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Old 02-26-2017
Froggy Froggy is offline
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Buell leaned back in his chair, and looking quizzically at Nelson, said:

"You seem to know more about it, General, than either Halleck or Grant. Halleck telegraphed me that there is no danger of the force at Pittsburg Landing being attacked."

"I don't care what Halleck telegraphs," roared Nelson, now thoroughly aroused. "I tell you there is; I feel it, I know it."

"How do you know it?" asked Buell, showing considerable interest.

"Why sense tells me. Look at the situation. A small force encamped only twenty miles from Corinth, where Johnston is concentrating his army. Johnston is a fool if he doesn't attack, and no one yet has ever accused him of being one. General, give my division the advance; let me ford Duck river."

Buell was really fond of Nelson, despite his rough, overbearing ways, and after some hesitation gave him the required permission. The life of General Grant might not read as it does now, if that permission had been withheld.

On the morning of March 29th Nelson's division forded Duck river, and started on its forced march for Savannah, on the Tennessee river. On this [Pg 283]march Nelson showed no mercy to stragglers, and many were the curses heaped upon his head. He was no favorite with his troops.
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One day Fred found a boy, no older than himself, lashed behind a cannon. The lad belonged to an Indiana regiment that in some manner had incurred the displeasure of the general, and he was particularly severe on members of this regiment if found straggling. The boy in question had been found away from his command, and had been tied by his wrists to a cannon. Behind this gun he had to march through the mud, every jolt sending sharp pain through his wrists and arms, and if he should fall life itself would be imperiled. It was a heartless, and in this case, cruel punishment. Fred noticed the boy, and rode up to him and asked him his name, and he gave it as Hugh Raymond. He was a fine-looking fellow, and seemed to feel deeply his humiliation. He was covered with mud, and the tears that he could not hold back had left their dirty trail down his cheeks. Fred went to Nelson, begged for the boy's release, and got it. It was but few requests that Nelson would not grant Fred.

When Nelson started on his march to Savannah he expected to reach that place on April 7th. But once on the march his eagerness increased, and he resolved to reach Savannah, if possible, by the 4th, or at least the 5th of the month.

On the morning of the third day's march Fred met with an adventure that haunted him for years [Pg 284]afterward. He never thought of it without a shudder, and over and over again he lived it in his dreams, awaking with a cry of agony that sounded unearthly to those who heard it.

General Nelson and staff had put up at the commodious house of a planter named Lane. They were most hospitably entertained, although Mr. Lane made no secret of the fact that he was an ardent sympathizer with the South.
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In the morning, as Fred was about to mount his horse to resume the march, he discovered that he had left his field-glass in the room he had occupied during the night. On returning for it, he heard voices in the next room, one of which sounded so familiar that he stopped a moment to listen, and to his amazement recognized the voice of his cousin Calhoun. What could it mean? What was he doing there? One thing was certain; he had been exchanged and was once more in the army. Calhoun and Mr. Lane were engaged in earnest conversation, and Fred soon learned that his cousin had been concealed in the house during the night.

"Have you learned what you wished?" Fred heard Mr. Lane ask.

"I have," replied Calhoun, "thanks to your kindness. I heard Nelson say he would rush his division through, and that he wanted to be in Savannah by the 5th. That is two days sooner than we expected. Johnston must, shall strike Grant before that time. I must be in Corinth within the next twenty-four hours, if I kill a dozen horses in [Pg 285]getting there. Is my horse where I left him, at the stable in the woods?"

"He is," replied Mr. Lane; "and well cared for and groomed. But breakfast is ready; you must eat a hearty meal before you start."

Fred realized that the fate of an army was at stake. Something must be done, and that something must be done quickly. Slipping out of the house, he took a look around. Back of the house about a half a mile distant was a thick piece of wood. A lane led through the fields to this wood. No doubt it was there that Calhoun's horse was concealed.

Fred quickly made up his mind what to do. Mounting his horse, he rode rapidly away until out of sight of the house; then, making Prince jump the fence, he rode through the field until he reached the wood, and then back nearly to the lane he had noticed. Tying his horse, he crept close to the path, and concealed himself. He had not long to wait. He soon saw Calhoun coming up the path with quick, springing steps. To Fred's great joy he was alone. He let him pass, and then stealthily as an Indian followed him. Calhoun soon reached the rude stable, and went in.

