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Part III

General Johnston Mortally Wounded

The lost of a "Brilliant General,” General Johnston Mortally Wounded

As the news of General Johnston’s death reached the Confederate front, the news stunned the men, causing a lull in the fighting for over an hour. General G.T. Beauregard was now the ranking officer and now in charge of the entire army. The General was at their new headquarters near the old logged church, (camp of the 4th Illinois Cavalry) when he heard of the General death. He then ordered General Bragg to the right side of their line, and ordered General Daniel Ruggles in command of the center.

After General Ruggles seeing 11 unsuccessful charges against General’s Prentiss and Wallace’s divisions, decided to concentrate an artillery barrage upon their position. He was able to collect over 60 pieces of artillery, when this was completed he opened fire upon the Unions line of defense. Now with renewed energy, general Ruggles division attacked again this formidable line of defense. Both Generals Prentiss and Wallace’s divisions were unable to withstand this blistering assault; soon both flanks broke a reencountered to the landing, in doing so this left the center to become outflanked and both generals isolated at the Hornet’s Nest.

General Wallace, saw the other division withdrawing from their position, and was about to be outflanked, gave orders for his troops to fall back. His division pass through a ravine, which was under a confederate crossfire, General Wallace was mortally wounded leading his regiments through what is now called “Hell’s Hollow”. General Prentiss’ continued fighting until approximately 5:30 p.m., with no reinforcements coming and munitions spent, he felt there were no other choise, but to surrender his men left from his two divisions.

At the Landing, Colonel Webster, the Chief of Artillery, had just finishing installing a battery of siege guns on a crest of a hill, smaller field guns were now returning to the landing from the field, as they returned Colonel Webster placed them on each side of the larger siege guns. Two gunboats the Lexington, and Tyler were anchored opposite of what is called Dill’s Branch, adding further strength to this new line of defense. As retreating troops were returning to the landing, they were rallied in a new defensive line near the cannon’s.

The Confederates needed to reorganize to coordinate a new attack, towards the landing after the capture of General Prentiss’ two divisions. General Beauregard (C.S.A.) received a message that General Buell (U.S.) would not be able to arrive on the field to reinforce General Grant’s army. Armed with this new information General Beauregard gave orders to suspend the attack, but what General Beauregard did not realize is that at that very moment General Buell and his army were crossing the river at the landing.

The fighting ceased as nighttime approached, the confederates began settling into their newly acquired camps that were abandoned earlier in the morning by the Union troops, but as it turned out they did not settle comfortably, the gunboats began steaming up and down the river firing their artillery pieces at he the confederates every fifteen minuets.

The men on both sides had been fighting almost thirteen hours now, they were totally exhausted, they had charged, and then were countercharged, fighting for the same ground. The Confederates had always been moving forward towards the Landing, and the Union was trying to move away from it. At the end of the day the Confederates were now in command of the entire field, and the Union army threaten with total defeat. General Beauregard’s men were confident that the following day would belong to them, but what they did not know was that General Buell’s army was reinforcing General Grant’s army throughout the evening. Throughout the evening the Union army was feeling unsure of the next day’s events. But as the new days sun broke over the horizon they were now aware of being re-enforced. With this Knowledge they would fight with a renewed vigor and take the days initiative.

Sunday morning April 7th, the entire union army was put in to motion simultaneously. General Buell and his army took the left wing; General Lew Wallace placed his men on the extreme right, while General Grant and his army occupied the line in between. As the army first advanced they found they were unopposed, soon the army ran into a few unsupported regiments who resisted this new Union advance, but were soon force to retreat. As it turned out the Confederates during the night had not reorganized their now scattered forces; and had set no new line of battle. The Union army met no real force until they were approaching the Peach Orchard, and the Hornet’s Nest. At this point the Union Army had now regained the territory they lost the day before, without virtually firing a shot.

Young Confederate Sons

"The Washington Artillery", of New Orleans

The Picture is believed to have been taken the day beforethe battle

General Wallace’s division attacked a brigade of confederates who were at their evening camp, a much spirited fight followed, Wallace’s’ division made a spirited attack, while simulatiously making an attack on the left flank, so the confederates were forced to retreat nearly a mile to the old logged church to keep from being outflanked, there they formed a new line of battle.

Arrival of Buell’s Army at Crump’s Landing

(Pittsburg Landing)

The Confederates had now formed a new line of battle just to the west of the Peach Orchard; there they were engaged in a fierce fight with General Buell’s army. The Southerners initiated a very bold charge, which the Northerners were unable to stop, due to the lack of artillery support, so General Buell’s army was sent reeling back. Finally the Union’s artillery arrived, Buell reformed his troops in a new line of battle, even with artillery support Buell’s army was unable to stop the stubborn Confederate attack, again his army was forced to retreat.

At this point both armies were now fully engaged the entire length of the field. As the lines swayed first toward the river, then toward the church, the confederates were sustaining a terrible loss of life partially due to their poor manner of dress, they were clad in many different colored uniforms, this added to the confederate confusion of who the enemy was, they suffered a significant loss of life due to friendly fire.

At the old logged church, General Beauregard was engaged in a terrible fight trying to hold this position. He was hoping to be reinforced by General Van Dorn’s army of 20,000 men, who would approach on the Pittsburg road, he also needed to hold this position on the field because it was the best road leaving the battle field should the Southerners need to retreat to Corinth. General Beauregard received a message that General Van Dorn who was across the river, that he was unable to cross, with this information General Beauregard new that they would not be able to hold the field, so he ordered an organized retreat down the Pittsburg road.

On the other side of the field General Grant was trying to do everything in his power to keep Beauregard from holding his position, General Grant reinforced this section of the field. Thus the fighting became the fiercest all around the old logged church. Even though the tempo of battle had slacked off on either flank, Grants army was only able to advance very slowly, due to in most part to the courageous individual efforts of the men in gray. In total desperation the confederates made one last gallant charge, in doing so they had expended almost all of their ammunition, while some were already committed to the bayonet.

In falling back the confederates found themselves waist deep in the murky waters of a pond called “Oaks Pond”, which was soon to receive the name “Bloody Pond”, because facing the southerners was a blistering fire of musketry being fired from a solid line of blue. But still the boys in gray put up such a terrible fight they were actually able to halt the union’s advance once again. While they retreated this thin line of defense repulsed every union’s effort of advancing.

Ronald R Wallace

 

Part IV The Bloody Pond

Part II General Prentiss' Camp

Part I The Battle Begins

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