previous next

[153] camps, and several times while this was going on their shells and shot fell around our tents.

In several instances we were greatly annoyed by rebel sharp-shooters, who, from the trees in front, sent their bullets with deadly aim. One of this class, after thus troubling us for two days, was at last discovered, and three half-breed Indians, from Col. George's regiment, crept silently through the grass and low shrubs that separated the lines, to within short range, when, firing in concert, they had the satisfaction of tumbling the sharp-shooter from his high position. Though greeted by a volley from the pickets, the half-breeds escaped, and few rebels occupied the trees for several days. In another instance, during an attack on one of our batteries, the gunners were troubled by another gentleman of this class, who was at last discovered near the top of a large oak. The Captain carefully trained one of his rifled guns upon the trunk of the tree, and as the smoke of the explosion cleared away, the tree and its occupant came down with a crash.

In another portion of the field our forces were exposed to a constant fire, the exact locality of which could not be at first determined. After careful survey, the place was found at length, and appeared to conceal a very considerable force. Gen. Davies ordered out a battery of eighteen heavy field-guns, which were hidden in the edge of the banks overlooking the spot. Our skirmishers then advanced rapidly, with orders to retreat quickly, as if routed, at the enemy's fire. The scheme was successful. The rebels left their cover sufficiently to expose their position, when all the guns which had been previously loaded opened upon them, and for several minutes the discharges of the guns were as rapid as the rattling fire of musketry. If there be music in cannonading, it was then developed, and its melody will long linger in our memories. Thus was one point of our lines cleared. The whole line was similarly employed for more than a week, and thus the advance towards Corinth was a constant succession of battles on a small scale. In every division reconnoissances were of daily occurrence, and the continued roar of artillery and rattling of musketry almost ceased to attract attention, except when the scene of action was close at hand. Thus every portion of the army has seen a battle going on by its side, where often ten thousand Union troops were engaged, and, in some cases, where the enemy were much stronger. These facts serve to convey an idea of the immense size of an army, and the extent of its lines.

This state of things continued until the twenty-fourth, with all its varied scenes, its hours of suspense, its days and nights of watchfulness and labor, its moments of victory, shaded, as such moments ever are, by its death-scenes, and the pall which everywhere hangs over new-made graves.

We had thus gained a strongly intrenched position within long-range of the rebel pickets and their cannon. Then succeeded two days of almost perfect quiet, and except where our pickets advanced from their lines, there was little firing on either side, but wherever the line which separated the armies was crossed, our forces were greeted with whistling balls. During the whole period of our advance the rebels had been most active. The railroads around Corinth seemed worked to their utmost capacity, and there was no attempt made to conceal either their position or the length of their lines. Suddenly all this activity ceased, and over the whole region around Corinth the silence of death appeared to reign. There was no random firing, no note of drum, of bugle, or horn, no locomotives or rockets — the smoke of the camp-fires had died away, the hum of their vast army had ceased, and the buzzards sailed slowly over the position as if it were indeed deserted. But this ruse to draw us on to an attack did not succeed ; and the moment the rebels perceived that their scheme had failed, they suddenly became more noisy and active than ever, and were immediately prepared to attack us; and their lines were actually formed for the attack, as we afterwards learned, but the order was suddenly countermanded, for some reason unknown to us, and matters relapsed again into their usual state.

From Tuesday, the twenty-seventh, until our army occupied Corinth, on Friday, was a period of intense excitement and activity. At three points along our lines reconnoissances on the greatest scale were made, lasting, in one case, a part of three days, and resulting in the establishing of a great portion of our line within a thousand yards of the rebel works. This latter was carried on by Gen. Alexander McCook, and conducted in a masterly manner. Involving long-continued fighting, and much military address, energy, and knowledge, it was successful at every point. Gen. McCook was supported by his brother Robert, with his brigade, and, covered by the advance troops, the lines of this brigade were advanced still further; and after the advanced brigades of Gen. Johnson on our left, and Gen. Rousseau on our right had intrenched themselves, Gen. R. L. McCook's brigade moved upon their line.

Though the task be a most difficult one, yet I will try to give your readers a faint idea of the scenes which an advance presents.

First the enemy must be driven back. Regiments and artillery are placed in position, and generally the cavalry is in advance, but when the opposing forces are in close proximity, the infantry does the work. The whole front is covered by a cloud of skirmishers, and then reserves formed, and then, in connection with the main line, they advance. For a moment all is still as the grave to those in the background; as the line moves on, the eye is strained in vain to follow the skirmishers as they creep silently forward; then from some point of the line a single rifle rings through the forest, sharp and clear, and, as if in echo, another answers it. In a moment more the whole line resounds with the din of arms. Here the fire is slow and steady, there it rattles with fearful rapidity, and this mingled

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 Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

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.
Alexander McCook (2)
Lovell H. Rousseau (1)
Robert L. McCook (1)
Andrew Johnson (1)
Sioux Indians (1)
W. G. George (1)
S. W. Davies (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.
27th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: