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[406] separated from Robinett by a considerable space, through which the Chewalla road and the Jackson railway passed. But all the roads were occupied by breastworks sufficiently strong to protect the field artillery, and enable it to command the approaches; these works were strengthened and increased during the latter part of September, in consequence of a somewhat curious incident. A young woman named Miss Burton, who was gifted with true military instinct, played the part of the Confederate spy in Corinth. The Federals had intercepted one of her letters, in which she indicated the north-western side of the town as the weak point in the Federal defence, giving with remarkable precision all the information necessary for attacking it. This letter, carefully resealed, was forwarded to its destination, after which Miss Burton was closely watched, so as to prevent her supplying the enemy with any further intelligence, while the Federals worked without intermission to fortify the weak points she had so cleverly discovered. It was on this side that Van Dorn determined to make the attack; he not only expected to find the place illy defended, but fully relied upon being able to cut off Rosecrans from any reinforcements that Grant might send him. To accomplish his object, he proceeded northward and occupied Pocahontas, at the confluence of the Hatchie and Tuscumbia; in this position, which he reached on the 1st of October, he left his adversaries still uncertain as to the objective point of his attack.

Leaving a brigade of cavalry and some infantry to guard the bridge of the Hatchie, and the greater portion of his convoy, which remained parked in the neighborhood, he proceeded westward and encamped at Chewalla on the 2d, while his outposts, drawing near Corinth, encountered those of Rosecrans, who had gone out to meet him in pursuance of Grant's orders. The latter, having at last been made acquainted with the movement of the Confederates, had put all the forces at his command in motion to fall upon their flank and line of retreat. He sent McPherson in all haste with one of his brigades, direct from Jackson toward Corinth, whilst Ord, at the head of a portion of his division and that of Hurlbut, numbering all together from four to five thousand men, marched from Bolivar to Pocahontas to seize the fords of the Hatchie.

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