard or nurse, and all commissioned officers,--everybody who did not carry a musket or serve a cannon.
With us everybody in the field receiving pay from the Government
Excluding the troops who fled, panic-stricken, before they had fired a shot, there was not a time during the 6th when we had more than 25,000 men in line.
On the 7th Buell
brought twenty thousand more.
Of his remaining two divisions, Thomas
's did not reach the field during the engagement; Wood
's arrived before firing had ceased, but not in time to be of much service.
Our loss in the two-days fight was 1754 killed, 8408 wounded, and 2885 missing. Of these 2103 were in the Army of the Ohio.
reported a total loss of 10,699, of whom 1728 were killed, 8012 wounded, and 959 missing. This estimate must be incorrect.
We buried, by actual count, more of the enemy's dead in front of the divisions of McClernand
alone than here reported, and four thousand was the estimate of the burial parties for the whole field.
reports the Confederate
force on the 6th at over 40,000, and their total loss during the two days at 10,699; and at the same time declares that he could put only 20,000 men in battle on the morning of the 7th.
The navy gave a hearty support to the army at Shiloh
, as indeed it always did, both before and subsequently, when I was in command.
The nature of the ground was such, however, that on this occasion it could do nothing in aid of the troops until sundown on the first day. The country was broken and heavily timbered, cutting off all view of the battle from the river, so that friends would be as much in danger from fire from the gun-boats as the foe. But about sundown, when the National
troops were back in their last position, the right of the enemy was near the river and exposed to the fire of the two gun-boats, which was delivered with vigor and effect.
After nightfall, when firing had entirely ceased on land, the commander of the fleet informed himself, proximately, of the position of our troops, and suggested the idea of dropping a shell within the lines of the enemy every fifteen minutes during the night.
This was done with effect, as is proved by the Confederate
Up to the battle of Shiloh
, I, as well as thousands of other citizens, believed that the rebellion against the Government
would collapse suddenly and soon if a decisive victory could be gained over any of its armies.
were such victories.
An army of more than 21,000 men was captured or destroyed.
, and Hickman, Ky.
, fell in consequence, and Clarksville
and Nashville, Tenn.
, the last two with an immense amount of stores, also fell into our hands.
and Cumberland rivers
, from their mouths to the head of navigation, were secured.
But when Confederate armies were collected which not only attempted to hold
a line farther south, from Memphis
and on to the Atlantic
, but assumed the offensive, and made such a gallant effort to regain what had been lost, then, indeed, I gave up all idea of saving the Union
except by complete conquest.
Up to that time it had been the policy of our army, certainly of that portion commanded by me, to protect the property of the citizens whose territory was invaded, without regard to their sentiments, whether Union or Secession.
After this, however, I regarded it as humane to both sides to protect the persons of those found at their homes but to consume everything that could be used to support or supply armies.
Protection was still continued over such supplies as were within lines held by us, and which we expected to continue to hold.
But such supplies within the reach of Confederate armies I regarded as contraband as much as arms or ordnance stores.
Their destruction was accomplished without bloodshed, and tended to the same result as the destruction of armies.
I continued this policy to the close of the war. Promiscuous pillaging, however, was discouraged and punished.
Instructions were always given to take provisions and forage under the direction of commissioned officers, who should give receipts to owners, if at home, and turn the property over to officers of the quartermaster or commissary departments, to be issued as if furnished from our Northern depots.
But much was destroyed without receipts to owners when it could not be brought within our lines, and would otherwise have gone to the support of secession and rebellion.
This policy, I believe, exercised a material influence in hastening the end.
Above the Landing — the store, and a part of the National Cemetery.
From a photograph taken in 1884.|