Part 19 out of 43
at once. The Minnesota regiment has also arrived, and will be sent
forward. Hazzard's regiment of Indiana troops I have ordered to
the month of Salt Creek, an important point on the turnpike-road
leading to Elizabethtown.
I again repeat that our force here is out of all proportion to the
importance of the position. Our defeat would be disastrous to the
nation; and to expect of new men, who never bore arms, to do
miracles, is not right.
I am, with much respect, yours truly,
W. T. SHERMAN, Brigadier-General commanding.
About this time my attention was drawn to the publication in all
the Eastern papers, which of course was copied at the West, of the
report that I was "crazy, insane, and mad," that "I had demanded
two hundred thousand men for the defense of Kentucky;" and the
authority given for this report was stated to be the Secretary of
War himself, Mr. Cameron, who never, to my knowledge, took pains to
affirm or deny it. My position was therefore simply unbearable,
and it is probable I resented the cruel insult with language of
intense feeling. Still I received no orders, no reenforcements,
not a word of encouragement or relief. About November 1st, General
McClellan was appointed commander-in-chief of all the armies in the
field, and by telegraph called for a report from me. It is
HEADQUARTERS THE DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND, Louisville,
Kentucky, November 4, 1861
General L. THOMAS, Adjutant-General, Washington, D. C.
Sir: In compliance with the telegraphic orders of General
McClellan, received late last night, I submit this report of the
forces in Kentucky, and of their condition.
The tabular statement shows the position of the several regiments.
The camp at Nolin is at the present extremity of the Nashville
Railroad. This force was thrown forward to meet the advance of
Buckner's army, which then fell back to Green River, twenty-three
miles beyond. These regiments were substantially without means of
transportation, other than the railroad, which is guarded at all
dangerous points, yet is liable to interruption at any moment, by
the tearing up of a rail by the disaffected inhabitants or a hired
enemy. These regiments are composed of good materials, but devoid
of company officers of experience, and have been put under thorough
drill since being in camp. They are generally well clad, and
provided for. Beyond Green River, the enemy has masked his forces,
and it is very difficult to ascertain even the approximate numbers.
No pains have been spared to ascertain them, but without success,
and it is well known that they far outnumber us. Depending,
however, on the railroads to their rear for transportation, they
have not thus far advanced this side of Green River, except in
marauding parties. This is the proper line of advance, but will
require a very large force, certainly fifty thousand men, as their
railroad facilities south enable them to concentrate at
Munfordsville the entire strength of the South. General McCook's
command is divided into four brigades, under Generals Wood, R. W.
Johnson, Rousseau, and Negley.
General Thomas's line of operations is from Lexington, toward
Cumberland Gap and Ford, which are occupied by a force of rebel
Tennesseeans, under the command of Zollicoffer. Thomas occupies
the position at London, in front of two roads which lead to the
fertile part of Kentucky, the one by Richmond, and the other by
Crab Orchard, with his reserve at Camp Dick Robinson, eight miles
south of the Kentucky River. His provisions and stores go by
railroad from Cincinnati to Nicholasville, and thence in wagons to
his several regiments. He is forced to hire transportation.
Brigadier-General Nelson is operating by the line from Olympian
Springs, east of Paris, on the Covington & Lexington Railroad,
toward Prestonburg, in the valley of the Big Sandy where is
assembled a force of from twenty-five to thirty-five hundred rebel
Kentuckians waiting reenforcements from Virginia. My last report
from him was to October 28th, at which time he had Colonel Harris's
Ohio Second, nine hundred strong; Colonel Norton's Twenty-first
Ohio, one thousand; and Colonel Sill's Thirty-third Ohio, seven
hundred and fifty strong; with two irregular Kentucky regiments,
Colonels Marshall and Metcalf. These troops were on the road near
Hazel Green and West Liberty, advancing toward Prestonburg.
Upon an inspection of the map, you will observe these are all
divergent lines, but rendered necessary, from the fact that our
enemies choose them as places of refuge from pursuit, where they
can receive assistance from neighboring States. Our lines are all
too weak, probably with the exception of that to Prestonburg. To
strengthen these, I am thrown on the raw levies of Ohio and
Indiana, who arrive in detachments, perfectly fresh from the
country, and loaded down with baggage, also upon the Kentuckians,
who are slowly forming regiments all over the State, at points
remote from danger, and whom it will be almost impossible to
assemble together. The organization of this latter force is, by
the laws of Kentucky, under the control of a military board of
citizens, at the capital, Frankfort, and they think they will be
enabled to have fifteen regiments toward the middle of this month,
but I doubt it, and deem it unsafe to rely on them: There are four
regiments forming in the neighborhood of Owensboro, near the mouth
of Green River, who are doing good service, also in the
neighborhood of Campbellsville, but it is unsafe to rely on troops
so suddenly armed and equipped. They are not yet clothed or
uniformed. I know well you will think our force too widely
distributed, but we are forced to it by the attitude of our
enemies, whose force and numbers the country never has and probably
never will comprehend.
I am told that my estimate of troops needed for this line, viz.,
two hundred thousand, has been construed to my prejudice, and
therefore leave it for the future. This is the great centre on
which our enemies can concentrate whatever force is not employed
elsewhere. Detailed statement of present force inclosed with this.
With great respect, your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN, Brigadier-General commanding.
BRIGADIER-GENERAL McCOOK'S CAMP, AT NOLIN, FIFTY-TWO MILES FROM
LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY, NOVEMBER 4, 1861.
First Brigade (General ROUSSEAU).-Third Kentucky, Colonel Bulkley;
Fourth Kentucky, Colonel Whittaker; First Cavalry, Colonel Board;
Stone's battery; two companies Nineteenth United States Infantry,
and two companies Fifteenth United States Infantry, Captain Gilman.
Second Brigade (General T. J. WOOD).-Thirty-eighth Indiana, Colonel
Scribner; Thirty-ninth Indiana, Colonel Harrison; Thirtieth
Indiana, Colonel Bass; Twenty-ninth Indiana, Colonel Miller.
Third Brigade (General JOHNSON).-Forty-ninth Ohio, Colonel Gibson;
Fifteenth Ohio, Colonel Dickey; Thirty-fourth Illinois, Colonel
King; Thirty-second Indiana, Colonel Willach.
