The American Civil War, day by day - Page 37 - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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#15077044
March 22, Saturday

As General Jackson hurries north toward Winchester, Virginia, Colonel Turner Ashby is fighting. Prowling with 280 cavalry in the afternoon, he clashes with General Shields’s pickets just south of Winchester. Shields, who has hurried to the scene, is wounded and carried into town; his command goes to Colonel Nathan Kimball, another veteran of the Mexican war and a physician in peacetime. Though in pain, Shields keeps his wits about him. He directs that one part of his division be moved south of Winchester during the night. Another brigade marches north, as if it is abandoning Winchester, but soon halted and remains ready to move to the scene as soon as it receives word that Jackson is approaching the town. This same night, Confederate loyalists from Winchester mistakenly tell Ashby that Shields has left behind a rear guard of only four regiments, and that even these unites are under orders to depart for Harpers Ferry on the morrow.

Other fighting is on the Post Oak Creek and at Little Santa Fe, Missouri.

The ostensibly British ship Oreto, destined to become CSS Florida, sails from Britain for Nassau in the Bahamas.

The Federal government creates the Middle Military Department with headquarters at Baltimore and commanded by Major General John A. Dix.

In New Mexico Territory, the bulk of the Union troops—Coloradans, Regulars, and New Mexicans, totaling 1,342 men—march out of Fort Union southwestward on the road to Santa Fe.
#15077411
March 23, Sunday

At a chilly, windy 2 pm at the village of Kernstown, Virginia, a few miles south of Winchester in the Shenandoah Valley, “Stonewall” Jackson’s Confederates arrive to meet Confederate cavalry under Turner Ashby and the happy news of the enemy’s supposed weakness. Jackson now faces a dilemma. His men are weary, having already left 1,500 stragglers along the trail as they marched 25 miles yesterday and 16 more today. Even more distressing, it’s Sunday—a day Jackson takes so seriously that he won’t even post a letter if he thinks it might be in transit on the Sabbath. On the other hand, he has been looking all along for an opportunity to pounce upon an isolated fragment of Banks’s host—and he will never have a better chance than this. Quickly overcoming his doubts, and without further reconnaissance, Jackson decides on his deployment. To his right front, east of the Valley Turnpike, the enemy appears to be concentrated in an open wheat field; they are supported by two Federal batteries placed on a knoll west of the highway. An assault on the right would be hard going, so on that side nothing more than a holding action will be attempted; the assignment falls to Ashby’s cavalrymen, supported by a small brigade. The left looks better—much better. There, perhaps two miles west of the turnpike and roughly paralleling it from southwest to northeast, runs a low, wooded ridge that appears virtually empty of hostile troops. If Jackson can seize that ridge, his men can sweep along its spine beyond the enemy’s right flank, then swing down to the east and cut the Federal force off from Winchester. Two brigades, including the Stonewall Brigade minus its largest regiment, will make the assault. The 5th Virginia will act as Jackson’s reserve.

At about 3:30 the troops begin to move along the cowpaths that crisscross the areas. Artillery opens the battle, one Confederate battery sending a shell smashing into a barn filled with Federals. Federal guns reply with unexpected strength, and under cover of the artillery duel the Confederates run for the key ridge. Brigadier General Garnett, coming up behind with his Stonewall Brigade, is already having problems: Orders that sometimes conflict with his own are being sent by Jackson directly to regimental commanders. Swarming onto the ridge, the lead Confederate regiments approach a clearing bisected by a stone wall. Just then Federal appear at the far end of the field, and the two sides race for the barrier. The Confederates win the race, crouching behind the wall and leveling a deadly fire at the onrushing enemy. The Federals fall back, then another Federal regiment appears out of the woods to the north and rushes toward the stone wall only to also be repulsed. Observing from a nearby hill, Jackson is pleased—for a brief while. But the enemy troops keep pouring out of the woods and, having twice been beaten back by the Confederate left, they now aim their assault at the center, where Garnett’s Stonewall Brigade has taken position in line. Increasingly aware that he is facing no mere rear guard, Jackson belatedly sends an aide to reconnoiter. The officer soon reports that he estimates 10,000 Federals are on Jackson’s front. “Say nothing about it,” Jackson says. “We are in for it.”

Pulling six regiments from his left, where Ashby clearly poses little threat, the Union’s Colonel Kimball hurls wave after wave against the Stonewall Brigade, fighting of the hardest sort that rages for better than two hours. But the Federals keep coming, and the Stonewall Brigade is running out of ammunition. Garnett awaits orders from Jackson, but none arrive—Jackson is busy trying to hurry his reserve, Harman’s 5th Virginia, into battle. At last, calculating that he has no other choice, Garnett orders the Stonewall Brigade to retire. An enraged Jackson tries to order the retreating men to rally without the slightest effect on the flood of men to the rear, and they are now joined by the Confederates at the first stone wall. Jackson has one more hope, his reserve, but will later learn to his enduring displeasure that Garnett has ordered Harman to form a line of battle and cover the retreat. In that assignment Harman performs ably, holding back the enemy while Jackson collects his wounded.

This evening, while Jackson warms himself at a campfire four and a half miles south of the battleground, he is approached by a soldier with more courage than sense. “The Yankees don’t seem willing to quit Winchester, General,” he says. Jackson replies, “Winchester is a very pleasant place to stay in, sir.” The young man persists, “It was reported that they were retreating, but I guess they’re retreating after us.” Without turning his face from the fire, Jackson answers, “I think I may say I am satisfied, sir.” Jackson may well be simply trying to save face or keep morale up. He has suffered 80 killed, 375 wounded, and 263 missing, total 718, to the Federals’ 118 killed, 450 wounded, and 22 missing for 590. By almost every standard, his performance at Kernstown has been imperfect: he unquestioningly accepted Ashby’s secondhand report of the enemy’s weakness, threw his tired troops into combat without ordering an adequate reconnaissance, his tactics were shrewd but flawed in execution by confused and even conflicting orders, and his reserve arrived too late to turn the tide.

But in spite of Jackson’s mistakes and shortcomings, Kernstown has its effect: General J.E. Johnston has directed Jackson to divert Federal attention from his main army and keep troops from the gathering Army of the Potomac. Jackson does so by attacking. Washington, fearing a threat to Harper’s Ferry and Washington, orders Banks and his Federal troops to return to the valley and others that have been heading for the Peninsula are withdrawn from McClellan’s command. The threat also influences Lincoln to keep Irvin McDowell’s large corps south of Washington, instead of sending it by sea to the Peninsula, for Lincoln has discovered that McClellan has not fully honored his agreement to protect Washington properly. Finally, Lincoln removes the Valley district from McClellan’s overall command, forestalling any claims that McClellan might make on the forces under Banks and leaving Banks answerable to the President himself. Clearly, Lincoln intends to become an active participant in the game of wits being played with Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley. Thus, what will become known as the First Battle of Kernstown is a small battle with large results. For the remainder of March, Jackson will withdraw up the Shenandoah, protected by Ashby’s cavalry, while Banks and his Federals slowly pursue as far as Strasburg.

Elsewhere there is an affair at Smyrna, Florida, and a Federal expedition from Point Pleasant, near New Madrid, Missouri, to Little River.

Fort Macon is a brick fort on a long, narrow, sandy island near the town of Beaufort, North Carolina, which has been garrisoned by a small command of Confederates. Burnside, as part of his attempted Federal conquest of North Carolina, orders Brigadier General John G. Parke to move against the old-style fortification. Now Parke and his command arrive at the fort and demand surrender, which is refused. The Federals then institute siege operations.
#15077615
March 24, Monday

The Federal Congress is still discussing the possibility of compensated emancipation. Lincoln, in a letter to Horace Greeley regarding his proposed gradual compensated emancipation, says, “we should urge it persuasively, and not menacingly, upon the South.”

Abolitionist Wendell Phillips, attempting to lecture in Cincinnati, is hissed and pelted with eggs and rocks. Finally the meeting breaks up in a wild fist fight, with Phillips taken away by friends.

There is a skirmish at Camp Jackson, Tennessee.

At Corinth, Mississippi, Albert Sidney Johnston’s army is completing its movement from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, preparing to oppose Grant, who is some twenty miles away at Pittsburg Landing.
#15077895
March 25, Tuesday

It is a day of Federal expeditions, with a three-day reconnaissance from Murfreesboro to Shelbyville, Tullahoma, Manchester, and McMinnville, Tennessee; a four-day expedition in Moniteau County, Missouri; a reconnaissance to Agnew’s Ferry, Tennessee; and a skirmish at Mount Jackson, Virginia.

Colonel Slough’s small Federal army marching toward Santa Fe is approaching Glorieta Pass, a high, narrow corridor through the southern tip of the pine-covered Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Slough’s advance guard of 400 men, led by Major John M. Chivington, approaches Glorieta Pass after dark, stopping near a ranch owned by Martin Kozlowski, a Polish immigrant. During the night some of Chivington’s pickets capture four Confederate scouts and learn that the enemy is not far off.
#15078208
March 26, Wednesday

Early in the morning, Major Chivington orders the advance guard he commands to move into Glorieta Pass looking for the Confederates from Santa Fe he’s heard are in the area. By 2 pm they’ve reached the summit of the pass and, while descending its western slope, surprise and capture a scouting party of 31 Texans. One of the captors rushes back to Chivington’s main camp shouting the news. Flinging aside knapsacks and other extra equipment, Chivington’s men hurry forward on the double-quick, entering a narrow, rocky defile at the western end of Glorieta Pass called Apache Canyon. Turning a bend where the canyon widens into a long, open space, the come face to face with the vanguard of General Sibley’s Confederates under the command of one of the heroes of Valverde, Major Pyron. Momentarily startled, the Texan horsemen nevertheless manage to unlimber two small mountain howitzers and begin firing. The grapeshot and shells send the Union troops running for cover, but Chivington soon restores order, dispatching his infantry and some dismounted cavalry up the wooded mountainsides where their flanking fire forces the Confederates to retreat. Withdrawing to a point where the canyon narrows again, the Texans cross over and destroy a log bridge over a 15-foot-wide arroyo. The howitzers are placed beyond the arroyo to command the narrow road while men scramble up the rocky slopes on both sides of the defile to support the gunners. Chivington’s troops soon advance. Most of the infantry and dismounted cavalry climb still higher up the rocky slopes to get above the Confederate riflemen while the rest except for a reserve of Colorado cavalry find what protection they can and open a frontal fire on the road. While the Federals in the center inch forward, their comrades on the mountainsides gradually force the Confederates down to the road. At this point Chivington calls on the Colorado cavalry in reserve, who charge down the road, leap the arroyo, and crash into the Texans’ crowded flanks. The ferocity of the attack stuns the Confederates. With his troops in disorder, Pyron orders another retreat, Chivington ends his pursuit as darkness approaches, and the Confederates get away with their howitzers intact while the Federals fall back to Klozowski’s ranch.

The engagement in Apache Canyon, although small in scale, is the first Union victory in the New Mexico Territory. The Confederates have suffered losses of 32 killed, 43 wounded, and about 70 taken prisoner. The Federals’ casualties are only five killed and 14 wounded. The battle, however, hadn’t involved the main force on either side. At the start of the fighting, Pyron sent a message asking for help from the Confederates under Colonel Scurry at the town of Galisteo, 16 miles away. Scurry marched immediately.

Elsewhere, farther east, there is action at Humansville, on the Post Oak Creek at the mouth of the Brier, and near Gouge’s Mill, Missouri.

President Davis writes General Albert Sidney Johnston at Corinth, Mississippi, “You have done wonderfully well, and now I breath easier in the assurance that you will be able to make a junction of your two armies.” By this the Confederate President means Beauregard’s and Johnston’s meeting so they can face the Federals moving on the Tennessee River before more Yankees arrive from Nashville.

Over the three days since its defeat at Kernstown, General “Stonewall” Jackson’s small army in the Shenandoah Valley has been retreating slowly and grudgingly to the vicinity of Mount Jackson. Before the tent stakes are firmly planted, the general summons one of the army’s most recent recruits, Jedediah Hotchkiss. He is a 34-year-old schoolmaster transplanted from New York who has successfully founded two schools in the Valley, with the rare hobby of making maps. Despite his opposition to secession and detestation of slavery his affections lie with the South, and last year he worked as a civilian topographical engineer under General Robert E. Lee in northwestern Virginia until he was invalidated home with typhoid. After recovering he hooked up with a militia regiment that joined the Valley army just three days before the recent battle. Now Jackson questions him closely about his experience, then gives a directive: “I want you to make me a map of the Valley, from Harpers Ferry to Lexington, showing all the points of offense and defense.” The newly-promoted captain added to Jackson’s staff will prove invaluable, feeding Jackson vital information about the Valley’s roads, rivers, mountains and passes that will enable him to plan the maneuvers that will make the coming months a model for future generations of military men.

On the other hand, a Federal commander invading the Valley is a stranger in alien territory. He lacks reliable charts to guide him. His eyes are his inexperienced cavalrymen, many riding mediocre mounts. The Federal army will be nearly blind as it gropes its way southward through the hostile Valley. The Union’s General Nathaniel Banks is quick to sense the dangers lurking ahead. After the victory at Kernstown, Banks has followed Jackson only gingerly. His advance units have gotten no further than Tom’s Brook, a scant four miles south of Strasburg. There they have been brought up short by Turner Ashby’s horsemen on the far side of the little stream, and there Banks will remain for a week, trying to figure out the terrain and complaining that Jackson’s “pickets are very strong and vigilant.”
#15078507
March 27, Thursday

Colonel Scurry arrives at Major Pyron’s camp at Johnson’s ranch in Apache Canyon, about 3 am. When the expected Federal attack fails to materialize, Scurry orders his and Pyron’s commands, between 600 and 700 effectives, to advance up the canyon. They are to beat back the Federals who have blocked Pyron’s way and take Fort Union. So as not to impede his movements, Scurry leaves his large supply train at Johnson’s ranch, watched only by a small guard. Major Chivington also is reinforced late in the day when Colonel Slough’s main column reaches Kozlowski’s ranch. Eager to capitalize on Chivington’s victory the day before, Slough at once makes plans to push ahead.

In Richmond General Joseph E. Johnston is ordered to reinforce the Confederates on the Peninsula under John Bankhead Magruder, now about to be seriously threatened by McClellan’s Army of the Potomac moving from Fort Monroe, Virginia.

There are minor operations in the vicinity of Middleburg and White Plains, Virginia, and a reconnaissance on Santa Rosa Island, Florida.
#15078865
March 28, Friday

By dawn Colonel Slough has dispatched Major Chivington with seven companies—almost one third of his force—with orders to cross the mountains by a circuitous route. Coming out at Apache Canyon, they are to occupy the heights above the canyon and, if possible, harass the enemy’s rear. With the remainder of his troops, fewer than 900 men, Slough then enters Glorieta Pass and marches cautiously as far as Pigeon’s ranch—so named because its owner, a Frenchman, is said to resemble a pigeon when he dances the fandango. Slough’s men have scarcely paused when pickets rush back with word that Texans are advancing in force through a stand of pine and cedar about 800 yards ahead. A partially wooded depression lies between the two forces, and Slough sends a cavalry unit into it to try to locate the Texas artillery. The Federal horsemen come under fire and dismount, seeking shelter at the foot of a small hill. Meanwhile, Slough establishes a battle line below the brow of a ridge, with two batteries of four guns each in the center. He then sends two companies forward on the right and left with orders to climb the wooded hills bordering the battlefield and flank the Texans.

Scurry counters by disposing his dismounted cavalry in three columns with the artillery attached to the central column on a slight elevation. Once begun the fighting is ferocious. Slough’s company on the right moves first, rushing forward to flank the Texans’ left. Scurry’s man reply by charging into the Federals, “pistol and knife in hand,” driving them back with heavy losses. Confederate pressure on the opposite side of the line forces the Federals there to withdraw as well, relinquishing their ridgetop positions to the Texas artillery. The Union howitzers are soon set up again, however, and this time the gunners manage to get the range with deadly precision and the Texas battery soon slackens its fire until it almost ceases. Though Scurry’s troops have now lost most of their artillery support, he launches several head-on attacks. When these are thrown back, he sends troops up some rocky ledges on the Federal right with orders to flank the Union line. The move succeeds, gaining the ledges and beating off attempts to dislodge them. Scurry then combines his columns and orders a general charge against the Federal guns. Fierce fire from Union artillerists and their supporting infantry halt Scurry’s charge and five more that stubbornly follow. On the sixth charge the Federals counterattack with bayonets. A wild melee ensues, with Scurry twice wounded by grazing shots. But enfilading fire from one of the Confederate detachments holding higher ground on the Union right again forces the Federal artillery and infantry to withdraw. As the Federal line pulls back to a new position below Pigeon’s ranch, the Texans charge yet again. The Federals manage to beat back the assault, but Slough has had enough. Shortly after five in the afternoon he breaks off the engagement, ordering his battered units back to Kozlowski’s ranch. Both armies are exhausted. They have fought without interruption for six hours. As Slough’s Federals trudge away from the Glorieta battlefield, they are sure that they have lost the day. But a Confederate ambulance flying a white flag soon catches up with them. Its occupant, the former Secretary of New Mexico Territory, asks for a truce until the following noon. Slough agrees.

At 10 pm the reason for the Confederate request becomes clear, when Major Chivington and his 430 men return to the Union camp with a stunning report. Guided by a New Mexican who knows the area, they circles 16 miles through the mountains to a wooded precipice directly overlooking Johnson’s ranch, where Scurry left his supply train. Lowering themselves over the cliff, Chivington’s men stormed the ranch, drove away the guards, and burned the entire train of 73 wagons: all of Scurry’s ammunition, food, baggage, saddles, tents, clothing, and medical supplies—everything the Texans need to continue their campaign. They also found and bayonetted 500 horses and mules—mostly mounts left behind by Scurry’s cavalry—corralled in a ravine about a half-mile from the ranch.

Chivington’s exploit means that Glorieta Pass, far from being a Union defeat, has been a debacle for Sibley’s Texans, ending at a stroke Confederate aspirations of conquering the Southwest. The dismayed Texans are forced to fall back to Santa Fe, leaving their wounded at Pigeon’s ranch. At Santa Fe he will be joined by six companies of the 5th Texas and General Sibley, who had been at Albuquerque throughout the action at Glorieta. The Confederates had about 1,100 men in the fight, with 36 killed, 60 wounded, and 25 missing; the Federals, 1,342 men in all, 31 killed, over 50 wounded, and 30 missing.

Elsewhere there is a Confederate expedition in Scott and Morgan counties, Tennessee. There are several days of skirmishes on the Orange & Alexandria Railroad in Virginia.

Brigadier General George W. Morgan is assigned to command the Seventh Division of the Federal Army of the Ohio with an important object in mind: he is to capture Cumberland Gap, vital mountain pass at the junction of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia.
#15079312
March 29, Saturday

At Corinth, Mississippi, the Confederate armies of Kentucky and the Mississippi are consolidated under General Albert Sidney Johnston. P.G.T. Beauregard is second-in-command, with corps under Leonidas Pollk, Braxton Bragg, William J. Hardee, and George Bibb Crittenden. The gathered army numbers nearly 40,000 soldiers.

For the Federals, Major General John Charles Fremont takes command of the Mountain Department in western Virginia from William S. Rosecrans.

Since receiving word of General Sibley’s invasion of New Mexico Territory, those loyal to the Union in California have been preparing the California Column, a force of 1,500 well-drilled and disciplined men to help in pushing the invaders back into Texas. That relieving force is now ready to march, and its vanguard of 272 men encounter a small detachment of Confederates burning the hay stockpiled at Stanwix Station for the California Column’s animals. After a brief exchange of gunfire with the much larger Federal force, the Confederates retreat. It is an extremely minor skirmish, with only one Union trooper wounded, but the success of the Confederate detachment in burning the hay at Stanwix Station and five other stagecoach stations along the Gila River east of the California-New Mexico Territory border delay the California Column’s march while the Confederate detachment brings word of its coming to Tucson (declared the seat of the western district of the Confederate Territory of Arizona) and Mesilla (the seat of the eastern district and capital of the declared Confederate territory of Arizona).

There is an affair on Edisto Island, South Carolina, and a skirmish on the Blackwater near Warrensburg, Missouri.
#15079658
March 30, Sunday

Federals descend upon Union City, Tennessee; there is skirmishing near Clinton, Missouri; and a couple of days of fighting on Wilmington and Whitemarsh island, Georgia.
#15079929
March 31, Monday

The month ends with no major warfare, but armies are poised east and west. Action includes the Federal capture of Union City, Tennessee; skirmishes at Deep Gully, North Carolina; and on Purdy Road near Adamsville, Tennessee; and at Pink Hill, Missouri.

At Island No. 10 and New Madrid Bend on the Mississippi, Confederate Brigadier General William W. Mackall supersedes Major General John Porter McCown in command. This is the main exception to the concentration of Confederate troops at Corinth, Mississippi, for the surprise attack on Grant’s army, with a 5,000-man garrison.

In the Federal Department of the South at Hilton Head, South Carolina, Major General David Hunter assumes command.

President Lincoln, fearing for the safety of Washington and pressured by those accusing General McClellan of deserting the capital, orders back a large division under Louis Blenker to join Frémont in the Mountain Department. He tells McClellan he has done so “with great pain, understanding that you would wish it otherwise.”
#15080234
April 1, Tuesday

The transfer of the huge Northern Army of the Potomac from near Alexandria, Virginia, to Fort Monroe via the Potomac and Chesapeake Bay since March 17 continues—nearly 400 vessels shuttling back and forth along the 200-mile route to Fort Monroe. The fleet has transported 121,500 men, 14,592 animals, 1,150 wagons, 44 batteries of artillery, and 64 ambulances, along with pontoon bridges, telegraph wire, and everything else needed to sustain an army. The headquarters of the army also shifts, as General George B. McClellan himself today boards his steamer, the Commodore, and sails down the Potomac for Fort Monroe.

In the Shenandoah Valley, Banks’s Federals, now considerably strengthened, push from Strasburg to Woodstock and Edenburg while “Stonewall” Jackson, guarded by his cavalry, falls back up the valley southward. Jackson orders that the commander of the Stonewall Brigade, Richard Garnett, be relieved and arrested for ordering a withdrawal at the Battle of Kernstown. Garnett’s removal comes as a stunning blow to the Stonewall Brigade, Garnett has trained and treated his men well and is extremely popular with them. And their dismay sharply increases with the arrival of the new commanding officer, Brigadier General Charles Sidney Winder. Winder, 32 years old, is a West Pointer who has fought valiantly against the Spokane Amerinds in Washington. But he is also a Maryland aristocrat and a stiff-backed commander who enforces regulations as strictly as Jackson does.

Skirmishing takes place at Salem, Virginia; on the Little Sni and at Doniphan, Missouri. There is a Federal expedition by gunboats from Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee, to Eastport, Mississippi, and Chichasaw, Alabama, on the Tennessee River. On the Mississippi at Island No. 10, soldiers land stealthily from small boats, quickly brush aside the Confederate guards, spike six guns, and return safely.

The congregation of the Second Baptist Church of Richmond, having contributed their bell to be cast into cannon, also agrees to purchase enough metal to provide what will be called the Second Baptist Church Battery.

At Fort Craig in the New Mexico Territory, Union Colonel Canby, unaware of the Federal victory at Glorieta Pass, running low on supplies himself, and concerned that the impetuous Coloradans have left Fort Union exposed, has sent a messenger to Colonel Slough, ordering him to return at once to protect that post. Canby now sets out from Fort Craig with 1,210 men to try to join the northern forces.
#15080608
April 2, Wednesday

General McClellan’s steamer, the Commodore, anchors off Fort Monroe, and McClellan gets his first glimpse of the battleground he has chosen. The Peninsula, about 50 miles long and nowhere more than 15 miles wide, is low, flat, sandy country, sparsely populated and heavily wooded and dissected with innumerable streams. McClellan’s plan is to move rapidly up the Peninsula and make his base near West Point, at the head of the York River. Between West Point and Richmond, he expected “a decisive battle” to be fought. The principle roadblock in the approach to West Point appears to be at Yorktown, 20 miles up the York River from Fort Monroe. According to McClellan’s best information, the Confederates have surrounded the town with earthworks, building upon the 80-year-old fortifications erected by the British during the Revolutionary War. Here and at Gloucester Point, 1,000 yards across the river, the Confederates reportedly maintain a garrison of about 15,000 men and have mounted heavy naval guns that command the approaches by both land and water.

As soon as General McClellan arrives at the Peninsula he visits the command ship of Flag Officer Louis M. Goldsborough to talk over plans for a combined naval and land attack, with the Federal Navy concentrating all available warships in the assault, only to learn that the Navy cannot spare the gunboats; practically every warship in the area has been assigned to Hampton Roads to neutralize the Virginia. The Navy knew nothing of his plans for the gunboats, he will have to go ahead without them. (Navy officials will later say that the gunboats would have been of little help in any case. The batteries at Yorktown and Gloucester are placed on bluffs too high for the gunboats’ cannon to reach at their effective range.)

General Albert Sidney Johnston, in command of the newly organized Confederate army at Corinth, Mississippi, receives word late in the evening that the Union army under General Buell marching from Nashville to join General Grant’s force at Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee, has cleared the worst obstacles and is moving rapidly. After a quick consultation with his corps commanders, Johnston issues orders for the movement and attack against Grant’s Federals at Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee. The Confederates are to move early on April 3. One day’s march, of about 20 miles, will put them in position to attack at dawn on April 4.

In the Shenandoah Valley, Union General Nathaniel Banks’s men finally slog their way across Tom’s Brook and plod south. After a ten-mile march they arrive by nightfall at Stony Creek, only to again find Turner Ashby’s cavalry on the other side. The position has been recommended to Jackson by Jedediah Hotchkiss, who surveyed the area and found it a good one for a delaying action—Stony Creek is wide with steep banks, and swollen by spring rains. And Ashby has burned the only bridge across the stream. Banks pauses at Stony Creek to worry, just as he did at Tom’s Brook. Ashby remains aggressive; Stony Creek poses a substantial hazard; the wretched early-April weather, heavy rains and slushy snowfalls, is hardly conducive to military operations; and despite the overwhelming numerical superiority of the Federal force, Banks is puzzled and worried by the nature of the land south of the stream. Banks will dither here for several weeks.

