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16th Wisconsin at Shiloh

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extract from 16th Wisconsin Regimental History

Shiloh after battle report:

Report of Col. Benjamin Allen, Sixteenth Wisconsin Infantry.

SIR: Having heard various and conflicting reports in regard to the part

taken in the engagement of the 6th and 7th of April by the regiments

comprising Gen. Prentiss' division, I deem it my duty to myself and

command to submit a statement, which I should have done sooner but

for the painfulness of a wound received on the battle-field.

The regiment which I have the honor to command formed the left of

colonel Peabody's brigade, and was encamped on the south road leading

from Pittsburg Landing to Corinth. On the evening of the 5th four

companies of my regiment and two companies of the Twenty-first

Missouri, under the command of George K. Donnelly, acting assistant

adjutant-general, First Brigade, Sixth Division, was sent by order of

Col. Peabody, on picket duty. At about 5.30 a.m. on the 6th a part

of this force discovered some of the enemy's cavalry about 1 1/2 miles

in front and to the right of our camp, and while advancing upon them

came upon a large force of the enemy concealed behind a fence and

were fired upon by them. This was the first fire of the enemy. Capt.

Saxe and Sergeant Williams, of Company A, in my regiment, were

killed, and Col. Moore, who had just arrived with re-enforcements

from the Twenty-first Missouri, was wounded. After firing they

retreated followed by our men, but they were soon re-enforced, and our

men fell back toward our camp.

At about 6 o'clock I was ordered by Gen. Prentiss to form my

regiment and advance on the enemy. This I did, taking my position in

a thicket of small timber about 80 rods in front of my camp. After

remaining in this position about thirty minutes, waiting the approach of

the enemy, I was ordered by Gen. Prentiss to change front to the

right, which I did, and in this position received the fire of the enemy,

who appeared simultaneously on my front and left flank. We held this

position, and delivered our fire with great effect, checking the advance

of the enemy on our front, until we were ordered by Gen. Prentiss

to fall back, which I did, forming my second line about 40 rods in front

of my camp. At this time the regiment on my right and left had fallen

back, and we were entirely unsupported by any force. We maintained

this position against a greatly superior force of the enemy until again

ordered to fall back.

I made my next stand directly in front of our camp. While holding this

position I was re-enforced by party of Company A, who were out

on picket. A desperate conflict here ensued, in which Lieut.-Col.

Fairchild was wounded in the thigh and carried from the field. I also

had my horse shot under me, and my second horse was shot dead as I

was about to remount. I was again ordered by Gen. Prentiss to fall

back, take to the trees, and hold the enemy in check as much as possible

until re-enforcements could arrive. My men immediately took to the

trees and fell back slowly, firing upon the enemy, until the advance of

Gen. Hurlbut's division made their appearance. I then fell back to the

rear of his lines and formed my men, but finding them out of

ammunition, I drew off for a fresh supply. My men were nearly

exhausted, having been engaged since 6 o'clock without food our

water, contesting the field inch by inch with a greatly superior force of

the enemy.

After receiving a fresh supply of ammunition, and while waiting orders

from Gen. Prentiss, I was requested by a field officer to take the

place of an Indiana regiment he said were out of ammunition and were

falling back. I immediately complied with his request, and opened fire

on the enemy. This position we maintained until we were flanked by

the enemy on our left and were compelled to fall back. In this

engagement I received a wound, the ball passing through my left arm,

a little below the elbow, and I was obliged to leave the field about 3 p.m.

Of my regiment there were 46 killed, 176 wounded, and 23 missing.*

Of the wounded several have since died.

I cannot speak in too high terms of commendation of the bravery and

endurance of both officers and men in my command, although never

before in action. They with very few exceptions exhibited in an eminent

degree the qualities of veteran soldiers, and in the last engagement I lost

some of my brave and valuable men, among whom was Capt. O. D.

Pease, of Company D, who received a wound that caused his death.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

BENJ. ALLEN,

Col. Sixteenth Regt. Wisconsin Volunteers.

Maj. Gen. U. S. GRANT,

Source: Official Records: Series I. Vol. 10. Part I, Reports. Serial No. 10

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The following can be found at the 2nd WI Inf web site:  http://www.secondwi.com/wisconsinregiments/16th.htm

The Sixteenth Regiment was organized at Camp Randall, Madison, and its muster into the United States service was completed on the 31st day of January, 1862, and the regiment left the State for St. Louis on the 13th of March.

