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Ozzy

Bitter end of the Union Left

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Anyone attempting to research events on the far left of the Union line during April 6th, knows it is relatively easy to find references IRT the 55th Illinois. But, the activities of the other major player, the 54th Ohio (2nd Ohio Zouaves) are less abundantly documented.

 

The Life and Letters of Thomas Kilby Smith, by his son, Walter George Smith, published by G. P. Putnam of New York, (1898), goes some way to addressing that deficiency.

 

The book consists of two parts: a 'Memoir' (more of a biography) that discusses T. Kilby Smith's career during the Civil War, pages 10- 167; and 'Letters' that Smith wrote to his wife, mother and sister, usually within days of the event described (pages 167- 463). Because Smith was Colonel of the 54th Ohio, his experience is theirs, until they part company in July 1863, due to his promotion to Brigadier General.

 

The following pages are of most interest:

  •      pp. 12- 22     arrival at Pittsburg Landing, thru to the Battle of Shiloh;
  •      p. 186           discussion of Zouave ideals;
  •      pp. 191- 2     'We are as safe here, as if we were in New York City' -- March 31st, 1862;
  •      pp. 193- 9     April 11th letters to wife, sister and mother, describing aspects of 54th OVI involvement;
  •      pp. 228- 9     July 1862 letter to mother with more details of Battle of Shiloh/ Flag of 54th OVI.

After Shiloh, the Siege of Corinth, Occupation of Memphis, Arkansas Post, and Vicksburg Campaign are discussed. After parting company with the 54th OVI, the Red River Campaign, and Brigadier General Smith's assignment to Fort Gaines, near Mobile Alabama, are described. (In this latter segment of the book, the most interesting aspect, for me, was the description of 'land mines' encountered by Union forces under General Canby during the Assault on Spanish Fort, page 383- 4;  I'd heard of the use of this weapon during the Civil War, but did not know at what battle it was employed.) 

 

The major strength of the book: the above indicated pages can be accessed online (free) at the below website, and read in about fifteen minutes. The major weakness: in a book of 460 pages, that is all there is IRT Battle of Shiloh.

 

 

http://archive.org/stream/kilbysmiththomas00smitrich#page/n9/mode/2up

 

 

Ozzy

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