At Pittsburg Landing, not far from Shiloh Church or Meeting House, there is a brief skirmish.

At Socorro, 30 miles north of Fort Craig, New Mexico Territory, Colonel Canby learns of the Texans’ disaster and withdrawal from Glorieta Pass. Instantly changing his plans, Canby comes up with a scheme to force the Confederates from Santa Fe, then from Albuquerque, and finally from New Mexico. He sends an order to the Coloradans, who by now have returned to Fort Union, to march once more toward Santa Fe and an eventual rendezvous with him. He starts his own force toward Albuquerque, hoping to lure Sibley’s troops south from Santa Fe. After uniting his troops with the Coloradans, Canby intends to attack Sibley at Albuquerque, forcing the Confederates to abandon the town and continue their retreat southward.

Elsewhere in the West there is a skirmish near Walkersville, and a Federal reconnaissance from Cape Girardeau to Jackson, Whitewater, and Dallas, all in Missouri.

Severe tornadoes hit Cairo, Illinois, and New Madrid, Missouri.

The notorious Mrs. Rose Greenhow, Confederate spy in Washington, and two other persons are ordered sent into Virginia beyond the Union lines.

The US Senate passes a House resolution proposed by Lincoln whereby the United States will give states financial aid if they adopt gradual, emancipation. None of the Northern states will ever take action on this proposal, so strongly urged by President Lincoln.
#15080968
April 3, Thursday

The Confederate army under Albert Sidney Johnston sets out toward the Tennessee River for its attack on Grant’s army near Pittsburg Landing and Shiloh Church, Tennessee. But for some reason Major General William J. Hardee refuses to march without written orders and doesn’t receive them until afternoon. Since his corps is slated to lead the march, clearly there will be no attack on the 4th. Late in the day, a cold rain begins to fall.

There is a small skirmish near Monterey, Tennessee, between Corinth and Pittsburg Landing. However, despite occasional light action, Grant’s encamped force is generally unaware of the approaching Confederates.

Meanwhile, Federal gunboats carry out reconnaissance from Savannah, Tennessee, to Eastport, Mississippi, and Chickasaw, Alabama.

There is a skirmish at Moorefield, western Virginia, and a two-day Federal expedition from Ship Island to Biloxi and Pass Christian, Mississippi.

Federal seamen accept the surrender of Apalachicola, Florida.

President Lincoln, discovering that fewer than 20,000 troops have been left by General McClellan to defend Washington, despite his directions to the contrary, instructs Secretary of War Stanton to retain one corps which is under orders to go to McClellan on the Peninsula. McDowell’s corps is kept back and immediately McClellan protests that he has been shortchanged, albeit he soon has 100,000 troops on the Peninsula. Furthermore, Lincoln orders that “Gen. McClellan commence his forward movement from his new base at once.” Still, despite McClellan’s protests he feels confident. This night he writes to his wife: “I hope to get possession of Yorktown day after tomorrow.”

The US Senate votes to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, 29 to 14.
#15081292
April 4, Friday

Two major movements, one Union and one Confederate, are under way. In Tennessee, Albert Sidney Johnston’s army marching out of Corinth, Mississippi, toward Pittsburg Landing suffers further delays; rain came down in torrents all of the previous night, the roads turn to mud, guns and wagons sink to their hubs, units become separated, commands intermixed. By now it is believed that any chance of surprise must be gone. Yet the skirmishing around Grant’s army continues to increase extensively as the Confederates reach the place from which they will launch their attack. General Hardee forms his battle line but General Braxton Bragg’s corps, drawn up behind Hardee, cannot form the left wing because they’ve lost a division. Still, as incredible as it will later seem, the Confederate arrival is undetected.

There is good reason for Johnston’s apparent extraordinary good fortune, at Pittsburg Landing the Union army is woefully unprepared. Both Grant and Sherman regard the site as a good defensive position—the army is bivouacked on a rough plateau that rolls westward from high bluffs overlooking the Tennessee River, protected not only by that river but by its tributaries, Owl and Snake Creeks in the north and Lick Creek to the south, all of them in flood stage and 25 feet deep in places; the terrain is heavily forested, dotted with farmland and orchards, and slashed by deep ravines. But the Federals have made little effort to organize the defense. Grant, like most West Pointers, believes that the protection of trenches engenders cowardice. As well, he has unwisely listened to Confederate deserters who have reported that “the great mass of the rank of file are heartily tired.” Corinth, Grant has told Halleck, “will fall much more easily than Donelson.” Sherman, in actual command of the encampment, like Grant does not anticipate a Confederate attack and has taken only the most basic of precautions. His line of outposts is shallow, extending only a few hundred yards from his camps; no trenches or earthworks are dug. And since Sherman usually assigns camping areas to units as they arrive, it has happened by chance that the men that would take the first shock of any Confederate attack have seen no fighting, while the veterans are well to the rear or off the field entirely. His subordinate commanders have done no better—picket lines are carelessly placed and casually kept; cavalry patrols, which would have unmasked a Confederate advance immediately, have been carried out irregularly. And even when there’s contact it’s blown off. This day Confederate cavalry capture a half-dozen pickets, and a rescue party Sherman sends out runs head on into the lead elements of Hardee’s corps. The Federals flee, and later their commander tells Sherman that he saw at least two regiments of Confederate infantry with cavalry and artillery. Sherman’s response is, “Oh, tut, tut! You militia officers get scared too easily.” And Halleck’s warning has come down often: “Don’t bring on any general engagement.”

On the Peninsula southeast of Richmond, Virginia, McClellan moves toward Yorktown, his massive army confronted by about fifteen thousand Confederates and a frail line of fortifications along the Warwick River. The Union columns march a dozen miles, easily forcing the evacuation of a few scattered Confederate outposts. One position abandoned by the Confederates is Big Bethel, where the Federal troops were beaten on June 10, 1861, in the War’s first battle on Virginia soil. In the meantime, Joseph E. Johnston with the principle Confederate army in Virginia is shifting southward from the line of the Rappahannock to bolster Magruder on the Peninsula. There is a skirmish near Howard’s Mills at Cockletown, Virginia. Pressure is being lightly applied to Johnston’s Rappahannock line by small Federal units.

In command changes, Bank’s Fifth Army Corps of McDowell is put into the Department of the Rappahannock.

On the Mississippi at Island No. 10 a canal has been laboriously cut through the tangled swamps near New Madrid so that Federals can move small vessels southward around the forts of the island. (This is one of the few times that such a canal really works.) Under the cover of night and a heavy thunderstorm, the Federal gunboat Carondelet runs the Confederate batteries of the island, the scene lit up by the flashes of lightning, the din of thunder vying with the blast and roar of the guns. But Carondelet makes it through and becomes an immediate threat to the Confederates, as it can help cover landing of Federals on the Tennessee shore below the important island.

Other fighting occurs at Lawrenceburg, Tennessee.
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April 5, Saturday

McClellan’s troubles begin. His maps are all wrong, failing to show the numerous muddy streams that slow his army’s progress. Clouds roll in and rain comes down in torrents. The roads, which McClellan was told are passable at all times, turn to gumbo. Wagons sink up to their axles and, according to an officer’s tall tale, a mule is swallowed up to its ears. (It was a small mule, the officer will concede.) by early afternoon, one corps on the right draws up on the marshy ground in front of Yorktown and comes under artillery and rifle fire. The town is enclosed by earthworks, and facing McClellan are parapets 15 feet thick fronted by ditches up to 10 feet deep and 15 feet wide.

McClellan expects this. He is prepared to halt and trade long-distance cannon fire with the fort at Yorktown while his other column, under General Keyes, passes by well to the left of the Confederate defenses. But Keyes’s column is bogged down by an obstacle that isn’t supposed to be there—the Warwick River. According to the map, the Warwick flows roughly parallel to the road; in reality, the river cuts directly across the Federals’ path and in recent months the Confederates have constructed three dams to add to the two already there, widening and deepening the river so it can only be crossed easily at the dams. Each dam is now guarded by artillery and riflemen dug in behind earthworks. After a quick reconnaissance, Keyes sends McClellan a message, stating that “no part of the line, so far discovered, can be taken by assault without an enormous waste of human life.”

