« PreviousContinue »
rebel officers made a last desperate stand in front of McCook's division. This commander had driven the enemy steadily before him, and though repeatedly exposed to flanking movements that threatened to crush him, refused to fall back. Rousseau's brigade maintained its high reputation, and the whole division fought with a valor that made defeat impossible. If a brigade recoiled a moment under the withering fire of the foe, the next, it sprung like a bent bow to its place again, while all along its dark and steady front, there rolled an incessant stream of fire, and their shouts shook the field.
Wallace firmly pressed the enemy on the extreme right. As his division advanced on the field in the morning it halted on a swell of ground that overlooked the whole space in front. Just then, out of the woods that bounded their vision, emerged a strong rebel column with colors flying. Regiment after regiment came on in the double-quick, till the rebel line seemed interminable. Their long array presented a magnificent sight as it formed in line of battle parallel to his division, and unlimbered its artillery under the rapid and destructive fire of his guns. In a few minutes the cannonadıng on both sides extended along the whole front. Wallace then threw out his sharp shooters to pick off the artillerists, while batteries with heavy supports of infantry were moved forward into the open fields, and for an hour and a half the flash and roar of guns were incessant.
At length, Sherman, for whom Wallace had been waiting, came up with the remnant of his heroic, battered division, and moved straight on the rebel line. Midway in the open field, it met such a horrible fire, that it halted. Even these heroes paused as they saw the red mouth of the volcano before them, and fell back, though in good order. But the wounded Sherman dashed along their lines, rousing the enthusiasm of the men to the highest pitch. His horse sunk under him, when he leaped to the saddle of another and
THE REBELS RETREAT.
again gave the order, “Forward.”
"Forward.” With sloping bayonets, and leaning forms, Marsh at their head—they leaped forward on the double-quick and gained the woods, completely flanking one of the enemy's batteries. This was the turning point of the battle, and the rebel guns began to limber up in hot haste. In an instant Wallace's division was upon them, completing the victory. “Forward," then ran along the whole line, and forward it was through the rough corn fields till they drove the enemy into the woods. Here the latter made a short, determined stand, and again forced Sherman's division back. But this indomitable chieftain, though bleeding from two wounds, while three horses had been shot from under him, again rallied his broken regiments, and regaining his lost ground, hurled them like a descending avalanche on the toe. Among the many heroes of that hard fought battle, he outshone them all, and from first to last inoved with his shattered division like a citadel of fire over the tumultu. ons field.
Here too, on the right, later in the day, Hurlbut and McClernand came up with their jaded, broken battalions—the heroes of fort Donelson-and again and again charged with fury on the enemy, adding new laurels to those which already wreathed their brows.
Thus the action, which had begun on the left, with Nelson, and rolled steadily along the other divisions to the right, as if the enemy were feeling our whole line of battle to find a vulnerable point, was here, on the right, at last deci
and the whole rebel army, maddened and mortified, fell slowly back over the ground it had won at such a terrible sacrifice, until it was driven beyond our last camp.
A body of three thousand cavalry, which had quietly stood spectators of this sanguinary struggle, were now ordered to charge. The bugles rang out, and down came the thundering squad. rons, making the earth shake under their tread But ther
THE BATTLE FIELD.
found no unguarded spot where a charge could be made, for the enemy, though acknowledging the day lost, showed no signs of demoralization, but kept his firm formation as he retired, planting his batteries at every commanding point, and hurling destruction on the victorious columns as they attempted to turn the defeat into a rout.
Finding it impossible on ground so well fitted for defensive positions, and every foot of which was thoroughly known to the enemy, to throw them into disorder, Buell gave the order to halt, and the tired host bivouacked on the field.
In the morning, Sherman, who seemed made of iron, was sent forward with his shattered division, in pursuit. On his way he fell in with Wood, who had been dispatched on the same errand. Advancing along the road to Corinth, he came upon the enemy's cavalry, and, after a sharp skirmish, drove them from the field with the loss of several killed and wounded. He found the road strewed with abandoned blankets, haversacks, and muskets, which the wearied, disheartened enemy had flung away.
