On the morning of June 16, 1862, Pvt. Robert Goodman of the Seventh Missouri Infantry left his unit’s encampment to take a stroll. The last couple of weeks had been particularly hard for the men of the “Irish Seventh” regiment, who had just arrived at Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee. Mostly made up of St. Louis’ Irish populace, the Seventh had served throughout Missouri in the first year of the year and by the early summer of 1862, had joined what would be named the Army of the Tennessee. Not only had they dealt with the monotony of camp life and fatigue duty at their new post, but just a week before, a captain in the regiment had accidentally killed a fellow soldier who “incurred the displease” of the captain. To Goodman, the affair “cast a gloom over the camp, as he was a brave and faithful soldier.”
Now, Goodman needed a respite from the “dull and lifeless” camp life to explore the battlefield around Pittsburg Landing, where the vicious battle of Shiloh took place only two months prior. In his diary, he wrote a description of what he saw:
“The country here is very hilly and broken and in some places, quite level. The ground is literally covered with broken guns and knapsacks and other accoutrements and clothing scattered over the field of battle. The sight is horrible and here the horrors are plainly visible and is a heart rendering sight to behold. The woods (for the battle was fought in the timber) is literally torn to pieces by the shot and shell from artillery, and ground for miles is strewn with Pea Jackets and Pantaloons pierced with bullet holes, stained with the life’s blood of the slain, and the graves of the poor fellows may be seen on every side, having apparently been buried wherever found, while all around are scattered muskets, bayonets, cartridge boxes and all the paraphernalia or appendages of the soldiers. Oh! What a scene of desolation and sorrow this is as the Field presents itself to the spectator! Friend and foe in one common ruin blent!”
Having only seen some skirmishing and light combat during his first year of soldiering, Goodman was deeply disturbed by the sights he saw there at Pittsburg Landing. Like with many soldiers and civilians who were personally affected by the Battle of Shiloh, Goodman saw firsthand the devastation of Civil War combat and the sheer toll it would take to end the war. In approximately one year, he and the rest of the Seventh Missouri would face the elephant at Raymond, Champion Hill, and Vicksburg. There is little doubt that Goodman would have seen, experienced, and felt similarly to that of when he witnessed the “scene of desolation” at Pittsburg Landing in 1862.
Diary of Robert P. Goodman, 1861-62, The State Historical Society of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri.