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Doc. 50.-occupation of Corinth, Miss.

General Halleck's report.

near Corinth, May 30.
To Hon. E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War:
General Pope's heavy batteries opened upon the enemy's intrenchments yesterday about ten o'clock A. M., and soon drove the rebels from their advanced batteries.

Major-Gen. W. S. Sherman established another heavy battery yesterday afternoon within one thousand yards of their works, and skirmishing parties advanced at day-break this morning.

Three of our divisions are already in the enemy's advance works, about three fourths of a mile from Corinth, which is in flames.

H. W. Halleck, Major-General.

General Sherman's report.

headquarters First division, army of the Tennessee, camp near Corinth, Miss., May 30, 1862.
Captain George E. Flynt, Assist. Adjt.-Gen. to Major-Gen. Thomas:
sir: On the nineteenth instant, I reported the operations of this division in taking from the enemy the position at Russell's. After driving the enemy away, we found it one of great natural strength, and proceeded to fortify it. Lines were laid off by the engineers, Captain Kossak, and a very excellent parapet was constructed by the men in a style that elicited the approval of Gen. Halleck. Men worked day and night, and as soon as it was done and the dense trees and undergrowth cleared away in front, to give range to our batteries, I directed our pickets to drive the enemy further back behind a large open field to our front and right. This was handsomely executed by the regular detail of picket-guard under the direction of the field-officer of the day, Lieut.-Col. Loudon, of the Seventieth Ohio.

We remained in that intrenched camp at Russell's until the night of the twenty-seventh, when I received from Major-Gen. Halleck an order by telegraph “to send a force the next day to drive the rebels from the house in our front on the Corinth road, to drive in their pickets as far as possible, and to make strong demonstration on Corinth itself,” authorizing me to call on any adjacent divisions for assistance; I asked General McClernand for one brigade and General Hurlbut for another to cooperate with two brigades of my own division. Col. John A. Logan's brigade of Gen. Judah's division of McClernand's reserve corps, and General Veatch's brigade of Hurlbut's division were placed subject to my orders, and took part with my own division in the operations of the two following days, and I now thank the officers and men of these brigades for the zeal and enthusiasm they manifested, and the alacrity they displayed in the execution of every order given.

The house referred to by Gen. Halleck was a double log building, standing on a high ridge on the upper or southern end of the large field before referred to as the one to which we had ad/un>vanced our pickets. The enemy had taken out the chinks and removed the roof, making it an excellent block-house from which, with perfect security, he could annoy our pickets. The large field was perfectly overlooked by this house, as well as by the ridge along its southern line of defence, which was covered by a dense grove of heavy oaks and underbrush. The main Corinth road runs along the eastern fence, whilst the field itself, about three hundred yards wide by about five hundred yards long, extended far to the right into the low land of Phillips's Creek, so densely wooded as to be impassable to troops or artillery. On the eastern side of the field the woods were more open. The enemy could be seen at all times in and about the house and the ridge beyond, and our pickets could not show themselves on our side of the field without attracting a shot.

The problem was to clear the house and ridge of the enemy with as little loss as possible. To accomplish this, I ordered General J. W. Denver, with his brigade (Third) and the Morton battery of four guns to march in perfect silence from our lines at eight A. M., keeping well under cover as he approached the field; Gen. Morgan L. Smith's brigade, (First,) with Barrett's and Waterhouse's batteries, to move along the main road, keeping his force well masked in the woods to the left; Brig.-Gen. Veatch's brigade to move from Gen. Hurlbut's lines through the woods on the left of and connecting with General M. L. Smith's, and Gen. John A. Logan's brigade to move down to Bowie Hill Cut of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, and thence forward to the left, so as to connect with Gen. Denver's brigade on the extreme right; all to march at eight A. M., with skirmishers well to the front, to keep well concealed, and, at a signal, to rush quickly on to the ridge, thus avoiding as much as possible the danger of crossing the open field exposed to the fire of a concealed enemy. It was impossible for me before-hand to ascertain the force of the enemy, and nothing is more embarrassing than to make dispositions against a concealed foe, occupying, as this was, a strong natural position. I then supposed and still think, this position was held by a small brigade of the enemy.

My preliminary arrangements having thus been made, two twenty-pound Parrot rifle-guns of Silfversparre's battery, under the immediate supervision of Major Taylor, Chief of Artillery, were moved silently through the forest to a point behind a hill, from the top of which could be seen the house and ground to be contested. The guns were unlimbered, loaded with shell and moved by hand to the crest. At the proper time I gave the order to Major Taylor to commence firing and demolish the house, or render it decidedly uncomfortable to its occupants. About a dozen shells well directed soon accomplished this ; then designating a single shot of the twenty-pound Parrott gun of Silfversparre as a signal for the brigades to advance, I waited till all were in position, and ordered the signal, when the troops [150] dashed forward in fine style, crossed the field, drove the enemy across the ridge and field beyond into another dense and seemingly impenetrable forest. The enemy was evidently surprised, and only killed two of our men, and wounded nine. After he had reached the ridge, he opened on us with a two-gun battery on the right and another from the front and left, doing my brigades but little harm, but killing three of Gen. Veatch's men. With our artillery we soon silenced his, and by ten A. M. we were masters of the position. Generals Grant and Thomas were present during the affair, and witnessed the movement, which was admirably executed, all the officers and men keeping their places like real soldiers.

Immediately throwing forward a line of skirmishers in front of each brigade, we found the enemy reenforcing his front skirmishers; but the woods were so dense as to completely mask his operations. An irregular piece of cleared land lay immediately in front of Gen. Denver's position, and extended obliquely to the left, in front of and across Morgan Smith's and Veatch's brigades, which were posted on the right and left of the main Corinth road, leading directly south. For some time I was in doubt whether the artillery fire we had sustained had come from the enemy's fixed or field-batteries, and intended to move forward at great hazard to ascertain the fact, when, about three P. M., we were startled by the quick rattle of musketry along our whole picket-line, followed by the cheers and yells of an attacking column of the enemy.

Our artillery and Mann's battery of Veatch's brigade, had been judiciously posted by Major Taylor, and before the yell of the enemy had died away arose our reply in the cannon's mouth. The firing was very good, rapid, well-directed, and the shells burst in the right place. Our pickets were at first driven in a little, but soon recovered their ground and held it, and the enemy retreated in utter confusion. On further examination of the ground, with its connection on the left with Gen. Hurlbut, and right resting on the railroad near Bowie Hill Cut, it was determined to intrench. The lines were laid out after dark, and the work substantially finished by morning,

All this time we were within one thousand three hundred yards of the enemy's main intrenchments, which were absolutely concealed from us by the dense foliage of the oak forest, and without a real battle, which at that time was to be avoided, we could not push out our skirmishers more than two hundred yards to the front. For our own security I had to destroy two Farmhouses, both of which had been loopholed and occupied by the enemy. By nine A. M. of yesterday, (twenty-ninth,) our works were substantially done, and our artillery in position, and at four P. m. the siege-train was brought forward, and Col. McDowell's brigade, (second,) of my division, had come from our former lines at Russell's, and had relieved Gen. John A. Logan's brigade.

I feel under special obligations to this officer, (Gen. Logan,) who, during the two days he served under me, held the critical ground on my right, extending down to the railroad. All the time he had in his front a large force of the enemy, but so dense was the foliage that he could not reckon their strength, save from what he could see in the railroad track. He will, doubtless, make his own report, and give the names of the wounded among his pickets.

I had then my whole division in a slightly curved line, facing south, my right resting on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, near a deep cut known as Bowie Hill Cut, and left resting on the main Corinth road, at the crest of the ridge, there connecting with Gen. Hurlbut, who, in turn, on his left, connected with Gen. Davies, and so on down the whole line to its extremity. So near was the enemy that we could hear the sound of his drums and sometimes of voices in command, and the railroad cars arriving and departing at Corinth were easily distinguished. For some days and nights cars have been arriving and departing very frequently, especially in the night; but last night (twenty-ninth) more so than usual, and my suspicions were aroused.

Before daybreak I instructed the brigade commanders and the field-officer of the day to feel forward as far as possible, but all reported the enemy's pickets still in force in the dense woods to our front. But about six A. M. a curious explosion, sounding like a, volley of large siegepieces, followed by others singly, and in twos and threes, arrested our attention, and soon after a large smoke arose from the direction of Corinth, when I telegraphed to Gen. Halleck to ascertain the cause. He answered that he could not explain it, but ordered me “to advance my division and feel the enemy, if still in my front.” I immediately put in motion two regiments of each brigade, by different roads, and soon after followed with the whole division, infantry, artillery, and cavalry.

Somewhat to our surprise, the enemy's chief redoubt was found within thirteen hundred yards of our line of intrenchments, but completely masked by the dense forest and undergrowth. Instead of having, as we supposed, a continuous line of intrenchments encircling Corinth, his defences consisted of separate redoubts, connected in part by a parapet and ditch, and in .part by shallow rifle-pits, the trees being felled so as to give a good field of fire to and beyond the main road.

