previous next

The battle of Shiloh.
Gen Beauregard's official report.

Headq'rs Army of the Mississippi, Corinth, Miss, April 11, 1862.
Generals — On the 2d ultimo, having ascertained conclusively, from the movements of the enemy on the Tennessee river, and from reliable sources of information, that his aim would be to out off my communications in West Tennessee with the Eastern and Southern States, by operating from the Tennessee river, between Crump's, Landing and Eastport, as a base, I determined to fall his designs by concentrating all my available forces at and around Corinth.

Meanwhile, having called on the Governors of the States of Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana, to furnish additional troops, some of them, chiefly regiments from Louisiana, soon reached this vicinity, and, with: two divisions of General Polk's command from Columbus, and a fine corps of troops from Mobile and Pensacola, under Maj. Gen. Bragg, constituted the Army of the Mississippi. At the same time, Gen. Johnston being at Murfreesboro', on the march to form a junction of his forces with mine, was called on to send at least a brigade by railroad, so that we might fall on and crush the enemy should he attempt an advance from under his gunboats. The call on General Johnston was promptly complied with. His entire force was also fastened in this direction, and by the 1st of April our united forces were concentrated along the Mobile and Ohio Railroad from Bethel to Corinth, and on the Memphis and Charleston Railroad from Corinth to luka.

It was then determined to assume the offensive and strike a sudden blow at the enemy in position under General Grant, on the west bank of the Tennessee, at Pittsburg and in the direction of Savannah, before he was reinforced by the army under General Buell, then known to be advancing for that purpose by rapid marches from Nashville via Columbia. About the same time, General Johnston was advised that such an operation conformed to the expectations of the President.

By a rapid and vigorous attack on General Grant, it was expected he would be beaten back into his transports and the river, or captured, in time to enable us to profit by the victory and remove to the rear all the stores and munitions that would fall into our hands in each an event, before the arrival of General Buel's army on the scene. It was never contemplated, however, to retain the position thus gained, and abandon Corinth, the strategic point of the campaign.

Want of general officers, needful for the proper organization of divisions and brigades of an army brought thus suddenly together, and other difficulties in the way of an effective organization, delayed the movement until the night of the 2d inst, when it was heard from a reliable quarter that the junction of the enemy's armies was near at sand; it was then, at a late hour, determined that the attack should be attempted at once, incomplete and imperfect as were our preparation for such a grave and momentous adventure. Accordingly, that night, at 1 o'clock A. M., the preliminary orders to the commanders of corps were issued for the movement.

On the following morning the detailed orders of movement, a copy of which is herewith marked "A," were issued, and the movement, after some delay, commenced, the troops being in admirable spirits. It was expected we should be able to reach the enemy's lines in time to attack them early on the 5th inst. The men, however, for the most part, were unused to marching, the roads narrow, and traversing a densely wooded country, became almost impassable after a severe rain storm on the night of the 4th, which drenched the troops in bivouac; hence our forces did not reach the intersection of the roads from Pittsburg and Hamburg, in the immediate vicinity of the enemy, until late Saturday afternoon.

It was then decided that the attack should be made on the next morning, at the earliest hour practicable, in accordance with the orders of movement — that is, in three lines of battle: the first and second extending from Owl creek on the left to Lick creek on the right, a distance of about three miles, supported by the third and the reserve. The first line, under Major-General Hardee, was constituted of his corps, augmented on his right by Gladden's brigade, of Major-General Bragg's corps, deployed in line of battle, with their respective artillery, following immediately by the main road to Pittsburg, and the cavalry in rear of the wings. The second line, composed of the other troops of Bragg's corps, followed the first at a distance of five hundred yards, in the same order as the first.--The army corps under General Polk followed the second line, at the distance of about eight hundred yards, in lines of brigades, deployed with their batteries in rear of each brigade, moving by the Pittsburg road, the left wing supported by cavalry; the reserve, under Brigadier-General Breckinridge, followed closely the third line, in the same order, its right wing supported by cavalry.

These two corps constituted the reserve, and ware to support the front lines of battle, by being deployed when required on the right and left of the Pittsburg road, or otherwise act, according to the exigencies of the battle.

