Letter written by Private Clayton W. Shaw of Company M, 5th Ohio Cavalry, to his mother [Mrs. John Shaw, New Richmond, Ohio], dated April 3rd, 1862, from Bethel Church (Shiloh). Shaw writes that he was part of a midnight scouting expedition to track Confederate troops near the camp. They managed to capture three of the twenty “butternuts,” as they call the Confederate soldiers. Shaw writes of the difficulty of scouting in the wooded country, due to the thick mud and heavy underbrush. He mentions the presence of several thousand Confederate soldiers in Corinth. (This midnight patrol failed to discover the Confederate Army advancing to attack at Pittsburg Landing, before the Battle of Shiloh)
April 3 1862
I expect you would like to get a letter from me well I will write you a few lines while I have time we have just returned from an all night scout we started from the camp last night about 12 o clock to take a little squad of rebels that have been sneeking around our camp for the last two weeks but we did not succeede in getting but three of the butternuts as we call them out here we caught one of them by shooting his
horse and the other one we ran down their was about 20 of them in the gang acting as pickets.
It is not a very easy thing to be scouting through this wooden country sometimes the mud is up to our horses bellies and other times we have to swim rivers and then we will come in to the thickest under brush where we have to make our faces as sharp as a wedge to get through them you can imagine how pleasant it is to be a solger in this wooden country we have to keep our eyes skinned when we are tracking through these bushes for they are full of butternuts all the time
Well Mother this is all I can write this time we are going on an other big scout to day their is about 80 thousand solgers out to a little town called Corinth and we are going out to look around a little and find the best place to get at them we expect to give them fits about next week.
I am verry well havent been sick one day since I landed in Tennessee
I remain your Affectionate Son
I received your Nannies letter and also one from town
Tell evrry body to write to me and I will tell them all about Tennessee.
Direct all of your letters to the 5 OVC by way of Paducah and I will always get them
Clayton W. Shaw, aged 21, enlisted on October 3, 1862 as a private in Company M of the 5th OH Volunteer Cavalry. Shaw died at home in New Richmond, OH on May 22, 1862 from unknown reasons.
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 Captain George Rogers of the 20th OH Infantry of Col. Charles Whittlesey’s 3rd Brigade, to a friend from Camp Shiloh, TN. Rogers writes about the Battle of Shiloh, and describes encountering a Confederate battery supported by a brigade of Creoles [Orleans guards], who were led by General P.G.T. Beauregard himself. Rogers’ regiment, along with a small battery [Thurber’s Battery I, 1st Missouri Light Artillery], opened heavy fire on Confederate troops, forcing them to begin a retreat. He states his most vivid memory of the battle was of watching an officer shoot his woundedhorse to put the animal out of its misery, weeping all the while. The regiment has just received orders to move up the river towards Corinth, and Rogers also mentions that General Halleck recently arrived at the camp.
Camp Shilo, Tennessee
April 12th 1862
My Dear Friend =
Since writing you last I have had the honor of engaging in the great battle which came off here on the 6th & 7th inst. As our division [Major General Lew Wallace’s 3rd Division] did not arrive on the scene of action till late on Sunday night I am unable to give you any particulars concerning the disasters of that day’s fighting. The newspapers have informed you how completely the enemy routed our forces the first day – how they drove them almost to the very [???] edge, and how if they had enjoyed a few more hours of daylight the whole army under Gen. Grant should have been annihilated. Thanks to Providence, night came on just when our safety lay in darkness. Before the next morning our division of ten thousand came up from below and Buell was able to throw across
the Tennessee [River] several brigades of fresh troops. Men who had put forth every effort to reach Savannah in time to engage in the fight they knew to be impending.
With the assistance of these reinforcements we were able to give events a different character to the engagement of Monday. I will not tire you with a detailed account of the movements of our division – of the movements of others I know know nothing – We were ordered to take position on our right flank and by keeping steady in the advance to turn the enemy’s left, an order which was executed in so skillfull a manner and with such eminent success as to receive from all parties the most enthusiastic praise. Our brigade was on the right of our division, and our regiment on the right of our brigade. Our maneuvering was made in a zig-zag line constantly bearing away to the left in order to menace the enemy’s rear. The line of march over which we passed was
over five miles in extent – every foot of which in some part of our division front was stubbornly contested by the enemy. About three o’clock or perhaps a little sooner, our brigade came by a beautiful and rapid movement upon a heavy battery of the enemy’s, support- ed by a brigade of Creoles commanded by Beauregard in person, who – with flag in hand at the head of the brigade – was endeavoring to rally his forces for a final effort to retrieve his lost fortunes. Our regiment being in the advance moved quickly to the right and seemed to the enemy as if about to come upon his rear. To meet this danger the enemy changed the front of one of his regiments. Having advanced several rods into an open field on the opposite side of which was the enemy’s battery and reserves, we halted in order to draw
his fire. Misconstruing the meaning of our halt, the rebels began to move toward us – seeing which we fell back to the edge of a woods for cover, and immediately opened a heavy fire, which in conjunction with our little battery which had just taken position on our left – soon caused the enemy to halt, then hesitate and eventually to make a precipitate retreat, carrying with them their battery of heavy guns. Our regiment pursued them as rapidly as the character of the ground would permit for about three miles farther – which was in addition to the five miles above alluded to – our skirmishers picking off the rear guard and picking up the stragglers, You will thus see that we had the honor of [silenceing?] the last gun of the enemy in the great battle of Shilo or Pittsburg. As our regiment was engaged in crumbling the enemy’s flank and menacing his lines of communications, the character of the engagement in front did not permit him to punish us as severely as we deserved. Our loss in killed and wounded amounts to about twenty – among the latter is Capt William Rogers of Co. A who was struck in the shoulder
with a grape shot. He is now with his command. [???] men in my company were just nicked, scarcely enough hurt to be called hit – My men behaved most admirably and although in nearly every company in the regiment someone showed the pale feather, I was surprised to find my own an exception. The battle ground is very extensive and the number of forces engaged on both sides must have amounted to from one hundred and thirty five thousand to one hundred and fifty thousand. The enemy’s forces it variously stated by the prisoners at between seventy five and one hundred & twenty five thousand. On Sunday we must have had at least thirty five thousand perhaps 4 [???] = On Mondy sixty thousand men in the fight. I will not attempt to entertain you by descriptions of the horrors which the field presented during the fight, but especially afterwards
it was but a reproduction of those scenes of which half of history is occupied in depicting – I can assure you of one thing, however, and that is those things don’t affect one very much while he is engaged in fighting. What moved me more than anything during the engagement was the effort of a field officer to dispatch the noble animal that had carried him safely across a great field, over which the fight was raging furiously. In crossing, the horse had received a shot in his lower jaw – the officer seeing the animal could not be saved, mounted his led horse, and riding several times around the wounded brute, discharged six balls from his pistol into the horse’s body – bringing him with the last shot, to the ground – the man the while weeping like a child. But in a moment the scene was changed – the tears were dried and that humane rider plunging his rowles into the side of his fresh horse, flew across
the plains to welcome new dangers. That scene however remains the most vividly painted in my memory of all those I saw on that memorable day.
At present our division occupies the upper camps – and our regiment is bivouacked in the one [???] surprised by the enemy on Sunday morning. Orders have just been received for us to move up the river farther in the direction of Corinth. This looks very much as if we were to have the advance in the next move. I am also just informed John G. Stephenson, who was this morning detailed as Brigade Sergeant Major, that Gen Halleck arrived this morning. Anyhow, a major general’s salute was fired by the gunboats this morning.
I shall be glad to hear from you at any time and if I am not mistaken you owe me a couple of letters – please direct them to Savannah, Ten –
Miss Elza Russell
Mt Vernon OH
Captain George Rogers, of the 20th OH Infantry, was 25 years old at the time of Shiloh. Having served as an ensign with the 4th OH Infantry during McClellan’s 1861 West Virginia Campaign, Rogers later fought at Corinth and in Grant’s Central Mississippi Campaign before resigning as a captain in Feb. 1863. Rogers accepted a commission as lieutenant colonel of the 4th USCT in September of 1863, and served through the remainder of the war. He was breveted colonel and brigadier general for war service, March 13, 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.
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 andwas 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.