"Now, my hearty," said he, as he patted his horse, "we have a long hard ride before us. But we carry news, my boy—news that may mean independence to the Sunny South."

Strong arms were suddenly thrown around him, and despite his desperate resistance and struggles, [Pg 286]he soon found himself lying on his face, his hands held behind his back and securely tied. His ankles were then firmly bound together. When all this was done he was raised to his feet and a voice said:

"Sorry, Cal, but I had to do it," and to Calhoun's amazement his cousin stood before him, panting from his exertion.

For a moment Calhoun was speechless with astonishment; then his rage knew no limit, and bound as he was, he tried to get at his cousin.

"I reckon," said Fred, quietly, "that I must make you more secure," and taking a stout strap he lashed him securely to a post.

"Is this the way you keep your oath?" hissed Calhoun, and he spat at Fred in his contempt. "Loose me, you sneaking villain, loose me at once, or I will raise an alarm, and Mr. Lane and his men will be here, and they will make short work of you."

Just then the notes of a bugle, sweet and clear, came floating through the air.

"Do you hear that, Cal?" answered Fred. "You had better raise no alarm; McCook's division is passing, and I have but to say a word and you swing."

Calhoun ground his teeth in impotent rage. At last he asked:

"Fred, what do you want? Why do you use me so? Have you not sworn to guard my life as sacredly as your own?"

Fred stood looking at his cousin a moment, as [Pg 287]if in deep thought; then an expression of keenest pain came over his face, and he said in a strained, unnatural voice:

"Calhoun, believe me, I would I were dead instead of standing before you as I do now."

"I should think that you would, if you have a vestige of honor left," answered Calhoun, with a sneer. "An oath, which an honorable man would hold more sacred than life itself seems to be lightly regarded by you."

"I shall come to that directly," replied Fred, in the same unnatural tone. To him his voice sounded afar off, as if some one else were talking.

"Now, Calhoun, listen; you have a secret, a secret on which the fate of an army depends."

"How do you know that?" asked Calhoun.

"I know. I heard you and Mr. Lane talking. Calhoun, you have been playing the spy again. Hark! do you hear the tramp of McCook's columns. If I did my duty I would cry, 'Here is a spy,' and what then?"

Calhoun's face grew ashen; then his natural bravery came to his rescue.

"I defy you," he exclaimed, his eyes flaming with wrath. "Hang me if you will, and then in the sight of God behold yourself a murderer worse than Cain."

"Calhoun, once more I say, listen. The information that you have you shall not take to Johnston. Now, see how I trust you. What I do now would hang me instead of you, if Buell knew. But [Pg 288]I trust you with more than life; I trust you with my honor. Give me your sacred word that you will keep away from Corinth until after Buell and Grant have joined forces; promise as sacredly that you will not directly or indirectly divulge in any manner to any person the knowledge you have gained, and I will release you."

Calhoun looked Fred in the face, hesitated, and then slowly answered: "You seem to think I have more honor and will keep an oath better than yourself. I shall make no such promise."

Fred staggered back. "Calhoun," he cried, "you do not, you cannot mean it. You do not know what you say. Promise, for the love of heaven, promise!"

"I will not promise, I will die first," replied Calhoun, doggedly. A faint hope was arising in his mind that Fred was only trying to frighten him; that he had only to remain firm, and that, at the worst, Fred would only try to keep him a prisoner.

Calhoun's words were to Fred as a sentence of death. He sank on his knees, and lifted his hands imploringly.

"Calhoun," he moaned, "see me, see me here at your feet. It is I, not you, who is to be pitied. For the love we bear each other"—at the word "love" Calhoun's lips curled in contempt—"for the sake of those near and dear to us, for the honor of our names, promise, oh, promise me!"

"I tell you I will not promise. See, I spit on you, I despise you, defy you."

[Pg 289]

"Then you must die," replied Fred, slowly rising to his feet.

