Report of Brigadier General Daniel Ruggles, C. S. Army, commanding First Division, Second Corps, Army of the Mississippi (Includes correspondence from several artillery battery commanders relating to the attack on Prentiss's position
HDQRS. RUGGLES' DIV. 2D CORPS, ARMY OF THE MISS.,
Corinth, Miss., April 25, 1862
Maj. GEORGE G. GARNER,
SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of
the services of my division at the battle of Shiloh, Tenn., on the 6th and 7th
On Sunday morning, the 6th instant, at daybreak, the three brigades composing my division occupied the position in line of battle in double column at half distance, which had been, under the orders of the previous day, indicated, extending from the Bark road on the right toward Owl Creek on the left, a distance of some 2 miles. Major-General Hardee's advance, extending from the Bark road a short distance toward my left, constituted the first line.
About sunrise I sent orders to the commanders of brigades to advance with deploying intervals, taking the First as the brigade of direction.
Soon afterward, receiving orders from Major-General Bragg, I directed Col. R. L. Gibson's First Brigade to march by the right flank across the Bark road and then advance in support of the first line, as previously ordered. I then made dispositions as rapidly as possible to insure conformity on the part of the other brigades of my division with this change of plan. The commander of the Third Brigade, Col. Preston Pond, had been already directed to throw one regiment of infantry and a section of Captain Ketchum's guns into position on the Owl Creek road and prevent the enemy turning our left flank. Four companies of cavalry, under Capts. T. F. Jenkins, commanding, A. Tomlinson, J. J. Cox, and J. Robins, covered our right and left flank.
Returning from a rapid supervision along the line, when approaching the Bark road the enemy opened fire from point to point in rapid succession, driving back some troops of the first line. The Washington Artillery, under Captain Hodgson, was then brought forward, and two howitzers and two rifled guns, commanded by Lieutenant Slocomb, with two guns under Captain Shoup, were put in position on the crest of a ridge near an almost impenetrable boggy thicket ranging along our front, and opened a destructive fire in response to the enemy's batteries, then sweeping our lines at short range. I also sent orders to Brigadier-General Anderson to advance rapidly with his Second Brigade, and as soon as he came up I directed a charge against the enemy, in which some of the Sixth Mississippi and Second Tennessee joined. At the same time I directed other troops to move rapidly by the right to turn the enemy's position beyond the swamp and that the field artillery follow as soon as masked by the movement of the infantry. Under these movements, vigorously executed, after a spirited contest, the enemy's whole line gave way, and our advance took possession of the camp and batteries against which the charge was made.
I then sent orders to Colonel Pond to advance rapidly the Third Brigade, swinging to the right, meeting the development of the enemy's line of fire, sweeping the camps on the left, and to prevent surprise on his left flank.
Subsequently I sent orders to Colonel Looney's (Thirty-eighth Tennessee) regiment and the section of Ketchum's battery, then on the Owl Creek road, to conform to these movements.
In the mean time the First Brigade (Gibson's) united with Brigadier-General Hindman's advance, after having driven the enemy from their camp on our right, engaged in repeated charges against the enemy's new line, now held on the margin of an open field swept by his fire.
The enemy's camps on our left being apparently cleared I endeavored to concentrate forces on his right flank in this new position, and directed Captain Hodgson's battery into action there. The fire of this battery and a charge from the Second Brigade put the enemy to flight. Even after having been driven back from this position the enemy rallied and disputed the ground with remarkable tenacity for some two or three hours against our forces in front and his right flank, where cavalry, infantry, and artillery mingled in the conflict.
As the enemy finally gave way I directed the movement of the Second Brigade toward the right along the crest of the ridge following the line of the enemy's continued resistance, and sent a section of Ketchum's battery into action on a road leading toward Pittsburg, in a position overlooking the broken slope below, to reply to batteries nearly in front and in the forest to the right, with which the enemy swept a large circuit around; sending also Colonel Smith's (Louisiana Crescent)regiment, Third Brigade, to support this battery, then harassed by skirmishers, and to seize the opportunity to charge the enemy's position. I then put a section of guns, commanded by First Lieut. James C. Thrall, belonging to Capt. George T. Hubbard's (Arkansas) battery, in position on the road reading along the ridge, still farther to the right, which was soon forced to retire under the concentrated fire of the enemy's artillery'.
Discovering the enemy in considerable numbers moving through the forest on the lower margin of the open field in front, I obtained Trabue's and Stanford's light batteries and brought them into action, and directed their fire on masses of the enemy then pressing forward toward our right, engaged in a fierce contest with our forces then advancing against him in that direction. I directed my staff officers at the same time to bring forward all the field guns they could collect from the left toward the right as rapidly as possible, resulting in the concentration of the following batteries, commencing on the right and extending to the left:
1st, Captain Trabue's Kentucky ;(+) 2d, Captain Burns' Mississippi ;(+) 3d, First Lieutenant Thrall's section of Captain Hubbard's Arkansas; 4th, Captain Swett's Mississippi; 5th, Captain Trigg's, and 6th, Captain Roberts' Arkansas; 7th, Captain Rutledge's; 8th, Captain Robertson's (12-pounder Napoleon guns) Alabama; 9th, Captain Stanford's Mississippi; 10th, Captain Bankhead's Tennessee; 11th, Captain Hodgson's Washington Artillery, of Louisiana, extending in succession to the left, toward the position already designated as occupied by Captain Ketchum's (Alabama) battery.
For a brief period the enemy apparently gained ground, and when the conflict was at its height these batteries opened upon his concentrated forces, enfilading Prentiss' division on his right flank, producing immediate commotion, and soon resulted in the precipitate retreat of the enemy from the contest.
At this moment the Second Brigade and the Crescent Regiment pressed forward and cut off a considerable portion of the enemy, comprising Prentiss' division, who surrendered to the Crescent Regiment, of my command, then pressing upon its rear.
Subsequently, while advancing toward the river, I received instructions from General Bragg to carry forward all the troops I could find, and while assembling a considerable force ready for immediate action I received from Colonel Augustin notice of General Beauregard's orders to withdraw from the further pursuit, and finding soon afterwards that the forces were falling back, I retired with them, just as night set in, to the open field in rear, and as I received no further orders I directed General Anderson and Colonel Gibson to hold their troops in readiness, with their arms cleaned and cartridges supplied, for service the next morning.
For the movement of the Third Brigade during the day, sweeping the left around toward the enemy's center, and the position held during the night, reference is made to the report of Colonel Pond, the brigade commander.
On the morning of the 7th, at about 6 o'clock, a messenger from Colonel Pond gave notice that the enemy were in his front in force, and that he would endeavor to hold him in check until he should receive re-enforcements. My First and Second Brigades moved immediately to the field and joined Colonel Pond in his position.
Some time afterward Colonel Pond's brigade was ordered to the right, and Colonel Gibson's then occupied the left, with a part of which and some two companies of cavalry we made the attempt to charge the enemy's right flank and silence a battery there, in which we only partially succeeded with Colonel Fagan's (First Arkansas) regiment, the exhausted condition of the infantry, and fruitless attempt of the cavalry. We succeeded, however, after having silenced and dislodged the battery, in maintaining a position well advanced upon the enemy's flank, until recalled and moved to the center and left of our line, where the conflict raged most fiercely for some hours, with varying fortune, until on the approach of night our troops were withdrawn from the field. In falling back I commanded the artillery, infantry, and cavalry constituting the second line or rear guard of the movement.
In these successive conflicts, covering a period of nearly two days, the troops of my division displayed almost uniformly great bravery and personal gallantry worthy of veterans in the cause. The regiments were remarkable for their steadiness in action, the maintenance of their organization in the field, and their good conduct generally from the beginning to the end of these battles.
In consequence of the hurried nature of my report I shall not enter into details touching the personal conduct of many officers and men distinguished for their gallantry or the special and signal services of regiments, commending, however, the reports of brigade, regimental, and independent company commanders, in all particulars, to special consideration.
It gives me pleasure to acknowledge the services on the field, promptly and gallantly rendered, of Capt. Roy M. Hooe, assistant adjutant-general, and First Lieut. M. B. Ruggles, aide-de-camp, throughout the successive conflicts; of Lieut. L. D. Sandidge, acting assistant inspector-general, the greater part of both days; of Maj. John Claiborne, chief quartermaster, a part of the first day; of Surg. F. M. Hereford, chief surgeon, slightly wounded, who rendered important services on the field until the wounded required his professional services; of Maj. E. S. Ruggles, volunteer aide-de-camp, until disabled in the left arm by the explosion of a shell near the close of the first day; of Capt. G. M. Beck, volunteer aide-de-camp, and of Col. S.S. Heard (Louisiana Volunteers), who volunteered and rendered important services on the field both days, and of Dr. S.S. Sandidge, who volunteered professionally, and although partially disabled by being thrown against a tree, accompanied me to the end of the contest. Major Hallonquist, chief of artillery, rendered me important services during a part of the second day.
I have to regret the loss of Lieut. Benjamin King, acting assistant adjutant-general, killed during the first day, and of Private Manuel W. Chapman, of the Seventh Regiment Louisiana Volunteers, my secretary, toward the close of the second day, and of Corporal Adam Cloninger and Private John Stalnaker, of Captain Cox's cavalry, who were killed while serving as couriers under my immediate orders.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brigadier-General, C. S. Army, Commanding Division.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE,
Tullahoma, Tenn., April 21, 1863
Respectfully forwarded, with the request that this be
substituted for Brigadier-General Ruggles' former report. The facts he states
are not within my personal knowledge, as I was at the time on a distant part of
the field; but he is sustained by his subordinate commanders and a mass of other
testimony, and justice to his command entitles his request to consideration.
General, C. S. Army
[Inclosure No. 1.]
HDQRS. FIRST DIST., DEPT. OF MISS. AND EAST LA.,
Columbus, Miss., April 7, 1863
General BRAXTON BRAGG,
C. S. Army
GENERAL: I have the honor to transmit for your consideration some official
statements from officers commanding field batteries and others possessing
personal knowledge touching the events connected with the closing scenes of the
battle of Shiloh, on Sunday evening, April 6, 1862; and
1st. A letter from Col. Smith P. Bankhead, artillery, Provisional Army, dated December 16, 1862.
2d. A letter from Capt. L. D. Sandidge, division inspector, dated January 24, 1863.
3d. A letter from Col. S.S. Heard, late colonel of the Seventeenth Regiment Louisiana Volunteers, dated March 18, 1863.
4th. A letter from Capt. James C. Thrall, artillery, C. S. Provisional Army, dated April 1, 1863.
By reference to my own official report of that period, in the battle specially referred to, the following statement will be found, viz:
As the enemy finally gave way I directed the movement of the Second Brigade toward the right, along the crest of the ridge, following the line of the enemy's continued resistance, and sent a section of Ketchum's battery into action on a road leading toward Pittsburg, in a position overlooking the broken slope below, to reply to batteries nearly in front and in the forest to the right, with which the enemy swept a large circuit around; sending also Colonel Smiths (Louisiana Crescent) regiment, Third Brigade, to support this battery, then harassed by skirmishers, and to seize the opportunity to charge the enemy's position. I then put a section of guns in position on the road leading along the ridge still farther to the right, which was soon forced to retire under the concentrated fire of the enemy's artillery.
Discovering the enemy in considerable numbers moving through the forest on the lower margin of the open field in front, I obtained Trabue's and Stanford's light batteries and brought them into action, and directed their fire on masses of the enemy then pressing forward toward our right, engaged in a fierce contest with our forces then advancing against him in that direction.
For a brief period the enemy apparently gained ground, and when the conflict was at its height these batteries opened upon his concentrated forces, producing immediate commotion, and soon resulted in the precipitate retreat of the enemy from the contest.
At this moment the Second Brigade and the Crescent. Regiment pressed forward and cut off a considerable portion of the enemy, who surrendered.
I have also to remark that a hasty glance at your manuscript report (at Richmond) disclosed no special notice of that particular period of the battle corresponding with its importance, and I therefore have the honor to request that you will amend your report so far as to do justice to those troops who participated in one of the controlling conflicts of that eventful day.
It is due to myself to state that subsequently enfeebled health, the constant pressure of official business, the sickness of my staff officers, and the haste enjoined in making my official report, even before the subordinate reports could be obtained, deprived me of the means of retracing circumstantially many of the most notable events of the day, and, as subsequent investigation discloses, did not do full justice to the occasion.
I n view of this fact I now have the honor to transmit for your consideration an amended report of that portion of the battle, and to request that you will forward it and the accompanying papers, including this letter, to the Adjutant-General for the files of the War Department.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
[Inclosure No. 2.]
JACKSON, MISS., December 16, 1862
Capt. ROY MASON HOOE,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Jackson, Miss.
CAPTAIN: In reply to your communication of the 8th
instant, making inquiry "as to the part your (my) battery took in the
bombardment of Prentiss' division, late Sunday evening, at the battle of
Shiloh," and further, "by whose order the batteries were ordered up to their
respective positions, and how many there were and by whom commanded," I have the
honor to state, for the information of Brigadier-General Ruggles, that at about
2 p.m. of April 6 1 had been compelled to fall back from a position on the
extreme left of our lines, opposite a field near where Prentiss' camp was
afterward discovered to be, and under orders from Maj. Gen. L. Polk retired my
battery about 200 yards through the woods skirting the field.
As I retired I was informed that a general attack was contemplated and then being organized by our troops on the enemy to the right of my position, and it was conjectured that the enemy had made his last stand before being driven to the banks of the river.
In a short time the musketry firing on my right opened briskly and increased in volume until it was evident that all our troops were engaged, and that the enemy was making a most determined stand with a force sufficient to hold our people in check and occasionally to stagger them.
At this juncture my battery was ordered by a staff officer to the edge of the field near Prentiss' camp, and to a position sweeping his rear approaches, and from which I had previously retired. As I went into action Captain Stanford formed on my right. I found the Washington Artillery already in position on my left and firing rapidly. Captain Robertson's 12-pounder battery formed on the right of Stanford, with Captain (now Major) Rutledge on his right and some one or two other batteries still farther to the right, but by whom commanded I am unable to state.
The effect of this tremendous concentrated fire was very evident. The reserves, which could be plainly seen going up to Prentiss' relief, fell back in confusion under the shower of shot, shell, and canister that was poured upon them, while our infantry, encouraged by such heavy artillery support, rushed forward with a shout and carried the position.
I regret that I cannot state the name of the staff officer ordering me up or to whose staff he was attached. All I have been able to ascertain, upon consultation with battery commanders touching this remarkable concentration of artillery, is that it was not the result of accident, but under and by the direction of one controlling mind, as batteries were brought up from various portions of the field and directed to this particular position. I have made repeated inquiry of officers of the artillery and staff officers to ascertain by whose order this movement was executed, and the only reliable information I have received was communicated to me by Lieuts. A. H. Polk and William B. Richmond, aides to Major-General Polk, who state that they felt assured it was executed under the direction of Brigadier-General Ruggles, as they saw him at that time on our extreme left engaged in ordering up batteries for some position along the lines.
I have the honor to remain, captain, your obedient servant,
SMITH P. BANKHEAD,
Colonel of Artillery, Provisional Army, Confederate States.
[lnclosure No. 3. ]
COLUMBUS, MISS., January 25, 1863
Dept. of Mississippi and East Louisiana.
Brig. Gen. DANIEL RUGGLES
GENERAL: Being cognizant of many inquiries made by
officers of the artillery who participated in the memorable battle of Shiloh
relative to artillery practice, &c., and particularly concerning the effect our
artillery had in forcing Prentiss' division to fall back in a direction which
compelled his ultimate surrender, I will, with your permission, make a short
statement of a few facts which occurred under my own observation respecting the
latter idea, i.e., concerning the artillery fire and Prentiss' division:
I conceive a few remarks on this topic necessary from the fact that so few of our officers are aware under whose direction that especial concentration of artillery was made, which seemed to my mind to have such a controlling influence over the line of march taken by General Prentiss' command in his retrograde movement.
Late Sunday evening, the first day of the fight, after our forces had compelled Prentiss' troops to commence a rapid retreat, I rejoined you just beyond an open space known as the enemy's parade ground, I think, and found myself, as I afterwards ascertained, in the wake of the retreating enemy. At this point, however, a desperate stand was made by them, and they succeeded in checking our infantry, and were apparently intending to hold the ground they then occupied till they could be re-enforced.
At this juncture (about 3 p.m., as near as I can recollect) I received from you a verbal but positive order to bring up all the artillery I could find and post it along the Woods road, running between the parade ground above mentioned and a small cleared field in front, through the center of which passed a small brook densely crowded with large shrubbery, in which large numbers of the enemy had taken' refuge, to the serious discomfort of our troops, who for the time were unable to dislodge them. I immediately placed a section of some battery— -either Bankhead's or Stanford's, I do not recollect which— in position, and was on the point of bringing more guns in position, when, suggesting the propriety of endeavoring to throw in the gap between the right of our line and the left of the adjoining infantry as large an infantry force as we could obtain, I was directed to ride to the rear and bring up the débris of several disorganized infantry regiments and other officers of the staff, under your personal direction and supervision, collected all the guns of three or four batteries along the position referred to on the crest of the hills overlooking the field, and when I returned to rejoin you, after an unsuccessful attempt to forward the men referred to, I found the enemy, being unable to withstand the destructive cannonade which you had directed against them, had fallen back rapidly through the field over the hills beyond, when, finding themselves cut off by portions of our division and being threatened on the flank by General Polk, they threw down their arms. I have no doubt that had they been seasonably re-enforced when they checked our advancing troops they could certainly have broken our lines had you not concentrated all the artillery you could obtain at that point, which was weakest. Even then I feared serious demonstrations would be made before sufficient infantry could be obtained to support the artillery, which alone was then stemming the tide hurled against us. No one who observed the effects of that firing could but be agreeably surprised at its result.
I have the honor to remain, respectfully, your obedient servant,
L. D. SANDIDGE,
Captain, C. S. Army, Act. Insp. Gen. 1st Dist.,
[Inclosure No. 4]
HDQRS. SEVENTEENTH LOUISIANA VOLUNTEERS,
Raymond, Miss., March 18, 1863
Assistant Adjutant-General, Columbus, Miss.
CAPTAIN: In reply to your communication of January 31,
concerning the effect our artillery had in forcing Prentiss' division to fall
back in a direction which compelled his ultimate surrender at the battle of
Shiloh, Tenn., on April 6, 1862, and as to whom I conceive to be the controlling
genius at that point on that occasion, with those who participated at that
point, there can certainly be but one opinion, and as long as I remained in the
service I never heard but one opinion expressed.
Between 12 and 1 o'clock on Sunday we had carried all the enemy's encampments except Prentiss'. At this time, however, the enemy made a desperate stand 200 or 300 paces east of the last encampment and about north of the open space known to us as the enemy's parade ground. For two hours our success at that point appeared doubtful. I was ordered by General Ruggles immediately to bring up the artillery. When I reported the artillery, the general ordered it into position 200 or 300 paces lower down the ridge, northeast of the parade ground. Our guns opened upon the enemy with great success from that position, which created great confusion in the enemy's lines. They soon gave way and were hotly pursued by our troops from that point. Other guns were brought and put in position lower down the ridge, by order of General Ruggles, at the southwest corner of a small cleared field, where the ground north and east of the cleared land was covered with bushes and small saplings, in which the enemy bad made a stand. The general ordered the artillery to fire upon them, which they did, and very soon they returned our fire with some effect. The general now ordered the Seventeenth and Nineteenth Regiments Louisiana Volunteers, with some other infantry regiments, to march by the right flank in the direction of the Tennessee River.
In the mean time I was ordered by the general to re-enforce at that point the artillery already there. By the time we got our guns in position we heard the report of musketry, which we justly concluded was that of our troops sent in that direction. We also saw troops from north and east of the small field marching in a southerly direction, as we supposed, to re-enforce their friends. Our guns opened fire upon them at that juncture with such unparalleled effect that in less time than twenty minutes they were in full retreat toward Prentiss' encampment, and in less than one hour Prentiss and his friends were brought to the general as prisoners. The general and staff were sitting on their horses at the north end of the small cleared field, near where several bales of hay had been set on fire by the explosion of our guns while shooting at the enemy across the field, where the general received Prentiss and other prisoners captured at the same time with Prentiss.
These are my reasons, captain, for saying that General Ruggles was the controlling genius on that occasion. He himself conceived the plan of concentrating the artillery at those different points before mentioned, which we all believe was the cause of Prentiss and his command surrendering at the time they did. I made no notes on this occasion and only write from recollection, and I no doubt have omitted many things that occurred during that part of the day that would be highly creditable to General Ruggles' talents, capacity, and gallantry, as displayed on the field on that day.
I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Ex-Colonel Seventeenth Regiment Louisiana Volunteers.
[Inclosure No. 5.]
COLUMBUS, MISS., April 1, 1863
Capt. L. D. SANDIDGE,
Actg. Asst. Adjt. and Insp. Gen., Columbus, Miss.
CAPTAIN: You requested me, a few days ago, to make a
statement relative to the bombardment of General Prentiss' division late Sunday
evening, April 6, 1862, at the battle of Shiloh; also to state what battery I
then belonged to, and what other batteries were in the engagement, and by whom
commanded. I have the honor to state as follows:
At that time I was first lieutenant, commanding the right section of an Arkansas battery, commanded by Capt. George T. Hubbard, in Brigadier-General Cleburne's brigade, Maj. Gen. W. J. Hardee's corps. About I p.m. I was moving on the right of General Hardee's lines with ray section, when I came to a ravine, and was about to have some trouble crossing, when I was met by one of Major-General Polk's staff officers, who directed me to move to my right to a road, in order that I might move forward without any difficulty, which I did as rapidly as possible, and came into action on the left of Captain Bankhead's battery. My position being a bad one, in a dense thicket, I was compelled to fall back, followed by Captain Bankhead. I soon moved forward with my section, by order of Major General Polk, when I was met and placed into position by yourself, with directions to throw some shot through a log house and some spherical case at some bales of cotton that were in the edge of a field, where there was quite a number of the enemy concealed.
At this time there was no other battery engaged at this point. Brigadier-General Ruggles then directed me to move to my right and throw some shells into a thicket across a field. I had fired but three or four rounds when a rifle battery replied to me most handsomely, and it being a little more than I felt disposed to contend with, General Ruggles ordered me to move my section up to my right, where I was joined by Captain Byrne's (Mississippi) battery. Here I heard General Ruggles say that it was his intention to concentrate as much artillery as possible at this point, to prevent General Prentiss from being re-enforced from the river.
As soon as I had replenished the limber chests of my guns from my caissons General Ruggles ordered me back to my former position. Captain Byrne's (Mississippi) battery formed on my right, Captain Swett's (Mississippi) battery, and Captains Trigg's and Roberts' (Arkansas) batteries formed on my left. There were other batteries farther to my left, but I am unable to state by whom they were commanded.
The concentration of artillery at this point proved very effective The re-enforcements that were going to the relief of General Prentiss, not being able to withstand the shower of shot, shell, and shrapnel that was poured upon them, fell back in confusion toward the river, which resulted in the surrender of General Prentiss, with his division.
In reference to the concentration of artillery at this point I feel assured that it was done by the direction of Brigadier-General Ruggles, from the fact that I saw him place other batteries into position besides my own, and his staff officers were actively engaged in bringing up batteries from different portions of the field.
I have the honor to remain, captain, your obedient servant,
JAMES C. THRALL,
Captain of Artillery.
Text Source - The Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies
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