At 5 A. M., on the 6th instant, a reconnoitering party of the enemy having become engaged with our advanced pickets, the commander of the forces gave orders to begin the movement and attack as determined upon, except that Trabus's brigade, of Breckinridge's Division, was detached and advanced to support the left of Bragg's corps and line of battle, when menaced by the enemy, and the other two brigades were directed to advance by the road to Hamburg, to support Bragg's right; and at the same time, Mancy's regiment, of Polk's corps, was advanced by the same road to reinforce the regiment of cavalry and battery of four pieces, already thrown forward to watch and guard Grier's, Banner's and Borlan's Fords, of Lick Creek.

Thirty minutes after 5 o'clock A. M., our lines and columns were in motion, all animated evidently by a promising spirit. The front line was engaged at once, but advanced steadily, followed in due order with equal resolution and steadiers by the other lines, which were brought successively into action with rare skill, judgment and gallantry, by the several corps commanders, as the enemy made a stand, with his masters rallied for the struggle for his encampments. Like an Alpine avalanche our troops moved forward, despite the determined resistance of the enemy, until after 6 o'clock P. M., when we were in possession of all his encampments between Owl and Lick Creeks but one. Rearly all of his field artillery, about thirty (30) flags, colors and standards, over 3,000 prisoners, including a division commander (Gen. Prentiss) and several brigade commanders, thousand of small arms, an immense supply of subsistence, forage, and munitions of war, and a large amount of means of transportation — all the substantial fruits of a complete victory — such, indeed, as rarely have followed the most successful battles; for never was an army so well provided as that of our enemy.

The remnant of his army had been driven in utter disorder to the immediate vicinity of Pittsburg, under the shelter of the heavy guns of his iron-clad gunboats, and we remained undisputed masters of his well selected, admirably provided cantonments, after over twelve hours of obstinate conflict with his forces, who had been beaten from them and the contiguous covert, but only by a sustained onset of all the men we could bring into action.

Our loss was heavy, as will appear from the accompanying return marked "B." Our Commander-in-Chief, Gen. A. S. Johnston, fell mortally wounded and died on the field at 2:80 P. M, after having shown the highest qualities of the commander, and a personal intrepidity that inspired all around him, and gave resistless impulsion to his columns at critical moments.

The chief command then devolved upon me, though at the time I was greatly prostrated and suffering from the prolonged sickness with which I had been afflicted since early in February. The responsibility was one which in my physical condition I would have gladly avoided, though cast upon me when our forces were successfully pushing the enemy back upon the Tennessee river, and though supported on the immediate field by such corps commanders as Major-Generals Polk, Bragg and Hardee, and Brigadier-General Breckinridge commanding the reserve.

It was after 6 o'clock P. M., as-before said, when the enemy's last position was carried, and his forces finally broke and sought refuge behind a commanding eminence, covering the Pittsburg landing, not more than half a mile distant, and under the guns of the gunboats, which opened on our eager columns a fierce and annoying fire with shot and shell of the heaviest description. Darkness was close at hand. Officers and men were exhausted by a combat of over twelve hours without food, and jaded by the march of the preceding day through mud and water, it was therefore impossible to collect the rich and opportune spoils of war scattered broadcast on the field left in our possession, and impracticable to make any effective dispositions for their removal to the rear.

I accordingly established my headquarters at the Church of Shiloh, in the enemy's encampment, with Major-General Bragg, and directed our troops to sleep on their arms, in such positions in advance and rear as corps commanders should determine, hoping from news received by a special dispatch that delays had been encountered by General Buell in his march from Columbia, and that his main force, therefore, could not reach the field of battle in time to save Gen. Grant's shattered fugitive forces from capture or destruction on the following day.

During the night the rain fell in torrents, adding to the discomfort and harassed condition of the men; the enemy, moreover, had broken their rest by a discharge, at measured intervals, of heavy shoils thrown from the gunboats therefore, on the following morning the troops under my command were not in condition to cope with an equal force of fresh troops, armed and equipped like our adversary, in the immediate possession of his depots, and sheltered by such an auxiliary as the enemy's gunboats.

