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The Picket Skirmish of Friday, April 4th 1862 has been discussed “in passing” on the way to the more interesting and important Battle of Shiloh (which erupted Sunday morning, April 6th.) In many ways, this Picket Skirmish was a “dry run” for the Big Show on Sunday. We at SDG believe we are familiar with this skirmish, but are we?


Here are a series of questions:

  1. What was the weather on 4 April 1862?

  2. What Federal forces were involved that Friday (actually engaged?)

  3. What Confederate forces were involved (actually engaged or fired rounds?)

  4. At what time on Friday did the first exchange of gunfire occur (to nearest half hour)?

  5. Who was the most senior Federal leader involved?

  6. Who was the most senior Federal leader to survey the ground on Friday?

  7. Who was the most senior Confederate leader involved (either at scene of action, or directing that action from the rear)?

  8. At what time did the “engagement” end (to nearest half hour)?

  9. At what time did Major General Grant meet with BGen W.T. Sherman on Friday?

  10. What action did Major General Grant order as result of the Picket Skirmish?

  11. How many total casualties resulted (USA and CSA)?

  12. Which of the Confederate prisoners taken on April 4th were interviewed by Grant?

  13. What happened to these “ten” Confederate prisoners? [Grant records 8 prisoners.]

  14. How many Federal prisoners were taken on April 4th? What happened to them?


Can you answer them all?


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The Weather and other References


In a Letter dated 4 April 1862, Bugler Charles Dickey of Illinois reports the weather at Pittsburg Landing: “The weather is rather uncomfortable warm in the daytime, but the nights are delicious, just cool enough to sleep well.” BGen WHL Wallace in his Letter of 5 April to his wife reports the “skirmish in front of General Sherman's division,” and recalls, “last night brought storm and rain.” Confederate soldier L. I. Nixon, who began April 4th seven miles south of Shiloh Church recorded in his diary: “It commenced raining before day...” Lieutenant J.J. Geer reports “a torrent of rain” that fell on Friday afternoon, before sunset. General William Hardee, in his report following the April 4th Skirmish, recorded: “The rain fell in torrents, swelling streams to where they became impassible. Our planned overnight march [of 4/5 April] was cancelled.”

Based on the above, it appears Friday, April 4th began with a clearing shower. The sun came out, and the day warmed (probably to the low 80s) before cloud and showers returned during the afternoon, turning into heavy rain and storms late in the evening, with rain persisting until daybreak on Saturday. [The same band of stormy weather allowed USS Carondelet to run the gauntlet at Island No.10 on Friday evening.]


Here are a few other references that may be of use IRT Picket Skirmish of April 4th:

SDG “Shiloh account, pre-battle patrols” by Stan Hutson on 20 AUG 2017.

Geer, J.J. “A Yankee Loose in Dixie” (1862) pages 23 – 26 available online https://archive.org/stream/beyondlinesory00geer#page/25/mode/1up

SDG “Correspondence (Union) – April 4, 1862” posted by Manassas 1

SDG “Correspondence (Union) – April 5, 1862” posted by Manassas 1 [especially reports from General Sherman and General Grant regarding events of that Friday.]

OR 10 part 1 page 89 Report of U.S. Grant to General Halleck IRT Picket Skirmish

OR 10 part 1 pages 89 – 90 Report of W. T. Sherman

OR 10 part 1 pages 90 – 92 Report of Colonel Ralph Buckland

http://dan-masters-civil-war.blogspot.com/2019/01/general-buckland-explains-battle-of.html  Buckland comments on Picket Skirmish

OR 10 part 1 page 93 and page 567 Reports of General William Hardee.

William Posegate Letter of 11 APR 1862 at http://www.48ovvi.org/

Corporal William Srofe Letter of noon 4 April 1862 at http://www.48ovvi.org/ 

https://cmkinhuntercm.wordpress.com/category/1862/page/1/  SGT I. N. Carr 11th Iowa diary entry for 4 APR 1862

SDG “Another reporter's story” [Surgeon Frank Reilly knowledge of Picket Skirmish]

https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84031490/1862-04-14/ed-1/seq-1/ Daily Chicago Tribune of 14 APR 1862 page one report of Surgeon Frank Reilly [with details of Picket Skirmish of April 4th.]

https://archive.org/details/lifelettgeneral00wallrich/page/182 Life and Letters of WHL Wallace (especially pages 180 – 182.)

https://pickusottawail.com/murals/general-w-h-l-wallace/ Recent mural added at Ottawa.

https://archive.org/stream/recollectionswit00thomp#page/206/mode/2up SGT Seymour Thompson (3rd Iowa Infantry) recalls events of Friday, April 4th on pages 206 – 207.

http://content.lib.auburn.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/civil/id/23854/rec/20 L.I. Nixon of the 26th Alabama records in his diary entry for April 4th, “We saw a bare-headed Union officer escorted to the rear (before sunset) and after sunset, picket firing was heard away to the east.”


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im going to have to answer these bit by bit..very busy dont have much time at all to research..

1-warm in the morning which led to later showers...

2-Ohio..72nd--48th--70th  5th Oh cav




14-7 men and 1 officer Herbert of the 70th

will be back..go to go check my cows that are calving....


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Thanks for having a look at this topic, and I agree with your start time (2 – 2:30pm) and your list of Union forces that participated appears to be complete (48th OVI (one man, 1/LT Geer, serving as Staff officer to General Buckland) and 72nd OVI (of Sherman's Fifth Division) Buckland's 4th Brigade. 5th Ohio Cavalry, Co's B & H. And the Picket engaged belonged to the 70th OVI.) The events of April 4th had potential to develop into something more momentous, and yet the gunfire that erupted could NOT be heard at Crump's Landing; and many of the forces camped north and east of Sherman's Division were unaware that anything unusual had taken place that Friday afternoon.

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Other considerations...


2 APR Lew Wallace's force moves towards Purdy. This “expedition” is misinterpreted and its size overstated, likely leading to initiation of Rebel advance from Corinth.

3 APR IAW orders dated April 2nd WHL Wallace is placed in temporary command of Smith's Second Division (and likely informed personally by Major General US Grant.) BGen Wallace writes his wife that day and informs her, “[he will move from the First Division to the Second Division] and assume command tomorrow.”

3 APR Lew Wallace tells US Grant of concern IRT possible Rebel move on him from Purdy. [This concern is repeated April 4th.]

3 APR Likely based on report that “the Tennessee River is falling” received from WT Sherman and Colonel Webster, General Grant orders rebuild of “Wallace Bridge” over Snake Creek. Colonel McPherson and a work party from the Second Division spend all day Friday rebuilding the bridge, with only the approach ramps remaining to be attached. [Without approaches, it would be extremely difficult to move artillery onto, and off of the bridge.]

3 APR Probing scout sent towards Monterey before dawn Thursday, authorized by Sherman (involving 5th Ohio cavalry and in conjunction with 54th Ohio, an attempt to ambush CSA cavalry.) Ambush unsuccessful; but several rebels captured [Papers of USG vol.5 p.5].

3 APR Telegraph line from Savannah to Waynesboro completed, with first contact with General Bull Nelson that evening [Nelson is informed that his advance party has arrived.] As efforts to get telegraph to function are underway, US Grant is likely present at the shop on Main Street Savannah during much of Thursday and Friday observing events, and sending/receiving sample messages.



SDG “Not just pictures...” post of 5 July 2017 [“Report of Special Correspondent of Cincinnati Gazette” dated 1 April 1862, which was published April 4th.]

SDG “General Johnston, an 1885 Disagreement” post of 23 AUG 2019 [details move of Wallace towards Purdy on April 2nd and Confederate response.]

Papers of US Grant vol.5 page 3 [General Nelson's advance in sight.]

Papers of US Grant vol.5 pp.11 – 12 [April 4 report of Hammond to Rawlins.]


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  • 2 weeks later...

Another curious aspect...

Part of what makes “the skirmish” of 4 April 1862 difficult to comprehend, is that it appears to have commenced between 2 and 2:30 pm. And yet regiments were still falling into line late in the evening (with the last alerted regiments being dismissed about midnight.)

Did this afternoon skirmish really persist until nearly midnight? Or was something else going on?



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Item No.3: Rebel units involved


According to published reports, the Rebel unit that initiated contact with a picket post manned by soldiers of the 70th Ohio Infantry was Clanton's 1st Alabama Cavalry. In effect, the advance elements of Grant's Army were engaged by advance units of General Johnston's Army. But, how can a mounted group “sneak up” on an attentive force of well posted infantry pickets?

According to Surgeon Frank Riley, the Union pickets were playing Euchre (a card game imported to the United States by Belgium) and taken unawares... their attention was misdirected. Surgeon Riley also reports that “one of the card players was shot in the hand by the attacking Rebels.”

https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84031490/1862-04-14/ed-1/seq-1/ Daily Chicago Tribune of 14 APR 1862 page one.


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  • 4 months later...

