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Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/315

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The Battle of Shiloh. 307

He died from loss of blood in the arms of his devoted brother-in- law, Colonel William Preston, of Kentucky. The scene of this un- fortunate occurrence was in a hollow, which obscured him from the army, and the loss of the commander was not known until that night. General Johnston was among the great generals of the day. When war was declared he was in California, and General Fitz-John Porter, his former adjutant, was sent by the Washington govern- ment to offer him the command of the Federal armies. There is no question that had he signified the wish he would have been Com- mander-in-Chief of the United States forces.

About the time of General Johnston's death, General Bragg ap- plied through his aide, Colonel Urquhart, for a diversion against some batteries, which were holding his line at bay, and Breckinridge, with the reserve, was thrown into action. His line was formed on the lower part of a sloping ledge, from which he gave the order to advance.

" Breckinridge," said an old soldier, a few days ago, speaking of this circumstance, "as he sat upon his horse, surrounded by his staff, looked more like an equestrian statue than a living man, except the fiery gleam in his eyes, when he received the order. ' '

In front was a deserted camp, to all appearances, and as the noble Kentuckians moved forward everything was silent. Through the camp Breckinridge passed, and still there was silence, but not long; fora few steps beyond a stream of flame burst at their breasts, mow- ing them down fearfully, and heaping the ground with dead and wounded.

There was a momentary check, and they gave back to the woods, while the bullets rattled through the trees and reached far behind, killing a number of artillerists a mile distant. The Kentuckians receded, but only for a few moments, then closing their depleted ranks, they advanced again, animated by the gallant conduct of their officers, and forced the Yankees back. It was a desperate fight, and the ground was strewn with dead Federals and Confed- erates.

By this time Withers' Division of Bragg' s Corps, with a portion of Hardee's Corps, which had become detached from his main force, massed on Breckinridge, whose position was the extreme right of the Confederate line. General Bragg then assumed command of the whole, and dashed at the Federal lines with a resistless weight, which forced them back beyond the camps of Wallace and Hurlbut. In this magnificent charge the Confederates captured two battalions and