Robert Walter Bruère.

The Century, Volume 31 online

. (page 133 of 168)
Online LibraryRobert Walter BruèreThe Century, Volume 31 → online text (page 133 of 168)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

exhausted, having lost my horse in tne first engage-
ment, and compelled to go on foot the balance of the
time, and finding myself ivithin otu-lialf mile of my
regimental encampment^ I marched my men to it and
got dintier for them. Calling my men into line imme-
diately after dinner^ I formed them upon the right of
the brigade commanded by Colonel C. C. Marshy at his
request^ in front and to the left of my camp^ where we
again met the enemy on Sunday evening."

Colonel Engelmann, of the Forty-third Illi-
nois, whose report in many respects is a re-
markably clear and interesting one, says :

" We now fell back by degrees (from McCIernand's
sixth position), and a new line being formed, 7ue found
ourselves posted beliveen the P\>rty -sixth Illinois and the
7'hirteenih Missouri^our position being midway behueen
tlw encampments of the Forty sixth and A- in th Illinois. "

Colonel Wright, Thirteenth Mo., of McAr-
thur's brigade, Second Division, but attached
during the battle to Sherman's division, says :

" After advancing and falling back several times, the
regiment was forced to retire, with all the others there,
to the nyad which crosses the Pitrdy road at right angles

The " Purdy road " here men-
tioned is the continuation of the right-handroad
leading from the Landing. The camp of the
Ninth Illinois was in the north-east angleof the
intersection of that road with the River road,
and General McArthur's headquarters were
in the south-west angle of the same intersec-
tion. The camp of the Forty-sixth Illinois
was located in the south-east angle of the
intersection of the River road and a middle
road leading west from the Landing, about
five hundred yards from McArthur's head-
quarters. These reports plainly identify Gen-
eral McCIernand's seventh position, of which
General Sherman formed part, with the River
road between McArthur's and Hurlbut's
headquarters. It is a full half-mile in rear of
the position given to Sherman's division on
the Thom map, and of the position which
General Sherman assigns to himself on his
edition, with the deep hollow of Tillman's
Creek intervening.

The struggle which drove General McCler-
nand from his seventh position is described
by that officer as follows :

** The enemy renewed the contest by trying to shell
us from our position. . . . AdNTincing m heavy
columns led by the Louisiana Zouaves to break onr
center, we awaited his approach within sure range, and
opened a terrific fire upon him. The head of the

Digitized by




column was instantly mowed down ; the remainder of
it swayed to and fro for a few seconds, and turned and
fled. This second success of the last two engagements
terminated a conflict of ten and a half hours' duration,
from 6 o'clock a. m. to 4 : 30 o'clock p. m. and prob-
ably saved our army, transports and all, from capture.
Strange, however, at the very moment of the flight of
the enemy, the rig:ht of our line gave way, and imme-
diately after, notwithstanding the indignant and heroic
resistance of Colonel Veatch, the left, comprising the
[Fourteenth Illinois and Twenty-fifth Indiana] was
irresistibly swept back by the tide of fugitive soldiers
and trains seeking vain securitv at the Landing. . . .
Ltft untupporUd and alone^ the Twentieth and Seven-
teenth Illinois^ together with other portions of my divis-
ion not borne back by the retreating multitude^ retired
in good order under the immediate command of Colonel
Marsh and Lieutenant-Colonel Wood^ and re-formed
under my direction, the right resting near the former line,
and the left at an acute angle with it, A more extended
line, comprising portions of regiments, brigctdes, and di-
visions, was soon formed on this nucleus by the efforts of
General Sherman, myself, and other officers. Here, in
the eighth position occupied by my division during the
day, toe rested in line of battle upon ohrarms, uncovered
and exposed to a drenching rain during the night"

This last posirion would locate McClernand,
excepting his First Brigade, perhaps three
hundred yards south of, and obUquely with
reference to the right-hand road leading from
the Landing, facing a little to the west. His
First Brigade is traced to within half a mile
of the river, where it was rallied by its com-
mander " in front of the camp-ground of the
Fourteenth Iowa," on the road to the Landing.
It did not join the division again until after
the battle, but acted in connection with my
troops. Colonel Veatch, who was on McCler-
nand's left with the Fourteenth Illinois and
Twenty-fifth Indiana in the seventh positioD,
fell back in rear of the reserve artillery, and
became reunited there with Hurlbut's division
to which he belonged. The space along the
road in rear of McClernand was filled in with
various fragments which constituted Sherman*s
command, mcluding at last Buckland's two reg-
imen ts. General Sherman describes Colonel
Sweeny as being witlf him. No doubt some
of Sweeny's men also were there. It was the
camp-ground of his brigade — the camp of his
own regiment, the Fifty-second Illinois, being
immediately on the road. Two of his regi-
ments were captured with Prentiss, and the re-
mainder had been driven back from W. H. L.
Wallace's right and virtually broken up. One .
of his regiments, the Fiftieth Illinois, was sent
in the morning to support Colonel Stuart on
the extreme left, and shared the fate of the
sufferers in that quarter. The space along
the road between Sherman and Hurlbut was
occupied by the remnant of Colonel Tuttle's
brigade and a portion of McClernand's First
Brigade which united itself to Tuttle. It was
Tuttle's camp-ground. Two of his regiments
had been captured with Prentiss.

From the reports of the Thirteenth Missouri
Vol. XXXI.— 80.

and Forty-third Illinois it is inferred that
those two regiments did not move from their
position on the River road in the last falling
back. But that, if certain, is not important.
They were at any rate substantially on the
general line above indicated. The same, in a
careless reading, might be presumed of the
Forty-sixth Illinois, which was immediately on
the left of the Forty-third. The report of
that regiment says : " The regiments both ofi
my right and Uft fell backy but my line did not
waver under the fire of the enemy, ^^ But it evi-
dently fell back at last, for the report continues :
** After breakfast on Monday morning, still
retaining my position on the right of Colonel
Marsh's brigade, I moved with him until /
reached and went beyond iht ground o{our last
engagement of Sunday ^ where our pickets were
driven in," etc. It remains now to determine the
question of the extreme right of the general line.

General Sherman says, and his statement
on that point is sustained by the reports, that
Birge's Sharpshooters were immediately on
his right and constituted the extreme right of
the line. The official report of that regiment
shows that during the afternoon it occupied
a *'*' position near Colonel Mc Arthur's head-
quarters " in an open field. Its camp was in
its rear along the opposite or east side of the
River road. This would fm General Sherman's
right at the cross-roads near McArthur's head-
quarters. It is more than a mile from the Snake
Creek bridge. Other evidence confirms these
positions. The official reports of Lew. Wal-
lace's division show that he marched along the
River road from the bridge, and formed in line
of battle, facing Tillman's Creek in front of
the camp of Bh-ge's Sharpshooters and the
Eighty-first Ohio, the right of the division
being in front of the latter, and the left in
front of the former; and that it came in
actual contact with the " Sharpshooters," who
occupied their camp that night and received
the new-comers with cheers. This is clearly
and more circumstantially explained by Gen-
eral Force in his book entitled " From Fort
Henry to Corinth," page 163. He was pres-
ent and commanded the right regiment of
Lew. Wallace's division on that occasion. The
position thus assigned to Wallace must have
taken his left well up to the cross-road at
McArthur's headquarters, and covered the
entire field toward the north ; for the distance
firom the cross-road to the right of the camp
of the Eighty-first Ohio was only half a mile.

It is particularly to be observed that in no
report, either from Sherman's division or from
Lew. Wallace's, is there any mention of actual
contact or of any definite proximity of these
two divisions on the evening of the sixth, or
earlier than ten o'clock on the morning of the