About six o'clock on the morning of the 7thof April, however, a hot fire of musketry and artillery, opened from the enemy's quarter on our advanced line, assured me of the function of his forces, and soon the battle raged with a fury which satisfied me I was attacked by a largely superior force. But from the onset our troops, notwithstanding their fatigue and losses from the battle of the day before, exhibited the most cheering, veteran-like steadiness. On the right and centre the enemy was repulsed in every attempt he made with his heavy column in that quarter of the field; on the left, however, and nearest to the point of arrival of his reinforcements, he drove forward line after line of his fresh troops, which were met with a resolution and courage of which our country may be proudly hopeful. Again and again our troops were brought to the charge, invariably to win the position at issue, invariably to drive back their foe. But hour by hour thus opposed to an enemy constantly reinforced, our ranks were perceptibly thinned under the unceasing, withering fire of the enemy, and by 12 meridian eighteen hours of hard fighting had sensibly exhausted a large number, my last reserves had necessarily been disposed of, and the enemy was evidently receiving fresh reinforcements after each repulse; accordingly, about one P. M., I determined to withdraw from so unequal a conflict, securing such of the results of the victory of the day before as was then practicable.

Officers of my staff were immediately dispatched with the necessary orders to make the best dispositions for a deliberate, orderly withdrawal from the field, and to collect and post a reserve to meet the enemy, should he attempt to push after us. In this connexion I will mention particularly my Adjutant. General, Col. Jordan, who was of much assistance to me on this occasion, as he had already been on the field of battle on that and the preceding day.

About two o'clock P. M., the lines in advance, which had repulsed the enemy in their last fierce assault on our left and centre, received the orders to retire; this was done with uncommon steadiness, and the enemy made no attempt to follow.

The line of troops established to cover this movement had been disposed on a favorable ridge commanding the ground of Shiloh Church; from this position our artillery played upon the woods beyond for a while, but upon no visible enemy and without reply. Soon satisfied that no serious pursuit would be attempted, this last line was withdrawn, and never did troops leave a battle- field in better order; even the stragglers fell into the ranks and matched off with those who had stood more steadily by their colors. A second strong position was taken up about a mile in rear, where the approach of the enemy was waited for nearly an hour; but no effort to follow was made, and only a small detachment of horsemen could be seen at a distance from this last position warily observing our movements.

Arranging, through my staff officers, for the completion of the movements thus begun, Brigadier-General Breckinridge was left with his command as a rear guard to hold the ground we had occupied the night preceding the first battle, just in front of the intersection of the Pittsburg and Hamburg roads, about four miles from the former place, while the rest of the army passed to the rear in excellent order.

On the following day General Breckinridge fell back about three miles to Mickey's, which position we continued to hold, with our cavalry thrown considerably forward in immediate proximity to the battle-field.

Unfortunately, towards night of the 7th instant it began to rain heavily; this continued throughout the night; the roads became almost impassable in many places, and much hardship and suffering now ensued before all the regiments reached their encampments — But despite the heavy casualties of the two eventful days of the 6th and 7th of April, this army is more confident of ultimate success than before its encounter with the enemy.

To Major-Generals Polk, Bragg, and Hardee, commanding corps, and to Brig.-Gen. Breckinridge, commanding the reserve, the country is greatly indebted for the zeal, intelligence, and energy with which all orders were executed — for the foresight and military ability they displayed in the absence of instructions in the many exigencies of the battic, on a field so densely wooded and broken, and for their fearless deportment as they repeatedly led their commands personally to the onset upon their powerful adversary. It was under these circumstances that General Bragg had two horses shot under him, that Major-General Hardee was slightly wounded, his coat rent by balls and his horse disabled, and that Major-General Breckinridge was twice strick by spent balls.

For the services of their gallant subordinate commanders, and of other officers, as well as for the details of the battle field, I must refer to the reports of corps, divides on and brigade commanders, which shall be forwarded as soon as received.

To give more in detail the operations of the two battles resulting from the movement on Pittsburg than now attempted, must have delayed this report for weeks and interested materially with the important duties of my position; but I may be permitted to say, that not only did the obstinate conflict for 12 hours, on Sunday, leave the Confederate army masters of the battle field, and our adversary beaten but we left that field on the next day only after eight hours incessant battle, with a superior army of fresh troops, whom we had repulsed in every attack on our lines — no repulsed and crippled, indeed, as to leave it unable to take the field for the campaign for which it was collected and equipped at such enormous expense, and with such profusion of all the appliances of war. These successful results were not achieved, however, as before said, without severe loss — a loss not to be measured by the number of the slain or wounded, but by the high social and personal worth of so large a number of those who were killed or disabled, including the commander of the forces, whose high qualities will be greatly missed in the momentous campaign impending.

