Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman

McClernand, asking him to support my left; to General Prentiss,

giving him notice that the enemy was in our front in force, and to

General Hurlbut, asking him to support General Prentiss. At that

time–7 a.m.–my division was arranged as follows:

First Brigade, composed of the Sixth Iowa, Colonel J. A. McDowell;

Fortieth Illinois, Colonel Hicks; Forty-sixth Ohio, Colonel

Worthington; and the Morton battery, Captain Behr, on the extreme

right, guarding the bridge on the Purdy road over Owl Creek.

Second Brigade, composed of the Fifty-fifth Illinois, Colonel D.

Stuart; the Fifty-fourth Ohio, Colonel T. Kilby Smith; and the

Seventy-first Ohio, Colonel Mason, on the extreme left, guarding

the ford over Lick Creek.

Third Brigade, composed of the Seventy-seventh Ohio, Colonel

Hildebrand; the Fifty-third Ohio, Colonel Appler; and the

Fifty-seventh Ohio, Colonel Mungen, on the left of the Corinth

road, its right resting on Shiloh meeting-house.

Fourth Brigade, composed of the Seventy-second Ohio, Colonel

Buckland; the Forty-eighth Ohio, Colonel Sullivan; and the

Seventieth Ohio, Colonel Cookerill, on the right of the Corinth

road, its left resting on Shiloh meeting-house.

Two batteries of artillery–Taylor’s and Waterhouse’s–were posted,

the former at Shiloh, and the latter on a ridge to the left, with a

front-fire over open ground between Mungen’s and Appler’s

regiments. The cavalry, eight companies of the Fourth Illinois,

under Colonel Dickey, were posted in a large open field to the left

and rear of Shiloh meeting-house, which I regarded as the centre of

my position.

Shortly after 7 a.m., with my entire staff, I rode along a portion

of our front, and when in the open field before Appler’s regiment,

the enemy’s pickets opened a brisk fire upon my party, killing my

orderly, Thomas D. Holliday, of Company H, Second Illinois Cavalry.

The fire came from the bushes which line a small stream that rises

in the field in front of Appler’s camp, and flows to the north

along my whole front.

This valley afforded the enemy partial cover; but our men were so

posted as to have a good fire at them as they crossed the valley

and ascended the rising ground on our side.

About 8 a.m. I saw the glistening bayonets of heavy masses of

infantry to our left front in the woods beyond the small stream

alluded to, and became satisfied for the first time that the enemy

designed a determined attack on our whole camp.

All the regiments of my division were then in line of battle at

their proper posts. I rode to Colonel Appler, and ordered him to

hold his ground at all hazards, as he held the left flank of our

first line of battle, and I informed him that he had a good battery

on his right, and strong support to his rear. General McClernand

had promptly and energetically responded to my request, and had

sent me three regiments which were posted to protect Waterhouse’s

battery and the left flank of my line.

The battle opened by the enemy’s battery, in the woods to our

front, throwing shells into our camp. Taylor’s and Waterhouse’s

batteries promptly responded, and I then observed heavy battalions

of infantry passing obliquely to the left, across the open field in

Appler’s front; also, other columns advancing directly upon my

division. Our infantry and artillery opened along the whole line,

and the battle became general. Other heavy masses of the enemy’s

forces kept passing across the field to our left, and directing

their course on General Prentiss. I saw at once that the enemy

designed to pass my left flank, and fall upon Generals McClernand

and Prentiss, whose line of camps was almost parallel with the

Tennessee River, and about two miles back from it. Very soon the

sound of artillery and musketry announced that General Prentiss was

engaged; and about 9 A. M. I judged that he was falling back.

About this time Appler’s regiment broke in disorder, followed by

Mungen’s regiment, and the enemy pressed forward on Waterhouse’s

battery thereby exposed.

