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Billy1977

Sherman's division, morning of 6 April

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Hello everybody, I think I have found the most confusing part of the Battle of Shiloh, the part when Sherman's division is attacked and holds its ground for some time against repeated but disorganized attacks before it finally succumbs. I was wondering if someone here might be able to help me with some confusing questions I still have about this part of the battle. 

 

**the 57th Ohio - Larry Daniel says in his book Shiloh: the battle that changed the Civil War on page 160 that after Appler's  53rd Ohio broke and headed rearward the 57th also fell back, in their case towards a ridge behind them and "By the time the ridge was obtained, half the 57th Ohio had melted away." 
Half the regiment being about five companies, right? But Winston Groom in his book Shiloh, 1862 says on page 227 that eight of the companies of the 57th Ohio ran for the landing (which would leave only, what, two companies remaining in the line?) So does anyone know how many companies of the 57th Ohio broke for the rear? Was it about half the regiment or most of it?

**Bushrod Johnson's brigade - did it come up after Russell's brigade was already engaged or at the same time as Russell's brigade? Because the Army's Staff Ride Handbook for the Battle of Shiloh it says on page 68 that at 8:45 a.m. Russell's brigade from Polk's corps came up and attacked through Rea Field but was repulsed. It goes on to say that at 9 a.m. Marshall Polk's battery arrived and began to duel with Waterhouse's battery but that as soon as Polk's battery was unlimbered and ready to fire Bushrod Johnson's brigade from Polk's corps, which had just moved up, launched an attack but was likewise repulsed. And that at 9:30 the rebels were finally able to coordinate their attack against Sherman's stubborn line, with Anderson's, Russell's and Cleburne's brigades attacking simultaneously which carried the position. 

But in the handbook called The Battle of Shiloh and the Forces Engaged by the Shiloh National Military Park Commission it says on page 14 that "Johnson's and Russell's brigades of Polk's corps now came up together. Russell on the right, overlapping Sherman's left, and Johnson to the left across the Corinth Road. The reorganized parts of the brigades of Cleburne and Anderson joining Russell and Johnson, the four brigades, assisted by Wood's brigade, advanced, and at 10 o'clock drove Sherman's two brigades, and the Third Brigade of McClernand's division back across the Purdy Road with the loss of three guns of Waterhouse's battery and the camps of the three brigades."


They can't both be correct, either Bushrod Johnson's brigade came up and attacked by itself and was repulsed or Bushrod Johnson's brigade came up at the same time as Russell's brigade and attacked. Which account would probably be more accurate? In the Battle of Shiloh animated map on CivilWar.org

http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/shiloh/maps/battle-of-shiloh-animated.html

it seems to show Russell's brigade getting there first, with Bushrod Johnson's brigade behind it. 

**Who coordinated the hitherto uncoordinated rebel attacks against Sherman's division? The handbook The Battle of Shiloh and the Forces Engaged on page 83 says that "General Polk at once assumed direction, and, without waiting to reorganize the shattered brigades, ordered the whole force forward without regard to corps, division, brigade or even regimental organization." 

But in Larry Daniels's book Shiloh around page 163 it sounds more like Bragg was coordinating it. I know Bragg's corps was supposed to be forward of Polk's corps so maybe it was Bragg rather than Polk who coordinated it? 

**Capt. Allen Waterhouse - when was he wounded? I know he was wounded through both thighs but did this happen before he decided to pull his battery back but was stopped 200 or 300 yards later by Maj. Ezra Taylor who told him to contest every inch of ground? And from there two of his guns were captured and a third captured in Woolf Field? 

Or was Waterhouse not wounded until his battery reached its fallback position where Ezra Taylor stopped them? Then he was wounded and some of his guns captured as he then tried again to pull back? 

Many thanks to you experts here. I may have a few more questions here shortly but I wanted to get these out there and see if someone can shed some light on it. 

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Billy

Your questions are good. I'll get into my notes and see what I can come up with. In meantime, I'm sure one of our 'Western side of the battlefield' experts can direct you in the right direction...

But, just a general observation: as much as I strongly advocate the work of David W. Reed in detailing the events of the Battle of Shiloh, I must acknowledge that the U.S. Army Center for Military History has a goal of being 'factual as possible,' with no agenda, except to 'promote study and learning as regards past battles,' with scenarios presented as accurately as possible. Their mission is to promote training of future Army officers; they have every incentive to provide facts-as-proven in their Staff Ride Program, to assist with realistic-as-possible training (and the Staff Ride guidebooks provide extensive Reference Lists in the back pages.) Therefore, barring a 'previously unpublished, but recently confirmed source,' I would tend to trust the Staff Ride analysis, where it conflicts with D.W. Reed.

