April 26, 1862: The Dispatch reports Breckinridge’s casualties

Lt. General John C. Breckinridge
John C. Breckinridge

The Richmond Daily Dispatch reported casualties in Breckinridge’s “Orphan Brigade,” so called because it was composed of Kentuckians whose state had stayed in the Union, and was under the command of John Cabell Breckinridge, former Vice President and Senator from Kentucky who had been expelled from the Senate for treason. Breckinridge actually commanded the reserve corps in the battle of Shiloh, and his brigade was under Colonel Robert Trabue. The casualty report below was actually a bit low; according to O.E. Cunningham’s excellent Shiloh and the Western Campaign of 1862, the actual loss was 800.


Gen. Breckinridge’s brigade.

The Memphis Appeal publishes the official report of the casualties in General Breckinridge’s Brigade in the battle of Shiloh. The following summary shows that the loss is fully one third of the whole force, and is, perhaps, the heaviest that has been sustained by any one brigade since the war began:

Third Kentucky 170
Fourth Kentucky 195
Fifth Kentucky 136
Sixth Kentucky 102
Burn’s [Byrne’s] Battery 37
Bubb’s [Cobb’s] Battery 37
Clifton’s Battery [4th Alabama] 54
Total 705

General Breckinridge’s was among the reserve corps, but was engaged in the thickest of the fight, and did much to add fresh renown to the lustre of Kentucky arms.

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