Report of Major General Lewis Wallace, U. S. Army, commanding Third Division, Army of the Tennessee. Including correspondence related to his actions during the battle
HDQRS. THIRD DIVISION, UNITED STATES FORCES,
Pittsburg Landing, Tenn., April 12, 1862
Capt. JOHN A. RAWLINS,
SIR: Sunday morning, 6th instant, my brigades, three in
number, were encamped, the first at Crump's Landing, the second 2 miles from
that Landing, the third at Adamsville, 2½ miles farther out on the road to
Purdy. The Eleventh Indiana, Col. George F. McGinnis; Eighth Missouri, Lieut.
Col. James Peckham, and Twenty-fourth Indiana, Col. Alvin P. Hovey, composed the
First Brigade, Col. Morgan L. Smith commanding. The First Nebraska, Lieut. Col.
W. D. McCord; Twenty-third Indiana, Col. W. L. Sanderson; Fifty-eighth Ohio,
Col. V. Bausenwein, and Fifty-sixth Ohio, Col. P. Kinney, composed the Second
Brigade, Col. John M. Thayer commanding. The Third Brigade consisted of the
Twentieth Ohio, Col. M. F. Force; Seventy-sixth Ohio, Col. Charles R. Woods;
Seventy-eighth Ohio, Col. M.D. Leggett, and Sixty-eighth Ohio, Col. S. H.
Steedman; Col. Charles Whittlesey commanding. To my division were attached
Lieutenant Thurber's Missouri battery and Capt. N. S. Thompson's
Indiana battery; also the Third Battalion Fifth Ohio Cavalry, Maj. C. S. Hayes,
and the Third Battalion Eleventh Illinois Cavalry, Maj. James F. Johnson.
Hearing heavy and continuous cannonading in the direction of Pittsburg Landing early Sunday morning, I inferred a general battle, and, in anticipation of an order from General Grant to join him at that place, had the equipage of the several brigades loaded in wagons for instant removal to my first camp at the river. The First and Third Brigades were also ordered to concentrate at the camp of the Second, from which proceeded the nearest and most practicable road to the scene of battle. At 11.30 o'clock the anticipated order arrived, directing me to come up and take position on the right of the army and form my line of battle at a right angle with the river. As it also directed me to leave a force to prevent surprise at Crump's Landing, the Fifty-sixth Ohio and Sixty-eighth Ohio Regiments were detached for that purpose, with one gun from Lieutenant Thurber's battery. Selecting a road that led directly to the right of the lines as they were established around Pittsburg Landing on Sunday morning, my column started immediately, the distance being about 6 miles. The cannonading, distinctly audible, quickened the steps of the men. Snake Creek, difficult of passage at all times, on account of its steep banks and swampy bottoms, ran between me and the point of junction. Short way from it Captain Rowley, from General Grant, and attached to his staff, overtook me. From him I learned that our lines had been beaten back; that the right, to which I was proceeding, was then fighting close to the river, and that the road pursued would take me in the enemy's rear, where, in the unfortunate condition of the battle, my command was in danger of being entirely cut off. It seemed, on his representation, most prudent to carry the column across to what is called the "River road," which, following the windings of the Tennessee bottoms, crossed Snake Creek by a good bridge close to Pittsburg Landing. This movement occasioned a counter-march, which delayed my junction with the main army until a little after night-fall. The information brought me by Captain Rowley was confirmed by Colonel McPherson and Captain Rawlins, also of the general's staff, who came up while I was crossing to the River road. About 1 o'clock at night my brigades and batteries were disposed, forming the extreme right, and ready for battle.
Shortly after daybreak Captain Thompson opened fire on a rebel battery posted on a bluff opposite my First Brigade, and across a deep and prolonged hollow, threaded by a creek and densely wooded on both sides. From its position and that of its infantry support, lining the whole length of the bluff, it was apparent that crossing the hollow would be at heavy loss, unless the battery was first driven off. Thurber was accordingly posted to assist Thompson by a cross-fire and at the same time sweep the hiding place of the rebels on the brow of the hill. This had the desired effect. After a few shells from Thurber the enemy fell back, but not before Thompson had dismounted one of their rifled guns. During this affair General Grant came up and gave me my direction of attack, which was forward at a right angle with the river, with which at the time my line ran almost parallel.
The battery and its supports having been driven from the opposite bluff, my command was pushed forward, the brigades in echelon— the First in front, and the whole preceded by skirmishers. The hollow was crossed and the hill gained almost without opposition. As General Sherman's division, next on my left, had not made its appearance to support my advance, a halt was ordered for it to come up. I was then at the edge of an oblong field that extended in a direction parallel with the river. On its right was a narrow strip of woods, and beyond that lay another cleared field, square and very large. Back of both fields, to the north, was a range of bluffs overlooking the swampy low grounds of Snake Creek, heavily timbered, broken by ravines, and extending in a course diagonal with that of my movement. An examination satisfied me that the low grounds afforded absolute protection to my right flank, being impassable for a column of attack. The enemy's left had rested upon the bluff, and, as it had been driven back, that flank was now exposed. I resolved to attempt to turn it. For that purpose it became necessary for me to change front by a left half-wheel of the whole division.
While this movement was in progress, across a road through the woods at the southern end of the field we were resting by, I discovered a heavy column of rebels going rapidly to re-enforce their left, which was still retiring, covered by skirmishers, with whom mine were engaged. Thompson's battery was ordered up, and shelled the passing column with excellent effect; but while he was so engaged he was opened on by a full battery, planted in the field just beyond the strip of wood on the right. He promptly turned his guns at the new enemy. A fine artillery duel ensued, very honorable to Thompson and his company. His ammunition giving out in the midst of it, I ordered him to retire and Lieutenant Thurber to take his place. Thurber obeyed with such alacrity that there was scarcely an intermission in the fire, which continued so long and with such warmth as to provoke an attempt on the part of the rebels to charge the position. Discovering the intention, the First Brigade was brought across the field to occupy the strip of woods in front of Thurber. The cavalry made the first dash at the battery, but the skirmishers of the Eighth Missouri poured an unexpected fire into them, and they retired pell-mell. Next the infantry attempted a charge. The First Brigade easily repelled them. All this time my whole division was under a furious cannonade, but being well masked behind the bluff, or resting in the hollows of the wood, the regiments suffered but little.
A handsome line of battle now moved forward on my left to engage the enemy. I supposed it to be Sherman's troops, but was afterwards otherwise informed. Simultaneously mine were ordered to advance, the First Brigade leading. Emerging from the woods, it entered the second field I have mentioned, speedily followed by the Second Brigade, when both marched in face of the enemy, aligned as regularly as if on parade. Having changed front, as stated, my movement was now diagonal to the direction originally started on, though the order was still in echelon, with the center regiment of each brigade dropped behind its place in line as a reserve. While thus advancing Colonel Whittlesey, as appears from his report, in some way lost his position, but soon recovered it. The position of the enemy was now directly in front at the edge of the woods fronting, and on the right of the open field my command was so gallantly crossing. The ground to be passed getting at them dipped gradually to the center of the field, which is there intersected by a small run, well fringed with willows.
Clearing an abrupt bank beyond the branch, the surface ascends to the edge of the wood held by the enemy, and is without obstruction, but marked by frequent swells, that afforded protection to the advancing lines, and was the secret of my small loss. Over the branch, up the bank, across the rising ground, moved the steady First Brigade; on its right, with equal alacrity, marched the Second— the whole in view, their banners gaily decking the scene. The skirmishers, in action all the way, cleared the rise, and grouped themselves behind the ground swells within 75 yards of the rebel line. As the regiments approached them suddenly a sheet of musketry blazed from the woods and a battery opened upon them. About the same instant the, regiments supporting me on my left fell hastily back. To save my flank I was compelled to order a halt. In a short time, however, the retiring regiments rallied and repulsed the enemy, and recovered their lost ground. My skirmishers meanwhile clung to their hillocks sharpshooting at the battery. Again the brigades advanced, their bayonets fixed for a charge; but, pressed on their flank and so threatened in front, the rebels removed their guns and fell back from the edge of the woods. In this advance Lieut. Col. John Gerber was killed, and it is but justice to say of him, "No man died that day with more glory; yet many died, and there was much glory." Captain McGuffin and Lieutenant South-wick, of the same regiment, also fell— gallant spirits, deserving honor: able recollection. Many soldiers equally brave perished or were wounded in the same field.
It was now noon, and, the enemy having been driven so far back, the idea of flanking them further had to be given up. Not wishing to interfere with the line of operations of the division to my left, but relying upon it for support, my front was again changed— the movement beginning with the First Brigade, taking the course of attack precisely as it had been in the outset. While this maneuver was being effected a squadron of rebel cavalry galloped from the woods on the right to charge the flank temporarily exposed. Colonel Thayer threw forward the Twenty-third Indiana, which, aided by an oblique fire from a company of the First Nebraska, repelled the assailants with loss. Scarcely had the front been changed when the supporting force on the left again gave way, closely followed by masses of the enemy. My position at this time became critical, as isolation from the rest of the army seemed imminent. The reserves were resorted to. Colonel Woods, with his regiment, was ordered into line on the left. The remnant of a Michigan regiment, sent me by General McClernand, was dispatched to the left of Woods'. Thurber galloped up, and was posted to cover a retreat, should such a misfortune become necessary. Before these dispositions could be effected the Eleventh Indiana, already engaged with superior numbers in its front, was attacked on its left flank; but, backward wheeling three companies of his endangered wing, Colonel McGinnis gallantly held his ground. Fortunately, before the enemy could avail themselves of their advantage by the necessary change of front, some fresh troops dashed against them, and once more drove them back. For this favor my acknowledgments are especially due Col. August Willich and his famous regiment.
Pending this struggle, Colonel Thayer pushed on his command and entered the woods, assaulting the rebels simultaneously with Colonel Smith. Here the Fifty-eighth Ohio and Twenty-third Indiana proved themselves fit comrades in battle with the noble First Nebraska. Here also the Seventy-sixth. Ohio won a brilliant fame. The First Nebraska fired away its last cartridge in the heat of the action. At a word the Seventy-sixth Ohio rushed in and took its place. Off to the right, meanwhile, arose the music of the Twentieth and Seventy-eighth Ohio, fighting gallantly in support of Thurber, to whom the sound of rebel cannon seemed a challenge no sooner heard than accepted.
From the time the wood was entered "Forward" was the only order; and step by step, from tree to tree, position to position, the rebel lines went back, never stopping again. Infantry, horse, and artillery— all went back. The firing was grand and terrible. Before us was the Crescent Regiment of New Orleans. Shelling us on the right was the Washington Artillery of Manassas renown, whose last stand was in front of Colonel Whittlesey's command. To and fro, now in my front, then in Sherman's, rode General Beauregard, inciting his troops and fighting for his fading prestige of invincibility. The desperation of the struggle may be easily imagined. While this was in progress far along the lines to the left the contest was raging with equal obstinacy. As indicated by the sounds, however, the enemy seemed retiring everywhere, cheer after cheer ringing through the woods. Each man felt that the day was ours.
About 4 o'clock the enemy to my front broke into rout and ran through the camps occupied by General Sherman on Sunday morning Their own camp had been established about 2 miles beyond. There, without halting, they fired tents, stores, &c. Throwing out the wounded, they filled their wagons full of arms (Springfield muskets and Enfield rifles) ingloriously thrown away by some of our troops the day before, and hurried on. After following them until nearly nightfall I brought my division back to Owl Creek and bivouacked it.
The conduct of Col. M. L. Smith and Col. John M. Thayer, commanding brigades, was beyond the praise of words. Colonel Whittlesey's was not behind them. To them all belong the highest honors of victory.
The gratitude of the whole country is due Col. George F. McGinnis, Lieut. Col. James Peckham, Col. Alvin P. Hovey, Lieut. Col. W. D. McCord, Col. W. L. Sanderson, Col. Valentine Bausenwein, Lieut. Col. M. F. Force, Col. Charles R. Woods, Col. M.D. Leggett, and their field, staff, and company officers. Aside from the courage they all displayed one point in their conduct is especially to be noted and imitated— I mean the skill each one showed in avoiding unnecessary exposure of his soldiers. They are proud of what the division achieved, and, like myself, they are equally proud that it was done with so little loss of their brave men.
Of my regiments I find it impossible to say enough. Excepting the Twenty-third and Twenty-fourth Indiana and the Twentieth Ohio they had all participated in the battle of Donelson; but this was a greater battle than Donelson, and consequently a more terrible ordeal in which to test what may be a thing of glory or shame— the courage of an untried regiment. How well they all behaved I sum up in the boast, not one man, officer or soldier, flinched. None but the wounded went to the Landing. Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, and Nebraska will be proud of the steadfast Third Division, and so am I.
Captain Thompson and Lieutenant Thurber and their officers and men have already been spoken of.
My acknowledgments are again given the gallant gentlemen of my staff, Capt. Frederick Knefier and Lieutenants Ross and Ware. To them I add Capt. E. T. Wallace, of the Eleventh Indiana Regiment, acting aide. The courage and judgment of all were many times severely tried.
After the battle of Donelson I took pleasure in honorably mentioning two of my orderlies. One of them, Thomas W. Simson, of Company I, Fourth U.S. Cavalry, I again call attention to. His gallantry is deserving reward. Along with him I placed Albert Kauffman, a sergeant in the same company, who was of great service to me, and has every quality that goes to make a practical officer. Finally, it is so rare to find one of his grade in the constant and full performance of his peculiar duties that, as a matter of justice, a passing tribute is due the Rev. John D. Rogers, chaplain of the Twenty-third Indiana. After the battle he was unwearied in his attention to the wounded, and that the resting places of the dead of his regiment might not be forgotten he collected their bodies and buried them tenderly, and with prayer and every religious rite; and in this, as far as my knowledge goes, he was as singular as he was Christian.
Herewith you will find a statement of the dead and wounded of my division.
Very respectfully, sir, your obedient servant,
General, Third Division.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE,
Pittsburg, April 25, 1862
Respectfully forwarded to headquarters of the department.
I directed this division at about 8 o'clock a.m. to be held in readiness to move at a moment's warning in any direction it might be ordered. Certainly not later than 11 a.m. the order reached General Wallace to march by a flank movement to Pittsburg Landing. Waiting until I thought he should be here, I sent one of my staff to hurry him, and afterwards sent Colonel McPherson and my assistant adjutant-general.
This report in some other particulars I do not fully indorse.
WASHINGTON CITY, March 14, 1863.
Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK
GENERAL: I have heard of prejudices against me at your
headquarters, relative to my failure to participate in the first day's battle at
Pittsburg Landing. I have also heard that you yourself entertain
them. For very obvious purposes, therefore, I respectfully submit to you the
following explanation of that affair:
On Sunday morning (April 6, 1862) my division, consisting of eleven regiments of infantry, one battalion of cavalry, and two batteries, was posted on the road from Crump's Landing to Purdy; the First Brigade at the Landing; the Second Brigade 2½ miles out, and the Third Brigade at Adamsville, 5 miles.
Very early that morning I became satisfied that a battle was in progress at Pittsburg Landing, and at once prepared my command for moving instantly upon receipt of an order from General Grant, and as the general was then at Savannah, 4 miles below, my expectation was that he would give me marching orders as he passed up the river to the scene of action. Accordingly my Second and Third Brigades sent their baggage to Crump's Landing, where it could be guarded by a single detachment. The First and Third Brigades joined the Second at its encampment.
About 9 o'clock General Grant passed up the river. Instead of an order to march, he merely left me a direction to hold myself in readiness for orders.
At exactly 11.30 a.m. a quartermaster by the name of Baxter brought me an order in writing unsigned by anybody. It directed me to leave a detachment to guard the public property at Crump's Landing, then march my division and form junction with the right of the army; after junction I was to form line of battle at a right angle with the river. This order, Captain Baxter told me, was from General Grant; that it had been given him verbally, but that in coming down the river he had reduced it to writing, leaving it unsigned. As I had resolved to march toward the cannonading at 12 o'clock without orders, if by that time none came, and as I had so informed Col. (now General) John M. Thayer, commanding my Second Brigade, I made no point upon the informality of the order brought by Baxter, but was glad to receive it in any shape.
Half an hour was given the men to eat dinner. Then I started the column at exactly 12 o'clock to execute General Grant's order. After leaving two regiments and one gun at Crump's Landing the column consisted of nine regiments of infantry and the cavalry and artillery stated; and as the regiments averaged 500 effectives, the whole command did not exceed 5,000 men of all arms.
The route was well known to my cavalry, since, in anticipation of a necessity for my retiring upon the main army, it had, by my order, corduroyed the road to the very point of junction.
Why, then, did I not make the junction sooner? There are two reasons why:
1st. Because of the lateness of the hour I received the order to march — 11.30 a.m.
2d. Arrived with my column within a short distance of the point of junction, I was overtaken by an aide of General Grant's, sent by him to tell me that our army had been beaten back from the position it held in the morning, and was then fighting a desperate and losing battle close about Pittsburg Landing. General Grant sent no additional order, and that brought me by Baxter made no provision for such a contingency. I was therefore left to my own judgment. Certainly General Grant did not intend I should continue my march and unsupported from line of battle on the ground his whole army had been beaten from; certainly he did not intend that with 5,000 men I should thrust myself into a position where, without possibility of help from the main army— which according to the account was then unable to help itself---I would, in [all] likelihood, be cut to pieces by the enemy's reserves and detachments. The point of junction to which I was proceeding was at least 2¼ miles from Pittsburg Landing. Could I have successfully cut my way through the enemy, fighting superior forces over that space, in what condition would my regiments have been to give the general the assistance he so much required?
In this dilemma I resolved, as the most prudent course, to carry out the spirit of General Grant's order, and join the right of his army as it then rested. That could only be done by carrying my column to the lower or river road from Crump's to Pittsburg Landing, by following which I could cross Snake Creek by a good bridge at the very point of junction. A counter-march was therefore ordered, which, in the absence of any cross-road, was necessarily continued to within half a mile of the camp I had started from. On the diagram, in red ink [dotted lines], my whole march is distinctly traced. A little after sunset I made the required junction.
At no time during that afternoon's march was my column halted longer than to allow it to be closed up; the column was brought in in perfect order and without a straggler; the length of its march in the time (from 12 m. to a little after sunset) was nearly 15 miles; certainly there could have been no idling on the way.
Next morning, on the extreme right in the order of battle, my division had the honor of opening the fight; at the close of the day it was the farthest advanced of any along the line.
For your better understanding of my explanation it is accompanied with a diagram showing the situation of my division on the morning of the first day's battle and its route to the battle-field after the order to march was received.
I submit this as an official explanation, solely to vindicate my conduct from unjust aspersions.
Most respectfully, sir, your obedient servant,
Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK.
March 14, 1863.
Respectfully submitted to Major-General Grant for his remarks.
By order of Major-General Halleck:
J. C. KELTON,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE,
Before Vicksburg, April 13, 1863.
Col. J. C. KELTON,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Washington, D. C.
COLONEL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of a
copy of a communication of Maj. Gen. Lewis Wallace to Major-General Halleck, of
date March 14, 1863, relative to his failure to participate in the first day's
fight at Pittsburg Landing, and submitted to me for my remarks.
Instead of making a detailed report myself in answer to said communication I called upon Maj. Gen. J. B. McPherson, Lieut. Col. John A. Rawlins, and Maj. W. R. Rowley, all of whom were members of my staff at that time and were cognizant of the facts, for their statements in reference to the same, and these I herewith respectfully transmit.
All these reports are substantially as I remember the facts. I vouch for their almost entire accuracy; and from these several statements, separate and independent of each other, too, a more correct judgment can be derived than from a single report.
Had General Wallace been relieved from duty in the morning, and the same orders communicated to Brig. Gen. Morgan L. Smith (who would have been his successor), I do not doubt but the division would have been on the field of battle and in the engagement before 10 o'clock of that eventful 6th of April. There is no estimating the difference this might have made in our casualties.
I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
[Inclosure No. 1.]
GALENA, April 4, 1863.
Col. JOHN A. RAWLINS,
COLONEL: Yours, requesting a statement as to my knowledge
of the part taken by General Lewis Wallace in the first day's fight at the
battle of Shiloh, on the 6th of April, 1862, is just received.
In reply, I would state that at that time I was an aide-de-camp on the staff of General U.S. Grant, with the rank of captain, and on the morning of the 6th of April I accompanied the general together with the other members of his staff, from Savannah to Pittsburg Landing. When the steamer upon which we were embarked arrived near to Crump's Landing General Grant directed that it should be run close in to the shore, as he wished to communicate with General Wallace, who was standing upon the commissary boat lying at that place. General Grant called to General Wallace, saying, "General, you will get your troops under arms immediately, and have them ready to move at a moment's notice." General Wallace replied that it should be done, adding (I think) that the necessary orders had already been given. This was between the hours of 7 and 8 o'clock a.m. We passed on up the river, meeting the steamer Warner, which had been sent by General W. H. L. Wallace (as I understood) with a messenger to inform General Grant that a battle had been commenced. The Warner rounded to and followed us back to Pittsburg Landing.
Upon reaching the Landing General Grant immediately mounted his horse and rode upon the bank, and after conversing a moment with some officers turned to Captain Baxter, assistant quartermaster, and ordered him to proceed immediately to Crump's Landing, and direct General Wallace to march with his division up the river and into the field on the right of our line as rapidly as possible.
This order was given to Captain Baxter about the hour of 8 o'clock. I think not later than that. We immediately rode to the front. At about 11 o'clock General Grant expressed considerable solicitude at the non-appearance of General Wallace, and sent an orderly to the extreme right to see if he could see anything of him, remarking that it could not possibly be many minutes before he would arrive.
Shortly after the hour of 12 o'clock m., as we were riding towards the right of the line, a cavalry officer rode up and reported to General Grant, stating that General Wallace had positively refused to come up unless he should receive written orders. After hearing the report General Grant turned to me, saying, "Captain, you will proceed to Crump's Landing and say to General Wallace that it is my orders that he bring his division up at once, coming up by the River road, crossing Snake Creek on the bridge (which General Sherman would protect), and form his division on the extreme right, when he would receive further orders; and say to him that it is important that he should make haste." Adding, "It has just been reported to me that he has refused to come up unless he receives a written order. If he should require a written order of you, you will give him one," at the same time asking me if I had writing materials in my haversack. I started at once, when the general called to me again, saying, "You will take with you the captain (referring to the cavalry officer before mentioned, who was still sitting there on his horse--his name I do not recollect), and two orderlies, and see that you do not spare horse flesh." This was at the hour of 12.30 o'clock m., as near as I can recollect.
I proceeded at once to General Wallace's camp, back of Crump's Landing, and being well mounted, it took me but a short time to reach it. Upon arriving there I found no signs of a camp, except one baggage wagon that was just leaving. I inquired of the driver as to where General Wallace and his troops were; he replied that they had gone up to the fight. I inquired what road they took; to which he replied by pointing to a road, which I understand to be the Purdy road.
While sitting there upon my horse I could hear the firing upon the battle-field quite distinctly. I then took the road pointed out by the teamster and rode a distance of between 5 and 6 miles, as I judged, when I came up with the rear of General Wallace's division; they were at a rest, sitting on each side of the road, some with their arms stacked in the middle of the road. I passed the entire division (except the cavalry), all being at a halt. When I reached the head of the column I found General Wallace sitting upon his horse, surrounded by his staff, some of whom were dismounted and holding their horses by the bridles.
I rode up to General Wallace and communicated to him General Grant's orders as I had received them, and then told him that it had been reported to him (i.e., General Grant.) that he had refused to march without written orders; at which he seemed quite indignant, saying that it was a "damned lie!" that he had never refused to go without a written order, in proof of which he said, "Here you find me on the road." To which I replied that I had certainly found him on a road, but I hardly thought it the road to Pittsburg Landing. It certainly was not the road that I had come down from there on, and that I had traveled farther since I had left his camp than I had in coming from the battlefield to the camp, and, judging from the sound of the firing, we were still a long distance from the battle-field. To which the general replied that this was the road his cavalry had brought him, and the only road he knew anything about. He then ordered one of his aides to ride ahead and bring the cavalry back. I then asked him where this road came into Pittsburg Landing; to which he replied that it crossed the creek at a mill (I think he called it Veal's Mill) and intersected the Corinth and Pittsburg Landing road in front of where General McClernand's camp was. I then told him that I thought it would be impossible for him to get in upon that road, as the enemy now had possession of those camps, and that our line of battle was to the rear of them. At this moment his cavalry came back and General Wallace rode forward to communicate with them. When he came back he remarked that it was true that the enemy was between us and our army; that the cavalry had been close enough to hear the musketry. The order was then given to counter-march; upon which I remarked to General Wallace that I would ride on and inform General Grant that he was coming; to which he replied, "No, captain; I shall be obliged to keep you with me to act as guide, as none of us know the River road you speak of." I accordingly remained.
The march toward the old camp was continued to a point about one-half mile north of it, where the troops filed to the right and came into the River road. At the point of filing off we were met by Lieutenant-Colonel (now Major-General) McPherson and Major Rawlins, members of General Grant's staff, who had also come to look after General Wallace. The march was continued up the River road until the battlefield was reached, which was just as it was getting dark and after the fighting for the day was over.
Of the character of the march after I overtook General Wallace I can only say that to me it appeared intolerably slow, resembling more a reconnaissance in the face of an enemy than a forced march to relieve a hard-pressed army. So strongly did this impression take hold of my mind, that I took the liberty of repeating to General Wallace that part of General Grant's order enjoining haste. The same idea seemed to have taken possession of the minds of Colonel McPherson and Major Rawlins, as on the march from the camp to the battle-field Major Rawlins on several occasions rode back for the purpose of trying to hurry up the troops and to ascertain what was the cause of the delay. I have no means of judging as to what distance General Wallace was from the battle-field when I found him, except that I could hear the firing much more distinctly at the camp he had left than I could at the point where I found him.
I remain, colonel, your obedient servant,
W. R. ROWLEY,
Major and Aide-de-Camp
[Inclosure No. 2.]
HEADQUARTERS SEVENTEENTH ARMY CORPS,
DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE,
Lake Providence, La., March 26, 1863
Lieut. Col. JOHN A. RAWLINS,
COLONEL: I have the honor to submit the following in
relation to the position of the troops and the battle of Shiloh:
When the troops first disembarked at Pittsburg Landing the Tennessee River was very high, the water backing up in all the streams, covering the bottoms in the vicinity of the river from 2 to 6 feet, rendering Lick and Snake Creeks impassable.
Four divisions of the army were encamped on the field of Shiloh in the relative positions indicated in the sketch, and one division (Maj. Gen. Lewis Wallace's) at Crump's Landing, about 6 miles below.
My attention was frequently called to the crossing of Snake Creek, on the direct road from Pittsburg Landing to Crump's, as it was considered very important that a line of land communication between the two portions of the army should be kept open.
As soon as the water subsided sufficiently the bridge across the creek was reconstructed, and a company of cavalry sent through to communicate with General Wallace's command. This was on Thursday, previous to the battle.
Sunday morning, the first day of the battle, I was with Brig. Gen. W. H. L. Wallace, who, in consequence of the severe illness of General C. F. Smith, commanded this division. It was well known the enemy was approaching our lines, and there had been more or less skirmishing for three days preceding the battle.
The consequence was our breakfasts were ordered at an early hour and our horses saddled, to be ready in case of an attack. Sunday morning, shortly before 7 o'clock, word came to the Landing that the battle had commenced. I immediately started, in company with General W. H. L. Wallace and staff; found his division in line ready to move out. At this time, not later than 7.30 a.m., General McClernand had moved a portion of his division up to support General Sherman's left. General Hurlbut had moved to the support of General Prentiss, and General W. H. L. Wallace's division was moved up to support the center and right. I was actively engaged on the field, and did not see General Grant until some time after his arrival, when I met him on the field, with Brig. Gen. W. H. L. Wallace. He informed me that when he came up from Savannah, at 7.30, he had notified Maj. Gen. Lewis Wallace, at Crump's Landing, to hold his command in readiness to march at a moment's notice, and that immediately on his arrival at Pittsburg Landing, finding that the attack was in earnest and not a feint, he had sent Captain Baxter, assistant quartermaster, with orders to him to move up immediately by the River road and take a position on our right. Shortly after this Captain Baxter returned, certainly not later than 10.30, and said that he had delivered the order.
At about 12 m., General Wallace not having arrived, General Grant became very anxious, as the tide of battle was setting against us, and shortly after dispatched Captain Rowley, one of his aides, to hasten up General Wallace. The battle still continued without cessation, our troops being forced back gradually at all points, though fighting most heroically. Two hours rolled around and no news from General Wallace, when at 2.30 p.m. General Grant directed me to go in search of him, report to him how matters stood, and hasten him forward, if possible. I asked Captain (now Lieutenant-Colonel) Rawlins to accompany me, and taking two orderlies, we started at a rapid pace on the River road, expecting to meet the command at every step; pushed on to the junction of the Purdy and Crump's Landing road; saw some soldiers, who could give us no information where General Wallace was; galloped down toward the Landing a short distance and met a surgeon, who said he had started some time before with his command for Pittsburg Landing on a road branching off between Adamsville and the River road; pushed on in this direction, and at the point D met his Second Brigade returning, the rear of the First Brigade having just filed off on the road DA. We pushed on to the head of the column and found General Wallace, when I delivered my instructions, and told him for "God's sake to move forward rapidly."
I understood him to say that his guide had led him wrong, and I was most decidedly of the impression that he had mistaken the road, for his command had already marched a great deal farther than was necessary to reach the battle-field.
I told him, however, to hurry on and we might yet be there in time. I thought we could get there; sun three-quarters of an hour high. We did not, however, reach the ground until after dark.
After I had reached the head of the column I must say it seemed to me that the march was not as rapid as the urgency of the case required. Perhaps this arose in a great measure from my impatience and anxiety to get this force on the field before dark, as I knew very well unless we arrived before sunset we could be of no use in that day's battle and would not be able to retrieve the fortunes of the day.
JAS. B. McPHERSON,
[Inclosure No. 3.]
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE,
Before Vicksburg, April 1, 1863
Maj. Gen. U.S. GRANT,
Commanding Department of the Tennessee
GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following
statement of your orders to Maj. Gen. Lewis Wallace, who commanded the Third
Division of the Army of the Tennessee on the 6th day of April, A.D.
1862, and the manner in which he obeyed them, together with facts and
circumstances transpiring that day and the one immediately preceding, deemed
necessary to a clear understanding of them:
In pursuance of the following order—
GENERAL ORDERS No. 30.
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF WEST TENNESSEE,
Savannah, March 31, 1862.
Headquarters of the District of West Tennessee is hereby changed to Pittsburg Landing. An office will be continued at Savannah, where all official communications may be sent by troops having easier access with that point than Pittsburg Landing.
By command of Major-General Grant:
JNo. A. RAWLINS,
I was in charge of the office at Savannah, Tenn., with
instructions to make out the necessary orders, and send forward to Pittsburg
Landing all troops arriving from below. Up to the 5th day of April, 1862, from
the date of said order, you had run up every morning to Pittsburg Landing and
returned at night on the steamer Tigress, used for your headquarters boat, and
on which boat steam was continually kept up.
The necessity for an office longer at Savannah having ceased, orders were issued for everything to be moved to Pittsburg Landing on Sunday, the 6th day of April, 1862, and arrangements were being made accordingly.
April 5. 1862, a dispatch was received from Maj. Gen. D.C. Buell, commanding the Army of the Ohio, dated Camp 3 miles west of Waynesborough, April 4, 1862, stating that he would be in Savannah, Tenn., with one and perhaps two divisions of his army the next day, and requesting to meet you there; to which you replied you would be there to meet him.
General Nelson's division of the Army of the Ohio reached Savannah on the afternoon of the 5th of April, but General Buell himself did not arrive; and supposing the must be near, you determined to ride out the next morning and meet him. That there might be no delay in getting off (and consequent detention in moving the office) to Pittsburg Landing, directions were given for breakfast and horses to be in readiness at an earlier hour than usual.
I was awakened by Capt. W. S. Hillyer, a member of your staff, who had arrived from Cairo on the boat that brought the mail from that place, about 3 o'clock a.m., and did not fall soundly to sleep again that morning. I got up at daylight, and in your private office was examining the mail, when you came down-stairs from your sleeping room. Your mail was handed you, and before you were through reading it Brig. Gen. John Cook, of Illinois, who had come in on a steamer during the night, reported to you in person his return from leave of absence for orders, and from that time until breakfast was announced, which was about 6 o'clock a.m., you were engaged in reading your mail and in conversation with General Cook.
While at breakfast, Edward N. Trembly, private Company C, First Regiment Illinois Artillery Volunteers, and on detached duty at headquarters, reported artillery firing in the direction of Pittsburg Landing. Breakfast was left unfinished, and, accompanied by your staff officers, you went immediately on board the steamer Tigress, then lying at the Landing. The horses being in readiness, as per orders of the night previous, were sent at once on the boat and orders given at once to start for Pittsburg Landing, delaying only long enough for you to write an order to General Nelson to move his division by the road from Savannah to the river opposite Pittsburg Landing, and a note to Maj. Gen. D.C. Buell, informing him of the supposed condition of affairs at or in the vicinity of Pittsburg Landing.
In passing Crump's Landing which is on the river between Savannah and Pittsburg Landing, and distant about 4½ miles from the former and 5½ miles from the latter place, and where was stationed the division commanded by Maj. Gen. Lewis Wallace, the Tigress ran close alongside the boat on which Major-General Wallace had his headquarters, and addressing him in person, you directed him to hold his division in readiness to move on receipt of orders, which he might expect when you ascertained the condition of affairs above, but in the mean time to send out and ascertain if there was any enemy on the Purdy road, apprehending, as you did, that the real attack might be intended against his position. His reply was that he was then in readiness, and had already taken the precautionary steps you directed as to the Purdy road. This was not far from 7 or 7.30 o'clock a.m.
From thence you continued direct to Pittsburg Landing, which place you reached about 8 o'clock a.m., and, with your staff, started immediately to the front. About half a mile from the river you met Brig. Gen. W. H. L. Wallace, who commanded Maj. Gen. C. F. Smith's Second Division of the Army of the Tennessee. From him you ascertained the particulars of the attack and how matters stood up to that time. You then directed me to return to the river and send Capt. A. S. Baxter, assistant quartermaster, U.S. Volunteers, and chief of the quartermaster's department in your district, on the steamer Tigress, without delay, to Crump's Landing, with orders to Maj. Gen. Lewis Wallace to bring forward his division by the River road to Pittsburg Landing to a point immediately in rear of the camp of Maj. Gen. C. F. Smith's division, and there form his column at right angles with the river on the right of our lines and await further orders.
In obedience to your command I proceeded to the river, and found Captain Baxter at the landing near where the Tigress lay, and communicated to him your orders, who, fearing lest he might make some mistake in the delivery of the orders, requested me to give him a written memorandum of them, and I went on board the steamer Tigress, where a pen and ink could be procured, and at my dictation he wrote substantially as follows:
You will move forward your division from Crump's Landing, leaving a sufficient force to protect the public property at that place, to Pittsburg Landing, on the road nearest to and parallel with the river, and form in line at right angles with the river, immediately in rear of the camp of Maj. Gen. C. F. Smith's division on our right, and there await further orders.
Captain Baxter took this memorandum and started on the
steamer Tigress to convey your orders to Maj. Gen. Lewis Wallace. This was not
later than 9 o'clock a.m. Captain Baxter returned and reported before 12 o'clock
m. his delivery of your orders to General Wallace, bringing at the same time
from General Wallace to you the report of Col. Morgan L. Smith, that there was
no enemy in the direction of Purdy; the result of his reconnaissance that
morning. About an hour after Captain Baxter had gone down on the steamer Tigress
to General Wallace an officer of the Second Illinois Cavalry, who was well
acquainted with the road leading to Crump's Landing, was sent by you with a
verbal message to Major-General Wallace to hurry forward with all possible
dispatch. This officer returned between 12 o'clock m. and 1 o'clock p.m., and
reported that when he delivered your message to Major-General Wallace
he inquired if he had not written orders. He replied in the negative, and
General Wallace said he would only obey written orders. He further stated that
it had been more than one hour since he left General Wallace, and that his
division was then all ready to move. He should have been by this time on the
field. His presence then would have turned the tide of battle, which was raging
with great fury; saved the lives of many brave men, and ere the setting of that
crimson spring day's sun secured to us certain victory.
You then immediately dispatched Capt. William R. Rowley, of your staff, with orders to him, with the direction that, should General Wallace persist in requiring them to be in writing, he will write them out in full and sign them by your order. This was not later than 1 o'clock p.m.
You then rode back to the house near the river that had been designated for headquarters, to learn what word, if any, had been received from General Nelson, whose division you expected soon to arrive at the landing on the opposite side of the river; and you there met Maj. Gen. D. C. Buell, who had arrived at Savannah, and taken a steamer and come up to see you, and learn how the battle was progressing in advance of his force. Among his first inquiries was, "What preparations have you made for retreating?" To which you replied, "I have not yet despaired of whipping them, general;" and went on to state to him your momentary expectation of the arrival of General Wallace, to whom orders had been timely and repeatedly sent, and that General Nelson's division might soon be expected by the wagon ross from Savannah. This was about 2 o'clock p.m.
You here inquired of Captain Baxter particularly what reply, if any, General Wallace made when he delivered him your orders. He said General Wallace appeared delighted; asked him for the written memorandum he had of the orders; read it; said it was all right, and put it in his pocket; ordered his horse at once, evincing the greatest alacrity in disposition to obey your orders; that he delivered him the orders about 10 o'clock a.m., and that General Wallace, from the time that had elapsed, must be at or near the point he was ordered.
You then directed Lieut. Col. J. B. McPherson, chief of engineers, and myself to go and meet him, supposing we would not have far to go, and conduct him to a certain position on the field you had pointed out to Lieutenant-Colonel McPherson, as we passed around the lines, in support of General Prentiss' division. We started, and before reaching the crest of the hill on the ross between the river and Snake Creek, and over which General Wallace would be required to pass, the enemy's artillery was sweeping across it. We hurried on, anxiously expecting each moment to meet General Wallace.
We reached Snake Creek Bridge and crossed it— the foot of the hill beyond, but no General Wallace. We here pressed a citizen as guide, and continued on until we reached the road leading from Crump's Landing to Purdy. We here turned to the right and went toward the river until we met a surgeon of one of the regiments of General Wallace's division, who informed us General Wallace had taken the left-hand road leading from the camp of one of his brigades, which camp was between a quarter and half mile from the intersection of the main Pittsburg and Crump's Landing road with the Purdy road and towards Purdy, and about 4½ miles from Pittsburg Landing by the direct road. In company with this surgeon we proceeded on the road General Wallace was said to have taken in the forenoon of that day. About one-half mile from the camp we met Colonel Thayer's brigade of General Wallace's division, and Colonel Thayer informed us that the rear of Col. Morgan L. Smith's brigade had filed off on a cross road leading into the main Pittsburg Landing road, and that General Wallace was with the head of the column. Taking this cross road we came up with him about 3.30 o'clock p.m. General Wallace said his guide had misled him, and that he had marched about 10 miles. Capt. W. R. Rowley, of your staff, whom you had sent after him, was with him, and informed us that he had overtaken him about 5 miles from his camp and not on the road he was expected to take; that when he (Captain Rowley) informed him he was wrong, he sent forward and halted his cavalry, which was in the advance, and counter-marched his command to within a half mile of where he had started in the forenoon. I here stated to General Wallace the report of the officer sent to him in the morning of his refusing to obey or receive any but written orders, which he denounced as wholly untrue, and manifested in his talk a great desire to get into the fight. Colonel McPherson, Captain Rowley, and myself represented to him how matters stood when we left. I urged upon him, with all the earnestness I possessed, the importance of his presence on the field; that General Nelson was expected, but might have difficulty in crossing the river. He said there was no danger; he would yet reach there in good season, and with his fresh division would soon end the fight in a victory for us.
General Wallace at this point expressed doubt as to our being on the road leading into the main Pittsburg and Crump's Landing road. Colonel McPherson went to a house near by, and, upon inquiry, ascertained that we were on the right road. After halting the head of his column for a considerable length of time, to enable it to close up and rest, he gave the order to march, and continued coolly and leisurely forward until we reached the main Pittsburg Landing road. Here Colonel McPherson suggested that to disencumber and facilitate the march, the artillery, which was immediately in the rear of the advance brigade, fall to the rear of the column, which suggestion was concurred in by General Wallace, and the artillery moved out of the road while the column filed by. This was an excuse for considerable delay— I should say for full half an hour-during which time he was dismounted and sitting down. From thence he continued his march until we reached the low bottom-lands through which runs Snake Creek, where we met some citizens, who informed us that the bridge across Snake Creek was in possession of the enemy. He then halted his column and sent forward his cavalry to ascertain if it was true.
Colonel McPherson and Captain Rowley went forward with the cavalry. I remained with General Wallace. In a few minutes a messenger came back from the cavalry with a message that the bridge was safe. General Wallace still remained stationary, waiting for his column to close up and his troops to rest. About this time the artillery firing at Pittsburg Landing became terrific, and we who had been there knew that it was our heavy guns, and that the enemy had attained a nearness to the river that filled our minds, situated as we were, with terrible apprehension for the fate of the brave army that had been fighting against such fearful odds and without intermission from early morning.
It seemed as though the enemy was immediately between where we were and the river, which seeming gained credence from the fact that as we passed out his artillery was sweeping the road in that direction.
General Wallace here asked, if such was the position of the opposing forces, what had best be done? Colonel McPherson said, "Fight our way through until communication can be had with General Grant ;" to which General Wallace replied, "That is my purpose." Colonel McPherson and Captain Rowley again rode forward. General Wallace still gave no orders to move, but manifested the utmost coolness and indifference. I asked him if it would not be well to send forward a brigade to hold the bridge, lest the enemy should destroy it, and thus prevent his joining you? He replied that it was a "capital idea," and accordingly ordered Col. Morgan L. Smith, with his brigade, to move forward until the rear of his column rested on the further side of Snake Creek Bridge and there halt until he received further orders from you or himself.
Colonel Smith moved forward as ordered, and General Wallace, dismounting from his horse, seated himself on a log. I then rode forward until I came up with Colonel McPherson, to whom I communicated the order given by General Wallace to Colonel Smith, and submitted to him the propriety of giving the order, as from you to Colonel Smith, to push forward with his brigade. But he hesitated to take such a step. It was now near night; the firing ceased; the sun sank to rest, and darkness had spread her mantle over friend and foe, when a cavalryman brought the report that there was no enemy between General Wallace and the river; Upon the hearing of which orders were given to move forward. Without opposition he reached the field of battle and received orders from you in person after night and about a mile from the steamboat landing at Pittsburg Landing.
The excuse that his guides misled him should avail nothing in extenuation of his want of knowledge of the road, for he had taken up his position at Crump's Landing on the 13th of March immediately preceding in the face of an enemy, and should have been perfectly familiar with all the roads leading to and from his camps.
Colonel McPherson and I came up to him about 3.30 o'clock p.m. He was then not to exceed 4 or 4½ miles from the scene of action; the roads were in fine condition; he was marching light; his men were in buoyant spirits, within hearing of the musketry, and eager to get forward. He did not make a mile and a half an hour, although urged and appealed to push forward. Had he moved with the rapidity his command were able and anxious to have moved after we overtook him, he would have reached you in time to have engaged the enemy before the close of Sunday's fight.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JNo. A. RAWLINS,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Assistant Adjutant-General
CRAWFORDSVILLE, IND., July 18, 1863.
Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War
SIR: Some months ago I discovered that Maj. Gen. U. S. Grant, in forwarding to your Department my official report of the battle of Pittsburg Landing, accompanied it with the following indorsement:
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE,
Pittsburg Landing, April 25, 1862.
I directed this division at 8 o'olock a.m. to be held in readiness to move at a moments warning in any direction it might be ordered. Certainly not later than 11 o'clock a.m. the order reached General Wallace to march by a flank movement to Pittsburg Landing. Waiting until I thought he should be here, I sent one of my staff to hurry him, and afterwards sent Colonel McPherson and my assistant adjutant-general.
This report in some other particulars I do not fully indorse.
Respectfully forwarded to headquarters of the department.
It will be observed that the indorsement contains several
serious imputations against me, and in some particulars amounts to a denial of
my official report.
1st. It says that at 11 o'clock a.m. I received an order to march by a flank movement to Pittsburg Landing. In my report, on the other hand, it is distinctly asserted that the order received by me came to hand at 11.30 a.m., and directed me to march to the right of the army and form junction there; a point nearly, if not quite, 3½ miles from Pittsburg Landing.
If General Grant's statement is true, then, in marching to a point so distant from Pittsburg Landing, I was guilty of a disobedience of orders, for which, in the disastrous turn of the battle at the time, there can be but slender apology. If his statement is true, then I am also guilty of making a false report in a very material matter.
2d. The indorsement says that "waiting until he should be here, I sent one of my staff officers to hurry him, and afterwards sent Colonel McPherson and my assistant adjutant-general." The imputations contained in the sentence quoted are of the gravest character. If they are true, I am unfit to hold a commission of any kind in the United States Army. The imputations can be easily shaped into charges of cowardice and treachery, and I regret to say such charges have been made and are yet existing against me in consequence of the time it took me to reach the battle-field from my position at Crump's Landing.
3d. General Grant, in his indorsement, further says that there are some other particulars in my official report which he cannot fully indorse. This amounts to saying that I have made a false report.
I have waited with all patience for the arrival of a period when the state of the war would permit me to ask a court of inquiry without detriment to the service. That time, in my judgment, has now come, and I therefore respectfully ask that such a court may be ordered, and that the scope of its investigation may cover my whole conduct in connection with the battle of Pittsburg Landing. That this investigation may be full and complete, I also request that Judge-Advocate General Holt may be specially charged with the duty of prosecution.
Very respectfully, sir, your friend and obedient servant,
Respectfully referred to the General-in-Chief.
By order of the Secretary of War:
JAS. A. HARDIE,
A. A. G.
WAR DEPARTMENT, July 24, 1863.
CRAWFORDSVILLE, IND., September 16, 1863.
Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War
DEAR SIR: You will please suspend action in the matter of
my request for a court of inquiry until I communicate with you again on the
subject. It is possible that I may satisfy General Grant upon the
points involved and thus save further trouble. Meantime I hope you will consider
me ready and anxious to go to any duty.
Text Source - The Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies
Image Source - The Library of Congress
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