The patch of country on which the battles of the 6th and 7th were fought is called Shiloh, from the little church of that name which stands near the center of it. It consists of an undulating table-land, elevated some 80 or 100 feet above the river bottom. Along the Tennessee River to the east it breaks into abrupt ravines, and towards the south, along Lick Creek, which empties into the Tennessee River some 3 miles above Pittsburg Landing rises into a range of hills of some height, whose slopes are gradual towards Lick Creek. Owl Creek, rising quite near the source of Lick Creek, flows to the northeast around the battle-field into Snake Creek, which empties into the Tennessee River 4 miles below Lick Creek. The drainage is mainly from the Lick Creek Ridge and the table-land into Owl Creek.
Coming from Corinth, the principal road crosses Lick Creek at two points some 12 miles from its mouth, and separates into three or four principal branches, which enter the table-land from the south at a distance of about a mile apart. Generally the face of the country is covered with woods, through which troops can pass without great difficulty, though occasionally the undergrowth is dense. Small farms or cultivated fields of from 20 to 80 acres occur now and then, but as a general thing the country is in forest. My entire ignorance of the various roads and of the character of the country at the time rendered it impossible to anticipate the probable dispositions of the enemy, and the woods were always sufficient to screen his preparatory movements from observation.
Soon after 5 o'clock on the morning of the 7th General Nelson's and General Crittenden's divisions, the only ones yet arrived on the ground, moved promptly forward to meet the enemy. Nelson's division, marching in line of battle, soon came upon his pickets, drove them in, and at about 6 o'clock received the fire of his artillery. The division was here halted and Mendenhall's battery brought into action to reply, while Crittenden's division was being put into position on the right of Nelson's. Bartlett's battery was posted in the center of Crittenden's division in a commanding position, opposite which the enemy was discovered to be formed in force. By this time McCook's division arrived on the ground, and was immediately formed on the right of Crittenden's. Skirmishers were thrown to the front and a strong body of them to guard our left flank, which, though somewhat protected by rough ground, it was supposed the enemy might attempt to turn, and, in fact, did, but was handsomely repulsed, with great loss. Each brigade furnished its own reserve, and in addition Boyle's brigade, from Crittenden's division, though it formed at first in the line, was kept somewhat back when the line advanced, to be used as occasion might require. I found on the ground parts of about two regiments-perhaps 1,000 men- and subsequently a similar fragment came up of General Grant's force. The first I directed to act with General McCook's attack and the second was similarly employed on the left. I saw other straggling troops of General Grant's force immediately on General McCook's right, and some firing had already commenced there. I have no direct knowledge of the disposition of the remainder of General Grant's forces nor is it my province to speak of them. Those that came under my direction in the way I have stated rendered willing and efficient service during the day.
The force under my command occupied a line of about 1 1/2 miles. In front of Nelson's division was an open field, partially screened toward his right by a skirt of woods, which extended beyond the enemy's line, with a thick undergrowth in front of the left brigade of Crittenden's