Part 5 out of 10
as soon as General Anderson was prepared, for the State was
threatened with invasion from Tennessee, by two forces: one from
the direction of Nashville, commanded by Generals Albert Sidney
Johnston and Buckner; and the other from the direction of
Cumberland Gap, commanded by Generals Crittenden and Zollicoffer.
General Anderson saw that he had not force enough to resist these
two columns, and concluded to send me in person for help to
Indianapolis and Springfield, to confer with the Governors of
Indiana, and Illinois, and to General Fremont, who commanded in St.
McClellan and Fremont were the two men toward whom the country
looked as the great Union leaders, and toward them were streaming
the newly-raised regiments of infantry and cavalry, and batteries
of artillery; nobody seeming to think of the intervening link
covered by Kentucky. While I was to make this tour, Generals
Anderson and Thomas were to go to Louisville and initiate the
department. None of us had a staff, or any of the machinery for
organizing an army, and, indeed, we had no army to organize.
Anderson was empowered to raise regiments in Kentucky, and to
commission a few brigadier-generals.
At Indianapolis I found Governor Morton and all the State officials
busy in equipping and providing for the new regiments, and my
object was to divert some of them toward Kentucky; but they were
called for as fast as they were mustered in, either for the army of
McClellan or Fremont. At Springfield also I found the same general
activity and zeal, Governor Yates busy in providing for his men;
but these men also had been promised to Fremont. I then went on to
St. Louis, where all was seeming activity, bustle, and preparation.
Meeting R. M. Renick at the Planters' House (where I stopped), I
inquired where I could find General Fremont. Renick said, "What do
you want with General Fremont?" I said I had come to see him on
business; and he added, "You don't suppose that he will see such as
you?" and went on to retail all the scandal of the day: that Fremont
was a great potentate, surrounded by sentries and guards; that he
had a more showy court than any real king; that he kept senators,
governors, and the first citizens, dancing attendance for days and
weeks before granting an audience, etc.; that if I expected to see
him on business, I would have to make my application in writing,
and submit to a close scrutiny by his chief of staff and by his
civil surroundings. Of course I laughed at all this, and renewed
my simple inquiry as to where was his office, and was informed that
he resided and had his office at Major Brant's new house on
Chouteau Avenue. It was then late in the afternoon, and I
concluded to wait till the next morning; but that night I received
a dispatch from General Anderson in Louisville to hurry back, as
events were pressing, and he needed me.
Accordingly, I rose early next morning before daybreak, got
breakfast with the early railroad-passengers, and about sunrise was
at the gate of General Fremont's headquarters. A sentinel with
drawn sabre paraded up and down in front of the house. I had on my
undress uniform indicating my rank, and inquired of the sentinel,
"Is General Fremont up?" He answered, "I don't know." Seeing that
he was a soldier by his bearing, I spoke in a sharp, emphatic
voice, "Then find out." He called for the corporal of the guard,
and soon a fine-looking German sergeant came, to whom I addressed
the same inquiry. He in turn did not know, and I bade him find
out, as I had immediate and important business with the general.
The sergeant entered the house by the front-basement door, and
after ten or fifteen minutes the main front-door above was slowly
opened from the inside, and who should appear but my old San
Francisco acquaintance Isaiah C. Woods, whom I had not seen or
heard of since his flight to Australia, at the time of the failure
of Adams & Co. in 1851! He ushered me in hastily, closed the door,
and conducted me into the office on the right of the hall. We were
glad to meet, after so long and eventful an interval, and mutually
inquired after our respective families and special acquaintances.
I found that he was a commissioned officer, a major on duty with
Fremont, and Major Eaton, now of the paymaster's Department, was in
the same office with him. I explained to them that I had come from
General Anderson, and wanted to confer with General Fremont in
person. Woods left me, but soon returned, said the general would
see me in a very few minutes, and within ten minutes I was shown
across the hall into the large parlor, where General Fremont
received me very politely. We had met before, as early as 1847, in
California, and I had also seen him several times when he was
senator. I then in a rapid manner ran over all the points of
interest in General Anderson's new sphere of action, hoped he would
spare us from the new levies what troops he could, and generally
act in concert with us. He told me that his first business would
be to drive the rebel General Price and his army out of Missouri,
when he would turn his attention down the Mississippi. He asked my
opinion about the various kinds of field-artillery which
manufacturers were thrusting on him, especially the then
newly-invented James gun, and afterward our conversation took a wide
turn about the character of the principal citizens of St. Louis,
with whom I was well acquainted.
Telling General Fremont that I had been summoned to Louisville and
that I should leave in the first train, viz., at 3 p.m., I took my
leave of him. Returning to Wood's office, I found there two more
Californians, viz., Messrs. Palmer and Haskell, so I felt that,
while Fremont might be suspicious of others, he allowed free
ingress to his old California acquaintances.
Returning to the Planters' House, I heard of Beard, another
Californian, a Mormon, who had the contract for the line of
redoubts which Fremont had ordered to be constructed around the
city, before he would take his departure for the interior of the
State; and while I stood near the office-counter, I saw old Baron
Steinberger, a prince among our early California adventurers, come
in and look over the register. I avoided him on purpose, but his
presence in St. Louis recalled the maxim, "Where the vultures are,
there is a carcass close by;" and I suspected that the profitable
contracts of the quartermaster, McKinstry, had drawn to St. Louis
some of the most enterprising men of California. I suspect they
can account for the fact that, in a very short time, Fremont fell
from his high estate in Missouri, by reason of frauds, or supposed
frauds, in the administration of the affairs of his command.
I left St. Louis that afternoon and reached Louisville the next
morning. I found General Anderson quartered at the Louisville
Hotel, and he had taken a dwelling homes on ______ Street as an
office. Captain O. D. Greens was his adjutant-general, Lieutenant
Throckmorton his aide, and Captain Prime, of the Engineer Corps,
was on duty with him. General George H. Thomas had been dispatched
to camp Dick Robinson, to relieve Nelson.
The city was full of all sorts of rumors. The Legislature, moved
by considerations purely of a political nature, had taken the step,
whatever it was, that amounted to an adherence to the Union,
instead of joining the already-seceded States. This was
universally known to be the signal for action. For it we were
utterly unprepared, whereas the rebels were fully prepared.
General Sidney Johnston immediately crossed into Kentucky, and
advanced as far as Bowling Green, which he began to fortify, and
thence dispatched General Buckner with a division forward toward
Louisville; General Zollicoffer, in like manner, entered the State
and advanced as far as Somerset. On the day I reached Louisville
the excitement ran high. It was known that Columbus, Kentucky, had
been occupied, September 7th, by a strong rebel force, under
Generals Pillow and Polk, and that General Grant had moved from
Cairo and occupied Paducah in force on the 6th. Many of the rebel
families expected Buckner to reach Louisville at any moment. That
night, General Anderson sent for me, and I found with him Mr.
Guthrie, president of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, who had
in his hands a dispatch to the effect that the bridge across the
Rolling Fork of Salt Creek, less than thirty miles out, had been
burned, and that Buckner's force, en route for Louisville, had been
detained beyond Green River by a train thrown from the track. We
learned afterward that a man named Bird had displaced a rail on
purpose to throw the train off the track, and thereby give us time.
Mr. Guthrie explained that in the ravine just beyond Salt Creek
were several high and important trestles which, if destroyed, would
take months to replace, and General Anderson thought it well.
worth the effort to save them. Also, on Muldraugh's Hill beyond,
was a strong position, which had in former years been used as the
site for the State "Camp of Instruction," and we all supposed that
General Buckner, who was familiar with the ground, was aiming for a
position there, from which to operate on Louisville.
All the troops we had to counteract Buckner were Rousseau's Legion,
and a few Home Guards in Louisville. The former were still
encamped across the river at Jeffersonville; so General Anderson
ordered me to go over, and with them, and such Home Guards as we
could collect, make the effort to secure possession of Muldraugh's
Hill before Buckner could reach it. I took Captain Prime with me;
and crossed over to Rousseau's camp. The long-roll was beaten, and
within an hour the men, to the number of about one thousand, were
marching for the ferry-boat and for the Nashville depot. Meantime
General Anderson had sent to collect some Home Guards, and Mr.