Two key players in the Picket Skirmish

4 April 1862


There were two men intimately caught up in the Picket Skirmish of 4 April 1862 who, despite direct involvement somehow get little mention by historians. The first of these is James H. Clanton. Born in Georgia in 1827, Clanton migrated to the State bordering on the west with his family as a child, attended the University of Alabama, but suspended his studies in order to participate in the War with Mexico. The military veteran returned to Alabama in 1847, studied law, and passed the bar and by 1850 was living and practising in Montgomery. Gravitating towards politics, James Clanton served in the Alabama State Legislature in 1855 and was involved in the Presidential Election of 1860 (as supporter of John Bell and the Constitutional Union coalition.) Following the November election, and subsequent eruption of the Secession movement, James Clanton organized a company of horsemen and in early 1861 rode to the Florida coast (where a protracted standoff involving Federal occupation of Fort Pickens denied Southern control of Pensacola Harbor.) Captain Clanton's Company was joined over subsequent months by other horse enthusiasts; but in a location requiring infantrymen and artillerists, there was not much to occupy cavalry on the white sand beaches except to act as orderlies for senior officers; act as mounted pickets and conduct patrols; and perform courier duties (Major General Bragg's district initially stretched from Pensacola City west to the Navy Yard, Fort Barrancas and Fort McRee, a distance of twenty miles; and over time that territory extended one hundred miles west to include Mobile.) And over time, the growing number of independent cavalry companies in Bragg's Department of the Gulf led to their amalgamation, and creation of the First Alabama Cavalry, with James Clanton elected as Colonel.

The relatively relaxed assignment on the Gulf Coast came to an abrupt end with the arrival of news that Fort Donelson had fallen. Bragg's Army of Pensacola was ordered north; and Clanton's Alabama Cavalry found itself in Corinth Mississippi. And appears to have been assigned patrol of territory extending north from Corinth. When the decision was taken in early April to march Johnston's Army north, Clanton's Cavalry was already familiar with Pea Ridge and Monterey; and loosely assigned to Brigadier General James Chalmers, the cavalry outfit extended its reach further north, northeast, northwest... screening the advance... approaching to within pistol distance of the sprawling Union encampment supplied from Pittsburg Landing. Safe houses with welcoming locals were identified, and some of those safe houses acted as base of operations for daily patrols. Unbeknownst to Clanton's Cavalry, at least two of those safe houses were detected, and subsequently surveilled by Union scouts. And that unwitting detection led to an operation launched pre-dawn of April 3rd in an attempt by Federal cavalry to surprise Rebel cavalry at a safe house, and scare it away to the east... into an ambush mounted by companies belonging to the 54th Ohio. The attempted ambush failed because the horsemen rode away to the northwest, instead. But the Federal operation bagged one wounded horseman; and one captured. And Colonel Clanton made his report in person to BGen James Chalmers.


The other man deserving of discussion is Leroy Crockett of "New York."

Born in 1831 in Ohio, Crockett was raised on a farm; and as a young man went to work in grain buying and storage. With eruption of War due to Rebel attack on Fort Sumter, Leroy Crockett joined a military unit that promised “honor, prestige, and a good-looking uniform,” the 1st U.S. Chasseurs of New York. Mustered into the unit (also known as 65th New York Infantry) the men performed drill in their distinctive, French-inspired uniform until a high proficiency had been achieved... and then were called south for duty protecting the National Capital, where they arrived in August, not long after the embarrassment of Bull Run. A battalion of the Chasseurs saw action during the September 11, 1861 Battle of Lewinsville; and the regiment is recorded as involved with the October 1861 Reconnaissance to Lewinsville (but it is unknown, at this time, whether First Lieutenant Crockett was present at either, neither or both, of those engagements. Regardless, he knew military drill and basic infantry tactics (according to Hardee.)

The 72nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry was recruited during OCT/ November 1861 and had Ralph Buckland as Colonel and Herman Canfield as LtCol; and neither man knew military drill. When the man tentatively selected as Major decided to withdraw his name from consideration, Colonel Buckland seized the opportunity and poached Lieutenant Crockett from the New York unit, and installed him in the 72nd OVI as Major on 26 NOV 1861. Records at the time indicate Major Crockett “was a strict, stern disciplinarian; and he took military drill seriously. But, it was also acknowledged that the Major exhibited a fine balance of care and concern for the welfare of soldiers under his charge, making sure they had adequate provisions and shelter. His men may not have loved him; but they respected him” [extract of a recollection of then-Captain John Lemmon 72nd OVI.]




https://archive.org/details/alabamaherhisto00brewgoog/page/n684/mode/1up Brewer pp.677, 475

Party Politics in Alabama, 1850 – 1860 by Lewy Dorman (2014) pp.202 -204.

The Struggle for Pensacola, 1860 – 1862 by Mike Maxwell (2020) Appendix One.

OR 10 pp.86 – 87. Reports of Taylor and Chalmers.

https://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-soldiers-detail.htm?soldierId=B45C3A8D-DC7A-DF11-BF36-B8AC6F5D926A James Clanton's entry at NPS site.

Clanton's Alabama Cavalry https://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-battle-units-detail.htm?battleUnitCode=CAL0001RC

POW Prison Record for Madison Georgia, 1861 – 1865.

https://www.rbhayes.org/collection-items/local-history-collections/crockett-leroy-colonel/ bio and list of letters sent and received by Union army officer Leroy Crockett, 72nd OVI.

http://dan-masters-civil-war.blogspot.com/2018/06/honoring-lieutenant-colonel-leroy.html bio.

