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Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/312

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304 Southern Historical Society Papers.

regiment of cavalry, camped along the Pittsburg road, while his headquarters were in the Shiloh Church.

Immediately in his front was a deep ravine and creek. Sherman's force numbered 9,200 bayonets and eighteen guns. To the left of Sherman was Prentiss 6,000 bayonets and twelve guns. To the rear of, and in supporting distance of Sherman, was McClernand's Division, the heroes of Fort Donelson 7, 300 bayonets and eighteen guns. Still further in the rear was Hurlbut's Division 7,500 bayo- nets and eighteen guns and WV H. L. Wallace 7,000 bayonets and eighteen guns; total infantry, 37,000, and eighty-four guns.

In a letter written to the Cincinnati Gazette by its war correspon- dent at the time, which we have before us, it is stated that Grant had twenty-six batteries and 40,000 infantry engaged. While the Confederates were moving the Yankee soldiers lay sleeping in their cozy tents. There was no line of pickets around their camp outside of the ordinary camp sentinels. They were confident, or seemed to be, that no harm threatened and no disaster could befall them. A few of the enemy were up cooking breakfast, while yet a few were eating around their well-stocked mess chests. Their guns and ac- coutrements were scattered around in disorder, while the Confede- rates moved swiftly through the woods in search of them. The Confederates were inspired by hopes of victory, and surged onward until the white tents could be seen through the mist and trees.

Hilderbrand's Brigade of Sherman's Division was the first to re- ceive the attack. His sentinels, taken by surprise, fired off their guns as they ran, closely pursued by the Confederates. There has never been a more complete surprise of an army in history. Officers and men were killed or wounded in their beds, while large numbers ran without taking time to pick up guns or anything else.

Hilderbrand's Brigade (Ohioans) were swept from the earth, al- most, and so badly scattered that they were not formed during the battle. Those escaping had no heart to return.

Next Prentiss' Division was assailed and driven in great confusion. In the mentime three brigades of Sherman's Division, on the left, aroused by the din and uproar, had time to form, but were attacked by Ruggle's Division of Bragg' s Corps. Sherman, as has been stated, occupied a formidable position, but he could not stand the impetuous movement of the Confederates, and fell back, leaving six guns on the field. Very soon McClernand came up, but both he and Sherman were swept from the field until they reached a road leading from Purdy to Hamburg. Along this road they formed,