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Eyewitness Accounts - John S. Jackman of the "Orphan Brigade"

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(From Diary of a Confederate Soldier:  John S. Jackman of the Orphan Brigade, edited by William C. Davis. University of South Carolina, 1990)

"April 5th, 1862

This morning, felt completely broken down.  The wagon was so heavily loaded, and behind too, I had to try it afoot again--the train rolled past me, and I was left a complete straggler.  A staff officer, in charge of the rear, ordered me back to Corinth, but as soon as he was gone, I kept ahead.  The next house I came to I stopped.  The lady gave me some milk and bread to eat.  I felt so bad, I thought I would go no further.  Soldiers were straggling along all day.  That evening, there was some artillery firing towards Shiloh.  Again had fever that night."

"April 6th

This day will long be remembered.  Soon after the sun had risen, the firing of artillery became so general, and the roar of musketry could be heard so distinctly, I knew the battle had commenced.  I wished to be on the field, but was not able to walk so far.  The gentleman with whom I was staying had his only remaining horse caught, which I mounted.  When I bade "mine hostess" good bye, she looked very "sorrowful"--which affected me not a little & I never knew why she took such an interest in me.  The gentleman walked and kept up.  Four miles brought us to Monterey, and just beyond, we met some of the wounded on foot with their arms and heads bound up in bloody bandages, & I felt then that I was getting in the vicinity of the "warfare."  Soon we met ambulances and wagons loaded with wounded, and I could hear the poor fellows groaning and shrieking, as they were being jolted over the rough road.  Met a man on horseback with a stand of captured colors.  We were now in proximity of the fighting, and we met crowds of men; some crippling along, wounded in the legs or about the body; others, no blood could be seen about their persons--yet all seemed bent on getting away.  I now dismounted and started on foot.  I never saw the gentleman afterwards, who had kindly brought me so far on the road.  Being in so much excitement, I became stronger.  I met a fellow dressed in a suit of "butter-nut" jeans, who was limping, but I don't believe was scratched.  He asked me, in that whining way:  "Has you'ns been in the fight yet?"  I thought he meant some general, and asked my "brown" interrogator what troops General "Youens" commanded.  He seemed astounded, and at last made me understand him.  I told him "no," and went on.  I afterwards got quite familiar with the "youens" and "weens" vernacular of "Brown Jeans."

While passing a hospital on the roadside, I happened to see one of our company lying by a tent wounded.  I went out to see him and there found the brigade hospital established.  There were heaps of wounded lying about, many of them I knew, and first one then another would ask me to give him water or do some other favor for him.  While I was thus occupied, Dr. P told me to stay with him, that I was not able to go on the field--that I would be captured.  There was no one to help him, and I turned surgeon, pro tempore.  I was not able to do much, but rendered all the assistance in my power.  Part of my business was to put patients under the influence of chloroform.  I kept my handkerchief saturated all the time, and was often dizzy from the effects myself.  It was about one o'clock in the day, when I got there."

"All day long the battle raged.  Occasionally there would be a lull for a short time; but the cannon were never entirely hushed.  They would break out in increased thunder, and the roar of the musketry would roll up and down the lines, vibrating almost regularly from one extreme to the other.  All day long the ambulances continued to discharge their loads of wounded.  At last night set in, and the musketry ceased; but the Federal gunboats continued shelling awhile after dark.  Nearly midnight when we got through with the wounded.  A heavy rain set in.  I was tired, sick and all covered with blood.  But I was in far better fix than many that were there.  I sat on a medicine chest in the surgeon's tent, and "nodded" the long night through."

Submitted by the Manassas Belle

 

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