Guthrie to get the trains ready. It was after midnight before we
began to move. The trains proceeded slowly, and it was daybreak
when we reached Lebanon Junction, twenty-six miles out, where we
disembarked, and marched to the bridge over Salt River, which we
found had been burnt; whether to prevent Buckner coming into
Louisville, or us from going out, was not clear. Rousseau's Legion
forded the stream and marched up to the State Camp of Instruction,
finding the high trestles all secure. The railroad hands went to
work at once to rebuild the bridge. I remained a couple of days at
Lebanon Junction, during which General Anderson forwarded two
regiments of volunteers that had come to him. Before the bridge
was done we advanced the whole camp to the summit of Muldraugh's
Hill, just back of Elizabethtown. There I learned definitely that
General Buckner had not crossed Green River at all, that General
Sidney Johnston was fortifying Bowling Green, and preparing for a
systematic advance into Kentucky, of which he was a native, and
with whose people and geography he must have been familiar. As
fast as fresh troops reached Louisville, they were sent out to me
at Muldraugh's Hill, where I was endeavoring to put them into shape
for service, and by the 1st of October I had the equivalent of a
division of two brigades preparing to move forward toward Green
River. The daily correspondence between General Anderson and
myself satisfied me that the worry and harassment at Louisville
were exhausting his strength and health, and that he would soon
leave. On a telegraphic summons from him, about the 5th of
October, I went down to Louisville, when General Anderson said he
could not stand the mental torture of his command any longer, and
that he must go away, or it would kill him. On the 8th of October
he actually published an order relinquishing the command, and, by
reason of my seniority, I had no alternative but to assume command,
though much against the grain, and in direct violation of Mr.
Lincoln's promise to me. I am certain that, in my earliest
communication to the War Department, I renewed the expression of my
wish to remain in a subordinate position, and that I received the
assurance that Brigadier-General Buell would soon arrive from
California, and would be sent to relieve me. By that time I had
become pretty familiar with the geography and the general resources
of Kentucky. We had parties all over the State raising regiments
and companies; but it was manifest that the young men were
generally inclined to the cause of the South, while the older men
of property wanted to be let alone--i.e., to remain neutral. As to
a forward movement that fall, it was simply impracticable; for we
were forced to use divergent lines, leading our columns farther and
farther apart; and all I could attempt was to go on and collect
force and material at the two points already chosen, viz., Dick
Robinson and Elizabethtown. General George H. Thomas still
continued to command the former, and on the 12th of October I
dispatched Brigadier-General A. McD. McCook to command the latter,
which had been moved forward to Nolin Creek, fifty-two miles out of
Louisville, toward Bowling Green. Staff-officers began to arrive
to relieve us of the constant drudgery which, up to that time, had
been forced on General Anderson and myself; and these were all good
men. Colonel Thomas Swords, quartermaster, arrived on the 13th;
Paymaster Larned on the 14th; and Lieutenant Smyzer, Fifth
Artillery, acting ordnance-officer, on the 20th; Captain Symonds
was already on duty as the commissary of subsistence; Captain O.
D. Greene was the adjutant-general, and completed a good working
The everlasting worry of citizens complaining of every petty
delinquency of a soldier, and forcing themselves forward to discuss
politics, made the position of a commanding general no sinecure. I
continued to strengthen the two corps forward and their routes of
supply; all the time expecting that Sidney Johnston, who was a real
general, and who had as correct information of our situation as I
had, would unite his force with Zollicoffer, and fall on Thomas at
Dick Robinson, or McCook at Nolin: Had he done so in October, 1861,
he could have walked into Louisville, and the vital part of the
population would have hailed him as a deliverer. Why he did not,
was to me a mystery then and is now; for I know that he saw the
move; and had his wagons loaded up at one time for a start toward
Frankfort, passing between our two camps. Conscious of our
weakness, I was unnecessarily unhappy, and doubtless exhibited it
too much to those near me; but it did seem to me that the
Government at Washington, intent on the larger preparations of
Fremont in Missouri and McClellan in Washington, actually ignored
us in Kentucky.
About this time, say the middle of October, I received notice, by
telegraph, that the Secretary of War, Mr. Cameron (then in St.
Louis), would visit me at Louisville, on his way back to
Washington. I was delighted to have an opportunity to properly
represent the actual state of affairs, and got Mr. Guthrie to go
with me across to Jeffersonville, to meet the Secretary of War and
escort him to Louisville. The train was behind time, but Mr.
Guthrie and I waited till it actually arrived. Mr. Cameron was
attended by Adjutant-General Lorenzo Thomas, and six or seven
gentlemen who turned out to be newspaper reporters. Mr. Cameron's
first inquiry was, when he could start for Cincinnati, saying that,
as he had been detained at St. Louis so long, it was important he
should hurry on to Washington. I explained that the regular
mail-boat would leave very soon--viz., at 12 M.--but I begged him
to come over to Louisville; that I wanted to see him on business as
important as any in Washington, and hoped he would come and spend
at least a day with us. He asked if every thing was not well with
us, and I told him far from it; that things were actually bad, as
bad as bad could be. This seemed to surprise him, and Mr. Guthrie
added his persuasion to mine; when Mr. Cameron, learning that he
could leave Louisville by rail via Frankfort next morning early,
and make the same connections at Cincinnati, consented to go with
us to Louisville, with the distinct understanding that he must
leave early the next morning for Washington.
We accordingly all took hacks, crossed the river by the ferry, and
drove to the Galt House, where I was then staying. Brigadier-
General T. J. Wood had come down from Indianapolis by the same
train, and was one of the party. We all proceeded to my room on
the first floor of the Galt House, where our excellent landlord,
Silas Miller, Esq., sent us a good lunch and something to drink.
Mr. Cameron was not well, and lay on my bed, but joined in the
general conversation. He and his party seemed to be full of the
particulars of the developments in St. Louis of some of Fremont's
extravagant contracts and expenses, which were the occasion of
Cameron's trip to St. Louis, and which finally resulted in
Fremont's being relieved, first by General Hunter, and after by
General H. W. Halleck.
After some general conversation, Mr. Cameron called to me, "Now,
General Sherman, tell us of your troubles." I said I preferred not
to discuss business with so many strangers present. He said,
"They are all friends, all members of my family, and you may speak
your mind freely and without restraint." I am sure I stepped to
the door, locked it to prevent intrusion, and then fully and fairly
represented the state of affairs in Kentucky, especially the
situation and numbers of my troops. I complained that the new
levies of Ohio and Indiana were diverted East and West, and we got
scarcely any thing; that our forces at Nolin and Dick Robinson were
powerless for invasion, and only tempting to a general such as we
believed Sidney Johnston to be; that, if Johnston chose, he could
march to Louisville any day. Cameron exclaimed: "You astonish me!
Our informants, the Kentucky Senators and members of Congress,
claim that they have in Kentucky plenty of men, and all they want
are arms and money." I then said it was not true; for the young
men were arming and going out openly in broad daylight to the rebel
camps, provided with good horses and guns by their fathers, who
were at best "neutral;" and as to arms, he had, in Washington,
promised General Anderson forty thousand of the best Springfield
muskets, instead of which we had received only about twelve
thousand Belgian muskets, which the Governor of Pennsylvania had
refused, as had also the Governor of Ohio, but which had been
adjudged good enough for Kentucky. I asserted that volunteer
colonels raising regiments in various parts of the State had come
to Louisville for arms, and when they saw what I had to offer had
scorned to receive them--to confirm the truth of which I appealed
to Mr. Guthrie, who said that every word I had spoken was true, and
he repeated what I had often heard him say, that no man who owned a
slave or a mule in Kentucky could be trusted.
Mr. Cameron appeared alarmed at what was said, and turned to
Adjutant-General L. Thomas, to inquire if he knew of any troops
available, that had not been already assigned. He mentioned
Negley's Pennsylvania Brigade, at Pittsburg, and a couple of other
regiments that were then en route for St. Louis. Mr. Cameron
ordered him to divert these to Louisville, and Thomas made the
telegraphic orders on the spot. He further promised, on reaching
Washington, to give us more of his time and assistance.
In the general conversation which followed, I remember taking a
large map of the United States, and assuming the people of the
whole South to be in rebellion, that our task was to subdue them,
showed that McClellan was on the left, having a frontage of less
than a hundred miles, and Fremont the right, about the same;
whereas I, the centre, had from the Big Sandy to Paducah, over
three hundred miles of frontier; that McClellan had a hundred
thousand men, Fremont sixty thousand, whereas to me had only been
allotted about eighteen thousand. I argued that, for the purpose
of defense we should have sixty thousand men at once, and for
offense, would need two hundred thousand, before we were done. Mr.
Cameron, who still lay on the bed, threw up his hands and
exclaimed, "Great God! where are they to come from?" I asserted
that there were plenty of men at the North, ready and willing to
come, if he would only accept their services; for it was notorious
that regiments had been formed in all the Northwestern States,
whose services had been refused by the War Department, on the
ground that they would not be needed. We discussed all these
matters fully, in the most friendly spirit, and I thought I had
aroused Mr. Cameron to a realization of the great war that was
before us, and was in fact upon us. I heard him tell General
Thomas to make a note of our conversation, that he might attend to
my requests on reaching Washington. We all spent the evening
together agreeably in conversation, many Union citizens calling to
pay their respects, and the next morning early we took the train
for Frankfort; Mr. Cameron and party going on to Cincinnati and
Washington, and I to Camp Dick Robinson to see General Thomas and
the troops there.
I found General Thomas in a tavern, with most of his regiments
camped about him. He had sent a small force some miles in advance
toward Cumberland Gap, under Brigadier-General Schoepf. Remaining
there a couple of days, I returned to Louisville; on the 22d of
October, General Negley's brigade arrived in boats from Pittsburg,
was sent out to Camp Nolin; and the Thirty-seventh Indiana.,
Colonel Hazzard, and Second Minnesota, Colonel Van Cleve, also
reached Louisville by rail, and were posted at Elizabethtown and
Lebanon Junction. These were the same troops which had been
ordered by Mr. Cameron when at Louisville, and they were all that I
received thereafter, prior to my leaving Kentucky. On reaching
Washington, Mr. Cameron called on General Thomas, as he himself
afterward told me, to submit his memorandum of events during his
absence, and in that memorandum was mentioned my insane request for
two hundred thousand men. By some newspaper man this was seen and
published, and, before I had the least conception of it, I was
universally published throughout the country as "insane, crazy,"
etc. Without any knowledge, however, of this fact, I had
previously addressed to the Adjutant-General of the army at
Washington this letter:
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OP THE CUMBERLAND, LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY,
October 22, 1881.
To General L. THOMAS, Adjutant-General, Washington, D. C.
Sir: On my arrival at Camp Dick Robinson, I found General
Thomas had stationed a Kentucky regiment at Rock Castle Hill,
beyond a river of the same name, and had sent an Ohio and an
Indiana regiment forward in support. He was embarrassed for
transportation, and I authorized him to hire teams, and to move his
whole force nearer to his advance-guard, so as to support it, as he
had information of the approach of Zollicoffer toward London. I
have just heard from him, that he had sent forward General Schoepf
with Colonel Wolford's cavalry, Colonel Steadman's Ohio regiment,
and a battery of artillery, followed on a succeeding day by a
Tennessee brigade. He had still two Kentucky regiments, the
Thirty-eighth Ohio and another battery of artillery, with which he
was to follow yesterday. This force, if concentrated, should be
strong enough for the purpose; at all events, it is all he had or I
could give him.
I explained to you fully, when here, the supposed position of our
adversaries, among which was a force in the valley of Big Sandy,
supposed to be advancing on Paris, Kentucky. General Nelson at
Maysville was instructed to collect all the men he could, and
Colonel Gill's regiment of Ohio Volunteers. Colonel Harris was
already in position at Olympian Springs, and a regiment lay at
Lexington, which I ordered to his support. This leaves the line of
Thomas's operations exposed, but I cannot help it. I explained so
fully to yourself and the Secretary of War the condition of things,
that I can add nothing new until further developments, You know my
views that this great centre of our field is too weak, far too
weak, and I have begged and implored till I dare not say more.
Buckner still is beyond Green River. He sent a detachment of his
men, variously estimated at from two to four thousand toward
Greensburg. General Ward, with about one thousand men, retreated
to Campbellsburg, where he called to his assistance some
partially-formed regiments to the number of about two thousand.
The enemy did not advance, and General Ward was at last dates at
Campbellsburg. The officers charged with raising regiments must of
necessity be near their homes to collect men, and for this reason
are out of position; but at or near Greensburg and Lebanon, I
desire to assemble as large a force of the Kentucky Volunteers as
possible. This organization is necessarily irregular, but the
necessity is so great that I must have them, and therefore have
issued to them arms and clothing during the process of formation.
This has facilitated their enlistment; but inasmuch as the
Legislature has provided money for organizing the Kentucky
Volunteers, and intrusted its disbursement to a board of loyal
gentlemen, I have endeavored to cooperate with them to hasten the
formation of these corps.
The great difficulty is, and has been, that as volunteers offer, we
have not arms and clothing to give them. The arms sent us are, as
you already know, European muskets of uncouth pattern, which the
volunteers will not touch.
General McCook has now three brigades--Johnson's, Wood's, and
Rousseau's. Negley's brigade arrived to-day, and will be sent out
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