The campaign of Shiloh.1
On the 22d of January, 1862, Colonel Roger A. Pryor
, a member of the Military Committee of the lower branch of the Confederate Congress, visited my headquarters at Centreville, Virginia
, and in his own name, as also for the representatives in Congress of the Mississippi Valley States, urged me to consent to be transferred from the Army of the Potomac to the command of the Confederate forces at Columbus, Kentucky
, within the Department of Kentucky and Tennessee
, under the superior command of General Albert Sidney Johnston
,--a transfer which he said Mr. Davis
would not direct unless it was agreeable to me, but which was generally desired at Richmond
because of the recent crushing disaster at Mill Springs, in eastern Kentucky
: the defeat and death of Zollicoffer
Against the monitions of some of my friends at Richmond
, and after much hesitation and disinclination to sever my relations with such an army as that of the Potomac
, but upon the assurance that General Johnston
's command embraced an aggregate of at least seventy thousand men of all arms, which, though widely scattered, might, by virtue of the possession of the “interior lines,” be concentrated and operated offensively, I gave Colonel Pryor
authority to inform Mr. Davis
of my readiness to be thus transferred.
Upon the return of Colonel Pryor
, I was, on the 26th of January, ordered to proceed at once “to report to General A. S. Johnston
at Bowling Green
,” and thence
as promptly as possible to assume my new command at Columbus
, “which,” said my orders, “is threatened by a powerful force, and the defense of which is of vital importance.”
Dispatching Colonel Thomas Jordan
, my chief of staff, to Richmond
, with a view to secure from the War Department certain aids to the proper organization of the troops I was to command, I left Centreville
on the 2d of February and reached Bowling Green
about the 5th. General Johnston
, whom I had never seen before, welcomed me to his department with a cordiality and earnestness that made a deep impression on me at the time.
As he informed me, General Buell
's army, fully 75,000 strong, was on the line of Bacon Creek
, on the Louisville and Nashville railroad, about 40 miles from Bowling Green
. General Grant
had about 20,000 men in hand at or about Cairo
, ready to move either upon Fort Henry
or Fort Donelson
. General Pope
, having a force of not less than 30,000 men in Missouri
, was menacing General Polk
's positions, including New Madrid, while General Halleck
, exercising command over the whole of this force of 125,000 men of all arms, had his headquarters at St. Louis
On the other hand, General Johnston
(as he stated, to my surprise) had an “aggregate effective” of not over 45,000 men of all arms, thus distributed: at Bowling Green
, his headquarters, not over 14,000; at Forts Henry
, 5500; in the quarter of Clarksville, Tennessee
, 8000; besides 17,000 under General Polk
, chiefly at Columbus
, and for the most part imperfectly organized, badly armed and equipped.
As may be seen from any map of the region, the chief part of this force occupied a defensive line facing northwardly, the two salient extremities of which were Bowling Green
, some 70 miles by railway in advance of Nashville
, and Columbus
, about 110 miles west of Bowling Green
This line was penetrated, almost centrally, by the Cumberland
and Tennessee rivers
, respectively, at points in Tennessee
just south of the Kentucky
line, twelve miles apart, at which Fort Henry
had been established on the east bank of the Tennessee
, and Fort Donelson
on the west bank of the Cumberland
, thus constituting the reentering angle of the line.
These vital works General Johnston
described as defective in more than one respect and unready, but said that he had sent his chief engineer to improve their effectiveness as far as possible.
So unpromising was the situation and so different from what had been represented before I left Virginia
, that my first impulse was to return at once; but this idea was abandoned at the earnest request of General Johnston
However, after an inspection of the works at and around Bowling Green
, I found that while strong against any direct attack, they could be readily turned on their right, and I so stated to General Johnston
His reply was, that in the event of a serious flank movement he must evacuate the position, having no relieving army to support it. In the face of this self-evident military proposition, I recommended the immediate evacuation of a position so salient as Bowling Green
, that must fall from its own weight if turned-leaving there only a cavalry force in observation, and concentrating at once all our available strength at Henry
, information having just reached us of the aggressive presence of General
Grant on the Tennessee River
That recommendation was not adopted, for the alleged reason that, in the event of a failure to defeat General Grant
as proposed, our forces thus assembled might be caught and crushed between the armies of Grant
, and that it would also expose to capture the large stock of military supplies collected so far in advance as Bowling Green
, as well as at Nashville
In this decision sight was certainly lost of the facts that having no pontoon-train, General Buell
could not possibly throw his army across the Cumberland
, between Donelson
, so as to prevent the Confederates
from falling safely back behind Duck River
, or retreating upon Nashville
behind the Cumberland
, as we would hold the interior or shorter lines.
having fallen after an ineffective but gallant defense of twenty-four hours, immediately thereafter the railroad bridge across the Tennessee
, about twelve miles southward of the surrendered fortress, was destroyed.
The direct line of communication between our forces eastward of that stream and those at Columbus
having thus been broken, on the 7th of February I again urged as imperative the swift concentration of all our then available forces upon Donelson
, however, asserting that Fort Donelson
was not “tenable,” would only support the position by directing the force at Clarksville
to cross to the south side of the Tennessee River
, and ordered immediate “preparations” to be made for the “removal” of the army at Bowling Green
, “to Nashville
, in rear of the Cumberland River
He also prescribed that, “from Nashville
, should any further retrograde movement become necessary,” it should be “made to Stevenson
and thence according to circumstances.”
He further declared that as “the possession of the Tennessee River
by the enemy, resulting from the fall of Fort Henry
, separated the army at Bowling Green
from the one at Columbus
,” henceforth the forces thus sundered must “act independently of each other until they can again be brought together.”?
fell on the 6th of February, but General Grant
, failing to press the signal advantage thus gained, did not advance against Fort Donelson
until the 12th, and then with but 15,000 men, having dispatched, at the same time, 6 regiments under General Lew Wallace
The investment of the position was not completed, however, until early on the 13th of February, the Confederate
commander having had a whole week for preparation.
On the 6th of February the Confederate
garrison at Fort Donelson
embraced about 600 artillerists and 3 regiments of infantry, or at most 2350 officers and men; to this force Heiman
's brigade and other troops, some 2500 men, were added that night, having been detached that morning from Fort Henry
Between the morning of the 7th of February and the investment of the position by the Federal
army of 15,000 men, on the morning of the 13th, it was further increased from the troops on the east and north side of the Cumberland
, under Brigadier-General Floyd
, to whom the command of the defense was now intrusted, so as to be, in numbers, about equal to that of the enemy on the land side, until the latter was reinforced by General Wallace
division, nearly 10,000 strong, later in the afternoon of the 14th.
By that time the evacuation of Bowling Green
, determined upon, as I have said, on the 7th,--and commenced on the 11th of February,--had been completed, the Confederate
rear-guard having marched out of the town at 3:30 P. M. on the 14th.
Satisfied, as affairs stood, that Nashville
and the Valley of the Cumberland
could only be defended successfully at Donelson
and by the crushing defeat of General Grant
in that quarter, an end to which all other considerations were evidently of minor military importance, I had insisted, as I may repeat, upon that as the one evident exigent operation.
That the resolution to give up Bowling Green
and to begin such a movement as early as the 11th of February ought to have removed every possible objection on the part of General Johnston
to going at once in person with fully ten thousand of his Bowling Green
army, I am very sure must be the ultimate professional lesson taught by the history of that most disastrous Confederate campaign!
Nothing were easier in the exigency than the transfer from Bowling Green
by the night of the 13th of February of ten thousand men, after General Johnston
had decided that the immediate abandonment of Kentucky
was an imperative necessity
Thus, on the morning of the 14th, General Grant
's army of 15,000 men could and should have been confronted with nearly if not quite 25,000 men, who, promptly handled, must have so effectually beaten their adversary, taken at such disadvantage, before the advent of Lew Wallace
that afternoon, as to have enhanced the victory for the Confederates
by the immediate defeat of Wallace
What happened from the policy adopted by the Confederate
general in chief may be briefly stated: Fort Donelson
was surrendered at 2 A. M. on the 16th of February, and with it 11,600 men. In the expressive words of General Johnston
's telegram, which reached me at Corinth
, “We lost all.”
And as in the business of war, as in all other material human affairs, “the omission to do that which is necessary seals a commission to a blank of dangers,” so was it now. The failure to employ opportunely all possible available resources against General Grant
, and the consequent loss of Donelson
, with its invaluable garrison, carried immediately in its train the irrevocable loss of Nashville
also, with the early abandonment of Middle Tennessee
Another irrevocable consequence was the evacuation of Columbus
, with incalculable moral detriments.
And had the stroke consummated at Donelson
been vigorously pressed to its proper military corollary,--Buell
being left to look after the remains of Johnston
's army,--General Grant
's victorious army of 25,000 men, with the resources of transportation at its disposal, might have been thrown within ten days, at latest, after the fall of Donelson
, upon the rear of General Polk
's forces at Columbus
and their easy capture thus have been assured.
Going no farther in the direction of Columbus
, in West Tennessee
, fifty-seven miles north of Corinth
, I there established my headquarters, and called thither Colonel Jordan
, my chief of staff, who had gone to Columbus
direct from Virginia
(with Captain D. B. Harris
, my chief
engineer) to inspect the command.
His report upon rejoining me about the 17th of February, and that of Captain Harris
, regarding the exaggerated extension of the lines, coupled with a faulty location, imperfect command of the river, and defective organization of the troops, confirmed my opinion that the place could not be evacuated too soon.
, whom I also called to Jackson
, I found possessed with a belief in the defensive capacity of the position and averse to its abandonment.
However, upon my exposition of its saliency, and the ease with which its communications, both by railway and water, might be broken, he changed his views.
As, meanwhile General Johnston
had telegraphed that I must do with respect to Columbus
as my “judgment dictates” ; and also, that “the separation of our armies is now complete” ; and further, as upon my report of the situation at Columbus
War Department had consented, on the 19th of February General Polk
was directed to prepare to evacuate the position without delay.
It was only to be held long enough to remove its invaluable ordnance to the batteries erected or under construction at Island Number10
and Madrid Bend, to New Madrid and to Fort Pillow
, upon which the ultimate defense of the Mississippi River
must depend thereafter.
The preparation of these works for the vital service hoped from them was now intrusted to Captain D. B. Harris
, who subsequently left so brilliant a record as a consummate engineer at Charleston
, Drewry's Bluff
On the 25th of February commenced the evacuation of a position the attempt to hold which must have resulted in the loss by capture of the corps of at least 13,000 men thus isolated, or, on the other hand, if left intact or unassailed by the enemy, must have been rendered wholly unavailable in the formation of a Confederate army for the recovery of what had been lately lost,--a corps without which no such army could have been possibly assembled at Corinth
as early as the 1st of April, 1862.
Because of a severe bronchial affection contracted by exposure before leaving Bowling Green
, I had not assumed formal command of the military district assigned to me, though virtually directing all the movements within it, and arduously endeavoring to become acquainted with the chief points within its limits,--a course specially requested of me by General Johnston
through his adjutant-general, in the event that I should not feel “well enough to assume command.”
Meanwhile, threatened by Buell
's presence with a large army in front of Nashville
, General Johnston
, following the line of retreat (marked out as early as February 7th) to Stevenson, in north-eastern Alabama
, had moved as far in that direction as Murfreesboro
‘, where he assembled about 17,000 men by the 23d of February, who were there subdivided into 3 divisions each of 2 brigades, with a “reserve” under Brigadier-General Breckinridge
, and several cavalry regiments unattached.
As the system of the “passive defensive” hitherto pursued had only led us to disaster,--the natural fruits, in fact, of the system,--encouraged by the latitude that was given me in General Johnston
's telegram of February 18th,
I resolved to exert myself to the utmost, despite all that was so unpromising, to secure the means for an aggressive campaign against the enemy, of whose early movement up the Tennessee
there were already such indications that there should be no doubt as to its objective.
But as General Johnston
's projected line of retrograde upon Stevenson
must with each day's march widen the distance between that army and the corps of General Polk
, while General Grant
, naturally flushed with his recent signal successes, would be left free at any moment to move up the Tennessee
or, indeed, to Eastport
, and thus, by seizing the Memphis and Charleston railroad, effectually separate and virtually neutralize the two Confederate armies,--my sole force left available for the protection of that important railway, exclusive of General Polk
's forces at Columbus
and elsewhere, would be but 2500 men under Chalmers
, in the quarter of Iuka
, with 3000 men recently arrived at Corinth
from New Orleans, under Ruggles
With a view to avoiding such a catastrophe as the enforced permanent separation of our two armies, I urged General Johnston
, about the 22d of February, to abandon his line of march toward Stevenson
, and to hasten to unite his army with such troops as I might be able to assemble, meanwhile, at the best point to cover the railroad center at Corinth
together with Memphis
, while holding Island Number10
and Fort Pillow
This plan, of course, required more troops than our united armies would supply.
