completed. To hold both places, the Confederates had not more than five
thousand effective men, and five or six wooden gunboats, under Commo-
Despite the unfavourable prospect, Gen, McCown commenced an ener-
getic course of operations. At New Madrid, Fort Bankhead was finished
and strengthened, as was Fort Thompson by an abattis in front. Batteries
and magazines were put in course of erection, and guns mounted daily at
the Island. Such arrangements for securing stores and taking care of the
sick, as the circumstances permitted, were promptly made.
234 THE LOST CAUSE.
Heavy skirmishing commenced at New Madrid about the first of
March, and continued daily up to the 13th. The enemy liad brought
across with him a large train of artillery, including a number of 32-
pounders, with which he made frequent attacks on the forts. These at-
tacks were handsomely met ; our gunboats participating in tlie conflict.
The enemy established himself on the river below New Madrid, at Point
Pleasant and other places, for the purpose of annoying our transports, and
cutting off communication between New Madrid and Memphis.
During these thirteen days Gen. McCown was most active in his move-
ments â€” passing from one point to the other, as he deemed his presence
necessary â€” superintending the erection of batteries at the Island, and
directing operations at New Madrid. Up to the 12th of March, the lines
of the enemy had been gradually approaching our works at the latter
place. The skirmishing and artillery conflicts had been continual and
At midnight on the 12th, the enemy opened a fierce bombardment.
The scene was terribly grand. A large number of the enemy's batteries
were in full play, and were fiercely replied to, by all the guns from our
forts and boats. The darkness, the hoarse voice of the wind, the rush
of the waters, the roar and flash of the guns from the shore and from the
river, made a scene exceeding all description. This bombardment con-
tinued but a short time, and soon the echoes of the last gun had died upon
the waves ; and the winds, and the sullen tones of the Mississippi were the
only sounds that disturbed the silence of the night.
About daylight on the morning of the 13th the enemy again opened
with their 24-poundurs and an 8-iuch howitzer. The principal point of
attack was Fort Thompson, under the command of acting Brig.-Gen. E.
W. Gantt, of Arkansas. This officer conducted the defence with skill and
spirit, replying to the enemy so effectually as to dismount several of his
The firing continued at intervals during the afternoon, but entirely
ceased about sunset. The result of these bombardments determined Gen.
McCown upon the evacuation of New Madrid. Our wooden gunboats had
Buftcrcd severely under the enemy's fire ; the garrison of New Madrid was
small ; and Pope's batteries were in a position which prevented reinforce-
ments from being brought up the river.
On the night of the 13tli March there was a heavy storm of rain and
thunder, and under cover of the darkness the Confederate garrison evacu-
ated New Madrid, and sought shelter either with that of Island 10, or
in the works on the left bank. Thus Pope obtained possession of New
Madrid, was able to isolate Island 10 from the Lower Mississippi, and
eagerly expected the surrender of the other defences.
The evacuation was accomplished without any very serious loss. In
CAPTUEE OF ISLAND 10. 236
the midst of a furious rain, and in the face of a powerful army of tlie
enemy, it was hardly possible to have everything brought off. Gen. Gantt
laboured assiduously to save whatever he could, at Fort Thompson, and
was himself among the last who embarked. Our greatest loss Nvas in
heavy guns. These it was found impossible to get away; but they were
spiked, and otherwise disabled. Some three or four transports were or-
dered to each fort, to take oft' the troops and munitions. Gen. Walker's
brigade, from Fort Bankhead, was landed at the foot of the highlands
about four miles below the Island ; Gen. Gantt's from Fort Thompson, at
Eut although the Confederates had surrendered New Madrid so easily,
they had no idea of giving up Island 10. We have already staled
that when Gen. McCown reached the Island the position was nearly desti-
tute of defences. Now there were live fine batteries erected on the Island,
and well armed, and an equal number on the Tennessee shore â€” monnting
in all nearly sixty guns. Magazines had been provided, the ammunition
assorted and arranged, and everything put in readiness for action.
From the Island to New Madrid by the river, it is about twelve miles
â€” from New Madrid to Tiptonville about sixteen, and from Tiptonville
across to the Island by land, about four miles. There was a river shore of
twenty-seven miles, between the last two places, though they were in i'aet
but a short distance apart. This shore had to be closely watched, for the
enemy held possession of the Missouri side, from New Madrid to a jioint
below Tiptonville. The brigades of Gantt and Walker were placed along
the river, to guard it, with instructions to concentrate and drive the enemy
back, if he should anywhere attempt a crossing.
On the morning of the ITtli the enemy's fleet commenced shelling the
Island at long range, to which the Confederates paid but little attention.
About ten o'clock, however, they came within range, and opened on
Kucker's battery. This battery was on the Tennessee shore, about a mile
above the Island. It was located before Gen, McCown took command at
the Bend, on rather low ground, but at an excellent point for commanding
the river. The Mississijipi was very high, and this battery was separated
from the others by a wide slough. The platform was covered with water,
and the magazine unsafe from dampness. The attack was made by five
iron-clad gunboats (three of them lashed together about the centre of the
stream, and one lying near either shore) together with the whole mortar
fleet. The conflict was terrific. For nine long hours, shot and shell fell
in, over and around the battery, in horrible profusion â€” tearing \ip its
parapet, and sending death through the company engaged in its defence.
The men worked their pieces standing half-leg deep in mud and water. The
company was small and the labour great. In the afternoon, Capt. Eucker,
finding his men exhausted by fatigue, asked for reinforcements, which were
236 THE LOST CAUSE.
sent to him. For tliis purpose no detail was made, as a sufficient nnmber
of volunteers were found to supply liis wants, and marched into the very
jaws of death to the relief of their exhausted comrades. In the mean time,
from fort and river, the conflict was still kept up with unabated fury. " It
seemed more than could be hoped from mortal courage and endurance,
that the battery should be worked against such terrible odds. But it was,
and at last, about night-fall, the enemy was compelled to withdraw, with
some of his boats for the time disabled. Rucker had the last shot at him, aa
he retired up the river. The battery mounted five guns. Only two of
them were in a condition to be worked, at the close of the fight.
Gen. McCown, under orders from Gen. Beauregard, left the Bend for
Fort Pillow, on the night of the 17th of March, with six regiments of in-
fantry, Bankhead's light battery, and a part of Stuart's, embarking at Tip-
tonville, and reaching the former place on the morning of the 18th. This
movement was accomplished with such secrecy, that few, even of the
officers remaining at the Bend, were aware of it until it was accom-
On the afternoon of the 19th, Gen. McCown was ordered to send from
Fort Pillow three regiments, to report to Gen. Bragg, leave the re-
mainder at that post, and return himself and re-assume command at Island
10, which he immediately did. Upon returning to the Island, he found
the enemy engaged in cutting a canal across the Bend, on the Missouri
side, from a point three miles above the Island to Bayou St. John, for the
purpose of communicating with New Madrid without having to run our
batteries. From this time up to the 30th, the enemy continued to shell at
long range, but without effect. Gen. McCown, in the mean time, made
a full reconnoissance of the Bend. In his despatches he expressed confi-
dence in his ability to repel the enemy's boats, if they should attack his
batteries, but strongly intimated his doubts as to his being able to stop
them if they attempted to run by. He was also busily engaged in build-
ing flatboats and collecting canoes on Reetford Lake, ostensibly with the
view of bringing over reinforcements, but actually for the purpose of secur-
ing his retreat, should the enemy force a crossing in numbers sufficient to
overwhelm his command, now reduced to less than two thousand effec-
On the 1st of April, Gen. McCown was relieved, and Gen. Mackall
assigned to the defence of the Island. In the mean time the enemy had
busily progressed in his herculean enterprise of digging a canal twelve
miles long, across the peninsula formed by the winding of the river. This
work was fatal to the defence of the Island, for it enabled the enemy to
take it in its rear. On the night of the 6th of April, Gen. Mackall moved
the infantry and a battery to the Tennessee shore, to protect the landing
from anticipated attacks. The artillerists remained on the Island. Tlie
THE BATTLE OF SHILOn. 237
enemy's gunboats had succeeded in passing the Island in a heavy fog ; he
had effected a landing above and below the Island in large force ; and the
surrender of the position had become a military necessity.
But never was an evacuation so wretchedly managed. IS'one of the
means of retreat prepared by Gen. McCown were used ; everything was
abandoned ; six hundred men were left to their fate on the Island ; and
the force transferred to the mainland was surrendered, except the few
stragglers who escaped through the cane-brakes.
The enemy captured Mackall himself, two brigadier-generals, six
colonels, several thousand stand of arms, two thousand rank and file, sev-
enty pieces of siege artillery, thirty pieces of field artillery, fifty-six thou-
sand solid shot, six steam transports, two gunboats, and one floating bat-
tery carrying sixteen heavy guns. The Southern people had expected a
critical engagement at Island 'No. 10, but its capture was neatly accom-
plished without it ; and, in the loss of men, cannon, ammunition, and sup-
plies, the event was doubly deplorable to them, and afforded to the North
such visible fruits of victory as had seldom been the result of a single
enterprise. The credit of the success was claimed for the naval force under
the command of Commodore Foote. The Federal Secretary of the Navy
had reason to declare that " the triumph was not the less appreciated
because it was protracted, and finally bloodless." The Confederates had
been compelled to abandon what had been fondly entitled " the Little
Gibraltar " of the Mississippi, and had experienced a loss in heavy artillery
which was nigh irreparable.
Meanwhile, Gen. Beauregard was preparing to strike a decisive blow
on the mainland, and the movements of the enemy on the Tennessee Kiver
were preparing the situation for one of the grandest battles that had yet
been fought in any quarter of the war.
THE BATTLE OF SHILOH.
In the early part of March, Gen. Beauregard, convinced of the enemy's
design to cut off his communications in West Tennessee with the easterrx
and southern States, by operating from the Tennessee River, detei-mined
to concentrate all his available forces at and around Corinth. By the first
of April, Gen, Jolmston's entire force, which had taken up the line of
march from Murfreesboro', had effected a junction with Beam-egard, and
the united forces, which had also been increased by several regiments from
Louisiana, two divisions of Gen. Polk's command from Columbus, and a
fine corps of troops from Mobile and Pensacola, were concentrated along
the Mobile and Ohio railroad, from Bethel to Corinth, and on the Mem-
238 THE LOST CAUSE.
phis and Charleston raih'oad from Corinth to luka. The effective total of
this force was slightly over forty thousand men.*
It was determined with this force, which justified the offensive, to
strike a sudden blow at the enemy, in position under Gen. Grant, on the
west bank of the Tennessee Kiver, at Pittsburg, and in the direction of Sa-
vannah, before he was reinforced by the army under Gen. Buell, then
known to be advancing for that purpose, by rapid marches from Nashville.
The great object was to anticipate the junction of the enemy's armies, then
near at hand ; and on the night of the 2d of April, it was decided that the
attack should be attempted at once, incomplete and imperfect as were the
preparations of the Confederates for such a grave and momentous adven-
ture. The army had been brought suddenly together, and there had been
many difiiculties in the way of an effective organization.
The enemy was in position about a mile in advance of Shiloh church â€”
a rude, log chapel, from wliich the battle that was to ensue took its name
â€” with the right restins; on Owl Creek and his left on Lick Greek. The
army collected here was composed of the flower of the Federal troops,
being principally Western men, from, the States of Illinois, Indiana, Wis-
consin, and Iowa.
It was expected by Gen. Beauregard that he would be able to reach
the enemy's lines in time to attack him on the 5th of April. The men,
however, for the most part, were unused to marching, the roads narrow,
and traversing a densely-wooded country, which became almost impassable
after a severe rain- storm on the 4tli, which drenched the troops in bivou-
ac ; hence the Confederate forces did not reach the intersection of the road
from Pittsburg and Hamburg, in the immediate vicinity of the enemy,
until late in the evening of the 5tli ; and it was then decided that the
attack should be made on the next morning, at the earliest hour prac-
The Confederate plan of battle was in three lines â€” the first and second
extending from Owl Creek on the left to Lick Creek on the right, a dis-
tance of about three miles, supported by the third and the reserve. The
first line, under Major-Gen. Hardee, was constituted of his corps, aug-
mented on his right by Gladden's brigade, of Major-Gen. Bragg's coqjs.
The second line, composed of the other troops of Bragg's corps, followed
* It was composed as follows :
First Army Corps, Major-Gen. L. Polk, 9,136
Second Army Corps, Gen. B. Bragg, 13,589
> Third Army Corps, Major-Gen. W. J. Hardee, 6,789
Reserve, Brig.-Gen. John C. Breckinridge, 6,439
Total infantry and artillery, '. 35,953
Cavalry, Brig.-Gen. F. Gardner, 4,382
Grand Total, 40,336
THE BATTLE OF SHILOH. 239
the first at the distance of five hundred yards, in the same order as the
first. The army corps under Gen. Polk followed the second line at the
distance of about eight hundred yards, in lines of brigades, deployed with
their batteries in rear of each brigade, moving by the Pittsburg road, the
left wing supported by cavalry. The reserve, under Brig.-Gen. Breckin-
ridge, following closely on the third line, in the same order, its right wing
supported by cavalry.
In the early dawn of Sunday, the 6th of April, the magnificent array
was moving forward for deadly conflict, passing easily through the thin
ranks of the tall forest ti*ees, which aflbrded open views on every side.
But the enemy scarcely gave time to discuss the question of attack, for
soon after dawn he commenced a rapid musketry fire on the Confederate
pickets. The order was immediately given by the commanding General,
and the Confederate lines advanced. Such was the ardour of the second
line of troops, that it was with great difficulty they could be restrained
from closing up and mingling with the first line. Within less than a mile,
the enemy was encountered in force at the encampments of his advanced
positions, but the first line of Confederates bruslied him away, leaving the
rear nothing to do but to press on in pursuit. In about one mile more, he
was encountered in strong force along almost the entire line. His bat-
teries were posted on eminences, with strong infantry supports. Finding
the first line was now unequal to the work before it, being weakened by
extension, and necessarily broken by the nature of the ground. Gen. Bragg
ordered his whole force to move up steadily and promptly to its support.
From this time the battle raged with but little intermission. By half-
past ten o'clock the Confederates had already captured three large encamp-
ments, and three batteries of artillery. Their right flank, according to the
order of battle, had pressed forward ardently, under the immediate direc-
tion of Gen. Johnston, and swept all before it. Batteries, encampments,
storehouses, munitions in rich profusion, were captured ; and the enemy
was falling back rapidly at every point. His left, however, was his strong-
est ground and position, and was disputed with obstinacy.
Mile after mile the Confederates rushed on, sweeping the camps of the
enemy before them. Gen. Johnston was in advance, before the troops of
Breckinridge and Bowen. He had addressed them in a few brief words,
and given the order to " Charge ! " when, at two o'clock, a minie-ball
pierced the calf of his right leg. He supposed it to be a flesh wound,
and paid no attention to it ; but the fact was that the ball had cut an
artery, and as the doomed commander rode onward to victory, he was
bleeding to death. Becoming faint from loss of blood, he turned to Gov.
Harris, one of his volunteer aides, and remarked, " I fear I am mortally
wounded." The next moment he reeled in his saddle and fainted. Gov.
HaiTis received the falling commander in his arms, and bore him a short
240 THE LOST CAUSE.
distance from the field, into a ravine. Stimidants were speedily adminia-
tered, but in vain. One of his staff, in a passion of grief, threw his arms
ai'ound the beloved commander, and called aloud, to see if he would
respond. But no sign or reply came, and in a moment or two more, he
breathed his last.
Information of the fall of Gen. Johnston was not communicated to tlie
army. It was still pressing on in its career of victory ; and but little.
doubt remained of the fortunes of the day. As the descending sun warned
the Confederates to press their advantage, the command ran along the line,
" Forward ! let every order be forward ! " Fairly in motion, they now
swept all before them. I^either battery nor battalion could withstand
their onslaught. Passing through camp after camp, rich in military spoils
of every kind, the enemy was driven headlong from every position, and
thrown in confused masses upon the river bank, beliind his heavy artillery,
and under cover of his gunboats at the landing. He was crowded in
unorganized masses on the river bank, vainly striving to cross.
And now it might be supposed that a victory was to be accomplished
such as had not before illustrated the fortunes of the Confederacy, The
reserve line of tlie Federals was entirely gone. Their whole army was
crowded into a circuit of half to two-thirds of a mile around the landing.
They had been falling back all day. The next repulse would have put
them into the river, and there were not transports enough to cross a single
division before the Confederates would be upon them.