Fourth Brigade (General NEGLEY).-Seventy-seventh Pennsylvania,
Colonel Hambright; Seventy-eighth Pennsylvania, Colonel Sinnell;
Seventy-ninth Pennsylvania, Colonel Stambaugh; Battery, Captain
Camp Dick Robinson (General G. H. THOMAS).---Kentucky, Colonel
Bramlette;--Kentucky, Colonel Fry;--Kentucky Cavalry, Colonel
Woolford; Fourteenth Ohio, Colonel Steadman; First Artillery,
Colonel Barnett; Third Ohio, Colonel Carter;--East Tennessee,
Bardstown, Kentucky.-Tenth Indiana, Colonel Manson.
Crab Orchard.-Thirty-third Indiana, Colonel Coburn.
Jeffersonville, Indiana.-Thirty-fourth Indiana, Colonel Steele;
Thirty-sixth Indiana, Colonel Gross; First Wisconsin, Colonel
Mouth of Salt River.-Ninth Michigan, Colonel Duffield;
Thirty-seventh Indiana, Colonel Hazzard.
Lebanon Junction..-Second Minnesota, Colonel Van Cleve.
Olympian Springs.-Second Ohio, Colonel Harris.
Cynthiana, Kentucky.-Thirty-fifth Ohio, Colonel Vandever.
Nicholasville, Kentucky.-Twenty-first Ohio, Colonel Norton;
Thirty-eighth Ohio, Colonel Bradley.
Big Hill.-Seventeenth Ohio, Colonel Connell.
Colesburg.-Twenty-fourth Illinois, Colonel Hecker.
Elizabethtown, Kentucky.-Nineteenth Illinois, Colonel Turchin.
Owensboro' or Henderson.-Thirty-first Indiana, Colonel Cruft;
Colonel Edwards, forming Rock Castle; Colonel Boyle, Harrodsburg;
Colonel Barney, Irvine; Colonel Hazzard, Burksville; Colonel
And, in order to conclude this subject, I also add copies of two
telegraphic dispatches, sent for General McClellan's use about the
same time, which are all the official letters received at his
headquarters, as certified by the Adjutant-General, L. Thomas, in a
letter of February 1, 1862; in answer to an application of my
brother, Senator John Sherman, and on which I was adjudged insane:
Louisville, November 3, 10 p.m.
To General McLELLAN, Washington, D. C.:
Dispatch just received. We are forced to operate on three lines,
all dependent on railroads of doubtful safety, requiring strong
guards. From Paris to Prestonbnrg, three Ohio regiments and some
militia--enemy variously reported from thirty-five hundred to seven
thousand. From Lexington toward Cumberland Gap, Brigadier-General
Thomas, one Indiana and five Ohio regiments, two Kentucky and two
Tennessee; hired wagons and badly clad. Zollicoffer, at Cumberland
Ford, about seven thousand. Lee reported on the way with Virginia
reenforcements. In front of Louisville, fifty-two miles, McCook,
with four brigades of about thirteen thousand, with four regiments
to guard the railroad, at all times in danger. Enemy along the
railroad from Green River to Bowling Green, Nashville, and
Clarksville. Buckner, Hardee, Sidney Johnston, Folk, and Pillow,
the two former in immediate command, the force as large as they
want or can subsist, from twenty-five to thirty thousand. Bowling
Green strongly fortified. Our forces too small to do good, and too
large to sacrifice.
W. T. SHERMAN, Brigadier-General.
HEADQUARTERS THE DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND, Louisville,
Kentucky, November 6, 1861
General L. THOMAS, Adjutant-General.
Sir: General McClellan telegraphs me to report to him daily the
situation of affairs here. The country is so large that it is
impossible to give clear and definite views. Our enemies have a
terrible advantage in the fact that in our midst, in our camps, and
along our avenues of travel, they have active partisans, farmers
and business-men, who seemingly pursue their usual calling, but are
in fact spies. They report all our movements and strength, while
we can procure information only by circuitous and unreliable means.
I inclose you the copy of an intercepted letter, which is but the
type of others. Many men from every part of the State are now
enrolled under Buckner--have gone to him--while ours have to be
raised in neighborhoods, and cannot be called together except at
long notice. These volunteers are being organized under the laws
of the State, and the 10th of November is fixed for the time of
consolidating them into companies and regiments. Many of them are
armed by the United States as home guards, and many by General
Anderson and myself, because of the necessity of being armed to
guard their camps against internal enemies. Should we be
overwhelmed, they would scatter, and their arms and clothing will
go to the enemy, furnishing the very material they so much need.
We should have here a very large force, sufficient to give
confidence to the Union men of the ability to do what should be
done--possess ourselves of all the State. But all see and feel we
are brought to a stand-still, and this produces doubt and alarm.
With our present force it would be simple madness to cross Green
River, and yet hesitation may be as fatal. In like manner the
other columns are in peril, not so much in front as rear, the
railroads over which our stores must pass being much exposed. I
have the Nashville Railroad guarded by three regiments, yet it is
far from being safe; and, the moment actual hostilities commence,
these roads will be interrupted, and we will be in a dilemma. To
meet this in part I have put a cargo of provisions at the mouth of
Salt River, guarded by two regiments. All these detachments weaken
the main force, and endanger the whole. Do not conclude, as
before, that I exaggerate the facts. They are as stated, and the
future looks as dark as possible. It would be better if some man
of sanguine mind were here, for I am forced to order according to
W. T. SHERMAN, Brigadier-General commanding.
After the war was over, General Thomas J. Wood, then in command of
the district of Vicksburg, prepared a statement addressed to the
public, describing the interview with the Secretary of War, which
he calls a "Council of War." I did not then deem it necessary to
renew a matter which had been swept into oblivion by the war
itself; but, as it is evidence by an eyewitness, it is worthy of
On the 11th of October, 1861, the writer, who had been personally
on mustering duty in Indiana, was appointed a brigadier-general of
volunteers, and ordered to report to General Sherman, then in
command of the Department of the Cumberland, with his headquarters
at Louisville, having succeeded General Robert Anderson. When the
writer was about leaving Indianapolis to proceed to Louisville, Mr.
Cameron, returning from his famous visit of inspection to General
Fremont's department, at St. Louis, Missouri, arrived at
Indianapolis, and announced his intention to visit General Sherman.
The writer was invited to accompany the party to Louisville.
Taking the early morning train from Indianapolis to Louisville on
the 16th of October, 1861, the party arrived in Jeffersonville
shortly after mid-day. General Sherman met the party in
Jeffersonville, and accompanied it to the Galt House, in
Louisville, the hotel at which he was stopping.
During the afternoon General Sherman informed the writer that a
council of war was to be held immediately in his private room in
the hotel, and desired him to be present at the council. General
Sherman and the writer proceeded directly to the room. The writer
entered the room first, and observed in it Mr. Cameron, Adjutant-
General L. Thomas, and some other persons, all of whose names he
did not know, but whom he recognized as being of Mr. Cameron's
party. The name of one of the party the writer had learned, which
he remembers as Wilkinson, or Wilkerson, and who he understood was
a writer for the New York Tribune newspaper. The Hon. James
Guthrie was also in the room, having been invited, on account of
his eminent position as a citizen of Kentucky, his high civic
reputation, and his well-known devotion to the Union, to meet the
Secretary of War in the council. When General Sherman entered the
room he closed the door, and turned the key in the lock.
Before entering on the business of the meeting, General Sherman
remarked substantially: "Mr. Cameron, we have met here to discuss
matters and interchange views which should be known only by persons
high in the confidence of the Government. There are persons
present whom I do not know, and I desire to know, before opening
the business of the council, whether they are persons who may be
properly allowed to hear the views which I have to submit to you."
Mr. Cameron replied, with some little testiness of manner, that the
persons referred to belonged to his party, and there was no
objection to their knowing whatever might be communicated to him.
Certainly the legitimate and natural conclusion from this remark of
Mr. Cameron's was that whatever views might be submitted by General
Sherman would be considered under the protection of the seal of
secrecy, and would not be divulged to the public till all
apprehension of injurious consequences from such disclosure had
passed. And it may be remarked, further, that justice to General
Sherman required that if, at any future time, his conclusions as to
the amount of force necessary to conduct the operations committed
to his charge should be made public, the grounds on which his
conclusions were based should be made public at the same time.
Mr. Cameron then asked General Sherman what his plans were. To
this General Sherman replied that he had no plans; that no
sufficient force had been placed at his disposition with which to
devise any plan of operations; that, before a commanding general
could project a plan of campaign, he must know what amount of force
he would have to operate with.
The general added that he had views which he would be happy to
submit for the consideration of the Secretary. Mr. Cameron desired
to hear General Sherman's views.
General Sherman began by giving his opinion of the people of
Kentucky, and the then condition of the State. He remarked that he
believed a very large majority of the people of Kentucky were
thoroughly devoted to the Union, and loyal to the Government, and
that the Unionists embraced almost all the older and more
substantial men in the State; but, unfortunately, there was no
organization nor arms among the Union men; that the rebel minority,
thoroughly vindictive in its sentiments, was organized and armed
(this having been done in advance by their leaders), and, beyond
the reach of the Federal forces, overawed and prevented the Union
men from organizing; that, in his opinion, if Federal protection
were extended throughout the State to the Union men, a large force
could be raised for the service of the Government.
General Sherman next presented a resume of the information in his
possession as to the number of the rebel troops in Kentucky.
Commencing with the force at Columbus, Kentucky, the reports
varied, giving the strength from ten to twenty thousand. It was
commanded by Lieutenant-General Polk. General Sherman fixed it at
the lowest estimate; say, ten thousand. The force at Bowling
Green, commanded by General. A. S. Johnston, supported by Hardee,
Buckner, and others, was variously estimated at from eighteen to
thirty thousand. General Sherman estimated this force at the
lowest figures given to it by his information--eighteen thousand.
He explained that, for purposes of defense, these two forces ought,
owing to the facility with which troops might be transported from
one to the other, by the net-work of railroads in Middle and West
Tennessee, to be considered almost as one. General Sherman
remarked, also, on the facility with which reinforcements could be
transported by railroad to Bowling Green, from the other rebellions
The third organized body of rebel troops was in Eastern Kentucky,
under General Zollicoffer, estimated, according to the most
reliable information, at six thousand men. This force threatened a
descent, if unrestrained, on the blue-grass region of Kentucky,
including the cities of Lexington, and Frankfort, the capital of
the State; and if successful in its primary movements, as it would
gather head as it advanced, might endanger the safety of
General Sherman said that the information in his possession
indicated an intention, on the part of the rebels, of a general and
grand advance toward the Ohio River. He further expressed the
opinion that, if such advance should be made, and not checked, the
rebel force would be swollen by at least twenty thousand recruits
from the disloyalists in Kentucky. His low computation of the
organized rebel soldiers then in Kentucky fixed the strength at
about thirty-five thousand. Add twenty thousand for reenforcements
gained in Kentucky, to say nothing of troops drawn from other rebel
States, and the effective rebel force in the State, at a low
estimate, would be fifty-five thousand men.
General Sherman explained forcibly how largely the difficulties of
suppressing the rebellion would be enhanced, if the rebels should
be allowed to plant themselves firmly, with strong fortifications,
at commanding points on the Ohio River. It would be facile for
them to carry the war thence into the loyal States north of the
To resist an advance of the rebels, General Sherman stated that he
did not have at that time in Kentucky more than some twelve to
fourteen thousand effective men. The bulk of this force was posted
at camp Nolin, on the Louisville & Nashville Railway, fifty miles
south of Louisville. A part of it was in Eastern Kentucky, under
General George H. Thomas, and a very small force was in the lower
valley of Green River.
This disposition of the force had been made for the double purpose
of watching and checking the rebels, and protecting the raising and
organization of troops among the Union men of Kentucky.
Having explained the situation from the defensive point of view,
General Sherman proceeded to consider it from the offensive
stand-point. The Government had undertaken to suppress the
rebellion; the onus faciendi, therefore, rested on the Government.
The rebellion could never be put down, the authority of the
paramount Government asserted, and the union of the States declared
perpetual, by force of arms, by maintaining the defensive; to
accomplish these grand desiderata, it was absolutely necessary the
Government should adopt, and maintain until the rebellion was
crushed, the offensive.
For the purpose of expelling the rebels from Kentucky, General
Sherman said that at least sixty thousand soldiers were necessary.
