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[158] ascertained arose from the destruction of a number of shell, which could not be carried away. At what time Gen. Halleck first learned of the movement, I am unable to state; nor am I aware that he knew it when the order to march was given on Friday morning.

And here let me indulge in a little digression, to prove the simple facts in the case. I have been led to admire the manner in which Gen. Halleck conducted the advance upon Corinth, and his precaution in fortifying at every resting-place. The wielding of the army has been admirable. But I cannot commend his watchfulness in not knowing the rebels were retreating, when we were within half a mile of their lines for forty-eight hours. A reconnaissance in force, at several points, to the distance of twenty rods beyond our pickets, would have discovered the whole facts. Of course no other officer could order such a movement, and the responsibility must rest with the Commanding General, provided there has really been a blunder, and I believe the country will characterize his lack of watchfulness as such.

True to their natural sentiments, the rebels could not leave the town without destroying a large amount of valuable property. The depot and three large warehouses, containing provisions which they were unable to carry away, were fired, and before the arrival of Halleck's army, were consumed. The dense cloud of smoke which was seen in the morning as the army approached, led to the supposition that the town had been burned, but on arrival it was found that all private residences, and such buildings as contained no army stores, were left unharmed.

As I entered the town, my attention was attracted to a quantity of cotton nearly consumed. I counted, and found that twenty-seven bales had been consigned to the flames, but as it was their own property, nobody cared. They certainly have a right to do as they will with their own. The practical people of the North may think they are silly for their conduct, but it is none of their business. If the South is determined to bring ruin upon itself, let it do so; the world can move without a cotton-pivot.

The platform of the railroad was also set on fire, and but for the efforts of our soldiers would have been consumed, and the flames must have communicated to the Tishimingo House, and perhaps other buildings. The time will yet come when the rebels will thank our soldiers for quenching the flames their own hands have kindled. With mature reflection, even the rebels will not be so lost to principle or interest as to be oblivious of favors conferred. When the insane man regains his reason, he thanks the hand that rescued him from suicide.

The rebel forces amounted to eighty thousand effective troops, of all grades — volunteers for the war, conscripts, and “eight-day men.” I had prepared a list of the organization of our army, its strength, and the amount of artillery with it, but such information is necessarily contraband, and consequently withheld from the public. Of course, if our force had not been formidable, the rebels would not have fled before it.

When our lines advanced on the twenty-eighth, a battery was planted on an eminence commanding a considerable portion of the country, but completely shrouded from view by a dense thicket. Scouts were sent out to discover the exact position of the rebels, and were but a short distance in advance, to give a signal as to the direction to fire if any were discovered.

One of the rebel commanders, unaware of our presence, called around him a brigade and commenced addressing them in something like the following strain:

sons of the South: We are here to defend our homes, our wives and daughters, against the horde of vandals who have come here to possess the first and violate the last. Here upon this sacred soil, we have assembled to drive back the Northern invaders — drive them into the Tennessee. Will you follow me. If we cannot hold this place, we can defend no spot of our Confederacy. Shall we drive the invaders back, and strike to death the men who would desecrate our homes? Is there a man so base among those who hear me, as to retreat from the contemptible foe before us? I will never blanch before their fire, nor----

At this interesting period the signal was given, and six shell fell in the vicinity of the gallant officer and his men, who suddenly forgot their fiery resolves, and fled in confusion to their breastworks.

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