Letter written by Colonel James Peckham, 8th Missouri Volunteer Infantry, to his mother from the battlefield of Pittsburg, TN. Peckham writes of the “biggest battle of the age,” where he led the 8th MO Volunteer Infantry and suffered only minor casualties.
Battlefield Pittsburg Tennessee
April 10, 62
Just have time to drop a line. Biggest battle of the age last Monday. I led the old 8th Missouri. Only lost two men killed & 30 wounded – not even scratched myself. A piece of shell tore my coat sleeve & another grazed my spur. All well. The victory on Monday was won by hard fighting. We were at it from 5 am until 5 pm. The last break the enemy made was a perfect panic. We have lost in killed & wounded 5000 – about 800 killed. The rebels must have lost about 3000 killed and & 8000 or 10000 wounded.
James Peckham was a member of the Missouri Legislature before the Civil War and was a strident Unionist when the state was debating to secede or not. He left the legislature and organized the 8th MO Regiment. Peckham served as the 8th MO Regiment’s Lt. Col. and led the regiment at Shiloh and Pittsburg Landing, TN, and at Jackson, MS. He later went on to lead the 29th MO. After the war he published a book on the history of the war in Missouri and General Nathaniel Lyon. He passed away in 1869 and is buried at Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis, MO.