The 11th Ohio Battery's Blood-Stained Ledger: The Shadows of Iuka

     Despite the ghastly nature of the wound that carried away a portion of his lower jaw at the battle of Iuka, Private Henry M. Welsh of the 11th Ohio Battery still maintained his wry sense of humor. Writing from the city hospital in St. Louis, Missouri nearly a month after the battle, he described what happened.

“While the Butternut bullets were buzzing through our battery and about my head like so many hornets when their nest has once been disturbed and as the smoke from our cannon drifted away a little, my attention was suddenly drawn by one of those Butternuts who was standing 15-20 feet away from me and the devil had the impudence to discharge his musket in my face before I had time to tell him not to point his gun toward me,” the Ohioan noted. “He was so awkward about it that the bullet, about the size of a hickory nut, entered the left corner of my mouth, shelling all the ivory of my lower jaw except four snags, not down my throat but through the right side of the chops and neck, each tooth and bullet picking their own road and the consequence was that a hole was left in the side of my face about as large as a barn door. So that is the kind of fellows they are down South. Now boys, you can go if you choose, but I will not advise you to go lest you get hurt.”

A large caliber solid lead ball like the mixture of dug examples shown above left ghastly wounds as Henry Welsh reported. 

Assistant Surgeon Pierre Starr of the 39th Ohio attended to some of the wounded at Iuka. He had once been attached to the 11th Ohio Battery and recalled how gruesome his work became on the field. “Some of them were terribly cut up and mangled,” he wrote his family. “There were three lying close together and when I asked them where they were wounded, they raised their blankets and I found that the left leg of each was taken off above the knee. The same cannon ball did the work for each of them. Many were shot through the head and their shattered skulls and limbs presented a horrible spectacle. One poor fellow had been shot in the back of the head and the ball came out of his eyeball and the organ was hanging by a shred with blood running down his cheek,” he noted.

“Long trenches were filled with the dead and heaps of freshly thrown up earth attested to the number of unknown ones who had fallen. Dead horses were scattered all over the field. In one place where the 11th Ohio Battery was, they lay in a heap as I counted them 22 horses. This battery was cut terribly; every one of their horses was killed and their guns fell into the enemy’s hands after losing a great many men. The trees were splintered and cut by the balls and it seemed as if nearly every tree was pruned. There was one oak tree in which I counted 50 rifle balls; arms and accoutrements were gathered in heaps and butternut coats of the Secesh were thrown under the guts of our horses,” Starr concluded.

After the battle, the Daily Missouri Republican ran a two-column wide article listing the casualties of the Battle of Iuka, Mississippi, and also included the locations of the three hospitals where Federal soldiers were cared for after the battle. The 11th Ohio Battery was virtually wiped out during the battle; it lost all six of its guns (which were recovered the following morning) and suffered a total of 57 casualties out of 102 officers and men engaged. The slightly wounded fell in with the battery the next day and set to work rebuilding, but the more severely wounded men of the regiment were spread all over town as listed below.

Listed below are all of the known casualties suffered by the 11th Ohio Battery during the battle of Iuka; it reads as a blood-stained ledger, a testament to their heroic actions on that day. I have been able to account for 53 of the 57 reported casualties. Soldiers marked with a * could not be found in the state roster for the battery; it is possible that the soldiers so marked were on detached duty from other regiments with the battery. The lists were compiled from Lieutenant Cyrus Sears’ letter written after the battle, the state roster, as well as two casualty lists printed in the newspapers. The Daily Missouri Republican listed the wounded men of the battery and indicated which hospital they were being treated at a few days after the battle.

 

After the battle of Iuka, Lieutenant Henry M. Neil directed the survivors of the battery to bury the dead together along the ridge so many had died defending. After the war, the graves were moved to Corinth National Cemetery. 

The Slain (16)

Sergeant Richard Baur (acting lieutenant commanding the line of caissons)

Sergeant Martin Van Buren Hall

Corporal Samuel Gillmore

Private William H. Balser

Private James W. Brewer

Private James Casey (born in Ireland, on detached duty from Co. C, 4th Minnesota Infantry)

Private William Crawford

Private John Dean “After the battle, Union forces found driver John Dean, who had been ordered to hold the battery’s horses, dead on the field, the bridles still in his hands. All around him were his dead horses.”

 

Private John Ettle, 11th Ohio Battery 
"Well Lieutenant, I guess I've got hell but I'm going to try and give 'em two or three rounds yet."

Private John Ettle. According to Lieutenant Cyrus Sears, Ettle was shot through the breast. “The blood flowing copiously from the wound, he passed by me for ammunition and smiling as though it was only a good joke remarked, “Well Lieutenant, I guess I’ve got hell but I’m going to try and give ‘em two or three rounds yet.”

Private Joseph H. Ingersoll

Private John J. McCoune

Private Jacob T. Malson

Private Charles P. Osborne

Private William H. Rosey

Private Charles Schiftner (on detached duty from Co. K, 10th Missouri Infantry)

Private Joseph Taylor

 

Sergeant Martin Van Buren Hall, 11th Ohio Battery

The Wounded:

Seminary Hospital (9)

Private Charles John Huglin, three wounds: severely in each leg and one on his side (born in Stockholm, Sweden in 1834)

Private Amos P. Brewer, severely wounded in neck and discharged for wounds January 6, 1863

Private Martin Luther Fritz, severely in leg (on detached duty from Co. A, 59th Indiana Infantry)

J.H. Vain, severely*

Private Norris Fife Jellison, severely wounded in leg which was amputated, and discharged for wounds April 3, 1863

Private Jacob Everhart, severely wounded in head and discharged for wounds January 23, 1863

J.D. Freeman*

Private Obadiah Clouse, slightly in side

Corporal Henry C. Worley, severely wounded in leg and shoulder, discharged for wounds August 12, 1863

 

Iuka Spring House (8)

Private Michael F. Wesenberg, severely in shoulder, transferred to Veterans Reserve Corps

Private Jerome Woolsey, slightly in finger

Private Silas Wheaton, severely in leg

Private William Bowen, severely in elbow, discharged for wounds February 19, 1863

Private Hiram McDonald, severely in arm, discharged for disability June 27, 1863

Private Henry M. Welsh, severely in mouth and right cheek, discharged for wounds November 1, 1862

Private John M. Ike, severely in both hands

Private Matthew Free, severely wounded in right arm and discharged for wounds December 15, 1863

 

Iuka Hotel (6)

Private Ira C. Swayze, severely injured in arm from horse falling on him, discharged for wounds February 16, 1863

Corporal Leonard Bothwell, severely in breast, arm and side, discharged for wounds January 19, 1863

Private Henry McLaughlin, severely in hip, leg, and shoulder (four wounds)

Private Charles Rhodes, severely in leg, discharged for wounds April 8, 1863

Private Zachariah Welch, badly in shoulder, died of wounds October 12, 1862

First Sergeant Fletcher E. Armstrong, severely in thigh and hand

 

Wounded not listed in the above hospitals (10)

First Lieutenant Cyrus Sears, severely wounded in right shoulder

Second Lieutenant Henry M. Neil, slightly wounded four times in back and breast

Corporal George W. Buckley, slightly in hand

Private Jerome B. Brooks, slightly in hand

Private Robert Swegle, slightly in breast

Private Benjamin Huber, slightly in hip

Corporal George W. Bush, slightly in side

Private William Cotton, slightly in thigh*

Private J. Dezotell, severely in leg*

Private S. Williams, slightly in arm*

 

Wounded and Captured (2)

Second Lieutenant Amos Barrett Alger, commanding center section, slightly wounded in leg and captured

Private Henry C. Kelton, slightly wounded in head and captured; discharged for disability July 6, 1863

 

Missing (2)

Private Charles Jones

Private A.B. Myers*

 

Total: 53

 


Sources:

Private Henry M. Welsh, 11th Ohio Battery, Wyandot Pioneer (Ohio), October 24, 1862, pg. 2

Quinlin, Brad and Jason Rusk. For My Grandchildren: The Civil War Journey of Pierre Starr. Alpharetta: Mountain Arbor Press, 2018, pgs. 153-54

“The Wounded at Iuka,” Daily Missouri Republican (Missouri), September 30, 1862, pg. 1

“The Battle of Iuka,” casualty list of 11th Ohio Battery, Wyandot Pioneer (Ohio), October 3, 1862, pg. 2

Roster of the state of Ohio for the 11th Independent Battery, Ohio Volunteer Light Artillery

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