Report of Brig. Gen. Jones M. Withers, C. S. Army, Commanding
April 6-7, 1862..--Battle of Pittsburg Landing, or Shiloh, Tenn.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME X/1 [S# 10]
HEADQUARTERS WITHERS' DIVISION,
Camp, near Tupelo, Miss., June 20, 1862.
Maj. GEORGE G. GARNER,
MAJOR: I have the honor to report that before daylight on Saturday morning, April 5, this division was reported ready to march, and that immediately after the rear of the advanced command was in motion it moved forward in the following order: First, Gladden's brigade; second, Chalmers' brigade; third, Jackson's brigade.
Arriving near the proposed line of battle, by order of General Bragg Gladden's brigade was thrown forward to the right of General Hardee's advanced or attacking line; Jackson's brigade was then positioned about 300 yards to the rear of Gladden's, its left resting on the Bark road; Chalmers' was formed on the right of Jackson's, its right resting on a creek tributary to Lick Creek, being en échelon to and on Gladden's right. Clanton's cavalry, having reported for duty with the division, was placed in the rear of Chalmers, with strong pickets on the right and front. Thus the division bivouacked for the night.
The attacking line being put in motion early on the morning of the 6th, this command was ordered forward, retaining its relative position with the advance. It was soon perceptible that there was a gradual but steady inclination to the left, thus increasing the distance to and exposing our flank on Lick Creek. To remedy this Colonel Clanton was directed to sweep down Lick Creek with his cavalry and to protect our right from surprise. By this time our attacking line was warmly engaged with the enemy and steadily driving them back.
Learning that the enemy were in force in front of General Chalmers, whose brigade extended to the right of our attacking line, he was ordered forward to attack them. This he did promptly, gallantly, and successfully. Moving forward, we passed the first camp, from which the enemy had been driven, and came up with Gladden's brigade, formed in square, and under command of Col. D. W. Adams, First Louisiana Infantry--General Gladden having been dangerously, and, as the result unfortunately proved, mortally wounded.
In the mean time Chalmers' brigade had moved steadily onward, and, after a short but hot contest, driven the enemy from their second camp. Having thus become too much separated from the remainder of the command, General Chalmers was ordered to resume his position on Jackson's right. Here some delay occurred in moving forward, the movements of the enemy being concealed, and a report being brought in that they were forming in line of battle some distance on our right, General A. S. Johnston, who was present, immediately ordered the division to move to the right. This movement was promptly and rapidly performed, over ground that was rough, broken, and heavily timbered.
Having led the command about one-half to three-fourths of a mile to the right, it was halted until the cavalry should ascertain whether the enemy still outflanked us. Satisfied that there was no enemy on our right, the order was given to advance. The nature of the ground over which we had to pass rendered it most difficult for the artillery to keep up with the eager and rapid movements of the infantry. With such batteries, however, as Robertson's, Girardey's, and Gage's there could be no failure. General Jackson, descending rapidly the hill on which his brigade had rested, found the enemy in strong force on the opposite slope. He promptly engaged, and, after a sharp but warm contest, drove them from their position.
Col. J. C. Moore, of the Second Texas, here displayed great gallantry. In quick pursuit we passed an extensive camp, beyond which and on the opposite side, skirting the wood, the enemy (occupying some houses) had formed a second line. From this position they were also quickly driven, but soon formed a third line on a ridge running nearly parallel with the Hamburg and Pittsburg roads. General Jackson was ordered to move forward a short distance and rest his command in a ravine until the artillery could be brought up. This was quickly done, and it opened immediately with telling effect on the enemy. General Chalmers in the mean time advanced rapidly upon the enemy, in strong force beyond an old field, concealed and protected by a worm fence and thick underbrush. After a sharp conflict they were dislodged and driven from their position, and Chalmers halted his command for a supply of ammunition.