Therefore, on the 22d of February, I dispatched staff-officers with a circular addressed to the governors of Alabama
, and Tennessee
respecting the supreme urgency and import of the situation, in all its phases, and invoking their utmost exertions to send me, each of them, from 5000 to 10,000 men as well armed and equipped as possible, enrolled for 90 days, within which period, by timely, vigorous action, I trusted we might recover our losses, and assure the defense of the Mississippi River
At the same time I appealed to General Bragg
for such troops as he could possibly spare temporarily in such an exigency, from Mobile
; and to General Lovell
for the like aid from New Orleans.
To General Van Dorn
, represented to have an army twenty thousand strong in Arkansas
, I likewise sent, on the 21st of February, a most pressing invitation to come in haste to our aid with as many men as possible, by way of New Madrid.
To him I wrote ( O. R.,
VII., 900): “The fate of Missouri
necessarily depends on the successful defense of Columbus
and of Island Number10
; hence we must, if possible, combine our operations not only to defend those positions, but also to take the offensive as soon as practicable to recover some lost ground.”
acceded to my views and request, though he did not put his troops in motion until the 28th of February, and although he regarded the projected attempt to unite his army with mine a “hazardous experiment.”
The evacuation of Columbus
was successfully completed on the 2d of March, apparently without any suspicion on the part of our adversary in that quarter that such an operation had been going on, or without the least show of that vigilance and vigor that were to be apprehended from him after the series of most serious disasters for the Confederate
arms which had characterized the month of February, 1862.
About seven thousand men were now placed at New Madrid, and in the quarter of Island Number10
, under the command of General McCown
, while the rest of General Polk
's force was withdrawn along the line of the Mobile and Ohio railroad as far south as Humboldt
, and there held in observation, with a small detachment of infantry left at Union City
, and some five hundred cavalry thrown well out toward Hickman
, on the Mississippi
, and extending across to the Tennessee River
in the quarter of Paris
, to watch and report all material movements upon either river.
Reliable information reached me that while General Pope
was on his march on the Missouri
side of the Mississippi
, to strike at New Madrid, such was the urgency of the danger impending by way of the Tennessee River
that it threatened the fatal hindrance of the conjunction of our forces, as already arranged about the 23d of February, in response to my dispatch through my aide-de-camp, Captain Ferguson
Growing profoundly apprehensive, on the 2d of March I dispatched Captain Otey
, an assistant adjutant-general on my staff, with a note to General Johnston
which contained these words: “I send herewith inclosed a slip showing intended movements of the enemy, no doubt against the troops in Western Tennessee
I think you ought to hurry up your troops to Corinth
by railroad, as soon as practicable, for [t]here6
or thereabouts will be fought the great battle of this controversy.”
I thus fixed upon Corinth
as the Confederate
base, because the recent movements of our enemy up the Tennessee
could only be intelligently construed as having the Memphis and Charleston railroad primarily, and such a railway center as Corinth
later, as their immediate objectives.7
On the 5th of March I formally assumed command of the district, retaining my headquarters for the time at Jackson
as the most central point of observation and the junction of two railroads.
's forces began to arrive at Corinth
on the 6th, when they, with the other troops reaching there from other quarters, were organized as fast as possible into brigades and divisions.
As a material part of the history of the campaign, I might here dwell upon the perplexing, inexplicable lack of cordial cooperation, in many ways, in the essential work of organizing the Confederate army being assembled at Corinth
, as efficiently and speedily as possible for the work ahead, that was manifested by the War Department at Richmond
, but it must suffice to say that a drawback was encountered from
that quarter which served to delay us, while helping to make the operation which we finally took in hand fall greatly short of its momentous aim.
Five Federal divisions (reinforced a few days later) had reached Savannah
, twelve miles below Pittsburg Landing
, on the east bank of the Tennessee
, by the 13th of February.
This force, aggregating some 43,000 men of all arms, was under the direct command of General C. F. Smith
, and embraced the greater part of the army that had triumphed at Donelson
One division, without landing at Savannah
, was dispatched, under General W. T. Sherman
, to endeavor to land, and to reach and cut some trestle-work near Burnsville
, on the Memphis and Charleston railroad.
Effecting a landing, short, however, of Eastport
, the intervening country was found so inundated as to be seemingly impracticable.
So, this expedition, hardly characterized by a really vigorous effort to reach the railroad, was abortive — a result aided somewhat by the opportune presence on the ground of Brigadier-General Chalmers
with a Confederate force of 2500 infantry.
On his way upon this expedition, General Sherman
had wisely sent back from Pittsburg Landing
a request that a Federal division should be dispatched at once to that point, to prevent the Confederate forces from occupying it and obstructing his return; consequently Hurlbut
's division was sent thither, and it was found on its transports at that point by Sherman
on his return that far down the river on the 16th of March.
, landing there his own division, made an apparently objectless short march into the interior and back on the 17th of March.
Making his report the same day to General Grant
, who had just reached Savannah
, General Sherman
stated that he was “strongly impressed with the position” of Pittsburg
Slaves laboring at night on the confederate earthworks at Corinth.|
Landing, “for its land advantages and its strategic character.
The ground itself admits of easy defense by a small command, and yet affords admirable camping-ground for one hundred thousand men.”
Unquestionably, it was upon this report that Pittsburg
, rather than Hamburg
, was made the Federal
base; for Hurlbut
's and Sherman
's divisions were immediately ordered ashore to encamp upon a prescribed line, while, on the same day General Grant
directed all the other troops at Savannah
except one division to be immediately sent to the same point; Wallace
's division being left, however, at Crump's Landing.
About the position thus taken by the Federal
army, there can hardly be two professional opinions.
It gave their adversary an opportunity for an almost fatal counter-stroke such as has rarely been afforded to the weaker of two belligerents in all the sinews and resources of war. A narrow cul de sac, formed by Snake Creek
and Lick Creek
, with the broad bank-full river forming its bottom, tactically as well as strategically it was a false position for an invading army, and I may add that, having been occupied, the exigent precaution, under the circumstances, of making a place d'armes of it was wholly overlooked, though it was barely twenty-three miles distant from Corinth
, where, according to the Federal
general's reports of the period, a supposed Confederate army of from 50,000 to 60,000 men were concentrated.