Thus ended the battle of Pittsburg landing, cr as Beauregard named it, “Shiloh," from a little church that stood near the center of the field. Johnston, the rebel leader, had fallen, and Johnson, the provisional governor of Kentucky, and many other distinguished officers, while the dead of both the contending hosts lay in heaps on every side. Scattered through the woods, gathered in groups on open spots where there had been hard struggles for the possession of important batteries, stretched along the road, they lay in every conceivable shape, and disfigured by every form of wound. Here the rifle and musket had done its deadly work--leaving the slain like so many sleepers, with nought but the purple spot, or the pool of blood to show how they met their fate--there, headless bodies, disemboweled corpses, , and shattered limbs, told where the heavy shot and shell had
ploughed through the ranks. Among this mighty multitude of the dead, hundreds of artillery horses lay scattered, with their harness upon them. It was a ghastly spectacle, such as was never before seen on this continent, and was believed never would be seen.
The burial of such a host was a gigantic and mournful labor, for the enemy had left his own dead to be interred with
Full ten thousand, but late brothers of the same great national family, lay stark and stiff in death, while double that number were wounded. That the rebels fought bravely, the field over which they had struggled for two days abundantly testified. So had our troops, even on the first disastrous day, though at fearful disadvantage, with the exception of some fur or five th.jusand, who disgraced the flag they bore, and scattered in affright. On the second day all were heroes--there was no finching---no thought of defeat. A stern determination to win back the lost field carried every regiment to the charge, and though they suffered severely, they bafiled the enemy's designs, and sent him back to his stronghold crippled and disheartened. Some of the divisions were fearfully cut up. McClernand lost nearly a third of his entire force, a dreadful mortality, and showing the severest lighting, such as veterans only can stand. Some of the regiments lost every field officer, while several companies could muster the morning after the battle but a single squad. The north-west was clad in mourning, for this carnage following so quick on that of fort Donelson, left scarcely a settlement without one of its number killed or wounded.
The value of the Sanitary Commission was now felt. Organized at the outset of the war, it had been rather a costly machine, without any results to show equal to its promise.
Though multitudes had been slain and wounded since the commencement of the war, they had fallen in small numbers, and at times and points so far from each other that the extra
SUFFERINGS OF THE WOUNDED.
supplies and efforts of the commission were not so imperatively demanded. But here, all the ordinary means of relief were wholly inadequate, and its whole force was called into active service. Yet even this was not sufficient, and the western cities poured forth their stores for the wounded, and loaded steamboats with nurses and physicians and dispatched them to the scene of suffering. But such wholesale slaughter was new to our people, and they were unprepared for it, and many of the wounded suffered from unavoidable neglect. If, with our means, facilities, and wealth, our wounded suffered for want of proper care, it is easy to imagine that those of the enemy must have endured untold privations.
Our entire loss in killed, wounded, and missing, was nearly fourteen thousand. This included the three thousand prisoners. The loss of the enemy, with the exception of prisoners, of which we took but few, was probably about the
This battle was severely criticised, for it was well nigh lost; and if it had been, the whole west up to the Ohio would have been once more in the hands of the rebels, and at least another year added to the war. Hence, the first question in every one's mouth was: “Why, when such momentous events hung on this battle, was it allowed to take place before we were prepared for it?" A single severe storm that would have kept Buell back for twenty-four hours, would have annihilated our army, and brought about this disastrous result, that one even now trembles to contemplate. There seemed no necessity for running such a terrible risk, and the feeling was universal that there was bad management somewhere. Again it was asked, if it seemed necessary to hold the west bank of the Tennessee with only a part of our force, while the
enemy was in striking distance with the whole of his why was our army allowed to be surprised? The friends of Grant, feeling that this implied condemnation of him, denied