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Peabody started the Battle of Shiloh “Peabody started the battle with the patrol he sent out” says WI16thJim, as summarized by Hank. And it is likely that in 2018 no one (with an interest in History of Shiloh) disputes this. But, the devil is in the details… and nine months after the Battle of Shiloh, no one was sure how the battle began: many of the key participants were dead (Colonel Peabody, Major Powell.) The opportunity for survivors to get together and hash out a story did not present itself due some being sent away wounded (Colonel Moore) and some spending months in captivity (Brigadier General Prentiss and Colonel Madison Miller.) Much like “The Blind Man and the Elephant,” everyone held a piece of the puzzle, but it was only upon combining those unique pieces that the picture was revealed. In 1903 (two years after the death of Benjamin Prentiss) Andrew Hickenlooper reported: “The bugle’s cheery notes aroused the camp at the dawn of day [reveille was sounded at 6 o’clock.] Breakfast was over and all was ready for an early morning drill, when the faint reports of distant picket shots were heard…” [Sketches of War History p.412.] [And included to not only illustrate the “acoustic cloud” reported by many Federal commanders (which many believed was due a strong easterly breeze blowing from the Tennessee River, and which muffled the sound of musket fire less than two miles away), but also Hickenlooper’s claim “he heard an exchange of picket fire.” ] In his report published 1891, advocate for Shiloh Memorial Park, former member of 41st Illinois E.T. Lee, recalled, “At 3 o’clock on Sunday morning Colonel Moore with five companies of his regiment again went to the front, and at break of day he drove the advance pickets of the enemy in and engaged their advance line” [SDG “Shiloh Memorial Park,” post of 29 June 2018.] This statement is derived (and repeated almost verbatim) from General Benjamin Prentiss’s November 1862 Shiloh Report.] Then, there is O. P. Newberry’s information, released broadly before his death in 1874. As a Lieutenant in Company I of 25th Missouri, Oliver Newberry was one of the few witnesses to the encounter between Benjamin Prentiss and Everett Peabody, at or after 6 a.m. on Sunday morning; and may have been present at the meeting that resulted in Major Powell being sent forward in the darkness of pre-dawn Sunday morning. Letters sent to family members after the battle hint at “more awareness of what took place,” than was available to senior commanders. Unfortunately, with Peabody and Powell dead, who supports (or negates) Newberry’s claims? Still, what claims existed (end of 1862) were these: · Pickets, correctly placed by General Prentiss, started the Battle of Shiloh; · Colonel Moore, responding to picket firing, started the Battle; · Colonel Peabody, without authority, sent Powell to start the Battle of Shiloh. Beginning with the claim, “the picket line, correctly placed and strengthened by General Prentiss initiated contact that led to Battle of Shiloh,” this version of events had majority support in 1862 and is recorded in Prentiss’s November 1862 report; and in the April 1862 report of Colonel David Moore (in which it is apparent that Colonel Peabody mentioned “contact with the enemy, experienced by pickets” as justification for sending Moore and five companies forward.) “Colonel Moore responded to picket firing and started the Battle of Shiloh,” is how General Prentiss documented the events of Sunday Morning, April 6th 1862. Trying to make sense of how the whole affair started, Prentiss knew that he sent forward “the remainder of the 21st Missouri” at Colonel Moore’s request, upon waking up Sunday morning. And he may have had opportunity to query Colonel Moore, briefly, as that seriously wounded officer was removed from the front, on his way to Pittsburg Landing for treatment. (If so, Colonel Moore would have mentioned that he was “responding to the firing of the pickets.”) In any event, Colonel Moore, by virtue of his response, is accorded claim for “initiating Battle of Shiloh” in Prentiss’s official report. The claim that Major Powell, under orders of Colonel Peabody, is responsible for initiating the Battle of Shiloh is more problematic, and was not “shouted from the rooftops” at the time because of those inherent problems: obvious disregard (disrespect) of a senior commander; working outside the Chain of Command; usurping authority… Which is probably why details leaked out gradually over time (without possibility of putting the whole story together until all the facts were revealed much, much later.) Timeline Of Events affecting Sixth Division Sunday morning 6 APR 1862 [prior to 6 APR] BGen Prentiss strengthens his picket line. [after midnight] Following consultation with like-minded subordinates, Colonel Peabody sends away Major Powell with mission, “to capture Rebel cavalryman and return him to camp of 1st Brigade, Sixth Division for interrogation.” [after midnight] Major Powell detaches a small group from the picket force and leads them away towards a house, believed to be a base of Rebel cavalry [report of Private Baker 25th Missouri.] Finding the number of Rebel troops in vicinity too strong for his small force, Major Powell retraces his steps; and back at camp, bolsters his force with three companies each belonging to 25th Missouri and 12th Michigan. 3 a.m. (est) Major Powell leads his bolstered force, intent on the Capture Mission, away towards the suspected Cavalry outpost. Before arriving (and in vicinity of Fraley Field) Powell’s reconnaissance draws fire from “a Confederate vedette.” [Sergeant Ed. A. Gordon of Co.A 57th OVI on picket duty recalls Major Powell and "three companies of the 25th Missouri" passing his picket post "at about 3 a.m., long before daylight." Sergeant Gordon records in National Tribune of 26 APR 1883 p.2 Col.6 that "Major Powell informed us that he was going to catch some Rebels for breakfast." ] 5:15 (or 4:55) Recorded time of above contact: Rebels vs. Major Powell. 5:30 (est) Upon hearing engagement taking place, Colonel Peabody alerts Colonel Moore and tells him, “Contact with our pickets has occurred.” Moore is sent away by Peabody with five companies of his 21st Missouri to investigate “the picket firing.” As he heads in the direction of the sound of gunfire, Colonel Moore encounters the 25th Missouri (Major Powell) returning to camp. Moore turns Powell around, and also takes control of elements of the 16th Wisconsin, Company A (Captain Saxe) and continues forward. 6 a.m. Reveille in Camp of Sixth Division. 6 a.m. A messenger sent from Colonel Moore reports to BGen Prentiss and reports “contact with the pickets.” Further, Colonel Moore requests the remainder of his 21st Missouri (which Prentiss sends away to bolster Colonel Moore.) The sound of gunfire away in the distance becomes more distinct (although most soldiers north of the Sixth Division do not hear the sound of musketry due to “acoustic shadow.”) Just after 6 a.m. The Long Roll is sounded (either by orders of Prentiss or Peabody.) And Prentiss confronts Peabody. 6:30 (est) The lines of infantry and two batteries of artillery move forward. 7 a.m. Hickenlooper begins firing. Munch begins firing. 7 a.m. Prentiss sends messengers to Smith (2nd DIV) and Hurlbut (4th DIV) explaining developments and “requesting reinforcements.” 7:11 General Grant (at Savannah) hears the booming of artillery. [Corrections and additions most welcome, as long as references provided – Ozzy.]