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Chapter 31: Pittsburg Landing.

While these movements of General Johnston were in progress, a stirring campaign occurred in Missouri, and great preparations were made in the Mississippi Valley, and on the Tennessee River, to overwhelm him on that flank. The storm was gathering. It has been seen that General Johnston's efforts to raise men for the contest west of the Mississippi were as earnest and as unavailing as in Mississippi and Tennessee. Though vested with the direction of affairs both east and west of the river, so distant and distinct was the scene of operations in Missouri that he was only able to maintain a general control there.

While the armies in Kentucky, like wary swordsmen, watched every opposing movement, with only an occasional thrust and parry, until the final rush and death-grapple, the struggle in Missouri resembled those stage-combats in which many and often aimless blows are given, the antagonists exchange weapons and positions, and the situations shift with startling rapidity, until an interposing hand strikes up the weapons and leaves the contest undecided.

After the return of Price's army from the expedition to Lexington, it moved about in Southwestern Missouri until Christmas, when it advanced to Springfield, where it remained until the middle of February. McCulloch wrote to General Johnston, October 11th, that he had been able to recruit about 1,000 infantry, which did not supply his losses from sickness. McCulloch was convinced that nothing could be done until spring, except in the way of organization and preparation. Many motives impelled Price to resume the aggressive. He was flattered with the general and growing sympathy of his fellow-citizens; but he was not sustained by a corresponding accession of force, and for a long time his army remained a shifting and tumultuous throng of from 5,000 to 15,000 men. Eventually, disciplined by competent hands, sifted by hardship, and tempered in the fire of battle, it became as true, tried, and faultless, as the blade of Damascus. Dissensions arose between McCulloch and Price, which were eventually settled to the satisfaction of both parties by the assignment of Major-General Earl Van Dorn to the command west of the Mississippi River.

Van Dorn had been a captain in General Johnston's own regiment, the Second Cavalry, and was distinguished for courage, energy, and decision. On taking command, he adopted bold plans, in accordance with the views of Generals Johnston and Price. But these the enemy [524] did not allow him to carry out. Van Dorn assumed command January 29, 1862, and was engaged in organizing the force in Northeastern Arkansas until February 22d, when, learning the Federal advance, he hastened, with only his staff, to Fayetteville, where McCulloch's army had its headquarters, and toward which Price was falling back from Springfield.

General Curtis, the Federal commander, had at Rolla, according to his report, a force of 12,095 men, and fifty pieces of artillery. He advanced February 11th, and Price retreated. He overtook Price's rear-guard at Cassville, and harassed it for four days on the retreat. Curtis pursued Price to Fayetteville, Arkansas, and then retired to Sugar Creek, where he proposed to establish himself. Leaving the main body here to fortify, he sent out heavy detachments to live upon the country and collect provisions.

As soon as Van Dorn arrived at the Confederate camps, on Boston Mountain, he made speedy preparations to attack Curtis or some one of his detachments. Learning that Sigel was at Bentonville with 7,000 men, he attempted to intercept him with his army, then about 16,000 strong. The lack of discipline and perfect methods in the Confederate army allowed Sigel to effect his escape, which he did with considerable skill. Curtis was enabled to concentrate at Sugar Creek; and, instead of taking him in detail, Van Dorn was obliged to assail his entire army.

Nevertheless, while Curtis was preparing for a front attack, Van Dorn, by a wide detour, led Price's army to the Federal rear, moving McCulloch against Curtis's right flank. Here, again, the want of order among the Confederate troops produced disastrous results, and so slow and embarrassed was their march that the enemy got notice of it in time to make his dispositions accordingly. Van Dorn had avoided his intrenchments, however, and fought him on fairer terms, though Curtis, posted on rugged and wooded hills, still held the stronger ground.

The battle of Elkhorn, or “Pea Ridge,” as the Federals call it, began early on the morning of March 5, 1862. The opposing armies were nearly equal in strength. Van Dorn says he had 14,000 men engaged, and Curtis puts his force at about 10,000 men and forty-nine guns. The two corps of the Confederate army were widely separated; Curtis's divisions fought back to back, and readily reinforced each other. Van Dorn, with Price's corps, encountered Carr's division, which advanced to meet it, but was driven back steadily and with heavy loss.

In the mean time, McCulloch's corps met a division under Osterhaus, and, after a sharp, quick struggle, swept it away. Pushing forward through the scrub-oak, his wide-extended line met Sigel's, Asboth's, and Davis's divisions. Here on the rugged spurs of the hills ensued one of those fearful combats in which the most determined [525] valor is resisted by the most stubborn tenacity. In the crisis of the struggle McCulloch, dashing forward to reconnoitre, fell a victim to a lurking sharp-shooter. Almost at the same moment McIntosh, his second in command, fell while charging a Federal battery with a regiment of Texas cavalry. Without direction or head, the shattered lines of the Confederates left the field, to rally, after a wide circuit, on Price's corps.

When Van Dorn learned this sad intelligence, he urged his attack, pressing back the Federals until night closed the bloody scene. The Confederate headquarters were then at Elkhorn Tavern, where the Federal headquarters had been in the morning. Each army was now on its opponent's line of communications. Van Dorn found his troops much disorganized and exhausted, short of ammunition, and without food. He made his arrangements to retreat. The wagon-trains and all men not effective for the coming battle were started by a circuitous route to Van Buren. The effectives remained to cover the retreat. The gallant General Henry Little had the front line of battle with his own and Rives's stanch Missouri Brigades. The battle was renewed at 7 A. M. next day, and raged until 10 A. M., this stout rearguard holding off the whole Federal army, The trains, artillery, and most of the army, were by this time well on the road. The order was then given to the Missourians to withdraw. “The gallant fellows faced about with cheers,” and retired steadily. They encamped ten miles from the battle-field, at three o'clock. There was no real pursuit. The attack had failed.

Van Dorn puts his losses at 600 killed and wounded, and 200 prisoners. Curtis reports his losses at 203 killed, 972 wounded, and 176 missing-total, 1,351. But the casualties did not measure the Confederate loss. McCulloch's corps was for the moment broken to pieces, though it rapidly recovered. Worse than all, a great chance was gone, and, though the Federals were badly crippled and soon left that region, Missouri was not regained, nor was the diversion effected in General Johnston's behalf which both he and Van Dorn had hoped.

Van Dorn was now called to meet General Johnston at Corinth, and was ordered to hasten his army by the quickest route to that point. Through unavoidable causes, only one of his regiments arrived in time to participate in the battle of Shiloh. Soon after, however, his army reinforced Beauregard.

Beauregard left Nashville sick, February 14th, to take charge in West Tennessee, and made his headquarters at Jackson, Tennessee, February 17th. He was still prostrated by disease, which partially disabled him throughout that entire campaign. He was, however, ably seconded by Bragg and Polk, who commanded his two grand divisions or army corps. Writing to General Johnston March 2d, he says: “General Bragg is with me. We are trying to organize every thing [526] as rapidly as possible ;” and, again, on the 6th: “I am still unwell, but am doing the best I can. I nominally assumed the command yesterday.” He directed the military operations from his sick-room, and sometimes from his sick-bed, as he informs the writer. On March 23d he went to Corinth to confer with General Johnston there, and on March 26th removed thither permanently.

Whether Columbus should be evacuated entirely or stand a siege with a small garrison, when the rest of the army retired southward, was a question which had been left by General Johnston to General Beauregard to determine on the spot, according to the exigencies of the case. On the 20th of February General Johnston telegraphed to General Beauregard:

If not well enough to assume command, I hope that you, now having had time to study the field, will advise General Polk of your judgment as to the proper disposition of his army, in accordance with the views you entertained in our memoranda, unless you have changed your views. I cannot order him, not knowing but that you have assumed command, and our orders conflict.

Guided by these instructions from General Johnston, Beauregard directed the evacuation of Columbus, and the establishment of a new line resting on New Madrid, Island No.10, and Humboldt. Polk issued the preliminary orders February 25th, for the evacuation, which was completed on March 2d.

General Beauregard selected Brigadier-General J. P. McCown, an old army-officer, for the command of Island No.10, forty miles below Columbus, whither he removed his division February 27th. A. P. Stewart's brigade was also sent to New Madrid. Some 7,500 troops were assembled at these points. The remainder of the forces marched by land, under General Cheatham, to Union City. The quarters and buildings were committed to the flames; and at 3 P. Ir., March 2d, General Polk followed the retiring column from the abandoned stronghold.