72nd OVI history.  https://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=1136


Cincinnati Daily Press 15 SEP 1861 page 1 col.4 “The Fight at Lewinsville” details action of 1st U.S. Chasseurs at Lewinsville near Washington, D.C. on 11 SEP 1861 https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84028745/1861-09-15/ed-1/seq-1/#date1=1861&sort=date&rows=20&words=Chasseurs&searchType=basic&sequence=0&index=12&state=Ohio&date2=1861&proxtext=Chasseur&y=0&x=0&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=1

Another Chasseur/ Battle of Lewinsville connection https://sites.google.com/site/wppricememoir/home/1861---1865-the-war-years/1861-battle-of-lewinsville from 1905 Dahlonega Nugget.

Major Crockett's record of muster with 72nd OVI on 26 NOV 61 https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uiug.30112047586026&view=1up&seq=95 Ohio Regimental Rosters vol.6

https://dmna.ny.gov/historic/reghist/civil/rosters/Infantry/65th_Infantry_CW_Roster.pdf Original muster in with 1st U.S. Chasseurs (65th NY Inf) on 15 July 1861 (page 491).

https://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-soldiers-detail.htm?soldierId=5942EB91-DC7A-DF11-BF36-B8AC6F5D926A Leroy Crockett's entry at NPS site.


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"Summarized to the point of being Unrecognizable"

In his otherwise excellent Battle of Shiloh and the Organizations Engaged (1902) Major D. W. Reed's summary of the Picket Skirmish (on page 13):

“During the Confederate advance from Monterey on the 3rd there had been skirmishing between the cavalry of the two armies, and on the 4th [of April] one of Buckland's picket posts was captured. Buckland sent out two companies in pursuit of the captors. These companies were attacked and surrounded by Confederate cavalry, but were rescued by Buckland coming to their relief with his whole regiment.”

The above condensed version of events leaves readers with a false sense of 1) what units were involved; 2) how long the emergency of April 4th persisted; and 3) where this Picket Skirmish took place. Subsequent posts will attempt to rectify this lack of clarity.



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Picket Post in Trouble


The Picket Post operated by Lt Herbert of the 70th OVI appears to have occupied a building near the lane leading to Gen. Meek's Place. This lane was reached by heading west from Pittsburg Campground across Owl Creek Bridge, follow the recently completed Shunpike to the intersection with the Purdy Road, and proceed west along the Purdy Road a further half mile to the junction with the lane to Gen. Meek's (follow the left fork.) It is believed the 70th OVI Picket Post was sited in this vicinity four miles west of Shiloh Church. [And for comparison, Captain Walden's Company D of 6th Iowa operated a Picket Post on the Shunpike in vicinity of the Western approach to Owl Creek Bridge, perhaps a mile or so east of Lieutenant Herbert's picket post.]

On Friday 4 April between 2 – 2:30 pm Colonel Buckland and an aide were riding west along the Shunpike to inspect drill being conducted by a battalion of the 72nd OVI supervised by Major Crockett. Hearing gunfire from the direction of Herbert's Picket Post, Colonel Buckland continued to the drill field, ordered Major Crockett to suspend training, and march Companies B and H back to camp, via a detour to investigate the occurrence at the picket post. Upon arrival, there was found blood and disorder, evidence of a fight, but no men. Buckland's aide, Lieutenant Geer, was sent back to camp to inform Colonel Cockerill (whose 70th Ohio had lost the picket post) and order him to bring sufficient men forward; and to report the loss of the picket post to General Sherman. Geer departed; and Buckland and Crockett continued their investigation and deliberation.

At about 3:30 J.J. Geer returned from his duty as courier, and made his report to Colonel Buckland; and Buckland retracted his previous order to “Return to camp,” and gave instructions to Major Crockett to “establish a skirmish line in the vicinity” and to continue investigating the fate of the missing men (and try to determine in what direction the Rebel cavalry, obviously responsible for the disaster, had carried away their captives.)

And with that, Colonel Buckland took his departure and rode back to camp, and determined how best to take control of the situation.



OR 10 pages 90 – 92: Buckland's report.

OR 10 pages 89 – 90: Sherman's report.

SDG topic “General Meek's Place” (for Atwell Thompson map of location).

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Geer and Crockett


Colonel Buckland departed; and Major Crockett assigned men from the 72nd Ohio to the picket post, and inspected the placement of his skirmish line.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Geer attempted to solve the mystery of, “Which way did they go?” And he rode towards a long, straight, south-tending road to see if he could catch a view of anything moving away in the distance... and immediately found himself in trouble.

“Halt, dar!” demanded a gruff voice.

[And the mystery was solved: besides sending a party to escort the captives away, the squadron of cavalry belonging to Clanton's 1st Alabama had remained in vicinity, apparently observing the reaction of the Federals to the depleted Picket Post.]