Ozzy

 

References:  http://www.history.army.mil/staffRides/     (U.S. Army Center for Military History)

http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/cgsc/carl/download/csipubs/gudmens.pdf     (Staff Ride for Battle of Shiloh, dated 2003)

http://archive.org/details/battleofshilohor00unit     (David W. Reed's Battle Of Shiloh and the Organizations Engaged)

 

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Billy

I've had a look at my notes (and resources on the Internet and at SDG) and here is what I came up with:

  • 57th Ohio Infantry --  This regiment suffered 26 percent 'off sick' before the battle of April 6 (only 542 of possible 804 available for duty; from DW Reed page 95). On looking through a number of references, I find no two that match IRT how many of the men of the 57th OVI remained to fight after the initial stampede. My guess: even if half the men initially 'on the line' remained, 270 men would appear as only a couple of companies to a casual observer. Definitive answer: not found.
  • Bushrod Johnson and Russell's brigades --  According to Major General Polk, 'My two remaining brigades were held in hand til I received orders to move them directly forward to support of Bragg's center. They moved forward together, and were both very soon warmly engaged with the enemy.' [Polk, page 107; and DW Reed page 14]
  • Coordination against Sherman --   Part of the problem, as we know: too many cooks, spoiling the broth. Bragg would rush over and give commands to fragments of brigades (and depart again); Beauregard would give orders to Polk directly; Hardee gave orders directly to Cleburne (while all these commanders had units assigned to their commands operating in the same geographic location). Far as I can gather, Cleburne attempted thrusts against Sherman's position, beginning just before 7am, that were pushed back. MGen Polk was directed to send his remaining two brigades forward (but these two brigades belonged to different divisions; and there does not appear to have been an order from Polk, directing Johnson or Russell to 'report to Cleburne.' They were simply sent forward, and the random Confederate units operated without coordination, until 'Bragg came across and ordered General Clark to take charge' [according to SDG post by 51stTNMike of December 1, 2011, in Topic 'Where was Sherman Wounded?' of November 20, 2011.] And according to DW Reed, page 83, MGen Polk took charge of the push after the capture of Waterhouses' Battery. According to Polk, pages 107-8, 'I sought out General Bragg and asked him where he would have my command. He replied:  "If you will go to the center, I will go to the right."  It was understood that Hardee was attending to the left.'
  • Waterhouse --   It appears the guns of the 1st Illinois Light Artillery, Battery E were divided into two sections on the morning of April 6, with two James Rifles (under Captain Waterhouse) advanced across Owl Creek; and two guns (possibly under Lieutenant Fitch, who wrote the report after the battle; or Captain Abbott) on the north side of Owl Creek, on the hill overlooking Rhea field. Shortly after 7am, the advanced section was ordered by Captain Taylor (Chief of Artillery of Sherman's 5th Division) [OR 10 page 273] to redeploy back across Owl Creek and take position left of Fitch's section: that was accomplished about 7:15 and Fitch records [OR 10 page 276] that the united battery maintained its position for the next hour and forty-five minutes, before the falling back of supporting infantry compelled Waterhouse to attempt to move his section to the rear (during which, Captain Waterhouse was wounded and removed from the field.) While executing the limber, Captain Taylor rode up, and demanded the battery unlimber, and maintain its position. Abbott, in command in absence of Waterhouse, did as he was ordered; but shortly afterwards Captain Abbott moved the battery about 100 yards to the rear, when Captain Taylor appeared once again, and ordered the battery unlimbered. [Fitch in OR 10 pages 276-7]  The guns got off only a handful of shots, before 'the whole battery was compelled to retire under a galling fire from the enemy' [OR 10 page 273] and in process of withdrawing, Captain Abbott was severely wounded; and three of the four guns were lost [from Captain Taylor's report OR 10 page 273]. It is claimed the 13th Tennessee (of Russell's brigade) captured the guns of Waterhouse's Battery [OR 10 page 425]. [My read is that Captain Waterhouse was wounded at the top of the rise, overlooking Owl Creek and Rhea field; and ordered the guns removed to the rear; but that order was countermanded by Captain Taylor.]

 

Ozzy

N.B.  The 'small stream' south of Sherman's position is referred to as 'Owl Creek' in old sources (including the OR) and as 'Shiloh Branch' in newer works on the Battle of Shiloh. I used 'Owl Creek' for consistency.

 

References:  http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/cgsc/carl/download/csipubs/gudmens.pdf    (Staff Ride for Shiloh of 2003)

http://archive.org/stream/battleofshilohor00unit#page/70/mode/2up     (DW Reed's Battle of Shiloh)

OR 10, Section 1 (pages as indicated in text above)

http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.$b69488;view=1up;seq=124     (Leonidas Polk: Bishop and General at hathitrust)

SDG post of 51stTNMike of December 1, 2011

 

 

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Thanks Ozzy for the very detailed and informative responses! By the way, what is your opinion of Larry Daniel's book Shiloh: the battle that changed the Civil War ? I just got it in the mail and it seems like a really detailed account of the battle. Granted I haven't read any of the other secondary works on the battle like Shiloh - In Hell before Night so I can't really compare them but Daniel's book seems like a good account of it. 

Oh and one more question: On page 169 of Daniel's book he says "At 9:30 assaults were renewed from several directions. Bragg ordered the 154th Tennessee and Blythe's Mississippi Regiment, supported by Anderson's and Russell's brigades and perhaps 350 of Cleburne's survivors, back into the fray." 

This is when Col. Blythe was killed, in making this assault referred to here. My question is, since Blythe's Mississippi and the 154th Tenn. were part of Bushrod Johnson's brigade, and Daniel says they were ordered by Bragg to go "back into the fray", it infers they were already committed earlier. But I can't find where it says anything about when they were initially committed and I can't figure out how these two regiments would be already in action before the rest of Johnson's brigade got there. Am I misreading something? 

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Although the question wasn't put to me.. i'm gonna put in two cents lol...

I think your over thinking the passage. I would have read it as Anderson and Russell's Brigades and Cleburne's survivors re-entered the fray.. Bostered by the added strength of Smith's 154th Sr. Tenn. Reg. and Blythe's Miss. Reg. newly added for the renewed attack, only the first 3 units actually re-entered.. seems the author just wrote it as he did, to stay with the flow of his writing style..

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Thanks Eric, I think you're right, I was probably overthinking it. In re-reading it I think you're right, he must have meant Anderson's, Russell's and Cleburne's survivors reentered the fray and Blythe's Miss. Regt. and the 154th Tenn. were sent in at the same time. That makes more sense. Thanks again. 

In the National Park Service booklet for Shiloh it says " At 8:30, elements of the second Confederate battle line, part of the corps commanded by the martinet Braxton Bragg, slammed against Sherman's position. Already the Southern lines were beginning to intermingle and command line of authority was rapidly disappearing. Brig. Gen. Patton Anderson's brigade of Bragg's corps assaulted Waterhouse's battery but was subjected to a terrible enfilade fire from Barrett's guns."

Does anyone have any more information about this particular charge that was hit by Barrett's enfilade fire? I didn't see anything in the Staff Ride Handbook or in Larry Daniel's book about Anderson's brigade getting hit by enfilade fire from Barrett's battery and I would have thought it would have been mentioned though on pg. 167 of the latter it does say that the part of Anderson's brigade east of the road (the 1st Florida Bn., Confederate Guards Response Bn. and the 17th Louisiana) was blasted by fire from Waterhouse's battery as soon as they entered Rea Field. 

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Eric

Good explanation of that passage...

 

Billy

The two attached links are videos IRT progress of the Confederate attack on the Western side of the battlefield, up to about 11am. Recorded by Tony Willoughby, and featuring Tim Smith, the links are these:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRjJD9LEnyQ   (Artillery at Shiloh with Tim Smith, Part 1)

Begin about the 7 minute mark, and the discussion revolves around Confederate artillery vs Sherman; at 10.30 the creation of a 24-gun battery is discussed; 12.30-13.30 there is discussion of Taylor, Barrett, Schwartz and Waterhouse, with more discussion of the Washington Artillery, Polk's Battery, and Waterhouse, Taylor and Barrett from 21.00-29.30.

This link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfno9jjBwbY   (Cleburne's Brigade at the Battle of Shiloh tour with Tim Smith, Part 1)

Provides great detail, and features the terrain on the western side of the battlefield, while explaining Cleburne's movements through that terrain. The material of interest is from the beginning, until about the 44-minute mark.

I reviewed them earlier today, and I believe viewing both videos will go a long way towards answering your questions (I learned a bit more than I thought I knew...) Again, full credit to Tony Willoughby for recording these valuable presentations by Tim Smith.

Ozzy

 

 

 

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Thanks very much Ozzy and Eric. In reading further in Larry Daniel's book I see that he says the 11th Louisiana was in fact subjected to a fierce enfilade fire from Barrett's battery but the 11th Louisiana was in Russell's brigade. Maybe the NPS booklet for Shiloh got Patton Anderson's brigade and Russell's brigade mixed up? I will check out the presentations now, thanks again. 

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Now that you've had a chance to review the videos featuring Tim Smith, here is another one (which will provide a slightly different take on the Confederate assault on the Western side of the Battlefield:  The 154th -- Tennessee's Senior Regiment at Shiloh, with Bjorn Skaptason; recorded by Tony Willoughby on October 25, 2015.}

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJILehRb8X0     (The 154th Tennessee Senior Regiment)

Beginning at the 8-minute mark, Bjorn starts by explaining the creation of the 154th and key personnel. Attached to Bushrod Johnson's Brigade, the involvement of the 154th Tennessee (and other regiments and brigades, in action against Sherman on Day 1) begins at 21-minute mark. At 22-minute mark, discussion continues at position of Washington Artillery, facing Sherman's camps. Cleburne and Anderson cross the morass. General Clark arrives. Braxton Bragg interferes with conduct of the battle on the Western side. At 28.30 the movement of Bushrod Johnson explained (column advance vs. line-of-battle advance.) 31.30 Bjorn moves across creek and continues discussion at 32.40. Arrives at Polk's Battery at 34.30. Waterhouse and Barrett Batteries discussed at 35-minute mark. Continues through to 49-minute mark.

You will notice differences in interpretation of this action: Bjorn Skaptason vs. Tim Smith. I find with my own research varying reports (and non-reports) of action in this part of Shiloh: key players wounded or killed (and no report); multiple regiments seeking credit for captures of artillery; Union regiments (53rd Ohio and 57th Ohio) not providing accurate after-action reports; Hildebrand not providing a report (he was attached to McClernand in some unofficial capacity.)  Therefore, lots of room for interpretation (making letters and diaries invaluable.)

Ozzy

 

    

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Hello everybody, great discussion, here's my 2cents: Hildebrand's brigade: 53rd, 57th, and 77th Ohio. The 57th broke ranks, disintegrated, and fell back through their camp, after suffering relatively light punishment, around 9:00 AM. The 57th retained no known regimental organization until April 8th. Just as this was happening the 17th Illinois arrived just to the rear of the 57th's position, to the left of Waterhouse's battery, and became engaged almost immediately with confederate troops working their way up the gully between the camp of the 57th Ohio and the 77th Ohio. Three other Illinois regiments were to the left of the 17th - Raith's brigade.

There were two companies, A and F, of the 53rd Ohio that had retained their organization, and these took position to the right of Waterhouse's battery.  So the collapse of the 57th did not produce any kind of breakthrough.

Simultaneous with these events, Johnson's confederate brigade arrived on the field (9:00 AM) according to the 'Staff Ride' book.  Finally, the full weight of the confederate advance began to take effect.  Three confederate brigades were packed into this relatively small sector and were confronted by the 77th Ohio, 2 companies of the 53rd, the 17th Illinois, Waterhouse's battery, and to a lesser extent, the rest of Raith's brigade.  As more confederate troops moved forward up the gully between the camps of the 57th and 77th Ohio, they began to take the 77th under fire on their left flank and the regiment bent back, now facing almost due east, with their right on Shiloh church. Over the next 30 to 45 minutes they were 'shot to pieces' but still held their ground, facing odds of 4 to 1 or more.  Thousands of rebel muskets arrayed against them eventually took their toll.

Larry Daniels is a great story teller and good writer but seems to take 'accounts' at face value and doesn't dig deep enough to see that some people are just plain liars and their 'accounts' are simply lies made to cover their own cowardice.  He repeats, without question, the nonsense account of Timothy Blaisdell of Barrett's battery which says the 77th Ohio fired one volley, threw down their guns and ran at the beginning of the battle. A good writer must simply dig in, looking for contradictions, and you will find them.

Sherman said that the 77th remained on the field a full hour after the 57th left. After the battle, 226 dead confederates were counted in front of the 77th's position, yes that's more than 10% of the entire confederate death toll at Shiloh.

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I believe Timothy Smith has written the definitive book on the battle, Shiloh - Conquer or Perish.  I have also recently read Shiloh - Confederate high tide in the heartland, by Steven Woodworth.

The definitive book for the timing of events within the battle is 'Staff Ride Handbook for the Battle of Shiloh, 6 - 7 April 1862 by LTC Jeffrey J. Gudmens and the Staff Ride Team Combat Studies Institute.  Of course there are all the old standby's, everyone knows what they are but I have another book I enjoyed a lot which is Grant Rises in the West by Kenneth P. Williams, written back in 1952, I believe its a great big picture overview.  Worth reading.

Someday, my book on the history of the 77th Ohio will be complete.  I have some original unpublished diaries and letters which I think will prove very interesting.

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