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No. 4.-reports of Brig. Gen. William Nelson, U. S. Army, commanding Fourth Division, of operations from May 2 to June 11.

Hdqrs. Fourth Division, Army of the Ohio, Before Corinth, May 31, 1862.
Colonel: I have the honor to report that at 4 a. m. of the 30th an escaped rebel came into my camp and stated that the rebel army were evacuating the lines of Corinth; that their infantry pickets had been withdrawn about 10 o'clock the night previous and had been replaced by cavalry. I immediately ordered a general advance of my line of skirmishers to verify the statement, and at the same time ordered the Seventeenth Kentucky Regiment, which held the bridge, to advance also, sending the Twenty-fourth Ohio Volunteers to take their place. At 5.30 the advance was halted, by orders from headquarters. At 6.30 it was resumed, the skirmishers of the Seventeenth Kentucky Volunteers entering the lines of the enemy. At 7 the Tenth Brigade entered the enemy's works with Mendenhalls battery, and I dispatched an aide to inform General Buell that I was in Corinth. We took 103 prisoners; found the town on fire, but were deterred from any serious attempt to extinguish the flames by the frequent explosion of shell; found artillery and musket ammunition in close proximity to the fire, which I ordered to be moved.

The line of skirmishers passed far beyond the town, and I opened on the rising ground in advance, where some of the enemy were in sight, [681] with rifled cannon. The division took up its position on the rising ground, and remained till orders were received from headquarters.

I send you a rebel flag, taken with the prisoners.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Wm. Nelson Brigadier-General. Col. J. B. Fry, Chief of Staff.


[Indorsement.]

June 2, 1862.
Respectfully forwarded.

To General Nelson's division first and General McCook's very soon after belong whatever credit attaches to the discovery that the enemy had evacuated Corinth and of first occupying his intrenchments.

D. C. Buell, Major-General, (Commanding.

Hdqrs. Fourth Division, Army of the Ohio, Bivouac at Smith's Cross-Roads, June 7, 1862.
Sir: The newspapers which have during the last three days arrived in the camps of the armies assembled here contain numerous telegraphic accounts of the occupation of Corinth. Whatever merit there is, if any, in that movement is claimed particularly for the troops under the command of Major-General Pope and partially for the troops of Major-General Sherman.

These dispatches, which cannot fail to attract your eye if you look at the newspapers, are prominently put forth, and as newspaper reporters are not permitted in camp and dispatches proceed from some military headquarters, they are received as official. These dispatches, it is true, nowhere have dared to state in so many words that the troops of either of the above-mentioned generals entered Corinth before the division I have the honor to command, but it is the evident intention to convey that idea to the public, which seems to have been successfully done.

I have to request that you will lay before General Halleck this my declaration that the Fourth Division of the Army of the Ohio, under my command, was in possession of Corinth more than half an hour before any troops of General Pope or General Sherman entered the enemy's works. I do not attach extraordinary importance to this circumstance, but a systematic attempt to give prominence to an act will unavoidably give to it in the minds of the public the character of merit or demerit, and thus a stigma or an honor may be as effectually fixed as though an unworthy action had been denounced or a worthy one claimed. In this manner precisely injustice has been done to my division, and I complain that the official telegraph has been made the medium of the wrong.

Very respectfully,

Wm. Nelson, Commanding Fourth Division, Army of the Ohio. Colonel Kelton, Assistant Adjutant-General.

[682]

Hdqrs. Fourth Division, Army of the Ohio, Florence, Ala., June 26, 1862.
Colonel: In obedience to orders I have the honor to make the following report of the operations of this division since the battle of Shiloh to the relinquishment of the pursuit:

On May 2 the division moved from the field of Shiloh and encamped near the forks of the road east of Monterey; employed cutting roads and corduroying. This, with the picket duty, came heavy on the troops, owing to the bad weather.

On May 7 advanced the camp 3 miles.

On the 8th advanced to Nichols' Ford, on Seven Mile Creek, to support, as I was informed, a reconnaissance of General Pope. Left this position at midnight and returned to camp, which was reached at 4 a. m. At 10.30 o'clock received an order to march my division to the support of General Pope. Marched in quick-time in the direction indicated, the enemy having attacked the troops at Farmington. Received repeated messages urging my more rapid advance; also a letter from General Pope informing me that the enemy were “advancing fiercely on his camp.” Before I could get up the firing ceased, but messengers arriving with the intelligence that my picket had been attacked at Nichols' Ford, changed direction and moved to that point, to which point the camp was moved the day following.

On May 18 moved forward on the Farmington road and took up the position which the division encamped on until the evacuation of Corinth; threw up heavy intrenchments on the commanding ground in front of the camps. The pickets were daily skirmishing with those of the enemy. Occasionally the enemy would throw shells into our lines.

On May 21 the Twenty-second Brigade, under command of Colonel Sedgewick, Second Kentucky, composed of the First, Second, and Twentieth Kentucky Regiments and the Thirty-first Indiana, made, in obedience to orders of General Buell, a reconnaissance in front of Wood's and T. W. Sherman's divisions, on the Corinth road, near Widow Serratt's house. They were met by the enemy in force and a very sharp skirmish ensued. The brigade occupied the ground that it was ordered to take.

I cannot speak too highly of the coolness and steadiness of the officers and men on the occasion. The whole movement was conducted by Colonel Sedgewick with marked ability. The brigade lost 3 mortally wounded (since dead) and 23 wounded, as per list. From the fact of finding 35 new graves at this place I supposed that to be the loss of the enemy.

On May 28, by command of General Buell, the division moved out of the trenches, the Twenty-second Brigade, under command of Colonel Sedgewick, in front, brushing among the enemy's pickets and skirmishers, and drove them from the bridge over Bridge Creek, on the main road from Hamburg to Corinth, which position we held until the evacuation. The enemy were immediately re-enforced and made three attempts to retake the bridge, which were handsomely repulsed, and the line of skirmishers pursued the enemy to the farther verge of the swamp. Repeated requests came to me to permit the advance of the whole line, which, under the instructions I was carrying out, I refused to permit. Captain Wheeler, of Colonel Ammen's staff, sent to me to say that if I would permit the advance they would be in Corinth in twenty minutes. The examination of the ground since shows that it was very [683] possible. The loss of the brigade in taking and holding the bridge was 3 killed and 20 wounded, as per list.

Lieutenant-Colonel Hanson and Major Buckner, Twentieth Kentucky Volunteers, and Captain Baldwin Second Kentucky, and his company, and the officers and men of the Twentieth Kentucky Regiment, were conspicuous.

Captain Wheeler, of the Twenty-fourth Ohio, on Colonel Ammen's staff, was, as he always is under fire, conspicuous for his gallantry. During the night dug rifle pits all along the new line.

On the morning of the 30th the division entered Corinth, as I have reported on a former occasion. I have to regret the loss of the services of one of the best officers of my division, namely, Captain Erwin, Sixth Ohio Volunteers, who was shot through the chest at 6 o'clock by the last fire of the enemy's picket as we were moving into the lines of Corinth. The cavalry of my division ran onto the enemy's rear about 3{ miles beyond Corinth. I sent a note to the general asking permission to attack the enemy, which the general declined to give. The division returned to camp. It performed one tour of duty in Corinth, and June 4 marched on the Rienzi road to Smith's Cross-Roads, where we arrived on June 7; thence we marched on the 9th to Iuka, where we arrived on the 11th.

The division in the skirmishing near Corinth lost 4 killed and 58 wounded, as per list, 5 of whom were mortally wounded and have since died.1

Very respectfully,

Wm. Nelson, Brigadier-General. Col. J. B. Fry, Chief of Staff.


[Addenda.]

Return of casualties in the Fourth Division, Army of the Ohio, in the skirmishes about Corinth, in May, 1862. 2

Command. Killed. Wounded. Aggregate. Remarks.
Officers. Enlisted men. Officers Enlisted men.
Tenth Brigade:            
  36th Indiana       1 1  
  17th Kentucky   1     1  
  6th Ohio     1 1 2  
Nineteenth Brigade:            
  27th Kentucky       1 1 Mortally.
  41st Ohio       1 1  
Twenty-second Brigade:            
  31st Indiana     1 7 8  
  1st Kentucky   1 1 12 14  
  2d Kentucky   2 1 17 20 Two mortally wounded.
  20th Kentucky     1 13 14 Two mortally wounded.
Total   4 5 53 62  

1 Nominal list omitted. Losses are tabulated in addenda.

2 nominal list in Nelson's report of June 26, 1862.

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