Page images

refuge under the batteries of Vicks- | wooded. Two or three miles southburg, unharmed. Repeated attempts ward is Shiloh Church, and some ten to destroy or sink her" were defeated by the shore batteries; and, on the 24th, the siege was raised; Com. Farragut, with Gen. Williams, returning down the river; while Com. Davis, with his fleet, steamed up to the mouth of the Yazoo, thus abandoning, for the time, the reopening of the Mississippi.

Gen. Grant's victorious army, after a brief rest at Fort Donelson, recrossed, considerably strengthened, to the Tennessee, just above Fort Henry, where several gunboats and a large number of transports, passing down the Cumberland into the Ohio, and thence into the Tennessee, took up our soldiers by regiments and started with them on a new movement up the Tennessee. General Charles F. Smith had been designated by Gen. Halleck to direct this movement, but was soon disabled by the sickness of which he died not long after reaching Savannah, Tenn., and Gen. Grant was thus restored to chief command. The rendezvous of the expedition was at a little place called Danville, where the railroad from Memphis to Clarkesville and Louisville crosses the river. The gunboats Tyler and Lexington had already made a reconnoissance up the Tennessee, meeting their first resistance at PITTSBURG LANDING, an insignificant two-house nucleus of a prospective village, 8 miles above Savannah and 20 miles N.N.E. of Corinth, Miss., at the junction of the Memphis and Charleston with the Mobile and Ohio Railroad. The country hence to Corinth is rolling, and generally

[blocks in formation]

miles farther is the road-crossing known as Monterey, where there were half-a-dozen houses. The region is thinly and recently settled; still mainly covered by the primitive forest; gently rolling, and traversed by a number of inconsiderable creeks, making eastward and northward, to be lost in the Tennessee.

At Pittsburg Landing, the Tyler found a Rebel battery of six guns, which it silenced, after a mutual cannonade of two hours; returning thence to Danville and reporting. The movement of the army southward on transports was continued— the 46th Ohio, Col. Worthington, leading, on the transport B. J. Adams-so far as Savannah, where it was landed," and proceeded to take military possession. All the transports, 69 in number, conveying nearly 40,000 men, were soon debarking the army, with its material, at and near this place, whence Gen. Lew. Wallace's division was dis patched " to Purdy, a station 16 miles W.S.W., where the railroad was destroyed. Gen. Sherman's first division was next" conveyed up the river to Tyler's Landing, just across the Mississippi State line; whence the 6th Ohio cavalry was dispatched to Burnsville, on the Memphis and Charleston road, some miles eastward of Corinth, which was likewise destroyed without resistance. The expedition then returned unmolested to Savannah.


[blocks in formation]



contempt for the power or the prowess | pickets were scarcely a musket-shot

in such strength as to forbid observation on our part." Low but ominous whispers and meaning glances of exultation among the Rebel civilians in our rear had already given indications that a blow was about to be struck; and alarmed Unionists had sought the tents of our Generals with monitions of danger, which were received with sneering intimations that every one should stick to his trade. Gen. Grant was at Savannah, superintending the reception of supplies. Such was the condition of our forces on Saturday evening, April 5th.

of their enemy; since our regiments, from the tents of our foremost regias they arrived, were mainly de- ments; some of which, it was asserted, barked at Pittsburg Landing, on the had not even been provided with side of the Tennessee nearest to and ammunition, though it was known within easy striking distance of the that the woods, scarcely a mile away, Rebel headquarters at Corinth. One had suddenly been found swarming of the six divisions, under Gen. Lew.with Rebel scouts and sharp-shooters Wallace, was encamped nearly opposite Savannah; the other five were thrown out in a semicircle southward of Pittsburg Landing, with a front like a Methodist camp-meeting, straggling from Lick creek on the south or left, to Snake creek on the north or right, a distance of some three or four miles. Gen. Prentiss's division was encamped across the direct road to Corinth, with Gen. McClernand's behind his right, and Gen. Sherman's still further to the right, with Shiloh church in his front, on road leading also, but more circuitously, to Corinth. Gen. Hurlbut's division lay in the rear of Gen. Prentiss. Gen. Smith's division, commanded, because of Smith's sickness, by Gen. W. H. L. Wallace, was on the left of and behind McClernand, with its right near Pittsburg Landing and its front somewhat protected by the ravines of two rivulets running into Snake creek.

Though the vicinity of the enemy was notorious, not an intrenchment nor defense of any kind, not even an abatis, here so easily made, covered and protected our front; no reconnoitering parties were thrown forward to watch for and report an advance of the enemy; and even the

Agate" [Whitelaw Reid], of the Cincinnati Gazette, in his report of the battle, says:

"We had lain three weeks at Pittsburg Landing, within 20 miles of the Rebels, that were likely to attack us in superior numbers, with

Albert Sidney Johnston was probably the ablest commander at any time engaged in the Rebel service. He had braved unpopularity and reproach from the herd of chimneycorner critics who supposed it the duty of a General to run his head against every stone-wall within reach, by refusing to fight losing battles for Bowling Green and Nashville, and had thus brought off his army intact and undemoralized; retreating across the Tennessee and into a region at once undevastated and unappalled by war, full of resources, wherein devotion to the Union had been utterly suppressed, if not eradicated, and whence, by a net-work of railroads and tele

out throwing up a single breastwork or preparing a single protection for a battery, and with the brigades of one division [Sherman's] stretched from extreme right to extreme left of our line, while four other divisions had been crowded in between, as they arrived."

graphs, he communicated easily with Richmond, and with every portion of the Cotton States. The recent evacuation of Columbus by Polk was probably ordered by him, in obedience to his policy of concentrating around Corinth the greatest possible force, with intent to rush upon and overwhelm the Union army, so carelessly encamped just before him on the hither bank of the Tennessee. Having a spy in nearly every dwelling in southern Tennessee, he was doubtless aware that the command of that army had just been turned over by Gen. C. F. Smith, an experienced and capable soldier, to Gen. Grant, so recently from civil life; and he had no doubt of his ability to accomplish its destruction. Calling urgently upon the Governors of Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana, for all the troops they could spare or raise, and being strongly rëenforced by Gen. Braxton Bragg, with a drilled corps from Mobile and Pensacola," he had, by the 1st of April, collected an army of about 50,000. Moving silently out from Corinth, in light marching order and without tents, at 3 A. M., on the 3d, the advance of his infantry preceded and


[ocr errors]


masked by cavalry, he confidently expected to attack in full force on the morning of the 5th; but a heavy rain on the 4th so deepened the mire of the narrow, wretched roads, that his army was by that time but fairly concentrated at Monterey, thence moving with the utmost caution until within three and a half miles of our pickets, where, unable to advance farther without braving discovery, he halted for the night. Here, with double guards along his front, instructed to shoot any man who, upon whatever pretext, should attempt to pass, a council of war was held at 8 P. M., and every preparation made for a stealthy and desperate assault at daybreak; while the soldiers, forbidden to make fires, sank on the cold, damp ground, under the open sky, and shivered through a part of the night. Each Colonel had orders to have his regiment under arms and ready to move by 3 A. M.

At early dawn, the advance was resumed in line of battle: Maj.-Gen. Hardee, with the 3d corps, in front, with the 2d, and strongest, under Gen. Bragg, 500 yards behind him; the 1st, under Gen. Polk, half a mile in the rear of this, with the reserve,

58 "An Impressed New-Yorker," who was then serving on Beauregard's staff, in his "Thirteen Months in the Rebel Army," says:

56 About this time abandoned by the Rebels. $7 Beauregard, in his field return of the 'Army of the Mississippi,' before and after the battle of Shiloh, makes his effective total, before tive, to criticise military movements, and espe"While it is no part of my duty, in this narrabattle, 40,355 men, of whom 4,382 were cavalry, cially those of the Union forces, I may state that which he says was useless and could not oper- the total absence of cavalry pickets from Gen. ate at all, the battle-field being so thickly wood- Grant's army was a matter of perfect amazement ed. But this return includes none of his troops to the Rebel officers. There were absolutely left to guard his base at Corinth, or his trains in division was meeting him; so that we were able none on Grant's left, where Gen. Breckinridge's the rear of the battle-field, and conceals the fact to come up within hearing of their drums enthat his cavalry were usefully employed in guard-tirely unperceived. The Southern Generals aling, on their way to Corinth, his prisoners as well as his wounded. Beside, when he comes to sum up his losses, he states the loss of his cavalry at 301-rather inexplicable, if that cavalry was useless and unemployed.

ways kept cavalry pickets out for tailes, even when no enemy was supposed to be within a day's march of them. The infantry pickets of

Grant's forces were not above three-fourths of a mile from his advance camps, and they were too few to make any resistance."



under Gen. John C. Breckinridge, | still alive, when we recovered those closely following. This order, how- tents next evening. ever, was soon sacrificed to the exigencies of the contest.


Rumors of a Rebel advance, and the capture of some of our officers thereby, had reached our camps on Friday; and an Ohio brigade had been sent out to reconnoiter, which had a brush with a smaller Rebel force, and pushed it back to a battery which was found in position near our lines. Gen. Lew. Wallace's division was thereupon ordered out, and advanced to Adamsville, on the road to Purdy; but, meeting no opponent, after passing a night in drenching rain, it returned to its camp. On Saturday, there was firing along our front, which ought to have incited inquiry, if not alarm, but did not.

Thus was Prentiss's division routed before it had time to form in line of battle; and Hildebrand's brigade, on Sherman's right, was demolished with equal expedition, in spite of Sherman's best exertions. His efforts and influence, backed by the most reckless self-exposure, held his remaining brigades, under Buckland and McDowell, steady for a time; but these were soon compelled to fall back behind the next ravine, leaving their camps, with all their tents and tent equipage, to the enemy.

McClernand's division, comprising 10 regiments and 4 batteries, had been astonished with the rest, but not yet directly assailed. Moving up, at 7 A. M., to the support of SherAs day broke," our pickets in man, it found his division mostly Prentiss's front came rushing into gone or going; its best officers killed camp, barely in advance of the pursu- or wounded, its batteries either caping Rebels, whose shells were tearing tured or badly cut up. Buckland's through our tents a moment after- brigade, which had gone after Hildeward. Some of our men were dress- brand's, forming our extreme right ing; others washing or cooking; a on the front, had fallen back to avoid few eating their breakfasts; many, certain destruction. To all practical especially officers, had not yet risen. intents, and in spite of its leader's The next instant, magnificent lines desperate and untiring exertions, of battle poured out of the woods in Sherman's division was out of the front of our camps, and at double- fight by 8 o'clock that ominous mornquick rushed in upon our bewildered, ing. It seemed a miracle that their half-dressed, and not yet half-formed commander, always in the hottest of men, firing deadly volleys at close the Rebel fire, escaped with a single range, then springing upon the help-musket-ball through his hand. less, coatless, musketless mob with Prentiss formed his division as the bayonet. Some fell as they ran; others as they emerged from their tents, or as they strove to buckle on their accouterments; some tried to surrender; but the Rebels could not stop then to take prisoners. Some of these were found, though disabled, of a dense scrub-oak thicket in our

[blocks in formation]

quickly as possible, and not far in the rear of their camps, where his men faced to the front and fought stubbornly for a time; but they had been strangely drawn up in an open field, leaving to the enemy the cover

[blocks in formation]
[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][subsumed][merged small][merged small]

A Positions of Maj.-Gen. Grant's forces on the morning C Positions of Grant and Buell on the morning of of April 6th.

B Positions of Grant, with the divisions of Nelson and Crittenden, on the evening of April 6th.

front, whence they could pour volley after volley in comparative security. Soon, our men were flanked on either side, and fell back, perceiving that they were squandering their lives to no purpose. Thus the division lost all coherence and efficiency; its leader became separated from a large

02 This did not occur till about 4 P. M.; but he had long before ceased to form a part of our

April 7th.

D Positions of Grant and Buell on the evening of


April 7th.

Reserve Artillery.

portion of his command; and by 10 o'clock it had been virtually demolished. Prentiss himself, with three regiments, held an unassailed position until, having long since become completely surrounded, he was finally obliged to surrender;" when over 2,000 of our men in one body were

line of battle, the Rebels having flanked and passed on beyond him.

« PreviousContinue »