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Doc. 81-army of the Tennessee.

Report of General J. A. McClernand of the operations of the reserve corps from the battle of Shiloh to the evacuation of Corinth.

headquarters reserve corps, army of the Tennessee, camp Jackson, July 4, 1862.
Major-General H. W. Halleck, Commanding Department of the Mississippi:
my report of the part taken by my command, consisting of the First division of the Army of the Tennessee, in the battle of Shiloh, explains how the enemy was driven from my camp on the seventh and forced with great loss to abandon the ground he had gained on the sixth of April. I will not dwell upon the incidents of that great event now, it would be supererogatory to do so. They have passed into glorious and imperishable history, and there let them rest.

Devoting my attention during the interval to measures necessary to repair the consequences of a protracted and sanguinary battle, and to restore the vigor and efficiency of my command; and having prepared the way by the construction of bridges, on the twenty-fourth, pursuant to order, I moved it to the front and extreme right of the first advance made after the battle. Halting on the east side of Owl Creek and resting the right of the division on the bluffs overlooking the Creek, we pitched our tents and remained here until the thirtieth, meantime guarding the passes of Owl Creek, and making frequent cavalry reconnoissances westerly in the direction of Purdy, and southerly, on each side of the creek, in the direction of Pea Ridge.

Here, as a precaution against surprise, I threw up earthworks, consisting of lunettes and intrenchments, covering my camp. These were the first that had been thrown up south of the bluffs overlooking Pittsburgh Landing. The enemy having taken refuge behind Lick Creek upon a lofty range, called Pea Ridge, commanding the approaches across the valley of that stream, felt secure in making sudden and frequent descents upon our advanced pickets. To arrest and punish these annoyances, on the twenty-fifth I ordered Colonel M. K. Lawler, (Eighteenth Illinois,) with six regiments of infantry, three companies of cavalry, and a section of McAllister's battery, to reconnoitre in front and to the left of our position, in the direction of Pea Ridge, to drive in the enemy's picket and outposts, and avoiding an engagement with a superior force, ascertain, if practicable his position, and then fall back upon our camp. Rapidly moving forward in execution of this order, he had approached within a short distance of the enemy's pickets, when, in pursuance of instructions from Major-Gen. Grant, he was ordered to halt and return his column to camp.

On the twenty-ninth, however, a general advance was made in the direction of Pea Ridge and Farmington. The First division, being in advance, was halted about four miles from Monterey, in view of some of the enemy's tents on Pea Ridge. The enemy's pickets fled before our advance, leaving us in possession of the ground they had occupied. Near and in the rear of this point, known as Mickey's White House, we took the position behind a branch of Lick Creek, which had been assigned to us, and pitched our tents.

While here, I caused a new road for some three miles, and several double-track bridges, in the direction of Pittsburgh Landing, to be made; and repaired the road still beyond to that place. At the same time and place, I received your order assigning me to the command of the Third division of the Army of the Tennessee, commanded by Major-Gen. L. Wallace, and the Fifth division of the Army of the Ohio, commanded by Brig.-Gen. Crittended, with the cavalry and artillery attached, including the siege-trains, in addition to my own division — together constituting the army corps of the reserve. I immediately assumed [271] command of the corps, but before the Fifth division had joined me, it, with one of the siege-batteries, was reassigned to Major-General Buell.

On the fourth of May the reserves were moved forward by me — the Third division from their position near the Pittsburgh and Purdy bridge, across Owl Creek to Mickey's White House, and the First division under command of Brig.-Gen. Judah to the vicinity of Monterey. Encountering a heavy rain-storm on the march, the roads became very bad, and Lick Creek so swollen as to be impassable without re-bridging. This I caused to be done under the direction of Lieut. H. C. Freeman, Engineer of the corps.

Nor should I forget to state, that during this march, I received an order to send back a detachment of cavalry under instructions to proceed to the most convenient bridge across Owl Creek, and thence to the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, at or near Bethel, for the purpose of destroying it. In conveying this order, amid the storm and press of troops and train, Capt. Norton, my Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, coming in contact with a miring, floundering horse, met with the misfortune of having one of his legs broken. Pressing on, however, he delivered the order.

Lieut.-Col. William McCollough, with the small available force at hand, consisting of only two hundred and fifty Illinois mounted men, started after nightfall, and marching through rain and mire all night, seventeen miles, came to the road, and dismounting his men under the enemy's fire, destroyed three bridges, a portion of the road-track and telegraph-wire — throwing the latter into Cypress Creek. Having accomplished this daring feat, he turned his small force against the enemy's cavalry and, boldly attacking them, drove them back in confusion upon and through Purdy, killing a number of them and losing one man and several horses. This achievement prevented the enemy from turning our flank at Pea Ridge, and while advancing upon Corinth. All credit is due to the officers and men accomplishing it.

