wrote home to childhood friend Clemmy Stem about the Battle of Shiloh.
Newspapers criticized Grant and Sherman for allowing the Confederates
to surprise the Union forces. McPherson's defense of Grant and Sherman
deepened the trust and loyalty between the three men. Grant made special
mention of McPherson's action and courage during the two-day battle.
McPherson clearly reveals the concept of courage expected of military
leaders of the period. Rather than seek shelter from enemy fire, McPherson
tells that he merely turned his horse about so that if shot, he would
avoid the humiliation of being shot in the back.
My Dear Friend Clemmy,
I have been trying ever since the receipt of your most welcome letter to find time to answer it and assure you, and the rest of my friends at the Springs that I am perfectly safe and well. The battle was indeed a terrible one, and on Sunday particularly a very desperate one for our cause as with 35,000 men we fought from about 7 o'clock in the morning until sunset against 75,000 of the best rebel troops led by their favorite Generals--But thanks to the bravery and energy with which our troops maintained their ground (with some exceptions) the rebels were prevented from breaking our lines or getting to the River thereby endangering our transports when night closed the contest. Sunday night we received reinforcements which placed us in something like an Equality in point of numbers with The Enemy & he was driven back some distance beyond where the fighting commenced Sunday morning, by four o'clock Monday afternoon. There have been so many misrepresentations in the newspapers about the Battle that I am perfectly disgusted. They all start out by assuming that we were perfectly surprised which is all a mistake. Time may correct the errors but it is all wrong for the newspapers and people generally away from the scene to condemn our Generals without knowing the facts. Public Confidence in them weakened, and aid and comfort given to the rebels. I was very sorry to lose my Horse, for he was a splendid animal & carried me through safely at Forts Henry & Donelson. He was shot through & through, the ball passing about three inches in rear of my legs. How I felt during the Battle I cannot pretend to say. The truth is I was so much occupied that I had no time to think of myself. Only once do I remember my thoughts & then I was sitting on my Horse talking to Gen'l Grant with my back in the direction from which the bullets were coming and thought it best to turn around so that if I was hit, I would not be hit in the back. My love to all Ever Your friend James
©2001 Sandusky County Scrapbook (Ohio). All rights reserved.
Site Designed by: JMG Digital Development Services.