Chapter 9: battle of Shiloh. March and April, 1862.
In the middle of February, 1862, Major-General Halleck
commanded all the armies in the valley of the Mississippi
, from his headquarters in St. Louis
These were, the Army of the Ohio, Major-General Buell
, in Kentucky
; the Army of the Tennessee, Major-General Grant
, at Forts Henry
; and General S. R. Curtis
, in Southern Missouri
He posted his chief of staff, General Cullum
, at Cairo
, and me at Paducah
, chiefly to expedite and facilitate tile important operations then in progress up the Tennessee
and Cumberland Rivers
surrendered to General Grant
on the 16th of February, and there must have been a good deal of confusion resulting from the necessary care of the wounded, and disposition of prisoners, common to all such occasions, and there was a real difficulty in communicating between St. Louis
and Fort Donelson
had also followed up the rebel army, which had retreated hastily from Bowling Green
to and through Nashville
, a city of so much importance to the South
, that it was at one time proposed as its capital.
Both Generals Grant
looked to its capture as an event of great importance.
On the 21st General Grant
sent General Smith
with his division to Clarksville
, fifty miles above Donelson
, toward Nashville
, and on the 27th went himself to Nashville
to meet and confer with General Buell
, but returned to Donelson
the next day.
Meantime, General Halleck
at St. Louis
must have felt that his armies were getting away from him, and began to send dispatches to me at Paducah
, to be forwarded by boat, or by a rickety telegraph-line up to Fort Henry
, which lay entirely in a hostile country, and was consequently always out of repair.
On the 1st of March I received the following dispatch, and forwarded it to General Grant
, both by the telegraph and boat:
Again on the 2d:
On the 4th came this dispatch:
was evidently working himself into a passion, but he was too far from the seat of war to make due allowance for the actual state of facts.
had done so much, that General Halleck
should have been patient.
Meantime, at Paducah
, I was busy sending boats in every direction — some under the orders of General Halleck
, others of General Cullum
; others for General Grant
, and still others for General Buell
and at the same time I was organizing out of the new troops that were arriving at Paducah
a division for myself when allowed to take the field, which I had been promised by General Halleek
His purpose was evidently to operate up the Tennessee River
, to break up Bear Creek Bridge and the railroad communications between the Mississippi
and Tennessee Rivers
, and no doubt lie was provoked that Generals Grant
had turned aside to Nashville
In the mean time several of the gunboats, under Captain Phelps
, United States Navy, had gone up the Tennessee
as far as Florence
, and on their return had reported a strong Union feeling among the people along the river.
On the 10th of March, having received the necessary orders from General Halleck
, I embarked my division at Paducah
It was composed of four brigades.
The First, commanded by Colonel S. G. Hicks
, was composed of the Fortieth Illinois, Forty-sixth Ohio, and Morton
's Indiana Battery, on the boats Sallie List
, Golden Gate
, J. B. Adams
, and Lancaster
The Second Brigade, Colonel D. Stuart
, was composed of the Fifty-fifth Illinois, Seventy-first Ohio, and Fifty-fourth Ohio; embarked on the Hannibal
, Universe, Hazel Dell
, and Prairie Rose.
The Third Brigade, Colonel Hildebrand
, was composed of the Seventy-seventh Ohio, Fifty-seventh Ohio, and Fifty-third Ohio; embarked on the Poland, Anglo-Saxon
, Ohio No. Three
, and Continental.
The Fourth Brigade, Colonel Buckland
, was composed of the Seventy-second Ohio, Forty-eighth Ohio, and Seventieth Ohio; embarked on the Empress
, Baltic, Shenango, and Marengo
We steamed up to Fort Henry
, the river being high and in splendid order.
There I reported in person to General C. F. Smith
, and by him was ordered a few miles above, to the remains of the burned railroad bridge, to await the rendezvous of the rest of his army.
I had my headquarters on the Continental
Among my colonels I had a strange character Thomas Worthington
, colonel of the Forty-sixth Ohio.
He was a graduate of West Point
, of the class of 1827; was, therefore, older than General Halleck
, General Grant
, or myself, and claimed to know more of war than all of us put together.
In ascending the river he did not keep his place in the column, but pushed on and reached Savannah
a day before the rest of my division.
When I reached that place, I found that Worthington
had landed his regiment, and was flying about giving orders, as though he were commander-in-chief.
I made him get back to his boat, and gave him to understand that he must thereafter keep his place.
