previous next

[151]

On the whole ridge extending from my camp into Corinth, and to the right and left, could be seen the remains of the abandoned camps of the enemy, flour and provisions scattered about, and every thing indicating a speedy and confused retreat. In the town itself many houses were still burning, and the ruins of warehouses and buildings containing commissary and other confederate stores were still smouldering; but there still remained piles of cannon-balls, shells and shot, sugar, molasses, beans, rice, and other property, which the enemy had failed to carry off or destroy. Major Fisher, of the Ohio Fifty-fourth, was left in Corinth with a provost-guard, to prevent pillage and protect the public stores still left.

From the best information picked up from the few citizens who remained in Corinth, it appeared that the enemy had for some days been removing their sick and valuable stores, and had sent away on railroad-cars a part of their effective force, on the night of the twenty-eighth. But, of course, even the vast amount of their rolling stock could not carry away an army of a hundred thousand men.

The enemy was, therefore, compelled to march away, and began the march by ten o'clock on the night of the twenty-ninth--the columns filling all the roads leading south and west all night — the rear-guard firing the train which led to the explosions and conflagration, which gave us the first real notice that Corinth was to be evacuated. The enemy did not relieve his pickets that morning, and many of them have been captured, who did not have the slightest intimation of their purpose.

Finding Corinth abandoned by the enemy, I ordered Gen. M. L. Smith to pursue on the Ripley road, by which it appeared they had taken the bulk of their artillery.

Capt. Hammond, my chief of staff, had been and continued with Gen. Smith's brigade, and pushed the pursuit up to the bridges and narrow causeway by which the bottom of Tuscumbia Creek is passed. The enemy opened with canister on the small party of cavalry, and burned every bridge, leaving the woods full of straggling soldiers. Many of these were gathered up and sent to the rear, but the main army had escaped across Tuscumbia Creek, and further pursuit by a small party would have been absurd, and I kept my division at College Hill until I received Gen. Thomas's orders to return and resume our camps of the night before, which we did, slowly and quietly, in the cool of the evening.

The evacuation of Corinth at the time and in the manner in which it was done, was a clear back-down from the high and arrogant tone heretofore assumed by the rebels. The ground was of their own choice. The fortifications, though poor and indifferent, were all they supposed necessary to our defeat, as they had had two months to make them, with an immense force to work at their disposal.

If, with two such railroads as they possessed, they could not supply their army with reenforcements and provisions, how can they attempt it in this poor, arid, and exhausted part of the country?

I have experienced much difficulty in giving an intelligent account of the events of the past three days, because of the many little events, unimportant in themselves, but which in the aggregate form material data to account for results.

My division has constructed seven distinct intrenched camps since leaving Shiloh, the men working cheerfully and well all the time, night and day. Hardly had we finished one camp before we were called on to move forward and build another. But I have been delighted at this feature in the character of my division, and take this method of making it known. Our intrenchments here and at Russell's, each built substantially in one night, are stronger works of art than the much boasted forts of the enemy at Corinth.

I must, also, in justice to my men, remark their great improvement on the march — the absence of that straggling which is too common in the volunteer service; and still more, their improved character on picket and as skirmishers. Our line of march has been along a strongly marked ridge, followed by the Purdy and Corinth road, and ever since leaving the “Locusts” our pickets have been fighting. Hardly an hour, night or day, for two weeks, without the exchange of hostile shots. But we have steadily and surely gained ground — slowly, to be sure, but with that steady certainty which presaged the inevitable result. In these picket skirmishes we have inflicted and sustained losses, but it is impossible for me to recapitulate them.

These must be accounted for on the company muster-rolls. We have taken many prisoners, which have been sent to the Provost-Marshal General; and with this report I will send some forty or fifty picked up in the course of the past two days. Indeed, I think, if disarmed, very many of these prisoners would never give trouble again ; whilst, on the other hand, the real secessionists seem more bitter than ever.

I will send the reports of Brigadiers and Colonels as soon as completed and handed in.

Enclosed is a sketch made by Capt. Kossak, without which I fear my descriptions and history of movements would not be understood.

I am, with much respect, your obedient servant,

W. T. Sherman, Major-General Commanding Division. J. H. Hammond, Assistant Adjutant-General.


Congratulatory order of Gen. Sherman.

headquarters Fifth division army of the Tennessee, camp before Corinth, May 31, 1862.
orders No. 30.

The General Commanding Fifth division, right wing, takes this occasion to express to the officers and men of his command his great satisfaction with them for the courage, steadiness and great industry displayed by them during the past month.

Since leaving our memorable camp at Shiloh


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
W. T. Sherman (2)
J. H. Hammond (2)
William H. Thomas (1)
Morgan L. Smith (1)
M. L. Smith (1)
John Russell (1)
Kossak (1)
N. H. Fisher (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
May 31st, 1862 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: