Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman


Text to Speech

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 road.

Colonel Buckland 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

the 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

and Prentiss of the coming blow. Indeed, McClernand 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. Hildebrand's

brigade was soon knocked to pieces, but Buckland's and McDowell's

kept their organization throughout. Stuart's was driven back to

the river, and did not join me in person till the second day 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:

HEADQUARTERS FIRST DIVISION

PITTSBURG LANDING, March 17, 1862

Captain Wm. McMICHAEL, Assistant Adjutant-General to General C. F

SMITH, Savannah, Tennessee.

SIR: Last night I dispatched a party of cavalry, at 6 p.m., under

the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Heath, Fifth Ohio Cavalry, for a

strong reconnoissance, if possible, to be converted into an attack

upon the Memphis road. The command got off punctually, followed at

twelve o'clock at night by the First Brigade of my division,

commanded by Colonel McDowell, the other brigades to follow in

order.

About one at night the cavalry returned, reporting the road

occupied in force by the enemy, with whose advance-guard they

skirmished, driving them back--about a mile, taking two prisoners,

and having their chief guide, Thomas Maxwell, Esq., and three men

of the Fourth Illinois wounded.

Inclosed please find the report of Lieutenant-Colonel Heath; also a

copy of his instructions, and tile order of march. As soon as the

cavalry returned, I saw that an attempt on the road was frustrated,

and accordingly have placed McDowell's brigade to our right front,

guarding the pass of Snake Creek; Stuart's brigade to the left

front, to watch the pass of Lick Creek; and I shall this morning

move directly out on the Corinth road, about eight miles to or

toward Pea Ridge, which is a key-point to the southwest.

General Hurlbut's division will be landed to-day, and the artillery

and infantry disposed so as to defend Pittsburg, leaving my

division entire for any movement by land or water.

As near as I can learn, there are five regiments of rebel infantry

at Purdy; at Corinth, and distributed along the railroad to Inca,

are probably thirty thousand men; but my information from prisoners

is very indistinct. Every road and path is occupied by the enemy's

cavalry, whose, orders seem to be, to fire a volley, retire, again

fire and retire. The force on the Purdy road attacked and driven

by Major Bowman yesterday, was about sixty strong. That

encountered last night on the Corinth road was about five companies

of Tennessee cavalry, sent from Purdy about 2 p.m. yesterday.

I hear there is a force of two regiments on Pea Ridge, at the point

where the Purdy and Corinth roads come together.

I am satisfied we cannot reach the Memphis & Charleston road

without a considerable engagement, which is prohibited by General

Halleck's instructions, so that I will be governed by your orders

of yesterday, to occupy Pittsburg strongly, extend the pickets so

as to include a semicircle of three miles, and push a strong

reconnoissance as far out as Lick Creek and Pea Ridge.

I will send down a good many boats to-day, to be employed as you

may direct; and would be obliged if you would send a couple of

thousand sacks of corn, as much hay as you can possibly spare, and,

if possible, a barge of coal.

I will send a steamboat under care of the gunboat, to collect corn

from cribs on the river-bank

I have the honor to be your obedient servant,

W. T. SHERMAN,

Brigadier-General, commanding First Division.

HEADQUARTERS, STEAMBOAT CONTINENTAL,

Pittsburg, March 18, 1882.

Captain RAWLINS, Assistant Adjutant-General

to General GRANT.

SIR: The division surgeon having placed some one hundred or more

sick on board the Fanny Bullitt, I have permitted her to take them

to Savannah. There is neither house nor building of any kind that

can be used for a hospital here.

I hope to receive an order to establish floating hospitals, but in

the mean time, by the advise of the surgeon, allow these sick men

to leave. Let me hope that it will meet your approbation.

The order for debarkation came while General Sherman was absent

with three brigades, and no men are left to move the effects of

these brigades.

The landing, too, is small, with scarcely any chance to increase

it; therefore there is a great accumulation of boats. Colonel

McArthur has arrived, and is now cutting a landing for himself.

General Sherman will return this evening. I am obliged to

transgress, and write myself in the mean time,

Respectfully your obedient servant,

J. H. HAMMOND, Assistant Adjutant-General.

P. S--4 p.m.--Just back; have been half-way to Corinth and to

Purdy. All right. Have just read this letter, and approve all but

floating hospitals; regimental surgeons can take care of all sick,

except chronic cases, which can always be sent down to Paducah.

Magnificent plain for camping and drilling, and a military point of

great strength. The enemy has felt us twice, at great loss and

demoralization; will report at length this evening; am now much

worn out.

W. T. SHERMAN, Brigadier-General.

HEADQUARTERS FIRST DIVISION

Pittsburg Landing, March 19, 1862.

Captain RAWLINS, Assistant Adjutant-General

to General GRANT, Savannah, Tennessee.

SIR: I have just returned from an extensive reconnoissance toward

Corinth and Purdy, and am strongly impressed with the importance of

this position, both for its land advantages and its strategic

position. The ground itself admits of easy defense by a small

command, and yet affords admirable camping-ground for a hundred

thousand men. I will as soon as possible make or cause to be made

a topographical sketch of the position. The only drawback is that,

at this stage of water, the space for landing is contracted too

much for the immense fleet now here discharging.

I will push the loading and unloading of boats, but suggest that

you send at once (Captain Dodd, if possible) the best quartermaster

you can, that he may control and organize this whole matter. I

have a good commissary, and will keep as few provisions afloat as

possible. Yours, etc.,

W. T. SHERMAN, Brigadier-General commanding.

HEADQUARTERS SHERMAN'S DIVISION

Camp Shiloh, near Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee, April 2, 1862

Captain J. A. RAWLINS, Assistant Adjutant-General

to General GRANT.

