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A Revelation of War: Civilians in Hardin County, Tennessee, Spring, 1862

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I found this at The University of Texas at Tyler: http://www.uttyler.edu/vbetts/shiloh.htm

A Revelation of War:

Civilians in Hardin County, Tennessee, Spring, 1862

by Vicki Betts

War came to the civilians in Hardin County, Tennessee, in the spring of 1862. What had been a matter for public debate and far away confrontations came upriver with the huge Federal army, disembarking at the foot of Main Street in Savannah and about eight miles south at a small landing called Pittsburg. Theoretical political divisions between friends became matters of life and death, homes were disrupted throughout the county, and nothing would ever be the same again. Three groups of civilians saw the war from the closest possible perspective—the people of Savannah, the people of the Pittsburg Landing area, and the northern citizens who either accompanied the transports south, or who came to aid the wounded immediately after the battle of Shiloh.

Hardin County, organized in 1819, was a rural area inhabited mainly by small acreage farmers—only five with more than 500 acres and fourteen with over 20 slaves, the standard for the planter class. Total population was 11,214, which included 1623 slaves and 37 free blacks. Savannah, the county seat, perched on a bluff on the east side of the broad Tennessee River. It could boast of no more than 1,000 citizens in 1860, no newspaper, no railroad, and no telegraph. One visitor called it “a quiet, sober looking old town, with a single street, a square brick court house, a number of buildings scattered along the street, with some pretty and rather stylish residences in the suburbs.” The 1860 census found there the typical blend of teachers and physicians, blacksmiths and carpenters, spinsters and seamstresses.

When Tennessee’s referendum on secession came in 1861, Hardin County voted to remain with the Union. Even after fighting had begun, much of Savannah and the eastern part of the county continued to quietly support the old flag, while the western side of the river tended to be pro-Confederate. The militia began to drill, and in the summer of 1861 Confederates held a recruiting “grand barbecue” west of Saltillo, with patriotic speeches and a mounted parade around the camp meeting arbor by enlistees “with small flags attached to their horses’ heads.” Charles S. Robertson soon formed a cavalry company, followed by the “Hardin County Boys,” Company B, 34th Tennessee Infantry. Officials instituted a local draft for additional men and from those Col. Crews formed a five-company regiment, armed with confiscated squirrel rifles and double-barrel shotguns, clothed with home-produced brown jeans cloth uniforms with a black stripe running down each pant leg. This unit would guard the county seat. The Southern cause was at its zenith in Hardin County.

On February 7, 1862, several steamboats passed Savannah at full speed, alarming the town. A passenger jumped into the water and swam to the shore, announcing that Fort Henry had fallen and that Yankee gunboats would surely be heading upriver. Unionists were elated at the news, but Confederates were terrified at the prospect. That same day, the Tyler, Lexington, and Connestoga captured the partially completed gunboat Eastport at Cerro Gordo on the northern edge of the county, then caches of citizens’ guns at Coffee Landing and Savannah the following day. Most of Crews’ regiment withdrew to Murfreesboro and later marched to Corinth to join the main Confederate army. Many who had been “pressed” into service deserted and went home to await the Federals.

By March 1, two of the gunboats, the Tyler and the Lexington, had returned to patrol the river, and they found the 18th Louisiana Infantry and Gibson’s battery at Pittsburg Landing. The gunboats opened fire, driving the Confederates from the edge of the bluff. A landing party engaged in a brief fight, then withdrew. They checked on the location for several more days, then left. In the face of a probable imminent invasion, on Thursday, March 6, Confederate officials at Savannah held their part of a statewide enrollment of all men of military age, with mustering in scheduled for Monday the 10th. Word of the draft and of "ill treatment of Union men at Savannah” soon traveled downriver. A Federal gunboat was dispatched, and about half of the 40th Illinois Infantry arrived on the 7th to occupy the town. They soon made themselves at home, with some soldiers “invading the houses” and “threatening mischief,” according to an officer of the 46th Ohio whose troops arrived the following day. The 46th sent out a patrol and pickets, but otherwise stayed on their transport.

During Saturday night many Unionist refugees began arriving in Savannah from both sides of the river, as well as “perhaps more than a thousand drafted men.” The 46th Ohio staged a dress parade on Sunday, which added to the feeling that this was “the liveliest day the little town . . . had ever witnessed.” About forty or fifty of the local men mustered into the 46th and others joined the crew of the Tyler. Later reports upped the total number of Federal recruits to five hundred, a clear indication of regional support for the Unionist cause. Some local citizens, fearing Confederate reprisals, asked for transport north to safer havens.

That afternoon, the gunboat Lexington steamed upstream and lobbed about a dozen shells into Pittsburg Landing. There was no reply.

By Monday, Federal food supplies were running low, and sickness began to spread aboard the transports. William H. Cherry, the town’s leading Unionist, a wealthy planter, merchant, and the county’s fifth largest slave-owner, had been authorized to offer a home vacated by a Confederate owner as a hospital. Town officials also volunteered a new frame church, and the local citizens did all in their power to make the patients more comfortable.

