Report of Lieut. Gen. William
J. Hardee, C. S. Army, Commanding Third Corps.
Battle of Pittsburg Landing, or Shiloh, Tenn.
HDQRS. HARDEE'S CORPS, ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE,
Tullahoma, Tenn., February 7, 1863
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General C. S. Army
GENERAL: After the fall of Fort Donelson the commanding general, Albert Sidney Johnston, having successfully achieved his retreat through Tennessee amid many difficulties, rapidly concentrated all his remaining forces at Corinth, for the purpose of inflicting a decisive blow upon the enemy. The position was important from being the center of the railroad communications passing southwardly from the Ohio River, through Western Tennessee, to the Gulf of Mexico, and from the Mississippi River eastwardly to the Atlantic. Marshes and muddy streams in its vicinity rendered it difficult to approach and make it strong and defensible.
The enemy, flushed with their recent success, moved forward to conquer the territory on the left of the Mississippi. Large forces were transported on steamers, conveyed by iron-clad gunboats, under the command of General Grant, to Pittsburg, while an army under General Buell, commanding the remaining forces of the United States in the West, moved from Nashville through Columbia, by land, to effect a junction with General Grant.
General Johnston, having received information of these movements, resolved at once to defeat or dislodge General Grant before the arrival of the forces under General Buell. On Thursday, April 3, the Army of the Mississippi was ordered to advance from Corinth toward Shiloh, a little country church near Pittsburg, around which the forces of General Grant were encamped.
The Third Corps, then under my command, marched in advance by the Bark road toward Shiloh, and reached Mickey's house, about 16 miles from Corinth and 8 from Pittsburg, on the morning of April 4. A portion of Brigadier-General Cleburne's command in the afternoon engaged the cavalry of the enemy and repulsed it promptly. We took some prisoners and bivouacked for the night.
It was the purpose of the general to continue the movement at 3 a.m. the succeeding morning, but torrents of rain having fallen, a night march over the swollen streams and flooded ravines became impracticable. The advance was suspended until dawn, when my command again marched forward.
About 10 o'clock on Saturday morning, April 5, my corps reached the outposts and developed the lines of the enemy. It was immediately deployed in line of battle about a mile and a half east of Shiloh Church, where Lick Creek and Owl Creek approach most nearly. The right was extended toward Lick Creek and the left rested near Owl Creek, which streams at that point are rather more than 3 miles apart.
The Tennessee River runs nearly due north from above Lick Creek to the mouth of Owl Creek, which creeks, after flowing nearly parallel to each other, empty into the river about 4 miles apart. Pittsburg is situated near the foot of the hills, and nearly midway between the mouths of the two creeks, on the left bank of the river. This bank of the Tennessee is a range of bold, wooded hills, bordering the stream closely, which, as they recede from the river, gradually diminish, the slopes falling away from a ridge on the south toward Lick Creek and on the north toward Owl Creek. From Mickey's 8 miles west from Pittsburg, rolling uplands, partially cultivated, interspersed with copses, thickets, and forests, with small fields, cultivated or abandoned, characterize the country from that point to the river.
The storm of the preceding night rendered the roads so miry that the different commands were not collected at Shiloh until 4 or 5 o'clock in the afternoon. This rendered it necessary to postpone the attack until the next day.
Some of the troops having failed to provide themselves with provisions, or having improvidently consumed or lost them, the propriety of returning to Corinth without attacking the enemy was urged and considered, but the commanding general determined, regardless of all objections, to force a battle the succeeding morning.
By the order of battle our troops were arranged in two parallel lines, the first, under my command, being composed of my corps, consisting of the brigades of Brigadier-Generals Hindman, Wood, and Cleburne, numbering 6,789 effective men, and the brigade of Brigadier-General Gladden, which was attached to my command to till the interval between my right and Lick Creek. The second was composed of five brigades, under Major-General Bragg, 1,000 yards in rear of mine, while four brigades, under Major-General Polk, supported the left, and three under Brigadier-General Breckinridge supported the right of the lines.
The order was given to advance at daylight on Sunday, April 6. The morning was bright and bracing. At early dawn the enemy attacked the skirmishers in front of my line, commanded by Major (now Colonel) Hardcastle, which was handsomely resisted by that promising young officer. My command advanced, and in half an hour the battle became fierce.
Hindman's brigade engaged the enemy with great vigor in the edge of a wood and drove him rapidly back over the field toward Pittsburg, while Gladden's brigade, on the right, about 8 o'clock, dashed upon the encampments of a division under the command of General Prentiss. At the same time Cleburne's brigade, with the Fifteenth Arkansas, deployed as skirmishers, and the Second Tennessee, en échelon on the left, moved quickly through the fields, and though far outflanked by the enemy on our left, rushed forward under a terrific fire from the serried ranks drawn up in front of the camp. A morass covered his front, and being difficult to pass, caused a break in the brigade. Deadly volleys were poured upon the men as they advanced from behind bales of hay, logs, and other defenses, and after a series of desperate charges the brigade was compelled to fall back.
In this charge the Sixth Mississippi, under Colonel Thornton, lost more than 300 killed and wounded out of an effective force of 425 men. It was at this point also that Colonel (now Brigadier-General) Bate fell severely wounded while bravely leading his regiment.
Supported by the arrival of the second line, Cleburne, with the remainder of his troops, again advanced and entered the enemy's encampments, which had been forced on the center and right by the dashing charges of Gladden's, Wood's, and Hindman's brigades.
The brave Gladden had fallen by a cannon-shot about 8 o'clock, at the instant the camp was carried, and the command devolved upon Col. D. W. Adams, who continued the attack with signal courage.
About 2.30 o'clock Colonel Adams was wounded severely in the head, and the command devolved upon Col. Z. C. Deas.
In the attack of the left center of my line Brigadier-General Wood charged an enemy's battery on a gentle acclivity, and captured six guns with the Second and Twenty-seventh Tennessee and Sixteenth Alabama Regiments.
In this attack Col. Christopher H. Williams, of the Twenty-seventh Tennessee, was killed. The army and the Confederacy sustained a severe loss in the death of this gallant officer. General Wood, about the same time, was thrown from his horse and temporarily disabled. The command devolved upon Colonel Patterson, of the Eighth Arkansas, who led the brigade with courage and ability until about 2.30 o'clock, when General Wood returned to the field and resumed command. A portion of the brigade was afterward detached with prisoners to the rear, and the remainder, joining General Ruggles, drove back the enemy, capturing Lieutenant-Colonel Miller, of the Sixteenth Missouri, with some 300 prisoners.
This brigade was by my order moved forward late in the afternoon in the direction of the heavy cannonade in front, but about sunset was ordered to withdraw by a staff officer from General Beauregard.
In the arrangement of my line of battle two brigades were intrusted to Brigadier-General Hindman; his own, under the immediate command of Colonel Shaver, who conducted his command to my satisfaction, and the other under command of Brigadier-General Wood.
The conduct of General Hindman upon the field was marked by a courage which animated his soldiers and a skill which won their confidence. He was disabled in the action on Sunday. He has never transmitted his report, and I am not able to do full justice to his brave command; but I cannot omit to mention the death of Lieutenant-Colonel Dean, commanding the Seventh Arkansas, who fell in the fight on Sunday. He was a brave and deserving officer.
Nothing could be more brilliant than the attack. The fierce volleys of 100,000 muskets and the boom of 200 cannon, receding steadily towards the river, marked, hour by hour, from dawn until night, our slow but ceaseless advance. The captured camps, rich in the spoils of war--in arms, horses, stores, munitions, and baggage--with throngs of prisoners moving to the rear, showed the headlong fury with which our men had crushed the heavy columns of the foe.
General Johnston, about 11 o'clock, brought up the reserve, under Breckinridge. Deploying it en échelon of brigades with admirable skill and rapidity, he turned the enemy's left, and, conducting the division in person, swept down the river towards Pittsburg, cheering and animating the men and driving the enemy in wild disorder to the shelter of their gunboats.
At this moment of supreme interest it was our misfortune to lose the commanding general, who fell, mortally wounded, at 2.30 o'clock, and expired in a few moments in a ravine near the spot where Breckinridge's division had charged under his eye.
This disaster caused a lull in the attack on the right and precious hours were wasted. It is, in my opinion, the candid belief of intelligent men that, but for this calamity, we would have achieved before sunset a triumph signal not only in the annals of this war, but memorable in future history.
At the commencement of the battle my position was near the center of my command, but finding Brigadier-General Hindman conducting operations at that point to my satisfaction, I passed to the extreme right. Here General Johnston in person was directing the battle. A heavy cannonade soon attracted me to the left. On my arrival in that quarter our forces were found hotly engaged with the lines of the enemy in front. Rapidly collecting four regiments under cover of a ravine, screening them from the view and fire of the enemy, I placed them in a position which outflanked their line. Availing myself of a critical moment when the enemy in front was much shaken, I ordered these regiments from the ravine, and hurled them against the right flank of their line, and it gave way in tumultuous rout.
At this juncture General Beauregard ordered me to push forward the cavalry, and I ordered Colonel Wharton to charge their fleeing battalions. The command was obeyed with promptitude, but in the ardor of the charge the cavalry fell into an ambuscade and was repulsed with some loss. The gallant Wharton himself was wounded. Simultaneously Morgan dashed forward with his usual daring on their left, and drove the scattered remnants of their regiments from the field.
Upon the death of General Johnston, the command having devolved upon General Beauregard, the conflict was continued until near sunset, and the advance divisions were within a few hundred yards of Pittsburg, where the enemy were huddled in confusion, when the order to withdraw was received. The troops were ordered to bivouac on the field of battle. Exhausted by fasting and the toils of the day, scattered and disordered by a continued combat of twelve hours, many straggled to find food amid the profuse stores of the enemy or shelter in the forest.
General Buell, hearing the cannonade, hurried heavy re-enforcements up the river in steamers to the succor of the beaten troops of Grant and our wearied men found before them a fresh army to encounter.
On Monday, about 6 o'clock, portions of my command were formed upon an alignment with other troops on the left to resist the enemy, who soon opened a hot fire on our advanced lines. The battle reanimated our men, and the strong columns of the enemy were repulsed again and again by our tired and disordered, but brave and steadfast, troops.
The enemy brought up fresh re-enforcements, pouring them continually upon us. At times our lines recoiled as it were before the over whelming physical weight of the enemy's forces; but the men rallied readily and fought with unconquerable spirit. Many of our best regiments, signalized in the battle of Sunday by their steady valor, reeled under the sanguinary struggle on the succeeding day. In one instance, that of the Second Texas Regiment, commanded by Colonel Moore, the men seemed appalled, fled from the field without apparent cause, and were so dismayed that my efforts to rally them were unavailing.
This fierce and indecisive struggle continued till about 1 o'clock, when General Beauregard determined to withdraw to Corinth. Lines of troops to cover the movement were deployed near Shiloh Church, but the enemy slackened in the attack and were unable to follow. Our artillery shelled the woods but evoked no reply, while disordered regiments and stragglers, assembling, withdrew slowly, without pursuit or molestation, to the rear. Other positions farther to the rear were successively taken to cover our columns; but no serious effort was made to follow, and we withdrew toward Corinth. Thus ended the battle of Shiloh.
My thanks are due to the officers and men for the courage and devotion they displayed in the battle. I refer to the reports of subordinate officers, which are transmitted, for a detailed account of operations and for the many signal instances of individual daring and disciplined valor which they commemorate.
It would, however, be unjust to my brave and enduring soldiers, who stood by their colors to the end, if I did not mention that many straggled from their ranks or fell back without orders. Some, allured by the rich plunder, halted in the conquered camps, and a few, terrified by the bloody scenes, fled toward Corinth. From these causes and the casualties of the battle we could not on Monday form in line of battle more than 20,000 men.
During the action Brigadier-General Cleburne conducted his command with persevering valor. No repulse discouraged him; but after many bloody struggles he assembled the remnant of his brigade and bravely led his men.
The loss sustained by my corps (not including that suffered by Gladden's brigade amounted to--
Killed 404 Wounded 1,936 Missing 141 Total 2,481
In closing, it affords me pleasure to mention the zeal, energy, and intelligence shown by the officers of my staff in conveying my commands and discharging their several duties. I refrain from detailing the important services they each rendered, yet I feel it is due to express my obligations and to embrace their names in this report:
Majs. W. D. Pickett, assistant adjutant-general and chief of staff, and F. A. Shoup, chief of artillery; Lieutenant Burtwell, acting aide-de-camp; Lieut. Thomas W. Hunt, acting aide-de-camp (severely wounded); Capt. William Clare, acting aide-de-camp (wounded); Lieutenant Wilson, acting aide-de camp; Capt. A. W. Clarkson, acting aide-de-camp; Col. S. H. Perkins, volunteer aide-de-camp; Lieut. William Kearney, acting inspector-general; Surg. G. W. Lawrence, medical director; Maj. L. O. Bridewell, chief quartermaster; Maj. W. E. Moore, chief commissary.
The arduous character of the campaign after the battle of Shiloh, the difficulty of obtaining and arranging the reports of regimental and brigade commanders, and the exigencies of the service since that time have long delayed this report. I fear that it may do unintentional injustice; but I trust that my brave associates in arms will appreciate the difficulties of exact accuracy after such a lapse of time, and that you, general, will accord me indulgence for any imperfections it may contain.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. J. HARDEE,
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