Report of
Col. Ralph P. Buckland
Seventy-second Ohio Infantry
Commanding Fourth Brigade

 

Col. Buckland was both the Colonel of the Seventy-second Ohio and the commander of the Fourth Brigade (of four brigades in Sherman's Division). Because of casualties and illness among the senior officers in his regiment he served both roles during the battle and did so very effectively according to Sherman's report. Buckland's was the only brigade in Sherman's division to survive as an organized unit through the entire battle. It did so despite the fact that it was assaulted very early by Confederate troops then flanked as the brigade to its left crumbled. This is all the more impressive when we consider that Buckland was not a professional military man. He was a lawyer who clearly obtained his rank through his considerable political clout. Although his law partner was Rutherford B. Hayes at the time it was Buckland who had more clout. Buckland's report is the report of a politician. He compliments many people and makes a great effort to promote the careers of those he deems worthy. The report adds detail to what we know from Sherman's and describes the action during the first day of the battle rather well. His report comments fairly extensively on Col. Sullivan of the 48th Ohio. Buckland was alert to the possibility of an attack and had organized his men to respond quickly. He must also have been particularly effective as brigade commander during the battle judging from Sherman's complementary comments. The 48th Ohio was with the seventy Second Ohio through all the early action that is described in detail here. The 70th Ohio was back with the 48th at the point Col. Buckland stops his detailed description because General Sherman, who the report was written for, was present with Buckland. At this point he simply wrote "I need not describe it." Would that he had written a complete description.   

 


 

OR: Chap XXII p 266-269
KY., TENN., N. MISS., N. ALA., AND SW. VA.
PITTSBURG LANDING, OR SHILOH, TENN.
No. 72.

Report of Col. Ralph P. Buckland, Seventy-second Ohio Infantry, commanding Fourth Brigade.

HEADQUARTERS FOURTH BRIGADE, FIFTH DIVISION,
April 9, 1862.

      SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the brigade under my command in the battle of Pittsburg:
      Between 6 and 7 o'clock on Sunday morning I was informed that our pickets were fired upon. I immediately gave orders for forming the brigade on the color line, which was promptly done. About this time I was informed that the pickets were being driven in. I ordered the Forty-eighth regiment, Colonel Sullivan, to advance in support of the pickets, which he did, but discovered that the enemy had advanced in force to the creek, about 80 to 100 rods in front. I immediately ordered the brigade to advance in line of battle. We had marched about 30 to 40 rods when we discovered the enemy, and opened fire upon him along the whole line, which checked his advance and caused him to fall back. Discovering that he was pushing a column up a narrow ravine, which extended from the left of the Seventy-second Regiment to the flat at the creek, bearing somewhat to the right, I ordered the Seventy-second to change front, so as to form a line parallel to the ravine extending down to the flat, Company B forming an angle across the lead of the ravine. In this position our line was maintained for more than two hours under a deadly fire from the enemy. Officers and men behaved with great coolness and bravery, keeping up a constant stream of fire upon the enemy. He several times recoiled and rallied, but did not advance his line after the action commenced until we were ordered to fall back upon the Purdy road, which we did in good order.
      Lieutenant-Colonel Canfield, in command of the Seventy-second Regiment, was mortally wounded early in the engagement and was carried from the field. Major Crockett had been taken prisoner on the Friday previous, which left the Seventy-second Regiment without any field officers, except myself. The captains of Companies A and B. and quite a number of the other company officers, were sick and unable to go into the action, consequently I remained on the right of the brigade and took command of the Seventy-second Regiment, having full confidence that Colonels Sullivan and Cockerill would maintain their parts of the line, which they did gallantly until the regiment on the left of my brigade gave way and we were ordered to fall back.
      In this action the Seventy-second had the lieutenant-colonel mortally wounded (since dead), Captain Wegstein, Company H, and 10 non-com- missioned officers end privates, killed, and 3 officers and 65 non-commissioned officers and privates wounded; the Forty-eighth Regiment, 8 privates killed and a large number wounded; the Seventieth Regiment, 5 privates killed and about 20 wounded. The enemy's loss was very heavy in front of this brigade. Eighty-five bodies of the enemy were counted along and at the foot of the ravine flanked by the Seventy-second Regiment, among which was the body of Colonel Mouton, of the Eighteenth Louisiana Regiment, as I learned from a wounded enemy found at our camp on our return. Large numbers of dead bodies were found on the enemy's line opposite our front, to the left of the 85, in the ravine. I think I may safely put the number killed by my brigade in that action at 200. The number of wounded must have been immense.
      We formed line again on the Purdy road, but the fleeing mass from the left broke through our lines, and many of our men caught the infection and fled with the crowd. Colonel Cockerill became separated from Colonel Sullivan and myself, and was afterwards engaged with part of his command at McClernand's camp. Colonel Sullivan and myself kept together and made every effort to rally our men, but with very poor success. They had become scattered in all directions. We were borne considerably to the left, but finally succeeded in forming a line and had a short engagement with the enemy, who made his appearance soon after our line was formed. The enemy fell hack, and we proceeded to the road, where you found us. At this point I was joined by Colonel Cockerill, and we there formed line of battle, and slept on our arms Sunday night. Colonel Sullivan, being out of ammunition, marched to the Landing for a supply, and while there was ordered to support a battery at that point. The next morning he joined me, and we rallied all the men we could, and advanced, under your directions, to McClernand's camp. At that point we were again brought into action at a critical time and under heavy fire. The manner in which my brigade came into line, and fought was observed by you, and therefore I need not describe it.
      In this action the Seventy-second lost 1 sergeant and 1 private killed and 6; privates wounded; the Forty-eighth had 6 privates killed, Colonel Sullivan and a large number of privates wounded; the Seventieth, 2 privates killed and about 10 wounded.
      In this action we advanced our line upon the enemy A considerable distance, and my brigade kept up their fire until their ammunition was expended, when we fell back, replenished, and again advanced, but were not afterwards engaged, the enemy being in full retreat. We encamped on Monday night in the camp we left on Sunday morning.
      On Tuesday morning, the 8th instant, my brigade, with others, marched in pursuit of the enemy on the road to Corinth some miles, and when a portion of Hildebrand's brigade engaged the enemy mine was ordered into line of battle, and came into line in gallant style, although the men were much fatigued by their labors and hardships during Sunday and Monday. The men were eager to engage the enemy again, but we were not called upon to do so. We returned to camp in the evening.
      Lists of the killed, wounded, and missing in the three regiments have been sent you.
      As to Colonels Sullivan and Cockerill, I need add nothing more. My report shows that they were always where duty called them, regardless of danger In the last action at McClernand's camp Colonel Sullivan was wounded in the arm. As to the officers and men under their command I refer to their respective reports.
      Lient. Col. Herman Canfield was mortally wounded on Sunday morning while bravely passing along the line encouraging and cheering the men. He was as brave as the bravest. Too much praise cannot be awarded to Lient. E. A. Rawson, adjutant Seventy-second Regiment Ohio Volunteers. His horse was shot under him on Sunday morning but he continued on foot, bravely performing his duty to the end of the battle. After the lieutenant-colonel was taken from the field Rawson was the only officer left to aid me in rallying and keeping the regiment together, and most nobly did he stand by me through all the vicissitudes of the battle.
      The following company officers were distinguished for bravery and good conduct throughout:
      Company A First Lieut. Henry W. Gifford (severely wounded Sunday morning), and Second Lieut. Spencer Russell; Company B, First Lient. Henry W. Buckland; Company O, First Lieut. M. T. Williamson; Company D, Capt. Andrew Nuhfer and First Lieut. M. A. Fowler; Company E, First Lieut. C. Dennis; Company F. Capt. Leroy Moore Company G, Capt. James Fernald; Company H, Captain Wegstein (killed Sunday morning), and First Lieut. Anthony Young; Company I, Capt. Jacob Fickes. Captain Eaton, Company A, Captain Raymond, Company B, Captain Thompson, Company K, Lieutenant Biddle, Company G, and Lieutenant Rice, Company F, were sick and unable to go into the action.
      I take the liberty to refer to the important services of Surg. J. B. Rice and the assistant surgeons of the Forty-eighth, Seventieth and Seventy-second Regiments Ohio Volunteers. They labored at the landing among the wounded almost incessantly night and day, taking no sleep for two days and nights. Also the chaplain of the Seventy-second, the Rev. A. B. Poe, who labored with the surgeon during the same time, rendering very important services.
      I take pleasure in commending Lieut. D. M. Harkness, quartermaster for the energy and good conduct displayed by him in his department during the battle. So many non-commissioned officers and privates displayed great courage that I cannot undertake to select individuals as more distinguished than others.
      Officers and men lost nearly everything, except what they had on their persons when the fight commenced. They are destitute of overcoats, blankets, knapsacks, and haversacks; also dress-coats, they having on their blouses.
            Your obedient servant,

                                                            R. P. BUCKLAND
                                          Colonel, Commanding Fourth Brigade

            General WILLIAM T. SHERMAN,
                  Commanding Division.
                        [Indorsement]


 

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