Previously, or as early as the 3d of March, Pope
, with about 19,000 “present for duty,” had appeared before New Madrid, in Missouri
, the essentially weak or most vulnerable point of our upper Mississippi
his attack, however, until the 12th,--until siege-guns could be brought up,--the works there were easily made so untenable that General McCown
abandoned them and transferred his forces, at night, across the river to support the heavy batteries at Madrid Bend and Island Number10
About the time Pittsburg Landing
was made General Grant
's base, I had collected within easy marches of Corinth
about 23,000 men of all arms of the service, independent of the forces of General Polk
,--giving, with his troops and including those at Forts Pillow
and Madrid Bend, an aggregate of at most 44,000 men, of excellent personality but badly armed-particularly the cavalry, some of whom had no arms at all. The new forces, with the exception of those from Mobile
, and New Orleans, were raw and undisciplined.
Made aware by the great number of transports9
that were now plying up and down the Tennessee
of the magnitude of the invasion that clearly threatened the seizure of the Memphis and Charleston railroad, the delay on the part of the Bowling Green
forces filled both General Bragg
and myself with great solicitude.
Meanwhile, on the 15th of March, General Johnston
addressed me by telegraph: “Have you had the south bank of the Hatchee
examined near Bolivar
I recommend it to your attention.
It has, besides the other advantages, that of being further from the enemy's line,”--that is, Pittsburg Landing
As the essential point for us, however, was to strike a blow at General Grant
so soon as General Johnston
's troops were united with mine, but before Buell
's junction with the exposed army at Pittsburg
, I could see no possible advantage in the least increase of distance from our real objective so soon as the advent of General Johnston
's troops should give us the power to undertake the offensive.
Exposing these features of the situation, I again urged General Johnston
to hurry his forces forward.
On the 22d of March he reached Corinth
with his staff, and I went down from Jackson
to meet him. Proceeding at once to explain to him what resources had been collected and all that was known of the position and numbers of our adversary at Pittsburg
, as also my views of the imperative necessity for an immediate movement against that adversary lest Buell
's forces should become a fatal factor in the campaign, to my surprise General Johnston
, with much emotion, informed me that it was his purpose to turn over to me the command of the entire force being assembled at Corinth
, and thereafter confine himself to the duties of department commander, with his headquarters either at Memphis
or Holly Springs, in Mississippi
This course, as he explained, he felt called upon to take in order to restore confidence to the people and even the army, so greatly impaired by reason of recent disasters.
Thoroughly understanding and appreciating his motives (and about these and his words there could be no possible misinterpretation), I declined as altogether unnecessary the unselfish tender of the command, but agreed, after some further exchange of views touching the military situation, to draw up a plan for the organization of our forces, and, as second in command, to supervise the task of organization.
By the 27th of March the last of General Hardee
's corps reached the vicinity of Corinth
,--about 8000 men,--while Crittenden
's division of 5000 men was halted at Burnsville
, eastward of Corinth
The order of organization, signed by General Johnston
, was published on the 29th of March.
Based on my notes, it had been drawn up by Colonel Jordan
, and subdivided the armies of Kentucky
, now united, into three army corps, with reserves of cavalry, artillery, and infantry, the corps under Major-Generals Polk
, and Hardee
respectively, and the reserve (two brigades) under Major-General G. B. Crittenden
On the 30th of March, Colonel Mackall
having been promoted and assigned to the command of the river defenses at Madrid Bend, Colonel Jordan
was formally announced as the adjutant-general
of the “Army of the Mississippi,” and on the following day Brigadier-General Breckinridge
was substituted for General Crittenden
in the command of the reserve.
So much longer time than I had anticipated had been taken in effecting the junction of the “Central army” with mine, agreed upon as far back as the 23d of February, that we were scarcely as ready for assuming the offensive as I had hoped to be, at latest by the 1st of April.
However, on the night of the 2d of April, after 10 o'clock, a dispatch from Brigadier-General Cheatham
, in command at Bethel Station
, twenty odd miles north of Corinth
, reached me through General Polk
, to the effect that he was being menaced by General Lew Wallace
Assuming that the enemy had divided his forces for an operation against the Mobile and Ohio railroad at Bethel
, I thus indorsed the dispatch: “Now is the moment to advance and strike the enemy at Pittsburg Landing
was then asked to carry it at once to General Johnston
, who, after reading both dispatch and indorsement, accompanied by Colonel Jordan
, went to General Bragg
's quarters near by. That officer, already in bed, immediately agreed with my recommendation.
presented objections in effect that our forces were not as yet ready for the movement, and that we could not move up our reserve in time.
, however, was able to reassure him on these points by expressing my conviction that we were as ready now as we could hope to be for some time to come, whereas the union of Buell
's forces with Grant
, which might be anticipated at an early day, would make any offensive operation on our side out of the question.
Thereupon, General Johnston
instructed Colonel Jordan
to issue the orders for the movement.
This was done in General Bragg
's bed-chamber, in a “circular” to the three corps commanders directing them “to hold their commands in hand, ready to advance upon the enemy in the morning by 6 A. M., with 3 days cooked rations in haversacks, 100 rounds of ammunition for small arms, and 200 rounds for field-pieces.
Carry 2 days cooked subsistence in wagons and 2 tents to the company.”
These orders reached the hands of Generals Polk
by 1:30 A. M., and General Breckinridge
was notified to the same effect by telegraph that night.
As it had been agreed between General Johnston
and myself, the day after his arrival at Corinth
, that all orders relating to our operations in that
quarter, as, also, touching reorganization, should be left in my hands, during the night of the 2d of April I had made notes regulating the order of march from Corinth
, and the manner of bringing on the battle, which I handed to Colonel Jordan
soon after daylight the next morning.
Those notes served as the basis of Special Orders, No. 8 of that date, issued in the name of General Johnston
However, before these orders were finally
written, all the details were explained to and discussed by me with General Johnston
, who came early to my headquarters; next, before 10 A. M., I explained to and instructed Generals Polk
, and Hardee
, also, at my headquarters, in the presence of General Johnston
and of one another, precisely what each of them had to do with their respective corps that day, and they were severally directed to put their corps in motion by the described roads in the direction of the enemy, by 12 meridian, without further order.
Though the distance to be traversed was barely twenty-three miles, it was no easy matter to move an army of thirty odd thousand essentially raw troops, with their artillery, through so densely wooded a country as that intervening between Corinth
and our objective.
Of the two narrow country roads that existed, the shorter was assigned to Bragg
's corps, because it was the one immediately contiguous to it; while to Hardee
's corps was given the initiation of the movement, with the longest line of march as well as the front line in the approaching onset, because it was made up of troops most hardened by long marches, and the best trained in field service.
's corps followed Hardee
's necessarily, because there was no other way for it,10
and next to Hardee
's troops those under Polk
had been most seasoned by marching.
