1862_header.gif (113114 bytes)


Navy Official Records
Relating to First Shiloh

Navy O.R.-- Series 1--Volume 22, pp. 642-648

Engagement at Pittsburg Landing, Tenn., March 1, 1862.

Report of Flag-0fficer Foote, U. S. Navy, transmitting reports of commanding officers of the U. S. Gunboats Tyler and Lexington.

CAIRO, March 3, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to forward reports made to me by Lieutenants Commanding Gwin and Shirk, of the gunboats Tyler and Lexington, a synopsis of which I telegraphed to you immediately on their receipt. I can not too highly commend the cautious, judicious, and bold conduct of Lieutenant Commanding Gwin and his command in the service I have assigned him on the Tennessee River. I regret that it is not in my power to go up the Tennessee in person, but the most important attack upon Columbus to-morrow with five gunboats, four mortar boats in charge of Lieutenant Commanding Phelps, and the regiments, render my presence at that point absolutely necessary. I regret that the commandant at Fort Henry did not feel authorized, at my suggestion, to send a regiment or brigade up the river without waiting for authority from 'his superior officer, as the case called for immediate action and would have secured us an immediate and important victory. The Union sentiment is predominant on the borders of the Tennessee, but is repressed from apprehension that it will not receive support from Union troops. I trust that the Department will grant my request to have the prize gunboat Eastport fitted out immediately, as she is well adapted, from her speed, to take me to the different points of my command on the Mississippi. Tennessee, and Cumberland rivers in the shortest space of time. My foot is still painful, but I hope to lay aside my crutches in a few days. I wish to retain command of the flotilla, as I have the confidence of men and officers, but still consider it to be my duty to report my condition to the Department. I beg that the Department will send me two good lieutenants of a junior date to Lieutenant Commanding Shirk. I make this application with a full appreciation of the wants of the Department of Navy officers.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Flag-Officer, Comdg. U. S. Naval Forces, Western Waters.

Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D.C.

Report of Lieutenant Gwin, commanding U. S. S. Tyler.

Savannah, Tenn., March 1, 1862.

SIR: Having learned that the rebels had occupied and were fortifying a place called Pittsburg, 9 miles above, on the right bank of the river (the best point in the river for that purpose), I determined to attack them.

At 12 m. the Tyler, followed by the Lexington, Lieutenant Commanding Shirk, proceeded up the river. When within 1,200 yards of Pittsburg we were opened upon by the rebel batteries, consisting, as well as we could determine, of six or eight fieldpieces, some rifled.

Getting within 1,000 yards, the Tyler and Lexington opened a well-directed fire, and we had the satisfaction of silencing their batteries. We then proceeded abreast of the place and., under the cover of grape and canister, landed two armed boats from each vessel containing, besides their crews, a portion of Company C, Captain Thaddeus Phillips, and Company K, First Lieutenant John J. Rider, of the Thirty-second Regiment Illinois Volunteers (sharpshooters), Second Master Jason Goudy, commanding the boats of the Tyler, and Second Master Martin Dunn, commanding the boats of the Lexington. The landing was successfully accomplished, and this small force actually drove back the rebels and held them in check until they accomplished their difficult object, which was to discover their real strength and purpose, and to destroy a house in close proximity to the place where the batteries had been placed.

I found in addition to their artillery they had a force of not less than two regiments of infantry and a regiment of cavalry.

In conclusion, I have to state that the result was entirely satisfactory. Their batteries were silenced in a short time; the landing was effected; the house destroyed; and we discovered from their breastworks that they were preparing to fortify strongly this point.

Too much praise can not be given to Lieutenant Commanding Shirk for the efficient manner in which his vessel was handled.

My thanks are due to Captain Phillips, Lieutenant Rider, and their men for the gallant manner in which, in the face of the enemy, they charged up the hill, drove back, and held in check, the rebels until the boats' crews had effected the destruction of the house designated.

The officers and men of this vessel behaved with the greatest spirit and enthusiasm. Much praise is due to First Master Edward Shaw and Third Master James Martin for the efficient manner in which the batteries were worked.

I would particularly call your attention to the gallant conduct of Second Master Jason Goudy, in charge of the boats on shore, who succeeded in destroying the house under such heavy fire, and Gunner Herman Peters, in charge of the howitzer, who displayed the greatest coolness and courage, although exposed to the whole fire of the enemy, all but one of his men having been wounded.

My thanks are also due to Pilots Hiner and Sebastian for their coolness under such a tremendous fire of musketry, our vessel being perfectly riddled with balls.

My aid, Acting Paymaster William B. Coleman, rendered me valuable assistance during the action.

I have sent Lieutenant Commanding Shirk to Cairo with the transport Izetta, loaded with the balance of the wheat I left at Clifton. I shall remain about here, paying Pittsburg a daily visit, which I hope will prevent the rebels from accomplishing their object. Captain Shirk will lay before you the importance of keeping open this, as well as all other points above here.

I have learned from reliable authority that the rebels have some 4,000 troops in Florence, five or six thousand in and about Eastport and I. U. Ka. [Iuka] (near Bear Creek Bridge), and that they are fortifying in that vicinity. You will see, therefore, the necessity of my remaining here.

We expended 95 shell, 30 stand of grape, 10 of canister, and 67 rounds of shrapnel, grape, etc., from howitzer.

Enclosed is Acting Assistant Surgeon T. H. Kearney's report of casualties, to whom I am indebted for his unremitting attention to the wounded.

I feel confident that we inflicted a severe loss on the enemy, as several bodies were seen on the ground and many seen to fall.

I also enclose Lieutenant Commanding Shirk's report.

Hoping that my course will meet your approbation, I have the honor to be,

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Lieut., Comdg. Division of Gunboats, Tennessee River.

 Flag-Officer A. H. FOOTE, U. S. Navy,
Commanding Naval Forces on Western Waters.

[ Enclosure. ]

List of casualties sustained on board the U. S. gunboat Tyler, March 1, 1862, in the action at Pittsburg, Tenn.

Pleasant Gilbert, seaman; gunshot wound of leg, necessitating amputation of the limb. Crawford T. Hill, seaman; gunshot wound of forearm. John Matthews, seaman; gunshot (flesh) wound of shoulder, slight. G. W. Shull, seaman; gunshot wound of back, slight. Robert Bell, seaman; gunshot wound of arm (flesh) and chest; not penetrating.

In detachment of Thirty-second Regiment Illinois Volunteers, U. S. Army (Company C), carried on board: Captain Phillips, gunshot wound (flesh) of leg. Daniel Messick, orderly sergeant; killed.


Assistant Surgeon, U. S. Gunboat Service.

 Lieutenant Commanding W. GWIN.

Report of Lieutenant Shirk, U. S. Navy, commanding U. S. S. Lexington.

Savannah, Tenn., March 1, 1862.

SIR: In company with the gunboat Tyler, Lieutenant Commanding Gwin, I this day proceeded in this vessel up the river to a landing on the west side, called Pittsburg, distant about 9 miles from this place.

When we had arrived within 1,200 or 1,300 yards of Pittsburg, we were fired upon by a rebel battery, consisting, as well as I could judge, of six or eight fieldpieces, one of which at least was rifled.

We returned their fire with shell, which was exceedingly well directed, and continued until after their guns were silenced.

By order of Lieutenant Commanding Gwin I dispatched on shore two armed boats in charge of Second Master Martin Dunn, containing, in addition to their own proper crews, a detachment of Company K, Thirty-second Regiment Illinois Volunteers, commanded by First Lieutenant John J. Rider, with orders to follow the motions of the Tyler's boats.

While the boats were being landed we kept up a steady fire of grape and shell, raking the side of the hill.

The landing party having accomplished their object, and being met by a much superior force, retired, receiving in their retreat a most terrific fire of musketry. The enemy also fired several volleys of musketry at the gunboats, and then retired back from the brow of the hill.

After the boats returned we gave the rebels a few more shell and, receiving no answer, we dropped down the river to this place.

My men report having seen several dead rebels upon the hill and I, myself, saw a shell from this vessel, after the return of the boats, take effect upon a field officer, emptying his saddle, and dropping 3 foot soldiers.

I can not speak in too high terms of the gallantry, good discipline, and spirit evinced by the officers and men whom I have the honor to command.

For the efficient services of himself and his command I am greatly indebted to First Lieutenant John J. Rider, Company K, Thirty-second Regiment Illinois Volunteers.

I regret to have to report the following casualties, viz: James Sullivan (seaman), killed; Patrick Sullivan (seaman), missing; Thomas M. Borland (seaman), missing; John Hines (corporal), Company K, Thirty-second Regiment Illinois Volunteers.

