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On the morning of the 6th of April, Sergeant Seymour Thompson was a twenty-year old member of 3rd Iowa, Company F, eating breakfast with his messmates, when the growing sound and increasing frequency of musket fire to the south and southwest became concerning. But with the booming of not-so-distant artillery, there was no mistake: the Federal camp at Pittsburg Landing was under attack. The long roll trilled and SGT Thompson joined his fellows in ranks for the march south to aid General Prentiss' 6th Division... but General Stephen Hurlbut halted his men well short of Prentiss' camps -- made aware of that Division's disintegration by the swelling stream of wide-eyed skeddadlers racing north -- and Sergeant Thompson and the rest of the 3rd Iowa found themselves arranged in a line of blue, stretching roughly east-west across a cotton field. And not long after the stragglers thinned out a bit, Thompson caught his first sight of the enemy: "The Rebel regiments with their red banners flashing in the morning sun marched proudly and all undisturbed through the abandoned camps of Prentiss. To the enemy's surprise, suddenly appeared our line of blue, widely deployed upon the open field, the ground sloping towards him, and not a brush to conceal us from his view: a single blue line, compact and firm, crowned with a hedge of sparkling bayonets, our flags and banners flapping in the breeze. And in our center a battery of six guns, whose dark mouths scowled defiance at him. "The enemy's infantry fronted towards us and stood. Ours kneeled and brought their pieces to the ready... Thus for some moments, the antagonists surveyed each other... until a regiment on our left opened fire, and the other regiments got caught up, and the fire was carried along the entire line..." Thus relates Seymour Thompson his initiation into the Battle of Shiloh in his 1864 book, Recollections with the 3rd Iowa Regiment. Nearly forty pages of this 400-page history are devoted to arrival at Pittsburg Landing and subsequent battle. The first hundred pages relate the forming of the regiment (and trouble arising from the political "selection" of Colonel from outside the regiment, in opposition to the usual practice of vote of members); and everything one could ever want to know about guarding railroads in northern Missouri. The book concludes with Thompson's discussion of 3rd Iowa's disastrous participation in the Battle of Jackson, Mississippi in July 1863. Because only two years passed between Battle of Shiloh and publication of the book, many unexpected insights and revelations are included IRT how that battle was fought; what chance the Confederates had of winning; and observations of early-career U.S. Grant, W.T. Sherman and John Pope. And Stephen Hurlbut comes in for criticism early on (during operations in Missouri); but over the course of Days 1 and 2 at Shiloh, Hurlbut experiences a transcendence in the view of the author, and most of the men of the 4th Division. Available at archive.org (free site for out-of-copyright books). Ozzy http://archive.org/stream/recollectionswit00thomp#page/n3/mode/2up N.B. SDG member, Hank, first made mention of this work by Lieutenant Thompson several months ago... but I only just got around to it.
Being interested in an obscure couple, Oscar and Ophelia Amigh, who served as private and nurse in Captain (later General) M.M. Trumbull's Co "I" (Butler County Guards) of 3rd Iowa, I look out for items even vaguely related. This item, cited below, was written by Sam Houston, Jr. in 1886 and submitted in 1931 for publication by his brother Col. A.J. Houston. A few excerpts: "So you are after additional reminiscences?" said the Ex-Rebel...Well, I left off at the capture of General Prentiss' command, which was effected at the very threshold...of that brigade's encampment." A description follows of the neat and perfect arrangement of the camp and relates that the camp cooks were preparing breakfast when the uninvited guests dropped in. Prentiss surrendered in Hell's Hollow in the afternoon, I believe. The 3rd Iowa encampment when April 6th dawned had been in Stacy's field just a few hundred feet to the west of the point of Prentiss' surrender. The Ex-Rebel relates in good detail the items the self described "pillagers" liberated from the camp. Ex-Reb describes the next morning when the Second Texas was awakened early and told by their Captain "The day is ours!" Second Texas advanced northward and pushed back some Federal skirmishers across a field. Ex-Rebel recalled wondering "Where is the enemy" as they advanced. "We were within a rod of the field's eastern boundary, when the fence before us became transformed into a wall of flame, and under that fiery simoon [about the only word for a hot wind off the Sahara that has not been used as a model name by Volkswagen] our line seemed actually to wilter and curl up; while in front of us and on both our flanks, the very earth swarmed with Federals. So nearly had we approached the enemy, that the ornaments on their caps were readily distinguished, and I remember noting even in that terrible moment, that our immediate adversaries were the 3rd Iowa Infantry." I believe 3rd Iowa was still armed with unrifled '48 Springfields loaded with buck and ball. If the volley came at the "whites of the eyes" distance, Ex-Rebel's description of "wilter and curl up" seems vividly plausible. On Sunday 3rd Iowa had been in the Federal line to the left of the Unsunken Road near the Hornet's Rest (if I am to believe recent revisions to nomenclature) and a bit south of the Peach Orchard and the Bloody Mirage. Histories of 3rd Iowa dismiss them as actors on Monday. Some of the Regiment, including future Iowa Governor Major Stone was captured and they had suffered heavy causalities on Sunday. Houston, Sam. "Shiloh Shadows." The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 34, no. 4 (1931): 329-33. http://www.jstor.org/stable/30235376.