Polk says in his report:

The enemy's cavalry — the first of his forces to arrive after the evacuation-reached Columbus in the afternoon next day, twenty-four hours after the last of our troops had left. In five days we moved the accumulations of six months, taking with us all our commissary and quartermaster's stores — an amount sufficient to supply my whole command for eight months-all our powder and other ammunition and ordnance stores, excepting a few shot and gun-carriages, and every heavy gun in the fort. Two thirty-two-pounders in a remote outwork were the only valuable guns left, and these, with three or four small and indifferent carronades similarly situated, were spiked and rendered useless. The whole number of pieces of artillery composing our armament was 140.

After the surrender of Fort Donelson and the first flush of satisfaction resulting in Grant's promotion, he fell under the censures of his [527] immediate superior, Halleck, on account of the marauding and demoralization of his troops, and his own alleged neglect of duty. Grant was superseded, March 4th, but was soon after (March 13th) restored to command. It is evident, however, from Halleck's correspondence, that his own cautious and hesitating temper had as much to do with the tardy movements of the Federals as any of Grant's shortcomings. Halleck was now put in command of the whole West; Buell, Grant, and Pope, on the west bank of the Mississippi, and Curtis in Southwest Missouri, all moving under his supreme control.

While the Confederate and Federal armies were gathering, front to front, at Corinth and Pittsburg Landing, important operations were occurring around New Madrid and Island No.10. On the 18th of February General Halleck sent Major-General John Pope, whom he had recalled from Central Missouri, to organize an expedition against New Madrid.

His force consisted of eight divisions, made up of thirty regiments and nine batteries, in all probably 25,000 men, besides Foote's flotilla and troops with it. McCown had at first probably 7,500 men, afterward reduced to some four or five thousand by the removal of troops. General Beauregard informed him from the first that under no circumstances would his force be increased, as it was intended as a forlorn hope to hold this position until Fort Pillow was fortified. The defense at Island No.10 was not adequate to the preparations there; but, as its bearing on General Johnston's operations was simply to withhold from his army its garrison, which did not surrender until the day after the battle of Shiloh, an account of the transactions there may be omitted as not essential to this narrative.

While Pope was thus directed against New Madrid, a combined movement up the Tennessee by Grant's column was also projected. In orders issued March 1st, to Grant, Halleck says:

The main object of this expedition will be to destroy the railroad-bridge over Bear Creek, near Eastport, Mississippi, and also the connections at Corinth, Jackson, and Humboldt. It is thought best that these objects be attempted in the order named. Strong detachments of cavalry and light artillery, supported by infantry, may by rapid movements reach these points from the river without very serious opposition. Avoid any general engagement with strong forces. It will be better to retreat than to risk a general battle. This should be strongly impressed upon the officers sent with the expedition from the river. General C. F. Smith, or some very discreet officer, should be selected for such commands. Having accomplished these objects, or such of them as may be practicable, you will return to Danville and move on Paris.1

Halleck's ultimate objective point was Memphis, which he expected to reach by forcing a column down the Mississippi; and the movement [528] up the Tennessee was, at first, only subsidiary. It was meant to cut the communications from Memphis east, and prevent reinforcements to the Confederates on the Mississippi. Afterward, when the concentration of troops at Corinth was reported to him, with wonderful exaggerations of the Confederate strength-100,000, 200,000 men-he determined to mass Buell and Grant against the army at that point; and Buell was ordered, March 15th, to unite his forces with Grant's, a movement previously suggested by him.

Meanwhile, the expedition up the Tennessee was begun by C. F. Smith, on the 10th of March, with a new division under Sherman in advance. On the 13th of March, Smith assembled four divisions-Sherman's, Hurlbut's, Lew Wallace's, and W. H. L. Wallace's, at Savannah, on the right bank of the Tennessee, at its Great Bend. Smith at once sent Sherman with his division, escorted by two gunboats, to land below Eastport and make a break in the Memphis & Charleston Railroad between Tuscumbia and Corinth. Sherman, finding a Confederate battery at Eastport, disembarked below at the mouth of the Yellow River, and started for Burnsville; but, becoming discouraged at the continued rains, the swollen streams, the bad roads, and the resistance he met with from the troops posted there, under G. B. Crittenden, he retired. After consultation with Smith, he again disembarked, on the 16th, at Pittsburg Landing, on the left bank, seven miles above Savannah, and made a reconnaissance as far as Monterey, some ten miles, nearly half-way to Corinth. On the 17th General Grant took command, relieving Smith, who was lying ill at Savannah on his death-bed. Smith died April 25th--a very gallant and able officer.

Two more divisions, Prentiss's and McClernand's, had joined in the mean time, and Grant assembled the Federal army near Pittsburg Landing, which was the most advantageous base for a movement against Corinth. Here it lay motionless until the battle of Shiloh.

The Federal army was at Shiloh, near Pittsburg Landing, in a position naturally very strong. Its selection has been censured for rashness, on the erroneous presumption that the army there was outnumbered, inferior in discipline to its opponents, and peculiarly exposed to attack. The criticism is unjust, because the supposition is altogether untrue. It cannot be denied that General Grant reported the Confederate army at Corinth, at 60,000-80,000-100,000, and as rumored to be 200,000 strong; but we are not to suppose that his sagacity was so much at fault as to be misled by these “old women's stories,” as Sherman calls them, especially when Buell was conveying to Halleck pretty accurate information of the numbers there.

Grant felt safe at Shiloh, because he knew he was numerically stronger than his adversary. His numbers and his equipment were superior to those of his antagonist, and the discipline and morale of [529]


his army ought to have been so. The only infantry of the Confederate army which had ever seen a combat were some of Polk's men, who were at Belmont; Hindman's brigade, which was in the skirmish at Woodsonville; and the fugitives of Mill Spring. In the Federal army were the soldiers who had fought at Belmont, Fort Henry, and Donelson- [530] 30,000 of the last. There were many raw troops on both sides. Some of the Confederates received their arms for the first time that week.

Unless these things were so, and unless Grant's army was, in whole or in part, an army of invasion, intended for the offensive, of course it was out of place on that south bank. But Sherman has distinctly asserted that it was in prosecution of an offensive movement, and hence this occupation of the south bank was a necessary preliminary to the advance projected against Corinth. There was much to foster a spirit of self-complacent security in the bosoms of the Federal generals. Not only were they the stronger, but their gunboats gave them command of the river for reinforcement or retreat; Buell was drawing near with his large army; and the character of the ground at Shiloh made it a natural stronghold. The peril to Grant's army was not in the topography, but in the want of proper precautions.

The overweening confidence that received at Shiloh so just and terrible a rebuke is inexplicable, except as the result of a natural temerity, increased by success, inexperience, and a perfect reliance on superior strength and position. Had it been otherwise, Grant would have fortified strongly, and urged to the utmost the advance and junction of Buell's army with his own, or asked for other reinforcement. We shall see he did neither. The truth is, he undervalued his adversary's celerity and daring.

The water-shed between the Mississippi and Tennessee Rivers, near the Great Bend, follows the general course of the latter stream, at the distance of some twelve or fourteen miles. The railroad system lies on its western and southern slope, and, as far east as Burnsville, passes through a poor, fiat, and swampy country, covered with the primeval forest. There are twenty bridges between Corinth and Bethel, a space of some twenty-three miles. The slope toward the Tennessee is steeper, broken by short creeks, which, as they approach the river, become deep, or spread out in tangled marshes. The ridges between these creeks are considerably elevated above the river-level.

The Tennessee flows northwest for some distance, until a little west of Hamburg, a point nineteen miles from Corinth, it takes its final bend to the north. Here, two affluents, Owl and Lick Creeks, flowing nearly parallel, somewhat north of east, from three to five miles apart, empty into the Tennessee. Owl Creek, uniting with Snake Creek, takes that name below their junction. It forms the northern limit of the ridge, which Lick Creek bounds on the south. These streams, rising some ten or twelve miles back, toward Corinth, were bordered near their mouths by swamps filled with back-water, and impassable except where the roads crossed.

The inclosed space, a rude parallelogram, is a rolling table-land, about one hundred feet above the river-level, with its water-shed lying [531] near Lick Creek, and either slope broken by deep and frequent ravines draining into the two creeks; the side toward Lick Creek being precipitous, while that toward Owl Creek, though broken, is a gradual declivity. This plateau ends in abrupt hills, overlooking the narrow strip of river-bank; and, the gorges near the river passing toward it, the tangle of ravines results in very broken ground. In the troughs of the ravines, brooks were running, the drainage of the recent heavy rains; and there were boggy places hazardous for the passage of artillery, and difficult even for infantry. The acclivities were covered with forests, and often thick-set with copses and undergrowth. Indeed, the whole country was heavily timbered, except where an occasional small farm dotted the wilderness with a cultivated or abandoned field.

Pittsburg Landing, a mere hamlet of three or four log-cabins, was situated about midway between the mouths of Owl and Lick Creeks, in the narrow and swampy bottom that here fringes the Tennessee. It was three or four miles below Hamburg, six or seven above Savannah, the Federal depot on the right bank, and twenty-two miles from Corinth by the direct road. Shiloh Church, from which the battle took its name, lay two and a half miles in advance of the landing. The country between the river and Monterey, a village on the road to Corinth, is intersected by a network of roads, up to which neighborhood lead three or four roads from Corinth, cut through the forests and across the sloughs. These roads were badly made, soft with the continued rains, and not perfectly known to the Confederate leaders.

It will be perceived that the Federal position was, in fact, a formidable natural fortification. With few and difficult approaches, guarded on either flank by impassable streams and morasses, protected by a succession of ravines and acclivities, each commanded by eminences to the rear, this quadrilateral seemed a safe fastness against attack-hard to assail, easy to defend. Its selection was the dying gift of the soldierly C. F. Smith to his cause.

That the strength of Shiloh has not been overstated is evinced by the evidence of General Sherman, given then and afterward. He says, in his “Memoirs,” vol. i., page 229:

The position was naturally strong. .... At a later period of the war, we could have rendered this position impregnable in one night, but at this time we did not do it, and it may be it is well we did not.

He says of it in a letter to Grant's adjutant-general, Rawlins, March 18, 1862 (page 232): “Magnificent plain for camping and drilling, and a military point of great strength.” On the next day (page 233), he expresses himself-

Strongly impressed with the importance of this position, both for its land advantages and its strategic position. The ground itself admits of easy defense [532] by a small command, and yet affords admirable camping-ground for 100,000 men.

On the trial of Colonel Thomas Worthington, Forty-sixth Ohio Volunteers, who had severely criticised General Sherman, the latter testifies:2

I will not insult General Smith's memory by criticising his selection of a field. It was not looked to so much for defense as for ground on which an army could be organized for offense. We did not occupy too much ground. .. . But even as we were, on the 6th of April, you might search the world over and not find a more advantageous field of battle, flanks well protected and never threatened, troops in easy support; timber and broken ground giving good points to rally: and the proof is that forty-three thousand men, of whom at least ten thousand ran away, held their ground against sixty thousand chosen troops of the South, with their best leaders.

In a letter to the editor of the United States service Magazine, published January, 1865, General Sherman says: “It was General Smith who selected that field of battle, and it was well chosen. On any other we should surely have been overwhelmed.”

It cannot be said that the Federal generals availed themselves of the superior advantages of their position. Flushed with the victory at Donelson, they indulged the delusion of marching to an easy triumph whenever they might choose to advance and give battle. Sherman says ( “Memoirs,” vol. i., page 229):

I always acted on the supposition that we were an invading army; that our purpose was to move forward in force, make a lodgment on the Memphis & Charleston road, and thus repeat the grand tactics of Fort Donelson, by separating the rebels in the interior from those at Memphis and on the Mississippi River. We did not fortify our camps against an attack, because we had no orders to do so, and because such a course would have made our raw men timid.

Again, General Sherman says ( “Memoirs,” vol. i., page 247):

We had no intrenchments of any sort, on the theory that as soon as Buell arrived we would march to Corinth to attack the enemy.

While the criticism, so often made, may be just, that comfortable camping-grounds for the divisions were one controlling consideration in the arrangement of the Federal army,. still it would have been difficult on that ground to have selected any other than strong defensible positions.

