Preservation News: American Battlefield Trust Working To Save Three 1862 Battlefields

In Tennessee, Shiloh National Military Park is the site of the 1862 Battle of Shiloh, which resulted in more than 23,000 casualties and was the largest engagement in the Civil War’s Mississippi Valley Campaign. ROB SHENK

News from American Battlefield Trust…

What do Hickenlooper’s Battery, Randol’s Battery, and Latimer’s Battery all have in common?

Each was part of key battle action near three crucial tracts on three 1862 battlefields – Shiloh in the west, and Glendale and Fredericksburg in the east.

Today, through a combination of grants, support from generous donors, and a tremendous landowner donation, a preservation opportunity has opened for these three crucial tracts – which have a transaction value of $1,178,000 – for $243,000, a $4.85-to-$1 match.

Here is why these three tracts are so important.

Hickenlooper’s Battery at Shiloh

The history: Early the morning of April 6, 1862, the Confederate General Adley H. Gladden’s brigade stepped off their advance across the 8-acre tract we are working to save, moving steadily north toward Colonel Madison Miller’s Union brigade. The Union artillery battery of Captain Andrew Hickenlooper (ancestor of today’s governor of Colorado and Trust member John Hickenlooper) was “located just to the right rear” of Miller’s brigade, and he worked his guns as quickly as possible to hold back the gray tide.

Gladden’s men pressed forward, and Captain Hickenlooper later wrote that a Rebel yell caused “an involuntary thrill of terror to pass like an electric shock through even the bravest of hearts.”

Miller’s brigade began to fall back, and joyous Confederates soon swarmed over the Union camps, many surely believing that the battle was all but won. But the two-day Battle of Shiloh was just beginning and would go on to become the bloodiest battle in American history up to that point.

The opportunity: Shiloh is one of those places where we are close to being able to say, “it is completely preserved” – but until we save the dozens of unprotected parcels in the southern sector of the battlefield, our work isn’t done. The good news is that this land is relatively inexpensive. With $33,000, we can preserve these 8 acres.

Randol’s Battery at Glendale

The history: In the spring of 1862, Union General George B. McClellan was inching ever closer to the Confederate capital at Richmond… General Robert E. Lee, elevated from his desk job, had been in command of the Confederate army opposing “Little Mac” for about 30 days.

On the night of June 29-30, General Lee put his forces in motion, seeking to cut off and smash McClellan’s army before it reached the sanctuary of the James River. Key to Lee’s plan was the critical crossroads at Glendale, also known as “Frayser’s Farm.”

The Union brigades were not expecting an attack. And Lee’s orders miscarried, meaning that he could only bring a portion of his army to bear against the Federals. Confusion reigned supreme, resulting in a furious battle that none of the combatants ever forgot. As Confederate Major E. Porter Alexander described that afternoon:

“No more desperate encounter took place in the war; and nowhere else, to my knowledge, so much actual personal fighting with bayonet and butt of gun. ?[Lieutenant Alanson M.] Randol’s battery, over which it began, was taken and retaken several times.  Once, when in possession of the 11th Alabama Regiment of Wilcox’s brigade, it was charged by McCall’s Pennsylvania Reserves, and after a desperate bayonet fight each side fell back to the adjacent woods.”

Union General George G. Meade, leading his men in those 4th and 7th Pennsylvania Reserves throughout this frenzied battle, was severely wounded during the fight. Just imagine how different our history might be if Meade had not survived those wounds to go on to lead the Union Army at Gettysburg!

The opportunity: All the eyewitness accounts tell of desperate, brutal, savage combat on and around this land we are trying to save today. Like Shiloh, we are getting very close to declaring Glendale a preserved battlefield, and this 9-acre tract is critical to our success. Unfortunately, this land is not as affordable as Shiloh and will cost $195,000 to preserve.

Latimer’s Battery at Fredericksburg

The history: This sector was aflame with fighting on the afternoon of December 13, 1862. After a spirited charge by the 15th New Jersey regiment, which drove the 16th North Carolina – the regiment covering Captain Joseph Latimer’s artillery pieces – from the field, Latimer feared for the loss of his guns. In his book, Fredericksburg: Winter War on the Rappahannock, historian Frank O’Reilly writes:

“Latimer spotted Law’s Brigade in the tree line behind him. He bounded across the field furiously waving his cap. The artilleryman appeared ‘very excited,’ as he reined in front of the infantry. ‘Don’t come up here,’ Latimer shouted, ‘unless you will promise to support me.’ ‘Go back, Captain, to your battery,’ the foot soldiers assured him, ‘this is the old 4th Alabama.’ ‘Thank God, I am safe,’ Latimer allegedly answered as he hurried back to rally his command.”

Law’s Brigade would eventually advance to within just 300 yards of the Bowling Green Road until they ran into a Union column directed by – of all people – a newly elevated division commander named Daniel E. Sickles, who sent the Confederates back across the field.

The opportunity: This 11-acre tract, near the very “Slaughter Pen Farm” we’ve already worked so hard to preserve, is a crucial part of the Fredericksburg battlefield. Fortunately, the owner of this property intends to donate a conservation easement with a value of more than $900,000 to us. That means we can save this land by paying just $15,000 in closing costs, the equivalent of a $60-to-$1 match!