This bad news makes McClellan all the more anxious for the arrival of his I Corps under Irvin McDowell. He has deliberately scheduled McDowell’s seasoned command as the last to embark from Alexandria so its 38,000 men can be used as reserves, to throw into battle wherever they might be needed. But I Corps will never arrive. While McClellan is listening to the cannonading at Yorktown, he is handed a telegram from the War Department. The President has denied McClellan the use of McDowell’s corps, which is to remain in the vicinity of Washington to defend the capital. McClellan has known that the safety of Washington has been uppermost in the President’s mind, and thought he had left plenty of men behind—more than 73,000 men. But his math is off, some men counted twice and one division included that’s destined for western Virginia. As well, nearly half the troops are stationed 50 miles to the west in the Shenandoah Valley. McClellan counted these because they block the most likely route for any Confederate invasion—but he has neglected to explain his reasoning to Lincoln. After his departure for the Peninsula, the Radical Republicans and senior staff officers began preying on Lincoln’s concern for the security of Washington until he at least agreed to divert the corps. Now McClellan has lost more than a third of the 156,000 men he expected to have available, taken away by presidential orders that seem, at least in part, influenced by political rather than military considerations. To make matters worse, Secretary of War Stanton has inexplicably closed recruiting offices in the North, which will surely slow the build-up of Federal forces and make it more difficult for McClellan to replace the withheld units. All this confirms his growing suspicions that the Radicals are out to ruin him.

All the same, McClellan is certainly powerful enough to break through the Confederate defenses this afternoon. He has 58,000 men in front of Warwick River and nearly as many available at Yorktown or en route—facing a Confederate force he believes to number only about 15,000. Instead, McClellan dithers.

Joseph E. Johnston is rapidly bringing in reinforcements from the Rappahannock to the Peninsula, though the Confederates will never number much more than half the Federal Army of the Potomac.

Near Shiloh Church and Pittsburg Landing in Tennessee, noon arrives and General Bragg’s second line of the Confederate army is still not ready. General Albert Sydney Johnston looks at his watch and exclaims, “This is perfectly puerile! This is not war!” He rides to the rear, and miles behind finds Bragg’s missing division blocked by some of Polk’s troops. Johnston clears the way and brings the men forward, but by now the sun is setting and the attack is postponed another day. Now 40,000 Confederates are poised within two miles of the Federal camps. To preserve any chance of taking the enemy by surprise in the morning, the troops will have to observe strict silence. But the raw young soldiers neglect to obey orders or even use their common sense. When a deer pops from the woods, they whoop. After the rain stops, they wonder if their powder is dry, and many fire their muskets to find out. Bugles sound, drums roll, and men yell. Officers go about trying to hush the men to no avail.

Nor does all this go entirely unnoticed. Confederate cavalrymen are seen watching the 70th Ohio drill. Federal pickets see brass canon glinting through the trees, and a group of Federal soldiers are chased from a house only a mile beyond Shiloh Church. And the Confederates throw a scare into the 53rd Ohio, the regiment camped nearest to the enemy’s vanguard. In the afternoon the pickets report strange figures in the distance. Colonel Appler, the regiment’s commander, sends a detachment to investigate. Shots are heard, and the men rush back to say that they have been fired on by a “line of men in butternut clothes.” Horrified, Colonel Appler, turns out the regiment and sends his quartermaster to notify Sherman. Minutes later the quartermaster returns, and shouts, “General Sherman says, ‘Take your damned regiment back to Ohio. There is no enemy nearer than Corinth!” The soldiers laugh and break ranks without waiting for orders.

The general clamor, together with word of the clash with the Federal patrol, plunges General Beauregard into one of his well-known mercurial mood changes, and at a roadside conference of the generals he argues vehemently for cancelling the attack and returning to Corinth. Johnston is shocked but rises to the occasion, saying he doubts that their approach has been detected because there has been no Federal reaction. Johnston then closes the conference: “Gentlemen, we shall attack at daylight tomorrow.” During the night Beauregard hears a drum beating and angrily sends an aide to stop the noise. The man is back in a few minutes and reports that the drum is beating in a Federal camp—so close do the two armies lie. Incredibly, the Federal commanders have no idea that an enemy army the size of their own stands just beyond their picket line.

In South Carolina Union forces occupy Edisto Island, and there is a small affair at San Louis Pass, Texas.

In Nashville Federal military governor of Tennessee Andrew Johnson suspends the mayor, aldermen, and councilmen of Nashville for refusing to take an oath to the Union.
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April 6, Sunday

After the heavy rains over Shiloh Church and Pittsburg Landing which have proven so disastrous to the Confederate plan of attack, the day of battle dawns bright and clear. Colonel Everett Peabody, commanding a brigade in General Prentiss’ division, has been warned by Major James E. Powell, one of his regimental commanders, that there is a great sprawl of Confederate campfires beyond the Federal picket lines. At 3 am he sent out Powell with 300 men for a reconnaissance. Now as dawn arrives they are a half mile from camp on the edge of a broad farm field where they run into the advance guard of Wood’s brigade, Hardee’s corps. The Confederate skirmishers fire and fall back. The Federals answer with a volley and move forward until they see a long line of Confederate troops kneeling on bushy high ground just ahead. Powell settles down to fight, and the battle is joined. Hearing heavy firing, Peabody sends up reinforcements. By the time they reach the front the whole Confederate line is moving, thousands upon thousands of men, and the Federals are falling back, sounding the alarm. The long drum roll thunders in Peabody’s camp, calling the men to grab their weapons and form a line of battle.

As the sound of the firing reaches General Sidney Johnston’s temporary headquarters on the Pittsburg-Corinth Road behind the Confederate lines, General Beauregard is again arguing for abandoning the battle. Johnston cocks an ear to the guns and says, “The battle has opened, gentlemen; it is too late to change our dispositions now.” He tells Beauregard to stay in the rear and direct men and supplies as needed, while he rides to the front to lead the men in the battlefield. In doing so, Johnston relinquishes control of the battle to Beauregard. It is a confusing move, made more so by the fact that the two have no unified battle plan. Johnston had telegraphed President Davis with a plan of a thrust on the right to prevent the Federal army from reaching the Tennessee River to escape by water, then wheeling west to pin the enemy against Owl Creek and forcing a surrender there. But Beauregard simply wants to attack in three waves—first Hardee’s corps, then Bragg’s, then Polk’s, with Breckinridge’s in reserve—and push the Federal army straight eastward into the Tennessee. And Johnston has never pressed his subordinate to do otherwise.

As the battle erupts at dawn, Colonel Appler, who the previous day had sent the report of shots fired to General Sherman only to be blown off, listens, full of uncertainty. The pickets come in, certain that the Confederates are advancing. Then a soldier with a bloody arm comes by bawling for everyone to get into line. Appler deploys his men and sends word to Sherman. This time the messenger returns and whispers Sherman’s response: “You must be badly scared over there.” Then hundreds of Confederates appear, moving on Appler’s right flank. Appler leads a wild retreat through his camp up to a ridge beyond, where they sprawl down on the brush-covered crest. Just then Sherman rides up with his orderly. He thinks the enemy advance is only a reconnaissance in force, but he has to admit that it’s real. At that moment Confederate skirmishers pop out of the brush only fifty yards away and open fire. Sherman’s orderly is killed instantly, and buckshot hits Sherman’s hand. He shouts for Appler to hold his position, that Sherman will support him, then gallops off. The attacking Confederates are led by Brigadier General Patrick Cleburne, an Irish immigrant who had served as a British soldier. On their approach they had encountered a sharp ravine, a swampy morass of mud, tangled vines, saplings, and dense undergrowth, and lost four regiments; but the remaining two regiments charge only to be blown back down the hill and one regiment breaks. The other reforms its battle line and charges again and is destroyed, only 60 men of the original 360 able to form up to continue the battle. But they rout the 53 Ohio—Colonel Appler’s nerve snaps and he runs for the rear with most of his men following. Still, the hastily organized Federal line refuses to collapse completely, with Sherman on the right and Prentiss on the left managing to cling desperately to their ground as behind them Union forces form battle lines to stem the Rebel tide. By 8 am it is clear to the Confederates that Hardee’s line will not break through as expected, and Bragg begins to move the second Confederate wave forward to press the attack.

Grant is at breakfast in his headquarters at Savannah when he first hears the sound of distant cannon. He limps onto the porch to listen (he sprained his ankle the previous day, when his horse fell in the mud) then immediately heads for his headquarters steamboat. As the vessel gets up steam, he dispatched two brief notes calling for reinforcements, one to Buell and the other to the commander of the first of Buell’s divisions that had arrived at Savannah yesterday. On the way to his main camp, Grant pauses at Crump’s Landing to tell Lew Wallace to get his men ready to move. At about 9 am, Grant gets his horse ashore and rides toward the front. As he reaches the battle, Prentiss’ line is on the verge of collapse. His men have been pushed back to their camp, where they hold briefly before breaking and scattering. Fresh Federal troops moving up encounter the panicked troops clogging the road and officers try to rally them, to no avail. Nothing can stop the flight to Pittsburg Landing; the number of men hiding at the river’s edge will grow all day, rising into the thousands. Meanwhile Sherman’s regiments are still giving ground. Sherman, watching the battle and sending orders up and down his line, seems to get calmer as the day progresses even though four horses are killed under him. He asks Grant for any men that can be spared, but if there aren’t any he will do the best he can. He does receive several brigades, McClernand plugging the gap between Sherman and Prentiss, but the Confederates continue their assault and finally, near 10 am, his left wing gone and both flanks being turned, Sherman gives the order to fall back.

As Prentiss’ front dissolved, the Confederates took a break. Some of the soldiers hadn’t eaten in 24 hours and they stopped to wolf down the breakfasts left on the fires in Prentiss’ camp. Other soldiers began looting. Johnston rides into camp and gets them moving again, but the interlude proves a blessing for Prentiss, giving him time to regroup and reform on an old wagon road about a mile behind his original position. The road is sunken slightly from use, and is on high ground, fringed with concealing brush and a split-rail fence, commanding a huge open field on which attacking troops will be fully exposed. More brigades fall in on Prentiss’ right and left, linking him with Sherman. At 10:30 the Federal line is formed again.

Beauregard has moved his headquarters up to Shiloh Church and is using Sherman’s tent. He has staff officers roving the battlefield and reporting back on where reinforcements are needed. His adjutant circulates about the field, giving orders in the name of Beauregard or Johnston. He found troops repeatedly halted for lack of orders, and usually sent them off toward the heaviest fighting, a military axiom much favored by Beauregard. The three Confederate assault lines are now spread across the whole battlefield and inextricably intermingled on Shiloh’s rough and broken ground. The crushing avalanche that Beauregard had envisioned is deteriorating into raging little fights, with men lost and often finding themselves fighting in strange units under commanders they don’t know.

Time is wasting for the Confederates. The Federal line along the Sunken Road is growing stronger by the minute. Colonel Marmaduke tested it at 9 am with 500 men and never made it through the open field to its front. General Johnston is ready to launch a mass attack with two brigades when he receives a garbled report of an enemy division poised to strike the Confederate right flank. It isn’t a division, only a single understrength brigade that has been fighting to hold the extreme left all morning, but Johnston diverts his two brigades to deal with the apparent threat and orders up part of Breckinridge’s reserve. This results in an hour’s delay, that both sides use to bring up artillery and blast each other’s battle line. The cannon fire catches the attention of Beauregard’s adjutant, still finding troops to send into battle, and he orders a single small brigade to assault the sunken road. Incredibly, the brigade actually makes it within ten yards of the Union line before the remnants break and run. Stumbling out of that hell, a Confederate soldier gasps, “It’s a hornet’s nest in there.” The name will stick.

All along the line, Confederate troops are being wasted in piecemeal attacks, usually without artillery support. No one bothers to mass troops for attacks along the whole line. Through the afternoon more than 17,000 Confederate troops are thrown against the Hornet’s Nest, but never do more than 3,700 attack at once against anywhere from 4,000 to 5,000 Federal troops manning the position. At the heart of the costly Confederate failure is the lack of an overall commander. Sidney Johnston and his corps commanders are functioning as small-unit commanders. Some units spend more time marching than fighting as one order after another is countermanded by different generals.

Johnston’s attention has focused on a peach orchard just to the right of the Hornet’s Nest, the rear of the orchard on the Sunken Road. He orders a charge into the orchard, but trouble soon develops when an angry Breckinridge reports that an entire brigade refuses to make the charge. Johnston gallops over to the defiant soldiers and rallies them to follow him in a wild charge that sends the Federal troops tumbling back out of the orchard to the safety of the Sunken Road. But during the charge Johnston takes a leg wound. The wound appears minor, but the bullet actually has nicked an artery. This isn’t necessarily a fatal wound—Johnston even has a field tourniquet in his pocket, but no one on his staff knows how to use it and don’t believe that the leg wound is the trouble anyway though they can’t find another wound. So General Sidney Johnston, the most respected general in the Confederacy and President Davis’s trusted friend, is soon dead.

Beauregard wastes no time mourning Johnston’s death, immediately assuming command and orders that Johnston’s body be shrouded for secrecy and that the bad news be suppressed to avoid demoralizing the troops. Unfortunately, he makes the mistake of turning his full attention to the troublesome Hornet’s Nest. On both sides of the Hornet’s Nest, the Federal line is sagging back toward the Tennessee River. Beauregard might have hurled the bulk of his forces against those crumbling flanks and driven on the Pittsburg Landing, meanwhile containing the Hornet’s Nest for later reduction. Instead, he seems to be obsessed by the idea of smashing the Federal center. Brigadier General Daniel Ruggles, the white-bearded commander of Bragg’s first division, has seen eleven or twelve full-scale assaults, all of them bloody failures, and now he begins calling in cannon. Within an hour he has 62 guns facing the Sunken Road, and the largest concentration of artillery yet assembled in an American war opens up at about 4 pm. The cannonading goes on for half an hour, and the Federals welcome the start of a new infantry charge because it signals the end of the bombardment.

But now they face the enemy alone. The Federals’ situation is even worse elsewhere on the field. On their right, Sherman and McClernand are fighting a desperate withdrawal toward Pittsburg Landing. And on their left, there are no troops at all; the Confederate forces have a clear path all the way to the Tennessee River and the vulnerable Federal rear. There Sidney Johnston’s plan of attack comes within an ace of succeeding, though more by accident than design. General John Breckinridge, whose reserve corps has taken the peach orchard while Johnston lies dying, has joined an attack on his extreme right against Colonel David Stuart’s isolated and understrength brigade. By mid-afternoon Stuart’s men have used up all the cartridges they can strip from the dead and wounded and have to fall back. They plunge into a steep gorge 100 feet deep, and at the bottom are caught in a crossfire from the mouth of the gorge and the cliff. Stuart leads his men out of the crossfire in the gorge and forms a new line around Pittsburg Landing. His two regiments are ruined, and those men still on their feet have an average of only two cartridges each. Stuart himself is wounded and leaves the field seeking medical help. The Federal left lies wide open for the Confederate drive that Johnston had envisioned. But it doesn’t come. The Confederates, exhausted and disorganized, take the time to regroup then move to the left, toward the Hornet’s Nest where the sound of firing is heaviest.

The end is coming for the defenders in the Hornet’s Nest. The Federal withdrawal on the left and right has exposed their flanks, and Confederate attacks coming from both sides now as well as the front hammers their flanks backward until their battle line has the shape of a horseshoe. Regiments in the Hornet’s Nest are breaking up and pulling out of the open end behind them. Finally, withdrawing troops find their way blocked—Confederate troops have entirely surrounded the position. One brigade attempts to break out, but only two of the four regiments manage it to form a new line blocking the Confederate attack. Left behind are only 2,200 men, and General Prentiss finally raises the white flag. Even then, there are men in his ranks that refuse to surrender with some Federals smashing their rifles against trees to deny them to the enemy before being shot down by infuriated Confederates. The last of the defenders are captured by 6 pm.

Through the long, dismal afternoon, while the defenders of the Hornet’s Nest hold the Confederate army at bay, the rest of Grant’s army have been falling back on Pittsburg Landing. Some units withdraw slowly and in order, defending themselves stubbornly and making the Confederates pay for pressing them. Some of Grant’s units crumple, break, and retreat in incoherent streams, although Grant will be able to report, “With the single exception of a few minutes after the capture of Prentiss, a continuous and unbroken line was maintained all day.” He organizes a straggler net in an effort to stop fugitives and assign them to regiments that are still intact. With all the units he can muster, Grant slowly builds a new defense line. The line runs inland at a right angle from the river above Pittsburg Landing northwestward toward Owl Creek, about three miles long and very strong. Cannon are grouped at the left of the line, where the weight of the Confederate attack is expected. On the right, Grant posts the remnants of Sherman’s and McClernand’s divisions to protect a road that runs northward parallel to the Tennessee River; Lew Wallace’s division is expected to come marching down it, 6,000 men fresh and ready to save the day. But Grant waits for hours with mounting impatience and concern. Wallace is delayed by a mix-up over orders and a long march down the wrong road. His division doesn’t finally march onto the battlefield and take position at the far right of the new line until 7 pm.

By then the first of Buell’s brigades has arrived on a march by way of Nashville and Savannah, Tennessee and now crosses the river, makes its way through the thousands of half-crazed soldiers that have evaded Grant’s straggler net, and up the 100-foot bluff to further reinforce Grant’s line. One Kentucky brigade passes General Sherman as they move up. They know Sherman well and have no love for him, having suffered under his rigid discipline while he was having his nervous breakdown as commander at Louisville. But this is a different Sherman, his face blackened with gunpowder, his hat brim ripped away by shrapnel, a bloody bandage on his wounded hand, and the Kentuckians raise their hats on their bayonets and give him a lusty cheer. It is the first public display of approval that Sherman has received in a year, and he is deeply touched.

