Source: War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official
Records of the Union and Confederate Armies
Operations in Kentucky, Tennessee, North Mississippi, North Alabama, and Southwest Virginia. March 4- June 10, 1862.
No.203 Report of Col.Joseph Wheeler, Nineteenth Regiment Alabama Infantry.
HDQRS. NINETEENTH REGIMENT ALABAMA VOLS., Camp, three miles from Field of Shiloh, Tenn., April 12, 1862.
CAPTAIN: In compliance with General Orders, No.-, from headquarters of this army, I have the honor to state that, on the morning of the 6th instant, the Nineteenth Regiment Alabama Volunteers formed a part of General Jackson's brigade, the second from the right of the second line of battle.
When the first line opened the engagement a few of our men were wounded by the scattering shots of the enemy. We were then ordered forward and entered the more advanced Federal camps behind the first line. We were then directed to move about a mile to the right and front, where we formed in the first line of battle, in which we continued during the remainder of the day. At this point General A.S. Johnston ordered the regiment, with his own lips, to charge the camps of the Fifty-ninth Illinois Regiment, to do which it was necessary to pass down a deep ravine and mount a steep hill on the other side.
This duty was performed by the regiment, under a heavy fire from a screened foe, with rapidity, regularity, and cool gallantry. But little resistance was offered after reaching the camps, as the enemy fled before us to the crest of another ravine back of us, and about 200 yards from their camp. After forming line in the face of the enemy we were ordered to lie down, while the artillery was placed in position to our rear and fired over our heads sufficient to shake their line.
The regiment then moved forward rapidly, driving the enemy before it and dislodging him from every place he attempted to make a stand, taking several prisoners and killing and wounding a large number.
It was now about 3 o'clock in the afternoon. The regiment had been marching and fighting since 6.30 a.m., had been through three of the enemy's camps, and in three distinct engagements. The enemy being now driven from all their positions on our right, we were ordered to march to the left and center, where a heavy fire was going on. The regiment changed front forward on the tenth company, and marched rapidly by the right of companies to the front some 1 1/2 or 2 miles in the direction indicated, coming up on the left of General Chalmers' brigade.
The regiment, while marching through a burning wood, encountered a heavy fire from the enemy, who were drawn up in front of and to the right of a large camp, which fire the regiment returned with effect.
I was here met by General Chalmers, who told me his brigade was worn-out and overpowered by superior numbers, and said the troops must move to his assistance. The regiment then moved quickly to and in advance of his left, and dislodged the enemy from a strong position they had taken in large force, screened by a ridge and house. We advanced about 200 yards, the enemy having retreated a short distance to another hill, where they were re-enforced, and in a great measure secured from our fire.
The regiment here exhibited an example of cool, heroic courage which would do credit to soldiers of long experience in battle. Subjected as they were to a deadly fire of artillery and a cross-fire of infantry, they stood their ground with firmness and delivered their fire rapidly, but with cool deliberation and good effect. During this fire, General Chalmers' brigade having retired from our view, finding it necessary to move to the right, in order to support Colonel Moore, who had just come up with his regiment [the Second Texas], we were met by a new and warm fire, which was vigorously returned.
At this moment the enemy raised a white flag, which caused us to slacken our fire, but as a large force of theirs to the left of our front continued a heavy fire [probably not knowing that their commander had surrendered], I moved the regiment a few yards obliquely to the rear to secure a more favorable position. This fire was soon silenced. Our cavalry moved up and conducted the prisoners [amounting to about 3,000 men] out before us.
The regiment was then ordered to take charge of these prisoners and started with them to the rear, but was halted and formed in line, with orders to charge the enemy to the river; but after passing through the deep ravine below the lowest camps we were halted within about 400 yards of the river, and remained ready to move forward for about half an hour, when night came on, and we were ordered to the rear, and were assigned to bivouac by General Withers.
During all of this movement the regiment was under a heavy fire from their gunboats and other artillery.
The regiment slept on their arms during the night. Early next morning General Hardee came up with a body of troops and directed me to join him. After moving back a short distance we were met by General Withers, who took immediate command of a brigade of which the Nineteenth Regiment formed a part, and ordered us to move forward to support General Breckinridge. On reaching the ground we were placed on General Hardee's left, and by his order the regiment was deployed as skirmishers before his entire command.
After being again assembled the regiment again advanced and engaged the enemy.
About 11 o'clock General Chalmers' brigade came to our position, and we remained attached to his brigade, continually engaging the enemy, until we were ordered to retire in the evening, when we followed his brigade a short distance to the rear. General Withers here directed me to form a brigade by joining my regiment to some other troops, which he placed under my command. After the remainder of the army had passed to the rear of this brigade the final order was given for the brigade to retire.
This is a brief and necessarily imperfect report of the action of the regiment during the time called for by your order.
Too high praise cannot be accredited to the company officers and men for their conduct during the entire engagement. Exposed, as they had been for two nights previous, to drenching rains, without tents and with little covering, they were, of course, somewhat jaded, but at the first sound of the enemy's guns they moved forward with a cheerful alacrity and good order that showed clearly that it was such music as they loved. Under fire almost incessantly the first day, they moved from one position to another as they were ordered, not only with firmness, but with enthusiasm.
On Monday some of the officers and men were so exhausted as to be unable longer to endure the fatigues of the march and battle and the remainder evinced the most untiring endurance and excellent courage.
The list of casualties herewith presented, amounting to 33 1/3 per cent. of the aggregate strength of the regiment, both officers and men, on the 6th instant, testifies with sufficient eloquence to the patriotic devotion of the Nineteenth Alabama Regiment. One stand of the enemy's colors was taken by the regiment, which has been previously forwarded.
The gallant and heroic courage of the field and staff-Lieutenant.Col.E.K. Tracy, Major S.K.McSpadden, and Adjt.Clifton Walker-were conspicuous. Adjutant Walker was wounded on the 6th and retired from the field. Lieutenant-Colonel Tracy had his horse shot under him on Monday, and during the entire two days exhibited marked coolness and noble bearing. He, together with Major McSpadden, remained with the regiment from the beginning of the engagement Sunday morning until its termination Monday evening. Lieutenants Solomon Palmer, R.H. Hagood, J.N. Barry, J.E.Nabers, D.C. Hodo, W.H. Anderson, and B.L. Porter, and Sergt.Maj.P.L. Griffitts also remained with the regiment through the entire two days and displayed commendable fortitude and manly courage.
I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Colonel, Commanding Nineteenth Regiment Alabama Volunteers.
Asst.Adjt.Gen., Third Brigade, Withers' Division.