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Tony Willoughby

COLONEL WORTHINGTON'S BATTLES: 46th OHIO ON THE WEST FLANK at Shiloh with Bjorn Skaptason

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Thank you, Tony, for sharing these wonderful videos of Bjorn's recent tour of Colonel Worthington and the 46th Ohio's positions at Shiloh.  It means a great deal to those of us who were not able to see the tours in person.  :)

 

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Belle, I agree: Tony does a magnificent job, capturing these remarkable presentations for everyone to view.

Thanks, Tony!

 

Ozzy

 

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Two things about the western side of the battlefield always puzzled me: how substantial was the bridge at Owl Creek (an actual bridge, or just an improved ford)? And if it was a bridge, why didn't Sherman blow it up before moving his division north?

Ozzy

 

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As a follow-up to my previous post, attached is a sketch entitled Battle of Shiloh or Pittsburg Landing, April 6 and 7, 1862 found in the reference recorded below. In the sketch, is the 'stream crossing' at left, center indicating Owl Creek Bridge?

Owl Creek Bridge (2).jpg

 

Ozzy

 

Reference:    http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/100781971 Confederate Soldier in the Civil War, edited by Ben LaBree, Louisville, KY: Prentice Press, 1895, page 332.

 

 

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At the time of the Battle of Shiloh, there were three creek crossings in vicinity of Pittsburg Landing deemed important enough to be marked on charts: Lick Creek Ford; Snake Creek Bridge; and Owl Creek Bridge. Lick Creek Ford (never described as a bridge) was probably the least significant, structurally: likely just a convenient, narrow, unimproved shallow location in the creek where travellers on the road to Hamburg could most easily cross. Snake Creek Bridge (often referred to as Wallace's Bridge) was on the River Road; it had been dismantled upon withdrawal of Rebel forces from Pittsburg Landing in early March. Because of the flooded Snake Creek, this bridge was not re-assembled until April 3/4 (Colonel McPherson, engineer, stayed with General WHL Wallace of the 2nd Division while this repair was being accomplished.) General Lew Wallace made use of this mostly-complete bridge on his way to join Grant's Army on Sunday, April 6th.

Owl Creek Bridge was the most significant structure on the Shunpike (and on the Purdy-Hamburg Road.) According to an entry in the OR [Serial 10, page 16, dated 14 March] the bridge had been 'pulled down' upon the withdrawal of Rebel forces from the area... meaning General Sherman probably had to rebuild it when he established his Headquarters near Shiloh Church. From reading various references, it appears Owl Creek 'had steep banks and swampy bottoms,' so the bridge would have been most useful for moving artillery and wagons; so useful, that two companies of the 6th Iowa Infantry were assigned to protecting the crossing on April 6, along with pieces of Federal artillery.

Shortly after Sherman was forced to abandon Owl Creek Bridge, Colonel Trabue and his Kentucky Brigade most likely took possession: Colonel John Wharton of the Texas Rangers reports crossing the bridge at about 11am on the 6th. [OR Serial 10, page 626] On the morning of April 7, Byrne's Battery was put in place to guard the approaches to the bridge... but it was recovered by Federal forces during the course of the Second Day's fight [OR Serial 10, page 617].

Afterwards, Owl Creek Bridge (still intact) was deemed of importance during Henry Halleck's tenure as commander at Pittsburg Landing [OR Serial 11, pages 102-3 of April 12, 1862]; and on April 23, Halleck directed U.S. Grant 'to take station near Shiloh Church and guard Owl Creek Bridge; and send out cavalry to reconnoitre the road to Purdy' [OR Serial 11, page 118.] Even after the March to Corinth commenced, there was a report of a Rebel attempt to get behind Halleck's force and cut the supply line connecting his army to Pittsburg Landing: General McClernand sent word to General Hurlbut on May 3rd recommending he assign a regiment to protect Owl Creek Bridge [page 159].

Sometime after the war ended, the Owl Creek Bridge disappeared; water courses at the western side of the battlefield were 'improved,' resulting in loss of the appearance of terrain as it existed on April 6. And there are no photographs of Owl Creek Bridge, or the unimproved Owl Creek (that I am aware of), so we are left with 'word pictures' and whatever period sketches are available.

 

Ozzy 

 

 

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