Encamping the Third division at Mickey's White House, and the First division south of Lick Creek and within a mile of Monterey, they remained here until the eleventh. Meantime, heavy rains had fallen, sweeping away the bridge upon the main road, across Lick Creek, and overflowing the banks of the stream. For the purpose of preserving and facilitating our communications with the base, at Pittsburgh Landing, I ordered a detail of two thousand men, who, under the direction of Lieut. Freeman, of my staff, and Lieut. Tresilian, Engineer of the First division, renewed the old bridge, constructed a new one, corduroyed the valley of the stream, and repaired the road for the space of some five miles back.

At this camp, Col. M. K. Lawler, Eighteenth Illinois, who had been in command of the First brigade during the illness of Brig.-Gen. John A. Logan, was relieved by that officer. Brig.-Gen. L. F. Ross was in command of the Second brigade, and Col. J. E. Smith, Forty-fifth Illinois, in the absence of Col. Marsh, Twentieth Illinois, on sick leave, was in command of the Third brigade. Col. Smith was here relieved of the command of the Third brigade by Col. Lawler, his senior in rank.

Being visited by his Excellency, Richard Yates, Governor of the State of Illinois, at this place, the First division was drawn out and passed in review before him — receiving the honor of his congratulations for their patriotic devotion, the lustre they had shed upon Illinois, and their soldierly appearance and expertness.

At this camp Gen. Logan assumed command of the First brigade.

On the eleventh the same division struck their tents and moved forward about two miles and a half, in the direction of Corinth, to the crossing of the “Old State line” with the “Purdy and Farmington road.” Encamping here, near Fielder's house, a reconnoissance in the direction of Corinth was immediately made by companies C and D, Fourth Illinois cavalry, under command of Captain C. D. Townshend, accompanied by Lieut. S. R. Tresilian, of General Logan's staff. Pushing forward his reconnoissance in advance of any that had been previously made, Captain Townshend came in contact with the enemy's pickets near Easel's house, on the “Hack road,” leading from Purdy to Corinth, and drove back their accumulating numbers some distance.

This position, at the cross-roads, was vital to the line of our advance upon the enemy at Corinth, as it protected our right flank from attack. To strengthen and secure so important a position, rifle-pits were dug and earthworks thrown up both as a cover for our infantry and artillery. Among several outposts, one was established upon the Little Muddy Creek near Harris's house, which, although much exposed and often threatened by the enemy, was firmly held by the Twentieth Illinois and a section of artillery, under command of Lieut.-Col. Richards. Numerous reconnoissances were also made, resulting in repeatedly meeting the enemy's pickets and reconnoitring parties and driving them back.

On the fourteenth, the Second brigade, under command of Gen. Ross, was detached from the division and moved still further forward, about a mile and a half, to a position which had just been vacated by another division. Hearing that the enemy were using the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, as a means of so disposing his forces as to enable him to turn our right flank, attack us in the rear, and cut off our communication with the base at Pittsburgh, I ordered Gen. Wallace to advance one of the brigades of his division to an intermediate point on the line between his camp and the “Cross-roads.” Col. Wood, Seventy-sixth Ohio, commanding the Third brigade of the Third division, accordingly moved forward with his brigade and took and strongly fortified a commanding position.

In combination with this movement, at four o'clock in the morning, Gen. Ross with his brigade, a battalion of cavalry and eight pieces of cannon, supported by Gen. Logan's brigade as a [272] reserve, the whole under the command of Brig.-General Judah, moved forward to the railroad. Upon reaching the road, Gen. Ross instantly encountered a detachment of the enemy's forces which had been placed there to guard it, and rapidly driving them back, tore up the road for some distance, spoiling the rails by placing them on ties and other timbers which were fired and thus destroyed.

The celerity of this movement took the enemy by surprise — leaving him no opportunity to reenforce the detachment thus put to flight. After having successfully acomplished the object of the movement, and marched near ten miles, our forces were returned to their camps by ten o'clock A. M.

On the twenty-first, Gen. Logan's brigade leaving the cross-roads, moved forward and took a fortified position within three miles of the enemy's defences around Corinth, near Easels house. At this date the two divisions composing the reserves were disposed of in different detachments from the point named on the extreme right of our general line of advance, northward, some eighteen miles on the east side of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad and Owl Creek, quite to Pittsburgh Landing. This disposition stamped them with the double character of an advance force and a reserve, and subjected them to severe, unceasing, and most dangerous duty. It was expected of them to prevent the enemy from turning our right flank and interrupting our communication with the source of our supplies at Pittsburgh Landing. This they did.

A further advance upon Corinth having been determined upon, on the twenty-eighth Gen. Logan's and Gen. Ross's brigades were moved to the front and right of our general line of advance, under command of Gen. Judah, in pursuance of my order. Immediately cooperating with Gen. Sherman's division in making a strong demonstration of attacking Corinth, they first directed their march to the “Blue-cut” on the railroad. Finding the enemy's pickets here, between whom and our own such an agreement existed, we notified them to retire, which, after an interview between Major Stewart, of my staff, and Captain Cochran, of the Louisiana cavalry, they did, yielding us possession of the ground they had occupied and the control of the road-track within some two miles of the enemy's defences. This was the most advanced position which had been hitherto taken on the right of our general line, and was retained and intrenched by Gen. Ross on account of its great strategic value.

About the time Gen. Ross had taken possession of this position, Gen. Logan moved his brigade obliquely to the left and united with Gen. Denver's brigade, forming the right of Gen. Sherman's division. The effect of this disposition being to extend the line of battle so as to flank the enemy's position on the west; this portion of my command, in conjunction with Gen. Sherman's division, now advanced to attack him. Skirmishers were thrown out about three hundred yards in front of the brigade under charge of Major Smith, of the Forty-sixth Illinois, acting as officer of the day. Met by skirmishers of the enemy, sharp firing soon ensued, and another company from the Eighth Illinois, under command of Capt. Wilson, was thrown forward to support their comrades already engaged. A spirited combat ensued, in which several of our men were wounded, and among the number Sergeant Barnard Zick, of company B, Eighth Illinois, severely, in the arm. Our further advance being restrained, we were left in the dark as to the loss sustained by the enemy, which, however, is believed to have been considerable.

Afterwards and near night, the enemy's skirmishers being increased, retaliated by making an attack upon our skirmishers, confident of success. To his disappointment, however, Captains Lieb and Wilson, of the Eighth Illinois, boldly advanced their companies, and after two rounds of musketry drove him back discomfited. In this second skirmish one of our men was wounded, seven of the enemy killed, and still more wounded, who were carried from the field. Night followed, during which the brigade laid upon its arms, in the face of the enemy, prepared to meet any emergency.

The conspicuous and pregnant fact, that the enemy had allowed us to approach within artillery-range of his defences at this point without offering any formidable resistance, reasonably induced the belief that he had evacuated, or was evacuating his camp at Corinth. General Logan's opinion agreeing with my own upon this point, he would have made a demonstration to prove the fact, with my approbation, but for want of authority.

On the evening of the twenty-ninth, after General Logan's brigade had commenced marching in returning to their camp near Easel's, the enemy's guard renewed their attack upon his picket-line. Halting the regiments which had started, and retaining those which had not yet moved in their position, he ordered Captains Lieb and Cowen, of the Eighth and Forty-fifth Illinois regiments to advance their companies. These officers promptly doing so, a very severe skirmish ensued, in which this small force again signalized western courage, by beating and driving back superior numbers. According to information subsequently obtained, the enemy lost forty men killed and wounded in this combat, which the lateness of the evening and the nearness of his position to his works enabled him to carry off. Having been relieved by other of General Sherman's troops which had come up, the brigade returned to their camp the same night.

This was the last engagement which took place before the enemy evacuated Corinth and we occupied the place.

In commenting upon these operations, I have only to add, that the officers and men under my command bore themselves most worthily while performing the duties both of an column and a reserve corps. The arduous and responsible task of protecting the right flank of our grand army, and our communications for some eighteen [273] miles back to Pittsburgh Landing, was successfully executed. At no time was our flank allowed to be surprised, or our line of communications interrupted, but throughout the siege all kinds of supplies, whether of commissary, quartermaster's, or ordnance stores, continued safely to be brought up to our advancing line.

To the members of my staff I have occasion to renew my acknowledgments for their accustomed zeal, activity and devotion in furthering my views throughout the siege. Colonel T. E. G. Ransom, Inspector-General of the reserves, Colonel F. Anneke, Chief of Artillery, Major J. J. Mudd, Major W. Stewart, Major E. S. Jones, Captain W. Rives, Captain H. C. Freeman, Engineer, and Lieutenant H. P. Christie, all members of my staff, were unceasing in their efforts to obtain information and advise me of the successive movements, positions and purposes of the enemy, and several times risked their lives by their near approach to his lines. Our reconnoissance particularly deserves to be noticed, in which, on the second day before the evacuation, Major Stewart and Captain Rives pushed their advance so far as to make the first discovery of the enemy's works, and to draw upon themselves his fire, which providentially proved harmless. Nor can I forbear in justice to mention with earnest and emphatic commendation, the admirable urbanity, skill, fidelity, and success with which Captain C. T. Hotchkiss, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General of the reserves, performed the important and responsible duties of his office.

On the thirtieth our forces entered the evacuated camp of the enemy at Corinth, thereby adding to the series of successes which have crowned the arms of the West.

Yours respectfully,

John A. McClernand, Major-General Commanding.

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