Confederates at Shiloh

2/7/2012 • Battle Of Shiloh, Civil War, Civil War Battlefields, Civil War Swords, CWT Online Special, PGT Beauregard, Ulysess S Grant, Union Soldiers

On April 6, 1862, following the first day of fighting, General Ulysses Grant ordered Union gunboats on the Tennessee River to fire broadsides all through the night, in an effort to unnerve the enemy. John S. Cockerill of the 70th Ohio, Buckland’s Brigade, recalled of that long, rainy night:

“Wandering along the beach among the rows of wounded men waiting to be taken on board the transports, I found another member of the 70th Ohio Regiment, named Silcott…, and together we sat down on a bale of hay near the river’s edge. By this time the rain had set in….I curled myself upon one side of the hay bale…and soon fell asleep. Every few moments I was awakened by a terrible broadside…from the two gunboats which lay in the centre of the river a hundred yards or so above me….These black monsters…kept up their fire all through the night….Still I managed to doze very comfortably between the broadsides, and…from those peaceful naps I was aroused every now and then by what appeared to be a tremendous flash of lightning, followed by the most awful thunder….

“The transports…bringing over Buell’s troops had a landing within twenty feet of my lodgment. All night long they wheezed and groaned, and came and went, with their freight of humanity, and right by my side marched all night long the poor fellows who were being pushed out to the front to take their places on the battle line for the morrow. By this time, the roadway was churned into mud knee-deep, and as regiment after regiment went by with that peculiar slosh, slosh of marching men in mud, and the rattling of canteens against bayonet scabbards,…I could hear the…low complainings of the men, and the urgings of their officers: ‘Close up, boys, close up….As fast as a transport unloaded its troops, the gangway was hauled in, the vessel dropped out, and another took the vacant place and the same thing was gone over again. Now and then a battery of artillery would come off the boat, the wheels would stick in the mud, and then a grand turmoil…in which every man found in the neighborhood was impressed…The whipping of the horses, and the cursing of the drivers was less soothing…than those soul-shattering gunboat broadsides. There never was a night so long, so hideous, or so utterly uncomfortable.”

During the retreat of General P.G.T. Beauregard’s forces’ retreat to Corinth following the battle on April 7, Confederate Private Sam R. Watkins of the 1st Tennessee, Stephens’ Brigade, wrote:

“I…captured me a mule. He was not a fast mule, and…if I wanted him to go on one side of the road he was sure…to go on the other….I got a big hickory stick and would flail him over the head, and he would only shake his head a flop his ears….Me and mule worried along until we came to a creek. Mule did not desire to cross, while I was trying to persuade him with a stick, a rock in his ear, and a twister of his nose. The caisson of a battery was about to cross. The driver said, ‘I’ll take your mule over for you.’ So he got a large two inch rope, tied one end around the mule’s neck and the other to the caisson, and ordered the driver to whip up…The rope began to tighten, the mule to squeal out his protestations against such villainous proceedings. The rope, however, was stronger…, and he was finally prevailed upon…to cross the creek….I got on him again, when all of a sudden he lifted his head, pricked up his ears, began to champ his bit, gave a little squeal, got a little faster, and finally into a gallop and then a run….With all my pulling and seesawing and strength I could not stop him until he brought up with me at Corinth, Mississippi.”

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