Digitized by




seventh. The inference is, that at the time of
Wallace's arrival and subsequently, no part
of Sherman's division was on the River road,
or anywhere along the heights of Tillman's
Creek north of McArthur's headquarters.
General Sherman, in his report, says : " Gen-
eral Wallace arrived from Crump's Landing
shortly after dark, and formed his line to my
right and rear." That relative position could
only exist by assuming that Sherman's com-
mand was on the road leading to the landing
east of McArthur's headquarters, and nearly
at right angles with Wallace, — a supposition
which is strengthened by the condition indi-
cated in Sherman's revised map, that Birge's
Sharpshooters were on his right — not en-
tirely in his front, as they would have been
if his front had been on the River road. It is
also sustained by General Buckland's state-
ment in the " Journal of the Society of the
Army of the Tennessee" for 1881, p. 82:
"About dark," he says, " General Wallace's
division commenced arriving, and formed to
the right of my brigade." Buckland states in
his report and in the " Journal " that he lay
" on the road." If he had been on the River
road, Wallace would have come in contact
with him, and when he formed in line would
have been entirely in his front — not in rear
or on his right. Buckland seems to know
nothing about Birge's Sharpshooters. The
probable explanation is that when he came
along the road from the bridge they were on the
west side of the road, in the field near McAr-
thur'sheadquarters. After Lew. Wallace arrived
and formed in front of them, they probably
retired to their camp on the east side of the
road. The explanation of Buckland's posi-
tion is that, after the retreat across Tillman's
Creek from the west side, he found himself,
as he says, near Snake Creek bridge " late in
the afternoon, after the repulse of the right
of the line," entirely apart from the rest of the
army, and that to reestablish his connection
with it he started on the road to the Landing,
where one of his regiments actually went and
remained over night; and that he came upon
the outer flank of the new line where General
Sherman soon after found him, east of McAr-
thur's headquarters, and thus placed himself
where he is described by Sherman as being,
between Birge's Sharpshooters and the rest
of the line.

The Confederate reports mention a consid-
erable appearance of force in a camp oppo-
site their extreme left in the afternoon, evi-
dently referring to McArthur's camp. The
student of the reports will not be misled by
this appearance. It was caused by the force
that clustered with Sherman on McClemand's
right near McArthur's headquarters ; by the

Ninth Illinois, Eighty-first Ohio, and Birge's
Sharpshooters, all belonging to McArthur's
brigade ; and by the movement of Buckland's
regiments from the bridge as already ex-
plained. The Sharpshooters and the Eight)-
first Ohio had been posted at the bridge, and
returned to their camps probably at the time
of the retreat from the west side of Tilhnan's
Creek. The Ninth Illinois had during the
morning been engaged on the extreme left
under its brigade commander. It had lost
two hundred and fifty men out of five hundred
and fifty, and was ordered to its camp " to
replenish cartridge-boxes, clean guns, and be
ready for action." While there at three o'clock
it was ordered " to support the right wing of
General Sherman's division," as the report
expresses it, and in the subsequent engage-
ments retired to within half a mile of the
Landing. Birge's Sharpshooters retained their
position at or in front of their camp. The
movements of the Eighty-first Ohio are not
very clearly defined, but in the advance next
morning, it is found on McClemand's left.
The " ten or twelve guns " mentioned by
General Sherman in his map-presentation
speech as being near a ravine on his left, Sun-
day afternoon, were Taylor's battery, as it
was called, though commanded by Captain
Barrett, and Bouton's battery. The former
had retired for ammunition fh>m McCler-
nand's camp, probably to near McArthur's
headquarters, but afterwards evidently went
near the river, where it received " one lieu-
tenant and twenty-four men with three horses"
from Fitch's battery. Bouton's battery was
taken into action in the field in front of Mc-
Clemand's right about four o'clock, and was
forced to retire, its support helping to draw
oflf its guns. Both the battery and the sup-
port went back toward the river, for in the
advance next morning the support is found
on McClemand's left, and the battery was
brought into ser\'ice with McCook in the
aftemoon. Sherman had no artillery ^\'ith him
on Monday until about ten o'clock. Major
Taylor then brought up three pieces of an
Illinois battery under Lieutenant Wood, not
belonging to Sherman's command. The final
retreat from McClemand's seventh position.
Sunday evening, undoubtedly carried with it
all of the fragments connected with Sherman
near McArthur's headquarters, along the road
toward the river, where I found him about
dark, excepting Birge's Sharpshooters, the
Thirteenth Missouri, and the Forty-third
Illinois. The latter belonged to McClemand's
Third Brigade, but remained with the Thir-
teenth Missouri Sunday night. After crossing
Tillman's Creek next morning, both were
brought into line on McClemand's left, and

Digitized by




did not form with Sherman, though the Thir-
teenth Missouri subsequently joined him.

