Thursday, August 28, 2014

Following a Confederate Soldier Through the Civil War: Battle #2 The Battle of Shiloh

William Porter Dickson enlisted in September of 1861 to fight as a Confederate soldier in the Civil War. In the supplement to his 1911 Civil War Questionnaire he listed eight battles in which his company, Company D of the 12th Tennessee Infantry Regiment, took place. I am going to learn more about his company's role in the Civil War by researching these eight battles.

from William Porter Dickson's 1911 Questionnaire

The second battle listed on William Porter Dickson's 1911 Questionnaire is the Battle of Shiloh. Approximately 100,000 soldiers met in Shiloh, Tennessee as they fought over the train depot at Corinth, Mississippi. This station had tracks leading north, south, east and west, so it was an important piece of land. The two-day battle, on April 6th & 7th 1862, would see almost 24,000 casualties. These casualties amounted to more men than had been lost in all wars since the United States became a nation! It was a startling battle to both the North and the South.

Map from Wikipedia

This map helps me to visualize where the brother of my great, great grandfather was during the early part of the Civil War. On November 7th, 1861, he had fought in Belmont which you see in Missouri along the Mississippi River. Then, you can follow the red arrow down to Corinth, the site of the railroad depot. I wonder if this is where they spent the winter. On April 6th and 7th, he fought in Shiloh, Tennessee, which is just a short (red arrow) up into Tennessee.

Battle of Shiloh by Thure de Thulstrup
public domain image from Wikipedia
I watched a wonderful documentary about the battle on the PBS site. It's called "Shiloh: The Devil's Own Day and it shows what the fighting was like at this bloody battle. William remained a soldier throughout the war and I can't even imagine the horrors he saw.

This hauntingly beautiful version of "Shiloh Hill" was played during the PBS movie listed above

I will finish with a contemporary newspaper account from a North Carolina newspaper. In it, the author writes that the projected number of Confederates killed will be about 1,017. According to this Thomas' Legion site, the actual number of deaths was 1,728. Also, over 8,000 were wounded and 959 missing or captured for a total of 10,699 casualties.

Confederate Loss at Shiloh, The Milton Chronicle, Milton, North Carolina, 16 May 1862, page 1, column 2;
digital image, ( accessed 28 Aug 2014)
Confederate Loss at Shiloh - The Memphis Argus of Thursday, April 24th, gives the following concerning the loses at Shiloh.

Our table, giving a list as far as possible of the casualties sustained by the Confederates at Shiloh, to-day takes in 38 regiments of infantry and one cavalry, in which the killed, wounded and missing amounts to 5,759. A sufficient number of regiments yet remain unreturned which will probably swell the list to 7,000. We do not think the full official reports will show a greater list of casualties. Already we have killed outright 927, and wounded 4,471. Of the latter perhaps one fiftieth have died since the publication of the lists, or will die which will increase the number of killed thus far to about 1,017. Of missing there is a list of 361, of whom, of course, the greater portion are either prisoners, wounded, or will return unhurt. Probably very few of them have fallen.

Considering the immense number of wounded, the proportion receiving mortal injuries, is much smaller than usual, and assuming the entire list of casualties to be 7,000, as above mentioned, we do not think that the number of soldiers killed or permanently disabled from Shiloh will much exceed 1,300. Our force upon engaging the enemy on Sunday could not have exceeded thirty thousand, and it fought fresh troops each day. When it is remembered that, after participating in a general engagement from daylight until dark on Sunday, and, without reinforcement or food, our forces held the field another day against a superior body of fresh troops, and that nearly one-forth of the entire number of Confederates engaged were either killed or wounded, a spectacle of heroism and valor is presented which would do credit to any age and people. Should we meet with nothing but reverses in future, the stern heroism displayed on the bloody field of Shiloh would be enough to establish Southern prowess forever.

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