James Sullivan was seen to fall upon the field, shot through the breast.

During the action there were expended 45 8-inch shell, 25 6-inch shell, and 16 stand of grape.

Two rifles and one musket are missing; they are those taken by the unfortunate men whom we have lost.

I have the honor to be, sir, your most obedient servant,

Lieutenant, Commanding.

 Flag-Officer A. H. FOOTE,
Comdg. U. S. Naval Forces, Western Waters, Cairo, Ill.

 Report of Flag-Officer Foote, U. S. Navy, transmitting additional information.

CAIRO, March 6, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to forward a report just received from Lieutenant Commanding Gwin, of the Tyler, communicating important information, which, with a telegram just received from General Grant, commanding at Fort Henry, stating that the rebels were fortifying Savannah, on the Tennessee River, and calling for an additional gunboat, has been communicated to General Halleck. I shall probably send an additional gunboat, making three boats on that river.

The Assistant Secretary of War is now in my office and is informed of the state of things, and we shall be able to meet the demands, I trust, by having a force at hand sufficient to prevent any fortifications being erected on the Tennessee as far up as the stage of water will permit the gunboats to ascend the river.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D. C.

[ Enclosure. ]

Cairo, Ill., March 5, 1862.

SIR: I have returned from up the Tennessee, having left Pittsburg (the place of our late engagement) last night. The enemy has not renewed his attempt to fortify. I watched the point closely, and yesterday landed under flag of truce, which was allowed to go a mile from the river before being stopped by their pickets. No sign of a renewed attempt could be discovered.

In my report of the engagement. I stated that I felt confident the enemy had suffered severely. I can now report that on the morning after the engagement (Sunday), 9 dead bodies and 100 wounded, many of them mortally, were counted in their camp, which had been removed the evening of the engagement 3 miles back from the river. Some tents, where they were-carrying badly wounded men they would not allow anyone to visit, they were still bringing in wounded. There is no doubt of the correctness of the above.

It was reported that they buried 15 the evening of the engagement. I think I can safely put their loss down at 20 killed and 100 wounded.

Their force, engaged on that day, was 1,000 infantry (Louisiana), 500 cavalry (Mississippi), besides a battery of six pieces of field artillery. Two guns, 32-pounders, were on the ground, but not mounted.

I have reliable information that the enemy have now at Corinth. Miss., 18 miles from the Tennessee River (Pittsburg), junction of Mobile and Ohio and Memphis and Charleston railroads, 15,000 to 20,000 troops.

At Henderson Station, 18 miles from Coffee Landing, Tennessee River, and 35 miles by railroad from Corinth, some 10,000 or 12,000, bodies of troops arriving every day, mostly from Columbus, and some from Louisiana.

At Bear Creek Bridge, 7 miles back of Eastport, Miss., they have from 8,000 to 10,000, and are fortifying.

At Chickasaw, Ala., I understand, they are erecting heavy batteries. This last not very reliable.

Information received last night near Savannah, Tenn., from a reliable source indicates that General [A. Sidney] Johnston, with all his force, is falling back from Murfreesboro to Decatur, Ala., the place where the Memphis and Charleston Railroad crosses the Tennessee River and the junction of the railroad leading from Nashville to that place, showing that they are preparing to send large reinforcements to Bear Creek.

The result of the recent elections in Hardin and McNairy counties, South Tennessee, will prove to you that the Union sentiment is very strong throughout that section of the State.

The former gave 500 majority for the Union candidate out of a poll of 1,000 votes; the latter gave 200 majority Union out of a poll of 1,800 votes.

The constant cry from them to me is, "Send us arms and a sufficient force to protect us in organizing and we will drive the secessionists out of Tennessee ourselves."

I enlisted a few more men. Captain Phillips recruited several for his company.

I have captured J. B. Kendrick, of Captain [B. A.] Fitzgerald's company of Tennessee volunteers, who represents himself as a colonel of militia of the State of Tennessee, and Clay Kendrick, private in Captain Fitzgerald's company, Colonel Crews's regiment, Tennessee volunteers.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Lieutenant, Comdg. Division of Gunboats on Tennessee River.

 Flag-Officer A. H. FOOTE, U. S. Navy,
Commanding Naval Forces on Western Waters.

Return to main article