SIR: In obedience to General Grant's instructions of March 31st,

with one section of Captain Muench's Minnesota Battery, two

twelve-pound howitzers, a detachment of Fifth Ohio Cavalry of one

hundred and fifty men, under Major Ricker, and two battalions of

infantry from the Fifty-seventh and Seventy-seventh Ohio, under the

command of Colonels Hildebrand and Mungen, I marched to the river,

and embarked on the steamers Empress and Tecumseh. The gunboat

Cairo did not arrive at Pittsburg, until after midnight, and at 6

p.m. Captain Bryant, commanding the gunboat, notified me that he

was ready to proceed up the river. I followed, keeping the

transports within about three hundred yards of the gunboat. About

1 p.m., the Cairo commenced shelling the battery above the mouth of

Indian Creek, but elicited no reply. She proceeded up the river

steadily and cautiously, followed close by the Tyler and Lexington,

all throwing shells at the points where, on former visits of the

gunboats, enemy's batteries were found. In this order all

followed, till it was demonstrated that all the enemy's batteries,

including that at Chickasaw, were abandoned.

I ordered the battalion of infantry under Colonel Hildebrand to

disembark at Eastport, and with the other battalion proceeded to

Chickasaw and landed. The battery at this point had evidently been

abandoned some time, and consisted of the remains of an old Indian

mound, partly washed away by the river, which had been fashioned

into a two-gun battery, with a small magazine. The ground to its

rear had evidently been overflowed during the late freshet, and led

to the removal of the guns to Eastport, where the batteries were on

high, elevated ground, accessible at all seasons from the country

to the rear.

Upon personal inspection, I attach little importance to Chickasaw

as a military position. The people, who had fled during the

approach of the gunboats, returned to the village, and said the

place had been occupied by one Tennessee regiment and a battery of

artillery from Pensacola. After remaining. at Chickasaw some

hours, all the boats dropped back to Eastport, not more than a mile

below, and landed there. Eastport Landing during the late freshet

must have been about twelve feet under water, but at the present

stage the landing is the best I have seen on the Tennessee River.

The levee is clear of trees or snags, and a hundred boats could

land there without confusion.

The soil is of sand and gravel, and very firm. The road back is

hard, and at a distance of about four hundred yards from the water

begin the gravel hills of the country. The infantry scouts sent

out by Colonel Hildebrand found the enemy's cavalry mounted, and

watching the Inca road, about two miles back of Eastport. The

distance to Inca is only eight miles, and Inca is the nearest point

and has the best road by which the Charleston & Memphis Railroad

can be reached. I could obtain no certain information as to the

strength of the enemy there, but am satisfied that it would have

been folly to have attempted it with my command. Our object being

to dislodge the enemy from the batteries recently erected near

Eastport, and this being attained, I have returned, and report the

river to be clear to and beyond Chickasaw.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

W. T. SHERMAN,

Brigadier-General commanding Division.

HEADQUARTERS FIFTH DIVISION

CAMP SHILOH, April 5, 1862.

Captain J. A. RAWLINS, Assistant Adjutant-General, District of

Western Tennessee.

SIR: I have the honor to report that yesterday, about 3 p.m., the

lieutenant commanding and seven men of the advance pickets

imprudently advanced from their posts and were captured. I ordered

Major Ricker, of the Fifth Ohio Cavalry, to proceed rapidly to the

picket-station, ascertain the truth, and act according to

circumstances. He reached the station, found the pickets had been

captured as reported, and that a company of infantry sent by the

brigade commander had gone forward in pursuit of some cavalry. He

rapidly advanced some two miles, and found them engaged, charged

the enemy, and drove them along the Ridge road, till he

met and received three discharges of artillery, when he very

properly wheeled under cover, and returned till he met me.

As soon as I heard artillery, I advanced with two regiments of

infantry, and took position, and remained until the scattered

companies of infantry and cavalry had returned. This was after

night.

I infer that the enemy is in some considerable force at Pea Ridge,

that yesterday morning they crossed a brigade of two regiments of

infantry, one regiment of cavalry, and one battery of

field-artillery, to the ridge on which the Corinth road lies. They

halted the infantry and artillery at a point abort five miles in my

front, sent a detachment to the lane of General Meeks, on the north

of Owl Creek, and the cavalry down toward our camp. This cavalry

captured a part of our advance pickets, and afterward engaged the

two companies of Colonel Buckland's regiment, as described by him

in his report herewith inclosed. Our cavalry drove them back upon

their artillery and Infantry, killing many, and bringing off ten

prisoners, all of the First Alabama Cavalry, whom I send to you.

We lost of the pickets one first-lieutenant and seven men of the

Ohio Seventieth Infantry (list inclosed); one major, one

lieutenant, and one private of the Seventy-second Ohio, taken

prisoners; eight privates wounded (names in full, embraced in

report of Colonel Buckland, inclosed herewith).

We took ten prisoners, and left two rebels wounded and many killed

on the field.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

W. T. SHERMAN,

Brigadier-General, commanding Division.

HEADQUARTERS FIFTH DIVISION

Camp Shiloh, April 10, 1862.

Captain J. A. RAWLINS, Assistant Adjutant-General

to General GRANT.

SIR: I had the honor to report that, on Friday the 4th inst., the

enemy's cavalry drove in our pickets, posted about a mile and a

half in advance of my centre, on the main Corinth road, capturing

one first-lieutenant and seven men;, that I caused a pursuit by the

cavalry of my division, driving them back about five miles, and

killing many. On Saturday the enemy's cavalry was again very bold,

coming well down to our front; yet I did not believe they designed

any thing but a strong demonstration. On Sunday morning early, the

6th inst., the enemy drove our advance-guard back on the main body,

when I ordered under arms all my division, and sent word to General

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