Rienzi, twenty-five hundred; Burnville, Jacinto, and Iuka, about six thousand. At important bridges, and on garrison duty, about two or three thousand, making in the aggregate about forty-two thousand (42,000) men in West Tennessee. Memphis, Jackson, Bolivar, and Corinth were fortified, the works mounting siege guns, the outposts slightly fortified, having field-pieces. Memphis, Bolivar, and Corinth are in the arc of a circle, the chord of which, from Memphis to Corinth, makes an angle with due east line about fifteen degrees south. Bolivar is about equidistant from Memphis and Corinth, somewhat nearer the latter, and is at the intersection of the Hatchie River and the Mississippi Central and Ohio Railroad. Corinth is the strongest, but the most salient point. Surveying the whole field of operations before me, calmly and dispassionately, the conclusion forced itself irresistibly upon my mind that the taking of Corinth was a condition precedental to the accomplishment of anything in West Tennessee. To take Memphis would be to destroy an immense amount of property, without any adequate military advantage, even admitting that it could be held, without heavy guns, against the enemy's guns and mortar boats. The line of fortifications around Boliver is intersected by the Hatchie River, rendering it impossible to take the place by quick assault, and reinforcements could be thrown in from Jackson by railroad, and, situated as it is, in the angle of the three fortified places, an advance upon it would expose both my flanks and rear to an attack from the forces at Memphis and Corinth. It was clear, to my mind, that if a successful attack could be made upon Corinth from the west and north-west, the forces there driven back on the Tennessee and cut off, Bolivar and Jackson would easily fall, and then, upon the arrival of the exchange prisoners of war, West Tennessee would soon be in our possession, and communication with General Bragg effected through Middle Tennessee. The attack on Corinth was a military necessity, requiring prompt and vigorous action. It was being strengthened daily under that astute soldier, General Rosecrans; convalescents were returning to fill his ranks; new levies were arriving to increase his brigades, and fortifications were being constructed at new points, and it was very evident that unless a sudden and vigorous blow could be struck there at once, no hope could be entertained of driving the enemy from a base of operations so convenient; that in the event of misfortune to Bragg, in Kentucky, the whole valley of the Mississippi would be lost to us before winter. To have waited for the arrival, arming, clothing, and organization of the exchanged prisoners would have been to wait for the enemy to strengthen themselves more than we could possibly do. With these reflections, and after mature deliberation, I determined to attempt Corinth. I had a reasonable hope of success. Field returns at Ripley showed my strength to be about twenty-two thousand men. Rosecrans at Corinth had about fifteen thousand, with about eight thousand additional men at outposts, from twelve to fifteen miles distant. I might surprise him and carry the place before these troops could be brought in. I therefore marched towards Pocahontas, threatening Bolivar, then turned suddenly across the Hatchie and Tuscumbia and attacked Corinth without hesitation, and did surprise that place before the outpost garrisons were called in. It was necessary that this blow should be sudden and decisive, and if unsuccessful, that I should withdraw rapidly from the position between the two armies of Ord and Rosecrans. The troops were in fine spirits, and the whole Army of West Tennessee seemed eager to emulate the armies of the Potomac and of Kentucky. No army every marched to battle with prouder steps, more hopeful countenances, or with more courage than marched the Army of Tennessee out of Ripley, on the morning of the twenty-ninth day of September, on its way to Corinth. Fully alive to the responsibility of my position as commander of the army, and after mature and deliberate reflection, the march was ordered. The ground was well known to me, and required no study to determine where to make the attack. The bridge over the Hatchie was soon reconstructed, and the army crossed at four o'clock A. M., on the second of October. Adams' brigade of cavalry was left to guard this approach to our rear, and to protect the train which was parked between the Hatchie and Tuscumbia. Colonel Hawkins' regiment of infantry, and Captain Dawson's battery of artillery, were also left in the Boneyard road, in easy supporting distance of the bridge. The army bivouacked at Chewalla, after the driving in of some pickets from that vicinity by Armstrong's and Jackson's cavalry. This point is about ten miles from Corinth. At daybreak on the third the march was resumed, the precaution having been taken to cut the railroad between Corinth and Jackson with a squadron of Armstrong's cavalry. Lovell's division in front kept the road on the south side of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. Price, after marching on the same road about five miles, turned to the left, crossing the railroad, and formed line of battle in front of the outer line of intrenchments, and about three miles from Corinth. Lovell formed line of battle, after some heavy skirmishing (having to construct a passage across the dry bed of Indian Creek for his artillery, under fire), on the right and in front of the same line of intrenchments. The following was the first order of battle: The three brigades of Lovell's division, Villepigue's, Bowen's, and Rust's in line, with reserve in rear of each; Jackson's cavalry brigade on the right in echelon. The left flank of the division on the Charleston Railroad. Price's corps on the left, with the right flank resting on the same road. Maury's division on the right, with Moore's and Phifer's brigade in line; Cabell's in reserve. Hebert's division on the left, with
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Doc . 62 .-Hoisting the Black flag — official correspondence and reports.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.