THE MOST BLOODY ENGAGEMENT DURING THE WAR.
Beauregard Defeated and His Army Cut to Pieces!!
GEN. A. S. JOHNSON KILLED
Rebel Loss 35,000 to 40,000!
Federal Loss 18,000 to 20,000!
(Special to Herald.)
PITTSBURGH, via FT. HENRY, April 9, 3.10 A. M. – One of the bloodiest battles of modern days has just closed, resulting in the complete repulse of the enemy, who attacked us at day break Sunday. The battle lasted without intermission during the entire day, and was again resumed on Monday morning and continued until 4 o’clock in the afternoon, when the enemy commenced their retreat and are still flying towards Corinth, pursued by a large force of our cavalry.
The slaughter on both sides is immense. We have lost in killed and wounded and missing from 18,000 to 20,000. That of the enemy is estimated from 35,000 to 40,000.
It is impossible in the present confused state of affairs to ascertain any details. I therefore give the best account possible from observation, having passed through the storm of action during the two days that it raged.
The fight was brought on by a body of 300 of the 25th Missouri regiment of Gen. Prentice’s [sic] brigade attacking the advance guard of the rebels which were supposed to be the pickets of the enemy in front of our camp. – The rebels immediately advanced on Gen. Prentice’s division on the left wing, pouring volley after volley of musketry, riddling our camps with grape, canister and shell. Our soldiers soon formed into line and returned their fire vigorously and by the time we were prepared to receive them, had turned the heaviest fire on the left and center of Sherman’s division and drove our men back from their camp and bringing up a fresh force opened fire on our left wing under Gen. McClernand; this fire was returned with terrible effect and determined spirit, by both infantry and artillery along the whole line for a distance of over four miles. – Gen. Hurlburt’s [sic] division was thrown forward to support the centre when a desperate conflict ensued; the rebels were driven back with terrible slaughter, but soon rallied and rove back our men in turn from about 9 o’clock, the time your correspondent arrived on the field, until night closed on the bloody scene, there was no determination of the result of the struggle; the rebels exhibited remarkably good generalship at times – engaging the left with apparently their whole strength, they would suddenly open up a terrible and destructive fire on the right or center; even our heaviest and most destructive fire on the enemy did not appear to discourage their solid columns. The fire of Maj. Taylor’s Chicago Artillery raked them down in scores, but the smoke would no sooner be dispersed than the breech would be again filled.
The most desperate firing took place late in the P. M. The Rebels knew that if they did not succeed in whipping us then, that their chances for success would be very doubtful, as a portion of Gen. Buell’s forces had by this time arrived on the opposite side of the river, and the other portion was coming up the river from Savannah. – They were, however, aware that we were being reinforced, as they could see Gen. Buell’s troops near the river bank a short distance above us, on the left, to which point they had forced their way. At five o’clock, the rebels had forced our left wing back so as to occupy fully two-thirds of our camp, and were fighting their way forward with a desperate degree of confidence in their efforts to drive us into the river, and at the same time having engaged our right.
Up to this time we had received no reinforcements, Gen. Lew Wallace failing to come to our support until the day was over, having taken the wrong road from Crump’s landing, and being without other transports, than those used for Quartermaster’s and commissary stores, which were too heavily laden to very any considerable number of Gen. Buell’s forces across the river, those that were here having been sent to bring the troops from Savannah. We were therefore, contesting the field against fearful odds with a force not exceeding 38,000 men, while that of the enemy was upwards of 60,000.
Our condition at this moment was extremely critical. Large numbers of men were panic stricken, others worn out by hard fighting, with the average per cent. of skulkers, had straggled towards the river, and could not be rallied. – Gen. Grant and staff, who had been ceaselessly riding along the lines during the entire day, perceived that Buell’s batteries of grape and shell were about arriving, now rode from right to left inciting the men to stand firm until reinforcements could cross the river. Col. Webster, Chief of Staff, immediately got into position the heavy pieces of artillery, pointing on the enemy’s right, while a large number of the batteries were planted along the entire line from the river bank northwest to the extreme right, two and a half miles distant.
About an hour after dusk a general cannonade was opened upon the enemy from along our whole line, with a perpetual crack of musketry. Such a roar was never heard on this continent. For a short time the rebels replied with vigor and effect, but their return shots grew less frequent and destructive, while ours grew more rapid and more terrible.
The gunboats Lexington and Taylor, which lay a short distance off, kept raining shell on the rebel hordes. This last effort was too much for the enemy. At six o’clock the firing had nearly ceased, the day closing on all the combatants, who rested from their awful work of blood and carnage. Our men rested on their arms in the position they had at the close of the night, till the forces under Maj. Gen. Wallace arrived and took position on the right, and met Buell’s force on the opposite side, and Savannah being now converted to the battle ground, the entire right of Gen. Nelson’s Division was ordered to form on the right, and the forces under Gen. Crittenden were ordered to support him in the morning.
SECOND DAY’S BATTLE.
Gen. Buell having arrived the previous evening, the ball was opened at daylight simultaneously by Gen. Nelson’s Division on the left and Major General Wallace and Davis on the right.
Gen. Nelson’s forces opened a most galling fire and advanced rapidly as the rebels fell back. The fire soon became general along the whole line, and began to tell with terrible effect on the enemy.
Generals McClernand, Sherman and Hurlburt’s men, though terribly thinned from the previous day’s fighting, still maintained their honors won at Fort Donelson, but the resistance of the rebels at all points was terrible and worthy a better cause, but they were not enough for our braves, and the dreadful destruction produced by our artillery which was sweeping them away like chaff before the wind, but knowing that a defeat here would be a death-blow to their hopes and that their all depended upon this great struggle, their Generals still urged them on in the face of destruction, hoping by flanking us on the right to turn the tide of battle. Their success was again for a time cheering as they began to gain ground, on appearing to have been reinforced, but our left, under Gen. Nelson, was driving them, and with wonderful rapidity, and by 11 o’clock, Gen. Buell’s forces had succeeded in flanking them and capturing their batteries of artillery. They however again rallied on the left and recuperated, and the right forced themselves forward in another desperate effort, but reinforcements from General Wood and Gen. Thomas were coming in regiment after regiment, which were sent to Gen. Buell, who had again commenced to drive the enemy.
About 3 o’clock p. m. Gen. Grant rode to the left, where the fresh regiments had been ordered, and finding the rebels wavering, sent a portion of his body guard to the aid of each of the five regiments, then ordered a charge across the field, himself leading. As he brandished his sword and waved them on to the crowning victory; while cannon balls were flying like hail around him. The men followed with a shot, that sounded above the roar and din of artillery, and the rebels fled in dismay as from a destroying avalanche, and never made another stand.
Gen. Buell followed the retreating rebels, driving them in splendid style, and by half past five o’clock the whole rebel army was in full retreat to Corinth, with our cavalry in hot pursuit, with what further result is not known, not having returned up to this hour.
We have taken a large amount of their artillery and also a number of prisoners. We lost a number of our forces, taken prisoners yesterday, among whom is Gen. Prentiss. The number of our forces taken has not been ascertained yet. It is reported at several hundred. Gen. Prentiss is reported wounded.
Among the killed on the rebel side was their General-in-Chief A. Sydney Johnson [sic], who was struck by a cannon ball in the afternoon of Sunday. Of this there is no doubt, as the report is corroborated by several rebel officers taken to-day. It is further reported that Gen. Beauregard has his arm shot off.
This afternoon Generals Bragg, Breckinridge and Jackson were commanding portions of the rebel force.
Our loss in officers is very heavy. It is impossible at present to obtain their names. The following were among the number:
Brig. Gen. W. H. D. [sic] Wallace, killed.
Col. Pegram, acting General, killed.
Col. Ellis 10th Illinois, killed.
Major Geary, 15th Illinois, killed.
Lieut. Col. Conard, 72d Ohio, mortally wounded.
