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Ozzy

Eye Witness account, William R. Rowley

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Staff officer to General Grant, officially designated as ADC after Fort Donelson, William R. Rowley commenced his Civil War career as a First Lieutenant in the 45th Illinois (known as the Lead Mine Regiment) in November 1861. Familiar with Congressman Elihu Washburne of Galena, Captain Rowley communicated frequently with his Member of Congress (and sometimes on General Grant's behalf.) The following link connects to a Letter written by Captain Rowley at Pittsburg Landing on 19 April 1862 to an associate of Elihu Washburne, Edward Hempstead. Hempstead copied Rowley's letter, and sent that transcript to Congressman Washburne (which is where this version of the Letter was found, in the Washburne Papers.) http://www.usgrantlibrary.org/usga/newsletters/volume10.asp  [Rowley Letter of 19 April 1862 at top of page, courtesy of Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library, and contained in Newsletter of January 1973 (Volume 10).]

On Sunday morning, April 6th, Captain Rowley was at Savannah and heard the firing of cannon from 9 miles away, to the south-southwest. Travelling in company with General Grant aboard Tigress, Rowley arrived at Pittsburg Landing between 9- 9:30 a.m. and was in company with General Grant (or delivering orders from General Grant) during much of Day One at Shiloh. Of particular interest: Captain Rowley was riding west from the Landing, in company with General Grant, just after 1 p.m., when the second messenger returned from his "visit" to General Lew Wallace. After hearing Cavalry officer Frank Bennett's report, General Grant sent Rowley, in company with Lieutenant Bennett, back north across Wallace Bridge to confront Major General Wallace and demand that he come to Pittsburg Landing via the River Road. Captain Rowley was equipped with authority to "provide orders in writing" if Lew Wallace so demanded. Captain Rowley and his escort departed about 1:20 p.m., and arrived at Pittsburg Landing -- in company with the Third Division -- after sunset. [These details need to be kept in mind when reading Rowley's letter.]

The other thing to keep in mind: this letter from William Rowley was written in response to a Letter of 14 April 1862 from Edward Hempstead, in which Hempstead asked five specific questions [with Rowley's response in brackets]:

  1.   Had General Grant been drinking, prior to the battle of Shiloh? [No. Rowley indicated he had only ever seen Grant take three or four drinks, total, during the entire time he knew him. And he had had no alcohol prior to Battle of Shiloh.]
  2.   Was General Grant really at Savannah when the Battle started? [Yes... (although Rowley shaves substantial time away from Grant's absence from Pittsburg Landing).]
  3.   Did General Grant really lead the Last Charge on Monday? [Yes. And Rowley gives details...]
  4.   Does General Grant have any political aspirations? [No. And do not worry, he has no intention of ever becoming President.]
  5.   Why were there no entrenchments at Pittsburg Landing? [Rowley provides an answer you'll have to read for yourself.] 

As significant as is William Hillyer's letter (also on this SDG site), William Rowley's response to Edward Hempstead provides details of Grant's decisions, operations and movements, not to be found anywhere else;  and this four-page Letter (written after the arrival of Henry Halleck at Pittsburg Landing) is highly recommended, and worth the twenty minutes required to read and digest.

Cheers

Ozzy

 

Other references:  Autobiography of Lew Wallace, vol.1 (1906) pages 466 - 474 (for Lew Wallace's impression of Captain Rowley.)

OR 10 pages 178 - 180 [Rowley's April 1863 report detailing his meeting and discussions with Lew Wallace on April 6th 1862.]

"Eye Witness account, William S. Hillyer" posted by Idaho Native at SDG.

 

 

 

 

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