previous next

[156] camp. But yesterday, and all was life and animation; to-day the white tents have disappeared, the heavy footsteps have ceased to sound, and no evidence, save the desolated, hard-trodden ground, and a few tent-stakes, remain to tell the story.

Nothing surprised me more than the character of the rebel works. From the length of time Beauregard's army had been occupying the place, with a view to its defence, and from the importance the rebel General attached to it, in his despatch which was intercepted by Gen. Mitchel, I had been led to suppose that the fortifications were really formidable. But such was not the case. I admire the engineering which dictated the position of the intrenchments, and the lines they occupied, but that is all that deserves the slightest commendation.

But a single line of general fortifications had been constructed, and these were actually less formidable than those thrown up by our forces last night, after occupying a new position. There were, besides this general line, occasional rifle-pits, both outside and inside the works, but they could have been constructed by three relief details in six hours.

The only fortifications really worthy the name, were a few points where batteries were located, but these could not have resisted our Parrott and siege-guns half an hour. Yet the positions occupied by the breastworks were capable of being strengthened so as to render them almost invulnerable to a front attack, and no little difficulty would have been experienced in flanking the position, either on the right or left.

The works were on the brow of a ridge, considerably higher than any in the surrounding country, and at the foot of it was a ravine, correspondingly deep. The zigzag course of the line gave the defenders the command of all the feasible approaches, and hundreds could have been mowed down at every step made by an assailing army, even from the imperfect earth-banks which had been thrown up.

Had a fight occurred, it must have been decided by artillery, and in this respect we had the advantage both in number and calibre of our guns; but had they improved the advantages they possessed, and fortified as men who really intended to make a stubborn defence, this superiority might have been overcome.

The conduct of the rebels is indeed beyond comprehension. Here is a place commanding several important railroads; a place the seizure of which Beauregard confessed in his celebrated despatch to Davis, would open to us the Valley of the Mississippi; a position capable of a stubborn defence as Sebastopol, and yet scarcely an effort is made to fortify it, and its possessors fly at our approach. The abettors of the rebels in Europe are watching with eager interest every step made in this country, with a view of obtaining a recognition, at any favorable moment, of the bogus confederacy. A stubborn resistance, even though followed by defeat, would command respect abroad; but a succession of evacuations, upon the slightest approach of danger, can insure only contempt.

The troops from every direction marched toward a common centre — Corinth; and as they neared each other and friends recognized friends, whom they had not seen for weeks or months, though separated but a few miles, greetings were exchanged, and as regiments met for the first time since leaving the bloody fields of Donelson and Shiloh, cheer after cheer resounded through the forests and were echoed and reechoed by the hills, as if the earth itself desired to prolong the sound.

As no rain had fallen for some time, the roads were exceedingly dusty, as was the whole camping-ground, which had been tramped solid by eighty thousand rebels. But all forgot obstacles and annoyances in the eagerness to see the town before which they had lain so long. A little after eight o'clock, a portion of the left and centre filed in, and were met by Mr. Harrington, the Mayor's clerk, who asked protection for private property, and for such of the citizens as had determined to remain. It is needless to add that his request was granted, and guards stationed at every door, as the object of our march is not to plunder, but to save.

Corinth is built upon low lands and clay soil, so that in wet weather the place may very properly be denominated a swamp. But the soil is as easily affected by the drought as by rains, and the result is that at the present time the clay is baked perfectly solid, and the ground filled with fissures. Just outside of the town are the ridges, which might be appropriately denominated hills, and upon which second, third and fourth lines of defences could have been erected. The highest lands are in the direction of Farmington on the east, and College Hill on the south-west.

As will be seen by any correct map, the town is situated at the junction of the Mobile and Ohio and the Memphis and Charleston Railroads, both very important lines of communication, and indispensable to the enemy. The roads do not cross at exactly right angles, but on the northwest and south-east would intersect the circumference of a circle at a distance apart of not more than sixty degrees. Slight embankments are thrown up at the crossing, but they do not exceed four or five feet in height. The town is nearly all north of the Memphis and east of the Mobile road.

Corinth is the only pleasant country village I have seen in this section of the country. I was informed that it usually contained two thousand two hundred inhabitants, of all colors, but I am inclined seriously to doubt the assertion. From one thousand to one thousand two hundred would be far nearer a true estimate.

The houses are built after the Southern fashion, with a front-door for every room looking toward the street. This is an odd feature to one used to Yankee architecture, but it is the universal style of the Southern States. The apartments of most of the houses are large and airy, and surrounded with immense porticoes, where the high-toned

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.
G. T. Beauregard (2)
E. G. Parrott (1)
O. M. Mitchel (1)
Addison Harrington (1)
Jefferson Davis (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: