Friday, April 06, 2012

Shiloh 150: Day 1, April 6, 1862

Shiloh was one of the first mass battles of the American Civil War (and of any war) that I learned about as a kid. Samuel France (1839-1900), a direct paternal ancestor (my father's great grandfather), was there with "The Vigo Tigers," Company E, 31st Indiana Volunteer Infantry. The fighting, first major battle for him after Fort Donelson, was horrific. Early that morning, the Confederate army launched a massive surprise attack on the Union front, but the 31st Indiana had time to form line of battle in the area now known as the Sunken Road and Hornet's Nest, where it delivered endless mass volleys of rifle fire at attacking Confederates, who made it to within ten yards of their front line. Samuel France suffered some sort of physical rupture here, but continued in action. Colonel Charles Cruft, brigade commander, was badly wounded, but continued fighting until his regiments were withdrawn to the greater safety of General Ulysses S. Grant's final artillery-packed line. By that time, Confederate commander Albert Sidney Johnston, was dead, apparently killed accidentally by one of his own men in the area of the Peach Orchard and Bloody Pond. Grant's final line held off the final Confederate attackers, blasting them with artillery and musketry as they hurled themselves forward with wild abandon.

Shiloh was a devastating battle for those who fought there. The 31st Indiana alone, out of 594 men engaged, lost more than 140 casualties, about 25% of the regiment. Even though he survived it, Shiloh probably took several years off the "natural" lifespan of Samuel France and thousands of others like him.

Today's Rune: Wholeness.      

1 comment:

jodi said...

Erik, less war and more food. And wine!! Happy Easter, friend!