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Buckland returns to the Picket Post


Colonel Buckland in his report states, “I waited in camp for some time, expecting Major Crockett to return with his battalion; when he failed to appear, I returned to the picket post.” [This indicates either confused orders; or “something happened” to prolong Major Crockett's operation in vicinity of the picket post.] Buckland returned west with his own battalion of reinforcements: about 100 men of companies A, D, and I of 72nd OVI. A smattering of gunfire was heard “from not too far away” and Major Crockett was gone: Colonel Buckland assumed Co.B had gotten into trouble, and Major Crockett had gone off to their assistance with elements of Company H. [Buckland may have actually heard the brief firefight involving Lieutenant Geer as he attempted to avoid capture.]

“We [companies A, D, and I and Colonel Buckland] had proceeded some distance when we met men of Co.H who informed me “Co.H was separated from Co.B and Major Crockett was likely captured.” The firing continued, not rapid, but regular; we pushed on at the double-quick, despite the sudden onset of a severe storm [with rain that bucketted down, filling Buckland's boots. Lieutenant Geer makes mention of this same storm (at about 4 pm) occurring during the final moments of his unsuccessful firefight.]



An Effort to Rescue Company B


Colonel Buckland later stated, “Major Crockett had extended his scouts beyond the line of pickets, which was a mistake.” This movement of Major Crockett would have positioned him closer to General Meek's Place; and subsequent pursuit of the Rebels would likely have crossed Meek's property as it hurried south. [It is also evident from post-skirmish reports that General Sherman and Colonel Buckland, for some reason, considered “the front” of the Fifth Division as lying to the west. There were several large fields “lying about a mile in front” of Buckland's Brigade, and one of these was used as drill field.]

As Colonel Buckland set off to rescue Company B, Colonel Cockerill arrived at the Picket post with his small force (and Cockerill was ordered to “move forward to Buckland's aid if he heard heavy firing.”) “I set off with companies A,D, and I soon as the rainstorm concluded, in the direction of the firing we could hear.” Nearing the location, and climbing a proclivity, Buckland shook his men into line; and then he eased forward to get a view of what was taking place on the other side of the rise: “[On reaching the top], I discovered through thick underbrush that I was closer to the Rebels than I was to my own men. The line of Rebels gave a cheer, preparatory to launching a charge against Co.B; I waved [the men behind me] forward, indicating I desired them to hurry up. As they came in sight of the Rebel line, distant only a few rods, they opened a destructive fire, taking the enemy completely by surprise, and threw them into such confusion that they made only a short stand.”

“Company B was saved! But I soon realized that the Rebels were regrouping for a counter-attack... and at that moment Major Ricker with his 5th Ohio Cavalry came up... and immediately charged them, dispersed them, captured several prisoners. I and my infantrymen followed after, as rapidly as we could, about a mile [and roughly in a southerly direction.]” (This is known because the now-captive Lieutenant Geer was in vicinity, and witnessed what happened next...)

“Suddenly, the enemy commenced firing artillery at us. Some of Major Ricker's men charged right into the Rebel battery [including one trooper, described as a Dutchman, who suddenly found himself aboard a runaway horse. As the man shouted and waved his sabre, the horse powered headlong past the line of artillery, through the camp in back, and beyond the camp, into a woods, and out of sight. He was never seen again.] We discovered the enemy had a large force of infantry and artillery in line. We thereupon deemed it prudent to retire to our own lines with as little delay as possible... [The time of this considered withdrawal is estimated at between 4:30 and 5 pm.]”



https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82016187/1896-08-27/ed-1/seq-3/ National Tribune of August 27, 1896 pg.3 cols.1-2 “Saw an Army” by Ed Aultman (former 5th OVC).

Geer, J. J. “A Yankee Loose in Dixie” (1863).

Reports of Colonel Ralph Buckland.


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      Eyewitness Account of Friday afternoon action




[Above Eye-witness report is of Company B's role in the 4 APR 1862 picket skirmish, written as a Letter home by Private Chester Buckland 72nd OVI Co.B]. Chester was a nephew of Ralph Buckland. From Fremont Weekly Journal of 25 APR 1862 page 2 col.4.]


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Buckland and Ricker return to Camp


Colonel Buckland and Major Ricker acknowledged that they had supported each other well during the action: Ricker stated that “he knew the ground well from frequent patrols,” and estimated “the distance from first contact to end of the pursuit (in front of the Rebel artillery) was approximately 300 or 400 yards (compared to Buckland's estimate of “about a mile.”) The Union force had taken nine prisoners (all members of Clanton's Alabama Cavalry, who accompanied Buckland's withdrawal.) Major Ricker estimated twenty Rebels left for dead (nine of these were later found to be wounded men, and were retrieved that night and brought into Union lines, making the total number of prisoners taken eighteen.)

Approaching the Federal picket line, Colonel Buckland states, “General Sherman was there with several regiments in line of battle. I rode up to him with the Rebel prisoners close behind me, and he asked me what I had been doing. His manner indicated that he was not pleased. I replied that I had accidentally got into a fight, and here were the fruits of it, pointing to the prisoners. He answered that I might have drawn the whole Army into a fight before they were ready...” General Sherman directed Colonel Buckland (and Major Ricker) to write out full reports; and General Sherman's AAG (and General McClernand's AAG) sent away alerts to Savannah about that time to inform General Grant that, “a picket skirmish was taking place in front of Sherman.”

[Note: General Sherman in his report stated, “As soon as I heard the artillery, I advanced with two regiments of infantry and took position and remained until the scattered companies of infantry and cavalry returned. This was after night.”]

References: as recorded in previous posts, above.

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Where did the Picket Skirmish of Friday afternoon 4 April 1862 take place?

From my research, the site of the 70th Ohio Picket Post was in proximity to the intersection of the Pittsburg – Purdy Road with General Meek's Lane. If it is accepted that the southernmost three miles of Tennessee State Route 117 follows the course of the 1862 Shunpike; and the 1862 Pittsburg – Purdy Road approximates today's Tennessee State Route 142; and Gen. Meek's Lane is today's Bud Cleary Road... then the 70th Ohio Picket Post was located just east of the intersection of State Route 142 with the Bud Cleary Road. And the picket skirmish developed from that point westward (perhaps half a mile) and then progressed in a southerly direction (between one-half and two miles.)

My considered estimation, based on witness statements of 1862.




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Meanwhile, back in 1862 on another part of the field...


Lieutenant Geer emptied his revolver and wounded several Rebels before being knocked from his horse and disabled; and he was taken into custody. During the firing of the Rebel artillery, he was lying on the ground with one of his captors as the cannon fired over their heads. He witnessed “a Rebel colonel” shot from his horse (and Major Ricker afterwards took possession of the “horse of a Lieutenant Colonel and recovered the saddle and accoutrements before returning to camp.”) Later, after the Federal force withdrew, Lieutenant Geer was led from one senior officer to another for interrogation; and Private L.I. Nixon (26th Alabama Infantry) makes mention in his diary, “I saw a Yankee captain, bareheaded, in company with our scouts.” Private Nixon goes on to report, “We marched by company into the woods to rest for the night, but had not more than seated ourselves before we heard our pickets fire in an eastern direction. We were ordered into line and prepared for battle; and ordered to burst one cap on our muskets: they went off like the cracking of a thousand whips...” [The time of sunset was 6:23 on April 4th, which is likely the time Private Nixon and the 26th Alabama “fired their cap guns...”]



J.J. Geer “A Yankee Loose in Dixie” (1863)

The Diary of L. I. Nixon

OR 10 page 92: Major Ricker's report.


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The Emergency, which began at 2:30 continued...


General Sherman likely ordered the trilling of the Long Roll in his Division [confirmed in Regimental History of 48th OVI], and with a handful of regiments (Sherman stated they were of the 4th Brigade) marched forward across Owl Creek Bridge... and this force, with General Sherman at its head, was met by the returning Colonel Buckland and Major Ricker from the direction of the setting sun as they proceeded back to camp. Undoubtedly, other Union regiments, hearing the long roll beat in the west, were confused; most had heard no exchange of gunfire, or merely dismissed it as sentries clearing their guns. But to be on the safe side, regiments further and further east from Shiloh Church, resembling a convoluted line of dominoes, beat the Long Roll and formed soldiers into line. And eventually, (and possibly encouraged by return of heavy rain, with lightning and thunder (imitating cannon shots?) Smith's Second Division was caught up in the Emergency. The men formed into line, and stood waiting... And the acting Commander, BGen WHL Wallace was uncertain what to do next: Wait for orders? March his men forward? Which way was forward? So, at approximately 8 pm Wallace, in company with LtCol McPherson, left the men standing in ranks; and rode away to consult with General Sherman, in order to learn, “what was expected of them.”



Personal Memoirs of William Tecumseh Sherman pp.257 – 258.

Life and Letters of General WHL Wallace page 181.

https://www.48ovvi.org/  See 48th OVI history for April 1862.


