Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman


Text to Speech

enemy's left in good style. In falling back to the next position,

he was thrown from his horse and injured, and his brigade was not

in position on Monday morning. His subordinates, Colonels Hicks

and Worthington, displayed great personal courage. Colonel Hicks

led his regiment in the attack on Sunday, and received a wound,

which it is feared may prove mortal. He is a brave and gallant

gentleman, and deserves well of his country. Lieutenant-Colonel

Walcutt, of the Ohio Forty-sixth, was severely wounded on Sunday,

and has been disabled ever since. My second brigade, Colonel

Stuart, was detached nearly two miles from my headquarters. He had

to fight his own battle on Sunday, against superior numbers, as the

enemy interposed between him and General Prentiss early in the day.

Colonel Stuart was wounded severely, and yet reported for duty on

Monday morning, but was compelled to leave during the day, when the

command devolved on Colonel T. Kilby Smith, who was always in the

thickest of the, fight, and led the brigade handsomely.

I have not yet received Colonel Stuart's report of the operations

of his brigade during the time he was detached, and must therefore

forbear to mention names. Lieutenant-Colonel Kyle, of the

Seventy-first, was mortally wounded on Sunday, but the regiment

itself I did not see, as only a small fragment of it was with the

brigade when it joined the division on Monday morning. Great

credit is due the fragments of men of the disordered regiments who

kept in the advance. I observed and noticed them, but until the

brigadiers and colonels make their reports, I cannot venture to

name individuals, but will in due season notice all who kept in our

front line, as well as those who preferred to keep back near the

steamboat-landing. I will also send a full list of the killed,

wounded, and missing, by name, rank, company, and regiment. At

present I submit the result in figures:

[Summary of General Sherman's detailed table:]

Killed ........................ 318

Wounded ....................... 1275

Missing ....................... 441

Aggregate loss in the division: 2034

The enemy captured seven of our guns on Sunday, but on Monday we

recovered seven; not the identical guns we had lost, but enough in

number to balance the account. At the time of recovering our camps

our men were so fatigued that we could not follow the retreating

masses of the enemy; but on the following day I followed up with

Buckland's and Hildebrand's brigade for six miles, the result of

which I have already reported.

Of my personal staff, I can only speak with praise and thanks. I

think they smelled as much gunpowder and heard as many cannon-balls

and bullets as must satisfy their ambition. Captain Hammond, my

chief of staff, though in feeble health, was very active in

rallying broken troops, encouraging the steadfast and aiding to

form the lines of defense and attack. I recommend him to your

notice. Major Sanger's intelligence, quick perception, and rapid

execution, were of very great value to me, especially in bringing

into line the batteries that cooperated so efficiently in our

movements. Captains McCoy and Dayton, aides-de-camp, were with me

all the time, carrying orders, and acting with coolness, spirit,

and courage. To Surgeon Hartshorne and Dr. L'Hommedieu hundreds of

wounded men are indebted for the kind and excellent treatment

received on the field of battle and in the various temporary

hospitals created along the line of our operations. They worked

day and night, and did not rest till all the wounded of our own

troops as well as of the enemy were in safe and comfortable

shelter. To Major Taylor, chief of artillery, I feel under deep

obligations, for his good sense and judgment in managing the

batteries, on which so much depended. I inclose his report and

indorse his recommendations. The cavalry of my command kept to the

rear, and took little part in the action; but it would have been

madness to have exposed horses to the musketry-fire under which we

were compelled to remain from Sunday at 8 a.m. till Monday at

4 p.m. Captain Kossack, of the engineers, was with me all the time,

and was of great assistance. I inclose his sketch of the battle-

field, which is the best I have seen, and which will enable you to

see the various positions occupied by my division, as well as of

the others that participated in the battle. I will also send in,

during the day, the detailed reports of my brigadiers and colonels,

and will indorse them with such remarks as I deem proper.

I am, with much respect, your obedient servant,

W. T. SHERMAN,

Brigadier-General commanding Fifth Division.

HEADQUARTERS FIFTH DIVISION

Tuesday, April 8,1862

Sir: With the cavalry placed at my command and two brigades of my

fatigued troops, I went this morning out on the Corinth road. One

after another of the abandoned camps of the enemy lined the roads,

with hospital flags for their protection; at all we found more or

less wounded and dead men. At the forks of the road I found the

head of General T. J. Wood's division of Buell's Army. I ordered

cavalry to examine both roads leading toward Corinth, and found the

enemy on both. Colonel Dickey, of the Fourth Illinois Cavalry,

asking for reenforcements, I ordered General Wood to advance the

head of his column cautiously on the left-hand road, while I

conducted the head of the third brigade of my division up the

right-hand road. About half a mile from the forks was a clear

field, through which the road passed, and, immediately beyond, a

space of some two hundred yards of fallen timber, and beyond that

an extensive rebel camp. The enemy's cavalry could be seen in this

camp; after reconnoiesance, I ordered the two advance companies of

the Ohio Seventy-seventh, Colonel Hildebrand, to deploy forward as

skirmishers, and the regiment itself forward into line, with an

interval of one hundred yards. In this order we advanced

cautiously until the skirmishers were engaged. Taking it for

granted this disposition would clear the camp, I held Colonel

Dickey's Fourth Illinois Cavalry ready for the charge. The enemy's

cavalry came down boldly at a charge, led by General Forrest in

person, breaking through our line of skirmishers; when the regiment

of infantry, without cause, broke, threw away their muskets, and

fled. The ground was admirably adapted for a defense of infantry

against cavalry, being miry and covered with fallen timber.

As the regiment of infantry broke, Dickey's Cavalry began to

discharge their carbines, and fell into disorder. I instantly sent

orders to the rear for the brigade to form line of battle, which

was promptly executed. The broken infantry and cavalry rallied on

this line, and, as the enemy's cavalry came to it, our cavalry in

turn charged and drove them from the field. I advanced the entire

brigade over the same ground and sent Colonel Dickey's cavalry a

mile farther on the road. On examining the ground which had been

occupied by the Seventy-seventh Ohio, we found fifteen of our men

dead and about twenty-five wounded. I sent for wagons and had all

the wounded carried back to camp, and caused the dead to be buried,

also the whole rebel camp to be destroyed.

Here we found much ammunition for field-pieces, which was

destroyed; also two caissons, and a general hospital, with about

two hundred and eighty Confederate wounded, and about fifty of our

own wounded men. Not having the means of bringing them off,

Colonel Dickey, by my orders, took a surrender, signed by the

medical director (Lyle) and by all the attending surgeons, and a

pledge to report themselves to you as prisoners of war; also a

pledge that our wounded should be carefully attended to, and

surrendered to us to-morrow as soon as ambulances could go out. I

inclose this written document, and request that you cause wagons or

ambulances for our wounded to be sent to-morrow, and that wagons'

be sent to bring in the many tents belonging to us which are

pitched along the road for four miles out. I did not destroy them,

because I knew the enemy could not move them. The roads are very

bad, and are strewed with abandoned wagons, ambulances, and

limber-boxes. The enemy has succeeded in carrying off the guns,

but has crippled his batteries by abandoning the hind limber-boxes

of at least twenty caissons. I am satisfied the enemy's infantry

and artillery passed Lick Creek this morning, traveling all of last

night, and that he left to his rear all his cavalry, which has

protected his retreat; but signs of confusion and disorder mark the

whole road. The check sustained by us at the fallen timber delayed

our advance, so that night came upon us before the wounded were

provided for and the dead buried, and our troops being fagged out

by three days' hard fighting, exposure, and privation, I ordered

them back to their camps, where they now are.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

W.T. SHERMAN

Brigadier-General commanding Division.

General Grant did not make an official report of the battle of

Shiloh, but all its incidents and events were covered by the

reports of division commanders and Subordinates. Probably no

single battle of the war gave rise to such wild and damaging

reports. It was publicly asserted at the North that our army was

taken completely by surprise; that the rebels caught us in our

tents; bayoneted the men in their beds; that General Grant was

drunk; that Buell's opportune arrival saved the Army of the

Tennessee from utter annihilation, etc. These reports were in a

measure sustained by the published opinions of Generals Buell,

Nelson, and others, who had reached the steamboat-landing from the

east, just before nightfall of the 6th, when there was a large

crowd of frightened, stampeded men, who clamored and declared that

our army was all destroyed and beaten. Personally I saw General

Grant, who with his staff visited me about 10 a.m. of the 6th,

when we were desperately engaged. But we had checked the headlong

assault of our enemy, and then held our ground. This gave him

great satisfaction, and he told me that things did not look as well

over on the left. He also told me that on his way up from Savannah

that morning he had stopped at Crump's Landing, and had ordered Lew

Wallace's division to cross over Snake Creek, so as to come up on

my right, telling me to look out for him. He came again just

before dark, and described the last assault made by the rebels at

the ravine, near the steamboat-landing, which he had repelled by a

heavy battery collected under Colonel J. D. Webster and other

officers, and he was convinced that the battle was over for that

day. He ordered me to be ready to assume the offensive in the

morning, saying that, as he had observed at Fort Donelson at the

crisis of the battle, both sides seemed defeated, and whoever

assumed the offensive was sure to win. General Grant also

explained to me that General Buell had reached the bank of the

Tennessee River opposite Pittsburg Landing, and was in the act of

ferrying his troops across at the time he was speaking to me.

About half an hour afterward General Buell himself rode up to where

I was, accompanied by Colonels Fry, Michler, and others of his

staff. I was dismounted at the time, and General Buell made of me

a good many significant inquiries about matters and things

generally. By the aid of a manuscript map made by myself, I

pointed out to him our positions as they had been in the morning,

and our then positions; I also explained that my right then covered

the bridge over Snake Creek by which we had all day been expecting

Lew Wallace; that McClernand was on my left, Hurlbut on his left,

and so on. But Buell said he had come up from the landing, and had

not seen our men, of whose existence in fact he seemed to doubt. I

insisted that I had five thousand good men still left in line, and

thought that McClernand had as many more, and that with what was

left of Hurlbut's, W. H. L. Wallace's, and Prentiss's divisions, we

ought to have eighteen thousand men fit for battle. I reckoned

that ten thousand of our men were dead, wounded, or prisoners, and

that the enemy's loss could not be much less. Buell said that

Nelson's, McCook's, and Crittendens divisions of his army,

containing eighteen thousand men, had arrived and could cross over

in the night, and be ready for the next day's battle. I argued

that with these reenforcements we could sweep the field. Buell

seemed to mistrust us, and repeatedly said that he did not like the

looks of things, especially about the boat-landing,--and I really

feared he would not cross over his army that night, lest he should

become involved in our general disaster. He did not, of course,

understand the shape of the ground, and asked me for the use of my

map, which I lent him on the promise that he would return it. He

handed it to Major Michler to have it copied, and the original

returned to me, which Michler did two or three days after the

battle. Buell did cross over that night, and the next day we

assumed the offensive and swept the field, thus gaining the battle

decisively. Nevertheless, the controversy was started and kept up,

mostly to the personal prejudice of General Grant, who as usual

maintained an imperturbable silence.

After the battle, a constant stream of civilian surgeons, and

sanitary commission agents, men and women, came up the Tennessee to

bring relief to the thousands of maimed and wounded soldiers for

whom we had imperfect means of shelter and care. These people

caught up the camp-stories, which on their return home they

retailed through their local papers, usually elevating their own

neighbors into heroes, but decrying all others: Among them was

Lieutenant-Governor Stanton, of Ohio, who published in Belfontaine,

Ohio, a most abusive article about General Grant and his

subordinate generals. As General Grant did not and would not take

up the cudgels, I did so. My letter in reply to Stanton, dated

June 10, 1862, was published in the Cincinnati Commercial soon

after its date. To this Lieutenant-Governor Stanton replied, and I

further rejoined in a letter dated July 12, 1862. These letters

are too personal to be revived. By this time the good people of

the North had begun to have their eyes opened, and to give us in

the field more faith and support. Stanton was never again elected

to any public office, and was commonly spoken of as "the late Mr.

Stanton." He is now dead, and I doubt not in life he often

regretted his mistake in attempting to gain popular fame by abusing

the army-leaders, then as now an easy and favorite mode of gaining

notoriety, if not popularity. Of course, subsequent events gave

General Grant and most of the other actors in that battle their

appropriate place in history, but the danger of sudden popular

clamors is well illustrated by this case.

Tho battle of Shiloh, or Pittsburg Landing, was one of the most

fiercely contested of the war. On the morning of April 6, 1862,

the five divisions of McClernand, Prentiss, Hurlbut, W. H. L.

Wallace, and Sherman, aggregated about thirty-two thousand men. We

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