It is true that the broken fragments of Grant's army were covered by a
battery of heavy guns well served, and two gunboats, M'hich poured a
heavy fire upon the supposed position of the Confederates, for they were
entirely hid by the forest. But this fire, though terrific in sound, and pro-
ducing some consternation at first, did no damage, as the shells all passed
over, and exploded far beyond the Confederate position.
At last, the order was given to move forward at all points, and sweep
the enemy from the field. The sun was about disappearing, so that little
time was left to finish the glorious work of the day. The movement com-
menced with every prospect of success. But just at this time the astound-
ing order was received from Gen. Beauregard to withdraw the forces
beyond the enemy's fire ! The action ceased.* The different commands,
mixed and scattered, bivouacked at points most convenient to their posi-
* Of this abrupt termination to the business of the day, and the condition of the enemy at the
time, a Confederate officer writes :
" From some cause I could never ascertain, a halt was sounded, and when the remnants of the
enemy's divisions had stacked arms on the river^s edge, preparatory to their surrender, no one
stirred to finish the business by a coup de main. It was evidently ' drown or surrender ' with
them, and they had prepared for the latter, until, seeing our inactivity, their gunboats opened furi-
ously, and, save a short cannonade, all subsided into quietness along our lines."
THP: BATILE OF SIIILOH. 241
tions, and beyond the range of the enemy's guns. All firing, except a
half-hour shot from the gunboats, ceased, and the night was passed iu
Of this extraordinary abandonment of a great victory â€” for it can
scarcely be put in milder phrase â€” Gen. Beauregard gives, in his official
report of the action, only this explanation : " Darkness was close at hand ;
officers and men were exhausted by a combat of over twelve hours without
food, and jaded by the march of the preceding day through mud and
water." But the true explanation is, tliat Gen. Beauregard was persuaded
that delays had been encountered by Gen. Buell in his march from Colum-
bia, and that his main force, therefore, could not reach the field of battle
in time to save Gen. Grant's shattered fugitive forces from capture or de-
struction on the following day.
But in this calculation he made the great errour of his military life.
"When pursuit was called off, Buell's advance was already on the other side
of the Tennessee. A body of cavalry was on its banks ; it was the advance
of the long-expected Federal reinforcements ; an army of twenty-five
thousand men was rapidly advancing to the opposite banks of the river to
restore Grant's fortune, and to make him, next day, master of the situa-
tion. Alas ! the story of Shiloh was to be tluit not only of another lost
opportunity for the South, but one of a reversion of fortune, in which a
splendid victory changed into something very like a defeat !
As night fell, a new misfortune was to overtake Gen. Beauregard. His
forces exliibited a want of discipline and a disorder which he seems to have
been unable to control ; and with the exception of a few thousand disci-
plined troops held firmly in hand by Gen. Bragg, tlie whole army degen-
erated into bands of roving plunderers, intoxicated with victory, and scat-
tered in a shameful hunt for the rich spoils of the battle-field. All during
the night thousands were out in quest of plunder ; hundreds were intoxi-
cated with wines and liquors found ; and while scenes of disorder and
shouts of revelry arose around the large fires which had been kindled, and
mingled with the groans of the wounded, Buell's forces were steadily
crossing the river, and forming line of battle for the morrow.
About an hour after sunrise the action again commenced, and soon the
battle raged with fury. The shattered regiments and brigades collected
by Grant gave ground before our men, and for a moment it was thought
that victory would crown our eftbrts a second time. Oi\ the left, however,
and nearest to the point of arrival of his reinforcements, the enemy drove
forward line after line of his fresh trooj)s. In some places the Confeder-
ates repulsed them by unexampled feats of valor ; but sheer exhaustion
was hourly telling upon the men, and it soon became evident that num-
bers and strength would ultimately prevail. By noon Gen, Beauregard
had necessarily disposed^ of the last of his reserves, and shortly therealtei
242 THE LOST CAUSE.
he determined to withdraw from the unequal conflict, securing such of the
results of the victory of the day before as was then practicable.
As evidence of the condition of Beauregard's army, he had not been
able to bring into the action of the second day more than twenty thousand
men. In the first day's battle the Confederates engaged the divisions of
Gen. Prentiss, Sherman, Hurlburt, McClernand and Smitli, of 9,000 men
each, or at least 45,000 men. Tliis force was reinforced during the night
by the divisions of Gens. Nelson, McCook, Crittenden, and Thomas, of