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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.
Available online from the University of Iowa Library are these three diaries (for years 1861, 1862 and 1863) written by 20-year-old schoolteacher, Turner S. Bailey. Working in Epworth, Iowa (about three miles west of Dubuque) at the start of 1861, his diary for that year focuses on teaching classes, the weather, and local issues... until April 15th. "Considerable excitement about war. Fort Sumter taken by the South." Beginning with that entry, Turner indicates growing preoccupation with "war fever" until enlisting in the 3rd Iowa Co. A at Dubuque on May 22nd; travelling with the regiment to Keokuk in June; and duty in Missouri (guarding railroads) beginning in July. In March 1862, it was decided to add the 3rd Iowa to the growing Federal force on the Tennessee River; Private Bailey arrived opposite Pittsburg Landing on the 15th. On the 17th the 3rd Iowa went ashore at Pittsburg Landing and went into camp near "their friends in the 12th Iowa." Each subsequent day is faithfully recorded -- the weather, the skirmish on April 4th -- and of course, the Battle of April 6/7. On the attached link, click on the desired diary... a new page will open... click on the diary again for access to every page. [University of Iowa adds another diary, or collection of Civil War letters, about every 3-6 months, so worthwhile to check back every once in a while to see what's been made available.] http://www.iowaheritage.org/items/browse?advanced[element_id]=49&advanced[type]=is+exactly&advanced[terms]=Infantry Cheers Ozzy