Oh! what a terrible scene does Shiloh's field present this morning. It is a scene of death; its victims lay everywhere. The blood of about thirteen thousand warriors has been shed here in the last two days. My God! what a sacrifice, what a flow of blood. But liberty has claimed it for an emancipated mind, and may it water well the great tree of universal freedom, and cause it to extend its branches fosteringly over a struggling people. In these two days of battle the Seventh sustained a heavy loss. The following are the casualties:
Major R. Rowett, wounded.
Company A. — Captain Samuel G. Ward, killed; private Alden Bates, killed.
Company B. — Captain Hector Perrin, wounded; private Charles Newton, killed; Michael O'Keep, killed.
Company C. — Sergeant George Mitchell, killed; Samuel Wilson, wounded.
Company D. — Private Andrew McKinnon, killed.
Company E. — Private Edmund Keve, wounded.
Company F. — Killed; private Isaac Britton. Mortally Wounded ; privates John Jackson, Chas. P. Laing, John P. Hale. Wounded ; Wallace Partridge, John Dell, James Harrington, Hugh H. Porter, John Larkin, James Close.
Company G. — Private John Gibland, killed; Captain Henry W. Allen, wounded ; private George Harris, wounded.
Company H. — Lieutenant Leo Wash. Myres, killed ; private John H. Duff, killed ; private Ernst H. Myres, wounded; private Charles Ward, wounded; Sergeant Laban Wheeler, wounded; private James Walker, wounded; private Geo. W. Fletcher, wounded; private Carol Hurt, wounded; private Thomas Taylor, wounded; private Charlie Halbert; wounded; private Elam Mills, wounded.
Company I. — Corporal Seth Hamilton, killed ; private John Bollyjack, killed ; private James Craven, killed; private James Lacy, killed; Sergeant Charles M. Fellows, wounded; private James Crowley, wounded; private John Johnson, wounded; private George Marsh, wounded; private Wm. S. Rogers ; wounded; private Michael Toner, wounded; private George Vesey, wounded; private George W. Byron, wounded; private Marcus McKinnis, wounded; private Daniel J. Baker, wounded.
Company K. — Private John Nixon, killed; private Charles P. Huffman, wounded; private Jacob Howe, wounded ; Sergeant J. B. Sanders, wounded ; Sergeant Wm. C. Gillson, wounded; private John M. Anderson, wounded; private Thos. J. R. Grant, wounded; private Green B. Johnson, wounded; private George Reiner, wounded; private Joseph White, wounded. Total killed, 14; total wonnded, 43; sum total of casualities, 57.
Glorious record! Proud names! Yes, proud as any that will ever embellish our national escutcheon. Departed souls, as courageous as history can boast of. From Shiloh's dark wilderness, no nobler, no braver spirit took its flight into the skies than the spirit of Captain Ward, of Company A. He fell mortally wounded in the fiercest of the battle Sunday evening, while at the head of his company, cheering his men on to deeds of valor. Some of his company stop to carry him from the field; but while glory is beaming in the dying warrior's eye, he says to his gallant men: “There goes the flag; it will need all its noble defenders to hold it up in the terrible battle that is raging so fiercely. Boys, it is trembling now! Lay me down to die; leave me and follow the old Seventh's silken folds, and tell the boys of Company A, that ere the sun's light is hid from this field, their Captain will be no more; that I will be silently sleeping in death. Tell them to remember Captain Ward, and keep the old flag in the wind.”
Fainting he falls; his features lose their glow; his eyes are closed forever to the light. Alone, he died—died in his glory. Noble sacrifices may be offered in this war for the Union, but no nobler sacrifice, no grander type of a man, of a soldier, will ever be offered than has been offered in Captain Samuel G. Ward, of Company A. Captain Ward was among the first to hearken to the first call of the President in April, 1861. From a private in Company A, he was promoted by Colonel Cook to Sergeant Major of the regiment. At the end of the three months' service, Sergeant Major Ward was unanimously chosen Captain of Company A, in which position he served faithfully until liberty claimed him as a sacrifice on Shiloh's field, April 6th, 1862. Every one saw in him the elements of a rising officer; a star that was already shining, the light of which would have been seen afar had not the wild tempest blown it out so early. Though he passed away in youth's hopeful morning, ere his aspirations were reached, immortality's royal messenger will take up his name, and while soft winds chant a requiem around his grave, will say of him: “Here sleeps Captain Ward, whom liberty claimed in its great struggle on Shiloh's plain. He lived, he died, for country, home, and flag.”
Lieutenant Leo Washington Myres, of Company H, died as the warriors die-nobly. He stood manfully while the bolts of war around him rattled, but he is a silent sleeper now. Amid shooting flames and curling smoke, he bravely sacrificed his life—sacrificed it as one of the martyrs of freedom. Being among the first to rush to the standard when arch treason first lifted its mad head, he was elected Second Lieutenant of Company H, and at the end of the three months' service, he was unanimously chosen First Lieutenant, in which capacity he valiantly served until his life was sealed at Shiloh, April 6th, 1862.
In the wild storm that swept over that field, no truer patriot soldier was borne down than Lieutenant Myres. As a lover of liberty he followed the flag southward and stood beneath its folds where the gulf winds blew across the plains of Mexico. With Taylor and Scott, he fought for it there. With Wallace he died for it down by the Tennesssee. Oh ! how can it be that stars that gave such brilliant light should go out so soon. The providences of God are indeed mysterious.
But all died in their glory. Sergeant Mitchell, company C, Corporal Seth Hamilton, company I, privates Alden Bates, company A, John H. Duff, company H, Charles Newton, Company B, Andrew McKennon, company D, Isaac Britton, company F, John Gibland, company G, Corporal J. Nixon, company K, and many others, died crowned with laurels as bright as the midnight stars. Though they carried the musket, we will ascribe no less praise to them, for heroes they proved themselves to be. From Thermopylæ to Shiloh, the world has never produced grander types of gallantry than has been produced in these private soldiers, who fell on this battle-field. Of all the fallen of the Seventh who went down in Shiloh's two days of battle, I can only say of them as Mark Anthony said of Julias Cæsar, “Their lives were grand; the elements so mixed in them that all the world might stand up and say, they were men; they were heroes; they were soldiers.”
While on the battle-field, Sergeant S. F. Flint, Company I, writes:
Soft fall the dews of midnight and morning,
O’er the green hills where slumber the brave,
Fall on each nameless and desolate grave;
And soft be the song of the slow flowing river,
As it pours by the shores they have hallowed forever.
In peace and off duty the soldier is sleeping,
No more will he wake at the shrill reveille,
As it rings through the vales of the old Tennessee;
But the wail of the wind, and the roll of the river,
As it thrills o'er the hills his requiem forever,
Oh! the homes in their own northern prairies and valleys,
More lonely and dark than those desolate graves,
O! the wailings that answer the winds and the waves ;
O! the tears that will flow like the fall of the river,
As it swells through the dells where they slumber forever.
But lift up the old flag they died in defending,
And swear by each nameless but glorious grave,
That hallowed with triumph its free folds shall wave
O'er the hills and the vales and the bright flowing river,
O'er the whole lovely land of our fathers forever.
We will now pass to yonder hospital steamer. The Seventh's wounded lay here; among the noble company lies the gallant Captain Hector Perrin, wounded badly in the thigh. Though a son of France, he loved freedom, and being one from the school of La Fayette, he fought bravely on Shiloh's field. Among this company we find heroes, all of whom have shown and yet show that they have in them the element of steel. Patiently and silently they endure their suffering. Who ever witnessed such fortitude ? The world will fail in its annals of blood to exhibit grander types. Some have lost a leg, others have frightful wounds in the face; but these are their patents of nobility. Dr. Hamilton, our popular Assistant Surgeon, as ever, has a care for the unfortunate ones. He is now, with his usual promptness, preparing to send them north. Some of them will never return again; but may a grateful people open wide to them their generous hearts, and leave them not to drift through the world in storm. Returning we mingle with the living. Of the noble survivors we can only say of them, they did well; they played their part as nobly as the most gallant warriors have ever done on any battle-field. In these two days of battle Major Rowett, who is now in his tent slightly wounded, but prostrated upon his cot, worn out by excessive toil, proved himself worthy the leadership of brave men. Where danger most threatened, there he was always found. None moved amid the carnage with a more dashing force. Full of fire and life, with a reckless contempt for danger, he stemmed the wild storm. He was wounded twice and had his horse shot but nothing could check him. At the head of his regiment he was always found, and it is conceded by those who knew, that no regimental commander handled his command on Shiloh's field better than Major Rowett handled the Seventh, At no time was the regiment driven into confusion, though many times its line was broken, but each time was reformed promptly, and be it said to the credit of the regiment, not a prisoner was taken in consequence of straggling. Captain Monroe, acting Major, has won the encomiums of all. Fight and battle seem to be his element. He carries with him triumph and glory. Enthusiastic as are all the brave, his voice was ever heard cheering the men and telling them never to let the flag go down. Captains Lawyer, Hunter, Estabrook, Church, Lieutenants Ring, Smith, Roberts, Ellis, Sullivan, Sweeny and Ahern were ever foremost in the battle and ever found encouraging their men, bidding them to stand firm for the flag and freedom. The color bearer, Sergeant Coles Barney, of company H, won for himself the admiration of his officers and comrades, for the gallant manner in which he bore his banner through the wild tempest.
But all were brave, and all fought valiantly. They marched in blood, and threw themselves against arch treason until the Union's proud banner waved upon a triumphant field. At times it was fearfully dark, and the flag seemed to droop, but our noble men stood around it, and while blood was ebbing, they formed a defense of steel backed by hearts that never faltered. And thus defended, their flag, the pride of the mighty millions, shed glorious light around the noble men of the Seventh.
Large parties are now at work burying the dead of both armies. Shiloh will be one vast grave-yard, but it will be destitute of marble slabs. Hundreds of Union soldiers will sleep here, and in the years to come, the patriot pilgrims will tread the earth above them, and know not that beneath sleeps Shiloh's martyrs. But should they chance to see some graves that are arched, so that they can be recognized as the graves of the lone soldiers, they will not know whether the sleepers fought for or against the old flag, and the friends of the loved and lost will not know upon which graves to throw their flowers or drop their tears,
SOURCES: Daniel Leib Ambrose, History of the Seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, p. 57-65