Report of Col. Hugh T. Reid, Fifteenth Iowa Infantry.
I have the honor to report that the Fifteenth Regiment of Iowa Volunteer Infantry from Benton Barracks arrived at Pittsburg on Sunday morning, with orders from General Grant’s headquarters to report to General Prentiss. Finding that his headquarters were some 4 miles from the Landing, I proceeded at once to report to him in person, and found a heavy fire of artillery and musketry already commenced along the lines. Orders were received from his aide to bring up my command as soon as possible, and I returned to the river for that purpose. The regiment was rapidly disembarked, ammunition distributed, and the men for the first time loaded their guns. We then marched to the heights in rear of the Landing, and formed in line of battle preparatory to an advance, our right resting on the road leading from the Landing to the field. At this time an order was received from a member of General Grant’s staff directing me to hold the position upon which we had formed, and to post such other troops as could be found about the Landing on the right of the road, extending to the bluff of the creek, emptying into the river below the Landing, in order to prevent the enemy from flanking it through the valley of this creek, and also to prevent all stragglers from returning from the battle-field to the Landing, and to hold ourselves as a reserve. The regiment was then advanced across the road to the right, so as to stop the progress of the multitudes returning from the battle-field, which could only be done by threatening to shoot them down. Some of them were induced by threats and persuasions to fall into line, but most of them had the Bull Run story, that their regiments were all cut to pieces, and that they were the only survivors, and nothing could be done with them but to stop their progress. Captain Benton [Bouton] placed his battery on our right, commanding the road leading from the battlefield to the river and also commanding the ravines to our right and left. Colonel Chambers, of the Sixteenth Iowa, formed his regiment on the right of Benton's [Bouton's] battery, resting the right of his regiment on the bluff' of the creek above mentioned. In this position we remained for about an hour, when an order was received from the engineer of General McClernand’s staff, by order, as he said, of General Grant, for the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Iowa to advance some 2 miles to the support of General McClernand’s division, on the extreme right of our lines. The advance was made, the Fifteenth leading, supported by the Sixteenth. We were led by the staff' officer of General McClernand first to the right, across a deep ravine and through thick underbrush, in a direction directly from the firing; then one of General Grant’s staff came up and said a wrong order must have been given us, in which opinion the undersigned fully concurred, and after consultation of the two staff officers the head of our column was turned to the left, and we marched in search of General McClernand’s division, his staff officer showing us the way. The road as we marched was filled with retreating artillery, flying cavalry, straggling infantry, and the wounded returning from the field. We reached an open field in front of the enemy, who were concealed in a dense wood and among tents, from which other regiments had been driven earlier in the day. Through this field the two regiments marched under a heavy fire from the enemy's artillery, and took position, by direction of General McClernand, near the tents. A regiment, said to be from Ohio, was on the field when we arrived, or came on soon after, and took position on the extreme right of the Sixteenth. The Fifteenth, which occupied the left, advanced upon the enemy and drove a part of them from their concealments among the tents and planted our colors in their midst, while the whole left wing of the regiment advanced under a murderous fire of shot and shell from the enemy's artillery and an incessant fire from the musketry. Our flag-staff was shot through and our colors riddled with bullets. For two hours from 10 to 12 o’clock, we maintained our position, our men fighting like veterans. The undersigned was severely wounded by a musket-ball through the neck, which knocked him from his horse, paralyzed for the time, but, recovering in a short time, remounted and continued in command throughout the fight. Fifteen of the 32 commissioned officers who went on the field had been killed, wounded, or taken prisoners; 22 officers and men had been killed, and 156 wounded. The Ohio regiment had left the field. The enemy were attempting to outflank us on the right and left. We were unsupported by artillery or any other regiment except the gallant Sixteenth, which had also suffered severely. It became necessary for the two regiments to retreat or run the risk of being captured, and by order of General McClernand the retreat was made. Portions of the regiments rallied, and fought with other divisions later in the day and on Monday.
Where nearly all fought with bravery it might seem invidious to particularize, but I hope to do no one injustice by specially pointing out those whose personal valor during the action came under my notice. Lieutenant-Colonel Dewey had his horse shot under him. Major Belknap was always in the right place at the right time, directing and encouraging officers and men as coolly as a veteran. He was wounded but not disabled and had his horse shot under him, but remained on the field performing his duty on foot. Adjutant Pomutz distinguished himself during the action for his coolness and courage. He, too, was wounded. Captains Kittle, of Company A; Smith, of Company B; Seevers, of Company C; Madison, of Company D; Hutchcraft, of Company E; Cunningham, of Company G; Day, of Company I; Hedrick, of Company K, who was captured in a charge upon the enemy, all distinguished themselves for their gallantry and courage in leading forward and encouraging their men. Captain Blackmar, of Company F, was wounded in the action and disabled. First Lieutenant Goode, of same company, also wounded. Captain Clark, of Company H, was not in the engagement, having been left sick in the hospital at Saint Louis. Captains Hutchcraft and Day were both severely wounded. Second Lieutenant Penniman, of Company A, and Hamilton, of Company I, were killed whilst bravely performing their duty. First Lieutenant King and Second Lieutenant Danielson, of Company H, were both severely wounded while acting well their part, thus leaving the company without a commissioned officer. First Lieutenants Studer, of Company B; Porter, of Company D; Craig, of Company E; Hanks, of Company G; J. Monroe Reid, of Company I, who, though wounded himself, continued in command of the company after the captain was disabled and the second lieutenant killed, and Eldredge, of Company K, all deserve special praise for the manner in which they conducted themselves on the field. Second Lieutenants Lanstrum, of Company B; Brown, of Company E; Second Lieutenant Herbert, of Company C, and Sergeant-Major Brown, who was severely wounded, conducted themselves well on the field. The non-commissioned officers generally were at their posts and performed their duty. The color-sergeant, Newton J. Rogers, who fought in the First Iowa at Springfield, gallantly bore our standard forward and planted it among the enemy, where it was bravely maintained and defended by portions of Company C, Company E, Company I, and Company K.
It must be remembered that this regiment had just received its arms, and that the men had never had an opportunity of learning the use of them until they came on the battle-field; that they had just landed and were attached to no brigade, and fought the enemy without the support of artillery in a position from which more experienced troops had been compelled to retire. The enemy, too, against whom we fought, the Twenty-second Tennessee and two Louisiana regiments, are understood to be among their best troops.
We have no means of learning the loss of the enemy in this engagement except from what they told some of our wounded men who were taken prisoners by them and left behind the next day, when the enemy made their final retreat, but from this source we learned that they had 40 men killed in the immediate vicinity of our colors and a large number wounded.
While we mourn our comrades in arms the gallant dead whose lives were sacrificed on the altar of their country, we are solaced with the belief that a grateful people will in after times pay a proper tribute to their memory.
To Quartermaster Higley great credit is due for the masterly manner in which he performed the arduous duties of his office on the field and elsewhere during the fight, and after it was over in providing for the comforts of the wounded and protecting the property of the regiment. To our surgeon, Dr. Davis, we are under great obligations for his energy and skill in the performance of the numerous operations rendered necessary. Assistant Surgeon Gibbon also performed valuable service in the midst of great danger on the battle-field in attending the wounded there and having them carried to our temporary hospital on board of the steamer Minnehaha. The chaplain, the Rev. W. W. Estabrook, too, for the time laid aside his sacred office and resumed the use of the surgeon’s scalpel with great success, and the wounded of numerous regiments besides our own shared in the skill of our medical staff.
Attached hereto will be found a list of the killed, wounded, and missing, making a total loss of 186.*
H. T. REID,
Colonel, Commanding Fifteenth Iowa.
ASST. ADJT. GEN. FIRST DIV., ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE,
Commanded by General McClernand.
*See revised statement, p. 105.
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 288-90