General M. L. Smith's brigade moved rapidly down the main road, entering the first redoubt of the enemy at seven A. M. It was completely evacuated, and he pushed on into Corinth and beyond, to College Hill, there awaiting my orders and arrival. Gen. Denver entered the enemy's lines at the same time, seven A. M., at a point midway between the wagon and railroads, and proceeded on to Corinth, about three miles from our camp, and Col. McDowell kept further to the right, near the Mobile and Ohio Railroad. By eight A. M. all my division was at Corinth, and beyond. [151]

On the whole ridge extending from my camp into Corinth, and to the right and left, could be seen the remains of the abandoned camps of the enemy, flour and provisions scattered about, and every thing indicating a speedy and confused retreat. In the town itself many houses were still burning, and the ruins of warehouses and buildings containing commissary and other confederate stores were still smouldering; but there still remained piles of cannon-balls, shells and shot, sugar, molasses, beans, rice, and other property, which the enemy had failed to carry off or destroy. Major Fisher, of the Ohio Fifty-fourth, was left in Corinth with a provost-guard, to prevent pillage and protect the public stores still left.

From the best information picked up from the few citizens who remained in Corinth, it appeared that the enemy had for some days been removing their sick and valuable stores, and had sent away on railroad-cars a part of their effective force, on the night of the twenty-eighth. But, of course, even the vast amount of their rolling stock could not carry away an army of a hundred thousand men.

The enemy was, therefore, compelled to march away, and began the march by ten o'clock on the night of the twenty-ninth--the columns filling all the roads leading south and west all night — the rear-guard firing the train which led to the explosions and conflagration, which gave us the first real notice that Corinth was to be evacuated. The enemy did not relieve his pickets that morning, and many of them have been captured, who did not have the slightest intimation of their purpose.

Finding Corinth abandoned by the enemy, I ordered Gen. M. L. Smith to pursue on the Ripley road, by which it appeared they had taken the bulk of their artillery.

Capt. Hammond, my chief of staff, had been and continued with Gen. Smith's brigade, and pushed the pursuit up to the bridges and narrow causeway by which the bottom of Tuscumbia Creek is passed. The enemy opened with canister on the small party of cavalry, and burned every bridge, leaving the woods full of straggling soldiers. Many of these were gathered up and sent to the rear, but the main army had escaped across Tuscumbia Creek, and further pursuit by a small party would have been absurd, and I kept my division at College Hill until I received Gen. Thomas's orders to return and resume our camps of the night before, which we did, slowly and quietly, in the cool of the evening.

The evacuation of Corinth at the time and in the manner in which it was done, was a clear back-down from the high and arrogant tone heretofore assumed by the rebels. The ground was of their own choice. The fortifications, though poor and indifferent, were all they supposed necessary to our defeat, as they had had two months to make them, with an immense force to work at their disposal.

If, with two such railroads as they possessed, they could not supply their army with reenforcements and provisions, how can they attempt it in this poor, arid, and exhausted part of the country?

I have experienced much difficulty in giving an intelligent account of the events of the past three days, because of the many little events, unimportant in themselves, but which in the aggregate form material data to account for results.

My division has constructed seven distinct intrenched camps since leaving Shiloh, the men working cheerfully and well all the time, night and day. Hardly had we finished one camp before we were called on to move forward and build another. But I have been delighted at this feature in the character of my division, and take this method of making it known. Our intrenchments here and at Russell's, each built substantially in one night, are stronger works of art than the much boasted forts of the enemy at Corinth.

I must, also, in justice to my men, remark their great improvement on the march — the absence of that straggling which is too common in the volunteer service; and still more, their improved character on picket and as skirmishers. Our line of march has been along a strongly marked ridge, followed by the Purdy and Corinth road, and ever since leaving the “Locusts” our pickets have been fighting. Hardly an hour, night or day, for two weeks, without the exchange of hostile shots. But we have steadily and surely gained ground — slowly, to be sure, but with that steady certainty which presaged the inevitable result. In these picket skirmishes we have inflicted and sustained losses, but it is impossible for me to recapitulate them.

These must be accounted for on the company muster-rolls. We have taken many prisoners, which have been sent to the Provost-Marshal General; and with this report I will send some forty or fifty picked up in the course of the past two days. Indeed, I think, if disarmed, very many of these prisoners would never give trouble again ; whilst, on the other hand, the real secessionists seem more bitter than ever.

I will send the reports of Brigadiers and Colonels as soon as completed and handed in.

Enclosed is a sketch made by Capt. Kossak, without which I fear my descriptions and history of movements would not be understood.

I am, with much respect, your obedient servant,

W. T. Sherman, Major-General Commanding Division. J. H. Hammond, Assistant Adjutant-General.

Congratulatory order of Gen. Sherman.

headquarters Fifth division army of the Tennessee, camp before Corinth, May 31, 1862.
orders No. 30.

The General Commanding Fifth division, right wing, takes this occasion to express to the officers and men of his command his great satisfaction with them for the courage, steadiness and great industry displayed by them during the past month.

