October 18, 1862, The New York Herald
Our Army Correspondence.
CAMP ON BATTLE FIELD OF CHAPLIN’S HILL, NEAR PERRYVILLE, Oct. 10, 1862.
When I wrote you yesterday morning, immediately subsequent to the battle of the day before, I was willing to admit that it was a drawn battle, and only claimed that we had, with ten thousand men, held our own against thirty thousand of the enemy. But now that I have had time to look over the field, to talk with prisoners and our wounded left beyond our line, I claim a victory. There are thousands of evidences of the complete and disastrous defeat of the enemy. But now that I have had time to look over the field, to talk with prisoners and our wounded left beyond our line, I claim a victory. There are thousands of evidences of the complete and disastrous defeat of the enemy. And it is due to the gallant Rousseau, who alone conducted the engagement, and whose division, unaided, won the victory, that he should have the credit that is undoubtedly due him.
General Rousseau conducted himself bravely. He was with the front line all the seven hours of the conflict and exposed himself to most terrible fires. That he is a brave and noble commander has been shown in this terrible conflict, as well as when commanding but a brigade in the battle of Shiloh. His men everywhere along the line hailed him in the midst of the conflict with the most enthusiastic cheers. He rode up and down the line continually amidst the hottest fire ever experienced in the West. He conducted every movement of his own division, and has displayed ability as a commander of the highest order. If ever a general won the right of promotion, Rousseau did in this fight. General Mitchel, with the same division and without a battle, won his double stars. At Shiloh McCook won his, and yet today this same McCook declared, in my hearing, that Shiloh was a common street brawl compared to this battle. In this battle one division of six or seven thousand men lost more in killed than did all of our army in the battle of Bull Run; and one brigade lost in killed more than the whole division of Nelson lost at Shiloh. Though at Buena Vista and Shiloh, Rousseau declares he never saw such a fire as was kept up in this battle. To Lovell H. Rousseau the honor of conducting this battle is due, and it is due to him and the gallant men whom he commands that the double stars he has won should be conferred upon him.
The right brigade was driven back, as I have described in the detailed account sent you yesterday. The men were despondent, but not despairing. They were not beaten, though overpowered. But we did not know that we had actually gained the day, and that the rebels were as glad for night to come as we. The wounded left on the field when the right fell back state that no sooner had night masked them than the rebels began to retire. They fell back in haste, bearing their wounded, but none of their dead, and taking many of our wounded officers with them. Almost all their dead were left on the field, and have been counted by our men. The rebels buried one man, a captain in Maney’s brigade. Our men have counted three hundred and fifty-four dead on the field, exclusive of a heap thrown into a ravine and hastily covered with brush. Seventeen were left in a hog pen. Many hundreds of their wounded were left on the field, at hospitals provided for them. There are three hundred at one house on the field, and which the rebel attendants call Cheatham Hospital. Up to this time no flag of truce has appeared to ask leave to bury their rebel dead, and it is to be presumed they will have to be buried by our men. The scene is a terrible one.
The citizens of Harrodsburg are flocking to the field. They uniformly state that the rebel retreat to Harrodsburg was made in the utmost confusion. A panic seemed to possess them. They abandoned Perryville as soon as they learned the result on the right, and it is said they are now abandoning Harrodsburg. A citizen of Harrodsburg states that there are 2,000 wounded in the hospitals there, and that they will be abandoned by the rebels to our care. Many of the citizens of Harrodsburg witnessed the battle. Dead bodies have been found four miles north of the battle field. It is not improbable that the rebels will now rapidly retreat, and give us no more battles. The battle was a glorious but bloody victory. We have recaptured Captain Parson’s battery and taken three pieces of the enemy’s artillery, over one thousand stand of arms, a corps colors, five hundred unwounded prisoners, and not less than two thousand five hundred wounded, many of whom will die.
Captain Jones, of General Rousseau’s staff, was taken prisoner after the fight while looking for the body of Colonel W. H. Lytle, who it was supposed, was dead. He and Captain Grover, of Colonel Lytle’s staff, were engaged in the task together, when they were approached by General Polk and escort and compelled to surrender. They were taken to Harrodsburg, and remained the guests of General Polk until paroled. They represent Polk as a jocular fellow, who is continually punning. This is the only characteristic mentioned of him. General Bragg was on the field, and Captain Jones had an interview with Buckner at Polk’s headquarters.
With Captain Grover the rebels were less taciturn than with Captain Jones, and asked and answered many questions. A colonel, whose name Captain Grover could not recall, addressing Grover, asked:
“Was not that Rousseau who rode up and down the line with his hat on his sword?”
“Yes,” replied Captain Grover.
“We supposed it was,” said the Colonel; “it was very plain he had a brigadier’s uniform on.” General Rousseau wore his uniform throughout the battle.
“We had a description of him,” said the Colonel. “Our sharpshooters are as well acquainted with Rousseau as if they saw him every day. He’s fine looking fellow.”
“We think so,” said Grover.
The officers who had fought on our left told Captain Grover that it was the hottest fire they had every known, and that our left had fought with wonderful desperation and courage.
“Yes,” said Grover; “if you had broken it Rousseau knew you would have taken all his trains, and for that reason he conducted the left in person.”
“We knew that,” replied the Colonel, [….] tried to break it, but in vain. We have never had so desperate a fight since the war began as the fight on your left.”