75                                  HISTORY OF THE SEVENTY-EIGHTH REGIMENT O.V.V.I.


           On Sabbath morning, April 6th, the terrible conflict commenced at Pittsburg Landing. Our army, with General Lew. Wallace's Division, which was yet at Adamsville, numbered between fifty and sixty thousand men. The rebels ninety thousand. The army encamped around Shiloh Church, about four miles from the Landing. Our troops exhibited great carelessness in having no defenses constructed, and permitting themselves thus to be surprised, so that the rebels had possession of much of our line of battle, before our forces had time to form in line. The three divisions of Sherman, Prentiss and M'Clernand were in the advance, and formed a line taking in all the roads towards Corinth and Purdy. General Hurlburt and Smith were in the rear.

           The rebel army on Saturday night encamped within a few rods of our pickets, and could hear distinctly our Orderly Sergeants calling the rolls at tattoo. General Beauregard commanded the right of the rebel army, General Breckinridge the left, and General Albert Sidney Johnston the center.

           On Sabbath, at morning dawn, the pickets of Prentiss and Sherman were driven in, and the rebels came in a swift overwhelming rush. The "long roll" sounded through the camps of the Federal army, but ere our men got into line, the log sweeping lines of the enemy were pressing forward with trifling resistance, and their shot and shell came crashing into our camps thick and fast. The enemy at first came marching by the flank, halted, then faced to the rear, and immediately about-faced, within a few rods of our lines, sent their volleys into our ranks that were standing in line of battle. We were completely surprised, supposing them to be General Lew. Wallace's Division, coming from Adamsville, taking position in front. So sudden was the dash of the enemy that some of our officers and men were bayonetted in their tents.

           General Grant did not arrive upon the field till half-past eight in the morning, consequently there could be little concentration of action. Each General had as much as he could do to hold him men to the work, and meet with firmness the shock.

           Prentiss' command was flanked by the enemy and soon enclosed, and thus four thousand of his men were taken prisoners. General Sherman fought with the most terrible desperation, but being overwhelmed was compelled to retreat to save his Division from annihilation. The fighting on the part of McClernand was most obstinate and desperate.

           By noon nearly all our batteries had lost their horses, and many guns were captured, and the whole line driven back to Hurlbut's and Smith's Divisions, where the fighting become most deadly to both armies. Albert Sidney Johnston was killed in leading a charge upon our lines. Here the rebels were repulsed three or four times, but succeeded in breaking them finally. Slowly our shattered lines were driven back toward the Landing. About 5 P. M., Major Webster, of General Grant's Staff, saw that the work was nearly done, and our army almost completely defeated and routed, collected all the guns he could, and artillerists from the different commands, and placed them in a crescent form. When the rebels came charging toward the Landing, and flushed with victory, thinking before dark to end the conflict by complete disaster to the Union army, twenty-one guns broke forth at once, and poured such a deadly fire into the rebel ranks that they recoiled. The gunboats at this time getting the range, sent their Parrott shells thick and fast into the rebel ranks, that made them retreat in confusion beyond their range.

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