By dusk, it is clear to every man on Grant’s new line that reinforcements have arrived and cheer after cheer resound down the line. The exhausted soldiers, who expect a final crushing Confederate attack at any moment, see their salvation in the arrival of Buell’s men. But the tide has already turned in their favor. The Confederates are not pressing the attack, and the longer they wait the stronger Grant’s line becomes. There are several reasons the Confederates have slacked off. After the Hornet’s Nest collapses about an hour is spent rounding up the prisoners and herding them to the rear; word of the capture spreads and many believe that the prisoners are the bulk of the Federal army and thousands leave their positions to see the ‘captured Yanks’. As well, Confederate soldiers have been fighting for nearly twelve hours on empty stomachs—indeed, most of them haven’t eaten since early yesterday—and now thousands settle down at cook fires or go rummaging through Federal tents. Most of all, the Confederates are exhausted. They feel they have won a resounding victory, and the feverish excitement that has brought them this far evaporates and leaves them drained.

Sensing that victory might be slipping out of their grasp, the Confederate commanders rouse their troops and prod them to make a last drive to capture Pittsburg Landing in the hour or so of daylight left. Fresh troops at this juncture might have made all the difference for the Confederates—but Sidney Johnston committed Breckinridge’s reserve corps in bits and pieces well before noon. There are no fresh troops available. Slowly the exhausted Confederate units flog themselves back into the battle. On their left they peck away at Sherman’s and McClernand’s remnants with almost no effect. On their right Bragg manages to muster two weakened brigades to face the massed Federal cannon across a marshy tributary flooded with backwater from the river. As well, two Federal gunboats are lobbing heavy shells far inland; most of the rounds pass by overhead, but the shattering explosions in the rear intimidate many of the Confederates. Bragg exhorts his two brigades to a last great effort and they plunge into Dill’s Branch, wade the cold water and clamber up the steep ravine on the fare side. There the steady, accurate fire of the Federal artillery cuts them to pieces, and they shelter themselves against the precipitous sides of the ravine. Then Beauregard’s aide gallops up to Bragg with an order to retire: “The general directs that the pursuit be stopped; the victory is sufficiently complete; it is needless to expose our men to the fire of the gunboats.” Later it will be said that the Confederates are on the verge of total victory when the withdrawal order ruins their chances. In fact, the offensive has already ground to a halt before Beauregard orders the withdrawal, and the Confederates stand no chance of cracking a compressed Federal line powerfully reinforced by thousands upon thousands of Buell’s fresh troops.

Now darkness falls and a terrible night begins. The Federal troops have left their wounded behind with their dead on the ground they lost, and neither army has any organized system of litter-bearers or medical teams to seek out and treat wounded men. So most of the wounded lie there, alone and unable to move, burning with the awful thirst that follows gunshot trauma. Then about 10 pm a cold drizzle begins and by midnight it is a downpour, whipped by a hard, cold wind from the north. Lightning flashes illuminate the ghastly field. Some of the wounded men summon the strength to move. One hobbles into the line leaning on a broken artillery ramrod as a crutch. Many other wounded crawl close to one another for comfort or warmth and die together, their huddled bodies to be found in the morning. Scores of wounded men drag themselves to a pond near the Sunken Road to drink and bathe their faces. As more and more men come and collapse by the pond, their blood turns the water red. When they are found the place is named the Bloody Pond. Shiloh Church becomes a Confederate hospital. Federal surgeons take over a log cabin that Grant was using as a headquarters and erect a few tents outside, but most of the wounded men brought there lie in the rain as the bone saws rasp all night. Paddle-wheelers have been running all day and now run all night carrying wounded men downstream to Savannah. Most of the wounded have to be laid down on the decks in the driving rain.

When Beauregard withdraws his troops this evening, he sends a telegraph to President Davis announcing A COMPLETE VICTORY. Most Confederate soldiers assume that the battle is over, that the Federals will flee across the river in the dark rather than be driven into the river in the morning. Not one officer in ten, Bragg will later say, bothers to replenish his unit’s ammunition. The army is hopelessly scattered. Few units have made any attempt to reform and though some troops stay close to the Federal line, Polk withdraws his division a full three miles. Bragg spends the night in Beauregard’s tent instead of with his men. Beauregard orders no reconnaissance of the enemy (perhaps because of a report that Buell’s army has marched off in a different direction and so cannot be supporting Grant), but Colonel Nathan Bedford Forrest, the Tennessee cavalryman, is not so confident. He dresses some of his troopers in captured Federal overcoats and sends them on a scouting mission behind the Federal lines, where they see unit after unit of Buell’s army crossing over the river. Forrest awakens General Hardee, who tells him to take the news to Beauregard. But Forrest can’t find Beauregard and returns angry and frustrated to his camp.

Grant has never lost confidence. Sherman finds him after dark standing under a tree sheltering from the rain. Sherman thinks of discussing the possibility of retreat but then changes his mind. “Well, Grant,” he says, “we’ve had the devil’s own day, haven’t we?” Grant replies, “Yes—lick ‘em tomorrow, though.”

Over on the Mississippi John Pope is preparing his assault on Island No. 10 and on the Confederate troops guarding the river on the Tennessee side near Tiptonville.

In the mountains a Federal expedition operates April 6-11 from Greeneville, Tennessee, into Laurel Valley of North Carolina.

Washington expectantly awaits word from McClellan on the Peninsula that the Confederate line has been broken and the enemy brushed aside at Yorktown. Not hearing such, President Lincoln wires General McClellan, “I think you better break the enemies’ line from York-town to Warwick River, at once. They will probably use time, as advantageously as you can.” And the President is correct; Magruder is desperately holding his weak line while Joseph E. Johnston hurries his army from the Rappahannock.
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April 7, Monday

General Grant has a miserable night. He elects to stay with his troops rather than on his warm, dry command steamboat moored at Pittsburg Landing, and spends the night under a tree, his ankle so swollen from his horse’s fall the previous day that he can’t rest. The storm and continuous pain temporarily drive him into the log cabin that had been his headquarters and is now a hospital for a time, but the sights “more unendurable than encountering the enemy’s fire” send him back to the tree.

Now as dawn breaks the Federal skirmishers move forward unevenly over the soggy ground all along the battle line, followed at a distance by the bulk of Buell’s and Grant’s armies. Soon the Federals crash into one of Bragg’s units that has spent the night close by their front line. The Confederates fall back steadily, firing as they go. Elsewhere on the battlefield, Confederate soldiers are jerked awake by the renewed firing. All of them are still exhausted, many are still hungry, and few expected to have to fight again. Yet they hurriedly try to round up ammunition and get ready to meet the onslaught. Grant is moving 45,000 troops onto the field, half of them fresh. Beauregard can must no more than 20,000 men capable of fighting, and all of them are weary and battered. The battle follows the odds, with Grant’s men easily retaking most of the ground they gave up yesterday. Yet even so, the Federals bump into savage resistance around Shiloh Church. The Confederates there show no inclination to give up more ground, and time and again actually mount assaults of their own on Grant’s huge counterattack. Still, the sheer weight of Federal numbers keep crushing and grinding the enemy units. General Beauregard is hoping for reinforcements from General Van Dorn, but finally receives word that Van Dorn can’t make it from Arkansas and about 2:30 pm decides no more can be done; he orders Colonel Jordan to round up remnants of broken commands to form a rear guard. Jordan collects 2,000-odd soldiers and a dozen artillery pieces and places them on a ridge just south of Shiloh Church astride the road to Corinth. Under this protection, about 3:30 pm the Confederate troops begin an orderly withdrawal unit by unit, until finally only Jordan’s men are left and they, too, file off the ridge and down the muddy road in the train of the defeated army. None of the Confederates retreat very far; in sheer exhaustion, they begin falling out after marching only a mile or two. Soon the entire Confederate army stops and makes camp. It might well have fallen easy prey to a vigorous Federal drive, but the Federals are also spent. Then too, there is the problem of whether Grant had had the authority to order Buell’s largely unfought army forward. Grant issues an order recalling his men, and they return to the ruins of their original camps.

As with all the great conflicts of the war, the conflict of words will long outlast the echoes of the gunfire, but strategically Grant holds the field and the Confederates go back from whence they came. For the South, which had much to gain from victory, it must be considered a defeat in its effects. For the North, a victory only in that it holds what had been taken earlier, but gains little. The statistics: Federal, Army of the Tennessee effectives at around 42,000 plus three divisions of Buell’s Army of the Ohio totaling about 20,000; losses 1,754 killed, 8,408 wounded, and 2,885 missing for a total of 13,047. Confederate effectives about 40,000, with 1,723 killed, 8,012 wounded, and 959 missing, total of 10,694. Among the dead for the South, General Albert Sidney Johnston, of whom much had been expected. A Northern soldier writes, “Gentle winds of Springtime seem a sighing over a thousand new made graves.”