Although our troops were under arms at an early hour on the 3d of April, as prescribed in the “circular” order, it is a part of the history of the campaign that the commanders of the two leading corps not only failed to put their troops in motion at least as early as meridian on the 3d of April, but did not move until so late in the afternoon as in effect to cause our army to reach the presence of its objective twenty-four hours later than there was every reason to expect, considering the shortness of the distance to be overcome.
What led to this delay of the outset of the Second and Third corps has certainly never been explained in any official document which has yet seen the light.
Their preparations necessary for such a movement were of the slightest, or only to cook five days rations, and to load a few wagons, for the amount of ammunition to be carried was no more than they had been directed some days previously to have and keep in possession of the troops.
's corps (Polk
's also), “with all detached brigades,” had been under orders of “readiness for a field movement” ever since the 1st of April ( Official Records,
X., Part II., p. 381). Be this as it may, Bragg
's corps did not quit the vicinage of Corinth
until so late that afternoon that none of it reached Monterey
, twelve miles away, until the next morning at 8:30, and one division (Withers
's) was not there until late on the 4th of April.
's corps, though dilatory in quitting Corinth
, would have easily reached its destination early enough on the second day's march to have been deployed on the same ground that it occupied on the night of the 5th, twenty-four hours later, had not General Bragg
interposed his authority to check its advance.
The march on the 4th was unaccountably slow and confused, especially that of the Second Corps, in view of the numerous staff attached to the headquarters of each corps.
The roads were extremely narrow and rendered excessively bad for artillery in some places by the rains, while the Second Corps was unused to marching; but all this hardly made it out of the power of that army to reach its objective by the night of April 4th, had there been a closer personal attention given to the movement during that day by those whose duty it was to execute Special Orders, No. 8.
And the cost was an irremediable loss of twenty-four hours. Another misadventure, that might have brought us sore disaster, was a cavalry reconnoissance with two pieces of artillery pushed forward without authority on the 4th, from Bragg
's corps into
collision with the enemy with such aggressiveness that it ought to have given the Federal
general full notice that an offensive army was close behind it, and led to immediate preparation for our onset, including intrenchments.
After the Third Corps had reached its assigned position, on the afternoon of the 5th of April, and the other corps were in supporting distance, including the reserve that had encountered a much more difficult road between Burnsville
than had been traversed by the other troops, naturally their commanders were called together at a point not two miles distant from Shiloh Church
,--as it turned out, not far in the rear of Hardee
Of course, it was recognized to be too late for an attack that day. Moreover, it was reported that the First Corps was already nearly out of provisions, and that the ammunition train was still so far to the rear as to be unpromising.
The loss of twenty-four hours, when every hour was precious because of the imminent danger of Buell
's conjunction, the maladroit manner in which our troops had been handled on the march, and the blunder of the noisy, offensive reconnoissance, coupled with these reports of corps commanders, served to satisfy me that the purpose for which we had left Corinth
had been essentially frustrated and should be abandoned as no longer feasible.
The military essence of our projected operation was that it should be a surprise, whereas, now, I could not believe the enemy was still ignorant of our near presence with an aggressive intention, and if now attacked would be found intrenched beyond the possibility of being beaten in assault by so raw and undisciplined an army as ours was, however intrepid.
Hence, an imperative prudence that included the necessity for preserving that army essentially intact for further operations forced me to advise against any attempt now to attack the enemy in position and to retrace our steps toward our base with the possible result of leading him to follow us away from his own and thus giving us a probable opening to the retrieval of the present lost opportunity.
listened heedfully to what I said, but answered that he hoped not only we should find our enemy still unready for a sudden onslaught, but that there was yet time for it before Buell
could come up; therefore, he should decide to adventure the enterprise as early after dawn the next day as possible, adding his opinion that now our troops were partly in line of battle it were “better to make the venture.”
The opinions of the corps commanders, I may add, were neither asked nor given.
That my views were based on sound military principles it seems to me could be readily deduced from what followed at the battle of Shiloh
itself, were this the place for such a discussion.
So soon as General Johnston
's decision was announced, the conference ended with the understanding on all sides that the battle should be ventured at dawn on the 6th of April, according to the manner already prescribed in Special Orders, No. 8, to which end every exertion should be made to place our troops in the best shape possible for the attack.
No further conference was held that night by General Johnston
with myself, or with the reserve
or corps commanders; nor did he issue any order at all concerning the impending battle.
At the first flush of dawn on the 6th, the Confederate army was promptly formed in the three lines directed in Special Orders, No. 8, except that untowardly the left of Hardee
's corps, which, reinforced by Gladden
's division of Bragg
's corps, constituted the advance, did not rest on Owl Creek
, as prescribed.
Nine thousand and twenty-four men were in this line, deployed for battle, and formed, as it were, a heavy skirmish line thrown forward to embrace the whole Federal front.
Five hundred yards rearward was Bragg
's corps (less Gladden
's division), 10,731 men, exclusive of cavalry, in a line, as far as the nature of the ground admitted, of regiments massed in double columns at half distance — not deployed in line of battle, as some writers have stated, coupled with criticisms based thereon.
's corps of 9036 men, exclusive of cavalry, came next, some 800 yards behind Bragg
in a column of brigades deployed in line of battle on the left of the Pittsburg
road, each brigade having its own battery, and there was cavalry protecting the left of his line.
The reserve, under Breckinridge
, of 7062 men, exclusive of cavalry, marched in the rear of Bragg
's right or between the Pittsburg
road and Lick Creek
The troops of the third line were to be thrown forward according to the exigencies of the battle.
The total force thus sent forward against the Federal
position numbered 40,335 rank and file, of all arms, including 4382 cavalry, more than half of whom were of no other military value except for observation or outpost service that did not involve skirmishing.
[See estimates, page 557.] On the other hand, the force to be assailed occupied “a continuous line from Lick Creek
, on the [Federal] left, to Owl Creek
, a branch of Snake Creek
, on the [Federal] right, facing nearly south, and possibly a little west,” says General Grant
Their first line, reaching from the bridge on Owl Creek
to the Lick Creek ford
, was held by the divisions of Generals Sherman
; three of Sherman
's brigades holding the Federal
right, while the other (Stuart
's) was on the extreme left, with its left resting on Lick Creek
This division had from 16 to 18 guns, and also a cavalry support.
occupied the intervening space.
These two divisions numbered at least seventeen thousand men, exclusive of cavalry.11
About half a mile behind Sherman
's division of 7028 effectives; nearer the river were the divisions of C. F. Smith
, (under W . . L. Wallace
) and of Hurlbut
, aggregating 16,000 men with 34 guns.
There was also a cavalry force including detachments from two “regular” regiments.
