Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Battle At Pittsburg


CAIRO, April 10. – A man who arrived here to-day says the enemy adopted a ruse to surprise our forces at Pittsburg, by making the first attack.  Their head column not only carried the stars and stripes but wore the uniform of the Federal officers.

Gen. Albert Sidney Johnson [sic] is certainly killed, the body being found on the field.  Persons are here who saw the body and heard the fact communicated throughout the camp.

Gen. Bragg is reported killed, and John C. Breckinridge a prisoner, but the report is unreliable.

Provisional governor Johnson of Kentucky is mortally wounded and a prisoner.

It is also reported that Gen. Prentiss, who was taken prisoner the first day, escaped in the confusion of the retreat, the next.

Our total loss in killed, wounded and missing is about 7,000 and this is the estimate of the military commanders who were in the engagement.  Of these about 2,000 were taken prisoners, the balance killed and wounded in the usual proportion.

Gen. Wallace of Ottawa, was reported killed as it was deemed impossible for him to live but a few minutes before the close of battle, but he was not only living Wednesday, but improving rapidly.

Gen. Halleck passed Cairo on his way to Pittsburg, at 10 o’clock this morning.

About 5,000 prisoners are expected up from Island No. 10 to-night.  Of these 1500 will go to Chicago, 1,000 to Springfield, and the balance to Wisconsin and Columbus, except 25 or 30 officers who will be sent to Fort Warren.

No lists of killed or wounded of any regiment or company have been received here yet.

Every preparation possible is being made for the reception and care of our wounded at this place.

The following is a list of killed and wounded officers so far:

KILLED – Col. C. E. Grier, acting Brig. Gen.; Col. Bllis [sic], 10th Ill.; Lieut. Col. Canfield, 72d Ohio; Col. Kyle, 31st Ind.; Col. Davis, 46th Ill., wounded, since died; Capt. Carson, Gen. Grant’s scout; Capts. Morton and Dillon, 18th Ill.; Capt. Mace, 55th Ill.; Capt. Carter, 11th Ill.; Major Page, 57th Ill.

WOUNDED – Gen. W. H. Wallace, dangerously; Gen. W. Sherman, slightly; Col. Sweeney, Acting Prig. Gen., seriously; Col. Dave Stuart, Acting Brig. Gen., dangerously; Col. Chase Crofts, 33d Ill., Acting Brig. Gen.; Col. Mace, 48th Ill.; Col. McHenry 17th Ky., killed; Lieut. Col. Morgan, 24th Ind., Col. Mason, 71st Ohio; Maj. Eaton, 18th Ill., Acting Col., fatally; Maj. Nevins, 11th Ill.; Col. John Logan, 32d Ill., seriously.

We are just beginning to get some reliable details from the great battle at Pittsburgh from several gentlemen who were on the field afterwards or in the fight.  The following is gathered and sent without any reference to the agreement or otherwise with despatches heretofore given you.  Our informants left the battle field on Wednesday morning at 5 o’clock.

The rebels attacked Prentiss’ brigade at 6 o’clock on Sunday morning, while eating breakfast.  It consisted of the 6th Illinois, Col. Fry, 16th Wisconsin, 24th Indiana and 1st Ohio. – The rebels were said to be 12,000 strong.  Prentiss had no artillery, his brigade was cut to pieces and forced to retreat, with Prentiss and many others taken prisoners.

At 12 M. the entire line was fiercely engaged but in full retreat.

At 4 o’clock the enemy had taken Swartz’ battery of 6 guns, and another Ohio battery, name not given.

Thousands of our soldiers had taken refuge under the bank of the river and utterly refused to fight.  In fact they could not, for officers and men were in inextricable confusion.  The army seemed utterly demoralized.

Gen. Mitchell’s division about this time arrived on the opposite side with 15,000 men, and were ferried across.

During the evening and night the gunboats Lexington and Taylor opened a tremendous fire of shell upon the enemy, and kept it up every half hour during the night, saving the army from utter ruin.  The set the woods on fire, and many of the dead rebels were burned.

At 7 o’clock the firing generally ceased.  At midnight the rebels attempted to plant a battery within 300 yards of our siege guns, but they were driven back by the gun boats and siege guns, supported by three regiments of Mitchell’s Division.

Our informants persist in estimating our loss on Sunday at 3,000 killed and 5,000 wounded.  As a fair fight it was undoubtedly tremendous.

MONDAY – During the night the rebels were reinforced by Prace and Van Dorn from Arkansas, with a large force.

Gen. Lew. Wallace came up from Crump’s Landing with the 11th and 23d Indiana, 44th Illinois and 8th Missouri, and Williard’s battery, and in the morning attacked fiercely the wing of the enemy.  They went into the fight on the double quick, with tremendous shouts, and did terrible execution.  By 10 o’clock they had driven the rebels back two miles.  The battery performed prodigies of valor.

About 10 o’clock the rebels were reinforced, and for a few minutes our boys were forced to yield.  The other divisions of Buell’s army now appeared, and at once became fully engaged, and for two hours all the destructive elements of earth seemed striving for the mastery on that fatal field.

Southern chivalry proved no match for the unflinching courage of the army of freedom, and the rebels fled in all directions.

With some 12,000 troops, mostly cavalry, Gen. Buell followed the fugitives, taking thousands of prisoners and killing without mercy those who would not surrender.  He was reported to have taken Corinth with all its immense stores of arms and ammunition.

Carson, the scout, had his head taken off on Monday by a round shot.

The rebel troops were mostly from Louisiana, Texas and Missouri, with many form Georgia and Alabama; they fought like tigers.

Our informants could ride through the battle field where our forces were posted, but the dead were so thick in the enemy’s lines that they could not do it.  They assured us that the rebels occupied our camp on Sunday night, took care of our sick and wounded, but destroyed nothing, expecting confidently to have our entire army the next day.  They thought the battle almost won.

On Sunday Gen. McClernand cut his way thro’ the enemy that had surrounded him.  Most of his troops behaved with great gallantry, but the 53d Ohio was ordered to the rear in disgrace for refusing to fight.

Capt. Harvey of Bloomington, Ill., is among the killed.

Our informants were assured by those who know him that J. C. Breckinridge was taken prisoner.  They saw him pass to the guard quarters.

It is impossible as yet to get lists of killed and wounded.

The Chicago delegation of physicians and nurses arrived this morning and have gone to Pittsburgh in the hospital steamer Texana.

Dr. McVicker is here awaiting the arrival of Gov. Yates on the steamer from Quincy to see especially to Illinois wounded soldiers.  They will establish a depot and hospital here for our sick and wounded.

No official despatches have been received here this morning.

– Published in the Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, April 12, 1862, p. 3

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