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best to obey orders, and to carry out the interests of the service. If my course is not satisfactory, remove me at once. I do not wish in any way to impede the success of our arms.
I do not feel that I have neglected a single duty.”
The regimental officers at Fort Henry, on the ground, and appreciating the true state of the case, on the 12th of March presented Gen. Grant with a magnificent sword, the blade of the finest steel, the handle of ivory mounted with gold, with two scabbards, one of polished steel for service, one of gilt for parade, all appropriately inscribed.
On the 17th, Grant established his headquarters at Savannah, on the Tennessee River, a hundred and seventy-five miles south of Nashville, and near the northern corner of Alabama and Mississippi. There were with him Generals McClernand, Wallace, Smith, Hurlbut, and Sherman. Eight miles down the river is Pittsburg
. Landing ; three miles south of it is Shiloh ; sixteen miles beyond is Corinth.
When the rebels were compelled to evacuate Columbus, they fortified Corinth, just over the line of the State of Mississippi, east of Memphis, at the junction of the Memphis and Charleston and Mobile and Ohio Railroads. It was one of the most important points in the whole South-west, from Memphis to the Gulf of Mexico. From there a rebel force could advance into Kentucky, cross the Ohio River, and move north. It was the centre of the vast network of railroads in the Southwestern States.
Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston, one of the ablest, if not the ablest, of the rebel generals, had been placed in command ; and rumor gave him from fifty to a hundred
thousand troops. With him were Beauregard, Polk, Hardee, and Breckinridge. He was near the cotton States, the hot-bed of secession, in a region whose resources were then untouched by the
Sherman and Hurlbut were at Shiloh ; Wallace at Crump's Landing, five miles below. This was their position when Grant arrived. Within an hour, he issued orders for them to concentrate; and McClernand and Smith were moving up to Pittsburg Landing. Grant remained for a few days to superintend the forwarding of supplies and re-enforcements.
When his arrangements were made to move his headquarters to Pittsburg Landing, Gen. Buell, who was advancing from Nashville, telegraphed him to remain at Savannah, to meet him in consultation April 5.
Grant had apprehended an early movement by Johnston, but was ordered not to bring, in a general engagement until Buell should arrive.
On the 3d and 4th, there was skirmishing on Sherman's front; but he thought there would be no battle. immediately. Grant visited him on the 4th, and agreed in his opinion. It was in returning at night from this visit that Grant's horse slipped on a log, and fell on his rider, injuring him so severely that he did not recover for some time. This accident is said to have originated the slanders in regard to Grant's habits. Both Grant and Sherman were in error. But the skirmishing required watchfulness. Grant ordered W. H. L. Wallace to hold himself ready to support Lewis Wallace, and said,
“ Should you find danger of this sort, re-enforce him at once with your entire division.”
To Sherman he wrote, –
“ Information just received would indicate that the enemy are sending a force to Purdy.
“ I should advise, therefore, that you advise your advance guards to keep a sharp lookout for any movement in that direction ; and, should such a thing be attempted, give all the support of your
division, and Gen. Hurlbut's, if necessary.”
To Halleck, on the 5th, he wrote,
“Our outposts had been attacked by the enemy, apparently in considerable force. I immediately went up, but found all quiet.
I have scarcely the faintest idea of an attack (general one) being made upon us, but will be prepared should such a thing take place."
The field of Shiloh was bounded east by the Tennessee River, west by Owl Creek, north by Snake Creek, and south by Lick Creek, and was about three miles in area between the boundary-lines. The enemy advanced from the south.
Johnston's force comprised about seventy thousand men. This was stated by all the prisoners, spies, and deserters. Beauregard acknowledged to have had over forty-three thousand after the defeat. The whole Union army was about thirty thousand. Buell was ordered to re-enforce Grant from Nashville with forty thousand men, and was hourly expected.
Sherman was in front with Prentiss and Stuart; McClernand was partly behind Sherman, in a diagonal line, the left of which extended between Sherman and Prentiss; Hurlbut was some distance in the rear of Prentiss, toward Pittsburg Landing. This was the position of affairs, Sunday morning, April 6.
Grant was at Savannah, waiting for Buell. Buell was a slow man, a good officer when he arrived, a good tactician, handled his men in fine style on the field ; but he had not learned the value of time in war. dered the divisions of his army to move six miles apart. There are men who are always late. They were late at school, late at their wedding, late in their business appointments, late at the cars, late at their meals; in a word, behind time on all occasions, private and public. They can be honest in all things but the time and patience of others; and that they constantly pilfer. Buell was one of this class.
The rebels knew this; and they planned to advance and crush Grant with his little army before Buell arrived, and then crush Buell. Sabbath morning, Grant's horse stood saddled at the door of his tent; and he was about starting to see if he could not find Buell, and hurry him up, when he heard heavy firing in the direc
, tion of Shiloh. The first few guns told him the story, and he instantly started the following note to Buell :
Heavy firing is heard up the river, indicating plainly that an attack has been made upon our most advanced positions. I have been looking for this, but did not believe the attack could be made before Monday or Tuesday. This necessitates my joining the forces up the river, instead of meeting you to-day, as I had contemplated. I have directed Gen. Wilson to move to the river with his division. He can march to opposite Pittsburg.”
He stopped on his way at Crump's Landing, and told Lewis Wallace that a battle had begun. He then rode to Sherman's headquarters, where he arrived about eight o'clock.
The night previous, Johnston had moved up in front of Sherman, with double guards in his own front, ordered to shoot any man who attempted to pass ; and at early day had precipitated his whole army upon the two feeble divisions of Sherman and Prentiss. But Sherman was there, and during the day showed that he was an army in himself. 1
In the morning, Beaureguard promised his cavalry that “they should water their horses in the Tennessee before sunset.” The Cossacks, on leaving Russia, threatened that theirs should “ drink of the Seine, beneath the windows of the Tuileries.” The Cossacks kept their word.
Our troops were many of them raw, and had never been under fire. Some even had gone out without cartridges, and early fell back against the overwhelming odds. This alarmed others: a panic ensued; and five or six thousand men began falling back towards the landing. Sherman and Prentiss did all that men could do, but without avail. Sherman was shot in the hand; but, winding a handkerchief about the wound, he rode
His horse was shot under him: he jumped on another, and continued his efforts to rally and re-form the troops.
As Grant hurried to the front, he encountered the fugitives, and was everywhere told, “We are beaten!
, we are beaten!'
“ Our regiment is cut to pieces !” 66 The battle is lost !” But he did not see it. No. Fate seemed determined that Grant should be at a distance when his great battles began, - on duty, it is true, but absent, as if to show what the addition of one man to a hundred thousand amounts to. Wellington said, “I consider the presence of Napoleon on any battle