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John K. Duke.

History of the Fifty-third regiment Ohio volunteer infantry, during the war of the rebellion, 1861 to 1865. Together with more than thirty personal sketches of officers and men online

. (page 5 of 24)
Online LibraryJohn K. DukeHistory of the Fifty-third regiment Ohio volunteer infantry, during the war of the rebellion, 1861 to 1865. Together with more than thirty personal sketches of officers and men → online text (page 5 of 24)
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Illinois Regiment came up in beautiful order, and, forming on the



48 HISTORICAL SKETCH OF THE

right into line, on our left, began to fire at the Confederates who
were coming now from the southeast. We continued firing almost
west.

" There was a soldier, A. C. Voris, in the Seventeenth Illinois,
whose relatives at home I knew, and whose acquaintance I had
made a few days before the battle. I saw him as the regiment
came up, and asked him (he was a veteran of Frederickstown and
Fort Donelson) to come with us. He replied : ' Ask the captain.'
The captain said : ' Voris is a good man, he may go ;' but said to
him, ' Watch the regiment and don't get lost.' Voris came with
me. He was a brave, cool man. First he found some Enfield
rifle cartridges for Company A, and filled their nearly empty boxes.
Next he went along the line, telling the men he had seen the ele-
phant before, and had learned that the way to meet him was to
keep cool, shoot slow and aim low. He said, ' Why, it's just like
shooting squirrels — only these squirrels have guns, that's all.'
Pretty soon he called out : 'Good-bye,' and as he hurried to his
company I saw his regiment moving by the left flank.

*' The Confederates had now captured three of Waterhouse's
guns. They swarmed around them like bees. They jumped upon
the guns, and on the hay-bales in the battery camp, and yelled
like crazy men. Captain Jones moved our little squad, now re-
duced to about forty men, to join Lieutenant-Colonel Rice, com-
manding the Fifty-seventh Ohio, who was still making a fight on
the left of Shiloh Church. Of seventy men in Companies A and
F, nineteen had been killed or wounded, eight or ten had gone to
the rear with badly wounded men, one had fallen in a hole, and
when pulled out had permission to go to the rear by the most ex-
peditious route.

" No orders had been issued in our brigade in regard to the
care of the wounded. No stretchers were provided. No stretcher
bearers had been detailed. We had not yet learned that in victory
was the only battlefield-humanity. When a man was wounded, his



53rd OHIO VOI.UNTKKR INFANTRY. 49



comrades took him to the rear, and thus many good soldiers were
lost to the firino; line.

" We joined Colonel Rice, and, together with his men, drove
back a disorderly line that was pursuing us, and then, with the
Seventy-seventh Ohio, made a line parallel with the Corinth road,
the right of this line resting near vShiloh Chapel, and the left ex-
tending toward the river. In other words, the brigade had swung
around ou the old church, as a pivot, until we were now firing ex-
actlv to the rear of our camps or nearly due east.

" There was a good deal of disorder here. Everybody wanted
cartridges. There were three kinds of guns in our brigade and
six in the division, all requiring ammunition of different caliber.
Of our brigade not over four hundred men were present. The
brigade commander had disappeared. During the fight he had
displayed the most reckless gallantry. At one time he rode his
horse directly between the opposing lines of battle, but when the
Seventy-seventh and Fifty-seventh regiments were driven from
their camps, he assumed that their usefulness was at an end, and
rode away and tendered his services to General ]\IcClernand for
staflf duty. This line was soon broken ; bullets came from too
many points of the compass. The situation was aptly described
by a man who was hit on the shin by a glancing ball. It hurt
him awfully and he screamed out. His captain said, ' Go to the
rear. ' As the line broke and began to drift through the brush,
this soldier came limping back and said, ' Cap, give me a gun.
This blamed fight aint got any rear. '

" On the Purdy road, two regiments of Buckland's brigade,
the Forty-eighth and Seventy-second Ohio, were in line. Our men
and the Fifty-seventh fell in with the Forty-eighth Ohio. Here
was more confusion than I saw at any time during the day. The
troops who retained their organization were in good shape, but
there were many disorganized liien ; the road was almost blocked
with teams hurrving from the battle line ; a battery was trying to



50 HISTORICAL SKETCH OF THE



get into position ; the Confederates charged ; there was a brisk fire
for a few moments. Our line gave way at all points. As the line
began to waver one of our men called to me, ' See that cannon. '
There was a brass gun stuck between two small trees, apparently
abandoned by all but one man, who sat on the wheel horse crying.
I took seven of our men who were near me and called to Colonel
Rice, who took a dozen or more men. In a moment we broke
down the saplings and released the gun.

" Looking for the regiment we had left, we saw no one at all.
We hurried to join the nearest troops, and fell in with the Seven-
tieth Ohio Regiment, which we now saw for the first time. I
had no idea where we were, and think no one else had. All
around was a roar of musketry ; immediately about us was the
silence literally of death, for the ground was strewn with the slain
of both armies. Captain Cockerill rode at the head of his regi-
ment in a perfectly cool matter-of-fact way, as if it was his custom
to pass through such scenes every Sunday morning. He marched
the regiment along the road — his official report says by the right
flank, my recollection is by the left — several hundred yards, where
I saw the sergeant-major of the Seventy-seventh Ohio Regiment
in the brush near by.

" I called to him : ' Where is the Seventy-seventh ? ' 'I don't
know,' he replied. ' I was captured this morning and just escaped.'
' Come with us,' I said. ' No,' he answered, ' I am going with this
regiment,' pointing to the right. I went out in the brush to see
what he meant. In an open field on lower ground to our right
was a regiment with full ranks, uniformed in blue, marching by
flank to the drum beat. This course was obliquely across the path
of the Seventieth Regiment ; a few moments would bring them to-
gether. It did not seem possible that a Union regiment in such
• condition could be coming from the battle line. I said : ' They
are rebels. I am going to fire on them.' He said : 'They are
not.' The wind lifted the silken folds of their banner. It was
the Louisiana State flag.



53Rn OHIO VOI.UNTKKR INKANTRY. 51



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Online LibraryJohn K. DukeHistory of the Fifty-third regiment Ohio volunteer infantry, during the war of the rebellion, 1861 to 1865. Together with more than thirty personal sketches of officers and men → online text (page 5 of 24)