On Colonel Worthington's trial (vide Boynton's volume, already quoted, page 28), Sherman testifies, under oath, thus: [533]

He (Colonel Worthington) says, “A slight abattis might have prevented an attack.” What business was it of his whether his superior officer invited an attack or not? The Army Regulations will show him that no fortification can be made, except under order of the commanding general. To have erected fortifications would have been an evidence of weakness, and would have invited an attack.

Boynton says (page 31):

Immediately after the battle, General Sherman seems to have been won over to the idea that an abattis might be valuable as a protection to his camp; for, in a compilation of his orders, made under his own direction, the very first of them which appears after the engagement contains the following paragraph: “Each brigade commander will examine carefully his immediate front; fell trees to afford his men barricade, and clear away all underbrush for two hundred yards in front, so as to uncover an approaching enemy; with these precautions, we can hold our camp against any amount of force that can be brought against us.” There is no indication that General Sherman considered this order either an evidence of weakness, or an invitation to attack, or as calculated to make his “raw men timid.”

Sherman, in his letter to the editor of the United States Service Magazine, already quoted, which might by courtesy be styled his “After-thoughts,” wrote as follows:

It was necessary that a combat, fierce and bitter, to test the manhood of the two armies should come off, and that was as good a place as any. It was not, then, a question of military skill and strategy, but of courage and pluck; and I am convinced that every life lost that day to us was necessary; for otherwise, at Corinth, at Memphis, at Vicksburg, we would have found harder resistance, had we not shown our enemies that, rude and untutored as we then were, we could fight as well as they.

All these excuses do not hang well together. What was the result of that test of manhood which General Sherman applies, if he did not need fortifications before the battle of Shiloh, and did need them after it? Surely, that his troops were bold before and timid after the fight --that they could not stand the test. The suggestion does injury to the brave men he commanded. It is not just.

It is perfectly evident that, if the slightest idea of an attack by General Johnston had been foreseen, not only would defensive works have been put up, but a very different line of battle would have been established. All the controversy on the Federal side about the battle of Shiloh has arisen out of the theory that it is necessary to show that Generals Grant and Sherman are, and always have been, incapable of mistake or failure. A better theory, and more easily maintained, would be that they were capable of learning something, and at Shiloh received a lesson which rebuked their insolent contempt of an able adversary, [534] and the perilous carelessness of their false security. These distinguished generals have since become famous; aid it is not necessary to their reputations to show that they were infallible-especially, so early in their careers. If the testimony proves them somewhat at fault in wariness and sagacity, yet it shows them derelict only so far; and they certainly exhibited on the field a gallantry and persistence worthy of commendation.

Buell seems to have advised General Halleck with very considerable accuracy and promptness of General Johnston's movements after he left Shelbyville, showing that he had greatly improved his means of information, and that the retreating army could not so effectually mask its movements as in Kentucky.

In forming a plan of campaign, there was some diversity of opinion between Halleck and Buell as to details; but the main idea of dividing the Confederacy, by cutting the Memphis & Charleston Railroad near the Great Bend of the Tennessee, was essentially the same.

There has been controversy as to the origin of this plan of campaign. McClellan and Buell were in conference about it; and Halleck adopted it as soon as he saw his way clear to the possession of the Tennessee River.

The original design of Halleck, as communicated to his subordinates, was a dash at the Confederate lines of communication. It had become apparent to them, however, and to his adversary, that he purposed to split the South, and that from Shiloh to Corinth was where he expected to drive his wedge.

Buell says that he and Halleck, as independent commanders, concerted the campaign against Corinth. Halleck's troops moved by water up the Tennessee — that being their only practicable route. Buell was evidently very solicitous to occupy and secure the rich region of Middle Tennessee, and for that reason preferred to move by land, and make Florence, Alabama, instead of Pittsburg or Savannah, the base of a combined movement. But Halleck, having been put in supreme command, his opinion prevailed, and the joint movement concerted against Corinth between the two commanders was set on foot.

Halleck telegraphed Buell, March 26th:

I am inclined to believe the enemy will make his stand at or near Corinth.

On the 28th:

It seems from all accounts the enemy is massing his forces in the vicinity of Corinth. You will concentrate all your available troops at Savannah, or Pittsburg, twelve miles above. Large reinforcements being sent to General Grant. We must be ready to attack the enemy as soon as the roads are passable.

On April 5th Halleck telegraphed from St. Louis: [535]

You are right about concentrating at Waynesboro. Future movements must depend on those of the enemy. I shall not be able to leave here until the first of next week, via Fort Henry and Savannah.3

General Buell gives the following summary of his share in the campaign before Shiloh, in a letter published in the United States Service Magazine, to the statements of which his high character must secure entire credit:

I deemed it best that mine [my army] should march through by land, because such a movement would clear Middle Tennessee of the enemy and facilitate the occupation of the Memphis & Charleston Railroad through North Alabama, to which I had assigned General Mitchell. I believed, also, that I could effect the movement almost as promptly that way as by water, and I knew that it would bring my army upon the field of future operations in better condition. I commenced my march from Nashville on the 15th of March, with a rapid movement of cavalry, followed by McCook's division, to seize the bridges which were yet in possession of the enemy. The latter, however, succeeded in destroying the bridge over Duck River, at Columbia, forty miles distant, and another a few miles farther north. At that time our armies were not provided with pontoon-trains, and rivers had to be crossed with such means as we could make. The streams were out of their banks. Duck River was a formidable barrier, and it was not until the 81st that the army was able to cross.

Hie says this work was prosecuted with intelligence, energy, and diligence.

In the mean time I had been placed by the War Department under the orders of General Halleck, and he designated Savannah, on the east bank of the Tennessee, as the place for our junction. The distance from Columbia is ninety miles, and was marched at the rate of fifteen miles a day, without a halt. The distance from Nashville is 130 miles, and was marched in nine marching days, and twelve days were occupied in bridging streams. The rear divisions, in consequence of the battle, made forced marches. . . .

The assertion that I knew that General Grant was in jeopardy has no foundation in truth, and I shall show that General Halleck and General Grant themselves could not have believed that such was the case.

He says he only casually learned, a few days before his arrival at Savannah, that General Grant was not there, but on the west bank, adding, “And then I was told it” (the force) “was secure in the natural strength of the position.” On the 18th he telegraphed General Halleck:

“I understand General Grant is on the east side of the river. Is it not so?” And the reply did not inform me to the contrary. .... At no time did either of these officers inform me of Grant's actual position, or that he was thought to be in danger. [536]

On the 3d of April Buell suggested that he had better cross the Tennessee at Hamburg, and Halleck replied, directing him to halt at Waynesboro, thirty miles from Savannah-

Saying he could not leave St. Louis until the 7th to join us; but, as his dispatch did not reach me before I arrived at Waynesboro, I made no halt, but continued my march to Savannah. And further yet, the day before his arrival at Savannah, General Nelson, who commanded my leading division, advised General Grant by courier of his approach, and was informed in reply that it was unnecessary for him to hasten his march, as he could not at any rate cross the river before the following Tuesday. Nevertheless, that division and myself arrived at Savannah Saturday, as I had directed. The next morning General Grant was attacked at Pittsburg Landing.

General Buell says further that all the facts prove that Sherman shared the feeling of security.

A careful reading of the dispatches and communications of commanders sustains every statement in the foregoing summary.

General G. Ammen, in a letter dated April 5, 1871, published in the Cincinnati Commercial, strongly corroborates General Buell's statement that Grant delayed Nelson's march. He says Nelson told him, at Columbia, that he was not wanted at Savannah before Monday, April 7th, but, everything favoring him, he arrived there on the 5th, at noon. Thus, he anticipated in time not only the calculations of the Confederate commanders, but Buell's orders, by two days.

There is no reason for believing that General Buell disappointed any just expectation of his colleagues, or moved with less diligence and expedition than the proposed plan of campaign demanded, or the difficulties of the march permitted. If there was the error of delay, it occurred in stopping at Nashville, and arose almost inevitably from the division of the command between Halleck and Buell, and the time taken up in concerting a combined movement. It was the advance of Buell that now hastened General Johnston's resolution to attack:

The First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Divisions, commanded respectively by Brigadier-Generals Thomas, McCook, Nelson, Crittenden, and Wood, with a contingent force of cavalry, in all 37,000 effective men, constituted the main army, which, under the personal command of General Buell, was to join General Halleck in the projected movement against the enemy at Corinth, Mississippi.4

Mitchell's corps, moving against Florence, was 18,000 strong.

