Period sketch of the 44th Indiana Infantry in action at Shiloh by artist Henry Lovie, who was working for Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper and was present at the battle. (Source)
Description: "The woods on fire. The 44th Regt. Ind. Voltr. Col. H.B. Reed commdg. Left Wing near the Peach Orchard."
I have posted this before, within my thread on the 44th Indiana, but thought it would also be a good addition to the Shiloh forum. I've always liked this sketch, partly because it matches up so well with this account by Col. Hugh B. Reed:
Early on Sunday morning, April 6th, the "long roll" called us to arms. We were soon in rank, ready for "forward to meet the enemy." General Hurlbut sent part of our 4th division to General Sherman's aid. With the 1st and 3d brigades we moved forward at about 7:30 A. M., and had gone but a little distance before meeting General Prentiss's regiments rushing back from the front pell-mell, holding up their gory hands, shouting: "You'll catch it!--we are all cut to pieces--the rebels are coming." Passing by these panic-stricken wretches without a reply or with muttered curses at their cowardice, we marched on, the men setting their teeth hard and grasping their guns more firmly, feeling for their cartridge-boxes, to be sure they were prepared to meet this victorious enemy and welcome him "with bloody hands to hospitable graves." . . . .
We went forward about a mile, and formed our line of battle a short distance in rear of General Prentiss's camp, the left wing of the 44th reaching to "Peach Orchard." Our line was formed along a country road. In our front were bushes and saplings, with a few trees of large size scattered here and there. We were soon fiercely attacked with musketry. The enemy charged up to within a few rods of our line, and were repulsed with heavy loss. After some delay they again renewed the attack, and charged up to within a few yards, and were again driven off. The musketry firing here was as fierce and continuous as any during the battle; the brush and small saplings were cut off by bullets, giving it somewhat the appearance of a Southern corn-field that had been topped, as is the custom there. Our men fought as coolly and effectively as if it had always been their occupation. They required no urging. I found it irksome sitting on my horse with nothing to do but be shot at.
It was a curious study to note the manners of the different officers. Lieutenant-Colonel Stoughton sat his horse like a statue, neither swerving right nor left, keeping his face to the front, as if his only thought was to be shot with his face to the enemy. Captain Heath (acting Major) was all movement. He could not be still. He rode up and down the line, at times, as fast as his horse would carry him. If an order was to be repeated, it did him much good to cry it along the line. Captain Williams kept up his martial bearing, moving with a more stately step than was his wont, trim and erect, grasping his sword with a firm hand. If he was to be killed, he wanted it done "with his martial cloak around him." This was his first battle-field, and he displayed great gallantry. . . .
All of these, as well as other commissioned officers, were too proud to follow the example of their men, who had been ordered to "fall and fire," but stood erect, facing the enemy. The men being fully occupied with their fighting, had no time for other thoughts. When one was hit he would quietly crawl back, or be helped to the rear by a comrade, into the hands of our Surgeons, who were at hand, exposed to the same bullets and as much interested as any in the fight. . . .
- The Forty-Fourth Indiana Volunteer Infantry, History of Its Services in the War of the Rebellion by John H. Rerick (Lagrange, Indiana: 1880), pp. 230-34
This was only one place the 44th fought at during the battle. After being recalled from this position they were engaged several other times throughout the day, going through several cartridge boxes worth of ammunition. They also saw action on the second day. According to Col. Reed's official report, the regiment's losses were 34 killed, 177 wounded, and only one taken prisoner out of 478 men engaged.
In the above-mentioned regimental history, Rerick tells how the regiment earned its nickname at Shiloh:
Once when it made one of the brilliant stands against overwhelming odds, on Sunday, while companions fell back on either hand, a captain of one of the retiring companies of Wisconsin soldiers, said the Forty-fourth "fought like iron men--they wouldn't run." Perhaps that was the origin of the phrase, or it may have been a general thought--but however it came, it stuck, and for a long time the Regiment was known as the "Iron Forty-fourth."
CDV of Col. Hugh B. Reed (Source):
Here is the later woodcut engraving of the sketch: