Category Archives: 1862

October 3-4, 1862

Isaac’s journal entries for this period are missing.   However, it is known that his regiment was involved in the second battle of Corinth fought October 3-4, 1862.  The result was a Union victory.

The regiment went with General Grant to Vicksburg, but was cut off from the main army, losing its supplies.  and was ordered to Memphis where they wintered.  Isaac recounts in his biography [1] that “during the winter of 1862-63, there was the heaviest fall of snow ever known in that section of the country.”

[1]Portrait & Biography Album of Washington County, Iowa, Acme Publishing Company, Chicago, 1887, pg. 364.

June 15, 1862

On June 15, 1862, during an assignment as a train guard, Isaac was injured, and stated the following in his deposition for pension, dated March 30, 1888.

I was riding as a guard in a Government Supply wagon from Corinth to Pittsburgh landing in Miss., when the driver of the wagon got to racing with the team.  I was sitting on a wooden cartridge box when the wagon run over a stump or some obstruction tossing me up and I came down on the edge of this box injuring me in the annus.  The injury at first gathered like a boil.  It seemed to heal up on the outside but would break and run on the endside first swelling up and bothering me to a great extent. 

Isaac stated that he was not treated in a hospital, but was treated at Corinth, Mississippi by Regt. Surgeon Dr. Watson and at Vicksburg, Mississippi by Dr. Miller, Surgeon and Assistant of the 11th Iowa Infantry.  He also said that prior to his service he was in good health and was a farmer, but that now he is partially disabled by reason of his injuries, as described.

April 25, 1862

Apr 25th we moved camp four miles towards Corinth  it rained all day  therefore we had to pitch our tents and lay in the cold wet ground

Note:   Isaac continued to write journal entries through September 17, 1862, which was the last entry until they resumed again on January 3, 1865.  Isaac may have lost the journal(s) containing entries for 1863 and 1864.  This is too bad since he and his fellow soldiers were involved in a number of significant battles occurring during this period.

Isaac’s Speech About the Battle of Shiloh – December 17, 1895 – Part 3

 now one of the most disputed points about this battle is whether or no it was a Surprise   Genl Grant in his Memoirs I believe says it was not a Surprise  I read a series of his war articles in the Century Magazine & was very much Surprised to see that he stated it was not a Surprise  he said he had known it & Expected it for 2 days but however that may be I assure you Comrades it was a Complete Surprise  a terrible surprise to the part of the army I was in  we had recd orders to prepare for genl inspection at 10 oclock & the first intimation we had of danger many were cleaning their muskets had taken them all apart  I had taken mine apart lock & all  some were blacking belts others cleaning brass etc.

[end of speech]

From Isaac’s speech, we get a sense of his concern for an accurate accounting of the Battle of Shiloh in which he participated.

Isaac was not alone in his thinking.  In an address read before the Military Historical Society of Massachusetts on February 9, 1885[1], Henry Stone[2] stated this:  “Perhaps it is proper to say that this paper was wholly written before the appearance of General Grant’s article in the February ‘Century’.  That article is, indeed, less remarkable for what is said than for what is omitted.  However valuable as a statement of General Grant’s opinions, it is comparatively valueless for all historical purposes.”

[1] Papers of the Military Historical Society of Massachusetts, Volume VII, The Military Historical Society of Massachusetts, Boston, 1908,

[2] During the Shiloh campaign, Henry Stone was a lieutenant in the 1st Wisconsin Volunteers and served as Acting Assistant Adjutant-General on the staff of General Buell.

Isaac’s Speech about the Battle of Shiloh – December 17, 1895 – Part 2

Night stopped the fighting & we lay down to rest after Eating a few bites of hard tack & raw meat   the gunboats Lexington & Tyler had Steamed up the river to near the landing & all thro the night threw a Shell every 15 minutes as near in to the rebel Camps as they could guess at it just to keep them Stirred up & lively ready for the next days fight   about 10 or 11 oclock it Commenced raining a slow drizzly regular Spring rain & this made us Even more uncomfortable but was a great blessing to the wounded as during the day the leaves in the woods had caught fire & was literally roasting the dead & wounded 

the troops of Buell & Lew Walace arrived & were assigned position during the night & by the first break of day on the morning of the 7th the battle opened & all day it was one Continual roar of musketry, without any Cesation  Except at times the canon nearby Seemed to drown the Sound of the Small arms   our army had Steadily pushed the rebels back from the first & by 3 or 4 pm they gave up the field & broke for Corinth leaving their dead wounded & many munitions of war on the field  our Cavalry immediately gave chase but found their rear too well protected to gain any advantage  we got orders about sun down [to return] to our old Camp where the rebs had held possession during the last night & we were not slow in obeying orders  we found things considerably messed up & some things we didn’t find at all  Several of us had bought a fiddle & kept it along to help to liven up our Camp life & from a light streak along the back [of the fiddle] we called it line back   well we found old line back laying a[t] the foot of a big tree & mashed as fine as a fiddle could be mashed   our reg had lost 190 in killed wounded & missing but those of us that got thro safe were glad we were alive

Part 3 continued in the next post.

