On the evening of April 16, 1862, after the first day of the battle of Shiloh, the cries of wounded and dying men on the fields between the Union and Confederate camps could be heard through the night.
Much later, General Grant wrote about that night: “Some time after midnight, growing restive under the storm and the continuous pain (an injured ankle), I moved back to the loghouse under the bank. This had been taken as a hospital, and all night wounded men were being brought in, their wounds dressed, a leg or arm amputated as the case might require, and everything being done to save life or alleviate suffering. The sight was more unendurable than encountering the enemy’s fire, and I returned to my tree in the rain.”
Cyrus Boyd was one of 39,830 men in the Union Army of the Tennessee which suffered 1,433 men killed and 6,202 wounded. From a total Union force of 65,085, 10,162 were killed or wounded.
The Confederates had 44,699 men in the battle and lost 9,740 killed or wounded.
Shiloh was fought on the Tennessee River, only a few miles from Corinth, Mississippi. The Tennessee River flows north, across Tennessee and Kentucky, into the Ohio River.
A few years ago, I visited the Mound City National Cemetery, on the Ohio River just outside Mount City, Illinois and have not been able to forget the rows of marble headstones repeating the same words: Union Soldier, Unknown, Died at Shiloh. I didn’t count them but the number seemed overwhelming. In fact, there are 2,759 unknown Union soldiers buried there, along with 5,503 whose names were known. I could not understand why soldiers who died in the Shiloh battle would be buried in Illinois.
During the Civil War, the location of Mound City made it ideal for a military hospital complex which could serve 1,000 to 1,500 men. A side-wheeled steamer served as a floating hospital and brought wounded men from Shiloh and other battles along the rivers that connected to the Ohio. The men who are buried in this National Cemetery did not die at Shiloh. They were severely wounded there and after transport to the hospital in Mound City, they died.