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Shiloh National Military Park

Peabody Monument

Peabody Monument, close-up (37K)

Image 1: Monument to Colonel Everett Peabody. This is a close-up photograph of the monument to Col. Everett Peabody, the man many claim saved Major General Ulysses Grant's Army of the Tennessee.

Peabody Monument and the surrounding woods (45K)

Image 2: Peabody Monument and the surrounding woods. Another view of Peabody's memorial. The memorial is on it's own, which is fitting as Peabody acted on his own, in the face of his superior officer's negligence. This is in the area where Peabody was killed.

Peabody was a Harvard graduate (class of 1849) in engineering who made a name for himself as a railroad man in the west before the war. He had a quick temper that got him into trouble, but he was a very capable officer. He commanded a brigade at Shiloh in Brigadier General Benjamin M. Prentiss' division, of Grant's Union Army of the Tennessee.

Union pickets skirmished with Confederate cavalry on April 4, 1862, but this caused little concern among the army's officers, who didn't believe the Confederate army was nearby. Prentiss' division was located on the left, and slightly behind, the division of Brig. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman. It was widely thought among Prentiss' men that Sherman's men would encounter a Confederate advance before they did.

Prentiss held a review parade on Saturday, April 5. Afterward, Major James E. Powell of the 25th Missouri regiment reported that his men had seen about a dozen Confederates watching the parade. Prentiss ordered three companies of Col. David Moore's 21st Missouri regiment to conduct a patrol. Moore apparently lost his way and instead of heading toward the Confederates he patrolled across the front of Sherman's men. When he returned about 7 p.m. he reported to Prentiss that the enemy was not present in any number. This was enough for Prentiss, who refused to prepare his division for an attack.

About 90 minutes later, Captain Gilbert D. Johnson made a report to Lieutenant Colonel W. H. Graves, the division's Officer of the Day. Johnson commanded Company H of the 12th Michigan regiment. His company had gone out as pickets, where they saw "long lines of camp fires" and heard "bugle sounds and drums". Graves took this to Prentiss, who simply ordered Johnson's company to return to their regiment.

When Johnson returned, his account was so convincing that Graves took him and Powell once more to see Prentiss. Prentiss merely told his officers that everything was "all right". Graves then went to see Peabody. Peabody realized that things were not "all right". Earlier that day Peabody had gone to Prentiss with the suggestion that they prepare for a Confederate attack. He asked for a battery of artillery to be posted from the artillery park to a position in front of Peabody's brigade. Prentiss dismissed the idea. Peabody took matters into his own hands and ordered Powell to advance three companies ahead of the army as a patrol. Many officers in Prentiss' division believed that this action saved the army.

It was the 25th Missouri's patrol that uncovered the Confederate army, alerting the Federals of the oncoming attack. That warning allowed Prentiss' division to delay the Confederates just long enough for the defensive line at the Hornets' Nest to form. This, in turn, delayed the Confederates so that their assault ended on the night of April 6, 1862 before they could destroy Grant's army. The next day Buell's Army of the Ohio reinforced Grant. The Union counterattack eventually pushed the Confederates from the field.

The 32 year-old Peabody had a premonition of his own death, writing that he expected to die in the field while doing his duty. The Confederates attacked his brigade around 7:30 a.m. on April 6. Peabody's brigade was on its own along Reconnoitering Road (near the 25th Missouri marker on the 25th Missouri's page. It was attacked by the Confederate brigades of Col. R. G. Shaver and Brig. Gen. Stirling A. M. Wood. He dashed about the men of his brigade, desperately trying to hold their position against superior numbers, but over the course of an hour they were forced back toward their camps. Peabody was a big man and made an inviting target, particularly when mounted. During this time he received four wounds: to his hand, thigh, neck and body. What Peabody needed was artillery. Around 8:30 a.m. Peabody went to the camp of the 18th Missouri looking for Prentiss in order to get the artillery he was denied the night before. Prentiss wasn't there. By this time Prentiss realized the danger he was in and was busy trying to move his badly damaged division into position. Not finding his divisional commander, and with his aides off rallying other regiments of his brigade, Peabody returned to the camp area of the 25th Missouri. The Confederates were on the edge of the camp. Peabody was ordering his men when the Confederates let loose a volley. A musket ball hit Peabody below his lower lip and exited the back of his head, killing him instantly. He fell from his horse and his horse bolted. Soon after, the 25th Missouri collapsed and the survivors ran for the rear. Peabody's brigade was shattered and Peabody was dead, but he had bought the Army of the Tennessee valuable time.

Prentiss never gave Peabody the due he deserved. When the 25th Missouri first engaged the Confederates, Prentiss blamed Peabody for instigating a general engagement before the division — or army, for that matter — was prepared. (This was nonsense, as Peabody's action merely put men in a position to alert the division when the Confederates attacked.) Prentiss threatened to court-martial Peabody for disobeying orders. After the battle, Prentiss made no mention of Peabody except to note that he was one of his brigade commanders. The other men of Prentiss' division never forgot, though, and Peabody is now roundly considered the saviour of Grant's Army of the Tennessee.

Peabody's body was found after the battle, on April 7, near where he had fallen. His buttons and shoulder boards had been cut from his uniform by Confederate souvenir hunters, and his sword and pistols were gone. That night his men buried him in a gun box and marked the spot with a board. On the board was written, "A braver man ne'er died upon the field."

These photographs were taken in March, 2000 with a Nikon F-601 autofocus SLR, using a Nikkor 24mm - 50mm f2.8 wide angle zoom lens. The images were captured on Fuji ISO 200 film.