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[501] and our forces in Corinth were prepared for the encounter. By night our whole force was driven in, with Gen. Oglesby wounded, Gen. Hackelman killed, and many others lost; and the enemy, flushed with apparent success, enveloped our front and laid upon their arms, within a mile of town.

Our own officers went on perfecting preparations for the conflict. Capt. W. B. Gau, of Gen. Rosecrans's staff, took charge of his corps of negro (slave) Sappers and Miners, and constructed two revetted redoubts during the night. The Yates Sharp-shooters of Illinois, and the Burgess Sharp-shooters, rolled up a mass of logs and made a passable breastwork in front of Bolivar road. Gen. Rosecrans and his staff were on the field all night making preparations to receive the enemy, and nothing was neglected that seemed necessary to insure victory.

The features of the field of battle are necessary to a correct view of it. On the north and east side of the town there is alternate hill and swampy ground, generally heavy timbered, but now and then a field on the left of the railroad. Our army faced north. Fronting our right centre there is a heavily thicketed swamp, almost impassable for masses of infantry. On the left centre the ground is quite hilly; on the right, where our right wing was posted, it was rolling, but fell off in front into heavily-timbered ground — swampy in rainy weather. The Chewalla road enters the town on the left, the Bolivar road about the right centre. Excepting in the right centre, Corinth was approachable in unbroken line of battle from that side.

Our new line of fortifications consisted of four revetted redoubts, covering the whole front of Corinth and protecting the flanks. The fort on the extreme right was strengthened by Beauregard's old works. Fort Richardson, a new five-gun battery, constructed during Friday night, was at the left of Hamilton's division, which held the extreme right, and was in direct range of the debouch into town of the Bolivar road, the former redoubt flanking that road; Fort Williams, mounted with twenty-pound Parrotts, commanded the hills over which the Chewalla road described its course into town; Fort Robinette, on a high, narrow ridge, which, with Fort Williams, enfiladed both the Chewalla and Bolivar roads. Another fort on the extreme left, near the Corinth Seminary, protected our left and strengthened the centre. The several forts in the rear were also so located that they played a conspicuous part in the battle, their pieces being reversed and turned to the centre at a critical period.

The gallant Hamilton's division was assigned the post of honor on the extreme right, his right resting near Beauregard's old works, and at Fort No. 1, stretching from the south side of the famous Purdy road, his left resting behind Fort Richardson. General Davies's division joined him on the left and in consecutive order, six companies of the Yates's Illinois Sharp-shooters, Burke's Western (Mo.) sharp-shooters, Stanley's division, consisting of two brigades, and McKean's division, with McArthur's brigade on the extreme left. The cavalry, under command of Colonel Mizner, was posted on the right and left wings, and in the rear, and competent forces were held as reserves and to protect the rear. The front line was carefully covered by crests of undulations on the town-plat, and the various batteries, commanded by Lieut.-Colonel Lathrop, Chief of Artillery, were generally covered by fortifications, one of them being protected by an apron of hay and cotton-bales.

Friday night the non-combatants of Corinth were uneasy. Some of the troops were not altogether comfortable. The fact that the enemy had driven our forces back into the town was not reassuring. But it was remarked that General Rosecrans was in magnificent humor. It is said that he encouraged the lads by quoting Barkis, assuring them that “things is workina.” It might be so, but non-combatants couldn't see it. They were told that the rebel line of battle was formed within one thousand yards of our line. Thus it was apparent they could shell the town. Civilians, you know, have a lively horror of shells. It is assumed that there was not much sleep in Corinth that night.

Before daybreak the Ohio brigade, (Stanley's division,) commanded by Col. Fuller, which rested its left on Fort Robinette, heard the enemy placing a battery on the hill in front not over two hundred yards from Fort Robinette. Gen. Rosecrans, it is reported, said: “Let 'em plant it.” Before a streak of dawn, Saturday morning, they opened furiously upon Corinth. “They saw our breakfast-fires,” said a soldier, “and got range upon us.” Shell flew about, exploding over the houses, in houses, and in the streets. Our own batteries did not reply for an hour or more. At sunrise non-combatants were ordered to the rear. Sutlers, storekeepers, employees of departments, teamsters, negroes and all, retired precipitately; but they were behind the troops, and their example was not contagious. Meantime the sharpshooters of both armies had worked into the swamp thicket in front of the town, and were fighting sharply. Captain Williams, (U. S.A.) had opened, at daylight, his thirty-pounder Parrotts in Fort Williams on the battery which the enemy had so slyly posted in darkness, and in about three minutes it was silenced. This was why General Rosecrans said: “Let 'em plant it.” The enemy dragged off two pieces, but were unable to take the other. Part of the Sixty-third Ohio, and a squad of the First United States artillery, went out and got the deserted gun, and brought it within our lines.

Skirmishing had also opened at various points in front as soon as it was light, and it was constantly thickening into the magnitude of battle. Now and then there were brief intervals of quiet, but swiftly followed by furious volleys. The main lines of the enemy were still invisible. It was known however that they were forming upon the roads in the forests, and their debouch was anxiously awaited. Shells on both sides were doing their work. The enemy had opened batteries


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W. S. Rosecrans (5)
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