The next morning, March 11, the remaining troops left the transports so that they could be cleaned. About noon the steamer Golden Gate arrived, announcing that the main body of the western Federal army was just behind it. The 46th Ohio, and probably everyone else in Savannah, gathered on the hill above the landing, peering down the river as far as they could see. By two o’clock the lead boat came into sight. One witness wrote: “The weather was soft and fine, and one or more flags floated over every boat. Nearly every regiment had a band of music, and in this, till then, sequestered region, occurred a scene of martial activity and festivity, never before witnessed in the Union. Unexpected, grand, and indeed terrible, it was, to the inhabitants along the forest-girded banks of the Tennessee.” The fleet included up to a hundred steamers, “laden to the guards with soldiers, cattle, and munitions of war.” The “decks were dark with blue coated soldiers. Bright brass cannon glittered on the foredeck, where the batteries were loaded, and the bands played their most soul-stirring airs.” The transports sent forth “vast volumes of smoke, which shadowed and sooted the atmosphere from hill to hill across the river valley.” They docked at Savannah on both sides of the river for a mile, at places four or five deep. At night the bright lights on either shore looked “like so many will-o’-the-wisps dancing over the water.”

The charm of the army’s arrival soon gave way to unsanitary conditions and disease aboard the transports. Savannah became “one vast hospital” of men with malaria, dysentery, and typhoid. The army took over the brick shell of the half-finished Savannah College, laid a floor in it, and used it as a hospital for months. Major John H. Brinton, surgeon, fought army red tape continually for proper food (particularly fresh meat), medicines, and medical supplies. The hospital boat City of Memphis took 410 sick men to St. Louis, and the Louisiana, with Mrs. Harriet R. Colfax aboard, took over three hundred downriver. The number of deaths depleted the local supply of lumber for coffins.

Gen. William T. Sherman had located his troops upstream at Pittsburg Landing on March 16, and when Gen. U. S. Grant arrived at Savannah the next day, Sherman urged that the army be moved to that more strategic location. Grant ordered all of the troops still on the transports to Pittsburg Landing, leaving only McClernand’s division encamped around Savannah.

Pittsburg Landing was the principal river shipping point in the 15th Civil District of Hardin County and the northern terminus of the road to Corinth, Mississippi, a major Confederate rail center. Pittsburg Landing never was a town—indeed, the entire 15th Civil District could not boast of a town, a teacher, a physician or a preacher in the 1860 census. One merchant, W. A. Pettigrew, may have operated a storehouse on the landing, but the Federal gunboats had probably driven him away well before the arrival of the Union army. The scattered landowners were overwhelmingly farmers, growing mostly corn and hogs, with a few bales of cotton, some sweet potatoes, and a small amount of orchard produce, including peaches. There were only twenty-three slaves in the entire district, belonging to eight owners. The fields were merely clearings in the forest, and the houses were often “rude” log cabins, at best, modest frame homes. Shiloh Church, a Methodist meeting house, was described as a one-room cabin, originally chinked, with a clapboard roof and plain benches, which “would make a good corncrib for an Illinois farmer.”

Among the numerous chroniclers of the battle of Shiloh, both Northern and Southern, there are very few reports of encounters with local civilians in or near the Pittsburg Landing encampment. Chances are that most evacuated to area family or friends, although no one is sure when that happened—whether at the first firing of a Federal gunboat or when the first troops came onshore to stay.

Members of scouting details came across empty cabins guarded only by the families’ roosters which had been left behind. T. W. Connelly, of the 70th Ohio Infantry, remembered that:

The native inhabitants of this part of the country were scarce and far between.

Occasionally a clay-complected looking chap would come into camp, pretending to

be a friend, and after being directed to some Regimental or Brigade Headquarters

would address the commander with the following question: “Can I get a guard, sah?”

In reply the Colonel would put the following: “What is your name?” “My name is

John Jones, sah.” “Are you a loyal man?” “Oh, yes, sah; I am a loyal man, sah; and

the Rebels have taken about all I’ve got, sah. I want a guard.” “All right; you can

have a guard.”

Some local citizens occasionally served as guides and warned Federal officers of Confederate outpost locations, although much more information seemed to be funneled to the Southern side. At least one resident even told the Yankees that General Beauregard had visited both Pittsburg Landing and Adamsville, as a “peddler of pies and cakes.” Other citizens, including probably either the McCuller or Bell family, stayed at home, even up until the battle started, when William H. Lowe of the 55th Illinois Volunteer Infantry saw a woman and a man at a cabin in that area.

While the army at Pittsburg Landing drilled, enjoyed the beginning of a Tennessee spring, and withstood rain, mud, and dysentery, Grant set up his headquarters by invitation at the Cherry Mansion in Savannah. The eight room home, which adjoined a convenient river landing, belonged to William Cherry, the most outspoken Unionist in town, and his pro-Confederate wife, the former Annie Irwin. Gen. C. F. Smith, who had contracted tetanus while debarking from one of the headquarters boats, later shared the house with Grant, while the general’s staff set up in the yard. Two of Annie Cherry’s sisters, one of whom had a husband in the Confederate service, sang and played for the visiting Federal officers in the evenings after they returned from official duties at Pittsburg Landing. Rumor had it that Annie plied Grant with liquor and flirtation to discover military information which she could then pass on to her brother in the First Confederate Cavalry. Also, security was so relaxed in this ostensibly loyal home that Annie’s brother James, the brothers of Cherry’s first wife, and some of the Hardin boys, all in the Confederate army, would sneak into the basement at night and listen to Federal staff meetings in the dining room above!

In a more modest home in town, Major John Brinton became friends with another local family who were “’secesh’ to the back-bone.” They had two sons in the Confederate service, and five daughters. After a while the girls treated him to their “Secession songs” including “Wait for the wagon, the dissolution wagon” and “To arms, to arms in Dixie land.” Their favorite, however, included the line “And, one, two, three, we’ll crush them!”

All dealings with the Federal army in Savannah were not so congenial. Grant received several reports of slaves either being hidden on steamers by soldiers, or else being taken to Pittsburg Landing without their owners’ permission. In each case he demanded that the slaves be returned and the responsible men be held to account. Military authorities also occasionally commandeered buildings in town for the use of the army—but whose buildings were taken often depended on the politics of the owners. Patrols into the east Hardin County countryside occasionally brought in prisoners and confiscated mules, and at least one house was set on fire, although it was quickly pout out by others in the detachment.

When the Federal transports had steamed up the Tennessee River, a number of Northern civilians were aboard. May Ann Bickerdyke, fondly known as “Mother Bickerdyke,” accompanied the 21st Indiana Infantry on the gunboat Fanny Bullet from Fort Donelson in March. She stayed in Savannah to nurse the sick as best she could without official sponsorship initially from any group. Mrs. Belle Reynolds, whose husband served as a lieutenant in the 17th Indiana Infantry, arrived on March 21. She and another woman set up adjoining tents not far from the Shiloh meeting house. Lucy Kaiser of Illinois, bored with nursing at Benton Barracks, and a smuggled young woman with two little girls, shared a room on a transport and made it ashore for one of the grand reviews at Pittsburg Landing. Mary Ann Newcomb, another volunteer nurse, arrived at Pittsburg Landing on Friday, April 4. Mrs. Vail of Iowa, Miss Hadley of Wisconsin, Mrs. Dr. Hood of Ohio, and Mrs. Turner, state unknown, were on nearby transports also at the landing. The wife of Col. William Hall of the 11th Iowa Infantry, shared his tent on shore, while Mrs. Jerusha R. Small stayed with her husband who served with the Twelfth Iowa Infantry. Modenia Weston, the “mother” of the 3rd Iowa Infantry, had just managed to get the regiment’s bout with diarrhea under control at Stacy Field.

So many visitors were managing to make the trip that on April 3, Grant wrote his wife: “It will be impossible for you to join me at present. There are constantly ladies coming up here to see their husbands and consequently destroying the efficiency of the army until I have determined to publish an order entirely excluding females from our lines. This is ungallant but necessary. Mr. & Miss Safford were up here and returned a few days ago.” One of the last to make the trip was Ann Wallace, the wife of Gen. W. H. L. Wallace, who was on a boat along with a “kind woman nurse that belonged to Colonel Ross’ regiment on board with sanitary supplies.” Ann had had a premonition that her husband would need her, and had decided to come without her husband’s knowledge or permission. She arrived at Pittsburg Landing just before dawn, on Sunday, April 6.

Captain Coates, 11th Illinois Infantry, offered to walk Ann Wallace to her husband’s headquarters even though they could both hear quite a bit of firing in the distance. She was assured that it was only pickets returning and clearing their rifles, but then Capt. Coates suggested that perhaps he determine Gen. Wallace’s exact location before they started the trip. In less than thirty minutes he returned wounded, with news that a large battle was underway, and Ann was forced to remain on the boat. Soon casualties by the hundreds were being brought aboard, and she “passed from place to place holding water and bandages for the surgeons.”

Belle Reynolds and “Mrs. N.” were cooking breakfast when “we were startled by cannon balls howling over our heads.” Belle finished her husband’s cakes, wrapped them in a napkin and tucked them into his haversack. Warned to flee for their lives, they abandoned their trunks and “snatching our traveling baskets, bonnets in hand” headed for General Ross’s deserted camp just down the road. Again warned to head for the river, they had barely cleared the area when “a shell exploded close by, the pieces tearing through the tent, and a solid shot passed through headquarters.” When about a half mile from the river, they came across where the ambulances were unloading the wounded, and they went to work, helping as best they could. However, within ten minutes they were all ordered to the transports, where at one point Bell, on the hurricane deck, was handed a revolver and ordered to assist a lieutenant in keeping panicked soldiers away from the boat.

Mrs. Colonel Hall had her own introduction to warfare that Sunday morning. She later told a reporter: “We were in our tent and not prepared to receive company. In fact, we were both en dishabille when a big cannon-shot tore through the tent. A caller at that early hour, considering its unexpectedness, and our condition, may possibly be regarded as a surprise.” She completed her toilette and joined others fleeing to the riverbank, but not without her dress being struck in twenty-nine places by bullets and shell fragments.

Mrs. Jerusha Small turned her tent into a temporary hospital and tore up “all her spare clothing and dresses to make bandages and compresses and pillows” for the wounded. When they came under enemy fire, she and the more mobile soldiers fled to safer areas.

Not long after dawn that Sunday morning, Gen. Grant awoke in one of the upstairs rooms of the Cherry Mansion in Savannah. He dressed and went down for breakfast, but had not even tasted his coffee when he was informed of heavy gunfire upriver. His saddled horse was immediately loaded on the already stoked Tigress, and he left for “Shiloh’s dark and bloody ground.” The fighting went on all day, with the Federal gunboats shelling at fifteen minute intervals all night, then the battle continuing into Monday.

The sound could be heard for miles. Caldonia Banks, on the western edge of neighboring Wayne County twenty-five miles away, was at a spring getting water for the day. “She raised up and began looking around to see which direction the sound was coming from. No cloud was in the sky but the rumbling continued. Later in the day, the rumble changed to ‘boom – boom – boom’. She had no idea what was going on all through the day. But the noise went on. Even the next day the noise continued well in to the day.”

Wilbur Hinman was with the Sherman Brigade, marching in from Nashville. While still out in the Hardin County countryside, he passed the local people who had:

turned out en masse to see the long column pass. The battle then raging was as unexpected

to them as to us. They had sons, brother, husbands and fathers in the Confederate ranks.

Anxiety, fear and sorrow were depicted on their faces. Many of the women were crying

bitterly. Most of them were too much affected to express themselves in words. Groups

were collected at every house. At one point where we halted, I observed a large number

of old, gray-haired men and women. I inquired what brought so many of this class together,

and was told they came there to hold a prayer-meeting, but that they had to give it up, as

everybody’s thoughts were on the battle.

Even four or five miles beyond Savannah, he could hear the cannon clearly and distinctly, and the volleys of muskets.

Hinman’s regiment reached Savannah at about 10 a.m., Monday morning, April 7th.

Here was a scene of the utmost confusion and excitement that it is possible to imagine.

All through the night steamboats had been running to and from Pittsburg Landing, carrying up

troops, artillery and ammunition for Buell’s army, and returning with hundreds of wounded

men from the first day’s battle. All the buildings in the little straggling village had been taken

possession of for hospital purposes. Here and there, on porches and in yards, lay the

bodies of those who had died during the night. In almost every house surgeons were at

work dressing wounds and amputating shattered limbs. As we marched down the main

street toward the river we could hear on every side the groans of the suffering. To us all

this was a revelation. We were looking upon the ghastliest picture of war.

Among the nurses in town was Mother Bickerdyke, helping to clean and bandage wounds, and cooking for the troops.

About the same time that Hinman reached Savannah, county residents also began gathering there as well as at Crump’s Landing and other communities near Pittsburg Landing. Local men were fighting on both sides that day, and family members wanted to be ready to search the battlefields for loved ones as soon as the volleys stopped.

At Pittsburg Landing, the fighting front had pushed back into the interior. Mrs. Vail and Mrs. Hood came to Mary Ann Newcomb determined to do something to help the wounded,

so we got some tin buckets and went about two miles back from the river to a point

where there had been fighting a short time before. The dead and dying lay so thick that

we might have walked a mile with every step on a dead body. Mrs. Vail, from Iowa,

fainted, Mrs. Dr. Hood, of Ohio, stood it a little better. We filled our buckets with water

from the springs and gave the thirsty men. We tore our aprons in little squares, filled them

with grass and leaves and stopped some gaping wounds that were bleeding. We made

bandages from our garments and bound up shattered limbs. Meanwhile the ambulances

were busy carrying the men to the old house on the hill where the knife and saw could do

their work.

Ann Wallace, while caring for the wounded aboard one of the transports on Sunday, received word that her husband had been killed and his body left on the battlefield. “God gave me strength and I spent much of the night in bathing the fevered brows and limbs of the sufferers around me. Action was a relief to me, and it was slight help to aid men who were suffering in the cause for which Will had given his life.” However, at mid-morning the next day her husband was brought in living, although with a severe head wound. He was taken to the Cherry Mansion where he lingered until Thursday. Ann took comfort in the fact that he did regain consciousness enough to know that she was with him, and that he died with family around him.

