Of the estimated 8,408 US soldiers wounded at the Battle of Shiloh, one man of the 11th Indiana Infantry “Wallace’s Zouaves” left an account of his experiences after receiving a “deep and ugly wound” from a shell fragment on April 7, 1862.
Sgt. Henry Wise Durham, Co G, 11th Indiana Inf, was wounded while his company were deployed as skirmishers in the vicinity of Jones Field, early in the fighting on April 7.
Carried from the field, he endured a painful journey to Pittsburg Landing, where his comrades sought treatment for him aboard a hospital boat. At first refused because of overcrowding aboard the boat, the 11th’s regimental surgeon persuaded the boat’s captain to accept Durham.
According to Durham, the 11th’s surgeon drew a revolver on the captain, and said to him, “This man cannot lie here and be trampled under foot like those men are and I am going to bring him aboard this boat and you can stand aside or I will shoot you out my way.”
As he lay aboard the hospital boat, Durham took in the chaos and terrible conditions on the riverfront:

“I saw many disagreeable sights in the army but I think the one I saw when I was taken to the boat landing that morning was the most revolting.
“There was a sand bar between the edge of the water and the river bank some 12 or 15 feet wide as I remember it now. The bar..was covered with dead and wounded. Some were buried clear under the sand with only a hand or foot sticking out...
...and men were walking over these bodies the same as if walking on a public road. I saw hundreds of men almost buried out of sight in the sand and were yet alive but were used as pavement for men to walk on.”
Noting that “such a sight looked inhuman,” the wounded men’s’ plight was not a result of deliberate mistreatment but the unintended consequences of their comrades’ kindness, who were seeking their care aboard the overcrowded boats.
Taken to a cabin aboard the boat, Durham describes its conditions:

“It was full of wounded soldiers and I barely had room to edge in on my side between other wounded soldiers. The whole cabin was regular bedlam. Some were crying, some groaning, others cursing...
...and still others laughing; some were praying, while others were playing cards on the breast of a wounded comrade.”

By April 12, 1862 Durham’s boat made landing at Evansville, IN, and he was sent home to recover. Following his recovery, he would rejoin the 11th at Memphis.
During the fighting on April 7, the 11th Indiana would lose 11 men killed, 51 wounded. It would go on to serve at Vicksburg before finishing its service in Louisiana in the Trans-Mississippi Theater.
Durham’s reminiscences of the war, “Three Years with Wallace’s Zouaves: The Civil War Memoirs of Thomas Wise Durham” was published in 2003 by Mercer Univ. Press.

It is a highly recommended account of a soldier’s service in the Western Theater.

#CivilWar #shiloh
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