Diary Entry from Allen, Charles Richard
|Soldier: Allen, Charles Richard
|Unit/Service Branch: 2nd Cavalry
|Home State: Illinois
|Date Written: Monday, April 7th, 1862
|Correspondence Type: Diary Entry
|Subjects: Battlefield, Combat Description, Commanders, Naval, Suffering, Warfare, Western Theater
Feb 27th 1862
This is my birthday. We were mustered in for pay. Very rainy and unpleasant most of the time. The rains are so cold and chilly go through a person feel the cold more than we do in the North.
Mar 1st to the 4th 1862
Weather beginning to moderate. Some of the army beginning to move. We are busy scouting all the time.
Mar 12th 1862
We move out about 10 miles to the Tennessee River. Here we are waiting for transports to take us somewheres.
Mar 20th 1862
We were moved across the river. The troops here are going up the river as fast as boats can come for them. The river has been rising very fast. Before we moved over it had us surrounded at one time.
22nd Mar 1862
We are going up the river on a steamboat.
24th Mar 1862 Landed at Pittsburg Landing. Here I met many of my old schoolmates in the different reg’t here. There is a large force of our troops here. Its drill drill now. When off duty I write to my friends. I receive more letters now than any four others in the Com. We are not standing any picket guard.
3rd Apr 1862
Troops were reviewed by Gen’l Grant and staff.
5th Apr 1862 – Saturday
Our lines were attacked by a strong force of Rebs but they were driven back.
6th Apr 1862 – Sunday
When we first heard the firing Sunday morning we said the pickets are firing off their guns as they are relieved but pretty soon we hear the long roll of the drums. Some of the boys laugh and joke and say some of those Reg’t are scared sure enough. Hello, look yonder, what’s the excitement? See those men come running. Some in their shirtsleeves. There’s one man without his hat barefooted. Well, they must be scared we laugh. We are old vets. We think they are foolish but they come up out of breath. You had better get out of here boys, the wood are full of Rebel troops. Now we are not laughing but begin to get our saddles ready to put on our horses. The long roll get closer. The Inf. Begin to fall into line. We get our haversack put in hard bread. Soon the bugle blows “Boots and Saddle”. We are in line. Now the firing is near and is one continual roar. Every man looks anxious. Men are now running through the camp without any arms. Some of them have but very little clothing on. Some are wounded. We notice that it takes 4 or 5 men to take one wounded man to the rear. Shame on them but they were surprised in camp while asleep. Mostly new men. [Brig. Gen. Benjamin Mayberry] Prentiss’s Division cut off and surrounded. Some Reg’t were completely demoralized. We are still in line waiting when Gen’l Grants headquarter boat came up the river. Pretty soon the silent man with his staff rode up on the hill above us. A staff officer came galloping down, spoke a few words to the Capt. Count off. 15 or 20 of us move out. We soon are following the Gen’l. The Gen’l looks gloomy and sad. Does he have a premonition that we will lose the day? We soon reach the battle line. The staff begin to go from one Brigade to another. The bullets begin to hum. I watch the face of the Gen’l. He seems not to care for the bullets and shells, his cigar between his teeth is not lighted. Reg’t after Reg’t come out and wheel into line. Some of them are as cool as though they were going ton dress parade or drill. Here comes the 2nd Iowa Inf. They have seen and smelt smoke at Donalson. They leave their camp in shirtsleeves. Fine healthy looking men. How many of them will be alive at night? We are formed across a ravine to stop the demoralized and broken fragment of Reg’t that are falling back. Some of them are nearly crazed and almost cry as we order them to halt and fall into line. Some of them cursed us but seeing the Gen’l waiting they halt and half ashamed fall in. We soon have a reg’t or more gathered. The Gen’l moved along their front. He does not talk to them but look at them. That is enough. They cheer. He gives the command to some Col. and they move off to take a position once more. They were powder burnt, some were bloody but full of fight. Two Infantry officers attempt to go by. I halt them. They don’t seem to care for me. I drawed my Navy on them. “Good God” one of them says. “You would not shoot us for trying to escape. Our command has all been wiped out. We either had to be killed or run or taken prisoner”. “Take your place in that line. You’re not better than any of those. I will shoot if you attempted to run from your duty. This is my orders. There the Gen’l. Ask him if you will be excused.” Not much they know better. Bring them into line the boys shout. They step into line poor fellows. This was probably the first battle line they ever was in. Their faces were pale. I often wondered if they went through that battle alive. About 2 o’clock 15 or 20 of us were picked out from the Com and we moved off from the field. On the run down the river we went with one of Gen’l Grants staff officers. We stopped after we had gone 2 or 3 miles to communicate with a gun boat. Then I learned that we were going after Lew Wallace who had been encamped at Crumps Landing. He had about 5000 in his brigade. He had been ordered to march for the battleground early in the morning but had not showed up yet and Gen’l Grant was getting very uneasy. We had a terrible ride. Two or three horses gave out. One mans carbine went off and shot him through the foot. We went to his camp of the morning and found he had been gone several hours. Took his trail. Met him coming back. We took him across to the river route we had coming down on. How his men did march. They came into line on the battle ground on the double quick just at dark. It was a terrible hot day and most of his brigade were new men. They had all their clothing packed on their backs. Soon they began to drop their knapsacks off leaving them by the side of the road. Two of his Reg’t had seen service at Belmont, Fort Henry and Donalson. They were in their shirt sleeves when we arrived near the battle ground. These two old Reg’t wanted to charge the Confederates but it was then nearly dark and they had been on the double quick for several miles. Their officers lead them into line on the extreme right of our army which was on an old road [rail?] road. They lay down on that road and that brigade lay there in battle line all that night. While we had been gone after Wallace, the Confederates had driven our army towards the river so that they were within about three quarters of a mile of our camp of our Com. The Rebel army was now occupying the main part of the camp of the Federal army. It looked pretty blue that night when we ate our suppers but we all felt satisfied that the Confederate forces had played their last card and that in the morning it would be our time to drive. [Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell’s] Buealls [sic] army was now being brought over the river and Grants army was resting on their really first battle line. The Rebs had rec’d their knock out blow late in the afternoon although they were rejoicing and drinking up all the bad whiskey our sutlers had in their tents. They had failed to make their boast good of driving Grant into the Tennessee River that night. I guess very few of us slept except where they were completely exhausted and had to sleep. We thought on the morning we could hear the moan of the wounded and dying. Every few minutes the gun boats would send a shell into the Rebel camps on the right and left of our line to let them know that we were on the watch. Sometime in the night a transport boat came up the river with some new Reg’t on board and the boat had a calliope. It was playing some of those old songs such as Mary Blair and Girl I Left Behind Me, Mockingbird &c. I was so tired out and felt so bad about the terrible slaughter of the day that those sounds of sweet music brought up thoughts of home. I could not help doing what I presume thousands of other soldier done shedding hot scalding tears. That was one of the most trying nights for me I ever experienced in all my life up to that time. The day had seemed like a horrid nightmare to me. In the morning as soon as we could see to do anything in our camp we were getting our horses and ourselves something to eat. The light hardly began to dawn when bullets and shell began to hum showing us only too well that we had a brave and determined foe in our front. Just at the break of day Gen’l Lew Wallace division commenced to move forward with a cheer. Then the battle commenced and the enemy had to give ground which they did very stubbornly contesting every foot had to do. I think they fully realized that the day was ours but at what a sacrifice. That once quiet peaceful settlement around the Shiloh Church where for many many years the neighborhood had met to worship God. How did it look today? The ground was covered with dead bodies of men and horses. Here the blue and gray lay close together some of them still moaning their life away. Now the struggle commenced over the same ground. Charge and counter charge. No falling back today in that line of blue. Soon we are ordered to fall into line and away we go. Soon we come to where there is more Cavelry. In a little while there is 500 or more Cav. We sweep over the battle ground of yesterday. We think now we will have some work to do. Our horses jump over the dead bodies and snort at the smell of blood. About noon the Confederate lines are falling back rapidly. We wonder when we will have to charge the fleeing column. Here is Gen’l Grand and Sherman and other small Gen’ls that we don’t know still they hold us back. We have no good Cavalry leaders.
Apr 7th 1862 – Monday – Shiloh
While the South seems well supplied the Rebel Gen’ls Forrest and [then Capt. John] Morgan were dashing between the two lines. We beg our commanders to lead us to the front but it seems the Gen’ls were afraid that the Rebs had an ambush prepared for us. I believe had we been allowed to charge the already demoralized Rebel army would have been completely routed. We saw signs enough that the Confederates were in a bad plight and only needed pushing to have caused them to throw down their arms and many of them to surrender. While we were following their retreating lines, I opened a large wall tent and there lay a tall handsome dead Rebel, a Gen’l I was satisfied. I asked a wounded Confederate who it was. He said “Maj. Gen’l Sidney Johnston”. I had heard he was in command of the Rebel army on Sunday. I called to the Lieut. in command of our skirmish line. He came up and soon placed a guard over the tent. Well we now had the saddest part of all to do. Look up friends and bury the dead. I went as soon as we got back to our camp that night to a different Reg’t that my old schoolmates belonged to 52nd Ill, 46th Ill, 12th Ill &c. Captain Guy Ward of the 12th was killed. Saw R.F. Chandler of 52nd. He was all right but found that John Baird had lost a leg but was still alive. Rained all night which made it terrible for the wounded.