Within twenty-four hours news of the battle reached Chicago, St. Louis, and Cincinnati. The Western and United States Sanitary Commissions mobilized immediately and sent the hospital steamers D. A. January, Imperial, and Empress, the latter with Mrs. E. C. Witherall as matron. Each boat was complete with surgeons, volunteer nurses, medical supplies, bedding, clothing and food. The Chicago Branch returned the hospital boat Louisiana while the Cincinnati Branch sent the Tycoon and the Monarch. Other western states and cities sent their own boats as well, each preferring to minister to its own soldiers, much to the consternation of military authorities. Governor Louis Powell of Wisconsin and Governor Richard Yates of Illinois both traveled to Savannah, where Governor Powell accidentally fell into the river and drowned. The Army Committees of the Young Men’s Christian Association (soon to be part of the U. S. Christian Commission) of St. Louis and Chicago sent delegates of volunteers. Mary Safford, “the Angel of Cairo,” returned to help, to be followed by Eliza Chappell Porter, an official with the Sanitary Commission, and several other “lady” nurses who worked closely with Mother Bickerdyke in Savannah. Boatload after boatload of the wounded, many with women nurses or matrons, headed downstream to hospitals in Keokuk, St. Louis, Louisville, Mound City, Evansville, Cincinnati, Paducah, and Mt. Vernon, Indiana.

Among the nurses aboard the hospital boats were a number of Catholic sisters. Dr. George Blackman and Mrs. Sarah Peter of Cincinnati took five Sisters of the Poor of St. Francis on the Superior. Another Cincinnati group aboard the Lancaster No. 4 included Mrs. O’Shaughnessy, Miss McHugh, Mayor Hatch’s wife and daughter Jennie as well as ten Sisters of Charity headed by Sister Anthony O’Connell, matron of St. John’s Hospital. A Sanitary Commission agent in St. Louis asked six Sisters of Mercy from Chicago, who had just closed a hospital in Jefferson City, Missouri, to assist aboard the Empress. Upon arriving at Pittsburg Landing they debarked and searched the battlefield for wounded, brought them aboard the transports, and cared for them as they were transported to Northern hospitals. On one occasion, Sister Anthony even assisted Dr. Blackman with surgery at Pittsburg Landing.

The volunteer nurses were not without physical and emotional casualties of their own. Mrs. Anna McMahon served at one of the hospitals set up at Pittsburg Landing. She contracted measles there. After five days “she raised her languid eyes and asked, ‘Have I done my duty?’ The doctor assured her that she had, then, with a weary sigh, she said, ‘Good-bye; I will go to sleep.’” A soldier-carpenter made a coffin from cracker boxes and the nurses “wreathed it in flowers from the battlefield.” She was buried beneath “three large trees that grew on the bank of the Tennessee River” with a “rude board headpiece, bearing her name.” Other nurses, such as Belle Reynolds, continued to be haunted by bad dreams. “At night I lived over the horrors of the field hospital and the amputating table. . . . Those groans were in my ears; I saw again the quivering limbs, the spouting arteries, and the pinched and ghastly faces of the sufferers.”

By Tuesday, April 8th, local residents headed for the battlefield, searching through the dead and wounded, or to merely satisfy their own curiosities. They were soon followed by Northern family members, Sanitary Commission officials, and sightseers. All were overwhelmed at the amount of destruction which stretched back from the landing for at least five miles—“scarred trees, . . . ground cut by the wheels of guns and caissons, . . . shattered muskets, disabled cannon, broken wagons, and all the heavier debris of battle. Everywhere could be seen torn garments, haversacks, and other personal equipment of the soldiers. . . In every direction I moved, there were the graves of the slain, National and the Rebel soldiers being buried side by side.” The bodies of hundreds of dead horses were buried or burned to decrease the stench and to ward off disease.

Souvenir seekers went to work immediately. One soldier referred to them as “so many hyenas, gathering up relics, old swords and guns that a soldier would scorn to touch, selfishly anxious to secure trophies,” the more unusual the better. Gen. Lew Wallace complained that “each one is a museum collector with the talent and industry of Barnum. . . Those shot which had killed a horse, so much the more valuable; those which had killed a man, precious as gold. After all, there is some justification for the intense hatred the Butternuts seem to have against trading Yankees.”

Other visitors came to claim their dead, in some cases buried for two weeks. A widow arrived and searched the fields for several days, finally finding her son’s name scrawled on a board serving as a tombstone. “She signalled with her handkerchief to some soldiers who were aiding in the search. . . and then fell on her knees with her arms over the little mound of earth.” The father of Fletcher Ebey just wanted to see the location where his son was killed. “The blood still showed on the ground. . . . As we came away he brought a wild ground willow pulled out of the blood of his son to carry home to plant.” The vast majority of Confederate family members were unable to come to the battlefield, since it remained in Federal hands. Their sons, fathers, and husbands remained in large common graves, and their wounded were scattered all of the way to Mississippi.

The Federal army, steadily enlarging with reinforcements, remained at the Pittsburg Landing site for at least two months. As the wounded were evacuated their places were taken by the sick, and surgeons established a large hospital a few miles upstream at Hamburg. Medical transport boats made trip after trip from both Pittsburg Landing and Hamburg through June 19. Many of the civilian nurses served throughout the time period, and Sanitary Commission officials continued to replenish whatever medical supplies the soldiers needed.

By the first of May, the bulk of the federal army was inching its way to Corinth, and presumably the residents of the 15th Civil District, Hardin County were free to return to their farms, or what was left of them. The area would never again be contested between the two great armies, only small bands of cavalry and swarms of bushwhackers—Unionist, Confederate, and freebooters. Some of the original inhabitants were still in place long after the war when veterans began to return to walk the fields, boast of their regiments, argue over strategy, and visit the national cemetery.


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McDonough, James Lee. Shiloh: In Hell Before Night. Nashville: University of Tennessee Press, 1977.

Moore, Frank. Women of the War: Their Heroism and Self-Sacrifice. Hartford, CT: S. S. Scranton & Co., 1866.

Moss, Lemuel. Annals of the United States Christian Commission. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1868.

Newberry, J. S. Brief Reports of the Operations of the Sanitary Commission in Tennessee, 1862. N.p.: United States Sanitary Commission, Western Department, 1862.

Newberry, J. S. The U. S. Sanitary Commission in the Valley of the Mississippi, During the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866. Cleveland: Fairbanks, Benedict & Co., 1871.

Newcomb, M. A. Four Years of Personal Reminiscences of the War. Chicago: H. S. Mills & Co., 1893.

Perkins, Betty Ann. “The Work of the Catholic Sister-Nurses in the Civil War.” M.A. thesis, University of Dayton, 1967.

Pruitt, Wade. Bugger Saga: The Civil War Story of Guerilla and Bushwhacker Warfare in Lauderdale County, Alabama, and Southern Middle Tennessee. Columbia, TN: P-Vine Press, 1977.

Stevenson, Thomas M. History of the 78th Regiment O.V.V.I. From Its “Muster-In” to Its “Muster-Out.” Zanesville, Ohio: Hugh Dunne, 1865.

Stillwell, Leander. The Story of a Common Soldier of Army Life in the Civil War, 1861-1865. 2nd ed. Kansas City, Mo.: Franklin Hudson Publishing Company, 1920. Reprint ed. Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983.

Sword, Wiley. Shiloh: Bloody April. Dayton, Ohio: Morningside Press, 1988.

Throne, Mildred, ed. “Letters from Shiloh.” Iowa Journal of History 52 (1954): 235-280.

U.S. Bureau of the Census. Population, Slave, Agriculture, and Social Statistics Census, Hardin County, Tennessee, 1860.

U.S. Surgeon-General’s Office. The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1875-1883. v.3, pt.2.

Wallace, Isabel. Life & Letters of General W. H. L. Wallace. Chicago: R. R. Donnelley & Sons, 1909.

Wilkie, Franc B. Pen and Powder. Boston: Ticknor and Co., 1888.

Worthington, Thomas. Shiloh; or, The Tennessee Campaign of 1862. Washington: M’Gill & Withrow, 1872.

Note: This article previously published in The Citizens' Companion


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It has been awhile since the above was posted. I believe it contains the only reference to Arabella (Belle) Macomber Reynolds on the site. Ambrose Bierce wrote a short story thought to be based on Belle Reynolds and Governor Yates of Illinois ("An Affair of Outposts)  www.online-literature.com 

A Chicago newspaper wrote that "Yates had Belle Reynolds on his staff" (nice double entendre) and reports indicated he gave her a horse. Yates commissioned Belle as a Major in the Illinois militia. The story got a fair amount of newspaper play at the time and for decades thereafter,

Ambrose Bierce in Civil War Tennessee: Nashville, Shiloh, and the Corinth Campaign Author(s): Christopher Kiernan Coleman Source: Tennessee Historical Quarterly, Vol. 68, No. 3 (FALL 2009), pp. 250-269 Published by: Tennessee Historical Society Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/42628622

Anyone heard of this? Any other source?  Coleman gives a summary. "An affair of outposts" is very short and a nice example of Bierce's style.

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Had a bit of spare time, so decided to look into Arabella Macomber Reynolds and her involvement at the Battle of Shiloh: fascinating story, similar to that experienced by Ann Dickey Wallace... except Belle Reynolds served as nurse aboard steamer Emerald, and Mrs. Reynold's husband (a Lieutenant in the 17th Illinois) survived the Battle of Shiloh. (This research gives me greater appreciation for the presence of women at Pittsburg Landing prior to the April 6th Battle, and afterwards: an important facet of the whole story neglected by most school texts.

Thanks for introducing the story of Mrs. Reynolds



References:  http://civilwarwomenblog.com/major-belle-reynolds/   Belle Reynold's article at Civil War Women

http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/OBITUARIES/2009-06/1245565033  Belle Reynold's obituary at rootsweb

http://www.sonofthesouth.net/leefoundation/civil-war/1862/may/mrs-belle-reynolds.htm  Sketch of Major Belle Reynolds (scroll down)

http://www.sonofthesouth.net/leefoundation/civil-war/1862/may/censorship.htm   In conjunction with the above link to Harper's Weekly May 17th 1862, which features the sketch of Major Belle Reynolds on page 317 is the article (beginning column one, page 306) of the same edition.

https://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc?a=d&d=SFC18980522.2.173.2   San Francisco Call newspaper of May 22nd 1898 featuring Major Belle Reynolds through words and sketches.




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Thanks for the above...just found it. It is hard to estimate how many women were at Pittsburg landing and on the battlefield. Mrs. Ophelia Amigh was there with her infant son Benton B. Amigh (guess where he was born). I know of a half dozen others who were there on the 6th.

Ambrose Bierce describes in What I Saw at Shiloh  a conversation with a young woman with a baby boy aboard the steamboat taking him across the Tennessee very late in the day of the 6th. Bierce's biographer suggests that the woman may have been Ann Wallace, whose husband, General Wm H L Wallace, was alive and still lying on the battle field at the time of the conversation. But the Wallace's had only an adopted daughter. https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=107508697 

Bierce received from the brief conversation an exhortation to be brave. His recollection of his thoughts on this advice from "...the little fool" is classic "Bitter Bierce".

Oscar Amigh was wounded at Shiloh and Ophelia was often in the field, beginning with the 3rd Iowa's northern Missouri action in '61. Some of the many sick were in makeshift hospitals at Savanna prior to battle. Plus there were wounded on the steam boats by the evening of the 6th. Obviously the Amigh's would have been separated since the early morning of the 6th, and the 3rd's camp was at Stacy Field adjacent to Hell's Hollow.

Belle Reynolds became a physician after the war, graduating from Hahneman Medical College in Chicago. She was a talented vocalist and often sang patriotic songs at GAR gatherings (when I find it I'll post a picture of her at a GAR reunion in about 1890 - the only woman in the group picture). She separated from Lt. Reynolds about 10 years after the war. They had no children. Both died in California.

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Had another read of "A Revelation of War" by Vicki Betts (presented as part of WI16thJim's original post) and was struck by:

  • [para 4] "Hardin County men who had been pressed into service of the Confederacy"
  • [para 5] "Thursday, March 6, 1862, Confederate officials at Savannah held their part of a statewide enrollment of all men of military age, with muster-in scheduled for Monday, March 10th."
  • [para 6] "With the arrival of 40th Illinois and 46th Ohio at Savannah (March 7 and 8) hundreds of drafted men flooded into Savannah."

The words in bold were a surprise to me (because I was of the assumption that Conscription in the South did not occur until passage of the Conscription Act of April 16, 1862.) But on further research, it appears Governor Isham Harris, working closely with General Beauregard, did his utmost to provide needed manpower to the formative Army of the Mississippi... including institution of a statewide draft (authorized by Act of the Tennessee General Assembly of November 28th 1861.) This draft was commenced about March 6th.

Continuing Vicki Bett's article [para 6]: "Many of these drafted men joined the 46th Ohio or crew of USS Tyler."

Two points of interest present themselves:

  • What was the official status of a man drafted into service of an army (but not yet mustered?)
  • Why is there no record of "40 or 50 men" joining the 46th Ohio at Savannah?

The "official status" question will not be addressed in this post.

As for a record of the Southern men who joined the 46th Ohio at Savannah: I have encountered names of Tennessee men who joined the 14th Iowa Infantry prior to Battle of Shiloh. But the Official Roster of Soldiers of the State of Ohio (vol.4 -- 46th Ohio) pages 355-388, does not list any recruits taken on at Savannah. So, I believed the statement to be untrue... until I re-read Thomas Worthington's Brief History of the 46th Ohio. Beginning page 22 (Appendix) is "A List of all the Men Present at the First Fire on April 6th Battle of Shiloh." And although tedious, here are some of the names -- recorded at Shiloh by Worthington -- that did not make the official record in Ohio:

