Headquarters District of West Tennessee, Pittsburg, TN April 9, 1862. Captain:
It becomes my duty again to report another battle fought between two great armies, one contending for the maintenance of the best government ever devised, the other for its destruction. It is pleasant to record the success of the army contending for the former principle.
On Sunday morning our pickets were attacked and driven in by the enemy. Immediately the five divisions stationed at this place were drawn up in line of battle, ready to meet them. The battle soon waxed warm on the left and center, varying at times to all parts of the line. The most continuous firing of musketry and artillery ever heard on this continent was kept up until nightfall, the enemy having forced the entire line to fall back nearly half way from their camps to the Landing.
At a late hour in the afternoon a desperate effort was made by the enemy to turn our left and get possession of the Landing, transports, &c. This point was guarded by the gunboats Tyler and Lexington, Captains Gwin and Shirk, U.S. Navy, commanding, four 20-pounder Parrott guns and a battery of rifled guns.
As there is a deep and impassable ravine for artillery or cavalry, and very difficult for infantry, at this point, no troops were stationed here, except the necessary artillerists and a small infantry force for their support. Just at this moment the advance of Major-General Buell's column (a part of the division under General Nelson) arrived, the two generals named both being present. An advance was immediately made upon the point of attack and the enemy soon driven back. In this repulse much is due to the presence of the gunboats Tyler and Lexington, and their able commanders, Captains Gwin and Shirk.
During the night the divisions under Generals Crittenden and McCook arrived. General Lewis Wallace, at Crump's Landing, 6 miles below, was ordered at an early hour in the morning to hold his division in readiness to be moved in any direction to which it might be ordered. At about 11 o'clock the order was delivered to move it up to Pittsburg, but owing to its being led by a circuitous route did not arrive in time to take part in Sunday's action.
During the night all was quiet, and feeling that a great moral advantage would be gained by becoming the attacking party, an advance was ordered as soon as day dawned. The result was a gradual repulse of the enemy at all parts of the line from morning until probably 5 o'clock in the afternoon, when it became evident the enemy was retreating. Before the close of the action the advance of General T. J. Wood's division arrived in time to take part in the action.
My force was too much fatigued from two days' hard fighting and exposure in the open air to a drenching rain during the intervening night to pursue immediately.
Night closed in cloudy and with heavy rain, making the roads impracticable for artillery by the next morning. General Sherman, however, followed the enemy, finding that the main part of the army had retreated in good order.
Hospitals of the enemy's wounded were found all along the road as far as pursuit was made. Dead bodies of the enemy and many graves were also found.
I inclose herewith report of General Sherman, which will explain more fully the result of this pursuit.
Of the part taken by each separate command I cannot take special notice in this report, but will do so more fully when reports of division commanders are handed in.
General Buell, coming on the field with a distinct army long under his command, and which did such efficient service, commanded by himself in person on the field, will be much better able to notice those of his command who particularly distinguished themselves than I possibly can.
I feel it a duty, however, to a gallant and able officer, Brig. Gen. W. T. Sherman, to make a special mention. He not only was with his command during the entire two days' action, but displayed great judgment and skill in the management of his men. Although severely wounded in the hand the first day his place was never vacant. He was again wounded, and had three horses killed under him.
In making this mention of a gallant officer no disparagement is intended to the other division commanders, Maj. Gens. John A. McClernand and Lewis Wallace, and Brig. Gens. S. A. Hurlbut, B. M. Prentiss, and W. H. L. Wallace, all of whom maintained their places with credit to themselves and the cause.
General Prentiss was taken prisoner in the first day's action, and General W. H. L. Wallace severely, probably mortally, wounded. His assistant adjutant-general, Capt. William McMichael, is missing; probably taken prisoner.
My personal staff are all deserving of particular mention, they having been engaged during the entire two days in conveying orders to every part of the field. It consists of Col. J. D. Webster, chief of staff; Lieut. Col. J. B. McPherson, chief engineer, assisted by Lieuts. W. L. B. Jenney and William Kossak; Capt. J. A. Rawlins, assistant adjutant-general; Capts. W. S. Hillyer, W. R. Rowley, and C. B. Lagow, aides-de-camp; Col G. G. Pride, volunteer aide, and Capt. J.P. Hawkins, chief commissary, who accompanied me upon the field.
The medical department, under the direction of Surgeon Hewitt, medical director, showed great energy in providing for the wounded and in getting them from the field regardless of danger.
Colonel Webster was placed in special charge of all the artillery and was constantly upon the field. He displayed, as always heretofore, both skill and bravery. At least in one instance he was the means of placing an entire regiment in a position of doing most valuable service, and where it would not have been but for his exertions.
Lieutenant-Colonel McPherson, attached to my staff as chief engineer, deserves more than a passing notice for his activity and courage. All the grounds beyond our camps for miles have been reconnoitered by him, and plats carefully prepared under his supervision give accurate information of the nature of approaches to our lines. During the two days' battle he was constantly in the saddle, leading troops as they arrived to points where their services were required. During the engagement he had one horse shot under him.
The country will have to mourn the loss of many brave men who fell at the battle of Pittsburg, or Shiloh, more properly. The exact loss in killed and wounded will be known in a day or two. At present I can only give it approximately at 1,500 killed and 3,500 wounded.
The loss of artillery was great, many pieces being disabled by the enemy's shots and some losing all their horses and many men. There were probably not less than 200 horses killed.
The loss of the enemy in killed and left upon the field was greater than ours. In wounded the estimate cannot be made, as many of them must have been sent back to Corinth and other points.
The enemy suffered terribly from demoralization and desertion.
A flag of truce was sent in to-day from General Beauregard. I inclose herewith a copy of the correspondence.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant.
Capt. N.H. McLean,
A. A. G., Dept. of the Miss., Saint Louis, Mo.
Note: by Major General U.S. Grant