Numbers 85. Report of Colonel Hugh T. Reid, Fifteenth Iowa Infantry.
I have the honor to report that the Fifteenth Regiment of Iowa Volunteer Infantry from Benton Barracks arrived at Pittsburg on Sunday morning, with orders from General Grant's headquarters to report to General Prentiss. Finding that his headquarters were some 4 miles from the Landing, I proceeded at once to report to him in person, and found a heavy fire of artillery and musketry already commenced along his lines. Orders were received from his aide to bring up my command as soon as possible, and I returned to the river for that purpose. The regiment was rapidly disembarked, ammunition distributed, and the men for the first time loaded their guns. We then marched to the heights in rear of the Landing, and formed inn line of battle preparatory to an advance, our right resting on the road leading from the Landing to the field. At this time an order was received from a member of General Grant's staff directing me to hold the position upon which we had formed, and to post such other troops as could be found about the Landing on the right of the road, extending to the bluff of the creek, emptying into the river below the Landing, in order to prevent the enemy from flanking it through the valley of this creek, and also to prevent all stragglers from returning from the battle-field to the Landing,and to hold ourselves as a reserve. The regiment was then advanced across the road to the right, so as to stop the progress of the multitudes returning from the battle-field, which could only be done by threatening to shoot them down. Some of them were induced by threats and persuasions to fall into line, but most of them had the Bull Run story, that their regiments were all cut to pieces, and that they were the only survivors, and nothing could be done with them but to stop their progress. Captain Benton [Bouton] placed his battery on our right, commanding the road leading from the battle-field to the river, and also commanding the ravines to our right and left. Colonel Chambers, of the Sixteenth Iowa, formed his regiment on the right of Benton's [Bouton's] battery, resting the right of his regiment on the bluff of the creek above mentioned. In this position we remained for about an hour, when an order was received from the engineer of General McClernand's staff, by order, as he said, of General Grant, for the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Iowa to advance some 2 miles to the support of General McClernand's division, on the extreme right of our lines.
The advance was made the Fifteenth leading supported by the Sixteenth. We were led by the staff officer of General McClernand first to the right, across a deep ravine and through thick underbrush, in a direction directly from the firing; then one of General Grant's staff came up and said a wrong order must have been given us, in which opinion the undersigned fully concurred, and after consultation of the two staff officers the head of our column was turned to the left, and we marched in search of General McClernand's division, his staff officer showing us the way. The road as we marched was filled with retreating artillery, flying cavalry, straggling infantry, and the wounded returning from the field. We reached an open field in front of the enemy, who were concealed in a dense wood and among tents, from which other regiments had been driven earlier in the day. Through this field the two regiments marched under a heavy fire from the enemy's artillery, and took position, by direction of General McClernand, near the tents.
A regiment, said to be from Ohio, was on the field when we arrived,