May 7 1862 - Report after Shiloh from PA colonel.
Letter from Col. Housum.
We find an interesting extract of a letter, written by Lieut. Col. Housum from the battle field of Shiloh, in the last number of the Chambersburg Valley Spirit. Col. Housum, it will be remembered, was Captain of a Chambersburg Company. which was stationed in this town last summer, but is now the Lieut. Col. of Staumbaugh’s Regiment, which was recruited in the vicinity of Chambersburg. The extract is as follows :—
Battle Field of Shiloh,
Near Pittsburg Landing, Tenn.;
Since writing yesterday we have moved our camp me and a half miles further out on the Corinth road.
I was trying to have it done for several days past.— The stench from dead men and horses was awful.— Close to where my tent was, 14 rebels and 2 of our men were buried about a half mile off, in one grave were buried over 200 rebels. I have seen some most awful sights and hope to God I may never witness the like again. On last Tuesday morning, after the battle, we began to hunt dead men scattered about singly. At one place a cannon-ball had passed through a large oak tree, and afterwards killed 5 rebels by passing, through their breasts, and they all laid in one heap as they fell. At another place 5 men were torn to pieces by the explosion of a shell and at another 7 were killed by a shell. I saw where one man had been torn to pieces, so much so that only about one half of him could be found to be buried. At one place, about the size of a lot, were found the bodies of about, 60 rebels, many of them must have only been wounded ; after they fell the woods caught fire and burned them all to death, burning the clothes entirely from their bodies. That was the most awful sight I saw on the whole battlefield. The rebels never sent back to bury their dead, or to take care of their wounded. Many a poor fellow wounded lay out from Sunday until Tuesday before he was found. I have no doubt but many of the wounded died who would have been saved if they could have been found sooner. The ground on which the battle was fought is 7 miles wide by 10 miles long. Some of our scouts returned last night and report the bodies of hundreds of rebels still, unburied about six miles in advance and almost within their lines. It is most inhuman in them to allow their dead to remain unburied They carried some of their wounded from the field on Sunday, dressed their wounds for them, filled their haversacks and left them to die. I saw one man on Wednesday after the battle who had been dead some time with a cracker in his hand, as if he had been eating it when he died. We suffered after the battle for want of water. There were plenty of small streams running through the ground, but as a matter of course the blood would destroy it for drinking purposes. I drank water that I could taste the blood in it, but latterly it tasted worse than that, and we cannot use it at all. The Major of the 34th Illinois, (Levanway,) had his head shot off by a cannon ball soon after we got into action. The colonel of the same regiment is severely wounded. The Colonel of the Indiana regiment, (S. S. Bass,) was badly wounded and has since died. Our regiment escaped, how I cannot tell.— We had only eight men wounded and one missing.— One of the wounded, Thomas McElwee, has since died [I have just learned that he is still living.] The missing man is supposed to have been killed during the battle. Horses were killed without number.— Our regiment at one fire killed over 20 horses, and 6 or 8 men, belonging to a rebel battery of Artillery, when they ran and left the cannon in our possession. We fired into a regiment of rebel cavalry near the close of the battle, and some of the rebel prisoners say we killed and wounded about 50 men. Our guns are splendid. I consider them the best in the service.
The 77th is the only Pennsylvania regiment that was in the battle. The battery came up day before yesterday. They were in hearing of the flight but could not get here, for which they appeared sorry. For my part I am well satisfied that they were not here as it was a hard battle on artillerists.
P. B. HOUSUM,
Lieut. Col. 77th Reg-’t P. V.
Herald of Freedom & Torch Light
Washington County Free Library
Hagerstown (Md.), Newspapers; Maryland, History, Civil War, 1861-1865
Washington County (Md.), 1861-1865