They arrived at St. Louis on the morning of March 15th, and were assigned as part of the forces of General Grant. On the 16th, they embarked on transports, and proceeded up the Tennessee River, reported to General Grant at Savannah, and disembarked on the 20th, at Pittsburg Landing, nine miles above Savannah, where General Grant was concentrating his forces.

The Sixteenth regiment was assigned to the Sixth Division, General Prentiss, "which occupied the extreme left of General Grant's army, being posted four miles out on the main road to Corinth, and some distance in advance. The First Brigade, Colonel Everett Peabody commanding, consisted of the Twenty-fifth Missouri, Sixteenth Wisconsin, and Twelfth Michigan infantry.

The camp of the Sixteenth occupied a position in the extreme front. Here they engaged in the usual camp duties and in drilling until the evening of Saturday, April 5th, when Companies A, Captain Saxe, B, Captain Fox, C, Captain Patch, and D, Captain Pease, were ordered out on picket duty, with two companies of the Missouri Twenty-first. They advanced a mile or more to the right and front, where they were posted until about five o'clock, A. M., when the rebels attacked the Missouri companies, and drove them back. They were soon rallied by Colonel Moore, of the Twenty-first Missouri, and Captain Saxe, with his company, went to their assistance. Being soon joined by the other companies of the Sixteenth, the force advanced up a slight rise of ground, where they found the rebels concealed behind a log fence, who opened on them with a volley directly in their faces. Captain Saxe and Sergeant Williams, of Company A, were instantly killed, and several were wounded. They soon became engaged in a brisk skirmish, but were forced to fall back carrying off their killed and wounded.

The division of General Prentiss was soon under arms; the Sixteenth forming in line of battle about forty rods in front of their camp, in the edge of the timber, where they were joined by the companies on picket, who were followed closely by the enemy, advancing in three lines of battle, which were extended right and left so as to envelope the wings of Prentiss' division. Fire was opened along Prentiss' line, and the advance of the enemy was checked, until the lines were broken on the right, when Colonel Allen ordered the regiment to change front on the 10th company, in order to face the enemy in his new position. The order was executed with the greatest coolness and precision, in an open field, and under a galling fire. The regiment fell back, contesting every inch of ground, and formed in front of their camp, under the direction of Lieutenant Colonel Cassius Fairchild, and again held the enemy in check. Here Colonel Allen had two horses shot under him, and Lieutenant Colonel Fairchild was severely wounded in the thigh, which compelled him to leave the field. The regiment again fell back, through the camp, fighting, until they were relieved by another line. About 11 o'clock, the regiment moved back for a fresh supply of ammunition, which was obtained, and the command was reformed about 2 o'clock, P. M., near a log house, on the road to the Landing, and again went into action. Here Colonel Allen was wounded by a shot in the left arm, about 3 o'clock. Major Reynolds had been placed under arrest a day or two before, for the infraction of some petty military order, and deprived of his sword. He, however, went into the battle, and borrowed a sword, and when the Colonel was obliged to leave the field, on account of his wound, took command of the regiment, and moved it to a position on the right, where it remained until dark. For the gallantry displayed by the Major, his sword was returned to him next day. On the 7th, the regiment under Major Reynolds, occupied several different positions along the line, wherever the exigencies of the occasion seemed to require it, but were not very actively engaged. Although this was their first fight,the men of the Sixteenth fought with the coolness of veterans, often changing front under fire and rallying, if thrown into confusion, and again pouring in a deadly fire upon the advancing foe. The field officers behaved with great gallantry, the Colonel and Lieutenant Colonel encouraging their men by their coolness and deliberation, until they left the field, when Major Reynolds and Adjutant Sabin rallied the regiment, and brought it into the position it occupied until dark.

The battle of Shiloh was one of the severest of the war, and Wisconsin soldiers fought as bravely there as they have done elsewhere, although at that time they were without drill and experience. The records of the Sixteenth and Eighteenth, show that those two regiments nobly did their duty.

The Sixteenth was engaged from 5 o'clock in the morning until 3 o'clock in the afternoon, without rations, and suffered greatly for want of food, the regiment having been called into battle before the men bad been to breakfast. Colonel Allen was on duty during the entire day, until he was wounded, about 3 o'clock.

Of the line officers, Captain Saxe was killed while on picket duty, his Lieutenant, Cooley Smith, was mortally wounded, Captain Oliver Pease, of Company D, was also mortally wounded during the day, as was also Lieutenant Vail, of Company I. All of these officers fell while gallantly leading their men.

The list of killed, we find in the records of the Adjutant General; the list shows 47 killed or died of wounds and 149 wounded.

[align=center]Killed in Action.[/align]

[align=center]Edward Saxe, Captain, Company A.[/align]

[align=center]James P. Wilson, Sergeant, Company C. Joseph L. Holcomb, Sergeant, Company E.[/align]

[align=center]Timothy H. Morris, Corporal, Company B. Augustus Caldwell, Corporal, Company E.[/align]

[align=center]Ephraim Cooper, Corporal, Company K. John H. Williams, Sergeant, Company A.[/align]

[align=center]John P. Willis, Sergeant, Company E. Henry Babcock, Sergeant, Company H.[/align]

[align=center]William M. Taylor, Corporal, Company D. James V. Walker, Corporal, Company G.[/align]

[line]

[align=center]Archer, William, private, Company G. Austin, William, private, Company I.[/align]

[align=center]Browning, Oliver H., private, Company G. Belknapp, Lewis R., private Company G.[/align]

[align=center]Carey, Harrison E., private, Company F. Clifford, Alonzo, private, Company I.[/align]

[align=center]Clark, William A., private, Company K. Francisco, Chas. H., private, Company G.[/align]

[align=center]Howe, Cyrus B., private, Company A. Holton, Henry, private, Company C.[/align]

[align=center]Haskins, Chester W., private, missing, Company D. Harrington, Alfonso, private, Company D.[/align]

[align=center]Henegan, John L., private, Company G. Herrick, Orville, private, Company H.[/align]

[align=center]Haskins, George H., private, Company H. Hodge, Charles, private, Company H.[/align]

[align=center]Hennesey, John, private, Company K. Knight, Lewis E., private, Company E.[/align]

[align=center]Lincoln, George, private, Company H. Morse, Anthony, private, Company F.[/align]

[align=center]McNown, John, private, Company F. Manning, Thomas, private, Company K.[/align]

[align=center]Post, Garret O., private, Company C. Pettis, Louis, private, missing, Company D.[/align]

[align=center]Perry, Philo, private, Company E. Prevey, Franklin, private, Company F.[/align]

[align=center]Rider, Erwin, private, Company E. Stilson, Lyman, private, Company F.[/align]

[align=center]Thomas, Henry L., private, Company E. Tousley, Stoel A., private, Company K.[/align]

[align=center]Tousley, William H., private, Company K. Wollem, August, private, Company D.[/align]

[line]

[align=center]Missing in Action.[/align]

[align=center]Dexter, Joseph, private, Company B, April 6, 1862. Ferguson, John A., private, Company F, April 6, 1862.[/align]

[align=center]Fleischbin, Lewis, private, Company D, April 6, 1862. Hills, Jesse, private, Company B, April 6, 1862.[/align]

[align=center]Rands, James, private, Company G, April 6, 1862.Parks, William B., private, Company H, April 6, 1862.[/align]

[align=center]Porter, George M., private, Company H, April 6, 1862. Pettit, Lewis, private, Company E, April 6, 1862.[/align]

[align=center]Redfield, Mills, private, Company H, April 6, 1862. Weigle, John, private, Company I, April 6, 1862.[/align]

[line]

[align=center]Died of Wounds.[/align]

[align=center]Pease, Oliver D. Captain, Company D, April 11, 1862. Smith, Cooley, First Lieutenant, Company A, May 6, 1862.[/align]

[align=center]Vail, Charles H., First Lieutenant, Company I, April 7, 1862. Webster, Almon, Sergeant, Company E, April 20, 1862.[/align]

[align=center]Thompson, Asa D., Sergeant, Company H, April 20, 1862. Barnum, Noah, Corporal, Company G, May 3, 1862.[/align]

[align=center]Rashaw, George J., Corporal, Company H, April 16, 1862. Valentine, Orlando J., Corporal, Company K, April 18, 1862.[/align]

[line]

[align=center]Bennett, Jonathan, private, Company F, May 30, 1862. Bucchill, George, private, Company I, May 12, 1862.[/align]

[align=center]Blair, John, private, Company H, May 4, 1862. Camp, George M., private, Company A, April 10, 1862[/align]

[align=center]Crank, John, private, Company A. Dart, Charles, private, Company B.[/align]

[align=center]Eldridge, Joshua, private, Company A, April 18, 1862. Evenson, Ever S. private, Company B, April 23, 1862.[/align]

