Camp at Shiloh Church - Reconnoisance - Lieut. Greer Captured - Orders for Strict Watch - Battle Imminent - The Attack of April 6th - Long-Roll - In Line of Battle - To the Support of the Pickets - Counter-March - Second Line of Battle - The Rebel Charge and Repulse - Arrival of Capt. Hammond - Orders to Retreat - New Position - Repulse of the Enemy - Camp of the 81st Ohio - Arrival at the Landing - Advance to Support a Battery - Arrival of Gen. Buell's Troops - The Rebel Charge - Their Repulse and Retreat - Night - Rain.
The day before we disembarked, Gen. Grant relieved Gen. C. F. Smith, who had been placed in command of the expedition when we left Paducah. He was relieved on account of sickness, of which he died soon after.
On the 21st we advanced about four miles to a new camp, situated in a light-timbered woods, about one hundred rods to the right of the Shiloh church, which stood on the brow of a hill, sloping southward. At its base, and nearly two hundred yards in our front, was Owl Creek. To the left, and in front of the church, the third brigade of our Division was camped; on our left the 70th Ohio, and to the right the 72nd Ohio.
The whole country, from the Landing to the fortifications around Corinth, was a dense forest, except where a few small plantations had been cleared. Our first duty, after pitching tents, was picket; then followed brigade review by Gen. Sherman; also, company and battalion drill, and fatigue duty, until Thursday, April 3d, when our Brigade made a reconnoisance about five miles on the road to Corinth. We halted near a point where the road forked, and formed in line of battle. Two companies from the Regiment advanced as skirmishers, and were soon engaged with the rebel cavalry; but as the orders were "not to be drawn into battle," the skirmishers fell back to the Brigade, and we returned to camp, arriving a little before dark. The next day, April 4th, at about 2 P. M., the left of our picket-line was attacked by the enemy's cavalry, and eight of the 70th Ohio were captured, together with Lieut. Greer, of the 48th, who was on Col. Buckland's staff.
The long-roll beat,, and we were hurried on double-quick to the picket-line. Arriving there, we formed in line of battle with the Brigade, and waited for the attack. But the rebels, after having made a dash on our pickets, retreated in haste, losing several killed and wounded, and a few prisoners.
Saturday, the 5th, all was quiet during the day, until about 5 o'clock P. M., when the long-roll beat again. We immediately formed on our color-line, and remained an hour, when the firing ceased, and we were dismissed, with orders to fall in line at a moment's warning.
These frequent attacks on the pickets, and the bold manner in which the rebel cavalry maneuvered in our front, convinced us that their army was in force in our immediate front. The pickets were strengthened, and the officers of the camp-guard received strict orders to notify Col. Sullivan of any picket-firing during the night; and it is needless to add, that every one in the Regiment felt that we were on the eve of a battle. But during the night all was unusually still. No long-roll or bugle-sound disturbed the slumbering camp.
At early dawn on the morning of the 6th, Company C was notified at roll-call, to prepare for picket duty that day. While at breakfast, between 6 and 7 o'clock, the occasional picket-firing on our left, which had been kept up since daylight, increased to volleys. The long-roll beat, and with our usual promptness the Regiment formed on the color-line. During this time the rattle of musketry and roar of artillery became almost deafening on our left. In about twenty minutes the pickets in our front commenced firing, which told us the enemy was advancing, when Col. Buckland ordered our Regiment forward to their support. The head of the Regiment had scarcely reached Owl Creek, when we discovered the enemy, by their glistening bayonets, forming in line of battle on our side of the creek. We counter-marched and formed on the left of the 72d Ohio, who were then about a hundred yards in front of their color-line, and in line of battle, facing the enemy. The left of our Regiment was scarcely in line, when the rebels, who were not more than a hundred yards distant, opened on our ranks, killing and wounding a number of the Regiment at their first fire.
Almost simultaneous with their first volley, came the discharge of our front rank, which was quickly followed by that of the rear. By this time the battle became general all along the line. We made use of what little shelter the trees and logs afforded, and continued to pour volley after volley into the rebel ranks, when they, receiving re-enforcements, attempted to charge on our lines, but were repulsed and driven back to the crest of the hill, where they took shelter again, returning our fire with that unabating fury that had been thinning our ranks since their first volley.