My own observation as to the position and
extent of General Grant's line accords sub-
stantially with the evidence of the reports. In
the dusk of the evening after the close of the
engagement on Siinday, I walked out with
my chief-of. staff, following the road and the
line of the troops. My object was to gain in-
formation by which to determine the forma-
tion of my divisions, and I not only observed
all that I could see at such an hour, but I
made inquiry as I passed along. I came to
Hurlbut's left five hundred yards from the
river; I passed to the front and came to
troops that answered as McClemand's, and
which I supposed at the time to constitute his
division, but which were probably his First
Brigade only ; I passed to the front of these
troops, and when I turned in toward the road
again, I came upon Sherman's line, as it hap-
pened, not far from where he was, and I was
conducted to him. It was then growing dark.
I judge the distance to have been about three-
quarters of a mile from the river — less than
half a mile from Hurlbut's left, and I think
now that it was near the camp of Colonel
Sweeny's regiment, the Fifty-second Illinois,
that I found General Sherman.

The impression made upon my mind by that
interview has remained as vivid as the circum-
stances were peculiar. I had no thought of
seeing General Sherman when I set out, but
on every score I was glad to meet him, and I
was there to gain information. By what pre-
cise words I sought and he gave it, I would
not pretend at this day to repeat. It is suffi-
cient for the present to say that I learned the
nature of the ground in front ; that his right
flank was some three hundred yards from us ;
and that the bridge by wjiich Lew. Wallace
was to cross Snake Creek was to his right and
rear at an angle, as he pointed, of about forty
degrees. I do not know whether I asked the
question, but I know now that it was a mile
and a quarter from his flank, and that he did
not cover it in any practical sense, thodgh in
advancing Wallace would approach by his
right and rear. I also see now that I was
mistaken in supposing that these several com-
mands retained a regular organization and
had distinct limits ; whereas they were in fact
much intermixed.

Of course we talked of other incidental
matters. In all his career he has, I venture
to say, never appeared to better advantage.
There was the frank, brave soldier, rather
subdued, realizing the critical situation in
which causes of some sort, perchance his
own fault chiefly, had placed him, but ready,
without afiectation or bravado, to do any-

thing that duty required of him. He asked
me what the plans were for the morrow. I
answered that I was going to attack the
enemy at daylight, and he expressed gratifi-
cation at my reply, though apparently not
because of any unmixed confidence in the
result. I had had no consultation with Gen-
eral Grant, and knew nothing of his purpose.
I presumed that we would be in accord, but
I had been only a few hours within the limits
of his authority, and I did not look upon him
as my commander, though I would zealously
have obeyed his orders. General Sherman
allowed me to take with me the map of which
a fac- simile accompanies this article. I never
imagined that in the future it would have the
interest which now attaches to it, and after
the battle it was laid aside and forgotten.

Within two years after that meeting, quite
contrary opinions developed themselves be-
tween General Sherman and myself concern-
ing the battle of Shiloh, and his Memoirs
give a different account of the interview
above described. He says that he handed
the map to my engineer-officer. Captain
Michler, who, in fact, was not present, and
complains that it was never returned to him.
He says that I grumbled about the stragglers,
and that he feared I would not bring my
army across the river. One would suppose
that his fears would have been allayed by the
fact that at that very moment my troops were
arriving and covering his front as fast as legs
and steamboats could carry them.

In the execution of the retreat described
in the reports of McClernand and Sherman,
from the west to the east side of Tillman's
Creek, there was a quite thorough disintegra-
tion of divisions and brigades, lacking noth-
ing but the pressure of a vigorous pursuit to
convert it into a complete rout. In its sev-
enth position, McClemand's division recovered
some force, and preserved a recognized or-
ganization ; but not so with Sherman's. In-
deed, in that division the disorganization
occurred, as has already been stated, at an
earlier period. In Hildebrand's brigade it
was almost coincident with the enemy's first
assault. With McDowell's it commenced
with the unsuccessful attempt to form line
of battle along the Purdy road, and was com-
plete very soon after one, o'clock; and these
two brigades never recovered their aggrega-
tion again until after the battle. With Buck-
land's brigade also it occurred at the miscar-
riage at the Purdy road about ten o'clock,
but it was not so thorough as in the other
brigades — at least it was afterwards partially
repaired during the first day, as his report
explains. He says, after the retreat from his
camp about ten o'clock, " We formed line on

Digitized by




the Purdy road, but the fleeing mass from the
left broke through our lines, and many of our
men caught the infection and fled with the
crowd. Colonel Cockerill became separated
from Colonel Sullivan and myself, and was
afterward engaged with part of his command
at McClemand's camp. Colonel Sullivan and
myself kept together, and made every efibrt
to rally our men, but with very poor success.
They had become scattered in all directions.
We were borne considerably to the left, but
Anally succeeded in forming a line, and had
a short engagement with the enemy, who
made his appearance soon afrer our hne was
formed. The enemy fell back, and we pro-
ceeded to the road where you (General Sher-
man) found us. At this point I was joined
by Colonel Cockerill, anci we there formed
line of battle and slept on our arms Sunday
night. Colonel Sullivan being out of ammu-
nition, marched to the landing for a supply,
and while there was ordered to support a
battery at that point."

It is only after a close examination of the
records that we can understand the full sig-
nificance of the following passage in General
Sherman's report :

" In this position we rested for the night. My
command had become decidedlv of a mixed charac-
ter. Backland*s brigade Mras the only one with me
that retained its organization. Colonel Hildebrand
was personally there, bat his brigade was not. Colo-
nel McDoweU had been severely injured by a fall
from his horse, and had gone to the river, and the
three regiments of his brigade were not in line.
The Thirteenth Missouri, Colonel Crafte J. Wright,
had reported to me on the field, and fought well, re-
taining its regimental organization, and it formed part
of my line during Sunday night and all of Monoay;
other fragments of regiments and companies had also
fallen into my division, and acted with it during the
remainder of the battle."

It thus appears that from about one o'clock
until the time when General Sherman found
Colonel Buckland with two regiments on the
road from the bridge to the Landing, not a
single regiment of his division excepting Cock-
eriirs, and not one prominent individual repre-
sentative of it excepting that officer and
Colonel Hildebrand, was present with him.
The only body of troops besides Cockerill's
regiment having any recognized organization
was the Thirteenth Missouri, which belonged
to another division. ^ All the rest were squads
or individual stragglers. In all the oflicial
reports, not a regiment or part of a regiment
is described as being with him at this juncture
or for several hours before. Of the nme regi-
ments that composed the three brigades imder
his immediate command at the church, only
five rendered reports, and three of these were
from Buckland's brigade. The division did
not exist except in the person of its com-

mander. Such is the story of the official re-
ports. The number of men present could
not have been large. Less than one thou-
sand, including Buckland's two regiments after
they were found, would have told the num-
ber that lay on their arms in Sherman's ranks
on Sunday night.

This explains the close relation of McCler
nand and Sherman during the last five hours
of Sunday, and the identity of their experi-
ences. General Sherman has nothing to re-
port of his own command distinctively. Every-
thing is conjunctive and general as between
McClemand and himself. ** We held this posi-
tion. General McClemand and myself acting
in perfect concert." ** General IdcClemand
and /, on consultation, selected a new line."
" We fell back as well as we could." " The
enemy's cavalry charged uSy and was hand-
somely repulsed." General McClemand's ac-
count of this incident has been quoted on a
preceding page. When Colonel Hildebrand
lost his brigade, it is not with General Sher-
man that he is identified, but with McCler-
nand, on whose staff he served part of the
day. Hildebrand seems to have been active,
but not imder the direction of his division
commander. "About three o'clock," he says,
" I assumed command of a regiment already
formed of fragmentary regiments. I marched
in a northwestern direction, where I aided a
regiment of sharpshooters in defeating the
enemy in an attempt to flank our rear." Thb
movement was evidentiy made firom McQer-
nand's and Sherman's seventh position, and
the troops assisted were Birge's Sharpshooters.
General Sherman makes no mention of this
significant if not important occurrence. His
right flank was threatened, and the regiment
of Sharpshooters posted in the field near Mc-
Arthur's headquarters met and, in conjimc-
tion with Hildebrand's temporary regiment,
repelled the danger.

We have in the official reports a ^ood due
to the condition of McClemand's division also.
It was in a far better state. It was shattotd
and wom, but it was represented by at least
some recognized following of regiments and
brigades. One of the brigades had five hun-
dred men, and another, the commander
reports, was ** merely nominal," not long be-
fore McClemand took up his seventh position.
In the last collision, one of the brigades

Online LibraryRobert Walter BruèreThe Century, Volume 31 → online text (page 133 of 168)