Article of the Battle of Perryville, Ky.
Source: Daily Evansville Journal, October 21, 1862
(From the Washington Telegraph)
The Battle of Perryville.
REBELS BADLY WHIPPED
THE FORTY-SECOND INDIANA REGT.
Battlefield, Near Perryville,
Forty-Second Reg't. I. V.
October 10, 1862
Messers Editors: -- I embrace the earliest opportunity of giving
you a sketch of the battle near Perryville, Ky., which commenced
on the evening of the 8th, inst., near one o'clock P.M. of what
occurred outside of the 17th brigade, I am not able to inform you,
nor can I particularize about any regiment but the 42d. However,
this I do know form personal observation: That never can troops
fight more bravely than did the 10th Ohio, led by the gallant
Lieut. Colonel Burke, on who, too much honor and praise cannot be
bestowed. Of the 15th Kentucky, led by Col. Pope, who received a
wound in the shoulder, the same may be said, and the 3d Ohio, led
by Col. Beatty, and the 88th Indiana, led by Col. Humphreys, the
same may be said: for all did honor for the cause of the Union
and liberty. But as I can only speak in general terms of those
noble regiments and their brave officers. I will hasten to speak
in particular of the part played in the fearful drama by the 42d,
in which your readers are more particularly interested.
About 10 o'clock the 42d was ordered to take position in a dry
creek, at the foot of a rugged hill, about three hundred yards in
advance, and one hundred to the right of Loomis' battery. There
we remained till the fight began, which was commenced by the
rebels with artillery upon Loomis'.
Shot and shell flew thick and fast over our heads. Very many of
the enemy's shells burst over the heads of our men, while grape
fell thick all around. Load thundered the rebel artillery, and
promptly was it replied to by that brave officer, Captain Loomis,
whose battery did terrible execution on the enemy's ranks.
For about one hour or perhaps longer, this fight between the
mighty engines of death was kept up, when it was discovered that
the enemy was advancing, in solid compact columns, beginning the
fight with small arms upon our right, consequently the 42d was
the first regiment in our division to receive the fire of the
enemy, and promptly did its noble boys answer the traitor's guns.
For fifteen or twenty minutes the regiment stood against much
fearful odds, and not a man faltered. We were then ordered to
fall back, as it was impossible for us to stand against such
superior numbers. This we did, taking position obliquely on the
left of the 18th Ohio, Capt. Loomis' battery, and through we were
compelled to climb a rugged cliff of rock, we fell back in good
order, under a most terrible fire of the enemy's small arms, shot
and shell. Strange as it may appear, but three or four of our men
were hurt, and twenty-one taken prisoners, including Capt. Myler
till we had taken positions on a hill obliquely to the left of
Loomis' battery, but then there took place a terrible scene of
death and carnage which I hope and pray the like may never appear
again, but bravely did our men stand and fight the enemy, like
old veteran soldiers.
By the way of remark, this is the first general engagement in
which the regiment has participated. The forces that marched
against us were vastly superior to ours, being the flower of the
rebel army. But the 42d held its position and drove the enemy
before it, fearfully strewing the field with the dead and wounded.
Just about the hour of sun-set we received orders to charge on a
rebel regiment, which was done in splendid order, we driving the
enemy at least three hundred yards down the hill into a ravine.
In this last fight, where our ammunition gave out, our brave,
gallant, and beloved Lieut. Col. Denby received a shot which
passed directly between his lips, cutting a part of the upper lip
away. It was a courage inspiring scene to see that brave officer,
with the sanguinary tide streaming from his mouth, cheering,
huzzahing, brandishing his sword, and urging and encouraging the
men on. Once, he rode in front of our lines, pointing to the
enemy and urging the men on to victory, or a glorious grave. Calm
and collected rode Col. Jones upon his horse, cheering the men,
urging them on , and sharing with us all the dangers of the field.
Many of the enemy's balls were aimed at him, but miraculously he
escaped being hurt himself, but his horse was wounded. All the
while the brave and gallant Colonel led us on, and nobly did he
do honor to the 42d, it to him, and all to our beloved State.
Early in the engagement Major Shanklin fell on the field of a
wound in the back part of the head by a Minie ball, and was
carried from the field, but soon as he had recovered so as to do
so, he rejoined us saying, "I am ready for a fight to-morrow."
Major Shanklin's fighting qualities were honorably and
triumphantly tried at war trace, in Tennessee and south Indiana,
all Hoosierdom may justly feel proud that so gallant an officer
holds a commission to fight secession.
Whilst making our last fight, and when we were charging the enemy's
line, Adjutant Evans, with hat in one hand and sword in the other,
rode up and down the line, waving his sword and hat, and cheering
us on with all the enthusiasm of a soldier and patriot whose
heart is fully wedded to the cause we fight for.
As twilight was setting in, our ammunition gave out, and we were
ordered to fall back. At the same time, the enemy was flanking us
right and left, and we were then subjected to as fiery an ordeal
as ever troops passed through; but slowly and in good order our
troops fell back, though we were fired into right and left by
small arms, and from our rear by musketry, grape, and canister
shot, but it was of but few moments' duration, for we were soon
relieved by other troops who were supplied with ammunition, and
terribly did the enemy suffer, and terribly did our friends
Whilst falling back, Lieut. Col. Denby's horse was shot under him,
and fell, fastening the Colonel's foot under his side. Capt.
McIntire assisted in getting him disengaged from his horse, and
though it was in the midst of a mighty rain of missiles of death,
both got away safely, the Colonel leaving his horse upon the
field. Near the same time, Adjutant Evans' horse was shot under
him, so you cane easily understand how terrific the scene was.
Of the casualties of the day, there is little to be said; only to
recount our loss. We lost 20 privates prisoners in the execution
of our order first to fall back, and one officer, Capt. Myler, of
Spencer county. Capt. C. G. Omstead was killed, a ball passing in
the forehead, killing him instantly. Lieut. Smith was wounded in
the foot. Capt. McCarty was wounded in the shoulder and
Lieutenant Overall in the thigh. The total loss of the 42d in
killed, wounded and prisoners was 167. 20 killed, 126 wounded and
Our regiment went into the fight with 660 men, consequently we
lost over one third of our number.
Since writing the above, I have been informed on good authority,
that we fought a regiment of "Louisiana Tigers," and
were crossed fired upon by other equally well drilled troops.
The following is a list of the killed and wounded of Company G,
Killed -- Privates A. J. Brown, Robert Baker, Thomas Hunter.
Wounded - Capt. E. McCarty, in the shoulder; Orderly J. A. Palmer,
struck with a shell and taken prisoner - since paroled; Corporals
R. McGeehee, P. Ragsdale, W. F. Gregory. Privates George Burch, H.
Browning, R. Carroll, R. Hunter, J. T. Haller, W. L. Hughey,
George Kelso, Ben. Hopkins, Wm. Jackson, R. A. Newberry, H.
Peachy, John Russel, S. Williams (web editor: Stephen Williams
later died Oct. 21, 1862 from the wounds he received), J. C.
Q. K. Juniper Wiggins
(Web Editor Note: This is believed to be the pseudo name of then 2nd Lieutenant Spillard F.
Horrall, of the 42nd Indiana).