Considering that the means of accomplishment must always be
proportioned to the end to be achieved, and bearing in mind the
array of rebel force then in Kentucky, every sensible man must
admit that the estimate of the force given by General Sherman, for
driving the rebels out of the State, and reestablishing and
maintaining the authority of the Government, was a very low one.
The truth is that, before the rebels were driven from Kentucky,
many more than sixty thousand soldiers were sent into the State.
Ascending from the consideration of the narrow question of the
political and military situation in Kentucky, and the extent of
force necessary to redeem the State from rebel thraldom,
forecasting in his sagacious intellect the grand and daring
operations which, three years afterward, he realized in a campaign,
taken in its entirety, without a parallel in modern times, General
Sherman expressed the opinion that, to carry the war to the Gulf of
Mexico, and destroy all armed opposition to the Goverment, in the
entire Mississippi Valley, at least two hundred thousand troops
were absolutely requisite.
So soon as General Sherman had concluded the expression of his
views, Mr. Cameron asked, with much warmth and apparent irritation,
"Where do you suppose, General Sherman, all this force is to come
from." General Sherman replied that he did not know; that it was
not his duty to raise, organize, and put the necessary military
force into the field; that duty pertained to the War Department.
His duty was to organize campaigns and command the troops after
they had been put into the field.
At this point of the proceedings, General Sherman suggested that it
might be agreeable to the Secretary to hear the views of Mr.
Guthrie. Thus appealed to, Mr. Guthrie said he did not consider
himself, being a civilian, competent to give an opinion as to the
extent of force necessary to parry the war to the Gulf of Mexico;
but, being well informed of the condition of things in Kentucky, he
indorsed fully General Sherman's opinion of the force required to
drive the rebels out of the State.
The foregoing is a circumstantial account of the deliberations of
the council that were of any importance.
A good deal of desultory conversation followed, on immaterial
matters; and some orders were issued by telegraph, by the Secretary
of War, for some small reenforcements to be sent to Kentucky
immediately, from Pennsylvania and Indiana.
A short time after the council was held--the exact time is not now
remembered by the writer--an imperfect narrative of it appeared in
the New York Tribune. This account announced to the public the
conclusions uttered by General Sherman in the council, without
giving the reasons on which his conclusions were based. The
unfairness of this course to General Sherman needs no comment. All
military men were shocked by the gross breach of faith which had
TH. J. WOOD, Major-General Volunteers
Vicksburg, Mississippi, August 24, 1886.
Brigadier-General Don Carlos Buell arrived at Louisville about the
middle of November, with orders to relieve me, and I was
transferred for duty to the Department of the Missouri, and ordered
to report in person to Major-General H. W. Halleck at St. Louis. I
accompanied General Buell to the camp at Nolin, where he reviewed
and inspected the camp and troops under the command of General A.
McD. McCook, and on our way back General Buell inspected the
regiment of Hazzard at Elizabethtown. I then turned over my
command to him, and took my departure for St. Louis.
At the time I was so relieved I thought, of course, it was done in
fulfillment of Mr. Lincoln's promise to me, and as a necessary
result of my repeated demand for the fulfillment of that promise;
but I saw and felt, and was of course deeply moved to observe, the
manifest belief that there was more or less of truth in the rumor
that the cares, perplexities, and anxiety of the situation had
unbalanced my judgment and mind. It was, doubtless, an incident
common to all civil wars, to which I could only submit with the
best grace possible, trusting to the future for an opportunity to
redeem my fortune and good name. Of course I could not deny the
fact, and had to submit to all its painful consequences for months;
and, moreover, I could not hide from myself that many of the
officers and soldiers subsequently placed under my command looked
at me askance and with suspicion. Indeed, it was not until the
following April that the battle of Shiloh gave me personally the
chance to redeem my good name.
On reaching St. Louis and reporting to General Halleck, I was
received kindly, and was shortly afterward (viz., November 23d)
sent up to Sedalia to inspect the camp there, and the troops
located along the road back to Jefferson City, and I was ordered to
assume command in a certain contingency. I found General Steels at
Sedalia with his regiments scattered about loosely; and General
Pope at Otterville, twenty miles back, with no concert between
them. The rebel general, Sterling Price, had his forces down about
Osceola and Warsaw. I advised General Halleck to collect the whole
of his men into one camp on the La Mine River, near Georgetown, to
put them into brigades and divisions, so as to be ready to be
handled, and I gave some preliminary orders looking to that end.
But the newspapers kept harping on my insanity and paralyzed my
efforts. In spite of myself, they tortured from me some words and
acts of imprudence. General Halleck telegraphed me on November
26th: "Unless telegraph-lines are interrupted, make no movement
of troops without orders;" and on November 29th: "No forward
movement of troops on Osceola will be made; only strong
reconnoitring-parties will be sent out in the supposed direction of
the enemy; the bulk of the troops being held in position till more
reliable information is obtained."
About the same time I received the following dispatch:
HEADQUARTERS, ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI
November 28, 1881.
Brigadier-General SHERMAN, Sedalia:
Mrs. Sherman is here. General Halleck is satisfied, from reports
of scouts received here, that no attack on Sedalia is intended.
You will therefore return to this city, and report your
observations on the condition of the troops you have examined.
Please telegraph when you will leave.
SCHUYLER HAMILTON, Brigadier-General and Aide-de-Camp.
I accordingly returned to St. Louis, where I found Mrs. Sherman,
naturally and properly distressed at the continued and reiterated
reports of the newspapers of my insanity, and she had come from
Lancaster to see me. This recall from Sedalia simply swelled the
cry. It was alleged that I was recalled by reason of something
foolish I had done at Sedalia, though in fact I had done absolutely
nothing, except to recommend what was done immediately thereafter
on the advice of Colonel McPherson, on a subsequent inspection.
Seeing and realizing that my efforts were useless, I concluded to
ask for a twenty days' leave of absence, to accompany Mrs. Sherman
to our home in Lancaster, and to allow the storm to blow over
somewhat. It also happened to be mid-winter, when, nothing was
doing; so Mrs. Sherman and I returned to Lancaster, where I was
born, and where I supposed I was better known and appreciated.
The newspapers kept up their game as though instigated by malice,
and chief among them was the Cincinnati Commercial, whose editor,
Halsted, was generally believed to be an honorable man. P. B.
