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7thcav

Terrill's Battery

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Please take a look at the following article, and let me know your thoughts on it. Is it accurate? Can anyone shed more light on this incident?

Thanks

Rick

National Tribune, Washington, D. C., March 7, 1907

BATTLE OF SHILOH.

The Last Shots Were Fired by Terrill’s

Battery.

Editor National Tribune: The claims of Buell and Grant as to who fired the last shot at Shiloh remind me of an incident which occurred on that field. After Gibson’s Brigade of McCook’s Division had been ordered to cease firing, there was neither musketry nor artillery to be heard along the line. In front of the 39th Ind. the woods were open, and a log house of considerable size stood on the crest of the hill beyond which the ground sloped down to a small creek. On a line with this building the rebels made their last stand, and while occupying it were in plain view of the Union troops. After the order to cease firing we came to an order arms, and had been standing thus perhaps ten minutes when a rebel officer riding a dark bay horse at a brisk canter made his appearance to the left of the house and about opposite the foot of the 39th. He would have struck the head of the regiment had he kept on, but when opposite the colors and within 150 yards of them he raised his hat and swung it over his head as much as to say “defiance to you;” then turned his horse and rode over in a diagonal direction to the right of the house. The regiment stood watching him, like myself wondering what he meant; but when he raised his hat and turned his course, every man who had a load in his gun fired at him, and from the noise of the volley most of the boys evidently had loads. He neither fell from his saddle nor quickened his speed, but rode back to cover unscathed. Soon after this incident we were marched up into the line on which the rebels had made their last stand, where we were ordered to rest in ranks. A group of officers soon gathered into the open space at the head of the regiment. They had been standing there but a few minutes when the rebels ran a gun out into a slight elevation of ground, in plain view, and fired a solid shot at the group, which struck the ground at their right and went bounding away to the rear. Before a second shot could be fired one gun of Terrill’s Battery came up on the run and wheeled into position, but before it could be loaded a second shot struck near the battery horses, and bursting wounded two or three of them. Terrill, who was using his field glass when his first shot was fired, called to his gunner “Too high!” His second shot dismounted the rebel gun after it had fired three shots. These five shots were the last ones fired on the field, and they were fired about four o’clock on the afternoon of the 7th. I would like to know the name of the officer who exposed himself so recklessly. I was told by my officers that it was Gen. Hardee. – J. N. Jones, Co. A, 39th Ind., Copan, I. T.

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Rick,

I never heard this story before, have no info to give you except it just does not sound right.  I do know thare are several claims of firing the last shot of the Battle of Shiloh.  The stories written about 1907 or this time frame, seem to have been long on claims, short of verification or supporting documents.  If a story was based on memory, they always had problems. Its an interesting story but needs a second source at least.  The time of day, 4 pm on Monday, April 7th puts the story in the right time but there was still rearguard actions on the Corinth road to after 5 pm.

Ron

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Thanks Ron for your insight. I think the story is the ramblings of an old soldier, based loosely on the truth. I think it odd that Terrill showed up at that very instant with one gun ... I think the writer confused Terrill with someone else.

Rick

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This is an interesting story and contains quite a bit of detail. It sounds like an honest recounting, although I'm with Ron in that we'd need to have at least one other source to verify it. I'm guessing that if it actually happened, it was someone other than Terrill and a cannon from his battery. Terrill himself makes no mention of such an event in his official report, which you can read here -

http://dlxs2.library.cornell.edu/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=moawar;cc=moawar;idno=waro0010;node=waro0010%3A3;frm=frameset;view=image;seq=339;page=root;size=s

Scroll down the page just a bit to find his report. Clicking the "Next" button at the bottom of the screen will take you to the next page. The report covers three pages.

Terrill does state that a section of his battery was detached for a time, and served on the right of Nelson's division. But the rest of his battery, including Terrill himself, was over on the eastern side of the battlefield all day. The battery's final position marker is just south of the Davis Wheatfield. It doesn't make a lot of sense for Terrill to take a single cannon from there and head over toward the church, where the author's regiment, the 39th Indiana, was located around that time. So I suspect if he did witness such an incident, it involved a different battery.

An interesting side note about this though involves the 39th Indiana. The regiment has one position marker and a monument in the park, but you won't find either one listed under Indiana regiments on the NPS web site. The unit was later designated as the 8th Indiana Cavalry, and in order to find their information on the National Park Service site, you have to search under Indiana Cavalry units. Odd, but there it is. Below is the link to their position marker and monument...

http://www.shilohbattlefield.org/results.asp?varCWUNIT=UIN0008RC&Submit=Submit

And here is a map showing the location of their monument in the park...

39th Indiana

If you zoom in about three times, until the names of the roads appear, the final position marker for Terrill's Battery is located just to the right of the intersection of the Hamburg-Purdy & Eastern Corinth roads. So you can get an idea of the relative postions involved, and how it doesn't seem to make a lot of sense that Captain Terrill would have done what the author claimed. It'd say it's possible, but not very likely, especially since Terrill made no mention of anything like it in his report.

Perry

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Terrill's Battery was with Nelson's troops on the eastern side of the battle field.  Nelson got no further than just below the Purdy road and then, Nelson's Division ran out of steam.  This was about 2 pm.  Terrill's dsection detached to Nelson was in the time fram of 11 am to 1 pm.  ??

Ron 

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I'd have to re-read his report, but I think he just says it was early in the day, or early in the action. He also said it later re-joined the rest of the battery, but I don't know the time frame. Unfortunately there is no marker in the park for this section showing where it was located.