These movements caused the brigades to be too widely separated, being at right angles, Jackson's facing north and Chalmers' east. Chalmers was therefore ordered to move his command to its position on Jackson's right. Satisfied by the report of the energetic and indefatigable Clanton that there was no enemy on our right, and being convinced by the heavy and continuous firing that they were in force on our left, the division was ordered to wheel on a movable pivot to the left. This movement, which was in accordance with the general plan of battle, as explained by the commanding general to the division and brigade commanders, soon developed the enemy in strong force, who stubbornly contested our advance, but were driven before the cool and steady Jackson and the gallant and impetuous Chalmers. Re-enforcements were now called for on our left, where heavy firing still continued; but this division being hotly engaged throughout the lines, Colonel Rich, of the First Missouri, whose regiment was in our rear, having become detached from General Bowen's brigade, was ordered to the support. He moved off immediately at double-quick and dashed into the fight with good effect.
An order for re-enforcements was now received from General Bragg As the entire line was still warmly engaged, with no support, General Breckinridge, who had just had a sharp conflict with and driven the enemy before him, was called on to render the desired assistance. This was done without other delay than that necessary to furnish his troops with ammunition.
This division still continued fiercely engaged until Chalmers, having routed the forces before him, began to sweep down on the left flank of the heavy force in front of Jackson at the same time that Gladden's brigade, now under command of Colonel Deas, of the Twenty-second Alabama--the bold and impetuous Adams having been dangerously wounded in the head while gallantly leading his command--began to press him on his right. Thus positioned, the enemy surrendered, and were marched out on the Hamburg road, through Jackson's brigade, and placed by me in charge of Colonel Shorter, with his regiment, the Eighteenth Alabama, and marched to Corinth. The enemy captured proved to be the command of General Prentiss. The division was then advanced to the Pittsburg edge of the field, in which the enemy had stacked their arms and halted for a supply of ammunition. Most of the regiments were supplied from the camps of the enemy.
The order was now given by General Bragg, who was present on the right during the fierce fight which ended in the capture of Prentiss, to sweep everything forward. This division was moved promptly forward, although some regiments had not succeeded in getting a supply of ammunition, and had just entered a deep and precipitous ravine when the enemy opened a terrific fire upon it. Staff officers were immediately dispatched to bring up all the re-enforcements to be found and the order was given to brigade commanders to charge the batteries. These orders were being obeyed, when, to my astonishment, a large portion of the command was observed to move rapidly by the left flank from under the fire of the enemy. Orders were immediately sent to arrest the commanding officers and for the troops to be promptly placed in position for charging the batteries. Information was soon brought, however, that it was by General Beauregard's orders, delivered thus directly to brigade commanders, that the troops were being rapidly led from under the fire of the enemy's gunboats. Thus ended the fight on Sunday, and thus was this command disorganized, an evil sorely felt during the next day.
Receiving at this time an order from General Bragg to take command of all the troops on the right, and it being now near dark, the order was given to fall back about half a mile and bivouac for the night, Chalmers' brigade resting in rear nearest the enemy, and the remainder of the troops at the second of the camps from the one last captured, under command of Colonel Wheeler, Nineteenth Alabama. Here we met General Hardee, with Colonel Martin's (Second Confederate) regiment.
At 4 o'clock Monday morning the troops were put in motion to form line of battle on the road leading from this camp diagonally to the left and rear to a road branching off to the right from the Bark and Pittsburg road and nearly a mile distant from the camp. Chalmers' brigade was to form the rear guard until this otherwise fragmentary command could be worked into some shape, the order being given to force all stragglers into ranks.
The head of this line had but just reached the point at which it was to halt when an order was received from General Bragg to move my command to the assistance of General Anderson, who was hotly pressed by the enemy. With receipt of this order came a message from General Chalmers that he had already had one fierce engagement with the enemy and was then in the second. Every available man was immediately marched back and line of battle formed near the position occupied by us through the night, Chalmers' brigade being on the right, the Nineteenth and Twenty-first Alabama and the Second Texas on the left, Colonel Moore, of the Second Texas, being in command of the left. Robertson's battery was placed in position at the edge of an old field, with instructions to sweep the enemy from our front, and also to aid some command on the left (believed to be Anderson's), which seemed to be warmly engaged. The reserve consisted of the Crescent (Louisiana), Colonel Martin's (Confederate) regiment, and Maney's First Tennessee, with whatever other troops from time to time could be picked up. At this time an order was received from General Beauregard to charge the enemy in conjunction with General Breckinridge. The charge was made by us, but General Breckinridge was neither then nor subsequently in that portion of the field. The enemy proved to be in such numbers that it became necessary to bring our entire force into action, and the fight continued with sullen desperation for several hours and with alternate success. Between 2.30 and 3 o'clock, finding that the enemy were content to hold their position and not advance on us, our line of the morning was resumed, the left under command of the gallant Colonel Maney, of the First Tennessee Regiment.
Shortly after this an order was received from General Bragg to withdraw the troops in good order and form line of battle on the crest of the hill on the right branch of the Bark road. This was done, and the command slowly and in good order retired through two of the enemy's camps, not a gun being fired, and formed line of battle as ordered, the advanced line under Colonel Wheeler, the reserve under Colonel Martin, with Colonel Moore, of the Second Texas, to support a battery commanding a road running to our right and rear. The cavalry was thrown to our front. Thus we remained until dark, the entire army, with the exception of the cavalry, having retired from the field, when we received an order from General Bragg that, holding the command in readiness to form line of battle at any moment, we would fall back to Mickey's. This order was obeyed. Chalmers' worn brigade and the Crescent Regiment were permitted to pass to the rear, and the remainder of the troops marched to within about a mile of Mickey's, where they were placed under the command of Colonel Wheeler, who, throughout the fight, had proved himself worthy of all trust and confidence, a gallant commander and an accomplished soldier, and there bivouacked for the night.
After 11 o'clock at night we arrived at Mickey's, where we found that General Breckinridge was in command of what has been called the rear guard. With him Colonel Wheeler, with his regiment, the Nineteenth Alabama, was left on Tuesday morning, and the remainder of the command marched back to Corinth. Though temporarily detached, the reports from Gladden's brigade were forwarded to division headquarters. From these, and the proximity of the brigade during the fight, abundant evidences of the ability and gallantry of its commanders are furnished.
The true and tried Gladden fell early on the morning of the 6th; the fearless Adams about 11.30 o'clock. From that hour, during that and the next day, the brigade was ably commanded by Colonel Deas, of the Twenty-second Alabama, who, though without a staff officer to aid him, proved himself equal to the occasion and worthy of the gallant command to which he had succeeded, and which, although severely wounded, he continued to hold through the fight.
The division entered the fight 6,482 strong, and came out with an aggregate loss of 1,918, apportioned among the several brigades as follows:
Command Killed Wounded Missing Gladden's 129 597 103 Chalmers' 82 343 ---- Jackson's 86 365 213
Thus furnishing stern but sad evidence of the manner in which the command discharged its duty.
In the fight on Sunday Capt. D. E. Huger, assistant adjutant-general, Provisional Army; Lieut. B. M. Thomas, C. S. Army, acting inspector-general; Lieut. D. F. Withers, aide-de-camp, and Volunteer Aides R. W. Withers, S. B. Howe, William Williamson, and L. E. Smith discharged the duties of their respective positions with active zeal and gallantry.
Through the fight on Monday Captain Huger, Lieutenant Thomas, and Volunteer Aide R. W. Withers, were all the staff present on the right, the others having become separated Sunday evening, and each more than sustained the reputation gained the day before. Major Runnels, of the Second Texas, volunteered as a staff officer when the division commander was temporarily alone, and performed gallant and efficient service.
To Mr. Lafayette Veal, a noble and patriotic citizen of Tennessee, this command and the country are indebted for laborious and indispensable services in guiding our right, under constant fire, down Lick Creek and the Tennessee River to within a half mile of Pittsburg.
Brigade and regimental reports were duly forwarded, and the causes which have delayed the handing in of this report are known to the commanding general.
I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. M. WITHERS,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Division
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