For more than a month General John Pope, his army, and the Federal gunboats have been battling not only Confederate opponents but geography in the campaign at Island No. 10 or New Madrid Bend, where the swamps are worth divisions to the South. With the passage of Carondelet below the island April 4, and followed by Pittsburg today, Pope now has floating artillery and transportation below the strongly placed island and can launch his attack on Confederates in the Tiptonville area on the soggy mainland of Tennessee. Pounding the batteries on the Tennessee shore the gunboats force evacuation. Pope’s troops have landed behind the Confederate defenders and blocked the only escape road. The garrison surrenders both on the mainland and at Island No. 10, with the formal ceremonies to take place tomorrow. Perhaps seven thousand men, including Brigadier General W.W. Mackall, twenty-five field guns, the artillery in the batteries, small arms, and considerable ammunition and other supplies are captured. Confederate defense has not been outstanding, but the Federal victory, considering the obstacles of nature, is ably achieved. Pope, his men, the Navy, all have done well and the North has a new hero from the West. Unfortunately, the focus of the nation is on Shiloh and Virginia. But the Federal victory at Island No. 10 is another serious break in the Confederate defense of the Mississippi, opening the river, with only Fort Pillow in the way, to undefended Memphis and beyond. Gunboats and combined operations have again recorded an achievement that deserves rank with the major events of the Civil War.

McClellan has been bombarding Washington with pleas for more men, and decides that before assaulting the Warwick River defenses with infantry, he will conduct what he will later call “the more tedious, but sure operations of siege.” One reason he has failed to mount an immediate assault is that the Confederates before him appear to be receiving massive reinforcements. The Confederate commander, Major General John Bankhead Magruder, is no great soldier, but he has a flair for showmanship; in the prewar army he had relieved the tedium of garrison duty by producing and starring in amateur theatricals. Now, with a cast of 11,000 troops (4,000 less than Federal intelligence estimated), he has staged a veritable extravaganza. His artillery fires at anything that moves. After dark his bands play noisily. Along the Warwick River, where he has only 5,000 men to cover ten miles of front, a column of his men have marched around in a circle, part of which lies in plain view of enemy outposts. For hours Federal observers have watched the same few hundred gray-clad troops pass in endless review. McClellan has spared no effort to learn more of the Confederates’ numbers and activities. He has urged his commanders to make use of a new, untried instrument of reconnaissance—the observation balloons of aeronaut Thaddeus Lowe. He himself has scouted the Warwick River line, making personal reconnaissances that he admits to his wife are “more appropriate to a lieutenant of engineers than to the commanding general. Everything he learns tends to increase his alarm. Today he writes to Lincoln: “It seems clear that I shall have the whole force of the enemy on my hands, probably not less than 100,000 men, and possibly more.” In his reply Lincoln will question McClellan’s arithmetic and suggest that widespread impatience with McClellan’s delays make it “indispensable to you that you strike a blow. I am powerless to help this.” And still McClellan hesitates, and not just because if his exaggerated view of Confederate strength. A siege of Yorktown—not an attack—has been in the back of his mind from the day he first planned the Peninsular Campaign. Siege warfare, with its slow, methodical operations, appeals to the engineer in McClellan, and to his native caution and earnest desire to save soldiers’ lives.

There is an affair at St. Andrew’s Bay, Florida; a skirmish at Foy’s Plantation, North Carolina; and a small Federal expedition near Newport, North Carolina.

In the Federal Congress a House committee on emancipation and colonization of Blacks is appointed.

The United States signs a treaty with Great Britain for more efficient suppression of the illegal slave trade.
#15082456
April 8, Tuesday

This morning, the Confederates driven off the Shiloh battlefield set out for Corinth along a narrow road of deep, churned mud. Forrest is guarding the rear with 350 cavalrymen. In his wake come four brigades and a cavalry unit under General Sherman to make sure the Confederates clear out of the area. When Sherman sees Forrest’s cavalrymen ahead and cautiously throws out skirmishers. Forrest is watching the Federal skirmishers picking their way through a belt of fallen trees, which gives this place its name of Fallen Timbers, and orders a charge, leading his men into the Skirmishers. Forrest races on toward Sherman and the main force. Sherman later says, “I and my staff ingloriously fled pell mell through the mud. I am sure that if Forrest had not emptied his pistols as he passed the skirmish line, my career would have ended right there.” Instead it is Forrest’s life that almost ends. Leading the charge, he doesn’t see that his men have stopped at the sight of 2,000 leveled Federal rifles and he is galloping forward alone, not until he plunges into the Federal line. Soldiers are screaming for someone to kill him, and one jams a musket into his side and the heavy ball lifts Forrest in the saddle and lodges against his spine. Despite the wound, he reaches down, seizes a soldier by the collar and hauls him up onto his horse’s rump as a shield, and gallops away, flinging the Federal to the ground as he nears his men and safety. Forrest is the last man wounded in the Battle of Shiloh.

As the news of Shiloh or Pittsburg Landing sweeps the nations, the formal surrender of the Confederates at New Madrid Bend or Island No. 10 adds to the excitement. Two more heavy blows have fallen on the Confederacy.

In New Mexico Territory, Colonel Canby’s plan to push the Confederates out of the territorial capital of Santa Fe has worked perfectly. Although the Coloradans were angry at his order to return to Fort Union rather than pursue the Confederates through Glorieta Pass—Colonel Slough actually resigned his commission in disgust—they have now marched rapidly toward Santa Fe. At the same time, Canby’s feint at Albuquerque has drawn General Sibley southward to protect what remains of his supplies—despite ransacking Santa Fe, commandeering everything available including some wagons, ammunition, and a story of blankets intended for distribution to Amerinds, most of the Confederates’ remaining supplies are stored at Albuquerque. Clinging to a thin hope, Sibley has written to the Governor of Texas, requesting reinforcements.

In February Brigadier General Ormsby M. Mitchel’s division of 8,000 men had been assigned to Major General Don Carlos Buell’s Army of the Ohio when it had descended from Kentucky to occupy Nashville, and in March they had been detached to secure central Tennessee, while the rest of the army marched west under Buell to join General Ulysses S. Grant’s advance on Corinth, Mississippi—by way of the killing ground around Shiloh Church. Even though he is caught temporarily in a backwater of the War, Mitchel is not a man to idle away his time. A West Pointer that left the Army in 1832 to teach mathematics, he had returned to the army and was commissioned a brigadier general at the outbreak of the War. He has proved to be a temperamental officer given to self-promotion. General Buell, who will be involved in bitter arguments with Mitchel, and about him, for years, will never figure out quite what to make of his subordinate. “In spite of his peculiarities,” Buell will write after the War, “General Mitchel was a valuable officer. He was not insubordinate, but was restless in ordinary service and ambitious in an ostentatious way.”

Now that his forces of occupation have taken a firm grip on central Tennessee, Mitchel has found himself with time on his hands and a great deal of discretion. He has discovered that as long as he sends reports to General Buell he is free to take any action, and has hatched a bold plot to capture Chattanooga in east Tennessee, 113 miles southeast of Nashville and just above the Georgia line. Mountainous East Tennessee is a hotbed of pro-Union sentiment. President Lincoln has expressed intense interest in freeing Union sympathizers there from Confederate domination. More important still, like Lincoln, Mitchel understands that the war west of the Appalachians is being fought as much for the railroads as for territory. Whoever possesses the railroads in the west hold a key to the struggle being wages east of the Appalachians. To sustain its campaign north of Richmond, the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia is dependent on a constant flow of food, munitions, manufactures, and manpower from the south and west. Two of the major arteries of that flow—the Western & Atlantic Railroad from Atlanta and the Memphis & Charleston from the Mississippi River at Memphis and points west—meet just east of Chattanooga, at Cleveland, Tennessee; there the two combine to form the East Tennessee & Georgia Railroad, which winds northeastward through the Allegheny Mountains to Virginia.

Mitchel is gambling that the Federal armies to his west will have little trouble occupying their first objective on the Memphis & Charleston Railroad—Corinth, Mississippi, just south of Shiloh—and that they will then turn eastward toward Chattanooga. So today he sets out on his self-appointed mission to lead the way to Chattanooga—and garner glory—by moving from his base near Nashville south, intending to seize Huntsville, Alabama, a town on the Memphis & Charleston line. From there, he intends to push eastward and, if all goes well, to take lightly defended Chattanooga and hold it until the main army arrives. He has also detached a group of Ohio volunteers led by spy James J. Andrews to destroy bridges and track along the Western & Atlantic so that reinforcements can’t be rushed to Chattanooga from the south.

President Davis proclaims martial law in eastern Tennessee, now threatened both by General Mitchel’s presence to the west and by pro-Union civilians.

Other fighting occurs near Warrensburg, at Warsaw, on Medicine Creek, Missouri. There is scouting in southwestern Missouri, including skirmishes, and increased guerilla activity in western Virginia.

Union Flag Officer Farragut, below New Orleans, has finally succeeded in getting all the ships of his fleet across the bar blocking the Mississippi delta and into the river, except for the fleet’s largest ship that has to be left behind.
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