The Sunday Battle at Shiloh

by
Capt. F. M. Posegate
48th OVI

Introduction and Comments
by Stephen E. Williams

 

About the Manuscript

"The Sunday Battle at Shiloh" is a manuscript by Capt. Francis M. Posegate. It was drafted in 1914 (1862+52 years mentioned in the text). It was saved by Capt. Posegate's Daughter Dorothea (Dorothy) Posegate Williams and found by his grandson Stephen A. Williams among her papers. Stephen A. Williams says he remembers Capt. Posegate as a very old man telling war stories to his father while chewing on a round toothpick. He states that his mother, Dorothy Posegate Williams, said Capt. Posegate gave the speech while he was Mayor of St. Joseph, MO (1882-84). If this is so the speech was given more than once because the present draft has the statement "52 years ago" in its text which places it in the 20th century. It is written in the form of an after-dinner speech. Capt. Posegate had a good reputation as an orator and gave many such speeches, some of which were recorded in newspapers. It is likely that this speech was given many times and refined through the years. While it is the observations of an actual participant in the Battle of Shiloh it is also the product of a man who attended numerous GAR meetings, owned personal copies of the Regimental History of the 48th OVI, Grant's Memoirs and Sherman's Memoirs, and who read voraciously. He had ample opportunity to "correct" his version of the story in light of what these references said. However, Capt. Posegate, himself wrote an introduction to this speech which he aparently planned to print. Indeed, he may have printed it. He owned his own printing press during most of his life and, after his printing company went out of business, he became editor of The St. Louis Star.

 

Capt. Posegate's Original Introduction

The following text is a transcript of a draft of Posegate’s introduction that was apparently never typed. It was probably intended as an introduction to a published version of the speech. The first part of this introduction was written on the backside of pages 21, 18, 19 and 24 of an earlier draft of the speech while the second part is written on both sides of a piece of stationary.

The 48th Ohio Volunteer Infantry was organized at Camp Dennison during the Summer of 1861 and Winter of 1862, under the auspices of Peter J. Sullivan, a lawyer of Cincinnati. On the 17th day of February, 1862 the Regiment broke camp and over the Little Miami Railroad reached Cincinnati the same afternoon, embarking on the steamer Hastings and going out for Paducah, Ky., at which place it arrived on the 20th. A few days after its arrival the regiment was outfitted with old Austrian muskets, which had been changed from flint to percussion lock. While standing in line, on the wharf at Cincinnati, awaiting orders to embark, newsboys came rushing along, crying "Extra", "Extra" "Ft. Donelson Surrenders". The general opinion of the rank and file seemed to be "The war will be over before we can get into it." Alas! How little any of us dreamed of what was to come.

The Field and staff consisted of

Col. Peter J. Sullivan, Cincinnati;
Lieut-Col. Job R. Parker, Highland County;
Major James S. Wise, Cincinnati;
Adjutant R. C. McGill, Cincinnati;
Surgeon, Milton T. Cary, Cincinnati;
Assistant-Surgeon, A. T. Johnson, Clinton County;
Hospital Steward Ira Boon;
Quartermaster William E. Braman, Cincinnati;
Quartermaster Sergeant Henry C. Steward, Cincinnati;
[Sergeant Major] Edward Conklin, Cincinnati, Sergeant Major;.

Its companies were commanded

"A" Capt. R. S. Robbins, Highland County;
"B" Capt. W. L. Warner, Delaware County;
"C" Capt. J. W. Frazee, Highland County [The Reg. Hist. says Clinton Co.];
"D" Capt. Cyrus Elwood, Highland County;
"E" Capt. John J. Ireland; [Miami County]
"F" Capt. Virgil L. Moats, Defiance County;
"G" Capt. G. A. Miller, Brown County;
"H" Capt. Richard T. Wilson;
"I" Capt. J. E. Bond; [ J. E. Bond is listed in the roster as Capt. of Co. H; Capt. Isaac J. Ross is listed as commanding "I"]
"K" Capt. S. G. W. Peterson, Cincinnati,

with a full quota of Lieutenants, Sergeants and minor officers. To name them all would occupy more space than this story will admit of and to follow them and their successes through the five years of the regimens service (it was mustered out in 1866) would involve the history of one of the most glorious regiments of the war. Its first battle was Shiloh and its last one the capture of Fort Blakely at Mobile. At the battle of Sabine Rivers Passage1 the greater part of the regiment, with its Colors, were captured but to the credit of the color bearer he secured the flag, delivering it to Major Ira A. Bering, commanding the regiment, after the arrival of the former at Camp Ford Texas. The flag was carried through the prison and unfolded to the astonished gape of the Confederates, at the mouth of the Red River, immediately after exchange had been effected. This was the only instance in which "Old Glory" was carried through a Rebel prison. The Regiment, reduced practically to one company, was brought together to Cincinnati, by Col. Job R. Parker, originally its Lieut Colonel. And mustered out in 1866.2 The gist of this story, however is only intended to recount the part taken in the events immediately preceding the Battle of Shiloh and the battle itself, during Sunday's fight, and this story will not be a flamboyant pen picture of a great battle but the simple, straight-forward story of a subordinate Regimental officer who was a close observer and participant in the events immediately preceding the Battle of Shiloh and who played an important part in the battle itself, on Sunday, up to the time of his collapse from a wound received earlier in the day. A careful perusal of the story cannot fail to give the reader a realizing sense of conditions prevailing in the Federal Camps, or how utterly the signs of attack were misapprehended. Nothing is mentioned that did not fall under his immediate eye, or within hearing. No adverse criticism is offered of any officer, of either high or low degree, for the reason that, what ever may be said would possibility be unjust, for there were comparatively few in the Union ranks who knew anything of military matters, or had ever heard the sound of a hostile gun or the swish of a deadly missile. The Camp at Shiloh was simply the "School of the Soldier", with the battle as its commencement day. Suffice it to say that while the Sunday closed with a quasi victory for the Confederates, Monday culminated in a victory for the Federals. Much discussion has been indulged in as to whether the Union Army was surprised at Shiloh. This question the writer leaves in abeyance with the remark that the lessons taught in front of the Union camp, during the three days immediately proceeding the battle, were never forgotten by either Grant, Sherman or any other officer who served during that struggle.

 


The Sunday Battle at Shiloh
by Capt. F. M. Posegate
(Last revised 1914 at St. Louis, Mo.)