Edited by Ozzy
48th OVI history confirms beating of Long Roll.
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General Grant's part in the Story


It appears at approximately 8 pm General Grant was informed: Sherman's AAG Hammond likely sent a courier with a hurried note to Pittsburg Landing; a convenient steamer was commandeered; and the steamer arrived at Savannah. The courier delivered the note to General Grant, and the message indicated such potential urgency that the General decided to voyage to Pittsburg Landing, ride to Shiloh Church, and discuss the details of the day's engagement with Brigadier General Sherman. General Grant arrived at the Landing after dark and commenced to ride away towards the west along the Pittsburg - Purdy Road. As Grant later wrote: “The night was one of impenetrable darkness, with rain pouring down in torrents.” Along the way to Shiloh Church, General Grant encountered BGen WHL Wallace in company with LtCol James McPherson returning from having visited General Sherman. Grant stopped with them, learned of their recent meeting, and enquired the details of Sherman's engagement. General Grant advised WHL Wallace to be prepared to reinforce MGen Lew Wallace, if necessary. And Grant directed McPherson to spend the following day, April 5th in vicinity of Hamburg plotting a campground for MGen Buell's Army of the Ohio. With necessary information exchanged, the two groups took their departure: WHL Wallace and McPherson turned to the north towards Wallace's command HQ tent (and the men of the Second Division were dismissed from formation); and General Grant, satisfied with the report relayed by BGen Wallace, and confident that no other surprises were likely that evening, turned his horse about and commenced return to the Landing... and enroute, the horse misstepped, took a tumble, and crunched on its side into the ground, with the Generals leg briefly pinned beneath the fallen animal. After man and beast regained their feet, the return to the Landing was continued. And General Grant subsequently returned to Savannah (possibly via a stop at Crump's Landing, according to Whitelaw Reid.) The meagre sounds of “battle” from the Picket Skirmish could not be heard at Savannah or Crumps: now that MGen Grant and all of Pittsburg Campground were aware of the outcome of the day's emergency, it makes sense that General Grant would pause at Crump's on his return to notify MGen Wallace (and prevent unwanted rumors from alarming the Third Division) OR10 p.89 report of 5 APR to Halleck: “notes came from the AAG's of Sherman and McClernand.”



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In Summary: a Timeline


Timeline [based on eruptions of gunfire/ thunder & lightning.] This identifies the points at which the Picket Skirmish intensified, perpetuating an isolated event into an all-day production.

  • 2 – 2:30 pm. Picket post of 70th OVI attacked [heard and investigated by Colonel Ralph Buckland.]

  • 4 pm. Just before commencement of a heavy downpour, a second eruption of gunfire is heard by Colonel Buckland as he returns to the 70th Ohio picket post after briefly visiting headquarters at Camp Shiloh. Unknown to Buckland, Major Crockett (investigating the earlier incident) has just been captured by elements of Clanton's Alabama Cavalry; and the same Rebel cavalry have captured 1/Lt Geer. Perhaps forty men belonging to 72nd OVI Company B are engaged in a gun battle perhaps a quarter mile southwest of the picket post against Clanton's Cavalry, which is in process of reinforcing.

  • 4:30 pm. Leading forward Company H of the 72nd OVI Colonel Buckland climbs a rise and witnesses a reinforced Rebel cavalry give a cheer preparatory to charging Company B. Buckland hurries his own Company H (A, D and I) forward and a volley of muskets unloads on the Rebel cavalry. And as Clanton's Cavalry attempts to regroup, Ricker's 5th Ohio Cavalry powers forward, forcing the Rebel cavalry to turn towards the south and race away from this new danger.

  • 4:30 – 5 pm. The 5th OVC and 72nd Ohio Companies A, B, D, I and H chase south after the Rebel cavalry. But after about half a mile the Rebels are discovered to have reached the safety of their line: estimated by Colonel Buckland as two regiments of infantry and a battery. Cannon fire three distinct shots (heard four miles away by General Sherman) and Buckland and Ricker decide it is prudent to disengage and return to Camp Shiloh.

  • 6 – 6:15 pm. Buckland and Ricker approach Owl Creek Bridge just before sunset and are confronted by two regiments of infantry belonging to the 4th Brigade, lead by Brigadier General Sherman. He demands an explanation, and written reports. [Upon hearing booming enemy artillery, Sherman likely directed his AAG Hammond to inform General Grant of the situation as it then stood: a courier is raced away on horseback; and this man subsequently commandeers a steamer at Pittsburg Landing.] Alerts from the Fifth Division and McClernand's First Division are hand-delivered to Savannah and General Grant.

  • 6:23 pm. Sunset on 4 April 1862. The 26th Alabama Infantry responds to “pickets firing to the east” by busting a cap on their own muskets. In the Federal encampment, regiments hear the trilling of the Long Roll in Sherman's Division... and then McClernand's Division... and the return of heavy rain with lightning and thunder likely encourages the calling of men further and further east into line. The Second Division is called into line after sunset; after 8 pm BGen WHL Wallace and LtCol McPherson ride away to the west to confer directly with General Sherman.

  • 9:30 – 10 pm. General Grant arrives at Pittsburg Landing aboard a steamer and rides away west to confer with General Sherman. The rain has eased, but the going is slow. On the way, he encounters WHL Wallace and James B. McPherson riding back from their visit to Sherman at Shiloh Church. General Wallace relays details of the Fifth Division Picket Skirmish (as reported by Sherman.) Satisfied that the situation is under control, and the emergency at an end, Grant tasks McPherson with surveying a camp for the Army of the Ohio in vicinity of Hamburg on the morrow. And the two parties take their departure: Wallace and McPherson ride north, and the Second Division is dismissed from ranks; and General Grant rides east (and suffers his horse fall on the rain-affected road.)

