At 6 a.m., all hell busted out along Sherman's lines. By half-past eight o'clock, the fighting had spread across the entire front. The Cincinnati Times correspondent said thousands of stragglers clogged the roads. For many of them, this was their first taste of battle. From the looks of things, they did not find it “much to their liking.” The stragglers drifted toward the river, and “neither persuasion nor threats could induce them to change their course.”
“Foot by foot, the ground was contested.” By the end of the day, “a single narrow strip of open land dividing the opponents” was all the ground the Union had left. The sound of artillery and musket fire was deafening. Men fell in bloody piles. The men behind them stepped over their fallen bodies as they would walk over fallen logs.
The gunboat Tyler made its way upriver and joined in the fighting early in the afternoon. “The shell went tearing and crashing through the woods, felling trees in their course and spreading havoc everywhere they fell.”[i] The gunfire from the ship helped check the rebel advance on the left.
At five o'clock, the rebel fire ceased momentarily as they fell back to their center. Then just as quickly, they wheeled about and attacked the left wing with all their forces. At about that same time, General Buell’s command arrived. Grant directed the gunboats Tyler and Lexington to a position a half-mile above Pittsburg Landing, where they let loose a terrible and murderous cannonading. Not long after that, General Lew Wallace’s troops arrived at the landing.
That convinced General Beauregard to call it quits for the day. The rebels slowly fell back to their center on the Corinth road.