       The first five days of April, 1862 were more or less eventful ones to the boys in blue, encamped along the Tennessee River, near Pittsburg Landing. The sixth day, however which fell on Sunday, marked an epoch that will hold its niche in history until Old Father time shall cease to do business. Weather conditions were propitious and there was just enough duty to keep irksomeness at bay. Eliminating the stacks of guns in the company streets, during non-drill hours, the casual observer, without any stretch of imagination, could have looked upon the whole seen as a sporting picnic, made up wholly of men, out for fun and determined to get out of it all the enjoyment possible. Guard-mount in the morning, an hour or two for drill, dress parade in the evening, with the occasional picket duty, furnishing just the modicum of diversion necessary to relieve the situation of monotony. At this time the writer was a First-Lieutenant of Company A, Forty-eighth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, which, with the Seventieth and Seventy-Second Ohio Regiments, composed Buckland's Brigade of Sherman's Division. I was also Acting Adjutant of the regiment.3 The left of the Brigade rested upon the little one-story log cabin known as Shiloh Chapel, in the following order: 70th, 48th and 72nd. To the left of the chapel came Hildabrand's Brigade, also made up of Ohio regiments. To the right of Buckland was Mc Dowell's Iowa Brigade, its right somewhat withdrawn. The Color Line of Buckland's Brigade paralleled and over-looked a heavily timbered ravine through which ran quite a lively stream4 of sufficient moment, at the crossing in front of the Forty-eighth, to require substantial bridging. Although we had occupied this camp since the 21st of March, no duty beyond routine had been assigned us until Thursday, April 3rd. On that day, the Brigade was ordered to make reconnaissance toward Corinth. About three miles out, a line of skirmishers was advanced which, rather to the surprise of the rank-and-file quickly met with a brisk fire from a company of Rebel Cavalry. No engagement being contemplated, the skirmishers were withdrawn and the Brigade leisurely returned to camp, its rear guard meeting with no molestation. The next day, Friday, the 4th, while on drill in the afternoon the Long Roll sounded and the Brigade double-quicked to the picket line where it was reported that the Major of the 72nd Ohio, a Lieutenant of the 48th5, together with eight privates of the 70th Ohio had been captured. After waiting a reasonable time for further demonstration on the part of the enemy, the Command returned to camp. Saturday afternoon about 5 o'clock, the Long Roll again called the Brigade into line. Brisk firing was heard, but after, perhaps, an hour's waiting the men were dismissed to quarters. While it was thought the enemy was in considerable force in our immediate front, no particular uneasiness was manifested by the officers in command. No one seemed to think the enemy would have the temerity to attack us. It was generally expected that a brush would be had at Corinth, but that could not occur until Buell had joined us and, really it was not supposed to be that the enemy would be able to make much of a stand there. Saturday night, a social gathering held in the Major's quarters6 of the 48th, a late copy of the Cincinnati Commercial was introduced and an editorial therefrom, attributed to Murat Halstead, its Editor, read in which it was confidently predicted that a great and bloody battle would be fought, within a very few days near Pittsburg Landing. The article was fully discussed, with the result that the wisdom of the Commercial man was not only questioned, but the idea that any rank outsider could possibly know more of the conditions existing in our immediate front than we ourselves knew, was subjected to the bitterest ridicule. Sunday night, all the members of that little party, who were in the land of the living, had good cause to modify their opinions touching the Commercial man's prophesy.
       Sunday morning, April 6th, 1862, fifty two years ago7, broke over the field of Shiloh as the soft, shimmering opening of a typical Southern spring day. As the writer took a seat at the improvised table in front of his quarters, the sun was just beginning to peep through the young foliage of the forest trees; the birds were carroling greeting; the wild flowers bordering our color lines were dreamily opening their sweet smelling, dew-be-spangled petals, while nodding in the scarcely perceptible breeze, as if in invitation to such of the rough appearing individuals already astir in the camp, to join in that gentle sentiment expressed by the humble Nazarene, "Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men." All nature was in her most lovable mood and surely no thought of the bloody scenes so soon to be enacted within the bailiwick of the log Chapel entered into the thoughts of the man who sat enjoying the scene, patiently awaiting his breakfast. The negro cook has just placed before him a bright cup filled to the brim with strong, fragrant, black, hot coffee. Before he had time to cool or temper the fluid in the least, the long-roll sounded clear and shrill over in McDowell's Brigade, and came rattling down the line, followed closely by scattered shots with occasional semi-volleys, seemingly not far from our front. Here was work for the adjutant and, acting for that officer8, who had been disabled by an accident some days before, I hastily donned a blouse, buckled on my sword, told the cook to put the coffee back and keep my breakfast warm. In less time than it takes to tell it, our drummer boy was sounding the alarm and I was on the color line forming the Regiment. One company was on guard at General Sherman's head-quarters. By the time the other companies were in line, this one came into place on the double-quick, but before I had time to receive the reports of the Company Sergeants as to the number of the rank and file present, without waiting for me to turn the Regiment over to him, the Colonel9 gave the command to "right flank, column left, march!" This quick action accounts for the 48th not knowing how many men it took into the battle of Shiloh. The road leading to the bridge was within a few yards of the right of the regiment and the command "column left" started it down the hill. Hardly the length of the column had been reached when it was discovered the Butternut-clad boys were already on our side of the creek. There was no time to counter march, so the command was: "about face, double-quick march!" and back up the hill we hurried, filling in by the left, on to the 72nd. This was the reason, if any one should ask, why the 48th Ohio Regiment, at the opening of the Battle of Shiloh fought on the left in front.
       Our position had hardly been taken when the Johnnies let us have a full volley. The effect was almost as if a whirlwind of bees had passed over us. I remember that I found myself brushing an imaginary bevy of the busy little honey-makers from around my ears. Both the officers and privates seemed impressed with the idea that a brave soldier should stand out in the open and take his medicine as delivered.10 I think I felt that way. It did not take me long, however, to realize that, possibly, "discretion is the better part of valor".
       At the opening of the fight, if memory serves me correctly, I was quite enthusiastic in encouraging the men. With elevated sword I passed along the line doing my best to impress each individual with the necessity of standing fast. Suddenly without warning, seemingly, a belated 'bee' stung the index finger of my sword hand; upon examination I found the middle knuckle cauterized as if by the touch of iron at white heat. It occurred to me then that my sword would be safer in its scabbard and that my hand, especially if the Johnnies were shooting high, would run less risk of getting hurt if carried in its natural position.11 As yet no thought as to seeking shelter had occurred to me. I do not remember if such a command was given, but I do, however, recall that, after examining my cauterized knuckle, a glance along the line revealed the fact that, possibly, every member of the regiment had taken shelter behind a tree, a fallen trunk, or any other thing that offered protection. No time was lost by me in seeking a tree, with the consolation that, if it was disgraceful to desert the open, I had not been the first to seek that disgrace.
       During four years of after service, the lesson taught at Shiloh that, save in emergency, it is always admissible to take shelter from the fire of the enemy, remained with me. After the first volley the men on both sides fired at will. Our men, so far as I could see, taking careful aim. This position our Brigade held until after 10 o'clock, over four hours, when it was ordered back by Major Hammond, General Sherman's Adjutant. The loss in the 48th was very heavy. 104 killed and severely wounded out of a possible 600 taken into the fight. A few days after the battle I examined the ground held by this regiment and it was a matter of wonder that any of the members escaped. A portion of its front was covered by heavy thicket of hazel brush, not a stalk of which was left standing, and it presented the appearance of having been cut down with a dull sickle, while every tree behind which our men had stood was peppered with bullets, one on top of another, from about the height of a man to several feet above. Our salvation was that the Johnnies fired too high. During the four hours that we held this position I was a close observer of the fight immediately in front of the 48th and, under other conditions, many of the incidents would have been considered amusing. For instance, one of the men belonging to my Company [A], deliberately stepped from behind shelter and brought his gun, the barrel of which was burst, to me. His inquiry was: "What shall I do Lieutenant"? I pointed to the gun of a dead comrade a few feet away. Without a word he walked over, picked up the gun, examined it, and deliberately returned to his shelter and resumed firing. Another boy came hurrying to the rear and to my enquiry "What's the matter?" answered "I am shot, see the blood on my leg." I noticed the remnant of his canteen hanging by his side and said "Why, my boy, you are not hurt, they have only spilled the water from your canteen". This discovery seemed to give him a general disgust and he returned to his tree with the remark "I will get even with them" and he did, in that fight and lived to die the death of a hero in that memorable charge on the Confederate works at Vicksburg on that bloody 22nd of May, 1863.12 Another boy standing behind the same tree with me said; Lieutenant, look over to the left, what does that blue flag mean"? It was made out to be a flag bearing the State arms of Mississippi.13 The bearer stood behind a tree and held the flag out apparently with one hand. The boy said "Watch, I am going to try and hit the staff". He fired and down came the flag. On Tuesday after the battle the boy found a portion of the staff, stained with blood under the tree.
       Is it any wonder that, with such men as these, Buckland's Brigade held its position until ordered back?

       During the morning's struggle my confidence in the profession of Unionism on the part of Southern men was sorely tried. Almost within a stone's throw of the bridge crossing the stream in our front, lived a jolly good farmer. I was in the habit of visiting him and more than once he was my guest. He seemed to have free entree to our camp. He was profuse in his professions of loyalty to Uncle Sam and told me some blood-curdling stories as to the persecutions he had suffered at the hands of his neighbors because of his Union sentiments. In the first and only rush attempted by the confederates upon the lines of Buckland's Brigade, I discovered my farmer friend in the lead14 armed, seemingly with only a single barreled shotgun of very light caliber. He was coming at us full tilt, yelling at the top of his voice. His progress was cut short by a bullet from our lines, and he went down to death within a few hundred yards of home. I admired his gallantry and, not withstanding I deprecated his false professions, would have taken him under my sheltering wing had it been possible.

       The Colonel of the 48th Ohio9 was an Irishman, and as full of fight as a fresh laid egg is of meat. During a secession of firing, while on the lookout for what might come next, I noted the approach of Major Hammond, General Sherman's Adjutant from our left; but just then the Colonel yelled: "Attention 48th! Fix Bayonets!" I made my way to him as quickly as possible, and inquired: "What next?" "I am going-down this hill and drive the rebels from the field"! "Go slow, Colonel, go slow. This seems to be a general mix-up and it looks to me as though the 70th Regimen is being withdrawn. Better wait to hear from Sherman or Buckland". Turning upon me with fierce invective he yelled: "I thought you a brave man. If you are afraid to follow me, go to the rear." Just then Major Hammond reached us and gave the Colonel an order to retire his regiment, conforming to the movement of the 70th, taking up a new line on the Purdy Road.15 Had Sullivan given the order I am inclined to think that every galoot, including myself, would have followed him down that hill, either to death or capture or, possibly with the result of changing the entire aspect of the morning struggle, maybe, in changing the outcome of the Sunday fight. More than once during the war, the writer witnessed instances where seemingly fool-hardy rashness won where, more than likely, cool headed effort would have lost.
       During the few moments Colonel Sullivan was in 'confab' with Maj. Hammond a rather startling incident occurred to me. I was wearing an officers cloth cap, with a rainproof cover. A rip and a tear over my head indicated almost involuntary removal of the cap and to my horror, at the narrow escape with thanks to the Johnnies for shooting high, I found that my cap cover had been shot off.
       The regiment fell back, as ordered, and found the 70th drawn up in line conforming to the street running between the field and line officers' tents of our own Regiment. There we halted. The Confederates were slow in following, and I wondered if Sullivan's command "Fix Bayonets!" had not distracted their attention from a forward movement.
       The position between the tents was manifestly untenable. The Colonel was still very much excited and seemingly in no condition to receive suggestions, so I sought Lieutenant-Colonel Parker and gave him my view of the situation. He agreed with me, but unfortunately these two officers were at outs and had not spoken with each other in several days.16 The Major6 was absent, so the necessity devolved upon me, as Acting Adjutant to, at least consult with the Colonel. Approaching him with in a conciliatory tone I remarked: "this position between the tents does not seem tenable. Had you not better retire the regiment to higher ground across the ravine in our rear. You will still be practically in line with the 70th and also with the 72nd which is already across the ravine?" "I was ordered to conform with the 70th and form a new line on the Purdy road; I am conforming and here I am going to stay until ordered back by competent authority". The Colonel was right about conforming, but wrong about the road, for the one upon which he stood was only a spur leading into the Purdy. Just then the 70th showed signs of retiring. Things looked desperate, for the 'rebs' were not only showing themselves above the hill in our front but, having dissipated Hildebrand's Brigade to the left of the chapel, were appearing on the left front of the 70th.17 Again approaching the Lieutenant-Colonel I suggested that he give the command to retire. "The Colonel is in command" was his reply. Then here gos and I yelled:-- "Attention 48th. About face, guide center, March!" The Colonel, frantic with rage, rushed along the line, exclaiming:-- "Show me the man who gave that order. I'll cut his head off!" Years afterwards, in New York, I met Col. Sullivan and while his guest at dinner, at the old Metropolitan Hotel on Broadway, I asked him if he had ever discovered who it was that gave the order to retire from between the tents at Shiloh. "I had a suspicion at the time that it was you, I realized after the battle that, under the existing conditions, it was the one thing to do, and I believe now that the move saved the regiment from possible annihilation - certainly from capture. Had I known, however, at the time that the order was uttered by you it is more than possible I should have you shot down". Sullivan was slightly wounded by a bullet across his forehead, in the early morning fight and had his right arm broken in the battle of Monday. He served till nearly the close of the war and lived for several years afterwards.18 He was appointed by President Grant as Minister to Bogota. A braver or truer man never lived and, in cogitating over the battle of Shiloh, it has frequently occurred to me that had more of the Regimental Commanders in the battle possessed the chivalric courage of Col. Sullivan, the struggle might have concluded on Sunday with a crushing defeat of the Confederates. The Colonel died19 at his home in Cincinnati, honored and respected by all who knew him.
       The Regiment, not withstanding the Colonel's efforts did not halt, and by the time it reached high ground the 70th, on the left, was abreast of it on the retreat, and Sullivan could conscientiously conform to its movement. About this time an amusing incident occurred in the Officer'[s] tent of Company A, Of which I was first-Lieutenant. The Johnnies had passed through the Company quarters and a few of their stragglers were engaged in looting our tent.20 Just then Col. Worthington, of the 46th Ohio21, said to be one of the earliest graduates of West Point, galloped up astride a bare-backed mule, clad in a private's uniform, his breaches tucked in his boots, and with a musket, bayonet fixed, across his front he presented, at least, a unique appearance. "What the h--l are you fellows doing in there?" He yelled. "Come out and join your commands!" To the surprise of myself and others, who witnessed the episode, the men did come out and rush off. Whether the took Worthington for one of their own officers, or he took them for recreant Federals, we did not stop to inquire. Evidently the Colonel made his get-away for he was reported as taking part in Mondays battle. General Sherman had, before that, declared Worthington to be a crazy man.
       Within an hour after crossing the ravine, a shower of bullets and buckshot came rattling down the line from our left. One of the bullets caught me under the left shoulder blade and came out under my arm -- at least from under where the arm naturally ought to have been. Even up to this date I have not been able to figure out why the arm was not involved. The only solution seems to be that I was swinging the limb at a lively rate in an effort to accelerate locomotion. While the shot knocked me down it did not put me out of commission, for I continued with the Regiment for at least an hour, in the meantime reforming it at the first halt; collapse overtook me unexpectedly.22 A Field Surgeon stuffed the gash under my shoulder with dry lint and I was placed in an ambulance and started for the river. The seat, however, was soon surrendered to a boy much more seriously hurt than I seemed to be and the balance of the way was made on foot.
       Upon nearing the river I noticed the preparation being made for a final stand should our forces continue to be driven. Such a contingency did not seem possible, but the precaution gave me great satisfaction and added to my sense of security. The works, under construction, appeared to be about three-fourths of a mile in length, their left resting on a bayou, or creek, at the upper end of the landing. As I passed they were being mounted with heavy batteries of artillery. The position seemed impregnable and so it proved to be.
       Finally reaching the river I was taken aboard the old St. Louis & Missouri River steamer "Hannibal".23 On the top of the hill overlooking the landing, it was my sad experience to note a field hospital, outside of which were bloody arms and legs piled up like chord-wood, and from inside of which came heart rending screams and despairing groans well calculated todisgust the individual with the cruelties of war and to remind him that:--

"Man's inhumanity to man,
Makes countless thousands morn".

       On board the boat a mattress was laid out for me on the hurricane deck, in the rear of the Texas, where a delicious sense of relief overtook me. I had gone through the early part of the battle, in my opinion at least with credit, to myself; was wounded, not seriously, I hoped, and could, when the war was over, go home to receive the plaudits of my towns-people. Alas! many long months and scores of bloody battles intervened before it was my good fortune to find myself with my regiment24 on a beautiful July morning in 1865, on board the steamer "Jacob Strader" entering the harbor at Cincinnati. The war was over. I had gone through it, my first battle being Shiloh and the last ones Franklin25 and Nashville. Franklin, considering the number of men engaged, the bloodiest of them all - not to our side, but to Hood's men. If no other distinction had been gained, I had received promotion; served in two regiments, the 48th and the 175th - the first three years, the second one year; had vindicated Byron's idea of military glory by being "wounded in battle and having your name spelled wrong in the causality reports.
       My rest on the Hurricane deck of the "Hannibal" was not much disturbed. It was evident that our forces were being driven, but with that solid line of artillery, on the hill in mind, I felt no particular uneasiness. About 5 o'clock a Rebel yell, fiercer than any I had so far heard, greeted me followed by followed by a thunderous discharge of artillery. The roof of the Texas, back of the pilot house offered a better opportunity for observation, but even from here I could not see what was going on over the hill. The yell repeated again and again, followed by even more thunderous discharges of artillery. The whole earth seemed a-tremble and the Tennessee River appeared to be running up stream. Down under the hill overlooking the landing was an army of panic stricken men, many of then making their way out onto the river on logs and such other floating material as could be gathered up. From the crest of the hill across the bayou, on our left, came a shell. The gun from which it was fired enfiladed our entire line and unless it could be silenced, sounded the doom of Grant's Army. All the steamers had cut loose from their moorings and moved out into the middle of the stream. The wooden gunboats, Lexington and Tyler, were already there, neither of them, so far, had found opportunity to take part in the struggle. Now, however, the Tyler seemed to settle herself for action; squaring around until her broadside conformed to an angle of about forty-five degrees across the current, she reminded me of a huge, black vulture sailing near the earth and yet, with cocked eye, looking upward for its prey. At that crisis minutes seemed hours, and yet not many minutes elapsed until from her side a shell shot out; its flight easily traced. It seemed to strike the axle of that gun, but no matter where it struck, when the smoke cleared away, the gun was not there, nor was it replaced. To my surprise I have never, in any of the reports of the battle, noted mention of this incident which would, possibly, had it not been for the shell from the gunboat resulted in the destruction of Grant's army.
       From somewhere came a shout "Here comes Buell!" and looking across the river I saw emerging from the woods "Old Glory" -- The Stars and Stripes! God!26 Was ever the soul of man so thrilled as mine, by the sight of a flag, == That Flag! typifying beauty, light, love, liberty, power, its every star singly scintillating in the rays of the evening sun, combining as a whole and commingling with its stripes radiating a glory beyond the ken of man to interpret. In its flaunting folds I read relief to the hard-pressed boys in blue so nobly standing by their guns up over the hill; defeat converted to victory and, in a nation saved, compensation for lives of the men who had fallen during the day, together with consolation for the wounded left upon the battle field. At the sight of the FLAG I made no visible demonstration, but up from the uttermost depths of my heart came a welling prayer of thankfulness to God for its timely arrival. However honest in their belief, however brave the boys of the south might be, (and no soldier of the North ever denied both attributes to the soldier of the South) it was incomprehensible to me how they could be brought to the point of firing upon that Flag -- the Flag of all flags -- the Stars and Stripes.
       Possibly the Man who has never looked upon "Old Glory" under such strenuous conditions as I did on that Sunday afternoon, fifty two years ago, can have any idea of the consuming love felt for the Flag by men who have beheld it under similar conditions.
       The steamers, out on the river, met the fresh troops, which proved to be Ammon's Brigade of Nelson's Division.27 About sun down these troops were landed and marched into the front in time to deliver one volley, at least at the retiring enemy. That ended Sunday's battle.