Perry

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Terrill's Battery was in action on the River road, supporting the attack bu Nelson's Division down the road on the Sarah Bell cabins.  This action started about 11;30 and lasted to 1;00 pm with the retreat of the rebels to the vicinity of the camps of Stuart's union brigade along the Purdy road.  The fighting calmed down and Terrill and his battery was ordered to go the northern Duncan field to support the advance west along the Main Corinth road in the northern Duncan field and the woods above.  This fighting involved Rousseau's Briade of McCook's division. Rousseau's advance continued to the vicinity of the Woolf Field.  This action was in the time frame of 1;30 pm to 3;30 with the confederate army retreating off the Shiloh Church Plateau.  The fighting continued but was now in the nature of rear guard actions against advancing federal forces.  These rear guard actions continued to 5;00 or 5;30 pm.  Do not know if Terrill was involved in these rearguard actions.

Ron

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Thanks to everyone for the great comments. I appreciate everyone sharing their knowledge of Shiloh. I will post some more accounts that I have found from various newspapers (wartime).

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As promised, here are some wartime newspaper accounts about Terrill's Battery.

Berks & Schuylkill Journal, Reading, Pa., April 19, 1862 --

Capt. Terrill’s Battery.

Gradually as Nelson pushed forward his lines under heavy musketry the enemy fell back, till about half-past ten, when, under cover of the heavy timber, and a furious cannonading, they made a general rally. Our forces; flushed with their easy victory, were scarcely prepared for the sudden onset where retreat had been all they had been seeing before. Suddenly, the rebel masses were hurled against our lines with tremendous force. Our men halted, wavered, and fell back. At this critical juncture Captain Terril’s [sic] regular battery came dashing up. Scarcely taking time to unlimber he was loading and sighting his pieces before the caissons had turned, and in an instant was tossing in shell from 24-pound howitzers to the compact and advancing rebel ranks.

Here was the turning point of the battle on the left. The rebels were only checked, not halted. On they came. Horse after horse from the batteries was picked off. Every private t one of the howitzers fell, and the gun was worked by Capt. Terril [sic] himself and a corporal. The rebels seemed advancing. A regiment dashed up from our line, and saved the disabled piece. Then for two hours artillery and musketry at close range. At last they began to waver. Our men pressed on pouring in deadly volleys. Just then Buell, who assumed the general direction of his troops in the field came up. At a glance he saw the chance. “Forward at double quick by brigades.” Our men leaped forward as if they had been tied, and were only too much rejoiced to be able to move. For a quarter of a mile the rebels fell back. Faster and faster they ran, less resistance was made to the advance. At last the front camps on the left were reached, and by half-past two that point was cleared. The rebels had been steadily swept back over the ground they had won, with heavy loss as they fell into confusion; we had retaken all our guns lost here the day before, and one or two from the rebels were left as trophies to tell in after days how bravely that great victory over treason in Tennessee was won.

I have seen reference that a Confederate Officer offered a reward for the capture of Terrill's Battery at Shiloh. This next article may or may not refer to Terrill's Battery, but it is an interesting one.

Patriot, May 8, 1862

An Unpublished Incident of the Great

Battle.

Among the wounded brought from Pittsburg, and placed in the Fourth street hospital, Cincinnati, was an officer in the Second Iowa regiment. He relates, with more vividness than our pen can command, an encounter in the great battle which has not yet been published.

The officer was wounded on Sunday. On endeavoring to make his way to the river, he fell exhausted in a ravine, which at the time was inside of our lines. He made himself as comfortable as possible, and lay there patiently awaiting the arrival of friends to carry him away.

Monday morning he was surprised to find that he lay between the contending armies. On one side of the ravine, a Union battery was planted, and on the other a Rebel one, each supported by dense masses of Infantry. Both batteries opened fire, and for hours, the shot and shell flew thick and heavy over him. He lay so near the Rebel battery, that he could not only see their movements, but hear their commands. The shots of the Union battery were very effective, and a General officer, whom he supposed to be Beauregard, declared it must be taken at all hazards.

He selected for that purpose a brigade composed of Louisiana and Texas regiments. These troops were all uniformed, some of them very handsomely, and the regiments have very gorgeous banners. He judged them at once to be crack regiments. He heard Beauregard address them, telling them that a great deal depended on their taking that battery, that they could and must do it, and that if they returned without securing it, they should be disgraced. The orders were received by the entire brigade, and they moved off with the steady tramp of veterans. There was a moment’s lull in the fire of the national battery, but it was only to substitute canister for shell. The next moment the guns belched forth an incessant fire, and the canister raked the advancing columns.

Whole platoons were shot down, but still the brigade advanced. The murderous fire increased. Dead and wounded lay piled up in great heaps. The column staggered. An effort was made to close up the gaps that the canister constantly made in the column. The shattered columns had reached a point near where our hero lay, when, unable to stand the deadly fire, the remnant broke and ran, leaving the whole side of the ravine covered with their dead and wounded.

The national commander saw the advantage of the moment, and immediately ordered an advance of his infantry. In a moment the column leaped from behind the battery, and dashed down the bank of the river with a yell. Then up hill they moved on the double quick, and with bayonets fixed, jumped over the killed and the dying. Before a minute has elapsed, they were upon the Rebel battery, which they captured entire. Our lines was immediately advanced to the opposite side of the ravine, and soon after our informant was carried from the sanguinary field.

“It was a grandly terrible spectacle,” said he, in conclusion, “and I do not regret my wound, as it enabled me to be a silent witness of the encounter.” – Cincinnati Times.

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