Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/323
The Battle of ShUoh. 315
decided not to prolong it, and gave orders to retire, but to turn and fight when it became necessary.
About 2 o'clock, accordingly, the movement began and was car- ried out with a steadiness never exceeded by veterans anywhere.
The enemy was so stunned and crippled they made no effort to pursue. General Beauregard planted his artillery on a favorable ridge which commanded the road and opened on the Federal posi- tion, but there was no response.
There was absolutely no desire on the part of the Federals to pur- sue. General Breckinridge, who was assigned to the duty of cover- ing the retreat, camped at a point not over four miles from Pittsburg Landing.
Shiloh was one of the bloodiest battles in history. General Beau- regard officially stated his loss at 1,720 killed, 8,012 wounded and 959 missing, an aggregate of 10,699.
Swinton places the Federal loss at 15,000, making the combined losses over 25,000.
Tuesday afternoon, Colonel Forrest, with two companies of his regiment, was acting as rear guard, when suddenly a force of the enemy advanced in three lines of battle. About this time Captain Isaac Harrison, with his company from Wirt Adams' Regiment, and two companies of the 8th Texas, and a company of Kentuckians, under Captain John Morgan, opportunely came up, making For- rest's force about 350 strong.
There was a favorable ridge just to the rear, and Forrest deter- mined to hold it if possible until his regiment could be brought up.
He formed in line, and very quickly two regiments of cavalry and a regiment of infantry were thrown forward to attack him.
The infantry advanced at a charge bayonets. The line was well preserved, until it reached a branch, where there was some confusion. Forrest, with his characteristic quickness of sight and wonted hardi- hood, determined to charge the Federal infantry.
He called to the bugler to sound the charge, and forward dashed the Confederate cavalrymen in superb order, yelling and shouting. They moved so quickly and unexpectedly, they were upon the enemy before they had time to anticipate it. At twenty paces, the boys gave a volley with their shotguns, then rushed on with their pistols.
So sudden was the onset that despite their numbers the Yankee cavalry broke in disorder, and rushing back through the woods, ran over their infantry, creating a scene of confusion unequaled proba-