The unit to which Wolfel belonged was known by several different names, but the plaques at Shiloh refer to it as Ross' Battery, 2nd Michigan Lighter Artillery. William Wolfel enlisted at Port Huron, Michigan on 10 September 1861. Wolfel was captured at the Battle of Shiloh on 6 April 1862, as was most of his unit.
Shiloh after battle report:
Report of Lieut. Cuthbert W. Laing, Second Michigan Battery.
On Sunday morning, about 6 o'clock, heavy firing was heard, that
seemed to be some distance from us. Half an hour after it was much
nearer. All were then ordered to turn out. We were soon ready, and
started in the direction. After going about a mile, took position in an
open field and immediately opened fire upon the enemy, whose line of
battle could be seen very distinctly. We remained in that position but a
few minutes, being ordered to retire and let the infantry advance, who
were in line immediately behind us. We soon advanced again, and came
into battery very near the same place, which we held for nearly an hour.
Meanwhile the Thirteenth Ohio Battery had formed on our right and a
little in advance. They had just got unlimbered when one of their
caissons was shivered to pieces, and the horses on one of the guns took
fright and ran through our lines. All then left the battery without having
fired a shot. Two of our sergeants went to the spot and cut a number of
the horses loose. Our battery then fell back though an orchard and
ceased firing for about twenty minutes.
Gen. Hurlbut then told us to advance again and bear to the right.
This brought us into a level, open field. Held this position for about an
hour and a half, during which time Lieut. Arndt had his horse shot
under him and Lieut. Bliss' horse wounded; also two team horses
on gun shot and two cannoneers wounded. The enemy's fire was now
so hot we were obliged to retire. We soon advanced again still farther
to the right, running up a narrow road, and came into battery beside a
log house; it was an elevated spot and very much exposed. We here
silenced the enemy's six-gun battery.
We had been there but a short time when the general sent one of his
aides, ordering one section of our battery to move up and support the
left. We remainder in this position about half an hour, when a shot got
wedged in the Parrott gun and could not be got out. Not having any
wormer, the captain ordered me to retire with it. Sent one of the
sergeants to camp for another wormer. I now lost two more horses and
a driver wounded.
Lieut. Nash, of the First Missouri, now came up with his section
of 20-pounder Parrotts. He went to the left, where our battery was.
At the same time I advanced with the Parrott gun, having got the shot
out. I had not gone far when our forces began to fall back. Turned
around, as I had only four horses left, and waited here until the captain
came up, and we fell back together. We next came into battery near our
camp, the enemy driving our left at a run. The captain now ordered me
to go to our camp, get what horses I could, and retire with my section.
I only found four horses that could walk, so that I only got the Parrott
away, leaving a corporal to spike the 6-pounder if it became necessary.
After running the gun down to within half a mile of the river returned
to join the battery, but could hear nothing of them.
I afterward learned from two of our men who managed to escape that
the battery was captured about 4.30 o'clock, being surrounded by a
body of rebel cavalry to the left and a little in rear of our camp. On
Monday morning recovered the 6-pounder.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
CUTHBERT W. LAING,
Lieut., Cmdg. Second Michigan Battery.
Source: Official Records: Series I. Vol. 10. Part I, Reports. Serial No. 10