The writer has used every effort to ascertain with entire accuracy the forces engaged in the battle of Shiloh. He lays before the reader [537] all the information he can obtain. The Hon. Mr. McCrary, Secretary of War, kindly put at his disposal all the data in possession of the War Department. These are given in the Appendix to the battle of Shiloh, showing for the first time the organization, strength, and casualties, of the Federal army, in a form which it is hoped will prove a valuable contribution to history.

The tables appended to Chapter XXXIV. (see summary) show that General Grant had at Pittsburg Landing-total present, 58,052 men, of whom 49,314 were present for duty. General Buell, on the information of General C. F. Smith, estimated it at 60,000 men. His aggregate on April 1st, according to a memorandum furnished the writer by Secretary Belknap, December 17, 1875, was 68,175; and Buell's aggregate was 101,051. Buell, on March 20th, reported to the adjutant-general that he had 73,472 present for duty. Thus we have present for duty in the armies of invasion opposed to General Johnston, and excluding the troops in garrison or reserve of Grant's and Halleck's commands:

Buell's troops73,472
Pope's (about)27,000

Their aggregate force reached about 200,000 men. To meet these great armies, General Johnston had about 20,000 men of his own army, 25,000 or 30,000 under Beauregard, and 9,000 or 10,000 at Island No.10, Fort Pillow, and other garrisons; not more than 60,000 in all, of whom not more than 50,000 were effectives. The forces immediately to be encountered, exclusive of Pope's, were:


To engage these it will be seen that he was able to get together about 40,000 available troops at Shiloh.

Appendix A.

6276 a, G. 0. 75.

War Department, Adjutant-General's Office, Washington, December 17, 1875.
Statement showing the number of troops, present and absent, in the commands of Generals Sherman, Grant, and Buell, at the dates hereinafter specified. [538]

General Sherman's command, November 10, 1861.

In commands that furnished returns to department headquarters30,917
In commands not furnishing returns (about)9,100
Regiments in process of formation (estimated)9,600
General Grant's command, February 1, 186227,113
General Buell's command, February 20, 1862103,864
General Grant's command, April 1, 186268,175
General Buell's command, April 30, 1862101,051

note.-Owing to the absence of returns of a uniform date, the above figures have been taken from such returns as are on file bearing date nearest to the time desired.


By Land.Miles.
From Corinth to Iuka. 23
From Corinth to Burnsville.10
From Corinth to Chewalla11 1/2
From Corinth to Bethel23
From Corinth to Purdy22
From Corinth to Eastport30
From Corinth to Wynn's Landing21
From Corinth to Farmington5
From Corinth to Hamburg19
From Corinth to Monterey11
From Corinth to Pittsburg23
From Corinth to Savannah30
Iuka to Eastport8
Burnsville to Wynn's15
Bethel to Purdy4
Bethel to Savannah23
Monterey to Purdy15
Monterey to Farmington9

On Tennessee River going down.Miles.
From Chickasaw to Bear Creek1
From Bear Creek to Eastport1
From Eastport to Cook's Landing1
From Cook's Landing to Indian Creek21
From Indian Creek to Cook's Landing.5
From Cook's Landing to Yellow Creek5
From Yellow Creek to Wynn's Landing11
From Wynn's Landing to Wood's2
From Wood's to North Bend Landing4 1/2
North Bend Landing to Chambers's Creek4
From Chambers's Creek to Hamburg4
From Hamburg to Lick Creek2
From Lick Creek to Pittsburg2
From Pittsburg to Crump's Landing4
From Crump's Landing to Coffee8
From Coffee to Chalk-Bluff Landing2
From Chalk-Bluff Landing to Saltillo12
From Saltillo to Decatur Furnace18

1 Badeau's “Life of Grant,” vol. i., p. 596.

2 Vide “Sherman's historical raid,” by Boynton, p. 29; also “Shiloh,” p. 22, by Colonel Worthington.

3 Buell's letter to Grant, New York World, April 6, 1866.

4 Army of the Cumberland, vol. i., p. 99.

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