Again Calhoun's face grew ashen. "Fred, you will not give me up to be hanged?" he asked, tremulously.

"No, Calhoun, your dishonor would be my dishonor. I cannot keep my oath, and have you hanged as a spy."

"What will you do then?" asked Calhoun.

"I shall shoot you with my own hand."

"Great God, Fred!" gasped Calhoun, shuddering. "You do not, cannot mean that?"

"It is the only way I can keep my oath and still prevent you from carrying the news that would mean destruction to Grant's army."

"Fred! Fred! you are a demon; you mock me. How can you keep your oath by murdering me?"

"Calhoun, I swore to consider your honor as sacred as my own, to value your life as highly as my own, to share with you whatever fate might come. I shall keep my oath. After I put a bullet through your heart, I shall put one through my own brain. We both must die."

Calhoun's face seemed frozen with horror. He gasped and tried to speak, but no words came.

"Calhoun," continued Fred, in a tone that sounded as a voice from one dead, "would that you had promised, for it can do no good not to promise. Forgive me, as I forgive you. Now, say your prayers, for in a moment we both will be standing before our Maker."

[Pg 290]

Fred bowed his head in silent prayer; but Calhoun, with his horror-stricken face, never took his eyes from off his cousin.

"Good-bye, Calhoun," said Fred, as he raised his revolver.

"For God's sake, don't shoot! I promise." The words seemed to explode from Calhoun's lips.

For God's Sake, don't shoot! I promise

"For God's Sake, don't shoot! I promise."
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Old 02-26-2017
Froggy Froggy is offline
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For a moment Fred stood as motionless as a statue, with the revolver raised; then the weapon dropped from his nerveless hand, and with a low moan he plunged forward on his face.

So long did he lie in a swoon that Calhoun thought he was dead, and called to him in the most endearing tones. At last there was a slight quivering of the limbs, then he began to moan; finally he sat up and looked around as one dazed. Seeing Calhoun, he started, passed his hand across his brow as if to collect his thoughts, and said, as if in surprise: "Why, Calhoun——" Then it all came back to him in its terror and awfulness, and he fell back sick and faint. Rallying, he struggled to his feet, tottered to Calhoun, and cut the bonds that bound him.

"Go, go, Cal!" he whispered. "It will not do for us to be found here together."

The two boys clasped hands for a moment, then each turned and went his separate way.

When Fred joined Nelson an hour later the general looked at him sharply, and asked: "What's the matter, Fred? Are you sick? You look ten years older than you did yesterday."

[Pg 291]

"I am not really sick, but I am not feeling well, General," replied Fred; "and I believe, with your permission, I will take an ambulance for the rest of the day."

"Do, Fred, do," kindly replied Nelson, and for the rest of the day Fred rode in an ambulance, where he could be alone with his thoughts.

That evening he asked General Nelson when he expected the division would reach Savannah.

"By the 5th, if possible, on the 6th anyway," answered the general.

"Make it the 5th, General; don't let anything stop you; hurry! hurry!" and thus saying, Fred walked away.

Nelson looked after him and muttered: "I wonder what's the matter with the boy; he hasn't appeared himself to-day; but it may be he will be all right in the morning. I shall take his advice and hurry, anyway."

The next day Nelson urged on his men with a fury that caused the air to be blue with oaths. And it was well that he did, or Shiloh would have never been reached in time to aid the gallant soldiers of Grant.

Buell saw no need of hurrying. He thought it would be a fine thing to concentrate his whole army at Waynesborough and march into Savannah with flying colors, showing Grant what a grand army he had. He telegraphed General Halleck for permission to do so, and the request was readily granted. In some manner it became known to the [Pg 292]Confederate spies that Buell's army was to halt at Waynesborough, and the glad tidings were quickly borne to General Johnston, and when that general marched forth to battle he had no expectation that he would have to meet any of Buell's men.

General Buell hurried forward to stop Nelson at Waynesborough, according to his plan; but to his chagrin he found that Nelson, in his headlong haste, was already beyond Waynesborough, and so the plan of stopping him had to be given up.

When General Nelson's advance was a little beyond Waynesborough, a party engaged in the construction of a telegraph line from Savannah to Nashville was met. A telegram was handed their general, which read:


To the officer commanding Buell's advance:

There is no need of haste; come on by easy stages.

U. S. Grant,
Major-General Commanding.

Nelson read the telegram, and turning to Fred said:

"This is small comfort for all my hurry. I wonder if I have made a fool of myself, after all. Buell will have the joke on me, sure."

"Better be that way than have you needed and not there," answered Fred.

"If we are needed and are not there, Grant can only blame himself," was Nelson's reply.

At noon on April 5th Ammen's brigade, the advance of Nelson's division, marched into Savannah.

Colonel Ammen reported his arrival, and said:

[Pg 293]

"My men are not tired; we can march on to Pittsburg Landing if necessary."

The answer was: "Rest, and make your men comfortable. There will be no battle at Pittsburg Landing. Boats will be sent for you in a day or two."

There was to be a rude awakening on the morrow.
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Old 02-26-2017
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CHAPTER XIX.

SHILOH.

"The sun of Austerlitz" was neither brighter nor more glorious than the sun which arose over the field of Shiloh Sunday morning, April 6, 1862.

Around the little log chapel, wont to echo to the voice of prayer and song of praise, along the hillsides and in the woods, lay encamped the Federal army. The soldiers had lain down the night before without a thought of what this bright, sunny Sabbath would bring forth. A sense of security pervaded the whole army. From commander down to private, there was scarcely a thought of an attack.

"I have scarcely the faintest idea of an attack," wrote Grant to Halleck on April 5th.

On the evening of the same day Sherman wrote to Grant: "I do not apprehend anything like an attack upon our position."

Yet when these words were written the Confederate army was in battle array not much over three miles distant.

But there was one general in the Federal army who was uneasy, he hardly knew why. He was little known at the time, he never held a [Pg 295]distinguished command afterward; yet it was by his vigilance that the Federal army was saved from surprise, perhaps from capture. This general was Prentiss. A vague idea that something was wrong haunted him. The ominous silence in front oppressed him, as something to be feared. Then on Saturday a curious fact occurred. An unusual number of squirrels and rabbits were noticed dodging through the line, and they were all headed in one direction—toward Pittsburg Landing. What had startled them? It set General Prentiss thinking.

To guard more surely against surprise Prentiss posted his pickets a mile and a half in front of his lines, an unusual distance. At three o'clock Sunday morning he sent three companies of the Twenty-fifth Missouri out on a reconnoitering expedition. These three companies followed a road that obliqued to the right, and a little after daylight met the enemy's advance in front of Sherman's division. Thus the battle of Shiloh opened.

When the first shots were fired, Preston Johnston, son of the Confederate commander, looked at his watch, and it was just fourteen minutes past five o'clock.

This little advance band must have made a brave fight, for Major Hardcastle, in command of the Confederate outposts, reports that he fought a thousand men an hour. It was after six o'clock when the general advance of the whole Confederate army commenced, and the pickets along the line of [Pg 296]Prentiss' and Sherman's divisions were driven in. Preston Johnston states that it was seven o'clock when the first cannon shot was fired. It was eight o'clock before the engagement became general along the whole line, and at that time portions of Prentiss' division had been fighting for nearly three hours.

General Grant was at breakfast in Savannah, nine miles away, when he was startled by the booming of cannon in the direction of Shiloh. Hastily writing an order to General Nelson to procure a guide and march his division up the river to a point opposite Pittsburg Landing, Grant left his breakfast half-eaten, and boarding his dispatch boat was soon steaming up the river. His fear was that the isolated division of General Lewis Wallace, which lay at Crump's Landing, had been attacked. Finding this not to be the case when he reached Crump's, he bade Wallace hold his division in readiness and to await orders, and steamed on.

The roar of cannon had become almost continuous. Turning to Rawlins, his chief-of-staff, Grant said:

"Rawlins, I am afraid this is a general attack. I did not expect it. Prentiss' and Sherman's divisions are in front, and both are composed of raw troops; but if we can hold them until Wallace and Nelson come we are all right."

"It is a pity you did not order Wallace up when you were there," answered Rawlins.

"Yes," answered Grant, "but I couldn't make [Pg 297]up my mind it was a general attack. I am not entirely sure yet."

"It sounds very much like it," replied Rawlins, grimly.
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When Grant reached the landing the battle was raging furiously, and all doubts as to its being a general attack were removed from his mind. Already the vanguard of what was afterward an army of panic-stricken men had commenced gathering under the river bank.

A staff officer was sent back immediately to order General Wallace to come at once. Grant then set to work quickly to do what he could to stem the tide, which was already turning against him. Two or three regiments which had just landed he ordered to points where they were the most needed. He then rode the entire length of the line, encouraging his generals, telling them to stand firm until Wallace and Nelson came, and all would be well.

He found Sherman engaged in a terrific conflict. Some of his regiments had broken at the first fire, and fled panic-stricken to the Landing. Sherman was straining every nerve to hold his men firm. Oblivious of danger, he rode amid the storm of bullets unmoved, encouraging, pleading, threatening, as the case might be. Grant cautioned him to be careful, and not expose himself unnecessarily, but Sherman answered: "If I can stem the tide by sacrificing my life, I will willingly do it."

[Pg 298]

Then turning to Grant, he said, with feeling: "General, I did not expect this; forgive me."

"Forgive you for what?" asked Grant, in surprise.

"I am your senior general," answered Sherman. "You depended on me for reports; I quieted your fears. I reported there was no danger of an attack. I couldn't believe it this morning until my orderly was shot by my side, and I saw the long lines of the enemy sweeping forward. Forgive me."

Grant was greatly moved. "There is nothing to forgive," he said, gently. "The mistake is mine as well as yours. Neither did I expect this attack. If I had, I could have had Buell here. As it is, Wallace and Nelson will soon be here, and we will whip them; never fear."

"God grant it!" fervently replied Sherman.

By ten o'clock Prentiss had been pushed back clear through and beyond his camp, and had taken position along a sunken road. General W. H. L. Wallace's division came up and joined him on the right. This part of the field was afterward known as the "Hornet's Nest."

Here Grant visited them, and seeing the strength of the position, told them to hold it to the last man.

"We will," responded both Wallace and Prentiss.

Bravely did they keep that promise. For hours the Confederate lines beat against them like the waves of the ocean, only to be flung back torn and bleeding.

[Pg 299]

The roar of battle was now terrific. Both flanks of the Federal army were bent back like a bow. Every moment the number of panic-stricken soldiers under the bank grew larger.

Noon came, but no Lew Wallace, no Nelson. Turning to an aid, Grant said: "Go for Wallace; bid him hurry, hurry."

Everywhere, except in the center, the Confederates were pressing the Union lines back. But the desperate resistance offered surprised Johnston; he had expected an easier victory. Many of his best regiments had been cut to pieces. Thousands of his men had also fled to the rear. The afternoon was passing; the fighting must be pressed.

A desperate effort was made to turn the Federal left flank, and thus gain the Landing. Like iron Hurlbut's men stood, and time after time hurled back the charging columns. At last the Confederates refused to charge again. Then General Johnston placed himself at their head and said: "I will lead you, my children."

The effect was electrical. With wild cheers his men pressed forward; nothing could withstand the fury of the charge. The Federal left was crushed, hurled back to the Landing in a torn, disorganized mass.

But the brave leader fell mortally wounded. For a time the Confederate army stood as if appalled at its great loss. The thunder of battle died away, only to break out here and there in fitful bursts. [Pg 300]But the respite was brief, and then came the final desperate onslaught.

With features as impassive as stone, Grant saw his army crumbling to pieces. Officer after officer had been sent to see what had become of General Lew Wallace; he should have been on the field hours before. With anxious eyes Grant looked across the river to see if he could catch the first fluttering banner of Nelson's division. There was no aid in sight.

An officer rides up, one of the messengers he had sent for Wallace. Grant's face lights up. Wallace must be near. But, no. The officer reports: "Wallace took the wrong road. I found him five miles further from the Landing than when he started. Then he countermarched, instead of hurrying forward left in front. He lost much precious time. Then he is marching so slow, so slow. He will not be here before night."

