Trice Letter

    First Kentucky "Orphan" Brigade 


Letter from Capt. John Trice, 4th Ky. Inf., after Shiloh


Pittsburgh Landing Tuesday 8th April 1862

I am Captain of Co. G. 4th Ky. Reg. Vol. infty CSA Commanded by Lieut. Col. Hynes formerly Col. R. P. Trabues Rgt. and was engaged in the battle at Pittsburgh Landing S. W. Tenn.  On Sunday Morning April 6th 1862.  We marched in Silince with three Rgts. to the lines of the 4th Brigade Genl Shermane Division of the Federal Amy.  we formed line of Battle in front of Col. Bucklands Brigade and opened fire upon the 48th Ohio Rgt [commanded by] Col Peter Sullivan. [In Person]  At 10 Minutes after 10 7 A.M.  The contest between this Rgt. and ours was very warmly contracted on both sides all showing a determination to Conquer or die.  The Battle lasted for Hours.  Gen. A. S. Johnston of CSA fell at this place after showing great personal bravery, he is supposed to have been Killed by the Sharp Shooters of Col. Sullivans Rgt. at any rate he must have been killed by someone of his command.

we saw the Rgt to the left of Col. Sullivans break to the rear and fall back in great confusion we filed off to the right in pursuit of the retreating Rgt. leaving Col. Sullivan Rgt. to seek other and more easy game occupy for the ground in accupancy of their original Ground, we sought another field of action.

John Trice
Memphis Tenn

which was soon found.  The Rgt. of Col. Sullivan was the only Rgt. that we were engaged with during the day that held and maintained its ground and The 1st Ky. Brigade was engaged during the entire day until after dark.  Since I have been a prisoner which accured on the 7th inst. I have been on the Steamer Hannibal and am satisfied that there is not that feeling against the Slave Holders of the South that has been represented by different persons of both sections of the North American Continent.  I have been very Kindly treated by those who now hold me as a prisoner of war.

Comments and Notes

This is indeed a strange letter. The original is in a private collection in Ohio. Trice apparently wrote this letter for Col. Sullivan, but the reasons are unknown. One wonders if Sullivan wanted to make himself look good in his hometown newspaper, and perhaps this letter was written for publication. But Trice and Sullivan were both mistaken about which Ohio regiment was engaged by the 4th Kentucky Infantry; in their initial attack on 6 April the 4th Kentucky fought and defeated the 46th Ohio Infantry (not the 48th). During the entire two-day battle, the Orphan Brigade never engaged the 48th Ohio.

Trice apparently wrote the letter in Sullivan’s presence, then edited it at his request or insistance. The marked through words are as they appear on the letter, and the words in brackets [ ] in the first paragraph were added in later. The last paragraph was also added after Trice’s signature.

Trice was sent as a prisoner to Johnson’s Island, where he was released during the large exchanges in September 1862. He returned to command his company in later campaigns, but resigned in July 1863.

Since Col. Robert Trabue was temporarily commanding the Kentucky Brigade, Lt. Col. Andrew Hynes commanded the 4th Kentucky at Shiloh (although the actual tactical leadership and maneuvers appear to have been accomplished by Maj. Thomas B. Monroe, until his wounding on the 7th).

Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston was killed near the Hornets Nest, far from the location of the 48th Ohio Infantry.


Orphan Brigade at the battle of Shiloh

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