The Regiment, with the Brigade, held its ground against great odds, repulsing every charge until near 10 A. M., when the troops on our left were driven back, which exposed our left flank to an enfilading fire, that compelled us to fall back about a hundred yards to our color-line, where we fixed bayonets for a charge. While here, a battery of artillery came to our assistance, but soon left, without firing a gun. Just as the enemy began to press us on our left, Capt. Hammond, of Sherman's staff, rode up, complimented our Colonel and Regiment for their bravery, saying that ours was the first Regiment that he had found that had withstood the terrific fire, without being driven from their color-line. He said, Gen. Sherman's order was to fall back to the Purdy road, and then keep in line of the 72d Ohio, if it became necessary to retreat farther. We about-faced and retreated through our camp to the Purdy road.
We had scarcely halted, when a battery came dashing along the road at full speed, to our right. They had passed us but a short distance when they were captured. After falling back about half a mile, under a heavy fire, we took a strong position at the foot of a hill, in front of which was an open field, and from which we repulsed the enemy, causing them to fall back in disorder. We were now cut off from the river by the road. Behind us were the marshy bottoms of Owl Creek; in our front was the victorious rebel army; to our left, Pittsburg Landing. After a consultation, as we were detached from our Division, we took the nearest practicable route to the Landing - During the retreat we were continually within musket and artillery range of the enemy. When we reached the camp of the 81st Ohio, the two wings of the Regiment that had been separated on the retreat, were reunited.
From here we were ordered to guard a bridge over Owl Creek, but had proceeded but a short distance when the order was countermanded, and we resumed our march to the Landing, where we arrived about an hour later. In the little strip of bottom below the Landing, we stacked our arms, and filled our canteens at the river, after which we fell in line and advanced to the front, and were greeted on all sides by deafening cheers by the troops, who thought we were the advance of Gen. Buell's army, who were then expected every moment. But when we told them we had been in the battle all day, their cheers died away, and they looked more gloomy than ever. Our army had been driven back all day, along our entire line, until about 4 o'clock P. M.; when all our artillery was formed in a semi-circle of about a mile in length, with half that distance from the center to the Landing.
We had marched to the front to support a battery of siege guns, but no sooner had we occupied our position, than the enemy opened on us a frightful fire from their artillery. They then entered the ravine in our front, to make the final charge, and drive us into the Tennessee river. Then came the "rebel yell," that we had heard so often that day, and we knew that the charge would follow. After that there was a perfect calm. We could hear the heavy tramp of the rebel columns advancing on double-quick. The next moment our cannoneers sprang to their posts and discharged their double-shotted guns, loaded with grape and canister, at the rebel ranks, not more than fifty yards distant, while the infantry poured forth an incessant fire of musketry. The ground seemed to tremble, and the woods before us were swept by a storm of shell and canister. Men and horses succumbed to the withering fire, and when the smoke cleared away the rebels were seen in full retreat, flying in every direction.
During this charge the troops under Gen. Buell began to arrive. They dropped their knapsacks and gave the enemy a parting volley. But the day of carnage had now closed, and darkness and rain came down on the dead and dying, who lay on the battle-field of Shiloh. Thus ended one of the bloodiest days of the war.
After receiving a few crackers, the Regiment was ordered forward. Groping our way through the darkness for about a mile, we lay down in line of battle, ready to renew the conflict on the coming morrow. But little sleep did we get, between the rain and the continued cannonading of the gun-boats, mingled with the groans of the wounded and dying.
The rebels occupied our camps that night, for Gen. Beauregard, in his official report of the battle, says:
"I accordingly established my headquarters at the Church at Shiloh,
in the enemy's encampment, with Gen. Bragg, and directed our troops to sleep
on their arms, in such positions, in advance and rear, as corps commanders
should determine, hoping from news received by special dispatch, that delays
had been encountered by Gen. Buell in his march from Columbia, and that
his main forces therefore could not reach the field of battle in time to
save Gen. Grant's shattered fugitive forces from capture or destruction
the following day. About six o'clock on the morning of the 7th of April,
however, a hot fire of musketry and artillery opened from the enemy's quarter
on our advance line, assured me of the junction of his forces, and soon
the battle raged with such fury as satisfied me I was attacked by a largely