I deeply regret to record, also, the death of the Hon. George M. Johnson, Provisional Governor of Kentucky, who went into action with the Kentucky troops and continually inspired them by his words and example. Having his horse shot under him on Sunday, he entered the ranks of a Kentucky regiment on Monday, and fell mortally wounded towards the close of the day. No this State alone, but the whole Confederacy, has sustained a great loss in the death of this brave, upright, and able man.

Another gallant and able soldier and Captain was lost to the service of the country, when Brigadier-General Gladden, commanding 1st Brigade, Withers's Division, 3d Army Corps, died from a severe wound received on the 5th instant, after having been conspicuous to his whole corps and the army for courage and capacity.

Major-General Cheatham, commanding 1st Division, 1st Corps, was slightly wounded, and had three horses shot under him.

Brigadier-General Clark, commanding 2d Division of the 1st Corps, received a severe wound, also on the 1st day, which will deprive the army of his valuable services for some time.

Brigadier-General Hindman, engaged in the outset of the battle, was conspicuous for a cool courage efficiently employed in leading his men ever into the thickest of the fray, until his horse was shot under him, and he was unfortunately so severely injured by the fall that the army was deprived, on the following day, of his chivalrous example.

Brigadier-Generals B. R. Johnston and Bowen, most meritorious officers, were also severely wounded in the first combat; but it is hoped will soon be able to return to duty with their brigades.

To mention the many field officers who died or were wounded while gallantly leading their commands into action, and the many brilliant instances of individual courage displayed by officers and men in the twenty hours of battle, is impossible at this time; but their names will be duly made known to their countrymen.

The immediate staff of the lamented Commander-in Chief, who accompanied him to the field, rendered efficient service, and either by his side or in carrying his orders shared his exposure to the casualties of a well contested battle field. I beg to commend their names to the notice of the War Department, namely: of Captain H. P. Brewster and N. Wickliffe, of the Adjutant and Inspector General's Department.

Captain Thomas O'Hara, Acting Inspector-General.

Lieuts. Geo. Baylor and Thos. M. Jack, Adis-de-Camp.

Volunteer Aide-de-camp, Colonel William Preston, Major D. M. Hayden, E. W. Munford, and Calhoun Benham.

Major Albert J Smith and Capt. Wickham, Quartermaster's Department.

To these gentlemen was assigned the last sad duty of accompanying the remains of their lamented chief from the field, except Captains Brewster and Wickliffe, who remained, and rendered valuable services as staff officers, on the 7th of April.

Governor Isham G. Harris, of Tennessee, went upon the field with General Johnston, was by his side when he was shot, sided him from his horse, and received him in his arms when he died; subsequently the Governor joined my staff and remained with me throughout the next day, except when carrying orders or engaged in encouraging the troops of his own State, to whom he gave a conspicuous example of coolness, zeal and intrepidity.

I am also under many obligations to my own general, personal and volunteer staff, many of whom have been so long associated with me. I apt end a list of those present on the field on both days, and whose duties carried them constantly under fire, namely. Colonel Thomas Jordan, Captain Clifton H. Smith, and Lieutenant John M. Otey; Adjutant General's Department.

Major George W. Brent, Acting Inspector General. Col. R. B. Lee, Chief of Subsistence, whose horse was wounded; Lieutenant Colonel S. W. Ferguson, and Lieutenant A. R. Chisholm, Aide-de-camp.

Volunteer Adis-de-Camp, Colonel Jacob Thompson, Maj. Numa Augustin.

Major H. E. Peyton.

Captain Albert Ferry.

Captain B. B. Waddell.

Captain W. W. Porter, of Major General Crittenden's Staff, also reported for duty, and shared the duties of my volunteer staff on Monday.

Brigadier General Tradean, of Louisiana Volunteers, also, for a part of the first day's conflict, was with me as a volunteer aid.

Capt. E. H. Cunnings, Signal Officer, also was actively employed as a staff officer on both days.

Nor must I fall to mention that Private W. E. Goolsby, 11th regiment Virginia Volunteers, Orderly to my Headquarters since last June, repeatedly employed to carry my verbal orders to the field, discharged the duty with great zeal and intelligence.

Other members of my staff were necessarily absent from the immediate field of battle, entrusted with responsible duties at these headquarters, namely Capt. F. H. Jordan, Assistant Adjutant- General, in charge of General Headquarters.

Major Eugene E. McLean, Chief Quartermaster, Capt. E. Deslonde, Quartermaster's Department.