For an instant a spasm of pain passed over Grant's face. "He countermarched; coming slow," he said, as if to himself, "Great God, what does he mean?" and then all was calm again.

Turning to Colonel Webster, he said: "Plant the siege guns around the Landing. See that you have every available piece of artillery in position."

And it was only this frowning line of artillery that stood between Grant's army and utter rout.

"Have you any way of retreat mapped out?" asked General Buell of Grant. Buell had come up from Savannah on a boat, and was now on the field, [Pg 301]viewing with consternation and alarm the tremendous evidences of demoralization and defeat.

Turning to him as quick as a flash, Grant replied: "Retreat! retreat! I have not yet despaired of victory."
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Both the right and left wings of Grant's army were now crushed back from the center. Around the flanks of W. H. L. Wallace's and Prentiss' divisions the exultant Confederates poured. Well had Wallace and Prentiss obeyed the orders of Grant to hold their position. From ten o'clock in the forenoon until nearly five o'clock in the afternoon their lines had hurled back every attack of the enemy. The Hornet's Nest stung every time it was touched. But now the divisions were hemmed in on every side. The brave Wallace formed his men to cut their way out, and as he was cheering them on he fell mortally wounded. No better soldier than Wallace fell on that bloody field. As for the two divisions, they were doomed.

General Grant sits on his horse, watching the preparations for the last stand. An officer, despair written in every lineament of his face, rides up to him.

"General," he says, "Sherman reports that he has taken his last position. He has but the remnant of one brigade with him and what stragglers he has gathered. His slender line cannot withstand another attack."

"Go back," quietly said Grant, "and tell Sherman to hold if possible; night is most here."

[Pg 302]

McClernand's division had been standing bravely all day, and had furnished fewer stragglers than any other division in the army, but now an orderly with a pale face and his left arm resting in a bloody sling, came spurring his reeking horse up to Grant, and exclaimed:

"General McClernand bade me report, that after his division had most gallantly repulsed the last charge of the enemy, for some unaccountable reason, the left regiments broke, and are fleeing panic-stricken to the Landing."

"Go tell McClernand," said Grant, "that he has done well, but he must hold out just a little longer. Wallace will be here shortly."

General Hurlbut, his face black with the smoke of battle, rode up. "General," he said, in a broken voice, "my division is gone, the whole left is gone; the way to the Landing is open to the enemy."

"General," replied Grant, without a quiver, "rally what broken regiments and stragglers you can behind the guns, close up as much as possible on McClernand, and hold your position to the last man."

Now there came roaring past a confused mass of white-faced officers and soldiers commingled, a human torrent stricken with deadly fear.

"All is lost! All is lost!" they cry. "Prentiss and Wallace have surrendered."

Grant's face was seen to twitch. "Oh, for Lew Wallace, for Nelson, or for night," he groaned.

From across the river there came to his ears the [Pg 303]sound of cheering. Grant looked, and there among the trees he saw the banners of Nelson's regiments waving.

Hope came into his eyes; his face lighted up.

"Go, go!" he cried to his aids, "go to Sherman, to McClernand, to Hurlbut. Tell them to hold! hold! hold! Help is near."

But if Grant had known it the danger had already passed; for Beauregard had given orders for his army to cease fighting. Night was coming on, the capture of W. H. L. Wallace's and Prentiss' divisions had disarranged his lines, and thinking that he was sure of his prey in the morning, he had given orders to withdraw.

One brigade of the Confederate army did not receive this order, and when Nelson's advance crossed the river this brigade was charging the line of cannon on the left. These cannon were entirely unprotected by infantry, and Grant himself placed Nelson's men in line as they arrived.

The Confederate brigade was advancing with triumphant shouts, when they were met with a withering volley and sent reeling back. Then, to his surprise, the commander found that of all of the Confederate army his brigade was the only one continuing the fight, and he hastily fell back. The battle for the day was over.

Alone and practically unaided the brave soldiers of the Army of the Tennessee had fought the battle of Sunday and saved themselves from capture. To them belongs the glory.