Thus the force encountered must have numbered forty thousand men, infantry and artillery, supported by sixty odd guns.
The ground occupied was an undulating table-land embraced between Owl Creek
and Lick Creek
, that run nearly in the same general direction and are about four miles apart at their mouths.
This area, rising in some places about one hundred feet above the low-water level of the river, was from three to five miles
Interlaced by a network of ravines, which, near the river, are deep, with abrupt sides, the ground rises somewhat ridge-like in the quarter of Lick Creek
, and recent rains had made all these depressions boggy and difficult for the movement of artillery across them.
A primitive forest, dense with undergrowth, spread over the whole space except a few scattered farm fields of from fifty to seventy-five acres. Pittsburg Landing
, near the mouth of Snake Creek
, was about three miles from that of Lick Creek
The two roads from Corinth
, while crossing Lick Creek
about a mile asunder, come together two miles from Pittsburg
A road from Purdy
, crossing Owl Creek
by a bridge near Sherman
's right, gave one way to reach the field from Crump's Landing, but the shortest road between the two landings was one near the river leading over a bridge across Snake Creek
As it has been denied in the highest quarters that the
Confederate attack on the 6th of April was of the nature of a surprise, it belongs to the history of the day's operations to give here these words of a note from General Sherman
to his chief, in the afternoon of the 5th.
The “enemy is saucy, but got the worst of it yesterday. ... I do not apprehend anything like an attack upon our position.”
thereupon wrote to his superior, General Halleck
: “Our outposts have been attacked in considerable force.
I immediately went up, but found all quiet. ... I have scarcely the faintest idea of an attack upon us.”
Moreover, at 3 o'clock P. r., having visited the encampment of Colonel Ammen
, General Grant
informed that officer that water transportation would be furnished for his brigade of Nelson
's division, Army of the Ohio, on the 7th or 8th of April, or some time early in the week, and also that there would be “no fight” at Pittsburg
, but at “Corinth
, where the rebels were
Further, even when leaving Savannah
the next morning, General Grant
scarcely at first can have believed that his army was being seriously attacked, for instead of dispatching to the field the whole of Nelson
's division by steamers, he ordered it to march thither by a wretched road, a march that occupied nearly the whole day. Aside, however, from such documentary evidence, or did none exist, the absence of all those ordinary precautions that habitually shield an army in the field must forbid the historian from regarding it as other than one of the most surprising surprises ever achieved.
About 5 A. M. the Confederate
lines were set in motion.
The first collision was in the quarter of Gladden
's brigade, on our right, and with a battalion of five companies of the 21st Missouri of Prentiss
's division dispatched well to the front by General Prentiss
, of his own motion, as early as 3 A. M. But for this incident, due solely to the intelligent, soldierly forethought of an officer not trained to the business of war, the whole Federal front would have been struck wholly unawares, for nowhere else had such prudence been shown.
Exactly at 6 A. M. Prentiss
's whole division was under fire, and the battle of Shiloh
began in earnest.
A. s soon as the outburst of musketry and artillery gave notice that Hardee
's line was engaged, General Johnston
said that he should go. to the front, leaving me in the general direction, as the exigencies of the battle might arise.13
Then he rode forward with his personal staff and the chief engineer
of the army, Colonel Gilmer
, the only officer of the general staff
in his suite, Colonel Jordan
, remaining with me. At 7:30 A. M., by which time the battle was in full tide, as was evident from the play of artillery and the heavy, continuous rattle of small arms, I ordered Generals Polk
to hasten forward, the first to the support of our now engaged left, and the latter in a like service affecting our right.
, whom I had early in the morning directed to impress personally on the corps commanders the value of fighting their artillery massed twelve guns at a point, was also now dispatched forward to overlook the field and urge on the attack continuously at as many points as possible.
When our attack reached Sherman
's division, owing to the failure of Hardee
to keep his left near Owl Creek
as was intended, only the left brigade of that division on the Federal
right was struck, leaving intact the other two to the left of our left flank, which were swiftly formed by General Sherman
on strong ground with a small watercourse in his front.
But the other stricken brigade was swept out of its encampment, scattered, and took no further part as an organization in the battle of either day.
's left failed to touch the enemy's right, on his own right there was left a vacant space between it and Lick Creek
, to fill which Chalmers
's brigade of Withers
's division, Bragg
's corps, was ordered up from the second line, with a battery; and a hot, urgent conflict ensued in that quarter, in which General Johnston
was present, after Chalmers
had carried at least
In the same quarter of the field all of Withers
's division, including Gladden
's brigade, reinforced by Breckinridge
's whole reserve, soon became engaged, and Prentiss
's entire line, though fighting stoutly, was pressed back in confusion.
We early lost the services of the gallant Gladden
, a man of soldierly aptitudes and experience, who, after a marked influence upon the issue in his quarter of the field, fell mortally wounded.
His immediate successor, Colonel D. W. Adams
, was also soon seriously disabled.
Meantime, on our left (Federal right) Ruggles
's division of Bragg
's corps was so strenuously pressing the two brigades of Sherman
's division, that at the moment McClernand
's division came up, Sherman
was giving way with the loss of five or six guns.
could not stay the retrograde, and the Federal
right was forced back to the line of the road from Purdy
There a foothold was gained on a thickly wooded ridge, with a ravine in front, from which two favorably posted batteries were used with deadly effect for a time upon our assailing force, now composed of Ruggles
's three brigades reinforced by several of Polk
's. Here, again, the Federal
line had to give way, with the loss of some guns.
By 7:30 Hurlbut
, sending Veatch
's brigade of his division to the help of Sherman
, had gone, in person with his two other brigades, to the support of Prentiss
, and with him went 8 companies of cavalry and 3 batteries.
's division was met, however, in a somewhat fragmentary condition, but was rallied in the immediate rear of a line which Hurlbut
formed along the edge of a field on favorable ground on the Hamburg
road, southward of the position last taken up by McClernand
Meanwhile (9:30 A. M.) I had advanced my headquarters to a point about a quarter of a mile in advance of the Shiloh Meeting House
, whence I dispatched my staff in all directions to gather reports of the progress of the battle with its exigencies and needs on our side, as, also, in quest of stragglers, whose numbers had become dangerously large under the temptations of the abundant stores of food and other articles left in the abandoned Federal camps.14
In the work of cleaning these encampments of stragglers and dispatching them to the front, my cavalry escort was also effectively employed.
As designated by Special Orders, No. 8, Hardee
's corps having developed the enemy's position, Bragg
's troops first and then Polk
's on our left and left center, Withers
's division of Bragg
's corps and Breckinridge
's reserves on the right, had been thrown forward to fill intervening gaps and to aid the onset.
At all points from the right to the left, the opposing forces had been stoutly engaged on ground in rear of the line of McClernand
's encampment since 9 A. M., when W. H. L. Wallace
had carried forward his division into action; a division that, trained by so thorough a soldier as General C. F. Smith
, had done most soldierly work at Donelson
, and which Wallace
now handled with marked vigor.
Its influence seemed to stiffen the Federal
center and left center.
, commanding one of Sherman
's brigades strongly posted on the extreme Federal left, also, had made so obstinate a stand that he was not forced from the position until three times his numbers, of Withers
's division, diverted from the main current of the attack, were brought to bear against him. For some time General Johnston
was with that division, but he shifted to Breckinridge
's division about 11 A. M., and remained closely in rear alternately of either Bowen
's or Statham
's brigade until mortally wounded near the latter, a little after 2 P. M. He took post and remained on our extreme right, and at no time does it appear from the reports of subordinates in any other part of the field that, either personally or by his staff, General Johnston
gave any orders or concerned himself with the general movements of our forces.
In fact, engrossed as he soon became with the operations of two or three brigades on the extreme right, it would have been out of his power to direct our general operations, especially as he set no machinery in motion with which to gather information of what was being done elsewhere, or generally, by the Confederate army, in order to enable him to handle it intelligently from his position on the field.
Learning about 1 P. M. that the Federal
) seemed about to give way, I ordered General Hardee
to employ his cavalry (Wharton
's Texas Rangers) to turn their flank and cut off their retreat to the river, an operation not effected because a proper or sufficient detour to the left was not made; and the gallant Texans
under a heavy fire became involved in ground impracticable for cavalry, and had to fall back.
But Colonel Wharton
soon afterward dismounted half of his regiment and, throwing it forward on foot, drove his adversary from the position.
The falling back of Sherman
's and McClernand
's troops under stress from several brigades of Hardee
's corps with a part of Ruggles
's division of Bragg
's, aided by some of Polk
's troops, left Wallace
(W. H. L.) on the advanced Federal right, where, with Hurlbut
on his left, in a strong, sheltered
position, well backed by artillery, and held with great resolution, they repulsed a series of uncombined assaults made against them.
Here General Bragg
was directing operations in person; and it was here that, after Hindman
had suffered severely in several ineffectual efforts, Gibson
's brigade of Bragg
's own corps was employed in four unavailing assaults, when finding himself unable to carry the position, General Bragg
, as he reports, desisted from any further attempt, leaving that part of the field in charge of a staff-officer with authority to act in his name, and going farther to the right to find that General Johnston
However, having previously learned, from his aide-de-camp, Colonel Urquhart
, that Adjutant-General Jordan
was near by, he requested that officer, through Colonel Urquhart
, to collect and employ some of our troops to turn the left of the position that obstructed his advance toward the river, as just described.
Upon that service Colonel Jordan
, in a few moments, employed Statham
's brigade, which was fortunately found near by, resting at ordered arms, General Breckinridge
, to whom the order was given, being with it at the time.
This happened, be it noted, at 2:30 P. M., or about the moment that General Johnston
was bleeding to death in the covert of a deep ravine a very short distance from Statham
's brigade, in the immediate rear of which it was that his wound had been inflicted.15
quickly became engaged with the enemy in his front, covered by a thick underbrush that edged an open field over which the Confederate
advance was made.
The conflict was sharp for a few moments, but the Federals
had to give way. 16
About this time, under my orders, Cheatham
came up with his Second Brigade on the left of Breckinridge
Moreover, a few moments later, or as early as 3 P. M., Withers
, of Bragg
's corps, having found that his adversary (Stuart
's brigade) which had so long occupied him on the extreme right had disappeared toward Pittsburg Landing
, and having moved across the intervening ravines and ridges with his division to where the sound of artillery and musketry showed the main battle was now raging,--was brought opportunely into cooperation with Cheatham
's and Breckinridge
's operations directly upon Hurlbut
's left flank — a movement which Hurlbut
resisted stoutly until, justly apprehensive of being cut off, he fell back, after 4 P. M., upon Pittsburg Landing
This left Prentiss
's left flank exposed; Wallace
, whose unflinching handling of his division had done so much to keep the Federal
army from being driven to the river-side by midday, now also, to
avoid being surrounded, gave orders for it to retire, and soon fell mortally wounded; but a part of his division remained with Prentiss
Sometime previously I had ordered General Hardee
to gather all the forces he could and press the enemy on our own left.
Stragglers that had been collected by Colonels Brent
and others of my staff, were also sent forward extemporized into battalions, and Colonel Marshall J. Smith
with the New Orleans Crescent Regiment was added, with orders to “Drive the enemy into the Tennessee
Meantime, or shortly after 3 P. M., Governor Harris
and Captain Wicliffe
, both of General Johnston
's staff, had reached me with information of his death.
Staff-officers were immediately dispatched to acquaint the corps commanders of this deplorable casualty, with a caution, however, against otherwise promulgating the fact.
They were also urged to push the battle with renewed vigor and, if possible, to force a speedy close, to which end my staff were energetically employed in pushing up the stragglers or regiments or parts of regiments that had become casually separated from their organizations because of the nature of the battle-field.
As I have said, by five o'clock the whole Federal army except Prentiss
's division, with a part of Wallace
's, had receded to the river-bank, and the indomitable force which under Prentiss
still contested the field was being environed on its left by brigades from the divisions of Breckinridge
, and Withers
in that quarter.
It remains to be said that Prentiss
was equally encompassed on the other flank by a part of Ruggles
's division, together with some of General Polk
Thus surrounded on all sides, that officer, whose division had been the first to come into collision with us that morning, stoutly keeping the field to the last, was now forced to surrender in person, just after 5:30 P. M., with some 2200 officers and men.
We had now had more than eleven hours of continuous fighting, fighting without food except that hastily snatched up in the abandoned Federal encampments.
In the meantime Colonel J. D. Webster
, the Federal chief of staff
, had massed his reserve artillery, some sixty guns, on a ridge about three hundred yards in advance of the landing which commanded all the approaches thereto from the landward, with a deep ravine on the side facing the Confederates
Moreover, much of the ground in front of this position was swept by the guns of the steamers Lexington
, properly posted for that purpose.
Near by had gathered the remnants of Wallace
's, and McClernand
's divisions, from which gunners had been taken to man the artillery.
At this critical instant, Colonel Ammen
's brigade of Nelson
's division of Buell
's army was brought across the Tennessee
and placed as a support, on the ridge, in a position selected by General Buell
himself, just at the instant that the Confederates
attempted to storm this last foothold to which they had finally driven their adversary after eleven hours of unceasing battle.
This was the situation at 6 p. M., and that the Confederate
troops were not in a condition to carry such a position as that which confronted them at that late hour becomes clearly apparent from the official reports.
After the capture of General Prentiss
no serious effort was made to press the
victory by the corps commanders.
In fact the troops had got out of the hands either of corps, divisional, or brigade commanders, and for the most part, moreover, at the front, were out of ammunition.
Several most gallant uncombined efforts (notably by Chalmers
) were made to reach and carry the Federal
battery, but in every instance the effort failed.
Comprehending the situation as it was, at six P. M. I dispatched staff-officers with orders to cease hostilities, withdraw the troops from under fire of the Federal
gun-boats, and to sleep on their arms.
However, before the order was received many of the regiments had already been withdrawn out of action, and really the attack had practically ceased at every point.18
My headquarters for the night were established at the Shiloh Meeting House
, in the tent that General Sherman
There several of the corps and division commanders called for orders, and all evinced and expressed much satisfaction with the results, while no one was heard to express or suggest that more might have been achieved had the battle been prolonged.
All seemed to believe that our troops had accomplished as much as could have been hoped for.
Of the second day's battle my sketch shall be very brief.
It began with daylight, and this time Buell
's army was the attacking force.
Our widely scattered forces, which it had been impossible to organize in the night after the late hour at which they were drawn out of action, were gathered in hand for the exigency as quickly as possible.
, and Breckinridge
hurried to their assigned positions,--Hardee
now to the extreme right, where were Chalmers
's and Jackson
's brigades of Bragg
's corps; General Bragg
to the left, where were assembled brigades and fragments of his own troops, as also of Clark
's division, Polk
's corps, with Trabue
's brigade of Kentuckians; Breckinridge
was on the left of Hardee
This left a vacant space to be occupied by General Polk
, who during the night had gone with Cheatham
's division back nearly to Hardee
's position on the night of the 5th of April.
But just at the critical time, to my great pleasure, General Polk
came upon the field with that essential division.
By 7 P. M. the night before, all of Nelson
's division had been thrown across the Tennessee
, and during the night had been put in position between General Grant
's disarrayed forces and our own; Crittenden
's division, carried from Savannah
by water and disembarked at midnight, was forced through the mob of demoralized soldiers that thronged the river-side and established half a mile in advance, to the left of Nelson
's division of General Grant
's army also had found its way after dark on the 6th across Snake Creek
from Crump's Landing to the point near the bridge where General Sherman
had rallied the remains of two of his brigades.
reached the field by water, at daylight, while two other brigades of the same division
The Union gun-boats at Shiloh on the evening of the first day. From a lithograph.|
's) were close at hand.
Thus, at the instant when the battle was opened we had to face at least 23,000 fresh troops, including 3 battalions of regulars, with at least 48 pieces of artillery.
On the Confederate
side there was not a man who had not taken part in the battle of the day before.
The casualties of that day had not been under 6500 officers and men, independent of stragglers; consequently not more than 20,000 infantry could be mustered that morning.
The Army of the Ohio in General Buell
's hands had been made exceptionally well-trained soldiers for that early period of the war.
The extreme Federal right was occupied by General Lew Wallace
's division, while the space intervening between it and Rousseau
's brigade was filled with from 5000 to 7000 men gathered during the night and in the early morning from General Grant
's broken organizations.
After exchanging some shots with Forrest
's cavalry, Nelson
's division was confronted with a composite force embracing Chalmers
's brigade, Moore
's Texas Regiment, with other parts of Withers
's division, also the Crescent Regiment
of New Orleans and the 26th Alabama, supported by well-posted batteries, and so stoutly was Nelson
received that his division had to recede somewhat.
Advancing again, however, about 8 o'clock, now reinforced by Hazen
's brigade, it was our turn to retire with the loss of a battery.
But rallying and taking the offensive, somewhat reinforced, the Confederates
able to recover their lost ground and guns, inflicting a sharp loss on Hazen
's brigade, that narrowly escaped capture.
's brigade was also seriously pressed and must have been turned but for the opportune arrival and effective use of Terrill
's regular battery of McCook
In the meantime Crittenden
's division became involved in the battle, but was successfully kept at bay for several hours by the forces under Hardee
, until it was reinforced by two brigades of McCook
's division which had been added to the attacking force on the field, after the battle had been joined, the force of fresh troops being thus increased by at least five thousand men.20
Our troops were being forced to recede, but slowly; it was not, however, until we were satisfied that we had now to deal with at least three of Buell
's divisions as well as with General Lew Wallace
's, that I determined to yield the field in the face of so manifestly profitless a combat.
By 1 o'clock General Bragg
's forces on our left, necessarily weakened by the withdrawal of a part of his troops to reenforce our right and center, had become so seriously pressed that he called for aid. Some remnants of Louisiana
, and Tennessee
regiments were gathered up and sent forward to support him as best they might, and I went with them personally.
, now taking the offensive, pressed his adversary back.
This was about 2 P. M. My headquarters were still at Shiloh Church
The odds of fresh troops alone were now too great to justify the prolongation of the conflict.
So, directing Adjutant-General Jordan
to select at once a proper position in our near rear, and there establish a covering force including artillery, I dispatched my staff with directions to the several corps commanders to prepare to retreat from the field, first making a show, however, at different points of resuming the offensive.
These orders were executed, I may say, with no small skill, and the Confederate army began to retire at 2:30 P. M. without apparently the least perception on the part of the enemy that such a movement was going on. There was no flurry, no haste shown by officers or men; the spirit of all was admirable.
Stragglers dropped into line; the caissons of the batteries were loaded up with rifles; and when the last of our troops had passed to the rear of the covering force, from the elevated ground it occupied and which commanded a wide view, not a Federal regiment or even a detachment of cavalry was anywhere to be seen as early as 4 P. M.
, with the rear-guard, bivouacked that night not more than two miles from Shiloh
He withdrew three miles farther on the 8th, and there remained for several days without being menaced.
Our loss in the two days was heavy, reaching 10,699.
[See page 539.] The field was left in the hands of our adversary, as also some captured guns, which were not taken away for want of horses, but in exchange we carried off at least 30 pieces of his artillery with 26 stands of colors and nearly 3000 prisoners of war, also a material acquisition of small arms and accouterments which our men had obtained on Sunday instead of their inferior weapons.