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The Stand of Stuart's Brigade, revisited


On Sunday morning 6 April 1862 David Stuart's 2nd Brigade, separated from the remainder of Sherman's Fifth Division by the breadth of the Pittsburg Campground, found itself without organic artillery, and with only three assigned regiments of infantry. Called into line upon hearing the roar of battle away to the southwest, the 2nd Brigade stood and waited... while artillery support provided by Wallace's Second Division arrived, then disappeared; and reinforcements provided by McArthur's Brigade of Wallace's Division came in close proximity, only to be shifted well away from view of Stuart's Brigade.

When Stuart's Brigade came under fire at approximately 11am most of the 71st Ohio disappeared; and the 55th Illinois and 54th Ohio were forced to abandon control of the ford over Lick Creek they were tasked with defending; and instead move progressively east and north, firing at the advancing Rebels from behind trees and beneath the brow of ravines. Occasionally, the Swedish-military trained Oscar Malmborg ordered his 55th Illinois into Hollow Square formations, in the midst of clearings while removing north to the next ravine; the formation designed for defense against cavalry so befuddled the Rebel attackers, convinced the technique was precursor to a trap of some sort, that Malmborg's men were mostly left alone each time the Hollow Square was actuated. Meanwhile the 54th Ohio was divided into two components, which independently harassed the steady advance of Chalmers and Jackson from different directions. Along the way, Colonel Stuart was wounded and removed to the rear; T. Kilby Smith of the 54th Ohio took nominal command; but LtCol Malmborg continued to exert authority over the 55th Illinois. After a particularly disastrous crossing of a deep ravine, during which Stuart's 2nd Brigade was badly shot up, the fighting withdrawal came to an end; and at about 2pm the survivors of the 2nd Brigade made for the Bluff overlooking Pittsburg Landing. Oscar Malmborg appears to have arrived with his 55th Illinois ahead of Kilby Smith's 54th Ohio: LtCol Malmborg was immediately tasked with organizing the returning infantrymen into a defensive line. And he continued in that role until replaced by the retiring General Stephen Hurlbut and his Fourth Division about 90 minutes later.

But the big job had been accomplished: Rebel access to the Bluff above Pittsburg Landing had been denied until Grant's Last Line was sufficiently in place. The delay provided by Stuart's fighting withdrawal had contributed in large measure to that defensive line's creation.



Reed, David W. Battle of Shiloh and the Organizations Engaged (1909) pp.14-15, 17, 27 (Order of Battle), 50, 53, 56-57, 73, 74, 130 map, 134 map. https://archive.org/details/battleofshilohor00unit/page/n133/mode/2up/search/Stuart

OR 10 page 257 Report of Colonel Stuart.

The Life and Letters of Thomas Kilby Smith, by his son, Walter G. Smith (1898) especially letters pp.191-200. https://archive.org/details/lifelettersoftho00smit/page/190/mode/2up

Eisenschiml, Otto, The Story of Shiloh (1946) has one chapter specifically dedicated to 55th Illinois http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/book/lookupname?key=Eisenschiml%2C Otto%2C 1880-1963  [As a member of the Chicago Civil War Round Table, Eisenschiml published many articles through that organization.]

[Video] “Alone on the Left: the Desperate Stand of Stuart's Brigade” (2015) produced by Tony Willoughby:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WyPbKJJ9F5A  Part one.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAjgGCHw5zA  Part two.



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HI, Ozzy.  I don't mean to be picking on you as a contact, but you are the one I have interacted with the most.  I spent yesterday afternoon organizing my family ancestors who were at Shiloh.

On the Union side is the 55th Illinois.  Stuart's brigade.My family member is Thaddeus H. Capron in Co. C. As I said before, he is my aunt's grandfather.  This aunt married my mother's younger brother.  Thad is an interesting fellow and while I know a fair amount about him, there is still a lot for me to learn.

Also on the Union side is the 19th Ohio.  Co. B.  My ancestor here is Issac Davis whose relationship to me I don't know.  I never mastered that part of genealogy.  He survived Shiloh but died in a hospital in Nashville, Tenn (March '63) two months after Stone's River.  Off the subject, but three members of my Roundtable, myself and two more, each have an ancestor in the 19th Ohio

On the Confederate side I have three , and possibly four(I have not found records on the fourth one) ancestors in the 15th Mississippi.  All were in Co. B.  They are:  Jackson G. Davis, William P. Davis, Charles J. Davis.

