A news correspondent’s view of the great Civil War in America
When the discontent that grew into Civil War was fomenting, the author of this book, Thomas Knox was covering the Gold Rushes of the Rocky Mountains for his newspaper—the famous New York Herald. His editor made it plain that the news was now in a very different quarter and that brought about his posting to the troubled border of Missouri. Knox brings the inevitable advantage of the professional writer to his reporting of his experiences of campaign and battlefield. He was present at Wilson Creek, Pea Ridge, Shiloh, Corinth, Fort Pillow, Memphis, Vicksburg and many other important engagements. This substantial volume also gives a vital account of the conditions prevailing in the Southern states particularly concerning the conditions of the African-American slave labourers on plantations. This makes this book an ideal overview of the conflict from a political and social as well a military perspective.
A drummer-boy of the Fifteenth Iowa Infantry was wounded five times during the first day’s battle, but insisted upon going out on the second day. He had hardly started before he fainted from loss of blood, and was left to recover and crawl back to the camp..<br>
Colonel Sweeney, of the Fifty-second Illinois Infantry, who lost an arm in Mexico and was wounded in the leg at Wilson Creek, received a wound in his arm on the first day of the battle. He kept his saddle, though he was unable to use his arm, and went to the hospital after the battle was over. When I saw him he was venting his indignation at the Rebels, because they had not wounded him in the stump of his amputated arm, instead of the locality which gave him so much inconvenience. It was this officer’s fortune to be wounded on nearly every occasion when he went into battle..<br>
During the battle, Dr. Cornyn, surgeon of Major Cavender’s battalion of Missouri Artillery, saw a section of a battery whose commander had been killed. The doctor at once removed the surgeon’s badge from his hat and the sash from his waist, and took command of the guns. He placed them in position, and for several hours managed them with good effect. He was twice wounded, though not severely. “I was determined they should not kill or capture me as a surgeon when I had charge of that artillery,” said the doctor afterward, “and so removed everything that marked my rank.”.<br>
The Rebels made some very desperate charges against our artillery, and lost heavily in each attack. Once they actually laid their hands on the muzzles of two guns in Captain Stone’s battery, but were unable to capture them..<br>
General Hurlbut stated that his division fought all day on Sunday with heavy loss, but only one regiment broke. When he entered the battle on Monday morning, the Third Iowa Infantry was commanded by a first-lieutenant, all the field officers and captains having been disabled or captured. Several regiments were commanded by captains..<br>
Colonel McHenry, of the Seventeenth Kentucky, said his regiment fought a Kentucky regiment which was raised in the county where his own was organized. The fight was very fierce. The men frequently called out from one to another, using taunting epithets. Two brothers recognized each other at the same moment, and came to a tree midway between the lines, where they conversed for several minutes..<br>
The colour-bearer of the Fifty-second Illinois was wounded early in the battle. A man who was under arrest for misdemeanour asked the privilege of carrying the colours. It was granted, and he behaved so admirably that he was released from arrest as soon as the battle was ended.<br>
General Halleck arrived a week after the battle, and commenced a reorganization of the army. He found much confusion consequent upon the battle. In a short time the army was ready to take the offensive. We then commenced the advance upon Corinth, in which we were six weeks moving twenty-five miles. When our army first took position at Pittsburg Landing, and before the Rebels had effected their concentration, General Grant asked permission to capture Corinth. He felt confident of success, but was ordered not to bring on an engagement under any circumstances. Had the desired permission been given, there is little doubt he would have succeeded, and thus avoided the necessity of the battle of Shiloh.