Corinth Miss Apr 13, 1862
I sent you a short letter as soon as I got back to camp from the battle + promised to write more fully when I got rested + had the time. I have gotten pretty well over the fatigue, but as for time I find it very dearth at least enough together to write a letter. We have a great many wounded + sick + I am called on continually to visit + transcribe not only for our own company but throughout the Regt. Our Surgeons are very unpopular in the Regt. Why it is so I cant say.
Well I will go back + try to bring things up in regular order. I believe I left off when Capt Jack had come back to the Regt from his furlough in the country. One of our wagons was going out to the Regt that day, So I turned over what sick we had to another Dr + accompanied him. We found the boys all excitement in expectation of a battle the next day. I found Maj Peter quite sick. He had come into camp the evening before from a two day scout very tired + hot + lay down on the wet ground + fell asleep + waken up next morning with a very bad cold + high fever. I knocked about the camp til after dinner + took a chill myself + when my fever rose I had one of my old head and back aches. I never in my life suffered more in the same length of time. About four o’clock the Regt. got marching orders + left + Peter + I could not go. You would have laughed to hear us grumble + fret + try to comfort one another by turns. After all our trouble there was a fight coming + we could not join it, + worst of all we got sick just in time to keep out of it. I took a big dose of medicine myself + gave Peter another + we stretched ourselves on our blankets, hoping we would be able to join the Regt. yet before the fight, + Sighed ourselves into a feverish Sleep like two whipped children. I did not sleep much. The Cavalry was passing the Camp all night + guns firing in different directions. at day light we got a cup of strong coffee + our medicine acted finally + by two o’clock we felt able to follow the Regt. About that time the Quarter Master came in and told us he would send a wagon to the Camp and we could ride. So in we got + overtook our Regt. toward night.
We found our line of battle late in the evening + lay on our arms that night in a couple of miles of the Enemie; Sunday morning apt to come clear calm + beautiful. For how many was it the last of their lives! Before the stars had all disappeared our Cavalry started to reconnoiter and fall in, with the Enemy pickets not more than a mile from us, the firing commenced. I wish I could describe to you my feelings as that picket firing gradually but rapidly increased into a general action. There was the enemy at last, as we knew by the singing of a mini ball over our heads every now + then, in what fever we knew not, but he was there + we were to fight him; how was the battle to end? how many of us would come out of it with life, how many wounded? I thought of a great many things in a short time. You + the children came up in my mind very often, should one of those balls kill me, who could I look to to feed + clothe you.
There was the enemy at last, as we knew by the singing of a mini ball over our heads every now + then, in what fever we knew not, but he was there + we were to fight him, how was the battle to end?
But I had not many minutes for reflection, our Regt was soon in motion. I was told to put my gun + cartrige box in the ammunition wagon + take a haversack filled with lint + bandages + follow the Regt + look after + dress the wounded.
As for describing the battle that is out of my power for I saw only a small part of it, the part our Regt took.1 Our division was held as a reserve to reinforce when necessary, + were ordered from place to place + just before we would get up the enemy would brake + it was two oclock before we got to see the enemy. About Eleven our Regt + the Ark Regt 2 fell into an ambush + if the Yankees had known how to shoot there would not have been a man left to tell the tales. I had no idea of ever seeing half of them come out alive.
Three or four Regts of the enemy took post in a thicket just beyond a field + our men marched through the field into the edge of the thicket in 70 or 80 yards of them before they fired. I never want to hear balls whistle like they did. from the time the fight commenced until nearly dark there was a constant roar of muskets + artillery About 2 o’clock the enemy made a desperate stand in the center. both wings had been driven back For an hour, there was the grandest sight I ever saw. Just imagine half a dozen of the bigest thunder storms you ever heard all going on at once right round you. Before night we had driven the enemy from all his positions, taken all of his batteries but one, + forced him to take shelter on his gun boats + across the river. Our men returned to the yankee camps + slept.
That night we had very heavy rain. The enemy fire signal guns all night for reinforcements. On Monday morning the enemy renewed the battle having been reinforced during the night + morning. We drove them back time after time until about 4 o’clock P.M. when our Genl ordered us to fall back, which we did in perfect order + the enemy dared not follow us.
You can imagine the condition our men were in when I tell you they slept very little Saturday night, fought all day Sunday without a mouthful to eat, slept very little Sunday night took a very light brake- fast Monday morning + fought fresh troops till 4 P.M. when the order came to fall back our real troubles commenced which I will tell you some other time.
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- To read a portion of the after battle report for the 19th Louisiana Infantry, see Alex Morgan’s Journey. ↩
- The 1st Arkansas Regiment. The 1st Arkansas became best known for the Battle of Shiloh, mainly due to the heavy casualties they sustained. Entering the battle with a force of just over 800, they took 364 casualties, 45 percent of their force. ↩