Also one in the 21st Alabama.  Co. E.  His name is Henry Graves Davis.  

The fate of my Confederate ancestors is unknown to me at this time.

Thanks for your time.  Jim  

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Family History Research guideline


To compile your full Family History:

  • 1. Begin with what you already know. Write a brief history of yourself on a single sheet of 3-ring binder paper, including Date and Place of birth; Date and Place of marriage; Dates and schools attended; Dates and places worked. Children, parents, spouse, all with Dates and Places of birth. For deceased relatives, record Place and Date of death; and record the Name and Location of the Cemetery [In earlier times, you may find the same cemetery used for many members of the same family, and their uncles, aunts and cousins.]

  • 2. Attempt to recreate the above dosier on EVERY Family member, using only one sheet of paper for each person. Record Aunts and Uncles (as well as brothers and sisters of Grand parents and G-Grand parents, because it is often those brothers that lead to the parents.) Keep these pages in 3-ring binder, so they can be moved around (to account for re-marriages and step-brothers and sisters; and noteworthy uncles and cousins.)

  • 3. Ask your older relatives what they know (and what they think they know. Who holds the Family Bible and Family Photographs? Often Family Legends have a basis in fact: how the family got to America; where they lived in the Old Country.) Write down details from these interviews in a notebook. Record all of your leads and suspected family connections and useful sources of information in this notebook, so you have one place to go to find all of your Prospects and Leads. Label and date all information recorded (and where you found it) so it can be found again.

  • 4. Create a Chart. Once you have the first two or three generations determined, record yourself, your Parents, and your Grand parents on a chart. Write small, and in pencil, but record full names, Year of birth, and Year of death. Place a number adjacent to the name that corresponds to that person's dosier in your 3-ring binder (Families tend to reuse first names; numbering James (1812 – 1871) as B42 avoids confusing him with James (1783 – 1857) who is Father of James B42, and is labelled James Buchanan B51.

  • 5. Once you have gone back four or five generations, and feel that the Chart for those generations is complete, make copies; and give a copy of the Chart to each of your brothers and sisters (and put your name on it, so nieces and nephews know who to ask, years from now.)

Sources of Leads for extending the Family back in time:

  • 1. Find-a-grave online burial records. Full name of ancestor is often recorded (but check for misspellings); and may include birth date, death date, and names of spouse, parents, siblings and children. These find-a-grave entries are not necessarily complete; but they provide Leads that can be verified and extended to find other family members.

  • 2. Family Search. Use this Free site (provided by Mormon Church, and takes about 10 minutes to register online) to find every possible relative in your family, beginning with a parent or Grand parent. Double-check everything because other families (not yours) used the same names, and lived in close proximity to Your family. Once satisfied that a Relative has been found, create a dosier on that person; and record all possible Leads to other family members.

  • 3. Census records. The U.S. Government (and each State Government) conduct Census every 10 years. These are freely accessible on familysearch.org and help confirm the prospective ancestor belongs to your family. [All years available prior to 1921.]

  • 4. Family Bible. Many families that originated in Europe, UK, Scotland, Ireland maintained a Family Bible, and wrote Birth, Death, and Marriage records inside.

  • 5. Church records. Especially in Europe, the records of Birth, Death and Marriage were kept by the local Church. Some of these Church records are online; others are only available by travel to Europe and view them in person. Some USA and Canada Church records are available online; and find-a-grave holds most of the Church Cemetery records. [Many Americans arrived in USA through Canada.]

  • 6. New settlers arriving in America came by ship; and those ships mostly unloaded their passengers at Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore (and New York); or at Montreal, Lower Canada; or in the Canadian Maritime Provinces; or at Charleston, Savannah and New Orleans.

  • 7. As new settlers established themselves, they tended to migrate further and further west. Those that arrived in Philadelphia (and other Northern Ports of Entry) tended to stay “in the North.” Those who arrived at Baltimore and Charleston and other Southern ports tended to stay “in the South.” As settlers took up new residence, they associated themselves with the County of the State in which they resided. Therefore, County Historical Associations (most are online) are excellent sources for Family historical information: Land ownership; military service; business records; Court records. Some County Historical Societies are better than others; but every place a relative lived is worth a look.