Since leaving our memorable camp at Shiloh [152] we have occupied and strongly intrenched seven distinct camps in a manner to excite the admiration and high commendation of General Halleck. The division has occupied the right flank of the grand army, thereby being more exposed and calling for more hard work and larger guard details than from any other single division — and the Commanding General reports that his officers and men have promptly and cheerfully performed their duty, and have sprung to the musket or spade, according to the occasion, and have just reason to claim a large share in the honors that are due the whole army for the glorious victory terminating at Corinth on yesterday, and it affords him great pleasure to bear full and willing testimony to the qualities of his command that have achieved this victory — a victory none the less decisive because attended with comparatively little loss of life.

But a few days ago a large and powerful rebel army lay at Corinth, with outposts extending to our very camp at Shiloh. They held two railroads extending north and south, east and west across the whole extent of their country, with a vast number of locomotives and cars to bring to them speedily and certainly their reenforcements and supplies. They called to their aid all their armies from every quarter, abandoning the seacoast and the great river Mississippi, that they might overwhelm us with numbers in the place of their own choosing. They had their chosen leaders, men of high reputation and courage, and they dared us to leave the cover of our iron-clad gunboats to come to fight them in their trenches and still more dangerous swamps and ambuscades of their southern forests. Their whole country from Richmond to Memphis and Nashville to Mobile rung with their taunts and boastings, as to how they would immolate the Yankees if they dared to leave the Tennessee River. They boldly and defiantly challenged us to meet them at Corinth. We accepted the challenge and came slowly and without attempt at concealment to the very ground of their selection; and they have fled away. We yesterday marched unopposed through the burning embers of their destroyed camps and property, and pursued them to their swamps until burning bridges plainly confessed they had fled and not marched away for better ground. It is a victory as brilliant and important as any recorded in history, and every officer and soldier who lent his aid has just reason to be proud of his part.

No amount of sophistry or words from the leaders of the rebellion can succeed in giving the evacuation of Corinth, under the circumstances, any other title than that of a signal defeat, more humiliating to them and their cause than if we had entered the place over the dead and mangled bodies of their soldiers. We are not here to kill and slay, but to vindicate the honor and just authority of that government which has been bequeathed to us by our honored fathers, and to whom we would be recreant if we permitted their work to pass to our children, marred and spoiled by ambitious and wicked rebels.

The General Commanding, while thus claiming for his division their just share in this glorious result, must, at the same time, remind them that much yet remains to be done, and that all must still continue the same vigilance and patience, industry and obedience, till the enemy lays down his arms and publicly acknowledges, for their supposed grievances, they must obey the laws of their country, and not attempt its overthrow by threats, by cruelty, and by war. They must be made to feel and acknowledge the power of a just and mighty nation. This result can only be accomplished by a cheerful and ready obedience to the orders and authority of our leaders, in whom we now have just reason to feel the most implicit confidence. That the Fifth division of the right wing will do this, and that in due time we will go to our families and friends at home is the earnest prayer and wish of your immediate Commander.

W. T. Sherman, Major-General. J. H. Hammond, A. Adj.-Gen., Chief of Staff.

Cincinnati Gazette account.

in camp, three miles South of Corinth, June 1st, 1862.
The army had established itself on a line whose average distance from Corinth was four miles, about the sixteenth of May. Here the right and left wings intrenched themselves, while the centre advanced a mile further and there opened its first line of trenches. From this date the advance was marked by continual skirmishing along the whole line, and every reconnaissance was equal in many respects to what were termed battles in the earlier part of the war. Gen. Pope on the left and Gen. W. T. Sherman on the right could only carry forward their lines by heavy fighting, and thus for nearly a fortnight the noise of battle has scarcely ceased along our front.

On the seventeenth of May the centre began its advance, and now I must confine myself to the operations of the division formerly commanded by Gen. Thomas, and now in his corps d'armee, and under Gen. (Port Royal) Sherman, and more particularly the brigade of Gen. Robert L. McCook, whose every movement has fallen under my observation.

On Saturday, the seventeenth of May, this brigade, as a part of Gen. Thomas's army, advanced and drove in the enemy's pickets on the main Corinth road. The Thirty-fifth Ohio, under Col. Van Derveer, was engaged during the whole day in a sharp skirmish with the rebel pickets. But at night we held our ground, and in the mean time the rest of the brigade, consisting of the Ninth Ohio, Col. Kammerlung, the Second Minnesota, Col. George, and the Eighteenth regular, Col. Shepherd, had intrenched themselves within range of the enemy's guns. The next morning, our baggage having arrived, we were firmly established near the rebels' works. It required several days of severe fighting along the picket-lines to drive the enemy far enough to prevent their bullets from whistling through the [153] camps, and several times while this was going on their shells and shot fell around our tents.

In several instances we were greatly annoyed by rebel sharp-shooters, who, from the trees in front, sent their bullets with deadly aim. One of this class, after thus troubling us for two days, was at last discovered, and three half-breed Indians, from Col. George's regiment, crept silently through the grass and low shrubs that separated the lines, to within short range, when, firing in concert, they had the satisfaction of tumbling the sharp-shooter from his high position. Though greeted by a volley from the pickets, the half-breeds escaped, and few rebels occupied the trees for several days. In another instance, during an attack on one of our batteries, the gunners were troubled by another gentleman of this class, who was at last discovered near the top of a large oak. The Captain carefully trained one of his rifled guns upon the trunk of the tree, and as the smoke of the explosion cleared away, the tree and its occupant came down with a crash.

In another portion of the field our forces were exposed to a constant fire, the exact locality of which could not be at first determined. After careful survey, the place was found at length, and appeared to conceal a very considerable force. Gen. Davies ordered out a battery of eighteen heavy field-guns, which were hidden in the edge of the banks overlooking the spot. Our skirmishers then advanced rapidly, with orders to retreat quickly, as if routed, at the enemy's fire. The scheme was successful. The rebels left their cover sufficiently to expose their position, when all the guns which had been previously loaded opened upon them, and for several minutes the discharges of the guns were as rapid as the rattling fire of musketry. If there be music in cannonading, it was then developed, and its melody will long linger in our memories. Thus was one point of our lines cleared. The whole line was similarly employed for more than a week, and thus the advance towards Corinth was a constant succession of battles on a small scale. In every division reconnoissances were of daily occurrence, and the continued roar of artillery and rattling of musketry almost ceased to attract attention, except when the scene of action was close at hand. Thus every portion of the army has seen a battle going on by its side, where often ten thousand Union troops were engaged, and, in some cases, where the enemy were much stronger. These facts serve to convey an idea of the immense size of an army, and the extent of its lines.

This state of things continued until the twenty-fourth, with all its varied scenes, its hours of suspense, its days and nights of watchfulness and labor, its moments of victory, shaded, as such moments ever are, by its death-scenes, and the pall which everywhere hangs over new-made graves.

We had thus gained a strongly intrenched position within long-range of the rebel pickets and their cannon. Then succeeded two days of almost perfect quiet, and except where our pickets advanced from their lines, there was little firing on either side, but wherever the line which separated the armies was crossed, our forces were greeted with whistling balls. During the whole period of our advance the rebels had been most active. The railroads around Corinth seemed worked to their utmost capacity, and there was no attempt made to conceal either their position or the length of their lines. Suddenly all this activity ceased, and over the whole region around Corinth the silence of death appeared to reign. There was no random firing, no note of drum, of bugle, or horn, no locomotives or rockets — the smoke of the camp-fires had died away, the hum of their vast army had ceased, and the buzzards sailed slowly over the position as if it were indeed deserted. But this ruse to draw us on to an attack did not succeed ; and the moment the rebels perceived that their scheme had failed, they suddenly became more noisy and active than ever, and were immediately prepared to attack us; and their lines were actually formed for the attack, as we afterwards learned, but the order was suddenly countermanded, for some reason unknown to us, and matters relapsed again into their usual state.

From Tuesday, the twenty-seventh, until our army occupied Corinth, on Friday, was a period of intense excitement and activity. At three points along our lines reconnoissances on the greatest scale were made, lasting, in one case, a part of three days, and resulting in the establishing of a great portion of our line within a thousand yards of the rebel works. This latter was carried on by Gen. Alexander McCook, and conducted in a masterly manner. Involving long-continued fighting, and much military address, energy, and knowledge, it was successful at every point. Gen. McCook was supported by his brother Robert, with his brigade, and, covered by the advance troops, the lines of this brigade were advanced still further; and after the advanced brigades of Gen. Johnson on our left, and Gen. Rousseau on our right had intrenched themselves, Gen. R. L. McCook's brigade moved upon their line.

Though the task be a most difficult one, yet I will try to give your readers a faint idea of the scenes which an advance presents.

First the enemy must be driven back. Regiments and artillery are placed in position, and generally the cavalry is in advance, but when the opposing forces are in close proximity, the infantry does the work. The whole front is covered by a cloud of skirmishers, and then reserves formed, and then, in connection with the main line, they advance. For a moment all is still as the grave to those in the background; as the line moves on, the eye is strained in vain to follow the skirmishers as they creep silently forward; then from some point of the line a single rifle rings through the forest, sharp and clear, and, as if in echo, another answers it. In a moment more the whole line resounds with the din of arms. Here the fire is slow and steady, there it rattles with fearful rapidity, and this mingled [154] with the great roar of the reserves as the skirmishers chance at any point to be driven in; and if, by reason of superior force, these reserves fall back to the main force, then every nook and corner seems full of sound. The batteries open their terrible voices, and their shells sing horribly while winging their flight, and their dull explosion speaks plainly of death.; their canister and grape go crashing through the trees, rifles ring, the muskets roar, and the din is terrific. Then the slackening of the fire denotes the withdrawing of the one party, and the more distant picketfiring that the work is accomplished. The silence becomes almost painful after such a scene as this, and no one can conceive of the effect who has not experienced it; it cannot be described. The occasional firing of the pickets, which shows that the new lines are established, actually occasions a sense of relief. The movements of the mind under such circumstances are sudden and strong. It awaits with intense anxiety the opening of the contest, it rises with the din of battle, it sinks with the lull which follows it, and finds itself in fit condition to sympathize most deeply with the torn and bleeding ones that are fast being borne to the rear. When the cursed nature of this rebellion flashes on the mind, and the case of those whose homes are thus made desolate becomes our own, and the instinctive utterance of the soil is for vengeance, the mind works most rapidly under the influence of such scenes as these, and one has time for such reflections even on the battle-field.

When the ground is clear, then the time for the working parties has arrived, and as this is the description of a real scene, let me premise that the works were to reach through the centre of a large open farm of at least three hundred acres, surrounded by woods, one side of it being occupied by rebel pickets. These had been driven back as I have described.

The line of the works was selected, and at the word of command three thousand men, with axes, spades, and picks, stepped out into the open field from their cover in the woods; in almost as short a time as it takes to tell it, the fence-rails which surrounded and divided three hundred acres into convenient farm-lots were on the shoulders of the men, and on the way to the intended line of works. In a few moments more a long line of crib-work stretches over the slopes of the hill, as if another anaconda fold had been twisted around the rebels. Then, as for a time, the ditches deepen, the crib fills up, the dirt is packed on the outer side, the bushes and all points of concealment are cleared from the front, and the centre divisions of our army had taken a long stride towards the rebel works. The siege-guns are brought up and placed in commanding positions. A log house furnishes the hewn and seasoned timber for the platforms, and the plantation of a Southern lord has been thus speedily transferred into one of Uncle Sam's strongholds, where the Stars and Stripes float proudly. Thus had the whole army worked itself up into the very teeth of the rebel works, and rested there on Thursday night, the twenty-eighth, expecting a general engagement at any moment.

Soon after daylight on Friday morning, the army was startled by rapid and long-continued explosions, similar to musketry, but much louder, The conviction flashed across my mind that the rebels were blowing up their loose ammunition and leaving. The dense smoke arising in the direction of Corinth strengthened this belief, and soon the whole army was advancing on a grand reconnoissance. The distance through the woods was short, and in a few minutes shouts arose from the rebel lines, which told that our army was in the enemy's trenches. Regiment after regiment pressed on, and passing through extensive camps just vacated, soon reached Corinth and found half of it in flames. Beauregard and Bragg had left the afternoon before, and the rearguard had passed out of the town before daylight, leaving enough stragglers to commit many acts of vandalism, at the expense of private property. They burned churches and other public buildings, private goods, and stores and dwellings, and choked up half the wells in town. In the camps immediately around the town, there were few evidences of hasty retreat, but on the right-flank where Price and Van Dorn were encamped, the destruction of baggage and stores was very great, showing precipitate flight. Portions of the army were immediately put in pursuit, but the results are not yet generally known. Gen. Pope is in advance, and has crossed Tennessee River. Gen. Thomas's army moved by way of Farmington, and is to-day encamped in Price and Van Dorn's late positions.

It seems that it was the slow and careful approach of Gen. Halleck which caused the retreat. They would doubtless have remained had we attacked their positions without first securing our rear, but they could not stand a siege. Their position was a most commanding one and well protected.

It would have cost us dear to take the place, and thousands of Northern homes would have been desolate to-day, had the enemy remained. Most who have had an opportunity of studying the whole movement, agree that the retreat of the rebels will prove nearly as disastrous to their cause as a defeat would have been, and though it appears from papers found in the deserted camp, that the rebels have depots of supplies at Okolona, Columbus and Grenada, still it seems impossible for them to long subsist a large force any — where in the State, when once Mobile is in our possession, and the Mississippi is opened. Both of these events must happen soon.

Divided into small bodies, they may trouble us for some time, but the rebel cause seems fast failing in the West and South, and this forced retreat will scarcely help their failing fortunes. The daylight of peace seems breaking through the clouds of war.

As Cincinnatians are interested in those who represent her in the field, I cannot close without speaking a word in praise of our Brigadier-General [155] R. L. McCook. The city which sent him forth may well be proud of him. Of his course as Colonel of his gallant Ninth, all are informed, and all are ready to praise.

As a Brigadier it has been the writer's privilege to observe him closely. There is no officer more fully competent to fill his place than Robert McCook. He labors with all his powers for the good of his command. His energy is remarkable; nothing that concerns the good of the service escapes him. He is almost continually in his saddle, and knows the country close up to the enemy's line, wherever he may be, from personal observation. He is emphatically a soldier, not through previous military education, but from good sense, and is most faithfully serving his country. He deserves well of your citizens, who, doubtless, delight to do him honor.


Another account.

Corinth, May 30--Noon.
The siege of Corinth, which was fairly inaugurated on the thirtieth of April, ended this morning. Despite the boast that one rebel is equal to two Yankees, the Southern generals have again declined to fight us with nearly equal numbers. Although protected by intrenchments, in commanding positions, and capable of being made next to invulnerable, Corinth has been added to the lone list of strongholds which have fallen into our hands, without bloodshed, since the commencement of the present year. Manassas, Yorktown, Norfolk, Bowling Green, Nashville, Columbus, Little Rock and Corinth — all capable of a lengthened defence, yet all captured without even a show of resistance.

Corinth was indeed a stronghold, and its importance could not have been over-rated. It is the key that unlocks the Cotton States, and gives us command of almost the entire system of Southern railroads, and nothing but despair could have prompted its abandonment. While there was a shadow of hope for the Confederacy, policy would have compelled the insurgents to hold the town.

Unusual activity prevailed in the rebel camps last night. The cars were running constantly, and the noise, which was distinctly heard within our lines, indicated that they were very heavily laden. About three o'clock in the morning, three signal-rockets were observed to ascend from the direction of Corinth, and immediately the long-roll called our forces into line, to provide against an attack, should the rebels be meditating one. At the same instant, a commotion was observed among the rebel pickets, which was construed into an advance, and a volley from end to end of the lines greeted the really retreating but supposed advancing foes.

For two hours all was quiet, the men remaining in line, when suddenly an explosion, or rather quick succession of explosions, was heard in the direction of Corinth, and presently, volumes of smoke, dense and dark, arose, as if from smothered flames; but so well convinced were our soldiers that a battle would be fought here, that the whole matter was looked upon as a ruse to deceive us and draw us into a snare. Whether or not any definite information as to the true condition of affairs had been received at headquarters, I am unable to state; but this I do know, that when the orders to march were received, commanders of brigades believed that the hour for a decisive and bloody battle had arrived.

About half-past 6 in the morning, orders to march were received, and at seven, the greater portion of the men were outside their breast-works, cautiously feeling their way through the dense underbrush which intervened between our fortifications and the defences of Corinth, but after proceeding three eighths of a mile, they came to an open space, and the enemy's works, abandoned and desolate, burst upon their astonished gaze. The sight was entirely unexpected.

The opening was made by the rebels, who had felled the timber for about three hundred yards in front of their intrenchments, for the double purpose of obstructing our progress and giving them a fair view of our column when within rifle-range.

The view from the highest point of the rebel works, immediately in front of Davies's, now Rosecrans's division, was truly grand. The circle of vision was at least five miles in extent, stretching from the extreme right to the extreme left, and the magnificent display of banners, the bristling of shining bayonets, and the steady step of the handsomely attired soldiers, presented a pageant which has seldom been witnessed on this continent.

Upon many of the regimental ensigns were printed “Wilson's Creek,” “Dug Springs,” “Donelson,” or “Shiloh,” and one or two wave all these mottoes in the breeze. Those who passed through all these trying ordeals, unscathed, or who received honorable wounds in either, in future can look back upon a life devoted to their country's service, and feel that proud satisfaction which is denied to others not less patriotic, but less fortunate. In future pageants in honor of the nation's birthday, when the last relics of former struggles have become extinct, and when these shall be bowed down with age, they will be their country's honored guests, and receive that consideration due their noble deeds.

Notwithstanding the desire of the soldiers to possess themselves of relics of the retreating foe, perfect order was maintained in the lines. Your correspondent wandered around the large area lately occupied by the rebel troops, but found few trophies which were worth preserving. A broken sword and double-barrelled shot-gun were picked up after an hour's search, but these were seized by the Provost-Marshal at the Landing, and confiscated.

The enemy, with the exception of the rearguard, had left with the greatest deliberation. A few worthless tents, some heavy kettles, a large number of old barrels, tin cups, and articles of this description, were the only camp equipages not taken away.

There is nothing so desolate as a newly-deserted [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 [157] chivalry enjoy their siesta in the most approved Spanish manner, except that they imbibe, before sleeping, a somewhat different beverage from the Castilians. Instead of the wines of Andalusia, they consume almost unheard — of quantities of Bourbon and rifle-whisky.

The yards of the rich are decorated with shrubbery, and what is far more in accordance with good taste, forest-trees are left standing and neatly trimmed — a custom which has been too sadly neglected in the North. There are several substantial brick and frame business-houses, all of which have been stripped and deserted.

The names of firms were painted above the doors; they were, “Terry & Duncan,” “Campbell & Dodds,” “J. T. Kemper,” , and numerous others which it is unnecessary to designate. Mr. Kemper kept the “Baltimore clothing Store,” but neither he nor his clothing could be found. A druggist, whose name I have forgotten, determined to remain.

Not enough of the Corinthians remained to welcome us, to give me any idea of what the mass of the citizens are like. A few poor persons, the druggist referred to, and the Mayor's clerk, and two or three wealthy females, were all that were to be found. The poor were nearly starved, and were disposed to welcome any change, as it might bring relief, but could not add to their suffering. They walked curiously around, observing the movements of the soldiers, astonished at the comparatively handsome uniform they wore, and gratified that the fears they had felt had not been realized. The wealthy females looked from the windows of their mansions upon the Union troops, affecting the greatest scorn and disdain for the Yankees, who viewed them in return rather in a spirit of pity than revenge.

The rebel generals all had their headquarters in houses — generally occupying the finest residences in the place. Beauregard's was on the east of the Purdy road, and at the outskirts of the place. The rebel chieftain was evidently surrounded by all the comforts and luxuries of life. Telegraph wires run in every direction from the building, the system adopted being similar to that employed in our own army. The wires, however, were all cut, and the instruments taken away.

The quarters of Price, Van Dorn, Hardee, Pillow and Bragg were pointed out by citizens, who stated that each of these notabilities commanded a corps d'armee, and that that these were subdivided into divisions and brigades. There is a marked difference in the style put on by the rebel and Union Generals. Our commanders are all quartered in tents, even though commodious residences are at hand; but the rebels would disdain to sleep beneath a canvas similar to that which sheltered the common horde. More than one deserter remarked upon the comparative simplicity of our commanders.

Although the rebel generals, (so I learned from Mr. Harrington and others,) did not fully determine to evacuate the place till Tuesday evening, twenty-seventh ult., they had for a long time been sending away all extra baggage, and everything not actually needed for the subsistence of the troops, or for a battle. They did this with a view of a speedy retreat, in case one became necessary, either before or after a fight. The question of the final evacuation, was left open, to be decided as time and circumstances should dictate, and in the mean time, the army and the people were to be cajoled into the belief that Corinth was the last ditch — the spot where Pillow intended to die.

All of the citizens of Corinth, and I believe of the rebel States, believed the place would be held at all hazards, and the chagrin and disappointment at its evacuation, without a blow, were deep and bitter. I talked with several who, up to that hour, had never faltered in their faith, but who now look upon their cause as past the remotest chance of a resurrection, and are adapting themselves to their new and changed circumstances. They say that if the South could not defend Corinth, they cannot hold their ground at any other point, and it is idle to prolong a war which is desolating twelve States.

On Tuesday, twenty-seventh, an intelligent deserter came into camp, and on being questioned stated that Gen. Beauregard had been at Holly Springs, Miss., for several days, recruiting his health, as he alleged, but that he returned at nine o'clock that morning. The story, except as to the health, was a true one, as I have since ascertained; and I also learn that the masses of the people and the soldiers, really supposed he was there recuperating, he having given out to that impression. But the fact was, he was searching for a place to which to make retreat, and on his return he called a council of war on Tuesday evening, and announced his determination to evacuate Corinth. I learn that Pillow, Price and Hardee concurred with him, and that Bragg and Van Dorn opposed the movement, as absolutely destructive of the cause. But all would not do; the order was given, and Corinth was evacuated.

The sick, of whom there were a great number in the hospitals, were taken away first, some being removed to Columbus, Miss., and others to Grand Junction, preparatory to being forwarded to Jackson. Next came the stores, the greater portion of which were taken off on Wednesday. Wednesday night all the artillery, save two light batteries, of six and twelve-pounders, were removed, and a portion of the infantry marched toward Grand Junction. No less than forty thousand men, however, remained within the works, and within half a mile of our lines, twenty-four hours, and with but twelve small cannon, and the ordinary infantry arm for protection. An attack at that moment would have resulted in the destruction or capture of that number of men. The rebels were fearful of such an attack all day, and in order to deceive Gen. Halleck, made several sallies on our pickets. The deception appears to have been complete, for had Halleck known the true condition of affairs, he would have attacked them at once.

The rear-guard of the retreating army left immediately after the explosion referred to, which I [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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