  • Private A. Argham, Company A
  • Private L. Lennigan, Company A
  • Private J.S.A. Calwell, Company B
  • Private Jason Gabrill, Company  B
  • Private John Rinks, Company B
  • Private G.W. Shipman, Company B
  • Private W. Shiere, Company B
  • Private E. Wilson, Company B
  • Private Joseph Hincle (or Hinkle) Company D
  • Private Washborne, Company D
  • Private G. Brown, Company F
  • Private T.J. Gilbert, Company F
  • Private N.T. Hill, Company F
  • Private G. Olpp, Company F
  • Private D.H. O'Neal, Company F
  • Private H.W. Proctor, Company F
  • Private B.F. Winchester, Company F
  • Private James Barnes, Company G
  • Private William Butler, Company G
  • Private Elisha Hunt, Company G
  • Private Thomas Herst, Company G
  • Private Crittendon Hatley, Company G
  • Private Francis M. Hatley, Company G
  • Private John A. McFail, Company G
  • Private John A. McFail, Company G
  • Private Joseph R. Smith, Company G
  • Private Erasmus Tucker, Company G
  • Private Elisha Wood, Company G
  • Private Andrew J. Nolan (or Noland), Company I
  • Private John Phail, Company I
  • Private William B. Weyer, Company I
  • Private Cornelius Diets, Company K
  • Private William J. Heathcoat, Company K
  • Private John Holland, Company K
  • Private William H. Hollis, Company K
  • Private Paul W. B. Keddy, Company K
  • Private William J. May, Company K
  • Private James McGee, Company K
  • Private Levi Moore, Company K
  • Private Benjamin Nowland, Company K
  • Private Leborne Prince, Company K

There may be more than the above names (for anyone researching their relative's involvement with the 46th Ohio at Shiloh.) Unfortunately, Thomas Worthington indicates that he misplaced the reports for Company C and Company E, so the identity of perhaps ten to fifteen additional men may never be known.



References:  http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uiug.30112047586000;view=1up;seq=414  46th Ohio roster

http://archive.org/stream/briefhistoryof4600wort#page/n97/mode/2up  Thos. Worthington's Brief History of 46th Ohio

http://www.artcirclelibrary.info/Reference/civilwar/1862-03.pdf  artcirclelibrary see pages 7, 15-16






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Hello Ozzy and Rbn3, I have an account of a newspaper correspondent from Monroe County Ohio who was riding upriver on a steamer with company A, 77th Ohio, who were from Monroe County, letting the folks back home know how they were getting along.  He mentions the southern Union volunteers were already being drilled when they arrived at Savanah, Tennessee, and that were still wearing their butternut homespun clothing. He mentions that the sutlers were already set up and selling their wares. Barrels labeled 'eggs' were a hot item, actually whiskey. He was concerned that the boys were developing too strong a liking for it , this being their first time away from home. 

Edited by rwaller
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In the Papers of US Grant, volume 4, are the following:

  • March 5   telegram from Halleck to Grant:  "It is important there is no delay in moving up the Tennessee River and destroying the Bear Creek Bridge [on the M & C R.R.] (page 327)
  • March 6  General Grant expressed concern the Rebels were fortifying Savannah, Tennessee (page328).
  • March 10  telegram from Grant to Halleck  "Tomorrow is the day all men of military age in Tennessee are to be enrolled in the Rebel army, by order of Governor Harris. I intend to interfere [with their conscription plans]."

In Sherman's Memoirs, on page 226:  "Colonel Worthington had not "kept his place in line" but caused his steamer carrying the 46th Ohio to rush ahead and arrived at Savannah, and took control there."  [Of interest because U.S. Grant knew of the State intention to draft men into Confederate service, but Sherman did not. A peevish Sherman chose to "put Worthington in his place" -- when the 40th Illinois under Colonel Hicks actually arrived first at Savannah, on March 7th -- and ignored the fact that the early arrival of Federal troops at Savannah prevented as many as one thousand men gathered there from being "pressed into Confederate service." And many of those men joined Federal regiments, instead, in time for Shiloh.]

As concerns uniforms, on March 1st 1862 in accordance with General Orders No.17 "all regiments with extra clothing were to turn that extra clothing over to regiments requiring uniforms. Afterwards, all surplus clothing, arms and stores were to be sent to Cairo." -- signed John Rawlins (for US Grant) [Papers of US Grant voume 4 page 326]. Would be interesting to know whether the recent recruits from Savannah had proper uniforms prior to Battle of Shiloh.




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It would be kind of crazy to picture soldiers in the federal ranks in homespun. There should definitely have been enough time to get them uniforms before the battle. The account I mentioned earlier implied that the new volunteers were formed into their own company. It also said that people came from far and wide to see the Yankees at Savanah and that federal cavalry patrols had been out into the surrounding countryside and were bringing in scores of prisoners each day. 

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Took me a while to find it... But in Thomas Worthington's Brief History of the 46th Ohio, page 94, is this claim:  "...no clothing or entrenching tools could be had while the Army was at Shiloh, for sixteen or eighteen days before the battle."  Colonel Worthington gave this testimony under oath during his August 1862 court martial (which may indicate he was unable to get proper uniforms for his new Tennessee-area recruits prior to Battle of Shiloh.)




Reference:  http://archive.org/stream/briefhistoryof4600wort#page/n153/mode/2up  Worthington's Brief History of the 46th Ohio



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