  • 8. Military records. Americans (and British soldiers in Regiments of Foot who became Americans) fought in the French-and Indian War; and many were given Land Grants. These records are held by individual States; and most are available online. The Revolution of 1776 began by being fought by State Militias; and those records are held by State Archives (and most are available online.) Beginning 1778 the Continental Army became established; and those records are held by NARA. War of 1812 and Mexican War were fought by State military units; and those records are held by State Archives (and most are available online.)

  • 9. Civil War: the South. Much (or most) of the Military records held in Richmond were burned in April 1865. And many County Court Houses across the South were destroyed during the war, and their records lost. However, Militia Units became State Guard Units. And States organized their own Regiments of Infantry, Cavalry and Artillery (so try State Archives online first, for example “Alabama Adjutant General Civil War” or “Georgia Adjutant General Civil War.”) When you determine what County your relative was recruited from, check that County Historical Society for their holdings. Some inspired people have constructed Regimental Histories and Rosters: check for those (and be aware of amalgamations and re-numbering that was prevalent with CSA regiments, so check all possible numbered regiments.) Once you have exhausted Family Search, and are ready to pay for a subscription to ancestry.com there is good news: ALL available Southern soldier records are accessible through ancestry.com with your subscription to Fold3. [Just double-check names, dates and regiment assignments to make sure the person being investigated belongs to your Family.]

  • 10. Civil War: the North. Once you are certain that a particular soldier belongs to your Family, and you desire more information, acquire his Microfiche Film and Roll numbers from NPS Soldier and Sailor database online (and check the spelling of his name, as THAT spelling is used by NARA) and then contact National Archives using NATF Form 86 and include the Microfiche numbers in “Additional Information” box (order available online for about $35) to get that soldier's complete file sent to you: file can be as little as six or seven pages, or more than 100 pages, depending on length and breadth of service. Northern regiments were recruited by COUNTY, so check County Historical Society for additional records. “Illinois Adjutant General Civil War” and “Ohio Adjutant General Civil War” etc, etc provide access to records held by State Archives. And in the North, militias became Home Guards.

Hope this gets you started. Feel free to ask questions (I am more than happy to provide guidance, but I do not have time to do your research.)

All the best


N.B. I keep all of my Family History collection in a big plastic box to avoid water damage... actually TWO big plastic boxes.

Additional records of interest to Jim Davis:

https://archive.org/details/alabamaherhisto00brewgoog/page/n630/mode/2up  21st Alabama in "Brewer's Alabama"

https://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-battle-units-detail.htm?battleUnitCode=CAL0021RI  21st Alabama history at NPS

https://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-soldiers-detail.htm?soldierId=4456D594-DC7A-DF11-BF36-B8AC6F5D926A This H.G. Davis might be your relative. Confirm via Marengo, Baldwin or Mobile County records and/ or find-a-grave and/ or details at familysearch.org

https://archive.org/details/ohioatshilohrepo00lcohio/page/n143/mode/2up  Ohio -- Shiloh Battlefield Commission.

https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000454243  Ohio Regiment rosters [19th OVI is in Volume 2]

https://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-battle-units-detail.htm?battleUnitCode=UOH0019RI01  19th OVI at NPS

https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/15th_Regiment,_Mississippi_Infantry  Use this entry point to Register for Free Family Search account.

https://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-soldiers.htm#sort=score+desc&q=Thaddeus+Capron+55th+Illinois+infantry  Click on Thaddeus Capron at NPS Soldier and Sailor Database to get Microfiche numbers for use on NARA NATF Form 86


Additional Hint: Do NOT pay for any information or service until you are CERTAIN that they hold information you want.




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As concerns the United States Gen Web project (https://www.usgenweb.org/  ) here are a few different State resources:

http://iagenweb.org/   Iowa Civil War military records found under "Special Projects." And each County has its own GenWeb site:

          [such as http://iagenweb.org/allamakee/  for Allamakee County records.]

https://www.algenweb.org/  Alabama

http://www.msgw.org/index2.html  Mississippi

https://www.ohgenweb.org/counties.php   Ohio

Using the GenWeb project is the quickest way to reach County Historical records in each State.




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