What was Michigan’s involvement in the Battle of Shiloh, which began 140 years ago today?
Several units were present: Battery B, 1st Michigan Light Artillery; 12th Michigan Infantry; 13th Michigan Infantry; and 15th Michigan Infantry. On the front of the Michigan monument, placed there in 1918, is a plaque with this text:
-- THIS MONUMENT is erected and dedicated by THE PEOPLE OF MICHIGAN to the memory of HER SOLDIERS who fought and fell in THE BATTLE OF SHILOH. The 12th MICHIGAN INFANTRY met the first Confederate line in the early morning of April 6, 1862, and helped to resist its sudden advance. 27 killed, 54 wounded, 109 missing - total, 190 men. The 15th MICHIGAN INFANTRY, unassigned, although not supplied with ammunition, moved to the front as the battle opened, endeavoring to meet the Confederates with bayonets, but was forced to return to the Landing for ammunition, after which it "fought with conspicuous gallantry" until the close of the battle. Losing 23 killed, 74 wounded, 5 missing - total, 102 men. ROSS' BATTERY B, MICHIGAN LIGHT ARTILLERY was conspicuous in the desperate struggles of the first day in the "Peach Orchard" and near the "Bloody Pond", fighting until ordered to retire. While preparing to execute this order, it was changed and captured by Confederate cavalry within a few feet of this monument, losing four of its six guns. Losses: 5 wounded, 56 missing - total, 102 men. More enduring than this granite will be the gratitude of Michigan to her soldiers of Shiloh. --
The monument does not mention that the 13th Michigan Infantry was also present, since “It was assigned to Wood's division of General Buell's army, then marched to Pittsburgh Landing to reinforce General Grant, when they arrived there at the close of the two days fighting.” (Source: Robertson, Michigan in the War) It was part of the 20th Brigade (James A. Garfield, commanding) of the 6th Division of the Army of the Ohio.
Then there’s a person not always associated with Michigan’s involvement, David Stuart. Who? According to the Elmwood Cemetery website, “David Stuart was the second child of Robert Stuart, a fur trader and partner of John Jacob Astor. He attended Amherst College and graduated in 1838. In 1842, Stuart was admitted to the Michigan Bar and was appointed Detroit City Attorney. Stuart was appointed Wayne County Prosecutor in 1844. As the Democratic candidate, he was elected to Congress from the Michigan First District. At the end of his term in 1855, he retired from politics and moved to Chicago as one of the attorneys for the Illinois Central Railroad.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, Stuart set out to raise troops. He raised two regiments of 1,000 men each and equipped them from his own funds. On July 22, 1861, Stuart was elected Lt. Colonel of the 1st Douglas Regiment and on October 31, he was elected Colonel of the 55th Regiment. Colonel Stuart was in command of a brigade in Sherman’s division at the Battle of Shiloh where he was severely wounded. On December 2, 1862, President Lincoln appointed David Stuart, Brigadier General. The appointment was not confirmed by Congress and Stuart resigned his commission. He returned to Detroit and resumed his law practice. He died on September 12, 1868.” His burial location: Elmwood, in Detroit.
Anything else about his service? According to the National Park Service, “Each side produced many heroes that bloody day at Shiloh. Col. David Stuart, fighting a prewar reputation as a scoundrel, would be one of them.” (see http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/civil_war_series/22/sec6.htm)
There’s obviously quite a story here, but it is altogether to quote from Sherman’s battle report:
“My Second Brigade, Colonel Stuart, was detached near 2 miles from my headquarters. He had to fight his own battle on Sunday, as the enemy interposed between him and General Prentiss early in the day. Colonel Stuart was wounded severely, and yet reported for duty on Monday morning, but was compelled to leave during the day ….”
He died only 52 years of age on September 12, 1868.