Lieut. Col. Kisul, 41st Indiana, mortally wounded.
Col. Davis, 46th Illinois, mortally wounded.
Gen. W. T. Sherman, wounded in hand by cannon ball.
Col. Sweeney, 52d Illinois, Acting Brigadier General, wounded; received two balls in his only arm, having lost one in Mexico, also a shot in one of his legs. Col. Sweeney kept the field until the close of the fight, and excited the admiration of the whole army.
Col. Dave Stuart, 55th Ill., Acting Brig. Gen. shot through the breast on Sunday, returned on the field on Monday.
Col. Chas. Crofts, 31st Ill., Acting Brig. Gen. shot through the right shoulder, not dangerous.
Col. Haynes, 48th Ill., Col. J. C. McHenry, 17th Ky., Lieut. Col. Stout, 17th K., wounded slightly; Lieut. Col. Morgan, 25th Ind., wounded severely; Lieut. Col. Ransom, 11th Ill., wounded in head badly; Col. Mason, 71st Ohio, wounded slightly; Maj. Eaton, 18th Ill., acting Col. wounded fatally; Maj. Nevins, 11th Ill., wounded slightly; Capt. Cumming W. Carson, Gen. Grant’s scout had his head shot off by a cannon ball; Capt. Preston Morton wounded mortally – since died; Capt. Dillon, 18th Ill., Capt. Mace, 5th Ill., Capt. Carter, 11th Ill., Maj. Page 57th Ill., killed.
There never has been a parallel to the gallantry and bearing of our officers, from the Commanding General to the lowest officer. – Gen. Grant and staff were in the field riding along the lines in the thickest of the enemy’s fire during the entire two days of battle, and all slept on the ground Sunday night, during a heavy rain. On several occasions, he got in range of the enemy’s guns and was discovered and fired upon. Lieut. Col. McPherson having his horse shot from under him along side of the General. Capt. Carson was between Gen. Grant and your correspondent when a cannon ball took off his head and killed and wounded several others.
Gen. Sherman had two horses killed under him.
Generals McClernand and Hurlburt each received bullet holes through their clothes.
Gen. Buell remained with his troops during the entire day, who, with Gens. Crittenden and Nelson road continually along the line encouraging their men. Gen. Buell’s advance will probably reach near Corinth by to-morrow evening.
CAIRO, April 9. – Further advices from Pittsburgh Landing, give the following about the battle:
The enemy made the attack at 4 o’clock Sunday morning. The brigades of Sherman and Prentice being first engaged. The attack was successful and our entire force was driven back to the river where the advance of the enemy was checked and our forces increased by the arrival of Gen. Grant with troops from Savannah and inspired by the report of the arrival of two divisions of Buell’s army. Our loss this day was heavy, and besides the killed and wounded, embraced our camp equipage, and 36 field guns. The next morning our forces, now amounting to 80,000 assumed the offensive and by 2 o’clock in the afternoon had retaken our camp and batteries together with some forty of the enemy’s guns and a quantity of prisoners, and the enemy were in full retreat, pursued by our victorious forces.
The casualties are numerous. Gen. Grant wounded in the ankle slightly; Gen. W. H. Wallace killed; Gen. Smith severely wounded; Gen. Prentice prisoner; Col. Hall 16th Ill., Killed; Cols. Logan, 32d Ill., and Davis of 51st Illinois wounded severely; Major Hunter 32d Ill., killed; and our loss In killed and wounded and missing not less than 5,000. Col. Peabody, 25th Mo., also severely wounded.
From New Madrid we learn that Gen. Pope has 3 Generals, 7 colonels and 5,000 men prisoners, 100 guns, camp equipage and stores in great quantity.
CAIRO, April 9. – It is reported by an officer who left Pittsburg Monday evening, that our forces occupy Corinth, and that Beauregard’s arms were shot off by a cannon ball, and the body of Gen. A. S. Johnson was found dead on the field. Nothing later.
– Published in the Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, April 12, 1862, p. 3