Friday, September 28, 2012

Union Line of Defense: Reconnoitering Road, Shiloh National Military Park

Finally aware that great numbers of Confederates were marching on their camps, the Union Sixth Division organized its first line of defense along the ridge in front of you.  Henry M. Stanley, a Confederate infantryman, described what it was like here when his regiment tried to break through the Union line:

Union Defense Line
April 6, 1862 - 7:30 A.M.

Still advancing, firing as we moved, I, at last saw a row of little globes of pearly smoke streaked with crimson, breaking out with sportive quickness from a long line of bluey figures in front; and, simultaneously, there broke upon our ears an appalling crash of sound, the series of fusillades following one another with startling suddenness, which suggested to my somewhat moidered sense a mountain upheaved, with huge rocks tumbling and thundering down a slope, and the echoes rumbling and receding through space.

“Twenty thousand muskets were being fired at this stage, but though, accuracy of aim as impossible, owing to our laboring hearts, and the jarring and excitement, many bullets found their destined billets on both sides.”

– Henry M. Stanley
6th Arkansas Infantry

Henry M. Stanley, later a renowned journalist and explorer, served as a private with the “Dixie Grays” of the 6th Arkansas Infantry.  Stanley was only 21 when he marched into his first great battle here.  A fourth of his companions were under 20.

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