Chapter V -- Retrospect of Bloody Pond

Beauregard's army reached Corinth and went into camp and to building breastworks around the place, and there I will leave him to recuperate his army, and reflect over "what might have been."

But I cannot leave this battlefield without mentioning Colonel Bates' Second Regiment of Tennesseans: Just before Shiloh the Confederate Government had commenced to give sixty days furlough to all soldiers who would reinlist for two more years service. The Second Tennessee had reenlisted, received their furloughs and were ready to start for home, but the battle of Shiloh coming on suddenly, each man volunteered to go and help in that battle, and no other regiment lost heavier than did the Second Tennessee. A large monument of granite now stands on the battlefield to commemorate this deed, erected by admiring friends.

It fell to my lot less than a year ago (written by Ray April 14, 1915) to again visit this old battlefield which has been cleared of all brush and rubbish; gravel driveways run all over the grounds so that it is easy to visit any part of it. Metallic markers are placed all over the field so that it is an easy matter to follow the route of any command, and by the aid of these markers I followed the route of my command on both days of this battle. Less than a mile from the river I came upon a tablet placed there by the Federal Battlefield Commissioners and bearing the inscription: "The 154th Tennessee Regiment held this line from 1 'till 4 P.M. on April 7, when it withdrew and retired from the field."

This is claimed to be one of the finest military parks in the world, and with few exceptions, all Northern States and most every regiment from the Northern States is represented by one or more monuments on this field.

The cost of this park must have reached into the millions of dollars; the state of Iowa having one monument of granite ninety feet high, which alone cost $100,000.

The spot where Johnston fell is still pointed out as one of the places of most interest; the tree under which he died is enclosed by a fence, and nearby is another noted place of interest: the bloody pond, given this name because of its waters becoming stained with blood on the days of this battle. The pond is situated on a high, level plateau about three fourths of a mile from the Tennessee river, and at the time of this battle the pond covered something near an acre of clear, pure water, and as the Federal army was falling back on the first day of battle their wounded gathered at this pond to bathe their wounds and slake their thirst, many of them dying as they lay around this pond.

When the Confederates, in their advance, passed this pond, the same thing occurred and wounded Confederates were brought to the pond that they might get water to drink and to bathe their wounds, and some to die. Here the Blue and the Gray were dying side by side. Men who a few hours before had been locked in mortal combat now sought the same cool resting place to yield up their spirits, together, to the God who gave them.

When the battle was over it was said that this pond was stained with blood, hence the name, bloody pond.

On a high bluff overlooking the Tennessee river is the Government cemetery, one of the most noted and beautiful cemeteries in the world, where thousands of Union soldiers are buried, many of them sleeping in unknown graves. This cemetery covers several acres of ground and is enclosed with a stone wall. Several nice buildings are there and furnished homes for the warden and the force employed in keeping the cemetery repaired and beautiful. This cemetery is visited annually by many thousands of visitors from all sections of the nation.

At the time I last visited this place, a steamer, the Morning Star, was there, loaded with excursionists from Davenport, Iowa. The Captain of this vessel: E.W. Talmon, took a group of us in charge and showed us every courtesy possible, showing us over his boat, which was a beautiful, large, side wheeler. He introduced us to several passengers of whom there were about three hundred. Several of them were ex-Union soldiers who had been in this battle, and when it became known that I had been in this battle on the Confederate side I became the center of attraction and the hero of the hour. In all my life I have never met a more sociable gathering of people than was this party of Iowans, and to Captain Talmon and S.M. Fisher, an attorney from Davenport, I am still indebted for their favors.

A few years ago a terrible tornado passed through this battlefield, blowing down timber and doing a great deal of damage to the monumental work. The damage has now been repaired and is scarcely noticeable. On this field the absence of monuments to the Confederate dead was most conspicuous, only two such monuments having been erected, the one before mentioned which was in honor of Bathes' regiment, and one to the Alabamians who fell on that field, and which was erected by the Daughters of the Confederacy of that state.

The Daughters of the Confederacy throughout the South are now raising funds to build a suitable monument to the Confederate dead, whose bodies now lie scattered over the field, buried in unknown and unmarked graves. All traces of the Confederate dead have now become obliterated and nothing remains to show where the thousands of Confederates lie buried on that field.

Next: Shiloh to Corinth & Environs
Previous: Shiloh
Table of Contents