The three Illinois regiments in immediate support of this battery

stood for some time; but the enemy’s advance was so vigorous, and

the fire so severe, that when Colonel Raith, of the Forty-third

Illinois, received a severe wound and fell from his horse, his

regiment and the others manifested disorder, and the enemy got

possession of three guns of this (Waterhouse’s) battery. Although

our left was thus turned, and the enemy was pressing our whole

line, I deemed Shiloh so important, that I remained by it and

renewed my orders to Colonels McDowell and Buckland to hold their

ground; and we did hold these positions until about 10 a.m., when

the enemy had got his artillery to the rear of our left flank and

some change became absolutely necessary. Two regiments of

Hildebrand’s brigade–Appler’s and Mungen’s–had already

disappeared to the rear, and Hildebrand’s own regiment was in

disorder. I therefore gave orders for Taylor’s battery–still at

Shiloh–to fall back as far as the Purdy and Hamburg road, and for

McDowell and Buckland to adopt that road as their new line. I rode

across the angle and met Behr’s battery at the cross-roads, and

ordered it immediately to come into battery, action right. Captain

Behr gave the order, but he was almost immediately shot from his

horse, when drivers and gunners fled in disorder, carrying off the

caissons, and abandoning five out of six guns, without firing a

shot. The enemy pressed on, gaining this battery, and we were

again forced to choose a new line of defense. Hildebrand’s brigade

had substantially disappeared from the field, though he himself

bravely remained. McDowell’s and Buckland’s brigades maintained

their organizations, and were conducted by my aides, so as to join

on General McClernand’s right, thus abandoning my original camps

and line. This was about 10 1/2 a.m., at which time the enemy had

made a furious attack on General McClernand’s whole front. He

straggled most determinedly, but, finding him pressed, I moved

McDowell’s brigade directly against the left flank of the enemy,

forced him back some distance, and then directed the men to avail

themselves of every cover-trees, fallen timber, and a wooded valley

to our right. We held this position for four long hours, sometimes

gaining and at others losing ground; General McClernand and myself

acting in perfect concert, and struggling to maintain this line.

While we were so hard pressed, two Iowa regiments approached from

the rear, but could not be brought up to the severe fire that was

raging in our front, and General Grant, who visited us on that

ground, will remember our situation about 3 p.m.; but about 4 p.m.

it was evident that Hurlbut’s line had been driven back to the

river; and knowing that General Lew Wallace was coming with

reinforcements from Cramp’s Landing, General McClernand and I, on

consultation, selected a new line of defense, with its right

covering a bridge by which General Wallace had to approach. We

fell back as well as we could, gathering in addition to our own

such scattered forces as we could find, and formed the new line.

During this change the enemy’s cavalry charged us, but were

handsomely repulsed by the Twenty-ninth Illinois Regiment. The

Fifth Ohio Battery, which had come up, rendered good service in

holding the enemy in check for some time, and Major Taylor also

came up with another battery and got into position, just in time to

get a good flank-fire upon the enemy’s column, as he pressed on

General McClernand’s right, checking his advance; when General

McClernand’s division made a fine charge on the enemy and drove him

back into the ravines to our front and right. I had a clear field,

about two hundred yards wide, in my immediate front, and contented

myself with keeping the enemy’s infantry at that distance during

the rest of the day. In this position we rested for the night.

My command had become decidedly of a mixed character. Buckland’s

brigade was the only one that retained its organization. Colonel

Hildebrand was personally there, but his brigade was not. Colonel

McDowell had been severely injured by a fall off his horse, and had

gone to the river, and the three regiments of his brigade were not

in line. The Thirteenth Missouri, Colonel Crafts J. Wright, had

reported to me on the field, and fought well, retaining its

regimental organization; and it formed a part of my line during

Sunday night and all Monday. Other fragments of regiments and

companies had also fallen into my division, and acted with it

during the remainder of the battle. General Grant and Buell

visited me in our bivouac that evening, and from them I learned the

situation of affairs on other parts of the field. General Wallace

arrived from Crump’s Landing shortly after dark, and formed his

line to my right rear. It rained hard during the night, but our

men were in good spirits, lay on their arms, being satisfied with

such bread and meat as could be gathered at the neighboring camps,

and determined to redeem on Monday the losses of Sunday.

At daylight of Monday I received General Grant’s orders to advance

and recapture our original camps. I dispatched several members of

my staff to bring up all the men they could find, especially the

brigade of Colonel Stuart, which had been separated from the

division all the day before; and at the appointed time the

division, or rather what remained of it, with the Thirteenth

Missouri and other fragments, moved forward and reoccupied the

ground on the extreme right of General McClernand’s camp, where we

attracted the fire of a battery located near Colonel McDowell’s

former headquarters. Here I remained, patiently waiting for the

sound of General Buell’s advance upon the main Corinth road. About

10 a.m. the heavy firing in that direction, and its steady

approach, satisfied me; and General Wallace being on our right

flank with his well-conducted division, I led the head of my column

to General McClernand’s right, formed line of battle, facing south,

with Backland’a brigade directly across the ridge, and Stuart’s

brigade on its right in the woods; and thus advanced, steadily and

slowly, under a heavy fire of musketry and artillery. Taylor had

just got to me from the rear, where he had gone for ammunition, and

brought up three guns, which I ordered into position, to advance by

hand firing. These guns belonged to Company A, Chicago Light

Artillery, commanded by Lieutenant P. P. Wood, and did most

excellent service. Under cover of their fire, we advanced till we

reached the point where the Corinth road crosses the line of

McClernand’s camp, and here I saw for the first time the

well-ordered and compact columns of General Buell’s Kentucky

forces, whose soldierly movements at once gave confidence to our

newer and less disciplined men. Here I saw Willich’s regiment

advance upon a point of water-oaks and thicket, behind which I knew

the enemy was in great strength, and enter it in beautiful style.

Then arose the severest musketry-fire I ever heard, and lasted some

twenty minutes, when this splendid regiment had to fall back. This

green point of timber is about five hundred yards east of Shiloh

meeting-home, and it was evident here was to be the struggle. The

enemy could also be seen forming his lines to the south. General

McClernand sending to me for artillery, I detached to him the three

guns of Wood’s battery, with which he speedily drove them back,

and, seeing some others to the rear, I sent one of my staff to

bring them forward, when, by almost providential decree, they

proved to be two twenty-four pound howitzers belonging to

McAlister’s battery, and served as well as guns ever could be.

This was about 2 p.m. The enemy had one battery close by Shiloh,

and another near the Hamburg road, both pouring grape and canister

upon any column of troops that advanced upon the green point of

water-oaks. Willich’s regiment had been repulsed, but a whole

brigade of McCook’s division advanced beautifully, deployed, and

entered this dreaded wood. I ordered my second brigade (then

commanded by Colonel T. Kilby Smith, Colonel Smart being wounded)

to form on its right, and my fourth brigade, Colonel Bnekland, on

its right; all to advance abreast with this Kentucky brigade before

mentioned, which I afterward found to be Rousseau’s brigade of

McCook’s division. I gave personal direction to the twenty-four

pounder guns, whose well-directed fire first silenced the enemy’s

guns to the left, and afterward at the Shiloh meeting-house.

Rousseau’s brigade moved in splendid order steadily to the front,

sweeping every thing before it, and at 4 p.m. we stood upon the

ground of our original front line; and the enemy was in full

retreat. I directed my several brigades to resume at once their

original camps.

Several times during the battle, cartridges gave out; but General

Grant had thoughtfully kept a supply coming from the rear. When I

appealed to regiments to stand fast, although out of cartridges, I

did so because, to retire a regiment for any cause, has a bad

effect on others. I commend the Fortieth Illinois and Thirteenth

Missouri for thus holding their ground under heavy fire, although

their cartridge-boxes were empty.

I am ordered by General Grant to give personal credit where I think

it is due, and censure where I think it merited. I concede that

General McCook’s splendid division from Kentucky drove back the

enemy along the Corinth road, which was the great centre of this

field of battle, where Beauregard commanded in person, supported by

Bragg’s, Polk’s, and Breckenridge’s divisions. I think Johnston

was killed by exposing himself in front of his troops, at the time

of their attack on Buckland’s brigade on Sunday morning; although

in this I may be mistaken.

My division was made up of regiments perfectly new, nearly all

having received their muskets for the first time at Paducah. None

of them had ever been under fire or beheld heavy columns of an

enemy bearing down on them as they did on last Sunday.

To expect of them the coolness and steadiness of older troops would

be wrong. They knew not the value of combination and organization.

When individual fears seized them, the first impulse was to get

away. My third brigade did break much too soon, and I am not yet

advised where they were during Sunday afternoon and Monday morning.

Colonel Hildebrand, its commander, was as cool as any man I ever

saw, and no one could have made stronger efforts to hold his men to

their places than he did. He kept his own regiment with individual

exceptions in hand, an hour after Appler’s and Mungen’s regiments

had left their proper field of action. Colonel Buckland managed

his brigade well. I commend him to your notice as a cool,

intelligent, and judicious gentleman, needing only confidence and

experience, to make a good commander. His subordinates, Colonels

Sullivan and Cockerill, behaved with great gallantry; the former

receiving a severe wound on Sunday, and yet commanding and holding

his regiment well in hand all day, and on Monday, until his right

arm was broken by a shot. Colonel Cookerill held a larger

proportion of his men than any colonel in my division, and was with

me from first to last.

Colonel J. A. McDowell, commanding the first brigade, held his

ground on Sunday, till I ordered him to fall back, which he did in

line of battle; and when ordered, he conducted the attack on the

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