[Pg 304]

The battle of Monday was mainly the fight of the Army of the Ohio. Without its aid Grant could never have been able to turn defeat into victory, and send the Confederate hosts in headlong flight back to Corinth. There would have been no advance Monday morning if Buell had not been on the field. The whole energy of Grant would have been devoted to the saving of what remained of his army.

The terrible conflict of the day had left its impress on the Army of the Tennessee. There was but a remnant in line capable of battle when night came.

The generals of divisions were so disheartened that the coming of Buell failed to restore their spirits. Even the lion-hearted Sherman wavered and was downcast. Grant found him sitting in the darkness beside a tree, his head buried in his hands, and his heart full of fears. He had fought as generals seldom fight. Three horses had been shot under him, and he had received two wounds. When Grant told him there was to be an advance in the morning, he sadly shook his head and said: "No use, General, no use; the fight is all out of the men. I do not possibly see how we can assume the offensive."

"Look here, Sherman," replied Grant. "Remember how it was at Donelson. If we assume the offensive in the morning a glorious victory awaits us. Lew Wallace is here; Buell will have at least 20,000 fresh troops on the field. The [Pg 305]Confederates, like ourselves, are exhausted and demoralized. If we become the aggressors, success is sure."

Sherman became convinced; his fears were gone, his hopes revived.(i have also read, that, when Grant met with Sherman on the night of the sixth, Grant told Sherman that he would whip the reb on the morrow)

Last edited by Froggy; 03-25-2017 at 02:08 PM.
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Why was it that the fiery and impetuous Nelson was so late in getting on the field? He was only nine miles away early in the morning, and had received orders from Grant to move his division opposite Pittsburg Landing. If there had been any roads there would have been no excuse for his delay. But a heavily timbered, swampy bottom lay between him and his destination. The river had been very high, overflowing the whole bottom, and when the water had receded it left a waste of mud, from which all vestige of a road had disappeared. To plunge into that waste of mud and wilderness without a guide would have been madness. A guide, though Grant said one could easily be found, could not be secured. So Nelson sent a staff officer to see if he could find a practicable route. This officer did not return until noon. All of this time the division lay listening to the booming of cannon and eager to be led to the fray. As for Nelson, he fretted and fumed, stormed and swore at the delay.

"The expected has come," he growled, "and here I am doing no more good than if I were a hundred miles away. Might have been on the field, too, if Grant had not kept saying, 'No use hurrying!' I knew they were a set of fools to think that Johnston would sit down at Corinth and suck his thumbs."

[Pg 306]

At length a guide was found who said he could pilot the division through the bottom, but that the route was passable only for horsemen and infantry; the artillery would have to be left behind. The division started at one o'clock, the men keeping step to the music of the thunder of cannon.

"This beats Donelson," remarked Fred, as the roar of artillery never ceased.

"My boy," replied Nelson, "the greatest battle ever fought on this continent is now being waged. God grant that we may get there in time. It was rumored at Savannah that the Confederates were sweeping everything before them."

"Your division will surely give a good account of itself," said Fred, looking back, his eyes sparkling with enthusiasm. "See how eager the men are, and how well they keep closed up, notwithstanding the mud. Half of them are mourning because they think the battle will be over before they get there."

"No danger of that," replied Nelson. "The question is, shall we be in time."

Soon the roll of musketry began to be heard; then the cheers of the combatants. A quiver of excitement ran along the lines, and every soldier grasped his musket with a firmer hold. As they approached the river cannon balls began to crash through the treetops above them; then was heard the peculiar whir of the minie ball when it is nearly spent—so close was the fighting to the river.

To Fred's surprise, he saw numerous skulkers [Pg 307]dodging through the timber on the same side of the river as himself. In some manner they had managed to get across the river; not only this, but the boats which came to ferry Nelson's troops over were more or less crowded with these skulkers, who would have died rather than be driven off. In the river were seen men on logs making their way across, and some of these men wore shoulder straps.

So incensed were Nelson's soldiers at the sight of such cowardice that they begged for permission to shoot them.