General C. F. Smith
arrived about the 13th of March, with a large fleet of boats, containing Hurlbut
's division, Lew. Wallae
's division, and that of himself, then commanded by Brigadier-General W. H. L. Wallace
sent for me to meet him on his boat, and ordered me to push on under escort of the two gunboats, Lexington
, commanded by Captains Gwin
, United States Navy.
I was to land at some point below Eastport
, and make a break of the Memphis & Charleston Railroad, between Tuscumbia
was quite unwell, and was suffering from his leg, which was swollen and very sore, from a mere abrasion in stepping into a small-boat.
This actually mortified, and resulted in his death about a month after, viz., April 25, 1862.
He was adjutant of the Military Academy during the early part of my career there, and afterward commandant of cadets.
He was a very handsome and soldierly man, of great experience, and at Donelson
had acted with so much personal bravery that to him many attributed the success of the assault.
I immediately steamed up the Tennessee River
, following the two gunboats, and, in passing Pittsburg Landing
, was told by Captain Gwin
that, on his former trip up the river, he had found a rebel regiment of cavalry posted there, and that it was the usual landing-place for the people about Corinth
, distant thirty miles. I sent word back to General Smith
that, if we were detained up the river, he ought to post some troops at Pittsburg Landing
We went on up the river cautiously, till we saw Eastport
, both of which were occupied by rebel batteries and a small rebel force of infantry.
We then dropped back quietly to the mouth of Yellow River
, a few miles below, whence led a road to Burnsville
, a place on the Memphis
& Charleston road, where were the company's repair-shops.
We at once commenced disembarking the command: first the cavalry, which started at once for Burnsville
, with orders to tear up the railroad-track, and burn the depots, shops, etc; and I followed with the infantry and artillery as fast as they were disembarked.
It was raining very hard at the time.
Daylight found us about six miles out, where we met the cavalry returning.
They had made numerous attempts to cross the streams, which had become so swollen that mere brooks covered the whole bottom; and my aide-de-camp, Sanger
, whom I had
dispatched with the cavalry, reported the loss, by drowning, of several of the men. The rain was pouring in torrents, and reports from the rear came that the river was rising very fast, and that, unless we got back to our boats soon, the bottom would be simply impassable.
There was no alternative but to regain our boats; and even this was so difficult, that we had to unharness the artillery-horses, and drag the guns under water through the bayous, to reach the bank of the river.
Once more embarked, I concluded to drop down to Pittsburg Landing
, and to make the attempt from there.
During the night of the 14th, we dropped down to Pittsburg Landing
, where I found Hurlbut
's division in boats.
Leaving my command there, I steamed down to Savannah
, and reported to General Smith
in person, who saw in the flooded Tennessee
the full truth of my report; and he then instructed me to disembark my own division, and that of General Hurlbut
, at Pittsburg Landing
; to take positions well back, and to leave room for his whole army; telling me that he would soon come up in person, and move out in force to make the lodgment on the railroad, contemplated by General Halleck
, of General C. F. Smith
's, or rather General Halleck
's, staff, returned with me, and on tile 16th of March we disembarked and marched out about ten miles toward Corinth
, to a place called Monterey
or Pea Ridge
, where the rebels had a cavalry regiment, which of course decamped on our approach, but from the people we learned that trains were bringing large masses of men from every direction into Corinth
and I reconnoitred the ground well, and then returned to our boats.
On the 18th, Hurlbut
disembarked his division and took post about a mile and a half out, near where the roads branched, one leading to Corinth
and the other toward Hamburg
On the 19th I disembarked my division, and took post about three miles back, three of the brigades covering the roads to Purdy
, and the other brigade (Stuart
's) temporarily at a place on the Hamburg Road
, near Lick Creek Ford
, where the Bark Road
came into the Hamburg Road
Within a few days, Prentiss
's division arrived
and camped on my left, and afterward McClernand
's and W. H. L. Wallace
's divisions, which formed a line to our rear.
's division remained on the north side of Snake Creek
, on a road leading from Savannah
or Crump's Landing to Purdy
General C. F. Smith
remained back at Savannah
, in chief command, and I was only responsible for my own division.
I kept pickets well out on the roads, and made myself familiar with all the ground inside and outside my lines.
My personal staff was composed of Captain J. H. Hammond
, assistant adjutant-general
; Surgeons Hartshorn
; Lieutenant Colonels Hascall
; Lieutenants McCoy
and John Taylor
We were all conscious that the enemy was collecting at Corinth
, but in what force we could not know, nor did we know what was going on behind us. On the 17th of March, General U. S. Grant
was restored to the command of all the troops up the Tennessee River
, by reason of General Smith
's extreme illness, and because he had explained to General Halleck
satisfactorily his conduct after Donelson
; and he too made his headquarters at Savannah
, but frequently visited our camps.
