battle of Shiloh
took place, we did not have quite half the regiment in line, and we lost half of that half in that terrible struggle.
From the very outset the lion-hearted Trabue
had endeavored to excite in the men a desire for action, which, added to the pride that they all felt for the cause in which we had enlisted, made every man eager for a “fray.”
When one of our number died in hospital about the greatest sympathy that could be expressed for him was, “Poor fellow, he has gone before getting a fire at the Yanks.”
A large majority of our command was fearful the war would close before we had a battle.
I have heard Colonel Trabue
often threaten the men who were guilty of irregularities on the march from Burnsville
that they should not go in the fight if they did not behave, and it was effective language used in exactly the right place.
Soldiers who by their “crooked ways” were unfortunate enough to be in the “Guard-House,” or “under guard” on the march, which is the same thing, begged their Captains
to have them released, so they could participate in the coming action.
I knew one man of the Fourth, who was teamster to General Breckinridge
's Headquarters, but was in duress at this time, who prevailed on the General
to the extent of being released only for the battle.
His splendid conduct on those two days. of blood served to secure his permanent release, and he was never tried for his offence.
Our regiment envied the Second for having been at Donelson
, and thought General Buckner
displayed a great deal of partiality in selecting it to go there.
In fact, there was nothing like forgiveness in our natures until after Shiloh
We never turned green with envy after that when we saw other regiments selected for dangerous work.
While the Fourth Kentucky behaved equally well on the battle-field in subsequent engagements I am inclined to think that, in view of surrounding circumstances, it deserves more credit for its conduct at Shiloh
than anywhere else.
We started for the scene of action about sunrise on the 6th of April, 1862. Early spring
had touched all nature about us, but the warblers of morn had been frightened away by the rattling, booming sound in the short distance.
Now, men, why did we not be more serious, and shake each other by the hand and bid fond adieus?
Surely death lurks just beyond that hill and many of our loved ones have only a short time to live.
You are actually marching step by step to eternity.
Here are young boys — beardless, rosy cheeked and smiling — who in a very few minutes will make the noblest sacrifice that can be made on earth.
Their young, bounding blood will color the brooklets before us, and their lithsome