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Perry Cuskey

9th Indiana: Soldier's Letter Home

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Below is a transcribed letter from Jno. H. Violett, a member of the 9th Indiana, courtesy of Becky Wiseman from her blog at http://kinexxions.blogspot.com/2010/11/shiloh-pittsburg-landing-letter-from.html

One of Becky's ancestors from the 9th, Jacob Berlin, was killed at Shiloh. Another letter provided by Becky, from a member of the 29th Indiana, has been posted elsewhere on the board, at this link:


My thanks once again to Becky for permission to re-post these letters here on the board.

As many of you know, the 9th Indiana was also the regiment that Ambrose Bierce was in. His rather graphic account of Shiloh is well known. Here's another perspective by a member of that same regiment, as reproduced in The Times of Goshen, Indiana, on May 1st, 1862. It too is somewhat graphic, although without the oddly biting commentary of Bierce. I've included a few pictures from the Shiloh NPS web site, as well as map images from Bing Maps....

The Times. Goshen, Elkhart County, Indiana

Thursday, May 1, 1862

Letter from the 9th. Pittsburg Landing, April 10, 1862.

Dear Bro: -- While you are rejoiced to learn of the great victory gained by us on the 6th and 7th inst. you probably feel an interest as regards my personal safety. The battle raged furiously all day on Sunday, while we were within hearing distance of the cannon and small-arms, enroute to join General Grant. We reached the river opposite the battle field just before dark; crossed over soon after on steamers to join in the conflict.

[initial position marker...]



Our men under Gen. Grant had given way; and at dark when the firing ceased, prospects looked gloomy on our side. We drew up in line of battle, about one half mile from the landing, and came to a parade rest; -- stood there and sat down occasionally during the night. Soon as day began to dawn we took up our march to confront our enemy. Shortly the woods commenced ringing with the sound of cannon and musketry. The enemy fell back to a strong position and the Ninth came to a halt near a line of rail fence. We poured into them volley after volley while their deadly missiles were being hurled at us. A large shell struck the ground about fifty yards in front of us, and came bounding along the ground. McConnell and myself, standing side by side, quickly stepped aside and let it pass. Sergeant Lewis Keller not observing it in time, was struck, breaking his leg.

[Monument in Wicker Field...]



Soon after McConnel was struck with a shell, carrying away his right arm. We stood meantime with our elbows together; his arm was dressed on the ground by the surgeon; I learn, at this time he is doing well. The same ball took off one side of private Folsom's head, scattering the blood and brains and pieces of flesh over myself and others near by. A piece of his skull struck Chris King and came near knocking him down.

The next discharge from the same cannon killed our Adjutant and his horse; also private Lathrop near me. Four of our company and 20 of our Reg. were killed. Twenty eight of our Company and 147 of our Reg. wounded. During the heat of the fight, I took a rebel corporal prisoner while charging bayonets upon them. The rascal stood behind a tree shooting -- I made at him -- he threw down his gun. I gave him command to "bout face -- double quick -- March" -- and thus took him into Camp. He was of the "Crescent city Reg.," New Orleans.

[Final position marker, along the Hamburg-Purdy Road...]



I will leave you to read the newpaper accounts in regard to the desperate battle. I think you will find those of the Ninth Ind. have acquited themselves well. We opened the battle on Monday morning and fired the first gun, -- stood longest in the field without relief. I learn there were two killed in the 29 Reg. It is shocking to pass over the battle field and witness so many mangled bodies. Bark is torn from trees and tops cut off.


Jno. H. Violett.


Becky's blog can be seen here:


And here's an interesting post about a photo of the 9th Indiana....


You'll find links to her other Shiloh posts in the note on the 29th Indiana, found here...


Thanks again Becky!


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