 

NOTES:

1 Posegate is in error here; He means Sabine Crossroads.

2 This statement cannot be true since Col. Parker died December 5, 1865. Capt. Posegate, who served as an appraiser of Parker's estate upon his death, must be confusing the earlier triumphant arrival of Parker with the regiment in Cincinnati in August of 1864 with the mustering out of the Regiment in 1866.

3 Posegate also held this position during the formation of the regiment which is why the "mustered in by" statement on the rolls of many companies bears his name.{link: }

4 Owl Creek.

5 1st Lieut. John James Geer of Co. K was captured while serving on Buckland's staff.

6 Major Jas. S. Wise.

7 This, the last draft of the speech, must have been drafted for delivery in 1914 by 76-year-old Capt. Posegate, who was living with his daughter's family in St. Louis County, Missouri at that time.

8 Adjutant R. C. McGill.

9 Col. Peter J. Sullivan.

10 Some regiments were trained to fight in this exposed manner. The rifled musket had made it a bad strategy and ultimately the repeating rifle rendered it nearly suicidal.

11 Col. Sullivan's wound was in his sword arm and was likely the result of his waving it in this manner.

12 This is the action where the 48th planted its regimental colors on the Confederate works at Vicksburg.

13 Dave Poche reasons that this must have been the flag of the 6th Mississippi.

14 It seems that in addition to not having any defenses the camp was completely open to spies.

15 This is the repositioning of the regiment at 10:00 am.

16 See "Parker vs. Sullivan: The War Between The Colonels".

17 They had Flanked Sherman's Division on the left. The 48th was exposed. See "The Official Record of 48th OVI at Shiloh".

18 See Col. Peter J. Sullivan on the veteran's page.

19 March 2, 1883.

20 Looting slowed the Confederate advance and may have helped save the day for the Union.

21 Col. Worthington was, like Sherman, very well connected politically. He was among those dismayed at the lack of defensive fortifications at Camp Shiloh and let Sherman know about it. After the Battle Worthington attempted to bring charges against Sherman. After this failed he published extracts from his diary in newspapers which led, together with charges of drunkenness, to Worthington's court martial and dismissal on Nov. 21, 1862. Robert W. McCormic, "Challenge of Command Worthington vs. Sherman", Timeline (Ohio Historical Society) 8: 26-39. 1991

22 Posegate helped reform the Regiment at a new position at between noon and 1:00. He then is treated for his wounds and is taken to the boats.

23 Posegate grew up on the Missouri River and likely recognized this boat from his boyhood.

24 The 175th OVI.

25 Capt Posegate's description of the battle of Franklin has been published and is online.

26 This is the stem winding finally of Capt. Posegate's speech. Posegate was acclaimed for his oratory and it is easy to imagine him forcefully enunciating these last lines.

27 General Buell's Army of the Ohio had arrived on the opposite bank of the River and the Federal forces would soon out-number the Confederates two to one.

The material on this page is Copyright, 2001, by Stephen Williams. All rights reserved. It is published here by permission of Mr. Williams.

 


JOHN RICHARDON'S LETTERS FROM SHILOH


ALBERT WEST'S LETTER FROM SHILOH

 

 

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