  • Midnight. The last regiments, North and South, are dismissed from ranks. The emergency that began as a Picket Skirmish at 2:30 in the afternoon is at an end.

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  • William Tecumseh Sherman convinced himself that he yet had the situation under control: there was “only a brigade” of Rebels that had been moved into his vicinity; there was only a single battery of “horse artillery” in company with that enemy brigade.

  • US Grant became concerned that, “Crump's Landing may be the intended target” and acted on that assumption during the subsequent two days. [See Papers of USG vol.5 pp.8 – 13].

  • There was a higher state of readiness (at least higher level of anxiety) across the Pittsburg Campground following the events of Friday. And General Sherman never explained the events of Friday; never informed the other Division commanders what had taken place, never directed remedial actions to be taken. This lack of guidance permitted rumors and false information to fill the void and determine both the story and subsequent actions.

  • Sherman removed Ricker's 5th OVC from the Fifth Division, before calling the replacement cavalry forward (and left himself blind for the subsequent two days.) [WHY? Was this punishment for “almost bringing on a general engagement?” Or was the 5th OVC “too successful” ...a loose cannon operation that Sherman could not control? Or was he merely attempting to “spread the experience” around to different units? Officially, Sherman stated, “The 5th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry was armed with inferior weapons.” General Orders No.33 (under signature of Rawlins) dated 2 APR 1862 directed “redistribution of cavalry and artillery as specified in those orders.” But Sherman had power to adjust these orders, and notify General Grant that he was doing it, and why, as Acting Camp Commandant; and Grant and Sherman, being on increasingly good terms... nothing would be thought unwise about holding on to experienced cavalry...]

  • Walden's 6th Iowa Co.D Picket Post, just to the west of Owl Creek Bridge was subsequently reinforced: one gun of Behr's Battery (operated by Lieutenant Mussman) and an additional company of infantry (6th Iowa Co.K) were sent west of Owl Creek Bridge as reinforcements.

  • Debate ensued: “How strong was the Rebel artillery in vicinity?” It was eventually surmised that, “it was flying artillery, often attached to Rebel cavalry” [Sherman's Memoirs p.258 ].

  • Sherman's knowledge of the Shunpike is obvious: he made use of it in crossing Owl Creek Bridge to the point where he deployed his two regiments of infantry on Friday afternoon. The entirety of this express route connecting Lew Wallace and Pittsburg Campground, and the fact that it was completed, had to be known to BGen Sherman. Did no one ( Lew Wallace, WHL Wallace) subsequently make it known to US Grant? Did not the Acting-Commandant of Pittsburg Campground make General Grant aware of the completion and potential for emergency use of the Shunpike?

  • The rebuild of Wallace Bridge over Snake Creek. Likely the receding flood waters in the Tennessee River and adjoining creeks was noticed “by someone.” Someone became aware that Snake Creek was falling; and restoration of the bridge would act to better connect Lew Wallace (strategic reserve) to Pittsburg Landing via the River Road. But the bridge was not completed (no ramps leading onto or off from the structure straddling the deepest channel, in the middle of a muddy morass.) And Lew Wallace did not believe it was yet possible to get his artillery to Pittsburg Campground via the River Road (indicates knowledge of “receding flood of Snake Creek” Autobiography pages 449, and 453 (Owl Creek Bridge strengthened) and page 457 (artillery on April 5th could still not cross via the Snake Creek Wallace Bridge.)

  • Total Rebel casualties during the Picket Skirmish: 18 reported. Most as POW by combined reports of Buckland and Ricker, some of whom were wounded. No confirmed KIA. Private Chester Buckland indicates two Rebels were mortally wounded; but these do not show up in official reports.

  • Total Union casualties: 20. Eight enlisted and three officers captured. Some of these likely wounded, as well; and 9 other enlisted wounded (and returned to Union lines.) No known Union KIA [Sherman report.]

  • All three officers caught up in the Picket Skirmish of 4 APR 1862 (captured by Rebels) eventually found their way to Madison Prison, Georgia and are recorded in POW manifest. [And Fremont Ohio Journal of 18 APR 1862 pg.2 col.3 (“The Capture of Major Crockett”) has the writer's interpretation of how that incident took place.]

  • After the Battle of Shiloh, General Grant's concerns with Militia General Meeks (and likely free use of his property as sanctuary for Rebels) intensified to the point, on 17 APR 1862 General Grant determined “Gen. Meeks is playing us false,” and directed Colonel Buckland: “Bring him in.” But when a party from Buckland's Brigade visited Meek's Place, the General was found to have already relocated himself to Mississippi [Papers of USG vol.5 pp.354 – 355.]


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