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Doc. 41.-battle at Russell's House, near Corinth, Mississippi, May 17.


Report of Gen. W. T. Sherman.

headquarters Fifth division army of the Tennessee, camp before Corinth, May 19, 1862.
Capt. Geo. E. Flynt, Assistant Adjutant-General, Chief of Gen. Thomas's Staff:
sir : I have the honor to report that, in compliance with the purpose of Major-Gen. Halleck, as explained at the interview of the eleventh instant, Gen. Thomas being present, I made all possible inquiry as to the topography of the ground in my front, with its water-courses, fields, and roads, and on the seventeenth made dispositions to drive the enemy from his position at Russell's house.

I requested Gen. Hurlbut to put in motion two regiments and a battery of artillery, at three o'clock P. M., on the road which passes the front of his line and runs to Russell's house. I ordered Gen. Denver to take a right-hand road with two regiments of his brigade and one battery of light artillery, namely, the Seventieth and Seventy-second Ohio, and Barrett's battery, and gave him a guide so to conduct his march as to arrive on the left of the enemy's position by the time he was engaged in front; and I ordered Gen. Morgan L. Smith's brigade, with Bouton's battery, to follow the main road, drive back a brigade of the enemy's forces that held the position at Russell's, with their skirmishers and pickets, down to the causeway and bridge across a small stream about eight hundred yards this side of Russell's house, supposed to be a branch of Bridge Creek.

All these forces were put in motion at three P. M., Gen. Denver's forces taking the right-hand road, and Gen. Smith's the direct main road. On reaching the causeway, Gen. Smith deployed his skirmishers forward, and sent out his advanceguard. The column advanced, and the skirmishers became engaged at once. The firing was very brisk, but the enemy's pickets were driven steadily back till they reached the position of their brigade at Russell's house, where their resistance was obstinate.

The ground was unfavorable to artillery till the skirmishers had cleared the hill beyond the causeway, when Major Taylor, Chief of Artillery, advanced first one of Bouton's guns, and very soon after the remaining three guns of the battery. These, upon reaching the hill-top, commenced firing at Russell's house and outhouses, in which the enemy had taken shelter, when their whole force retreated, and full possession was obtained of Russell's house and the ground for three hundred yards in advance, where the roads meet. This was the limit to which I had ordered the brigade to go, and there it was halted. The head of Gen. Denver's column reached its position as the enemy was beginning to retreat.

Gen. Morgan L. Smith conducted the advance of his brigade handsomely, and the chief work and loss fell upon his two leading regiments, the Eighth Missouri and Fifty-fifth Illinois. I leave to him the full credit of conducting the advance, and of carrying the position at Russell's. He held the ground till about daylight next morning, when, by my order, he left a strong picket there, and placed his brigade back a short distance in easy support, where it remained until relieved by another brigade.

From Russell's we could hear distinctly the drums beating in Corinth. The house is nearly two miles from me, and about one and a quarter miles from the enemy's outer intrenchments, and the position, though important, is too exposed for a single brigade, with our line disposed as at present. Gen. Hurlbut has two companies at Russell's and two regiments along the edge of a field which lies to the east of Russell's house. This house is now the advance picket-station in our front, and I have a chain of sentinels round by the right to a point on the Purdy and Corinth road, where it joins on to the pickets of Gen. McClernand.

There was no loss sustained by Gens. Hurlbut or Denver's commands in their flank movements on Russell's; but the loss in Gen. Morgan L. Smith's brigade was pretty heavy--ten killed and [138] thirty-one wounded, a list of whom will accompany this report. The confederates left twelve dead on the ground, whom we buried. They removed their wounded, of which many traces were on the ground and in the house. Among their dead was one captain and two lieutenants. We took only one prisoner, whom I sent to the Provost-Marshal.

I have the honor to be your obedient servant,

W. T. Sherman, Brig.-Gen. Commanding Division. Headquarters Department Mississippi, Camp Corinth Roads, Mississippi, May 22, 1862.

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