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The Stand of Stuart's Brigade, revisited On Sunday morning 6 April 1862 David Stuart's 2nd Brigade, separated from the remainder of Sherman's Fifth Division by the breadth of the Pittsburg Campground, found itself without organic artillery, and with only three assigned regiments of infantry. Called into line upon hearing the roar of battle away to the southwest, the 2nd Brigade stood and waited... while artillery support provided by Wallace's Second Division arrived, then disappeared; and reinforcements provided by McArthur's Brigade of Wallace's Division came in close proximity, only to be shifted well away from view of Stuart's Brigade. When Stuart's Brigade came under fire at approximately 11am most of the 71st Ohio disappeared; and the 55th Illinois and 54th Ohio were forced to abandon control of the ford over Lick Creek they were tasked with defending; and instead move progressively east and north, firing at the advancing Rebels from behind trees and beneath the brow of ravines. Occasionally, the Swedish-military trained Oscar Malmborg ordered his 55th Illinois into Hollow Square formations, in the midst of clearings while removing north to the next ravine; the formation designed for defense against cavalry so befuddled the Rebel attackers, convinced the technique was precursor to a trap of some sort, that Malmborg's men were mostly left alone each time the Hollow Square was actuated. Meanwhile the 54th Ohio was divided into two components, which independently harassed the steady advance of Chalmers and Jackson from different directions. Along the way, Colonel Stuart was wounded and removed to the rear; T. Kilby Smith of the 54th Ohio took nominal command; but LtCol Malmborg continued to exert authority over the 55th Illinois. After a particularly disastrous crossing of a deep ravine, during which Stuart's 2nd Brigade was badly shot up, the fighting withdrawal came to an end; and at about 2pm the survivors of the 2nd Brigade made for the Bluff overlooking Pittsburg Landing. Oscar Malmborg appears to have arrived with his 55th Illinois ahead of Kilby Smith's 54th Ohio: LtCol Malmborg was immediately tasked with organizing the returning infantrymen into a defensive line. And he continued in that role until replaced by the retiring General Stephen Hurlbut and his Fourth Division about 90 minutes later. But the big job had been accomplished: Rebel access to the Bluff above Pittsburg Landing had been denied until Grant's Last Line was sufficiently in place. The delay provided by Stuart's fighting withdrawal had contributed in large measure to that defensive line's creation. References: Reed, David W. Battle of Shiloh and the Organizations Engaged (1909) pp.14-15, 17, 27 (Order of Battle), 50, 53, 56-57, 73, 74, 130 map, 134 map. https://archive.org/details/battleofshilohor00unit/page/n133/mode/2up/search/Stuart OR 10 page 257 Report of Colonel Stuart. The Life and Letters of Thomas Kilby Smith, by his son, Walter G. Smith (1898) especially letters pp.191-200. https://archive.org/details/lifelettersoftho00smit/page/190/mode/2up Eisenschiml, Otto, The Story of Shiloh (1946) has one chapter specifically dedicated to 55th Illinois http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/book/lookupname?key=Eisenschiml%2C Otto%2C 1880-1963 [As a member of the Chicago Civil War Round Table, Eisenschiml published many articles through that organization.] [Video] “Alone on the Left: the Desperate Stand of Stuart's Brigade” (2015) produced by Tony Willoughby: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WyPbKJJ9F5A Part one. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAjgGCHw5zA Part two.
'David Stuart's Brigade saved the Union Left,' -- Elijah Lawrence, 55th Illinois. So begins the chapter, '55th Illinois at Shiloh,' written by Otto Eisenschiml, from his book, The Story of Shiloh, sponsored by the University Club Of Chicago, published in Chicago (1946). Less than twenty pages long, this chapter offers an opportunity to 'fill in details, left out' of the after-action report, written by a wounded David Stuart, in April 1862. Beginning with a 3-page summary of the life of General Stuart, followed by one page devoted to Oscar Malmborg, the events of April 6th proceed from an accurate depiction of the location of the camps, at the extreme left of the Union Line; the arrangement of the 54th Ohio, 55th Illinois and 71st Ohio (east to west) in line of battle; the first indication (from Prentiss, about 0730) that 'the attackers would be coming their way...' but requiring almost two hours for those attackers to arrive, in force. The steady, but doggedly stubborn, falling back of Stuart's Brigade is described, including mention of 'Malmborg's Hollow Squares.' In early/mid afternoon, on April 6th, the remnants of Stuart's Brigade commenced an unmolested retreat to Pittsburg, and took position in Grant's Last Line. A brief, concise summary of action on the Union Left. Offered as an addition to the reports of Stuart and Chalmers. Found online at: http://dig.lib.niu.edu/ISHS/ishs-1963summer/ishs-1963summer-193.pdf Ozzy