As they landed, Fred stood aghast at the sight before him. Cowering beneath the high bank were thousands upon thousands of trembling wretches. It was a dense mass of shivering, weeping, wailing, swearing, praying humanity, each one lost to shame, lost to honor, lost to everything but that dreadful fear which chained him soul and body.

As Nelson's advance brigade forced its way through the panic-stricken throng, they were greeted with, "You are all going to your death! You are all going to your death!"

"Back! back!" roared Nelson, purple with rage. "Don't touch my men; you contaminate them; don't speak to them, you cowards, miscreants, you should be swept from the face of the earth."

And in the fury of his wrath, Nelson begged for the privilege of turning cannon on them.

With firm, unwavering steps, and well closed up, the division pressed their way up the bank, [Pg 308]and there were soldiers in the ranks who looked with contempt on the shivering wretches below the hill, who themselves, the next day, fled in terror from the awful destruction going on around them. So little do we know ourselves and what we will do when the supreme moment comes.

Afterward the great majority of the soldiers who cowered under the bank at Shiloh covered themselves with glory, and hundreds of them laid down their lives for their country.

Fred always remembered that night on the battlefield. From the Landing came the groans and shrieks of the wounded, tortured under the knives of the surgeons. The night was as dark and cloudy as the day had been bright and clear. About eleven o'clock a torrent of rain fell, drenching the living, and cooling the fevered brows of the wounded. Fred sat against a tree, holding the bridle of his horse in his hand. If by chance he fell asleep, he would be awakened by the great cannon of the gunboats, which threw shells far inland every fifteen minutes.

At the first dawn of day Nelson's division advanced, and the battle began. Fred acted as aid to Nelson, and as the general watched him as he rode amid the storm of bullets unmoved he would say to those around him: "Just see that boy; there is the making of a hero."

About eleven o'clock one of Nelson's brigades made a most gallant charge. Wheeling to the right, the brigade swept the Confederate line for [Pg 309]more than half a mile. Before them the enemy fled, a panic-stricken mob. A battery was run over as though the guns were blocks of wood, instead of iron-throated monsters vomiting forth fire and death. In the thickest of the fight, Fred noticed Robert Marsden, the betrothed of Mabel Vaughn, cheering on his men.

"Ah!" thought Fred, "he is worthy of Mabel. May his life be spared to make her happy."

On, on swept the brigade; a second battery was reached, and over one of the guns he saw Marsden fighting like a tiger. Then the smoke of battle hid him from view.

On the left Fred saw a mere boy spring from out an Indiana regiment, shoot down a Confederate color-bearer, snatch the colors from his dying grasp, wave them defiantly in the face of the enemy, and then coolly walk back to his place in the ranks.

General Nelson saw the act, and turning to Fred, said: "I want you to hunt that boy up, and bring him to me after the battle."

But the brigade paid dearly for its daring charge. A strong line, lying down, let the frightened fugitives pass over them; then they arose and poured a deadly volley into the very faces of the charging column. Cannon in front and on the flank tore great gaps through the line. The brigade halted, wavered, and then fled wildly back, leaving a third of its number dead and wounded.

By three o'clock the battle was over; the [Pg 310]Confederates were in full retreat, and the bloody field of Shiloh won.

As the firing died away, Fred sat on his horse and shudderingly surveyed the field. The muddy ground was trampled as by the feet of giants. The forest was shattered as by ten thousand thunderbolts, while whole thickets had been leveled, as though a huge jagged scythe had swept over them.

By tree and log, in every thicket, on every hillside, dotting every field, lay the dead and wounded. Many of the dead were crushed out of all semblance of humanity, trampled beneath the hoof of the warhorse or ground beneath the ponderous wheels of the artillery. Over 20,000 men lay dead and wounded, Confederate and Federal commingled.

But Grant's army was saved. The fondest hopes of the Confederates had been blasted; instead of marching triumphantly forward to Nashville, as they hoped, they retreated sullenly back to Corinth.

But the battle brought the war to the hearts of the people as it had never been brought before. From the stricken homes of the North and the South there arose a great wail of agony—a weeping for those who would not return.
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Old 03-31-2017
Froggy Froggy is offline
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"Dreading retreat, dreading advance to make,
Round we revolve, like to the wounded snake."
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