Isaac’s Speech About the Battle of Shiloh – December 17, 1895 – Part 1


I thought it was relevant, at this point, to insert Isaac’s speech given at a GAR installation ceremony on December 17, 1895.  Isaac’s Civil War journal entries will continue after these postings.

Isaac was an avid reader of newspapers and other periodicals.  He read accounts of the war by the Generals and others who published their memoirs of their wartime experiences after the war ended.  As time passed and the war became a fading memory, printed recollections evidently did not portray the Battle of Shiloh as Isaac experienced it.  The memoirs of General Ulysses S. Grant were especially troubling to Isaac.  As a result, Isaac gave the following speech to clarify the matter.  Part 1 of the speech follows with Parts 2 & 3 to follow.

December 17, 1895

Battle of Shiloh

Commander & Comrades 

I believe there was one requirement if I gave a talk on the battle of Shiloh to day it should be brief  as owing to installing ceremonies & other business our time would be limited & I assure you I came prepared to comply with the request as far as briefness is concerned

I believe there is no other battle of the late war seen from so many different Standpoints & disputed in so many different ways as this Battle of Shiloh or Pittsburg landing, we called it by the latter name for several days after the battle, when it began to be mentioned in the papers as Shiloh, taking the name from a small log meeting house about 2 miles from the Tennessee river, this was a Methodist Church & gave its name to the Country or neighborhood close around the Church also to a Spring, close by, by the way as nice a spring as I ever saw  not overly large but the water was very clear & came up thru white sand in great plenty  I only saw the Spring once & then had the good fortune to Camp right by it when guarding commissary Stores from the landing  the Summer after the battle, it was a quiet pleasant place in the _____ deep woods & I suppose its founders would have thought it the last place in the world to be torn & devastated destroyed & I might say desecrated by the ruthless hand of war

on this beautiful Sabbath morning, the 6th of apr 1862 nature had done her best to make this an ideal day  the sun shone warm  the trees were all out in leaf  a day better Calculated for peace than war but the Confederate forces & Johnson at Corinth 25 miles away had been making preparations the last few days for an attack on our out posts  3 divisions Commanded by Genls Prentiss Sherman & Hurlburt accordingly History Says 3 divisions Commanded respectively by Hardee Bragg & Polk with Breckenridge bringing up a reserve   so secretly had this movement been arranged that the union forces hadn’t the Slightest intimation of danger when Hardees divison fell on Shermans left & then struck Prentiss’ division dashing into Camp on the heels of a murderous shower of Shell & bullets  wholly unprepared the union troops were only partly dressed & some were getting breakfast  the confusion was fearful & history States that thro the heroic exertions of Genl Sherman the army was saved from instantaneous root 

Meanwhile Polks division was pushing for Shermans rear to cut off his Communications & when this was prevented the whole Confederate force fell on Prentiss’ Division  a gallant struggle was made but overpowered by numbers  the line was broken up & Genl Prentiss & about 2000 of his troops were taken prisoner & sent to Corrinth & right here the very fiercest of this days battle was fought  our army was poorly organized as a whole & part of it not organized at all  any farther than by regiment & thus the Confederates met our forces in detail & whipped them in detail  they being wholly organized would meet a division brigade or regiment of our Army & they were forced to fall back or be captured & by noon the Confederates held the Camps of Sherman McClernand Prentiss & Stewart & occupied the whole line from which our forces had been driven  the forces of Hurlburt & W H L Walace suffered terribly during the afternoon  they prevented the rush of the Confederates thro the center but were themselves steadily forced back towards the river  when about 4 oclock Genl Wallace fell mortally wounded  was carried from the field on a litter & the rebel genl Albert Sidney Johnson was also mortally wounded  all day reenforcements under genls Lew Wallace & Buell [were] looked for but failed to arrive to take any [part] in this first days battle.

Part 2 continued in the next post.