Ewing, Esq., being in Cincinnati, saw him and asked him why he, who
certainly knew better, would reiterate such a damaging slander. He
answered, quite cavalierly, that it was one of the news-items of
the day, and he had to keep up with the time; but he would be most
happy to publish any correction I might make, as though I could
deny such a malicious piece of scandal affecting myself. On the
12th of November I had occasion to write to General Halleck, and I
have a copy of his letter in answer:
ST. Louis, December 18, 1881.
Brigadier-General W. T. SHERMAN, Lancaster, Ohio.
My DEAR GENERAL: Yours of the 12th was received a day or two ago,
but was mislaid for the moment among private papers, or I should
have answered it sooner. The newspaper attacks are certainly
shameless and scandalous, but I cannot agree with you, that they
have us in their power "to destroy us as they please." I certainly
get my share of abuse, but it will not disturb me.
Your movement of the troops was not countermanded by me because I
thought it an unwise one in itself, but because I was not then
ready for it. I had better information of Price's movements than
you had, and I had no apprehension of an attack. I intended to
concentrate the forces on that line, but I wished the movement
delayed until I could determine on a better position.
After receiving Lieutenant-Colonel McPherson's report, I made
precisely the location you had ordered. I was desirous at the time
not to prevent the advance of Price by any movement on our part,
hoping that he would move on Lexington; but finding that he had
determined to remain at Osceola for some time at least, I made the
movement you proposed. As you could not know my plans, you and
others may have misconstrued the reason of my countermanding your
I hope to see you well enough for duty soon. Our organization goes
on slowly, but we will effect it in time. Yours truly,
H. W. HALLECK.
And subsequently, in a letter to Hon. Thomas Ewing, in answer to
some inquiries involving the same general subject, General Halleck
wrote as follows:
Hon. THOMAS EWING, Lancaster, Ohio.
DEAR SIR: Your note of the 13th, and one of this date, from Mr.
Sherman, in relation to Brigadier-General Sherman's having being
relieved from command in Sedalia, in November last, are just
received. General Sherman was not put in command at Sedalia; he
was authorized to assume it, and did so for a day or two. He did
not know my plans, and his movement of troops did not accord with
them. I therefore directed him to leave them as they were, and
report here the result of his inspection, for which purpose be had
been ordered there.
No telegram or dispatch of any kind was sent by me, or by any one
with my knowledge or authority, in relation to it. After his
return here, I gave him a leave of absence of twenty days, for the
benefit of his health. As I was then pressing General McClellan
for more officers, I deemed it necessary to explain why I did so.
I used these words: "I am satisfied that General Sherman's physical
and mental system is so completely broken by labor and care as to
render him, for the present, unfit for duty; perhaps a few weeks'
rest may restore him." This was the only communication I made on
the subject. On no occasion have I ever expressed an opinion that
his mind was affected otherwise than by over-exertion; to have said
so would have done him the greatest injustice.
After General Sherman returned from his short leave, I found that
his health was nearly restored, and I placed him temporarily in
command of the camp of instruction, numbering over fifteen thousand
men. I then wrote to General McClellan that he would soon be able
to again take the field. I gave General Sherman a copy of my
letter. This is the total of my correspondence on the subject. As
evidence that I have every confidence in General Sherman, I have
placed him in command of Western Kentucky--a command only second in
importance in this department. As soon as divisions and columns
can be organized, I propose to send him into the field where he can
render most efficient service. I have seen newspaper squibs,
charging him with being "crazy," etc. This is the grossest
injustice; I do not, however, consider such attacks worthy of
notice. The best answer is General Sherman's present position, and
the valuable services he is rendering to the country. I have the
fullest confidence in him.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. W. HALLECK, Major-General.
On returning to St. Louis, on the expiration of my leave of
absence, I found that General Halleck was beginning to move his
troops: one part, under General U. S. Grant, up the Tennessee
River; and another part, under General S. R. Curtis, in the
direction of Springfield, Missouri. General Grant was then at
Paducah, and General Curtis was under orders for Rolls. I was
ordered to take Curtis's place in command of the camp of
instruction, at Benton Barracks, on the ground back of North St.
Louis, now used as the Fair Grounds, by the following order:
[Special Order No. 87].
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE MISSOURI
St. Louis, December 23, 1861
Brigadier-General W. T. Sherman, United States Volunteers, is
hereby assigned to the command of the camp of instruction and post
of Benton Barracks. He will have every armed regiment and company
in his command ready for service at a moment's warning, and will
notify all concerned that, when marching orders are received, it is
expected that they will be instantly obeyed; no excuses for delay
will be admitted. General Sherman will immediately report to these
headquarters what regiments and companies, at Benton Barracks, are
ready for the field.
By order of Major-General Halleck,
J. C. KELTEN, Assistant Adjutant-General.
I immediately assumed command, and found, in the building
constructed for the commanding officer, Brigadier-General Strong,
and the family of a captain of Iowa cavalry, with whom we boarded.
Major Curtis, son of General Curtis, was the adjutant-general, but
was soon relieved by Captain J. H. Hammond, who was appointed
assistant adjutant-general, and assigned to duty with me.
Brigadier-General Hurlbut was also there, and about a dozen
regiments of infantry and cavalry. I at once gave all matters
pertaining to the post my personal attention, got the regiments in
as good order as possible, kept up communication with General
Halleck's headquarters by telegraph, and, when orders came for the
movement of any regiment or detachment, it moved instantly. The
winter was very wet, and the ground badly drained. The quarters
had been erected by General Fremont, under contract; they were mere
shells, but well arranged for a camp, embracing the Fair Grounds,
and some forty acres of flat ground west of it. I instituted
drills, and was specially ordered by General Halleck to watch
Generals Hurlbut and Strong, and report as to their fitness for
their commissions as brigadier-generals. I had known Hurlbut as a
young lawyer, in Charleston, South Carolina, before the Mexican
War, at which time he took a special interest in military matters,
and I found him far above the average in the knowledge of
regimental and brigade drill, and so reported. General Strong had
been a merchant, and he told me that he never professed to be a
soldier, but had been urged on the Secretary of War for the
commission of a brigadier-general, with the expectation of be
coming quartermaster or commissary-general. He was a good,
kind-hearted gentleman, boiling over with patriotism and zeal. I
advised him what to read and study, was considerably amused at his
receiving instruction from a young lieutenant who knew the company
and battalion drill, and could hear him practise in his room the
words of command, and tone of voice, "Break from the right, to
march to the left!" "Battalion, halt!" "Forward into line!" etc.
Of course I made a favorable report in his case. Among the
infantry and cavalry colonels were some who afterward rose to
distinction--David Stuart, Gordon Granger, Bussey, etc., etc.
Though it was mid-winter, General Halleck was pushing his
preparations most vigorously, and surely he brought order out of
chaos in St. Louis with commendable energy. I remember, one night,
sitting in his room, on the second floor of the Planters' House,
with him and General Cullum, his chief of staff, talking
of things generally, and the subject then was of the much-talked-of
"advance," as soon as the season would permit. Most people urged
the movement down the Mississippi River; but Generals Polk and
Pillow had a large rebel force, with heavy guns in a very strong
position, at Columbus, Kentucky, about eighteen miles below Cairo.
Commodore Foote had his gunboat fleet at Cairo; and General U. S.
Grant, who commanded the district, was collecting a large force at
Paducah, Cairo, and Bird's Point. General Halleck had a map on his
table, with a large pencil in his hand, and asked, "where is the
rebel line?" Cullum drew the pencil through Bowling Green, Forts
Donelson and Henry, and Columbus, Kentucky. "That is their line,"
said Halleck. "Now, where is the proper place to break it?" And
either Cullum or I said, "Naturally the centre." Halleck drew a
line perpendicular to the other, near its middle, and it coincided
nearly with the general course of the Tennessee River; and he said,
"That's the true line of operations." This occurred more than a
month before General Grant began the movement, and, as he was
subject to General Halleck's orders, I have always given Halleck
the full credit for that movement, which was skillful, successful,
and extremely rich in military results; indeed, it was the first
real success on our side in the civil war. The movement up the
Tennessee began about the 1st of February, and Fort Henry was
captured by the joint action of the navy under Commodore Foote, and
the land forces under General Grant, on the 6th of February, 1862.
About the same time, General S. R. Curtis had moved forward from
Rolls, and, on the 8th of March, defeated the rebels under
McCulloch, Van Dom, and Price, at Pea Ridge.
As soon as Fort Henry fell, General Grant marched straight across
to Fort Donelson, on the Cumberland River, invested the place, and,
as soon as the gunboats had come round from the Tennessee, and had
bombarded the water-front, he assaulted; whereupon Buckner
surrendered the garrison of twelve thousand men; Pillow and
ex-Secretary of War General Floyd having personally escaped across
the river at night, occasioning a good deal of fun and criticism at
Before the fall of Donelson, but after that of Henry, I received,
at Benton Barracks, the following orders:
HEADQUARTERS THE DEPARTMENT OF MISSOURI
St. Louis, February,13, 1862
Brigadier-General SHERMAN, Benton Barracks:
You will immediately repair to Paducah, Kentucky, and assume
command of that post. Brigadier-General Hurlbut will accompany
you. The command of Benton Barracks will be turned over to General
H. W. HALECK, Major-General.
I started for Paducah the same day, and think that General Cullum
went with me to Cairo; General Halleck's purpose being to push
forward the operations up the Tennessee River with unusual vigor.
On reaching Paducah, I found this dispatch:
HEADQUARTERS THE DEPARTMENT OF MISSOURI
St. Louis, February 15, 1862
Brigadier-General SHERMAN, Paducah, Kentucky:
Send General Grant every thing you can spare from Paducah and Smith
and also General Hurlbut.
Bowling Green has been evacuated entirely.
H. W. HALLECK, Major-General.
The next day brought us news of the surrender of Buckner, and
probably at no time during the war did we all feel so heavy a
weight raised from our breasts, or so thankful for a most fruitful
series of victories. They at once gave Generals Halleck, Grant,
and C. F. Smith, great fame. Of course, the rebels let go their
whole line, and fell back on Nashville and Island No. Ten, and to
the Memphis & Charleston Railroad. Everybody was anxious to help.
Boats passed up and down constantly, and very soon arrived the
rebel prisoners from Donelson. I saw General Buckner on the boat,
he seemed self-sufficient, and thought their loss was not really so
serious to their cause as we did.
About this time another force of twenty or twenty-five thousand men
was collected on the west bank of the Mississippi, above Cairo,
under the command of Major-General John Pope, designed to become
the "Army of the Mississippi," and to operate, in conjunction with
the navy, down the river against the enemy's left flank, which had
held the strong post of Columbus, Kentucky, but which, on the fall
of Fort Donelson, had fallen back to New Madrid and Island No. 10.
BATTLE of SHILOH.
MARCH AND APRIL, 1862.
By the end of February, 1862, Major-General Halleck commanded all
the armies in the valley of the Mississippi, from his headquarters
in St: Louis. These were, the Army of the Ohio, Major-General
Buell, in Kentucky; the Army of the Tennessee, Major-General Grant,
at Forts Henry and Donelson; the Army of the Mississippi,
Major-General Pope; and that of General S. R. Curtis, in Southwest
Missouri. He posted his chief of staff, General Cullum, at Cairo,
and me at Paducah, chiefly to expedite and facilitate the important
operations then in progress up the Tennessee, and Cumberland
Fort Donelson had surrendered to General Grant on the 16th of
February, and there must have been a good deal of confusion
resulting from the necessary care of the wounded, and disposition
of prisoners, common to all such occasions, and there was a real
difficulty in communicating between St. Louis and Fort Donelson.
General Buell had also followed up the rebel army, which had
retreated hastily from Bowling Green to and through Nashville, a
city of so much importance to the South, that it was at one time
proposed as its capital. Both Generals Grant and Buell looked to
its capture as an event of great importance. On the 21st General
Grant sent General Smith with his division to Clarksville, fifty
miles above Donelson, toward Nashville, and on the 27th went
himself to Nashville to meet and confer with General Buell, but
returned to Donelson the next day.
Meantime, General Halleck at St. Louis must have felt that his
armies were getting away from him, and began to send dispatches to
me at Paducah, to be forwarded by boat, or by a rickety
telegraph-line up to Fort Henry, which lay entirely in a hostile
country, and was consequently always out of repair. On the 1st of
March I received the following dispatch, and forwarded it to
General Grant, both by the telegraph and boat:
To General GRANT, Fort Henry
Transports will be sent you as soon as possible, to move your
column up the Tennessee River. The main object of this expedition
will be to destroy the railroad-bridge over Bear Creek, near
Eastport, Mississippi; and also the railroad connections at
Corinth, Jackson, and Humboldt. It is thought best that these
objects be attempted in the order named. Strong detachments of
cavalry and light artillery, supported by infantry, may by rapid
movements reach these points from the river, without any serious
Avoid any general engagements with strong forces. It will be
better to retreat than to risk a general battle. This should be
strongly impressed on the officers sent with expeditions from the
river. General C. F. Smith or some very discreet officer should be
selected for such commands. Having accomplished these objects, or
such of them as may be practicable, you will return to Danville,
and move on Paris.
Perhaps the troops sent to Jackson and Humbolt can reach Paris by
land as easily as to return to the transports. This must depend on
the character of the roads and the position of the enemy. All
telegraphic lines which can be reached must be cut. The gunboats
will accompany the transports for their protection. Any loyal
Tennesseeans who desire it, may be enlisted and supplied with arms.
Competent officers should be left to command Forts Henry and
Donelson in your absence. I have indicated in general terms the
object of this.
H. W. HALLECK, Major-General.
Again on the 2d:
Cairo, March 1, 1862
To General GRANT:
General Halleck, February 25th, telegraphs me: "General Grant will
send no more forces to Clarksville. General Smith's division will
come to Fort Henry, or a point higher up on the Tennessee River;
transports will also be collected at Paducah. Two gunboats in
Tennessee River with Grant. General Grant will immediately have
small garrisons detailed for Forts Henry and Donelson, and all
other forces made ready for the field"
From your letter of the 28th, I learn you were at Fort Donelson,
and General Smith at Nashville, from which I infer you could not
have received orders. Halleck's telegram of last night says: "Who
sent Smith's division to Nashville? I ordered it across to the
Tennessee, where they are wanted immediately. Order them back.
Send all spare transports up Tennessee to General Grant."
Evidently the general supposes you to be on the Tennessee. I am
sending all the transports I can find for you, reporting to General
Sherman for orders to go up the Cumberland for you, or, if you
march across to Fort Henry, then to send them up the Tennessee.
G. W. CULLUM, Brigadier-General.
On the 4th came this dispatch:
To Major-General U. S. GRANT
You will place Major-General C. F. Smith in command of expedition,
and remain yourself at Fort Henry. Why do you not obey my orders
to report strength and positions of your command?
H. W. HALLECK, Major-General.
Halleck was evidently working himself into a passion, but he was
too far from the seat of war to make due allowance for the actual
state of facts. General Grant had done so much, that General
Halleck should have been patient. Meantime, at Paducah, I was busy
sending boats in every direction--some under the orders of General
Halleck, others of General Cullum; others for General Grant, and
still others for General Buell at Nashville; and at the same time I
was organizing out of the new troops that were arriving at Paducah
a division for myself when allowed to take the field, which I had
been promised by General Halleck. His purpose was evidently to
operate up the Tennessee River, to break up Bear Creek Bridge and
the railroad communications between the Mississippi and Tennessee
Rivers, and no doubt he was provoked that Generals Grant and Smith
had turned aside to Nashville. In the mean time several of the
gunboats, under Captain Phelps, United States Navy, had gone up the
Tennessee as far as Florence, and on their return had reported a
strong Union feeling among the people along the river. On the 10th
of March, having received the necessary orders from General
Halleck, I embarked my division at Paducah. It was composed of
four brigades. The First, commanded by Colonel S. G. Hicks, was
composed of the Fortieth Illinois, Forty-sixth Ohio, and Morton's
Indiana Battery, on the boats Sallie List, Golden Gate, J. B.
Adams, and Lancaster.
The Second Brigade, Colonel D. Stuart, was composed of the
Fifty-fifth Illinois, Seventy-first Ohio, and Fifty-fourth Ohio;
embarked on the Hannibal, Universe, Hazel Dell, Cheeseman, and
The Third Brigade, Colonel Hildebrand, was composed of the
Seventy-seventh Ohio, Fifty-seventh Ohio, and Fifty-third Ohio;
embarked on the Poland, Anglo-Saxon, Ohio No. Three, and
The Fourth Brigade, Colonel Buckland, was composed of the
Seventy-second Ohio, Forty-eighth Ohio, and Seventieth Ohio;
embarked on the Empress, Baltic, Shenango, and Marrengo.
We steamed up to Fort Henry, the river being high and in splendid
order. There I reported in person to General C. F. Smith, and by
him was ordered a few miles above, to the remains of the burned
railroad bridge, to await the rendezvous of the rest of his army.
I had my headquarters on the Continental.
Among my colonels I had a strange character--Thomas Worthington,
colonel of the Forty-sixth Ohio. He was a graduate of West Point,
of the class of 1827; was, therefore, older than General Halleck,
General Grant, or myself, and claimed to know more of war than all
of us put together. In ascending the river he did not keep his
place in the column, but pushed on and reached Savannah a day
before the rest of my division. When I reached that place, I found
that Worthington had landed his regiment, and was flying about
giving orders, as though he were commander-in-chief. I made him
get back to his boat, and gave him to understand that he must
thereafter keep his place. General C. F. Smith arrived about the
13th of March, with a large fleet of boats, containing Hurlbut's
division, Lew. Wallace's division, and that of himself, then
commanded by Brigadier-General W. H. L. Wallace.
General Smith sent for me to meet him on his boat, and ordered me
to push on under escort of the two gunboats, Lexington and Tyler,
commanded by Captains Gwin and Shirk, United States Navy. I was to
land at some point below Eastport, and make a break of the Memphis
& Charleston Railroad, between Tuscumbia and Corinth. General
Smith was quite unwell, and was suffering from his leg, which was
swollen and very sore, from a mere abrasion in stepping
into a small boat. This actually mortified, and resulted in his
death about a month after, viz., April 25, 1862. He was
adjutant of the Military Academy during the early part of my
career there, and afterward commandant of cadets. He was a very
handsome and soldierly man, of great experience, and at Donelson
had acted with so much personal bravery that to him many attributed
the success of the assault.
I immediately steamed up the Tennessee River, following the two
gunboats, and, in passing Pittsburg Landing, was told by Captain
Gwin that, on his former trip up the river, he had found a rebel
regiment of cavalry posted there, and that it was the usual
landing-place for the people about Corinth, distant thirty miles.
I sent word back to General Smith that, if we were detained up the
river, he ought to post some troops at Pittsburg Landing. We went
on up the river cautiously, till we saw Eastport and Chickasaw,
both of which were occupied by rebel batteries and a small rebel
force of infantry.
We then dropped back quietly to the mouth of Yellow River, a few
miles below, whence led a road to Burnsville, a place on the
Memphis & Charleston road, where were the company's repair-shops.
We at once commenced disembarking the command: first the cavalry,
which started at once for Burnsville, with orders to tear up the
railroad-track, and burn the depots, shops, etc; and I followed
with the infantry and artillery as fast as they were disembarked.
It was raining very hard at the time. Daylight found us about six
miles out, where we met the cavalry returning. They had made
numerous attempts to cross the streams, which had become so swollen
that mere brooks covered the whole bottom; and my aide-de-camp,
Sanger, whom I had dispatched with the cavalry, reported the loss,
by drowning, of several of the men. The rain was pouring in
torrents, and reports from the rear came that the river was rising
very fast, and that, unless we got back to our boats soon, the
bottom would be simply impassable. There was no alternative but to
regain our boats; and even this was so difficult, that we had to
unharness the artillery-horses, and drag the guns under water
through the bayous, to reach the bank of the river. Once more
embarked, I concluded to drop down to Pittsburg Landing, and to
make the attempt from there. During the night of the 14th, we
dropped down to Pittsburg Landing, where I found Hurlbut's division
in boats. Leaving my command there, I steamed down to Savannah,
and reported to General Smith in person, who saw in the flooded
Tennessee the full truth of my report; and he then instructed me to
disembark my own division, and that of General Hurlbut, at
Pittsburg Landing; to take positions well back, and to leave room
for his whole army; telling me that he would soon come up in
person, and move out in force to make the lodgment on the railroad,
contemplated by General Halleck's orders.
Lieutenant-Colonel McPherson, of General C. F. Smith's, or rather
General Halleck's, staff, returned with me, and on the 16th of
March we disembarked and marched out about ten miles toward
Corinth, to a place called Monterey or Pea Ridge, where the rebels
had a cavalry regiment, which of course decamped on our approach,
but from the people we learned that trains were bringing large
masses of men from every direction into Corinth. McPherson and I
reconnoitred the ground well, and then returned to our boats. On
the 18th, Hurlbut disembarked his division and took post about a
mile and a half out, near where the roads branched, one leading to
Corinth and the other toward Hamburg. On the 19th I disembarked my
division, and took post about three miles back, three of the
brigades covering the roads to Purdy and Corinth, and the other
brigade (Stuart's) temporarily at a place on the Hamburg Road, near
Lick Creek Ford, where the Bark Road came into the Hamburg Road.
Within a few days, Prentiss's division arrived and camped on my
left, and afterward McClernand's and W. H. L. Wallace's divisions,
which formed a line to our rear. Lew Wallace's division remained
on the north side of Snake Creek, on a road leading from Savannah
or Cramp's Landing to Purdy.
General C. F. Smith remained back at Savannah, in chief command,
and I was only responsible for my own division. I kept pickets
well out on the roads, and made myself familiar with all the ground
inside and outside my lines. My personal staff was composed of
Captain J. H. Hammond, assistant adjutant-general; Surgeons
Hartshorn and L'Hommedieu; Lieutenant Colonels Hascall and
Sanger, inspector-generals; Lieutenants McCoy and John Taylor,
aides-de-camp. We were all conscious that the enemy was collecting
at Corinth, but in what force we could not know, nor did we know
what was going on behind us. On the 17th of March, General U. S.
Grant was restored to the command of all the troops up the
Tennessee River, by reason of General Smith's extreme illness, and
because he had explained to General Halleck satisfactorily his
conduct after Donelson; and he too made his headquarters at
Savannah, but frequently visited our camps. I always acted on the
supposition that we were an invading army; that our purpose was to
move forward in force, make a lodgment on the Memphis & Charleston
road, and thus repeat the grand tactics of Fort Donelson, by
separating the rebels in the interior from those at Memphis and on
the Mississippi River. We did not fortify our camps against an
attack, because we had no orders to do so, and because such a
course would have made our raw men timid. The position was
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
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
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 the 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
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
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
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
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
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
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 Buckland's 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 Buckland, 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
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
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
battlefield, 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 reconnoisance, 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,
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
had no intrenchments of any sort, on the theory that as soon as
Buell arrived we would march to Corinth to attack the enemy. The
rebel army, commanded by General Albert Sidney Johnston, was,
according to their own reports and admissions, forty-five thousand
strong, had the momentum of attack, and beyond all question fought
skillfully from early morning till about 2 a.m., when their
commander-in-chief was killed by a Mini-ball in the calf of his
leg, which penetrated the boot and severed the main artery. There
was then a perceptible lull for a couple of hours, when the attack
was renewed, but with much less vehemence, and continued up to
dark. Early at night the division of Lew Wallace arrived from the
other side of Snake Creek, not having fired a shot. A very small
part of General Buell's army was on our side of the Tennessee River
that evening, and their loss was trivial.
During that night, the three divisions of McCook, Nelson, and
Crittenden, were ferried across the Tennessee, and fought with us
the next day (7th). During that night, also, the two wooden
gunboats, Tyler, commanded by Lieutenant Groin, and Lexington,
Lieutenant Shirk, both of the regular navy, caused shells to be
thrown toward that part of the field of battle known to be occupied
by the enemy. Beauregard afterward reported his entire loss as ten
thousand six hundred and ninety-nine. Our aggregate loss, made up
from official statements, shows seventeen hundred killed, seven
thousand four hundred and ninety-five wounded, and three thousand
and twenty-two prisoners; aggregate, twelve thousand two hundred
and seventeen, of which twenty-one hundred and sixty-seven were in
Buell's army, leaving for that of Grant ten thousand and fifty.
This result is a fair measure of the amount of fighting done by
SHILOH TO MEMPHIS.
APRIL TO JULY, 1862.