Page images
PDF
EPUB

balls, and it is reported that there was scarcely a rod of ground on the five miles which did not have a dead or wounded man upon it.

On Sunday, especially, several portions of the ground were fought over three and four times, and the two lines swayed backward and forward like advancing and retreating waves. In repeated instances, rebel and Union soldiers, protected by the trees, were within thirty feet of each other. Many of the camps, as they were lost and retaken, received showers of balls. At the close of the fight, General McClernand's tent contained twenty-seven bullet-holes, and his Adjutant's thirty-two. In the Adjutant's tent, when the Union forces recaptured it, the body of a rebel was found in a sitting position. He uad evidently stopped for a moment's rest, when a ball struck and killed him. A tree, not more than eighteen inches in diameter, which was in front of General Lew. Wallace's division, bore the marks of more than ninety balls within ten feet of the ground.

THE ARTILLERY AND REGIMENTS ENGAGED.

A record of the dead, wounded and missing in that fearful battle, bears sure evidence of the almost superhuman bravery with which it was contested.

The Illinois men, already famous at Donelson, fought like tigers to sustain their well-earned reputation. Missouri, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, and some of the Iowa regiments, won imperishable laurels. The First and Second Kentucky were gloriously brave in the light. They, as well as the Sixth, were under fire more than five hours, yet when the enemy turned their faces toward Mississippi, they were ready and eager to follow. The Ohio Fifty-fourth, Zouave regiment, were at their post in the thickest of the fight. Also the Fifty-seventh, who remembered well that Ohio expected her buckeye sons to do their duty.

Taylor's and Waterhouse's batteries were first in the fight. Two regiments that should have supported the last broke and ran. Waterhouse was wounded in the thigh by a minie ball. Taylor's battery continued to fight, supported splendidly by the Twenty-third Illinois, until he and his support were outflanked on both sides.

Waterhouse, with his three guns, took up a second position, supported tiy the second brigade of McClernand's division, Colonel Marsh commanding. During the forenoon they were compelled to retire through their own encampment, with heavy loss, into the woods. There a second line of battle was formed, when McClernand ordered an advance. A hundred rods brought the solid columns within sight of the rebels, and then followed one of the most fiercely contested and sanguinary engagements of that desperate field. It resulted in the repulse of the rebels, who were driven back through the Union encampments. Then the enemy was reinforced, and Colonel Marsh, finding his ammunition nearly expended, was compelled to retreat before the overwhelming forces of the enemy.

On Monday a fine Michigan battery, captured by the enemy the day before, was retaken by the Sixteenth Wisconsin, at the point of the bayonet. The fight, after taking this battery, was conducted by General Beauregard in person. In his efforts to recover it he was wounded in the arm. He was successful in taking it, but it was again wrested from him. This battery was retaken and recaptured no less than six times.

Company A of the Chicago Light Artillery, so severely handled on the first day, was only able to man three guns on Monday; but with these, after a desperate contest, they succeeded in silencing and capturing a rebel battery of six guns. They were, however, compelled to abandon it from want of horses.

The report of General Lew. Wallace especially commended the Nebraska First, the Twentieth, Fifty-eighth, Seventy-sixth and Seventyeighth Ohio, and the Twenty-third Indiana. The Indiana Twenty-fifth literally covered itself with glory. The Indiana Sixth, Ninth, Eleventh, Thirty-first, Thirty-second, Twenty-fourth, Forty-third and Fifty-seventh all performed most honorable parts in the terrible drama.

Of the United States regulars, there was a fine representation. They were used at those points where the utmost steadiness was demanded, and fought with consummate skill and determination.

The losses of the Illinois regiments in McClernand's division were very heavy, in officers and men. On Sunday, company A, of the Fortyninth Illinois, lost from one volley twenty-nine men, including three officers; and on Monday morning the company appeared on the ground commanded by a second sergeant. General McClernand's third brigade, which was led by Colonel Raith until he was mortally wounded, changed commanders three times during the battle. On Monday morning, one of General Hurlbut's regiments (the Third Iowa) was commanded by a first lieutenant.

General Grant is an illustration of the fortune through which some men, in the thickest showers of bullets, always escape. He has participated in skirmishes and fourteen pitched battles, and is universally pronounced, by those who have seen him on the field, daring even to rashness; but he has never received a scratch. At four o'clock on Sunday evening, he was sitting upon his horse, just in the rear of the Union line of batteries, when Carson, the scout, who had reported to him a moment before, had fallen back, and was holding his horse by the bridle, about seven feet behind him. A six-pound shot, which flew very near General Grant, carried away Carson's head, passed just behind LieHtenaat Graves, volunteer aid to General Wilson, tearing away the cantle of his saddle and cutting his clothing, but leaving him uninjured. It then took off the legs of a soldier in one of General Nelson's regiments, whioh was just ascending the bluff.

About the same hour, further up to the right, General Sherman, who had been standing for a moment, while Major Hammond, his chief of staff, was holding his bridle, remounted. By the prancing of his horse, General Sherman's reins were thrown over his neck, and he was leaning forward in the saddle, with his head lowered, while Major Hammond was bringing them back over his head, when a rifle-ball struck the line in Major Hammond's hand, severing it within two inches of his fingers, and passed through the top and back of General Sherman's hat. Had he been sitting upright it would have struck his head. At another time a ball struck General Sherman on the shoulder, but his metallic shoulder-strap warded it off. With a third ball he was less fortunate, for it passed through his hand. General Sherman had three horses shot under him, and ranks high among the heroes of that nobly won battle.

General Hurlbut had a six-pound shot pass between his horse's head and his arm; a bullet hurtled through the animal's mane, and one of his horses was killed under him.

The statement has gone forth that General Prentiss was made prisoner at the first early onslaught of the enemy, when his division was driven in upon Sherman's lines. But this is an error. Prentiss' men fought well even in retiring. They retired to re-form, and pursued the conflict up to late in the afternoon, under Prentiss' personal lead. They maintained a stand on McClernand's left and Hurlbut's right. In the thick underbrush where they made their last stand, almost every shrub and bush was struck by bullets; no spot on the entire field evidenced more desperate figuring. The last time General Prentiss met General Hurlbut, he asked him: "Can you hold your line?" General Hurlbut replied, "I think I can." Not long after he sent a messenger to General Prentiss, to inform him that he was forced back, but the man was probably killed, as he never returned or delivered the message. About the same time, McClernand "was forced back on his right, and Prentiss, without knowing that his supports on each side were gone, held his line. The enemy, both on his right and left, was half a mile in his rear before he discovered it, and his capture was inevitable.

Of General Buell's conduct in battle, one of his men wrote, "I wish you could have seen the gallantry, the bravery, the dauntless daring, the coolness of General Buell. He seemed to be omnipresent. If ever man was qualified to command an army, it is he. He is a great, a very great General, and has proved himself so; not only in organizing and disciplining an army, but in handling it. He had his horse shot under him."

LOSSES.

The official reports of losses are given in the following tabular statement:

Grant's Army.

[table]

The official report of General Beauregard states the rebel loss to be 1,728 killed, 8,012 wounded, and 959 missing; which is far below the estimated losses of the enemy given by the Federal officers, who buried the dead on the field.

Bravely was that battle contested on both sides. We have described the way in which the Federal Generals fought and won a victory. But the South was gallantly represented—so gallantly, that a victory over such men was worth a double conquest over a meaner foe.

Beauregard seemed omnipresent along his lines throughout that memorable day, striving by expostulation, entreaties, command, exposure of his own person, to stem the tide of defeat; but it wa9 in vain. The steady flank advances of the Federal wings—the solidity of their centre, rendered it necessary to "retreat," if he would not be cut off entirely. His baffled and somewhat dispirited brigades fell back slowly upon the Corinth road, which, in all the fortunes of the two days' fight, had been carefully guarded from any approach of the Unionists. The retreat was neither a panic nor a rout. Some regiments threw away their arms, blankets, etc., from exhaustion; great numbers of killed and wounded crowded the army wagons, and much camp equipage was necessarily left behind.

The pursuit was kept up with but little energy. The nature of the woods rendered cavalry movements extremely difficult, and though three thousand splendidly mounted fellows had waited two days for an order to ride into the fray, it came too late for much service. The infantry pushed onward only a mile or two, for being unacquainted with the topography of the country, General Buell considered it dangerous to pursue his advantages any farther.

In giving a record of this contest, one thing is assured—the Union victory was won by the heroic fortitude of men, many of whom never before had been under fire; and the field is written all over with the records of soldiers whosa unfaltering heroism gave the name of Pittsburg Landing to the hardest fought and noblest won battle of the American continent.

GENEEAL SHERMAN'S EEC0NN0ISSANCE TOWAED C0EINTE
April 8, 1862.

The fatigue and sufiering experienced by the victorious army at Pittsburg were too severe for an immediate pursuit of Beauregard's forces on their retreat from the battle field on the 7th of April. On the morning of the 8th, however, General W. T. Sherman was ordered by General Grant to follow up the enemy, with a small force. With two brigades of infantry, and Colonel Dickey's Illinois cavalry, he advanced on the Corinth road, to the forks, several miles beyond the battle field. The abandoned camps of the enemy lined the road, in all of which were found more or less of their wounded with hospital flags thrown out for their protection. At that point, reconnoitering parties were sent out on both roads, which reported the enemy's cavalry in force in either direction. A Federal brigade under General Wood, which had been stationed in that vicinity, was ordered to advance on the left hand road, while General Sherman led the third brigade of his division up the right. About half a mile from the forks was a clear field, through which the highway passed, and immediately beyond it a space of two hundred yards of fallen timber; beyond that an extensive camp of the enemy's cavalry could be seen. After a reconnoissance, the two advanced companies of the Ohio Seventy-seventh, Colonel Hildebrand, were ordered to deploy as skirmishers, and the regiment itself to move forward into line, with intervals of one hundred yards. In this order they advanced cautiously until the skirmishers were engaged.

Taking it for granted that this disposition would clear the camp, Gen. Sherman held Colonel Dickey's Fourth Illinois cavalry ready to charge. The enemy's cavalry came down boldly, breaking through the line of skirmishers, when the regiment of infantry wavered, threw away its guns and fled. The ground was admirably adapted to a defence of infantry against cavalry, it being miry and covered with fallen timber.

« PreviousContinue »