Lieut.- Col. Ferguson, A. D. C., early on Monday was assigned to command and direct the movements of a brigade of the 2d corps.

Lieut. Col. Glimer, Chief Engineer, after having performed the important and various duties of his place with distinction to himself and material benefit to his country, was wounded late on Monday. I trust, however, I shall not long be deprived of his essential services.

Captain Lockett, Engineer Corps, Chief Assistant to Colonel Gilmer, after having been employed in the duties of his corps on Sunday, was placed by me on Monday in command of a battalion without field officers.--Captain Fremeaux, Provisional Engineers, and Lieuts. Steel and Helm also rendered material and ever dangerous service in the line of their duty.

Major General (now General) Braxton Bragg, in addition to his duties of Chief of Staff, as has been before stated, commanded his corps — much the larges, in the field — on both days with signal capacity and soldiership.

Surgeon Foard, Medical Director, Surgeons R. L. Brodie and S. Choppin, Medical Inspectors, and Surgeon D. W. Yandell, Medical Director of the Western Department, with General Johnston, were present in the discharge of their arduous and high duties, which they performed with honor to their profession.

Capt. Tom Saunders, Messrs. Scales and Metcalf, and Mr. Tully, of New Orleans, were of material aid on both days, ready to give news of the enemy's positions and movements regardless of exposure.

While thus partially making mention of some of those who rendered brilliant, gallant, or meritorious service in the field, I have aimed merely to notice those whose position would most probably exclude the record of their services from the reports of corps or subordinate commanders.

From this agreeable duty I turn to one in the highest degree unpleasant--one due, however, to the brave men under me, as a contrast to the behavior of most of the army who fought so heroically, I allude to the fact that some officers, non-commissioned officers, and men, abandoned their colors early on the first day to pillage the captured encampments; others retired shamefully from the field on both days, while the thunder of cannon and the roar and rattle of musketry told them that their brothers were being slaughtered by the fresh legions of the enemy. I have ordered the names of the most conspicuous on this roll of laggards and cowards to be published in orders.

It remains to state that our loss in the two days in killed outright was 1,723, wounded 8,012, missing 959--making an aggregate of casualties of 10,699.

This sad list tells in simple language of the stout fight made by our countrymen in front of the rude log chapel of Shiloh, especially when it is known that on Monday, from exhaustion and other causes, not twenty thousand men on our side could be brought into action.

Of the losses of the enemy I have no exact knowledge. Their newspapers report it as very heavy. Unquestionably it was greater, even in proportion, than our own, on both days; for it was apparent to all that their dead, left on the field out numbered ours two to one.

Their casualties, therefore, cannot have fallen many short of 20,000 in killed, wounded, prisoners and missing.

Through information derived from many sources, including the newspapers of the enemy, we engaged on Sunday the Divisions of Generals Prentice, Sherman, Hurlbut, McClernard and Smith, of 9,000 men each, or at least 45,000 men. This force was reinforced on Sunday night by the Divisions of Generals Nelson, McCook, Crittenden and Thomas, of Major General Buell's army, some 25,000 strong, including all arms. Also, General L. Wallace's Division of General Grant's army, making at least 33,000 fresh troops, which, added to the remnant of General Grant's forces — on Monday morning amounting to over 20,000--made an aggregate force of some 53,000 men, at least, arrayed against us on that day.

In connection with the results of the battle, I should state that the most of our men who had inferior arms exchanged them for the improved arms of the enemy. Also, that most of the property, public and personal, in the camp from which the enemy was driven on Sunday, was rendered useless or greatly damaged, except some of the tents.

With this are transmitted certain papers, to wait:

Order of movements marked "A."

A list of the killed and wounded marked "B."

A list of captured flag marked "C," and a map of the field of battle marked "D."

All of which is respectfully submitted through my volunteer Aide-de-camp, Colonel Jacob Thompson, of Mississippi, who has in charge the flags, standards, and colors, captured from the enemy.

I have the honor to be, General,

Your obedient servant,

G. T. Beauregard,

General Commanding,

To General S Coops, Adj't and Insp'r General C. S. A. Richmond. Va.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
July, 4 AD (2)
5th (2)
April 11th, 1862 AD (1)
June (1)
April 7th (1)
April 6th (1)
April 1st (1)
February (1)
7th (1)
6th (1)
4th (1)
2nd (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: