Doc. 73.-the retreat from Corinth, Miss.
General Beauregard's letter.the following was published in the Mobile News of the nineteenth of June.
headquarters of Western Department, June 17, 1862.gentlemen: My attention has just been called to the following despatch, (published in your issue of yesterday,) of Major-General Halleck, commanding enemy's forces, which, coming from such a source, is most remarkable in one respect: that it contains as many misrepresentations as lines:
Gen. Pope did not “push hard” upon me with forty thousand men, thirty miles from Corinth on the fourth instant; for my troops occupied a defensive line in the rear of Twenty-Mile Creek less than twenty-five miles from Corinth until the eighth instant, when the want of good water induced me to retire at my leisure to a better position; moreover, if Gen. Pope had attempted at any time during the retreat from Corinth, to push hard upon me, I would have given him a lesson that would have checked his ardor, but he was careful to advance only after my troops had retired from each successive position. The retreat was conducted with great order and precision, doing much credit to the officers and men under my orders, and must be looked upon in every respect by the country as equivalent to a brilliant victory. Gen. Pope must certainly have dreamed of having taken ten thousand prisoners and fifteen thousand stand of arms, for we positively never lost them; about one or two hundred stragglers would probably cover all the prisoners he took, and about five hundred damaged muskets all the arms he got; these belonged to a convalescent camp, (four miles south of Corinth,) evacuated during the night, and were overlooked on account of the darkness. The actual number of prisoners taken during the retreat was about equal on both sides, and they were but few. Major-General Halleck must be a very credulous man to believe the absurd story of “that farmer.” He ought to know that the burning of two or more cars on a railroad is not sufficient to make “Beauregard frantic” and ridiculous, especially when I expected to hear every moment of the capture of his marauding party, whose departure from Farmington had been communicated to me the day before, and I had given in consequence all necessary orders; but a part of my forces passed Booneville an hour before the arrival of Col. Elliott's command, and the other part arrived just in time to drive it away, and liberate the convalescents captured; unfortunately, however, not in time to save four of the sick, who were barbarously consumed in the station-house. Let Col. Elliott's name descend to infamy as the author of such a revolting deed. Gen. Halleck did not capture nine locomotives. It was only by the accidental destruction of a bridge before some trains had passed that he got seven engines in a damaged condition, the cars having been burned by my orders. It is indeed lamentable to see how little our enemies respect truth and justice when speaking of their military operations, especially when, through inability or over-confidence, they meet with deserved failure. If the result be “all he desired,” it can be said he is easily satisfied; it remains to be seen whether his government and people are of the like opinion. I attest that all we lost at Corinth, and during the retreat, would not amount to one day's expenses of his army. Respectfully, your obedient servant,Washington, June 5, 1862.The following despatch was received this afternoon at the War Department: Gen. Pope, with forty thousand men, is thirty miles south of Corinth, pushing the enemy hard. He already reports ten thousand prisoners and deserters from the enemy, and fifteen thousand stand of arms captured. Thousands of the enemy are throwing away their arms. A farmer says that when Beauregard learned that Col. Elliott had cut the railroad on his line of retreat, he became frantic, and told his men to save themselves the best way they could. We have captured nine locomotives and a number of cars. One of the former is already repaired, and is running to-day. Several more will be in running order in two or three days. The result is all I could possibly desire.H. W. Halleck, Major-General Commanding.