April 8 – 10, 1862

April 8th  Early in morning we were alarmed by some advance Brigade firing of their guns   we thought the rebels were coming back to retrieve their lost honors  there was great stir and bustle in our part of the camp  we were camped on the road leading from Pitsburg landing to Corinth and on that morning teams with and without drivers artillery and Ambulances went by at full speed  our reg was ordered into line immediately 

our Co officers were in bed yet  many of our reg run for the woods  our Capt and Second Lieut jumped up and run with their unmentionables in their hands  they did not run far however until they Saw how ridiculous they looked  so they came back and dressed  our line of Battle was soon formed  we marched out about a quarter of a mile towards the firing…we stayed here about a half hour till we found out the occasion of our alarm  then we went back to camp  the rest of this day was spent in burying the dead 

I wandered over nearly all of this vast burying ground and witnessed Scenes of Suffering and Misery such as I hope never be called on to witness again  men wounded in every conceivable place with evry conceivable implement of war  it had rained hard most all night before and some of them lay almost covered in water  the ground on which the battle was fought was thickly strewn with dry leaves and before the rain on Sunday the 6th apr   the bursting of the Shells set the leaves on fire and many of the wounded were burned to death  I saw several dead rebels with all their clothes burned off and their boddies roasted in a shocking manner  we did not get all the dead buried and the wounded taken off the field till the evening of the 10th Apr  in fact I believe they were never all buried for two weeks  after we found several dead rebels where we supposed they had crawled away and hid themselves to die alone and in peace 

nothing of importance occurred now for some time  the Rebels had gone back to Corinth and began to fortify the town  genl Halleck came and took command of our army about this time and we commenced moving on Corinth fortifying as we went  we had a great deal of Sickness in our reg at this time  our Co only mustering from nine to fourteen men for dress parade and Battallion Drill  My health was very poor but I managed to keep on duty nearly all the time we had drill evry day  While in this camp Battallion in the forenoon and company drill in the afternoon

Aftermath of Shiloh

The bloodiest battle of the war to date, Shiloh cost the Union 1,754 killed, 8,408 wounded, and 2,885 captured/missing.  The Confederates lost 1,728 killed (including General Johnston), 8,012 wounded, 959 captured/missing.  In spite of a stunning victory, Grant was initially vilified for being taken by surprise, while Generals Buell and Sherman were hailed as saviors.  President Abraham Lincoln was pressured to remove General Grant, but he replied, “I can’t spare this man; he fights.” [1]

[1] American Civil War: Two Days That Changed the War []

Battle of Shiloh – April 6 & 7, 1862

On the morning of the 6th of april about 7 Oclock we heard firing in the direction of Corinth but as it had been nothing uncommon to hear firing in camp we thought it was only guards shooting the load out of their guns on being relieved till it began to get closer and steadier  a little after 8 Oclock the long roll was beat in our reg and we soon got into line 

I had just come from the Surgeons tent and had my daily ration of Quinine  I took a hearty dose of it  threw the rest away and got my gun and accoutrements and fell in with the Co 

Our Lieut Col Wm Hall of Davenport Iowa  genl Lew Wallace’s troops had come in from Purdy on our right thus reinforced our men went in to the fight with renewed vigor and the first onset drove the rebels back half a mile  our reg was not ordered out till about 10 AM and then we were kept in reserve  we were under fire some of the time but none of our reg hurt  we continued to gain ground on the enemy till about half past three PM when the rebs started in full retreat leaving us in undisputed possession of the battle field 

we did not pursue them for the roads were very muddy and our army not in a very good condition for a race but I believe we felt better than the rebs and I always shall think that had we closely pursued them we might have captured nearly all of them  at any rate it would not have hurt us much to try that evening after the rebs had retreated 

our reg moved back into our old camp  many of the tents had been badly shattered with both cannon musket balls & shells pieces of shells and grape and canisters lay thick on the ground  the trees were marked from the ground up as high as we could see  among the leaves with the bullets  the dead and wounded lay round in all directions  some dead lay all night in our streets not having time to bury them that evening  as soon as we got in the camp we started out on to the field of battle to look for those of our own Co that were missing  We found two laying dead and one badly wounded  we carried the wounded man to the hospital and buried the dead  our loss in this battle that is our reg in killed and wounded amounted to a little over 200 

 our Co went on to the fight Sunday morning with sixty four men all told  of these twenty one were killed or wounded   we had two killed on the field  two mortally wounded and seven severely wounded and ten slightly wounded  Vis [?] killed Corporal G I Barn and private John R Miley [sp.?]  Mortally wounded Corporal Martin A McLean and Private Theodore Campbell  severely wounded 1st lieut D Miles Danl Gibson Wiley Wicher [sp.?] Samuel S Blythe Jackson Scott 1st Sergt N S McKinney I Cochran  slightly Alx [Alex] Capen John Ralston John Williams David Jones T Thomas John Keating Sergt E I Jackson John Martin Wm Shelton Danl M Anderson

April 4, 1862

On the evening of the 4th of apr we were called into line of battle then were formed in Column by Division and stayed in the position till nearly midnight  The news was reported through camp that the rebels were marching on us from Corinth but little attention was paid to the report at that time but we thought of it often afterwards

[Isaac’s words are in bold for emphasis]