Letter written by Major Charles Baskerville of the 2nd Battalion MS Cavalry, to Brigadier General Daniel Ruggles at Corinth, MS from the bank of the Tennessee River. Baskerville writes that he is planning to report to Colonel Mouton of the 18th LA Infantry at Pittsburg Landing, TN, and that he needs all the forces currently in Corinth and Iuka. He is particularly interested in the company commanded by Captain Matthews at Iuka. In a note on the opposite side of the letter, Baskerville writes that Captain Reeves has offered his company. The events detailed in the letter precede the battle of Shiloh.
By order just at hand from Col Mouton I shall repair immediately to him –
I need all my forces now at Corinth & Iuka May I suggest that you send them to rejoin my command near Pittsburg –
The Company commanded by Capt Matthews at Iuka & now used as artillery can at this moment be of great value to me as Cavalry
Capt Matthews could again resume the its Artillery Drill when the emergency is not so great – I have no information to report further than the Confirmation of the fight at Pittsburg yesterday & send you a dispatch from Col Mouton. I learn but not reliably, that they have been fighting at Savannah, your Obt Svt [Obedient Servant]
March 2nd/62 Chas Baskerville
Major Comd’g 2nd Batt
Capt Reeves, the Bearer, from Noxaber Country Mis has today reported to me, that his command wish to join me.
I would be gratified, sir if you would Sanction it
Letter written by Private Henry S. Clark of Company C, 15th IL Infantry, to Frank W. Fuller, from the camp of the 15th IL near Pittsburgh Landing. Clark writes that the previous night, his regiment was ordered to fall into ranks, and the 4th Division was ordered to support a wing of the army that had been attacked by Confederate forces. However, after marching for about a mile, the order was countermanded. General Hurlbut informed them that General William T. Sherman had been attacked, but was able to drive back the Confederate forces. Clark thinks they will have a hard battle in the next week. He advises Fuller not to come, as they have plenty of men at the moment. Clark is sending Fuller some “Tennessee script” that he captured from a “live secesh at Fort Donelson.” This letter was written the day before the Confederate surprise attack at Shiloh.
Camp of the 15th Ill
1st Regt. 2nd brigade of the 4th Division Department of west Tenn. Pittsburgh landing Tennessee River Apr 3rd
Yours in haste
P.S. Well Frank I suppose that you are looking rather anxiously for news from this quarter, but when I received your very kind letter of the 19th, 24th, &c, a day or two since, I thought the show was rather poor for me to give you any (news) but this morning I can give you a little, last night about half past seven we received orders to fall into ranks immediately with
guns and equipments ready for action, the Regt was soon formed in line of battle awaiting further orders meantime the news came that the right wing of our army had been attacked by the Rebels in force and we, the 4th Division, were ordered out to support them, after standing in ranks about 15 minutes we received orders to move on, accordingly, we started forward the other Regt’s of our brigade soon joining after we left camp the whole division was soon moving until after going about one mile we were halted, there waited about 20 minutes when the order was countermanded, Gen Hurlburt came along about that time and gave the particulars of the case Gen Sherman had been attacked
but not in force, by a strong reconnoitering party, he had driven them back at a loss of 11 killed and several wounded among the killed was a Major and Capt the Rebels loss was 27 killed and 12 prisoners, number of wounded not known, it appears that we were ordered out thorough mistake of messenger sent from Sherman to Hurlburt, Sherman sent orders to have him to hold his Division in readiness to march out, thus it ended for the present, though probably before another week rolls around we will have one of the hardest battles of the war, how it will terminate God only knows, we think however that we can clean them out, but as the issue is near at hand I shall not brag, but I feel now as though I could stand up to the rack “fodder or no fodder.”
You asked me if we wanted any more help. I can’t say, but I rather think that we have got plenty of help, and I would advise you not to come at present, if at all, though of course use your own judgment, but I must say, John [Pvt. John F. Clark, Co. A, 12th IL Cavalry] was very foolish to go, a man who has got a family has no business here, I thank you for your kindness in sending those stamps, although I had plenty for present use, there is no way of getting them here, and I should have been obliged to go without when they were gone, as they cannot be bought here for love or money.
I enclose you some Tennessee script, which I got of[f] a live secesh at Fort Donelson I should have sent a more interesting memento if I had been able to but there was no opportunity to send things from there
Look to hear from me soon again and remember me as ever
your true friend
Henry S. Clark, from Lysander, IL, enlisted in Company C, 15th IL Infantry as a private on May 24, 1861. The 15th Ill. Inf. lost severely at Shiloh as a part of Veatch’s Brigade in the Hornets’ Nest on April 6, suffering about 250 casualties, including 42 dead. Clark survived the Battle of Shiloh and went on with his regiment which also participated in the Siege of Corinth, MS and the last phase of the Vicksburg Campaign. Clark mustered out on May 25, 1864
Letter written by surgeon Martin Wiley of the 117th IL Infantry, to his wife, from the woods north of Pulaski, TN. Wiley writes that his regiment will move again the next morning. He mentions hunting, and describes the terrain along their march from Nashville. He briefly mentions the health of Colonel Moore, and inquires after the health of his wife. Wiley has heard rumors that General John B. Hood was beaten at the Tennessee River. A second section of the letter dated December 29th, 1864, mentions that his regiment is moving towards home. He reports that the 16th Corps left General George Thomas’s army and moved toward Clifton, TN. There are rumors that Hood’s army is attempting to cross at Savannah. He remarks on the adverse road conditions which will slow the march.
Camp 117 Regt. Ill. V.
In the woods, 4 miles
s of Pulaski, Tenn.
8-20 P.M. Dec. 28th 1864
My very Dear Wife
I sent you your letter this morning. I commence again and will forward by first opportunity. We did not move today, but have orders to move at 8 tomorrow. I went hunting squirrels and shot one. These hills are rather pleasant. All the way from Nashville here it has been a constant succession of regular hills and narrow valleys. The road winds through the valley, passing over more
of the hills. The population is considerably dense. The soil is rich and the products of luxuriant growth. Much of the surface is too steep for cultivation. The timber is excellent; maple, beach, birch, chestnut, oak, and cedar groves, large and beautiful.
Col. Moore is better today. Darling I hope the same of you. I would feel so glad to be certain of it.
Tell Dr. Carpenter that I am going to write to him when I get settled for a day or two. We get rumors that Hood has been beaten again at the Tenn. [River], and lost largely. A squad of prisoners passed this morning.
Good night my dear,
7 – 8 P.M. Dec. 29, 1864
We are again on the way, and I am cheerful for we move in the direction of home. This morning the 16th Corps left Gen. Thomas’s army and moved on a road toward Clifton. This place is on the Tennessee [River] due west and below Pittsburg Landing. So when we get there we are in easy communication with Ill[inois] again. If we go there, I presume it will be for the purpose of taking transports for some other point. Some say a portion of Hood’s army are attempting to cross at Savannah, and that we will strike him there. However it may be, I know we are not now going south
but toward a certain line of communication, and this makes me glad. The roads are bad, and the march will be slow. We have but 3 days’ rations in the train. We have marched but 13 miles today. We left Lieut. Brown, Co. A, sick at Pulaski; glad it wasn’t me. are having good living and a comfortable place to eat it. Dr. J and myself have a table in our tent. The evening is cool (freezing), but we are cozy and warm. We have various reports from the front. I can vouch for one of them. You probably hear as much. A good night Kiss for you, Dear.
Your husband, affect[ionately],
Martin Wiley, from Trenton, IL enlisted on August 14,1862 as a private in Co. E of the 117th Illinois Infantry. He was promoted to surgeon October 9, 1862, and was mustered out at Camp Butler, Springfield, IL on August 5, 1865.
Letter written by Corporal Amos Kibbee of the 1st Battalion, 4th IL Cavalry, to his cousin Hattie, from Pittsburgh Landing, Tennessee. Kibbee describes his transfer from the 29th IL Regiment to the 4th IL Cavalry after the battle of Shiloh. He describes what it is like for a soldier in battle, and the overwhelming feeling to completely destroy the enemy that comes as a means of self-preservation. Kibbee writes that Nashville, New Orleans, Richmond, and Memphis are all in Union possession, and does not see how the Confederates could at this point hope for success. He is anxious for the war to end as he feels he is not suited to a soldier’s life – his main goal is for the war to end rather than to be promoted in the military. He requests that his cousin be available when he visits home so that they may spend time together, and that he will likely move back to Illinois.
Pittsburgh Landing, Tenn. May 11th, 62
Dear Cousin Hattie
Yours of April 20 came to hand yesterday and I avail myself of the time given me today on account of being on guard all night to answer it, although perhaps I should do it better if I were not so sleepy and tired. I think I forgot to tell you in my last that we have been transferred from the 29th Reg. of Infantry to the first battalion of the 4th Cavalry, commanded by Col. Dickey. We have been attached to this since directly after the battle of the 6th and 7th of April. The division to which I belong (the first, Gen. McClernand’s) was very badly cut up in the fight and they have many sick, and I think this may be the reason why we are held in reserve, and it is very probable we shall not participate in the coming struggle which is hourly expected, and which, indeed, is now already being fought, but more the fashion of a siege than an assault. We have heard cannonading in the direction of Corinth this morning, which implies that “somebody is being hurt.” I have shared the fortunes of this division of the army ever since its organization at Cairo. I was with it at Forts Henry and Donelson, and at Shiloh. It is unnecessary to tell you that the army met with little opposition at Fort Henry, but we had several cavalry skirmishes with their mounted scouts, shotgun cavalry.
So I have been in two regular pitched battles. Although I have seen blood enough spilt, yet I can hardly content myself to be a noncombatant in the present impending battle. Yet I think you will hardly demonstrate this “bloodthirstiness,” but a desire for a speedy peace, which can only be accomplished through their utter and complete overthrow, and to endure this I am willing, yes, anxious to “brave the leaden storm” once more. There is much to plead in extenuation for the soldier who is so often accused of forgetting the feelings of this better nature. There is a wide difference between experiencing the wild and terrible excitement on the battlefield, and contemplating it from afar. It is utterly useless for anyone to attempt to describe such feelings in language, but this much I can say. It is an utter forgetfulness of everything but a desire to destroy your enemy in the quickest way possible. I think perhaps it is self preservation more than anything else that prompts this feeling. But in all my experience I have never seen a soldier offer the least indignity to a dead or wounded enemy. No truly brave man would do this. Only cowards are capable of it, and I think, Hattie, you would find more than one here to dispute the word of anyone who would call me a coward, or accuse me of inhumanity to a suffering friend or foe. Well, the battle of Yorktown, or rather the siege, has been brought
to a successful issue, and the Rebels are in full retreat towards Richmond, and I hope it may have the influence upon the destiny of this war that all have presaged for it. With Nashville, New Orleans, and Richmond, and Memphis in our possession, their armies defeated on every field and side, what can induce them to hope for ultimate success? It is nothing but reckless foolhardiness to protract the struggle longer. But if they will carry it on to the bitter end, the consequences must rest upon their own heads, and nothing but destruction, almost annihilation, awaits them with its horrors enhanced a hundred fold if we adopt Gen. Hunter’s last resort, which ere long will be done. I am anxious that this war should close for many reasons. First, a soldier’s life does not suit me very well, and next, you must know that it is time nearly thrown away from a pecuniary point of view. You know of course that the wages are small, and it is very little we can lay up out of it, and I wish to be doing something for myself. For it is useless to deny it. I am growing old fast. The misfortunes and hardships of a few years have done the work of many. God heed the day of peace. Well, I am going to write something now which perhaps I never should. If I had not seen that little “my” in parenthesis in connection with Lieutenant Leek. I protest against your doing so again will tell you why. Since we have entered
upon the scenes that have tried mens’ souls we have had many trying times of danger, where officers especially have been watched by jealous eyes, and I regret to say it, but he has greatly fallen from the estimation in which he was held at first by the men under his command who think the feather in his heart a little whiter than the big black one in his hat. They think he is troubled with a disease popularly demonstrated “the bighead.” But this is too common a failing among army officers. You wished to know what kind of a looking man our captain is. He is a man about my height, not so heavy built, will weigh about 150 pounds, light complexion, sandy hair, tolerably good looking, is about 38 years old, has a wife and several children at home. As his temperament would indicate, he is passionate and impulsive, and if he is lacking in anything it is in cool discrimination in times of peril. He is liked by some, and disliked by some, but he is a very good officer. My ambition consists more in wishing to bring this war to a successful termination than for official promotion, and I would rather hear of peace today than be assured of a brigadier generalship in six months more of war. I cannot see the necessity for your keeping to the school room so steadily. Surely you might consult your own wishes and feelings for this season, anyhow, or at least a part of it, for I am going to stay perhaps a month when I come, and shall want you at liberty then while I stay, or I shall be lonesome. I expect to go back to Illinois to live after visiting all my relatives there. Yours truly,
Ame to Hatt
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Tell your mother that I thank her very much for her good wishes, and should be as glad to see her as she would me, I’ll warrant. And “Sister Lizzie” the same. I can imagine the pretty things she said; “tell” me. Tell Madison I am coming to see him and stay a whole week. And if I should conclude to take my horse with me, perhaps we won’t have some madcap races. My black [horse] is not in as good condition as he was. He has had awful hard usage and poor feed. The roads are too bad to haul forage, but he will improve as soon as we get plenty again. You may look for me about the first of August; a year from [my] time of entry [in the army].
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We are encamped about half way between Pittsburg and Corinth. [We] shall move up a little closer tomorrow. A.K. to H.
Amos Kibbee, from Metropolis, IL, enlisted on August 7, 1861 as a corporal in an independent company of Illinois cavalry, designed to be attached to an infantry regiment as an adjunct unit. His company was assigned to the 29th IL Infantry during the battle of Shiloh, but was transferred to the 1st Battalion, 4th IL Cavalry immediately thereafter. In the spring of 1863 various independent companies were re-organized to form the 15th IL Cavalry, and Kibbee was assigned to Company B. He was promoted to sergeant (no date recorded). Kibbee was mustered out of the army on August 25, 1864, at the expiration of his three years’ enlistment.
2 Confederate HQ telegraph dispatches sent by General P. G. T. Beauregard to General Albert Sidney Johnston from Jackson, TN, to Decatur, AL prior to the Battle of Shiloh. In the first dispatch, General Beauregard requests surplus ammunition for guns and small arms to be sent to Corinth, MS. It also mentions that Union forces under General Charles F. Smith’s command are up the Tennessee River. The second dispatch states that General Chalmers in Iuka, Mississippi, has sighted Union boats. Beauregard mentions that pickets at East Port spotted Union ships at Savannah. He writes that the Union boats will likely go to Pittsburg Landing or East Port. He also warns Johnston not to collect too many trains at Tuscumbia, as they may be cut off from the west by Union forces.
Jackson, March 12th 1862
Genl. A. S. Johns[t]on
Have you surplus ammunition for guns & small arms for this army – If so, send to Corinth forthwith. Enemies force up Tennessee supposed to be [Gen. C. F.] Smith’s command.
G. T. Beauregard
Jackson, March 12th 1862
Genl. A. S. Johnston
Genl. Chalmers at Iuka telegraphs some of Boats in sight – At East Port when my pickets left at six o’clock this morning enemy were at Savannah last night with thirty-three transports & gun boats did not disembark – wagons Horses & all on board at sunset they said they would start for Rail Road this morning early – There is not water enough for the Gun Boats to go to Florence – They will stop at Pittsburg or East Port – the enemy took in all pickets & guards last night.
Later shelling East Port
Two Gun Boats in sight.
N. B. Be care not to collect too many trains at Tuscumbia for fear of being cut off from the west by the enemy
It appears this document was carried by a dispatch courier from the telegraph office in Decatur, AL to Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston’s HQ. It is believed this dispatch was the first time Gen. Johnston saw the fateful mention of “Pittsburg [Landing],” where he would die little more than three weeks later. As such, these messages prompted immediate action on the part of Johnston to aid Beauregard at Corinth, MI. Johnston sent Hindman’s brigade by rail to Corinth on March 15th, and despite adverse weather, hastened preparations to get his army there, 93 miles distant. Johnston’s troops began arriving about March 20th, and by March 23rd Johnston was present himself. Although the crisis declared by Beauregard did not result in immediate significant fighting, it was a precursor to the crisis that soon developed. Following the occupation of Pittsburg Landing by the main segment of the Union army on March 16th it was apparent that a major Union offensive against Corinth was imminent. Ironically, this ominous message of Beauregard’s four days earlier had pinpointed the exact location to carefully watch. Eastport, also mentioned as another likely site of enemy occupation, was protected by long range Confederate guns, thus Pittsburg Landing was the obvious enemy point of invasion. Despite Beauregard’s astute observations of this, little was done in scouting, mapping, or otherwise planning for the major offensive strike that soon resulted in the famous April 6th surprise attack at Shiloh.