Together, these three tracts represent an amazing opportunity to preserve the integrity of key battlefields where preservation groups have already invested so much time and effort. Please consider making your most generous gift today to help American Battlefield Trust raise the $243,000 needed to secure these three transactions valued at $1,178,000.

For donation links and more information, please visit: https://www.battlefields.org/give/save-battlefields/save-three-1862-battlefields

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3 Responses to Preservation News: American Battlefield Trust Working To Save Three 1862 Battlefields

  1. Mike Maxwell says:

    For those who have neglected the study of Shiloh… Hickenlooper’s 5th Ohio Independent Battery had only arrived at the HQ of Brigadier General Benjamin Prentiss the previous day, when early on the morning of April 6th 1862, with the gut-wrenching sound of battle increasing, a section of guns was ordered forward, in advance of the camp of the 16th Wisconsin Infantry. Anticipating the likely need for the other four guns of his battery, Captain Hickenlooper readied them for the call, which came moments later. All six guns advanced — four 6 pounder James rifles and two 6 pounder smoothbores — and went into battery facing SSW supported on the left by the 18th Missouri Infantry, while to the right were the six guns of Emil Munch, 1st Minnesota Light Artillery. Hickenlooper pounded away at the Rebels as they advanced in line after line, but their number was just too great. Before being overrun, Captain Andrew Hickenlooper ordered his battery to limber, and was able to withdraw four guns in a fighting retreat of fire, fall back; fire, and fall back once more. Eventually, Hickenlooper fell back into the company of friends: BGen Stephen Hurlbut, and two brigades of his Fourth Division. Shortly after 9:30 the 5th Ohio Battery commenced operating in support of a position that would become known as the Hornet’s Nest. And for the next seven hours Captain Hickenlooper fought his four remaining guns, until 4 p.m. when, with Rebels converging from all directions, BGen Prentiss ordered his artillery to the rear before the position was encircled. Lieutenant Pfaender, who operated Munch’s four remaining guns (in the absence of the wounded Emil Munch) made his way north and at about 5 p.m. took position above Pittsburg Landing, in Grant’s Last Line. Captain Hickenlooper led his men northwest, and offered his services to BGen William Tecumseh Sherman (who placed the 5th Ohio Battery in an exposed, but vital position at the extreme southern end of his final line of April 6th.) Hickenlooper’s battery continued operating until night fell, and the battle ceased for that day.
    In the aftermath, Hickenlooper and his 5th Ohio Independent Battery won favorable mention in the Shiloh reports of two Division commanders, in appreciation for 11 hours of valuable service.
    It is fitting that this Ohio Battery is honored by having its early morning battle position preserved.

  2. John Foskett says:

    Good post. That will by proximity also honor the 1st Minnesota Light which was posted across from Hickenlooper when both responded to the first alarm. The First also was new; quickly found itself losing infantry support; lost both 6 lb rifles of its center section; lost its Captain; and limbered and unlimbered four more times, including at the Hornet’s Nest, again in some proximity to Hickenlooper; and wound up at the high ground facing Dill Branch.

  3. Mike Maxwell says:

    Since the subject was brought up… here’s a bit more about Munch’s Minnesota Battery. Arriving at Pittsburg Landing about 18 March 1862, the battery served first with Sherman’s Division, even taking part in an expedition up the Tennessee River on April 1/ 2 as far as Chickasaw Bluff. On April 5th, pursuant to ill-timed orders reorganizing cavalry and artillery across Grant’s Army, the 1st Minnesota Light Artillery arrived at Prentiss’ HQ late in the afternoon and spent the remainder of the day — and into the evening — preparing for inspection by the new Commanding Officer, slated to take place April 6th.
    It is said that many men of the battery were still awake past midnight, preparing horses, guns and equipment when the sound of gunfire suddenly erupted to the SSW. Sent to the front at about the same time as Hickenlooper, the 1st Minn. Batt. engaged the enemy, but soon lost one gun disabled (and which was sent away to the Landing.) Almost immediately after, Captain Munch was wounded and removed from the field: Lieutenant Pfaender led the fighting withdrawal north, until arriving in vicinity of Hurlbut’s two brigades, which had marched south in the attempted relief of Prentiss.
    Once WHL Wallace (Benjamin Prentiss’ old friend from the Mexican War) joined with Hurlbut and Prentiss and added his Second Division to the west along the line that became known as the Sunken Road, Prentiss divided the Minnesota Battery into sections: the two 12-pounder howitzers (Peebles) were placed between Prentiss and Hurlbut; the section of 6-pounders (Pfaender) was placed in front of BGen Wallace (and supported by the 14th Iowa) and the single 6-pounder briefly operated in front of the 12th Iowa (until that gun suffered a mishap, and was sent away to the Landing.)
    The remaining four guns of Munch’s Battery operated as two independent sections until after 4 p.m., when BGen Prentiss ordered all of his artillery away north to safety. Munch’s Minnesota Battery was the last organization to leave the Sunken Road/ Hornet’s Nest just prior to collapse of that position, and the surrender of Prentiss.
    Thanks to John Foskett for introducing the story of an under-appreciated star of Shiloh.

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