Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Official Reports of the Battle Of Shiloh: No. 67 - Capt. John Williams, 6th Iowa Infantry

No. 67.

Report of Capt. John Williams, Sixth Iowa Infantry.

Pittsburg Landing, Tenn., April 10, 1862.

COLONEL. Having assumed command of the regiment by your order, I have the honor to make the following official report of the Sixth Iowa Infantry during the recent engagement:

On Sunday morning, when the attack was made on General Grant's center, the regiment was immediately brought into line of battle, and was then moved about 50 yards to the front along the edge of the woods. Company I was thrown out as skirmishers, and Companies E and G were moved to the left and front of our line to support a battery just placed there. We were in this position for more than two hours, when we were ordered to fall back to the rear of our camp on the Purdy road.

The battle at this time was raging fiercely in the center and extending gradually to the right. The line was slowly yielding to a vastly superior force, and it now became evident that we must change our position or be entirely cut off from the rest of the army. The regiment then marched by the left flank about 600 yards; crossed an open field about 150 yards wide; took a position in the edge of the woods, and formed a new line of battle, which was again succeeded by another line nearly perpendicular to the former, the right resting close to the Purdy road.

It was here Lieutenants Halliday and Grimes were wounded and carried from the field, thus preventing them from distinguishing themselves, as they undoubtedly would have done had they been spared to take part in the desperate and severe struggle that soon ensued. It was here that Companies D and K, on picket duty at Owl Creek, joined the regiment by a circuitous route, the enemy having already got between them and the regiment.

The regiment did not remain here long, however, but moved by the left flank in an easterly direction about half a mile, over a broken and open field, and again entered the woods. A new line was formed, and the regiment moved forward to meet the advancing foe. The line of battle –at this time diagonal to the enemy's – was immediately changed to front them, and it was here that the regiment withstood a shower of leaden hail and bullets which now was pouring in upon it with deadly effect. Notwithstanding a vastly superior force and with no support, the regiment gallantly maintained this position for more than two hours, and when it became apparent that no succor was coming to it, and after the enemy had already turned our right flank and began pouring a galling cross-fire upon it, the regiment was ordered to retire. It fell back in good order and was assigned to the support of batteries near the river. At this stage of the battle I was wounded and carried from the field. From authentic sources I learn, however, that the regiment, under Captain Walden, remained at the batteries all night.

The next day the regiment was not formed as a regiment, but a detachment, under Lieutenants Minton and Allison, was connected to an Illinois regiment, and the major portion, under Captain Walden, voluntarily joined Colonel Garfield's command, and participated in the engagement throughout the day until the enemy fled in great confusion.

In regard to the bravery, coolness, and intrepidity of both officers and men too much cannot be said. Where all did so well to particularize would seem invidious; suffice it to say the officers, with one or two exceptions, are deserving the highest praise. The men were at all times cool and as free from fear or confusion as if they were on dress-parade.

The list of casualties, which I append below, fully attests the severity of the contest.

The following is the number of killed, wounded, and missing in the two days’ engagement :*


Total number engaged less than 650.

I have the honor to be, yours, respectfully,

 Captain, Commanding Regiment.

SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume X (Serial No. 10), Part I, pages 256-7

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