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JOHNSTON'S ADDRESS. 243
General Buell left Nashville on the 28th of March. On the 28th, 29th and 30th, the divisions of this army had crossed Duck River and advanced through Columbia, 82 miles from Savannah. April 3d, the rebel General commanding issued the following order:
"Soldiers of the Army of the Afississippi:
"I have put you in motion to offer battle to the invaders of your country, with the resolution and discipline and valor becoming men, fighting, as you are, for all worth living or dying for. You can but march to a decisive victory over agrarian mercenaries, sent to subjugate and despoil you of your liberties, property and honor.
"Remember the precious stake involved; remember the dependence of your mothers, your wives, your sisters, and your children, on the result. Remember the fair, broad, abounding lands, the happy homes, that will be desolated by your defeat. The eyes and hopes of eight million people rest upon you. You are expected to show yourselves worthy of your valor and courage, worthy of the women of the South, whose noble devotion in this war has never been exceeded in any time. With such incentives to brave deeds, and with trust that God is with us, your General will lead you confidently to the combat, assured of success.
"By order of General A. S. Johnston, Commanding."
The rebel army of the Mississippi was then divided into three army corps, and was commanded as follows:
Commanding General, General Albert Sydney Johnston.
On the morning of April second, the cavalry of Major-General Lew. Wallace, at Crump's Landing were driven in. On the evening of the fourth, a skirmish occurred between the advance lines, but the Confederates fell back.
It was known to Johnston and Beauregard that Buell was hastening to the relief of Grant, and they determined to crush the latter before the former could arrive. Beauregard says in his official report of April 11th:
"His (General Johnston's) entire force hastened in this direction, and by the first of April our united forces were concentrated along the Mobile and Ohio Railroad from Bethel to Corinth, and on the Memphis and Charleston Railroad from Corinth to Iuka.
"It was then determined to assume the offensive, and strike a sudden blow at the enemy in position under General Grant on the west bank of the Tennessee at Pittsburg and in the direction of Savannah, before he was reinforced by the army under Gen. Buell, then known to be advancing rapidly for that purpose, by forced marches from Nashville, via Columbia. About the same time Gen. Johnston was advised that such an operation conformed to the expectations of the President.
"By a rapid and vigorous attack on Gen. Grant, it was expected he would be beaten back into his transports and the river, or captured in time to enable us to profit by the victory and remove to the rear all the stores and munitions that would fall into our hands in such an event, before the arrival of Gen. Buell on the scene. It was never contemplated, however, to retain the position thus gained, and abandon Corinth, the strategic point of the campaign."
It was surely a Providential interposition which prevented the earlier accomplishment of this plan, for, moving on interior lines of railway, the enemy had massed a force vastly superior to that under General Grant. Beauregard complains in his report, of delays for want of officers, proper organization of brigades and other difficulties, so that they were not fully ready, when, on the evening of the 2d, they ascertained that Buell was dangerously near with his forces and orders were issued at 1 o'clock, A. M., for an immediate advance. But the "chariot wheels drave heavily" and he regrets that the "troops did not reach the intersection of the roads from Pittsburg and Hamburg in the immediate vicinity of the enemy, until late Saturday night." The rebel order of battle is thus stated by Gen. Beauregard:
"It was then decided that the attack should be made on the next morning, at the earliest hour practicable, in accordance with the laws of movement—that is, in three lines of battle: the first and second extending from Owl Creek on the left, to Lick Creek on the right—a distance of about three miles—supported by the third and the reserve. The first line, under Major-General Hardee, was constituted of his corps, augmented on his right by Gladden's
THE FIRST CHARGE. 245
brigade of Major-General Bragg's corps, deployed in line of battle, with their respective artillery, following immediately by the main road to Pittsburg, and the cavalry in the rear of the wings. The second line, composed of the other troops of Bragg's corps, followed, the first at a distance of five hundred yards, in the same order as the first. The army corps under General Polk followed the second line, at the distance of about eight hundred yards, in lines of brigades deployed with their batteries, in rear of each brigade, moving by the Pittsburg road, the left wing supported by cavalry; the reserve under General Breckinridge followed closely the third line in the same order, its right wing supported by cavalry.
"These two corps constituted the reserve, and were to support the front lines of battle, by being deployed, when required, on the right and left of the Pittsburg road, or otherwise act according to the exigences of the battle."
At half-past five on Sunday morning, this tremendous force of infantry, cavalry and field artillery was in motion, intending to bear down all opposition and drive Grant into the river. The design was to attack the center, composed of Prentiss' and Mcdemand's divisions, pierce it, pour in their troops, and attack on each side the wings of our divided army. Here again was a Providential derangement of wisely laid plans. They should have hurled their advancing columns against Sherman's three brigades on our right, and the left of McClernand's. By some miscalculation they assailed only Sherman's left, and that not until after their right had struck Prentiss' division.
As it was, that first charge was lamentably disastrous. It came like an avalanche, driving in the pickets of Prentiss' division and reaching the camp almost as soon as the sentinels. A little later and the same was the case with Hildebrand's brigade, of Sherman's division. The men of this brigade fell back, firing as they retreated, and checked the foe long enough to form an imperfect line of battle. The other two brigades came up on the right to their help, and not a moment too soon, for at once the enemy opened the battle along Sherman's entire line. Hildebrand's brigade fell back; part of it, raw troops, fled—no wonder;—they lived long enough to gloriously redeem the escutcheon of Ohio from that bar sinister. McClernand threw forward his troops to support Hildebrand's brigade. Sherman put forth exertions almost superhuman to rally his men and save his division. For a time Buckland's and McDowell's brigade stood as adamant, when they were compelled to give way, and retire from their camps behind a small ravine, when again they made a gallant stand. Mcdemand's division of tried men, took the place of Hildebrand's brigade and essayed to check the rebel advance.
Prentiss' division did as well as it could, but their line when formed, was in an open space, while their foe was sheltered by the dense scrub-growth from which he directed murderous volleys almost out of danger. The Union men fought doggedly, bravely, obstinately, but they were not made of steel. The enemy poured his fire on either flank, and right on in front came a line of leveled steel—they were compelled to fall back. And yet they fought and seemed at one time about to be saved. McArthur, of W. H. L. Wallace's division, came up to the relief of Stuart's brigade of Sherman's division, and by mistake verged too far to the right and came up on the other side of the rebels assailing Prentiss. His men at once opened fire upon the foe and hope arose among our imperiled men. But McArthur could not hold his position, and was compelled to fall back, the enemy opening a flanking fire on him. By ten o'clock the division of Prentiss had been destroyed or captured, and the General with three regiments was in the hands of an exultant foe. The front line was pierced, and only McArthur's brigade and W. H. L. Wallace's division checked the overwhelming advance.
Grant wate at Savannah, his head-quarters, when the fight commenced, and hurried to the field as rapidly asfpossible, and until his arrival there was no General-in-chief, but each division commandar fought according to his own judgment. Much angry criticism was for a time heaped upon him for this absence, and for suffering a surprise. His own answer was, "As to the talk of our being surprised, nothing could be more false. If the enemy had sent us word where and when they would attack, we could not have been better prepared. Skirmishing had been going on for two days between our reconnoitering parties and the enemy's advance. I did not believe,
THE BATTLE. 24:7
however, that they intended to make a determined attack, but meant simply to make a reconnoissance in force. My head-quarters were^at Savannah, though I usually spent the day at Pittsburg. Troops were constantly arriving to be assigned to the different brigades and divisions. All were ordered to report at Savannah, making it necessary to keep an office and some one there. I was also looking for Buell to arrive, and it was important that I should have every arrangement complete for his crossing and transit to this side of the rivrr."
Yet with the facts of the Sunday morning charge on the left and center, it surely is hardly supposable that, if our forces had known the time and place of the attack, they would not have been better prepared for the onset!
Hurlbut and W. H. L. Wallace stood between the army and destruction—stood like ocean-beat rocks. McArthur was reinforced, and the space on the left made vacant by the defeat and capture of Prentiss was filled. The combat raged with fury. Never men fought more bravely. Regiments but a few months from home, and in the first battle, fought with the coolness of battle-stained veterans,
"By the early breaking of Gen. Prentiss's line, the onset of the Confederates had been made to veer chiefly to the Union left. Here the contest continued stubborn. Four times the Confederates attempted to charge on Gen. Wallace's men. Each time the infantry poured in rapid volleys, and the artillery redoubled their efforts, thus compelling them to retreat with heavy slaughter. Farther to the right, Gen. Hurlbut's division, which had taken an advanced position, was compelled to fall back through its camp to a thick wood behind. Here, with open fields before them, they could rake the approach of the Confederates. Three times their heavy masses bravely charged upon the division, and each time they were repulsed with severe loss. The troops from the driven divisions were reorganized so far as available, and re-sent to the field. Thus the right of Gen. Hurlbut, which was almost wholly unprotected, and the weakness of which does not appear to have been discovered by the Confederates, was in a measure patched out. It had been previously determined that in case of an attack at Pittsburg Landing, the division under Gen. Lew. Wallace at Crump's Landing, five miles