The Civil War – Choctaw County Veteran visits Shiloh

Submitted by C.J. Johnson

 

The following article first appeared in the Choctaw Plaindealer January 22, 1908 as a letter written by Civil War veteran William Hooker Power. [Changes were made only where officers’ names were misspelled.]

Editor Plaindealer: I have always had a desire to go back to the Shiloh battle ground where the great battle of the Western army was fought on the 6th and 7th days of April, 1862. I left home on December 2nd last, went to Corinth, Miss., the nearest railroad point to the battle ground, visited some relatives in the vicinity of Corinth and on the morning of the 6th, four of us, three cousins of mine, loaded themselves into a surrey drawn by a good pair of horses and started to the Shiloh Park or battle ground, which is 22 miles from Corinth at Pittsburgh Landing on the Tennessee river, a beautiful stream about 700 yards wide. We had beautiful clear weather and quite cold. We arrived in the neighborhood of the battleground about three o’clock in the evening.

Now it had been forty five years and eight months since we fought the battle and I had never seen the place before nor since. I will state here that our Regiment, the 15th Mississippi, belonged to Statham’s Brigade, Statham being Colonel of the 15th, but had been in command of the Brigade almost ever since Zollicoffer was killed at Fishing Creek, and continued to command it until he died at Vicksburg in August 1862. He received his commission as Brigadier General while on his death bed at Vicksburg so I have been told. Our brigade belonged to Breckenridge’s Reserve Corps and did not get into the engagement until I suppose about 9 or 10 o’clock Sunday morning. Though the battle opened at daylight, we fought almost from that time until in the night. We continued to drive the Yankees on the river and according to admitted facts by both sides, if the great Albert Sidney Johnston had not been killed about 2:30 p.m., we would have captured Grant’s army.

Major Reed, an old Federal officer who was in the battle and is also the Superintendent of the Shiloh Park, said referring to Gen. Beauregard who took command of our army after Johnston was killed, that from a Southern standpoint he ought to have been hung for not pressing the victory Johnston had won. He said Johnston had them completely whipped and drove to the river and hundreds of them plunged into the river and perished. He states that if Beauregard had sent in a flag of truce and demanded surrender they would have complied at once, as they were just waiting and expecting to surrender. Major Reed seemed to be a fair and impartial man.

Well, I will go back to where we approached the battle ground or park. [A part of this letter is omitted here due to newspaper damage.] We now began to enter the great Government Park of 6000 acres, which is the most beautiful body of land I ever saw. When the battle was fought most of it was heavily timbered, but the shot and shell killed all the timber. But it has grown up with a young growth of beautiful oak saplings ranging from 4 to 10 inches in diameter and are nicely pruned and kept.

There are nice macadamized pikes [hard surface roads] running in almost every direction through the park, and iron tablets at every place where there was fighting, telling who fought there and how long they fought, etc. There is also thousands of iron markers and pointers and marble monuments and statues of life size.

The government erected a large monument at the spot where General Johnston was shot just like they did where their Generals were shot. There is a large white oak tree standing in a few feet of where General Johnston was shot. They have put a wire fence around it. There is a large National cemetery near the river where there is said to be 17,000 Federal soldiers buried which shows what we did for them in the two days fight. There is also one at Corinth where is about 8000 buried. Well, it seems that I cannot stick to the point. I will now go back to our trip. We drove along the pikes looking at tablets, monuments, etc. until night overtook us and stopped for the night with Mr. Tom White, who lives on the park. After breakfast next morning about sun rise I started to get Mr. Cantrel, an old Confederate Veteran, who lives on the park, to show me around. Well, he gladly went and his knowledge of the ground facilitated matters quite a good deal.

I located several places where I fought on Sunday, including where we captured a Yankee Battery, and where we captured Gen. Prentiss and his brigade and a number of other places. I did not locate the place where I was wounded in the second days fight, but I could have if I had had a little more time. I saw the spot where Kit Williams, father of John Sharp Williams, was killed. I want to go back and stay 3 or 4 days on the park this summer if I can. How many of the old boys will go with me. You will not regret going.

[Signed] Your old Comrade, W. H. Power, Weir, Miss. Jan. 13, 1908.

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More Information on William Hooker Power

William Hooker Power was the son of Jeremiah L. Power and his wife Nancy King. W. H. Power was born in Laurens County, South Carolina, September 29, 1843. The family moved to Choctaw County prior to 1850 and resided in the vicinity of French Camp. Jeremiah was a blacksmith and on the 1860 census, his two oldest sons, including W. H. were apprentice blacksmiths.

W. H. was married two times, first to Margaret Bagwell in 1866 and secondly to Sarah Ann Steele, in 1888. His father died during the war, in 1862, and his mother died in 1871. Jeremiah and Nancy are buried at Mount Moriah Cemetery.

According to records from the National Archives, William Hooker Power, 17, signed up for service as a private in Corinth, Mississippi on May 27th, 1861 for a period of twelve months, in Captain J. W. Hemphill’s Company. This unit later became Company I. His record can followed from May 1861 through October 1864, when he was captured for at least the second time, and listed as a Prisoner of War at Military Prison in Louisville, Kentucky. William Hooker Power is described in the records as a young man, 5 feet 11 inches tall, dark or black eyes, and dark hair. W. H. died in 1913 and is buried in Weir Cemetery, Weir, MS.

Mr. Power is the great grandfather of Mrs. Bonnie Montgomery and Mrs. Carol Wright.