Report of Col. James C. Veatch, Twenty-fifth Indiana -Infantry, commanding Second Brigade, Fourth Division.
April 6-7, 1862..--Battle of Pittsburg Landing, or Shiloh, Tenn.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME X/1 [S# 10]
HDQRS. SECOND BRIGADE, FOURTH DIVISION,
Pittsburg, Tenn., April 10, 1862.
Capt. SMITH D. ATKINS,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Fourth Division.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report of the Second Brigade during the battle that was fought at this place on the 6th and 7th of April, 1862:
On Sunday morning, while most of the troops were at breakfast, heavy firing was heard on our lines in a direction southwest from my camp. In a few minutes the Second Brigade, consisting of the Fifteenth Illinois, Lieutenant-Colonel Ellis; Twenty-fifth Indiana, Lieutenant-Colonel Morgan; Forty-sixth Illinois, Colonel Davis, and the Fourteenth Illinois, Colonel Hall, was formed in line and awaiting orders. In a short time General Hurlbut's aide, Lieutenant Long, directed me to move forward to support General Sherman, and to take position near a field used for reviews, beyond Colonel Ross' headquarters. When we reached the field the enemy was pressing rapidly toward that point. A line of battle was already formed in front of us, and a second line, in the rear of the first, was being formed on our right.
I had but little time to examine the ground, but took the best position that could be found to support the troops in front of us. An officer, representing himself as acting under General Sherman's orders, rode up in great haste, and directed me to move my brigade by the right flank and join the line which was forming on our right. I executed the movement as directed; but it placed the right of my brigade on worse ground than I had chosen, though it had the advantage of forming a line of battle of greater length. The enemy now opened fire on the troops in front of us, which threw them into confusion, and they broke through the lines of the Fifteenth and Forty-sixth Illinois, many of them without returning a fire. At the same time the line on the right of this brigade gave way, and left the Fifteenth Illinois exposed to the whole force of the enemy's fire in front and a raking fire from the right. Lieutenant-Colonel Ellis heroically held his ground and returned the fire with deadly effect. While cheering his men and directing their fire he fell mortally wounded. Nearly at the same time Major Goddard was killed, and the regiment, now without field officers, was compelled to fall back before overpowering numbers.
The enemy was moving another heavy column on the point occupied by Colonel Davis, of the Forty-sixth Illinois. The line in front of him broke and rushed through his ranks, throwing them into confusion. As soon as these scattered troops had cleared his front he poured in a well-directed fire upon the enemy, which for a time checked his progress; but it was impossible to hold his position against a force so far superior. Major Dornblaser was severely wounded, a large number of his company officers disabled, and his color guard shot down. Colonel Davis seized his colors and bore them from the field, presenting a most noted mark for the enemy, who sent after him a terrific fire as he retired. I directed him to fall back and rally his men in the rear of the fresh troops that were then advancing.
The force of the enemy at this point now fell on the Fourteenth Illinois and Twenty-fifth Indiana. These regiments met the fire with firmness and returned it with great spirit, changing front in good order, so as to meet the enemy in the new direction in which he was now advancing and attempting to flank us on the right. They held the ground with great determination until ordered to fall back, to save them from being surrounded by a very superior force.
The Fifteenth and Forty-sixth Illinois, having been separated from the brigade by the first heavy attack, fell back to the rear on our- right, and there formed with a portion of General McClernand's forces, and new troops rapidly filling up the line between us, they were hindered from joining the brigade, and were not under my command again during the day; but they joined the first line of battle at the point where they fell back, and fought gallantly throughout the day. Having been compelled to fall back with my command, my line was speedily reformed, and we again moved forward, and took a strong position on the brow of the hill, our right resting on General McClernand's left. Here we held the center for a length of time, while the battle was hot on the right and left of us. The enemy advanced and maneuvered in front of us and engaged our skirmishers; but our position being too strong to be easily driven back, he moved a heavy body to the left and attempted to get in our rear. This movement being perceived by Major-General McClernand, he ordered me to fall back across a ravine in my rear and to form a new line with his forces. This was promptly done, and I formed my brigade on General McClernand's left, as directed by his aide, my front toward his right. We held this position but a short time till the enemy was found moving in my rear. I took a new position by changing front to the rear on the right and extending the line of General McClernand's left. This movement was warmly approved by the general. The enemy soon advanced, and the action became spirited. Our men were much encouraged by the strength of our position and our fire was telling with terrible effect. Our forces were eager to advance and charge him, when we were surprised by his driving back the whole left wing of our army and advancing close to our rear, near General Hurlbut's headquarters. A dense mass of baggage wagons and artillery crowded upon our ranks, while we were exposed to a heavy fire of the enemy both in front and rear. My horse, which had been wounded early in the day, was now abandoned, and a second horse was killed under me. In getting a third horse I was separated from my command, but I found them a few minutes after falling back in good order, and they were soon formed in line ready for action. General Hurlbut now ordered me to fall back and take position on the road leading to the Landing, near the heavy siege guns, and my brigade rested on their arms during that stormy night.
Early the next morning Captain Kelley, commanding the Fifteenth Illinois, reported to me, and I placed Lieutenant-Colonel Cam, of the Fourteenth Illinois, in command of that regiment. About 10 o'clock I received the order o+ General Hurlbut to move forward and hold my brigade as a reserve on the right. We moved up within close supporting distance of our forces on the right and remained in position till noon, when General McCook sent a request that I should move to the left and close a part of the line left exposed by the forward movement of our troops. This change of position brought us up to Colonel Ross' headquarters, where we remained awaiting orders till in the afternoon. Major-General Grant now ordered me forward to charge the enemy. I formed my brigade in column of battalions, and moved forward in double-quick through our deserted camps and to the thick woods beyond our lines in pursuit of the retreating enemy, following him until we were in advance of our other forces and were ordered to fall back by General Buell. In this charge the men exhibited great spirit and moved in a manner worthy of the highest admiration. It was made at the right moment to preserve the flank on the right and to prevent the enemy from taking advantage of our broken lines.
The limits of this report will not allow me to mention the many acts of bravery and good conduct of officers and men. For these I must refer to the reports of the regimental commanders, herewith submitted. So far as they came within my personal observation their conduct was worthy of the highest praise. They went into the fight early on Sunday morning and remained in the field till Monday night, eating but one meal during that time. No complaint was uttered; all were willing to do whatever was required. More heroic officers and men are not to be found in the service. It will not be claiming too much for this brigade to say that but for its determined resistance to the enemy he would have reached the center of our camp early in the day. The field officers behaved with gallantry on every occasion. Lieutenant-Colonel Ellis and Major Goddard, of the Fifteenth Illinois, held that regiment steady under the terrible shock of the first attack on this brigade and yielded not an inch till they fell. They were gallant officers and worthy men, whose places it will be difficult to supply.
Colonel Davis, Lieutenant-Colonel Jones, and Major Dornblaser, of the Forty-sixth Illinois, each displayed coolness and courage in resisting the heavy columns thrown against them. Major Dornblaser was wounded, and compelled to leave the field early on the first day. Colonel Davis was severely wounded on the second day while gallantly fighting in Colonel Marsh's brigade and was carried from the field. Lieutenant-Colonel Jones took command, and conducted his regiment with skill and courage till the battle closed.
Lieutenant-Colonel Morgan, of the Twenty-fifth Indiana, was severely wounded in the leg very soon after his regiment became engaged. He was compelled reluctantly to retire from the field. The loss of his services was severely felt by both officers and men. The command devolved on Major Foster, who proved himself every way worthy of it. He was active, brave, and energetic, inspiring his men with courage and confidence. His worthy example was felt by all around him.
Colonel Hall, of the Fourteenth Illinois, led with his regiment that gallant charge on Monday evening which drove the enemy beyond our lines and closed the struggle of that memorable day. In the heat of battle he exhibited the skill and firmness of a veteran.
Lieutenant-Colonel Cam was prompt and ready to execute commands, and rendered valuable service in leading the Fifteenth Regiment Illinois Volunteers on the second day.
Major Morris stood bravely by his colors, was active in rallying his men, prompt in the execution of every order, and always to be found at his post of duty.
I take pleasure in mentioning in the strongest terms of approbation the conduct of my staff officers--Captain Fox, of the Fourteenth Illinois, acting brigade adjutant, and Lieutenant Bruner, of the Twenty-fifth Indiana. They were with me from the opening of the action till it closed, and their activity, courage, and devotion to duty proved their worth, and I recommend them for promotion.
Maj. John T. Walker, acting brigade surgeon, devoted his whole time to the care of the wounded, and proved himself one of the best and most faithful officers.
The brigade sustained a heavy loss in killed and wounded. A list of the names is attached to each of the regimental reports.
A statement of the total loss is here attached.
I have the honor to be, most respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAMES C. VEATCH,
Colonel, Commanding Fourth Brigade, Second Division.
Regiments Killed Wounded Missing 25th Indiana 23 103 13 14th Illinois 33 143 19 15th Illinois 41 146 24 46th Illinois 27 138 16 Total 124 530 72
RETURN TO BATTLE OF SHILOH UNION ORDER OF BATTLE PAGE