The battle of Shiloh or Pittsburg Landing was similar to the eastern battle of First Bull Run in the fact that both armies were primarily composed of rookie soldiers who had yet to experience the realities of brutal warfare or the discipline needed to undertake complex maneuvers in combat. Among the ranks of inexperienced fighting men was Leander Stillwell, who was motivated to join the 61st Illinois Regiment after the events of Firt Bull Run. He later wrote of his experiences in the Federal Army in his book The Story of a Common Soldier.
Let the generals and historians, therefore, write of the movements of corps, divisions, and brigades. I have naught to tell but the simple story of what one private soldier saw of one of the bloodiest battles of the war.
The regiment to which I belonged was the 61st Illinois Infantry. It left its camp of instruction (a country town in southern Illinois) about the last of February 1862. We were sent to Benton Barracks, near St. Louis, and remained there drilling (when the weather would permit) until March 25th. We left on that day for the front. It was a cloudy, drizzly, and most gloomy day as we marched through the streets of St. Louis down to the levee, to embark on a transport that was to take us to our destination. The city was enveloped in that pall of coal smoke for which St. Louis is celebrated. It hung heavy and low and set us all to coughing. I think the colonel must have marched us down some by‐ street. It was narrow and dirty with high buildings on either side. The line officers took the sidewalks, while the regiment, marching by the flank, tramped in silence down the middle of the street, slumping through the nasty slimy mud. There was one thing very noticeable on this march through St. Louis, and that was the utter lack of interest taken in us by the inhabitants. From pictures I had seen in books at home, my idea was that when soldiers departed for war, beautiful ladies stood on