Friday, April 6, 2012

Twas on the 6th of April, just at the break of day...

150 years ago it ended, if there was any niave notion left that the war was going to be short it died along with thousands of young men in the thickets and farmfields around the primative little Shiloh Church. The blood spilled that day would have drowned James Chestnut. Shiloh was the first battle for most of the regiments that would in a few months become the Army of Tennessee. This brutal birth forever scared many units like the 15th Arkansas Infantry. The 15th Arkansas was originally designated the 1st Arkansas, but lost that designation to a regiment sent to Virginia in 1861, and contained young men who were on the make and strongly supported secession. The 15th elected Patrick Cleburne as their Colonel and would make up one of the regiments of his brigade when he was promoted to Brigadier General. At Shiloh they led his brigade into action as the skirmishers for his command under the command of Lieutenant Colonel A.K. Patton. During the early phases of the fighting along the marshy banks of Shiloh branch and the mud slick slopes of Shiloh Hill the 15th suffered severely. The Arkansasans would continue to fight through the rest of the battle and at the end only a handful of men remained to leave the field with their battle ravaged flag. The 15th had entered the mist that April morning as a regiment of young men seeking a chance to prove themselves, to see the elephant, and they left the field a broken company, only 58 men were standing. In the days and weeks that followed men returned to the ranks, but not enough to enable the regiment to stand on its own, for the rest of its career the 15th would have to be consolidated with other regiments to field a regimental strength. The shadow of Shiloh would haunt the survivors of the 15th Arkansas for the rest of the war.

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