It turns out that I have too kind to General Grant in at least one area. The time of his arrival at Pittsburg Landing—after hearing cannon-fire at his headquarters ten miles downriver in Savannah and boarding his flagship Tigress for the trip upriver—has been a subject of controversy.
Grant and many of his friends and supporters selected earlier-than-actual times (with those of J.F.C. Fuller and William Rowley being absurdly early), which would minimize Grant’s blunder of being away from the army when the battle began about 5 a.m. See the list below. Both Grant and William Carroll had initially asserted later times but later revised them in Grant’s favor. Myself and several historians, on the other hand, determined that around 9 a.m was a much more realistic estimate.
But the logbook for the woodenclad gunboat USS Tyler, which Chief Ranger Stacey Allen commendably acquired, shows almost conclusively that Grant arrived even later than that. The beginning of the logbook’s relevant entry states:
April 6th. 62
From 8 to 12
Clear + Warm
heavy firing heard back of Pittsburgh. John Warner started down at 9. o’clk. Tigress Came up at 9.30 Evansville at 9.45 We got underway at 9.55 . . .”
This is rather conclusive evidence that Grant arrived around 9:30. Further confirmation comes from John Warner starting down from the landing at 9. This would indicate that she traveled some ten minutes downriver before meeting Tigress, which then took some twenty minutes to reach Pittsburg. Now, it’s possible that these times may be somewhat wrong, but naval timekeeping probably far exceeded the army’s for accuracy, and the USS Tyler logbook times are relatively congruent with those provided by the USS Lexington log.
This later time suggests that the artillery had been firing for an hour or so before Grant boarded Tigress. It also increases the likelihood that Grant went to Sherman first, before stopping by Hurlbut’s side of the field.
I had previously determined that the logbook for USS Lexington stated that the steamer John Raine (which the ORs incorrectly transcribed as John Ramm) passed Crumps Landing at 9 o’clock on the morning of April 6th. I had hypothesized that they had possibly meant John Warner. The Tyler’s log, however, indicates that there were two boats descending the Tennessee with news of the battle’s beginning. The somewhat unreliable recollection of Captain Marsh that Tigress met John Warner between Savannah and Crumps Landing (almost impossible, according to the Tyler’s log), therefore, might have been a reference to John Raine instead.
The sampling below of Grant’s supposed arrival times from himself and various supporters is somewhat indicative of their reliability:
William C. Carroll: 8:30
“Casco”: soon after 8:00
Staff and other officers
William Rowley: about 7:30
Douglas Putnam, Jr.: near 8:00
John A. Rawlins: around 8:00
John A. Logan: by 8:00
William S. Hillyer: about 8:30
J.D. Webster: about 8:30
W.F. Brinck ordnance officer: between 7:30 and 8:30
J.F.C. Fuller in Grant & Lee, a Study in Personality and Generalship: 6:00
William Belknap, et al. in History of the Fifteenth Regiment, Iowa Veteran Volunteer Infantry: about 8:00
Ulysses S. Grant in his Personal Memoirs: “On reaching the front” about 8:00 (The description is of Pittsburg Landing, but his use of the word “front” is wrong.)
John Emerson in “Grant’s Life in the West”: at 8:00
James Harrison Wilson and Charles A. Dana in The life of Ulysses S. Grant, general of the armies of the United States: at 8:00
Timothy Smith in Shiloh: Conquer or Perish: 8:15-8:30, but possibly as late as 9:00
There’s always something new to learn about the American Civil War.