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.
The position was naturally strong, with Snake Creek
on our right, a deep, bold stream, with a confluent (Owl Creek
) to our right front; and Lick Creek
, with a similar confluent, on our left, thus narrowing the space over which we could be attacked to about a mile and a half or two miles.
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. From about the 1st of April we were conscious that the rebel cavalry in our front was getting bolder and more saucy; and on Friday, the 4th of
April, it dashed down and carried off one of our picket guards, composed of an officer and seven men, posted a couple of miles out on the Corinth
sent a company to its relief, then followed himself with a regiment, and, fearing lest he might be worsted, I called out his whole brigade and followed some four or five miles, when the cavalry in advance encountered artillery.
I then, after dark, drew back to our lines, and reported the fact by letter to General Grant
, at Savannah
; but thus far we had not positively detected the presence of infantry, for cavalry regiments generally had a couple of guns along, and I supposed the guns that opened on us on the evening of Friday, April 4th, belonged to the cavalry that was hovering along our whole front.
Saturday passed in our camps without any unusual event, the weather being wet and mild, and the roads back to the steamboat-landing being heavy with mud; but on Sunday morning, the 6th, early, there was a good deal of picket-firing, and I got breakfast, rode out along my lines, and, about four hundred yards to the front of Appler
's regiment, received from some bushes in a ravine to the left front a volley which killed my orderly, Holliday
About the same time I saw the rebel lines of battle in front coming down on us as far as the eye could reach.
All my troops were in line of battle, ready, and the ground was favorable to us. I gave the necessary orders to the battery (Waterhouse
's) attached to Hildebrand
's brigade, and cautioned the men to reserve their fire till the rebels had crossed the ravine of Owl Creek
, and had begun the ascent; also, sent staff-officers to notify Generals McClernand
of the coming blow.
had already sent three regiments to the support of my left flank, and they were in position when the onset came.
In a few minutes the battle of Shiloh
began with extreme fury, and lasted two days. Its history has been well given, and it has been made the subject of a great deal of controversy.
's brigade was soon knocked to pieces, but Buckland
's and McDowell
's kept their organization throughout.
's was driven back to the river, and did not join me in person till
the second cay of the battle.
I think my several reports of that battle are condensed and good, made on the spot, when all the names and facts were fresh in my memory, and are herewith given entire:
did not make an official report of the battle of Shiloh
, but all its incidents and events were covered by the reports of division commanders and subordinates.
Probably no single battle of the war gave rise to such wild and damaging reports.
It was publicly asserted at the North
that our army was taken completely by surprise; that the rebels caught us in our tents; bayoneted the men in their beds; that General Grant
was drunk; that Buell
's opportune arrival saved the Army of the Tennessee from utter annihilation, etc. These reports were in a measure sustained by the published opinions of Generals Buell
, and others, who had reached the steamboat-landing from the east, just before nightfall of the 6th, when there was a large crowd of frightened, stampeded men, who clamored and declared that our army was all destroyed and beaten.
Personally I saw General Grant
, who with his staff visited me about 10 A. M. of the 6th, when we were desperately engaged.
But we had checked the headlong assault of our enemy, and then held our ground.
This gave h-m great satisfaction, an(d he told me that things did not look as well over on the left.
lie also told me that on his way up from Savannah
that morning he
had stopped at Crump's Landing, and had ordered Lew Wallace
's division to cross over Lick Creek
, so as to come up on my right, telling me to look out for him. He again came to me just before dark, and described the last assault made by the rebels at the ravine, near the steamboat-landing, which he had repelled by a heavy battery collected under Colonel J. D. Webster
and other officers, and he was convinced that the battle was over for that day. He ordered me to be ready to assume the offensive in the morning, saying that, as he had observed at Fort Donelson
at the crisis of the battle, both sides seemed defeated, and whoever assumed the offensive was sure to win. General Grant
also explained to me that General Buell
had reached the bank of the Tennessee River
opposite Pittsburg Landing
, and was in the act of ferrying his troops across at the time he was speaking to me.
About half an hour afterward General Buell
himself rode up to where I was, accompanied by Colonels Fry
, and others of his staff.
I was dismounted at the time, and General Buell
made of me a good many significant inquiries about matters and things generally.
By the aid of a manuscript map made by myself, I pointed out to him our positions as they had been in the morning, and our then positions; I also explained to him that my right then covered the bridge over Lick Creek
by which we had all day been expecting Lew Wallace
; that McClernand
was on my left, Hurlbut
on his left, and so on. But Buell
said he had come up from the landing, and had not seen our men, of whose existence in fact he seemed to doubt.
I insisted that I had five thousand good men still left in line, and thought that McClernand
had as many more, and that with what was left of Hurlbut
's, W. H. L. Wallace
's, and Prentiss
's divisions, we ought to have eighteen thousand men fit for battle.
I reckoned that ten thousand of our men were dead, wounded, or prisoners, and that the enemy's loss could not be much less.
said that Nelson
's, and Crittenden
's divisions of his army, containing eighteen thousand men, had arrived and could cross over in the night, and be ready for the next day's battle.
I argued that with these reinforcements we
could sweep the field.
seemed to mistrust us, and repeatedly said that he did not like the looks of things, especially about the boat-landing, and I really feared he would not cross over his army that night, lest he should become involved in our general disaster.
He did not, of course, understand the shape of the ground, and asked me for the use of my map, which I lent him on the promise that he would return it. He handed it to Major Michler
to have it copied, and the original returned to me, which Michler
did two or three days after the battle.
did cross over that night, and the next day we assumed the offensive and swept the field, thus gaining the battle decisively.
Nevertheless, the controversy was started and kept up, mostly to the personal prejudice of General Grant
, who as usual maintained an imperturbable silence.
After the battle, a constant stream of civilian surgeons, and sanitary commission agents, men and women, came up the Tennessee
to bring relief to the thousands of maimed and wounded soldiers for whom we had imperfect means of shelter and care.
These people caught up the camp-stories, which on their return home they retailed through their local papers, usually elevating their own neighbors into heroes, but decrying all others.
Among them was Lieutenant-Governor Stanton
, of Ohio
, who published in Belfontaine, Ohio, a most abusive article about General Grant
and his subordinate generals.
As General Grant
did not and would not take up the cudgels, I did so. My letter in reply to Stanton
, dated June 10, 1862, was published in the Cincinnati Commercial
soon after its date.
To this Lieutenant-Governor Stanton
replied, and I further rejoined in a letter dated July 12, 1862.
These letters are too personal to be revived.
By this time the good people of the North
had begun to have their eyes opened, and to give us in the field more faith and support.
was never again elected to any public office, and was commonly spoken of as “the late Mr. Stanton
He is now dead, and I doubt not in life he often regretted his mistake in attempting to gain popular fame by abusing the army-leaders, then as now an easy and favorite mode of gaining notoriety, if not popularity.
Of course, subsequent events gave General
and most of the other actors in that battle their appropriate place in history, but the danger of sudden popular clamors is well illustrated by this case.
Tho battle of Shiloh
, or Pittsburg Landing
, was one of the most fiercely contested of the war. On the morning of April 6, 1862, the five divisions of McClernand
, W. H. L. Wallace
, and Sherman
, aggregated about thirty-two thousand men. 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.
The rebel army, commanded by General Albert Sidney Johnston
, was, according to their own reports and admissions, forty-five thousand strong, had the momentum of attack, and beyond all question fought skillfully from early morning till about 2 P. M., when their commander-in-chief was killed by a Minie — ball in the calf of his leg, which penetrated the boot and severed the main artery.
There was then a perceptible lull for a couple of hours, when the attack was renewed, but with much less vehemence, and continued up to dark.
Early at night the division of Lew Wallace
arrived from the other side of Snake Creek
, not having fired a shot.
A very small part of General Buell
's army was on our side of the Tennessee River
that evening, and their loss was trivial.
During that night, the three divisions of McCook
, and Crittenden
, were ferried across the Tennessee
, and fought with us the next day (7th). During that night, also, the two wooden gunboats, Tyler
, commanded by Lieutenant Gwin
, and Lexington
, Lieutenant Shirk
, both of the regular navy, caused shells to be thrown toward that part of the field of battle known to be occupied by the enemy.
afterward reported his entire loss as ten thousand six hundred and ninety-nine.
Our aggregate loss, made up from official statements, shows seventeen hundred killed, seven thousand four hundred and ninety-five wounded, and three thousand and twenty-two prisoners; aggregate, twelve thousand two hundred and seventeen, of which twenty-one hundred and sixty-seven were in Buell
's army, leaving for that of Grant
ten thousand and fifty.
This result is a fair measure of the amount of fighting done by each army.