[align=center]Filke, August W., private, Company C, April 23, 1862. Fuller, Harrison, private, Company D, May 16, 1862.[/align]

[align=center]Farrington, Milo, private, Company D, May 31, 1862. Huggins, Hiram, private, Company F, May 7, 1862.[/align]

[align=center]Howard, Harrison C., private, Company I, May 10, 1862. Kennedy, Michael, private, Company E, April 26, 1862.[/align]

[align=center]Lerch, John, private, Company A, May 3, 1862. Long, Samuel, private, Company F, May 9, 1862.[/align]

[align=center]Leigh, Richard, private, Company H, May 26, 1862. McMillan, Malcolm, private, Company C, May 11, 1862.[/align]

[align=center]Mauck, Charles, private, Company G, April 30, 1862. Marshall, James W., private, Company A.[/align]

[align=center]Murphy, John, private, Company K, May 13, 1862. Patterson, James, private, Company A, May 4, 1862.[/align]

[align=center]Powers, Henry, private, Company B, May 14, 1862. Quiner, Joseph C., private, Company B, April 28, 1862.[/align]

[align=center]Raymond, Livius, private, Company H, April 18, 1862. Smith, Samuel, private, Company E, June 23, 1862.[/align]

[align=center]Skeels, George, private, Company H, May 6, 1862. Solomon, John, private, Company I, May 17, 1862.[/align]

[align=center]Walbridge, William P., private, Company A, April 21, 1862. Wooding, Morgan F., private, Company I, April 8, 1862.[/align]

[align=center]Turck, William V., private, Company I, May 15, 1862.[/align]

There have been many books written on the subject of Shiloh; some by those who directed their men into the battle and others by the very soldiers who kept diaries in recounting the battle from their own perspective. Perhaps most of the works written about Shiloh came from those who were never in the actual battle themselves – the historian.

I have always been of the opinion that if I wanted the "true" account of a battle, I would tend to believe the accounts of the soldier who fought the battle opposed to the general who staged the war. Generals have a tendency of stretching the truth in order to defend, if not boast about, their military justifications. Those closest to the actual fighting had more insight then those well back of the line of battle.

One book that I feel is quite reliable as it pertains to the Shiloh battle, was originally in the form of a report to the Governor of the State of Wisconsin. By legislation, Governor Robert La Follette appointed five individuals to form the Wisconsin Shiloh Monument Commission who's sole purpose was to oversee the erection of a monument in the Shiloh National Military Park.

One member of the Commission was my great grandfather, Brevetted Captain, David Goodrich James, formerly a member of Company C of the Sixteenth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. At the time of the battle, he held the rank of private. In post-war days, he served as historian for his regiment and at one point was state commander of the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic).

Wisconsin at Shiloh gives accounts of three regiments who fought there; the Fourteenth, Sixteenth and Eighteenth. It was written and published by the Commission in 1909 and contains articles by various authors pertaining to that conflict as well as the proceedings in the dedication of the actual Wisconsin Monument. I have only selected that portion of the book dealing with the 3 regiments authored by Captain F. H. Magdeburg (Fourteenth Wisconsin), D. G. James (Sixteenth Wisconsin) and G. S. Martin (Eighteenth Wisconsin).

[align=left]Their accounts give an entire new and refreshing perspective of the two day battle pitting Major General Ulysses S. Grant's Union Army to General Albert Sidney Johnston's Confederate Army. Casualties of both North and South resulted in 3,482 killed, 16,420 wounded and 3,844 missing for a total of 23,746 in the two day battle that took place on April 6th and 7th, 1862.[/align]

[align=left]Fred G. Cook[/align]

[align=center] [/align]

[align=center]Jim[/align]

[align=center] [/align]

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While rereading my previous post, I got lost in the KIA list and began to wonder which ones were in the color bearer ring in the cemetery, so I pulled up a picture I snapped in 2005 and checked the names. Here they are:

John P. Willis  Sgt.  Co. E

Joseph L. Holcomb  Sgt.  Co. E

Lewis E. Knight  Pvt.  Co. E

Erwin L. Rider  Pvt.  Co. E

Henry L Thomas  Pvt.  Co. E

Philo Perry  Pvt.  Co. E

 The Shiloh NMP web site shows 61 of the 16th WI boys buried in the cemetery of which 2 are unknown.  Wonder how many of the missing are part of the unknown part of the cemetery.

Jim

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